It might seem strange that I travelled all the way to London to review cupcake culture before checking out what was on offer in my own city, but the fact of the matter is that, until very recently, there was nothing at all. Cupcakes in Edinburgh tend to be made by people like me – fresh to order, rather than lined up on boutique counters for choosing. This means that people get the freshest possible product and can easily have it tailored to suit their occasion, however, it doesn’t really suit inquisitive foodies like me who like to wander around, peer into windows and buy the occasional sample to dissect. Knowing myself to be in a very unusual minority, this wasn’t too surprising, but I was never the less pleased when cupcake shops started to pop up nearer to home. Google provided me the details of two cupcakeries in the city centre and I set off on a sunny spring day to investigate.
In case you didn't believe me that the sun was shining in Edinburgh
First on the list was Bibi’s Bakery, a little shop just off Princes Street very much in the style of the London cupcakeries. The shop was colourful and trendy and the cupcakes were frosted high!
Then onto Liggy’s Cake Company in the West End Village – a quiet couple of old Edinburgh streets just a few steps away from the end of bustling princes street. Unlike Bibi’s, Liggy’s seemed to me very much like an Edinburgh cake shop and the girl behind the counter was really cheery and enthusiastic about her cakes and baking in general. So much so, in fact, I came away very pleased to have met such a like minded person!
Time to gather the experts and taste the cakes!
In interest of fairness (and because I was only visiting two bakeries a short walk from my house) I bought the same to flavours of cupcake from each bakery – double chocolate and lemon. I picked these flavours because it seemed a safe bet both bakeries would have them and because, even though they seem standard, almost everyone has a different take on them. They’re also the two flavours that I’m particularly fussy about in terms of my own personal tastes – I prefer a dark rich chocolate and a sharp, light lemon.
Me: Lovely light sponge with smooth mousse like frosting and milk chocolaty taste. I could feel one or two sugar crystals but it was not over-sweet. However, it was not very rich either.
Holli: The chocolate icing was like fluffy mousse which was a nice surprise! The cake was nice and moist and tasted like a chocolate brownie.
Mark: Good. Nice consistency, slightly too sweet but not in a bad sugary way.
Me: My initial impression was that this cake was incredibly sickly, but on closer inspection it was just the yellow icing that I didn’t like. It put me in mind of fondant fancies and was far too sweet for my palate. Without this, though, the sponge was very nice, light, fluffy and pleasantly lemony.
Holli: Thought this cake was really pretty and the sponge was lovely – like a lemon drizzle cake. However, the white icing didn’t taste of anything and the yellow icing was slightly too synthetic lemony.
Mark: Liked it. Tastes like a lemony angel cake but better quality than your typical angel cake.
Liggy’s Cake Company
Me: This cake had a lovely chocolaty smell when I unwrapped it. The cake had a smooth texture and a chocolaty flavour which put me in mind of hot chocolate drinks for some reason. The icing and the sponge balanced well.
Holli: Looked really pretty and had a nice sort of malty flavour to it. “I rather liked it.”
Mark: Tastes like chocolate chip cookies. At first the icing seemed too soft but actually went really well with the cake. Smells nice too.
Me: Tasty, zesty, fluffy sponge with smooth icing that tastes like lemon ice cream. Mmm…
Holli: The cutest cupcake! Love the sprinkles! Really liked the lemony icing but thought there was not much flavour in the sponge.
Mark: Icing seemed kind of strange and it was sort of like a lemon meringue pie in flavour and feeling – which is good. Flavour is nice and it looks nice.
And now for some verdicts!
Favourite Chocolate Cake
Me: I can’t choose! I liked them both, but neither was perfect (remember I have high and unusual chocolate cake standards!)
Favourite Lemon Cake
Overall Favourite Cake
Me: Liggy’s Lemon
Holli: Liggy’s Lemon
Mark: Liggy’s Chocolate