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13 best bakeries in London to visit now

From chocolate babka cruffins in north London to Japanese barbecue croissants in Covent Garden, here are the most amazing baked goods around town

London's bakery scene is exploding with laminated pastries, Asian baked treats and more. (Photo: Slashio Photography, Unsplash)
London's bakery scene is exploding with laminated pastries, Asian baked treats and more. (Photo: Slashio Photography, Unsplash)

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Londoners no longer need to go to Paris for great pastries. The UK capital’s streets are currently bursting with croissants, cakes and buttery creations. It’s as if Christo had decked out the town in layers and layers of crispy, laminated dough.

Or so it seems. London has been obsessed with baking since long before the Great British Bake Off premiered in 2010. But the latest fascination with flaky pastries extends to new flavors and cultures. (Luckily for bakers, the price of butter, which skyrocketed, is projected to fall this year.)

The pastry wave sweeping through London includes an expanding array of Asian bakeries, like the Singaporean-influenced Shiok, near Liverpool Street Station, where cakes come in an edible “tin” with an open lid. (It’s actually made from white chocolate.) In southwest London, Kapihan, a Filipino cafe, serves ube tarts filled with a delectable, deep purple custard.

From Peckham in south London to Crouch End up north, the range of viennoiseries — yeast-based dough treats — is mind boggling. It’s delicious sounding enough to provide new alternate text for Roald Dahl books: savory pinwheel rolls laced with marmite, cheese and spring onions; sausage rolls glazed with Japanese barbecue sauce; and the viral Le Cube, the giant, cream-filled square of a croissant that sells out in minutes at Le Deli Robuchon.

We’ve pulled together 13 of the best places to sample the city’s new guard of bakers in action, but the list below is by no means exhaustive. Some of the longest queues around town are for doughnuts, from such places as Bread Ahead in Borough Market and the new Donutelier by Roladin, where there’s a perennial crowd for the Instagram-worthy candy-coated selections. There will be crowds in Shoreditch in March when Lungi Mhlanga opens Treats Club, where the specialty is made-to-order doughnuts.

Some are new, the result of a lockdown experiment that went well. Others are expansions of a store that show the city’s growing demand for their products. No matter what, walk into any of these places and you won’t leave hungry.

It’s worth heading to Shiok just to be delighted by Cherish Finden’s stunning cakes. Inspired by her Singaporean childhood, the pastry chef, whose shop in the Pan Pacific hotel opened on Liverpool Street in June, sells pineapple-jam stuffed, cookie-like treats. Little travel cakes are iced oblong confections in flavors such as sticky toffee pudding (it tastes just like the famous British dessert) and yuzu. Best of all are the dessert “tins” for £16 ($19), featuring paper-thin white chocolate shaped and decorated to look like cans, including a partially open lid, filled with combinations like vanilla custard, ginger sponge, and refreshing rhubarb compote. For accompaniment, there’s an array of bubble tea. 

Arome Bakery
This bakery mixes traditional French baking with Asian styles and flavors from co-founders Alix Andre and Ellen Chew. Among their engaging takes on classics are croissants made from expertly laminated pastry in flavors like cappuccino and sausage with Japanese barbecue sauce. The highlight, though, is the bestselling honey butter toast (£4.90). It’s a thick slice of fluffy Japanese milk bread with a crust of crunchy honey in an ideal balance of textures and sweetness. The first shop is buzzing in Covent Garden, but the pair opened up a new space just off Oxford Street last year, making it an ideal stop after a long day of shopping at neighboring department store Selfridges.

Cédric Grolet at the Berkeley
Cédric Grolet is the world’s pastry magician; His cakes, made to look exactly like oranges and supersized hazelnuts, have become a social media favorite (especially videos of the chef creating them). A year ago, Grolet opened a swanky outpost of his Paris atelier at the Berkeley in Knightsbridge. On display, like jewelry in a boutique, is a sampling of his outrageous pastries. Whether you should pay £25 for the cakey hazelnut cookie is your choice. But the vanilla flower — a cake covered with white-cream flower petals and filled with milk jam and praline on a crispy pastry crust — is an outrageously good treat, even at £35 for a two- to three-person serving.

Le Deli Robuchon 
Before January, if people knew this shiny gourmet food stop opposite Green Park it was for elegant take-away sandwiches and pastries. Then the Cube croissant hit the display case, and London went nuts. Head baker Mustapha Ait Elaouam offers the geometric delicacies in only a handful of flavors, including chocolate and matcha. The oversized squares boast crispy swirled sides, a thick cream filling and just enough glaze to sweeten and flavor the pastry. The challenge isn’t just pulling it apart gracefully, it’s getting one at all. Ait Elaouam makes about 200 a day and they sell out within minutes. That problem might be alleviated when a new Le Deli Robuchon opens this spring on Kings Road.

Wa Cafe
Covent Garden now has a destination for elegant Japanese patisserie, a spare shop and outpost of the original location in Ealing. For matcha fans, there are such selections as tiramisu (£6.20) and a swirled sponge roll that blends the green tea with cream for a lightly sweet and bitter filling. The Japanese breads come in options like the marron bread, which is simultaneously light and rich with a pureed chestnut stuffing (£3.90). It’s a joy to rip apart, especially if you have a cup of tea at hand.

Dusty Knuckle
At the end of an unpromising-looking alley in Dalston, Dusty Knuckle functions as a premier bread supplier to top London restaurants. Still, seek out the utilitarian space, which is 80% a working bakery with a display case and a few tables squeezed inside and out front. The bakery, from founders Max Tobias and Rebecca Oliver, whose second outpost opened in Green Lanes last year, also has the option of croissants, morning buns and chocolate chip cookies. The feta, fennel and honey swirl, which goes for £4.50, is a sticky, flaky masterpiece that may be the best pastry in town.

Sourdough Sophia
This pink pastel-fronted bakery in north London is worth making the trek to Crouch End. Originally started as a lockdown project by Sophia Sutton-Jones and her husband Jesse, it has become a destination for its sourdough loaves as well as the chocolate-strewn babka cruffins (£4.40). Also currently available is the light, seasonal blood orange danish, filled with sweet cream and pistachios. It’s good with the expertly brewed coffee made from Gentlemen Baristas beans.

The singular pastries from the Philippines aren’t sufficiently well known in the UK, and family-run Kapihan is expanding their profile. The small storefront, which earlier this year relocated to Battersea Park Road, is operated by Nigel, David, Rosemary and Plams Motley. Their drinks program is based on Liberica coffee made with beans grown in the Philippines. Specialty options include the sweet, restorative malted karamelo latte with housemade coconut caramel malt syrup. Coconut also figures in the bibingka, the Filipino muffin with an engaging, chewy, mochi-like texture that’s strewn with strips of tender young coconut. The ube buko pies in tender pastry, only £3.90, are filled with sweet potato custard and completely addictive.

Pophams Bakery
Marmite fans should be familiar with Pophams and its signature offering, a pinwheel made from laminated dough and infused with the funky British spread, chunks of sweet, sauteed spring onions and Schlossberger, a nutty, locally made cheese that melts over the top (£5.90). It’s the kind of food that gets you out of bed on a hungover morning, as is the streaky bacon-and-maple bun. That’s mixed with such new, unconventional offerings as sea buckthorn and chocolate pistachio pastry. The latest location of the mini chain opened in London Fields in 2022.

Toad Bakery
The diversity of pastries packed into this compact storefront on Peckham Road is astonishing. In one corner, there’s sugar-dusted morning buns with a crunchy caramelized base (a bargain at £2.50) alongside vibrantly colored rhubarb custard tarts and chocolate-orange twists. Rebecca Spaven and Oliver Costello opened last spring under the name Frog Bakery before switching to Toad. They feature trays of savory snacks such as pork rolls stuffed with red cabbage kraut and dripping with melted cheese. The knockout is nutty, salty, soy-sauce cookies made with white miso and brown sugar and packed with bittersweet chocolate chips.

Buns From Home 
Buns From Home is another lockdown baking success story. Barney Goff started making buns for his neighbors and ended up crowdfunding to start a shop in Notting Hill. Now there are six branches all over London, from Holland Park to Bank. Customers might see Goff’s mother working behind the counter at one of them. The pint-sized spots specialize in only one thing: sweet and savory versions of the namesake buns. Among the plump, golden-brown options are an exceptional, sweet and spicy cardamon bun and the classic cinnamon version.

Birley Bakery
Robin Birley, known to the private club crowd for his spots 5 Hertford Street and Oswald’s, has branched out to the world of brioche. The handsome new Birley bakery in Chelsea is outfitted with hand-painted red and gold murals on the walls and a ceiling decorated to look like the sky. The long display case has a wide range of executive pastry chef Vincent Zanardi’s offerings, from morning pastries to afternoon tea staples. The cream-filled, chocolate-iced Guinness cake, for £6.95, is very good, and so are the tender orange-cinnamon madeleines. As befits the fancy neighborhood, even the striped takeaway boxes were specially designed.

Fair Shot 
On a Covent Garden side street is the new location of the inspiring and well-named Fair Shot cafe, dedicated to training people with learning disabilities to be baristas while keeping London caffeinated. Bianca Tavella created this not-for-profit model in 2019. Behind the counter in the sunny, high-ceilinged space is an array of baked goods including straightforward pain au chocolat, danish and red velvet cake. The selection changes constantly, but look out for the mini bundts with sumptuous swirls of frosting such as mocha. Besides sweets, Fair Shot delivers good news: So far, 21 young adults have been employed, thanks to the organization.


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