Oct 14, 2022 Food
Florets Whole-wheat Loaf
With a combined score of 39 out of 40, Floret’s Whole-wheat Loaf takes out the top spot, making it, officially, the best bread in Auckland. Eating it makes us feel virtuous (it’s the grains!) but, most importantly, it’s incredibly tasty and deeply satisfying. We love it! Note that we tasted the cob loaf, but Florets also bake their bread in tins for more convenient sandwich slicing.
Daily Bread Kumara Sourdough
Though this tied with Mr T’s in score, we went with our gut and have declared Daily Bread’s Kumara Sourdough as our runner-up: a well- made, flavoursome loaf that we could eat on the daily.
Amano White Sourdough
Most bakeries aren’t bothering to use white flour to make their sourdough — it was our smallest category by far — which as a lifelong white-bread stan, I consider a shame. White bread is the most addictive of all the breads: frothy and frivolous, it should just make you want to eat more and more. The Pioneer loaf from Daily Bread does just that. It has a really open, inconsistent crumb, with a great balance between low sour notes and lightness. The strong, golden crust is all sticky and chewy — a classic. Though the team at Metro has changed, the Pioneer was deemed the best sourdough in Auckland in 2018; it’s good to know some things stay the same, even in a category as hard-fought as bread.
We also really liked Amano’s White Sourdough, which was a huge loaf, with a really fluffy, cloud-like centre. It’s probably the closest we got to the type of white bread I’d get mechanically sliced and wrapped up in a bag at the supermarket — low on the sour, both in taste and smell, high in addictiveness.
Crafty Baker and Wild Wheat also do good versions, both with that soft, yielding texture characteristic of this genre. “Wild Wheat doesn’t get the credit it deserves,” one of us wrote in our notes. Crafty Baker, a smaller bakery that has outposts out west in Titirangi and Glen Eden, had a strong showing too: with a tighter crumb, so it gives the appearance of being denser without tasting dense.
SOURDOUGH, WHOLEMEAL AND WHOLEWHEAT
The Dusty Apron Sprouted Wheat
The bar was extremely high in this category — we pretty much liked all of it. (What can we say, bread is bread, and bread is delicious.) Florets was scored the highest by the judges, though, with a loaf that is strong and dark, soft and springy. A new bakery to the scene, Florets was started by baker Maya Handley, who is passion- ate about nutritious loaves that use organic and spray-free whole-grains from Canterbury. As a result, there is a real noticeable depth of flavour, with a moreishness you don’t realise should be in bread until you taste one that has it. There is a general vibe of wholesomeness to Floret’s — which, admittedly, includes their branding and retail outlet — that is very appealing.
Mr T’s wholemeal sourdough was close — with a distinct, but not overwhelming, sour note, consistent and structured crumb plus dark crust, this was a delight to eat. The Real Bread Project’s loaf had a really interesting texture, a bit underbaked and tacky to the touch, but savoury and satisfying. “Like a sourdough everything bagel.” Fort Greene’s Country Sourdough had a similar texture — that dense stickiness that translates into a heartiness, with amazing mouthfeel — and a powerful sweet-sour taste. The Dusty Apron’s Sprouted Wheat is a really interest- ing loaf that had delightful bursts of seeds and a nuttiness that added a lovely, mellow flavour to the sourdough.
NOTES ON THE REST
Olaf’s Pain de Levain is very nice — super-tangy, fermenty, full-on. On the flipside of things, 4&20’s Country Sourdough was mild and pleasant, making it a good option for those who don’t like that strong taste while still having underlying sour. It also had a great crumb — this was just a crowded field. The Amano Sprouted Wheat is a crowd-pleaser, we think: big and luscious, though it doesn’t feel like you’re eating sourdough — it just doesn’t have that fermented funkiness.
There were, admittedly, quite a few ‘miscellaneous’ loaves: with seeds, and quinoa, and oat, and walnuts. The results have skewed kūmara, however, which may speak to why it’s such a popular variety — there’s something in kūmara’s sweetness that pairs well with this kind of bread’s inherent sourness. The Mr T’s Kumara and Daily Bread Kumara were basically neck-and-neck, both featuring the starchy addition more heavily than some of the others — you could smell and see it. We loved Mr T’s caramelly crust, and Daily Bread’s execution delivered a satisfying, geniously savoury slice with a burnt sugar flavour. Amano’s Kumara is in a similar vein: again, as with all of Amano’s other breads, it’s huge and generous and fluffy, and not as flavoured. Florets crops up again, this time with its fermented oat. It’s so aromatic and fragrant — very savoury, with bassy notes coming through from the bottom.
NOTES ON THE REST
Bread & Butter’s Kumara was super-unusual, with a heavy addition of cumin that you could smell from a mile away. You could eat this by itself, no butter required, and we kept going back for more — I’d imagine this would taste amazing with certain soups. Bread & Butter’s walnut loaf is a nice change of pace, too: very solid.
We also enjoyed Crafty Baker’s Five Seed, which is a good ‘everything’ loaf. “Amazing how much stuff you can get in there without it being too much,” one said. The Wild Wheat Rosemary was another one we were drawn towards, with a well-balanced flavour of a light, subtle herbaciousness.
For those who like darker breads, Olaf’s Walliser Roggenbrot is this heavy, very fermented number that’s a good straight-up rye, made with 100% rye flour. “Not for the faint of heart or those who will be eating bread all day.”
Mizu Bread mochi breadstick
Nearly every bakery we hit up did a baguette, which is testament to its romantic form: a crusty outside that gives way to a pillowy centre. Our absolute favourite was from Fort Greene — the crust was perfect (the first and only time in this feature we’ve used that word), so full of flavour and just the right side of chewy, and the interior had a bubbly texture that made the baguette dense but light at the same time. A holey variety by The Real Bread Project was also very yummy — it tasted like pizza crust — and Daily Bread’s does most things right: well-baked, a darkened exterior with a great, classic baguette shape. La Voie, of course, is right up there: it has a harder outside to the others, and is straight-up and traditionalist, in the best possible way.
An enthusiastic honorable mention goes to Mizu Bread’s mochi breadstick, which is not a traditional baguette — we’re not entirely sure you’d use it in a sandwich — but is delicious to eat on its own. It’s sweet and light, not super ‘bready’; we munched on this quietly even despite our slothful state of near bread-coma.
There always seems to be a search on for a good bun, especially as burger joints have exploded across Tāmaki. Most buns you can get at burger places aren’t for sale — so not accessible to us home cooks — but what you can get is surprisingly good. Amano’s sure surprised us: so round, so bronze, so uniform, the very ideal of what a burger bun should look like. It’s a brioche bun, so a bit sweet, but not overwhelmingly so, and very fluffy on the inside without compromising on structure. The Dusty Apron’s was also deliciously yum: generous, open, fluffy. There were some concerns over if it would stand up when loaded with all the oils, fats and sauces that come with a burger, which is why we also rated The Real Bread Project’s, which was denser, but still with a great flavour from the bun itself. Lastly, we really liked Bread & Butter’s hamburger bun, with the classic seeds scattered across the top (as opposed to the brioche style) — well-executed and the aesthetic archetype. If I were making a Krabby Patty, I’d use this bun.
NOTES ON THE REST
We felt a little let down by Daily Bread’s potato bun which was too small and slight in flavour. The others, like Wild Wheat’s brioche and seeded hamburger buns were good but unremarkable.
OTHER BEST BREADS
Every American, or every person that has ever been to America, always grumbles about the lack of reasonable bagel options in Auckland — nothing comes close. We still think Best Ugly Bagel reigns supreme, with a hand-rolled doughy chewiness that always comes with a shout on the side.
You can buy Carmel’s delicious pitas by the bag at its cafe on France St in Eden Terrace, and they are just absolutely the best. Baked in house, so pillowy: a perfect vessel for falafel and hummus.
The shokupan white bread is the cutest loaf in this story — with skyscraper height but uniformly squished together into a tight rectangle. We love using this yielding bread for katsu sandos… like two clouds sinking into panko-crumbed meat.
WHITE TIN LOAF
For the bougiest version of super- market white bread money can buy, we like to treat ourselves to the white tin loaf at Daily Bread, which has a lovely buoyant texture and a mellow sweetness that we love.
Anything from Venerdi — a supermarket-available brand that boasts loaves in interesting flavours, like Broken Black Rice and Polenta Sourdough — is a good bet. We also think the famous Freedom Loaf from Midnight Baker is still pretty special — toasted, it’s like a wholesome nutty cracker.