Love to bake but tired of the same old recipes? Looking for something fun and new to take to your office Christmas party? The iconic London cupcake shop, Primrose Bakery has just re-launched its recipe app by Random House, Primrose Bakery Cupcake and Cake Recipes for iOS 7. They’ve added 10 new recipes and the U.S. app now has U.S. measurements instead of metric. At a price of $3.99, is this app worth it?
Keep reading to find out.
Launching the app for the first time revealed a cute cupcake illustration, setting a fun and whimsical tone. I waited while the recipes downloaded (the app kindly warned me to make sure I had a strong internet connection). Within seconds the download completed and I was face to face with a sweet little cupcake. I could’ve just plucked it off the screen and eaten it right then and there!
Next I discovered the story behind Primrose Bakery, created by two moms in London who love to bake. I’m always harping on recipe apps that don’t give the story and engage with users, but Random House apps do a great job on this. Reading the recommendations from Nigella Lawson and Jools Oliver built a sense of anticipation for a great app.
Swiping to the final introductory screen I was surprised to find a short introductory video. It’s a great idea, but Martha and Lisa from Primrose Bakery do not come off as warm and friendly, rather, nervous and stoic, reciting memorized lines. This is really too bad because I’m sure they are lovely people. Bad video is worse than no video at all.
The app features 80 beautifully photographed recipes for cupcakes, layer cakes, cookies, frostings, bars and quick breads. The photos and food styling are cheerful and elegant, making this one of the most beautiful baking apps out there. Filtering recipes by category is quick and easy, but unfortunately I couldn’t find any search functionality. It would be nice to search by ingredient, like strawberry or chocolate.
This is not your basic baking app — the techniques may be classic but the flavors are fresh and modern. I found exciting new cakes to try, like the Coconut and Elderflower Cake and the Green Tea Cupcakes. Cookies like Aunt Mary’s Bourbon Creams and Coconut Raspberry Slice Bars looked irresistible. Spice up your favorite layer cake recipe with one of the Primrose Bakery frostings, like Lime and Rum Buttercream or Darjeeling Buttercream.
For Christmas, try a fun spin on a British classic, like the Christmas Trifle Cupcakes or Ginger Spice Cupcakes. The app also has tons of birthday cake candidates, like the decadent Triple Layer Caramel Cake and the Nutella Cupcakes.
Baking with Primrose Bakery
Each recipe is broken down into three components: Overview, Steps and Ingredients. At a glance I could see the time needed to prepare it, servings yielded and difficulty level. It’s convenient to find the frosting match and tap to view that recipe, and then swipe between the two recipes. The icons are intuitive and clever — tapping the rolling pin saves the recipe to your Quick Pin list for easy reference if you’re working on more than one recipe at a time. You can also save recipes to the more permanent Favorites.
Steps are broken down into simple, easy to follow instructions. I liked having the cook mode option (turn the phone to landscape orientation), which displays each step on a single screen, along with the required ingredients for that step. The Random House website states cook mode is hands free, but I didn’t find that functionality.
Adding ingredients to my shopping list was easy, but the message, “Are you sure?” was a bit overdramatic and annoying. Do I really want to add ingredients to my shopping list? Really? Why yes I do. You can also email or print ingredients lists but not full recipes. You can announce what you’re baking from the app on Twitter or Facebook, but you can’t share the recipe, which is silly.
Another caveat: it would be nice to set timers within the recipe instructions, but I had to pop out to the main menu to do that. Also, once a set a timer I couldn’t leave the timer screen and return to the recipe, which is massively annoying. The only positive is that timer did alert even when I left the app (but only after I went into settings and enabled push notifications). Overall baking with the app is a good experience, but this timer issue needs some attention. Even trying to get out of the timer is a headache.
Primrose Bakery Cupcake and Cake Recipes is a lovely app that will inspire you in the kitchen. I appreciate the recipes because they feature flavors adults and kids will love. It’s sophisticated and yet still whimsical and fun. The app is simple and attractively designed, with professional food photos that are absolutely gorgeous. Aside from the timer issues, it’s a joy to use in the kitchen. Before the re-launch, Random House hadn’t updated the app since November 2011, so I’m hopeful they will keep their promise that “you’ll receive new recipes throughout the year at seasonal events, making the app your go-to hub for all your baking inspiration.” Is it worth $3.99? If you love to bake I think you’ll be happy with the 80 new recipes to liven up your cakes, cupcakes, cookies and frostings—I certainly am.