Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Cake Tourism

This weekend was my escape to London for the marvel that is Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake. It was sublime, as always, and I laughed heaps and wept buckets as is only right and proper at such an event.

While I was in London, I thought I ought to take the opportunity to do some research. I visited Jane Asher's shop for a few bits and pieces, I spent a wonderful hour in Pages catering supply shop indulging in dreams of expansion and equipment. But mostly, I went to bakeries and cupcake shops, took photos and ate cake. Lots of cake. So much cake that I threw most of it out after I'd tried a bite.

My good friend Rebecca asked her good friend Beth, who lives in London, to recommend cake places to visit. Her recommendations were super, for which I am very grateful. Thanks, Beth!

Lola's is a cupcake concession in Selfridges and Harrods. They are very pretty, do loads of flavours and have LOVELY packaging. I am envious. The sponge itself is very white, which puts me off a bit because in my experience butter and free range eggs mean a yellower cake. I am a firm believer in butter and free range eggs.
Lola's cupcakes have icing very nearly as deep as the cake, and they are covered in all sorts of nice things. Luke tried one and was very keen.
They also do big cakes. I liked this one, with mini cupcakes on top of an iced layer cake - cake studded cakes amuse me.
Selfridges food hall also sells loads of other nice cakes. I loved the tiny celebration cakes, edged in ribbon rather than dratted piped shell borders.
Hummingbird cakes remain very, very sweet, with loads of icing but looking really cute. They do Chocolate malt cupcakes now - clearly inspired by my success with chocolate malteser cakes. As if. Still, I get to feel smug about being there first.

I also went to the Primrose bakery - gorgeous 50s diner styling, a nice cup of coffee and pretty cakes, although the one I bought was rather stale. The loaf cakes were rather strangely sunken in the middle - the sort of thing that would have made me think my cake had gone wrong, if I'd done it. However, the pretty curling ribbon used to tie up the boxes, the blowsy, old fashioned roses in a pitcher on the table and the pale yellow colour scheme were all lovely and made it a nice place to spend half an hour.

I had a look at the stuff from Patisserie Valerie, a new cupcake place called Ella's (nice enough, uses loads of edible glitter) and a good browse around the cake stalls of Borough Market too.

Things I learnt - red velvet is still a very popular cake and I was right to try and push it. The mini cupcakes I do are also very big down south. Lots of celebration cakes I saw were finished with a border of ribbon rather than the piped icing, and cakes on a black and white motif were popular.
Flavours I saw this time that I hadn't seen before are chocolate beetroot, rocky road cupcakes and earl grey cake. I got a lot of ideas for cake decorations too.

All in all it was a pretty constructive trip.

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