The Best New Bakeries In Auckland Are Making The City Better & Bread-ier

By Julia Gessler
These new bakeries in Tāmaki Makaurau are raising the bar for everything, from sourdough to croissants and sweet treats. Photo / Babiche Martens

A fresh batch of speciality bakeries has opened in Auckland. The city’s baked-goods game is rising with them.

Cooked dough is many things to many people.

For Mor Bakery, a small, roughly six-month-old spot in Remuera, it is croissants baked with radioactive levels of crispness and a curl

The secret, or part of it, is in the threshold for caramalisation. Mor’s owners, friends Laura Metcalf and Kelsie Culpan, brown them to the point where people sometimes ask if they’re burnt.

They’re not, they’re just delicious. In less easily tempted hands, they’ll last uneaten for about as long as it takes to poach an egg.

Laura and Kelsie are bakers’ bakers who met at Auckland University of Technology, before respective stints in London and Melbourne. They talk like close conspirators, the kind who finish each other’s sentences, who riff and build together. When they acquired their shop, the former site of Jess’s Underground Kitchen, after initially running Mor as an online bakery, they did build together.

“We sanded the wood ourselves,” Kelsie says of the cabinetry.

“Don’t look too closely,” Laura quickly adds, laughing.

Laura Metcalf and Kelsie Culpan’s Mor Bakery, in Remuera, opened its doors roughly six months ago. “It almost feels like it couldn’t have been anywhere else,” says Laura.
Laura Metcalf and Kelsie Culpan’s Mor Bakery, in Remuera, opened its doors roughly six months ago. “It almost feels like it couldn’t have been anywhere else,” says Laura.

For Laura and Kelsie, croissants are just the beginning of Things That Get Baked In An Oven. There’s a Frenchy breathlessness to their menu. The choux au craquelin sit fissured and filled with whipped tahini crème and sesame salted caramel. Golden discs of kouign amann (a sort of multilayered, crispy cake) are speckled with fennel seeds and a so-shiny-you-can-basically-see-yourself glaze. A rosette, a swirled cinnamon doughnut, is an exemplar of form.

All of it is delicateness transmuted into something unfussy and uncomplicated, where the flavours are clear and the ingredients are remixed with the dexterity of a Rubik’s Cube solver.

In a city that seems flush with new arrivals of bakeries and viennoiseries, their vernacular of pastry is not explicitly Kiwi. Instead, they lean on beans like tonka and try to temper any overwhelming sweetness. “It’s [about] balance,” says Kelsie. “Even when we’re making a caramel, we’re pushing it not to be just sweet.”

If you are chasing a feeling of familiarity, however, head to Beabea’s, which opened on Garnet Rd in November. The bakery was founded by Ben Eyres and Sarah Tabak, who met several years ago while working at Daily Bread, the glutenous constellation of stores that has expanded, slowly and deliberately, with such loyalty to its original proposition — to provide people with organic sourdough, among a wider fleet — that great loaves have become the Auckland paradigm.

For the couple in business and in life, their store — rendered in stainless steel and beautiful old tiles in what was once Westmere Bakery, a beloved institution — is about possibility.

“We just want to be able to express our creativity,” says Sarah, a former winemaker. “When you work for someone else you have to get it past a few people, but we just have to get it past each other.”

On a recent Friday morning, it was their first day selling pink buns. The recipe takes two days to make — they have to feed a starter three times and reach the right pH. The result is panettone-like although you don’t associate it with Christmas, the topping a butter cream icing that’s made the colour of candy floss thanks to freeze-dried raspberries instead of food colouring. Its circuit of taste registers a childhood nostalgia similar to fairy bread: a bright, bracing shot of confetti down to the crumb.

Their other iterations on classics are also a hit: the Louise Slice croissant combines coconut, frangipane and jam; the steak and cheese pie, uniformly square, is their bestseller.

At Florets, founder Maya Handley makes sourdough with a focus on New Zealand-grown grain. “As a baker, such a huge part of the work is sharing what you’re making,” says Maya. Photo / Scott Hardy
At Florets, founder Maya Handley makes sourdough with a focus on New Zealand-grown grain. “As a baker, such a huge part of the work is sharing what you’re making,” says Maya. Photo / Scott Hardy

One read for the bakery boom — which counts Manis, Wheatz, Fa Artisan Bake and Copain, among others — is that it’s a case of exposure. “I think it’s kind of like a chicken and egg thing,” says Maya Handley, the founder of Grey Lynn’s Florets. “Some people start doing a great job, which sparks the interest, and then there becomes a growing demand for that. People think, ‘Hey, why don’t we have a great bakery in our neighbourhood?’”

Maya trained as a baker while she lived in New York, determined to eventually sell the kind of bread that she was making for her family: nutritious, organic, wholegrain. Her background as a photographer — the restrained parameters, the eye for tiny shifts and changes — helped. “With bread, especially making simple bread like we’re making, you’re just dealing with flour, salt and water,” she explains. After starting by-delivery business Kōpiko, she opened her bricks-and-mortar Florets in 2021.

Maya’s business has equally functioned as a kind of salve, the anxiety she used to feel in her life as a photographer releasing as she became involved with food. “That felt very liberating,” she says.

Baked goods are good at conjuring comfort even if there isn’t any.

For that, there is also Mibo. Meaning “bread” in Shanghainese, Emma Zhao’s patisserie, her second after sibling spot Benedict’s, has opened outposts in Mount Eden and Wynyard Quarter over the past two years.

Inside, they have Instagram aspirations: the brickwork is beige — so is the wood. The booths are burnt red. It is like being in a wheat field (an intentional part of the design brief) with a cosmopolitan pedigree.

If one of the marks of the city’s new bakery class is a proximity to play that is technically dazzling, then Mibo is a member because of this performative confidence, which extends to its food. There are cruffins and some of the most dialled-up danishes in Auckland, heaving with so much filling that they are structurally built like arcs to transport everything from Earl Grey custard to lady fingers and truffles and Barney-hued ube.

The danishes are hulking, often spotlighting Chinese flavours, but perhaps above all else they are commendably sturdy delivery vehicles. As you like them, but also as you need them.

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