The English adage says it best: Keep Calm and Carry On. Even better: Sip your tea, nibble on a delicious cake or pastry and lose yourself in the sugary reverie of a lazy afternoon. Whether you’re a gourmet foodie on the prowl for the perfectly-formed macaron or you’re simply looking for a tea-time treat, this list of the best bakeries in London (well, we think so anyway) is the perfect place to start.
Bea’s of Bloomsbury
Escape into the recesses of Bea’s Boutique and enjoy fantastic dark drapery and naughty 50s cake stands featuring glittered cupcakes and miniature meringues. Sip on Lemon Verbena or Darjeeling tea as you sample the smorgasbord of miniature treats in their Afternoon Tea selection, or pick out the best from behind the fully-stocked glass cabinet of treats (including enormous pink meringues!) Bea’s offers amazing baked goods tucked into the cosy corner of a small shop in Theobald’s road, with a more recent addition to the trendy St Paul’s area.
Forget about French patisseries and dainty angel cakes: Candy Cakes will transform your bakery experience with their beautifully decorated works of art featuring the perfect fusion of decadent cakes and colourful candy. Their Covent Garden hideaway is a bright beacon that entices you in. You feel as if you’re walking into Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory with a massive Disney twist. Everything is luminous and fabulously kitsch and the cakes are out of this world. Pick out one of your favourite treats – a Lemon Smarties Burst cupcake perhaps, or an Alice in Candyland Cake – or pack up six of their finest in a take-away box.
Cinnamon Tree Bakery
A cup of tea and a biscuit goes a long way when you nibble on gorgeous Indian spiced elephants and beautiful sugar-dusted owls. The Cinnamon Tree Bakery makes the most beautiful handmade baked biscuits using 100% natural ingredients. Their signature shortbread owl biscuits are too cute to eat (but once you start… well, let’s just say you’d better pick up a couple when you visit them!). Their brownies are thick and solid, and their nutty shortbread wheels are the perfect size for a bit of 100% organic and completely well-deserved gluttony. Plus, they often do special rates when you buy one of each, which makes the trip extra worthwhile for a delicious teatime treat.
Outsider Tart is an American themed bakery with exceptionally wholesome and delicious baked goodies. Expect to find delicious pies, tarts, cakes and treats in this rustic cake shop in Chiswick and be delighted by piles of gorgeously decorated whoopie pies and luscious cakes, like the Mascarpone-iced Red Velvet extravaganza. David and David, the two New Yorkers who started the shop and lovingly bake all the incredible treats, also do a lot of touring around London’s food fairs and can sometimes be convinced to give free cake-making demonstrations with their amazing tips and tricks (and free cake afterwards, too).
Enter into a world of brown, cream and pastel pinks that welcomes you into the comfort of the Hummingbird Bakery: the ideal spot for a catch-up with your girlfriends or a spot of tea on a Saturday morning. The Hummingbird Bakery offers gourmet baked goodies with a wholesome and decadent edge, and they’ve also got an award-winning baking book packed with their favourite recipes from their bakery if you feel like trying your hand in the kitchen. Expect to find unusual (and exquisite!) Pumpkin Whoopie Pies right next to two-tone black-bottomed cupcakes. Oh, you’re still here?
Primrose is pretty in pink with polka dots and pastel stripes in a quintessential tea and cake shop featuring gorgeously-iced cupcakes and decadently rich cakes. They’re famous for their baking bible that’s packed with recipes that are, as Nigella says, ‘utterly enchanting’ so why not visit them and see what all the fuss is about? Sit back and relax as you enjoy their Earl Grey Cupcakes with a cuppa, or some Ginger Fudge Frosted Cake with your coffee. Camden is just a hop, skip and a jump away to complete your fabulous afternoon out.
Paul is a French family café present with beautiful gourmet shops all over London. The best one is the cart kiosk outside the Tower of London that serves gorgeously crisp palmiers with deep roasted coffee. Grab a curly pig’s ear, sit down on the bench and watch people marvel at the world’s favourite castle. Right next to the Tower Millennium Pier with plenty to feast your eyes on and some really great benches, this Paul is a fantastic bakery hideaway!
Biscuit Ceramic Factory
Nestled in market district of Greenwich, Biscuit is a fantastic bakery café that lets you grab a piece of decadent chocolate cake (completely over-iced to perfection with rich chocolate ganache) while you sip on freshly-brewed coffee and happily paint a ceramic item like a mug, piggy bank or statuette. Each ceramic is priced individually and there are hundreds to choose from – you could go home with an entire tea set! Choose a good window seat and enjoy watching the market shoppers hustle and bustle by.
I first encountered Claire Ptak’s Violet in the bustling Broadway Market in Hackney. Her cupcakes are superb: they make you think of home, of your grandmother’s cooking (with a colourful twist), and of fresh, organic and natural food that is just plain GOOD. Enjoy a French Apricot cupcake at home with a cup of tea, or nip into Claire’s beautiful rustic kitchen for a cupcake-baking class. Why not put together a taster plate of Violet miniatures, including a decadent Vanilla Bean Swirl, a gorgeous Rhubarb Cake and classic Mini Chocolate Cake.