L’Eto Caffé

L’Eto Caffé is a beautiful little café situated next door to Hummingbird Bakery on Wardour Street in Soho with the most fabulous window display of cakes and desserts that you can feast yours eyes on.  I discovered it during my months as an intern at a busy PR office in Soho where I indulged in their Honey Cake on a regular basis when cake felt like the only option for survival!  However, I had a meeting with my personal tutor from university, having recently finished, to discuss the future, and I decided that one of L’Eto Caffé’s fabulous-looking cakes would be the perfect present to say thank you for all the help I had received throughout my time at university.  Therefore, I chose a decadent Chocolate Cinnamon Cake that stood tall in the café window.  After all, who doesn’t love a good chocolate cake, and one with a cinnamon twist at that?!

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Unfortunately, it did turn into the leaning tower of cake after fighting my way through the bustling crowds of Oxford Street, but it most certainly did not affect the taste.  The sponge was rich and moist, and the chocolate was deliciously decadent.  Each mouthful was a chocolate, heavenly dream.  This was made even better by the chocolate and cinnamon cream that sandwiched the chocolate layers together.  I would honestly class this as the best chocolate cake I have ever had the pleasure of putting in my very welcoming mouth!  It looks the part and tastes the part, and you can not ask for much more than that!

If you happen to be in the area, or fancy a coffee date with a special twist, I would thoroughly recommend L’Eto Caffé to fulfil your sweet cake cravings any day.  Their cakes are wonderful and the service is warm and friendly.  A visit to L’Eto Caffé could never leave you disappointed.

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The Great Hummingbird Bake-Off: September 2014

Sticky Toffee Pudding vs.

Chocolate Orange

Every month the Hummingbird Bakery, which is one of my favourite cupcake shops EVER, creates two new, special edition cupcakes.  Every month, these cupcakes go head-to-head, battling it out for the number one spot.

September 2014 has seen the rivalry of two delicious cupcakes: Sticky Toffee Pudding vs. Chocolate Orange.  One is a rich chocolate sponge topped with a decadent chocolate orange frosting; the other is a fruity and toffee delight.  But which cupcake deserves the number one title this month?

Sticky Toffee Pudding

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I have to be honest and say that I have never really been a fan of sticky toffee pudding.  However, this cupcake transformed all of my negative feelings towards sticky toffee pudding into thoughts of pure joy.  The date and toffee sponge was rich, fruity, and moist, and was perfectly complimented by the sweet, toffee frosting with a caramel drizzle.  I honestly could have eaten this cake all day long quite happily.  This was the perfect accompaniment for my Caramel Frappucino that I had picked up from Starbucks on my way to the Hummingbird Bakery!

Chocolate Orange

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Hummingbird have transformed their standard chocolate sponge into a festively orange delight to bring in the autumn and winter months with a bang.  The chocolate sponge has a fantastic zesty zing that totally tantalises your tastebuds, and the sweet sugar-coated orange peel is a delicious addition on top of the thick, luxurious chocolate orange frosting.

Nevertheless, whilst chocolate and orange are usually one of my favourite flavour combinations, I could not get over how absolutely fabulous the Sticky Toffee Pudding cupcake was, especially in comparison to my preconceived ideas of what it would taste like.  Therefore, the Sticky Toffee Pudding Special Edition Cupcake is September’s star bake in my Great Hummingbird Bake-Off competition.

The Great Hummingbird Bake-Off: August 2014

Banana & Chocolate vs.

Panettone

Every month the Hummingbird Bakery, which is one of my favourite cupcake shops EVER, creates two new, special edition cupcakes.  Every month, these cupcakes go head-to-head, battling it out for the number one spot.

August 2014 has seen the rivalry of two delicious cupcakes: Banana and Chocolate vs. Panettone.  One is a rich chocolate sponge topped with a decadent chocolate banana frosting; the other is a creamier affair with a wonderful Italian twist.  But which cupcake deserves the number one title this month?

Banana & Chocolate

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I knew from the second that I set eyes on this chocolatey feast of a cake that I was going to fall in love with it.  After all, anything that combines chocolate and banana is a complete winner with me.  Sometimes there are certain things that certain places or people just do fantastically every single time, and chocolate cake is one of those things for Hummingbird!  Their chocolate cake is always soft and springy, and their frosting is always thick, rich, and decadent.  But the addition of banana to the mixture took the standard chocolate cupcake experience to a whole new level.  This is one of those cakes that should not just be a monthly special, but a permanent feature on the Hummingbird bakery counter!

Panettone

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This wonderfully, fruity Italian loaf has been made into a delightful little cupcake by combining pieces of panettone in a light vanilla sponge, topped with creamy custard and more panettone.  I mean let’s face it, you can never have too many piece of panettone!  It truly was a wonderful surprise to find generous chunks of the fruity loaf surrounded by the fluffy vanilla sponge in every mouthful.  And to top the whole thing off, the custard brought a fantastic creamy contrast to the rich, fruity panettone, making this month’s Hummingbird bake-off decision the hardest one yet!

However, after a considerable amount of consideration, I am pleased to crown the Panettone Special Edition Cupcake this month’s bake-off winner, simply due to its innovative take on the classic Italian loaf.  The flavours of these cupcakes were simply beautiful, and neither could win on purely flavour alone!

Cocktail Cupcakes

This weekend marked the end of a wonderful era; it was my graduation ball and we had all been told to don our tuxes and sparkliest dresses so that we would look like kings and queens on the dance floor!  It was an absolutely beautiful event, set in Middle Temple Garden.  It seemed only apt, then, that such a grand event would be preceded by a classy cocktail party with some of my nearest and dearest to mark the end of our time at King’s College London.  Luckily, I live in student halls in the centre of London, which has a lovely roof garden, perfect for these type of events!  The sun was shining, and the bright pink lemonade cocktails were flowing.  And what better way to soak up the alcohol than by indulging in some luxurious cocktail cupcakes?!

I was so excited when I realised what day of the week the event fell on, as I was well aware that Primrose Bakery serve one or two of their delightful cocktail cupcakes every Friday.  They are the perfect treat to kick off the weekend in style!  This Friday they served Peach Bellini and Mojito Cupcakes, and they went down a storm!

Peach Bellini Cupcake

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Just like a Peach Bellini, this cupcake was very delicate in flavour.  The sponge was soft and moist, with a beautifully subtle hint of peach, and it was topped with a wonderful champagne buttercream icing.  However, it was the sharp contrast in flavours between the delicate cupcake and the sour peach sweet that was perfectly placed on top that truly made this cupcake.  It also helped bridge the gap between the sophistication of a Bellini and the fun nature of cupcakes, particularly when they’re based on cocktails!

Mojito Cupcake

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Oddly, I am not a fan of mojitos and would never willingly order one at a bar.  However, this is by far my favourite cocktail cupcake (so far!), and it tasted absolutely incredible!  It truly was a minty and zesty wonderland of flavour!  The sponge was perfectly moist, and the unmistakable taste of lime shot through your tastebuds with every mouthful.  This was only made all the better by the intense addition of the lime and rum buttercream icing!  And then there was the gloriously refreshing crystallised mint leaf that gave the cupcake the mojito kick it was looking for.  I have to say that starting and finishing my night with this complete cocktail cupcake perfection, truly was the icing on the cake!

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The Great Hummingbird Bake-Off: May 2014

Apple Crumble vs. Salted

Caramel

Every month the Hummingbird Bakery, which is one of my favourite cupcake shops EVER, creates two new, special edition cupcakes.  Every month, these cupcakes go head-to-head, battling it out for the number one spot.

May 2014 has seen the rivalry of two dessert-themed cupcakes: Apple Crumble vs. Salted Caramel.  One is a light vanilla sponge, filled with tangy apple, and smothered in a custard frosting with a delicious cinnamon oat crumble; the other is a rich chocolate sponge, topped with a salted caramel frosting and a large dollop of smooth caramel, which runs right through the centre.  But which cupcake deserves the number one title this month?

Apple Crumble

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This cupcake exceeded all expectations.  I don’t quite know what I expected, but I didn’t expect to find one of my favourite puddings made so successfully into a tasty, spongey treat.  This cupcake was absolutely fabulous.  The bottom of the cupcake was layered with a gloriously generous sweet filling of apples, which ejected a wonderful burst of cinnamon with every mouthful.  The light vanilla sponge was lusciously moist, and beautifully complimented the apple filling.  The flavours just blended together perfectly.  However, no apple crumble is complete without custard, and Hummingbird did well to take this into account!  The whole experience was topped off with a wonderful, thick swirl of sweet and creamy custard frosting, covered in a crunchy cinnamon oat crumble.  Despite its relatively underwhelming façade, this cake makes up for its simple aesthetics by throwing simplicity out of the window when it comes to flavour!  It is a shame that this cupcake was only a monthly special, as I could quite easily have become hooked on the apple crumble cupcake if they were constantly available!

Salted Caramel

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As a major fan of Starbuck’s caramel frappuccino, this was the cupcake I was looking forward to the most, and that dollop of sticky caramel, surrounded by a salted caramel frosting, just looked SO good!  However, even with my first mouthful I was shocked at just how salty the whole experience was, to such an extent that I couldn’t even enjoy the rich chocolate sponge on its own, because all I could taste was salt.  There was definitely too much salt mixed into the caramel frosting, and to top it off, it was sprinkled in salt crystals!  The smooth caramel in the centre was the best part, as it was really nice and sweet, and did help to detract away from the saltiness of the rest of the cupcake.  But I was very sad that I had left this cake to last, as I would much rather have had the sweet, cinnamon taste of the apple crumble cupcake lingering on my lips, than the excessive saltiness of the salted caramel cupcake.

Therefore, it goes without saying that the delicious Apple Crumble Special Edition Cupcake is May’s Great Hummingbird Bake-off winner.

Check back in June for news on the Hummingbird Bakery’s latest special editions.

The Great Hummingbird Bake-Off: April 2014

Lemon Curd vs. Nutella

Every month the Hummingbird Bakery, which is one of my favourite cupcake shops EVER, creates two new, special edition cupcakes.  Every month, these cupcakes go head-to-head, battling it out for the number one spot.

April 2014 sees the arrival of Lemon Curd vs. Nutella.  The former is a zingy lemon sponge, bursting with a lemon curd centre; the latter is an indulgent chocolate nutty adventure, made from Hummingbird’s signature chocolate cupcake, topped with crunchy roasted hazelnuts.  But which cupcake deserves the number one title this month?

Lemon Curd Cupcake

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This lemon curd cupcake is absolutely bursting with flavour.  This cupcake has it all, with its light lemon sponge, topped with a generous helping of a sweet, tangy lemon frosting, this cupcake was a beautiful, flavoursome surprise.  Not to mention the gloriously gooey and messy lemon curd centre, which was an added zesty bonus and really set this lemon cupcake apart from the standard lemon cupcake you would get at any other bakery.  But we all know that Hummingbird is far removed from the category of standard, striving to give its customers something different, something adventurous, and something a little bit special every single day of the week!

Nutella Cupcake

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The Nutella cupcake is comprised of Hummingbird’s signature chocolate cupcake with its glorious chocolate frosting.  However, rather than finishing it off with chocolate sprinkles, the Nutella cupcake is topped with chopped roasted hazelnuts for an extra crunch and an added twist to create a nutty treat.  Whilst I’m usually a massive fan of Hummingbird’s chocolate-themed cupcakes, this one was slightly disappointing in the fact that it wasn’t overly nutty unless you managed to get a mouthful of the chopped nuts.  Maybe a hazelnut and chocolate sponge, or a blended frosting would have been the way forward?  Nevertheless, it was still delicious, and I’m never one to turn down a chocolate treat from Hummingbird!

Therefore, the Lemon Curd special edition cupcake is this month’s star bake in my Great Hummingbird Bake-off competition.

Check back in May for news on Hummingbird Bakery’s latest special editions.

 

Love is Sweet: Konditor & Cook’s Valentine’s Collection

There is no denying that Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to share beautifully decorated cakes adorned with hearts, kisses and other romantic embellishments with your significant other, basking in your sweet, sweet happiness with sweet, sweet loved-up sugary treats.  (Although in my relationship cake is more part of our staple diet than a delicious treat that we enjoy on occasion!)  Whilst picking up get-well-soon cupcakes from the local bakery for my ill boyfriend this week, who was slogging away in the library and quite frankly in need of a quick pick-me-up, I stumbled across Konditor & Cook’s Valentine’s range.  I love their specialist ranges, particularly their Mulled Wine Cupcakes at Christmas, so I decided nothing could be better than cheering my boyfriend up with these love-themed cupcakes.

Mr. Mount Hazelnut

Cupcake

This was Konditor & Cook’s ‘manly’ cupcake, made especially for the man who does not want to be showered with hearts and kisses on a cupcake, with its macho moustache clearly oozing masculinity.  Funnily enough, this was my boyfriend’s favourite cupcake, so it obviously resonates well with the male species!  The hazelnut sponge was beautiful, soft, and spongy, and was no different in texture to the other sponges despite being wheat-free.  The flavouring was also impeccable, with a strong hazelnut sponge, topped with an extremely generous creamy hazelnut frosting.  Having pleased the boyfriend with ‘Oh, this is good!  This is my favourite!  This is the best cupcake I’ve ever had!’ it has gained the winning spot in Claire’s Konditor & Cook’s Valentine’s Cupcake Collection Competition (got to love a bit of alliteration)!

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Raspberry Chequer Cupcake

Second place goes to the Raspberry Chequer Cupcake.  This was my favourite in terms of flavour and decoration.  The icing was beautifully scented with a soft raspberry flavour, blended beautifully with white chocolate, which was delicately but thickly piped on top of a soft vanilla and raspberry-swirl sponge.  This gave the sponge a gorgeous marble effect, as well as adding to the subtle raspberry flavour that is typical of Konditor & Cook’s cupcakes; they are never over-powering on flavour.  However, the real treat was the raspberry surprise at the bottom, which gave a sharp but sweet kick to the cupcake, really setting it apart from the others.

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Lady Marmalade Cupcake

This orange-themed cupcake was much subtler in flavour than the others.  Whilst fun and flirty in its decoration, with lip-pouting seduction (although if you wanted to be more forward with that someone who makes your heart flutter, or possibly just you knickers drop, they had some rather bold biscuits to choose from with words such as ‘SHAG’ plastered across them in big capital letters)!  However, my love affair with this cupcake basically stopped there.  I love flavour, and the orange marmalade taste was just too faint for my liking.  I wanted it to be tangy and adventurous, like the decorative lips and ‘Lady Marmalade’ name suggested, but it just continued with the theme of soft and subtle flavours.  It would almost be like asking that innocent girl in your class/office, ‘voulez-vous cous chez avec moi?’  You know what you want, but it’s not going to happen!

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Curly Wurly Cupcake

Unfortunately, neither my boyfriend nor I were massive fans of this cupcake, which I was quite upset about because the Curly Wurly cake is Konditor & Cook’s bestseller and is used in their baking classes (something which I desperately want to do)!  Whilst the chocolate sponge was lovely (but, yet again, quite subtle in flavour, especially for a chocolate cake), it was the vanilla bean cream cheese frosting that neither of us were keen on.  The typically generous amount of icing was too overpowering for the subtlety of the sponge given the slightly tangy flavour of the vanilla bean cream cheese frosting on this cupcake.  I have to admit though, the frosting did go beautifully with the sponge after I scraped the majority of it off, and I can imagine it would be extremely complementary on their full-sized cakes that allows for more sponge and less frosting.

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Overall, the Konditor & Cook Valentine’s Collection was a heart stealer.  The decoration alone allowed these cupcakes to be the perfect gift for a loved one this February.  It is impossible to walk past the bakery window at any time of year without peering in to see the continuously changing flavours and always impeccably decorated cupcakes (so much so that my flatmate refuses to try their cupcakes because she’s adament that cakes that look THAT good always compromise on flavour, and I suppose that in some cases she is right).  However, I will always have a lot of love for the experimental flavours and decorative talents of this bakery and they always give you that special treat feeling when you walk out the door with a bag full of gorgeous looking cupcakes peering up at you as you walk along the street.