The Hummingbird Bakery

Image

Rather a wet weekend it has been, and not just outside. On Friday morning I looked up at the kitchen clock and realised simultaneously that I was running late and that there was water dripping down the wall. By Saturday morning there was a slow but steady trickle of  water coming down the wall in 4 places. After finally finding a reason to introduce ourselves to the flat upstairs (and so meeting a very friendly Dutch family) and two plumbers called out in two days (not by us) we were looking forward to cake as a good excuse to leave our now rather damp flat.

We decided to go to Spitalfields to visit the hummingbird bakery, I know there are many Hummingbirds around London but this was the one given in the book so there we went. We took the opportunity to wander around the legendary market area and there were lots of lovely stalls selling clothes and food and crafty bits. The bakery was hidden away slightly down a back street with the excellent name of Frying Pan Alley. The décor was very bright pink and a little in your face but still looked inviting, however there were only two tables and a little bar, more of a take-away cake joint than a cosy cafe.

Hummingbird Bakery is known for its cupcakes but because we had our fill of these last weekend we both ended up opting for something different. Charlie had a huge slab of Chicago Chocolate Fudge cake and I went for the rather more adventurous Cheesecake Brownie. I chose this because I wanted something unusual and who doesn’t want to try a brownie with a layer of baked cheesecake on top? I was also attracted to its three layer pattern in brown, yellow and pink because it looked like the cake version of Neapolitan ice cream!

Charlie’s cake was the clear winner with its yummy fudgy chocolateyness with extra chunks of fudge. The raspberry cream layer was the star of mine and added a sharp freshness to what would otherwise have been an overly sweet and cloying creation. The brownie layer on the bottom was a bit on the dry side and didn’t have squidgyness I would expect from a brownie. Although I now want to add a raspberry cream layer to all my brownies in the future!

Ratings:

Cake: Me 5.5/7  Charlie 5.5/7

Atmosphere: 3/7

IMG_0193           IMG_0195

Cox Cookies and Cake and The Cupcake Bakehouse

Rather a mouthful of a title today, but then it corresponds with the mouthfuls of cake eaten yesterday! An adventurous eating day all round.

Started off with some sushi with the Scarrs. Now I know that I was insistent that I didn’t make any resolutions other that to eat cake this year, but now I must admit a hidden semi-resolution. More of a general aim actually. To eat more fish. Anyone who knows me well knows that this is quite a challenge as I don’t like fish, in fact I only generally eat smoked salmon and scallops because if you are only going to like the taste of two types of fish they might as well be the expensive ones. So we went out for sushi and I ordered the set menu A. Picture provided below. Note the super exciting addition of curly straw in my orange juice. This made my day a little bit. I ate all the fish (ok I swapped the prawn for more salmon and the octopus was horrible – but I tried my best)! The sushi restaurant was an amazing little place above a Japanese supermarket near Tottenham Court Road. Thank you Georgia and the Scarrs for lovely sushi times! 

Wait, no talk about cake yet. And there are two cake places names above.Image 

So, after sushi we tried to find Cox Cookies and Cake is Soho. It soon became apparent that it no longer existed. Whoops. We spent the afternoon wandering around London instead and saw Buckingham Palace, eventually ending up in Covent Garden where there is The Cupcake Bakehouse.

The Cupcake Bakehouse is owned by Lorraine Pascale of telly fame. As we were going over to our friend’s for dinner that night, and still being full of sushi, we bought 4 cupcakes to take over for dessert. More people more cake tasting! After eating our mini cupcakes to make sure they were suitable for consumption – we aren’t temptation heroes, we couldn’t wait that long – we went off home.

So at Rob and Tash’s later that night…. We had eaten a tastylicious Greek lamb dinner, had conversation and appletize (I was driving), played the best card game ever invented (cards against humanity, look it up), and then it was time for cake. These cupcakes were very lovely and made an excellent dessert because all their icing made them easier to eat with a fork, and I do think that for something to count as dessert it should be eaten with cutlery, otherwise it’s just a snack. 

There were four of us to give opinions on cake so there were many flying around. We all agreed that the butter cream icing was good because it wasn’t too sweet. This is a characteristic of many cupcakes, lots and lots of butter cream which makes the whole thing taste too sugary, but these were spot on. The cakes also had good fillings, mine had yummy cherries, there was lemon curd and chocolaty bits. However the sponge was in some cakes slightly dry and we all felt that these cakes were still do-able at home. We all agreed that to gain very high marks we wanted something that we wouldn’t be able to achieve ourselves. 

No atmosphere points this week as The Cupcake Bakehouse was a little small to sit in and we took the cakes away! 

Cake: Me 5/7  Guests: Charlie 5.5/7  Tash 4/7  Rob 5/7  

so not a bad result for these cupcakes, and Lorraine, how did you make your buttercream? 

Image

Image

Bake-a-Boo

So my first visit! Bake-a-Boo in West Hampstead. This is the first entry from the cupcake section of the book. 

Charlie and I set off after a lie-in towards West Hampstead. A voyage up the Jubilee line to the uncharted territories of the North, and my favourite lunch spot Lena’s 2.  After a quick and delicious lunch of the best salads in the world we set off down the tropical sounding Sumatra Road and soon popped out among lots of lovely looking independent shops. There was Bake-a-Boo, at first we couldn’t see anything through the steamed up windows but when we entered we found a lovely little tea room with lots and lots of bunting.

The staff were very friendly and soon we were set up with a pot of almond tea for two and two cakes. The cakes were out in the window to choose from. I had the Victoria sponge – the signature according to my book – and Charlie picked a blueberry cupcake. Everything was served on  mismatched antique-y crockery which was a nice touch. Overall the décor was really lovely.

The cakes were nice. My Victoria sponge was moist and tasty but could have done with a bit more jam. Charlie’s blueberry cupcake was also nice but didn’t really taste of blueberry. I felt I could have made cakes which were just as good. This didn’t really put a dampener on the whole experience because the cakes tasted very home-made and this added to the feeling that you were simply eating in somebody’s living room, a living room dressed out like a village fete. 

After our cake and tea moment we decided to walk into Piccadilly because Charlie wanted to buy a book from the flagship Waterstones. I have never been and it was huge! Definitely worth a visit, a book lover’s paradise.

Now, rating. I have had lots of thinkings about whether to do this or not, but have decided that I should rate the places I visit so that other people can see my judgements. The book gives two ratings out of 5 for each place, a cake rating and an overall rating. I am going to give a cake rating and an atmosphere rating. I will give these out of seven, because it is an awesome number and very IB (International Baccalaureate, look it up I teach it). 

So. 

Cake:  Me  5/7  Guest 4/7 

Atmosphere: 6/7 

ImageImageImage

Why a blog?

I received a book for Christmas which is life changing, or at least weekend changing. The book is about the best places to eat cake in London. While many of my friends were making their 5 point plans, new year’s resolutions and preparing for dry January’s, I decided to do something different. I will not give anything up or aim to improve my health or love life or language skills or work ethic. I will eat cake.

So the plan is simple. I will travel around London visiting the places in my new cake book and eating the delicious cakes. I think this makes for a positive outlook for 2014.

When thinking about this challenge I pondered whether other people would want to know about my adventures eating cake. After asking some friends and family, the consensus was yes. Hence blog. I have never blogged before and in general my outlook at such internet-y media-y friendly things has been negative and scary; but as the newspapers and my students (they are young so they know what they are talking about) keep telling me that facebook is over and I don’t think a record of cake would work via snapchat, I have ended up on here.

Feel free to comment, ask questions and if you have been to some of the cake places let me know what you thought!

Image