Cologne’s top five bakeries
From Adenauer bread to burger buns
Baked goods are available on practically every street corner in various qualities. Crusty wheat bread, flaky butter croissants and golden-brown rolls are piled high in the city’s many bakeries. But which bakery still creates its own products? I decided to go and root out bakeries that have renounced all ready-made products in favour of the artisan route. Here are my top five.
Try as you might, you cannot avoid the Cologne institution that is Bäckerei Balkhausen. Every day, long queues form in front of this wee bakery on Apostelnstrasse, with tourists and residents alike peering from the outside at the innumerable breads, pastries and cakes on display, all of which are beautifully arranged and labelled. It’s best to make up your mind before you go in (through the window!) because once you’re in, you have to place your order fast. The ladies behind the counter in their striped pinafores handle the constant onslaught with a typical Cologne-infused charming efficiency. Balkhausen’s most traditional product at is the Adenauer loaf, named after Germany’s first post-war Chancellor, but my favourite is the much sweeter Russian-style Zupfkuchen cake.
Apostelnstraße 27, 50667 Cologne
Just a couple of doors down is Cologne’s second master bakery, Bäckerei Zimmermann, established in 1885 and working with traditional methods to this day. This family-owned bakery has never used any preservatives or artificial additives in its range of products, which includes crusty artisan loaves, fresh baguettes and moist rye bread. A gorgeous smell wafts from this tiny space with the bright green façade. Zimmermann’s classic Rheinisches Schwarzbrot (Rhineland-style dark rye bread) is a great souvenir to take home. Wrapped in pretty silver paper and featuring Zimmermann’s famous lettering, a package is sold practically every minute. My favourite way to enjoy it is with a thick smear of butter and a pinch of salt. Delicious.
Bergheim’s – Die Meisterbäckerei
Off the beaten tourist track in pretty Sülz is where Tim Bergheim and his team are at home. Tim took over his parents’ bakery business, previously in Lindenthal, and has given it a modern touch with a new logo, a larger product range and an open-view bakery. This young master baker has deliberately renounced all convenience products and instead uses regional suppliers. The shelves groan under classic Rhineland baked goods alongside some new inventions, because Bergheim’s is all about diversity, choice and the wishes of its clientele. The Franzbrötchen, a cinnamon-infused flaky pastry that has immigrated from the north of Germany, is Bergheim’s best-selling product.
Bergheim’s – Die Meisterbäckerei
Sülzgürtel 96, 50937 Cologne
A bit further out of town in Braunsfeld is the family-owned Ecke bakery, where bread, bread rolls, cake, pastries and indeed all kinds of baked goods are prepared by hand without artificial additives. Master baker Mathias Ecke is particularly proud of his family’s traditional recipes and his very own sourdough. Ecke has become the go-to supplier of Cologne’s local burger scene without even trying. Several of the city’s burger bars, including Fette Kuh and the hot-dog joint Wurst Case Szenario, buy their buttery buns here.
Aachener Straße 517, 50933 Cologne
prôt – von Alex handgebacken
Alex Onasch is the new kid on the block. A master baker without compromise, Alex is all about quality over quantity. He does bread and only bread – seven varieties though, all of which are amazing. Alex considers his bakery to be a workshop with a counter attached, inviting his clientele to come in and watch him knead the dough and ask lots of questions. He likes a well-informed customer who wants to know why he doesn’t sell rolls, what types of flour he uses, which miller they come from, and how long the dough is left to rest. His delicious loaves go on sale at 10 am every morning – another unusual feature. In a supporting role: his partner Melanie. If you’re serious about bread, make sure you drop in.