Sweet-toothed Londoners, you're in luck – we've sniffed out the creme de la creme of bakeries in the capital.
On your marks, get set... eat!
Konditor & Cook
German-born baker Gerhard Jenne has baked for the likes of Tina Turner and the Rolling Stones. At his bakery Konditor & Cook, you can get stuck into his superb Mittel-European influenced creations. There are three shops dotted around central London, serving up a range of treats from deliciously indulgent brownies to a jaw-dropping, best-selling Curly Whirly cake, which features a Belgian chocolate centre, lavishly coated in cream cheese and vanilla bean frosting.
EC4M, WC1X, SE1, konditor.co.uk
The array of cakes and desserts displayed in the windows of Ottolenghi delis across town is awe-inspiring. You can’t really go wrong with the cakes, which change daily, but if you can get it, go for a passion fruit meringue tart, The cheesecakes are perfection, too – we enjoyed a salted caramel and hazelnut one. The Spitalfields location is the biggest Ottolenghi venue.
Various locations, ottolenghi.co.uk
Cutter & Squidge
This sister-owned Soho bakery looks sweet, but isn't saccahrine. Using no more sugar and fat than they need, their inventive and joyfully decorated offerings are delicately, carefully flavoured. Cutter & Squidge’s Dream Cakes make for jaw dropping centrepieces for your big celebration, or can also be enjoyed by the slice in house For a whimsical version of the full works, you can also join Cutter & Squidge for their Potions Room afternoon tea featuring a lemon potion in a cauldron and butterscotch versions of their "biskies".
20 Brewer Street, W1F 0SJ, cutterandsquidge.com
No longer need we rely on our Stateside cousins for doughnut decadence with these guys around. Once a market stall on Leather Lane, Crosstown Doughnuts has now amassed something of a London empire, opening 13 stores, seven market stands and three trucks across the city. It’s all down to their devilishly delicious take on the American classic: the sourdough used gives them a bread-like texture, topped and filled with myriad intriguing flavours, from peanut butter and blackcurrant compote to Sri Lankan cinnamon sugar. The vegan options, far from afterthoughts, are just as spectacular.
Various locations, crosstown.co.uk
There are few more enjoyable activities than picking up a fresh loaf of bread from a very good baker, but baking it yourself has to be up there. Bread Ahead know this, and alongside producing their own range of freshly baked fare (you can even watch the expert bakers hard at work), they also run a baking school for budding breadwinners, teaching workshops on everything from sourdough to stollen at their Borough Market, Knightsbridge and Wembley locations. Just want to eat? They also have shops in Hampstead and South Kensington.
Various locations, breadahead.com
When pondering Japanese food, patisserie isn’t the first thing that comes to mind, but Kova are showing us what we’ve been missing out on. This Japanese bakery, which now has four London outposts, specialises in producing fairly remarkable looking Mille Crepes, a concoction consisting of 15 layers of French-style crepes, sandwiching alternate layers of a custard cream filling. Flavours range from matcha to choclate, and all go nicely with one of Kova’s array of delicate Japanese teas.
W1F, WC2H, SW7, SW11, kovapatisserie.com
Choux pastry is always a winner, and Maitre Choux does it with no small amount of glamour. Pastry chef Joakim Prat’s bakeries produce a glittering (quite literally) array of takes on the éclair, from a Persian pistachio version to a hazelnut and milk chocolate treasure, which is finished with a sprinkling of gold dust. Shy and retiring, Maitre Choux is not.
SW7, W1D, SW3, maitrechoux.com
Much like their design and brooding crime dramas, Scandi baking is becoming more popular in London by the day and the Scandinavian Kitchen is one of the best examples. Their soft, sticky cinnamon buns are surely among the best in all of London - order the blueberry, oat and spelt muffin titled ‘studmuffin’, purely for the name.
61 Great Titchfield Street, W1W 7PP; scandikitchen.co.uk
This humble Hackney bakery became one of the most talked about on the planet back in 2018, when its Californian-born owner Claire Ptak was asked by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to create their lemon and elderflower flavoured wedding cake. The organic bakery takes orders for occasion cakes - the chocolate cake with salted caramel icing is divine - as well as selling smaller bites including the popular cinnamon buns.
47 Wilton Way, E8 3ED; violetcakes.com
St John Bakery
The St John group may supply bread to trendy food destinations like Caravan in King’s Cross and do a darn good Welsh rarebit, but it’s their doughnuts we’re really interested in. Ingredients are sourced from independent suppliers, including dairy from Neal’s Yard, and there’s a few different places you can pick them up: at St John Bread and Wine in Spitalfields on Fridays and Saturdays; Bakery Arch in Bermondsey from Friday to Sunday; daily at the Borough Corner and Neal’s Yard spots.
E1, SE1, WC2H, stjohnrestaurant.com
Old Post Office Bakery
This humble old-school bakery is a local Clapham gem and one of the first to go all-organic in south London. The date and walnut bread is that perfect balance of sweet and savoury that makes it great for a grab-and-go breakfast, or, on a sunny weekend, pick up a couple of hot pain au chocolat and eat them as you amble along to the common.
76 Landor Road, SW9 9PH, oldpostofficebakery.co.ukâ
If you find icing-heavy cupcakes too sickly, Lily Vanilli is your cake holy grail: savoury and sweet are balanced perfectly to create complex flavours, not just an immediate sugar hit. Past hits have ranged from pear, thyme and olive oil mini-loaves to grapefruit and polenta layer cakes. Tucked away in a gorgeous little courtyard behind Columbia Road flower market, the bakery has bare brick and white tile walls, a fab ‘Vanilli’s’ lightbulb sign and a wooden counter laden with treats. Only Thursday to Sunday; make it your weekend treat.
6 The Courtyard, Ezra St, E2 7RH, lilyvanilli.com
You can find GAIL's in numerous different locations, but the King’s Road one makes the list simply for its classic black shop front that reminds us of a Victorian apothecary. Its cinnamon buns are a little crispier than the traditional soft dough kanelbulle but still delicious.
Various locations; gailsbread.co.uk
Stepping into this little gem (found next to the restaurant), with its brushed gold walls, mosaic tiled floors and eclectic soundtrack of blues and jazz feels like simultaneously stepping back in time and travelling to Paris. Highlights are the galettes: the best-selling apple and hazelnut and the seasonal rhubarb and custard both go down a treat.
4-6 Russell Street, WC2B 5HZ; balthazarlondon.com
Head to the E5 Bakehouse under the railway arches at London Fields for a changing menu of cakes, tarts and patisserie, from brownies and perfectly formed raspberry financiers to classic eccles cakes and crème brulee tarts. The seating area is small and, between the open kitchen and trains running overhead, a little noisy, but in a typically east London bustling way. And the pecan pie is – and I’m only slightly exaggerating – the best I’ve tasted this side of the Atlantic.
Arch 395, Mentmore Terrace, E8 3PH, e5bakehouse.com