OUTSIDE LONDON AGAIN: The Orange Bakery & Hamblin Bread
Oxfordshire bakeries, plus lunch at Strakers in Notting Hill and a brownie special available through any letterbox in the UK!
I’ve started making videos again! I haven’t really felt like it in the last month and, while I’ve wanted to keep my commitment to these emails, I couldn’t muster the energy to create videos that aren’t a requirement for - and don’t seem to make any difference to - my income. 😅
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This week I’ve shared videos showing the insides of To The Rise Bakery and more of what I bought at Halstead Bakery, both of which I wrote about last week.
SIDE NOTE: If anyone has any idea why the last few YouTube videos have so few views compared to the ones before, please let me know. I’m totally clueless on the mechanisms of YouTube! 🤷🏻♀️
And now, for this week’s Delicious Things…
It feels a little like cheating to be telling you about the The Orange Bakery and Hamblin Bread, because I’ve written about them before, but that was two years’ ago (and brief) and there a lot more people receiving this email now (👋 thank you!!! Honestly blows my mind a little bit. I’m very glad you’re all here!).
You’ve probably heard of both of these bakeries and I’m here to tell you that they’re as good as everything you’ve heard, and that The Orange Bakery’s founder Kitty Tait is as effervescent in person as she is on Instagram. I love being inspired by an 18 year old. And she really is so inspiring. Not just because of all of the outward markers of success that so many of us are conditioned to believe are the measure of our worth (she’s co-written an AWARD-WINNING book! Has a successful business! Started a charitable endeavour! Has 140K+ followers online!); what I love and admire most about Kitty is that she approaches life with such good humour and appreciation and willingness to learn. Her intentions and personality are so harmonious with how she moves through the world. She’s a gem, basically.
You can see more of the Fortnum’s Food Writing Award Winners that were announced last week here.
My favourite places to eat - probably apparent if you’ve been getting these emails for a while - are places where the people creating the food are as obsessed with how the food tastes as I am. This is true of both The Orange Bakery and Hamblin Bread.
The Orange Bakery
10 High St, Watlington OX49 5PS
Baker Kitty has probably done stages (free work) in more of the world’s famous bakeries than any baker twice her age.
The bakery is open from Thursday to Saturday and often sells out before closing time at 1pm. Kitty and her dad experiment frequently. People return again and again for the pillowy soft, swirly buns - some sweet, some savoury. I loved the cheese and marmite loaf I had last time and really enjoyed the sesame and miso loaf which replaced it this weekend and the focaccia, too. Kitty suggested the pain suisse and, despite thinking I was full, devoured the whole thing in the car between Watlington and London. It was stuffed full of chocolate and felt akin to eating a delicious puff pastry chocolate pie.
Whilst you’re visiting Watlington make sure to take a few steps down the road to Tutu Delicious, a sweet little chocolate shop that has a new owner. Milissa Davis is the former apprentice of the previous owner and chocolatier, and spent some time in London working at other great chocolate shops, too. She still makes many of the beloved Tutu recipes and will be bringing in her own to the mix soon.
30 High St, Watlington OX49 5PR
247 Iffley Rd, Oxford OX4 1SJ
Hamblin Bread was recently was mentioned in the FT’s list of Top 20 Bakeries in the country (I’ve only been to half of them! ) and it really deserves its place. I was sad they didn’t have the Pump Street Chocolate tart I loved two years ago, but I bought and loved all of the following:
chocolate chip cookies
lemon almond financier
slice of red onion and cheese topped white (no tomato sauce) pizza (this was SO good - it wasn’t a topping I would’ve chosen but it was the only one left). I wish I’d asked what cheese because I couldn’t tell except that it was great. (EDIT: it was Ogleshield!)
walnut tart - sticky, chewy caramel encasing a mass of toasted walnuts in delicate pie crust. As addictive as I remembered.
seeded rye loaf - I’m still working my way through this giant loaf (£7 and huge!) and have been surprised that my almost-4-year-old loves it too. I wish I could buy it every week. If anyone knows something similar in London please let me know! Five days later it’s still like it was bought today (well, obviously the exposed edge gets a little dry, but past that it’s perfect).
Hamblin a proper neighbourhood bakery that was founded by Kate Hamblin and Hugo Thurston in October 2018. The bread and buns are all made with stone ground flour grown with wheat that is harvested within 50 miles of the bakery. The also stock a small selection of carefully curated other foodstuffs.
NEAREST STATION: Oxford
I mention a few other places in and near Oxford from my last visit in 2021 here when I went to lead a live Mystery Chocolate Tasting at a leavers’ ball at a girls’ school. (So fun!)
Hot New London Restaurant: STRAKER’S
91 Golborne Rd, London W10 5NL
Being one of London’s “hot new restaurants” has extra meaning here as most of the items are exposed to flame in their wood-fired oven, or deep fried.
My friend and I sat at the bar and it was definitely warm. I felt a little sorry for the chefs, though not as much as I will in the coming months if warmer weather is finally here (hooray for those of us not forced to spend the day by hot ovens!).
I feel the caveat to this report is that this restaurant, like Orasay that I spoke about recently, is not designed for vegetarians. No shade meant in saying this; there’s no reason every restaurant has to have lots of vegetarian options. I went knowing this. I really enjoyed everything we ate, but I think I’d likely be more effusive if I’d also ordered and eaten wood-fired meat. If that’s your thing, you should definitely go. I’d love to hear what you think.
The staff clearly care about the people and the experience. The advantage of a restaurant that’s almost impossible to get a table at unless you’re willing to eat mid-afternoon (🙋🏻♀️) is there’s a brilliant buzz to eating there.
The courgette fritti and sauce verte (green herb mayonnaise) were perfection, as was the flatbread, asparagus, taleggio ,oregano (on the salty side, but I’ve turned into a salt fiend so was happy with it). The “potato galette” came as deep fried cubes of thinly sliced and pressed potato, reminscent of Quality Chop House’s famous “confit potatoes” that have been on their menu since 2013. I could have eaten a lot more of them and their lemon mayonnaise.
NEAREST STATION: Ladbroke Grove
For something to be “confit” (con-fee) it is cooked low and slow over an extended period in time, intended to preserve the ingredient for consumption in the months after it’s in season. Usually the ingredient is cooked in sugared water (i.e. jam) or fat, after first salting (confit duck probably the most common example).
The word comes from the French to preserve, which you might recognise if you’ve ever had breakfast at a hotel in France or bought Bonne Maman preserves. (Jam is “confiture” in French.)
WEEKLY SECTION: Delicious Things Everywhere!
Brownies by Post
There are a lot of companies selling brownies by post but EK Bakery is one of “the old guard”. Elizabeth is also a friend, but I don’t think that biases my opinion on her brownies and this month the special is Hazelnut Praline which means a layer of crunchy hazelnut praline in the centre of the brownie and I feel like I’d be sad if I didn’t know about this so here is my community service accouncement.
You can buy them here until the end of May: https://ekbakery.co.uk/products/monthlyspecial
Her cakes are also excellent.
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Until next week, I am here, wishing you very happy eating,
In case you didn’t know, I run food tours: Chocolate Ecstasy Tours