After searching London for the ideal pastries to add to our new breakfast menu, and tasting quite a few croissants along the way, we finally found the perfect pastry at Pophams Bakery! Newly opened Pophams is located near the canal in Islington on a lovely quiet street, the variety of viennoiseries that they offer is quite astonishing. We had the chance to talk to the owner, Ollie, about the difference between an authentic handmade pastry and an industrially produced one and his motivations for opening a bakery in Islington.
Could you tell us a little bit about Pophams? How did you pick the name?
Pophams is small bakery filled with heart and passion. We aim to be a perfect haven for locals of Islington but also the ultimate destination for our beautifully unique pastries. The name Pophams comes from the street we are just situated off, Popham Street. There is a great sense of community around us and we love being at the heart of it.
Could you tell us about head chef Florin? is the life of a baker like?
Florin is a legend, his love and passion for baking is truly outstanding, he’s a remarkable character and we are truly blessed to have him on bored at Pophams. Florin starts laminating croissants as early as 2am so that they are just out the oven as the doors open. Florin describes his life as demanding but full of passion and a way of life.
The very special food
Could you tell us how a pastry is made? What is the difference between an authentic handmade pastry and an industrially produced one?
The difference between an authentic handmade pastry and an industrially produced one is passion. When you eat a good handmade pastry you can feel all the passion, hard work, and the selected ingredients through it’s rich flavour. The time it takes depends on the kind of pastry and its complexity but it can take from a few hours to an overnight process. We prepare our croissant dough the day before and giving its final touch the next morning (18-20 hours later).
How do you dream up such unique flavours such as the raspberry jam, peanut butter and banana croissant?
To be completely honest its a combination that my brother Nick and I grew up on, we’ve always loved it. I have family in the US, it seems to be pretty big over there too! I put the idea to Florin one day and he created the beauty of the PBJ.
What happens to the surplus croissant at the end of each day?
Over the last two months we’ve come along way and working out production and it is the biggest challenge. Luckily our surplus plain croissants get used the next day for our delicious almond croissants and ham and cheese croissants. The Almond is soaked in a secret syrup before it is filled, covered and baked. Our ham and cheese is special to us, lets leave it at that. We do love the fact that both of these, two of our most popular come from our surplus croissants.
What’s your background and what motivated you to open the bakery?
I have worked in hospitality my whole life, the majority of the time I was lucky enough to travel around the world with it, I was out of the county for nearly 250 days a year, and therefore was able to explore so many different restaurants, cafes and cultures. Year after year I would come up with new ideas as to what I wanted to do, I would make business plans, look for locations and usually get way too over-excited. Finally at the beginning of 2016 I knew I wanted to stop the travelling, settle in London and the bakery idea had been brewing inside me for over 2 years. I came home, worked in cafes and restaurants, and the dream became a reality!
What’s your number 1 favourite flavour combination of the Pophams pastry repertoire?
My favourites change constantly, however right now it is one that was my girlfriend Lucys idea; Rosemary and Sea Salt plait, such simple flavours, yet seem to be absolutely perfect with croissant pastry.
Why did you choose Islington as a location?
Because I have a season ticket at Arsenal and it is only a 10 minute cycle to the stadium…Joking, (sort of) Islington has such a nice feel to it, residents of the area seem to have such a love for food, shown by the vast choice of great places to eat and drink! I am also obsessed with the canals running through Islington, and so didn’t want to be far. Finally, I want Pophams to really become a destination, and it is an easy location to access.
What are the plans for the future of Pophams?
Once we have settled in and got everything into place we want to develop the menu further, experimenting with more interesting flavours and combinations, we want to be a wholesale option for those cafes and restaurants that want to stand out from the rest. The continuation of the dream would be to have a few Pophams dotted across London so we were more accessible to everyone! Once stabilised my dream is to have a huge social impact too, I have been so lucky growing up in a family who really aim on impacting lives of those who deserve more and I would love to follow on in their footsteps.
The crockery at Pophams are lovely. We heard they are made by Jessica Joslin. How did you meet her?
My mum has been involved in the art world for years, mainly specialising in ceramics, so I was introduced through her. I have been a big fan of Jess’s work for years, I even went down to have a go myself at her studio in Stepney City Farm, didn’t quite have the ability to use my own crafts but I would highly recommend it!
Thank you Ollie!
19 Prebend StreetIslington,
London N1 8PF
+44 7872 177670