Is there any greater joy than piling a pillowy soft bun into your mouth, or slathering a piece of freshly made bread in a thick layer of butter before savouring it slowly? Bakeries, they bring a lot of joy, don’t they? And we think they should be celebrated. So much so that we’ve gone out of our way to try one, or two, or maybe thirty, in a quest to find the best bakeries London has to offer.
Made to be snapped, papped and photographed, these London bakeries are seriously satisfying to look at, and that’s before you get to their goods. With counters loaded with everything from cinnamon buns and custard tarts to sourdough and doughnuts, there’s a cake shop in London for you, whatever your preference. And the beauty, of course, of baked goods is that they’re acceptable at just about any time of the day? Just woken up? Get yourself a croissant, friend. Flagging in the afternoon? It’s time for a sugar rush courtesy of cupcake. Ready for bed? Help yourself to tea and toast before you tuck yourself up.
The best bakeries London houses on her streets are a real melting pot of specialities, covering the breadth of the globe, reflecting the wider population of our capital city. There are little corners of Chinatown that focus on traditional Asian pastries, while there are Michelin star outlets that find their finesse most suited to churning out French eclairs made from the finest choux pastry.
Recently there has also been a flurry of restaurant openings that focus on having a central bakery at their heart, providing diners with the freshest breads and bakes to enjoy at their table and to take home, like Darby’s in Vauxhall. This outpost from chef Robin Gill majors in house-made croissants, breads and bakes, including their signature burnt honey tarts.
Ready to get your teeth into something sweet? Scroll our list of the best bakeries in London and take your pick. You know what they say though, the proof is in the pudding, so you’re just going to have to gallantly go out and try as many as you can for yourself to know for sure which is your favourite.
Why: One of Milan’s oldest bakeries, Pasticceria Marchesi has brought its clever baking to London, opening their first Location outside of Italy with a plum spot in the heart of Mayfair. Specialising in Panettone this pretty shop also has its walls lined with pastel coloured candies and sugared almonds that make it feel like something from a child's dream. From the glass cabinet you can choose from the intricate, carefully decorated cakes that line the shelves.
Where: 117 Mount Street, W1K 3LA
Cutter & Squidge
Why: Touting themselves as London’s only all-natural Bakery, Cutter & Squidge manage to be healthy(ish) without sacrificing on taste or appearance. Celebration cakes are generously sized and beautifully bold with splodges of colourful buttercream adorning the sides, and their signature ‘biskies’ bakes combine the best bits of a cake and a cookie by sandwiching layers of cream and jam between two home-made biscuits. If you’re in the market for one treat only try the salted caramel one, with awards to its name and a salted caramel marshmallow filling, this is one to satisfy any sugar craving.
Where: 20 Brewer Street, W1F 0SJ
Why: East London Queen of Cool and self-taught baker Lily has made cakes for all the trendiest events in town. With a list of clients that includes Jo Malone and Baileys, Lily is certainly a girl in demand and with her unusual flavour combinations and signature detailed decor it’s not hard to see why. Sharp lemon tarts with a slick of burnt meringue on top make the perfect afternoon treat, and one of her glittery, flower-topped showstopper cakes make the perfect party centrepiece.
Where: 6, The Courtyard, Ezra Street, E2 7RH
Why: Scandi chic extends beyond interiors and fashion, with bakeries being the next big tick box on the list of conquering being cool for us mere mortals. The Nordic bakery have taken this theory and run with it, creating a popular London bakery focused on bringing the best buns with a side of hygge to the capital, and it’s proving a popular tactic with this small cafe regularly selling out of its goods. Go for a cinnamon scroll and stay for the coffee.
Where: 14A Golden Square, W1F 9JG
Why: Queue-causing doughnuts set Bread Ahead apart from the pack, with their Borough Market site constantly stowed out with eager fans ready to wait for a bite of their bakes. Aside from the doughnuts - which are filled with ever-changing things like salted caramel, homemade jam or rich vanilla custard - Bread Ahead also deal in robust sourdough loaves and unctuous sticky buns that will take your teatime to a whole new level. For those keen to learn the tricks of the trade there is also a cook school at Borough where you can enrol in all kinds of classes, from bread making to mastering British bakes.
Where: Borough Market, Cathedral Street, SE1 9DE; 249 Pavilion Road, SW1X 0BP; 21 Beak Street, W1F 9RR
Why: From breads and breakfast pastries to celebration cakes and petit treats, this bakery aims to bring the taste of a rural French boulangerie to the capital city. Outside of the core offering there is also a small lunch menu that allows you to sit in and enjoy bright plates of things like a classic quiche or a fresh salad. With locations in Covent Garden, Fulham, Kensington and London Bridge you’re happily never too far from an Orée bakery.
Where: 44 Wellington Street, WC2B 5JD; 275-277 Fulham Road, SW10 9PZ; 147 Kensington High Street, W8 6SU; Station Western Arcade, SE1 9RL
Why: Taking their bread ever so seriously, E5 has no time for intricately piped icing or layers of sponges stacked up into a gateau, instead they major in satisfyingly strong organic sourdough. Loaves are huge and high-baked with killer crusts and perfectly chewy centres and there are a range of options: walnut bread, spelt or a ‘Hackney Wild’ country loaf made with white flour and a touch of rye are all on offer. Sweets are a glossy selection of butter-rich cakes, pastries and biscuits. E5 also roast their own coffee and have a short lunch menu for days when you want to ignore the chaos of your own house and pass a few hours in a warm and inviting space. Baking classes seal the deal on this spot being East London’s best bakery (in our not so humble opinion).
Where: 395 Mentmore Terrace, E8 3PH
Why: With a cult-like following, Pophams proved so popular just a few short months after first opening that it expanded into a second site, and is now also a pasta restaurant in the evening. The signature serve here is a cheese and Marmite scroll that the bakers swear will bring any non-believer round. If you’re not ready to make the plunge from Marmite hater to lover then there are also more traditional combos on offer - like everyone’s favourite pain au chocolat.
Where: 19 Prebend Street, N1 8PF and 197 Richmond Road, E8 3NJ
Ole & Steen
Why: This achingly cool Danish bakery has a handful of sites across the capital, and serves its wares from breakfast through to supper. Of course cinnamon swirls and plaited spiced loaves are mainstays of the pastry counter here, but there also some more unusual creations, like the caramel puff. This upside down cone-like-creation is formed from a marzipan base which is topped with fluffy marshmallow that hides a caramel centre. That’s all covered in dark chocolate and chopped almonds for a rather grown up version of something quite Snowball like. Heaven. Coffee and sandwiches are also good here, and the atmosphere is conducive to co-working, so making an afternoon out of a visit wouldn’t be unheard of.
Where: Various locations across London
Why: Pastel perfection is the order of the day at Maitre Choux, with the team here being the world’s only choux specialists. The counters are an artwork of colourful creations - eclairs and choux buns both feature - dreamt up by Three Michelin star pastry chef Joakim Prat. Fillings and toppings continuously change with the seasons, but they’re always vibrant and playful. If you have more of a savoury tooth there are also a line-up of lunchtime specials that include chicken and avocado, and smoked salmon and cream cheese eclairs.
Where: Various locations across London
Why: If you’ve had your fill of croissants (if that’s a thing) why not try a crepe specialist instead? The beautiful thing about London is that everyone can find their niche and Kova have done that with Japanese versions of Mille Crepes. These colourful stacks of pancakes are interlaced with delicious fillings ranging from fruit and coconut to matcha and durian, depending on how adventurous you’re feeling. Buy by the slice or go all in on a whole cake, and while you’re there try a cake or tart too, it would be rude not to.
Where: Unit 5, 9-12 St Annes Court, W1F 0BB; 20a Newport Court, WC2H 7JS; 16 Old Brompton Road, SW7 3DL
Why: The theatre of baking is lauded at Santa Nata, which has a glass frontage onto the production line of its Portuguese custard tarts: the only bake they make. This specialism is headed up by a Portuguese family of second-generation bakers. Watch as the well-versed artisan bakers create perfectly crisp pastry shells filled with rich set custard, before topping them with a sprinkling of cinnamon or icing sugar. When you hear the ring of a bell you know there’s a fresh batch ready to be served up. While you’re there grab a coffee and enjoy your spoils warm and fresh from the oven, or take a box home if you can bear sharing them with loved ones.
Where: 17 Russell Street, WC2B 5HP and 7 New Row Seven Dials, WC2N 4LH
Why: Mostly recognised for its staunchly British nose-to-tail food, the team at St. JOHN also do a pretty solid line in baking. Bread here is mostly served up in the restaurant but there is always a range of treats on offer to take away. Try the brand’s famous doughnuts, which come filled with generous amounts of homemade jam, rich cream fillings or custard, or plump for a piece of traditional seed cake, a few scones or a baker’s dozen of buns. Whatever you choose we’d bet our last British pound that it’ll be top drawer stuff.
Where: 26 St. John Street, EC1M 4AY; 3 Neal’s Yard, Seven Dials, WC2H 9DP; 94-96 Commercial Street, E1 6LZ
Why: Poilâne first opened its doors as a bakery on the streets of Paris in 1932, just a few years later and we’re now the proud owners of two such outlets in London. With locations in Chelsea and Belgravia, the locations of this French bakery in London might give you some idea of its clientele. The team behind Poilâne value slow fermentation and the use of only a handful of high quality ingredients. This combination results in flavoursome loaves that are destined to be the star of the show rather than just sandwich sides. In terms of treats there are a few specialist sweets on offer here too, their signature butter biscuits are a must try, while you’ll also find things like gingerbread, croissants and apple turnovers.
Where: 39 Cadogan Gardens, SW3 2TB and 6 Elizabeth Street, SW1W 9PA
Why: First and foremost Darby’s is a restaurant, but it’s a restaurant that’s ethos is underpinned by the adage that if you want something doing properly, you should do it yourself. With this in mind there’s a whole pastry team who create much of what graces the menu, but you’re also free to buy their treats for yourself to take home. A hero item, if we had to choose one, would be the burnt honey tart. This small custard-tart-like creation has a hint of bitterness from the scorching it gets in the oven, which gives way to a rich and creamy centre that is fragranced with the flavour of honey. If you happen past at breakfast time you could do worse than spoiling yourself with a ham and cheese croissant from the menu, trust us, this isn’t your average morning snack.
Where: 3 Viaduct Gardens, SW11 7AY
Why: Proudly advertising the fact that its pastries are made only with pure butter and fresh cream, Maison Bertaux is our kind place. Set up in central London in 1871, this bakery is somewhat of an institution. Here you’ll find Soho city workers enjoying a quick lunch during the day, and the residents of close by streets grabbing a pastry come the pm. Old fashioned bakes like eclairs and fruit tarts are piled up inside the glass cabinet, while intricately made marzipan figs offer a slightly fancier option.
Where: 28 Greek Street, W1D 5DQ
Why: A bakery and wine bar from the team behind Lyle’s (which incidentally was voted one of the best restaurants in the world in 2019), this Borough hot spot is stowed out whenever it’s open. Despite not being a traditional bakery in the sense that you can’t buy from a counter, Flor instead shows off their creations on their daily-changing lunch and dinner menus. Here you might find a simple plate of bread and butter or a chocolate tart made with buckwheat. Be warned though, if you haven’t booked a table you might have to queue.
Where: 1 Bedale Street, SE1 9AL
Why: We have a soft spot for restaurants with their own bakeries, and here Jolene delivers. Owned by an eccentric French restauranteur this small East London outlet only uses uncultivated grains that are milled on site to make its breads and pastries. You’re able to buy bread and sweet treats as you please, or you can enjoy Jolene’s baking efforts from the main menu which changes daily. Here you’ll find things like chunky bread and butter served up with rolled pancetta or a treacle tart with cream.
Where: 21 Newington Green, N16 9PU
Why: As with many such spots on our list, Beyond Bread is a bakery-cum-cafe, but unusually offers an entirely gluten-free spread of goods. If you choose to eat in you might find yourself tucking into charred goat’s cheese on sourdough or sweet and satisfying French toast topped with Nutella. There’s also an outdoor terrace at Beyond Bread, which makes it the ideal spot to soak up some sun in the warmer months.
Where: 267 Upper Street, N1 2UQ
Why: Richly flavoured and decadently decorated, Comptoir Gourmand’s bakes have been a fixture at ever-popular Borough Market since 2010. Since then they’ve expanded to have four sites and regularly sell out of their treats come the weekend. Get down early on a Saturday to snaffle one of their huge croissants or chocolate cakes, and make sure to take a couple of things away with you too, because once you’ve got a taste for their bakes you’re going to want more.
Where: 96 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3UB; Ropewalk, Maltby Street, SE1 3PB; Green Market, Borough Market, SE1 1TL; 22 Noel Street, W1F 8GS
Dominique Ansel Bakery
Why: Hailing all the way from The United States of America, Dominique Ansel Bakery brings a little bit of American chic to London, which counteracts some of the more of the rustic offerings in this list. The bakery itself is a beautiful white space with clean lines which puts the focus firmly on the food. Creations are precise and practically perfect, with decoration given as much air time as the actual bakes beneath. Try a layered cronut (which Dominique Ansel say they invented, no less) or one of the bakery’s signature cookie shots which comes lined with chocolate and filled with milk.
Where: 17-21 Elizabeth Street, SW1W 9RP
Why: Sometimes we just have to put our hands up and say we don’t always make the best things ourselves. Prime example: cinnamon rolls. Fabrique fills that hole in Britain’s culinary knowledge by bringing their sublime bakes to London from Stockholm. Alongside their famous Swedish buns (a must-try), Fabrique also make killer bread, which they cook in their signature stone ovens for a deliciously crisp crust and even bake.
Where: Various locations across London
Why: If it’s good enough for royalty, it’s good enough to get a place on our round up of the best bakeries in London. Violet bakery made none other than Price Harry and Meghan’s wedding cake, don’t you know? Claire Ptak, Violet creator, specialises in cupcakes that actually taste good (which is rare in these post 2002 years). Her signature celebration cakes are adorned with fresh flowers and a unique rough swipe of buttercream on top. Back to cupcakes, and flavours change regularly, but chocolate is always a winner.
Where: 47 Wilton Way, E8 3ED
Why: Yauatcha Patisserie is the little sister of similarly called Yauatcha in Soho, but takes the Chinese restaurant’s beautiful pastries and offers them up independently of the dine-in setup. Yauatcha was brought to London by none other than Alan Yau (the man behind Wagamama and Hakkasan) and the Patisserie follows the chef's wider exacting standards. Everything on the shelves is precisely presented, with homemade chocolates, macrons and cakes the order of the day.
Where: Broadgate, EC2M 2QS
Love sweet treats? You might like our round up of the best hot chocolates London has to offer.