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Entries in london (5)

Sunday
Mar132011

Cakewalk: A Sweet Jaunt to London with Cake Gumshoe Lauren

CakeSpy Note: You know what rules? Getting bakery tips from readers. Here's a great round-up of sweet spots that I know I'll be trying next time I'm in London, thanks to Cake Gumshoe Lauren H.!

I definitely do not purport to know all of the lovely bakeries in London – it is chock full of them, as one might imagine given Britain’s reputation for afternoon tea and all of the sweets that it entails. Still, my trips to the city have left me with a couple of favorites that I thought other Cakespy readers might enjoy exploring next time they’re in London!

First, Konditor and Cook, which has several locations throughout London, largely south of the Thames.   

Konditor and Cook is very much a “drop in to grab a treat” type of place: while a couple of locations have tables, the majority are counters for tea, coffee, savories, and sweets.

I love Konditor and Cook because you can visit for everything from a breakfast treat to lunch to take-away pastries to cakes. A few highlights from many visits:

Traditional Millionaire Shortbread – Konditor and Cook is one of the only places that I’ve been able to find it in London, and it is more than delicious!  

And, of course, it wouldn’t be a proper English bakery without a collection of cakes and tarts…(pictured top of post; clockwise from the top left: Coffee Walnut Cake, Bramley Apple Tart, Chocolate Raspberry Fudge Tart, and Almond Fruit Tart.)

Konditor and Cook is perhaps best-known for its “Magic Cakes,” which are small lemon sponge cakes that are, quite honestly, almost too adorable to eat.

If you’re looking for a more sit-down, proper-English-tea experience, Bea’s of Bloomsbury is likely to be a better fit. Bea’s has been open in Bloomsbury (relatively near The British Museum) since 2008 and recently opened a new location at One New Change, just across the street from St. Paul’s Cathedral. New Change is intended to be the “hip, younger sister” of the original location, and this intention is clear in the décor. Still, the sweets and service are the same at both locations.

Like Konditor and Cook, Bea’s does coffee, breakfast, and lunch, but afternoon tea is truly the best reason to visit Bea’s. The Bloomsbury location serves it from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. Monday – Friday, and One New Change serves from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday – Friday. Both locations do weekend tea from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Afternoon Tea at Bea’s takes on one of two forms. If you’re not too hungry or are looking to stay in the savory range, there’s the Cream Tea option, which consists of lovely, lovely scones and, of course, a pot of tea!

For the slightly more hungry (and cake lovers among us!), there’s the Sweet Afternoon Tea, featuring scones, cupcakes, brownies, blondies, meringues, homemade marshmallows, and other treats. I’m not entirely sure how it’s possible for one person to eat everything that comes on the tea tray (though I’ve seen people try!), but the Bea’s staff is wonderfully flexible in terms of allowing sharing and extra treats.

Here’s a peek of the Sweet Afternoon Tea at the Bloomsbury location (above)...

And one from One New Change...

And so ends my rather short cake walk – hopefully it will be helpful to the next Cakespy reader who has a bit of time to spare (and a sweet tooth!) in London!

Places mentioned:

Konditor and Cook, online at http://www.konditorandcook.comBea’s of Bloomsbury, online at http://www.beasofbloomsbury.com.

Tuesday
Sep282010

Sweet Mini-Series: Hummingbird Bakery Chronicles, by Cake Gumshoe Alexandra

CakeSpy Note: This is the introduction to a series of several entries about (and recipes from!) London's Hummingbird Bakery by Cake Gumshoe Alexandra Levert, who is an assistant director for a French television network in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She loves cooking and baking because she finds it comforting and yet challenging at the same time. She tries to combine her love of food and her love of travel as much as life will let her.

Alexandra's Spy Report

I recently went to visit my Australian friend and her boyfriend in London, England. Upon my arrival, as I reached into my bag to give them a little souvenir from my trip to Prague, she handed me a book… Something called Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook. I was immediately intrigued by it, seeing as the cover adorned lovely cupcakes and a few other desserts. You see, I’ve been obsessed with cupcakes for quite a while now, and seeing this picture of the beautiful and perfect sweets didn’t help my obsession. When I finally opened the book, I remember being completely enamored with the variety of desserts being described and also with the beauty of their presentation. To my great surprise, my friend told me the bakery was actually in London itself, and that we could go to one of the three locations during my stay. How marvelous!

My experience at The Hummingbird Bakery

The location I went to is situated on Wardour Street, a small side street in SoHo. I could see the white and pink hummingbird sign by the entrance from far away. When I went in, I found it as adorable as I thought I would: Cupcake pop-art on the walls, cookbooks on shelves, dessert trays and, most importantly, endless rows of cupcakes. I went there on a Saturday, so the bakery was packed and extremely busy. I queued for my chance to finally get one their sweets, but when one of the girls working there asked me what I wanted, I couldn’t even choose! Vanilla with vanilla frosting? Too easy.  Vanilla with chocolate frosting? Too common. Orange blossom? Maybe some other time. Red Velvet with cream cheese frosting? Perfect! I bought my cupcake along with two notebooks as souvenirs for my friends back in Toronto. Then my friend and I walked to Trafalgar Square and devoured our desserts in seconds! The cake was moist and flavorful, the frosting was simply delicious, and the two put together made it one of the best cupcakes I have ever had. My friend had also bought the raspberry cheesecake and after having only a spoonful of it, I can honestly say it was incredible.

The final word?

So, if you are ever in London and are looking for a little (or big) something to satisfy your sweet tooth, I definitely recommend The Hummingbird Bakery. Now, I am back home and eager to try some of the dessert recipes. Stay tuned to hear about my attempt to make some cupcakes of my own.

In the meantime, check out Hummingbird Bakery online!

Friday
Jan152010

Cake Byte: Whoopie Pies in Harrods Department Store

Now, I know I declared that no way were whoopie pies going to be the next big thing. But according to CakeSpy readers Ellie and Shamila, who both reported on the fact that the trendsetting Harrods department store in London, is now stocking the cream-filled sweet burgers in their food halls, could that be changing?

Here's the scoop from the Harrods site:

Originally a New England phenomenon, the craze for these cookie-textured treats has already swept America where they are flying off the shelves at speciality shops and boutique bakeries up and down the country. Harrods pastry chefs have expertly crafted four of these delectable delicacies, creating luxurious Whoopies based on the time-honoured recipe of the pies. Each comprises two delicious cake pillows filled with homemade buttercream and topped with cute edible couture.

Shoppers will be tempted by:

 

  • The Classic, a heady mix of dark chocolate cakes, vanilla cream and sparkly couture
  • A seasonal Gingerbread, slightly spicy and adorned with chocolate and mini polka dots
  • A Pistachio extravaganza featuring green fondant icing and finished with edible glitter and silver balls
  • The retro Red Velvet, made with chocolate cakes, peanut butter cream, burgundy fondant and topped with sugar hearts.

 

I still don't know about them being the next big thing, but I sure do know I'd like to take a big bite of any (or all) of the varieties on offer in Harrods!

Sunday
Sep202009

Seeking Sweetness in Greenwich, London: Suggestions from Cake Gumshoe Luan

Rhodes Chocolate cake
CakeSpy Note: Have you found yourself hungry for sweet stuff in Greenwich? Thankfully Cake Gumshoe Luan (whose awesome photos you can check out here) has kindly donated some suggestions for where to get your sweet fix in the area. Here goes:

Greenwich is known for many things like being the home of time, the start of the meridian line, and the place Michael Jackson was due to play his comeback gigs this summer. It’s also full of cafes, and home to some of the tastiest cakes, tarts and tea in London.
Royal Teas Scone
For that traditional British experience of cream tea, I recommend Royal Teas, a tiny, cosy cafe hidden by Greenwich Royal Park.

You are served an endless supply of tea, freshly cut sandwiches with typically British fillings like cucumber or salmon, followed by a fat sultana studded scone which is served warm, accompanied by a small glass bowl of strawberry jam (I believe in the states you call it jelly) and another of clotted cream.

You can then choose a huge slice of homemade cake; they have ginger, chocolate, treacle, orange marmalade, banana, honey and carrot. I honestly can’t recommend one cake, they all taste like they’ve been baked with love by someone’s grandma and are too delicious.
Rhodes
While Royal Teas is typically British, the Rhodes Bakery is typically London. It’s pricey, full of busy coffee swigging important people and has surly staff, which is very common in London but all is forgiven when you see the cake counter.

This small glass fronted cafe sits on the corner of the antiques and craft market. Its founder Paul Rhodes is a triple Michelin chef who also runs a bakery/factory in the area that supplies all the top restaurants in London with their bread and cakes. Between the factory and cafe it claims to bake 2,000 cakes every day! While I couldn’t possibly eat all that myself, I love the idea of it.

The tart range includes chocolate, lemon and various fruit topped ones, which change with the seasons, like winter blackberries or summer strawberries. Rhodes also does giant jam biscuits, which are simple but always sway me with their prettiness; it also does a killer classic chocolate cake, chocolate brownie and pain au chocolate.

Though for sweet lovers the main plus point is that Rhodes offers a range of miniature pastries to help indecisive people, like myself, make a choice, or rather just try more.
Real Baking
Finally, Greenwich is also known for its great markets, which have the most random mix of everything, from Ethiopian cuisine stalls to craft stalls where they specialise in making Harry Potter characters out of pistachio shells.

The Real Baking Company is one of my favourites. Us Brits love to queue up, but when it comes to getting the last cupcake from this stall you have to do a bit of ruthless pushing and shoving to get served.

The cupcakes are so perfect looking; you would think they were display only, all pastel coloured and delicious. The sponge is fluffy and the frosting, which makes up about 60% of the cake, is just hmmm.

In winter the stall also does hot custard and sponge cakes.

The stall’s speciality is brownies and blondies, it starts every weekend morning with large trays of them which quickly disappear. It does a mean chocolate and raspberry swirl brownie, which is sickenly good. The chocolate is rich and dense, while the raspberry is really sweet and tangy, it really works but sadly my attempts to recreate have failed.

Places mentioned:

Royal Teas, online at royalteascafe.co.uk
Rhodes Bakery, online at rhodesbakery.co.uk
The Real Baking Company, part of the Greenwich Market; more information online here.

Saturday
Feb072009

Cakewalk Special: Seeking Sweetness in London with Cake Gumshoe Kirsten

London Cakewalk
(Blondies in the top right, c/o Outsider Tart)

There are so many reasons to love London. The museums. Those charming palace guards. Not to mention English accents--everywhere! And while it's not generally thought of as a baked good mecca, that seems to be changing--as Cake Gumshoe Kirsten (a London resident in the know) reports, there are plenty of sweet places to be found in London, ranging from fancy chocolate shops to arbiters of East-meets-West sweets to--yes--even a few Southern USA-style bakeries. Read on for Kirsten's suggestions for the best places to get a sugary fix in London: 

Hummingbird Bakery, LondonHummingbird interior 
Hummingbird Bakery: Classic American cupcakes have only recently become popular in London, but boy, have they gone done well. The most renowned is Hummingbird Bakery. They’re a short walk from the famous Portobello Rd markets, and make a great spot to recharge your batteries after a serious vintage clothes shopping session. Their red velvet cupcakes are divine. There’s just enough perfectly creamy cream cheese icing and they will kindly give you a fork to eat with if you get a sudden rush of British manners at the sight of these monsters.

They also do cakes (New York style cheesecakes and Chocolate Devil’s food cake are displayed on pretty pastel cake stands) as well as cookies and pies. And no, most Brits still can’t get their heads around eating pumpkin as a dessert.

 

47 Old Brompton Rd (South Kensington Tube)
SW7 3JP
Open 10.30am-7pm daily

133 Portobello Rd (Notting Hill Gate Tube)
W11 2DY
10am-5.30pm Tues-Sat
11am-5pm Sunday
Closed Monday

Yuatcha Dragon
Yuatcha: This is an extremely flash Chinese restaurant in the midst of Soho. Being near my office, one of my favourite lunchtime pastimes is to gaze in at their spectacular patisserie section as I meander past. Their rainbow of macarons are as amazing as the Parisian café Laduree’s, but here you’ll find them in slightly more exotic flavours. Coffee milk chocolate anise, coconut pistachio cinnamon, hibiscus, lychee raspberry and chocolate jasmine are just a few. If you wish to take a box away, expect an artfully wrapped box to be handed over.

Whereas the basement is where you’ll star spot in the evenings, the ground floor of the restaurant has more of a teahouse vibe, making it the perfect place for a fabulous afternoon tea (which comes with dim sum as well as pastries), or just for their spectacular desserts. Along with hand-painted chocolates and truffles, you will spend 10 minutes simply gazing at their intricate works of art.

For me it was a tough choice…would it be the passionella, with milk chocolate biscuit and mousse topped with passionfruit cream and coulis? Perhaps the asian citrus yuzu? Yuzu Kura has a dark chocolate mousse, yuzu jelly, yuzu and a dark chocolate biscuit. Apricot Millefeuille with caramelized puff pastry, lemongrass almond biscuit, apricot compote and coconut cream?

No, for my fellow gum shoe and I, it was the dragon. A diamond angled dark chocolate case with dark chocolate brownie as a base, topped with a spicy dark chocolate ganaches, raspberries and little cubes od raspberry and red pepper coulis. Delicious!

15-17 Broadwick Street
Soho, London W1F 0DL
Tel: 020 7494 8888

Mon-Thurs: 11am-11.30pm
Fri-Sat: 11am-11.45pm
Sun: 11am-10.30pm
(dim sum served from midday)


Paul A YoungYoung Hot Chocolate
Paul A Young: London in winter can be a cold dark place. Which is a perfect reason to indulge in some warming rich real hot chocolate. Paul A Young is a chocolatier who has 2 boutiques in London. His truffles are spectacular, particularly if you are keen to challenge your tastebuds. Marmite is a brown yeasty spread that people on this side of the world spread on their toast for breakfast. You either love it or you hate it…and I couldn’t love Paul’s marmite chocolate truffle more.
But on the day I squelched into Paul’s warm inviting purple store (it was raining cats and dogs outside), it was his hot chocolate and brownies that called. Paul’s hot chocolate is dark, rich, creamy and spiced to your liking. The Mayans used to add spices such as chilli, cinnamon, ginger and pepper to their drinking chocolates, and at Paul’s, you’re able to choose what you’d like to spice up your cup of liquid heaven.
His delightfully sinful brownies have been named ‘the gooiest in Britain’. The moment you take a bite, it all makes sense. They’re available in classic chocolate fudge, stem ginger, simnel (with spiced fruits and marzipan) or my favourite…Pecan.

 

Keep in mind that a lot of shops in the City aren’t open during the weekends, so if you’re after a wonderfully wicked weekend fix, you should head to his Islington store instead. (Angel tube station)

33 Camden Passage,
Islington, London
N1 8EA
(Angel Tube)

Closed Monday-Tuesday
11am-6pm Wed, Thurs, Saturday
11am-7pm Friday
12-5pm Sunday

20 Royal Exchange,
Threadneedle St, London
EC3V 3LP
(Bank tube)

10am-6.30pm Monday-Wednesday, Friday
10am-7pm Thursday
Closed weekends
Also shut for lunch between 2-2.30pm daily.

Mrs. Marengo, LondonMrs. Marengo Cheesecake 

Mrs Marengos: In the heart of London’s media region (Soho), you’ll find a number of vegetarian restaurants. Mrs Marengo’s is a wonderful place for a quick bite- I’m a daily visitor for their wonderful vege soups. But it’s not just the vege delights that make this place a must visit…their front window is always filled with a huge variety of cakes, slices, biscuits, tarts and cupcakes.
The Lemon Meringue pie seems to get bigger every time I pass, and the white chocolate pistachio cheesecake gets me every time!
There’s almost always a couple of gluten free, vegan or wheat free options, including rich dark brownies and chocolate raspberry truffle cake…just perfect with a side of their homemade honey frozen yoghurt. It’s a great little place to pop into when you want to get away from the chaos of Oxford St or the tourist prices of Piccadilly Circus!

 

Open Monday-Friday 8am-6pm (Breakfast 8am-11.30am)
Saturday 12pm-6pm (breakfast 12pm-4pm..for those who like a sleep in!)
0207 287 2544

53 Lexington Street, Soho, London W1F 9AN
Nearest tube:
Oxford Circus Tube Station (0.4 km)
Piccadilly Circus Tube Station (0.4 km)
Tottenham Court Road Tube Station (0.5 km)
Leicester Square Tube Station (0.6 km)

Peanut butter chocolate chip cupcakes from Outsider Tart, LondonOutsider Tart "Pup"Cakes 

Outsider Tart: Run by two business and life partners (both handily called David), this place specializes in classic American sweeties. Mega sweet chunky brownies the size of New York, mega cupcakes in dozens of exotic flavours with loads of whipped buttercream (mmm, chai anyone?) and pies galore!

 

The guys also do a fabulous cake and pie selection (lemon meringue, peach, pecan…and they’re even trying to convert us to sweet potato and pumpkin!)

One of the Davids was raised in the Deep South so has brought his passion for biscuits and scones to Outsider Tart. Here in the UK, we’re used to petite sweet scones with a smattering of jam and clotted cream….but these guys do good ‘ol American ones in every flavour from Chocolate to Chestnut to Cheddar and Dill.

My favourite part of their selection is their ‘Barkery’. That way you can buy a cupcake for yourself, and a ‘Pupcake’ specifically for your dog!

The boys bake their goods from the downstairs area of Profile, a gay bar in Soho. They used to sell their wares at the bar, but due to some issues with the bar’s hours, you usually find them at their stalls in different farmers markets in London.
The markets are a little further afield, but definitely worth checking out!

Every Saturday at Richmond Farmers Market
Heron Square, London TW9
Time: 11am - 3pm

Also, every Sunday at Chiswick Farmers Market
Dukes Meadows, Chiswick W4
Time: 10am - 2pm

 

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