Thursday, May 20, 2010

Rhodes & The 'Worlds Best' Brownies?

Well it is 1:30pm in London (5:30am in Seattle). Despite being here two nights, I'm still completely jet lagged. I'm managing, though the Little Humble is not, so we've been staying close to home (Greenwich) and trying to adjust before conquering central London next week.

The trip from Seattle was pretty uneventful. Apart from me splitting my trousers while attempting to assemble a stroller in Heathrow, which as far as air travel disasters go, I'll take it.

I'm blaming shoddy construction of course, as the pants didn't split, they disintegrated. Splitting completely from front waistband to back. Essentially creating black trouser chaps. Naturally it has nothing to do with the size of my bottom. Nothing! Though, after today's--and possibly tomorrow's--bakery raid… it very well might become an issue.

You see, I heard that a bakery in Greenwich possessed 'the worlds best brownies' with such a claim and being walking distance from our temporary London home, I had to go check it out.

Paul Rhodes' bakery
Situated near the Thames and the Royal Naval College

The 'worlds best brownies' are sold at the Rhodes bakery, run by Paul Rhodes. I like this man, not because he has three Michelin stars to his name, but that his bakery serves up slices of princess cake the size of my daughters head. Rock on, Paul.

Some bakery photos:

Huge strawberry, chocolate and vanilla meringues!

A small portion of the pastry case... nom.

Sandwiches and savory pastries

Lovely breads

So I loaded up at Rhodes, selecting as much as I could carrying home:
  • Two sausage rolls
  • One sourdough boule
  • Two world's best brownies
  • One hefty slice of princess cake
The total cost? $20 (13£) which felt very reasonable, as I can pay upwards of $4 for a single bakery or coffee house brownie back in the States.

So Mr. Humble and I hiked back home with our loot and commenced with the eating.

First the sausage rolls, which had been beckoning me from the cooler cases at a couple grocery stores we toured today.

I've never had a British Sausage roll before, so this was supposed to be one of my foodie-tourist experiences. I have had the nearest U.S. equivalent, our '50s chic 'pigs in a blanket' which have nothing on these. The sausage rolls were delicious and substantial, consisting of flaky puff pastry wrapped around a mildly spiced sausage filling. Of course, the combination of buttery puff pastry with ground pork is the very essence of a cardiologist's nightmare. Nom.

Now usually I try to balance my dessert heavy diet with simple healthy food, but I'm on vacation, so bring on the fat-flagellation.

We followed our sausage rolls with the worlds best brownies:

I was a little concerned about these brownies being dry, as they didn't look terribly moist sitting there on the counter. However when I got them home I was happily surprised at the dense fudge-like texture. No, not fudgey, the ubiquitous descriptive term applied to almost all brownies. These were literally like fudge. The outside is a bit crisp, giving way with a delicate crackle to reveal the dense interior.

Mr. Humble and I agreed they were quite good. World's best though? I don't know… I would have liked a bolder chocolate flavor from them but I did adore the texture.

Next was the princess cake.

The Little Humble wants cake...

I love Swedish princess cake. Love it. It is my hands-down favorite cake. All that cream and marzipan, oh so good. In fact, it is the favorite cake of all the Humble women. It is a birthday staple for us and we don't like sharing. I remember as a kid, Mother Humble treating herself to this cake around her birthday and insisting that it was her cake and we--my three younger siblings and I--were to leave it alone.

Being wild, disobedient children, we never did.

This cake is a little different from the norm. For starters it is pink. Rather than containing a thin layer of jam, the cake had a layer of what I assume to be a diplomat cream flavored with strawberry. Also, the ratio of filling to cake is almost equal, where usually you see this cake loaded sky high with cream. In fact, that is what makes them so challenging to make, as layering marzipan over a high dome of creamy-goodness requires a bit of engineering.

It was so good. The sponge cake was so moist and despite loathing strawberries with every fiber of my being, the layer of flavored cream was delicious. Perhaps it's only flaw--and this is just my personal preference--is that it could of had a higher ratio of cream to cake.

I plan on trying to recreate a similar cake once I'm home for the blog. It must be done.

As for tomorrow... I might be popping into Rhodes' Bakery again. After all, I have three more pairs of pants to ruin.


  1. This is the first time I've ever heard of Princess cake so I am looking forward to your recipe when you return from 'cross the pond.

  2. I've never heard of princess cake either, but I love anything with marzipan. I also look forward to your princess cake recipe. I have a student over in London right now. I'm going to send her to Rhodes to check it out.

  3. Try the brownie recipe on the back of the King Arthur Flour bag; it's the best brownie I've tried, and I've tried many.

    Found it online:

  4. Oh, I can't wait to see your recreation of this princess cake. It looks delicious.

    I hope you find some sturdier pants! haha

  5. Sounds like you are having a great trip, despite your little pant incident. I too can't wait to see your rendition of the princess cake. I have 2 little princesses that would adore this!!

  6. I ADORE Princess cake. In fact, we're going to use one for the cutting cake for our wedding. I was debating, but I'm taking your post as a sign. ^_^

    And now I really DO need to get to London, because everything you described sounds phenomenal.

  7. your post made me sooo hungry...i could have grabbed the bread from my screen...
    i have never heard of princess cake either...but like nicole, as soon as you "whip" yours, i am ready!
    sounds like you are having fun...!!

  8. Oh no! I had a similar experience with pants once, I am embarassed to admit, and it happened when I was in a college lab class. Of course somehow that seemed to be the end of my world since we are so susceptible to teasing at that age. :) Glad you took it in stride!

    And these bakery photos... lord, I am at work, do you have to tease us like this??? ;)

  9. I'm only taking it in stride because I was wearing a tunic blouse and had a light jacket that I could tie around my waist.

    As far as I know, no one got to see my trouser-chaps or knickers. I was able to smuggle my semi-bare tush through Heathrow, immigration and then meet our driver without anyone the wiser.

    Well, I think...

  10. Oh, your life is one that I am VERY envious of! Very cool, and now I'm really interested in this princess cake. I need to get out more :/

  11. I guess the sausage roll never made it down to the good old USA, up here in Canada we have them at most grocers, Save on foods, makes a good one, and of course the smaller bakeries make the best.

    You were so restrained in the bakery, all of it looks so yummy, and you always have the excuse of "oh well, I AM on vacation." Thanks for 'Working while away' You are a great break during my day.

  12. Can't wait for the princess cake recipe--it's one of my favourites too! Looking forward to more bakery reviews!

  13. harumph! i lived in blackheath for 2 years and never was there a fabulous shop like this in greenwich...color me green with envy!

  14. I can easly reach London in 2 hours...this store is amazing, love it!

  15. Oh my goodness. This post made a little ball of homesickness catch in my throat.

    I live in Singapore so am hardly short-changed in the delicious food department, but London is the city that exists in miniature inside my heart.

    If I could go anywhere right now I'd magic myself to La Fromagerie off Marylebone High Street. Bit of a trek from Greenwich though :-)

  16. Swedes like princess cake too. :3

  17. princess cake, yay!!!!
    sounds like your having a good time, I only have two words for you
    expandable pants!!! have fun.

  18. And here I thought it was called princess cake because little girls love it! I don't like marzipan though, so I'll just enjoy the photos.

    Great travelogue so far. Hope the jet lag clears up. Perhaps you need more cake/brownies for that to work.

  19. I am soooo jealous! I'm an ex-pat Londoner and can't wait to come back. Sausage rolls - so yum (ok, also so bad for you, but one in a while, who cares?), and Greenwich is not too far from my parents so next time I'm over, I think Mr Rhodes will be getting a visit...

  20. By the way, if you're passing Dulwich (also in south London but a bit further west) have alook out for Hope and Greenwood, a new old-fashioned sweet shop. I haven't got there myself yet but it looks like a fabulous place!

  21. Om nom nom nom, indeed! My brother's family is in the process of moving to London, so please continue with this excellent start on foodie tourism! Besides, I owe my sister-in-law for pointing us to a fabulous French macaron shop in Manhattan.

    Isn't sausage and sugar one of the classic remedies for jet lag?

  22. I know you have your sources, but Baking Obsession has what looks like a great recipe for Princess Cake:

    (I'm planning to make it this year for Midsummer)

    So pretty!

  23. I have never heard of princess cake but I have to admit I want to try it out now!

  24. Can't wait for your Princess cake post now! I think your version might be even prettier. Absolutely loved your take on lamingtons. I never thought to make them look/ taste anything but black and white/ choc and coconut but I was really impressed by the way you innovate upon centuries old baking traditions and totally render them (almost) unrecognisable.
    Scientific bakers really are something - and to think I thought science was boring back in high school. If only they had given us cakes and a Baking Scientist like you.
    I am really hanging out for the Humble version of a Princess Cake!

  25. I LOVE his shop and always buy treats for the family when I'm in the area. I've never tried the Princess cake though because the pink colour put me off but it sounds pheNOMenal:-) Will try it next time.

  26. Ooh, pink cake! I can't wait for your take on Princess Cake. Marzipan + cream + jam + cake = pretty deliciousness. Those meringues look awesome as well.


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