Every country has its own unique baking traditions — and happily for Londoners, there's a vast number of bakeries where you can enjoy these (we originally started with a list of around 150). So whether you’re looking for Ghanaian bo-flot doughnuts, Chinese bamboo charcoal buns, or Lithuanian rye sourdough perfumed with calamus leaves, look no further. Here’s our round-up of the best London bakeries with international flavours, most of which are family-run artisanal venues rather than large chains.
St John Bakery Druid Street
This quintessentially British bakery grew out of Fergus Henderson’s renowned restaurants, so great was the demand for their fine breads and baked goods. It’s open at weekends at the Druid Street market, and specialises in slow-fermented breads. These include sourdough that has proved for 40 hours, and white loaves that take an astonishing 72 hours to produce. Their eccles cakes (served with Lancashire cheese at their restaurants) are truly legendary; and their feather-light doughnuts are massively popular. They also sell top-quality Chelsea buns, hot cross buns and other traditional English bakes.
St John Bakery, 72 Druid Street, London SE1 2HQ. St John has several restaurants, including one in nearby Maltby Street
Patisserie Sainte Anne
Established for over 20 years in Paris, this French bakery moved to Hammersmith in August 2014. They sell baguettes, boules, pain de campagne, éclairs, millefeuilles, tarts, croissants, brioches, florentines, chouquettes and more. Everything is freshly made on site using organic flour sourced from a Gloucestershire mill, French butter and Belgian chocolate.
Patisserie Sainte Anne, 204 King Street, W6 0RA
This beautiful Islington cake boutique sells a wide range of baked treats, including mont blanc gateau, apple alsacienne tart, fraisier celebration cake, long brioche sticks, tropezienne, croquembouche for weddings, French confectionery and savoury quiches. Their signature cake, originally created by owner Eric Rousseau for his wife Hulya, is an elaborate confection of flavours and textures. It’s made from orange crème brulee, Valrhona dark chocolate mousse, crunchy orange streusel, praline, chocolate sponge, chocolate glaze and chocolate pearls. Can you resist it?
Belle Epoque, 262 Upper Street, Islington N1 2UQ. Other branches are in Newington Green and Selfridges
The name ‘Poilâne’ is synonymous with the word ‘sourdough’. The brand’s famous round loaves are made from stone-ground flour, sea salt and decades-old naturally-occurring yeasts, baked in wood-fired ovens. All these things are rather commonplace now — but this 80-plus year old Parisian brand, which opened its London branch over 15 years ago, was a pioneer. The crusty breads with soft cream-coloured crumb are a popular presence in supermarkets and at dinner parties. The shop also sells cookies and other sweet treats.
Poilâne, 46 Elizabeth Street, Belgravia, SW1W 9PA
Multi award-winning pastry chef Joakim Prat, who’s worked in several Michelin-star restaurants, has opened a speciality patisserie in South Kensington. It claims to be the only one in the world dedicated to all things choux — that lightest and fluffiest of all French pastries. There are gorgeous éclairs, filled choux buns and chouquettes (little pearl sugar-studded nuggets eaten as breakfast or snack). Prat and his team start baking everything in their kitchen below the shop at midnight for the following day; and all the items are freshly filled and decorated on site. Choose from pistachio éclairs, banana and caramel choux, and many other seasonal pastries: they're all crisp on the outside and light-as-clouds within.
Maitre Choux, 15 Harrington Road, South Kensington, SW7 3ES
This mini-chain of quiet, chic, uncluttered Scandinavian bakery-cafés is a great place to stop by for fika — that wonderful Scandinavian custom of unwinding over coffee and nibbles. The bakery is renowned for its dark rye bread open sandwiches and rustic Finnish-style cinnamon buns; but they also sell several other buns, Finnish coffee cake with dates, and classic Swedish tosca cake with crisp almond caramel.
Nordic Bakery, 14a Golden Square, Soho W1F 9JG. Other branches are in Marylebone and near Baker Street
This Swedish bakery in Covent Garden might be tiny but it’s hugely popular. You’ll find traditional cakes flavoured with coffee, fruit or almonds, beautifully packaged biscuits in 200g bags, blueberry buns, sugar pretzels, a range of fruit and nut tarts, blackcurrant rye breads and lingonberry loaves. There are festive specialities all year round; plus a speciality sandwich cake filled with savoury salad fillings. Don’t miss their semlor (Lenten) buns when available. Everything is freshly baked daily.
Bageriet, 24 Rose Street, WC2E 9EA
Specialising in sourdough bread hand-cooked slowly in a stone oven, this Stockholm bakery is also much-loved for its cinnamon buns and semlor buns. Our favourite is their fragrant cardamom buns — they’re incredibly moreish and almost impossible to resist. This Shoreditch branch is where they do all the baking.
Fabrique, Arch 385, Geffrye Street, Shoreditch E2 8HZ. Other branches are in Notting Hill and Covent Garden
Set up by two New Yorkers, David Lesniak and David Muniz, this Chiswick bakery and café sells a large selection of cakes, cupcakes, cheesecakes, muffins, brownies and cookies. The bakery grew out of a small stall at Richmond farmers’ market, where they introduced the whoopie pie to Londoners ahead of the trend. From their home-style bakes, try cowboy brownies, graham cracker cakes, Southern apple cupcakes, ‘pride of Iowa’ cookies and peanut butter whoopie pies. Everything is baked daily on site — including ‘pupcakes’ and other treats for dogs.
Outsider Tart, 83 Chiswick High Road, W4 2EF. Also available at Southbank Centre Market and Real Food Market
Established for over a decade, this popular chain sells home-style American cupcakes, layer cakes, brownies, fruit pies, traybakes, cheesecakes and whoopee pies. The brand was instrumental in introducing the cupcake trend to the UK; their best-selling red velvet is one of London’s most iconic cakes. They also have an imaginative gluten-free range. Somewhat unusually for a chain, all six branches have on-site kitchens where everything is freshly baked and decorated.
The Hummingbird Bakery, 155a Wardour Street, Soho W1F 8WG. Other branches in Richmond, South Kensington, Notting Hill, Spitalfields and Islington
Bread is an essential part of German cuisine and Bakehaus is among the best German bakeries in London. Their loaves are made from their own sourdough starter, without the use of pre-mixed flours. It’s hard to find 100% rye bread in the capital, so no wonder it’s a bestselling item here. Other goodies include berliners (jam doughnuts), bienenstich-plunder (almond pastries), and rolls such as kaiser and Alsatian baked on stones. There are freshly cut sandwiches and filled lye bagels, too; plus several traditional cakes, including German cheesecake and poppy seed tart. Everything is baked on site.
Bakehaus, 71 King Street, Hammersmith, W6 9HW
This cosy, good-looking patisserie and café in Ealing Broadway sells Japanese-influenced cakes, pastries and buns; plus fluffy white bread that’s so soft it’s like eating clouds. Try matcha swiss roll made from green tea from Kyoto and aduki beans, white sesame cheesecake, black sesame brioche, purple sweet potato bread, and melon bread that’s shaped like — rather than flavoured with — melons. There are savoury items, too, such as Japanese curry buns and teriyaki chicken-topped rolls; plus sandwiches and rolls filled with the likes of pumpkin croquettes. Visit on Saturdays, when they have the widest selection. There are a surprisingly large number of Japanese bakeries in London, but this is one of the best.
Wa Café, 32 Haven Green, Ealing W5 2NX
Part-bakery, part-pizzeria, this buzzy Milanese venue sells freshly baked Italian breads, pizzas, cakes and sandwiches. Breads include classic focaccia, olive sfilatino and spinach and ricotta rustici; plus there are pastries, tarts and desserts like pistachio girella, cannoli Siciliani, cannoncini and strawberry crostata. All the cakes, such as torta caprese and almond and apricot tart, are in particularly high demand.
Princi, 135 Wardour Street, W1F 0UT
There are always long (but fast-moving) queues outside this 40-year-old, 24-hour bakery, one of London’s best-loved and most iconic. The bagels — which are first boiled and then baked, as is traditional — is what the clubbers, shift-workers and taxi drivers come for. All the classic fillings such as salt beef and mustard, smoked salmon and cream cheese, and chopped herring are present and correct. The bakery also sells cheesecakes, apple strudel and danish pastries. A couple of doors down, Beigel Shop is also worth a visit.
Beigel Bake, 159 Brick Lane, E1 6SB
This north London institution is another London legend: it claims to have introduced the boiled-and-baked bagel making technique to the capital. The unassuming, friendly venue specialises in handmade bagels baked in stone ovens, and other traditional breads such as cholla, made from flour ground in an 18th century mill. There are also sweet and savoury pastries such as bourekas, hamantaschen and rugelach; plus biscuits, cakes and sandwiches.
Carmelli Bakeries, 126-128 Golders Green Road, NW11 8HB
Also famous is this 100-plus year old bakery, run by the fourth generation Rinkoff family originally from Ukraine. It’s been recently grabbing the limelight due to its hugely popular crodoughs (croissant doughnuts — a version of New York pastry chef Dominique Ansel’s cronuts). Salted caramel and pistachio is a runaway bestseller, but there are around 10 flavours, including seasonal and festive varieties.
The bakery also sells traditional Jewish items like bagels, cholla bread and cholla rolls; plus varieties that are hard to find elsewhere, such as platzels, kitkas, black-and-white marble rye bread with caraway seeds, and heimasha cheesecake. Always one step ahead of baking trends, Rinkoff has recently started selling chocolate babka, the festive Polish marbled cake that’s rapidly rising in popularity.
Rinkoff Bakery, 224 Jubilee Street, E1 3BS
This long-established patisserie and café is renowned for its scrumptious pastel de nata (Portuguese custard tarts), which sell out quickly at weekends. Also on display are Portuguese boler cakes, cheesecake-like queijada that are a speciality of Sintra, breads such as pao de deus and pao de leite, pastries like brisas, and linguas de gato cookies. Staff are helpful, but it helps if you know what you’re looking for.
Lisboa Patisserie, 57 Goldborne Road, W10 5NR
This friendly family-run bakery has been around for over 100 years and is an important part of the local Greek community. There’s a wide selection of baked treats, including sesame-topped cheese and raisin bread, halloumi bread, almond syrup pastries, ricotta and cinnamon pastries, bulgur wheat and minced meat pasties, and tahini pie. Everything is freshly baked on site using centuries old recipes handed down through the generations.
Lefteris Bakery, 23 Green Lanes, Palmers Green, N13 4TN
Crowned ‘London’s Best Bakery’ by ITV’s ‘Britain’s Best Bakery’ programme in 2012, Aroma is located on the other end of Green Lanes, and is also family-owned. A wide selection of Greek baked goods includes bracelet-like sesame-flecked koulouri bread, feta rolls, halloumi pitta with onions and mint, sweet tahini and cinnamon pitta, baklava, loukoumades (little honey syrup-drenched doughnuts) and doukissa (chocolate biscuit cake). Don’t miss their own-made ice creams, only available in spring and summer months. The venue is popular with Greek celebrities, footballers and soap stars.
Aroma Patisserie, 424-426 Green Lanes, Palmers Green, N13 5XG
First Choice Bakers
First Choice is the UK’s largest producer of Jamaican patties, with a great selection of flavours. The friendly, cosy Brixton branch also sells freshly baked duck bread, drop buns, Caribbean bread pudding, coco bread, hard dough bread rolls, spiced rock cakes and more.
First Choice Bakers, 40 Atlantic Road, Brixton SW9 8JW. Another branch is in Croydon
A popular neighbourhood bakery, Rainbow sells West Indian mongoose bread, butter bread, coco bread, a small selection of sweet breads and buns, Jamaican patties, pineapple cakes, coconut drops and sweet potato pudding. Staff are friendly and knowledgeable.
Rainbow Bakery, 596 Kingsland Road, Dalston, E8 4AH
The widest choice of Chinese mooncakes and sweet and savoury buns is to be found in the various small bakeries of Chinatown — we can’t walk past without dropping into one (and, often, all) of them.
The buns and cakes are usually flavoured with red beans, green tea, lotus seeds, taro, purple yam, salted egg yolks, sesame seeds, chestnuts, peanuts, coconuts, pandan leaves, custard or barbecued pork. Breads and cakes tend to be amazingly feather-light and fluffy; and the pastries, crisp and flaky.
Hong Kong-style bakery and snack bar Sun Luen (14 Little Newport Street, WC2H 7JJ) sells delicious pineapple ‘bolo’ buns, spring onion buns, winter melon cakes, century egg cakes and dough sticks. At nearby Chinatown Bakery (7 Newport Place, WC2H 7JR), you’ll find pumpkin buns, chicken floss buns and red bean rolls.
Over in Gerrard Street, Kowloon Bakery (21-22 Gerrard Street, W1D 6JH) is the place to go for cocktail buns, duck pastry, red bean mochi and sesame seed balls. However, the main bakery here is the renowned Wonderful Patisserie (45 Gerrard Street, W1D 5QQ), famous for its seasonal mooncakes, pandan cakes, and Chinese breads and biscuits. More contemporary than other traditional bakeries in the area, it sells items that are not easy to find, such as bamboo charcoal buns. Their brightly coloured cakes, decorated with cute elephants, monkeys, pandas and dragons, divide opinion, however.
Close by in Macclesfield Street, the Golden Gate Cake Shop (13 Macclesfield Street, W1D 5BR) is worth a visit for its pandan swiss rolls, brown sugar coconut buns and kaya (Southeast Asian coconut jam) buns. The quality of mooncakes at all these venues is high.
Located in Westfield Stratford City shopping centre, this tiny bakery — open on all three sides — has the feel of a market stall. It’s owned by a family whose members hail from Russia, Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine. There’s an excellent selection of rye breads — the largest we’ve seen in London — many of which have won the Great Taste Awards. You’ll have difficulty choosing between Lithuanian scalded rye sourdough baked on calamus leaves, Russian borodinsky with coriander seeds, potato, honey and caraway seed loaf, and roasted onion and dill bread.
There are also a few cakes, including the legendary Russian Napoleon cake; plus pastries like the bestselling cream cheese and blueberry vatrushka. We like their savoury biscuits and crackers, too. Many items are available to taste by the entrance.
Karaway, Westfield Stratford City, Olympic Park, Montfichet Road, E20 1EJ. There’s also a Borough Market stall
Indian (and Middle Eastern) naan bakeries have been opening up all over the capital in recent years. The naans — which come in many flavours and are wonderfully cheap — are all freshly baked at these small bakeries. Head to Southall for home-style Punjabi breads.
The Naan Dokan 3 (141 The Broadway, Southall, Middlesex UB1 1LP) was one of the first to open. It sells warm, soft garlic, cheese, chilli, sesame and minced lamb naans and kulchas. Nearby The Naan Shop is a newcomer, and is just as good. It sells plain and wholemeal naans, kulchas, roghni naans, and ones flavoured with fresh garlic, chilli, cheese and even chocolate.
Uncle John’s Bakery
This long-established Ghanaian bakery bakes very soft, sweet, vanilla-flavoured bread according to a centuries-old family recipe. It also sells Ghanaian cocoa bread, butter bread, spicy ‘buns bread’, fresh coconut cake, and spiced bo-flot doughnuts that are eaten as a street food in Ghana.
Uncle John’s Bakery, 76 West Green Road, Tottenham, N15 5NS
It’s worth visiting New Malden for its Korean restaurants and food shops — but no visit would be complete without dropping into this small bakery. It sells red bean pies, custard cream balls, mocha rolls, chocolate custard buns, butter cookies, marbled castella sponge cakes, vegetable doughnuts and sticky rice doughnuts. Everything is freshly made on site.
Hyun’s Bakery, 94 Burlington Road, New Malden KT3 4NT
This friendly bakery specialises in Turkish breads such as pide, and pastries like baklava. The gözleme — pancake-like flatbreads with different toppings — are delicious.
Akdeniz Bakery, 60 Stoke Newington High Street, N16 7PB
Pan de Vie
British Hong Kong-born entrepreneur Paul Cheung’s smart new two-floor ‘cakery’ specialises in French cakes with pan-Asian flavours, in particular matcha. The fashionable green tea features in their light castella loaf, low-sugar aduki bean mousse, white chocolate muffins and speciality custard charcoal buns. Other items include a range of stuffed curry buns, black sesame mousse cake, sesame sables and yuzu cheesecake. You can sit down to eat all these gorgeous goodies in their attractive lower ground floor café area.
Pan de Vie, 5 New Row, Covent Garden, WC2N 4LH
We’re frequent visitors to this cute, dainty little bakery-café that’s something of a hidden gem. It sells chef Masayuki Hara’s Japanese-influenced French cakes and macarons; plus a great range of teas from Sri Lanka. There’s a daily-changing choice of around 20-25 beautiful, freshly baked cakes (listed on its Facebook page). These include green tea chocolate gateau, white chocolate gateau with aduki beans, and yuzu mousse. Ingredients for most items are listed on the website; and the wonderfully friendly and polite staff will advise you if you have special dietary needs.
Lanka, 9 Goldhurst Terrace, NW6 3HX
Do you know any other top London bakeries with international flavours? We would particularly love to hear about Scottish, Irish and Lebanese bakeries, as we couldn't find these.