Listening to stories while growing up, I believe, is a staple in all Indian households. Remember storytelling sessions from yore that would take over our homes each time there was a power cut? I have crystal-clear memories of my grandfather sitting me down to narrate stories from the days of his glorious past, which would be preceded by him handing me a slice of a Bapuji cake, a local cake popular in West Bengal. As I grew up, I witnessed the waves of café culture and pubs taking over at a rate so fast that it resulted in a steady decline of what felt more like home—heritage bakeries existing in a time warp and wrapped in stories, both forgotten and untold.
So, in a bid to relive them, I decided to collate a list of bakeries from India that have stood the test of time. Take a look.
Wenger's Bakery, Delhi
If you're looking forward to re-living an era bygone, Wenger's Bakery is your place. The 94-year-old bakery still holds on to its colonial structure, thus exuding a vibe so naturally cinematic we could only imagine what it must have been like in its own time. Established in 1926, Wenger's in the capital, offers irresistible tarts, waffles, patties and pastries.
Location: Wenger's 1926 - Shop No A/16 Near Inner Circle Road, Rajiv Chowk, CP
Contact: +91 11 2332 4403
Timings: 11 AM - 8 PM
Whitefield Bakery, Chennai
My obsession with old bakeries led me to Whitefield and what amused me the most is that every employee at the 80-year-old establishment manages to concoct a completely different origin story when quizzed about the same. Nourishing the city with its iconic plum cakes for as long as one can remember, this one's a must-visit, period.
Location: Whitefield Bakery - 8, Purasawalkam High Rd, Purasaiwakkam
Contact: +91 9841 695 339
Timings: 6 AM – 10 PM
Smith Field Bakery, Chennai
Owing its name to the late ICS commissioner, E. Conrath Smith, Smith Field Bakery is known to be one of the oldest bakeries in Chennai. Established in 1885 by Ponnuswamy Naicker, this 130-year-old wonder-spot continues to serve its customers a wide variety of baked goodies. Its bakers hold their traditional methods and recipes far too closely to their hearts and it reflects in their offerings and the overall experience at the cafe. Bookmark for your next visit to the southern city.
Location: Smith Field Bakery - 30, Perambur Barracks Rd, Perumalpet, Purasawalkam
Contact: +91 9884 600 232
Timings: 7:30AM- 10:30PM
Albert Bakery, Bengaluru
Serving the crowd in Bangalore since 1902, Albert Bakery was founded by a Mohammed Suleman. Standing firm on its foot for 120 years, churning out only the best delicacies, this is a place that is trusted by kids and adults alike. The khova-naan is said to be a specialty here, and I suspect Albert Bakery makes good on that promise.
Location: 93, Mosque Road, Frazer Town Near More Hypermarket, Bengaluru
Contact: +91 80 2548 6410
Royal Biscuit Factory, Kerala
Founded in 1880, this is one of India's oldest bakeries. Rumour has it that Mambally Bapu,the founder of Royal Biscuit Factory returned from Burma and opened the space to popularise the art of biscuit-making and then, went onto becoming, the first person to bake a cake in India in the month of November, 1883. Whether that's true or not, the antiquated haunt is surely worth a visit, and I know, I am adding it to my itinerary.
Shaikh Brother's, Assam
The Shaikh Brothers, a paragon of Assam's baking landscape, owes its origin to Shaikh Ghulam Ibrahim, a restaurateur of sorts, who initially owned a bakery in Mirzapur Street in Kolkata, before expanding into Assam. His brother, Shaikh Shobiruddin, joined him in this venture thus giving the bakeshop its current name. Now, handled by the third and fourth generation of the Shaikh family, the owners proudly claim that their foremost priority is to respect the quality of the baked goods that was established when it was founded. While there, don't forget to try their American red velvet cake, special black forest, mango mousse and choco truffles.
Kayani Bakery, Pune
How could I possibly jot down a list of some of the oldest bakeries and not keep space for this Parsi bakehouse? A joint venture of the two brothers Khodayar and Hormazdiar Kayani, Kayani Bakery came into existence in1955. For close to 70 years now, this place has been entertaining Punekars with its yesteryear charm and delectable goodies, which includes specials like, shrewsberry cookie, coconut biscuits, vanilla muffin and mawa cup cake.
A forever favourite in Kolkata, Nahoum's finds itself nestled amongst the busy alleys of New Market, or Hogg Market, one of the city's oldest shopping arcades.The humble bakery doubles up as a one-stop-shop for all your sweet cravings, and also a window into Kolkata's rich culinary history, of which the Jewish community is a pivotal part. Go for the black forest or heart cake, brownie and cheese sticks, and stay for the history.
Shreyasee who has always remained a foodie has now embarked upon the journey of channelling her love for the same through her writing. An ardent theatre-lover, she's always on the look-out for new avenues to express her creative self. Apart from writing and working on social media, she also never misses an opportunity to crack a joke, every now and then.