Stuff Your Face, Change The World: London’s 7 Best Ethical Bakeries

Greed is good! That’s right folks, Gordon Gecko was right all along. Some do-gooders would have you believe that giving back is all about self-sacrifice, but today we’re going...

Greed is good! That’s right folks, Gordon Gecko was right all along. Some do-gooders would have you believe that giving back is all about self-sacrifice, but today we’re going to let you in on a dirty little secret. We’ve found you no fewer than seven of the best bakeries in London where, quite literally, you can stuff your face with all the sugar-filled brownies and artisan loaves your heart desires, while changing the world for the better. Mission accepted…

East London

1. Rise Bakery

Cause: Homelessness

Brick Lane’s Rise has a deliciously simple offer we think is too good to resist. Chocolate brownies delivered straight to your desk or door with a delightful twist… they’re all freshly baked by formerly homeless people turning their lives around. Rise hires professional chefs to train, support and work alongside the ex-homeless. So not only is the product top-notch, but the trainees benefit from the best guidance in the business.

The 150-year old local charity Providence Row is the driving force behind the bakery – and it’s just one small part of the charity’s invaluable support services to East London’s homeless citizenspopulation. Besides baking brownies, there’s also a resource centre for rough sleepers, drug and alcohol recovery services and an urban garden providing a sanctuary away from the streets.

So if you’re looking for a guilt-free treat or a great gift idea for your gluttonous friends or family, you can’t go wrong with a box of Rise brownies. Get your fix here.




2. Better Health Bakery

Cause: Mental health

This artisan bakery produces some of the finest bread in East London, all while doing their bit for our city’s mental health. Located just off the Regent’s Canal in Haggerston, it’s well worth popping in here for some fresh sourdough (or a cookie and a pastry) while you’re loafing along the towpath on a lazy Saturday. Their full range of loaves include two kinds of sourdough, oliver and herb, walnet, seeded, rye and vollkorn. There’s even a little seating area for you to sit in and enjoy a cuppa and a bite.

The bakery is part of the Hackney mental health charity, the Centre for Better Health, offering 3-month work trainee placements to people recovering from mental health issues. So you can tuck into your bread content in the knowledge that it’s been lovingly created by someone for whom baking is far more than just a job. The Centre for Better Mental Health also runs two other social enterprises: a bike servicing and sales company, and somewhat less exciting… a manufacturer of polyuruthane healthcare products.

But just a little tip from the Good Times team – if you’re heading to bakery on a Saturday, make sure you get there early. Their fresh bread tends to sell like, well, hot cakes.

You can find the BHB on 13 Stean St, London E8 4ED. Open Monday to Sunday.



3. The Dusty Knuckle Bakery

Cause: youth employment

The brilliantly-named Dusty Knuckle is Dalston’s unique contribution to the ethical bakery scene. It was founded in 2014 by youth offending worker Tobias alongside Rebecca and Daisy, two friends who cut their teeth in the restaurant and hospitality industries. Putting their heads together, the three Dalstonites stumbled upon the perfect recipe for a sourdough-selling social enterprise that would also give a hand-up to local young people.

The bakery started off in a shipping container in 2014 (part of a project by the local charity, the Bootstrap Company), but moved into a permanent space this year. They now boast a café where you can sit down, relax and enjoy their delicious produce 6 days a week. Expect freshly baked bread, pastries, coffee, salads, soups and sandwiches… plus weekend brunch. It’s early days, but their ambition is for a percentage of the bakery’s future workforce to be made up of young people. And to show this is more than just a pie (ahem) in the sky idea, they’ve already offered work experience to several young people, two of whom have gone on to become paid employees. What’s more, a further 125 have also benefited from education classes offered at schools and youth clubs.

The Dusty Knuckle is located at Abbot Street car park, open from Tuesday to Sunday (until 3.30pm).


South London

4. Bloom Bakery

Cause: Long-term unemployment

Lovely Lewisham is a hot-spot of socially enterprising activity right now and we think Bloom Bakery is one of the best of the bunch. Established just 18 months ago, Bloom has been roaming all over South London running pop-up cafes, market stalls, afternoon teas and catering for private events – all aiming to support people facing log-term unemployment or social exclusion. Through sating London’s appetite for baked goods, Bloom provides training and work opportunities that help people overcome barriers to work.

What we most like about Bloom is that they support and inspire those people who fall through the gaps of our appallingly under-funded system… the entrepreneurial yin to the Job Centre’s bureaucratic yang. What’s more, the ambitious social entrepreneurs behind Bloom have just raised more than 16k in a crowdfunding campaign to push forward with their big plans for the future. Their vision is to create a thriving bakery and catering social enteprise, with retail outlets and cafes across Lewisham… Watch this space.

Check out their website for Bloom’s latest pop-ups, events and news about how they’re progressing with their crowdfunding project.


5. Bad Boys Bakery

Cause: Offender rehabilitation

We reckon celebrities + social enterprise is a winning formula. Jamie Oliver, Russell Brand and Lily Cole have all had a go at setting up their own ethical businesses in London, with great results. And with a name like “Bad Boys”, you won’t be surprised that it was Gordon Ramsey behind this South London bakery. Based inside HMP Brixton, Bad Boys was founded as part of his 2012 reality show, Gordon Behind Bars. The idea was to help inmates nearing the end of their sentences develop the practical skills to get meaningful employment and adapt to life on outside.

Far from being a TV ratings gimmick, Bad Boys has had a hugely impressive impact on offender rehabilitation (just 3% re-offend and 30% have gone onto permanent employment). What’s more, the bakery has continued to thrive long after the show has disappeared off Channel 4, selling its excellent produce into cafes across the city. Bad Boys have now teamed up with socially-conscious fitness brand, The Hard Yard. After one of their ridiculously tough prison workouts, you can refuel with one of Bad Boys’ signature energy balls… Check here for more details.


North London

6. Luminary Bakery

Cause: women empowerment

The Luminary Bakery is a super-sleek cafe and bakery in Stoke Newington that not only sells delectable baked goods, but dedicates itself to empowering women in the process. All their produce is expertly created by a team of fledgling bakers taking steps to break the generational cycle of prostitution, abuse, criminal activity and poverty.

The cafe opens on weekdays from to serve delicious cakes, traybakes, cinnamon swirls, sourdough and soda bread loaves along with Climpson & Sons coffee. Even better if you arrive on a weekend, when you get all that stuff plus a selection of toasties, soups and cream tea.

Luminary uses baking as a tool to support women into employment and entrepreneurship, equipping them with transferable skills for the working world. The bakery offer courses, work experience and paid employment within the bakery, empowering women to build their career. Through a 6 month programme, the trainees go from having zero baking skills (and often challenging mental health issues such as anxiety and low self-esteem) to having the skills they need to get a job in the catering. The bakery grew out of Kahaila Cafe – anther great social enterprise in Shoreditch.

Luminary can be found on 71-73 Allen Rd, Stoke Newington, London N16 8RY. Open 7 days a week. Check out our feature on the bakery here.




7. Day Old Eats

Cause: Food waste and food poverty

Day Old Eats offers up some of the tastiest baked goods in London… despite not doing any actual baking at all. This ingenious food-recycling social enterprise partners with some of London’s finest artisan bakeries, collecting surplus baked goods to create delicious “treat boxes”, which they sell for charity. Expect everything from brownies to cinnamon rolls to artisan loaves… with all profit going to child hunger

With the perilous state of the planet and food poverty a huge problem both at home and abroad, we love it when an elegant idea comes along to tackle these issues. And Day Old Eats is the first we’ve seen to specifically target the tricky bakery industry – one that bins an astonishing 24 million slices of bread a day.

Check out their website to find out how to get your hands on one of their treat boxes, organise a delivery into your office… or to become a volunteer.

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