It¡¯s really not a special occasion without a generous slice of cake or two. Next birthday, don¡¯t settle for a Colin the Caterpillar (as good as they are); instead treat yourself or a lucky friend to an indulgent, bespoke show-stopper. Beautifully iced, exquisitely flavoured and made just to your requirements, these are birthday cakes to remember from some of London’s most talented bakers.
Luminary Bakery, Stoke Newington
Not only does Luminary Bakery make exceptional cakes, it also does inspirational things for its community. A social enterprise, it helps disadvantaged women build careers through training and employment, and the delicious side effect is some of London¡¯s loveliest baked goods. With caf¨¦s in Hackney and Camden, it offers a short but sweet range of birthday cakes including fruity numbers such as lemon and blueberry; almond, cherry and chocolate, and orange, cardamom and pistachio. All are decorated with a slick crescent moon of toppings that will look smart on any table.
Address: Luminary Bakery, 71-73 Allen Road, London, N16 8RY Website: luminarybakery.com
Pearl and Groove Bakery, Exmouth Market
Don¡¯t let being gluten-free get in the way of a proper birthday cake. Pearl and Groove prides itself on producing indulgent and creative bakes minus those pesky proteins. With mainly ground almonds used as a substitute for flour, the cakes are moist, light and would fool even the biggest gluten fan. There¡¯s no skimping on flavour here: opt for the toffee apple and cinnamon; mint chocolate; matcha and white chocolate or banoffee pie, all tastefully decorated. It also makes similarly delicious dairy- and refined-sugar-free cakes. Pop into the Exmouth Market base to try a slice if you don¡¯t believe us.
Address: Pearl and Groove, 30 Exmouth Market, London EC1R 4QE Website: pearlandgroove.com
Kova Patisserie, Soho, Chinatown or South Kensington
For something a little different from the usual sponge-and-buttercream affair, Kova¡¯s Japanese French mille cr¨ºpes cakes are just the thing. Thin layers of pancake and pastry cream flavoured with vanilla, Oreo, chocolate, Earl Grey or classic matcha stack up to create a satisfying but light architectural gateau. It also does a fluffy Japanese souffl¨¦ cake or the intriguingly named Sea Salt Cheese Lava Cake, a sponge chiffon confection covered in cheesy sweet and salty cream. Pop into the bakeries in Soho, Chinatown or South Kensington to try different slices before choosing a favourite.
Address: Kova Patisserie, Unit 5, 9-12 St Anne¡¯s Court, London, W1F 0BB; Kova Patisserie, 20a Newport Court, London, WC2H 7JS; Kova Patisserie, 16 Old Brompton Road, London, SW7 3DL Website: kovapatisserie.com
Crumbs and Doilies, Soho
Another Soho favourite of the sweet-toothed, the teeny Kingly Court bakery draws fans from all over to savour its chewy and addictive cookies. But the cakes are just as delicious ¨C they excel at classic flavours such as red velvet, cookies and cream, vanilla, chocolate and lemon drizzle, all perfectly presented with icing drips and thoughtful toppings. There are also multi-layered rainbow or colourful pi?ata cakes (filled with surprise smarties) for more of a bold statement.
Address: Crumbs and Doilies, 1 Kingly Court, London W1B 5PW Website: crumbsanddoilies.co.uk
Anges de Sucre, North Acton
Looking for something with a serious wow factor? The bespoke cakes from this West London bakery are anything but subtle, but that¡¯s their whole schtick. Piled high with macarons, doughnuts, cupcakes and chocolate bars ¨C it can be hard to spot the actual cake underneath all the decorations. Imagine a freakshake in cake form. For chocolate fans, it has to be the Deliciously Stella, topped with Kinder Buenos, chocolate fingers, Rolos, Maltesers, Oreo, chocolate-chip cookie dough, cookies-and-cream chocolate shards and brownie crumble. Not for the faint of heart.
Address: Anges de Sucre, 7 Minerva Road, London NW10 6HJ Website: angesdesucre.com
Cutter & Squidge, Soho
Anyone walking down Brewer Street in Soho will have been drawn to the window of this corner bakery drooling. Known for elaborate layer cakes and magical afternoon teas in its Potion Room, Cutter & Squidge has an impressive range of birthday-cake flavours and styles: yuzu-mango topped in rose petals, strawberry ¡®eat-on mess¡¯ with crumbly meringue, oozy s¡¯mores and blueberry-lemon cheesecake. Plus, everything is made from 100-per-cent natural ingredients, even the sparkly unicorn cake.
Address: Cutter and Squidge, 20 Brewer Street, London W1F 0SJ Website: cutterandsquidge.com
Lily Vanilli, Bethnal Green
Lily is one of London¡¯s coolest bakers. Using seasonal, organic produce and locally grown flowers, she whips up elegant creations to suit every occasion. Her flavours range from chocolate pretzel to salted caramel and fig, with decorations including golden seashells, glittering cherries and bright neon piping. Our favourite is the kitsch retro pastel Accidently Wes Anderson tiered cake covered in gold cherubs. Order online or visit her charming East London bakery, just off Columbia Road and open at the weekend.
Address: Lily Vanilli, 6 The Courtyard, Ezra Street, London E2 7RH Website: lilyvanilli.com
Tuck Box Cakes, online only
Got a friend who can definitely take a joke? Forest Hill-based company Tuck Box takes novelty bakes to the next level. It will make you a tasty sculpted cake based on pretty much anything ¨C a pan of paella; golden pineapples; a giant macaron; a stack of vegetables; a volcano; a bucket full of fried chicken; a packed suitcase complete with passport and guidebook ¨C using every trick from airbrushing and watercolour glazes to traditional piping. It also does more traditional bakes, but where¡¯s the fun in that?
Ard Bakery, online only
Before pivoting to baking, Alison Dunlop worked in fashion for 10 years, designing bags, shoes and jewellery ¨C which shows in her playful, stylish cake designs. Bold, colourful, graphic and sculptural, her bakes are like little works of art. Striped icing, spherical chocolate bonbons, paint-splattered shards and colourful salted-caramel chocolate bars transform lemon drizzle, vanilla sponge, spiced toffee apple and pistachio cakes. They¡¯re almost too beautiful to eat. Almost.
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