The best bread in Sydney
You’ve probably broken Iggy Ivanovic’s bread at one of Sydney’s top restaurants. This is bread you need to work at: the thick, chewy crust of the sourdough is a workout for the jaw, giving way to a slight earthy, sour flavour and incredible texture. Iggy’s bread deserves the best butter you can find, and that’s about all you’ll want to put on it.
While we were still scarfing down Wonder White in the ’90s, the bakers at Infinity Bakery were crafting the beginnings of Sydney’s sourdough revolution. No matter what adventure you choose from the wall of yeasted breads, white, rye and multigrain sourdoughs, you’ll be guaranteed a deeply flavoursome loaf. The sticky rye sourdough, for example, sports a dark caramelised crust with not-quite-burnt flavour notes; a lick of honey in the bread dough adds a mellow sweetness. Purists should go straight for the classic sourdough, made with organic, unbleached whole wheat flavour.
When Berkelo opened in Brookvale, punters were quick to call it the Iggy’s of the north. Australian unbleached stone ground flour doughs are fermented for at least 18 hours, and varieties change with the seasons. You can tell there’s a chef’s touch to the loaves (Berkelo was founded by former the Boathouse Group executive chef Tom Eadie). The fruit sourdough is made with lemon myrtle tea and spiked with blueberries, grapes and fig, while the virtuous sprouted grain loaf sports lentils, buckwheat, flax and rye. The terms ‘local’ and ‘artisan’ are thrown around like confetti these days, but Berkelo is deserving of both.
A social enterprise bakery set up by the team behind Bourke Street Bakery, the Bread and Butter Project acts as a wholesale arm of the popular Bourke Street brand, training and funnelling profits back towards Sydney’s refugees and asylum seekers. The bread offers more than just a feelgood factor; the hand-shaped dough proofs for two days to deliver that signature tang to their large range of organic loaves. Notable mention goes to the beer and barley loaf, an ideal match for cheddar cheese or a loaded Ploughman’s.
With a sourdough starter that would be of legal drinking age in America, Brasserie is another of Sydney’s bread institutions. Using wheat from Gwydir Shire and South Australia’s Southern Flinders Ranges, the large range of single origin and blend wheat breads are widely available throughout all of Australia now. Try the sourdough for a traditional smooth, waxy crumb or the sprouts wheat for a drier, more textured bread.
Sonoma may be a giant in the artisan bread game, but the bakers have maintained a high level of quality in their product. Sonoma’s first sourdough starter was smuggled back from Northern California, where co-founder Andrew Connole learnt how to bake, in the ’90s. The signature miche loaf is a good deal darker than the other sourdoughs on this list – you can tell it has spent time in a wood-fired oven from the deep coloured crust and its intoxicating, slightly smoky aroma.
Originally based in Darlinghurst and now spread throughout Sydney, the Grumpy Baker is a must-try for lovers of rye. Using a rye starter culture, baker Michel Cthurmer churns out German-style kibble, black Russian, Pugliese and pumpernickel breads with a distinct, slightly cheesy flavour imparted by the starter. The speciality breads are also impressive: the roast potato sourdough has notes of olive oil and rosemary, and the walnut and fig sees butter and honey folded through the dough.
You’d expect seriously good bread from the pastry whizzes responsible for what might be the world’s most Instagrammed cake (the strawberry and watermelon number, in case you’ve been living under a rock). And you should. A wood-fired oven at the Rosebery headquarters lends a nice char to the dense, chewy traditional sourdough, which is also used to make the excellent in-house toasties.
Trust us when we say that Brickfields is worth braving the queue for. And all that waiting will give you time to ponder whether you want a beautifully spongy, rustic ciabatta with its big pockets of air, or the tighter, denser rye that delivers a malt hit. A loaf of white sourdough (made with single origin Spitfire flour) delivers the sour note you want in a proper sourdough, with an addictive elastic texture that makes it hard to stop at one slice. Come Easter time, the hot cross buns here are arguably the best in Sydney.
At Pioik, your introduction to Egyptian breads may be the wood-fired flatbread that arrives as fat soft pillows with the Sultans lunch and will have you licking olive oil, salt and spice from your fingers. It’s delicious gateway to Enkir, Kemu and Aftoni (an ancient cereal loaf, rye and sourdough, respectively) and eventually, the heaviest of Sydney breads, the Epooro. Clocking in at two kilograms in weight, this whole wheat heavyweight needs to be ordered in advance and is also available by the quarter.
Prefer your baked goods on the sweet side?
We’re pretty lucky that here in Sydney we have some of the best darn pastry chefs in the country. From the genius that is the strawberry watermelon cake at Black Star Pastry, to that ginger tart at Bourke Street Bakery, here’s where to get a lil’sweet stuff in Sydney.