The Bakery rises to the occasion
IT’S curious, isn’t it, how you don’t have something for years, experiencing no sense of deprivation whatever, then all of a sudden the thing you lacked becomes absolutely essential.
Before the Bakery By Zique opened in Glasgow, I don’t imagine the residents of Lauderdale Gardens sat around wistfully wishing they had an artisan bakery on the corner of their street. This is Glasgow’s cosmopolitan west end; a light stretch of the legs will take you to a shop selling products that earn the “real bread” description.
In this area, you aren’t condemned to eat technopap. But few aromas are as seductive as fresh baked bread. Proper bread, once you identify it as such, becomes compelling. There’s no going back to that bagged stuff that’s reminiscent of loft insulation, or the powdery, short-life, supermarket “instore” offerings that impersonate the genuinely rustic, handmade article.
The new Bakery By Zique is a small business miracle. Far from having to build up trade, I’m vaguely fretting that it will manage to satisfy the apparently voracious appetite for its products that it has uncovered.
We arrive at 12.45pm on a Saturday to shelves stacked with three types of freshly baked loaves, a long, broad counter over a display cabinet, both packed with parallel lines of cakes and savouries. By 1.15pm the place looks as if it’s been raided.
Phalanxes of baked goods have been frogmarched out the door. We bag the last sourdough loaf to take home, much to the disappointment of the man in the queue behind us.
The enthusiasm and efficiency with which the shelves are cleared is a less frantic version of the bread queues in turbulent countries when word gets out that the shops have got stock. And we make our own little contribution to the shortage, as we work our way through the baked delights from savoury to sweet.
To have a successful food operation you only have to do one thing brilliantly well and people will come flocking to your door. Here at the Bakery By Zique, the pork sausage roll plays that pied piper role. Who doesn’t like sausage rolls? Even the bad ones. But these are in a league of their own. Actually, they’re not very sausagey, more unctuous shredded pork than forcemeat, and their flaky pastry is a dream; none of that gooey, flabby, white inner skin … just a dry, buttery puff gently enclosing succulent meat. You can see why having one of these as a Saturday treat would become absolutely essential.
Our other savouries – a vegetable frittata, peppers stuffed with lamb couscous – struggle to compete. Unlike the sausage roll, they’re not going to drag you out your bed of a weekend. As a symbolic gesture to plant food and health, we drink a green juice, made with peas, spinach, mint, cucumber, apple, and lime, that’s pleasingly un-sweet. The only wrong note is sipping it through a plastic straw, the sort that Greenpeace reminds us often washes up on beaches.
If you’re going to have a sweet thing, this is a good place to do it. The dimensions are sane; not the super-sized mutants that are currently enjoying their day in the sun. And Zique’s cakes are refreshingly adult; nothing is sickly. This is an icing and frosting-free zone. Ingredients are expensive – nuts, good chocolate, fresh fruit, butter – no cloying padding. So there’s a fresh fig, and a daub of a vivid compote (blueberry?) topped with golden almond flakes, disgorging its ripe juices into flaky pastry that shatters on the lips. A dainty pistachio financier has just a hint of almond, its moist buttery depths squidgy with eggs and ground nuts.
Then there are the individual raspberry Bakewell tarts, buttery “pate brisée” encasing almond frangipane and soft baked berries.
Or the brownie, of the uncloying sort, absolutely loaded with hazelnuts. In the chocolate department, a sophisticated dark chocolate and raspberry “bouchon”, and the white chocolate and passionfruit cheesecake are above reproach.
Crucially, everything is baked freshly that day. So, as we see with our own eyes, when it’s gone, it’s gone. No wonder there’s a flurry in Lauderdale Gardens.