Monday, April 12, 2010

Review: The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook

Since Hummingbird bakery is supposed to be all the rage in London, England, I was really excited to get my own copy of their cookbook in my last Amazon order.

I bought Nielsen-Massey's Finest Quality Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste from William Sonoma for $16 (CAD) to bake. Logically speaking, supreme vanilla should result in supreme vanilla cupcakes. Sounds like a safe bet.

Recipe Review: Hummingbird Bakery, Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting
  • When preparing the ingredients, I was surprised to see how little sugar, butter and vanilla this recipe used. (In fact, a lot of the recipes in this book use very little sugar and butter.)
  • I followed the directions carefully and added ingredients and mixed as per the book.
  • I prepared 12 cupcake liners in my tray and started scooping the cups two-thirds full as directed.
  • Hmm... Did a double take at the book since I only got 8 cups going. Weird. The recipe says "Makes 12".
  • Moving along, I popped them in the oven and waited. Took them out and was surprised to see how pale my cakes looked. Hmm....
  • As the cupcakes cooled, I prepared the icing.
  • Having sampled some batter and icing along the way, I knew they were on the bland side but I really thought all of the flavours would come together nicely when the cupcake was complete.
  • TASTE TEST VERDICT: Disappointing. Bland cake. Thick sponge consistency. Tasted very floury. Bland icing. Consensus: bland and boring. My worst cakes to date (yes, that includes my Duncan Hines Cake Fails).
My review on The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook:
  • Delicious looking, beautiful, inspirational pictures.
  • Beautifully laid out chapters.
  • Recipes: BORING. Terrible. Waste of time, money and good ingredients.
  • If the goodies in the actual Hummingbird Bakeries taste anything like what's in this book, I would be shocked.
  • Buy Martha Stewart's Cupcakes book instead. (Martha hasn't failed me once.)
And in case you're still a glutton for punishment and are curious about the above recipe, I'm going to take the time to type this out for you from the book.

UPDATE 3/14/2011: See reader comments regarding their experience with this cookbook here.

::: Nathalie


Makes 12


1 cup all purpose flour

a scant 3/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

a pinch of salt

3 tbsps of unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup whole milk

1 egg

1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

8 tablespoons ice water


2 cups icing sugar, sifted

5 tbsps unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 tbsps whole milk

a couple drops of pure vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees (F). Line cupcake tray with paper cups.

2. Put flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in a bowl. Mix and beat at slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is well combined. Gradually pour in half the milk and beat well.

3. Whisk egg, vanilla and remaining milk together in a separate bowl for a few seconds, then pour into flour mixture and beat well, scraping bowl along the way. Do not over mix.

4. Spoon batter into cupcake tray, two-thirds full and bake for about 20 - 25 mins or until golden brown. Insert tooth pick in the middle of a cake and make sure it comes out clean before removing from oven. Place on a cooling rack.


1. While cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting. Beat icing sugar and butter together in mixer at low speed. Combine milk and vanilla in a separate bowl then add to butter mixture, a few spoons at a time. Mix well until light and fluffy, about 5 mins. The longer the frosting is beaten, the fluffier it becomes. Frost completely-cooled cupcakes with frosting.

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