The word bakery has taken on so many dimensions. When we were kids, a bakery was the place where you got bread, and maybe a cake when it was your birthday. And that was it!
As the foodie revolution overtakes India, bakeries in Pune are getting fancier. They are selling more and more stuff like sandwiches, some are even cafes, and some use the word patisserie denoting they sell fancy French stuff.
Baker’s Basket, one of the pastry shops in Pune, was the place to get a mean Black Forest Cake in the 90s. Now the Black Forest Cake is so passé! Fancy cafes like Pink Butter are selling the currently fashionable Red Velvet Cake and the Rainbow Cake. Minus 18 Degrees in Baner is known for their baked cheesecake. Chocolate and confectionary shops are also getting popular. So yes, Punekars are now spoilt for choice.
But these are not the places I think of when I think ‘bakery’. Bakery means the soft loaf of white bread wrapped in brown paper, still warm from the oven. The kind you slathered with homemade butter and sugar and gorged on without obsessing over the carbs or fats you were consuming. Or the cake rusk that you could dunk in your tea without fear of it falling apart before you popped it into your mouth.
There are some old bakeries in Pune that are famous for their signature products, and they are the bakeries I want to talk about today. Inspite of the influx of all the upscale competition, these bakeries are still going strong.
Love their bread and their cake rusk, maybe more because of nostalgia. Although this place is far away from where I live now, it is still the ‘original’ bakery for me.
Located in Sadashiv Peth, they are famous for their veg puff. Spicy vegetable filling in layers of flaky puff pastry – this is what the old timers line up for.
This bakery is tucked away in a small street in Camp. Their Jeera Butter and pita breads are really worth a try.
This Fatima Nagar bakery is famous for their soft white bread.
Kayani Bakery deserves special mention. They are the place to get the buttery shrewsbury biscuits which are a Pune specialty.
Chitale Bandhu’s Mango Barfi and Kayani’s Shrewsbury biscuits are the goodies outsiders and visitors always ask for, and this is what they take home with them. Also famous for their chocolate walnut cake and their Mawa cake, Kayani Bakery is something of an institution. Located on East Street in the Camp area, they open at specific times. There is always a throng of people and barely standing room.
At a recent visit, I felt like I had stepped in to a time warp. Nothing has changed there. The same old fashioned fans whir from high in the ceiling from the rafters. The counter is eye level even for me. Every one shouts out their order, and if you are lucky, one of the many people behind the counter finally gets to you and fills your order. There have been many times when I have returned empty handed from Kayani. Thankfully, I got my fill of the cake and ginger biscuits this time, but they were out of brown bread! Barely 10 minutes after opening at 4 PM.
The small neighborhood bakery has a special place in my heart. These bakeries seem to be a symbol of the old, relaxed times as the world rushes ahead at a fast pace. They have some tough competition from new entrants in the market. But if the rush at Kayani is anything to go by, these bakeries aren’t going away any time soon.