Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > U.K./Ireland >
Oct 28, 2004 03:00 PM

Chelsea buns in Chelsea [London]

  • d

Are there any great bakeries in Central London selling traditional English buns or cakes? It seems every google search I've made turns up patisseries or bakeries focusing on artisanal breads. Should I just head to the Fortnum and Mason? I was hoping there would be some small, independent shops turning out quality buns or cakes.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I don't know about the quality of their products, but I've seen all sorts of traditional bakery goods in many Marks & Spencer's stores.. and in Harrod's, too. I'm not an expert on UK baked goods.. but I'm learning.

    1. For traditional English cakes you'll do well to get out of London---I have concluded that there are two different places, London and England. I have found Eccles Cakes, Chelsea Buns, Flapjacks, Victoria Sandwich, Simnel Cake, Lardy Cakes, Bath Buns, Dundee Cake, Bara Brith, Sally Lunn etc. in the bakeries of provincial cities but never in London. Take some day trips using a Cheap Day Return train ticket. It's a different world out there. Brighton and Bath are touristy---try Norwich or other out-of-the-tourist-loop places.

      3 Replies
      1. re: N Tocus

        One doesn't have to travel that far out of London to find some cakes or buns.. down to Sutton, Epsom or Guildford is a nice short hop from Victoria or Waterloo. We even have a good bakery in little Leatherhead.

        1. re: zuriga

          I ended up having a Chelsea bun and an Eccles cake in Cambridge. The bakery was called Fitzbellies (sp?)They are apparently well known for their Chelsea buns. After trying their Chelsea bun, I have to admit I like the softer, doughier Chelsea buns found in bakeries in small town Ontario, than the version I had in Cambridge. However, the Eccles cake I tried was fantastic.

        2. re: N Tocus

          There's a great bakery in Crouch End called Dunns Bakery which does all manner of traditional English goodies - eccles, bath buns, chelsea buns, scones, victoria sponge etc. There's also Raab's bakery in Islington and they do lots of old school baked goods. I've seen scones and things in the new Ginger and White in Hampstead. You could also try The Spence in Stoke Newington.

          I'm sure I've been in more, when I can think of them i'll let you know.

        3. My UK friends call Eccles Cakes "flies' graveyards" or "dead fly cakes". Let them call them what they want to -- I love them. I got very decent ones in Sainsbury's for less than £2 a package of four. but I'd love to make them at home. As to Sally Lunn, I've had it at the original bakery in Bath and I am not impressed at all with it.

          15 Replies
          1. re: bklyn_babe

            St Johns restaurant makes extraordinarily good Eccles cakes to take away. And I had an excellent Chelsea bun from Jamie Oliver's Recipease shop in St John's Road near Clapham Junction. The Saturday market in Duke of York's Square (near Sloane Square) usually has several stalls selling delicous cakes and buns.

              1. re: nanette

                One of the best places in London to buy Chelsea buns etc is Konditor & Cook. They have several branches (Waterloo, Holborn, Borough market, Soho, South bank et)

                1. re: chelsea_bridge

                  Love Chelsea buns but didn't know that Konditor and Cook did them. I always look for them in bakeries and buy them but am usually disappointed. Speaking of delicious buns, does anyone know where to get a good saffron one in London? Tried some delicious ones in St. Ives when there a few months back. Amazing. Also saffron cake. Never heard of them before. They also had a saffron version of a Chelsea bun which was quite nutmeggy.

                  1. re: cathodetube

                    Saffron bun is a cornish thing, so go to Cornwall. Not seen it outside of cornwall but I'm sure it is available - just might not be good.

              2. re: bklyn_babe

                I bet (with some degree of confidence) that folk who rave over Eccles cakes have never tried their near geographical neighbour, the Chorley cake.

                1. re: Harters

                  Are there any good Chorley cakes to be found in London?

                  Does anyone have a recommendation for a good Chelsea bun or saffron cake in London? Not sure if any new bakeries/pastry shops have opened since the last reply to this thread.

                  1. re: prima

                    Is a Chorley cake like an Eccles cake? The St. John Eccles cakes are supposed to be famously good but haven't tried one.

                    I quite like the Chelsea buns at Dunn's bakery in Crouch End.

                    I have recently rediscovered the English cheese cake. For anyone who doesn't know it is a flaky pastry bun/cake/ covered in icing and coconut and with jam inside. Have found a very nice one at Ayres Bakery in Nunhead SE15.

                    St. John
                    26 St John Street, London EC1M 4AY, GB

                    1. re: cathodetube

                      Thanks for your recommendations, cathodetube.

                      I hadn't heard of English cheese cake before your reply.

                      I haven't tried a Chorley cake yet, but here's the Wiki entry describing it: .

                      1. re: prima

                        I googled it too and it is very similar. St. John has a presence in Maltby Street market on Saturdays. I cannot figure out why an English cheesecake is so named. No cheese in evidence. Unless they ate it at teatime with slabs of cheese. It sounds like Eccles cakes and Chorley cakes are eaten like that.

                        I also like Rock Cakes but you don't often see them anymore. They are like a messy scone but more crumbly.

                        St. John
                        26 St John Street, London EC1M 4AY, GB

                        1. re: cathodetube

                          Interesting- I've always eaten my Eccles cakes straight up, and had never considered adding a slab of cheese, but I can see how a nice sharp cheese would work with an Eccles cake.

                          I'll keep my eyes open for Rock Cakes.

                          I didn't realize St. John sold any of its baked goods at the Maltby Street market. Thanks for mentioning that.

                          St. John
                          26 St John Street, London EC1M 4AY, GB

                            1. re: prima

                              I think rock cakes are easy to make and was a common thing for small children to first bake. I keep meaning to try. I used to buy them in a certain bakery when I first came to London. Have found a few since but they weren't very good.

                              1. re: prima

                                The rich sticky fruity sweetness of the eccles cake goes well against the crumbly and nutty saltiness of a Lancashire cheese. Recommended by the guys at Neal's Yard when I got my eccles cake there.

                                Neal's Yard
                                6 Park St, London, England W1K 7, GB

                  2. All of those interested in English pastries/cakes should try some lardy cake - my nan's favourite!

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Muchlove

                      Having cheese with fruitcake is also common in some places in the UK.

                      1. re: cathodetube

                        Cheese with fruit cakes etc was really common in the north of England. Growing up in Yorkshire we always had Wensleydale cheese with our Christmas cake - even as part of our school dinners.

                        1. re: PhilD

                          Jamie Oliver's near Clapham Junction sometimes has remarkably good Chelsea buns. I am not a fan of St John's but their Eccles cakes are delicious. Where can you find lardy cakes in London?

                          St Johns Restaurant
                          24 Sir Thomas Street, Liverpool L1 6JB, GB