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Maadi, Cairo, Egypt.
Bread Basket: Fresh Pastries & Bread in Maadi
Located in a distinctively competitive area in Maadi, across from Metro Market and the Parisian-inspired La Gourmandise on Road 9, Bread Basket has still managed to cling to its long held position as a popular provider for Maadi's daily bread and carbohydrate cravings.
Taking up a teeny-tiny space on the 1st floor of a residential building, Bread Basket efficiently manages to make the most of the little space it has.
At the counter they display all their sweets and treats, which include such favourites as Danish pastries and brownies; both moderately priced at 5LE. Although the menu claims they serve a large selection of morning pastries – including a raisin Danish, an apple Danish and a chocolate Danish – only the pudding Danish was available when we visited. The pudding Danish was perfectly sweetened with a perfect pudding-to-bread ratio, making the pastry enjoyable and easy to eat.
At 2LE-3LE cheaper than the gateaux at The Bakery Shop, they make a good option if you want to buy morning pastries in large numbers. Even after the filling pudding Danish, we decided that an additional sugar fix couldn't hurt and went for a brownie. The brownies are sold in individually wrapped pieces and were chocolaty with a distinct butter taste. However, it was not as rich or moist as you would expect; it tasted only slightly better than store bought ones, which was disappointing.
Behind the counter are shelves reserved for the baked bread, which comes in a multitude of varieties including grain baguette (31LE), multigrain loaf (20LE), raisin bread (14.50LE), sesame rolls (1.25LE) and cheese rolls (2.50LE). However, despite having over 20 different kinds of bread listed on their menu, only about six were available that day.
We tried the brown multigrain bread, which was coated with a sprinkle of grains. Crunchy on the outside and very moist and soft on the inside, it hit the spot. However, since this bread does not come in the pre-packaged plastic sleeves that keep it fresh, make sure you have a place to store your bread or you risk it becoming stale before you have even finished.
Shopping at Bread Basket is an experience; the bakery is cosy and smells wonderful. But the selections are limited and if you don't come early then it's likely they will be out of some of the more popular staples by noon.
With an abundance of cake shops, bakeries and cafés in Cairo, we really are spoilt for choice. Carousel has managed to bring the sugary craze all the way to Heliopolis, opening up on El Horreya Street, close to one of our favourite tea-time destinations, Dukes.
In adopting gimmicks, dining venues in the city come in all shapes and sizes, but at first glance, Carousel has managed to distinguish itself with bright lights, vibrant colours and wonderful window displays of imaginative cakes.
Fun, custom-made cakes can be made in two-three days; you can either present your own design or choose one of the one's previously made. At the time of our visit, a pastel pink and white three-tier cake sat proudly in the window, topped with a tiara – perfect for every little princess.
Several brightly-coloured tables display their offerings of various chocolate cookies (10LE), brownies (10LE) and a multitude of cupcakes (15LE), whilst a large refrigerator chills eight-serving cakes (130LE), cheesecake (170LE), éclair buns (10LE), chocolate volcano cakes (20LE) and small boxes of truffles, complete with sugary sprinkles (20LE).
Watching us torn between all the different choices, the friendly shop assistant supplied us with a truffle to try. Although they were textured more like cake pops than truffles as we know them, they were absolutely delicious; cold, sticky and chocolatey with a hint of almond flavouring. However, we went on to choose a couple of cupcakes, a Twix brownie, and an M&M cookie.
Amongst the chocolate, strawberry cream, peanut butter and coffee cupcakes, we noticed the practically mandatory Oreo cupcake alongside a white chocolate one. Considering we arrived late in the day, the sponge of both cupcakes tasted surprisingly fresh, whilst the creamy toppings were fluffy and sweet. Unfortunately, the Oreo taste was a little too subtle, leaving the creation a little bland. The same applied to the white chocolate cupcake; the creamy topping tasted more like fresh cream than white chocolate, but was delectable nonetheless.
Twix fans, unfortunately, maw well be disappointed with the Twix brownie; no caramel was detected whatsoever, but the bulk of the giant slice was a thick, sticky chocolate fudge cake, sitting on top of a thin, crunchy biscuit base. The M&M cookie fared the best, with crunchy biscuit sides, a gooey middle and plenty of M&Ms. Overall, had we not felt ever so slightly misled with some of the offerings, we would have little to complain about.
It's very early days for Carousel but should the quality remain high, and the prices stay reasonable, it certainly has the potential to compete with existing cake giants to become a must-have dinner party accessory – particularly as their take-away boxes are so pretty.