National Cupcake Week. London. Time to spare before my train. It could only mean one thing… a visit to the cupcake mecca that is Hummingbird Bakery! I went to the branch in Spitalfields as it was closest to the exhibition I’d spent the day at. A short walk from Liverpool Street station, it’s also incredibly close to the City and Tower Hill – you could walk up in about 10 minutes.
As you leave the City and walk North you can very quickly tell when you’re getting close – the sleek glass and steel structures of the financial district are quickly left behind, and bright, funky wall art springs at you from round corners:
Looking like something out of Harry Potter, the Spitalfields bakery is located in the brilliantly named Frying Pan Alley – so called because of the ironmongers who used to hang pans outside their shops by way of advertisement .
Hummingbird has a prominent position down the pedestrian arcade, with some great outdoor seating. Needless to say, in the middle of a September Wednesday afternoon, it was rather quiet!
For some reason I was surprised at what I found in side – not as many varieties of cupcake as I’d expected, and, shock horror, other cakes too!
The sliced layer cakes certainly looked very tempting – I gladly accepted a sample of the pink-iced vanilla – and the icing sugar stenciled chocolate brownies were a simple but effective idea.
Nevertheless – I found what I was looking for in an array of sumptuous cases of cupcakes.
I was quickly drawn to Hummingbird’s signature cake – the Red Velvet – loved and re-created by many bakers up and down the country, HBB (an American company) are credited as being the first to bring this type of cake to the UK. You can check out my previous attempts at making my own red velvet here.
I was also impressed to find a gluten-free version – great that they are embracing people with tricky diets. Now all they need is a fat- and calorie-free cupcake…
Of the other cupcakes there was a delicious banana smell coming from their daily special – banana milkshake topped with a candy straw…
…and some bright coloured cakes with fondant decorations – the signature bird, stars, and even delicate footprints!
But how could I sample anything else other than a red velvet? I chose one to make my own, managing to keep my (rather-oversized!) fork away long enough to snap up some of that beautiful red colour:
Inside it was just as delicious – the bright red colour was the sweet taste of vanilla with a hint of chocolate, and the cream cheese icing was whipped to perfection. The whole cake was so deliciously light that I could have happily eaten several more!
Before leaving I took a quick peek into their Cakes by Consultation room. Hummingbird wedding cake you say….?! I’m still unsure what I loved best – the eye-catching bird print artwork, or the stunning cake models on display.
Perhaps the most tempting of everything in the shop…? If only I lived in London!
I also picked up a couple more cupcakes to bring home – you can have them boxed in batches of 1, 2, or 6, and I happily swung my little bag all the way out the door!
One tube, two trains, and a mile’s walk later, my cupcakes finally made it home. The box held them perfectly and they still looked exactly as they had in the shops (even after my mad dash through St Pancras to get the train!). I chose a black-bottom cupcake and banana milkshake so as to try some of the other flavours the bakery offers.
The black bottom was a rich, moist, rich chocolate cake, with a dollop of cheesecake mix containing big thick chocolate chips, finished with a smooth cream cheese frosting. Looking at the black bottom cupcake on their website, the cheesecake is apparently supposed to be centred – nice to know even the pros can get their cupcake layers wrong. Don’t get me wrong though, it was still very tasty!
Onto the banana special – The straw was made of a yummy soft candy stick, and following the cupcake down it only got tastier! A brilliant combination of a creamy, thick frosting that tasted exactly like banana milkshake, perfectly complemented by a moist banana sponge. The banana milkshake is a limited edition flavour, only available on Wednesday’s until the end of September – so you have one more week to go!
Needless to say I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to the Hummingbird Bakery. Maybe my next mission will be to try out all their other branches!
The only downside I’d say is the price – these are truly special occasion cupcakes; I paid £8.60 for one eat-in and two takeaway (you have to pay VAT if you eat in) – which at nearly £3 a cupcake is a little much even though they are so scrummy.
And in a great twist – I discovered as I ambled up to the train (with blatant disregard for nearly missing the train) – I dressed today in Hummingbird colours, a brown dress and pink cardigan! Coincidence…?