The Hummingbird Bakery is possibly THE most well known of all the American-style bakeries and cupcake shops in the UK, so when I was London for a friends birthday the other month, I decided I had to pay a visit to see what all the fuss is about.
I met up with a cake-loving friend and headed to their branch in Soho, which I believe is one of the smaller ones and I’ve heard tales of their being queues out the door, but we were lucky and managed to grab a couple of the bar style seats to eat our cake.
The choice isn’t ridiculously huge, but definitely enough to make it difficult for someone as indecisive as me. They have the ‘classic’ cupcake flavours – vanilla, chocolate, carrot, red velvet and black bottom – as well as two monthly specials which were hummingbird cake and something with bacon (so wrong). They also had I think 6 cakes and cheesecakes sold by the slice and some brownies, whoopie pies and rocky road.
I went for the red velvet as I’ve only ever tried a homemade version and wanted to see if theirs was better. My friend had the black bottom cupcake, and then we decided we’d also share a slice of chocolate cake. The cupcakes were both really, really good, and although there was no way we could finish such a rich cake afterwards we did both try it and like it a lot.
By pure coincidence, about a week after our visit to the bakery, one of my friends at work asked me if I’d like to borrow her copy of the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook (the original, self titled one).
After such an awesome cake experience I had to say yes, and knew that the first recipe I tried would have to be cupcakes, the only question was which.
As this was when it was still hot and sunny, and the autumnal feeling was still to set in, I decided to use the last of the seasons strawberries and attempt these strawberry cheesecake cupcakes.
They basically consist of a vanilla sponge with juicy strawberries baked in, the classic Hummingbird cream cheese frosting, as featured on the red velvet and black bottom cupcakes above, and a sprinkling of biscuit crumbs on top.
I really loved these, the sponge is light but moist from the strawberries, the cream cheese icing is the best I’ve tried, and you get a bit of all the different tastes in each bite. The only thing I did that deviated from the recipe was only using a fraction of the amount of biscuits given for the topping – it still looks like plenty to me!
I would definitely make these again when strawberry season comes back around, and I’m looking forward to baking more from the Hummingbird book – I may even buy the more recent ones to see if they’re just as good…
Strawberry cheesecake cupcakes (adapted from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook)
- 120g plain flour
- 140g caster sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- pinch salt
- 40g butter
- 120ml milk
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 12 large strawberries, chopped small
For the icing and topping:
- 50g butter
- 300g icing sugar
- 125g cream cheese
- 40g digestive biscuits
Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl, then beat in the butter until the mixture forms a sandy consistency – almost like making shortbread. Add the milk and vanilla and beat to combine, then add the egg and beat again. Divide the chopped strawberries between 12 large cupcake cases, spoon in the cake batter on top, and bake at 170 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until risen, golden and a skewer comes out clean.
To make the icing, beat together the butter and icing sugar. I find this can only be done by adding the icing sugar a quarter at a time, and adding a little of the cream cheese if the mixture won’t come together. Once the butter and sugar are well creamed, at the cream cheese and beat until light and fluffy, around 4-5 minutes. But as Hummingbird Bakery warn you, don’t overbeat or it will become runny!
Top each cupcake with a swirl of icing, using a spatula to smooth down the sides. Blitz the digestives in a food processor, then sprinkle on top of the cupcakes to finish.