The combination of sweet icing and fluffy sponge in an irresistibly cute package means cupcakes are our tea-time treat of choice. Delve into our delectable countdown of London's ten best cupcakes found in shops, bakeries and cafés going one step beyond the rest.
London's best cupcakes
Venue says: “Friendly Sunday cafe with delicious coffee, cakes and pastries. We also offer a fully bespoke cake, canape and wedding cake service.”
In the ultra-competitive world of cupcake-making, you need to keep upping your game, and that’s exactly what bakery goddess Lily Vanilli has done. Her Persian Love Cakes are the perfect consistency: not too heavy, not too light – and they come with micro-nuggets of pecan. As for the towering rose, balanced precariously on top… before you dismiss it as style over substance, know this: it holds your destiny. That’s right, there’s a teeny-tiny fortune cookie note tucked inside. How cute is that?
At this boutique hotel in Marylebone you’ll find one of the best carrot cakes in London. Topped with a dollop of tart cream-cheese icing, it has the sort of homemade quality that would make Mary Berry proud. It’s served with a slice of carrot to remind you that it’s okay, there’s some of nature’s goodness in there too.
Billed as ‘authentic American cakes’, Hummingbird’s offerings are big on what our Stateside pals call ‘frosting’ but thankfully what’s beneath is just as good too. The salted caramel has enough sweetness to get you through a dull Monday morning meeting.
Think back to a time before freakshakes, bacon jam and ‘Man vs Food’. Claire Ptak may be Californian but she’s acing old-school English baking; fluffy, crumbly cake comes balanced with just the right amount of silky, snow-white coconut buttercream. Generous sprinklings of desiccated coconut add bite to this WI-standard indulgence, which would go dreamily with a strong brew. A worthy gold-star-winner at the village fete bake-off, this is simple baking at its best.
Points to Primrose Bakery for imagination – they’ve basically recreated the humble Jaffa Cake in cupcake form. Glossy, gloopy chocolate frosting is cut through by a light lemony sponge and an orange jam layer, near identical to the McVitie recipe. Get your hands on this bad boy when you want a nostalgia hit – without the dizzying sugar high.
This cupcake is completely amazing IF you eat it the right way. Which is to start at the bottom, then – slowly – work your way up. This means you'll fully appreciate the subtle banana flavour of the moist, not-too-sweet cake, before one of the chocolate chips melts in your mouth and you finally reach the creamy chocolate icing. You can also get it in a mini version (£1.45), which is so adorable we could cry.
£1 each, £16 for 25After baking her first cake aged six, Silvia Stocchino (aka FairyPan) now magics up these bitesize beauties in her Homerton kitchen. Teensy enough to pop in your mouth but too good to gulp in one go, the moist red velvet bottom comes topped with a delicate blob of cream cheese frosting and a dusting of sugar pralines. Sod the restraint, have five – they’re too cute not to.
Purists, look away now – there’s as much frosting on this as there is cake. Grotesque as that may be, we love it. Just one word of warning: don’t tackle this on your own – go halves with a sweet-toothed companion. PB mousse buttercream quivers like a giant blancmange when it’s cut open and a smooth Skippy core oozes from the choc-chip studded cake. The whole damn thing is dipped in chocolate, before being sprayed gold. Bonkers, but brilliant.
Peggy’s banana bread-banoffee mashup made us lose our shit. In a good way. This celeb baker spares no expense on ingredients; dense sponge is flecked with black (proof there’s a fair bit of real banana in there), frosting is oh-so-velvety and chewy dark-choc chips grab you when you least expect them. Eat with caution: the perfectly sweetened toffee centre will get everywhere. But for a cupcake as wondrous as this, it’s worth getting your trousers dry-cleaned.
Find more beautiful cakes in London
We Londoners like a little sweetness in our lives. And it's not all iced buns and victoria sponges – we have baked goods from across the globe right here on our doorstep. As proof, we've picked ten of the most beautiful and delicious cakes we could find to show that a spoonful of sugar really does help everything go down.
Le Restaurant de Paul Tower 42
This version of Restaurant de Paul is not nearly as French‐looking as the Covent Garden branch. In fact, it’s positively Silicon Valley by comparison, with chunky upholstered green, blue and red chairs, bright monochrome rugs and busy black tiling across floors and walls. The menu, though, is exactly the same. Classic starters lead into main courses featuring meat, fish, burgers or salads. We shared a perfectly decent but forgettable ham with celeriac remoulade to start. The poussin roti with aubergine and potatoes had good flavour but a smoked duck salad was underwhelming and lacked dressing. As you’d expect from a business with a baking background, the bread is top notch. So too, are desserts – the ‘bottomless’ mousse au chocolate is worth visiting for alone, and you can have as much as you dare. So then, with decent food and little atmosphere, Restaurant de Paul is solid, if not exactly ooh‐la‐la.
Venue says: “Relish our new 'express menu' from noon to 3pm. £15 for two courses between starter, main or dessert, and £18 for three courses.”