The Edinburgh bakery named as the world's best newcomer - and why it's so special

This Stockbridge destination opened in July 2023

You snooze, you lose.

That’s been my experience of one-year-old Edinburgh bakery, Lannan, which is owned by 26-year-old Darcie Maher.

Whenever I visit, they’re either sold out, or there’s a massive queue along Hamilton Place.

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Lannan owner Darcie Maher. Picture: James PorteousLannan owner Darcie Maher. Picture: James Porteous
Lannan owner Darcie Maher. Picture: James Porteous | James Porteous

That line is bound to be even longer, now that they’ve been awarded La Liste’s prestigious Pastry Opening of the Year Award 2024. This global prize recognises “impressive newcomers to the pastry scene that deserve recognition”.

I decide to set my alarm for 5:30am, and arrive at the bakery at 7:30am - half an hour before the official opening time.

There are already ten eager early-birds waiting outside.

I chat to the twentysomething couple in front of me, who seem very interested in sampling the bakery’s savoury pastry offerings. They’re on holiday from London, and their itinerary includes Edinburgh Castle, Calton Hill, Arthur’s Seat and… Lannan.

“Is the queue always this long?” asks one of them. It’s now 7:45am, and the line stretches back to Stockbridge Primary School.

The pair behind me have come all the way from California. One of them, Alex Fong, is a baker from Quail & Condor in Healdsburg, which is about an hour from San Francisco. The pair are in Scotland for a wedding, and decided to queue after spotting Lannan’s Instagram account.

Fong is mostly into bread, but they’re happy with pastries too.

The only local I speak to is here with his German shepherd, Bill, who seems thrilled about potential crumbs. They both visit regularly, and wish that Lannan would open a second branch nearby.

I’m not usually a fan of delayed gratification, but this is enjoyable, as I’ve got a ringside seat beside the Victorian shop front’s huge windows, with BAKERY gilded onto the glass.

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I’m drooling, as I watch the methodical production line and the smell of croissants beckons along the street.

The three members of staff wear branded T-shirts and toffee-coloured pinnies, along with flour-dusted Birkenstocks. There is someone neatly chopping bright tomatoes, to add to the tomato, confit garlic and goat’s cheese pastries. Strawberries are positioned on saucer-sized tarts, then laced with crumbled pistachios.

Next, a tray of their signature custard slice, with its unapologetically retro-looking bright pink icing and fern pattern, comes out, and is divided into pieces with a clever tool that is like five pizza cutters in one. While this is portioned, another baker uses a huge piping bag to add lavish chevrons of icing to the top of sugar-dusted cinnamon buns, before candied peel goes on with a flourish.

Maher is at work too. I can’t believe how calm she is - as cool as a stick of butter.

There’s Gordon Ramsay at one extreme, while she’s at the other. In her place, I would be a sweaty flustered mess.

It’s five minutes until opening, and she laminates the chestnut-hued pain Suisse, and grates vast flurries of cheese onto the nduja honey buns.

We’re increasingly champing at the bit, but there’s no sense of panic from inside.

At 8am, we file in. “Only six customers at a time,” it says on the door, and there’s another sign inside, asking people not to take photographs of the staff at work. I suppose that must be the downfall of being Insta-famous. (@lannanbakery has 59k followers, and @darciebakes has 38k).

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Once you’ve made it through the doors, you discover the real magic of Lannan, whose name comes from the Gaelic word for house. It’s not only about the beautiful Viennoiserie. There are other spells being cast.

It’s the experience - a beautiful shop, with red tiled floors, an impressive ceiling rose, and jaw-droppingly beautiful pastries lined up uniformly in old-fashioned haberdashery-style trays. So perfect. There is merch - maybe I should get a Lannan T-shirt? - and the staff are smiley and gracious, despite all the hungry eyes staring at them expectantly.

My chosen pastries, including a pistachio and white chocolate pain Suisse; the smoked ham, cheddar and mustard bake; a strawberry tart; cinnamon bun and one of those nduja honey buns, are packed into branded boxes and bags. The only one I didn’t get is the custard slice, and I’m a bit sad about that.

When paying, I rudely ask if I can speak to Darcie for five minutes, imagining that she’ll be way too busy at this time of day. She appears and gives me the nod.

After asking a colleague to take her baguettes out of the oven, she tells me how she stays so calm while customers stare from outside.

“This is my safe, happy place, where I feel really comfortable, so whenever I’m here I’m not feeling stressed,” says the baker, who is originally from the Scottish Borders. “I definitely used to, but it’s part of it now. It’s incredible, I’m so grateful, I didn’t ever think we’d be this big.”

It seems that her formula for success is relatively straightforward. It’s just committing to something you enjoy doing. Her parents are teachers, so perhaps her love of patisserie was nurture rather than nature. She’s already been working in kitchens for 11 years, including a stint at Flour Water Salt in Macclesfield, and Edinburgh restaurant The Palmerston, and never wavered from her path.

“It’s just always what I wanted to do, so I left school and started work. I think I’ve stayed true to the things I like, in the sense of design and what we make,” she says. “We’ve worked by not expanding, doing things on quite a small scale and giving freedom to the staff to make things of their own.”

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She employed architects and designers for Lannan, but always stuck to her own vision.

“I left The Palmerston and then, for nine months, solely focused on this and got less sleep than I did when we opened, because I was up all night wondering what tiles I was going to choose,” she says. “People who know me the best say that walking in here is like walking into my head.”

It’s bad news for the man with the dog, as there are NO plans to open a second bakery.

However, a cookbook will be inevitable.

“It’s definitely something I want to do, but one thing at a time. If I wait a few years, it’ll only be better. Lannan hasn’t even been open a year and I’m still young,” she says. “In ten years, I’d love to do more writing and teaching. Before I set up the bakery and after The Palmerston, I was doing a lot of consultancy and helping set up other bakeries. I’d like to eventually do that on a smaller scale, one-to-one.”

I tell her about the couple outside, for whom Lannan was part of their city itinerary.

“We’re not even a year old and we’ve become part of coming to Edinburgh for a lot of people,” she says.

Indeed. Then she wins my heart by handing me one of their signature custard slices, which I greedily and thankfully add to my pile.

Well, you need extra energy when recovering from an early rise.

Lannan, 29-35 Hamilton Place, Edinburgh is open from Thursday to Sunday, 8am until 4pm.

For more information on La Liste, see



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