Know your loaf - 12 of the best bakeries in Norfolk
PUBLISHED: 19:00 24 February 2020 | UPDATED: 14:55 25 February 2020
From north to south, east to west, use our handy map to find amazing sourdough loaves, cupcakes, brownies, baguettes and more all over the county.
There was a time when we feared for the village baker. Would they be relegated to the mists of time by supermarket in-store bakery counters? Could they survive on our high streets, with other independents dwindling around them? Yes they could!
And Norfolk, in the 'bread basket of England' is a gleaming, flour-dusted, cherry topped example of how not only baking heritage has survived, but that the industry is moving into new era, with exciting, mould-breaking young entrepreneurs bringing down their cookie stampers on the world of dough.
We love great bread in this part of the world and long may the local baker reign. Real Bread Week (from February 22) is on the horizon so there's no better time to give a nod to the talented, hardworking teams and individuals who give us our daily loaf. With bakeries all over Suffolk, from north to south, east to west, we're spoilt for choice.
Two Magpies Bakery
Where: London Road, Darsham (open 8am to 5pm daily and until 8.30pm Saturdays), 27-29 Timber Hill, Norwich (open 8am to 5pm daily)
There's no stopping Rebecca and Steve. Starting with a bijoux bakery in Southwold, they've expanded to open three more sites in quick succession. It just goes to show how huge the appetite for great bread is in this part of the world. Rebecca is a huge foodie, and that's evident in the end product. Sourdough culture is used in all the loaves (made with Marriage's flour), which range from an award-winning fig and fennel, to 30% rye with raisins and rosemary. And the cake counter buckles under confections such as roundies, billowing meringues, minty grasshopper slices and enormous layered cakes. It's hard to leave without an entire bagful of bakes.
Hempnall Village Bakery
Where: Hempnall Mill Centre (put in orders on Wednesday, 01508 499733) for collection on Saturday between 8am and 12noon). Also find their goods at Old Hall Farm in Woodton and Earsham Street Deli in Bungay.
Hannah and Dan Scott run this petite bakery from their 18th century cottage in the village, preparing all products themselves by hand, using traditional, slow ferment methods and cooking in a husk wood fired oven. Breads include pain au levain, milk loaf, five seeded granary, ciabatta and burger buns, as well as a range of weekly changing specials. These have ranged from a cheese bread blended local cheeses, to Spicy Sunshine Sourdough (with turmeric, cumin, coriander and Nigella seed) and a buttermilk sourdough made with buttermilk from Old Hall Farm.
Arthur Howell - Wells-Next-The-Sea Bakery
Where: Staite Street, Wells-Next-The-Sea. Open Monday to Sunday 8.30am to 4pm.
You may know Arthur Howell from the Wells butchery, which also supplies restaurants, pubs and cafes in the area. This family-run bakery is very much in the same vain, focussing on making the best products possible and great customer service.
You'll find all the usual loaves (made with untreated flour), from white, wholemeal and granary, to walnut bread, cheese rings and onion bread, as well as a huge range of cakes, such as old school classic chocolate oaties, bread and butter puddings and brownies, and fresh cream meringues made by Flying Kiwi Inns.
Savouries use meat from their own butchery, be that in the sausage rolls, hot bacon or chipolata baguettes, breakfast in a box or hog roast, served on Fridays with handmade stuffing and apple sauce.
The Tudor Bakehouse
Where: Market Place Harleston, open 6am to 3.45pm Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, until 3.45pm on Thursday, and from 7am to 3pm Saturday, and The Thoroughfare, Harleston, open 7am to 4.30pm Monday to Saturday.
Supplying wholesale and in its shops and cafes, The Tudor Bakehouse is a baking tour de force, making everything fresh, every day, using Marriage's flour, meat from Pepperells butcher and locally sourced fruit and vegetables.
Whether you want your daily loaf, a sandwich, picnic fare, or a little treat, they've got what you need and are proud to sell (in addition to the usual farmhouse, tin and sandwich breads) an array of unique products. There's the Bayerisch Donker - a Dutch-style bread blending various flours with coarse wheatmeal, oat flakes and wheat bran, Avena oat bread - made with wholemeal oat flour, oat flakes, coarse oats, sunflower seeds and yellow linseed and the Med-inspired pia do. That's not to mention the sweet stuff, from luxury, buttery caramel slices, to carrot cake and toffee tiffin.
Where: 2D Oval Road, Norwich. Open 7am to 4pm Monday to Friday and until 3pm on Saturday.
A friendly neighbourhood bakery where, as well as regular breads and bakes, they make a roll call of delicious savouries, from fresh quiches to Scotch eggs and handmade pork pies. They like to nod to local heritage and baking traditions too. Sometimes, alongside Danishes, novelty biscuits and slices, you'll find Norfolk Buttons. And they regularly bake Norfolk Shortcake - a kind of thick, raised shortbread studded with sultanas and liberally sprinkled with sugar. Those are delicious warm with jam.
Where: 38 Bell Road, Norwich. Open 6am to 3pm Monday to Friday and 6am to midday Saturday.
A highly regarded family bakery which many local businesses use wholesale for their bread. Working with the best flour they can get their oven gloves on, they make a range of classic breads in white, wholemeal and granary - be that tin loaves or hand moulded tiger bread. A huge selection of rolls is available too, plus lunchtime staples - sandwiches, cheese straws, pies and pastries. There are regularly special cakes and sweets to sample. Favourites have included fondant fancies, croissants filled with vanilla cream and berries, and chocolate and salted caramel twists.
Where: 93 Upper St Giles Norwich, 20 Bridewell Alley Norwich, Norwich Market, 15 Red Lion Street Aylsham. See website for opening hours.
Proper artisanal, slow ferment loaves baked fresh every day and beautifully displayed - this really is bread art! Loaves range from wholemeal to sourdough and spelt, while on the sweet side you'll discover irresistible cinnamon buns, chocolate croissant twists and raspberry, almond and pistachio whirls. You can eat in at Upper St Giles and Aylsham. There's something rather delightful about sitting outside in the walled courtyard of the Norwich café with a plate of DIY all-you-can eat toast, followed by pastries as the sun shines down. The shops sell baking accessories too including bannetons to perfect your own beautifully ridged sourdoughs.
Where: 107 Gloucester Street, Norwich. Open 8am to 3pm Tuesday to Friday, 8am to 2pm Saturday.
Laurence and Berni Carroll took over this popular bakery in October - Laurence having started his career there, working in London and Madrid before returning to buy the business.
The neighbourhood bakehouse focusses on small batches of sourdough bread and pastries and is proud to have relationships with small farms and mills across the UK, sourcing interesting varieties of wheat, rye and barley, and milling these themselves.
Laurence says: "Our new Watermill sourdough is a French-style country loaf made with 100% stoneground Alicia wheat grown in Hunstanton!"
On Fridays and Saturdays specials range from Danish rye, to miso and sesame sourdough. And there's a wide range of pastries, from croissants and cinnamon buns to a seasonal Danish, crafted with raw cultured butter from Fen Farm Dairy in Bungay.
Lunch is also available every weekday from midday - currently Roman pizza by the slice.
Plus the shop sells a selection of locally sourced produce, be that Pump Street chocolate, Marsh Pig charcuterie, or LA Brewery kombucha.
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Where: Various locations in Lowestoft and Gorleston. See their website for locations and opening times.
There's over 130 years of baking expertise behind this multi-sited bakery. Having several shops hasn't diluted the quality of the end product. They use only locally milled flour, natural fermentation and fresh yeast for their breads, which are baked daily and around 10% lower in salt than your average loaf.
Get your French sticks, bloomers and garlic and herb stotties, alongside an ever-changing selection of classic cakes, from Devon splits and custard tarts, to doughnuts.
There's a sugar-free range, made with natural sweeteners, plus an extensive array of gluten-free cakes and biscuits, using Glebe Farm flours.
The bakery is so committed to quality it even makes all its sandwich fillings (for takeaways and buffet platters) in-house.
Flour & Bean
Where: Stores in Norwich, Dereham, Aylsham, Fakenham, Gorleston and Potter Heigham and cafes in various garden centres in Norfolk. See the website for addresses and opening times.
A bit of a baking empire! This family-run business has multiple shops and runs several cafes too, stocked with their yummy bread, baked goods, cakes and savouries as well as locally roasted coffee.
All bread is made without preservatives, they craft all their own pastry, and use East Anglian flour and other produce where possible, including local sausagemeat in their tasty sausage rolls. Favourites in-store include the Norfolk Shortcake, giant cheese straws and puffy Belgian buns.
Where: 24 Gladstone Place, Briston, Melton Constable. Open every day from 7am to 9.15pm (7.30am to 5pm Sunday).
With their own butchery and convenience store too, you can get a lot of shopping done here. They have an array of baked delights to offer, from white and granary to rye, fruit loaves, baps, bloomers, cheese rings and more. If you're looking for an easy lunch or supper, they make their own quiches, Scotch eggs, lattices and pasties. That's not to mention the changing homemade meat pies, pork pies and sausage rolls in plain, onion or apple flavours. While sweets include a raft of baker shop favourites - tiffin, flapjacks, cream cakes, carrot cake and egg custards.
Filled rolls, sandwiches and baguettes are made from Monday to Friday, as well as specials such as homemade soup.
Where: 39 Market Place, Swaffham. Open until 4pm Monday to Friday and until 3pm Saturday
Established in 2002, this neighbourhood bakery is filled with a range of high quality loaves, from a Heygates Norfolk Crunch, to white bloomers. The counter brims with hot pies and pasties including vegan sausage rolls and vegan red Thai slice. And they have an enormous selection of cakes and bakes - from vegan fruit cake to fresh doughnuts, Chelsea buns and salted caramel oaty slices.
They also offer sandwiches and can make up lunch platters and cake trays for celebrations and meetings.
10 ways to use up leftover bread
1. Slice your loaf, remove the crusts and butter. Layer in a suitably sized dish with sultanas or chocolate chips. Drizzle with a splash of booze (we like rum) and pour over homemade or shop-bought custard. Allow to soak in for at least 30 minutes then bake at 200C until golden and crisp on top.
2. Invest in a wicker basket. Remove bread from any packaging and pop in the basket. Leave for a few days to dry out, then pop in a food processor and blitz into breadcrumbs. They'll keep for ages in an airtight tub or jar. Try experimenting adding dried herbs and spices to the jars.
3. Fry a small, finely chopped onion until soft but not coloured. Add half to a pint of milk, some peppercorns, a bay leaf or two and a grind of nutmeg. Bring to the boil then allow to infuse for at least an hour. Throw in white breadcrumbs and let soak to thicken. Season to taste, remove the peppercorns and bay leaf - an easy bread sauce to go alongside your chicken.
4. Mix breadcrumbs with custard, layer in the bottom of a small casserole dish, spoon over jam and top with freshly whisked meringue. Bake at 210C until the meringue is set and burnished in places.
5. Combine breadcrumbs with egg, freshly chopped or dried herbs, seasoning and maybe some chopped dried fruit to make your own stuffing balls- wonderful baked in the tray with pork or chicken 20 minutes before the end of cooking.
6. Mix white breadcrumbs with grated local cheese, egg, seasoning and sauteed leeks and form into sausage shapes. Bake or fry and serve with mash and seasonal vegetables.
7. Whisk an egg with a dash of milk and vanilla extract. Dip a thick slice of leftover bread in the mix and allow to soak on both sides. Fry in butter and sprinkle over sugar. Serve with a dollop of jam. A kind of quick, French toast doughnut.
8. Make a savoury version of the above. Instead of vanilla extract add a dash of Worcestershire sauce, a pinch of mustard powder and a handful of grated cheese. Dip in your bread both sides and fry. Serve with your favourite chutney.
9. Cut your bread into 1cm cubes. Toss in oil and bake in a low oven until crunchy and dehydrated. Cool and store your homemade croutons in an airtight container.
10. Make an old fashioned apple Charlotte. Cut leftover white bread into enough triangles to line a pudding basin. Brush one side of each slice with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. Stew 1kg peeled, cored, chopped cooking apples and cook with a knob of butter and heaped tablespoon of sugar until broken down but with some chunks. Spoon this into the prepared bowl and top with more buttered, sugared bread. Bake at 190C for 25 to 30 minutes.