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It’s Bake Off season and boy are we ready for it this year – the reliability of great bakes (now common parlance thanks to GBBO!), good humour, and pure simple TV-shaped joy…

Anyway, I don’t know about you but now it’s back on the box, I’ve got a hankering for pastries and cakes with ‘a good crumb’. Here’s Muddy’s pick of the best bakeries in Bucks & Oxon.

GAIL’s, various locations

Yes, we know it’s technically a chain – but there’s no doubt that GAIL’s serves up an excellent loaf, as well as tasty sandwiches, sweets and cakes (hello pistachio and raspberry bun!), all washed down with their signature in-house coffee, of course. Those based in Oxford should held to their Jericho or Summertown branches for a sourdough fix, while Bucks locals have Marlow and Beaconsfield cafes on their doorstep.

Proof Social Bakehouse, Kennington

Squirrelled away on an Oxford industrial estate, this cool collab between Oxford’s Tap Social Movement and Missing Bean Coffee Roasters is well worth the trip – especially as you can see them baking up a storm from the open-plan café. Expect sourdough, pastries, tray bake, deli and pantry items from local suppliers, and naturally Missing Bean coffee and Tap Social beer. It’s not just the pastries that will leave you warm and fuzzy – Proof also offers paid training and employment to people in prison and prison leavers.

Woodstock’s Artisan Bakery, Stony Stratford, MK

For an old fashioned bakery with the sort of charm you remember from your childhood, you could do a lot worse than turning up here. Expect traybakes, brownies, eccles cakes, flapjacks and tiny treats for the children such as gingerbread men. Speciality breads are produced for the weekend and traditional and continental breads line the shelves otherwise. Carby heaven.

Quince and Clover, Great Tew

Nestled in the idylls of Great Tew (in the former post office and village shop, no less), you know this artisan bakery and cafe is a good’un as it survived launching in March 2020 (*gulp*). Luckily, Quince and Clover’s freshly-based breakfast pastries, homemade cakes, savoury tarts, cookies and Cotswold Crunch loaves were a hit with a the locals, and it’s now a must-visit spot to get your lunchtime fix.

Zanni’s, Aylesbury 

If you are a regular at food markets in Aylesbury Vale, chances are you’ve already snaffled some of Zanni’s baked goods out of a paper bag, while still trying to look glamorous despite icing sugar covering half your face. They’re regular fixtures on the market scene in Marlow, Haddenham, Little Gaddesdon, Winslow, Tring and of course, Aylesbury. We’re big fans of their Chelsea Buns.

Hamblin Bread, Oxford

This is the bakery for purists – all of the bread, buns, cakes and pizza are made with stone ground flour from organic wheat and rye, grown within 50 miles of the bakery. Check out the website to see what’s cooking for each day (it also now stocks local cheeses, cured meat and fish, fresh fruit and vegetables and natural, organic and biodynamic wines – talk about one-stop shop).

The Bakery, The Stables at Long Crendon

This bucolic spot at Long Crendon Manor fires up in the early hours to get baking its traditional farmhouse and malthouse loaves and sourdough. Stop for a baguette, sausage roll, brownie or muffin and a cuppa and perch on one of the picnic tables with a meadow view.

Barefoot, Oxford

It’s not hard to spot Barefoot in the cute bunting-strung North Parade in Jericho – there’s usually a queue outside. Whatever the wait, the bakes are 100% worth it. Lemon cheesecake cruffin anyone? White chocolate and raspberry doughnut? There’s also breads galore and decent coffee to take away. Weekend starts here… (or weekdays if you’re lucky enough to be close by).

The Bakery by Knife and Fork, Oxford

Are you gluten intolerant and of the mind gluten-free bread tastes like pap? Well, so was owner of Knife and Fork home restaurant and award-winning chef Tanya Young until she started experimenting and creating gluten-free bread recipes that deliver on both texture and taste. The Bakery now delivers UK-wide and offers gluten-free cakes, brownies and granola as well as standard and more elaborate (cinnamon, orange and sultana, for eg) bread loaves. 

Rex Bakery, Little Chalfont, Bucks

These guys are serious about their bread. Multiple award-winners, the team hand make their loaves on site with quality ingredients, specialised know-how and a no-rush attitude. The results are pretty special, which is why they often sell out before their 2.30pm closing time. Fancy a pastry? Their almond croissants are normally demolished by 9am. If you’re pottering about in Berkshire, check out their bakery in Windsor.

The Orange Bakery, Watlington

Father and daughter bakers, Alex and Kitty Tait, deliver exemplary sourdough everyday along with other specialist loaves flavoured with such delights as miso and sesame, walnut and even Marmite. Pastries – including to-die-for cinnamon rolls – grace the shelves in the morning. For lunch, how about a wild garlic and chorizo swirls followed by a rhubarb bun? Tip: Get there quick to avoid disappointment.

Darmon Deli, Amersham

Darmon Deli offers worldwide cuisine with a French twist – and you know what that means… *sounds patisserie klaxon*. This week they’ve got tarte tartin on the menu along with lemon meringe. Dreamy. Plus, they offer takeaway and sit-in options although walking anywhere with that much cream and fruit in hand has got children’s TV pratfall written all over it.

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