Tuesday, 25 August 2009

A new cupcakery in town disappoints

About 4 months ago I tried a vanilla cupcake from Ella's Bakehouse @ Selfridges and all was not good (you can read about it here). I never really like to judge a cupcakery badly on just one try, so when I was told by a fellow blogger that Ella's Bakehouse had now opened a little store in Covent Garden I couldn't resist checking them out. 

I had to wait a week or so, having had swine flu (oink oink) but last Friday after a rather hectic day at work I traipsed down to Covent Garden and chose 3 cakes - a vanilla (pink of course), a chocolate and a coconut. Oh yeah the store - it was small but perfectly formed with a lovely retro feel. There were quite a few flavours of cupcakes to choose from including red velvet, peanut butter and mocha and from the spaces on the shelves I think they had been busy. I took a couple of pics (after asking was it ok) and headed off home, heralding all my willpower not to scoff a cake on the bus as they looked really nice!

We had the cakes for pudding. Well, Manny had his cake for pudding - unfortunately the vanilla and the coconut were put barely touched in my beloved Brabantia bin. I really wanted to like these cupcakes, as the shop was cute, the cakes looked all glittery and pretty and Lorraine Pascale seems incredibly passionate about baking and any cupcakery near my work is welcomed,  but as soon as we removed them from the box it wasn't looking great. The casing of the vanilla cupcake had come away completely from the base and the base looked all soggy. Also the vanilla frosting unfortunately smelt of nothing but butter - and alas tasted the same. Just butter - no vanilla, not really sweet - just buttery. I tried a bit of the base and  it was very tasteless, again no taste of vanilla. I'm not a professional baker, but I know something was wrong - the cake was full of large air holes (over-mixing?) and as I said the base was very moist and sticky -to the point of being half raw. We decided it was only fair to try some of the coconut cake so we cut it in half but it was also inedible with not a lot of flavour - this one wasn't moist, instead it was rather dry. I'm a HUGE fan of coconut but the frosting did nothing for me - again just too buttery. 

The chocolate cupcake was another story - I only tried the frosting, to compare and it was really tasty- very chocolatey and dense. Manny enjoyed it and said he'd have a chocolate one again but agreed the other two weren't worth visiting for. 

I have since googled some reviews and while I found a couple that agreed with me re the over-buttery-ness of the frosting, others thought the cakes were fantastic and on par with Hummingbird - I shall politely disagree with that. Please let me know if you try the cakes and agree or disagree. I really do want to hear as obviously people have different tastes - this one just isn't for me.


Fat Les said...

Oh dear, Ella's was also recommended highly to me by a blogger I know. I will give it a go at some point but I think I’ve already fallen for what you’ve written. The impression I get is one of a bandwagon operation.

I heart cupcakes said...

Please don't let me put you off - yours is one of the cupcake opinions I trust!

Kathy said...

thank you for sharing your experience, I'm a huge cupcake-fan from Norway and whenever I go to London or abroad I'm searching for wonderful cupcakes - last time I tried cupcakes from Lola's, Buttercup (?..not sure about the name.. found them in Westfield mall) and Hummingbird Bakery, so I need some new places to visit next time I'm there. It's so funny.. I'm also on a diet or at least trying to lose some weight.. but I looove cupcakes and I keep making them/eating them/buying books, so it's hard!

Anonymous said...

I agree with you - I went last weekend. We had a chocolate one and a coconut one. There was little stock in the shop that made me hope that turnover was brisk and the cakes would be fresh.
The chocolate cake tasted of nothing and, on a blind tasting I couldn't have guessed what it was.
The coconut topping was better but the sponge was hard and dry. Not very pleasant.
On the plus side, for such a great location everything is reasonably priced.
I saw and tasted nothing that would make me go back.

KARA said...

Oh I am so thankful for your blog, when I plan my trips to London now I check your lists, going up next month and my little bro lives right on top of hummingbird so he tells me so he is taking me for a well earned cupcake.
Sorry your cakes were so poor, I baked some this weekend (forgot to take piccys) and I thought they were not too hot, but the 10 odd that ate them said I beat some bakeries they have tasted.
Bet you would have the same affect.

I heart cupcakes said...

@Kathy - do they have any cupcake bakeries in Norway? Buttercup are at Westfield and one of my favourites! Its very hard trying to diet when cupcakes are on offer - I try and limit my intake and for the next couple of months shall be baking less trying to lose some weight again!

@Anon - oh dear. Sorry to hear I wasn't the only unlucky one. They were about the same price as Primrose just round the corner whom I find much tastier - and edible!

@Kara - I HIGHLY recommend Hummingbird. And their cakes are as good as their cupcakes. Manny tried their whoopie pie last time which I'd also recommend! I bet your cupcakes were lovely - I always think the same and then people scoff them so they can't be bad ;)

Manny said...

I guess different people have different tastes. I really liked the chocolate one but I have to agree, the other 2 were tasteless and the frosting tasted and smelt like pure butter to me, no sweetness about it at all.

icandy... said...

I heart cupcakes, too!!!! I must admit, they are a weakness of mine...I am having so fun here at your place!
Christina :)

edith said...

I tried Ella's just today, it was the Coffe flavor and I fell in love with it. It was soft and pure bliss. I haven't tried any of the other flavors but will take hubby this w/e so we will see.