When I was at the LSE for Summer School two years ago, I developed a potentially fatal and incurable addiction to The Hummingbird Bakery’s red velvet cakes and cupcakes.
On days when classes ended early, I would go to the nearest WH Smith at Holborn and treat myself to a trashy chick lit novel. Then I’d take the Tube down to Leicester Square Station and walk to the Hummingbird there.
Once I reached the shop, I would allow myself ten minutes to pick my cupcake or cake slice of choice, always adding on a large hot cup of milky Earl Grey Tea (two brown sugars, full-cream milk)
Armed with this bag full of decadence and my paperback, I’d head to a little park nearby, spread out my ostentatiously expensive picnic mat (Harrods, how dare you) on the soft green grass, and spend a perfect summer’s afternoon under the shade of a tree, reading and munching and watching the world go by in between.
When the sun started setting, casting its warm golden glow over all of London, I would lie on my back, sometimes still with red velvet crumbs around my lips, and watch the sunset – it would feel for a moment like time had stopped – streaks of red and gold and orange and brown in the pastel blue sky dotted with fluffy white clouds.
Then I’d pack up and go back to my hostel, sleepy and full and warmed by the sun.
Those lazy summer days, I sometimes feel, were what got me through the hardest times of my life. Back then, I was an emotional wreck – I had just lost my best friend, gotten betrayed by another person I wouldn’t even describe as a friend, and K was back in Singapore to work.
Two others kept me company for a bit, but for the first two weeks of summer school, I had felt well and truly alone – vulnerable, my wounds open and raw and not healing. I was angry, and then confused, and then frustrated, and my self esteem was at an all time low.
After that there was Dex, WZ, and HY – new friends that I’m happy I’ve kept 🙂 And of course, not forgetting the wonderful Val and Sam, who took me for dimsum, ice cream, and punting rides in Cambridge. I will never forget the love and the friendship shown to me then, when I needed it the most.
So, back to the cupcakes. This time around, I brought Bunny A to the Portobello branch of Hummingbird !
Of course, I was overcome with nostalgia, and for a minute there, I could just see myself, that younger girl, walking in alone in a lilac floral sundress and denim jacket, clutching the latest Sophie Kinsella book, and staring at those luscious slices of cake like they were all that kept her going.
There’s always a line at Hummingbird’s Notting Hill branch so its not as fun to browse, but whatever works !
Cozy inside, filled with the smells of English Tea, butter, and freshly baked cakes.
For your purveyance –
Three of my favourites – their luscious Red Velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, their thick, fudgey, intensely chocolatey brownies, and their oh-so-English Jaffa Cake cupcakes, which.. well, is like a Jaffa cake – only richer, denser, more chocolatey and full of zest.
We packed our slices of cake to go –
Bunny A preferred her carrot cake, which was also delicious, but for me, the best carrot cake is nowhere but Sunny Singapore – Lana Cakes does an amazingly moist and nutty version with the smoothest, lightest cream cheese frosting – log style, rolled in more chopped nuts.
Their Red Velvet slice was a little bit too dense this time for me – three mouthfuls and I had to swig down copious amounts of tea to get the sweetness down, but I still enjoyed it tremendously, both because it is an awesome cake, but also because it was The Cake That Saved Me.
Hope you liked my little story about Hummingbird Bakery and why its so special to me 🙂 Do you have a special relationship with a bakery, cafe, or restaurant ?