Being a city blessed with phenomenal bakeries is hardly specific to London: think of Paris’ embarrassment of patisserie; the panoply of pan in Tokyo; pide and lahmacun on the streets of Istanbul; San Franciscan sourdough culture. These cities’ specialities are reflections of their culture and their communities: reflections brought here by immigration and established, in turn, as pillars of those communities in London. It is this wonderful diversity married with exacting technique that makes London’s bakeries so special: a desire to innovate and excel in the context of fiercely proud traditions, with a mind to global inflections, and with the knowledge that something fresh from a warm oven is a peerless expression of hospitality.Read More
The Best Bakeries in London
From crusty, chewy sourdough bread to sticky morning buns and flaky, buttery croissants
One of the best of the best bakeries has always been takeaway only. Tetote is unrivalled across London in the two things it does best — Japanese pan, whether topped with evil barbecue chicken or stuffed with beefy, warming curry; and French baguettes, which were already essential pre-orders because Ealing’s locals know how absurdly lucky they are. With the peerless vanilla custard buns newly restored to the menu, it’s firing on all cylinders.
Yasmina Restaurant and Bakery
This little T-junction corner spot off the asphalt roar of the Westway bills itself as a Lebanese restaurant and bakery, but perhaps it should be other way around. Specialising in man’oushe, Yasmina — with head baker and chef Ramadan at the helm — is peerless. A long-running “battle” with Zeit and Za’atar — still excellent — one thoroughfare south on the Uxbridge road can be surrendered with a single bite, burnished crust giving way to a bread so light it might have been secretly inflated with a bike pump. It’s not: it’s all in the bake, best hot from the oven with za’atar, spiced mince lamb, or garlic sauce whose pop belies its beige. Little has changed here, despite so much having changed.
Patisserie Sainte Anne
Quite a bit of the coverage of this dinky Hammersmith spot focusses on how French it, its pastries, and its staff are. It does look a bit like a Parisian extra that got lost in west London, which makes sense upon learning that its true home was the 13th arrondissement until 2014. But arrêter les conneries: in London, in 2022, its croissants, Breton specialities, and chaussons aux pommes (also known as the best French pastry in the world) have no competition.
Michelle Eshkeri’s neighbourhood bakery in East Finchley specialises in sourdough, as is so current, but her interweaving of the fermented dough into challah, babka, and cinnamon buns makes this sunlit spot an outstanding bakery. Currently operating Wednesday — Saturday, with pre-ordering wise.
Little Bread Pedlar
LBP was founded in 2010 by Nichola Gensler and Martin Hardiman, after a chance encounter at a roller disco party. The sight of one of its fleet of deli bikes wobbling around London is a thing of the past, but the name remains a sure sign of quality bread: sourdough’s chewy, deeply sour centre is offset by a burnished crust more caramelised than many are skilled enough to risk, while croissants amandes still proffer shattering dough and wafts of icing sugar cascading down with every bite. The plain croissant, once a London apex, declined alarmingly after the departure of two key bakers, but is now back up to speed alongside all the goods, in its dedicated shop in Pimlico.
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This fashionable, miniscule spot in Covent Garden has quietly emerged as one of the outstanding Scandinavian bakeries in the city, by balancing a steady and occasionally spectacular regular line-up with impeccable versions of seasonal and celebratory Swedish bakes. Its Lenten semlor and Christmas lussekatt are unmissable, while mazarins and buns are the dependables.
Aux Pains de Papy
Butter is at the heart of a croissant. Aux Pains de Papy founder Mathieu Esposito knows this, and the croissants at this très Français bakery on Grays Inn Road are the most faithful to France’s high bottom level for pastry and consequently one of the best in London. Honeycomb layers, a properly burnished exterior, and butter, so much butter. Best enjoyed warm on a mad dash down the road, with pains aux chocolats, croissants amandes, and a noble Paris Brest also worth a look.
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This paean to the traditions and hospitality of continental Europe “is a bakery restaurant that revolves around and relies on the grains rather than it just being another ingredient.” Growing farmer Andy Cato’s Gascony grains in Sussex and Norfolk to ensure a consistent supply, those grains are milled into flour on site for breads and patisserie; health claims aside, the croissants at Jolene have a nuttier, earthier profile than any others in the city. Honeyed financiers and delicate madeleines are excellent pars on a fine course: rustling, snappy palmiers are a must-grab-and-go, pastry flaking over greedy hands. Currently operating as a bakery/cafe.
Rebecca Spaven and Oliver Costello had time to hone Frog as a pop-up before opening this first bakery on Peckham Road, then immediately had to rename it as Toad after a legal threat. Turbulence aside, it remains rare that a debut, particularly in this finicky field, opens with such aplomb that it’s immediately challenging the best of the best in the city for supremacy. A bear claw made savoury with chipotle beef and adobo; an asparagus, Baron Bigod, and Coppa croissant; and a strawberry and elderflower croissant are early stars.
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The Dusty Knuckle Bakery
Tucked behind the Arcola Theatre in Dalston since 2014, this enterprising social enterprise produces some of London’s finest breads and pastries: morning buns to make Tartine blush and a potato sourdough that is without doubt one of the city’s greatest.
This tiny operation on Dalston’s thrumming Ridley Road Market serves London’s most outstanding flatbread. Blistered, pillowy, light, soft — the run of adjectives could go on and on — and wrapped with egg, garlic, or finely-minced meat if a quick lunch is needed, nothing else is needed.
Despite its name, Bake Street is not explicitly a bakery. But make no mistake: this breakfast and brunch heavyweight between Stoke Newington and Lower Clapton competes with the best in the city. It’s always had a core range of excellent cakes, cookies, and brownies, but now that’s been taken to further heights by Chloe-Rose Crabtree’s rotating cast of delights extremely prone to selling out. Crème brûlée cookies, developed from a recipe by Los Angeles bakery Dough and Arrow, are joined by guava pastelitos and specials devised from that core offer, including a salted caramel brownie cheesecake.
A bakery redemption story. E5 was one of London’s sourdough standard-bearers when it first opened, but a period of inconsistent bakes and uninspired flavourings saw it drop from the floury pantheon. Now, things are more than back on track, with a rotating cast of galettes, a redoubtable kouign-amann, and what might be the best pain au chocolat in the city right now bolstering the bread that anchors the operation. New additions to the collection menu including sharing pies filled with seasonal fruit, and the chocolate, rye, and sea salt cookies are as reliably brilliant as ever.
Wood Street Bakery
Jennifer Moseley’s London baking resumé takes in a few important pillars: the hot years of an institution now departed (The Modern Pantry); the regrettably overlooked reliable (The Bread Station); the hip flash new thing (Wild by Tart.) It’s all culminated in her own neighbourhood spot in Walthamstow, which has in turn repurposed a building vacated by another London institution: Percy Ingle. Croissants get soaked in rum and vanilla to be turned into almond “sharks,” while a jalapeno and cheese escargot takes nachos to Paris.
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