Paul

Frangipagne

Summer Term is meant to be the quiet term. When we calm down before the summer holidays. I feel busier than ever at the moment. Working lots of weekends coming up means less cake time, but I hope to make it up during summer. Today’s blog is a rather belated write up of cake from last Wednesday when I was still on half term and had the time for cake related shenanigans.

A long overdue catch up day out with Steph. Steph and I are both going to be brides in the near future so we had a trip to one of my favourite discoveries in London, and a place that has already featured on this blog, the V&A. We were off to their new Wedding Dresses 1775-2014 exhibition to pick up some tips. If you have never planned a wedding before – and I haven’t yet either – I can let you know from my experience so far that it is far more stressful than you think. I have only just begun my journey to the aisle and I am sure I have already spent more hours in the planning to plan stage than hours there will be on the day itself. Yes, I have spreadsheets that plan my planning. That is perhaps all I should say on the matter at the moment.

The final week of May was not a sunny one this year and I had had to dig out a jacket and some tights for the occasion, a definite step back from summer. A nice lunch Al Fresco in Kensington was not such a welcome idea so we headed to Paul instead for some extravagant french patisserie hidden away in their upstairs dining room. It was warm and decorated with some rustic looking pottery that made me feel right at home. I love a good ancient looking pot. A light lunch of quiche set us up nicely and we both had to have an orangina or two, because, well, when in Rome… Then came cake time. What a tough decision it was this time around, such yummy French desserts to choose from. Steph went in for the classic Tartelette Chocolat, a one person chocolate lover’s paradise.I always have eyes bigger than my stomach so in the name of cake blog I went for a frangipane because it is essentially a CAKE IN A TART! The original hybrid. Who cares about the Cronut when you can have a sweet pastry case filled with almond flavoured cake and topped with more almonds? Heaven! If only I had snuck in some amaretto to go with it. I even bought some little choux pastry buns on the side because choux pastry is SO French.

Steph’s chocolate tart was excellently done. Rich, dark, smooth and gooey ganache filling that gleamed slightly on top. Crisp pastry tart around. Fantastic. The Frangipane was a ‘eat it really slowly so it lasts ages’ type of dessert. Lovely almond flavour, melt in your mouth sponge. The super shiny top upped the presentation credentials as well. The little choux pastry buns whose name I can’t remember or find on the Paul website were enjoyable even though I must admit i’m not the greatest fan of this pastry. I would never normally pick an eclair over a cake but these were sweet and tasty. They could have been crispier I feel as there wasn’t much ‘bite’ to them. Other than that I must owe it to you Paul, in the words of today’s youth, you did good. As the biggest chain bakery I have reviewed so far I was nervous that the products would feel somehow less loved than the effort that goes into a small cafe’s cake, but everything at Paul looked special in itself. So Paul is, as it’s my only French Patisserie so far, the best. I would recommend you go next time you want to eat something that sounds fancier than a Carrot Cake and is guaranteed to taste good, even if it is from a place I have always thought of as the Gregg’s of Paris.

Ratings:

Cake: Me: 6 Steph: 5

Atmosphere: 4  – a decent place to linger but not the cosiest.

Well this blog post was so much fun to write because of all the french words I was able to use! I know that none are accented but i simply can’t work out how to do it on here/ it’s past my bedtime on a school night and I am willing to forgo accent accuracy.

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Treacle, Flowers, Kahaila

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This week I was at work on Saturday. Boo. I had to think carefully about where to go on Sunday to make the most of a one day weekend. I went to a place that many people have heard about, but perhaps many have not ventured to.

It started off with a trip up the East London line – always far more pleasant than the tube. Then a short walk took us to Columbia road flower market! Only running on Sunday, this market is buzzing and beautiful. You may have to squeeze your way through the crowds but the sea of pretty flowers is worth it. The market sellers provide great comedy value – think of your typical burly, deep voiced, East London market trader. Now imagine him saying:

best orchids, I’ve got the best orchids here, better than Steve’s peonies

We hadn’t had time for breakfast because we went for a jog. Yes, I know, you were wondering, blog=jog is still going! 3 consecutive weekend jogs in a row. A personal record.
With our post jog empty stomachs rumbling we stumbled into the Cafe Columbia for tea and his&hers breakfast bagels. A lovely little place that I would definitely recommend.

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Cake! We were there to look at a place called Treacle. It wasn’t difficult to find, but a quick peer through the window didn’t show any cakes. Instead it appeared that Treacle was now the fancy wine bar next door! A pic of the cake-less shop to prove it is provided.

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Disappointed, we sought pastures new and headed to the Brick Lane market. The Columbia Road Flower market and the Brick Lane is a batman and robin-esque power duo of relaxed Sunday wandering. Brick lane has street food, local craft stalls and stolen bikes, so if yours has been stolen recently go down and take a look. You may be able to buy it back for a reasonable price.

We still wanted cake and luckily we soon came across a tantalising shop display. We were convinced and discovered the cafe Kahaila. It is a charity and church and gives all its profits to the local community, and they sell cake. I chose the rather adventurous rose, raspberry and pistachio. Charlie went for chocolate and banana. The cake was moist and the portions large, but all the flavour was in the icing. I discovered I like the flavour of rose in my cake, but I couldn’t taste any raspberry or pistachio despite there being bits of raspberry in the sponge. Charlie says his cake was everything he wanted from a cake – but nothing more. Plenty of ganache but no panache. (That was me not Charlie.) Atmosphere was pleasant, many East London residents using the free wifi and enjoying the hessian themed decor. Overall a fine place to have a quick sit down away from the bustle.

A good weekend in one day if ever there was one to be had. If you haven’t discovered the Brick Lane market on a Sunday yet I would suggest you go along, it’s a bit like Camden but without the tourists. So far.

Ratings:
Cake: Amy 4/7 Charlie 4.5/7
Atmosphere: 5.5/7 – very friendly, a charity! Not a cosy tea shop.

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The V&A

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The Victoria and Albert museum. A slightly more grown up neighbour to the natural history and science museums. I say that only because there are no child aimed activities in the V&A, which is a shame because I like a good interactive game.

It was still half term so I decided to fit in another cake shop visit, this time taking along my mum and sister for a catch up. The plan was to go along to one of the bakeries on the kings road but when I double checked them it turned out two had closed down! Plans scuppered. So we met up at South Kensington and headed somewhere that I knew would do us a good lunch.

The Victoria and Albert museum cafe is not in my book. It is not renowned for its cake. It does do a very nice lunch however and is a great place for a ‘ladies who lunch’ in London. The Morris, Gamble and Poynter rooms were the first ever museum restaurant and are a stunning setting to eat in.

There is a great selection of lunches to choose from and plenty of cakes for afters! So we had salads and sandwiches and then picked our sweets. Lydia chose a slab of chocolate cake. Mum and I chose to share a St Clements cake and a berry slice. We were so eager I forgot to take photos before we halved the cakes, so apologies for the dodgyness. The berry slice was the clear winner, moist, fruity and a good size. The St Clements was very moist and almondy but didn’t taste of lemons or oranges. The chocolate cake was tasty but a little dry and needed either more icing or cream.

We had a lovely afternoon looking at arty historical things and the current fashion display which had lots of painful looking to fit into dresses.
If you live in London and need somewhere to spend an afternoon with the girls then I highly recommend the V&A.

Ratings:
Cake: Me: 5/7 Mum: 5/7 Lydia: 5/7 not the best cake, not the worst.

Atmosphere: 6/7 lovely rooms, busy, nice food. You may have to fight for a table in one of the pretty rooms.

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Bea’s of Bloomsbury

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Excitement! My first girly catch up tea and cake entry. I chose Bea’s of Bloomsbury because it looked like an excellent, central, cosy cake place to spend an afternoon with the girls. I was meeting up with my fellow classicists from University for a well overdue reunion. As we used to have our lunch dates in Gregg’s when at Durham, Bea’s was a good step up for us! Although I won’t hear a bad thing said about a Gregg’s steak bake.

So we turned up to the original Holborn Bea’s when it opened at 12 noon. The cafe itself was quite small and had about 6 tables for 2-4 squished in around the huge cake display. The cakes looked amazing. There was a good selection of cupcakes, brownies, blondies and even something that looked like a brownie baked in pastry?!? It was the cheesecakes, however, that stole our hearts.

I chose the lemon meringue cheesecake, tempted by the caramelised meringue on top. Dominique and Katie both went for the chocolate peanut butter cheesecake, while Katy opted for the truffle chocolate cake. The tea came in futuristic looking metal teapots for one and we had a comfy cushiony seat. The main problem was that everyone else had booked and so we had to vacate our table by 1.30. So a spanner in our girly chat time, and a tip for anyone thinking of visiting.  Otherwise the staff were fairly friendly and the décor modern and pretty, think teapots hanging from the ceiling and pretty flowery plates.

The cheesecake was yummy; it tasted like very good New York style cheesecake with lemon curd and meringue on top, which worked well and the meringue was very light and fluffy. The peanut butter chocolate cheesecake, with a layer of each on top and crunchy peanut decorations, was almost more tasty but so rich it was difficult to finish. I didn’t taste the chocolate cake but the speed with which Katy ate it suggested it was good. Overall these were good cakes and made a good lunch for us, as there was no savoury option available for the weekend. A lovely Saturday with my Latin Ladies, thank you for a lovely catch up girls. I think we found a better place than Gregg’s to indulge our cake fancies!

On another note, from looking at what other tables were eating, the afternoon tea option looked rather enticing!

Ratings:

Cake: Me 5.5/7 Dominique 5/7 Katy: tba Katie: tba

Atmosphere: 4/7 – should have booked.

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