On your mark.. get set.. bake!
I might not be the only one that, until recent years, had no idea what ‘lamination’ or ‘soggy bottom’ meant, at least within the context of eating. The Great British Bake Off made baking trendy when it appeared on our screens in 2010 and since then, amateurs and professionals alike have been baking, eating and sharing knowledge on cakes and breads, from the most common, daily items (croissants and rolls) to some lesser known and regional specialties (kouign-amann and croquembouche).
London – with such incredible diversity in its food landscape – offers the opportunity to try all sorts of delights: modern, traditional, home grown, foreigners… who doesn’t love a pastry or a slice of cake?
In fact, since becoming a fan of the show, I got into baking myself. The book that followed the very first series is one of my most used cookbook, I am the proud owner of a well used K mix and I simply really enjoy baking. Sadly, I eat less than I would like to, but that’s another story.
On social media too, baking is also very popular with some trendy bakeshops appearing here and there with their fancy bakes and colourful frontage (have a look at Supermoon Bakery in NYC). As the current series of the show comes to an end and the winner gets crowded this week, here is my take on some of London’s best bakeries (in no particular order)
The Scandinavian: Bageriet
Tucked away in a pedestrian alley in the ever popular Covent Garden, just behind the shopping mecca of Long Acre, is this Nordic bakery, not to be confused with the chain actually called Nordic Bakery.
Bageriet is a tiny Swedish bakery and café with only a couple of tables and a window showcasing the classic Scandinavian pastry which is the cinnamon roll. Inside, just before the coffee counter, other specialties are on display, a wide array of cakes and biscuits. Their cinnamon roll is delicate and light, not too sweet and with a great balance of the warming spice. Do not miss their apple mazarin, a small tart with an almond heart covered by apple slices, sweet and luscious.
For more Nordic delights, we also love chains Ole & Steen (the chocolate rye bread is a great lighter option) while Nordic Bakery and Fabrique are decent options too.
Sadly, none of these bakeries is dog friendly.
24 Rose St, London WC2E 9EA,
The vintage: Rinkoff
One of the more traditional, established London bakeries, Rinkoffs exudes old world charm. Their actual bakery is near Whitechapel but their deli – just east of Spitalfieds – has been opened in the same spot since the early 1900s and, we suspect, has changed little since. Hyman Rinkoff came over from the Ukraine in 1911 with his treasured recipes and opened his first shop in East London; the family still runs the business today. Visiting reminded me of my vintage diners‘ search in NYC.
Their offer staples such as sandwiches, challah breads, sourdoughs and cakes but their beautiful pastries are what make it really worth stopping by. Their Crodough is the London answer to the Cronut and we think it’s way better too. No plastic flowers and instagrammable entrance, no plastic menus and no queues, this is the real thing. A few days before we’d infact visited the famous Dominique Ansel bakery in Victoria, with high expectations and actually, we hated it (the pastries were great but everything else was awful).
We loved Rinkoff’s peanut butter and jam and the chocolate crodough options, yet they are all mouth-watering and a delight to look at. For those who do not feel like a laminated bake, the chocolate and salted caramel brownie is scrumptious. Grab a cuppa and watch the world go by from one of the window seats.
224 Jubilee Street
London, E1 3BS
79 Vallance Road
London, E1 5BS
The creative: Pophams
Pophams is one of those cases where they hype that followed their opening (in October 2017) is completely justified. Their premises are in a purpose built block not far from Angel tube and the shops of Islington but far enough that there is no casual foot fall, one does need to come here specifically for Pophams (unless of course, you’re lucky enough to live next to them) and it’s totally worth it. A small venue with enough outdoor seating spaces if you come here early (forget a seat when it gets busy), very good coffee (they use Ozone beans) and minimalistic décor. Of course, they offer perfect sourdough breads and a selection of sweet and savoury viennoiserie which is as unique as it is appetising.
They often come up with new flavour combinations, but they are always consistent in the quality of the bakes which come out of their ovens perfectly crispy, golden brown and full of the most incredible toppings; we tried a moreish peanut butter, jam & banana, an original strawberry & basil custard and a classic, gorgeous pain au chocolat.
19 Prebend St
London, N1 8PF
The traditional: Old Post Office Bakery
In south London (Clapham to be precise) the Old Post Office bakery has been making locals and visitors happy for a long time with their traditional breads, pastries and tray bakes. They also sell their products to a number of local retailers and as well as farmers’ markets. In fact, we confess we’ve ever actually visited the bakery itself, but we’ve been buying their products from our local green grocers’ for years now.
Crispy, light, buttery croissants and pain au chocolate are side by side classics such as Eccles cakes and apple turnover and savoury options (sausage rolls) as well as flapjacks and brownies. A large selection of breads is available too, from white bloomers to ciabatta, from olive focaccia to dark rye loaves. This is a proper, old school bakery.
Old Post Office Bakery
76 Landor Rd, London SW9 9PH
The Italian: Princi
The London branch of this Milanese bakery opened about a decade ago and quickly established itself as a ‘destination’ for the Soho crowds, especially as it is open in the evening and has ovens that continually produce delectable Italian pizza by the slice and beautiful breads. I still remember their opening period, when it was super busy and all of us, expats, would go get some lunch or pastries. Today it is still going strong and still very popular.
In the morning, the long elegant counter displays plenty of pastries and breakfast options in various sizes side by side to the savoury pizza trays, focaccia and deli items. The glass displays have also a large section dedicated to cakes (mostly Italian specialties), sliced and ready to be eaten on site in the spacious dining area or taken away. If you love chocolate, you will have a hard choice picking one among the various types and flavours!
135 Wardour St, Soho, London W1F 0UT
Other bakeries we like and are worth mentioning in our view are Gail’s (various locations), Bread Ahead (various locations), St John’s Bakery and Jacob the Angel in Neal Yard’s, Balthazaar and Galeta (wholesale).
Have I missed anything? Let me know!