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‘Allergic to Cupcakes’

The other day on Twitter I did a couple of jokey tweets with the hashtag #vintagegirlproblems. They were to do with my head being the wrong shape for headscarves and my freeze-hold hairspray about to run out, but I did say in one that I was allergic to cupcakes. It was meant entirely as a joke (bless the one person who sent me a gluten-free cupcake recipe) because as everyone who has at least one eye knows, vintage and cupcakes seem to go hand in hand. But often controversially so!

I’ve lost count of the amount of moans I have seen online about ‘cupcakes and bunting’, that chintzy, frou-frou-y (it’s a word) side to vintage that sees pretty afternoon teas served on antique floral china, 40s-style village fetes strewn with bunting and girls in pretty tea dresses that may or may not be actually old. Gin cocktails served in teacups. You know the drill.

Cupcakes recently served to me at Millennium Hotel Mayfair for a ‘Breakfast at Tiffanys’ screening…hence the Tiffany green icing! 

I like to think I’m not a fan of the concept of cupcakes and everything they represent (the popularity of my once subcultural style), hence the joke about being allergic. And actually, I do find most cupcakes pretty awful – intensely over-sweet to the point where eating one makes your teeth feel like they’re jumping back from the sugar (see also: eating Cadbury’s Creme Eggs… or maybe that’s just me). I do usually snaffle one from any such cupcake abundant event I’m at and give it to my boyfriend, who, in a gender stereotype role reversal actually likes them a lot more than me. He was nearly defeated by one the other day though, declaring it the most sickly ‘bun’ (he’s Northern) he’d ever eaten. But I won’t lie, I do like to partake in a cupcakey confection every once in a while – red velvet ones are a favourite as the cream cheese frosting somehow isn’t quite so sweet as buttercream. Plus, the ones you get at Vintage Patisserie are almost like a muffin at the bottom. I have eaten a lot of these in the last few years.

Vintage Patisserie cakes at a previous event I used to run – personalised… not too much buttercream! 

A lot of people profess to dislike cupcakes because they are, in fact, patently not ‘vintage’, at least not in the UK. Historically, we have been more into our Victoria Sponge, fruitcakes, scones, shortbread (among many others of course). A butterfly or modest fairycake if we must! Cupcakes hail from the United States, where everything seems a little more kitsch – some of the ones you get nowadays are sculptural piles of sugarcraft and empty calories. The English version, the classic fairy cake, is a much smaller affair, usually with only a thin layer of icing on top. At least, that’s my perception of it, and my personal experience. (I did just have a look on the Wikipedia page for cupcakes, just to see if I was getting it horribly wrong, and am quite perturbed to see a picture of a ‘butterfly cupcake’ on it! That is so not a thing!) And I think a lot of full-time vintage girls like to be seen to rebel against the mainstream, twee version of our style that’s pervaded popular culture. Most of us are more into ‘authentic’ looks than the trendy Cath Kidston version, after all*. But again, I do have chintzy tea dresses, curtains and china as well as lots of less girly stuff. I like a good mix, OK!

Ultimately though, if you put me in front of an afternoon tea, ten out of every ten times, I will go for the savoury foods first. Sandwiches, good. Quiche, good. Pork pies, gooooood. Scotch eggs… I could go on. I snapped some photos at the Vintage Mafia do at the Blacksmith last week that illustrates my fondness for stodgy English classics. At least insofar as I had no inkling of writing this post at the time, I just wanted to photograph some pies.

Pastry-tastic pies.
Smashing Scotch Eggs

I actually ate two of the homemade Scotch eggs above, they were that good. Tasty saisage and a perfectly hardboiled egg with just a hint of runny yolk. Excuse me while I dribble (and sorry veggies). My taste for savoury stuff also translates into a love of bitter cocktails – I’d rather have a Negroni than a fruity thing, any time.

I don’t really know what point I am trying to make with this post, so do forgive me for just rambling away. I like cupcakes to a point, but they are not my favourite thing and so it does get a tiny bit annoying that they are so ubiquitous on the ‘vintage scene’. Give me a slice of Vicky sponge any day! While I probably won’t turn one down, I might not always eat it myself. But if you offer me a finger sandwich, pastry and meat-based product or other savoury snack item (or, as I’ve mentioned on here before, a burger), I’ll probably eat it, and your actual fingers holding it out as well.

What say you, readers? Cupcakes or pork pies? There’s only one way to find out… fiiiiight!

Fleur xx

*I’m sure I don’t need to say this but I’m not trying to open the debate about who’s more vintage again… you may only row about the two food items above ๐Ÿ˜‰ Go team pork pie!


art deco dame

OMG I hate cadbury eggs!And I have to agree with cupcakes.Normally too sweet for me.I can do whipped frosting but not regular.I'm more of a salty versus sweet person when it comes to junky foods.

Mizz Busby

Haha! Love this little ramble – never thought I'd see pork pies & cupcakes discussed together!
I've never actually eaten a pork pie *gasp* (something about the layer of jiggly gelatine just isn't appealing) but I DO love a good scotch egg. I know what you mean about cupcakes being a bit too sweet. I'm definitely more a fan of a fairy cake with a tiny bit of butter cream.

Though I must say the ubiquitousness of Red Velvet in cake/cupcake/pancake form is a bit annoying though!



Most cupcakes have too much icing for my tastes, it's a pure sugar hit. I do love Creme Eggs though! Also love a good Scotch Egg/pork pie, yum.


Excellent post! I like both both sweet and savoury. Though my husband teases me for only eating the meat and leaving the pastry on the pork pie. And it has to be a good pork pie. Which means I avoid most of the supermarket variety. I prefer cake to cupcakes and I agree with you about the sickly sweet variety. I don't get the appeal of bakery for show and that includes stuff that lurks on the edge of putting you into a diabetic coma. I don't care how pretty it is, if its inedible, why bother. I was interested in your comment about vintage and twee. I think its just slick marketing, designed to sell a "lifestyle" concept. In any case, have you looked at Cath Kidston lately? The quality lately doesn't inspire me to part with my hard earned sterling thanks.


beate grigutsch

magnificent post!
I can understand you. if I only see cupcakes I get abdominal pain. too much sugar.
in my corner of the world they bake great cake, rich rather than sweet. but most of all i like dead animal well-prepared ๐Ÿ˜‰

Modern Vintage Life

I always find cupcakes such a disappointment – some are works of art but you just get a mouthful of sugar, butter and previously-frozen cake. Eugh. Give me egg sandwiches, scotch eggs and pork pie every time! I've got your back ๐Ÿ˜‰


Being a gutsache, I like cake and pie. Although if you're forcing us to choose, anything savoury with cheese will get my vote.

I like cupcakes; my problem with them is people are constantly labelling them โ€˜vintageโ€™ and not exploring all the wonderful actual vintage options out there. I dislike the narrowing of โ€˜vintageโ€™ into something limited (and frequently authentic). It gets to the point where things that actually are vintage get sidelined in favour of things that are modern twee. Vintage shouldnโ€™t be something to be brought out at 4pm among girlies in nice frocks and put to bed by seven. It's perfectly capable of drinking 7 pints in mixed company and getting a kebab on the way home.


Fabulous post! I love pork pies, sandwiches, scotch eggs and any other savoury part of tea or a buffet. And my favourite cake is most defintely Victoria Sponge, and I have perfected mine, so make it constantly in plain, chocolate and lemon varieties! Cupcakes, I can take or leave.

Roxie Roulette

Give me a pie, scone or tart any day over cupcakes! I have grown very bored of the sweet and innocent vintage that has plagued us over the past couple of years too. It's grown old and has left me with figurative belly ache from too much sugar!


I also a savoury lover and pies and scotch eggs (or, as the other half calls them 'snacky-cakes') always go down well!

I don't mind cup cakes, but I do feel their current vogue – along with macaron, rather than granny style macaroons- mean that many people are restricted to pappy sponge and buttercream when there is so much more to baking.

Also, as I am a greedy guts, I always want a sarnie at vintage fairs and events… Little cake nibbles don't touch the sides! He he!


Hope you didn't cop too much flak for this provocative statement! And I'll have to agree with you – I prefer savoury treats every time.

Perhaps because vintage is having an extended moment of popularity it's inevitable that things will settle into comfy, unchallenging clichรฉs with the broadest appeal.


Obviously you've never tried one of my cupcakes… ๐Ÿ˜‰

I think I'm gonna break the mould in the comment section here and say I do prefer sweet over savoury. Having said that, I would pick a slice of cake (just CAKE. Maybe a tiiiiny bit of buttercream, but no icing, and definitely no, heaven forbid, marzipan!) over a cupcake any day. A lot of these designer cupcake places concentrate so much on making them look cute and colourful that they forget about the actual cake and they're not actually all that amazing. I prefer something to be tasty over pretty.

I do feel a bit like a traitor saying all this though, since I am a northerner. I do enjoy a good bit of pastry and stodge too. Just as long as there's a slice of sponge to wash it down ๐Ÿ™‚


The only cupcakes I have ever eaten that I really enjoy were at my sister's wedding- although they were cocktail themed cupcakes with booze in the mix and buttercream liquor frosting so that probably had something to do with it. I'd take a mini quiche or little meat filled dumpling over a cupcake. They look cute and frilly but there's just too much sugar!


Cupcakes, in my opinion, are only so that you can take cute photos of them. I think I shall try "Scotch Eggs", to someone here on the continent, it sounds and looks temptingly exotic!

The Professor

I have to say, I adore cupcakes and not because of any vintage association. I'm an American and I live in NYC, so perhaps cupcakes are part of my national blood. My Mom used to make cupcakes for me to take to school for my birthday, and I have such fond memories of her creations! The cake itself was a very light, moist "busy day cake" as found in the Betty Crocker cookbook. And the frosting! I only liked dark chocolate frosting and Mom made hers from scratch! The end result wasn't very sweet and was an absolute joy to eat. There was nothing fancy about how they looked — plain, simple, delicious cake with frosting. Sometimes — and I loved this — she would bake the cupcakes in ice cream cones! I STILL love this and I'm 40!

There's just something about a really good homemade cupcake that makes me happy. Maybe it's because it brings me right back to my childhood, or maybe I like the idea of having a whole cake all to myself? Who knows. But, I will say that I prefer homemade to anything store bought! The store bought stuff is just horrible — sweet and gross. Bluck.


here here! i may live in france now and be mother to "french" kids, i sent cupcakes to every single school thing possible. along with rice krispie marshmallow treats. everyone always looked at them wierd at first but soon everyone was fighting over them ๐Ÿ˜‰
and the busy day cake – one of my staples ๐Ÿ˜‰
your cake with chocolate frosting brought back a roflol memory – my grandmother used to make this incredible fudge frosting. my mom has the recipe but NOone can make it like meme! or so i thought. i was pregnant with my first (i had him in USA as my husband (then boyfriend) dumped me when i came up pregnant) and working in a large banker's bank. On my floor we had potluck fridays where everyone brought in a dish and one lady brought in my grandma's poundcake slathered in HER fudge frosting!!! i had gained a horrid amount of weight and my cross the desk partner was keeping a close eye on me because the ob/gyn had been all over me about it. so after 2 pieces of cake, he said "no more for you!" and wouldnt let me past. he had his back turned so i might have gotten down on all fours to crawl across the room to get to the cake with my huge belly maybe kind of dragging the ground. he might have seen me before i got to the cake. and the sweet lady who made it might have snuck me another piece later ๐Ÿ˜‰

The Professor

HAHAHAHA! Oh man! I probably would have done the same thing for a delicious fudge frosting. ๐Ÿ™‚ We had a kid in school whose grandma sent rice krispie treats for his birthday — oh how I loved them because Mom wouldn't allow them at home. No sweetened cereal in our house, and forget about sweetening up something already that sweet.

Oh for Pete's sake! Now I have to make a busy day cake with all this chatting. ๐Ÿ™‚


I'll take the meaty pie any time. I'm definitely more one for the savoury snacks, but if I do have cake I go for a slice of a big cake rather than a cupcake. There is just far too much sickly sweet stuff going on with a cupcake!


Hmm I dont get it either. The only cupcakes I like are the mini ones which you can eat in one mouthful – because that is all you will ever need of a treat that is at least 75% butter ๐Ÿ˜‰

I'm definitely a sweet tooth, even though I veer towards "Not too sweet, not too much and homemade please". Losing my taste for chocolate unless its dark and from a boutique.

I think tarts and fruit based sweet treats are the way to go – I love a good tart or pie. Sweet or savoury.
This is relevant:


roflol "team porkpies" eh? well chalk one up for the cupcake girlies but disclaimers : 1. i'm not at all an authentic vintage afficionado – i just love reading a few vintage blogs and dabbling a little in the makeup and hair styles and sewing i see on them. and 2. im american – PASS THE CUPCAKES!!!!!!!!! with TONS OF BUTTERCREAM ICING ALL OVER IT!!!!!!! ;D

The Professor

YES! And in defense of American cupcakes, at least for the most part and when done by a good baker, the cake itself is not overly sweet. It's moist and spongy, sometimes slightly lemony or vanilla flavored. It's the frosting that gets bakers in trouble. A good Jewish buttercream or a fudge frosting/chocolate frosting without bells or whistles are the best. Forget over decorating them.

Ok, everyone to my house! I'll change your mind about cupcakes. Tea's on … and so is the coffee. ๐Ÿ˜‰


I have to comment just to ask- what is this mysterious Jewish buttercream of which you speak? I must know and google is not helping me! ๐Ÿ™‚

The Professor

Living in NYC, I've always associated a good, creamy, sweet buttercream with some of the best Jewish bakeries NYC has to offer. There's one on 2nd Avenue that makes buttercream from real butter and it's absolutely, 100% to die for! I usually only see buttercream in Jewish or German bakeries, hence the association. Whipped cream and French cream are completely different things and are usually staples in French and Italian bakeries throughout the city.


I will see if I can hunt that down the next time I'm in NYC – thanks for replying! A lot of the Jewish pastry and baking I'm used to is either very Italian or very Eastern European – more sweetened breads and cookies and sweet cheese but not a lot of frosted stuff, so I'm intrigued. I do enjoy any homework that involves seeking out new bakeries….


I hate them with a passion! I think it's the whole concept that annoys me. And what's the use of something that might look pretty but tastes disgusting and is far, far, too sweet? God knows, I have a sweet tooth, I love chocolate….except for the Creme eggs, Lord, NO!….but there's sweet and then there's too sweet. I've seen a lot of very fancy cakes over the last couple of years, some that look amazing, but I've often wondered exactly how edible they really are. I prefer my cakes more old fashioned and down to earth, pretty in a less over the top way and very, very edible. And I can't resist anything cheesey with pastry.


I know what you mean about your teeth recoiling at Creme Eggs…..mind you, I do like them tho. I would have to say I'm more a sweet tooth but I'm not keen on cupcakes….all that frosting makes me nervous, make it a fairy cake with fruit in or a butterfly cake and I'm there. Saying that tho, I do like a scotch egg too….mmmmm…..hate pork pies tho….*shudder*.


Pork piiiiiiiieeeeee! Actually gala pie (the pork pie with the egg in!) you can't get either over here in Oz and I miss them soooo much! x

In The Heyday

Is it weird that you want to eat the savories rather than the sweets while at an establishment with "toffeemaker" in the name? I hear you on the cupcake thing though, and when did they get so BIG anyway?


I've discovered cupcakes when I moved to London, they are really not big in France, and I can't eat them, I agree, far too sweet. I can't eat buttercream, I do like red velvet cake but never tried the cupcake form. Anyway, all that to say, I agree with you, pork pie all the way!

Hum… I've been in this country for 3 years now and never tried a scotch egg (they scare me a bit to be honnest) maybe I should…



I too am of the opinion that fairy cakes are the little British ones with a thin layer of icing and cupcakes are the ones baked in muffin cases and have swirls of icing that you get on your nose when you try to eat them.
I do bake cupcakes, as they tend to satisfy my husbands sweet tooth with just the one, whereas fairy cakes will be gone in a flash.

I have never eaten a pork pie (or a Scotch egg for that matter) but then that's entirely to do with being a vegetarian, but I do go for savoury things first, but put a plate of those teeny tiny Marks & Spencer cakes before me then I have absolutely no willpower! I think even these teeny ones are called cupcakes when they should, being smaller than fairy cakes even, be imp cakes ๐Ÿ˜‰


Some cupcakes are too sweet but some are delicious! Vanilla and raspberry cupcakes and my homemade lavender cupcakes! I love sweet cakes which look pretty eg. battenburg cakes. Though I also love scotch eggs and pork pies!


I am normally a savory girl but can appreciate sweets as well and I think you've been eating the wrong cupcakes! I do agree that many from "boutique" cupcake bakeries tend to have dry and underflavored cake with too sweet "buttercream" because they focus on making them to "unique" or frou-frou. But homebaked with homemade buttercream are so delicious! My favorite recipe is the chocolate cake with peanut butter buttercream from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World

**Disclaimer** I am American.

Lauren T

Here in Nashville, we have stores that just sell cupcakes and they are in various exotic flavor combos with frosting piled inches high. It seems like overkill–they are around 700 calories/cupcake. No wonder obesity is on the rise in the US.

Davita Egeland

I have to agree with the whole "americana" that is the cupcake. I think also that the cupcake kind of pictures the "twee" idea of the fifties housewife. But that's really a subestimation of the post World War era's, sure lots of women stayed at home, and were housewives. But both of the post world war worlds were moments of female emancipation, bringing new freedoms for women across the board. So lets celebrate the Vicky Sponge, the pork pie and all those typically British delicious-ness that sends me home to the UK ever so often. Go team pork pie! Thanks again Fleur.

Miss Emmi

I didn't know the cupcake was a 'vintage' thing! I think it's just a 'sweet of the moment', like macarons were before, and apparently doughnuts are the next big thing. A little sweet hit that can be made in a variety of unusual flavours. I love trying out crazy new flavours; I'm not a big fan of plain cupcakes, and I certainly prefer them to be mini simply so I can try a bigger variety. I love savoury too – all I can say is that if I was at a morning tea, I HAVE to eat them in order (savoury then sweet).


Here in Melbourne the is a proliferation of cupcake shops, it certainly seems to be the cake of the moment. Personally I think they are hideous, having tried a few different sorts (it is the thing to bring to the office for a special morning tea, why??!) and been assaulted with tasteless dry packet cake (one was the edge of stale) and headache inducing decoration, I would rather have a slice of fruitcake any day. After I have had some savoury nibbles, I'm right there with you Miss Emmi with the correct order of things.

And while I am on the soapbox, in Australia they are were known as patty cakes or little cakes. However the ubiquitous Americanisation has crept in. Sigh.

Margaret vonZipper-Pants

Of course I love cake. Give me the carrot cake, the chocolate cake, the lemon cake yearning to breathe free… But leave off with the 10 to 1 ratio of frosting and keep your goshdarn (swear substitute) Cadbury Creme Egg away from me! I don't really get to go to "teas" but when I serve to the odd guest at home I'd rather do a homemade oatmeal cookie variation. Just when I thought the cupcake-craze was winding down, I still see cupcake shops opening around town at alarming rates. I hear pies are the new cupcake, but it has yet to be seen here in Cleveland-land.

p.s. I enjoy your blog immensely and I apologise for being a bit long-winded.

Clare Peartree

Late to the party again (I promise I will be all caught up soon)! Creme eggs are an abomination and I must.confess that savoury conquers sweet every time.
Loved this post! Thanks Fleur!


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