North London's Cultural Guide

Bread by bike

Bread by Bike will now deliver sourdough to your door

Owner Andy Strang has a clever new concept to celebrate its first birthday. Plus a guide to other Brecknock Road highlights


here’s nothing better than the smell of freshly baked sourdough. Who doesn’t enjoy a piece slathered with butter, or toasted, spread liberally with jam?

Sitting in Bread By Bike, Andy Strang’s laidback teal-fronted space on Brecknock Road, a heavenly aroma emanates from the industrial kitchen out back. The light and airy café has a relaxed vibe, with a couple of communal wooden tables, and artwork from local talents Andrew Pegram and Ruth Batham showcased on the two side walls. The menu is concise, with appetising options such as baked eggs with oven-roasted tomato sauce.

Sweet goodies perch on the counter: sticky cardamom buns, moist Polish yoghurt and plum cake and decadent chocolate brownies. Everything is baked in-house, either by Andy or one of his twelve staff. Yep, you heard right: twelve. It’s been a busy year for the physicist-turned-baker.

Sourdough at Bread by Bike, Brecknock Road
There’s the delivery vehicle. Photo: Laura Evans

What’s the next step?
At the moment all of our deliveries are just going to our wholesale customers here, in Finsbury Park, and centrally. Our plan is to launch a subscription service now. I went down the route of starting a bakery but the idea has always been to try home delivery. We’re going to trial it on quite a small scale; put it out to our mailing list. If you want to be part of that pilot, the best thing to do is join. It’s going to be super local, a one-mile radius from here. First of all we’re going to offer two evening deliveries a day.


And how will the goods be delivered?
On two wheels, of course. If people see it coming out of an Uber they’re not going to be happy. Our set-up is outside, a new bike and trailer.

So, why loaves?
I’ve always loved food and been interested in cooking. One part of it is bread, and I just started baking it at home. This was in 2009. I was playing around with sourdough starter and making some pretty crap bread to be honest. But when you bring it out of the oven, it’s hot and risen a bit, that makes you excited. It just went from there.

It’s all about the sourdough, why’s that?
It’s just the best way to make bread, getting all of the characteristics that I like from the extended fermentation period. You can make it quicker, but in my opinion you just end up with an inferior product. In terms of the flavour, the crust, crumb – it’s all about a low, slow and natural process.

How would you describe the taste and look?
It isn’t a really sour flavour, it’s meant to be balanced. You’ve got the acidity that comes from the starter, but it’s offset by the natural sweetness. The crust is caramelised: it’s got this glossy and blistered look and feel.

Does the recipe change much?
It’s always evolving, we’re constantly tweaking it. The environment changes, notably the temperature, and also the raw ingredients. If you’re baking with lots of water every day, when you go from one batch of flour to the next you really notice the difference, just because it’s a natural ingredient.

How often does the range change?
We don’t change it a lot to be honest. The rye, the spelt, the hippy and the classic are what I started with. We’ve just modified the rye, taken the wheat out and replaced it with wholemeal spelt. Sprouted quinoa is the latest addition.

Sourdough at Bread by Bike, Brecknock Road
Classic sourdough. Photo: PR

What’s your fave?
Probably the hippy (organic wheat and rye with poppy, flax, pumpkin and sunflower). We couldn’t pull that one, or I don’t know what would happen.

What’s your top tip for leftovers?
Last Sunday, I cooked one of my favourite dishes for my family. You roast chicken and for the last half hour put croutons of stale sourdough around it, and cook it in all of the juices. Add some dressing and leaves – and call it a salad.

What are your main goals for the year?
To properly trial the home delivery service. I think it’s also really important to get things just right here. We’ve starting playing around with some pastry, so first of all there’s just going to be some savoury and sweet puffs. I’d like to do croissants: that’s a whole other technical thing, a learning process.

Is there a bakery number two on the horizon?
Possibly. I’m starting to consider it. If there is, my feeling is that it might be a good idea to focus on patisserie. It’s quite a different environment you need.

So the academic world is a distant memory?
I think I’d do a hard job to convince them that I actually really wanted to do it when I’ve buggered off and opened a bakery.

Bread by Bike, open daily at 30 Brecknock Rd, N7. Loaves from £2.50.

Best of Brecknock

Best of Brecknock
Salvino exterior. Photo: Laura Evans

Elsewhere on the road, there’s a veritable array of outlets. Salvino, the Sicilian deli, has been around since 1979. They stock an array of Italian goodies – think handmade ravioli and hunks of Parmigiano Reggiano.

Bumblebee offers a host of natural food stuffs: dried nuts, organic fruit and veg and honey fill the shelves – it’s a haven for those concerned with their well-being. Established in 1980, the owners have an impressive three premises clustered together.

Those seeking a modern-yet-vintage wedding dress, look no further than Belle & Bunty – with Alice Shreeve and Hannah Coniam at the helm, you’re in good hands. Then tick off another job for the big day at make-up specialists MLA. They teach courses too.

Got a pair of shoes tucked away in the back of the wardrobe that need mending? Mosey on down to Classic Repair: these guys have been fixing footgear for over five decades. A few doors down are framers Circa 48, who do clever things with pictures and photos. And don’t forget the awesome Third Estate vegan clothes store.

If there’s DIY crying out to be done at home, TR Hardware is packed full of curtain rails, paints, tools and bulbs. Talking of lighting, SKK brims with interesting pieces – the likes of Godzilla, pug and robot lamps.

Hungry after all that? Head to Healthy Wealthy vegan (don’t miss their plant-based ice-cream), India Garden or Bangalore Brasserie. It’s funny how much there is on such a short stretch.

Main image credit: Laura Evans

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