Tuesday, 1 February 2011

A tale of two cupcakes

Even after nearly 3 years of writing this blog I still get excited when I hear of a new cupcakery opening in London. Alas, these days I’m often left disappointed and more than a little sad. Not to mention out of pocket.

I read about Sweet Couture a couple of weeks ago, I think via Daily Candy, and had planned to go two weekends ago. We didn’t make it until yesterday, so the anticipation had been growing. The shop itself is small but perfectly formed. Their display reminded me of Lola’s and their flavours included all the favourites, double chocolate, vanilla, red velvet and peanut butter. As usual on our first visit somewhere we kept it simple – a vanilla for me and a double chocolate for Manny. Obviously I opted for pink frosting!

The cakes got a little, well a lot shook up on the way home (I blame the extra hot salsa on my burrito from the fantastic Benito’s Hat – that stuff is HOT!) but they didn’t get too squished – this to me wasn’t a good sign. If the frosting is so hard it doesn’t squish after being turned upside down several times by a man who shall remain nameless..Manny…hmmmm

So, the taste test. The cake part was a bit stale but not as bad as some I’ve had. Not a hint of vanilla in the cake at all though. Same with the frosting, no vanilla at all, unfortunately it tasted of nothing but butter. It was incredibly cloying and unpleasant – like eating a chunk of cold butter would be. All in all it was inedible so another cupcake ends up in my bin. Manny’s chocolate cupcake fared slightly better, ending up in his belly. I tasted a little bit and the cake itself was quite dry however and didn’t taste of much, and the frosting was ok but again had a very heavy buttery flavour. As Manny put it he didn’t have that lovely “just eaten some chocolaty goodness” feeling after eating it. I fully agree.

It’s such a shame, and we may have got it on a bad day – I may pop back and try another as the lady working there (the baker?) was really friendly and helpful and we’d hoped the cakes would be nice!

On the opposite end of the scale – a cupcake to die for. Well not literally but it was divine.

We popped to Ottolenghi’s in Islington on Saturday after some cupcake baking supply shopping at Gill Wing. Braving the HUGE queues we restricted ourselves to three items – a lemon and blueberry cupcake, a flourless chocolate bundt cake and a chocolate cake with baileys frosting. Everything looked so mouth watering it was difficult to restrict ourselves to three things – every time we thought we’d chosen we’d spot something else!

As it is near impossible to get a seat, we got our goodies to go and headed back home to scoff them with a hot cuppa tea with the heating on – Saturday afternoon bliss.

The cupcake was delicious. A moist blueberry filled base with Italian buttercream on top which melted in your mouth. Absolutely delicious.

Then it got better. The chocolate bundt, which Ottolenghi calls a tea cake, what can I say but – oh my. Well I could add, I wish I'd bought two! 

Then it got even better – Manny allowed me a morsel of his baileys cake and again oh my, the cake was incredibly chocolaty, the frosting melted in your mouth – and then the Baileys cream filling – oh.my.god I could’ve eaten a LOT of it. You could taste the Baileys but it wasn’t overpowering – absolutely fabulous.

All fresh, all flavoursome. If only the cupcake world could take that on as their motto.

Finally, I think Angel suspected this cupcake had a hidden secret. Although she may just have been trying to hypnotise it! "look into my eyes"


Cupcake Kelly said...

Your cat is so cute! I wanted to try that sweet coutre but maybe i'll wait a few weeks! The hot chocolate at ottenlenghi is very good! The one in Islington is always rammed.

Belle said...

Where do you think people are going so wrong??

Sarah-Jane - SiliconeMoulds.com said...

they say you need to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince...

I think you and Manny eat lots of cupcakes so we don't have to !

Fortunatley, we don't have any cupcake shops around here - otherwise it would be just far too tempting.

I reckon Manny would like those very chocolately cookies Oliver and I made a litle while ago. The fumes of chocolate were so intense that it could have knocked you out just taking the lid off the tin !

Ellie said...

I love Ottolenghi's. It's my favourite - you've inspired me to pay a visit this weekend.

Lou said...

I have literally never had a bad experience with ottolenghi! Everything from their delis are incredible <3
Thankyou for the very in depth and concise guide, its good to know these things! Nothing worse than parting with your monies for a stale cake :(

I heart cupcakes said...

@Kelly - thank you, she is rather adorable, her nickname is pudding as she is obsessed with cakes, yoghurts anything like that! I may pop back to SC but get something small, I'm hoping it was a bad day.

@Belle - it was just flavourless. Not a hint of vanilla - perhaps they used essence rather than extract? And the frosting was just too buttery. It's not just SC - I had cakes from Bea's and Ella's before Christmas and both were inedible.

@Sarah Jane - indeed, you have to eat a lot of cupcakes to find the good 'uns!
Those cookies sound great - right up Manny's street

@Ellie - it's just lovely isn't it. I really want to try the savoury food/salads as they look delicious but it's just too busy to get a seat. I may have to take a day off work and go!

@Lou - I've been twice and both times have been superb - it really is a great shop.
Thanks for taking the time to comment, it's always very much appreciated, and I 100% agree - it's so disappointing paying for cake only for it to end up in the bin!

manny said...

Those cakes from Ottolenghi were amazing, I can't wait for our next visit. Such a shame about cupcake couture because the girl was really nice and friendly but my chocolate cake was just about edible, no more. I like the sound of Sarah Jane's cookies :)

Archies Mum said...

Isn't it disappointing when you've looked forward to something and it isn't what you expect. Ref taking your cupcakes home maybe you should invest in one of the new items that Lakeland are selling. A bit pricey tho' I've given you the link below so you can see what you could buy


I heart cupcakes said...

@Manny - Ottolenghi is such a great place isn't it! Yeah I know you were looking forward to going back to Sweet Couture ;)
I'll have look at Sarah Jane's blog about the cookies

@Archies Mum - it is indeed. I have a couple of cupcake caddies that a friend brought me from the States but part of my blog is finding out how well they survive hte journey home too, but thanks :)

Christopher Murphy said...

Now this is just weird! I first came across your blog when looking for other food blogs and clicked on yours because I noticed you had the same last name as me... then I saw it was all about cake and was like oh my... r u my long lost sister?! Further proof being we both have unnaturally bright red hair...

Anyway if you've got a min, check out my cakes, I promise they tasted as good as they look...



I heart cupcakes said...

@Christopher - I just looked at your cupcakes, they look delicious! But how on earth can you be over cupcakes?!! tut tut!
Cheers for taking the time to comment - and make me wonder if I have a long lost brother out there!

Cupcake Crazy Gem said...

That's a shame you had stale cupcakes! Mara was still eating hers for 4 days after she bought them from Selfridge's and she said they were still fresh!! Maybe you went on a bad day! Glad Ottolenghi made up for it! Soo jealous you went to Benito's hat...when I get back to the UK I'm heading their first for a visit! I love Mexican!!

I heart cupcakes said...

Gem - I'm not sure if it was a bad day or not. The owner emailed me to say this is how they are meant to taste so I shall be giving it a miss! Glad your sister enjoyed hers!
Benito's Hat rules - we've been a few times - first time we had their new very hot salsa. Good grief it was HOT!!

Sarah, Maison Cupcake said...

I've had ottolenghi cakes in their Notting Hill branch and they were excellent. Pity about the other place!

I heart cupcakes said...

@Sarah - I love Ottolenghi and I REALLY want to eat there if I can ever get a seat!
I'm quite tired of bad cupcakes I have to admit