The Cambridge Oven

Baked goods alert, everybody!!  The Cambridge Oven is the city’s new artisan bakery and it opened for business just a couple of days ago.  So I and my sweet tooth hightailed it down to Hills Road to meet owner, Jolita Durrant, and find out more about her venture (nibbling on a plum frangipane tartlet whilst chatting, naturally!).

The Cambridge Oven logo

Jolita moved to Cambridge a couple of years ago and having worked as a nurse for fifteen years, felt it was time for a career change.  Growing up on a farm in Lithuania, she’d always cooked and baked with her mother and grandmother, using fresh seasonal ingredients.  Jolita continued her baking journey with studies at The School of Artisan Food in Nottinghamshire and has built her knowledge and experience whilst developing her own recipes.

The Cambridge Oven

Jolita’s dream of opening her own bakery came a step closer when, after a long search, she secured premises in Hills Road.  Since May, builders have been hard at work stripping out the property, reinforcing the floor to take a commercial oven which weighs 650 kilograms and creating a simple, light room with plenty of space for all the baked goodies and a couple of tables for those who want to eat in.

The Cambridge Oven

The Cambridge OvenOn the shelves when we visited were brioche, apple and raisin brioche buns, white and seeded sourdough breads, prosciutto and cheese croissants, mushroom and onion pastries and the sweetest little raspberry meringue kisses.  Vegans are well catered for with vegan cakes and cookies plus lunchtime dishes such as freshly made spiced tofu and avocado sandwiches and butternut squash and avocado salad.  The drinks menu offers a range of coffee, tea and soft drinks.

 

The Cambridge Oven

The Cambridge Oven is a member of the Real Bread Campaign.  Jolita bakes with organic flours from Fosters Mill and Shipton Mill, spelt and rye flours and wheat free flour.  She aims to pack goodness into everything she makes, using buckwheat and ancient grains, unrefined sugar, coconut oil, seeds, nuts, herbs and superfoods to ensure that her food is nutritious as well as delicious.

The Cambridge Oven
Sarah, Jolita and Matas

The Cambridge Oven is truly a family affair with Jolita’s son, Matas, working alongside her during his gap year and her husband, Karl, helping out at weekends while fellow baker, Sarah, creates delectable things in the kitchen with Jolita.  They’re open seven days a week – check out their website for details.

The Cambridge Oven

And that plum frangipane tartlet was every bit as good as it looks … crisp, sweet pastry, the lightest almondy filling and sharp, tangy slices of plum.  I’ll be back for more!

http://www.thecambridgeoven.co.uk

44 Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 1LA

 

 

Hidden gems in Cambridge

Somehow Cambridge feels a little bit different in August … the rhythm of the place changes while the hazy summer days and nights give us the chance to explore all the city has to offer.  If you venture slightly off the beaten track, there are hidden gems to discover.  I’d like to share some of my favourites with you here.

Hidden Rooms Cambridge
Hidden Rooms Cocktail Lounge

There’s a rather beautiful neo-classical building on Jesus Lane which was originally built as a Victorian Turkish baths.  Behind a plain black door, down in the basement, you’ll find Hidden Rooms Cocktail Lounge where the lights are dim and the vibe is classy but chilled.  There’s an extensive menu of classic cocktails alongside wine and beer with nuts and crisps to snack on.  The Events Room hosts jazz gigs on Thursday nights, speed dating sessions on Wednesdays and Bachata dance classes on Tuesday evenings.  I’d recommend making an advance reservation for your booth area in the table service Cocktail Lounge.  And the Hidden Rooms team of expert bartenders will be sharing some of their secrets and tips in free cocktail making lessons during Cambridge Cocktail Weekend at the Corn Exchange from 24 – 26 August.

www.hiddenrooms.co.uk

Restaurant Twenty-Two CambridgeMagic is happening in the kitchen at Restaurant Twenty Two on Chesterton Road, just north of Midsummer Common.  Chef Sam Carter and Alexandra Olivier, his partner in life and business, have refurbished this intimate space and offer creative modern British food with a twist, using seasonal ingredients from local suppliers.  You’ll find seven and five course tasting menus alongside a la carte and a lunch menu which is exceptional value at £20 for three courses.  Sam creates delectable flavours and textures in each dish and every plate of his food is a feast for the eyes too.  It’s fine dining but Restaurant Twenty Two is not stuffy or starchy … it has a relaxed atmosphere and has quickly garnered an enthusiastic East Anglian fan base while also receiving rave reviews in the national press, so do book a table in advance.  Your taste buds will thank you for it!

www.restaurant22.co.uk

Cambridge Cookery School
Image credit: Cambridge Cookery

Over at the award winning Cambridge Cookery School in Homerton Gardens, you’ll find a light, bright café serving fresh seasonal dishes with ingredients sourced mainly from a small group of local, sustainable, high welfare producers.  The décor, food and wine reflect owner Tine Roche’s Scandinavian heritage and her deep love of Italy.  Try the homemade bread and pastries for breakfast, brunch or at lunchtime, when the counter offers colourful grain based salads, filled focaccia and open sandwiches on rye bread.  On Friday and Saturday evenings, relax on the peaceful, sunny terrace with wine, cocktails and tapas or make sure to book ahead for the popular Saturday night Bistro set menu.

www.cambridgecookery.com

 

Don’t miss …..

Savino’s coffee shop, tucked away in Emmanuel Street.  A small yet perfectly formed family run Italian café serving Illy coffee, homemade cakes, soups, panini and salads.

www.savinos.co.uk

Stem + Glory restaurant at Mitcham’s Corner.  Award winning vegan food with a weekday fast service lunch to eat in or take away plus table service a la carte menu for lunch and dinner.

www.stemandglory.uk

The University Centre Wine Bar in Granta Place.  Open to the public and housed in one of Cambridge’s finest examples of brutalist architecture, with views over the River Cam, it serves wine, beer and spirits as well as simple charcuterie and cheese boards.

www.cucwinebar.org

 

This post is an edited version of  “The Cambridge Scene”,  my column in the August edition of Eastlife Magazine.  See more on http://www.eastlife.co.uk