Cupcakes have been popping up all over since Carrie and the girls Manolo-ed their way into Magnolia Bakery, NYC. For a few years, and in ever-growing numbers, Londoners don’t seem to be able to get enough of these little bites of nostalgia.
The proprietor of Violet Cakes, Claire Ptak, worked for three years as a pastry cook for Alice Waters at Chez Panisse, the restaurant largely credited as the most influential in the Californian gastronomy movement.
In 2005 Ptak brought her baking skills to a modest Saturday stall at Broadway Market in Hackney, and her cupcakes sold… well, like hotcakes.
Her new shop is dominated by its open kitchen, with sacks of flour piled beneath wooden counters and on spare chairs. A glass counter is squeezed in, along with one table for two and a bar stool for customers.
Further seating can be found in the small rear garden, on the pavement outside, or on the first floor at two larger tables.
Additions to the bakery range are a daily quiche or sandwich (£4.50 or £6.50 with salad), the latter made on St John sourdough bread ( also available as whole loaves to take away). Filter coffees (£2 a mug) are supplied byJack’s or Square Mile, and like the loose leaf teas, can be supped either in mugs or by the pot.
A crumble-topped muffin with cherries and raspberries, along with own-made Oreo-like cookies, were the highlights for us. Lemonade at £1.50 for a tiny cup, though good, was over-priced despite the Amalfi lemons. The signature cupcake (£2.20), a vanilla sponge topped with intensely violet-coloured butter icing, was somewhat shrinking in flavour and the same was true for the salted caramel icing.
Whoopie cakes are tipped to be the ‘new cupcakes’, but this US kiddie import – in this case, two dense, red velvet sponge discs, filled with a very sweet butter cream – was not something we’ll rush to try again.
A sweet spot, but only if you’re in the neighbourhood.
|Venue name:||Violet Cakes||Contact:|
47 Wilton Way
|Opening hours:||10am-6pm Wed-Sat|
|Transport:||Tube: Dalston Junction overground or Hackney Central rail|
|Price:||Tea and cakes for two: around £8|
|Do you own this business?|
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Average User Rating
4.2 / 5
- 5 star:8
- 4 star:2
- 3 star:1
- 2 star:1
- 1 star:1
Today I went to Violet and bought some cupcakes and a cinnamon bun. The cinnamon bun was truly amazing, the best I have ever tried. Not cheap but worth the treat. However the cupcakes were disappointing, the sponge was dry (one of them crumbled after pealing the paper), the vanilla icing was nice but the red velvet icing was not as good. I still enjoy the place, and the cinnamon bun, but the cupcakes not so much.
I am just shocked that anyone has anything bad to say about Violet beyond the fact that the small space at the front gets really crowded when you have to wait for your coffee. The staff are friendly (much better than at Wiltons), the coffee is great, the cakes are amazing (I don't even bother with the cupcakes personally as I've always found them too sweet, but the other cakes, cookies, scones, brownies, blondies, bread and butter pudding etc are fantastic!), sure it's not the cheapest but I think you get what you pay for - the sandwiches are delicious, the atmosphere is really nice and if you want something cheap and nasty you can always go to Percy Ingle on Broadway Market or indeed Greggs on the Narrow Way. For me Violet is a treat that I'm happy to pay for and I hope it stays there for a long time!
I just don't get it. I will say that the bakery itself is BEAUTIFUL and the cupcakes at least look pretty but the cakes taste of nothing. The sponge is always dry and though they claim to use all sorts of natural flavorings in the icing, they all pretty much taste the same - sickly sweet. I guess I'm not a cupcake person so not the best person to be reviewing Violet but the larger cakes also lack flavour and imagination.
I love Violet Cakes - yes - the cakes aren't perfect, I agree that the sponge is sometimes a little dry compared to shop bought cakes, but this is becase these are home made. Proper home made cakes don't have a perfectly smooth moist texture. I also really love the flavourings used - the strawberry cupcakes are gorgeous and the icing is richly infused with a gorgeous English strawberry flavouring. I also love the passionfruit cakes. The cafe itself is adorable, small, intimate and with a lovely little outdoor area where you can enjoy your tea and cake and read the newspaper at leisure. So, sorry previous reviewer, but I wholeheartedly disagree with your review. I like the personal, initmate, home madeness of the food and the place and have always found it a delight. Plus it is local - lucky, lucky me.
Violet is a wonderful experience... their salted caramel cup cake (not to mention full size cake) is just about the most delicious thing I've eaten! I only wish they were available at Maltby Street on a Saturday morning. Red Velvet, chocolate with marshmallow frosting, ginger molasses cake & the sea salt chocolate chop cookies... I could go on. Everything is delicious. The cafe is also the sweetest spot in Hackney!
Last month I was visiting London for an extended stay and happen to (thankfully) be staying in Hackney. I was blown away by Violet’s beautiful, eclectic shop and frequented it so many times that was privileged to taste a multitude of their fresh baked treats. I only wish I had been able to try everything, but I did have many of their cupcakes (salted caramel, red velvet, violet, chocolate, strawberry (thank goodness it was strawberry season!), rhubarb, polenta (I couldn't believe VEGAN could be so moist and tasty), amongst others. Every one of them was perfect. I also had scones, brownies, crumb muffins, delicious granola, fresh sandwiches they make for lunch, not to mention a perfect coffee and lovely little pots of tea. Everything was served by a very friendly and cheerful staff. I’ve been in some of the other cake shops in London and sure, there are the good ones, but Violet has something special. As I sat there catching up on some emails I would look around and the place was continuously full of happy faces coming and going and not a crumb was left on a plate. I even started to recognize the regulars (yes, I was there enough to notice!) Violet is the kind of place you want to keep going back to because you know you can count on a deliciously perfect moment in your day. Just go...
I live in Dublin, and when I visited London last October, I made a special trip out to Wilton Way to Violet Cakes. I can't remember where I first read about Claire and her delicious, delicate cupcakes, but I was determined to find the bakery and try some. It was a delightful afternoon, and my only regret is that I couldn't bring any home in my suitcase. Wliton Way may be well out of your way, but Violet Cakes is worth the trip!
I can't believe the comment below... seriously, I take everyone who visits London to Violet and ALL of them go crazy for the place, and more importantly, the cakes. Best in London. Without a shadow of a doubt.
Violet Cakes is off the beaten track but well worth visiting. Aside from the brilliant cakes and coffee the atmosphere is really great.
Sounds to me like EMS is out to promote this Lorraine Pascale's Ella's Bakehouse more than anything else... as it happens, I am a bit of a cupcake expert, and while I have not tried Ella's Bakehouse, I certainly have tried Violet Cakes' cupcakes and I can assure you the sponge is far from being dry and tasteless, and the icing everything but synthetic. Quite the opposite, in fact.
I'm lucky enough to live around the corner from Violet. Truly one of my favourite places in London, with welcoming staff and a lovely relaxed vibe. The flourless chocolate cake is my favourite but you should take the time to try a little of everything. A weekend staple.
Visited the stall in Broadway Market on Saturday after reading some good things about the cakes and was excited to try them. Tried the large size bergamot and passionfruit cakes, and mini rhubarb and sea salt caramel cakes. I had asked for a violet one as well, but when I got home and opened the box saw that the stall assistant had given me 2 rhubarb instead of a violet. The stall was prettily presented enough but if you look at the sponge, your instinct will tell you they are not good. And they were not: the sponge was dry and tasteless and a sickly pale yellow. The icing flavours - with exception of the passionfruit - tasted synthetic and there was no depth of flavour at all. An extremely disappointing experience, and an expensive one at that (£8 for 2 large and 2 mini cakes). I will not be recommending these to anyone, spend your money at Lorraine Pascale's Ella's Bakehouse whose cakes are very good indeed and you get what you pay for.