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A lardy bun being dunked in a pan of hot spiced caramel
Dunking a lardy bun into a pan of caramel.

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Something for the Weekend

Flor Bakery’s new Spa Terminus hub puts out sourdough, croissants, lardy buns, and fruit Danishes of singular character

Flor the restaurant — helmed by the ceaseless creativity of Pam Yung — may have closed, but Flor the bakery lives on.

Now spearheaded by Helen Evans and Florin Grama in partnership with James Lowe, Flor’s baking still speaks in the vernacular of flour, butter, fermentation, and heat developed by Anna Higham in its early days in Borough Market. Flor puts a London accent on the exacting tradition and relentless experimentalism that make Paris and Copenhagen two of Europe’s most formidable cities for pastry.

Having moved from London’s oldest food market to London’s nerdiest food market at Spa Terminus, some things have changed. There’s more space and more scale; home deliveries and nationwide kits; and it’s only open to the public on Fridays and Saturdays. But croissants and pains aux chocolats still shatter into perfect layers, but carry the austere depth of fresh wheat and a deeply caramelised, almost savoury sheen; seasonal fruit danishes — often with custards flavoured with their leaves or flowers — still possess seriousness of flavour and imagination to match their beauty.

Take a look around the first morning rush, on a cold day in Bermondsey in December.

A blue railway arch with FLOR written in capital letters in white.
The day starts early, under the arches at Spa Terminus.
Pouring coffee beans into a silver tumbler, on top of a white weighing scale
So it’s time to get the coffee on. The Lyle’s/Flor coffee programme is renowned.
Pouring a huge bag of flour into a mixer
Where there’s baking, there’s flour. Flor’s head baker Helen Evans uses heritage wheats, some of which date back to 1660, both for flavour and for their genetic characteristics which can negate the need for fertilisers and pesticides.
A baker pulls dough from a standmixer
They — currently Hen Gymro, a Welsh landrace variety — are combined with stoneground white flour and a touch of heritage rye in Flor’s main sourdough loaf.
A baker cuts a huge block of butter into chunks.
Back to bread shortly. Where there’s flour, there’s butter.
A block of butter in the centre of some croissant dough
The two combine most happily in Flor’s laminated doughs, for croissants, pains aux chocolats, and fruit Danishes. This, too, uses proportions of whole grains alongside white flour, often emmer or or einkorn. Here’s the butter block: essential for lamination.
A baker folds dough over a block of butter, preparing it for lamination
The wheat varieties and introduction of wholegrain gives Flor’s bakes a complex character, but also makes them less predictable, and so harder to work with, keeping the bakers on their toes. As for the butter, it adds fat and cooling richness to the final bake...
The baker finishes folding the block of dough
But also adds the water content necessary to create steam upon baking and puff up those gossamer layers.
A baker sprays unbaked croissants and pains aux chocolat with egg wash.
A wheelable shelving unit racked with croissants, pastries, and cookies ready for baking
Cooked croissants and pains aux chocolats

Alexa, add heat.

A tray of croissants heads towards the oven
In they go...
A tray of pains aux chocolats emerge hot from the oven, golden brown
... And out they c— wait, what, the croissants turned into pains aux chocolats?
A set of pains aux raisins sitting on a chopping board
When these swirls of flaky, light pastry filled with raisins and a sweet vanilla cream come out the oven, it’s...
A baker wearing a white apron carries a half-full metal tray of pains aux raisins.
Pain au raisin o’clock.
Rolled buns filled with sultanas and brown sugar raw, in tins, ready to bake
Perhaps Flor’s signature dish is a lardy bun, with enriched dough rolled around a filling of tea-soaked currants and brown sugar. They go in ready to puff up in the oven, before being brushed with a sticky caramel with a hint of mace.
A stand mixer filled with brown sugar mix
Mixing the filling for the lardy buns, dense with brown sugar and soon, the currants.
A tray of lardy buns, sticky with sultanas, emerges from the oven
Baked, but not yet finished.
Lardy buns baked and ready to be dunked in caramel, hot from their tin
Wow, nice burnished caramelised base, would be a shame if someone made it even stickier by dunking it in a pan of spiced caramel.
Michaël Protin
A lardy bun being dunked in a pan of hot spiced caramel
Goddamn it.
A baker carries a tray of brown butter cakes in red silicone moulds
Meanwhile: brown! butter! cakes!
Pressing the cakes out of the red moulds
A hit from the Lyle’s pastry section under Anna Higham that Evans has carried on: brown butter, panela, ground almonds, buckwheat flour, and egg combine to make a fudgy, indecently rich nugget.
A baker places loaves on to a wooden bench ready for shaping
Back to bread, with the bakers transferring loaves for shaping after their fermentation.
A baker levers dough off a wooden work bench with a bench scraper
The dough is initially slack after its bench rest, but the scraper and handling will shape it into a tense, plump loaf.
A man with a tattoo on his right arm shapes a loaf of bread with the help of a dough scraper
The dough scraper helps with creating the necessary tension between dough and board to shape the loaf.
Dredging an unbaked porridge loaf in flour
Loaves, here porridge, are turned out of the bannetons in which they take their final rest to develop structure and shape before being baked.
Baker Helen Evans uses a wooden peel to arrange breads in a large oven
Evans stands over crates of bread outside the bakery
Finished porridge bread in a metal crate

Finished loaves — these porridge, flecked with oats — will either go out for delivery, or be racked up for sale.

Customers queue up outside Flor Bakery’s Bermondsey arch, with pastries and breads racked up for sale Michaël Protin
A waiter wearing a mask takes a takeaway box down from a shelf
Packing two small brown butter cakes into a cardboard box with tongs

Packing the brown butter cake goods.

A three-tier metal shelving unit holds loaves on the bottom; pastries in the centre; and porridge loaves on top
Breads, pastries, and croissants, together at last.