A bakery with a workforce that rises early to produce top-quality breads and pastries is special. These people get up before dawn so that when we emerge from our slumber, there is something ready to be buttered; a slice or two of white bread to transport our eggs and bacon.
One that upholds this millennia-old tradition of morning baking is Twelve Triangles, based in Edinburgh. The growing group describes itself as a “scratch bakery,” working with cold and slow fermentation sourdough, each batch on a three- to four-day cycle.
Everything is still made by hand, daily, using local flours and by well-trained bakers, despite the fact that Twelve Triangles now has seven sites in Edinburgh and the Scottish borders. Here is a group that has not yet succumbed to becoming a chain. Maintaining quality in expansion is one of hospitality’s most challenging and taxing commodities.
And of course, the word “artisan” is thrown about the place willingly these days. It is a term that has lost much of its meaning. Where does the artisan end and the churn begin?
Twelve Triangles has managed to retain its craft and as such is home to fine artistry. Here we have a place that resourcefully creates bases for jams, custards, creams and more – all of which, naturally, are seasonal and organic, Scotland’s bounty.
One of the things I love most about modern bakeries is their lunch offerings. There’s a well-established trend today in those that not only bake, but also operate as daily cafes, putting on simple but effective menus. Twelve Triangles is one of these.
Consider its latest sandwich special: into focaccia goes buffalo-sauce imbued cauliflower, a cashew nut aioli, pickles, lime-flecked coleslaw and fermented hot sauce. A stunning example of an upscale sandwich. There are many of these across the UK these days but few sound quite so interesting.
Elsewhere on the menu? A soup of the day, with bread. We are in soup season. Then cheese toasties, a frittata, and meat and vegetarian sausage rolls. Finally, a “selection of three salads.” I adore this concept.
For some time I worked in a once famous Oxford cafe called The Nosebag, sadly now closed, which used to operate to this narrative: a sort of quiche-based dining. Customers would need only pick a main item (quiche was always best, I think) and with it would be three (or five for those splashing out) salads of their choosing.
And then comes pudding. Bakeries excel at these. At Twelve Triangles, they are often wonderfully Scottish in make-up and design.
One recent addition to the menu is a panela cake – panela is unrefined cane sugar from Latin America – with yoghurt, blackberries and crunchy buckwheat. It is the work of co-founder Emily Cuddeford and is perfect for autumn.
Panela cake with yoghurt, blackberries and buckwheat crunch
For the panela cake:
1 large loaf tin
300g panela sugar (or dark muscovado or coconut blossom if you can’t find panela)
100g melted unsalted butter
135g double cream
240g self-raising flour
Pinch of sea salt
1 tsp ground cardamom seeds
For the blackberry compote:
200g caster sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
For the buckwheat crunch:
50g unsalted butter
40g panela sugar (or dark muscovado or coconut blossom if you can’t find panela)
Pinch of salt
Natural or Greek yoghurt to assemble
For the cake, preheat the oven to 160C. Line your loaf tin with greaseproof paper.
Melt the butter and set aside.
Whisk the eggs and sugar until creamy and thickened – about 3-4 minutes in a mixer or some serious elbow grease.
Weigh the cream into the butter then add this into the eggs and sugar and whisk until combined. Finally fold in the flour, salt and cardamom then pour into the tin.
Bake for 45-55 minutes or until it’s firm to the touch and a skewer comes out clean.
For the blackberry compote, combine the blackberries and sugar in a pan and slowly heat on the hob until the sugar has dissolved.
Bring to a simmer for 5-10 minutes then finish with the lemon juice.
For the buckwheat crunch, brown the butter in a small saucepan until it smells nutty.
Add in the sugar, salt and buckwheat. Keep stirring this for around 10 minutes – or put it on a lined tray in the oven for 10 minutes.
To assemble, slice a generous piece of the cake then top with a spoonful of natural or Greek yoghurt.
Push the back of a spoon into the yoghurt then fill it with the blackberry compote and, finally, sprinkle with the buckwheat crunch.