In London, all ills are can be soothed with a cup of tea… and a good slice of cake. While Maison Bertaux, the city’s oldest bakery, proudly shows off its French credentials, there’s no shortage of creative competitors. Chewy brownies, scrumptious scones, towering layer cakes… Every shop has a style of its own, from Hummingbird’s retro cupcakes to Kova’s matcha-flavoured mille-crêpes.
To celebrate our 25th birthday, we’ve scoured London for its most tantalising cakes. Here are our favourites.
Cutter & Squidge knows a thing or two about celebration cakes. Choose from extravagant five-tier numbers, as well as vegan and wheat-free options. Its signature bake? The “biskie”, a half-cookie, half-cake sandwich filled with jam, say, or salted caramel. Pop in for a Harry-Potter inspired afternoon tea served with head-turning brews, or book a cake-decorating workshop to master the basics.
Every Sunday, Londoners form a queue just off Columbia Road flower market for a bite of Lily’s delicate bakes. It’s your one chance to try them: the rest of the week, this star baker only works to order. Lily is just as adept at baking brownies as she is at rustling up thin-crust tartlets. Seasonal toppings might perhaps include lemon and red currant, pecan-chocolate or rhubarb meringue.
When a Soho stroll starts to take its toll, take a break at Wa Café. Tuck into a Mont Blanc or Strawberry Swiss roll, paired with a creamy, frothy matcha latte. If you’re in the market for something savoury, try the katsu or teriyaki chicken sandwiches instead. Everything, including the bread, is made from scratch every day by a Japanese baker and pastry chef duo, in Wa’s original bakery in Ealing.
It’s hard to resist the lure of this Portobello Road bakery, with its neat rows of cakes lined up in the window. Laced with Early Grey or studded with pistachio, these pretty morsels are all gluten-free thanks to the use of almond flour; some are even vegan. More than just a bakery, this on-trend hangout also offers brunch, yoga classes and calligraphy workshops.
Known for having baked Meghan and Harry’s wedding cake, Violet’s founder Claire Ptak works mainly with organic ingredients. Stop by her minimalist café in Hackney for a perfectly flaky pastry or an elegant little sponge cake. In-the-know regulars rave about her buttercream icing. Flavours change with the seasons, from fresh fruit to homemade flower syrup and earthy, crowd-pleasing chocolate.