Britain’s 13 best bakeries that are worth queuing up for

Bostock Bakery in East Lothian
Bostock Bakery in East Lothian is known for its sourdough bread (made over 36 hours) and bulky almond croissants - Milly Kenny-Ryderr

Bread has been baked in Britain for thousands of years and recipes for pastry even appear in medieval recipe books. But for a long time, viennoiserie – breakfast pastries such as croissants, Danishes and pains au chocolat – was the domain of mainland Europe. Most of the bread sold in Britain was heavily processed, mass-produced, plastic-wrapped and picked up in supermarket chains.

All of this has changed over the past decade, and it has been remarkable to witness the rise of independent bakeries across the country, with artisan (handmade, additive-free) bread and viennoiserie at the forefront of the new offerings.

This is part of a bigger, growing interest in slower lifestyles, with more attention to craftsmanship, growing your own food, home fermenting and shopping for ultra-local British ingredients from independent producers. Social media is only fuelling the trend, with elaborate pastries and loaves produced as art objects regularly going viral.

Everyone has their favourite bakery, but those featured here are worth a detour (to steal the Michelin Guide’s line), notable for their ethical practices and imaginative flavours and often found in unexpected places.

They are worthy of your time queuing and waiting. Making a humble croissant or loaf of sourdough is a lengthy process; it only seems fair that we give a little of our own time to receive our tasty reward.

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South West England


Exquisite canelés

Farro bakery
Farro began as a market stall, before finding a small bricks-and-mortar home

Farro is found on an unlikely but up-and-coming corner in Bristol’s St Paul’s district, right by the city’s busy Bearpit roundabout. But the offbeat location doesn’t deter devotees from arriving early at the weekend to pick up ultra-buttery kouign-amanns, dainty canelés and silky rich pastéis de nata. Founded in 2015 by Bradley Tapp as a market stall and later moving into a small permanent home, this petite bakery is takeaway only. But what it lacks in floorspace it more than makes up for in flavour: the team are serious about making truly excellent bread and viennoiserie.

1 Brunswick Square, St Paul’s, Bristol BS2 8PE; @farrobakery

Lilac Bakery

One-oven wonder

A cruffin from Lilac Bakery in Exeter
Elaborate 'cruffins' as well as traditional pastries are popular at Lilac Bakery in Exeter

It is worth venturing to the outskirts of Exeter for this place. Owners Jenn Wickings and Eddie Goodwin took a gamble on an empty betting shop in late 2021, transforming the venue into a charming artisan bakery. The operation is very small, with just one oven producing all the daily bakes from bread to buns, croissants to cookies.

Jenn and Eddie are self-taught and between them they bake, barista, provide front of house service and wash up. Their energy is evident in every detail of the homely café, pretty mismatched crockery and (most importantly) in the tasty bakes, which are made only with produce from high-quality suppliers like Taw River Dairy for milk.

When it comes to deciding what to eat, the choice is overwhelming – the elaborate cruffins are always popular (flavours might include banoffee pie or ham and cheese), or visitors can opt for a classic pain au chocolat or brioche bun.

59 Cowick Street, St Thomas, Exeter EX4 1HR; @lilacbakery.exeter


Tarn Bakery

A bakery with a view

Tarn bakery in north London
Tarn in north London has a neighbourhood feel, and an array of unusual sweet and savoury bakes

Pastry addicts will know Florin Grama as the discerning baker who worked magic behind the scenes at Pophams and Flor in the capital. Now he’s teamed up with fellow chef Felix Ortona Coles (they met working at Michelin-starred St Barts in Smithfield), the duo bringing a wealth of expertise and passion.

Tarn’s sourdough bread uses UK-grown grains, and the pastries include classic croissants and pains au chocolat, plus more unusual sweet and savoury bakes, such as apple and whey custard or Gorgonzola and squash Danishes.

Tarn opened at the end of 2023 and has impressive city views. It’s a small space, so better treated as a takeaway – perfect, given that the Parkland Walk and Highgate Wood are on the doorstep.

83 Hazellville Road, London N19 3NB; @tarnbakery_

Cut the Mustard

Hidden gem with hefty pastries

Unusual pastries and bakes are on offer at Cut the Mustard in Tooting

You’ll spot Cut the Mustard from afar, the retro yellow logo popping against the pared-back black exterior of both branches. It may be a little removed from London’s primary bakery circuit, but it’s worth making the trip to Tooting to sample some of the more unusual bakes on offer here. If you have the appetite, try the Chocolate Hazelnut Dream, a weighty cross between a pain au chocolat and a twice-cooked hazelnut croissant, filled with chocolate batons and nutty paste – but the plain croissants are just as tasty.

If the pastries have sold out, opt for a flavoursome black pudding sausage roll or an indulgent brownie. It’s also worth getting your hands on a ‘Frank’ sourdough – charmingly named after owner Jimmy’s grandfather – which is a blend of organic white and wholemeal flour, naturally fermented for 22 hours.

180 Franciscan Road, London SW17 8HG;

South East England

Proof Social Bakehouse

Social enterprise with vegan options

Proof Social Bakehouse
Proof Social Bakehouse has plenty of vegan-friendly bakes

Combining head baker Paul Dickinson’s 10 years of experience with a worthwhile mission, Proof is the brain-child of the Tap Social Movement – a social enterprise that offers paid training and employment to prisoners and prison leavers.

Found within Oxford’s Sandford Lane Industrial Estate, the open-plan café offers an immersive view of the working bakery, the scent of baking filling the cavernous space.

The fruit Danishes are bestsellers, but Proof also caters generously for vegans with an impressive spread of dairy-free options. The baristas pour a great flat white with Oxford’s best-loved Missing Bean coffee, while the pantry area sells a range of artisan items from the bakery’s favourite suppliers.

68 Sandford Lane Industrial Estate, Kennington, Oxford OX1 5RP;

Modern Provider

Delicate bakes in a delightfully kitsch café

Modern Provider Margate
Kitsch memorabilia contrasts with high end bakes at this Margate must-visit

Margate prides itself on producing and promoting exciting independent businesses, and Modern Provider is just that. A refreshing antidote to the proliferation of pared-back bakery interiors, this eccentric venue is a museum of curiosities, the walls plastered with vintage adverts and the shelves populated with kitsch trinkets.

Owner Ben Wykes left a job at Burberry to follow his dream to live by the sea, and Modern Provider delivers British seaside charm in spades. The retro memorabilia is delightfully tacky but the bakes are high-end – the pain Suisse is a thing of beauty, flaky dough folded over an oozing centre of pastry cream and chocolate, dusted with icing sugar.

As well as feeding hungry locals and tourists, Modern Provider bakes bread for neighbouring businesses including Turner Contemporary.

4-5 The Centre, Margate CT9 1JG; @modern_provider

East England


Home of the cruller

The 'crullers' at Pinch are made from deep-fried choux pastry
The 'crullers' at Pinch are made from deep-fried choux pastry

The cronut was born in NYC in 2013 and hybrid pastries have multiplied ever since, with the dangel, brookies and cruffins all featuring on fad café menus. These Frankenstein creations can become gimmicky in other hands, but not so with Pinch’s crullers. These elegant circular donuts are made from deep-fried choux pastry, the name hailing from the early 19th-century Dutch word ‘krullen’ (to curl). As tasty as they are photogenic, owner Alice Norman’s quirky cruller flavours include apple cider and candied walnut; honey and bacon; and coffee and hazelnut.

East Green, Kelsale, Saxmundham, Suffolk IP17 2PJ;


Locally sourced and long-fermented

Dozen bread
Dozen's breads are baked with organic flour and British-grown whole grains

There is nothing better than moving to a neighbourhood and discovering a nearby artisan bakery. Those living near Norwich’s Gloucester Street have hit the jackpot with Dozen, which specialises in naturally leavened bread and long-fermented pastries using raw cultured butter. They bake with organic flour and British-grown whole grains, which they mill themselves.

For such a small bakery, the variety on offer is impressive: look out for the olive fougasse, speck and Isle of Mull cheese croissant, and the seasonal custard buns (the fig leaf is particularly good). There is a small shop, so you can fill your cupboards with British cheese, meats and dairy. If you do choose to eat in, relax in the trio of window seats and order
a filter coffee or a super-velvety Bare Bones hot chocolate.

107 Gloucester Street, Norwich NR2 2DY; @dozen_bakery

North England

Northern Rye

Masters of slow fermenting

Pastries from Northern Rye in Newcastle
Northern Rye in Newcastle supplied Beyoncé and crew with croissants when she was touring nearby

Northern Rye is off the beaten track, found by the river in Newcastle’s creative Ouseburn district. Owner Robbie Livingstone opened the bakery in summer 2020, after giving up a career in printing to follow his dream. The breads and pastries here are made using slow-fermentation techniques, with the sourdough sometimes proving for up to 28 hours (which gives a deeper flavour while also aiding digestion).

The almond croissants, generously loaded with nut frangipane, always fly off the shelves at breakfast; for lunch, sample the brilliant bread in a sandwich heaving with tasty fillings such as coronation chickpea. The bakery even supplied Beyoncé and crew with croissants when she was touring nearby!

4 Riverside Walk, Byker, Newcastle upon Tyne NE6 1LX;

Long Boi’s Bakehouse

Colourful, creatively flavoured cakes

Lamingtons at Long Boi's
The lamingtons at Long Boi's are colourful and decadent

Found on a residential street in Levenshulme, Long Boi’s opened in 2020, taking over a corner shop site that had stood empty for 16 years. Owner Jenny Oakenfull honed her craft working at Mancunian bread royalty Pollen. There is a strong community and sustainability ethos here, and the amazing (all-woman) team are always working on a new special.

Popular bakes include their vegan blueberry and dark chocolate babka and the picture-perfect lamingtons (vanilla genoise sponge filled with homemade jam, dipped in ganache, coconut and petals, topped with fresh whipped cream and finished with the Long Boi’s signature morello cherry). Colourful, decadent baking at its best.

40 Forest Range, Manchester M19 2HP;



Dab hands at dough

A classic pecan tart with brown sugar from Bostock Bakery in East Lothian
A classic pecan tart with brown sugar from Bostock Bakery in East Lothian

Everything that comes out of these ovens is reliably delicious, from sourdough breads to precise, French-style viennoiserie. Named after a French pastry made with leftover bread and almonds, Bostock makes the traditional kind along with more creative varieties (like banana and pecan).

Pâtissier Ross Baxter (who co-owns the bakery with his wife Lindsay) trained with Michelin-starred chefs across the country (winning the Scottish Food Awards’ Pâtissier of the Year in 2018), so it’s no surprise that Bostock’s bakes are brilliant. Dab hands at all things dough, they are known for their sourdough bread (made over 36 hours with organic flour) and bulky almond croissants, as well as the eponymous bostocks.

The original bakery, a staple on North Berwick’s high street, can feel cramped at peak hours, but the newer East Linton branch is airier, popular with larger groups and cyclists heading for the dramatic North Berwick coastline.

Dunbar Road, East Linton EH40 3DE;

Lannan Bakery

Immensely Instagrammable pastries

Lannan Bakery
Lannan Bakery is revered for its photogenic creations

Lannan was an instant success when it opened in the summer of 2023, and its popularity has only risen since then. Every morning, before the doors open, fans form an orderly queue down the road in eager anticipation of the glossy maple and pecan plaits and bricks

of custard slice topped with berry icing. Owner and head baker Darcie Maher’s passion and creativity are evident in every detail of Lannan, from the beautifully designed shopfront to the bespoke handmade coffee cups. Especially impressive are the selection of bakes: recent highlights include an ’nduja, fermented honey and Murcia al Vino (goat’s cheese) bun, and a pain Suisse oozing with vanilla cream and chocolate chips that is almost too beautiful to eat. Devilishly photogenic, Lannan’s offerings are something of an Instagram favourite, drawing many to make the pilgrimage to Stockbridge, in Edinburgh. It isn’t unusual for the bakery to sell out within a few hours, so come early and be prepared to wait. 29-35 Hamilton Place, Edinburgh EH3 5BA; @lannanbakery


Tŷ Melin Bakery

Goods baked with love

Tŷ Melin's sourdough
Tŷ Melin's sourdough is 'perfectly bouncy'

Owning, running and nurturing an artisan bakery is a true labour of love, requiring time and dedication – so it seems fitting that the entrepreneurs setting up these special places are often partners in life and business. Tŷ Melin is the creation of Lance Gardner and Angharad Conway, a couple who met through their shared love and experience of baking.

A true family affair, Tŷ Melin translates as ‘Mill House’ in Welsh – the name of Angharad’s family home. With prestigious bakery experience between them, it’s no surprise that Tŷ Melin’s sourdough is perfectly bouncy and its viennoiserie expertly constructed.

They are best known for their special ‘croissant bomb’, a trademarked pastry made from a crispy croissant shell with
a range of fillings including sticky toffee pudding and apple compote, finished with a treacly glaze.
49 Wellfield Road, Cardiff CF24 3PA;

Britain’s Best Bakeries, by Milly Kenny-Ryder (Hoxton Mini Press, £22.95), is published on 2 May