LET THEM EAT CAKE

THE diet police seem to be losing. For nothing, these days, is chicer than a fresh baked goodie. The cupcake has taken us by storm, and the allure of the soft-baked cookie, or moist piece of cake containing anything from beetroot to peanut butter has seduced us entirely. So slinky have baked goods become, that Serena Rees, founder of Agent Provocateur and a woman who knows what women want, had to get in on it. The result is Cocomaya, a sumptuous chocolate shop with an adjoining bakery set to open this month.<br /><br />Some might say it was Sex and the City that got us hooked on the wonders of the pretty boutique bakery &ndash; the sight of Carrie and co daintily tucking into fluffy <a href="http://www.bakewithstork.co.uk/recipes/cakes" target="_blank">cupcakes</a> and milk at the Magnolia Bakery is enough to make any self-respecting woman run for the nearest cake shop. <br /><br />And now, we almost have our own Manhattan&rsquo;s worth of bakeries right here in London. Beguiling boutique bakeries specialising in catering to our sweet tooth(s) are springing up everywhere, while M&amp;S has had roaring success with its big old fashioned style cupcakes.<br /><br /><strong>SOOTHING FOOD EXPERIENCE</strong><br />It&rsquo;s also no coincidence that cupcake sales have flourished throughout the economic crisis &ndash; not only are they a &pound;2 way to pamper yourself, but the fifties style bakeries that sell them have a comforting nostalgia to them. When it comes to a soothing food experience, the black and white checked floors and floral decor of many of the new shops, coupled with the taste of a buttery soft cake, can&rsquo;t be trumped.<br /><br />Here are some of the new breed of see-and-be-seen-in bakeries. It&rsquo;s frosting time. <br /><br /><strong>Cocomaya</strong><br />Superglamorous chocolate shop and brainchild of Agent Provocateur&rsquo;s Serena Rees, the bakery is set to open at the end of the month. Delights will include orange blossom honey cake, sticky toffee cakes baked in the shape of roses and mini cupcakes with swirls of blueberry icing. There&rsquo;s also going to be a chocolate tearoom serving champagne, chocolate scones and chocolate jam &ndash; a kind of &ldquo;chocolate lounge&rdquo; in the words of Rees. Top fashion designers Erdem and Roksanda Ilincic were at the pre-opening tea party &ndash; this is set to be a truly designer bakery. 12 Connaught Street, W2 2AZ, cocomaya.co.uk<br /><br /><strong>Princi</strong><br />This Milanese cafe has so charmed Londoners that it&rsquo;s said to be more popular here than in its hometown. It&rsquo;s deeply elegant: food is laid out beautifully in large glass boxes; the decor is wood and marble and the colour scheme is the gold of fresh-baked bread. There are plenty of rich Italian savoury classics here, but the cakes are what drag you in off the street. Think pistachio mousse, profiteroles with vanilla cream, passion fruit cake and chocolate-filled brioche. What diet? 135 Wardour Street, W1F 0UT, www.princi.co.uk<br /><br /><strong>Love Bakery</strong><br />A Sloane Rangers&rsquo; favourite, this King&rsquo;s Road haven has beautiful cupcakes and cookies for every &ndash; and that means every &ndash; occasion and theme, from Halloween to &ldquo;couture&rdquo; to &ldquo;Batman&rdquo; to &ldquo;Butterfly&rdquo;. The red velvet sponge is particularly delicious, but the specialty here is the intricate, colourful fondant decorations on top that would thrill any recipient. Bring on the love. 319 Kings Road, SW3 5EP, 0207 352 3191, www.lovebakerylondon.com.<br /><br /><strong>Lola&rsquo;s</strong><br />An instant hit for its impeccable collection of cupcakes and cakes &ndash; flavours include strawberry, rocky road, oreo, peanut butter and chocolate with fresh coconut. And London&rsquo;s yummy mummies like nothing more than to spoil their little ones with a &ldquo;boys&rdquo; or &ldquo;girls&rdquo; birthday cake&nbsp; &ndash; chocolate, red velvet or vanilla are the options. Available at Harrods and Selfridge&rsquo;s and at the shop in Primrose Hill. See lolas-kitchen.co.uk.<br /><br /><strong>Betty Blythe</strong><br />Named after one of Hollywood&rsquo;s earliest sex symbols, this rustic, brick-walled sanctuary in west London&rsquo;s farthest reaches specialises in afternoon tea with an array of homemade goodies, from mini scones with Little Scarlet jam and Devon clotted cream, to truffle <a href="http://www.bakewithstork.co.uk/recipes/muffins-and-brownies/chocolate-br... target="_blank">chocolate brownies</a>, shortbread melting moments and mini cupcakes. Should you choose to have a tea party, you can expect the likes of mini chocolate bites topped with ganache and edible gold leaf, midget tart au citrons and double chocolate brownies with raspberry cream. 73 Blythe Rd W14 0HP, www.bettyblythe.co.uk<br /><br /><strong>Primrose Bakery</strong><br />In the heart of London&rsquo;s Hollywood (Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Moss are local residents), this bakery has managed to establish itself as a true cake-meets-glitterati hotspot. It&rsquo;s all about perfectly formed cupcakes here, so delicious that even the burliest of blokes would be tempted. New flavours include cookies and cream and chocolate and marshmallow; classics are mocha, lime and coconut, carrot, peanut butter, rose and ginger. 69 Gloucester Avenue, NW1 8LD, www.primrosebakery.org.uk

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