In the nooks and crannies of West London where you’ll hear a world of languages spoken over tea and shisha, its easy to pass by Maison Souss, a bakery lining Shepherds Bush Green, without actually discovering a secret world of gastronomy lying beyond its unassuming shop front. Born long before Westfield, this bakery begins a gastronomical journey that is Uxbridge Road. (If you like Middle Eastern / North African flavours then this road is a MUST!)
Step inside the bakery and breath the honey spiced air which wafts from its kitchen. Feel the warm smiles from Mohammed busily rushing too and fro behind the counter and feast your eyes on the mountains of fresh sweets which adorn the counter.
It may have been something to do with the fact Eid was a few days away, but there where hoards of people choosing biscuits, sweets and breads to take away. Customers chatted over tea and fresh fruity cream cake behind me and I tried to stay calm and talk myself out of buying one of everything I saw on realising what Maison Souss offers is undeniably fresh, authentic and inexpensive.
Try the moon shaped white biscuits, almondy and spiced with caraway – these are now my absolute favorite and I am dying for the recipe! They remind me of Sicilian cookies made from ground almond and pistachio nuts. Mind you, as the name suggests, Maison Souss offers traditional North African sweets, and Tunisia is only a short distance from Sicily, (another piece of food anthropology here!) Moorish influence on Southern Italian cuisine is alive and well. I am used to good old Baklava, London is abundant with it (some of the best from Green Lanes in North London), but what my new favorite bakery offers are light, nut based sweets, semolina honeyed delights and French influenced delicate creamy fruit cakes. Maison Souss also provides occasion cakes suitable for birthdays and weddings.
There is always space for sweet after savory and Maison Souss is conveniently situated in between Shepherd’s Bush station and my other favorite places, the Palestinian falafel kiosk at the entrance to Shepherds Bush Market and Syrian restaurant, Abu Zaad, at the corner of Lime Grove.
Maison Souss, 104 Uxbridge Road, London W12 8LR.