Due to the tube strike in my first tour I left a lot of stones unturned in my hunt for a decent cupcake. So once again as Mark headed to Londinium for some serious work (so he says…but it looks a lot like playing with toys to me! – PS, Mark is not actually in this video but I have it on good authority that he was there) I tagged along, armed with my notebook, annotated maps and good comfy shoes. A lot of the places I planned to visit this time didn’t make the first list due to the fact that they often weren’t within walking distance of anything else and required semi-long tube journeys to get to. This in mind, I set off early with one rule – only one cupcake per bakery.
First on the list was the Buttercup Cake Shop. This is a really sweet little shop not far from the High Street Kensington tube station with a good selection of cupcake flavours including some unusual ones. I had to choose the limited edition chocolate marshmallow cupcake not just because of the cute heart piped on the smooth frosting but because I’m a sucker for anything I only get one chance to try. Close second, though was the passionfruit cupcake with its whipped cloud of pale orange frosting. Only at the first bakery and already my “one cupcake” rule is sorely tested!
As I wanted to start early, I did a bad thing and skipped breakfast. Or at least, it’s normally a bad thing to skip breakfast. In this case it gave me to opportunity to duck into a branch of ottolenghi and pick up a berry crumble muffin.
The berries in question were HUGE and delicious!
Suitably refreshed it was back to the underground and off to my next destination – Outsider Tart. However, on my way there I unexpectedly passed by a branch of Maison Blanc and even though it wasn’t on my list, not being a cupcake specialist, the pistachio cupcakes in the window looked good enough to try. Unfortunately the picture I snapped of them on display is just an indistinct blur so on to the outside of Outsider Tart.
This little shop is packed full of mad cookies, brownies and one that was a cookie with a brownie baked into it…or vice versa, it was hard to tell… as well as a few imported american products such as breakfast cereals and fluff in a jar. Unfortunately, I got there so early there were only two chocolate cupcakes sitting alone on a large stand. “I know,” commiserated the shop assistant, “they look so lonely waiting for their friends to come out of the oven!”. Still, at least this made my choice of flavours easy!
The next stop on my tour should have included three bakeries before getting back into the stuffy (but marvelously useful!) tube, however I was somewhat disappointed to find that the Euphorium Bakery (or at least that branch) does not do cupcakes at all and that, after a fourty-five minute search which ended in a small row of tiny industrial units which smelled tantalisingly of baking chocolate chip cookies but had no attached shopfronts, signs or doorbells, I had either been misled by the website into thinking that Sweet Things had an actual shop in the area or I had managed to get myself completely lost . Either way, the trip on the northern line was not a total loss thanks to Chewie’s Bakery where I found a small but nicely presented range of cupcakes to choose from. I selected a chocolate cupcake topped with chocolate frosting and coconut and headed back to the underground a little more footsore and a little less laden than I had intended.
Back in familiar territory I headed for topshop at Oxford Circus. Anyone who knows me well may be shocked by this announcement unless they also knew that Lola’s Cucpakes has a kiosk there on the ground floor. Last time I was in London I thought I had picked up one of Lola’s cupcakes from Harrods but it turned out to be a Lily Vanilli creation. This time I was dedicated to getting the real thing. Strangely located right in the middle of the bustling high street fashion store is a cute little kiosk selling cute little cupcakes. The cupcake of the month was black forest and looked ever so special with a fresh cherry perched on top.
From Oxford Circus I took the familiar walk into soho and stopped to collect cupcakes at two old favourites. I know that cupcakes from both these bakeries were reviewed last time but they both have such extensive ranges that it couldn’t hurt to try them again, right? First, to the Hummingbird Bakery to pick up a vanilla cupcake with chocolate frosting.
Then to Cox, Cookies and Cake for a raspberry ripple.
By this point I was hungry and a little weary but it was lunchtime in soho and pouring with rain. The queue for Leon Caranaby Street was out the door and it was too wet to peruse the menus in chinatown so it was a mad dash to the Candy Cafe for a taro bubble tea and a comfy seat. Thus fortified, and the downpour passed, I carried on despite my cravings for savoury food. I had a few errands in chinatown – soot sprites, tofu and pocky – and then it was on to Sweet Couture, a beautiful boutique shop between chinatown and Covent Garden and just round the corner from CyberCandy, to pick up a peanut butter cupcake.
All my primary objectives complete I was now free to source a very late lunch from Leon on the strand. Mmmm, Slow-cooked shredded pork wrap and lemon, ginger and mint quencher.
Despite my concerns about all the travel to and from remote bakeries, I actually concluded my cupcake tour with time to spare before my scheduled meeting with Mark and Richard so spent some time shopping leisurely before being drawn into the tiny “Jen Cafe” on the Leicester Square edge of chinatown by the woman making dumplings by hand in the window and the promise of a warm cup of green tea. I was rewarded for my curiosity by a plate of the best fried dumplings I have ever had!
Watch this space for the first in a two part review of the cakes!