Most of us in Lincolnshire, most of the time, consume uniform baked products, produced on an industrial scale by workers we will never meet. But it’s not the only choice available to us.
We went to meet three highly skilled and passionate bakers, who are baking fresh each day on Lincoln High Street. It’s a joyous break from the bland uniformity that we are used to!
Katarzyna – SuperLincs
Katarzyna is the head baker at SuperLincs on High Street, leading a team of four bakers – two bread bakers who work through the night, and two cake bakers who work daytimes.
Katarzyna shows me her 7-year-old rye zakwas (sourdough starter). She explains that commercial bread gives her tummy aches and digestive problems, but she can eat her own bread every day.
With just one or two exceptions (pastries, white bread) all of the bread made at SuperLincs is made using natural fermentation.
It’s hard to find good bakers, she tells me, but she has a great staff team.
“SuperLincs is international; our customers come from everywhere, so it’s important that the staff can communicate with them,” she explains.
Katarzyna has been here three years, and has made lots of changes in that time. She has lots of scope to be creative, and many baking traditions to draw on. They make 80-100 different kinds of cakes, so every day is different.
There is hardly any waste, though, because they have such tight controls on what is baked each day and can be highly responsive. Anything that is a few days old is reduced to half price. The customers love the promotions; they get snapped up!
Katarzyna takes visible pride and pleasure in her work. “Baking is my life. I really like my job. Now my daughters have grown up, my home is here. If my customers are happy, I’m happy!”
Gaetano – Cafe Pino
Complete with a fascinating model of the leaning tower of Pisa, Cafe Pino has that kind of honest authenticity which transports you.
We could have easily been seated at a train station cafe in Messina.
Gaetano, a Sicilian chef, bakes traditional Sicilian street food from scratch each day. Massimo serves coffee and greets customers with a warm smile and captivating Sicilian accent.
Gaetano has been developing his baking skills for over 20 years. The dough made every morning uses 2 different types of flour.
Pizza and Calzone fritti – a deep fried, folded pizza from Palermo with all sorts of toppings and fillings are ready for a speedy lunch.
The Arancini – rice formed into balls, filled and fried are enormous and a meal in themselves.
We were pretty much jumping with excitement to find that Gaetano makes fresh Cannoli Siciliani – a delicate pastry tube filled with sweet ricotta. Truly a rare find and definitely as good as I have tasted in Venice.
Everything is cooked in their tiny kitchen, in one pizza oven with astonishing expertise, and presented beautifully with a great deal of love and pride.
Taha – Rayan Food store
Possibly the freshest bread in the city of Lincoln, Taha bakes Iranian flatbreads to order in the smallest bakery you have ever seen, in the back of Rayan Food stores.
Taha has been a baker for 10 years, following 2 years of training. We order some flatbreads, and watch him at work. He forms a neat, even disc from a ball of dough, with an ease and speed that defies any experience that I have ever had with bread dough!
Using a circular pad, he deftly slaps the circle of dough onto the hot inner wall of a cylindrical tandoori oven.
We watch as the dough forms soft bubbles and chars before our eyes! When they’re cooked, he whisks them out and onto paper ready to wrap – though not before we have torn off a piece to taste! Delicious hot, chewy bread which is dangerously moreish.
I ask him why he chose to be a baker. “Because I can make it taste so good,” he admits with a slight shrug, as if to state the blindingly obvious.
I couldn’t agree more!
Massive thanks to all of the bakers featured, for your patience with our questions and for your amazing delicious baking!
This article is published in August 2022 Lincoln Independent.