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
1. Margot Bakery
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.
2. Bake Street
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.
3. Akdeniz Bakery London
London N16 7PB, UK
Turkey has perhaps contoured the influences of London’s dining scene like no other country, and its baking traditions abound in cafes, supermarkets, and well, bakeries all over the city. Künefe specialists like Neco in Enfield may make restaurant destinations, but this Stoke Newington bakery and Yasar Halim on Green Lanes are the best places to go for breads, baklava, and pastries of all Anatolian stripes.
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.
5. Ararat Bread
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.
6. 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.
7. E5 Bakehouse
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.
8. Aux Pains de Papy
London WC1X 8QF, UK
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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9. Söderberg Soho
London’s best nordic bun is a fiercely contested title: Nordic Bakery, Fabrique, and Pavilion may make fine laminated offerings, but this Soho arrival from Edinburgh has proven it has the consistency to wrench the title away from Fabrique’s Hoxton arch. Like its competitor, cardamom and cinnamon are the strongest and cardamom is the clear winner, with less of an emphasis on caramel shards at the base but more fragrant spicing and lightness of chew in the bake, where it truly matters.
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10. 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.
This fashionable 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.
12. Tetote Factory
London W5 4QX, UK
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.
13. Flor Bakery Spa Terminus
London SE16 4RP, UK
Flor’s baking, now spearheaded by Emma Tillyer and Helen Evans after the departure of Anna Higham, puts a London accent on the exacting tradition and relentless experimentalism that make Paris and Copenhagen two of Europe’s most formidable cities for pastry. Having moved from London’s oldest food market to London’s nerdiest food market, croissants and pain aux chocolats shatter into perfect layers, but carry the austere depth of fresh wheat and a deeply caramelised, savoury sheen; blackcurrant danishes — with blackcurrant leaf custard — and fig danishes — with fig leaf custard — possess seriousness of flavour and imagination to match their beauty.
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14. Hedone Bakery
London SE16 3SF, UK
Mikael Jonsson’s Hedone in Chiswick was one of the city’s most consistently ambitious and elegant tasting menu experiences before it closed earlier this year. Jonsson’s bakery lives on, and produces bread which is — for some — ranked among the city’s best, a high-moisture, French-country style loaf. At the weekend outpost on Spa Terminus, intricate, intensely-flavoured tartlets steal the show: wild strawberry, chantilly and buckwheat ‘tartwich’; another based on black sesame. It’s worth noting that croissants, pains aux chocolat and their siblings are also exceptional.
15. 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, with delivery spanning most of zones 1 - 3.
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