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The great London cake-off: London’s most creative cakes go head-to-head

Posted at 12:30 pm, February 8, 2015 in Food & Drink
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We set some of the capital’s greatest bakers a challenge: to create the ultimate London cake. The prize? Only the cover of Time Out! Let batter commence… Photography Rob Greig

Contender one, The Bus Cake

Adam Cox from Adam’s Cakes

He says: ‘For me, London is all about the meeting of old and the new. So I’ve made a cake in the shape of the new Routemaster bus with a queue of famous Londoners past and present. We’ve got Alfred Hitchcock, Charlie Chaplin, Amy Winehouse, David Bowie and Paddington Bear. I wanted to pick people who you could recognise as sugar characters, but I also wanted them to be from all sorts of different backgrounds.’

We say: ‘What a looker! This cake is all about design, and the attention to detail is fantastic. Look at that sparkling asphalt, those reflections in the window! Itís basically the perfect grown-up kid’s birthday cake. Hitchcock, however, is looking a little too slim and Bowie bears an uncanny resemblance to Wallace. Flavourwise, there’s a lovely chocolate sponge beneath all that sugar, as moist as the seat of an N29. It’s also big enough to feed a crowd, or an army of children.’

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 Contender two, The Diversity Cake

Jennifer Moseley, pastry chef at The Modern Pantry

She says: ‘London is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world. So I’ve made a cake where each layer incorporates ingredients from communities represented in the capital. Licorice, garam masala, pomegranate molasses, tonka bean, miso, amchur are just some of what went into the layers. It’s also a classic victoria sponge, and it’s decorated with flowers you can find growing in London parks and gardens.’

We say: ‘A cake so beautiful that none of us wanted to cut it. But once we did, we were mighty glad. Each amazingly light layer held a different subtle surprise, all the spices and fruit making us feel good about eating it, not just obese and miserable. It’s the kind of creation that makes you understand why people are so into cake, and with all those ideas going on there was something for everyone. Tasting our way through all the different layers felt like a journey across London.’ 

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Contender three, The Wedding Cake

Lily Jones of Lily Vanilli

She says: ‘The cake is based on St Bride’s church in Fleet Street, which was the inspiration for the original tiered wedding cake, made by an apprentice pastry chef who wanted to propose to the daughter of the bakery’s proprietor. So the four tiers, spire and the windows of my cake are based on the church. The cake itself is made with Truman’s porter, honey from London bees and beetroot grown on an allotment near my bakery, and the windows are chocolate and peanut brittle with edible gold.’

We say: ‘Is this the best-looking cake in the competition? It just might be. It’s beautiful, and on top of that it’s like a history of London cake… in cake! Once you get into the eating it’s just as interesting – you can really taste those local ingredients. The beer cuts through, the honey is nice and sweet and the beetroot makes it all earthy, a bit like licking the grass in Clissold Park. In short: an incredibly rich, moist fruitcake, while that beetroot almost makes it feel healthy, which is dangerous for a cake. And nothing here is decorative: you can eat the flowers and all the gold. Seriously, who doesn’t want to eat an entire church window?’

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Contender four, The Giant Tea Cake

Daisy Cooney and Safiya Hafeji from the Shoreditch Women’s Institute

They say: ‘We’ve made a chai latte cake and an earl grey cake, using loose-leaf tea throughout and infusing it into the sponge. Each one also has a layer of cream and a layer of apricot jam. We’re not from London, and before we moved here, what we really loved about coming to the city was having an afternoon tea with loads of creamy cakes. If you have a relative come to visit, afternoon tea is always on the list of things you have to do here. We feel like the WI inspired us to make these cakes: we hope it shows how fun it can be.’

We say: ‘It’s like the cakes from a Shoreditch version of the Mad Hatter’s tea party. Once you’re under all that delicious icing, you find a lovely light sponge. It’s the kind you wish your mum would make: warm, moist and so moreish that just when you think you couldn’t eat another bite, you manage just one more. It’s totally homely and totally great, probably the best sponge of the lot. The spices in the chai latte cake are really comforting, and you can properly taste the earl grey too. Why drink tea when you can eat it?’

AND THE WINNER IS…

The diversity cake, obviously! Every cake baked for our competition was beautiful and perfectly London in its own way, but Jennifer’s took the concept and execution to another level. The whole office is now on a diet; it’s been a hard week.

Hungry? Here’s the best cakes in London!

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