I remember the last time I was in London; after studying Cupcake-Top-10 lists, I had so many plans about where I'm going to eat the best (cup)cakes in the world and stuff like that. The Hummingbird Bakery, Primrose Bakery and Buttercup Cake Shop were the three bakeries on my list to visit, and yet I forgot about them completely. There's just so much more to do in London (or anywhere else) than spending time searching for that one cupcake place.
While browsing the (huge) cookbook section at one of the Charing Cross Road bookstores, I think it was Foyles, I found The Hummingbird Bakery cookbook, which I never even knew existed. The first impulse was to buy it, but then I didn't, because I had to fly back home with a low-cost airline and the weight of my luggage was already starting to become a problem. But I still read some of it and found out that, apparently, Gwyneth Paltrow loves their cupcakes. It's also the first bakery in the UK that started baking american style sweets - cupcakes, whoopie pies and cakes. I read that one of their bakeries was in Soho, which was close to our hostel, but in the end we didn't make it there because... we didn't look for it. Because visiting one bakery a day was enough.
This time, I was determined to find it. The Old Brompton branch seemed to be close to our hotel, so on one cloudy morning, we started looking for it. From the wrong end of the Old Brompton Road...let's just say that we walked there for 30 minutes, and when we found it, we realized that it was right in front of South Kensington tube station, where we started the search (got on the bus). Oh well. It was a good workout, I guess.
On to the bakery. The place is tiny! There are three tables with two chairs each, and no customer bathroom. (I must add that they closed this branch down in early January for some renovating, so I have no idea what it looks like now.) We sat down and took our coats off. Then waited a couple of minutes. One woman was sitting and eating a cupcake, otherwise, the place was empty. There were 3 or 4 employees standing around, doing nothing, but no one came to take our order! I didn't see any signs that they don't serve food at the tables... I got up, ordered and carried the cakes to our table. I didn't take our drinks though, since I only have two hands... The employee that carried our drinks seemed to be very reluctant about that. Seriously? It's not like you have anything else to do...
I was so excited about my pick, the Chocolate Devil's Food Cake. When we came in, there wasn't any, but they brought a freshly made cake out soon enough. The first bite was good. But then the second, third... I was already in a diabetic coma! Sugar is probably the main ingredient here, I'm not kidding. By the time I reached the side covered in frosting, I was exhausted from eating it. I drank the whole bottle of water while eating because otherwise I wouldn't be able to swallow it. I left the frosting. Sure, it looks good, but I like my pancreas and its insulin-producing ability.
If you're asking yourselves why I didn't order a cupcake, since this blog is called Tanja's Cupcakes, it's because I got tired of bad tasting cupcakes that are never as good as cakes are. Also, there was A LOT more frosting on there. And food colorings. Not cool.
The Red Velvet Cake had too much frosting as well and it was not as cream-cheese-y as Lola's is. The cake was good but dry. I'm not a fan of red velvet, so I can't judge. But the amount of sugar in the frosting was enormous. It probably is like that in every cake.
I haven't read any good reviews of their first cookbook. They sell it in their bakeries, along with diaries, notecards and notebooks. I don't know if the prices are any lower than in other shops. We paid around 4£ for each cake, which is not cheap at all, and were very disappointed by the service and the taste. I don't think we'll ever visit any of the Hummingbird Bakery branches again.
The decorations in the window are beautiful though.
The Hummingbird Bakery
47 Old Brompton Road
South Kensington, LondonSW7 3JP