KP+: Marmalade, Ricotta & Almond cake
A recipe by Nichola Gensler
One of the best jobs I’ve ever had, and one that truly informed (and still informs) me as a baker, was Little Bread Pedlar. Spread across three railway arches in Bermondsey and active for almost 24 hours a day (a brief period of quiet between 4pm and 9pm was usual), LBP was a flurry of flour, butter and … techno music. Or pounding heavy metal music. Or maybe Afro-Cuban Jazz. It depended on which baker was working. Walking past the arch at 3am, you might have thought some kind of secret rave was going on. And I guess there was in a way; Thousands of pastries and breads were coming to life, rising up in the blistering heat of four-storey ovens, shattering, crisp, golden, triumphant. Little did the 8am commuters know that their pastries, baked just hours before, were instilled with the spirit of punk, or the soul of 90s house.
I learned a lot at LBP and made lifelong connections - friends, collaborators, mentors. One of those people is Nichola Gensler. Nichola set up Little Bread Pedlar back in 2010. Along with her business partner, she grew the it from a market stall (where she hand-laminated pastries) to the energetic 10,000 pastry-a-week wholesale operation. In 2016 when I was looking for a new challenge, wanting to learn about viennoiserie, I asked around about who made the best croissant in London and, time and time again, I heard three words: “Little Bread Pedlar”.
Over the years running LBP, Nic perfected her croissant (along with a whole other selection of products); to this day, it’s still one of the best I’ve ever had. Flavourful, fluffy in the right way, crispy in the important places. Although we are quite used to having artisan bakeries on our doorstep now, Nic was doing something extraordinary over a decade ago and treading new ground, a butter pioneer. I’m pretty sure she single-handedly set a new standard for croissants in London. Quite a feat.