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George Fuest, Baker

December 1, 2023
by the gentle author

I am reading my short story ON CHRISTMAS DAY this Saturday 2nd December at 11am as part of the BLOOMSBURY JAMBOREE at the Art Workers’ Guild in Queens Square, WC1N 3AT.






George Fuest by Patricia Niven


Last January, I was intrigued to hear of a baker running a solo bakery from a shed in the backyard of a house in Fournier St, by the name of Populations Bakery. Orders could placed online, I learnt, and collected from the front door direct from the baker George Fuest on Friday. So I ordered Galettes des Rois, without any expectation but as a treat to lift my spirits in the first weeks of New Year, only to be astonished by the sophistication and accomplishment of these sweet treats.

Over the past year, a stream of delights followed including a magnificent Simnel cake at Easter and an unforgettable birthday cake in the autumn – all evidence of a truly outstanding talent in baking. Then last week I happened to meet George one cold morning in the cycle lane in Westminster just below Big Ben as it struck nine. He was on his way to make deliveries but he stopped his bike and handed me a mince pie. It was my first Christmas moment and now I am spoiled because I cannot imagine any other being as good as George’s.

Contributing photographer Patricia Niven & I joined George for a session in the bakery recently – before the Christmas rush began – to see for ourselves what goes on. George baked loaves of bread, croissants, danish pastries and pains au chocolate with an ease which belied his precision and expert judgement, while he explained to us how and why he conjured his bakery into being in the house where he grew up.

“Even before Lockdown I used to make a lot of bread and pastries. When I left university, I was trying to start a website and to finance that I worked as bike courier for Little Bread Pedlar delivering pastries to coffee shops. That was when I realised I just really enjoyed eating pastries and it inspired me to start baking.

I started working at a coffee shop as a barista because I wanted to get into the coffee industry. But then, when Lockdown happened, I started baking a lot more regularly and delivering to friends and family, mostly as a way to have something to do, to get out on my bike and go and see people, delivering supplies. Then I did some charity fundraisers because people wanted to pay for my pastries but I did not think they were good enough, so I asked people to make donations to charity rather than take money from them. And it grew from there.

I was attracted to the mission of a bakery employing heritage grains, supporting farmers that are focussing on regenerative agricultural practices. I realised I really wanted to be a baker. I am interested in being the middle person between the farmer and the customer, and promoting this approach to baking.

During Lockdown I could get on my bike and deliver direct. I used to bake though the early hours of the morning and then be cycling around London for six or seven hours a day. Now people come and collect, and I have some drop-off points around London.

I am self taught though a lot of trial and error, and a lot of reading recipes. And I did work experience at Flore Bakery in Bermondsey and at Landrace Bakery in Bath and I did holiday cover at Toad Bakery in Camberwell. I learnt a lot that way.

When you work with specialty grain, there is a lot of trial and error anyway because you can only learn how to interpret the flour by working with it. With modern cereals, you get this complete consistency that industrial processes require – they want the baking to be the same every time.

That is not the case with heritage grain where you can get different characteristics from field to field, so every sack of flour can be quite different which means you are always learning – as a baker – the properties of the grain and what you can do with it. The baking tastes better. In commercial production, there is no requirement for flavour. Modern wheat is roller milled which strips off a lot of elements of the grain but, with stoneground, the entire grain is ground.

I call my bakery Populations because it focusses on genetically diverse wheat. With modern wheat you get a monoculture where every plant is genetically identical which makes them vulnerable to infections and pests, so they require a lot of pesticides and herbicides which are oil-based chemicals. With populations-diverse wheat, you have a blend of many different wheats which are grown in the same field and the seeds saved, and the process is repeated again and again. This creates a complete genetic diversity in the crop and it will be different in every part of the country because it will adapt to wherever it is grown.

This may sound like the past, employing traditional methods and not using modern fertilisers, but it is also the future because it is the way crops need to be grown to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and start regenerating the land.

When I am baking, it is a lot of hours work. When I started out, I did not have many customers so I would be cycling seventy kilometres a day to deliver bread and pastries, after five or six hours of baking beforehand. It kept me fit but it was not really sustainable.

I would love to open a community-based coffee shop and bakery, and I am also enjoying small scale wholesale. This Christmas I am making mince pies for ten select coffee shops in London and it is lovely to get the feedback.

There are so many things I enjoy about this work. I love the challenge of woking with different grains and learning new methods. I still enjoy eating the pastries and my bread too!.”


Click here to order from Populations Bakery and collect from Fournier St


Sough dough loaves


Pains au chocolate

George Fuest

Photographs © Patricia Niven

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12 Responses leave one →
  1. Corvin permalink
    December 1, 2023

    I can vouch for the mince pies, ordered some and tasted before December! ?

  2. Hilary Smith permalink
    December 1, 2023

    This is such an interesting and inspiring story! I am so sorry that I don’t live in London, so that I could buy the mince pies and bread!

  3. Jan permalink
    December 1, 2023

    The bread and pastries look beautiful. If you opened a shop in my town I’d be in everyday.

  4. Bernie permalink
    December 1, 2023

    What a pain! Such delicious-looking articles but, far away from London, here is no chance of placing an order and receiving the goods while they are in prime condition. Really it is too bad!

  5. December 1, 2023

    George Fuest is a passionate baker who is completely dedicated to his craft. That’s quite impressive and of course reminds me of the baking culture in Germany. I have about five or six such unique bakeries here, each of which produces a very special bread.

    I call one of these bakeries the evening before to order the extra DARK baked onion bread. This is a really “forbidden” bread! A few years ago, an order came from Brussels that the bread should not be baked “too dark” — because of a suspected “cancer risk”… (I can understand the British all too well why they left this “club of bans”).

    I wish the passionate baker from Fournier Street a continued success!

    Love & Peace

  6. December 1, 2023

    Oh… I am so envious. If only I lived in Spitalfields!

  7. Jill Wilson permalink
    December 1, 2023


  8. Mary Gillender permalink
    December 2, 2023

    Oh! I’m smitten. And those tidy, stacked interiors! Best process shots ever, btw.

  9. Mark Clark permalink
    December 2, 2023

    A heartwarming example of someone who is following their dream and providing a high quality service in their local community.

    Yet another example of why we need to realign our food and farming industries with more traditional methods of production.

    George, I hope your enterprise continues to flourish and reward your hard work and expertise.

  10. Marcia Howard permalink
    December 4, 2023

    Amazing story of what sounds to be an amazing Baker. Sadly I’m too far away to become a customer, but I wish this gentleman continued success

  11. Jane permalink
    December 8, 2023

    Thank you thank you GA for introducing me to the wonderful George and his heart-warming efforts. My daughter collected our order of mince pies yesterday and they are all eaten and much enjoyed. I will be back for more of George’s delights and wish him so well.

  12. paul waldmann permalink
    January 12, 2024

    Just collected a couple of Galette des Rois. Simply delicious.

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