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Cupcake Affairs

Cupcake Affairs
Harrods Eclairs
A year ago, cupcakes were king- but have we become jaded? Zoe Perrett eats her own body weight in eclairs, whoopie pies and macarons hoping for new thrills from other baked goods
 
The Queen of Hearts may well have baked her tarts, but here at Foodtripper we like to move with the times. A year ago, cupcakes were king- in any two-bit bakery you couldn't move for fear of squelching into that whippy dome of frosting that was every fashionable cakes' crowning glory. And the taller, brighter, glitterier, the better. More was more where these babies were concerned.
 
But were we all just swept along on a collective sugar rush? So often, baby-blue or primrose clouds disguised a bland, dry or downright nasty cake that sent you straight for the humble pleasures of a chocolate digestive. There were good examples, fabulous even (especially when they came with the added bonus of snarfing the Oreo or Snickers nestled into the buttercream), but the bad too often prevailed.
 
And of course, we became jaded. Foodtripper calls it Cupcake Fatigue. or, 'I love you, but I can't do this any more'. So what do we turn to to give us that sweet 4 p.m. comfort? Can we get the same thrills from another baked good? Or will our experimentation send us straight back into the sugary embrace of our first love, the cupcake?
 
Eclair
Who doesn't love an eclair? It's a bit posh, gracing the finest afternoon tea trays, yet manages to make the eater come over all Billy Bunter-ish as cream squirts out from the crisp choux exterior with every bite. To be properly posh, you should use a fork. But where's the fun in that? The classic eclair also has a secret weapon in its coating- seducing the chocoholics who have been let disillusioned by other cocoa-free patisserie items. But these are nu-skool- in such outlandish
Cupcake Affairs
Hummingbird Cupcakes
incarnations as Butterscotch, Blueberry-violet, Lemon-coconut and Pistachio-raspberry.
 
I live a colourful life, and want my sweet treat of choice to reflect that. These couture babies have had a good go with their 'wacky' flavours and eccentric outfits, but they look kind of uncomfortable in their coats-of-many-colours. The elegant eclair prefers to stick to a palette of muted catwalk shades- ivory, beige, cafe-au-lait and chocolate. I need fireworks, excitement- the odd slug of food colouring or a fistful of star-shaped, rainbow sprinkles. A proper eclair has its place, knows it, and feels everyone else should know theirs too. A little too staid for my liking in its classic form- and, I sense, it feels a little embarrassed in its new finery.
 
Sweet Couture eclairs available from Harrods Food Halls
Harrods
87–135 Brompton Rd
London
SW1X 7XL
020 7730 1234
www.harrods.com
 
Macaron
Macarons and I have a checkered history. For years I dismissed them as dry, austere pretenders to what I, as a staunch British traditionalist, deemed a true macaroon- a chewy, moist nugget of coconutty deliciousness. Then came experimentation, grudging acceptance...and a full-blown crush. I'd somehow been converted to the crisp, friable exterior which turned chewy and toothsome in the mouth, yielding to a sinfully rich, melting filling- ganache, perhaps, or fruit compote (fig was a particular favourite).
 
But these guys have airs and graces aplenty. Hoity toity in the extreme, and lacking the frippery which makes the cupcake so joyous. They're beautiful, but demand a pretty cake stand, your finest bone china and highbrow conversation. They don't take kindly to being asked to commemorate a birthday party by donning bespoke decoration or being showered with glitter. Macaron loyalty is a commitment, not a fling- and in all honesty I wasn't ready to hang up my glad rags.
 
Macarons available from Laduree
Laduree 71-72
Burlington Arcade
London W1
0207 491 9155
tomoko@tomokouk.com http://www.laduree.fr/index_en.htm
 
Cupcake
Oh, the dizzy heights of a cupcake rush. The spine tingling moment you catch your first glimpse of mile-high frosting and the filthy-lucre sparkle of edible glitter. Will it be good old vanilla? Am I feeling fruity? Or shall I try something new entirely? It doesn't matter- because with the cupcake, there are no rules. Stick in some candy bar chunks, flavour it with green tea, decorate it like your dog, hide a big lump of gooey jam in the middle... Your wish is the cupcake's command.
 
To paraphrase Shakespeare, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love you from the tip of your frosting to the base of the tender crumbs clinging to your patterned case. Forget Cupcake Fatigue- all I needed to rekindle the romance was a quick romp exploring my other options. I had eat my words (along with my own body weight in patisserie). I found out that the grass isn't always greener. For me, at least, the cupcake will always be queen of my heart.
 
Cupcakes from £1.75, available from Hummingbird Bakery
Hummingbird Bakery
133 Portobello Road
London W11 2DY
020 7229 6446
portobello@hummingbirdbakery.com www.hummingbirdbakery.com
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
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26 April 2010
By: Zoe Perrett
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