As readers of this blog will be aware, I am a big fan of the Hummingbird Bakery cookbooks. In fact, it is ‘Cake Days’ that enabled me to successfully make cupcakes for the first time and how I found my love for baking.
I have been meaning to visit one of the five branches of the Hummingbird Bakery for some time so, on a recent visit to the capital and after a day jam-packed with walking, a visit to the Soho branch for an afternoon sugar boost seemed ideal!
I love Soho and its unique shops, bars and restaurants so it is a perfect location for the bakery as many foodies often flock to the area. Upon arriving at the shop, I must admit I was a bit disappointed as to how small it was. Gone was the inviting bakery I had imagined, with comfy seats and small tables dotted around the room so that customers could spend time enjoying a delicious cupcake over a relaxing cup of coffee. Instead, the bakery had a small ‘breakfast bar’ on the left hand side with a few bar stools. On the right hand side, customers were able to queue at the counter to purchase their cupcakes. The bakery is obviously very popular so the queue encompassed the whole shop and really did not leave any room for customers to perch on the bar stools; I thought it was some kind of joke when the lady serving me asked if the cupcake was to “eat in or takeaway”!! That said, from the pictures on their website the Notting Hill flagship branch looks a little more roomy. Perhaps I will have to give this branch a visit in the future.
The selection of cakes and cupcakes on offer was fantastic! All of the Hummingbird Bakery favourites were there including red velvet cake and vanilla cupcakes. It was very difficult to choose what to have! Unfortunately, as customers were queuing all along the counter it wasn’t possible to see everything that was on offer before being asked what we would like to purchase. The staff, however, were very polite and efficient and gave you adequate time to make a decision. The service was very quick which did not make queuing an issue.
One thing I would say, and don’t think I am just being greedy, I was rather surprised at how small the cupcakes were. Anyone who has followed the recipes in ‘Cake Days’ can attest to how huge the cupcakes are!! They are almost a little too big for one serving. This is therefore what I expected from the bakery however, in reality the cupcakes were an awful lot smaller.
Neil opted for one of the chocolate bar cupcakes which change daily. Saturday’s cupcake was inspired by the Crunchie. It was beautifully decorated with a piece of Crunchie on top; Neil said it was delicious although he thought the icing could have been better presented.
I wanted to try something a bit different and that I hadn’t tried before so I chose a black bottom cupcake. This cupcake features a rich, chocolatey sponge with a baked cheesecake centre, chocolate chunks and cream cheese frosting. It was easily one of the best cupcakes I have tasted and something I will recreate myself when I have the opportunity. As a big cheesecake fan, Neil admitted he was a little disappointed he didn’t opt for a black bottom cupcake himself!
As the bakery was so crowded, Neil and I ate our sugary treats in Soho Square. Our Hummingbird Bakery experience wasn’t what I had imagined, but the taste of the cupcakes made up for it as did sitting outside in the winter sunshine, watching the world go by.