It’s tipping it down with rain on Derby Road. But among the dreariness stands the new version of Tough Mary’s Bakehouse – bigger and better, with its trademark yellow shopfront and sunshine hue still beckoning strong. Inside, the windows are steamed up, the space is bright, and the pastries are piled up high. Initially it’s quiet, but as twelve o’clock strikes the queue builds up with hungry punters. The staff move quickly and freely, and there’s still good stuff’s stacked up by the time the crowd trickles out.
After three years of stretching and proving, the little unit next door became difficult to work in. “We had fridge doors opening and hitting things, and the mixing table had a tiny bit of room, so you had to slide under the bench if you wanted anything!” she laughs. “People were enquiring about more stuff, and we just couldn't deal with the demand apart from coming in at a ridiculous time and doing the day twice.”
The Tough Mary’s Bakehouse team consisted of owner Kate O’Shea and two part-time front-of-house people. “We've seen the staff numbers slowly come on, which has helped build the brand and what we are,” Kate says. “We’ve also been building up a loyal customer base which has been really nice, and a lot of them have seen the changes we’ve been through.”
Now, there’s more space to sit and enjoy a pastry or two. “We've been so overwhelmed with how busy we are. It looks a bit more hipster, and I think people like that!” smiles Kate. There’s all number of treats lining the counter, so we ask for the expert’s choice. “If there's a Copenhagen left at the end of the day, I definitely jump on that,” Kate says. “That's a croissant pastry. We spread a layer of frangipane and then seasonal jam – at the moment it's rhubarb. Then we knot it all together, bake it, put on more jam and then icing.” Another one of Kate’s highlights is their cardamom Swedish buns that are filled with almond paste, and topped with an enormous swirl of fresh cream.
If you’re debating the trip, there’s plenty of reason to divert away from your usual city haunts. “Coffee shops in town buy their stuff in or have it part-baked, but we make everything, from the breads to the brioches, right down to the jams,” says Kate. “You can watch us through the windows – we work so hard and I just want people to enjoy what we do.”
Derby Road, NG1 5FD