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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.
As per the last few years, Cairo’s bakeries and confectionaries have gone all out this Ramadan in an effort to outdo each other in the creativity department when it comes to traditional Egyptian desserts and sweets – and La Poire is no different.
A giant in its field, quality has never been issue of La Poire and, this year, there’s no shortage of options, either. Visiting the one of the Maadi branches, we would challenge anyone to step into a La Poire during Ramadan and not be overcome by indecision – there’s just so much to take in.
At the time of our visit, the branch had already begun selling kahk – traditionally made by bakeries and households alike in Eid – but we were drawn almost immediately to the Nutella konafa, as well as its mango counterpart, and ready-packaged Oriental sweet boxes for just 40LE per box.
Sold only in whole, we tried the konafa with berries (150LE), which is essentially structured in two halves; the top half features berries over cream, while the lower half is where the konafa comes in, with layers of it and more cream continuing to the bottom of the bowl that it comes in. Tasting every bit as delicious as it looked, the real surprise was how fresh the cream was, as well as the pure taste of the berries. It all made for a surprisingly light and airy dessert, with the contrast in textures ensuring you go back for a second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth bite.
Other traditional desserts with kooky, modern spins at La Poire include Red Velvet basbousa (160LE) – and its konafa version (150LE) – which has been the talk of the town – well, social media – as well as a particular creation that brings together basbousa, konafa, cake and pistachio. Not the faint of heart, the dessert sells for a whopping 190LE and is one of the more outrageous appropriations of classic Egyptian sweets to emerge this Ramadan. Other, simpler options include the slightly more established and aforementioned konafa with mango (150LE) and the and inevitably super-sweet and ever-so-slightly over-priced konafa with Nutella (175LE), as well as Aish Saraya cake with pistachios (150LE).
Many bemoan what was once called by our friends at Cairo Gossip “the perversion of desserts, ” but there’s an intangible thrill about consuming these quirky versions of Egyptian classics – a thrill you will readily find at La Poire this Ramadan.