Friday, 28 May 2010

Make mine a double

As soon as the Iron Cupcake challenge for June was announced "celebration", the three main things I like to celebrate with went through my mind.

1. Manowar - I wasn't what kind of cupcake I could make to signify a sweaty, leather clad, metal band, nor if such a cupcake would appeal to all,

2. Cupcakes - obviously! Birthdays, wedding anniversary's, Christmas, Easter, valentines, weekends, wet days, sunny days, basically any excuse for a celebration = a good excuse for a cupcake. However cupcakes are kind of a given as its Iron Cupcake so, again no,

3.Booze - and lashings of it. Preferably in a frozen cocktail concoction or involving hard liquor!

So I began some boozy cupcake trials. Not all of them successful.

First up - Jack Daniels and Coke cupcakes as pilfered from the Eat Me! book by Xanthe Milton. Although pilfered I did change it slightly and add a touch more Jack Daniels.

This was quite a tasty cake, although I found the cupcake base itself a little boring - I should've bunged a bit of JD in there or some chocolate chips to make it a bit more chocolaty. The frosting was basically melted choc, icing sugar, coke and JD. I added a bit more than suggested here as I tried it and it was a v.faint JD taste. In the end I may have gone a tad overboard as they had quite a kick and I may have got a friend slightly tipsy on the one she had! All in all they were quite tasty, boozy cupcakes but nothing special, and now I've learned how to pipe in a pretty(ish) fashion I like to do that rather than just the old method of slap it on which I had to do with these.

Finally the recipe calls for you to add black food colouring to turn the chocolate frosting black - I'm really not sure why as that is just quite absurd isn't it? Anyhow I didn't - I have black food colour but to me a chocolate frosting should be chocolate coloured.

If you're a fan of JD I would recommend these cakes but perhaps add a shot of JD to the base to give it a bit of a kick!

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Cupcakes Rock

As soon as I heard about them I wanted to some Cupcake Pebbles cereal. My Ann Arbour chum tried to find them with no luck and then the lovely girl who bakes/writes Metal Cakes got in touch and offered to send me a packet. We did a bit of an exchange - I sent her a jiffy bag stuffed with candy from the UK (well mainly - there was some lindt included!) and I got 2 boxes of Cupcake Pebbles. Then a week later my friend from Ann Arbor rung me all excited as he'd found me a box!

So I have decided to give one lucky reader of my blog (or follower on Twitter) a box of Cupcake Pebbles, and some other little bits I found at the weekend while clearing out my over-stuffed baking drawer!

All you have to do is leave a comment (with contact email details if you haven't go a contact link on your blog!) and winners will be chosen at random (out of a hat) next Tuesday. If there's only one comment obviously they win! Competition is open to UK residents only I'm afraid.

Good luck :) If you want to check out a 10minute video about cupcake pebbles click here.

UPDATE: the winner of the cupcake goodies is *drum roll* is Sindy aka congrats - will be in touch for an address to send the goodies to :)

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

I am Iron Anne \m/

Yesterday was my Iron Cupcake debut and I LOVED it. I was originally quite nervous (I get shy in crowds) but my cakes turned out quite well and looked rather pretty, if I do say so myself, and seemed to be gobbled up by the others at the event so all was good.

The theme for this month was fruit, and as I decided to enter quite late on in the month and didn't really have time to try out anything new (I had toyed with a bounty type cupcake with coconut - my favourite of all fruits) I opted for one of my favourite cupcakes I've ever made - the sticky toffee pudding cupcake with caramel frosting.

Iron Cupcake is held in a really nice little venue just near Moorgate/The Barbican called The Cuban. When we arrived we were greeted by a couple of lovely young men who gave us our stickers (Manny was rather chuffed with his "eater" one - I think he should wear it always!) and then we went off to register and have my cupcakes photographed professionally! I met Samantha, Iron Cupcake organiser (and boy is she organised as the event is HUGE and ran totally smoothly - even with loads of keen cupcakes!!). She was really lovely, remembering Manny's name from my blog and calling us cupcake celebs - this was also when my lovely cupcake cases from Eloise (Gourmet Cupcake) got their first compliment of many!

By the time my chums arrived and the eating commenced I'd given up trying to count how many people there were - lots! And loads of gorgeous entries both amateur and professional (I'd say approx 30 amateur and 8 or so professional but check out the official Iron Cupcake blog if you want to know more). I tried to get some pics of all the entries but as usual excitement and my crappy camera didn't really mix. The cupcake creations were amazing - a veritable greengrocers of fruity flavours - coconut, key lime, gooseberry, lemon, strawberry, St Clements, tayberry, strawberry, black forest gateaux, rhubarb, watermelon, blackberry...I could go on - there were loads and only one other sticky toffee pud. I'd thought about making a banoffee cupcake but assumed lots of people would, yet I don't think there were any - maybe everyone thought the same?

My entry in all its pretty glory - was v.proud to see them looking so pretty amongst so many other pretty cakes :)

Stunningly pretty strawberry dream vegan cupcakes from Ms Cupcake - she was one of my two votes for the professionals - gorgeous cake and I shall be visiting her stall in Greenwich v.soon! Btw the cakes were so yummy that I had to check with the baker that they were vegan - not that I think vegan cupcakes are bland but the frosting was so creamy I had to check! Delish and I urge everyone to try them!

This is who my other vote went to - winner of the professional category - Eloise from Gourmet Cupcake - typically I f**ked up the picture. Please forgive me - they were gorgeous - not only to look at but to eat as well. Moist flavoursome cake with tayberry filling and absolutely divine frosting. A well deserved win!
A really pretty key lime cupcake - this one caught my eye and was the first cake I made a grab for when the scrum that commenced when tasting began!

Another that caught my eye when I arrived - the black forest gateaux - there were two black forest cupcake - both yummy!

These were myself and my chum Dennis' favourite - coconut high hats. I wanted to find out who baked these as they were awesome! Great base with a marshmallow and chocolate topping covered in coconut - I could've eaten several of these! If anyone reading made these or knows who did please let me know! I may have to try my hand at baking them if not - they were lovely!

Another of my favourites - lemon meringue - lovely base with a really flavoursome lemon curd in the middle topped with sticky chewy yummy meringue!

This was the runner up in the professional category - St Clements - we didn't' get a chance to try it- the horror! But it was very pretty!

The winner in the amateur category, the beautiful and fabulously frosted watermelon. Again sorry about the pic! This was a lovely cake and the watermelon really came through in the cake - lovely moist base with gorgeous frosting. A well deserved win.

As you can see there were so many lovely cupcakes to choose from it was very difficult to choose which ones to vote for, and to eat. My friend Lucy went a bit mad and got loads - and turned a bit green towards the end of the night. I was quite sensible - tried as many as I could - either having a bite of one (or half if I really liked them) then passing it onto Manny. He was another whose eyes were bigger than his belly and kept eating well after he was full, with lots of encouragement from one of the organising guys!

After the eating, came the voting. Each baker got one set of votes (2 professionals and 3 amateurs), as did each table. Once we'd cast our votes we sat around having a good chat about which we preferred and some of us having another cake/finishing off what we started once we got a second wind.

After a short vote count the winners were announced and everyone seemed happy - except one girl who seemed perturbed to be second - which was odd - I was happy just to have taken part. I was chuffed that Gourmet Cupcake won with their tayberry.

So, the prizes were awarded and stuffed full of cupcakes and happy we headed into the night.

Next month is the first anniversary of Iron Cupcake and the theme is "celebration" - I'm already wondering what to bake! Hope to see you there.

Btw if you are interested in where the title for this blog post came from click here.

Monday, 3 May 2010

It's not all about eating yummy cupcakes

This post is a round up of some cupcakes scoffed (or not, as the case may be unfortunately) over the last few months that don't really warrant a post themselves.

First up is April's flavour of the month from the usually fabulous Crumbs and Doilies. I am usually a fan of their cakes, and think they are some of the prettiest you can get (they have a vast collection of sprinkles!), however the Mexican Chilli Chocolate was a big let down. It was incredibly dry and rather flavourless, there was a little kick from the ancho chilli on top which I made a point of eating even though the rest of the cake wasn't for me and I only managed a couple of bites. Disappointing. Lets hope May's Cardamom and white chocolate flavour is much better!

The same day we went to Partridges Market for the Chilli Chocolate cupcake we also picked up a whoopie pie from two newcomers to Partridges, Yummy Boutique. They also did cupcakes, which I foolishly didn't buy as we had some C&D ones. I regretted it as the whoopie was amazing - definitely one to check out in the future. And the two ladies running it were lovely!

The window picture is another reason we didn't opt for cupcakes from Yummy Boutique - our plan was to walk down the Kings Road to Love Bakery as I was keen to try their Easter range - alas they were closed but we did ooh and ahhh over their lovely window and worked off some calories on the walk!
Next up another unfortunately disappointing cupcake - this time from Primrose Bakery. The cupcake on the left is their banana chocolate which unfortunately was inedible and seemed to be lacking any bananas, instead full of really huge raisins which were highly unpleasant against a very, very dry crumb-like sponge. Manny's double chocolate didn't let him down however and he scoffed the lot. Mine went in the bin - minus the frosting which was yummy.

In compassion these rather squished efforts from Clapham's Bread Stall, on Northcote Road were really tasty, flavoursome and had a lovely homemade taste to them. Alas they got a bit squished on our travels but they did start out looking rather nicer!

The Banoffee cupcake from Cafe Nero was perhaps one of the sweetest most unpleasant things I've ever put in my mouth. I recommend neither this or their coffee.

Alas this post is full of dry cupcakes - this one from Tina We Salute You was a bit of a letdown as their cupcakes are usually fabulous. Still worth giving them a go though as previous cakes have been really nice, and their coffee is worth travelling for.

Another coffee shop cupcake, another mouthful of sugar - this strawberry one from Costa's was edible but not that tasty. Really didn't live up to their advertising of "all other cupcakes stand aside" why are you going to send them into a diabetic coma? Very, very sweet and not recommended. And their coffee isn't nice either!

Finally, I can't find the picture but we popped into Buttercup at Westfield after we watched Alice in Wonderland there and got one of the worst cupcakes of my life. Dry, flavourless, smelly and totally inedible. This is a company that has gone from being one of my favourites to one I am actively telling readers of this blog to avoid - I wasted nearly £3 on a vanilla cupcake that I don't believe had seen vanilla, but do believe had been baked a few days earlier from the smell and texture of the cake. I'm still mortified I bought some of these cupcakes last year for a friends birthday and all of them were stale. I gave it one last chance as everyone can make mistakes but unfortunately it just reinforced their quality is nowhere near as good as before. Avoid at all costs unless you like stale flavourless cupcakes. See previous posts about their greatness here and here, their fall from my favourites here.