Review: Baltic Bakehouse- A warm welcome from Liverpool’s cafe-cum-bakery

Baltic: colloquial adjective used to describe cold or freezing conditions.

I’m sure we’re all aware of the word’s more recent meaning in reference to chilly conditions. However, if you put Baltic in front of the word ‘bake house’, you’ve got something that’s enough to warm you up from the inside out.

Baltic Bakehouse opened its oven doors earlier this year and its stock has been rising ever since. The bakery is becoming more and more recognisable of one of the few independent bakeries in the city and a Saturday afternoon visit is enough to see why foodies are flocking here.

Located on Bridgwater Street, at the very heart of the ‘Baltic Triangle’, Baltic Bakehouse is offering an alternative to what I’m sure we can all agree is a lack of quality bread-making outlets in Liverpool.

Grace and Sam Henley are the sister and brother behind the bakery that produces fresh sourdough and yeast breads as well as offering a range of coffees, teas, pastries and other sweet things. Oh, and they also do a cracking bacon butty.

The idea to open the bakery stemmed from their experience of a distinct lack of quality bread-making in their home city.

“We decided to start the Bakery because there was no decent bread in Liverpool, it seemed the only option for bread was shopping at the supermarket” said Grace.

Sliced bread is convenient, but what is it about their bread that should deter people from Tesco and have them head out of the city centre?

“We make things from scratch at the Bakehouse and that is important to us. The emphasis for us is quality. So much food produced now is just mediocre and not a pleasure to eat and this is because of the quality of the ingredients”.

Baltic Bakehouse uses Shipton Mill organic flour and along with their boast that they use no additives or preservatives, Sam (the baker) really does ensure that their customers are getting fresh bread every time. Sliced bread, you can stuff your polythene wrapper.

There is a healthy variety of breads on offer at Baltic Bakehouse and the versatility of the bakery is what keeps people coming back for more. Whether it’s their traditional sourdough ‘Baltic Wild’, or ‘Moss Lake Wild’ a wholewheat sourdough, there’s enough going on to entertain even the hardest-pleased foodie.

What helps set Baltic Bakehouse apart from a traditional bakery is that it doubles as a sit in café. You need not even touch the bread if you don’t want (although there’s no getting away from that warming waft of fresh bread); there’s more than enough sweet treats such as chocolate orange or almond and apple tarts, Danish pastries and sticky buns.

In addition, the coffee and tea menu seems to be in a constant state of flux and this fits in perfectly with many of the bakery’s ‘coffee-geeks’.

“We often get complimented on our coffee. We may not do espresso and cappuccino but we serve excellent brew coffee and brew coffee is where it is at for the coffee geeks in the world.”

And she has a point. You’d certainly struggle to find Guatemalan caramel or biscuit coffee at Costa.

The Henleys certainly seem to have struck a good balance at their bakery, catering for the more particular individuals with a more alternative taste, while pulling in those simply in need of a builder’s brew and bacon butty.

Toasters adorn each table, allowing you to pick your bread, settle down with your tea or coffee (which comes with its own timer to ensure the optimum brew has been achieved), slice to your own thickness and pop it up when it’s ready. Slathering with raspberry and peach jam is optional, but recommended.

The bakery is also committed to encouraging growth from within the triangle, as well wanting to provide Liverpool with quality, tasty bread. They held a Halloween Beer Festival not long ago, teaming up with Mad Hatter’s Brewing Company, a local micro-brewery about to move into the triangle.

“The Halloween Beer Fest was brilliant and a big success” said Grace, who also sets up shop at farmer’s markets on Allerton Road, Woolton Village and Lark Lane.

“We did the food and Mad Hatter’s did the beer. We will definitely do more foodie events in the future so watch this space”

And it’s this kind of cooperation with local companies that earns Baltic Bakehouse even more plaudits for what they are doing. Their café is decorated with framed illustrations from Liverpool artists, while the jams and condiments are locally sourced.

“We are a local independent shop and cafe and we ask people to support us rather shop or eat at any big chains, so we feel that we should be doing the same thing for other local businesses/artists. It is so important for us to support local independents, not only because it puts money back into Liverpool, but also because what you get from these places is often better quality and more interesting. You know exactly what to expect from chain restaurants/shops and it’s dull and uninspiring.”

Uninspiring they are. The last thing Liverpool needs is another Starbucks or Caffe Nero and the noises and smells coming from Baltic Bakehouse is enough to warm us to the idea that fresh, quality, local baking is possible in the city after all.

Baltic Bakehouse, 46 Bridgwater Street, L1 0AY. Opening times: Mon-Fri, 8.30-5.30; Saturday, 10-4, Sunday- closed.

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