Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Cupcake Easter Egg

It's almost Easter, a perfect time of the year to indulge in chocolate as it's everywhere, including my personal favourite the Lindt bunny!

This year while browsing in the John Lewis Easter section I noticed a cupcake Easter egg and kept meaning to blog it. Then I saw it again (and took surreptitious pics again) and meant to blog it- then forgot. I've finally remembered but maybe a bit too late if you've already chosen your egg (and there are so many to choose from!) but thought I'd share anyways.

The eggs are by James' Chocolates and are £9 each. I've seen them in John Lewis only so not sure how widely available they are. They are also available online but might be a bit late for Easter - sorry! I'm Anne and I'm a lazy blogger!

Btw (I know Manny reads this trying to find gift ideas!) I don't want one of these - I'd prefer a bunny :)

Monday, 29 March 2010

Happy Birthday to me

My birthday this year was a bit of a letdown in that I was v.ill, but was FABULOUS as I spent a lovely day cupcaking with Manny the day before and I got some amazingly fab gifts as well and was spoiled by my lovely husband and friends!

First up is my too gorgeous for words snail plate by Takae Mizutani and Sons that Manny bought for me after I'd mentioned it previously, and perhaps gone on about it a bit to him! Doesn't it make cakes just look even more gorgeous than ever!

Manny also bought me half of the new cupcake selection at Paperchase - including an apron, notebook (for my recipes), mirror, make up bag and a gorgeous little clip purse! I adore them all and felt very spoilt :) Since then I've also got myself the mouse mat and matching pen - I may return for the bunting but not sure if I have anywhere to hang it that the cats can't reach!

I also got some cupcake storage jars, a cupcake flannel and another cupcake apron from my lovely chum Renee (who also sent me tonnes of other goodies including a feast of Hershey's lip balms and Twilight goodies!)

Lots of lovely gifts and lots of yummy cakes (see the two posts below) makes Anne a very happy (and lucky) cupcake fan!

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Making Whoopie in Brighton

After our trip to Swallow Bakery we had planned a stop in Worthing to visit the awesome Parklife but time was not on our side so we headed directly to Brighton as we were aiming to end our mini tour there with a trip to our favourite pub, with a stop at Angel Food Bakery first for a second bit of lunch (two cupcakes = lunch!).

Luck was on our side as we managed to secure a table in the usually v.busy Angel Food and Manny managed to get the last of their chocolate whoopie pies.

Manny's whoopie was HUGE and the filling was amazing - I tried a little smidge and it was ever so tasty. I opted for a banana cupcake which came with a white chocolate and cream cheese frosting. The cake was incredibly moist and tasty and the frosting was divine. I occasionally find cream cheese frosting a bit cloying but this combination was fantastic. I really like Angel Food Bakery, it's a lovely little cafe with fabulous coffee and even better cakes - everything is incredibly fresh, and you can see the kitchen staff preparing your cakes through the window at the back. And it seems I'm not the only one who loves it - the place was constantly busy, people popping in for a cupcake or to pick up or place orders. It's nice to see an small retailer doing so well!

Again we grabbed some take away - this time opting for four as we just couldn't decide and we needed some cake when we'd finished drinking! I had a toffee apple (with a Toffifee on top - one of my favourite sweets ever!), and a vanilla. Manny opted for a chocolate orange (with piece of chocolate orange on top) and a devils food with honeycomb on top of coffee frosting.

All of the cupcakes were lovely, except the vanilla which was unfortunately inedible and ended up in my bin. The frosting tasted of nothing but butter, not a hint of vanilla, and the cake itself tasted days old (we tried to eat it on the Saturday - about 16 hours after buying it), and again tasted of really flavourless sponge, again not a smidge of vanilla flavour. The other cupcakes made up for it though and were incredibly flavoursome - and really different from the usual cupcake flavours you get! I highly recommend a trip to Brighton for these cakes, especially the toffee apple which I adored and Manny recommends the whoopies and devils food cupcake!

We shall be doing the tour again, perhaps this time with less takeaway (I was stuffed of cake by the time my birthday was over!) and next time we're definitely going to Parklife - especially now they've started doing macarons!

Lashings of cupcakes in Chichester

My birthday cupcake tour of the South East has taken me a while to write up but I still wanted to share with you this wonderful little bakery in the lovely town of Chichester - it is a definite must visit.

I have wanted to visit Swallow Bakery for some time, and finally got round to it 3 weeks ago and it was worth the wait.

Getting off the train in Chichester after being in London is like another world. We left Victoria Station on a day when a famous Dutch activist was in town so we spent our wait at the Station listening to bone head idiots who seemed to think they were the creme de la creme of Englishness shouting abuse at everyone, and surrounded by the usual fragrant part of the population that seems to be loiter in London stations. Chichester is lovely and I'm not just saying that because we found cupcakes, a great little food market, a fab kitchenware shop and a store where I found the cutest Hello Kitty purse all within 3 mins of each other. And they have a Lakeland which we didn't visit but it kinda adds to me wanting to live somewhere like this! It's a really picturesque little town - I loved it!

Anyways, to the cupcakes. Swallow Bakery is a cute little cafe, with about 4 tables and lots of lovely goodies to purchase. And the cupcakes - rows and rows of lovely looking, perfectly frosted cupcakes. I opted for a pink vanilla (my usual to test a bakery) and Manny had a double chocolate. Manny secured a table and I waited for the coffees and cake. This is where my first little problem with Swallow Bakery occurs - there were 2 tables free, however both were swarming with dirty crockery. The girl serving noticed and did nothing, fair enough she was serving. However there was another girl sitting down just near the counter reading The Sun who I did think could have perhaps gotten up and cleared the tables (sorry but even if she was on a break it's a cafe so tables need clearing, you can take a break later). We got our coffees etc and ended up clearing the tables ourselves, even when the girl behind the counter spotted this she just left them piled up on the table we'd put them on.

Anyways back to what we travelled two hours out of London for - the cupcakes. They were AMAZING. Really, really flavoursome, moist and yummy. Both were engulfed in a thick layer of really lovely frosting - some of the nicest cupcakes we've had. The coffee was great too - the perfect little cafe!

We decided to get a couple of cupcakes to take away and went back to the counter -where my second problem occurs (part of which we didn't realise till the next day). By going back and asking for takeaway we seemed to interrupt the staff chatting which seemed to perturb the girl serving to the point of putting one of our cupcakes upside down in the box. If you look at the pic above there isn't really any way just one could've ended up the wrong way up unless it was done purposely. They still tasted great though - Manny had a black and white (the upside down one) and I had an apple and fudge (I think it was a daily special). Both were still really fresh tasting and moist the day after purchase and really tasty - mine was full of lovely bits of fresh apple and the fudge on top was lovely. Manny loved the chocolate base of both his cupcakes declaring them some of the best he'd had. And again the frosting was just superb - some of the tastiest frosting I've ever had!

Staffing issues aside I highly recommend a visit to Chichester - next time we'll go back and explore a little more. If you do fancy a day out Southern Trains do a Daysave ticket which means you can explore all over the Southern network for a tenner!

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Gü you cupcake?

There's not a lot to say about the new collaboration between and Lola's but MUST Gü asap and eat one.

Available from all Lola's outlets, including their newly Mayfair store which opened today at 16 Lansdowne Row, Berkley Square, W1J 8QF. Also available on-line when they sort out their site - the link doesn't appear to be working for me!

I may pop along on Thursday and get one for Manny before he explodes with longing for one!

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig

I think I have found one of the easiest cupcake recipes in the world. And I have to thank Not Quite Nigella for making it even easier!

As I mentioned in a previous post, my plan for St Patrick's day was to make some cupcakes using (the real) Nigella's Chocolate Guinness cake recipe. I decided to half the recipe after reading that half was enough for approx 12 cakes, however I have a tendency to be a bit blonde and was worried that I might muck it up somehow. I had a quick peruse online and discovered one of my fave bloggers Not Quite Nigella had made these cupcakes two years ago and posted the half quantity recipe online..hurrah!

As I said, the recipe is very easy and takes minutes to make. Mine rose a little unevenly, mainly because I had a bit of a "moment" putting them in the oven and managed to trip over my feet so my lovely smooth and level cupcakes went in a bit messy. However as I'm of the 'slap the frosting on and cover any mistakes' school of cupcake decorating it didn't really matter how they looked naked, I was going to slather on some Bailey's frosting and hide any baking sins!

Nigella's recipe called for cream cheese frosting but I opted to try and make some Baileys frosting - just to make them a little more Irish, and, of course, yummy. I used the vanilla frosting recipe from the Primrose Bakery Cupcakes book, halving it as it makes a HUGE amount of frosting if not, and replacing the milk for Baileys.

55g unsalted butter
250g icing sugar
30ml Baileys (although I added more to taste!)

In a large bowl beat the butter and Baileys and some of the icing sugar till smooth (recipe says half but I add it a little at a time or I end up with a icing sugar everywhere!). Gradually add the rest of the icing sugar and beat until smooth and creamy.

I had planned to colour the frosting with some white food colouring I bought from Squires, but it smelt, and tasted a little and I didn't want to detract from the flavour of the frosting and it was a very light colour frosting anyways.

So how did they taste? GORGEOUS! The base was very moist and flavoursome, and was still moist three days later. The frosting was totally yummy and went very well with the cake - in fact I think Baileys frosting will now be a permanent feature on my cupcakes!

The top two photos show the 'naked' Guinness cupcake in all its dark and brooding glory. In the other three pics the cake is encased in some of the most fabulous cupcake cases ever, purchased from The Gourmet Cupcake Company. I have some in cerise, lilcac and black and they don't lose their colour in the oven - definitely worth investing in some if you like to bake cupcakes!

Finally, I couldn't resist a photo with my Irish gifts - guess whose husband did a gig in Dublin a couple of years ago and forgot to get me a gift until he was on the ferry home ;)

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Did you mention Bailey's...twice?

Just a quickie incase you don't fancy making your own St Patrick's day cupcakes to celebrate tomorrow - Lola's are doing a rather yummy sounding cupcake available at their outlets in Harrods and Selfridges (until Sunday) and also to order online.

A sumptuous chocolate sponge base with a dash of Baileys liqueur has been topped with a heavenly vanilla and Baileys buttercream icing and decorated with a traditional green Shamrock.

I'm planning on popping over there on Sat to pick up a flavour of the month for Manny, so may pick up one of these too.

While we're talking about special days - St George's day is April 23rd and Lola's St George cupcakes are already available to pre-order.

I hope to be popping to their new store (details coming soon) to collect mine in person on the day.

Look out for my post about my St Patrick's day cupcakes tomorrow!

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Scrumptious gifts for Mother's Day

The wonderful Molly Bake's Mother's Day bouquet was featured in today's Metro along with a couple of other cupcake inspired gifts for your mum.

First, the Cupcake Kit from Firebox - which comes with a piping set, 250 cupcake liners and a little cookbook. I think I've featured this previously but its worth a little reminder.

The second little gift is from the British Heart Foundation. These cute little afternoon tea inspired chocolates are adorable and if my mum liked white chocolate I would buy her some for mother's day. The BHF also do the heart shaped measuring cups I own(and love!).

A man without a moustache is like a cup of tea without sugar*

I was hoping to get to the new Lazy Oaf store this week to check it out, but alas infections and then side-effects of drugs mean I'm stuck at home instead...pah

However thanks to the wonder of t'internet I can peruse stuff to buy when I'm well again..hurrah.

I love this little Cupcake Shoppe stationery set, featuring cupcakes and moustaches...something I find very cute indeed!

If you want to make some moustache cupcake toppers you can do so free thanks to these lovely printable toppers from A Beautiful Mess.

*btw this is allegedly an old proverb - I just wanted something moustachey for the title of this post! I love moustaches but only to admire from afar, not to adorn the face of my loved ones. And I don't like sugar in my tea!

Thanks to Lazy Oaf for use of the pics

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Un tel cavalier joli petit gâteau

I was browsing in Look magazine today after a trip to the doctors and spotted this rather cute jumper in their weekly round up of new clothing from Top Shop. It's cute and rather reminds me of those stripey jumpers all French people are meant to wear, hence the title. If you don't believe me Google "French Stereotypes" ...see told you so ;)

Available on Top Shop's website and I'm sure instore.

*According to google translator my title means "such a pretty cupcake jumper" apologies if it says something else :)

Monday, 8 March 2010

Blooming lovely - Beet Rose cupcakes

I've eaten the Cookie Girl's cupcakes a couple of times and my favourite one is definitely the courgette cupcake I had over a year and a half ago.

I caught Xanthe Milton, aka the Cookie Girl on Market Kitchen last week - well when I say caught I deliberately watched as I follow Market Kitchen on Twitter and they'd mentioned that she would be on publicising her new book, Eat Me!, and baking Beet Rose cupcakes. I've been keen to try the cupcakes since I opted for the courgette and vanilla when I last visited over a year and a half ago so tuned in. The cakes looked fabulous and if you want to give them a try you can get the recipe here. I shall be trying them out in a couple of weeks - I have plans for my St Patrick's Guinness ones first.

I've added the book to my Wish List on Amazon but will hold off as I've already had a bit of a splurge on cookbooks in the last few weeks!

Sunday, 7 March 2010

An apple a day keeps the doctor away

I'm sick.

I spent my birthday lying on the sofa, surrounded by mountains of tissues, stinking of vicks, feeling sorry for myself, while drinking Benylin mucus. Even cupcakes didn't make me feel any better.

Perhaps these Apple for the Teacher cupcakes, from What's new Cupcake, the new book by the authors of Hello Cupcake would make me feel better - their cuteness certainly brought a smile to my face! They'd certainly provide a sugar rush - a cupcake topped with a doughnut!!

These books are choc full of great decorating ideas! As well as the Apple cupcakes, you can also preview how to make their Playing Koi cupcakes here.

All pics with thanks to What's New Cupcake.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Cupcakes and Peonies Mother's Day

Based in the Midlands, Cupcakes and Peonies were born out of love of truly delicious cupcakes, and if they taste as good as they look I can well believe it :) I personally love the grass frosting - it looks amazing, as do the flowers - perfect for a garden loving mum.

Their Mother's Day selection comes in a selection of box sizes (minimum of 6) and can be personalised with a message of your choice. More info can be found on their blog, and you can enter a competition to win a lovely box of Mother's Day cupcakes, further details here.