We will not get into the difficulties and sadness that comes with trying to find good dessert in the UK, but instead, provide you with a list of the major chain bakeries that you will see throughout London. We have reviews for some of these in our review section, but suffice it to say, you are not in America! Do keep in mind that these are chains and we generally encourage frequenting independent bakeries, but there are times where you just need a quick sugar fix and no matter where in town you are, you’ll likely have easy access to at least one of these.
Each of the establishments listed below has their own personality, range of offerings, and strengths and weaknesses. Also, other than Patisserie Valerie, has a loyalty card, which you can have stamped each time to ultimately collect a free treat. And in all seriousness, while we don’t believe any of these are the best bakery in London, they are all of a certain quality, have many fans, and are pretty reliable.
Bea’s of Bloomsbury
Out of the bakeries listed here, we’ve found Bea’s of Bloomsbury to be our favorite and consistently produce the highest quality products of the bunch. They offer the classic sponge cakes (carrot, chocolate, red velvet) as well as a variety of cupcakes and other baked goods such as brownies, cheesecake, and coffee cakes. They also do a full afternoon tea service, which seems to be well regarded, though we haven’t partaken in the experience ourselves. We have, however, custom ordered two cakes from this bakery for special occasions and each has been quite delicious. Website
Hummingbird Bakery is an American-style bakery, with traditional baked goods like sponge cakes, cupcakes, pies, and brownies. They are quite well known for their Rainbow Cake and Red Velvet Cake as well as their cupcakes. Hummingbird Bakery also has a successful cookbook, which details recipes from its stores, though one of the best known cakes from the cookbook, the Brooklyn Blackout cake, is not offered in stores (or in the UK for that matter as it’s pretty much strictly an NYC thing), which is devastating sad for me since the Brooklyn Blackout cake is my favorite cake of all time and I spent much of my time in NYC hunting down different productions of it. Generally, though, the Hummingbird Bakery’s offerings are good quality and good tasting. See our full review here.
As the name implies, this chain focuses mostly on cupcakes and actually does them pretty well. They don’t really have stores, but rather stands and carts throughout London, each offering a wide range of cupcakes daily. At the larger stands, they can have up to 20 flavors of cupcakes (some quite unique) available for purchase. There are usually a few brownies or other small treats available as well. Their larger stands also often sell full sized cakes, typically their classic flavors (chocolate, red velvet, carrot) and sometimes cheesecakes in the summer. If you’re in the mood for a small treat and pass one of their stands, give it a try. Website
Patisserie Valerie is a different style than the others in this group. It’s operates as a full fledged café and casual restaurant in addition to being a bakery. They have tons of locations throughout London and each one offers the same cakes and menu items. Their food menu consists of simple café foods including breakfast and brunch dishes, sandwiches, and salads. They also have a full coffee, tea, and beverage menu and their larger locations have a large ice cream selection as well.
In terms of their cakes, Patisserie Valerie focuses mostly on sheet-cake style cream cakes. They also have a sister bakery called Baker & Spice, which has a nearly identical café and dessert menu. See our full review here.
Konditor and Cook
Konditor and Cook is our least favorite of these cafes for the simple reason that the offerings don’t fully suit our preferences, but that isn’t to say that the shop doesn’t have many fans. They are probably best well known for their brownies (they have about 5 standard options) and several sponge cakes, most notably the Curly Whirly (chocolate), Chocolate Noisette (chocolate hazelnut), Lemon Chiffon, and Victoria Sponge. They also have a variety of fruit tarts, pies, meringues, and biscuits available for purchase as well as coffee and tea. Website