London is an endless culinary field. Being a multicultural megacity has its advantages, and even though the UK is not known as a foodie country, the capital has a huge variety of options of any kind (check our Best World Restaurants in London by Country post!).
Pastries are not the exception, and cinnamon buns have somehow become the favourites. The following bakeries have mastered the art of creating irresistible cinnamon buns that will leave you craving for more.
Fortitude Bakehouse is “a craft bakery that also sells single-farm coffee and Stonerolled tea to takeaway”. Located right behind Russell Square, this little bakery has gained a reputation for its exceptional baked goods, particularly its hand-rolled cinnamon buns.
At first sight, the buns are huge, more than enough to share. The process of making the buns is complex, as the dough is fermented for 48 hours, and the ingredients are of great quality (they use molasses sugar, for instance). The result is a beautifully terminated bun with an outstanding flavour, with a sweet and sticky heart and tasteful layers of cinnamon-infused dough.
Besides buns, they offer a good assortment of other pastries (I can also recommend the Beignet with mango lime cream), sourdough cakes, and a savoury section with sandwiches, salads, sausage rolls and more (let me highlight their Berber omelette batbou).
Fabrique has now various locations across London and has gained a cult following for their outstanding cinnamon buns made the Swedish way.
Fabrique is an artisanal stone oven bakery founded by David and Charlotta Zetterström in Stockholm, Sweden in 2008. Its core values of quality, patience, genuineness, and authenticity brought them to success and there are now multiple bakeries in Sweden, London, and New York.
They offer a selected range of rye and sourdough bread, as well as buns and pastries. The cinnamon bun has a particular shape, is folded a number of times and not as the standard roll, and has a late taste of peppery cardamom on top of the cinnamon. Delicious.
Gail’s is a popular high street chain that can be found everywhere in London these days, selling pastries, bread, and coffee and offering a modest but good savoury menu as well (e.g. sandwiches, quiches, salads, toasts). The first one opened on Hampstead High Street in 2005.
But the cinnamon bun has become their signature pastry. According to the head baker, Roy Levy, the recipe was improved for 15 years, resulting in a success that makes them bake 6,000 per day.
Gail’s buns are also made with croissant-style dough and contain classic ingredients such as cinnamon, brown sugar, butter and orange zest. The key difference is that they are crispy and crunchy on the outside, hiding an extraordinarily delicious and soft heart. This effect is the result of high-temperature ovens which caramelise the sugar and butter.
We were lucky to have a friend working for them, and I can add the following: frozen buns are also delicious. From freezer to oven in 15 minutes and you are ready to go!
Buns from Home
Buns from Home, as its name hints, started as a home project, as its owner Barney Goff started making pastries from his mother’s kitchen. After testing their buns with neighbours and friends, they created a crowdfunding campaign and opened a shop just off Portobello Road in September 2020.
They now have 9 shops in London. They only make buns, but they offer a great variety, including cinnamon, cardamom, chocolate-hazelnut, cheesecake, pistachio, tiramisu and more.
Their cinnamon buns are more traditional, with a layered cinnamon croissant-style dough, a strong flavour and some classic icing on top.
Luminary Bakery is a bakery with a different and strong purpose. And with two successful shops so far (Camden and Hackney), their goals seem to be achieved.
The bakery was born and organised to support women who have social and economic disadvantages. They use baking as a tool for “women on a journey to employability and entrepreneurship, equipping them with transferable skills for the working world”. For this, they have a charity providing Employability Support Programme, 1-to-1 holistic support, Mentor Scheme & next steps Progression Support Programme.
In regards to their buns, they are delicious, sticky and sweet, and topped with cream cheese frosting. They don’t have as much sugar as others on the list, but they are more on the sticky side. One additional particularity is that they have the bottoms out (or almost out).
Ole & Steen
Ole & Steen is a renowned Danish bakery that has gained a loyal following for its cinnamon buns but also its other pastries (Wienerbrød), bread, sandwiches and cakes. It was founded with the goal of creating authentic Danish pastries and currently has more than 25 shops all around London.
All of their products are really good-looking and catchy, and they all seem crafted with the utmost care and attention to detail. Their cinnamon buns are characterized by their soft and fluffy dough, generously swirled with a rich cinnamon filling and topped with a delectable glaze that adds a hint of indulgence. A very pillowy texture.
Besides the classic cinnamon swirl (), they also make them with chocolate and raspberry and almond. And they also have a variation called Spandauer with vanilla custard and raspberry jam.
Originally from Berdmonsaey, but with two additional locations, Hej has become an outstanding coffee shop and bakery, but also a wholesaler and even a barista school, offering multiple products, training and courses.
They source coffee and pastries for many high-profile offices and coworking spaces. So you may already have tried them without noticing.
Their cinnamon rolls are large, sweet but light at the same time, and fluffy but not super sticky, with a good dose of cinnamon and a glaze of sweetness over the top. They often suggest warming them up, which could be a great idea, especially in wintertime.
Violet, located in hipster Dalston, is a bakery-café owned by Claire Ptak, a food writer, food and prop stylist and recipe developer that started as a market stall on Broadway Market, cooking from home before opening the café in 2010.
They use organic and low-intervention ingredients such as Madagascan vanilla pods and pure cane molasses. Their bun is not made with sourdough, resulting in a firmer dough which is nonetheless tender and fluffy with a generous swirl of fragrant cinnamon. Not sticky at all.
The café is also known for its delectable selection of cakes, tarts, and pastries, all made with a dedication to craftsmanship and flavour. From buttery croissants to vibrant seasonal fruit tarts, each treat showcases the skill and passion of the talented bakers at Violet Cafe.
Located in the heart of Islington (on Upper Street), they offer a variety of vegan pastries like croissants, pain au chocolat, cinnamon scroll, chocolate cookies, raspberry stuffed pastries and of course, cinnamon buns. They also have a short but interesting menu with some Argentine concepts like a brunch with Patagonian trout.
In regard to their buns, they are the smallest and stickiest on this list. The price is somehow reflected in the size, as it costs only £3. As you can see in the picture above, they clearly have a buttery flavour with a strong cinnamon touch and a Scandinavian shape.
Other than that, if you have some room left, I recommend trying their ice cream on a croissant cone with pistachio topping.
E5 Bakehouse is a renowned artisan bakery metres away from London Fields, with a dedication to traditional baking methods and a focus on using locally sourced, organic ingredients. The bakery has gained a lot of popularity and it is widespread to have a large queue, especially on weekends.
They now have a very large space with seating space inside and in the back garden, and they also offer around 5-10 brunch dishes such as avo on toast and scrambled eggs.
The cinnamon buns are made from scratch using a special sourdough base with a unique and distinct flavour. They are not sticky and have the right amount of sugar, which is quite balanced. Do not expect to find a strong flavour. They are generously coated with a sweet and buttery cinnamon glaze.
House of Cinn
This bakery also has a strong social mission. Their founders started it on a mission to support and employ people most in need. They started off as volunteers in 2015 doing street outreach and wanted to build something unique that could provide social and financial support to communities in need. Sixty-five per cent of their profits are reinvested in social causes. They partner with charities that support people who have experienced homelessness or poverty to provide smartphones and tablets to those who may not have access.
In regards to their buns, they are very American-style made with a buttery dough, filled with a cinnamon sugar mixture and topped with a generous amount of cream cheese frosting. They also recreate classic flavours to provide house specials, most of them creamy with many toppings.