Much like the figures that ‘Prince’ or ‘Madonna’ are to music, Dan, the West Auckland-based baker, needs no further introduction within Auckland’s foodie circles. Such is his reputation for baking incredible bread. So when we heard that the maestro was set to open his own shop in the very near future, we made it our mission to find out more.
Before going at it alone, Dan, whose surname is, in fact, Cruden, was head chef at Amano when it first opened, counting itself as one of the only Auckland bakeries to mill its own flour. Beyond that, his wealth of experience spans 20 years in baking, having first started out to pay his way through art school. “I fell in love with the job and have since worked in a variety of bakeries learning a lot from the masters over the years,” Cruden says. Now, he’s concentrating on making real, fresh bread and pastries from locally sourced ingredients with an emphasis on quality and health.
Then asked about his new outlet, due to open in Helensville before the end of the year, Dan describes it as somewhere that he will sell his bread and pastries — his speciality is viennoiseries (anything, from croissants, to brioches and pain aux raisins, that is typically eaten for breakfast) — as well as lunch options such as sandwiches and pies. “We have plans to set up picnic tables so customers can enjoy the atmosphere of rural living and enjoy a nice lunch and coffee,” the baker explains. “We are hoping to offer our community a place to get real, fresh, preservative-free bread that is good for you.”
The bread and viennoiseries, which are currently available to order on Dan’s The Real Bread Project Facebook page, are also what you’ll find in some of Auckland’s most well-respected bakeries including Miann Fort Street, Miann Morningside, Pastrami and Rye, Point of Yield, Allpress Ponsonby on the weekend, as well as local shops Husk, The Kombuchery and MILC. They also offer a delivery service to our local areas and can be found at the local Kaukapakapa village market once a month.
Dan admits that he loves working with chefs to make items you can’t find anywhere else. Delectable offerings such as the ‘pain au peanut‘ — a hybrid between a cube croissant and one of Cadbury’s Summer Rolls — are proof that he likes to push the boundaries. With the countdown on till the baker opens his new offering (watch this space), we’re quietly counting our lucky stars that Cruden’s art career didn’t work out.
For more info about The Real Bread Project, click here.