NEW CLIENT: FORTITUDE BAKERY
Fortitude Bakehouse, from baker Dee Rettali and Fernandez & Wells co-founder Jorge Fernandez, is proud to introduce its fermentation-forward loaves, cakes and pastries, made within the mews bakery close to London’s Russell Square.
Following a ‘slow proved but fast paced’ approach, there is an honest hands-on element to everything Dee and her team produce and a real respect for the craft. They aren’t afraid of experimentation or innovation, even if it sometimes feels at odds with London’s burgeoning pastry scene. Daily changing bakes often blend flavours from Dee’s Irish upbringing with her years spent in Marrakech, with compelling and bold results, where taste is everything.
At the heart of everything Dee and her team do is creativity, patience and intuition, knowing that each bake needs to be given time; time for sugars to break down, time for flavours to develop, time for crusts to become delightfully crisp.
For the baking, Fortitude ferments each base mixture, allowing the batter to mature in a constant quest to achieve the deep, complex flavours reminiscent of Dee’s childhood. Within Fortitude’s Sourdough loaf cakes, a milk-based starter is fed for three days with buttermilk, sugar and flour to help the cake rise and give it a tremendously nutty flavour, before its core ingredients are added, like Marrakesh Orange and Mint or Cold Brew Espresso.
Olive oil is used as a base with polenta and almond, left overnight to infuse with citrus, eggs and sugar before it is used within one of Dee’s seasonal loaves; from Irish Bilberry and lemon to Elderflower and orange. The end product? Bakes that are powerful, that, thanks to their mix of traditional ingredients and ferment, can last at their best for days in a home kitchen, that do not lose their punch in flavour or bounce in texture.
The flavours at Fortitude are inspired by classic combinations, but with a confidence and adaptable approach that drives the fast-paced bakery forward and resists passing fads. Dee’s Irish heritage, rooted in the villages surrounding the Blackwater River in Ireland, blends seamlessly with inspiration taken from the Souks of Marrakech, where she spends one week out of every month. It is these flavours threaded through recipes on the Fortitude counter, and within the beloved Fortitude Cookbook. Beignets filled with Lime and mango cream, sugar-crystal-topped St Tropézienne buns piped with a Lemon mascarpone cream and rose jam, and a Guinness cake made using 2-day-fermented butter, creating a richly satisfying taste and deeply comforting texture.
Savoury flavours come via bakes steeped in herbs and spice; Merguez, chermoula and parmesan rolls, and Celeriac borek with hazelnut picada to name a few. At lunchtime, the smell of freshly baked Focaccia and Brioche wafts through the bakery’s open doors for their daily changing sandwich menu. The fillings change with the team’s mood, but recently, highlights have included generously stacked Sesame sticky chicken with smoked paprika and sea salt baked kale, and Zaalouk with barrel-aged feta, preserved lemon and parsley.
Irish-born Dee Rettali founded Fortitude Bakehouse with Jorge Fernandez in 2018, following a three decade career baking for some of London’s most iconic and well-loved institutions. Having trained with restaurateur Justin de Blank, Dee found herself at the forefront of the organic food movement, founding Patisserie Organic in 1998, which supplied major retail outlets in London. From there, Dee, who first began supplying cakes to Fernandez & Wells, moved to the company in 2010 as General Manager and Head of Food. Dee takes her inspiration for flavour from the blend of her own Irish heritage and her monthly trips to Marrakech.
In 2021, Dee published her first cookbook, Baking With Fortitude, which encourages bravery and experimentation within home baking. It has won the Andre Simon award for food and was shortlisted for the Food Writers Guild and Fortnum and Mason awards.
Dee’s unflinchingly honest and hands-on approach, using time-honoured techniques that don’t shy away from being slightly rough around the edges, offers a refreshing and bold take to the craft. She comes at baking with a care for tradition, with curiosity to learn and experiment through new technique - and most importantly, with fortitude.
Fortitude Bakehouse is situated at 35 Colonnade, Bloomsbury, WC1N, and is open Monday - Friday from 7.30am until 3pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 8.30am until 2.30pm.
For more information, contact Lois@gemmabellandcompany.com
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