I haven't blogged in a while, mainly due to that thing that happens when you are suddenly catapulted back into the real world and everything feels a bit, well, surreal. And hectic. Your life kind of gets put on hold when you go on holiday and 10 days in New York did just that. Inevitably, I have been struggling to catch up on 10 days of lost time and I am busy.
It was, however, totally worth it and now that the jet-lag and the post-holiday blues have subsided I am ready to share with you my American cakey highlights.
I was both keen and hesitant to visit the Magnolia Bakery in Grenwich Village. Google 'bakery New York' (yes, I did that) and it comes out top. Whilst it's obviously top for a reason, it can often be the way that popular equals overpriced and crowded. Any bakery that has received rave reviews of its delicious cupcakes from A-list celebs is in danger of polishing up and becoming a little bit too 'done'. I guess I prefer bakeries a little bit rough-around-the-edges but in a fun, interesting way that gives them character. But intrigue got the better of me and I paid Magnolia Bakery a little visit. I was not disappointed.
Despite its appearance in Sex and the City and the queue that we had to wait 15 minutes in, Magnolia Bakery comes across as totally oblivious to the hype and is a charming, pretty, cosy little shop with an air of 1950's kitchen about it; perhaps one of my favourite bakery genres. The place smells like a bakery should - freshly baked cakes and icing sugar - and I could have stood for hours watching the bakers going about their duties in the open plan kitchen right behind the counter. The staff treated us as if we were their first customers of the day and the cupcakes that we purchased were topped with possibly the lightest buttercream I have ever tasted. This is most definitely a bakery which has stuck to its original roots and one which was a pleasure to visit.
As my quest to open my very own cafe continues, I like nothing more than discovering a new bakery / cafe / shop / website which inspires me. One such bakery in New York was Babycakes. We stumbled upon this small bakery tucked away down an unassuming side street and, in dire need of a sugar hit, popped in for a donut. I immediately fell in love with this super kitsch little bakery. I loved the curling photographs pinned haphazardly to the wall, the retro cash register, the random memrobilia that I can only presume had been collected by staff and customers alike and stuck on display. Combined with the staff banter and the whirr of the next batch of red velvet cupcakes being whipped up just a few feet away, we felt as though we had been invited into someone's kitchen for a cuppa and a slice of cake. If I had a cafe, I would strive to recreate that same feeling.
It turned out that Babycakes specialises in gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free... all sorts of-free and has something of a celebrity following. It is quite famous in the bakery world. But like Magnolia, this place doesn't shout it from the rooftops and without my little bit of internet research, I would never have known. I like that.
Needless to say, when I found out there is a Babycakes recipe book I ordered it straight away. No doubt when it arrives I will be featuring one of their cakes right here.