diamond geezer

 Saturday, October 06, 2012

In my youth, cupcakes were stodgy sponge roundels topped with a thick sugar disc. They were usually flavoured as 'lemon' or 'chocolate' or whatever, but this seemed based more on colour than taste. As a special treat some had sugar paper transfers of Magic Roundabout characters (or something similar) on top. We'd buy them in mass-produced packs, never from the local bakery. At home we made fairy cakes with a thin squirt of icing, plus perhaps hundreds and thousands or small silver balls as decoration. But we never had the artisan sponge creations known as cupcakes today, baked by budding Nigellas in bespoke ovens, finished off with ostentatious swirls of piped sugar.

Cupcakes have acquired a mystical value, at least in certain circles, as a much desired luxury commodity. Heaven knows why, they're only sponge cake and icing, but people seem willing to fork out vastly more than the cost of the ingredients for a few bites of surreptitious sweetness. Once or twice, every now and then, lovely. But it's hard to understand how an entire industry has grown up to flog posh confectionery to consenting adults with money to burn.

Leaping onto this bandwagon are London Cupcake Tours, a private outfit with a mission to show you London's finest sugar trifles. Nobody's thought to offer this before - a cupcake guide for those who don't know where to start, or a unique treat for those who do. Five bakeries have signed up for the tour, ranging from Primrose Hill to Covent Garden, which sounds like a pleasant trip across the capital in itself. You get to sample the wares in each, perhaps compare and contrast, and all for just £34.50.
When we first set out to find the softest sponge and the creamiest icing, we were struck by not only how difficult it is to find the stores, but to find one that guaranteed a delicious mini-cake experience! That's why London Cupcake Tours was born.
Hang on, £34.50, that's quite a lot of cash. Let's see what LCT provide you with for that money. Five cupcake vouchers to exchange, one in every location. Some branded cardboard boxes to keep your cupcake purchases in, although they might rattle around a bit unless well wrapped. A cupcake guide, which looks like a folded piece of A4 card, although it's hard to be certain from the photo. An Oyster card holder with the pink logo of London Cupcake Tours stamped on it. A pink case, and a tote bag to slip it into. And that's your lot. The tour itself had better be good.
Our research also found that cupcake lovers like to enjoy their treats in peace and in their own time; so we don't have guides who force you to rise at the crack of dawn. You are free to do you tour when and how you please.
Except, oh, this isn't a proper tour. The organisers aren't going to turn up and lead you across London telling tales of baking success as they go. All they've done is provide a list of five bakeries and instructions on how to get there, in your own time, maybe not even on the same day. These are self-guided tours, with your travel costs extra, which isn't at all what's suggested by the company's name.
London Cupcake Tours provide a gift experience to direct you to the best cupcake bakeries in London. We provide instructions on how to get to the bakeries, exciting additional goodies and a voucher to exchange for a cupcake at every bakery.
And when you do arrive at the shop counter, your prize at each location is a single cupcake. You won't even end up with a half dozen by the end of it, you'll be one short. The average London cupcake costs £2.50, my research suggests, which means the shop value of your tour collection is only £12.50. While you're tramping the streets dangling your new pink bag, the organisers are sitting at home counting their profit.

OK, it's a business, and we all need to make a living in these turbulent and austere times. And wandering round the capital sampling the occasional midget sponge might indeed be your idea of a good time. But London Cupcake Tours appears to be exceptionally poor value for money - just a few bits of paper and some vouchers in a bag, and barely a tour at all. If you genuinely wanted to spend £34.50 on cupcakes it wouldn't be difficult to Google the name of some bakeries and go buy lots more than five. Indeed, if you're mug enough to send me £20 I'll email you the address of a Lola's, a Bea's or a Hummingbird, and you'll still have enough left over for more vanilla swirls than LCT are offering. And if you find any flat yellow cupcakes with Ermintrude, Zebedee or Dougal stamped on top, do please let me know.

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan20  Feb20  Mar20  Apr20  May20
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream