Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Caking it in London

London is one of the great cake capitals, it is home to Wilton - the cake decorating powerhouse and grand daddy of modern cake decorating.  It is also a country obsessed with the elegant afternoon tea (aka high tea).

In the last decade several big names have emerged, such as Eric Lanlard of Cake boy, Peggy Porschen, Mitch Turner and cupcake powerhouses such as Primrose and Hummingbird.  All of them with famous fans, between them, these artists and patissiers bake for the likes of Elton John, Madonna, Liz Hurley, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Pierce Brosnan and the Queen, just to name a few.

So whilst in London, what better to do than to sample some of their delights.

First off the mark - the crazily busy Portobello markets on a cold dreary Saturday morning.  I had no idea there could be so many tourists in one street!!

What is at Portobello you might ask....well the original Hummingbird Bakery of course!

So pretty in pink inside and so many delicious choices.

I was however, on a curiosity mission.  My dear friend Amanda claims that the red velvet cake simply melts in your mouth and raved about it for weeks afterwards.  So, naturally, that is what one has to purchase......

 I loved my cupcake, snug in its little American Chinese takeaway container, along with the environmentally friendly wooden forks.
Verdict?  Yes it was light and fluffy and the cream cheese butter icing was sinful and delicious.  A perfectly fine cupcake, though I prefer the Magnolia Bakery red velvet cupcakes (which I actually consumed in Dubai)

Next destination :  Primrose bakery

We visited the Delectable Jo, who is currently managing the stores during her sabbatical year in London.  We chose the Convent Garden store - as it was close to that evenings entertainment of Legally Blonde - the musical (big cities are great that way!).  Cute as a button and only seating about 12 people, it was not difficult to pack out this place.

A cup of tea, and a carrot cupcake (that you can just make out in the foreground, and we were on our way.

Of course that is not all we had....... the real test, was the Primrose vs Hummingbird challenge.
Verdict:  Carrot cake - Primrose won.  Hummingbird black bottom vs Primrose Cookies & cream - Hummingbird won.  
The Primrose lemon drizzle cake (Jude Law's favourite) is divine, as is the subtle flavours of the earl grey cupcake.  Overall, a lot of fun in a blind tasting and no clear winner.

Next on the list, Cake Boy.

Liz Hurley says that Eric Lanlard makes the world's yummiest cakes, for a someone super slim to say that, well, I wasn't really convinced.  The fabulous Ms G is a huge Eric Lanlard fan, his followers of his show Glamour Pud on Lifestyle food channel will understand why.

I actually had no idea of who he was....no, I do not have pay TV....other than I had a book of his that I found interesting but not exactly life changing.  Finding the studio took us 2 hours as the trains were not running and the buses took forever!

On arrival though, it seemed all worth it when we were greeted with a front counter filled with these beautiful creations.

It was so hard to narrow the selection down!!

Jo had a hard time choosing which of the books to buy.... I of course had to add my two cents...seeing as I already had the other one, it wouldn't be hard to guess which one went home with me that day.

Yay!!  Glamorous afternoon tea!


Our final decision of Raspberry & white chocolate tart, Silky chocolate tart, Citron tart and a slice of cheesecake.  We also ended up taking away a selection of macarons, a raspberry swirl cupcake and a loaf of carrot cake!

The cakes presented on a porcelain tile with chocolate coated popping candy and freeze dried raspberries.  How delightful!  The highlight was definately the raspberry tart that was filled with the most amazing silky white chocolate pastry cream that was like nothing I've eaten before.

It turned out that the 2 hour trip was an aligning of the forces of fate, as within 5 minutes of us arriving, Eric turns up to pick up some papers.  Had we been 15 minutes earlier or later, we would have missed the chance to meet him completely!  Some things are just meant to be. 

So, to the fabulous Ms G....eat your heart out!!

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