I am obsessed by bakeries. I will go great distances (eg Du Pain et des Idées in Paris) to eat really good bread. I so much admire bakers and their dedication. In my book it is a true calling. Who would want the hassle of employing staff who have to turn up at night or at the very latest, the early hours of the morning, and work endless unsociable hours? And it completely depends on people to make it. Proper bread does not respond to machinery, as it does to the human touch.
Thankfully now I do not have to go to Paris to fulfill my quest. Since a lunch visit to Corner Room a few months ago, I have wanted to visit their bread supplier. I had also read about the Happy Kitchen (of which more in another piece) almost next door in Mentmore Terrace, so there were clearly interesting things going on by London Fields. All this industry is taking place under the arches of the railway which carries the Stansted Express to and from Liverpool Street.
Ben MacKinnon decided to get stuck into dough in 2009 after a few months travel. He gathered some like-minded souls together and opened E5 Bakehouse in 2010, where people can come and buy sourdough bread direct from the bakery, and local Hackney businesses be served by deliveries on a bike. There is a demand from restaurants and shops further afield but Ben is sensibly resisting. Bakeries who go down this route often suffer from the logistics of wholesale distribution. It is not just the buying of vans and hiring reliable drivers, but the pressure from customers for whom bread may be the keystone product from which their main product is made (eg sandwich bars). So, we have to go to the bakery, but so worthwhile, to be able to carry home warm loaves straight out of the oven. And there are sandwiches and coffee properly made from Nude Espresso beans to consume before the return journey.
For people who would like to bake their own, there are breadmaking courses every Saturday for around £95, which includes some of the sourdough starter to take home. While I can see the attraction in this, part of the whole experience is the visit there: watching the bakers behind the counter, with the smell of the newly baked bread and the freshly made coffee. An irresistible combination.
London E8 3PH
Tel: 020 8525 2890
Open: every day 07.00 – 19.00