Leeds is getting sweeter, which is great news for those of you who, like me, have a dangerously sweet tooth. For some years now, customers have been becoming increasingly well informed and more interested in food and drink provenance, in shopping locally, and in buying from small independents. Tie this in with a growth in popularity of baked goods, post Great British Bake Off, and we have a healthy environment for bakeries and other sweet businesses to thrive.

Leeds now has a wide variety of choice when you need a sweet fix and you no longer have to plump for a bland old chain muffin. The third wave has spawned a host of independent coffee shops who are invested in providing food that matches the quality of their drinks, and this has created a great platform for in-house bakers such as Noisette Bakehouse at North Star, for micro-bakeries and small independent wholesalers like myself at Porterhouse Cake Co., and for community bakeries like Leeds Bread Coop.

For any dedicated cake fanciers who would like a challenge, here’s a coffee and cake crawl starting on Great George Street and ending at Leeds Dock, taking in some of the top coffee and cake slingers in town along the way: Start at the end of Great George Street with Fettle, then Stage Espresso, Laynes Espresso, Mrs Atha’s, If, and round it all off at North Star Coffee Shop. If you’re feeling really committed, you could even begin further afield with an enormous doughnut at Temple Coffee in Kirkstall and refresh your appetite with a stroll into the city centre.

There are now sweet treats to cover all dietary bases too, so no one need feel left out. That Old Chestnut is providing delicious vegan bakes to several indies around town and most cafes have gluten free options available. Northern Bloc, Leeds’ local ice cream success story, has this year released a vegan range and their ice creams can be found all over the city – and have been featured in events at Temple and Fettle.

Cafes aren’t your only opportunity to indulge though. The popularity of street food hasn’t been restricted to savoury traders, and as the Belgrave Music Hall’s recent Sweet Feast will attest to, there are plenty of great sweet vendors around too. Local to Leeds we have Doh’hut, famed for customisable doughnuts, Sugar Spun Sisters who focus on waffle-based desserts, and Black Day Bakes, a micro bakery that’s popped up recently with treats including take-home vegan packet mixes for baking at home.

Aside from regular street food events such as Eat North and Belgrave Feast, there are one-off sweet events going on during the year too. For example, Leeds Indie Food festival has just seen Noisette Bakehouse hold a dessert and cocktail pairing evening at North Star, and Mary Jane’s Bakehouse held another at Laynes Espresso, there have been two ‘Intro to making chocolates’ sessions by chocolatier Tyto Leodis, and a couple of beer and doughnut pairing evenings held at North Bar and baked by me.

And after all that, I have only focussed on what’s available in the city centre, there is so much more exploring to do amongst the indie businesses springing up in Leeds’ suburbs. It’s exciting to be around at a time when food and drink is so high on many people’s list of priorities, and the street food movement is allowing passionate cooks to reach the public in a way they couldn’t before. We are lucky that in Leeds there tends to be a great sense of support and collaboration amongst the foodie and creative communities, and publications like this dedicated to spreading the word about what’s out there. I’m sure the scene will continue to grow and change, and I can’t wait to see what new dessert incarnations will emerge next.

Photography by Sian Chapman