Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Continuing with my cake reflections from the past few months, I thought I'd share my findings from The Love Bakery, Peyton and Byrne and The Euphorium Bakery.

I'll start with one of my favourites, The Love Bakery on the Kings Road in Chelsea. Having passed this lovely little shop several times on the bus, and seen beautiful photographs, I couldn't wait to try out their cakes and I certainly wasn't disappointed upon first taste! Behold the prettiness:

I chose a selection of 4 cupcakes- Chocolate, Banana, Vanilla and Red Velvet, although there are many more flavours and varieties to try...

My banana cupcake had a nicely spiced sponge with a slightly wholemeal taste about it, giving the potential illusion of healthiness, especially with the inclusion of fruit (1 of my 5 of a day!?). The banana flavouring blended nicely with the sponge and didn't cause it to go dry, as I have tasted with banana cakes before, and was less chunky than some comparable recipes. I liked this about the texture, and with a smooth creamy buttercream on top with a sculpted bunch of bananas to complete the look, it was very nice too. Love's buttercream on a cake like this proves very sweet and as the decorations are made of it too, it's not one if you find icing overpowering. But now onto the even sweeter stuff....

Red Velvet had to be tried, knowing it's one of the bakery's most popular varieties and a general classic of the cupcake world. This was a nice change to what can sometimes be a rather indifferent flavour in my opinion, and the sponge had just the right balance of colour, taste and texture. Cream cheese icing wasn't too heavy on top of the cake, and dusted off with a few pretty heart-shaped sprinkles that added a bit of crunch, this is one red velvet I'll be coming back for.

 The delicate Vanilla cupcake in my box was simple and effective with its pretty gold rose with soft green leaves made of icing resting on a bed of smooth vanilla buttercream. This had a good amount of vanilla flavouring so the cake didn't taste too bland, and
this is a nice one to go for if you want a classic with not too much of a sugar rush!

For a lovely combination of rich, sweetness and delicate sponge, look no further than Love's chocolate cupcake...

Beneath its cutesy, glittery demeanour this cupcake packs a full-on chocolatey punch, and is definitely one to be enjoyed again and again, particularly when it looks so pretty. That carefully created delicate springy sponge is to be found, only this time with a rich chocolate taste to add a bit more interest. Combined with the soft chocolate buttercream and firmer icing decorations of flowers and butterflies, this variety is much more satisfying than a chocolate bar and looks better too...

 Love Bakery definitely do make some fantastic cupcakes that taste and look amazing- their shop is worth visiting for picking up tiny bits of cake-paraphenalia as well as getting inspired by their seasonal decorations and of course, their edible concoctions. Get off at Sloane Square, have a leisurely wander, and keep going...the walk is definitely worth the wait!

Also, a quick plug while I remember, for their deliciously pink book filled with mouth-watering pictures and recipes so you can create your own versions at home- this has not yet reached my shelves, but I've already reserved a space for it- even their book looks good enough to eat...

Now to Peyton and Byrne...beloved of many a St Pancras Station traveller, and potentially many an avid-baker thanks to their recent recipe book contributionm British Baking- sticking with the pastel coloured theme, look out for a lovely lilac looking hard-back.

Now the book looks good, and I'm a fan of their savoury offerings- many a piece of beautiful warm salmon quiche has been devoured on my train journeys home from St Pancras..however, despite willing myself to be wowed by their cupcakes, I'm simply not taken with them, despite repeat purchases to try and prove me otherwise. They obviously have a prime spot amid the glass-paned shops of the station, cleverly situated below the escalator on which you can eye up your chosen sugar-fix, and their cupcakes' allure is unavoidable. Their stiffly piped icing is distinctive, and piled high in an assortment of colours, and when it looks that good, how can you resist?
Peyton and Byrne must have selected the finest of fine ingredients for all of their products, as even considering inflated station prices for such things, their desserts are a little indigestible for the must be their presentation and hand-crafted style that rationalises it in the end. So onto my blackcurrant cupcake...
More of a muffin-style cake, the sponge is not as moist as I'd hope, and I can't help but wonder if the open displays of food get a little past their best while sitting all day amid the hustle and bustle. After a rather dense sponge comes the colossal pile of buttercream- in this case, a blend of fresh blackcurrant lifts it from being too heavy. A dusting of icing sugar adds to the sweetness, and with this quantity of icing the cake does become hard to eat without a fork and sadly often ends up a half-finished cake instead of a satisfying scattering of crumbs. I'm sure there are fans of their cakes, else why would they be there, but personally I'll stick to Love Bakery or Primrose Bakery for a little lighter elegance.

And finally....The Euphorium Bakery on Upper Street in Islington was a lovely location to warm up after a heavy day of Christmas shopping way back in December. Amid a vast array of breads, pastries, cakes and coffees, I selected a piece of cream-filled swiss roll to enjoy and am looking forward to widening my options next time I visit. Famed for its onsite bakery, this branch of Euphorium prides itself on freshly made on premises products every day, everything mixed with "a large dash of sweet love and affection".

My strawberry and cream slice of swiss roll was a decadent serving, framed by a firm sponge with a nicely manageable soft cream filling, scattered with strawberries. In between the sponge and cream was a surprisingly fruity addition of blueberry compote that added a moist quality to the sponge, which prevented dryness and added a nice blend of summery fruits to the cake. This generous portion was just the right size to take time over and left me ever so slightly craving more from their mouth-watering cabinet, or maybe a beautifully decorated birthday cake delivered to my door...take a look at their website for the full story and numerous edible options in their 'Cake Portfolio'...Mmmm

Next time I'm giving you a quick flashback to festive times so you can see my Great Festive Tea Party...hopefully then there will be time for a Valentine's Tea Party newsflash before my highly anticipated Royal Wedding Tea Party- the guests are already waving their union jacks in excitement! Until then....

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Cupcake Catch-up

As I write, I realise it's been an excessive 5 months since my last blog post, so it's time to make up for my absence and show you all the cakes I've been devouring and making- this may take a few posts, but will hopefully be worth it!

After making my Halloween cupcakes, I decided to follow them with more using Bonfire Night as my inspiration. One of my favourite cake books, 'Eat Me: The Stupendous, Self-Raising World of Cupcakes & Bakes According to Cookie Girl', has beautiful recipes in, including Bonfire Cupcakes in the Autumn chapter which I had to try.
  The cakes themselves are chocolate sponge, and once baked, taken out of their cases and turned upside down. Cream cheese butter icing with strong red colouring (I used a powder after my shops had run out of liquid/paste colouring, and this was much easier to get the shade of red/orange I wanted- luckily) is then spread over the whole cupcake to create the fire. To finish off the look- orange matchmakers are placed all around each cake to make logs and create a bonfire. These cakes were quite messy to ice, and amount of colour and icing used did make them very sweet- not always to everyone's taste, but great for a treat!

Not long after I had devoured my bonfires (with a little assistance!) I decided to try The Primrose Bakery's Coffee and Walnut Cake after not having ventured beyond their cupcakes. I'm not actually a fan of walnuts, and so decided to alter the winning combination by adding chocolate chips instead- which was just as nice.

This sponge was marbled and made extra moist with a coffee sugar syrup and a soft coffee buttercream. Next time I might try honeycomb pieces to give a crunchy texture in the cake as an alternative to walnuts, as the chocolate was still quite soft alongside the sponge. This is a lovely cake to make if you have afternoon guests or want something a little more rustic than a pretty cupcake!

So after these offerings of my own, my next few posts will tell you all about various bakeries' offerings. Still to come: Euphorium Bakery, Love Bakery, Peyton and Byrne and Cakes by Laura-Jane, plus my Festive Tea Party and Post-Valentine's Boston Tea Party- lots of delights to look forward to!