London’s Best Bakeries

Easter offers the perfect excuse to visit a proper bakery. From hot cross buns and Simnel Cake to bunny-shaped shortbread, here are London’s best bakeries this spring:

  1. Best for Cakes and Buns: Violet Cakes

Named as the bakery behind Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding cake, Violet Cakes has suddenly shot into the spotlight. But we have long been fans of founder Claire Ptak who is the author of several brilliant cookbooks as well as the host of the Violet Sessions podcast. The classic sponges feature buttercream icings that change with the seasons – in spring that means elderflowers, gooseberries, rhubarb and Alphonso Mango. In addition, the counter heaves with cinnamon buns, a fresh ginger and molasses cake, chocolate rye brownies, fruity spelt cake, flourless chocolate cake, oatmeal-raisin cookies, chocolate chip cookies, coconut macaroons, and chocolate-vanilla sandwich cookies. During Easter there are sticky hot cross buns made using homemade candied citrus peels. Pick them up at the East London Bakery at 47 Wilton Way. violetcakes.com

2. Best for Classics: Sally Clarke’s Shop

For a classic hot cross bun or traditional Simnel Cake it’s hard to beat Sally Clarke’s, just off Kensington Church Street. The wholesale Sally Clarke Bakery supplies not only Clarke’s Restaurant and Shop but also lots of London’s top establishments including Fortnum & Mason and Harvey Nichols. If you aren’t able to visit in person, you can now buy a wide selection of Sally Clarke bread and cakes (including hot cross buns) via Farmdrop, who deliver to the door. sallyclarke.com

3. Best for Gluten Free and Vegan: Fortitude Bakehouse 

The newly-opened Fortitude Bakehouse in Bloomsbury specialises in slow ferment craft baking. Wondering what that means? Think sourdough cakes such as Barabrith with honey (pictured above), and Coconut sugar brioche buns for breakfast as well as gluten free and vegan bakes. Set up by Jorge Fernandez (founder of Fernandez & Wells)  and Dee Retattali (Patisserie Organic), the inviting bakery housed in a former stables is best for take-away, although there is a tiny counter to eat at too. This Easter you can pick up hot cross buns, vegan chocolate truffles and a vegan Simnel Cake. But be advised the shop will be closed on Easter Sunday and Monday so buy ahead. fortitudebakehouse.com

4. Best For Donuts: Bread Ahead

Everything at Bread Ahead is enticing but the donuts have got to take the prize. With fillings like custard, jam, lemon curd or honeycomb, they’re sugary and light and scrumptious. You can buy cakes, donuts, buns and bread from their original Borough Market Stall and now at three other locations in Chelsea, Soho and Mayfair. Book in for an Easter Baking half day course, or a 2-hour Family Class for ages 5+ and learn to make a twist on the classic hot cross bun and some Meringue Bunny Kisses at the Borough Market Cookery School. breadahead.com

5. Best for Children: Daylesford

Daylesford have a small but particularly lovely range of Easter treats, including these organic shortbread bunnies and chicks that would make a lovely gift, and a welcome relief from yet more chocolate! They are also stocking a range of raw chocolate eggs and hot cross bites, as well as the classic Simnel Cake.  daylesford.com

Best for Nordic Baking: Bageriet

We’ve written about them before, but Bagariet really does deserve a mention. As well as their legendary cinnamon buns, their Easter Princess Cake would make a pretty spectacular alternative to a Simnel cake. Delicate and delicious, outside there’s just a fine layer or marzipan, inside there’s light and airy sponge, raspberry compote and crème pâtissière. Princess Cakes are available year-round but you can request Easter decoration as in this picture above. bageriet.co.uk

Best for Choice: Harrods Food Hall 

You might be sceptical about shopping for bread in Harrods, but if you’re yet to visit the new Roastery and Bake Hall it is well worth doing. The first stage in the almighty two-year revamp of the Food Halls, or so-called ‘Taste Revolution’, the new bakery opened in November 2017. As well as the slightly ridiculous – personalised sourdough anyone? – there’s 15 varieties of bread and more pastries and patisseries than you could ever dream of. The cronuts are a highlight, and listen out for the bell that’s rung every 30 minutes to indicate that a fresh batch is being removed from the oven, so you can buy your bread still-warm. harrods.com

Best Bakery Chain: Gail’s

Gail’s Bakeries have popped up just about everywhere across London from Queens Park to Dulwich Village with their most recent opening in Camden last week. The bread is delicious, but go for the Hot Cross Buns which are the best in town. Soft and with plenty of fruit and a sweet glaze, they are the perfect spiced bun. They stock a mini Hot Cross Bun  and a seasonal Chocolate Sourdough too. gailsbread.co.uk

Best for Bread: E5 Bakehouse

Beneath the London Field’s railway arches find Hackney’s favourite bakery. The focus is on sourdough country breads and ryes – we recommend the Currant Loaf that is best enjoyed toasted with butter and a cup of tea. Buy a loaf to take away or sit and stay for a coffee at the excellent in-house cafe. Committed to sustainability, deliveries are made on Dutch bicycles and flours are all UK organic. e5bakehouse.com

What:
London's Best Bakeries
— Daisy Allsup
22nd March 2018