Sunday, 17 February 2013

Lola's Cupcakes

Among my set, for some reason almost every birthday celebrated in London calls for a surprise of some sort. This usually involves planning distractions, travelling to houses at godforsaken hours and milling around in the dark while keeping very quiet. (It's very hard to mime a conversation at 11.45pm with no lights on) But what makes all of this worthwhile, is the fact that there is always cake. 

The people delegated with buying the cakes are often those with good taste in the first place, and once saddled with this task, they also tend to be very generous about the type of cakes they get. Therefore, most surprise parties end up being celebrated with rich chocolate cakes from reputable bakeries. Depending on how many people show up, the cake-buyers may also decide that one cake will be insufficient, and complement it with other baked goods.

For J's birthday, M asked W to be in charge of the cake, which she thought was to be for seven. Upon checking the event page and realizing there would actually be fourteen or more guests braving the London winter to come over, she supplemented it with mini cupcakes. From Lola's Kitchen. 

I've been semi-obsessed with Lola's Cupcakes since reading gushing reviews in just about every magazine I've picked up in London, and seeing them for myself in Selfridges and Topshop. They just look so perfect, and with rows upon rows sitting so prettily, I just end up gawking for a few moments every time I walk by. Given the queues though, I've never  actually bought one to try. 

So when W walked through the door, triple chocolate cake in hand, I ignored it and zoomed straight to the box screaming "HAND CRAFTED CUPCAKES". It was a box of Lola's tiny cupcakes. Each one looked expertly iced, and the sprinkles on top - from chocolate shavings to hearts and butterflies to glittery hundreds and thousands in varying shades of pink, just made them even more tempting. 

I had the earliest guests convene in the kitchen, during which time they collectively expressed their lack of interest in all cupcakes. Having been more exposed to people who don't actually like desserts since coming to London, I managed not to telegraph a look of pure horror and dismay (Who doesn't like desserts?!). Instead, I made the most of the fact that I was among non-competitors in my race to eat all the cupcakes I wanted, and asked for tips on an action plan. 

They look even better up close and personal 
"While everyone else is distracted by the birthday boy, do you think I could scoff a red velvet or two?"

"Sure, just go 'Happy Birthda-NOM!'. I bet J wouldn't notice anyway."

"Have the box in one hand and the cupcake you want in the other, then pass along the box, turn around and eat. Then no one else will steal it."

Red Velvet 1, sneaked out beforehand
In the chaos of J's return home and the cutting of the main cake, no one else remembered the cupcakes sitting on the kitchen counter. So I took out the red velvet I was eyeing, set it back on the table, then took the rest downstairs. I passed it down the throng of people spilling out of the room and into the corridor, before quickly bounding upstairs. 

My mini cupcake awaited my return, and I gingerly peeled off the casing for the first bite. 

It was... not as good as I'd been expecting. The cake base was dry and over crumbly, and the icing, while pretty, was a tad overwhelming. Smooshing it around my mouth, the icing did help to compensate for the dryness somewhat, but that just left the cupcake being somewhat tasty. Which really, just isn't good enough. Feeling rather disappointed that the cupcake hadn't been the little morsel of joy and happiness I was led to expect, I pulled a face at the rest of it before I ate that too. 

S came in to find me chewing rather discontentedly, and when I told her what was wrong with it, she laughed and told me to cut it some slack, since the cake had probably been sitting around all day. The dryness was probably inevitable. 


There are still cupcakes left in the fridge because most of our guests went into sugar shock after a slice of the chocolate cake. No one else in the house wants them, so it's up to me to finish the rest. I ate another two this morning in hopes that they would revise my opinion. Chocolate with pink hearts was even worse, but coconut was surprisingly moist and the butter cream not so cloying. Five cupcakes to go. 

Lola's Cupcakes, Selfridges Foodhall, 400 Oxford Street, W1C 2BU,

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