Sunday, February 15, 2009

Fairy Cakes, Cupcakes... Whatever the Name, They're Goooood!

My first memory of cupcakes is when I baked some (with my Mum's help) for a Sunday School cooking competition. I might have been four or five at the time. They looked great until I took a tumble walking them over to the table for display and they went flying into the gravelled drive. We secretly picked out all the pebbles and I think they won some kind of ribbon, probably for the crunchiest.

Cupcakes -- or fairy cakes, as they're known on this side of the pond -- always have the power to put me in mind of birthday parties or end-of-year school celebrations, something out-of-the ordinary that gives the whole day a special tinge. So when I heard that Hummingbird Bakery was creating a special Valentine's cupcake, I couldn't resist.

Hummingbird cupcakes. Image courtesy of the Daily Mail - mine didn't last long enough for photos!

I've been a Hummingbird addict for some time now. Smack in the middle of Portobello Road, their cupcakes are so delicious it's as if they've dropped straight from the sugar god. A moist, tender cake topped with creamy, sweet frosting, I can't devour them fast enough. Apparently I'm not the only one. Every time I've been to their tiny shop, the queues stretch out the door -- even on weekdays, when the market isn't on.

Queue outside the bakery in December 2008.

As much as I love the quirkiness of the Saturday Portobello Market, I'm definitely not a big fan of the crowds. But even this was not enough to put me off my quest for Hummingbird's Valentine cupcakes. Pushing through the tourists (strangely, there always seems to be loads of Italians?) and past the stalls selling everything from rugby balls to brass door handles, I finally got to the door -- where, as expected, no fewer than 15 people were waiting. At £2.50, the cupcakes aren't cheap, but they're well worth the wait. I chose my favorites: a chocolaty cake topped with cream cheese frosting, and a vanilla sponge smothered in chocolate frosting.

Through our Valentine's dinner in Soho and Vicky Cristina Barcelona at the Curzon, all I could think about were those cupcakes awaiting us at home. Finally, the moment was upon us. Two brief gulps and it was over -- a little drop of sweetness at the end of the day.


Criss said...


Because that's just fun.

Now I'm going to have to go bake some. Just so I can tell others about them. And call them "fairy cakes."

PS - I almost cried when you go to the part in the story where you fell with the fairy cakes. Something about that kind of story always gets to me. The ruined expectation? Don't know. But I want to fly to London and give you a hug, just in case you need one.

Marsha said...

I know, I love the name 'fairy cakes'! It sounds so mystical.

Aw, thanks for your sympathy. But my Mum just told me they actually won first place in the baking contest! How, I don't know. Clearly they didn't taste them!