If you’re a fellow foodie you may well have heard of the latest trend to hit the capital which involves combining the recipes of two or more sweet treats to make a totally wacky never-been-eaten hybrid pastry. Originating in the Big Apple, many of London‘s best bakers are experimenting with a range of pastries to meet the demand of hungry city workers bored of their morning croissants. As you may know by now, I love weird and wonderful combinations of flavours and these new breeds of cakes are no exception!
It all started with the infamous ‘Cronut‘ (a cross between a croissant and doughnut) in New York – I must add that this looks remarkably similar to the long-withstanding YumYum found in UK supermarkets! High rise Duck & Waffle realised the potential and snapped up ownership of the ‘Dosant‘ (the same thing but served warm with custard) to feature in their impressive brunch menu (read our review here). These have been selling like hot cakes (excuse the pun) and I have failed to pick one up on numerous occasions (this has been added to the list of many of my life’s ambitions and I will review the Dosant soon!). Next came the Townie (tart and brownie) from Bea’s of Bloomsbury, which I had better luck in finding in their St Paul’s branch last weekend.
I’ve previously visited Bea’s in St Pauls for Afternoon Tea and it’s a fantastic venue overlooking the cathedral. So I took this opportunity to sit down with a flat white brewed by my favourite London roasters ‘Square Mile’ and a Townie while writing down my thoughts on London’s latest hybrid. At first sight I thought it looked a little small but I was kindly let loose on the secret stash out back to find myself a ‘photogenic’ Townie as I mentioned I would be writing a review. In summery the Townie was a gooey chocolate brownie encased in thick shortcrust pastry like a tart. The pastry was well cooked and lessened the richness of the brownie which made it more manageable. The brownie centre was incredibly gooey and I’m not sure I could have picked it up without the pastry case. This poses the question as to whether it’s a brownie mixed with a tart or whether it’s just a very gooey chocolate tart with a good bit of marketing. Debate aside, it was delicious and certainly filled a hole. Bea’s of Bloomsbury’s Townie makes the perfect treat to give a friend as it features the best parts of a brownie (the gooey centre and crispy top) but can be carried and eaten without the mess, thanks to the pastry.
The townie isn’t the first mash-up to be created by Bea’s. They have been selling Duffins (doughnut and muffin) for quite sometime now although these have been somewhat dormant in the foodie world. Duffins are part of Bea’s mid-week breakfast menu so I was unable to pick one up on my visit to the St Paul’s branch. This gave me the perfect opportunity to check out the Farringdon branch which opened in July 2013 and is only a short walk from the office. I waited until I got home that evening to enjoy my Duffin for dessert. The Duffin looked delightfully doughnut-like or “like a pork pie” according to Sam (Men eh!) Doughnuts are one of my favourite sweet treats and have become something of a rarity to my lips with a St John’s unbeatable custard doughnut being the only one I’ve tried in the past 12 months (a crime I must admit). When I dug inside the Duffin it resembled more of a muffin with a tiny weeniest dollop of jam in the middle which left me feeling a little disappointed as this is the best part!
The duffin was a good size and would make an excellent breakfast as it was filling and not overly sweet. It had a strong taste of cinnamon which in my eye was fantastic and very moorish, but apart from that and the small sliver of jam, it didn’t taste of much else. I suppose doughnuts don’t have a real distinct taste as the flavour is all in the jam. The texture was more like a muffin than a doughnut and was like a cake as opposed to a doughy bread. Essentially this was a plain muffin filled with jam, lightly fried and dipped in sugar to created a crispy outer layer identical to a doughnut. This combination is a great idea and Bea’s have certainly got it right by combining the best parts of each sweet treat. However, I’m sad to say that it was the freshness which let it down as it wasn’t soft enough to be a fresh bouncy muffin or a light airy doughnut.
I have noticed that some independent bakeries who have expanded have recently let me down by their ‘not quite so fresh’ goods, with a once favourite Patisserie Valerie and Konditor and Cook being no exception. Would I have another Duffin? If the offer was there yes (I’d never turn down cake) but I wont be rushing back for one especially any time soon. I love the idea and I think that Bea’s has great potential with her extraordinary combination of goods and I do hope she launches more hybrid pastries in the future. I was recently discussing with my parents what new combination they would like and my dad said he would love to see a flapjack and a tart (a fart!). Until then, I’m still on the hunt for a cronut but in the meantime, keep a look out for my review of a Biskie (biscuit/cookie/cake creation by Cutter & Squidge) coming soon..
Living life, loving cake,