I first came across the Little Bread Pedlar at the launch of Association, they sell a range of their pastries, and it was Dave’s enthusiasm for their products and artisan ethos that struck a chord with me, and meant I kept my eyes and ears peeled for the name elsewhere. Originally a stall at Tachbrook Street market as Cherry Pippin, former St John Bakery pastry chef, Nichola moved her business to the Maltby Streets Spa Terminus location earlier this year under the Little Bread Pedlar title. Since then the bakery has grown to supply many cafes and delis wholesale, they’ve truly perfected their croissants along with a growing range of other baked goods which they deliver daily by bicycle, hence the name.
Association have been merrily, and rather cruely as I can never get to their coffee shop during opening times, tweeting pictures of a delicious sounding parma rose (parma ham baked within the layers of a round croissant) which I’m anxious to try, the dough, as with all their pastries, really does look perfect, layer upon light, crispy, flaky layer, mmmm. What really caught my attention when I was idly browsing their website, was an image of some wonderful looking iced buns. Now my love for a good bun knows no bounds, I’m a huge bread addict, it has always been my carb of choice. Give me a doughnut, or a belgian/chelsea/iced bun over a fancy dessert any day. Those buns taunted me with their appeared perfection and candy iced stripe.
A couple of months ago The Little Bread Pedlar announced they were opening a shop on Abbey Street, just a short stroll from their Terminus Spa location and the lovely Maltby Street. The cafe is set to open properly today, but on Saturday they had a preview, a window of a few hours on a sunny morning in which to launch. As you can imagine I popped along to have a peek, keen to actually try some of their now fabled, in my mind at least, baked goods. You will have to forgive some of the terrible images in this post, I’m afraid my beloved iphone was stolen on Friday afternoon, in broad, unforgiving daylight, and I had to manage a whole weekend without it. I know. Imagine…
Although Maltby Street market is slowly edging across towards Terminus Spa and Abbey Street, this patch is still fairly ungentrified, mainly business estates, run down shops and tower blocks. The little bread Pedlar shop blends easily into it’s surroundings with a faded and worn front, those basketed delivery bicycles rest outside, a shiny branded window the only element standing out all sparkly. Inside, the cafe is really just a long counter running the length of the shop with a couple of mismatched tables and chairs, and yet so sweet for it. Paint is peeling and you get the feeling all appliances are many years, and possibly many owners old, it reminds me of summer holidays sat in my Granny’s kitchen making peppermint creams and coconut ice. Jelly moulds, pale turquoise crockery and vintage glassware is stacked up on shelves at the back reinforcing the lemon and pale blue colour scheme and old fashioned ideal; everything is muted, relaxed, unrushed, charming.
Coffee is offered simply as a V60 pourover made with Monmouth beans, made carefully, and well. I’m offered a complimentary slice of cake but told iced buns will be some time (Waaaah), not wanting, on this occasion, to be awkward and unbalance the harmonious equilibrium in place, I accept the proffered slab. Actually it’s really bloody good; a moist banana cake is stuffed with whole chunks of pecans and plastered with a rich butterscotch frosting. But as I’m finishing a scene unfolds before me; deeply golden rows of little bread buns are unleashed from a wooden box, icing nozzles are trimmed to just the right angle, and a small crowd of us gather slightly bizzarely to watch the magical performance that is the icing of the buns. Transfixed we stand as neat lines are piped, vibrant rasberry racing languidly with pale lemon and cardamom. Buns are handed out to eager hands, I’m taken pity on, clearly my wide eyes betray my bread lust, and my white striped beauty is carefully wraped in wax paper, then brown paper bag before nestling in my bag.
I unfurl my iced bun from it’s constraints later that afternoon; such a beautifully simple thing executed perfectly, a chewy dark crust yields to rich sweet bread topped with just the right amount of lemon and cardamom soft fondant icing. I can honestly say you won’t find better. Anywhere.