I was recently fortunate enough to have an experience which combined three of the things I enjoy most about food blogging: lovely food (delivered to my door, no less!), discovering a local food business with a really good idea, and ‘meeting’ someone who not only seems really nice, but is also very passionate about what she does.
Penarth-based Sarah Davies (the passionate person) has been running Cakes in the City (the local food business) for just over a year and specialises in cup cakes (the lovely food) but also offers a range of larger cakes. I immediately loved Sarah’s website and branding, as it pays a definite homage to the TV show that no doubt inspired her company name, and is also one of my all-time favourites! Even though Cakes in the City is a small business, the approach is very professional and no corners have been cut in design or presentation, which is great, as so many small businesses let themselves down with shoddy marketing materials or lack of attention to detail – but here, nothing has been missed.
Sarah’s cup cakes are all tailored to order, and her website showcases a range of stunning designs that she’s produced for weddings, birthdays and other celebrations. She’s also currently got an Easter range on offer (some of which are currently available in Foxy’s Deli in Penarth) and helps to cater for special occasions by hiring out a range of stands and also offering a set up service, which I am sure is a big help on anyone’s ‘special day’ . Sarah says herself that she loves paying attention to the little details (as I’d already realised from the way she positions her business) – and this really shows through in the end product. Although she offers a wealth of different flavours, she says that because most of her orders are all about the detail, she finds that people tend to stick with a more basic range of flavours (vanilla, lemon and chocolate) but really go to town on the designs.
I received a beautifully presented box of four cup cakes, tied with a pretty ribbon, and showing some of what I’d probably describe as the ‘girlier’ designs – obviously in keeping with Cakes in the City’s brand, but also ideal for a wedding, hen party, mother’s day or girl’s birthday treat. Each cake on its own was a mini work of art, and all four of them together made a lovely presentation box. The whole thing screamed personal service, and clearly came from someone that takes a great pride in what they do.
Now, the proof of any cake is in the eating, and I’m actually not a massive cup cake fan in the ordinary way of things. All too often, it’s a case of style over substance, with the quality of the cake itself is neglected in favour of the decoration, and an insubstantial cake is topped with a mountain of sickly sweet icing, the construction of the whole thing making it impossible to combine the two and resulting in each mouthful being one or the other, neither of them good. In this case, though, I am delighted to say that the cakes tasted every bit as good as they looked! The sponge had a bit of a bite to it with a definite home made taste and texture, and didn’t disintegrate under the weight of the icing, and the icing itself was tasty, but actually not too sickly. Also, each cake seemed to have a thin layer of icing on top of it before any further decoration was added, which held it together a bit better and made it much easier to eat in such a way that actually allowed you to combine mouthfuls of cake and icing! The modelling icing used for some of the detail was less tasty than the rest of the cake, but this can certainly be forgiven when it’s what makes the cakes so beautiful, and when there’s still a generous layer of tasty buttercream underneath. In fact, you could almost remove some of the icing details and keep them – I was tempted as they looked too pretty to eat, and maybe if they were commemorating a special occasion you’d want to preserve them anyway! Cakes and the City use only the best ingredients, with all their eggs being free range, and this commitment to quality certainly came through in the taste of the cakes I tried.
The different cakes had different types of topping – a beautiful pink flower and a swirl of pink icing adorned one, and another had a white chocolate heart on top, whilst the remaining two were a perfect pair of pink and cream adorned with a pretty dress (maybe a nice design to tone in with your bridesmaids’ dresses if you were getting married!) If Mr W was more of a fan of cup cakes, a fight may have broken out over who would get the one with the chocolate heart, but happily he’s not really a cup cake person, so I had first choice and he just had a little bite – which he pronounced to be very good indeed, despite not normally being a fan. High praise indeed for Sarah’s cup cakes!
As all of the cakes are bespoke, the prices vary, but Sarah says that a rough guide is around £1.65 for a ‘basic’ design (just a buttercream swirl) – which when you consider what Starbucks or Costa Coffee charge for something along those lines is exceptionally reasonable for something that is handmade and unique! The more decorative designs go up to around the £2.25 mark.
I’m now a big fan of Cakes in the City, and I’d urge you to have a look at their website (www.cakesinthecity.biz), even if only to marvel at the truly beautiful designs that are on offer. If you’ve got a special occasion in mind, or simply want to treat someone to a special, personalised present, then what better gift than some bespoke cup cakes! Cakes in the City is also featured on the Made in Penarth website, and will be advertising in South Wales Wedding soon, so I sincerely hope these lovely little cakes are going to be huge!
With thanks to Cakes in the City for providing me with complimentary samples of their cup cakes.