In our current world, in the face of flying social media, it is sometimes hard to figure out what is actually good! Instagram is the perfect medium to depict pretty much anything as glorious. I think we’re so caught up in getting that perfect instagram look that we don’t even focus on whether what we’re taking a picture of is something worth capturing. This is especially the case with food. It seems like everyone is a foodie these days. In London instagrammers go crazy for over-the-top desserts and ridiculous ideas. The instagram world has made it all about the aesthetic, and not the flavour! I like to think of myself as an original foodie. I’m here to tell you about the best desserts and sweet treats in London judged solely by their taste! The following sugary treats are in alphabetical order.
Best Brownies: The CoffeeWorks Project
I’m very picky about my brownies because, to me, the perfect brownie is somewhere between cake and fudge. It has to be a kind of dense cake with the perfect amount of sugar. I’m a big fan of walnuts or other nuts in the mix, but my ultimate favourite accompaniment is caramel. I’m not actually a huge fan of their coffee, but whoever serves the desserts at The CoffeeWorks Project has awesome brownies. They’re big, dense, and delicately topped with salted caramel.
Best Cinnamon Buns: Ole & Steen
London has been overwhelmed by lovely Nordic and Scandinavian bakeries and cafes. This Danish bakery is full of amazing and delicious baked goods. They make excellent bread, but their pastries are fantastic. My absolute favourite is their version of cinnamon buns. Their Cinnamon Social (or Slice if just for one) is a perfect blend of fluffy pastry, cinnamon, and vanilla custard.
Fabrique is a wonderful Swedish bakery. If custard is not your thing, then I would definitely go for Fabrique’s cinnamon buns. Alternatively, their cardamom buns are also great.
Best Cookies: Ben’s Cookies
What makes the perfect cookie? Okay, so these cookies are not a secret. They have multiple locations around London, but these cookies are so good. I’m a fan of gooey-melt-in-your-mouth cookies and Ben’s Cookies fits the bill. My personal favourite cookie is the Milk Chocolate and Peanut, but the Milk Chocolate is the most popular. I also have a couple friends who opt for the White Chocolate and Cranberry — to each their own!
Best Cupcakes: Hummingbird
Now obviously, you might think that London would not be able to one up American-based cupcakes, but this expat American bakery does just that. Their cupcakes are perfectly moist, meaning not dry and all, and their frosting is simply to die for! While I’m not the biggest fan of all their flavors, my favourite cupcake of all time is their classic red velvet cupcake because the cream cheese frosting pairs perfectly with the spongey cupcake bottom.
My favorite cupcakes overall actually come from a lovely American cafe in Hackney called Violet. They make both regular and mini cupcakes with adorable, delicate flavours including orange, lemon and vanilla.
Best Donuts: Bread Ahead
Donut places are popping all over the city, but I’m not a big fan of most donuts. For me, the perfect donut is really good at being simple. I prefer lightly sugared donuts and those with some nice fillings like jam or custard. Bread Ahead is an iconic stall in Borough Market. They’re very serious about their bread, with a bread school and cooking book to boast. They’ve since expanded into Chelsea and Soho. Their filled in donuts are simply perfect. There quite a few options including jam, chocolate, custard, and salted caramel!
Runner-Up: Doughnut Time
Now, for me, some of Doughnut Time’s donuts are terrible as in so terribly sweet that it’ll make you sick. BUT, their simple doughnuts with simple fillings are delicious. These include jam, Nutella and every once in a while they’ll have my absolute favourite: salted caramel!
Special Mention: Andina
So, it’s so easy to casually stop by this place and not realise that there could be an incredible dessert here, but they do have the most amazing picarones. Picarones are a Peruvian dessert, resembling a doughnut but are made of up squash and sweet potato. They are so delicious.
Best Frozen Yogurt: Yorica!
Frozen yogurt is made with yogurt and milk instead of cream, which is used in ice cream and gelato. It’s also way healthier than ice cream and gelato! Yorica is an amazing inclusive place as they cater to those of us who’d rather have something dairy, gluten, egg or nut-free! In fact, Yorica is a free-from frozen yoghurt place that is free from 14 allergens.
Best Gelato: Romeo & Giulietta
Italian ice cream has more milk than cream, so it has less fat than regular ice cream. Gelato is much milkier and denser as a result of the slow churning process. This is also means gelato has a more intense flavour — yum yum! My favourite gelato place in all of London is actually really close to home: Romeo & Giulietta.
Until I found out about Romeo & Giulietta, my favourite gelato was Gelupo. If I’m central London this is still my go-to spot. I also think their fun, unique flavours are tough to beat.
Best Kouign Amann: Dominique Ansel
Alright, so you might be wondering… what the heck is a kouign amann? It is a Breton pastry, and the name comes from their language: kouign meaning cake and amann meaning butter. It’s a layered pastry, a lot like a croissant, but the way it’s folded creates a sort of bubble in the middle. Essentially, it’s a puffed croissant with carmelised sugar on the outside.
One of the most decadent, fanciful bakeries is Dominique Ansel. In my own, they have the best Kouign Amann out there.
Runner-Up: The Last Crumb
Kouign Amann’s are not super common, but you do find them pop up in cafes. There’s a really good version near me in North London made by The Last Crumb.
Best Natas: Cafe de Nata
These wonderful Portuguese egg custard tarts are taking London by storm. I’ve grown up eating them, but have gone years at a time without having one! Therefore, I’m so happy that they are now here in my city as I can now have them anytime I want. The best pastel de nata (as they are called in Portuguese) I can find in London is at Cafe de Nata. They only bake natas.
Special Mention: Bar Douro
For an amazing Portuguese experience in London, one should try Bar Douro near Borough Market. The creme de la creme is their nata which is incredibly creamy and evenly flavoured.
So, which delicious London treat are you going to go for?