Britain is a nation that loves cake: sponges of all stripes, layer cakes galore. Nearly every caff and cafe out there will have a few passable options, so for those cake super-fans, it’s important to know where to find the best of all kinds in London. Well, wonder no more: here are the best slices of cake and whole cakes — many perfect for a birthday or celebration — in the city.Read More
Where to Get a Perfect Slice of Cake in London
Trad British sponges, inventive flavour combinations, and all manner of potential birthday cakes
1. Victoria sponge @ Big Jo
Big Jo Bakery’s cake rotation changes every few weeks, but the Victoria sponge is unmissable and regularly sells out at the main restaurant-bakery and satellites faster than the team can keep up with production. The recipe is one head baker Kay has been baking for years and has stood the test of time. The sponge begins with butter and sugar, whipped into fluffy peaks with a generous helping of vanilla, followed by the addition of eggs and extra yolks which give the cake a distinctively rich flavour and colour, plus fragrant and golden Wildfarmed freshly stone-milled flour. Once baked and cooled, the sponge is cut in half and filled with generous amounts of vanilla buttercream and seasonal homemade jam — right now, eye-popping pink rhubarb, but apricot, strawberry, blackberry and nectarine and peach jams have featured when in season. The result is a faultless classic that sits proudly on the counter like an ambassador for baking with the best British produce.
2. Tottenham Cake @ Norman's Cafe
London N19 5PZ, UK
This old-school British caff located on an unassuming stretch in Tuffnell Green is a cut above average and comes from Elliott Kaye and Richie Hayes, who ditched jobs at some of London’s top restaurants to open the platonic ideal of a caff based on a deep admiration of British food culture. Norman’s Café serves simple, comforting nostalgic food that speaks to childhood teatime favourites, builders’ breakfasts and old-fashioned cravings with a degree of hipster cool but not an ounce of irony — the honesty is in the prices. Alongside set breakfasts, cheesy beans on toast and dishes like ham, egg and chips or battered fish sandwich, there are weekly retro puds. The Tottenham Cake with bright pink icing served in a bowl full of custard, inspired by one of Hayes’s primary school dinner puddings, is unmissable. The sponge is like a soft pocket spring mattress of vanilla sheet cake topped with thick, glossy pink-red icing that is far less saccharine than its vivid colour suggests. The custard is pure ambrosial comfort and served at the precise, pleasantly lukewarm temperature where it will begin to form a skin if the diner doesn’t dig straight in. Norman’s is open 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Wednesday — Sunday, but weekends attract crowds from all over London so arrive early to avoid disappointment.
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3. Lemon olive oil chiffon cake @ Esters
London N16 0EB, UK
Esters in Stoke Newington is best known as one of London’s most inventive brunch spots, offering the likes of a white chocolate miso cookie (arguably London’s best cookie) before that flavour combination was a “thing.” Esters also makes celebration cakes to order using exceptional ingredients, demonstrating equal amounts of ambition, creativity and care. A three-layer lemon and olive oil chiffon cake with olive oil swiss meringue buttercream and tangy rhubarb compote is a shining example: the chiffon sponge is beautifully rich and complex, made with a percentage of wholegrain einkorn from Duchess Farms and generous amounts of Brindisa’s persistently fruity “North & South” extra virgin olive oil. In summer, cakes are decorated with edible flowers from Flourish produce, and in winter, the baking team gets creative with dried oranges, preserved kumquats, candied citrus, poached rhubarb and whatever is seasonal and can be foraged. Cakes require 7 days notice and due to popularity, it is advisable to order early!
4. Devil’s Food cake @ Violet
Among the most popular cake flavours on California-born Clare Ptak’s menu, available as celebration cakes to order, or by the slice on the bakery counter, is a classic American Devil’s Food Cake which, depending on the day, is filled and covered with either rich chocolate, salted caramel, or the signature “Violet” buttercream — a pale purple buttercream scented with French violets. The sponge is oil-based and contains buttermilk so it stays moist, rich and tender, and is made with Valrhona cocoa powder and receives an additional soaking in cocoa syrup for an intense chocolate factor. It is deeply nostalgic, reminiscent of boxed cake-mix, but elevated using the very best organic and low-intervention ingredients.
5. Pandan sando @ Lil Wong Bakes
Sam Wong, founder of Lil Wong Bakes, is a self-described “small time baker of big time flavour,” best known for her pandan sandos that combine her heritage rooted in Hong Kong with her experience growing up in London and loving quintessential British cakes and desserts. The pandan sando consists of two pieces of ethereally light and fluffy pandan chiffon cake filled with joyful squiggles of fresh cream and strawberries or raspberries, coming together to form gorgeous ephemeral mouthfuls of airy delight. Sam mastered the art of chiffon cakes having as a child watched her mother strive endlessly to perfect the recipe, throwing away dozens of failed sponges along the way. With the guidance and support of her mother, Sam finessed the method for whipping the egg whites into mallowy peaks before slowly infusing flavour into the mixture, and crucially, cooling the freshly baked cake upside down for a voluminous, cloud-like result. For now, the pandan sandos are available via exclusive drops on the hot new Delli market app, but there are plans for Lil Wong Bakes to trade at east London markets soon.
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6. Sachertorte @ Kipferl Restaurant & Patisserie
Kiperfl started life as a small Austrian delicatessen near Smithfield in 2003, with the ambition to promote Austrian food culture in London. It quickly gained a reputation before finding a new, bigger home in Islington based on a Viennese coffeehouse, where the kitchen is open all day offering the full breadth of Austrian food and drink. Kipeferl’s most popular cake is, unsurprisingly, the Sachertorte. The queen of Austrian cakes, this dark, dignified, grown-up chocolate cake, painted and layered with apricot jam and glazed with a glossy ganache shell, exists in a realm apart from the two extremes of billowy buttercream frosted layer cakes or naked loaf cakes that dominate London’s modern cake baking scene. However kitsch, there is something enchanting about seeing a shiny sachertorte stood proud on an elevated glass cake stand, or the stark silhouette of a slice served on an elegant plate with a tiny cake fork and a big dollop of lightly whipped cream. Kipeferl’s restaurant and patisserie in Angel is open daily, and cakes are available for London and nationwide delivery.
7. Citrus curd Swiss roll @ Leila's Shop
London E2 7JP, UK
Leila’s Shop straddles two units on Shoreditch’s Calvert Avenue: one functions as an eclectic greengrocer’s stacked from floor to ceiling with gourmet food stuffs. The second is a café serving a weekly changing lunch menu, to eat in or in a takeaway returnable tiffin tin, Wednesday — Friday using the ingredients sold next door, which reliably ends with a selection of sweet treats that offer a masterclass in seasonality and provenance. Desserts at Leila’s are led by baker supreme, Stroma Sinclair, formerly head pastry chef at Spring, whose creations include rhubarb and blood orange pavlova, or chocolate mousse cake with cream and kumquats to eat in, or bakes such as malt loaf, almond and quince cake, and homemade ginger snaps to take away. Swiss rolls recur throughout the year in seasonal variations, and a recent highlight was a citrus curd swiss roll that used YQ flour and brown sugar in the sponge, and a filling of Northiam Dairy’s unctuous unsweetened double cream along with a zingy curd featuring Sicilian blood orange, pink grapefruit, lemon, and bergamot. It is as familiar feeling and nostalgic as it is novel and refreshing; this interplay of homeliness and masterful execution being the hallmark of Leila’s cooking.
8. Coffee, cardamom, and walnut cake @ Honey & Spice
Although the closure of beloved restaurant Honey & Co after over a decade on Warren Street marks the end of an era, its coffee, cardamom and walnut cake is a timeless classic that will endure at the new Bloomsbury location. Coffee and walnut is a classic British cake — the kind of bake that might appear at a National Trust property. However, cardamom coffee is a cornerstone of the drinks menu at Honey & Co, and so it made sense to Srulovich and Packer that the trinity of coffee, cardamom and walnut would make for a splendid cake. Two layers of rich, honeyed, slightly savoury sponge — fragrant with coffee and floral with cardamom — are topped with waves of coffee cream and toasted walnuts, resulting in a cake that is equally suited to being enjoyed at breakfast or elevenses, as it is at teatime or as a post-dinner dessert. Whilst Honey & Co undergoes its relocation to Bloomsbury, this cake continues to be available at Honey & Spice deli on Warren Street and is available to order online as a 9 inch sharing cake.
9. Danish Dream Cake @ Hamlet’s Bakery
Hamlet’s Bakery is an online microbakery founded by self-taught baker, recipe developer and photographer Trevennon Dakota, offering an eclectic range of globally inspired baked goods for postal and local delivery, and trading on Saturday’s at Brick Lane’s Upmarket. The regularly changing menu is based on respectful globetrotting and playful flavour combinations. One of Hamlet Bakery’s most popular bakes is drømmekage, also known as “Danish dream cake,” which combines a wonderfully light and fluffy vanilla sponge with a thick, sticky, flapjack-esque caramelised coconut topping. Although commonplace in Denmark, Danish Dream Cake is relatively unheard of in London. Given the amount of replication across London bakeries, Hamlet Bakery’s penchant for niche regional bakes — always well-researched and well-executed — makes it an exciting bakery to watch.
10. Black Forest Gateau @ Café Deco
A protégé of iconic British chefs like Jeremy Lee, Ruth Rogers and Margot Henderson, and now at the helm of her own restaurant, Cafe Deco’s Anna Tobias is a self-styled champion of “beige food”: a shorthand to describe food that doesn’t need to draw attention to itself or visually “wow” in order to prove its calibre. However the puddings at Cafe Deco tell a different story, with excessive, eccentric, visually arresting retro desserts rebelling against the pared-back, casual sophistication of the savouries. “Puddings, more than anything, pull on people’s nostalgic heart strings”, Tobias explains, and her Black Forest gateau is a faithful rendition of a German classic, boasting a traditional, “over-the-top joyful verging on naff appearance”. The cake consists of three towering layers of chocolate sponge soaked in Kirsch and cherry liquor, filled with squashy layers of fresh cream and boozy cherries. The entire cake is then coated with more cream and an explosion of chocolate shavings, and topped with 12 perfect swirls of squirty cream, each crowned with a whole cherry, ensuring every slice looks like something straight out of a 1950s German baking book. With weekly changing menus released each Monday, diners need to act fast when it hits the offering. But in Tobias’s capable hands, they can be confident that whatever is on the menu will impress.
11. Matcha, yuzu, and white chocolate cake @ Yatu’s Bakery
Adiyatu Sambu Balde had over 10 years experience as a pastry chef working in a Michelin-starred restaurant, independent cafes, and bakeries when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and she decided to set up her own business, Yatu’s Bakery. Balde also forms part of the Bakers Against Racism crew: a community connecting bakers and creatives to participate in global bake sales that raise money for social justice causes. Yatu’s Bakery offers postal bakes including seasonal blondies and brownies and a monthly cookie selection, or “mixed treats’ boxes that allow Londoners to sample six of Adiyatu’s recent creations, as well as show-stopping bespoke celebration cakes. The matcha, white chocolate, and yuzu cake is a standout option: an architectural triumph of four layers of matcha buttermilk sponge sandwiched with white chocolate matcha buttercream and zingy yuzu curd filling. The exterior is frosted with more Swiss meringue buttercream and finished with a hypnotising matcha white chocolate drip, homemade miniature meringues, chocolate shards, edible flowers and a dusting of dried yuzu zest. Extravagant looking and exuberant in flavour, Yatu’s Bakery offers something exciting and refreshing in a city saturated with celebration cakes.
12. Honey and walnut cake @ Karaway Bakery
Karaway Bakery is a family-run Baltic bakery specialising in rye bread and cakes popular in Baltic and Slavic countries. A cousin of Russian honey cake, the honey and walnut cake consists of layers of soft, honey-rich sponge spiced with fragrant clove and cinnamon, spread with a delicate crème fraiche cream and sprinkled with walnuts. The sponge is ethereally light, melting on the tongue, whilst the chopped nuts add unexpected, scintillating crunch. Whilst the recent explosion of Ukrainian honey cakes across London bakery menus and bake sales inspired by the #CookforUkraine movement provide a welcome fundraising opportunity, Karaway Bakery’s recipe has withstood the test of time and been passed down across the generations and its unique heritage is set within the award-winning cake’s rich, distinctive interior. Karaway Bakery’s cakes are available across London at Borough Market, their shop at Westfield Stratford, and at a range of farmers markets and food halls. However owing to popularity, pre-ordering the honey and walnut cake for collection via the website is the best way to avoid disappointment.
13. Miso carrot cake @ Burnt
London W12 9AU, UK
Burnt Provisions is a sun-dappled café on Hammersmith’s Askew Road from husband-and-wife duo Finlay Logan and Honor Powley. Miso carrot cake is a particular standout on its inventive roster of bakes, with a mixture consisting of carrots from Shrub Provisions, golden caster sugar, St Ewes eggs, flour from Shipton Mill and sesame miso. It is left to ferment for 24 hours before baking, which allows the savoury, umami flavour to deepen, and is made with oil rather than butter, resulting in an exceptionally moist textured sponge topped with groovy swirls of ultra-fluffy lemon mascarpone icing. For fans of miso, there is also a thin stretched, rapturously rippled and wrinkled Pump Street chocolate, hazelnut and miso cookie on the menu, and there are several vegan cake options including a strawberry and banana cake with strawberry frosting and a rich, sticky chocolate loaf topped with whipped chocolate coconut buttercream. Burnt Provisions is open 7 days a week, and bakes cakes for wholesale, catering and private orders.
14. Brown butter cake @ Flor Bakery Spa Terminus
London SE16 4RP, UK
Crisp, fudgy and indecently rich, Flor’s brown butter cakes featured on the opening menu of the Borough Market restaurant in July 2019 and have been there ever since, surviving the restaurant’s recent closure and its transformation into an upscaled bakery at Bermondsey’s Spa Terminus. The brown butter cakes were originally on the menu at Flor’s elder sibling Lyle’s as a petit four, and are allegedly the restaurant’s oldest recipe. It was updated a few years ago to include the rich, molasses-like flavour of panela, after co-founder James Lowe cooked alongside a chef who only used unrefined sugars in Zurich. Hence, the recipe has been made using panela, along with brown butter, ground almonds, buckwheat flour and eggs. Find brown butter cakes on the bakery counter at Spa Terminus on Fridays and Saturdays, or order for nationwide delivery.
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15. New York crumb cake @ Outsider Tart
Outsider Tart is an American restaurant and bakery in Chiswick specialising in quintessential stateside cakes, bakes, pies and tarts owned by New York expats, David Lesniak and David Muniz. The New York crumb cake came about from missing the kind of “coffee cake” intrinsic to any American diner. The sponge is a soft yet sturdy vanilla sheet cake made with sour cream which helps achieve the textural bliss of a cake that has a tight crumb structure whilst remaining tender and moist. It is topped with a thick and crunchy layer of brown sugar cinnamon streusel, and finished with a vanilla milk glaze. Slabs of the two-toned coffee cake are a staple on the counter amongst a sea of regularly changing specials, and whole cakes can be ordered for delivery anywhere within the M25.
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16. Chocolate nemesis @ The River Café
Probably the most famous dish at the River Café, co-founder Ruth Rogers describes it as “the best chocolate cake ever” without hyperbole, and 30 years on it remains one of London’s best loved desserts. This extraordinarily rich, mousse-like cake contains just 4 ingredients — eggs, butter, sugar and chocolate — and is cooked bain-marie style by placing the cake tin in a second baking tin partially filled up with hot water, ensuring it cooks slowly to a super smooth, silky consistency. The recipe is widely available and many restaurants nod to the restaurant by putting Chocolate Nemesis on their menus, but the River Café is working with Original Beans to develop an exclusive nemesis chocolate blend which would place this often-replicated dessert beyond imitation. It’s always on the menu, and the super-fans can order a whole one online.
17. Prinsesstårta @ Frog Bakery
London SE5 8PX, UK
Frog Bakery, run by Rebecca Spaven and Oliver Costello on Camberwell’s Peckham Road, opened in April 2022 after raising over £15,000 through crowdfunding. The menu features whole grain sourdough breads and classic viennoiserie (including cult-favourite barley malt cinnamon braids), alongside playful and nostalgic bakes such as rosehip roly-poly, yuzu iced buns and apple meringue pies. But it also makes extraordinary celebration cakes, with the on-brand choice being a creative twist on a traditional Swedish Prinsesstårta. This distinctive dome-shaped cake consists of two layers of ultra-light genoise sponge which Frog soak in yuzu for a sharp citrusy hit. They sandwich house-made raspberry jam and crème patisserie, topped with a gravity-defying mascarpone cream dome wrapped in a blanket of green marzipan. The amphibian marzipan icing seems to suggest Swedish Princess Cake was always destined to be Princess and the Frog cake. The bakery is open 8am – 4pm Tuesday to Saturday offering all manner of cakes, pastries, breads and sandwiches, and enquiries for Prinsesstårta and bespoke celebration cakes can be made via the website.
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18. Tres leches @ Mystic Börek
Spasia Dinkovski spent the early days of lockdown dedicated to perfecting börek — her favourite treat made by her Macedonian grandmother — before launching Mystic Börek in August 2020 as an Instagram-only drop business where customers would meet her at designated tube stations around London to collect one of her giant, glistening, golden flaky phyllo. These crispy-oil slicked pastry behemoths, layered or spiralled, bulging with fillings such as locally sourced lamb merguez sausage, feta, apricot and confit spring onion, were an instant hit, and by March 2021, Mystic Börek had moved into a professional kitchen, with demand continuing to exceed capacity. Amidst a menu of aggressively savoury, salty, punchy flavours, there is one sweet pie: a tres leches börek that combined Dinkovski’s favourite dessert, this time made by her mother, with her love of börek. This ludicrously rich creation consists of a light sponge soaked in three milks (condensed milk, evaporated milk and double cream) rolled up in filo pastry and baked. Next, the entire börek is drenched in double cream and caramel and left to soak overnight, before being finished with a dark, slightly smoky salted caramel and a flurry of rose petals. Served straight from the fridge, ice cold, crisp pastry shards floating on a sea of cream and caramel make for a joyous layering of textures and temperatures, this really is as decadent as it gets.
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19. Jamaican rum cake @ Aries Bakehouse
London SW2 5TU, UK
Aries Bakehouse on Brixton’s Acre Lane is a community-based bakery founded by Jackie McKinson. Jackie was born to parents of Jamaican heritage and raised in Brixton, and Aries Bakehouse occupies what used to be her mum’s sweet shop in the 80s. Her Jamaican Rum Cake is aged in rum and family history — an adaptation of a recipe written on the back of a postcard from her paternal grandmother, which Jackie’s father brought back from one of his many trips to Jamaica in the late 70s. Her grandmother used to soak pounds of vine fruits for a minimum of 12 months in copious amounts of Wray and Nephew rum, which would be pulverised into a smooth paste lending the cake it’s distinctively moist texture and decadently boozy flavour. Whilst Jackie was tweaked the original recipe, it remains faithful in this respect: a blend of slowly aged booze soaked fruits, nostalgia and longing, contributing equally to what makes this cake so good. It regularly features on the counter at the bakery where it is available by the slice, however Jackie has also made this cake as a bespoke six tier wedding cake.
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20. Gulab jamun / shrikhand cake @ KB Eats
KB.Eats is a microbakery owned by self-taught baker Karishma Bharti, drawing inspiration from her Indian heritage and British upbringing to create uniquely flavoured celebration cakes and postal bakes. One of KB.Eats’ most distinctive bakes combines the flavours of two traditional Indian desserts, gulab jamun and shrikhand, in a celebration cake consisting of three layers of cardamom and almond sponge soaked in rose syrup, laced with cardamom caramel, pistachios and toasted almonds and finished with luxurious cream cheese icing. The semi-naked finish offers effortless, understated elegance whilst the intricate layering of flavours and textures leaves a lasting impression. The Indian Dessert cake is available in a range of standard sizes up to 22 servings for delivery or collection, and a smaller 5 inch 2 layer version is available for postal delivery, along with a regularly changing array of miniature cakes, brioche buns, cookies, lamingtons and more.