Happy Doughnut Day!

Happy Doughnut Day!

To mark National Doughnut Day on 7 June, we chatted to Bread Ahead’s founder Matthew Jones about his cult sweet treats…

Starting off as a stall at Borough Market in 2013, Bread Ahead has gone on to become one of the capital’s most loved bakeries. As well as its artisan breads, there are a range of delish doughnuts – with its crème brulee flavour achieving legendary status among devotees.

Matthew tells us how it came about: “We were just messing about in the bakery one day, and it just kind of came up. I had no idea it would become such a success; it was just one of those fortunate things. Our crème brulee doughnuts are the biggest selling product we have ever made in ten years. It is literally the top, top seller and it just continues to keep selling well.”

Other flavours include lemon curd and praline, as well as the classic raspberry jam. “A lot of the flavours we choose at Bread Ahead are quite old school, we stick with the classics, good ingredients, often with a bit of a retro twist. We also like to use seasonal ingredients, for example during rhubarb season, we like to do a Rhubarb and Custard doughnut, just for short seasons, to really enjoy the moment. Things like Blackcurrant Cheesecake take me back to my childhood, as Blackcurrant Cheesecake was a thing back in the 70s. I suppose the flavours are part of my life journey.”

As to his personal favourites? “It’s hard to pick one, I go through them all; I like the classic raspberry jam, the vanilla, the pistachio, to be honest I like them all and often when I look at the wide range of products we make at Bread Ahead, we tend to make things that I like, so if they are on the table, I love them!”

Apparently, there is an etiquette to eating a doughnut properly… “There are two ways to go into one; you either go in from the top, or pull them apart in the centre. But it is very much a thing I need to sit down and show a person, preferably with a cup of tea in hand! I also think there’s a time of day to really eat a doughnut, we start serving them from 10am, I know in the States everyone starts eating them really early in the morning, I think a doughnut is best eaten after 10am. The time we sell the most is between 1-2pm.”

Bread Ahead runs a doughnut workshop if you want to actually learn to make them yourself. Or there are several branches in London, including Chelsea, Kings Cross, and Borough, where it all started.

Top tips from a professional baker

Matthew’s route into catering started with a training scheme at Thackeray’s House, a restaurant in Tunbridge Wells. “It was absolutely amazing; I fell on my feet and loved it from the very moment I stepped into the kitchen and put on my apron. I had made up my mind that I wanted to be a chef at school, and honestly, I just jumped in with both feet, and never looked back!”

He went on to work in top restaurants such as Pont de la Tour and Bibendum. “Bibendum was my third job. It was the late 80s, I was 21 and it was the first London restaurant I worked in, with the proper players! It was amazing, hard work, long hours, tough kitchen – but I absolutely loved it.”

So, what makes a successful baker? “Consistency really, you just have to be consistent in everything you do. You have to be really committed and focused. You need to weigh things, check things, be very dexterous, be good with your hands and have an eye for detail. And just keep going.”

As to his favourite foodie places in London? “I love Brick Lane Bagel and often go up there for a bagel and I generally like other bakeries, funnily enough. Places like Little Bread Pedlar, Dusty Knuckle, because it’s a very nice business, the bakery world, we all know each other and it’s lovely and friendly. I have no problem shouting about other businesses and celebrating what they do, there’s enough in it for everybody!”