During my week-long trip to Belgium, I spent one day exploring the city of Ghent. In that one day, I visited Himschoot Bakery twice. And I wasn’t the only same-day repeat customer either! Here’s the story…
Himschoot – the oldest bakery in Ghent – has occupied a small shop space in the heart of the city since 1880. The shop has somehow managed to retain a vintage aesthetic that makes you feel like it probably hasn’t changed much in years.
I read about Himschoot before my trip and was eager to try a variety of their goods. The bakery is take-away only, which isn’t a problem in Ghent where outdoor picnic spots are easy to find. I decided to pick up lunch from Himschoot and when in line (it’s a popular place!), the older woman in front of me asked the shop girl how long the bakery had been open. She replied over 100 years. The customer ahead of me clearly hadn’t done her research!
Though only a small shop, the bakery is lined with a variety of fresh loaves of bread as well as savoury and sweet foods. When it was my turn to order, I was overwhelmed by the range of pastries available and if my appetite allowed for it, I would have gotten one of everything! But alas, I couldn’t stomach all that, especially after all the eating I had done in Brussels, Antwerp, and Bruges in the days prior. The savoury choices included small pizza tarts, sausage rolls, and cheese rolls. As for sweet treats, the bakery offered pastries, cakes, tarts, and biscuits.
I decided on a mushroom cheese pizza tart, the broodpudding (which the shop girl said is a special bakery recipe), and a pain à la grecque (a thin cinnamon biscuit). I took these to the canal boardwalk for a relaxing lunch.
The pizza (which the shop girl offered to warm up) was a great savoury snack: simple, flavourful, and really delicious. It had a mushroom and cheese topping and a tomato sauce interior. Immediately after my first bite, I wished I had gotten two! Furthermore, I regretted not getting the cheese roll because – based on the quality of the pizza tart – the cheese roll was bound to be good!
After finishing the pizza, I had one of those angel-versus-devil moments that you always see on sitcoms; the one where little representations of an angel and a devil debate on the protagonist’s shoulders.
The food devil convincingly argued, “Wellllll, Himschoot isn’t that far from here. You could easily go back in for a second pizza. Would that be ridiculous? Nah, the stomach wants what the stomach wants. It’s totally doable. Even better, get that cheese roll that enticed you so much! Who knows if you’ll ever be in Ghent again. YOLO. Come onnnnnn.”
Then the food angel said, “GIRL, SNAP OUT OF IT! You still have a slice of bread pudding and a cinnamon biscuit to eat! Plus, if you want any chance of being able to sample other food places in this city, you can’t put all your eggs in the Himschoot basket! Leave room for more food exploration!”
They both made valid points and in the interest of being able to eat elsewhere, I carried on with my lunch. I moved on to the bread pudding, which was a very fine specimen indeed: moist, a bit gooey, soft, not too dense, and sufficiently filled with nuts and raisins. It’s probably a good thing that I didn’t get a second savoury snack because this was a rich dessert. The food angel had my back.
The pain à la grecque was a spectacularly crunchy treat that was generously flavoured with cinnamon. It was light and way too easy to eat. This is the kind of biscuit I would snack on at any time of day and eat way too much of.
After lunch, I whiled away the afternoon by taking a boat tour and roaming around the city. But before leaving Ghent, I found myself back in front of Himschoot. I popped my head into the bakery again and they still had some cheese rolls left. THAT’S IT! I’M GETTING ONE! The food angel may have won the battle, but the food devil won the war. Muahahahaha.
Anyways, the same shop girl offered to heat up the cheese roll for me. Yes please and thank you for your kind service. As I was leaving with the cheese roll in hand, who did I see re-entering the shop? None other than the older woman who was in front of me in line during my first visit! We locked eyes, laughed, and had a little, “Hey, it’s you again!” moment. In that instant, we connected on a food level. Himschoot brought us together and I have a feeling that the bakery featured prominently in both of our visits to Ghent.
Back to the cheese roll, good god it was magnificent. It’s a flaky, tube-shaped pastry topped and filled with cheese. From the outside it looks as though it’s filled with shredded cheese, but to my absolute surprise, it had a creamy cheesy filling that sinfully oozed out. The flaky shell paired with the rich cheesy cream was divine! Genuine foodie happiness! What an ideal end to my day in Ghent! Food devil, never leave me!
The loaves of bread at Himschoot also looked fantastic and I couldn’t resist getting the chocoladebrood: a soft rectangular loaf generously loaded with chocolate chips. I bought it to share with my extended family in Brussels and we all agreed that it was delicious. Himschoot has a bread slicer so don’t shy away from buying a loaf for the road and snacking on those tasty slices of homemade carbs.
From me, my food devil, and the older lady whom I met twice in line, prioritize a visit to Himschoot during your time in Ghent. We promise you won’t regret it.