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The 9 best pastries in London

From delicate baklava to sturdy mooncakes, we sample the best pastries in London. Trust us, they are well worth the dough

Blood-orange Danish at Jolene bakery in London
Photographer: Andy Parsons
By Emma Hughes |

Put down that supermarket croissant! In this city you can do so much better. London is filled with purveyors of perfectly baked pastries – no matter your inclination. From authentic international bakeries to gluten-free restaurants that can still whip up a perfect croissant, you’ll find delicious pastry gems across the capital. But the absolute top-dollar must-eats? Well, they’re right here. We've rounded up the nine best pastries in London. Some can be found at trendy, must-visits bakeries like Pophams, Jolene and The Dusty Knuckle. Others are made at community spots like Lebanese food hall Green Valley. Expect Danishes that pack a punch and brioches that beat doughnuts for decadence, all priced between £2 and £15.99 (don’t worry – that's for a whole kilo of baklava.) So go, fill your boots with flakey, buttery good stuff. Just make sure to check your jumper’s crumb-free before you go into your next meeting. 

RECOMMENDED: London’s best bakeries

Best pastries in London

Orange and poppy seed swirl at The Dusty Knuckle
Photograph: Andy Parsons
Restaurants, Bakeries

Orange and poppy seed swirl, The Dusty Knuckle

icon-location-pin Dalston

It’s known for superlative sourdoughs and whopping sarnies, but Dalston-based bakery The Dusty Knuckle is no slouch in the pastry department either. To make this elegant little number, it slathers its homemade croissant dough in sweet poppy-seed paste, teases it into a scroll and finishes it with an orange-zest glaze. The delicious result looks like a musical note, and might just make you want to burst into song. £2.20. 

Did you know? The Dusty Knuckle supplies some of London’s best cafés and restaurants, but you won’t find the swirls anywhere but its shop.

Hazelnut praline Paris-Brest at Pophams Bakery
Photograph: Andy Parsons
Restaurants, Bakeries

Hazelnut praline Paris-Brest, Pophams Bakery

icon-location-pin Islington

Trust London’s most ’grammed bakery to come up with the goods. Inspired by the Paris-Brest (a classic French dessert), Pophams head baker Florin Grama swapped traditional choux for croissant pastry that’s sprinkled with flaked almonds before being baked and hand-filled with a hazelnut cream. Another layer goes on top, along with more almonds and a light dusting of icing sugar. Note: there’s nothing to stop you ordering two and doubling them up. £5.

Did you know? The pastry is made up of 16 ultra-crispy layers – count ’em!

Pistachio baklava at Green Valley bakery
Photograph: Andy Parsons
Shopping, Specialist food and drink

Pistachio baklava, Green Valley

icon-location-pin Edgware Road

It’s impossible to walk past this Lebanese food hall without stopping to goggle at the towering pyramids of pastries in the window. From moon-shaped kulwashkur filled with coarsely ground cashews to boukaj unfolding like flowers, everything here looks gorgeous enough to turn you into a dribbling Homer Simpson. But you mustn’t miss the pistachio baklava. With a 2:1 nuts-to-filo ratio and just the right amount of syrup binding everything together, each little morsel is a work of art. £15.99 per kg. 

Did you know? It’s priced by the kilo – so you can use ‘I’m crap at maths’ as an excuse to buy in bulk.

Venue says Established in 1986, we are one of London’s largest, best-stocked and renowned Lebanese and Middle Eastern food hall and delicatessen !

Eccles cake at St John
Photograph: Andy Parsons
Restaurants, British

Eccles cake, St John

icon-location-pin Farringdon and Smithfield

It isn’t all trotters and tails at St John. Fergus Henderson’s original temple to the pleasures of the flesh also has a standout pastry department. In fact, while traditional Eccles cakes contain lard, this one is proudly vegetarian. Inside the puff pastry, the filling – currants, allspice, nutmeg and dark brown sugar – is a jammy delight. £9.

Did you know? You can (and should) make like a pro and have yours with a wedge of crumbly Lancashire cheese.

Tarte aux fraises at Aux Pains de Papy
Photograph: Andy Parsons
Restaurants, French

Tarte aux fraises, Aux Pains de Papy

icon-location-pin Gray’s Inn Road

You don’t need to get on the Eurostar to enjoy proper French patîsserie. In fact, stop just short of the terminal, on Grays Inn Road, and you can feast your eyes (and mouth) on some of the finest pastries this side of La Manche – specifically, the tartes aux fraises at Aux Pains de Papy. A crown of perfectly ripe strawberries and blueberries, glazed the old-fashioned way, sits regally atop a pillow of crème patîssière, surrounded by melt-in-the-mouth shortcrust pastry. Mon Dieu! £3.

Did you know? Demand for Aux Pains de Papy’s wares is especially high during the morning rush hour – which means owner Mathieu Esposito gets up at 1am every day.

Blood-orange Danish from Jolene bakery
Photograph: Andy Parsons
Restaurants, British

Blood-orange Danish, Jolene

icon-location-pin Newington Green

Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Joleeeeene… When the bakery of the moment (it’s run by the team behind mould-breaking Primeur and Westerns Laundry) gets its hands on the citrus fruit of the moment, you know the results are going to be something special. Forget sad service-station Danishes: this is a burnished, custard-filled marvel, topped with photogenic brûléed blood-orange slices. Oh, and it’s a great source of vitamin C (probably). £3.50

Did you know? Jolene doesn’t just bake the pastries fresh every morning – the flour that goes into them is milled daily from scratch.

Mooncakes at Wonderful Patisserie
Photograph: Andy Parsons

Mooncakes, Wonderful Patisserie

These sweet, dense pastry roundels (filled with red-bean, sesame or lotus-seed paste and decorated with lucky symbols) are traditionally eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival in September. But they fly off the shelves all year round at Chinatown’s Wonderful Patisserie. It’s a fitting name: step inside and you’ll find a rainbow display of these delicacies, flavoured with everything from jasmine and green tea to purple yam and durian (punchy). Break into yours and you might find a salted whole duck-egg yolk, representing the full moon.£2.20. 

Did you know? Legend has it that mooncakes helped the Chinese overthrow Mongol rule in the fourteenth century. It’s said that people used them to spread secrets by baking messages inside.

Brioche feuilletée at Yeast Bakery
Photograph: Andy Parsons

Brioche feuilletée, Yeast Bakery

Budge up, luxe doughnuts – 2019 is the year of the brioche. To transform it into pastry, Hackney microbrewery Yeast layers up its dough with top-notch French butter for a laminated effect, before baking, filling and topping it. Flavours change from Saturday to Saturday, but they’re never less than extra: look out for the likes of lemon meringue, coconut and white chocolate, and Black Forest. £3.85.

Did you know? Hybrids are a Yeast speciality – it also sells the Croaf, a loaf-shaped croissant.

Pastel de nata at Madeira bakery in London
Photograph: Andy Parsons

Pastel de nata, Madeira

Opened in 1988, Madeira has made waves with its world-beating Portuguese custard tarts (it does wholesale now, so if you’ve eaten a pastel de nata anywhere in the UK, chances are Madeira baked it). Get yourself down to Albert Embankment to tuck into one for less than the price of the bus there. With layers of the crispest puff pastry encasing a buttercup-yellow, cinnamon-scented custard, it’s sunshine on a plate. And not a soggy bottom in sight. £1.20. 

Did you know? The secret of the burnt top and smooth filling is a very hot oven: Madeira’s pastéis are briefly blasted at 300C, which makes the custard boil.

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