East, west, north, south – wherever you’re from, you’re bound to like bread
Time Out Bahrain Staff
Man may not be able to live on bread alone, but he’d be hard pushed to live without it. Whether you like it flat or raised, sweet or salty, brown or green, the Arab world excels at baking it. We check out the best places to get your fix.
Bread Talk This Singaporean brand is not new to Bahrain, but it is new to Bahrain City Centre, where it has just opened a sparkling new outlet. Specialising in bread which is not an accompaniment to a dish, but is the dish itself, this highly successful formula is now open adjacent to the City Centre multiplex and offers a range of quirky and inventive snacks. From green tea bread hailing from the Far East, to locally inspired creations, you have to try this place at least once. Call them on 17 535 371.
Eastern Bakery The hub of baking activity in a bustling street in the heart of the Manama Souq, this slightly scruffy but endlessly endearing bakery is something of a men-only joint (on the wall outside is a warning to women to dress respectably, which seems to have served as a bit of a deterrent). Firmly focussed on Arabic creations with the occasionally twist of French a la Levantine bakers of old, this is a great place to pick up a pick-me-up after haggling for a tailor-made suit. Call them on 17 254 461.
Korean Bakery ‘Wow,’ we gasped, ‘what’s a Korean Bakery when it’s at home?’ So we hiked up the Budaiya Highway to find out. Turns out it’s a bit like a British bakery really, only one that is owned by a Korean man. Still, if you like Chelsea buns, iced buns, custard buns and jam doughnuts then you are in for a treat. With a few outlets scattered across Bahrain, this is where the European expats can be found, anonymously bunking off their Pilates class in favour of scoffing a cheap bit of cake. The staff are both terribly discreet and supremely sweet. Call them on 17 594 675.
Saadeddin Pastry If you are looking for true Arabic pastries, then it is to Saadeddin that we recommend you head. Located in the new Palm Square complex on the Budaiya Highway, when we visited the place was deserted thanks to the fact that Palm Square was still a bit of a construction site, resulting in the staff looking wan and depressed. By the time you read this, much more of Palm Square will be up and running and you’ll likely have to use your elbows to get into this micro-shop and its towers of gleaming baklavas. They also cater for parties. Call them on 17 693 883.
Tariq Pastries Tariq is a bakery-cum-tuck shop-cum-souvenir outlet in Gudaibiya, and can be overwhelming in the sheer choice on offer. Selling Arabic sweets as well as pastries and breads, it only just scraped into our definition of a bakery. The reason it is included is mouth-wateringly succulent (yes, succulent) parcels of pastry they have on offer. Call them on 17 270 182.
We caught up with Mohammed Saleem Khan, the head baker at Bread Talk’s brand new Bahrain City Centre store, to find out how to make the perfect loaf. What is the first thing you remember making? A puff, which is actually pretty hard.
How did you get into baking? My father and grandfather were both bakers.
What piece of equipment can no baker do without? An oven. This normally needs to be set between 160 and 180 degrees.
You have a wealth of equipment in your kitchen. Most people at home have none of this. Other than an oven, what should people invest in if they want to get serious about baking? A table-top mixer would be a good investment, like a Kitchen Aid. That would be a good start.
Are there any trade secrets you can impart? Yes, anyone can make a great cake so long as they understand their oven. You have to make sure the oven heats up evenly. Understand the oven, and understand the temperature required, and you won’t be disappointed with your baking.
What is Bread Talk’s signature cake? The green tea cake – it contains green tea powder and originated in Singapore.
Some of Bread Talk’s products are inspired by Bahrain. What are they? We created the black date cake in honour of Bahrain. It is a cake for Bahrain because the taste is good and no one else is making a cake like this. But it is the ingredients that make this, the dates, which are obviously indicative of the country. It is like a dried fruit cake, but only with dates.
What makes Bread Talk unique? The recipe of the dough is different from anywhere else. We import our dough from Singapore.