One of the things I’ve missed the most during lockdown is eating food lovingly prepared by other people in the fabulous restaurants, cafes and bakeries that call London home. There’s nothing I enjoy more than wandering around an unfamiliar part of the city and popping into an interesting independent looking eatery to sample their sandwiches, salad or soup.
I wasn’t one of the many people, then, to jump on the baking bandwagon when Covid-19 saw us all confined to our homes. Bake my own sourdough bread!? Where on earth is the fun in that? I’m already struggling to home-prepare three meals a day without the added hassle of sourcing flour and yeast (who has got all the yeast in London!?) and sitting anxiously next to my oven for an hour, only to turn out a disappointingly flat and decidedly un-artisan looking hunk of beige carbohydrate. No thank you. Bread and bread-related things (pastries, cakes, buns) are my favourite thing to eat, so I’m something of a connoisseur and I like my baked goods expertly prepared and properly enjoyed.
I was quite literally thrilled therefore, to discover Frankonia – The Bread House. Frankonia started as a small bakery and shop in Wimbledon Village in 1998. Since then it has moved on to bigger and better things and is now the go-to supplier for some of the capital’s best chefs, hotels, and restaurants. With a combination of “traditional, authentic methods, highly skilled bakers and the finest ingredients” Frankonia turns out some mighty fine breads and baked goods; including a range of slowly fermented sourdoughs, pretzels, wholesome traditional British loaves, delicious continental varieties, and a very tasty range of breakfast goods and cakes.
I know this because one heaven-sent Thursday morning there was a knock at my door and on answering, a much-anticipated package from Frankonia was delivered into my waiting arms. The first thing that strikes me about my Frankonia delivery is how pretty everything is: well-shaped loaves of bread with just the right amount of flour sprinkled on top, sweet little muffins packed tidily into fours, and the most delectable looking croissants I’ve seen this side of the Channel.
What follows is a homage to baked goods. If you’re a carb-a-phobe, Look away now (I pity you)…
It’s breakfast time, so my housemates and I begin with croissants (plain and almond) and pain au chocolat: all are buttery (without being greasy), flakey (without being dry) and melt-in-the-mouth moreish. Next, we slice off thick portions of the sourdough loaf and devour it with butter and jam. It has the proper tang of a well-made sourdough and is chewy and substantial. I make a mental note to use it for avocado toast at the earliest opportunity.
Over the course of the day we return to our box of delights to break off chunks of doughy, salty pretzels; and we all gather in the kitchen mid-afternoon with mugs of tea to sample the muffins. The apple crumble variety steals the show with its crunchy topping and fresh, fruity taste, but the chocolate chip variety is close behind. Both flavours of muffin are perfectly moist and just the right level of sweetness, not leaving us feeling sick or sugared-out. Every last crumb is scooped up.
Also part of the delivery and enjoyed immensely over the coming days are brioche buns (cloud-like in their softness, and the perfect vehicle for grilled halloumi and avocado); two varieties of cake – carrot (moist, earthy, more-ish) and lemon drizzle (airy, tangy, gone in one sitting); shortbread and coco butter biscuits (light, crumbly, and perfect dunked in tea); a rye loaf (dark, dense, intensely good); an olive and rosemary loaf (begging to be dipped in olive oil and balsamic); and a whole grain loaf (much enjoyed with breakfast eggs and coffee).
Each and every item elicits ‘mmmm’s and ‘ahhhh’s from myself and my housemates and although the quantities are generous and abundant, it’s not long before we’ve happily polished it all off. Interestingly, none of us feel the wipe-out that is sometimes associated with bread, I put this down to the obvious quality of the ingredients used.