Bakery Bar Crawl

25th January 2018

  1. Portland Café

Portland Café was a pleasant surprise for the three of us budding bakers. Not only is it University Park’s very own cake-haven, the overall atmosphere was particularly captivating. The quirky feel to the café made the environment feel unique and provided a perfect atmosphere to motivate students during revision season! Baking ‘connoisseur’ Harry Robertson described Portland Café as the perfect “pit-stop” to satisfy your cake needs. The café also provides ‘200 Degrees Coffee’, to quench your thirst whilst enjoying your chosen treat.

Harry started the Bakery Bar Crawl off with Portland Café’s Rocky Road. Overall it was a positive review. Although the consistency and texture could have been softer and chewier, the ov

erall bake was satisfactory. The mixture of marshmallow, nuts and icing sugar complemented each other, however Harry was unsure as to whether the bakes were batch orders from local places as again, the texture was rather solid for his liking. For the price of £2.30, Harry was pleased with the size of his chosen treat and concluded that Portland Café’s rocky road deserved 3/5 Marry Berry’s.

Ellie continued with the brownie, another classic choice. As our first contender for ‘best brownie in Nottingham’, Ellie was pleasantly surprised, highlighting how the ‘gooey middle and hard outside’ provided the basis for a good brownie. Also priced at £2.30, the brownie was a decent size and was a satisfying treat, earning it 3/5 Mary Berry’s.

The last bakery treat to undergo our bakery scrutiny was the ever loyal Victoria sponge. Mel was immediately impressed by the soft sponge and moist texture which are essential factors for the perfect sponge. Moreover, Portland Café’s sizing, again was a winner for the small price of £2.70, however the cake did start to crumble towards the end. A generous score of 4/5 Mary Berry’s was awarded for this well executed Victoria Sponge.

Onto the next…

  1. Ugly Bread Bakery

Our bakery journey continued into town where we were pleasantly surprised by the high-

quality bakes in The Ugly Bread Bakery. Vast selections of Italian based products are available in this alternative bakery. As students we were immediately impressed that a student meal deal was available for the reasonable price of £6.

Our search for the best brownie in Nottingham continued. The brownie at the Ugly Bread bakery was by far one of the best brownies the three of us had tasted. For the slightly more expensive price of £2.85, the bake was soft and sufficiently chewy and was definitely a ‘melt in the mouth’ experience! Not to mention the addition of a cherry glaze which provided an extra dimension to the brownie, therefore a well-deserved scoring of 4/5 Mary Berry’s was awarded.

As an Italian herself, Mel was ready to try some traditional Italian products and was relatively impressed by the Spinach and Ricotta pizza. Unfortunately, although she went in with the 9-inch pizza, the base was a little too sticky and the bread was too thin; therefore, the product was awarded only 2.5/5 Mary Berry’s.

However, the bakery provided a comforting lounging space upstairs, where customers could enjoy a game of monopoly or simply have a calming chat with friends and family. The three of us concluded that the slightly higher prices were worth paying for the enjoyable atmosphere and central Hockley location.

  1. Doughnotts

We three bakers then moved on to the popular Doughnotts, in its ideal location: Market Square. As we walked downstairs to reach the bakery, Little Mix was playing full-volume on the speakers. It is safe to say we felt transported into a magical donut world. Baked fresh every day by the local company, there was a choice between ‘Premium’ and ‘Regular’ donuts. Whilst there were benches available to eat the donuts, the bakery seemed to be very takeaway-orientated, which Harry was unsure about.

After much deliberation, we decided on the chunky £2 ‘Vegan Soil’ donut, the closest option to a brownie. This chocolate-covered donut was so chunky and so curvy, that Ellie broke the knife trying to cut it! Talk about hard!

This bakery treat impressed all three reviewers, as its size proved it to be really good value for money. We also appreciated the ‘vegan’ element of the donut; an attempt by the owners to cater to a wider range of customers! If we hadn’t eaten the various delicacies at the previous bakeries we might have eaten more here. Nonetheless, the buzzing atmosphere of Doughnotts, featuring all your favourite pop classics, combined with the tasty texture of the donut earned it 4/5 Mary Berry’s.

  1. think café

Our final destination on the Bakery Bar Crawl was hidden within Hockley’s Cobden Chambers. By this point, we needed to bring along new recruits with fresh stomachs to join the team in order for us to make it through this challenging journey. The very attentive staff instantly provided three very alternative yet exciting bakes for us to try, served on an artisan wooden tray.

First of all we dove into the wheat-free brownie with coffee cream, an excellent twist on the classic brownie, and high contender for ‘best brownie in Nottingham’. This brownie provided a very clean cut, despite its squidgy-ness, allowing the full flavour to be released. The coffee cream nicely complemented the intense, thick brownie, which Harry, Mel, and our new member Maddie loved. However, for Ellie the coffee was too much, so we concluded think café’s brownie to be a solid 4.5/5.

Next up, we tried think café’s Victoria sponge. Compared to Portland Café, we could tell this sponge was far more artisan even before trying it, with a charming country, hand-baked feel. However, it was a smaller portion than Portland’s sponge, which meant you got less for your money. Regardless of this, all three of were impressed by this moist sponge, giving it between 4 and 4.5/5 Mary Berry’s.

Our final bake from think café was their tahini and sesame sponge. Maddie described this as having a humous vibe, and again its soft spongy texture left us wanting more (despite being stuffed!). This treat had a bizarre combination of savoury and sweet, but it worked. Mel wanted to go straight in with this savoury option too, even though it was substantially smaller than the Ugly Bread Bakery’s 9-inch pizza. We decided on the whole that this cake was a nice change to the usual cake options, awarding it 4/5 Mary Berry’s.


Our favourite brownie was the Ugly Bread Bakery’s cherry concoction. Whilst we only gave it a 4/5 at the time, on reflection we decided that it was the best by far out of the ones we tried, so we increased its’ score to 5/5 Mary Berry’s!

This was a valuable learning experience for the three of us budding bakers, but I think we can safely agree Mel will think twice before going straight in with a soggy 9-inch.