August 1, 2012
it’s no secret that i’m a sucker for a sweet treat or two. 80% of the time i’m the one baking not devouring but the remaining 20% tries to steal the limelight at every available opportunity. one of the factors in my decision making process for europe was that i’d do a little sweet treat ‘research’ whilst i was there. it was a given that i would eat croissants every day in paris and if approached, argue that it was a right of passage. luckily i was with two beauties that had exactly the same idea, so mission accomplished. however, a few days into my trip i unearthed a little gem by the name of ‘tea & cake london’. anything with a pretty pastel front cover adorned with sweet delights was bound to end up on my book shelf, but this pocket sized delight had my stomach rumbling before i had even got three pages in. i had lots of recommendations of places to go for the perfect cupcake from friends and cake lovers, but instead i enjoyed the rather randomly inspired approach that this book had to offer. it wasn’t long before ‘violet' and ‘primrose bakery’ were set in my sights. it was important that the bakeries i visited reflected and respected the same ideology that my own cake shop would one day represent.
the first beauty, violet, sits nestled amongst the homes of hackney’s residents. with it’s cute cottage business style approach, it was hard not to fall in love before i’d even stepped inside the door. no fancy signage, a small back yard and a spacious upstairs seating area provided the perfect invitation on the rainy day that my cake crew and i decided to visit. i’d wanted a cosy spot where my mum, dad, sister and i could chat leisurely over pots of tea and slices of homemade cake. stepping inside the small front door, i was presented with the most delightful array of hand crafted made-in-house treats. to my left, the small team of bakers were busy icing cupcakes, preparing chocolate whoopie pies for a photoshoot upstairs and packing orders for an obviously well educated cake clientele. a stunning victoria sponge took centre stage on the front counter, but much to my mum’s sadness, was only available as a whole. laden with fruit and piled high with cream, this beauty was a little too much for our afternoon tea sized appetite. a slice of carrot cake, red velvet, chocolate salted caramel and a strawberry cupcake were ordered and we soon took refuge upstairs to indulge in our delights. not before a million instagram photos were snapped of the busy bakers at work downstairs and the incredible attention to detail that had violet pulling at my heart strings from the very first moment. 'tea & cake london' says ‘pop in and you will find claire (a former pastry chef from california) and her helpers sending flour flying from a large open workstation, while a vintage cabinet houses seasonal-inspired treats from rhubarb filled scones to a coconut cream sponge’. a tiny little shop with a beautiful personality and an offering that i think any cake lover will find hard to beat. violet, you gorgeous thing, you had me at hello.
the best red velvet cake i have ever eaten. fact.
proof is in the cupcake.
our afternoon delights.
no explanation needed.
mint and lemon english china, the perfect cake compliment.
back in 2004, a little café by the name of ‘primrose bakery’ opened it’s doors in london's primrose hill. this was the time when the world was going cupcake crazy and many bake at home mama’s and their friends were setting up shop. primrose had one thing right from the very start, be true to the american cupcake origin and you’ll be onto a winner. people soon became besotted by the pretty little delights taking over london’s trendy neighbourhoods. i visited the primrose hill location on a cold and miserable wednesday afternoon, tempted by the formica tables and retro styled interior the bakery was well known for. i was instantly impressed by the pretty pastel tones and sweet smell of freshly baked cupcakes. it reminded me of my magnolia experience in nyc but took the cake for it's proud british flair. saying that, primrose describes itself as being more than just cupcakes. 'we make our own croissants by hand and have a huge range of layer cakes, biscuits and cake slices.' not only do i have the charming experience to remember, but i was able to take away primrose's own cook book, full of the most delicious british treats and an entire chapter of icing techniques and baking tips. impressive. next on the must see cake shop list for next year? beas of bloomsbury, treacle and rose bakery. my stomach is getting ready to rumble.
cute setup alert.