Nothing quite beats the smell of a freshly baked sourdough loaf, a batch of warm cinnamon buns or the indulgence of a light, fluffy, cream-filled doughnut. Whether you’re enjoy a pastry with your coffee of a morning or tucking into a cruty ham and cheese roll at lunch, we’ve rounded up our favourite bakeries the capital has to offer and what we recommend you enjoy from them.
Chocolate and Almond Croissants
With bakeries scattered around London, from Crouch End to Portobello, Soho to Victoria Park (the latter opening soon), Gail’s is The Handbook’s go to for baked morning treats. Depending on our mood that morning, we might get a latte and a bran muffin or a sweet chai and a croissant; but let us be clear – it’s not just any croissant. It’s the most indulgent, delicious, sweet, sticky pastry fusing the classic pain au chocolate with the moist marzipan goodness of an almond croissant – the chocolate almond croissant. Try it to believe it!
Salt beef bagels
Baking over 7,000 bagels a night, East London’s Beigel Bake is an institution. Situated on bustling Brick Lane, it’s not only a late night stop for post-club carb-loading; the bagels (filled with hunks of hot salt beef or smoked salmon and cream cheese) are great for quick lunches on the move or comforting early morning breakfasts. And they’re super affordable too – think less that £5 for a bagel and a hot drink. Once you’ve tried the ‘beigel’ make sure you go back for an onion platzel and a chola roll.
Where: 159 Brick Lane, E1 6SB
The Handbook still remembers the time well, when we ventured through the crowds of Borough Market on a wet Friday morning to hunt down the utterly indulgent images of Bread Ahead’s custard-filled doughnuts. And low and behold, we found them: row upon row of golden sphere-shaped dough, bursting with sweet, creamy custard. Created by the experts behind Flour Power and St John’s Bakery, expect fillings including classic jam and vanilla custard, bananas & malt, and The Handbook’s favourite, salted caramel with a square of honeycomb bedded into the cream…
There are various ways to counter stress – going for a run, a spot of yoga, eating cakes… But baking also boasts therapeutic qualities for some, providing you with the calming process of kneading the dough but also rewarding you with a warm, freshly baked loaf at the end of it! E5 Bakehouse in London Fields hosts various baking classes, from cake and pastry lessons to cookery and pizza making. The standard One Day Bread Making class is suitable for all levels and focuses on the essentials of sourdough baking, providing you with the perfect bread for your smashed avo on toast.
Where: e5 Bakehouse, Arch 395, Mentmore Terrace, Hackney, E8 3PH
When The Handbook had many a meeting in Farringdon, the mini Bea’s bakery on the corner by the station was a regular haunt for coffee and croissants to go. The flagship is only a short walk away in Bloomsbury, offering a sit-down service with seating inside for afternoon teas and light lunches. Alongside an assortment of cupcakes and brownies sits the duffin – a doughnut muffin fusion that’s both light, fluffy and perfectly filling come your 4pm tea break. A jammy centre makes for a tasty surprise too.
Swedish Cinnamon Buns
When the original opened in Hoxton, The Handbook was a weekend regular, tucking into Fabrique’s sticky cinnamon buns week in, week out. Though absolutely worth it, it was a fair old trip for a West London-based guide, so we were over the moon when we heard that the Swedish bakery had opened more centrally in Covent Garden and then either further west in Notting Hill. Rejoice! And if you’re not in to cinnamon, the cardamom buns are another huge hit – enjoy with a Swedish latte.
The Primrose Bakery is the ultimate cupcake haven. With three cafes in London, including South Kensington and Covent Garden, The Handbook likes a long walk through Regent’s Park to the original in, you guessed it, Primrose Hill. Baking fresh every day, the bakery only uses the finest ingredients – think free range eggs and organic produce – to make a variety of heavenly cupcake flavours. Work your way through their daily specials – think coffee and walnut Tuesdays, Malteser Thursdays and cookie dough Saturdays alongside a host of other flavours including classics like vanilla, chocolate and red velvet.