There’s a high probability that, at some point during lockdown, you’ve thought to yourself, “I should probably try baking bread.” But now, you’ve probably realised that baking is hard and it’s even harder to do well. So now that you’ve moved on from your intimate relationship with your sourdough starter, here are some excellent new bakeries. They’ve all managed to open during the pandemic, they all offer takeout, and will all make you ghost your homemade banana bread recipe forever.
We’re not going to say something outrageous like we’ve never shed tears over a spicy sausage, but the merguez and garlic aioli flatbread at this new Victoria bakery made us more emotional than the average merguez. And it’s not all you should focus on either. The whole ‘flatbreads from the clay oven’ section of the menu reads like a carb lover’s dream that you’ll want to get involved in. We’re talking a chewy, fluffy base topped with things like fig, goats cheese, and ricotta, wagyu salami and honey mustard, or our personal favourite, the burrata and burnt honey flatbread. As well as all of that, they’re making everything from challah rolls and ka’ak, to vegan cinnamon buns and doughnuts. And if you’ve ever visited Dominique Ansel’s bakery which was at this Elizabeth Street spot before, you’ll be glad to know Chestnut Bakery have maintained the airy interiors and cutesy terrace, making it a great place to spend a few hours.
The same people behind Malaysian restaurant, Rasa Sayang have teamed up with a French patissier to open a new bakery in Covent Garden’s St Martin’s Courtyard. And the spread of pastries on their counter is the type of display you spend five minutes staring at before saying ‘just give me one of everything please’. They’ve got pistachio chocolate escargots, pineapple and mango danish pastries that look like a work of art, and a sweet honey butter toast that has the perfect fluff-to-crunch ratio. Warburtons could never. Everything here is pretty great, but that honey butter toast is a definite must.
Buns From Home
When a focaccia smells so good that we sprint to the nearest bench to bite off huge chunks of it, just know it’s pretty special. And the mammoth focaccia slice we got from this new bakery off Portobello Road was excellent. But you know what’s better? It’s not even the best thing we’ve had at this lockdown-project-turned-bakery, Buns From Home. They specialise in croissant buns, essentially double-baked, layered croissant dough with a range of different flavours like cinnamon or cardamom. They also do savoury ones topped with avocados or pulled chicken, and dessert buns, which is the same croissant pastry, filled with things like custard cream, tiramisu, cheesecake, or whichever special is on when you happen to be there.
There’s always room for exciting new food in London but, more than anything, there’s always room for an exciting new sandwich. Put it on a plate and there may be pause. Put it between two slices and it’s down the pie hole immediately. This occurred to us at Panadera - an impeccable Filipino bakery in Kentish Town from the Mamasons people while eyeing up the corned beef sando on the menu. And what a sandwich it is. Soft and crunchy thanks to the deep fried corned beef patty. Lovely little chunks of potato flecked throughout. Sweetness from the pandesal - a Filipino milk bread - combined with a tart sauce, a wipe of mayo, and a bit of lettuce for moral support. It’s the sort of sandwich you can expect to queue for, but don’t expect to be disappointed. You can get whole loaves of their excellent pandesal bread as well as other baked things.
Another lockdown creation, this bakery was started by two hospitality professionals providing supplies to their local community and NHS workers. It turned into a hole in the wall bakery (soon to be pop-up cafe) serving up some of the best raspberry doughnuts you can get in London, as well as a whole load of baked goods. From potato sourdough and doughnuts, to sausage rolls and delicious pies filled with everything from steak and ale, to mac and cheese, you can get it all here, and it will be tasty. They also deliver.
When your commitment to great bread means you’re willing to spend between 15 and 30 minutes queueing in the rain, then Sourdough Sophia is for you. As the name suggests, the specialty here is baked goods, and while their baguettes and loaves are reason enough to make this a destination, you shouldn’t snooze on their (pre-order only) chocolate babka, expensive but fun specials like a pretzel croissant triangle sandwich with smoked salmon, herby shmear and apple, a Ferrero Rocher-inspired cruffin, or a 10/10 sausage roll. If you want to skip the queue, all of their baked goods are available for click and collect, however their excellent Gentleman Barista coffee is not.