Warning: just reading this article will make you gain weight.
Brick House Bakery
The whole of south London went crazy for sourdough when these guys started baking it San Francisco style. Their slowly fermented loaves are spectacular, crested creations with swooping crusts and a bubbly crumb — it's no wonder they've won loads of awards. Their café is a large, bright space where you can buy loaves, cakes, sandwiches and salads, including a killer brussels sprout caesar. Our favourite sandwich is their fish fingers with tartare sauce. But to be honest it's hard to go wrong from the regularly changing menu.
Brick House Bakery, 1 Zenora Street, SE22 8HP
Little Bread Pedlar
Another of the finest bakeries in the whole of London, the sourdough from LBP is fantastic, with an open textured crumb and dark, chewy crust. They make much more than bread here, however, including some stunning Viennoiserie. We can't recommend their croissants or custard Danish high enough — the only problem is you'll find it hard to eat any others for the rest of your days. Their crowning glory has to be the kougin amann, a classic Breton pastry which is a bit like a caramelised croissant, layers of dough folded with plenty of butter, plus sugar and salt to make the ultimate in sweet-savoury treats. Again, there's no going back.
Little Bread Pedlar, Unit 4-6 Spa Business Park, Dockely Road SE16 3FJ. Opening hours at the bakery itself are limited so see their website for details of opening hours and stockists.
Ayres is brilliant because it's what you would describe as an old school bakery. You'll find plenty of classics here to reminisce over with a cup of tea — a welcome break from the hardcore sourdough style that dominates nowadays. We love their Reese's peanut butter cup chocolate tarts and crackly crust poppy seed white loaves. Open since 1955 as a family business and still going strong.
Ayres Bakery, 131–133 Evelina Road, SE15 3HB
St John Bakery
St John Bakery really did step up the quality of baking in London single-handedly and they still turn out some classic products. Their bread can be matched elsewhere but some of the other goodies are peerless, such as the Eccles cake. Available in large and miniature sizes, the sugar crusted pastry flakes apart, then melts in the mouth, its raisin filling dense and rich with real depth of flavour. It does go perfectly with a lump of sharp cheese, as they serve it in their Clerkenwell restaurant, although we also love one with just a strong cup of tea.
St John Bakery, 72 Druid Street, SE1 2HQ. Open to the public on weekends only but stocked all over London, see website for details.
Fatties became renowned for its outstanding caramels — a far cry from the hard pennies you find rattling at the bottom of the chocolate tin. This salted golden elixir runs through all Chloe's creations, including her incredible brownies, which are soaked with puddles of the stuff — irresistible. The reason her products are so good is that she won't compromise on ingredients or methods, using fresh cream, organic butter and Halen Mon salt and spending time making sure the sugar is properly caramelised for depth of flavour.
Fatties Bakery, Druid Street Market, Saturdays but see website for stockists