Famous across Europe, if not Worldwide, for it’s beaches, Cornwall’s baking prowess is chiefly known for fantastic pasties. Perhaps a saffron loaf, if you know what you’re looking for. But, with the county bursting with known, artisan bakers from the likes of Baker Tom’s Bread, Pavilion and ChouKette, things on the baking front have steadily kept pace with every other county, town and city in the UK. Da Bara Bakery, a wholesaler with it’s own bakery/café right in the middle of the county, is securely in the ranks of the best known.
Reputations are hard won, but are they always deserved beyond the Instagram posts and place on restaurant menus striving for provenance? In the case of Da Bara Bakery, working in one of the most remote areas of the country with a seasonal economy, the reputation will have been harder won than many others. At least what they’ve created in their own café, wedged in between motorcycle showrooms and storage facilities on an industrial estate between Newquay and Truro is testament to that hard work, in what might appear unlikely circumstances.
It’s a place that attracts a passing labourer, with fresh paint on their overalls, for a takeaway sandwich, while another in riding boots and an expensive handbag waits behind. Da Bara pleases everyone who has been able to find it.
Based as an annex to the main bakery, established in 2011, which delivers bread and pastries to businesses throughout Cornwall, the café is partnered by a second, standalone eatery a little further away in Ruan High Lanes, Truro, opened in 2016, but the formula for both appears to remain largely the same – reliable baking, locally-roasted coffees and quality teas, plus a menu of hot dishes that almost defy belief. On the Christmas menu an absurdly brilliant ‘Turkey Dip’ (home smoked turkey, sausage stuffing, waffle, apple ketchup, bacon jam and dipping gravy) and at Easter a hot-cross bun bacon sandwich with maple syrup. Crazy dishes that are unforgettable, even if you don’t have the stomach space to actually order them.
Cinnamon buns that look like no other, sitting swirled and having stood proud of their tins, closer in relation to the ‘cruffin’ than the Scandinavian norm
A pastry/cake vitrine welcomes visitors to the Indian Queens café, with cinnamon buns that look like no other, sitting swirled and having stood proud of their tins, closer in relation to the ‘cruffin’ than the Scandinavian norm. Tray bakes, slices of cake and neighbouring trays of fresh doughnuts, filled with a choice of jam, custard or chocolate ganache, add to the decision-making difficulties. Bread lies just out of reach, beyond the coughs, sneezes and squeezing fingers of guests of all ages, shelved high behind the counter.
With sun pouring through the glass walls during a mid-winter’s visit, the choice of a cinnamon bun, a cardamom knot and simple croissant seemed a fair test of what Da Bara does. The aforementioned bun didn’t deceive the eye and broke up around it’s many layers, releasing fragrant cinnamon flavours and crystals of sugar from within it’s folds, while the knot’s dense bake showed a robust alternative to that delicacy. The croissant, baked to a golden exterior and soft, spoke of comforting reliability, but none of the theatre that comes with other, flaky and freshly baked alternatives out there.
Coffee comes from Origin, an ubiquitous supplier, yet it’s not quite the coffee that people are flocking for. A supplier of breads to restaurants throughout Cornwall, the loaf selection gathers passing trade. A huge wholemeal sourdough is sold by the whole or the half, while rye, ciabatta loaves and baguettes stand as fine alternatives. Picking up the standard white sourdough, the loaf is noted for it’s heavily-floured crust, often a no-no for sourdough bakers working with high-hydrations. Add to that a mild sourness that’s largely undetectable and it’s clear it’s been baked not to trend, but to customer taste. An exciting, one-of-a-kind sourdough? Not quite. A quality, standard crusty bloomer? Most definitely.
Attentive staff and that changing board of specials for hot meals is what makes Da Bara Bakery a superb, and largely hidden, gem in England’s southernmost county. That so many people locally have happily uncovered it just goes to prove it.
Da Bara Bakery, Chenoweths Business Park, Ruan High Lanes, TR2 5JT