Cupcakes are over…
…well, that’s what some people say. I am not friends with those people because frankly I don’t know why anyone would say something so mean and to those folk I ask what did those soft, perfectly-sized-for-little-hands cakes topped with mountains of pillowy-soft, bonbon coloured frosting ever do to you?
Did the Salted Caramel cut you up in traffic?
Did the Red Velvet forget to say thank-you when you held the door open for her?
Did that Malteser topped bad boy push in front of you last week in Wholefoods?
No? Then back off please and with immediate effect. Walnut studded brownies may squeeze into your affections, lighter-than-air whoopie pies may simper through the door and triple layer cakes will always muscle into prime position on a sagging-under-the-weight-of-frosting shelf but cupcakes aren’t going anywhere just yet and celebrating a decade in the business of making us happy with baked goods is the simply gorgeous Primrose Bakery.
Martha Swift & Lisa Thomas, the Primrose talent, started out making adorable treats for children’s parties before taking the trend that was sweeping the US in the early noughties and tailoring it to the UK market, specifically those adults among us who love cake & frosting & sprinkles as much as the smaller people in our midst.
Although they have now parted ways, in their time together Swift & Thomas were responsible for three cookbooks, two bakeries and one app all designed to help us satisfy a cupcake craving while out & about or create similar visions of loveliness in our own homes. They might not be the newest kids on the block but when it comes to delivering the goods, moving with the trends and never forgetting what it was that made us love them in the first place, Primrose could teach those fresh off the blocks and out of the ovens a thing or two.
What better way is there to enjoy a sensationally-cold-but-crisp day in London than by exploring a new neighbourhood, kicking piles of crunchy orange leaves, climbing velvety green hills, inhaling the spectacular views and enjoying a little sweet refreshment in Primrose Hill? None that I can think of now having done all those things on a recent NW based expedition. Not only is it a place I immediately fell in love with, it’s the perfect location for the original Primrose Bakery in all it’s sugared almond glow and candy fragranced air.
Eyes widening, heart beating faster, the perfume of sugar slipping into my bloodstream faster than that first glass of Friday night Pinot Noir, I felt like I had come home. Stacks of cookbooks, jars of cute favours perfect for little (and not so little) girls and cake-stands laden down with glossily frosted, sweetie adorned cakes in both mini, regular & loaf size.
One of my biggest issues/pleasures is that I have very little self control when it comes to food and when it comes to cake? Zero. Zero self control. I’m not quite like the dog that doesn’t know when it’s full and well, you know, but I just want to keep eating and trying and sampling and falling in love with every flavour, colour and style I see despite the fact I know full well the end result will be me, laid out on the sofa, crumbs littering the floor and frosting on my face in some impossible-to-fathom-how-it-got-there location…
What this all means is that the process of selection can be a nigh on impossible task and it was a good job J was with me on this occasion, he being a) a chap, b) a fairly sensible sort when it comes to food and c) in possession of the self control so sadly lacking in me. I threw out flavour suggestions like some culinary bingo caller, he yayed or nayed and we left the store on a cake scented cloud of bliss. Well, I did. He walked, bag in hand and cakes far aware from me at my own mournful-but-necessary-at-this-stage request.
The end result was that later that night we had a gorgeous sampling of sweet treats to see in Saturday night with; the Crunchie – honeyed sponge topped with milk chocolate frosting and a generous chunk of the chocolate bar, the Rose – vanilla cake topped with a luscious swirl of rosewater buttercream and crystallised rose petals and the Salted Caramel – vanilla sponge with a hidden centre of smooth caramel chocolate below a mountain of salted caramel icing, pieces of broken caramel candies and a touch of Fleur de Sel.
Each cake was soft, light and fresh, sweet to the point of enjoyment but not cloying and in every one the flavour was delicate and definite but not overpowering with a good ratio of cake to icing. Don’t get me wrong, I know that most people love the frosting so much that the cake becomes a slightly redundant way of getting it in your mouth but it can’t be all whipped butter and sugar otherwise the pleasure can sometimes rapidly descend into sickly nausea.
The Rose was my favourite because I’m a sucker for anything that colour and flavour but they were all utterly perfect and there’s no denying that in an ocean of London based cupcakeries, the Primrose stands head, shoulders, petal and frosting above the others.