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St Johns doughnuts, eccles cakes and bread, the best in London?

damien76 Nov 30, 2010 04:31 PM

St John's doughnuts, Eccles cakes,brownies and bread are now available for the public to buy from druid street, south east London on Saturday mornings.

I was a little bleary eyed when making my purchases but i think the loaves of bread, including sourdough, were £4, while eccles cakes were around £2 each, and the doughnuts were £1.50 each.

Sounds expensive but they were all very robust in size. But more importantly, I found the overall quality outstanding compared to other bakers I have tried and imho the best in London by a country mile??


P.S. As an added bonus the streets around the druid/maltby street area are becoming a real foodie nirvana with producers such as tony booth's, neals yard, Monmouth etc


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  1. r
    relizabeth RE: damien76 Dec 1, 2010 02:34 AM

    We've had excellent beer from Kernel (they seem to be open a bit later than the other Maltby shops) and sublime parmesan from the cheese and ham company that shares their vault. Warning: it is very cold there.

    1. t
      tavegyl RE: damien76 Dec 1, 2010 03:17 AM

      They do run out early, though. When I got there around noon a couple of weekends ago, they had closed.

      Agreed about the eccles cakes, especially if you're there for a batch freshly out of the oven. Delicious, best I've had.

      The smoked scallops at one of the other stalls are also lovely. Highly recommended.

      1. c
        cathodetube RE: damien76 Dec 1, 2010 04:19 AM

        Looks amazing. Will be making a visit soon.

        2 Replies
        1. re: cathodetube
          t_g RE: cathodetube Dec 1, 2010 06:55 AM

          you can also get this stuff from bread & wine

          1. re: t_g
            cathodetube RE: t_g Dec 2, 2010 01:58 AM

            Druid/Maltby Street are closer to me! and didn't know about it before.

        2. limster RE: damien76 Dec 1, 2010 12:02 PM

          Try these other bakeries: Tetote (Wembley), Cocomaya (Marble Arch), Poliane (Belgravia), Nightingale (Clapham, well more of a patisserie). Thanks for the reminder re: Maltby street -- I still owe howler for pointing it out to me back when Monmouth first opened there on Saturdays.

          9 Replies
          1. re: limster
            chief1284 RE: limster Dec 1, 2010 02:28 PM

            I'd also add Paul Rhodes (Greenwich) and Le Pain Quotidien (multiple locations) as very nice bakeries. That said I have to agree with the OP, St John bread is my favourite in London, there's just something about it which taps into my psyche of what bread should be. I have known people to not be fans nevertheless.

            On a tangent, visited The Sportsman not long ago - best bread I've had in a restaurant I'd have to say. Disregarding St John, as they are in some part a bread shop!

            1. re: chief1284
              limster RE: chief1284 Dec 1, 2010 02:33 PM

              Like Paul Rhodes too -- they're probably the best baker at Borough Market.

              Re: restaurant bread -- I do like the ones at Helen Darroze a lot.

              1. re: chief1284
                r.vacapinta RE: chief1284 Dec 2, 2010 05:29 AM

                I second Le Pain Quotidien. It may not get much love here because they are a chain but we get their baguettes all the time and really enjoy them.

                On that note, avoid the freshly baked baguettes at both Waitrose and Sainsbury's. Yes, they are warm and freshly baked but it is low quality stuff.

                St. John bread is also at Neals Yard Cheese shop in Covent Garden. Not only is that closer to me but it means I can get my cheese and bread fix at the same place!

              2. re: limster
                cathodetube RE: limster Dec 2, 2010 01:56 AM

                I really like the soft pretzels and soft pretzel dough rolls sold by Artisan Bakers. Have bought their stuff from Blackheath and Brixton Sunday markets. They also do tasty little small flan/quiche/tartes with savoury fillings as well as different types of cakes.

                1. re: limster
                  peekaboo1 RE: limster Dec 3, 2010 07:49 AM

                  Seriously unimpressed by Cocomaya. Live very closeby and since it opened have popped in time and time again to try and find something I like given all the hype. Cakes are pretty but lack anything more. A real case of style and PR over substance. Also very overpriced. I know its a wealthy area, but there seems to be some major margin boosting going on.

                  1. re: peekaboo1
                    limster RE: peekaboo1 Dec 3, 2010 10:46 AM

                    Glad to have a differing opinion re: the food -- it's refreshing and provides a nice breath to the discussion.

                    However, I do disagree re: hype and PR, as I've seen very little at all about Cocomaya at in the general media.

                    1. re: limster
                      peekaboo1 RE: limster Dec 3, 2010 12:33 PM

                      They get mentions in local rags about connaght village, matchbox and the like... it very much tries to appeal to the fashion set and the local wealthy ladies - successfully no doubt as the place is very pretty. But the "normal people" locally are desperate for a decent local deli/bakery that isn't lebanese food or priced scarily!

                      Paul Rhodes is ok... If you're by Whole Foods I recommend the Exeter Street Bakery

                      1. re: peekaboo1
                        limster RE: peekaboo1 Dec 5, 2010 04:30 AM

                        re: pricing -- my general impression was that their prices were roughly 10-20% more than chains like Paul or Patisserie Valerie. e.g. a choc cake for ~£40 where Patisserie Valerie charges ~£37ish, or pastries for ~£2.20-2.50 vs ~£2ish at PV or Paul.

                        1. re: limster
                          tavegyl RE: limster Mar 6, 2011 06:00 AM

                          Had a couple of quite delicious cakes from Cocomaya. The cinnamon rolls might well be my new favourites in London -- light, crisp, just enough moistness inside, with a gorgeous hit of cinnamon and caramel. Definitely not your OTT cinnamon roll. The flourless chocolate cake was recommended by the staff and was very nice -- milk rather than dark chocolate, ganache-y but not overly dense. Pricey, at nearly 5 pounds. But it's the cinnamon roll I'll go back for.

                          35 Connaught St, Paddington, Greater London W2 2, GB

                2. zuriga1 RE: damien76 Dec 1, 2010 09:55 PM

                  No one has mentioned Whole Foods, but I think their rolls are really delicious, especially the sourdough or the ones with walnuts and fruit. They have that chewy, soft texture I like. I haven't had any of their breads for a long time, but they do have a huge selection.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: zuriga1
                    cathodetube RE: zuriga1 Dec 3, 2010 08:12 AM

                    I have had some tasty bread from there. I tried all the ones available to sample and then opted for a sliced sourdough. I also liked some of the fruit and nuts ones you mentioned, plus the fougasse.

                    1. re: cathodetube
                      zuriga1 RE: cathodetube Dec 3, 2010 11:03 AM

                      Have never tried the fougasse... will get some next trek up there.

                      1. re: zuriga1
                        damien76 RE: zuriga1 Dec 4, 2010 01:51 AM

                        I really like their 'Sperlonga', a crispier, flatter version of a ciabatta with a chewy centre which I've never seen anywhere else. It's currently on sale at Whole Foods Kensington at £1.29 so relatively good value.

                        However, the problem with Whole Foods across anything they make freshly is their inconsistencies due to staff organisation. There's been the odd occasion that my bread has been raw in the middle/only good for toasting.

                        1. re: damien76
                          zuriga1 RE: damien76 Dec 4, 2010 04:47 AM

                          Will add 'Sperlonga' to my bread list. I think I'll have to freeze some of these goodies, as we really don't eat that much bread each day. It could well be that the Whole Foods staff comes and goes, thus the inconsistencies. I know it's a bit like that in the States, too. Or maybe they need better timers!

                  2. k
                    klyeoh RE: damien76 Mar 8, 2011 08:33 PM

                    I love St John's!

                    St John
                    26 St John St, Islington EC1M 4AY, United Kingdom

                    1. f
                      foreignmuck RE: damien76 Mar 10, 2011 03:29 PM

                      Talking of amazing bread - has anyone tried the sourdough loaves from Wild Caper in Brixton market? always sensational.. made from the same starter as the Franco Manca Pizza dough i believe.

                      well worth a trip down for that bread...

                      Agree St John's Bread is top notch too... and the doughnuts are superb..

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: foreignmuck
                        cathodetube RE: foreignmuck Mar 10, 2011 03:34 PM

                        Does the sourdough come in different loaf shapes? Last Sunday they had quite a few half loaves they were giving away at closing and I picked up three. One was a tin loaf shape and light brown but tasted like a sourdough. The other two were flatter and one seemed like a sourdough and the other like a rye sourdough. Two of them made excellent toast the next day.

                        1. re: cathodetube
                          greedygirl RE: cathodetube Mar 17, 2011 03:21 PM

                          I think all their bread is baked with a starter rather than yeast. I actually have some of their starter so I make my own!

                        2. re: foreignmuck
                          Captain Falkenberg RE: foreignmuck Mar 17, 2011 07:03 AM

                          Wild Caper bread looked fantastic, but I thought I would never be able to buy it, because the loaves are so large. When I found out they sell it by weight I was rather pleased...

                          1. re: Captain Falkenberg
                            Jenny Sheridan RE: Captain Falkenberg Mar 17, 2011 07:37 AM

                            St Johns Eccles cakes are really good and very filling - one did me for lunch. They didn't have doughnuts when I went. Next time, I hope.
                            Re bread, I really like Paul for baguettes. A chain I know ..... but a Belgian one.

                            St John
                            26 St John St, Islington EC1M 4AY, United Kingdom

                            1. re: Jenny Sheridan
                              t_g RE: Jenny Sheridan Mar 17, 2011 07:42 AM

                              paul is belgian???????

                              1. re: t_g
                                klyeoh RE: t_g Mar 17, 2011 08:28 AM

                                I'd always thought Paul's French:

                                1. re: t_g
                                  themags RE: t_g Mar 17, 2011 04:32 PM

                                  Maybe you are thinking about Le Pain Quotidien (which did start in Belgium)?

                                  1. re: themags
                                    Jenny Sheridan RE: themags Mar 18, 2011 11:09 AM

                                    You're right, I was thinking of Le Pain Quotidien. Paul's bread is genuinely French.

                          2. m
                            mrs bacon RE: damien76 Mar 17, 2011 12:09 PM

                            Regarding St. John's Eccles cakes, the waiter told us they are not traditional. I have absolutely no idea what a traditional Eccles cake is supposed to be, but whatever they are serving is delicious!

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

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: mrs bacon
                              Harters RE: mrs bacon Apr 20, 2012 03:11 AM

                              To find traditional Eccles cakes, folk need look no further than their supermarket. The product usually on sale is about as traditional as you can get (and is still handmade within the metro area). http://www.lancashireecclescakes.co.u...

                              Personally I prefer Chorley cakes - the first cousin of the Eccles cake from 25 miles north, up the A6. Filling's the same, but it's made from shortcrust not flaky pastry. Fab with a slice of tasty Lancashire cheese - like Shorrock's "Bomb" , or a two year old "Bob's Knob" from Leagrams. .

                            2. d
                              damien76 RE: damien76 Apr 20, 2012 02:29 AM

                              Well I finally made it to Poilane as suggested by Limster above and I think it gives st johns a serious run for its money for the title.

                              Located in a beautiful little shop/bakery the fresh bread smell was really heady and intoxicating when I picked some breakfast yesterday morning.

                              It has the additional benefit of normal trading hours and is located moments from Victoria station if pastries are needed for a trip. Though it's a a more pleasant walk from sloane square.

                              9 Replies
                              1. re: damien76
                                cathodetube RE: damien76 Apr 20, 2012 02:38 AM

                                Poilane's bread keeps really well. It also makes great grilled/toasted cheese sandwiches - it is the bread used by the chap at Kappacasein, Borough Market and Maltby street.

                                1. re: cathodetube
                                  damien76 RE: cathodetube Apr 20, 2012 03:08 AM

                                  Excellent idea I picked up some toasting bags from Lakeland that let you make toasted sandwiches in a regular toaster, its time they got tested.

                                  1. re: damien76
                                    cathodetube RE: damien76 Apr 20, 2012 04:53 AM

                                    I like to do mine the American way.......buttered on the outside and cooked in a frying pan. I usually tomato and onion, or chopped leek if I have any.

                                    1. re: damien76
                                      zuriga1 RE: damien76 Apr 20, 2012 08:07 AM

                                      I use those bags on occasion but for a really good grilled cheese sandwich, nothing beats doing it in a frying pan. The cheese melts properly that way.

                                      1. re: zuriga1
                                        cathodetube RE: zuriga1 Apr 20, 2012 08:13 AM

                                        Yes, hurray for frying pans or griddles. Would never considering using bags. Wouldn't you need a massive toaster? I think they must be same as Croque Monsieurs although I have never seen one cooked.

                                        1. re: cathodetube
                                          damien76 RE: cathodetube Apr 20, 2012 09:56 AM

                                          I seem to remember a King recommending that method. Guess i'll be having a good old fashioned toast off soon to try it all out.

                                          1. re: damien76
                                            cathodetube RE: damien76 Apr 20, 2012 11:39 AM

                                            Who is a King? Mine and Zuriga's method is 100% American diner.

                                          2. re: cathodetube
                                            zuriga1 RE: cathodetube Apr 20, 2012 11:05 PM

                                            I mostly use the bags for heating up things rather than for really toasting. If one likes thick slices of bread, I guess they'd need a super-large toaster. The bags *are* good for something like the samosas that Waitrose or M&S sell, but they don't taste very good. :-)

                                            I never thought about the frying pan as the American diner method, but I guess it is!

                                            1. re: zuriga1
                                              cathodetube RE: zuriga1 Apr 21, 2012 01:15 AM

                                              I have had zero luck with toasters recently so no doubt another one would break if I tried to stuff something like a sandwich in it. I want to get griddle to use to make more than one grilled sandwich or when cooking for friends. Have found that the Waitrose own brand sliced brown bread makes very good grilled cheese.

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