Given the sorry state of bakery section in most super-markets, artisan bakeries have been gaining more popularity over the past few years. Not soon enough I'd say. I've had enough of the rectangular blocks of air and sugar that they label 'bread' and charge exorbitant prices for. With prices for supermarket bread around $5 a loaf, it has never made more sense in spending your hard earned cash on a freshly baked loaf that is just a few hours old and not laced with vegetable emulsifiers (481, 471).
The latest in the list of bakeries is Iggy's in Bronte. Not remotely close to the beach, it can be found back up the hill, deep in suburbia at 49 Belgrave St. Operating out of a non-descript shop front, you won't have a problem finding it - just look for the queue of locals. With no 'shop' to step into, this is a working bakery. If you peek inside you will see the bakers dusted with flour and commercial ovens hard at work. On the left of the shop front is a multi level rack stacked with the baked treasures and on the right the counter.
They offer huge rounds of sourdough, baguettes, bagels and specialty breads. The rounds of sourdough can be halved or quartered depending on your appetite. I just wish they had some labels so you could browse without having to point to each item to ask what it is. Having said this, there is a good amount of turnover as bread flies of the rack to be replenished with other varieties.
So what about the bread? My mission was to buy a loaf of their pecan and raisin bread which they only bake on Sundays. I got in the line which stretched for about 5 meters and as I got closer to the front counter, I scanned the rack looking for anything that resembled a fruit loaf. All I could spot was sourdough, bread with grains and bagels. This was looking like a failed attempt in the making. When it was my turn, I asked if they had any raisin and pecan bread and held my breath anticipating disappointment. "6 minutes" the lady said. I would have to wait only 6 minutes! It was almost like they were baking this bread especially for my visit. Then the price came.......... $12.00. Did I mention exorbitant prices before? I know, I know. I'm more than willing to pay good money for the real deal but $12 seemed a bit much, even for specialty bread.
Undeterred, I scrounged up the extra dollars and handed it over. After a short wait, a warm and heavy loaf was handed to me in a brown paper bag. The aromas of the fresh bread, fruit and nuts teased my nostrils as I inspected the deep brown loaf. Raisins studded the exterior with some blackened, frozen in their expanded state from the intense heat.
Racing home, I cut into the crusty exterior to reveal a rich dense loaf packed full of pecans and raisins. OK, now I see where my money has gone. The crust was crunchy to the bite, resisting my teeth and jaw muscles all the way until it yielded to the sweet and moist interior. What a fantastic combination! The sweetness from the raisins, the body and texture from the nuts. All brought together by a elastic, full bodied bread. This was meal in itself. At $12 for a 30cm long loaf, it's not something I'd buy everyday. It's a special occasion bread and one to treat yourself with. For the everyday, I will be back soon to sample their sourdough and bagels.