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Albion my way, then…

December 9, 2009

So, man, this is a bit belated, but I meant to do a review of cupcakes from the Albion Caff (sic).  The Albion is an all-day cafe/restaurant, grocery and bakery that is part of Sir Terence Conran’s Boundary Project, which also features The Boundary restaurant, a rooftop bar, and a bunch of snazzy hotel rooms and suites.  The Albion gets packed on weekend lunchtimes, but we’ve visited occassionally for food on a Friday night, when it’s far less busy.  (To be honest, it really is more suited to lunchtime fare anyways, since the evening meals I find to be a little too bare.) But I digress. The Albion has a cute little bakery, and we spotted a mound of cupcakes – very tempting for 75p each. Yes, 75p.  The average price of a cupcake in London is £2.50 – £3 .  I’m guessing that most Americans would balk at a $5 cupcake, but I may be wrong.

So this is what we got:

Now, they’re quite pretty, no? The taste was… weird.  The cake was very heavy, dry and almost hard.  However, I guess they must have been baked in the morning, so a little hardening can be expected.  But this was one of the only times I have left a cupcake unfinished – the icing was incredibly sweet and light – too light for that heavy cake.  I’m not sure what it was made of – but if it was buttercream, it contained rather too much icing sugar.  There seems to be a few companies using the same kind of icing in London – it tastes unlike anything I’ve ever made (possibly not such a bad thing, right?) and as if it were made of Marshmallow Fluff – so there’s almost a floury, foamy consistency to it.  It tastes so light that it could be whipped.  This is great if your cake mix is also really whispery light but not so good in this case.

Well, for 75p – it’s about the correct value, I guess. If I’d paid £3 for a single cake I would’ve been mighty disappointed, but hey, if you’re really desperate for cake and you have less than a shiny English pound in your pocket, this would probably do you.  If I was homeless, or if it was free, I wouldn’t say no, but it has taught me that a good cupcake is worth a couple of quid.  Just like I would never buy anything from Primark because I’d rather spend £100 on a top from Browns that is made reasonably ethically by a young designer in some tiny  Dalston studio, will last and look good on me for the next 20 years.  This obviously begs the question is bad cake better than no cake, but, being the sort of person who made her friends buy an out-of-date Sara Lee lemon cake at 4am (it was disgusting and bone dry, but whatever – I’d already abused my body and mind ridiculously that night), I’m clearly in the ‘bad cake’ camp.

Go get your Primark cakes, yo.

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