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HUMMINGBIRD BAKERY

By Bake Club

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The Hummingbird Bakery is an American-style bakery nestled in the heart of London. They have a full range of treats influenced by American baking. You can sink your teeth into whoopie pies, cheesecakes, pies, traybakes and the infamous red velvet cake.

Bake Club hold the Hummingbird Bakery in such high esteem that it has become a tradition to order one of their red velvet cakes as a birthday cake every year for our extra-special Bake Club HQ member Caroline! After getting in contact to thank the bakery for such a lovely cake, they invited us into their shop for a sneak peak at what goes on in their bakery…

What would you define American-style baking as? How does American baking inspire Hummingbird Bakery?
As an American bakery in London, authentic American baking is the inspiration for all our products. American bakes are all about super generous frostings, fluffy sponges and unapologetically bold flavours. We love ingenious use of ingredients from whatever is in season to clever ways to use store cupboard ingredients like the vinegar in Vinegar Pie or tomato soup in our Tomato Soup Cupcakes, which are both recipes in our latest ‘Life is Sweet’ cookbook.

What method do you use to get the ‘red’ in your Red Velvet Cake?
We use liquid red food colouring to make our Red Velvet cake and cupcakes. For bakers at home wishing to recreate it, we recommend using artificial gel food colouring. Natural red food colouring won’t give you that same vibrant red colour you need to make the sponge; it turns the sponge a rather unappetizing shade of terracotta red, which we want to avoid. The colouring is simply added to the mixture before baking and the finished sponge comes out beautifully red.

Why do you think red velvet cake is so popular? How did Hummingbird Bakery help make it so popular?
When we first opened on Portobello Road in 2004 most of our customers had no idea what a cupcake was, let alone being familiar with Red Velvet. While ‘Sex and the City’ famously featured cupcakes in 2004, we had actually been developing our cupcakes and other products since 2002. We were warned not to bother selling cupcakes and that it wouldn’t catch on in London – but I’m glad we didn’t listen! Our Red Velvet recipe is, in my humble opinion, the best tasting Red Velvet you’re going to get in the UK and it’s true to the American recipe. If you were to ask our customers some would say they love the colour of the sponge, some would say they love the hint of cocoa, some would say they are crazy about the cream cheese frosting. I think it walks the line between a rich vanilla sponge and a chocolate cake, it’s not overly rich but yet it tastes completely luxurious.

Which cake/bake is your best seller? What’s your personal favourite?
Red Velvet is still our bestselling flavour, but my personal indulgence of choice is our six-layer Mile High Chocolate Salted Caramel Cake. It’s brand new for 2016 and I think it’s the ultimate chocolate layer cake.

The ‘Monthly Specials’ series introduces new and exciting cupcake flavours – which has been your most successful and ambitious flavour?
Some of our Monthly Specials flavours have been so popular we’ve made room for them as permanent additions to our bakery counters. These have been the Cookies and Cream cupcake and the Salted Caramel cupcake. Another especially popular flavour has been our Snickers cupcake, as people just love the salty and sweet combination from the salted peanuts, peanut butter and the caramel. In terms of ambitious flavours, we have some exciting ones coming up this year, Beetroot and Chocolate is one new flavour we sold last month. You wouldn’t think it would work, but the beetroot makes this sponge incredibly moist and gives the chocolate sponge a lovely earthy flavour.

Valentine’s Day is approaching, what treats do you have available for the occasion?
Valentine’s Day is a big event for us as bakers and we always have treats in-store and online to order at www.hummingbirdbakery.com. We’ll be baking cupcakes, mini cupcakes and heart-shaped layer cakes in our bestselling flavours of chocolate, vanilla and Red Velvet hand-decorated with fondant heart shapes. For something different this year, we’ve also turned our Red Velvet Whoopie Pies into heart-shaped whoopie pies and these are available on our bakery counters until 14th February!

Your ethos is that the techniques used to create the bakes at Hummingbird Bakery can be replicated at home. What advice would you give to our readers who wish to attempt recreating one of your bakes?
Baking is an exact science, so we always urge home bakers to read the recipe before you start and follow it to the letter. Substituting ingredients can give you a different result, so we wouldn’t suggest making ingredient swaps unless you are confident or don’t mind experimenting. An oven thermometer is an excellent gadget that can help you to ensure your oven temperature is calibrated correctly, which in turn will help you to bake to the correct timings. Filling your tins two-thirds full will also leave a little rising room so that the mixture doesn’t overflow.

Share with us all of your bakes, whether American-inspired or not! We’d love to see all of your creations of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.