Even if you haven’t tried one of Peggy Porschen’s pretty pastel, floral topped cupcakes, you’ll be familiar with the baking extraordinaire, thanks to the endless Instagram shots taken outside her world-famous Belgravia bakery. The saccharine-hued facade is Instagram fodder at its finest – it’s no wonder there are over 83,000 #peggyporschen tags on the photo app alone – but is it just all style over substance? I went to try out the baker’s famous afternoon tea and she joined forces with the iconic London hotel, The Lanesborough. Here’s what happened…
After a successful run earlier this year, Peggy Porschen has taken up another temporary residency at The Lanesborough, one of London’s finest trad hotels. Now, I’ve never been to Peggy’s famous Belgravia cafe but, no offence to Peggy, The Lanesborough is a little more my bag. Don’t get me wrong, the original cafe is gorgeous and styled within an inch of its life – think flowers dripping off the entrance, charming tea sets, retro pink bikes and co-ordinated tables – but it’s the kind of place where the rule of ‘if you didn’t ‘gram it, it didn’t happen’ most certainly applies. The Lanesborough is a little more understated and, well, I’m often too lazy and too busy enjoying my food to share it virtually with my modest following.
So The Lanesborough’s Peggy Porschen Afternoon Tea seemed like the perfect way to sample some of the world-famous sweet treats. Set in the hotel’s glorious Céleste restaurant with it’s impressive domed glass roof, eggshell blue walls, gargantuan chandeliers and sumptuous velvet seating, The Lanesborough has taken the Peggy Porschen experience to new grown-up heights. The cakes themselves are just as pretty as the ones made famous at her original cafe, however – think pastel hues, fresh flowers and layers of gold leaf. There’s even a faux floral display as you enter the restaurant, paying homage to Peggy’s Belgravia cafe and offering a kitsch background for photo ops if you so inclined.
As well as the quintessential finger sandwiches, from classic cucumber to vibrant coronation chicken, The Lanesborough’s talented Head Pastry Chef, Kevin Miller has worked closely with Peggy to interpret her famous recipes. The cakes are, as you’d imagine, are a delight. Highlights included the delicate pink pavlova (just the right amount of chew) to the light-as-air lemon, raspberry and rose layer cake. We also tucked into a salted caramel cupcake topped with a touch of popcorn and a seriously good lemon and elderflower tartlet. The presentation is just as you’d expect from a top London pastry chef, while the flavours are fun and whimsical and don’t take themselves too seriously. There’s definite Bake Off vibes when it comes to the concoctions and that’s no surprise given that Miller recently came runner-up on Channel 4’s Bake Off: The Professionals.
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The Lanesborough has taken the Peggy Porschen experience to new grown-up heights, but the cakes are just as pretty as the ones made famous at her original Belgravia cafe.
It’s not Peggy’s first time at the five-star hotel either. In a rather lovely full-circle tale, Peggy originally put on her chef’s whites at The Lanesborough back in 1999 when she held her first big pastry chef position there, fresh from Le Cordon Bleu graduation. Over 20 years later and her cakes are still satisfying London’s sweet toothed. And with the return of Bake Off hitting screens next week, it’s the perfect excuse to indulge in some of London’s finest cakes and desserts. As if we needed an excuse.