Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Hummingbird Bakery

Rose framboise cupcake, watercolor, 9" x 11"
Nevermind the scorching heat-there was NO internet for 4 days.
On to more important things - the mass invasion of the Cupcake into London!
Did you know British bakers are visiting New York City for just one day, stopping in at least 18 bakeries and then flying home to knock us off in their own inimitable way?The Hummingbird Bakery was on my route from South Ken Station to the Club, so I could not miss this major high point of London gourmandises. The lines are every bit as fraught with anticipation and angst as at Pierre Herme in Paris... In the name of research I too joined the line and bought a red velvet cuppie... Whilst stealing as many shots as possible... All in the name of cupcake research of course... I am not a true devotee of the almighty cupcake but Hummingbird's graphics are out of this world... Plus their cookery book, The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook is praised to the skies on and the pictures are adorable... I spotted these luscious OTT numbers along Kings Road - our cupcake is EVERYWHERE in London... Even as I was rushing to catch the 'chunnel' back to Paris I found cupcake wrapping paper in St. Pancras station. Why didn't I buy it at 5:20 am?
First stop in Paris, Le Grande Epicerie and what am I greeted by? Cupcakes bien sur. HMPH
One cannot escape these petit bijou sucres hauts en couleurs it seems...
In BHV cupcake cookbooks...
A London shot in Sainsbury (pronounced sanesbrie pls.)
Where do they come up with the term 'muffin cases'? No doubt you'll tell me the Brits invented the cupcake so they can call these whatever they like...
Fasten your pastry seatbelts PBers. London and perhaps Paris (God forbid) has taken to the Whoopee pie. What next? The full scoop on London listen to the BBC Food Program. You'll be enlightened further. This is an adorable video from Hummingbird, not to be missed.


  1. Oh, that gloved hand reaching up behind the counter at Laduree is priceless!

    Regarding the "Muffin Cases" - sing all along "Do you know the Muffin Case, the Muffin Case, the .... " oh well, I hope somebody solves that case. ;-)

  2. Justine8:14 AM

    Welcome back! You were missed yesterday morning, but well worth the wait.
    LOVE the video and the watercolor and all the terribly important info for future travelers to Britain.
    Must remember to do cupcake research by all means!

  3. Fabulous photos! I have also heard great buzz about the Hummingbird cookbook...I MUST have some "Muffin cases" wrappers!!!

  4. What a fun post! Now I'm craving cupcakes, or cuppies as you called them, and I love the term "muffin cases"! It all looks so scrummy!!!

  5. Oh So Jealous that you got to Hummingbird Bakery! Next time, London, next time...

  6. Cupcakes are great because psychologically, since they're little, you feel like you're not eating as much. I can eat 4 at a sitting, however, so that shoots that theory. Haaaaa! Love 'em.

  7. M. in Paris9:34 AM

    Mais oui , le dessus du gateau etait aux amandes, j'ai prefere le dessus parce que le dedans etait seulement assez bon...
    En fait, j'aime mieux les eclairs aux sesame du patissier japonais !!!

  8. Well, Carol, I just asked me mum about the cupcakes she made us as children. She says, 'they are not bloody British.' They're Welsh! (She's kidding about the Welsh part.) They are American. Can you tell I'm half-and-half? Anyway, I've been boycotting cupcakes for a long time until they are not fashionable again. (Although we do have as a neighbor the adorable Warren of CakeLove in the neighborhood.)


  9. love your blog to bits and pieces. i just started one myself and would be honoured to hear what you think of it. xx

  10. Hey...we don't copy the Americans, it's research darling. Our "muffins" are different, thank you very much :)

  11. Hiya! The new laduree cupcakes are located on their website via under the news new items their there everyone

  12. Oh! yes! enjoy everyone!! :)

  13. Carol

    I agree with you about Laduree being a real good choice for its delicacy and light on the icing. I am still not a big fan of cupcakes or cake , but love the way they look and photograph and love even better your paintings of them.

    They are fanciful and just plain pretty.


  14. How interesting! This reminds day my daughter and I were sitting outside at Mamie Gateaux in the 6th, enjoying our afternoon coffee and scones (hey, we're americans :-)). At the table next to us were a couple of english speakers, seemed british to me, and the one woman was telling the other all about her adventures in opening a cupcake shop in Paris! Oh I tried so hard to eavesdrop every details, just know that the cupcake it hot!

  15. You have once again pushed me into a ravenous case of the hungries! :O)

  16. i have to say that i think cupcakes are over rated! They look beautiful and as your photos show, can be a real art form, but that doesn't mean they are good to eat. All that sugar and icing, and the cake is always so plain. Give me a french patisserie any day!!

  17. THANK YOU Hiya for your excellent Laduree research. I have added the link. I stand corrected with head bowed in shame!

    Merisi, if that 'gloved hand' (not belonging to Michael Jackson by the way) knew I had caught her, it would be the guillotine for moi...

    Guilia the cat, says cupcakes are Welsh? Rabbit I knew about but cuppies...not buying it sorry.

  18. Adored from Wisconsin12:46 PM

    I'm a grad student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Oddly enough, I found your site while trying to pick myself up after a crap break-up. Anyway, I'm so glad I did! I have been to France several times, not in the last few years unfortunately, and adored it. After I graduate next year, I will have several months free before starting medical school in Ireland (hopefully) and would like to mess around in France beforehand.

    Your blog is perfect to provide inspiration.

    So after a lengthy introduction, I was wondering what shoes have you seen women wear when walking a great deal and during winter?

    Really any more pieces about typical French fashion (and cooking) would be wonderful!

    Thanks so much, hope all is going swimmingly with you,
    Adored from Wisconsin

  19. Dear Adored,
    They will always be wearing boots in winter, but which ones?
    You will have to wait and see.
    God forbid you wear the WRONG boots in Paris!!!

  20. Anonymous12:49 PM

    We are insanely into our cupcakes here at the moment, although there is much debate about the difference between 'cupcakes' and the more traditional British 'fairycake'. :)

    I adore the London cupcake bakeries though - the Primrose Bakery is, I think, even nicer than the Hummingbird one. :)

  21. Heather in California12:50 PM

    I know this is going to sound crazy. We're going to Amsterdam to visit our son who is doing a film/tv studio internship.
    We have a bonus 4 days after Amsterdam and aren't settled on where to go.
    Paris is the obvious, answer, right?
    I'm now addicted to the Paris Breakfasts style of Paris, not the long lines, "must see" spots of Paris. Shockingly, I've never been to Europe but people have always assumed I've been to Paris at least a few times.
    What would Carol do?
    Best regards,
    Heather in California

  22. I am shocked to hear you have not been to Europe Ellen...
    Who would have guessed? You play a good act.
    Of course you should go to Paris.
    Is there really anything to question here?
    If you find anything to complain about, make a note and we can discuss it at length afterwards. What other choices to you have?
    Going to Leyden?
    Hands down Paris it must be.

  23. Lazy mom that I am, the last 3 years of my toddler's life has not seen a birthday cake for her annual fete, simply my homemade cupcakes (always, light on the frosting---a must) in a tiered presentation for the birthday song and candles blown out. who knew I was soooo hip. Anyway the cupcake should have it's day, so portable, so adorable and so delicious (watch the frosting though). And Whoopie pies?! what is next cake pops? ala Bakerella (

  24. I was never a big fan of cupcakes - too sweet. It's good to know that they are getting better!
    Great shots, Carol - stay cool :)

  25. Ugh, the cupcake is here too in Los Angeles.

    Only not the petite little numbers you're showing, they're HUGE (hey, we're Americans right, everything's big) and covered in frosting and various sprinkles etc. The were pretty to look at but I was afraid to eat them, I might go into some sort of sugar shock.

  26. As a person who cuts the frosting off most cakes, please put me in the Laduree cupcake list...but only if I can't have anything else there! Missing that wrapping paper is such a sever lapse in judgment, I can only think you were sleepwalking when you shot it. With the best of intentions, I got distracted by Josh this AM, who left after visiting for my retirement party, but I am inching my way up to reading you earlier.
    and whoopie pies? I have long heard of them, but never partaken. I guess I'd better hurry up since the Brits and Frenchies have scooped me!

  27. Love that painting !

    Cupcakes who knew would make such a statement across the pond... My still Magnolia's in NYC - we have a shop here locally that comes close and is delicious in its own right.

    I wish hot chocolate - and how it s served in France -would make an entrance here .... the rich, creamy, thickness and made with "chocolate" not alot of sugar... HHL

  28. I was just in London in April, and stayed down the street from the Hummingbird Bakery. I love cupcakes, and was drooling every time we walked by. After a week I could not stand it anymore. I went in and bought 4 different kinds. I have to say it was the WORST cupcake I have ever had! I can not believe people stand outside in a line for them!

  29. Bonjour Carol,
    Another Amercian institution invades Europe! - (no offense intended). Starbuck's have a few tucked in thier display case right alongside the French Toast! I've resisted the Starbucks urge - not with all the fabulous boulangries in Paris...but then I broke down when one opened a half a block from my apartment.
    Great posts and witty commentary as usual! You have the best sense of humour. The top watercolor is wonderful. Try to stay cool and enjoy all those petit gateau!

  30. ahh you have pretty much just posted heaven in a post for me.. i love your blog and how it transports you to paris every time you visit!

    follow me

  31. I hope you don't mind me saying this but this post is practically porn for the eyes! Oh how delightful and mouthwatering the cupcakes look.

  32. Anonymous8:01 AM

    The muffin cases you've photograph are actually from Waitrose, not Sainsburys*! Waitorse is by far and a way the nicest chain of supermarket in England.

    Additionally, it is possible to buy two sizes of case, the aforementioned muffin size and also cupcake size. The latter are smaller, and tend to be used for what us Brits term as 'fairy cakes' -

    The muffin cases are bigger and on a par with what Americans use for their cupcakes, and what we would use to make muffins. Confusing or what?!!

    Lastly, the Hummingbird cookbook while beautiful to look at, has a huge flaw in that the recipes need a lot of fiddling with as they don't work particularly well. A huge pity.

    PS. Next time you're in London, you need to take yourself to Ottolenghi as I think you'll love it!

    ** Sainsburys is pronounced Sains-brieS :)

  33. Hi Carol. You won't believe what I found...Happy Barkday cupcake for a little Shih Tzu named Wonder!
    The Blogger is Wen from Singapore and she just loves her 6, now 7, Shih Tzus. She cooks home made meals for them everyday and bakes beautiful, yummy doggy barkday cakes for each of them on their birthday!! They are absolutely gorgeous!...cakes, food and of course the Shih Tzus. Enjoy!

  34. Oh I wish I could go to Laduree right now and buy a cupcake in those divine blue cases with gold fave colours.Thank you for such a gorgeous post.We have a few gorgeous cupcake places here in Western Australia. Maybe I could do a post on them too!


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