Saturday, 2 October 2010

Violet Cakes

Violet Cakes - Fragolina grape cupcake

Following up on one of my Bermondsey Trail finds, we (my 'researcher' and I) headed for Hackney Central.  Wilton Way winds its way behind the Hackney Empire and on into seeming infinity.  Just when we were sure we must have walked past it, the white side wall of Violet Cakes with its retro green lettering beckoned us on.  The memory of a fragrant Fragolina grape cupcake fresh in my memory, and a weeping London sky doing its utmost to dampen our spirits, we quickened our pace.  The aroma of fresh-out-of-the-oven cakes, a warm welcome and the sight of a baker working contentedly right there in the shop was deeply comforting on such a drab day.  The retro feel continues inside with charmingly mis-matched, mainly 50's, furnishings and crockery.  The ground floor seats only about 8 people but there is an upstairs room.  On a fine day the space expands to a small back garden and a couple of small tables out front.  There's something about sitting down to eat in a shop with the produce all around you and a cook working away within talking distance that I find irresistible.

Violet Cakes shop at 47 Wilton Way, London E8

Good as Claire Ptak's cupcakes are, I now know this is definitely not her only talent. We went back a second time before I wrote this, just to make sure.  We tried five sweet morsels in the interest of research!  A salted caramel cupcake topped with Madagascan pink salt crystals was a good example of a simple clean-flavour cupcake; one flavoured with quince, whilst welcomingly seasonal, failed to deliver on the particular quince fragrance I was expecting - the taste was more of an oversweet membrillo but this one is a new introduction and may be a work in progress; an iced ginger mollasses cake was deliciously moist and sticky though a bit heavy on the ginger for my taste; a little iced Mirabelle almond polenta cake was beautifully moist thanks to the addition of this little-seen plum not only to top it off but included in the mix; perhaps best of all was the plum and greengage muffin - light and moist without any sogginess from the fruit, and finished with a crumble topping.  The new appetite for whoopie pies can be satisfied here too and I'm sure I spotted a copy of Claire's new book "The Whoopie Pie Book".

If you arrive at lunchtime, a savoury tart and a sandwich made with St John sourdough can be had too. Claire Ptak's time at the rightly iconic Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Caifornia was well spent.  Her commitment to seasonality, also a Chez Panisse trademark, in my view makes her baking even more appealing.  In all, well worth the hike.
Shop: 47 Wilton Way, London E8 3ED
Saturdays: @ Broadway Market, London E8