Thursday, 25 November 2010

St John's New Bakery and Pop-Up Shop

St John Brown Sourdough Loaf

The months of anticipation are over.  At last the aroma of freshly baked bread has started to drift from railway arch 72 on Druid Street.  Three arches up from Tony Booth’s fruit and veg HQ my favourite baker in London, Justin Piers Gellatly, is baking his fantastic sourdoughs, wholemeals, ryes, sticks and more for Fergus Henderson in St John’s new bakery hub.   A week spent adjusting to a new oven and fluctuating temperatures in the newly fitted out space, and the bread is emerging better than ever.  The new oven’s feature of a steam element, which helps in the final proving of the dough, is creating a beautiful doming to the sourdough and a light crispness to the crust.  
As if delicious fresh-out-of-the-oven bread wasn’t enough of a draw, there are also freshly baked St John Eccles Cakes, and  brownies.  Now that they have a dedicated bakery they are also making what used to be a Sunday-only treat of doughnuts filled with crème patissière more frequently.  The good news for Saturday morning shoppers is that Arch 72 raises  its shutters for retail trade, along with the other traders on my Bermondsey Trail (posting 16 September 2010).  The imminent opening of St John’s new venture – a hotel and restaurant in Soho where the old Manzi’s restaurant used to be – means new lines are likely to be introduced to meet its demands.  St John will also supply Neals Yard Dairy at Borough Market and their Shorts Gardens, Covent Garden shop when the bakery is fully up to speed.
It has to be said that for those of us who happily picked up our loaf from St John Bread and Wine,  Justin's previous base, there is a downside in the shape of increased bread prices.  Reasoned by a combination of higher wheat prices and the costs associated with the new premises.   There are grumbles from the regulars but who else in London is in this league, other than perhaps Poilane in Belgravia?  

A slice of brown sourdough, a hunk of stichelton cheese from Neal's Yard and a bottle of Porter from the Kernel Brewery - heaven. 
St John’s Bakery
Arch 72 Druid Street
London SE1
Open Saturdays at the Arch 09.00-16.00 or until the loaves run out