Saturday, 25 September 2010

Libby's Lovely Little Guide to London: Cupcake Bakeries

Today was a good day. Underneath a clear blue, sunny sky I wandered around London with my flatmate Daniel in search of cupcake bakeries. After finishing at Cosmo yesterday a luxuriously free weekend stretched ahead of me. It was a random flash of genius / madness that made me decide to set out on this cupcake adventure.
I was keen to explore London on foot after so many tube journeys cramped up in the stuffy darkness of the underground city. So this morning I headed to Oxford Street, and spent the afternoon wandering through Soho and Covent Garden, stopping at bakeries along the way.
To reach Soho we walked past Liberty, one of my favourite shops and to me on of London's most iconic landmarks, and then down the equally famous Carnaby Street.
As I set off down Carnaby Street on my search for cupcakes I felt more than a little happy. Libby Page: intrepid explorer, off to discover new sugary realms down unknown London streets.
First stop: the Hummingbird Bakery on Wardour Street. This Soho store is the newest of the three Hummingbird Bakeries (the others on Portobello road and in South Kensington) and although I had heard many things about it, I had never paid a visit before.
We were welcomed by colourful stands displaying picture perfect cupcakes, and an open door through which wafted the sound of happy chatter and the smell of sugar and butter.
The Hummingbird Bakery has been made famous by their beautiful cookbook (which has sold over 300,000 copies) and I was very happy when Daniel bought a copy for our flat.
Inside, the shop was Libby heaven. Pink cupboards, pink icing, pink everything, not to mention the tantalising smell of hundreds of cakes.
The shop and cakes reminded me of Minnie Mouse's kitchen; step inside the Hummingbird Bakery and you are transported to a rose-tinted world of sugary-scented perfection. As well as the rows and rows of cupcakes there were also moist-looking layer cakes displayed on cake stands, fruit pies and piles of brownies. A Hummingbird favourite is the Red Velvet Cake, a decadent chocolate and vanilla cake famous for its rich raspberry-red colour.

It was an effort to draw myself away from the Humminbird Bakery, but I'm sure I will be back. Besides, there were still many more places left to discover...
Next on the list was a new bakery I had read about in Vogue, and a bakery like no other. On Brewer street stood the black and neon facade of Cox Cookies and Cake, the brainchild of Patrick Cox, shoe designer turned baker.
With neon boxes in the window, an all black, sparkly interior and hunky men in studded leather aprons behind the counter, this isn't your average cupcake shop.
Never before have cupcakes looked so sexy, or has eating them seemed so glamorous.

Raspberry and white chocolate cakes sat next to gooey chocolate cupcakes with chocolate skulls balancing on thick red icing. But my favourites had to be the white chocolate and blueberry flavour, purely for the fabulous fact they had Marilyn Monroe on them.
You would be forgiven for thinking you had stumbled into a night club not a bakery if it weren't for the glass cabinets loaded with rows of cakes that stretched into the black glittery distance.

And of course I had to buy a Marilyn Monroe cake. It's not often you see a cake with your icon's face on it.
After uber-cool, quirky Cox Cookies and Cake, Primrose Bakery in Covent Garden was your traditional cupcake bakery at its best. The primrose yellow shop front was like a ray of sunshine on the grey Tavistock Street. By this time the sun had decided to hide behind a cloud, but inside the Primrose Bakery it was a beautiful day.
Full of pastel shades and retro furnishings this was a place you wanted to hang out, sipping hot chocolate and eating cake.
The Primrose Bakery, from everything from its adorable name to the spring shade icing and pink sparkly sprinkles decorating the cakes, was the epitome of girliness.
Despite the several stops at cake shops I had already made, I was yet to eat a cupcake. (The Marilyn Monroe cake was too pretty to eat and is now sitting in my fridge awaiting a long day when all I need is cake) Therefore it was at the Primrose Bakery that the temptation became too great, and Daniel and I sat down on the vintage leather seats to eat our well-deserved cupcake.

We both opted for traditional vanilla despite the array of flavours (from traditional carrot cake to the less traditional Earl Grey flavour that was a beautiful lilac shade).

Daniel's cake was yellow with pink hundreds and thousands.
Mine was, of course, pink.

Eating the cupcake was like biting into heaven.
After the delightful Primrose Bakery we headed back to Oxford Street, but our search wasn't over just yet. On Lexington Street we passed the incredibly inviting Mrs Marengo's, a vegetarian coffee and cake shop filled with traditional furnishings (think paper doileys and lace table cloths) and buzzing with people.
The cakes are made using natural and mainly organic ingredients and come in a range of tempting flavours. Whilst we were there we were offered a taster of a lemon and pistachio cake that melted in the mouth. In this cake shop you can also stop for more than just a quick bite, as they also boast a delicious menu of breakfasts and lunches as well as traditional afternoon teas.
Our final destination, as we headed through Kingly Court and back to Oxford Street, was Candy Cakes, part of the buzzing brasserie 'C'est ici'. Candy Cakes have 5 stores throughout London and are famous for their kaleidoscope array of flavours.
This is one for a real sugar fix as each cupcake has just about as much icing as cake.

With the smell of cupcakes still in my mind I pulled myself away and headed for home. After so many glorious cake shops, tonight I will no doubt dream about mounds of pink icing and hundreds of thousands falling from the sky.

What a sweet day.

Here's where I went:

The Hummingbird Bakery
155a Wardour Street

Cox Cookies and Cake
13 Brewer Street

Primrose Bakery
42 Tavistock Street

Mrs Marengo's
53 Lexington Street

Candy Cakes
11 Kingly Court

1 comment:

  1. great post ! I think I will visit this place when I am in London next year ! :D kiss, Mandy <3