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A cake-lover’s guide to York

Sophie Marshall takes us on a walking cake tour around York.

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Image Credit: Igor Ovsyannykov

With the promise of life slowly returning back to normal comes a hope that we will finally be able to appreciate the beautiful city of York in all its splendour. Attracting thousands of tourists every year, York is world-famous for its amalgamation of historical architecture, cobbled streets, and picturesque rivers. However, there is one key aspect of York that is frequently overlooked by visitors… its vast selection of cakes.

There are plenty of ways to eat cake, but only one place to do it properly – the city of York! In amongst the alluring cobblestone streets of the city lie the most delectable treats that are destined to improve your day – it is just a matter of finding them. So why not kill two birds with one stone and take in all the sights and flavours the city has to offer in this cake-lover’s tour around York?

Although a seemingly unconventional choice, our first stop is the 52 Broadway Coffee Shop. Tucked away in Fulford, the coffee shop is easy to miss but simply unforgettable once you experience their homemade bakes! You will be kicking yourself once you realise the number of times you have walked past it on the way to Aldi (I know I certainly did). From traybakes to cheesecakes, there is definitely something for everyone. If you find yourself visiting before Easter, their Easter egg cheesecakes are highly recommended. Fulford is far from picturesque, however, the shop is only a short walk away from the stunning River Ouse which leads right into the city centre. This route into this city will allow you to enjoy a delicious treat, take in York’s natural beauty and work up more of an appetite for the next stop on our walking tour...

Crossing over the river onto Museum Street, we reach our next stop: Brew and Brownie. The bakehouse is a firm favourite amongst students and visitors alike with its stunning selection of sweet and savoury dishes. If you are looking for a savoury break in between cakes, their extensive brunch menu is destined to satisfy your cravings. Outside of Covid-19 times, Brew and Brownie is often bustling with life and definitely one to book a reservation for in order to avoid disappointment. However, there is a silver lining in the take-away world we have recently become accustomed to. The bakehouse is located opposite the beautiful Museum Gardens, giving you the opportunity to explore much of York’s rich historical past. The Museum Gardens perfectly uncover the melting-pot of cultural histories within York behind a backdrop of floral serenity. Therefore, this stop doubles-up as both a sensory and intellectual stimuli as you can enjoy your delicious handcrafted bake whilst observing York’s Roman, Viking and Medieval roots.

It would be impossible to go on a walking tour of York without visiting its most iconic building – the Minster. Our next stop, Crumbs Cupcakery, lies just behind the Minster on College Street. If you love cupcakes, this is definitely the place for you! With a constantly changing selection of specials, there is always a cupcake to satisfy your cravings. What’s more, the cupcakes are made even better by the shop’s wholesome atmosphere. Located on a cobblestone street in the shadow of the majestic York Minster, Crumbs fulfils York’s quaint reputation! The exposed brickwork, bunting and mismatched tea sets provide a quintessentially English afternoon tea experience, making it the perfect place to bring visiting family members.

A trip to York would be incomplete without paying a visit to Betty’s world-famous tea rooms. This landmark is based in St. Helen’s Square and has been responsible for drawing tourists to York from far and wide since 1936. There is definitely a reason behind this, taking shape in the form of a fat rascal. This iconic cake (which is almost a hybrid between a scone and a rock cake) single-handedly justifies the thirty minute queuing time into the tea rooms! When paired with a pot of one of Betty’s vast range of teas you cannot go wrong. The tea rooms also offer an assortment of mouth-watering artisan bakes and chocolates. Prices vary depending on your choice of treat, but a visit to Betty’s is definitely a worthwhile luxury.

Crossing over Parliament Street to the Shambles we reach our penultimate stop, the Bluebird Bakery. Tucked away in the oldest street in York, a visit to the bakery will make your childhood dreams of visiting Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley come true. However, you will be enjoying yummy cakes rather than chocolate frogs! The bakery specialises in nutritious artisan bread loaves but also offers a range of pastries and sweet treats including muffins, brownies, and tarts. Is there really any better way to fulfil your wizarding fantasies and enjoy the unique character of the Shambles than with a cake in hand?

After heading down to Walmgate we reach our final stop on the periphery of the city, Gatehouse Coffee. Situated within the city walls, the coffee house offers a uniquely authentic and unmatched experience of York. Its location makes this the perfect spot for a break when walking around the walls or heading back out to the university. The selection of homemade bakes (especially the brownies) and speciality coffees make this spot all the more worthwhile. Studying and working from home has certainly become mundane over lockdown, but once hospitality venues can open again, Gatehouse’s cosy interior and peaceful atmosphere will break your boredom. It is the perfect place to study, read, or relax away from the hustle and bustle of city and university life.

Now, more than ever, it has become apparent that we should do our best to support small businesses. In following this cake-lover’s guide to York, you will not only see York’s fantastic sights, whilst satisfying your sweet cravings, but also support numerous small hospitality businesses across the city.

Happy cake eating!

Instagram Accounts:

@52broadway

@brewandbrownie

@crumbscupcakeryyork

@bettys

@bluebirdbakeryyorkshire

@gatehousecoffee

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