At the weekend I popped into Brew on Northcote Road in Clapham for a coffee. Boy it’s good coffee, great taste, strong and a lovely bit of barista art on top. They do great brunch food too so it’s a good all-day place (their website has some lovely brunch pics). Cake wise I plumped for a carrot cake which was enormous and you could definitely share it with a friend. It was nice and moist but I thought it was lacking a wee bit of flavour, perhaps cinnamon. They also had a gigantic red velvet cake on display too. My friend tried a Lamington which I hadn’t come across before. It’s an Ozzie cake with sponge, a layer of chocolate and dessicated coconut covering it. It was a bit dry so I reckon you’d be better to stick to their other tray bakes and layer cakes. All in all the coffee made it worthwhile. I’d defo head back to try some more of their cake range and sample another brunch dish. Some other ladies were busy drinking prosecco with their cake so it’s a fun place for a late afternoon meet up before you hit the bars.
I am well over due an update to the blog so today is my attempt to kick start things and get back to my regular posting. After many weeks of working long hours I had to put the blog on the back burner but I was itching to get back to the baking and blogging. As part of National Novel writing month, my friend is brave enough to embark on writing a book for the first time. She has to write atleast 1,500 words a day for a month, the equivalent of over 50,000 words. I think it’s a great initiative because not only does it encourage people to start creative writing, but it envelopes their friends too. Hannah has initiated group chill out sessions where we can meet and write novels and journal entries, blog and read.
My suggestion for yesterday’s creative café was the Nordic Bakery on Golden Square in Soho. I had always wanted to give it a try and this seemed the perfect excuse. The industrial décor and low lighting is great for a chilled and dark Sunday afternoon. I opted for a cinnamon bun which is like a giant, tightly coiled croissant, filled with doughy goodness and lashings of cinnamon. It was crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside and just about gooey enough with oozing syrup. Other cakes on offer include tall sponge cakes marbled with chocolate (Tiger Cake) or orange and poppyseed or topped with caramelised almonds (Tosca cake). The cakes looked a bit dry which is why I opted for a bun but with a good cup of coffee I’m sure they would have been tasty. My friend had a gravalax and Nordic cheese sandwich on rye bread which she said was very tasty although rather minute for £4. If you want to recreate their recipes and other Nordic nibbles, you can buy the Nordic Bakery Cookbook for £15 from the café.
The staff were helpful although they needed to come round more often to clear all our cups and plates. I would recommend this café if you’re after a peaceful, lazy afternoon away from the hubbub of Regent St. Bizarrely, they started turning the lights down every 15 minutes! I was still there after 6pm and the really nice thing was how the atmosphere was really chilled and the staff were so nice they didn’t make any attempt to throw out their customers after closing time!
Last night, I visited the Hummingbird Bakery on Old Brompton Road (nearest tube is South Kensington). I went there with a friend back in February but had poor customer service and emailed the bakery to let them know I had been disappointed. Their customer services team were very good, made some changes, apologised and offered me and my friend complimentary cupcakes and coffee. We decided to give it a shot yesterday and I had a red velvet cupcake and my friend had a choc chip cheesecake cupcake (hard to say!). I thought the icing on my cupcake was delicious but the sponge was rather dry. I tried a bit of my friend’s and hers was nice and fresh and she really enjoyed it. It was a little sweet for me but then that’s what cupcakes are all about! The staff were OK but still slow to clear tables and bring drinks. On a Monday evening this could definitely have been a bit swifter. I’d like to return for take-out to keep trying their different cupcakes and cakes but I still think the ambiance of the cafe is missing that bit of sparkle.
This is my first blog post so I thought I’d tell you a little bit about myself, why I’ve started this baking blog, what I hope to achieve and hopefully this will be a fun journey (although a bit experimental on my part) for all those that decide to follow!A little bit about me – I’m Naomi Longworth, an energetic and enthusiastic PR professional. Lover of all things cake and discovering the gems/hidey holes of London. I love seeking out new (independent) cafes and trying out different cakes and drinking coffee. Since moving to London (over three and a half years ago), I’ve had more time to experiment with baking and improve my skills. My flatmates, friends and colleagues have been expert tasters ‘n’ testers over the years and given me the confidence to try new recipes. What with all this tasting of cakes, to ensure I don’t turn into the size of a giant cupcake, I keep fit by playing hockey, jogging and am even trying a street dance class at the moment.
Enough of me – on to why I wanted to start the Cake takes the biscuit blog. Well, there’s been an explosion of interest in cupcakes over the last couple of years (in part due to places like Magnolia Bakery featured in Sex and the City) and a revival of people starting cake baking in the recession (see this Daily Telegraph article on research which suggests a third of people under 25 are regular cake bakers and see it as a ‘sexy activity’). Having started a collection of recipe books, it struck me that there are tons of cake and cupcakes recipes out there, but not all of them give the desired results and they certainly don’t turn out looking like cake beauties.
So I decided it might be handy to chart my journey as experimenting cake cooker and reviewer of recipes – which ones are good and achieve those perfect cakes every time, which ones are yummy but need a little bit of tweaking and which ones should be avoided at all costs. Thrown in for a bit of variation will be reviews of dessert recipes, cafes and recipes books (once I’ve tested enough of the recipes in them!). Here’s a preview of one of the cupcakes I made last week. Coming soon will be a review of the Hummingbird Bakery’s vanilla cupcakes and further down the line will be a chocolate brownie bake off with my mate.
Like I say, this blog writing malarkey is a bit of an experiment and no doubt the content will evolve as I discover and learn new things – both about cake baking and blogging. Do bear with me but hopefully I can bring a little bit of humour and clarity to the cake baking/consuming world!