Amaretti di Southwark

Bread Ahead’s British take on a classic Italian treat

If there’s one thing Southwark is reliably not, it’s exotic. Vibrant, yes. Diverse and deeply rich in history, definitely. But if you were searching for a word to convey a sense of sunshine and sea; of warm cobbles on Italian streets; of treacly espresso and sparkling prosecco—the sense, in short, of an amaretti biscuit, then the name of an old, built up London borough might not be your first choice.

Unless, of course, you’re Matt Jones and Justin Gellatly, founders of Bread Ahead: the bakery born and bred in Southwark’s Borough Market. They might be British, but their amaretti biscuits are of a quality to rival even that of the finest Italian pasticceria.

“They are really good,” Michel on the stall enthuses. “Amazingly fluffy”—a feature which may surprise readers who associate amaretti biscuits with the dry, crusty morsel you occasionally get free with poor coffee.

Dusty sugar bombs
Forget those imposters: the pale and dusty sugar bombs Justin and Matt have proudly, boldly named Amaretti di Southwark are just waiting to crumble in your mouth (and down your shirt and trousers) and let forth waves of nutty, honey-sweet and, yes, exotically Italian taste.

“They are strong,” Michel continues, “but not overpowering. They’re like a big mouthful of marzipan.” Yet they don’t taste artificial. Cheap almond essence has been the downfall of many an almond baked good: not these.

So reliably delicious are they, Michel would eat them just on their own, though “a sparkling wine might be nice,” he muses, “and they are good with coffee”—that is, if you can hold out long enough to get to Borough Wines for fine prosecco, or to the peerless Monmouth. Now to find the warm sunshine and the sound of the sea…