No one can deny that freshly baked bread is one of the best things in the world, but making the best bread around takes true skill, plenty of experience and a nod to tradition. The same goes for traditional patisseries – only experienced, authentic pastry chefs with a steady hand need apply. So if you’re hankering after a sweet treat, or a bit of crusty bread to dip into your winter soup, and if you’re looking for the finest authentic patisseries and traditional breads this side of Europe, then head to the capital to sample the wares of the best and oldest bakeries in London.
The Old Post Office Bakery could be London’s oldest bakery – it certainly claims the title! It has been going for over thirty years and was founded when German-born Karl Heinz Rossbach arrived in London and started making traditional breads in 1982. His attention to detail and desire for simple, good food led to an increased demand for his sourdough loaves and handmade and nutritious breads.
The Old Post Office Bakery is still 100% organic and only uses the finest ingredients to produce no-nonsense, no-fuss and honest-to-goodness baked breads, pastries, savouries and cakes. They’re based in South London just off Clapham High Street and can be found at the many delicious food markets across London including Broadgate Market, Brixton Farmer’s market, Marylebone Farmer’s Market, and Oval Farmer’s Market.
Another contender for London’s oldest bakery is the Brick Lane Beigel Bake. If you’ve ever picked up a guide to East London then you’ll know that your trip there is not complete without a visit to the this small shop operating out of London’s fabulously vibrant East End. Operating since 1977, this beigel (not ‘bagel’!) shop churns out hundreds of baked goods a day and attracts visitors from far and wide. The sweet, yeasty smell fills the air for miles around at all times day and night – especially as the deli is open 24/7.
These authentic beigels are boiled before baking and are sweet and doughy. Pick out your preferred filling from the many on offer, or opt for a slice of salted beef cut while you wait. There are many other baked goods available too but nothing compares to the Brick Lane Beigel!
Want something fancier and a little older? Then head over to Soho and visit Maison
Bertaux who claim to be London’s best bakers since 1871. With a distinctive French heritage, Maison Bertaux is the kind of historical bakery you’d expect to find in the side streets of Paris. Instead, it is nestled in the trendy area of Soho and serves delicate French pastries and gorgeous baked goods from 9am until 10pm. Founded almost 150 years ago, this bakery has changed owners but has never deviated from the traditional method of making baked treats, making it one of the oldest patisseries in London.
While strictly a patisserie, this delicious yeasty retreat offers a nod to traditional methods of baking and is the perfect venue for those wishing to escape the hustle and bustle of contemporary London.
If you love the taste and heritage of traditional baking techniques, but you want something distinctly modern, a visit to Cornwall Road’s Konditor & Cook bakery comes highly recommended, especially if you’re after a slice of the sublime. Konditor & Cook are London bakers with a difference. Conceptualised in 1983 by German-born Gerhard Jenne, it has been in its current unique venue since 1993 when head chef Gerhard made a name for the venue by taking a funkier approach to traditional confectionary. No predictable sugar spires and royal cake decorations for Gerhard, he opted instead for the “Curly Whirly Cake” which has since become a shop icon. Konditor & Cook’s Magic Cakes have made celebrity history, and many of their funky creations revitalised London’s baking scene and have created a new go-to venue featuring one of London’s best bakers. With only 30 years of baking fame (and many more before of apprenticing, perfecting and pastry-making), Gerhard is a relative new-comer to London’s baking scene, but he has inherited an age-old tradition of fine baking with a flair of modern colour and taste combinations that make him an essential addition to this list.
Back to more traditional fare, we have the Ticino Bakery in Bermondsey. This venue has real history behind it. Run by the Gianelli family with a long history of baking in their bloodline, this is one of the best bakeries in London and specializes in producing amazing Italian bread. With 40 years of baking behind them, they’re very insistent on keeping things traditional which means that their dough undergoes a long fermentation process to produce a superior sourdough making for exceptional “artisan” bread. Perfect for soup and suppers alike.
If you want something different, escape from the city with the Old Bakery in London and experience a quaint spot rich in tradition and English heritage. Nestled inside a former 17th century farmhouse, this bakery is located in the heart of the very peaceful, old-fashioned Winchmore Hill near to the village green. The house’s history of baking goes way back, occupied by the village baker since centuries ago. In fact, the building is protected for its historic value, making it as much a tourist attraction as a stop-off for bready treats. It has changed hands a few times, but is now proudly operating as one of London’s Oldest Bakeries which has been operated by the current family since 1978.
Rounding things off with a truly venerable venue, we have the Patisserie Valerie in Old Compton Street. Bearing the title of Soho’s oldest cake spot, this shop was originally opened in 1926 in Frith Street. It took the destruction of WW2 bombing to get them to move to their current location! A bit of a bang didn’t deter the owners from producing exceptional treats though; they’ve enjoyed success sufficient to open multiple branches across London and further afield. One can still visit the oldest site though, and all venues retain an old-fashioned café ambience that goes perfectly with their scrumptious fare. The icing on the cake: the Patisserie specializes in sweet treats! If you’re a fan of truffles and tarts and are on the search for one of London’s finest patisseries with a solid traditional heritage, this is the spot for you.
While many establishments may claim to be the oldest bakery in London, the proof is in the pudding – or the bread! Use this list as a guide to some of the finest spots in the capital city, but don’t be afraid to explore as you catch a whiff of freshly-baked bread coming out of an oven. You’ll discover all sorts of amazing hidden gems in London as you explore the winding streets and follow your nose as it leads you to gorgeous bakeries and perfect patisseries.