Opinions are my own and therefore subjective, but as a prolific and passionate pastry-eater, I feel that I am an extremely qualified judge
If happiness has a profile pic, it would be a photo of this croissant. It looks simple and unassuming, but every element is flawless. The frangipane is thick and intensely nutty; it contains larger almond pieces, which add a pleasant crunch to every bite. They clearly use fresh, high-quality almonds - honestly, I wish I could buy the filling as a spread. I would eat one every day if my neighborhood cafe didn’t run out so quickly. Available at coffeeshops like Prufrock and Monmouth, and Canopy Market, as well as online.
I've tried many cardamom buns in London and this one - from an Edinburgh-based Swedish cafe - is my favorite. Others are too sweet, or the dough is too heavy, or they contain too little filling, or they have a weak cardamom taste. The Söderberg cardamom bun is not guilty of any of the above. The paste is sweet but not overly so, the dough is fluffy, and the cardamom taste is strong. My only complaint that they sell out too quickly! It's good on its own but even better with a hot coffee - I will always associate this pastry with walking around Soho in winter. Much hygge.
This seasonal pastry (available in December and January) is a variation on your typical almond croissant. Imagine an ideal airy, flaky, browned croissant but infused with saffron, which makes it a warming, almost-savory treat. There is a thin layer of brandy almond paste inside to add depth and richness but not overwhelm - the key flavor is saffron after all. A comforting Christmas-time breakfast or snack. The saffron bun - also seasonal - is very popular too. Fabrique has multiple locations in London.
The flaky pastry is perfectly executed - you can separate the thin layers and eat them one by one if you really wish. It appears incredibly luxurious but doesn't feel heavy. The tart-sweet apples are strong enough to stand alone (by that, I mean they're delicious and have structural integrity even after being baked till soft) but are even better complemented by the delicate miso glaze. Topped with slivered almonds for some crunch and nuttiness. Arome is located in Covent Garden.
This is the mince pie that will ruin all other mince pies for you. The fact that this was my first ever mince pie meant each pie thereafter was, sadly, a disappointment. But on the positive side, I lived five minutes away from The Quality Chop House in Farringdon, meaning I was a very frequent visitor during Christmas season. The basic anatomy of a mince pie comprises a buttery pastry shell filled with mincemeat (spiced nuts and dried fruits - usually brandy-soaked raisins and currants or dates). QCH’s mincemeat had orange zest for a citrusy brightness, and the pies were covered with a layer of almond frangipane and topped brandied almonds.
This pastry is quite large, so it's not for the faint of heart (or rather, stomach). However, the frangipane inside is on the lighter side, being more of a marzipan or almond cream. It's flatter than most other croissants, so you get more of the crisper outside (the surface area exposed to the Maillard reaction is greater - think the caramel-y crust of breads, which has greater depth of flavor than the insides). Extremely decadent.
🥐 Salted Tahini Chocolate Cookie
(or sister restaurant
The internet may be divided on whether cookies are pastries, but this dessert is indisputably delicious. The moreish, chewy cookies are served warm - and therefore with oozing dark chocolate chunks. The nuttiness of the tahini, the earthiness of the rye flour, and the sea salt on top all add complexity, coming together to form a sum that’s greater than its parts. It holds together well when dunked into coffee or hot chocolate, which I highly recommend doing, though by the time my drink arrived the cookie was half gone. 26 Grains is located in Neal’s Yard (Covent Garden) while Stoney Street is in Borough Market.
The seasonal fruit danishes 🍐 from
in Borough Market
The buckwheat banana bread
The vegan banana bread
(served warm) from
The gigantic cinnamon roll
While banana bread, like cookies, might not categorically be pastries, these two were too tasty to leave out.