The Dusty Knuckle: What’s The Hype Around This Viral Bakery?

By Ellie Smith

5 months ago

Inside the social enterprise bakery everyone's talking about

London is jam-packed with great bakeries – but only a select few develop cult status. One of TikTok’s favourites is The Dusty Knuckle, the beloved spot with branches in Dalston and Haringey, both of which see queues snaking round the block on weekends. Last week, it claimed a spot in the Bakers’ Dozen 2024, a prestigious list of Britain’s top bakeries, voted for by industry experts. So what’s behind the buzz? Clue: there’s more to it than great loaves (but the loaves are great, naturally).

What’s The Story Behind The Dusty Knuckle Bakery?

In 2014, childhood friends Max Tobias and Rebecca Oliver left their jobs to start a baking business with a difference. Growing up, the pair enjoyed cooking and baking together – and Oliver went on to work as a chef at Moorish restaurant Moro in Exmouth Market. Tobias, meanwhile, went into youth protection, but eventually became disillusioned with it, and wanted to try a new approach to inspiring positive change.

After winning a competition from a local charity, Tobias and Oliver launched The Dusty Knuckle Bakery from an old freight container in a car park in Dalston. This was no ordinary bakery: it was one with a purpose-driven mission, aiming to help challenged young people get their lives back on track through training and education. They spent two years touring, doing workshops in schools and pupil referral units – all the while perfecting their now-famous baking recipes.


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A post shared by The Dusty Knuckle (@thedustyknuckle)

Soon enough, word started spreading, with cafes, hotels and restaurants getting in touch to ask for supplies. One of the biggest turning points came in 2017, when Yotam Ottolenghi called to ask if they could bake the bread for his six London restaurants. Things were going swimmingly: they moved to a larger site nearby and hired some trainees from youth charities… but all of a sudden, in 2020, the pandemic hit.

Like so many hospitality businesses, The Dusty Knuckle Bakery had to change tack – fast. So, the team got themselves a milk float and started bringing their sourdough and sandwiches to the fans. Each weekend, they’d share a location on Instagram, and before they knew it queues would appear.

As the world gradually returned to normality, the bakery returned to its Dalston home – and opened a second branch in Haringey, north London. Nowadays it runs as a social enterprise which aims to help at-risk young people, including young offenders transform their lives through training and mentorship. 

@ciaobellaj Pleased to report that dusty knuckle is very much worth the hype 🔥 go on a weekday if you can to avoid queues! #fyp #londonsandwich #dustyknuckle #londonfood #londonfoodie #sandwichtok #londonrestaurant ♬ NANANA COLA IAN ASHER EDIT Out Now On SoundCloud – Ian Asher

What’s On The Menu?

Consider The Dusty Knuckle your one-stop shop for delicious baked goods. The bakery is most famous for its potato sourdough: perfectly moist, doughy and springy, as well as its ginormous sandwiches made with focaccia – favourites include aubergine katsu, beetroot and chicken caesar, and masala cauliflower. Breakfasts are also popular: the egg chilli cheese number will cure any hangover, and fans rave about the feta, poppy seed and honey pastries. There are loads of sweet treats too, and on Thursday, Friday and Saturdays there are pizza nights at the Haringey branch – which you can also order online from 5.30pm.

On weekends, you can expect to queue, particularly at the Dalston branch. Top tip? Swerve the 45-minute wait by pre-ordering your bread and pastries, which you can grab from the milk float in the yard (yes, it still exists!).


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Where To Find It

  • Dalston: Abbot Street Carpark, E8 3DP
  • Haringey: 429 Green Lanes, N4 1AH