Sunday, 20 March 2011

Recent cupcake round up

I've put off doing this post as I find it incredibly depressing to write about awful cupcakes but alas these lot have been inedible and I feel it's only fair you share my pain - if not the cost of all these cakes we don't eat!! I really don't know what is going on with the cupcake world, but it would seem that lots of people out there are selling some truly awful, and in some cases inedible cupcakes. Who keeps buying these cakes?

First up from our trip to the Ideal Home Show on Wednesday is Katy's Cupcakes

The cakes looked really pretty, with some nice decorative touches. We opted to buy two (Manny wanted a box of four for a fiver - thank god we didn't!)

We opted for a Jack Daniels and a Baileys Chocolate. The Baileys one was edible but the cake part was dry and there wasn't much flavour of baileys. The Jack Daniels one however had a very unpleasant taste. The frosting and cake were drier than a popcorn fart. The 'chocolate' swirl on top I gave to Manny and the look of disgust that he had when he tried it is something that I wont' forget - he said it had a completely unpleasant after-taste and wasn't like chocolate at all.

All in all, not recommended.

Next up is another Ideal Homes purchase from Babycakes. We didn't really get off to a good start with Babycakes - I asked could I take some pics of her stall and she snipply replied "I should charge for it as everyone wants a picture of my cakes". She could stop people asking for photos by offering samples of her cakes - that'd put anyone off.

I bought a Cherry Bakewell and a chocolate for Manny. The cherry bakewell looked pretty but tasted of nothing at all. The frosting and sponge were rock hard. The bit of frosting I broke off tasted of nothing but off butter. Manny's chocolate was the same - inedible.

Some of the remains of the cake.

Next up is an old favourite, which in recent times has not been good, Primrose Bakery.

Manny had a chocolate which didn't taste all that chocolatey but was fresh enough to eat. My peanut butter one had a really dry base and an unpleasant after-taste and, you guessed it, ended up in the bin.

We also got an Afghan Biscuit from there as I really liked it last time I had one (about 2 years ago) but this was hard and pretty impossible to eat.

I'm not sure what's happened to the quality in Primrose but I've made their peanut butter cupcakes at home and they were lush. Maybe they should give me a job?

Last month we finally got round to checking out The Cupcake Company in Kensington. I should've gone to Hummingbird as at least the cakes would've been good.

Firstly sorry about the photos, the cakes got a little squished, and also my frosting actually came off whole in the box so I had to replace it. I knew from this that the frosting or cake wasn't going to be fresh. Oh and my poor elephant was decapitated on the journey!

I had a vanilla which tasted of absolutely nothing. Is it really that difficult to make a good vanilla cupcake? I keep getting vanilla cupcakes that have not a hint of vanilla in them. Why is it so difficult? A baker I wrote about on here said her customers like them to be not to vanilla'y, but surely a hint of it would be good? The frosting tasted of nothing but whipped butter.

Manny's chocolate cupcake wasn't incredibly flavoursome either. However, the malted cookie we bought was delicious, and I'd actually go back for their cookies.

Keep going, we're nearly there.

The last two are cupcakes from Bea's of Bloomsbury's new outlet at One New Change. I've enjoyed some cupcakes by Bea before and we decided to pop to the new place at the end of December, during the snowy times to grab a couple of festive cupcakes and enjoy a Baileys Hot chocolate. The new cafe is gorgeous and so were the cupcakes - to look at.

We opted for a baileys chocolate cupcake and a gingerbread one. To this day I'm still not sure the right person ate the right cake as the flavours were so subtle they weren't noticeable. The cakes themselves were fresh but just tasted of absolutely nothing, as did the frosting, which was rather disappointing.

Finally, lets end on something a little more positive. At the Ideal Home Show on Wednesday Mich Turner from Little Venice Cake Company was doing a session in the theatre so of course we went along to watch. She was making this divine looking Helter Skelter Chocolate Cake and showing you how to decorate it with chocolate and chocolate roses.

Isn't it stunning? I had to stop Manny running at the stage and trying to dive in for a bite!

While Mich was presenting her piece she suddenly stopped and said "oh hello" while starting directly at me. She then proceeded to mention my blog a couple of times and say how I'd written a wonderful piece about the decorating class of hers I went to. My blog got a further mention when she started making the roses and she said I'd made them in December! I was so chuffed, and a little embarrassed at everyone starting at me but I was so touched that she actually remembered my blog name!


Sarah @Scrumptious Sally said...

Signs of a crap cupcake: too much of the cake coming away with the case and definitely when the icing comes away in one piece in transit!
Thanks for eating rubbish cakes so I don't have to. I am with you on the vanilla thing. The taste should be delicate, obviously. But present!

Denise said...

Wow not good that most of the cupcakes at the show were tasteless and dry. I think the problem is that as cupcakes have become more popular everyone thinks that they can make them, when this is not the case. How can you have a vanilla cupcake that doesn't taste of vanilla? Makes no sense to me

The Caked Crusader said...

It's shocking how many bad cakes there are out there - when you add up the cost of those you mention in this post alone it's not a small sum of money.

jessie said...

You need to come to New York and do a cupcake tour to let us know which are the ones to avoid. I see so many places here but because they are so trendy now, I don't trust a lot of places to keep the quality good.

I also agree about the vanilla point. If they don't want it 'too vanilla-y' then call it 'plain' or 'yellow cake' etc. Otherwise it's just bad advertising!

Archies Mum said...

Wow you are definitely a dedicated cupcaker. Most people would have been put off trying any more cakes. Its such a shame when a cake looks absolutely gorgeous and its taste doesn't match its look. How brilliant to be remembered tho' but it must have been so embarrasing for you.

Jen said...

It makes me so upset to read posts like this - how can people produce cupcakes for a living yet still make buttercream that tastes of butter? Or vanilla sponges without sufficient vanilla?? Totally flummoxes me!!

Abbie said...

"Drier than a popcorn fart" = best line ever! :)

There is nothing worse than buying, what should be, a yummy cupcake and it being a big, expensive, disappointment...

Belle said...

I went to the Cupcake Company in October or November and the cakes were really fresh, I went first thing in the morning on a week day, we got 4 cakes, carrot, banana, chocolate and vanilla but yea you're right not many strong flavours. Also the girl who served me was so rude I wouldn't go back again, I do hate feeling like I'm botherig someone when I am taking the time to spend £10 on cake.

Had some LVCC cake a few weeks ago and it was amazing, i couldn't stop eating it. Gorgeous.

These posts reassure me that not the only one who's fed up of eating shit cake in London or that I'm not being overly fussy.


Manny said...

I didn't think you could too far wrong with a chocolate cupcake but some of the ones we've had recently have proved you can!

It was great to hear Mich mention your wonderful blog. I actually thought she said come up and have a bit of the cake at the end of the demonstration, must have been wishful thinking on my part :) That cake looked delicious!

Katie said...

Oh dear. Goes to show many are baking cupcakes with style over substance.
It was lovely of Mitch to remember your name and blog! You obviously made a good impression :)

Jean said...

Shocking!! Maybe these cakes are all made for profit rather than love of baking.

Cupcake Kelly said...

so sad that everyone thinks they can jump on the cupcake bandwagon and make a mint! It's also sad that some places are selling stale cakes. The ones I had from The Cupcake Company were good (they were fresh).

Laura said...

Thanks for this - it was much appreciated, a few of the places you have mentioned at on my 'to visit list' - maybe I won't bother! I falled in love with baking with real vanilla and when you can purchase vanilla pods on ebay for £0.90 for 20, why wouldn't you?

Anonymous said...

Sadly I agree, there are too few good high street bakers out there. Because cupcakes are relatively easy to make and are the 'in' thing at the moment, a lot of bakeries think they can get away with cardboard flavoured cake and odd tasting butter icing, stick it in a paper case and charge us up to £5 each for the privilege! I still don't understand how some cupcake bakers can get hold of wonderful ingredients such as chocolate, sugar, flour, butter and end up with a product I wouldn't feed to a starving puppy! Sorry if I sound a bit harsh, but cupcakes should be lovely treats, not a horrid trial!

Emma said...

Is there more than one Ideal home show ???
I was there today. I purchased a box of 4 cupcakes from Katy's cupcakes and they were the most delicious cup cakes we have ever eaten. The vanilla sponge was light and moist the chocolate was out of this world. Just goes to show you how opinions differ

I heart cupcakes said...

@Sarah - I could tell as soon as I'd seen it had come off in a whole piece that it wasn't going to be the cupcake of my life! I love vanilla so use a lot of it, but not so much it overpowers. I just don't understand when you can't get a hint of it in a vanilla cupcake!

@Denise - I agree - people seem to have just made cupcakes as suddenly they are trendy. I just hate to think what people buying these cakes must think - no wonder cupcakes get such a bad press amongst baker types. I'm 100% with you on the vanilla issue!

@Caked Crusader - I know, that's what upsets me. I spend a fortune trying these different cakes in the hope I can recommend them to my blog followers but lately we have mainly been disappointed

@Jessie - we visited quite a few when we came to NY a couple of years ago, but not as many as we'd hoped. I think we had a list of about 60+ but no way we could do them all!
I think here yellow cake isn't really known, but I agree just say plain if you don't want to add vanilla!

@Archies Mum - every now and then I think that's it, I'm sticking to the ones I know and love, but places open, or I see new bakers and I feel I should try them. No-one would read the blog if I only visited the same bakers over and over. As you can see from the amount of comments on this post people like to hear about the bad as well as the good!
It was a little embarassing, everyone looking at me, but I was so chuffed I soon got over it!

@Jen - I truly don't get how you can make buttercream just taste of butter. I wonder are they adding any sugar at all! As does the vanilla issue!

@Abbie - thank you!
It's so disappointing putting about £8 worth of cake into the bin believe me. It breaks my heart a little

@Belle - we went about 3pm on a Saturday and the hardness of the frosting has me believe they'd been sat there longer than since that morning. Maybe I should pop in and buy another for testings sake (and pick up a cookie). The staff were incredibly unfriendly - she bascially barked at some man who came in behind us and that also put me off the place.
Lucky you with the LVCC cake!
I keep thinking is it me being fussy (see comment below loving Katy's cakes) but I 100% am giving my honest opinion about these cakes and I really do think the quality of a lot of cakes out there is appalling, and I can do much better in my home kitchen!

@Manny - I know you'll usually eat anything, hence me mentioning your face when you ate that chocolate- I thought you were going to be sick.
Wasn't it lovely she remembered me - If I do one of her courses I shall of course bring you cake home!

@Katie - a lot of them look much prettier than they taste which is one of the most upsetting things about it. It's like finding out some hot bloke is as dull as dishwater!
I was shocked she remembered me and had read my blog!

@Jean - I always joke with Manny and friends that my secret ingredient is love (I know cheesy) BUT I think if you don't bake for the love of baking you get bad results!

@Kelly - glad you got some good ones at the Cupcake Company- I was shocked by how stale ours were.

@Laura - please don't let me put you off, as you can see a couple of others have enjoyed, for example, the Cupcake Company so maybe we just got really unlucky! Let me know if you try any and what you think though!

@busyellebee - recently it has been getting to the point why I wonder why I keep buying these crappy cakes when I could just make my own that would taste delicious! I keep hoping those who jump on the bandwagon, or who are obviously baking cupcakes just as they're the "in" thing will stop and let people who love baking them shine through but alas more and more bad bakers keep coming up!

@Emma - nope just the one. Glad you got some fresh cupcakes from Katy's however I can hand on heart say that ours were a few days past fresh. You can see from the pictures they are not in any way fresh.

Baking Addict said...

Thanks for the warnings! I've had the peanut butter cupcake at Primrose Bakery and was sorely disappointed. It was exactly as you described. Their recipes are good when you make them at home. I've been meaning to visit a few others you've mentioned but now I won't bother. It is frustrating that there's so many bad cakes out there. I saw Mich demonstrate at the good food show last year. It's really nice that she remembered you and mentioned your blog! I'll have to consider her decorating class.

Sarah-Jane - said...

duh. Nothing worse than buying a dried out sawdusty cake... .although I admit I've occassionally been just as disappointed with a supposedly just baked stale loaf out the bakers. Recently I got 3 vienesse whirls to take into work from the bakers and then found out they were inedible as has zero sugar in them.

I feel so damn guilty about buying something like that and having to chuck it in the bin uneaten. Surely the people selling them have some sort of idea. If not, they need to sample their own wares a bit more often. It's bad enough if I've not used it in date and it's my fault - but if it's fresh, it SHOULD be edible !

cakeheaven1 said...

Hi Anne
So nice and refreshing to see a blog that's real about the actual taste of cupcakes - I recently went to Hummingbird and was really disappointed with the taste and dryness(for the price they charge which is shocking!) we went to Lola's afterwards - what a difference and deliciously fresh!

Catherine said...

I agree with the person who mentioned Hummingbird. Went to the one in Soho today and got a black bottomed one and a white (don't know if it was supposed to be vanilla because it didn't taste like it) with chocolate frosting covered in chocolate sprinkles.
The black bottomed one had a ball of chemical tasting white filling inside. The cakes in both tasted of nothing as well as being dry and stale. I can make better cupcakes. On a more positive note I have been sampling Ms. Cupcakes wares outside her soon to be opened shop in Brixton Market and have enjoyed most of them. Her vanilla ones are gorgeous. Only one I wasn't keen on was the butterscotch.

Sarah, Maison Cupcake said...

That's so cool Mich remembered you. It even makes up for all those bin worthy cupcakes!

Sarah said...

I'm completely with you on the overcharging for rubbish thing. Inspired by you, I did some tasting recently - Ella's Bakehouse, Candy Cakes and Primrose. Candy Cakes were just shocking (I would speculate that it was an over iced, bought in, mass produced piece). Ella's were inedible (wrote to them re this as thought they may want feedback - no response). Primrose were good, but not great. However, then went to Peggy Porschen a few weeks later - OMG - black forest is to die for!! I don't object to paying £3.50 for a cupcake when it tastes THAT good!
Keep up the quest....

KARA said...

How disappointing, its not like they are cheap. Luckily I started to feel poorly by the food section of Ideal Home so did not even see the cupcakes, I feel pleased now.
I nearly went to the shop in Kensington on sat but instead went to Ella's at Covent Garden and I am pleased I did cause they were scrummy.
Hope you and Manny are well.

Louise J said...

What an absolutely fabulous blog! I am the owner of a cupcake shop in Manchester with concessions in Selfridges stores (Jellytots & Dollymixtures Cupcake Company) and so have done my fair share of tasting just like yourself! In the beginning there were so few and at a fairly decent to good quality. Now it is beyond ridiculous the amount you pay to get a dry, flavourless, all butter tasting etc cupcake.

It's fantastic that you help to try and put things in perspective with the cupcake world by offering real reviews. Us bakers get slagged off constantly for making cupcakes because did you know "anyone can make a fairy cake" and all that because there are so many people who think and do just that and produce shockingly bad cake!

I just wanted to say thank you for putting your thoughts and pictures all down in here and say that I'll be recommending your blog to my customers from now on and I very much hope you will get to try our cupcakes sometime soon! :o)

I heart cupcakes said...

Thanks everyone for the comments - it's sad to hear there are so many bad cupcakes out there. I hate to think that someones first cupcake is one of the awful ones as it'd put them off for life!

Louise- thank you for your kind words about my blog :) I just checked out your site -it looks very pretty. I hope to make it up to Manchester sometime soon so will pop by of course!