From Rinkoff’s Bakery to Floris Bakery in Soho

The pictures in this fabulous article on Spitalfields life “at Rinkoff’s Bakery” caught my eye, as the owner was shown shaping a beautifully plaited bread.

One of my fascinations, as might or not have become evident by now, is the art of intricately shaped breads. Another fascination I like to indulge in is peeling off the layers of time.

This post combines the two!

Note: I wrote this and took the pictures in March 2022. For reasons that even I can’t explain, I didn’t press the “Publish” button at the time. Apologies for the almost two years long delay. If you see changes in the shop appearance, it’s just the passage of time. But the shop is still there today, as are the hopeful “influencers” posing. Sigh… 😇

A mention about how Ray Rinkoff then went to work at a certain Floris Bakery in Soho made me curious, as we’re quite close to Soho and I always like finding traces of its former self, before it all became vapid fashion boutiques.

Of course I searched on the Internet… and it delivered some scattered, but fabulous stuff!

British PathĂ© has a video with various beautiful shaping techniques. It is truly fantastic to witness! It has plaited breads, wheatsheaf harvest breads, even an incredible demonstration of how to make the very thin, and extremely complicated to make by hand, dough for apfelstrudel. Amazing! You have to watch it. I can’t embed it, so just click through the link.

From comments in the video and also on the “Floris Book of Cakes” book written by a certain Christopher Floris I can summarise that this bakery was founded by a Hungarian couple, Frederick and Maria Floris.

They won awards and were very popular.

They even seemed to make cakes for M&S’s cafes (before “food halls” were a thing), and from this post about Maria Floris’ own book I gather that they made lots of cakes and goods in celebration of Churchill’s birthday, also intricately shaped (e.g. “a cake in the form of a spiral, decorated with 32 models of his famous hats”).

The site of the bakery was at 39 Brewer Street which, I realise now, had intrigued me in the past, as I was standing in the street and noticed some bakery-related signs on the side facing Great Windmill Street, such as “Chocolate”. And there’s still a “Floris” sign (you can have a look with Street View).

I paid a quick visit to Soho to take fresh pictures!

Fiorucci (former Floris bakery) storefront in Soho
Fiorucci (former Floris bakery) storefront in Soho
Detail of "Floris" sign on the corner of Brewer with Great Windmill Street
Detail of “Floris” sign on the corner of Brewer with Great Windmill Street

Today, as you can see, it is a Fiorucci shop, although I knew it as a vintage / retro shop before. I arrived to London way too late to experience the true Floris sensation!

It’s not clear to me how or when the bakery was shut.

Archival pictures (linked later) show it was still open around 1978.

An interview with the owner of St Moritz (a Swiss club and fondue restaurant in Wardour Street in Soho too) mentions he used to work at Madame Floris but sometimes at Mister Floris which was the chocolatier in Great Windmill Street.

This made me wonder if those were two separate but connected sites, and why there’s a “chocolaterie” sign on that side of the building.

But the London Photo Archive has a photo with Floris bakery on the left corner (1978). And although it’s a bit blurry as the bakery wasn’t the main focus of the picture, there are signs for what I think say “Confiterie Chocolaterie Floris” on the front in 39 Brewer Street. So I don’t know anymore!

Today you can’t see those signs on the front, instead there are two “Fiorucci” signs and a blank. The Floris signs seem to have been removed a long while ago. At least as far back as 2012, judging by the imagery in Google Street View.

And the closest you’ll get to a baked good if you visit this site is if you order something in the cafĂ© inside the shop!

I haven’t been to the cafĂ©, but do let me know how it goes if you do.

Bonus: a couple other pictures with details of the signs.

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