insideKENT’s Baker’s Dozen
From scrumptious sourdough and perfect pastries to luscious loaves and creative cakes, Kent’s bakeries and patisseries come in all shapes and sizes and are certain to delight even the most discerning of palates.
Kent’s love affair with baking is one that has lasted centuries. Evolving with society’s desires for different bakes along with cultural influences brought to our shores from across the globe, it is an area of food that Kent has seen mature with finesse. Rising like a crusty loaf or a fluffy cake in the oven, this is a story that, like many others, began with Kent’s fertile soil and brilliant agriculture. This part of baking history can still be witnessed in Kent today, with the biggest ode to the industry being the magnificent marks it made on the land – the Kentish windmill. Although only a few survive to this day, with many falling into disrepair due to their fragile nature or having been converted into private homes, they make a spectacular sight to see and are an important part of Kentish heritage.
The Union Mill in Cranbrook is England’s tallest smock windmill. Standing at 72-feet high with white weatherboarding, it is one of the few remaining traditional mills still in operation for its original use of making flour – which can be purchased in the souvenir shop. Another architectural feature that has stood the test of time are Kent’s town and village bakeries. Although somewhat falling victim to the surge in supermarkets and cheap mass production sometime after the 1970s, today like many other local artisan businesses and makers, we have applauded their resurgence. Kent has also welcomed in a whole host of ‘born again’ bakery concepts, dreamt up by creatives that have reimagined the ‘traditional bakery’ in new and exciting forms. From coffee shops with a focus on pastries and Instagrammable vegan cakes to ‘micro bakeries’ that deliver sensational goodies on a bike to your doorstep, Kent will have a bakery to suit, no matter your taste. Here are just some of insideKENT’s favourites:
Mrs Sourdough, Chatham
A bakery, patisserie and coffee shop located in historic Chatham, this Medway gem is always filled with fresh baked sourdough loaves, as well as incredible cakes, savoury treats, lunches and specialty coffee. Well known for their artisan bread which is kneaded, leavened, shaped and baked with traditional methods using no artificial preservatives and no flour improvers, founder of Mrs Sourdough, Kat, says: “The only thing we add is our endless passion for real bread”. Kat also explains why she chose to focus her creativity on sourdough. “Sourdough bread isn’t made with commercial yeast but with a live fermented culture of flour and water to help the dough rise. This makes it one of the healthiest breads as the long fermentation helps break down gluten and it becomes more digestible and you feel much lighter.”
White Finch Bakery, Meopham
A myriad of mesmerising cakes, beautiful brownies, scrumptious scones, perfect pastries and more are baked here, all with fresh and locally sourced ingredients. As well as the sweet stuff, there’s also savoury sourdoughs, bagels and breads, all of which you can enjoy with a strong cup of tea in a beautiful china teapot or take away with you to enjoy in the comfort of home or outdoors at one of Kent’s beauty spots.
Gilda Bakery is nestled in the heart of one of Kent’s prettiest villages amidst rolling green countryside and Jane Austen-style stately homes. The bakery was established by master in his trade, Jon Warren, who brings his rich culinary experience from one of the world’s food capitals, San Sebastian, to the Kent countryside. A delicious range of plain and flavoured loaves and decadent flaky pastries can be enjoyed alongside a coffee from next door Tadpoles Tearoom – but be aware – these pastries are so good that you will not be able to stop thinking about them for the rest of 2023.
Vegan Antics, Gravesend
Kent’s first and finest vegan bakery, established in 2015 in a small kitchen in Kent when vegan treats were still hard to come by. “It did not take long for the word to get around about our delicacies as we ship all over the UK; it was a dream coming true! Our loyal customers stuck by us and watched us grow so quickly that we finally had the means to open our first actual bakery in April of 2017,” says founder, Grace. Offering high quality products, available to order across the UK or for collection, Vegan Antics have a forever-expanding product range including a variety of cakes, cupcakes, rocky roads, flapjacks, biscuits, cookies, pastries, desserts and other exciting sweet treats. “Just because our products are vegan does not mean that we have compromised on taste,” says Grace, who caters for those suffering from intolerances and allergies too and focuses heavily on being ethical and eco-friendly.
‘The most talked about cookies in Kent!’ This is the ultimate one-man-band baker pop up, travelling all over the UK on tour. Rugged, homestyle baked cookies are carefully crafted by this cookie creative genius using only the greatest local and premium ingredients. Order your batches directly or follow his Instagram to see if you can catch him at an event.
Bicycle Bakery, Tunbridge Wells
One man using his ultimate skill and expertise to tap into the sourdough trend and beyond from the heart of leafy Tunbridge Wells. With one wish to combine his love for fine French patisserie and sourdough baking seeing him wake up as early as 2am to begin a day’s baking, Jamie cycles to the bakery to prep these goods fresh every day. Driven by his passion and commitment to his craft as well as the community he serves, sweet crumbly croissants, fluffy breads, exquisite sourdough, his famous cruffins and more have amassed a large and loyal following for this indie TW treasure. By focusing on the traditional methods of baking bread, each unique loaf that Jamie creates is not only appealing to the eye but also just as divine to the tastebuds.
Modern Provider, Margate
Slotting perfectly in to Margate’s artisan-meets-hipster-creative persona, Modern Provider serves a delectable selection of breads, bagels, loaves, baguettes, sourdough, flavoured breads, croissants, range of sweet patisserie and toasted sandwiches. Supplying bread and sourdough loaves to a large portion of Margate’s eateries you can either keep an eye out for the goods in the town or take a visit to the bakery itself. Here you can catch a glimpse of the talented baker hard at work in his kitchen while enjoying a delicious cup of coffee with your treat.
Docker Bakery, Folkestone and The Goods Shed Canterbury
This sourdough specialist bakery was born out of a passion for hand crafting bread that is incredibly delicious, nutritious and sustaining. “Our purpose is to work in a way that benefits our community, our customers and the environment,” says baker, Molly. Baking everything from perfectly formed focaccia and ciabattas to dreamily flaky pastries and perfectly formed cruffins, whatever your bakery desires might be, they are sure to be exceeded by Docker.
Average Doughs Bakery, West Malling
Sourdough micro-bakery and speciality coffee shop based in Leybourne Chase Sports Pavilion, West Malling. Expect a team full of fun and passion baking a host of wonderful bakes including but not limited to dreamy cinnamon swirls, zesty lemon drizzle and devilishly good triple chocolate brownies. If savoury’s more your thing, indulge in a delicious sourdough toastie.
The Independent Baker, Hythe
Everything at The Independent Baker is baked with a ‘whole lotta love’ by Natasha, including beautiful bespoke birthday cakes. Since 2017, Hythe has been home to this gorgeous bakery, said to put smiles on the faces of everyone who has ever tasted its delights! Come in and see Natasha and the team where you will find a sumptuous range of sweet treats and savoury delights on the counters. “Make sure you come in early to avoid disappointment,” says Natasha. “We have a reputation for things to sell out pretty fast!”
Neighbourhood bakery in Cliftonville, Margate cooking up bread and sweet buns. Passionate about using sustainable and high quality ingredients to make delicious bakes, you’ll find sourdoughs, yeasted loaves, sweet buns and ryes alongside specials, which often include tasty heritage grains for something a little different in your breakfast routine. Run by Kent raised husband and wife team, Will and Charlotte, Oast is the culmination of many years of training and experimentation.
Cheran’s Bakery, Sittingbourne, Canterbury & Rochester
So good are Cheran’s bakes that they now have three stores in Kent up and running! From amazing brownies to soft chunky cookies, Cheran’s have everything your sweet tooth desires. Everything is baked fresh every day so you know you’re getting the tastiest possible treat. Stop by a store and try a baked good or simply order online and they’ll ship straight to your door. No challenge is too big for Cheran’s making it a great choice for parties and corporate events.
An incredible one-woman enterprise, Bradbourne Bakery is an award-winning microbakery, baking and delivering handmade bread to households in Sevenoaks. The bakery is run by lifelong bread enthusiast, Annabel Carter, and named after Bradbourne Lakes, a lake and community in north Sevenoaks where Annabel used to feed the ducks as a child and now lives with her family. All bread, including their acclaimed sourdough, is baked to order and made in small batches. Weekly specials, rye, focaccia, ciabatta, sandwich loaves, sticky buns and sourdough cookies. Winner of the National Bakery Awards Best Bakery in Kent 2020 and a proud claimant to a Great Taste Award.