Manchester’s little bakery rated England’s best where people queue for their pastries

There is probably nothing better than the smell of freshly baked pastries wafting through the air on a Sunday morning. And if you live in the leafy suburb of Didsbury, you’re bound to be spoiled for choice when it comes to bakeries and cafes to grab a sweet treat.

One of the village’s most recent additions, however, is so popular with residents that queues can often be seen in the street as locals crave a much sought-after artisan bread or croissant. The bakery in question is none other than La Chouquette on Wilmslow Road, which came into being during the lockdown in December 2020.

Launched by professional bakers Mairead Deignan and Florent Verove, La Chouquette, which translates as ‘little pieces of (choux) pastry’ – the dough used to make these puff pastry puffs is the same used to make eclairs and profiteroles – in a short space become an integral part of the village’s vibrant cafe scene over time.

“Both me and Florent always had the passion and dream to open our own bakery, it has been an ambition of ours since we got together seven years ago,” says Mairead after a busy day at the bakery. “Also because Florent is a baker and I am a pastry chef, opening our own bakery is a great combination of skills.

“We live not far from Didsbury, we know the village well, we love the atmosphere and the people and we thought it lacked an artisan bakery where you could buy freshly baked bread and pastries every day.”

La Chouquette on Wilmslow Road will open in December 2020

Specializing in sourdough breads, as well as traditional French pastries such as eclairs and macarons, everything is made in the bakery, using only the very best ingredients. Whether it’s a perfectly flaky almond croissant — a bestseller according to Mairead — a baguette or a sourdough loaf, one thing’s for sure — you’ll have to be quick if you want to get your hands on one.

“It’s around the corner, people can wait for a good half hour,” Mairead says. “It’s amazing, we never thought it would be so successful in such a short time.

“The fact that people wait half an hour and are so patient is amazing.” The warm welcome it received from the residents and the popularity of the bakeries meant that Mairead and Florent had to quickly expand to the unit next door to meet demand.

La Chouquette specializes in sourdough breads, traditional French pastries and savory treats

So it’s no surprise to learn that La Chouquette won Best Bakery at the England’s Business Awards last month. “Myself and Florent just looked at each other in amazement when we had to compete against four other nominees.

“We were overjoyed and so grateful to all our customers who voted for us to win the final.” Once the news got through, the couple took to social media to thank their loyal staff and customers for all their support.

Mairead Deignan, co-founder of La Chouquette

In a post on Instagram, they wrote: “It’s been such a journey since we opened in December 2020 and we couldn’t have done it all without our amazing staff, our wholesale customers, our friends and family and of course your support.

“Thank you to all our customers who have been absolutely amazing and so loyal to us since we first opened and for all your votes that helped us win the regional awards in November and now this year’s final.”

If you haven’t had the chance to stop by the bakery yet, you’re definitely missing out. Located just over the road from Didsbury Gardens, the shop is notable for its purplish-blue facade and large glass windows, the latter of which is often decorated with window art from Lobster House Studios, whose work graces many storefronts around Greater Manchester.

The Lemon Meringue Tart at La Chouquette

Often depicting many of the baked goods they make in the bakery’s kitchen, a closer look reveals the famous baskets of bread and viennoiserie lying within. With a number of sweet and savory treats, it’s not hard to see why their bakes have proved so popular.

In their bread department, you can buy a variety of sourdough options as well as traditional baguettes and ciabatta, while their viennoiserie includes French classics such as pain au chocolat, pain au raisin, chaussons aux pomme and, of course, chouquettes. In addition to macaron boxes, eclairs and seasonal cakes, recent additions to their portfolio include the delectable Chocolate & Passionfruit Tart, which is swirled with passion fruit Ganache montée – a type of whipped cream frosting – and made with the ultra-luxury chocolate brand Valrhona France and finished with passion fruit jelly.

“Our customers know and can see that everything is handmade and baked on site, they can buy fresh bread and pastries baked just a few hours before opening,” says Mairead. “The smell of the fresh bread and pastries in the morning is so comforting.

“In addition, our products can change daily and people love the excitement of standing in line and looking out the window to see what different products they can try that day.” Meanwhile, their cookie collection is also growing in popularity and they recently added a salted caramel and chocolate chip variant to the lineup.

And did we mention that they’re also pretty good at real pies, tarts, and quiches? Like many businesses operating during successive lockdowns, things have not been easy, but the accolade and support of the local community has bolstered Mairead and Florent’s determination.

Vanilla pie served at La Chouquette

“It was extremely tough, as for many companies because of Covid, but our customer support system has been great along with our amazing staff. We’ve had so many sweet messages from people saying that visiting the bakery during the lockdown gave them a routine and something to do every day.

“It was also so challenging but so rewarding at the same time, we absolutely love what we do! Since myself and Florent work most days in the store ourselves, we have contact with all our customers, which is so nice.”

So whether you’re after a handmade beef and roasted red pepper sandwich, a slice of sea salt and rosemary focaccia, or a raspberry and pistachio slice, La Chouquette has every base covered. Whether you live in the next village or a little further afield, the locals will tell you that this award-winning bakery is always worth a detour.

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