Bread is a food staple. It’s something that many of us eat every day. We don’t even think about it. Instead, we pop slices into the toaster and smear it with our favourite spreads and get on with our day. But as one of the oldest man-made foods on the planet, perhaps we owe it to bread to care more. Luckily, London’s best bakeries know this and in the last decade there has been an explosion of artisanal loaves in the capital (seriously, who isn’t making a sourdough these days). However, there are loads more than the sour stuff on offer – fruit loaves, rye bread, brioche. It’s why we’ve made ourselves very bloated and tasted some of the capital’s best loaves. Here are the best breads in London.
Artisanal breads you’ll fall in loaf with
Good news: Scandi spot Fabrique gives loaves to charity if they’re not sold at the end of the day. Not that leftovers of this fruit-and-nut delight are likely. This ugly duckling is the definition of ‘it’s what’s on the inside that counts’. Packed with a trail mix of dried apricots, raisins, sliced hazelnuts and almonds, it’s as complex as your most intellectual crush – and just as tasty. £5.
at Aux Pains du Papy
Mathieu Esposito, who runs French bakery Aux Pains du Papy, gets up at 1am every day to produce what’s arguably London’s most authentic French bread. Consistently crisp on the outside and squishily decadent on the inside, his baguettes are ideal sandwich-building material. (Strong and stable really is the way forward, at least when it comes to providing a bread-based chateau for a family of brie.) Make sure to grab a pastry on your way out or you’ll be really sad later. £1.20
at Karaway Bakery
There are breads you simply eat and then there are breads you savour every last morsel of. Karaway’s Lithuanian scalded rye is most definitely in the latter bracket. The family-run bakery specialises in the stuff, making it with dark rye flour. Each bite comes with a waft of licorice and a sweet, treacly taste, while the texture is magically light and springy. One slice is not enough. £4.30.
at Little Bread Pedlar
Chances are you’ve eaten something from Little Bread Pedlar. The wholesale baker supplies some of London’s best restaurants. On Saturdays, though, it opens to the public at Spa Terminus Market. Visit before 2pm and you have the chance to get your hands on this gigantic focaccia. Rippled with olive oil, blooming with air bubbles and finished with a salty, hard crust, it’s perfect for bruschetta. £2.50.
at Beyond Bread
Eating gluten-free once meant bread that could be confused with Play-Doh. Those days are behind us. Beyond Bread’s range is vast, delicious and all celiac-friendly. The boldest loaf of the lot? The honeyed, buttery brioche. Thanks to the flour blend – potato, tapioca, brown rice and corn starch – it has a cakey texture. It means that, unlike other brioche, it isn’t afraid of a trip to the toaster. Such a brave little bread! £4.50.
at The Dusty Knuckle Bakery
Born in a freight container, The Dusty Knuckle’s known for two things. Firstly, its ethos. The Hackney spot offers baking training to young people caught up in violence. Secondly? Its potato sourdough. Chewy and moist (thanks to the use of potato flour), each mouthful takes you on a journey from sweet to nutty to lingering sourness. It’s the stuff of bread legend (breadgend?). £3 for a small loaf.
at the Old Post Office Bakery
There’s nothing pretentious about this sturdy three-seeder from the Old Post Office in Clapham. The bakery’s been a neighbourhood staple since the ’80s, and anyone who’s ever eaten this Schwarzenegger of a loaf will know why. Pumped full of toasted sunflower, sesame and poppy seeds, it’s a super-fuelled bread brick-house with a crumb that would make Paul Hollywood shake his own hand. Even tearing it apart is a glorious experience. £1.50 for a small loaf.
at Blackbird Bakery
Peckham’s Blackbird Bakery and its seven outposts serve a vast range of breads, but first on your shopping list should be its simple white tin loaf. With a chewy crust and a satisfyingly fluffy middle, it holds its button-mushroom profile against even the bluntest of bread knives. And it excels when toasted. Get down there with a churn of fresh butter and a vat of marmalade, stat. £2.10.
at St John
St John might be best known for nose-to-tail eating, but this joint’s also been supplying the city with its famous sourdough since 2002. Round, golden and dusted with a snowstorm of flour, each of the signature bakes is proven for 36 hours to allow the flavours to really develop. The best news of all? St John’s waste-free attitude extends to its bread. Leftovers are turned into breadcrumbs for the restaurant. It’s the circle, the circle of loaf…