Independent bakeries you knead to know

We all tried to make banana bread during lockdown, but for these local businesses – who all launched over the past year – baking is their passion and profession. We discover their stories and star bakes


Celebrity chef and London City Island resident Sven-Hanson Britt launched all-day dining hub Homestead in late 2020, just days before lockdown 2.0. While catering to the whole community, Homestead’s range of fresh bread and baked goods has proved enduringly popular.

What do you bake at Homestead?
We offer a full range of awesome bread and freshly baked goods and we spend ages tasting samples and getting our recipes and our suppliers just right for what we want to offer. The whole point of Homestead is to have a one-stop shop for people who want the best, hand-made, delicious food from across London and the UK. For example, today we’re selling 30-hour sourdough, baguettes, focaccia, giant ciabattas, potato and rosemary loaves, croissants, cinnamon swirls, brownies, fruit cakes, cheese cakes, pastel de nata, chocolate and red velvet cakes and more. There is a huge range, but it’s all really great. The kitchen at Homestead is modest, so it is important to us to outsource carefully and get our hands on only the very best.

Homestead's in-demand 30-hour sourdough

What would you say is your signature bake?
Our bread sells so quickly, we keep making and ordering more and more and it’s always sold out at the end of the day. Baguettes and focaccia, in particular, seem to be a massive crowd favourite. Our 30-hour, slow and long fermented sourdough would have to be the product that best epitomises us as a company though. It takes time to make something delicious. It also makes the best toast imaginable.

What is your earliest memory associated with desserts?
I think my very first dessert memory is probably rhubarb or plum crumble made by my parents or my gran. It’s not the usual rose-tinted story mind, because I absolutely hated it. I remember it being so sour and astringent. For years I just scraped the crumble from the top, ate that part only, and got thoroughly reprimanded for ruining everyone else’s ratios. My poor dad and grandad’s dedication to growing kilos of fruit in the garden every year was completely in vain. I do like rhubarb and plums now though. My MasterChef winning dessert was 100% plum, so maybe I’m subliminally trying to make up for something.

If you could share a Homestead pastry with any celebrity, who would it be and why?
It would have to be a pastel de nata. I love them. They are perfection with a strong black coffee. The best mid-morning boost of energy. I’d love to share one with Fernand Point, a French chef and restaurateur who is considered to be the father of modern French cuisine. He was a truly talented and remarkable chef who changed everything.

“Our bread sells so quickly, we keep making and ordering more and it’s always sold out at the end of the day”


What do you like about London City Island and what has the feedback from locals been like?
London City Island is really one-of-a-kind; I’ve never experienced a part of London quite like it. Sometimes it’s quiet and peaceful, like a small village in the countryside somewhere. The wildlife from the local rivers and nature reserve is not like any other part of London I’ve experienced. Other times there is a huge amount of bustle and energy. I’ve only known London City Island during Covid-19, so that probably plays a huge factor in the experience of a place. That being said, whether it’s busy and bustling or quiet and sleepy, there is a great amount of positive energy here. Lots of young couples and families, entrepreneurs, creatives and artists – all of which really inspire us as well as keep us motivated to keep pushing on. Firstly, the welcome, and then the feedback has been fantastic. We’ve really been welcomed into LCI as our new home.

What new products are you working on?
We can’t wait to welcome people back to Homestead when restrictions are lessened. We’re hoping for great weather, lots of sunshine and, in turn, a new menu of bakery products and patisserie. Stay tuned and look out for all the best, seasonal summer fruit and berries from the best UK producers and growers.

The newly refurbished terrace at Homestead is now open for alfresco drinking and dining. Book your place by visiting their website.

Fresh croissants from Homestead

Tökfej Bakery

After accidentally buying too much flour, Ho Yee Cheung (better known as Mondi) made a batch of her signature matcha cookies to share with her London City Island neighbours. The sweet treats were such a hit that Mondi and her boyfriend Daniel were encouraged to turn a hobby into a full-time business.

What is the story behind Tökfej Bakery?
Let’s start with the name, ‘Tökfej’. It’s actually a Hungarian word (pronounced ‘turk-fei’) that means ‘silly’. It’s mostly used to describe a person who is silly but in a fun and cute way. This is how my boyfriend Daniel has described me since we met.

As this is a bakery founded by us, we wanted to give it a name that said something about us, and this is how we came up with it. With regards to the business, it all started because we accidentally ordered too much fl our online during the first lockdown when it was in short supply in shops. It was about 10kg! I couldn’t come up with any ideas on how to use it all up, but one day when I was baking matcha cookies (I started baking these five years ago, and they’re my all-time favourite), I decided to bake more to use up the flour and share some with my neighbours at London City Island. So I baked a big batch and started to give out cookie samples around the neighbourhood and ask for feedback. This is how it all started.

Why do you use matcha in your bakes and what are the health benefits of these types of ingredients?
We use ingredients like matcha because, personally, I love it so much and I couldn’t find a lot of matcha-flavoured products in UK supermarkets, but it’s so popular in my home country, Hong Kong. I wanted to introduce delicious matcha bakes to friends in the UK, as well as my neighbours. Matcha has tremendous health benefits, for example, it helps with my digestion. I love to have a cup of matcha especially after having greasy food. Also, people often confuse green tea with matcha tea, however, they are very different. Matcha is so much better as it contains higher concentrations of antioxidants, which are good for your skin. It should be noted that these health benefits can only be found from high-quality matcha powder, and we can confidently tell you that we use premium-grade matcha powder in our bakes in order to offer the best quality to our valuable customers.

Tökfej Bakery's new Earl Grey banana bread with lemon curd

What is your signature bake?
The best-selling product is definitely our signature matcha cookie with our homemade matcha chocolate filling. They are also relatively low sugar, salt and butter (which also applies to all our other bakes) but still taste delicious.

What is your earliest memory associated with desserts?
I remember when I was a kid, around 7 or 8, I asked my nanny to take me to a bakery to secretly apply to a cake-making class so that I could make a cake for my father’s birthday. He was so surprised and happy.

If you could share a Tökfej cookie with any celebrity, who would it be and why?
I would love to share one with Kevin from the US series of The Office. Daniel and I have really got into this series recently and his character loves cookies. He’s so funny and we would love to see his reactions after he tried our cookies.

What do you like about London City Island?
We loved living at London City Island because everyone was very helpful, especially with the Facebook group; we were able to communicate around the neighbourhood. Everyone was very supportive of our business by giving so much positive feedback. We also had the chance to meet different creators, such as Sokari, who is a very talented photographer and a very supportive and genuine person. He appreciates and encourages small businesses like ours.

What new products are you currently working on?
We have monthly specials and have just launched our spring collection, which includes a spring tin and a mini Earl Grey & homemade lemon curd banana bread. So stay tuned for the beginning of each month.

Tökfej's signature matcha cookies

“During lockdown I accidentally ordered too much flour, so I baked a big batch of cookies for my London City Island neighbours. This is how it all started”


Hazel’s Crèmerie

When the pandemic put them out of work, Josh Sutton and Nina Calvert took the plunge by launching their own business. Hazel’s Crèmerie is a local bakery delivery service specialising in delicious ice cream sandwiches.

What is the story behind Hazel’s Crèmerie?
Having both lost our jobs in hospitality because of the pandemic – Josh as a chef and Nina as front of house – the opportunity arose for us to dive headfi rst into the unknown and develop a line of products that allowed us to share our love of good food and quality ingredients. We were both brought up surrounded by brilliant cooks, but it was Hazel, Josh’s greatgran, who taught him the foundations of great cooking and baking, and fresh, seasonal produce. From this, it was easy for us to choose something that we love and that brings joy to everyone in all seasons: ice cream!

Why ice cream sandwiches and what are your favourite flavours?
In the beginning, we started experimenting with flavours, soft serve and eventually ice cream sandwiches. We found that people enjoyed the combinations of flavour and texture, in a handheld treat, that can be enjoyed by all ages. Choosing our favourite flavours is tough, we love them all, but for Josh it’s the Biscoff Balls and Nina enjoys the Salted Caramel Brownie.

An ice cream sandwich from Hazel’s Crèmerie

“The London City Island community is young, welcoming and lively”


What is your ‘signature bake’?
Our Classic Hazel. It’s made up of five sandwiches which are essentially our core flavours. It allows our customers to try one of everything and to get a feel for the flavour combinations. Most importantly, it’s the best way to decide your favourite.

What is your earliest memory associated with desserts?
Being at great-gran Hazel’s house on the weekends, having a roast dinner followed by a whole host of desserts made from fruit grown in her garden or in her allotment in Willesden. This brought all generations of the family together to the same table.

If you could share an ice cream sandwich with any celebrity, who would it be and why?
David Attenborough. He is an icon across the world who does so many amazing things for the planet and he seems like a lovely man. He has inspired us to discover new ways of becoming more sustainable as a small business. We are currently coming close to trialling biodegradable and planet-friendly packaging for our sandwiches that doesn’t compromise on the quality of our product. It is so important to make changes, no matter how small.

What do you like about London City Island and what has been the feedback from locals?
London City Island is a development at the heart of which is a young, welcoming and lively community. We have been overwhelmed with the positive response from City Islanders and cannot wait to see some friendly old and new faces on our next round of deliveries.

What new products are you working on?
We are currently working on a range of fresh fruit sorbets, including blackberry and elderflower, along with alcoholic sorbets, including Mojito and Bloody Mary. We always strive to innovate and push the boundaries of flavour combinations. We can’t wait for the people of City Island to try the new products along with our seasonal specials. Watch this space.


Words by Gemma Billington
Photography by Joakim Blockstrom