Why Leith has become a hot spot for new cake, bread and pastry shops
These days, we often find ourselves at the bottom of The Walk with an unplanned cake.
How did this part of Edinburgh become such a hotbed of temptation? We’re barely past Pilrig Church before we’re hit with the smell of baking.
There was already The Sicilian Pastry Shop on Albert Street and a scattering of other places, but there have been five fresh independent additions, all within a bun’s throw of each other.
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Owner Lesley Stewart says: “I’ve lived in Leith for 15 years and love the area. I’m always so excited when other independent businesses open near me, so I was super pleased to be opening our second location here.
“Our best-sellers include carrot cake, cinnamon buns and empire biscuits. We also have a few big fans of honeymoon slice, rocky road, Persian love cakes and Nanaimo bars. To be honest there isn’t usually much left on the counter most days.
“Leith has been so welcoming. We are lucky to have wonderful neighbours and it’s exciting to see this area attracting so many great food/drink spots. The customers have been super. We have had some really lovely feedback from new shoppers who haven’t visited us in Stockbridge. I think the open space, where the activity and smells of the kitchen are there for everyone to enjoy, is very special.
“I hear Babyfaced Baker has some amazing vegan bakes and the newly opened Kvasa Bakery does some brilliant breads. I’m also excited to see the Hobz bakery space when it opens”.
This place is just seven months old, and is owned by Sally Santa, her partner Theo Pantazis and his brother Evans, all of whom are originally from Greece. Along with coffee by Machina, they serve a wide range of inventive cakes. How do you possibly choose between a double-buttered bruffin (the love child of a brioche and muffin) with lemon cream, cherry ham, caramelised waffle, meringue and maraschino cherry, or a S’more brownie?
Kvasa Bakery, Shop and Fermentation Lab, 101 Leith Walk, Edinburgh (Instagram @kvasa.bakery)
Co-owner and head baker, Alen Turajlić says: “We are a tiny family-run bakery and we have been baking in Leith for three-and-a-half years. We live locally and baking in our neighbourhood was the most obvious choice, as we do not have cars or any fossil fuel vehicles. We do everything by bike as Kvasa is a zero-waste business.
“We have an allotment at Leith Links Croft, so when they started their farmers’ market a couple of years ago we got a stall, and this gave us an idea to open a permanent shop. We have been looking for a space ever since, so when we found 101 Leith Walk in September last year we were overjoyed.
“Our customers are amazing. We DIY-ed pretty much everything in our shop, from tiling to hand-painting our shop sign, and our customers, keen to see us open, did anything from joinery to cleaning. Since we opened the shop, other local businesses who are our immediate neighbours (Under The Arch, Tip Top Tresses, Mother Superior, Mediterranean Supermarket, Artisan Roast etc) also became our customers – and great friends – in no time. Leith is so fantastically welcoming and super diverse. We feel really fortunate.
“Our best sellers include cinnamon buns. They’re sourdough, and vegan, and made with brown unrefined sugar. They are soft and gooey and simply irresistible. Those and our sourdough focaccia are our most frequently pre-ordered items.
“We can say that we definitely have a French Baguette Club – French customers who come in for their daily baguette. We also make a bread called rugbrod that's 90 per cent rye, with three different types of toasted seeds. It's originally Danish so we have quite a few Scandinavian and German customers coming in for it. Families often go for our miche that keeps up to ten days.
"All our breads are made from only flour, salt and water and nothing else. We practise traditional long fermentation and use only locally sourced organic flour – a kilo of miche comes to £4.50, so having a large wonderfully healthy miche that your family can eat over the course of three to four days is really important”.
Owner Rhiain Gordon says: “I’ve lived in Leith since I moved to Edinburgh over three years ago and I just love it. I’m not a city gal, so I like that it has loads of character and a community feel. The owners of the neighbouring shops have made me feel so welcome and are always there if you’re in a pickle or need some advice.
“My best-sellers seem to change weekly, but it’s usually a toss up between the classic cinnamon buns, pistachio, white choc and cardamom cruffins and the Bueno cookies. We’re lucky to have so many regulars who have stuck by us no matter how bad the tram maze gets outside. We get a great mix of people too, so it’s always lovely to have a chat – even more so when they bring their doggo for a visit.
“Twelve Triangles is always a staple for their baklava bun. Kvasa has been a great addition to the Walk with some top notch sourdough. And Ecosse Eclair for their coffee eclair.”
Hobz, 106 Leith Walk, Edinburgh, (www.hobzbakery.com)
Owner Matthew Mallia says: “We’re planning on opening mid-October. Hobz will be an open plan bakery, which is quite unique in Edinburgh. Everything will be made in plain view. Customers will feel like they’ve walked into a bakery, rather than a retail shop. Bread and pastries will be baked throughout the day, so they’ll be as fresh as can be”.