Saturday, 26 June 2010

Cupcake sale

Just a quickie. John Lewis' sale has started and there are a few cupcake goodies in their - just go to their website and search for cupcake. The tins are sold out online but you might be able to pick them up in store. Everything else above is available online now!

Sunday, 20 June 2010

The Chelsea Teapot

Manny and I spend quite a few weekends in the Sloane Square/Kings Road area - mainly because its a way for me to get him out of the house on a Saturday by bribing him with curry from The Indian Kitchen Co at Partridges Market and a chili for dinner with the fabulous beef I can get from the lovely Woodwards Farm stall. And lets not forget Yummy Boutique, Sobo Chocolate and Crumbs and Doilies. Oh, and Love Bakery and Hummingbird Bakery are not that far away either! It's a little bit of food heaven in SW London! And it's such a nice area of London to spend a Saturday in!

Yesterday we had a new place to check out - The Chelsea Teapot. It's been right down the other end of the King's Road for a while (a year or so if my googling is to be believed) and is well worth the walk (or you can jump on a bus to World's End if you prefer).

It's a really cute pastel painted cafe with a couple of seats outside and a window full of cakes to tempt you. Once inside there are lots of lovely cupcake and other items for sale as well as teas, coffees, soft drinks (including the Fentimans), ice cream and of course - cake!

We opted for a vanilla cupcake and cappuccino for me, and a chocolate cupcake and peppermint tea for Manny and got a seat. There's room for about10-15ish people inside and more room out in the secret garden at the back!

Lots of the crockery is cupcake themed, including Manny's teapot of peppermint tea, and the walls are covered in lovely pastel framed prints or vintage plates and there's a gorgeous chandelier. It's a very pretty and quaint cafe. You probably can't tell from my pic below however as I didn't want to use the flash in the cafe as it was peaceful and relaxing and I'd have disturbed others.

The cupcakes were really tasty and fresh. My vanilla one had a hint of almond but it didn't detract from the fact it tasted lovely and was very flavoursome. Manny tells me his cake was incredibly chocolaty and there was lots of hmm'ing so I think he enjoyed it! The coffee was good and Manny's huge pot of tea for under £2 was a bargain!

The staff were as welcoming as the cafe and we shall definitely be making a return visit - we usually end up in Starbucks or Peter Jones for a drink after shopping but this is a much nicer alternative!

Oh and finally - the loos were so pretty I could've stayed there for some time. Again lots of cupcake/cake prints and a teapot rug at the bottom of the stairs. I believe they hold children's cake decorating skills downstairs in the large mirrored area, and there were adverts for tarot evenings. Hopefully their website will be up and running soon to keep up to date with what is going on.

I couldn't resist photographing the whimsical sign on the kitchen entrance

Monday, 14 June 2010

Who you callin' cupcake?

I got this book last week, all the way from the US of A as Amazon UK kept mucking me about (after having it on pre-order for months) and it actually worked out cheaper to get it from, and only took a week or so to get to me!

I've not baked from it yet but had to let fellow cupcakers know that I've seen it for just over £7 on W.H Smith's website so grab it while you can.

The book is Michelle and Vinny Garcia owners of The Bleeding Heart Bakery in Chicago - the bakery they opened "with the mission of providing thought provoking pasty as delicious and beautiful as it is cutting edge."

The book is divided up into sections featuring approx 100 different variations in all.

Anarchy in the cupcake pan has all the basic cake and frosting recipes you'll need (lots are vegan but can be adapted accordingly if you'd rather use butter).

Happy Hour includes recipes for boozy cupcakes like Strawberry Daiquiri, Bloody Mary and the gorgeous sounding Chocolate Cherry Stout. I wish I'd had a chance to read it pre-Iron Cupcake as the recipe for lime tequila might've helped me! (If you check out the review at Tasting Table you can access an exclusive copy of this recipe).

Some of the more unusual cupcakes are featured in the World Tour section including Tandoori, Curry Cardamom and Oaxacan cupcakes.

There are also some meaty recipes in The Blue Plate Section including bacon peanut butter and bbq pork, and some non-meat with root beer float and mountain dew.

Farm to Table has strawberry shortcake and coconut mango and lots of other gorgeous fruity cupcake recipes.

Choc-o-Matic has (you guessed it) lots of choc-tastic recipes including one dedicated to Slash formerly of Guns 'n' Roses and one that looks and sounds right up Manny's street - chocolate decadence.

I want Candy has lots of American candy based cupcakes including the previously mentioned Chocolate Turtle, S'mores and Snickerdoodles.

The final chapter Shut your Pie Hole is dedicated to cupcakes based on pie recipes such as blueberry peach crumble and lemon meringue.

Lots of the cupcakes use the basic recipes from the first chapter but then talks you through additions needed for that particular recipe. As I said I've not baked from it yet but I do plan to this weekend and of course shall let you know how I get on. The recipes look fairly straightforward and easy to follow and even without baking from it I'd say this book is a must for any cupcake lover if only for the unusual recipes!

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Nuts about Iron Cupcake

So you may have read that Iron Cupcake has been cancelled next month. I and many other Iron Cupcake fans are hoping its just a holiday until Samantha, aka the Caked Crusader wants to come back as even after only baking twice for the event it has left a little cupcake shaped hole in my month.

As soon as I saw that the theme for July was "nuts and seeds" I got my thinking cap on. I first thought of something more classy like a rosewater and pistachio cupcake, similar to the beautiful one on the cover of Vegan Cupcakes Take over the World, however I couldn't ignore my one love in the nut world - peanut butter. I LOVE it. Adore it. Can't think of life without it. So before the winners were even announced I'd asked Ann Arbor Dennis (who was with me at the comp) to bring me some bags of Reese's peanut butter cups back from his trip home later this month as I was 99% sure I was going to use them in some way for my July entry.

Thanks to The Bleeding Heart Bakery for use of their Elvis photo

My thought was something along the lines of the Elvis cupcake from my newly acquired, and awesome, book Who you callin' cupcake by the owners of The Bleeding Heart Bakery in Chicago, Michelle and Vinny Garcia. The Elvis cupcake is a peanut butter, banana and bacon cupcake - except I was planning just to do a banana and peanut butter cupcake as I've had a bacon cupcake and quite frankly never need to try another. My plan was to top them with Reeses peanut butter cups, then I saw this

Thanks to Confessions of a Cookbook Queen for use of their photo and for such cuteness!

on the Confessions of a Cookbook Queen blog and I had a bit of an moment. A peanut butter cup covered in frosting to make a little mini cupcake - perfect as toppers for a peanut butter cupcake!

My other cupcake idea was something a bit adventurous for me, due to the sugarpaste topper. Something I've never done before. However I thought I'd share it with you incase you are and you fancy giving this cute topper a go!

First up was my other idea for a cupcake. I thought of candy/sweets I like with nuts in and the two contenders were Starbar (one of my favourite chocolate bars ) and Turtles

which I tried when in New York - yummy caramel chocolaty pecan goodness. I have several recipes for Turtle cupcakes in my cookbooks (including one yet again in Who you callin' cupcake), but if you fancy giving it a go and haven't got a recipe you could try this one from Bakers Royale - doesn't it look fabulous!

Thanks to Bakers Royale for the use of their photo - Chocolate Turtle Cupcake

My plan was to attempt to to top the turtle cupcakes with turtle toppers using the tutorial from Cake Journal - although I'm not sure they'd look quite as cute as these!

Thanks to Cake Journal for use of the Turtle photo

Alas now that the competition has been cancelled I wont be making either of these for the other Iron Cupcakers but I think I'm going to give the non-bacon version of the Elvis cupcakes a go, with the Reese's peanut butter toppers just to see if they taste as good as I imagine they will do!

I do hope Iron Cupcake is back soon as I have so many ideas and I love baking - it would be a shame not to be able to bake for others and also a shame if we lost such a fun competition from the London cupcake scene!

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Strawberry and Pink Prosecco cupcakes

I thought I'd share a couple of pics of my first attempt at a celebration cupcake for last weeks Iron Cupcake competition. I tried to make a strawberry and pink champagne cupcake (I used rose prosecco in this attempt as didn't want to waste pink champagne!) as I thought it was a perfect celebration cupcake and also quite seasonal as I found some lovely strawberries in Waitrose.

I looked through some recipes and decided to opt for the Sprinkles Strawberry cupcake recipe features on Martha Stewart's website as it had a video and looked ever so easy. The recipe was easy to follow, I substituted the milk for champagne and the cake actually worked out quite well - except it was very sweet, In fact a little too sweet for me but still perfectly tasty - a moist strawberry sponge.

I used Sprinkles strawberry frosting recipe, substituting the vanilla for some more prosecco and adding slightly less strawberry and a wee bit more booze. I'm not sure if it was because it was the hottest day of the year or because I'd faffed about with the recipe but this frosting just would NOT work. I mixed it, without overmixing but nothing happened, it just stayed kinda gloopy. The recipe says it should be dense and creamy like ice cream but it was more runny and tasty like a strawberry soup. I added a touch more icing sugar, which did nothing much except make it sweeter...grrr. I was getting more and more harassed as it was hot enough to bake a bloody cake in my kitchen without the oven so once it was thick enough to just dollop on I gave up and did just that. It kind of set once on the cupcake but it in no way resembled the frosting that Sprinkles have on their cupcakes. The second photo above was taken a little while after I dolloped the frosting on - when I took the case off it kinda oozed down the side of the cake - as you can see they don't particularly look like the pic below that came with the recipe.

Although the frosting did not set, and it was a little sweet, it was flavoursome and reminded me of strawberry ice cream.

I would probably make these again but follow the recipe properly and just make plain old strawberry cupcakes rather than try to faff around with them!

Friday, 11 June 2010

I want to smell like a cupcake

I love Fred Flare! When we went to NY time got away from us and we didn't make it to the store - next time I'll make sure we do so I can shop. Till then I make do with the bits I can get online or from places like Paperchase - hope someone stocks these handwipes soon as they sound right up my street and who doesn't want to smell of cupcake?

Update: they're available in the UK from Spoiled Brat.

Best ever chocolate cupcake

It was Manny's birthday on Wednesday and I offered to make some cupcakes for him to take into work for his colleagues for the "bring cakes to work for your birthday" tradition. I made the chocolate cupcakes from the Cupcakes from Primrose Bakery cookbook with their chocolate frosting.

As I mentioned when I made them before the cupcakes are a bit off a faff to make - you need to melt choc, then mix butter and sugar in one bowl, then whip egg yolks in another bowl, while mixing milk and vanilla in a jug and flour and baking powder in yet another bowl. Once all that is mixed together you whip egg whites to a soft peak and fold them in. It's a lot of washing up but its very much worth it. The cakes are moist and very flavoursome.

The only word to describe the frosting is divine. I rarely get excited about chocolate frosting but this frosting excites me - I had to stop myself from piping it straight into my mouth and leaving the cupcakes naked! It's that good! The secret is the large amount of melted Green and Blacks 82% chocolate that's in the frosting -it really makes it uber chocolaty and very very moreish.

The cupcakes were transported in the cupcake carrier to my husbands office today and they were all gone very quickly. His manager even sent me an email to thank me for the cakes and tell me how fabulous they were which was lovely to hear - it's always nice to hear your cupcakes are liked.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

That's the curse of tequila

I practiced my cupcake for this months Iron Cupcake challenge (theme - celebration) a couple of times, but kept changing it and wasn't happy with the end result.

First I tried to make the margarita cupcakes using the recipe from Eat Me - all I can say is I will never use that book again. End of. Btw not sure why I've linked to the book, I'm not the only one with disasters from this book - unfortunately Twitter is awash with them too!

Then I had a thought, use a lemon cupcake recipe, but replace the lemon for lime. Which I did. The first time I did it I added tequila to the batter - you couldn't taste it as it cooked out. The second time I made the batter with milk, then made a tequila sugar syrup and spread it on top. Unfortunately I felt this just made them sweet but it was too late as it was the day of IC and it was either carry on or chuck them. I carried on and made the frosting. I made a lime, tequila and cointreau (ie a margarita) butter frosting with a bit of lime zest grated in. We packaged them up and set off for Iron Cupcake.

When we arrived there were already a few people there but we managed to get a good seat and get the cakes prettified up with their cocktail umbrellas (I know how original - I had intended to get some cute toppers from Bake it Pretty but left it too late to do an order). I already had my eye on the creme de menthe cupcake - my mum is always taking the mickey out of me cuz I like CDM mixed with Baileys - yum!

More and more people arrived, but I think there were more eaters and less bakers than last time. This could perhaps explain the scrum when the "you can begin eating" announcement was made. I gave up after a while as people were just grabbing mounds of the same cake and passing others to friends in what can only be described as rather selfish manner. While myself and a friend stood waiting with others who didn't really feel the need to push I counted 4 of the same cakes on one girls plate, as she stood passing at least two from each plate to friends behind - the same group ended up wasting quite a lot of cake, which as a baker who uses really high quality ingredients I find heartbreaking. Thankfully for our table Manny, Lucy and Dennis weren't quite so reserved and managed to get us a few cakes although we missed out on trying quite a few, including the amateur winner, which we had our eye on. We did manage to get a few - most of which were shared between 6 of us. My favourites of the night were the celebrations (with actual celebrations baked in), the creme de menthe and the apricot rice pudding.

Amateur runner up was the orange cake in ice cream cones with the flake - Manny and Dennis really enjoyed this one - I found it a little sweet. These were made by Rosalyn and really were very cute!

Amateur winner - pink champagne and strawberry (we didn't get to try it boo) was made by Andrea.

Andrea was also the winner of the special first birthday category of prettiest cupcake was the Happy Birthday cupcake - this was also my friend Dennis's favourite cake of the night and a well deserved winner - very cute and everything was edible!

Runner up in the professional round - peanut butter 4th of July celebration cupcakes. This one was very yummy and Manny loved this one, as did I.

Winner in the professional was the rice pudding and apricot (top left of pic) - so thankful I got to try this as when you read the name you think "really" but when I tried it I thought "wow" - really nice, moist, flavoursome with lovely juicy apricot bits! The lady who baked this (sorry I didn't get her name) based the cake on food she fed her children when they were one years old which is a lovely idea. I was very glad she won!

Finally special mention goes to Gemma for the decoration of her brownie cupcake. She was late arriving and there was quite a scrum to get one of her cakes and thankfully Manny managed to get one which we shared between the 6 of us - the topping was fab and had a special surprise of popping candy inside. You can see better pics of the cake on Gemma's site - sorry it was a bit of a quick snap - was worried someone might come and snatch it ;)

All in all I really do enjoy Iron Cupcake but it really saddens me to see food go to waste in the way we spotted on a couple of tables. I'm not sure how you can stop people being so greedy, perhaps one way would be to put a tray of cupcakes on each table so they can try one of each flavour? Then go back for more if they want to? And I don't want to appear like I'm just being picky but it really is annoying as a baker to see people putting cakes into tins to take home even when they've been specifically asked not to. I'm not the only person that noticed it last night (in fact it was pointed out to me by someone else) and from speaking to another baker its the same group that were doing it last time - seriously guys isn't it a little bit sad to go to such a wonderful and joyous event as a cupcake competition and steal?

I honestly love Iron Cupcake and all respect and thanks to Sam (aka the Caked Crusader) for organising it but I really do hope some of these issues can be sorted out - I felt a bit upset last night that I dragged friends over from Essex (and America!) to eat about 1/6 of a few cupcakes rather than the cupcake extravaganza they were expecting! I hope people whose eyes were a bit too big for their belly and left a lot of cake sat uneaten on their table read this and rethink their actions for next time.

Friday, 4 June 2010

I got love in my tummy

I mentioned Yummy Boutique last month when their amazing whoopie pie saved the day after a disappointing Crumbs and Doilies cupcake. Since then I've been back. Twice. The first time I got possibly the most gorgeous whoopie pie yet - coconut. It was amazing. You can see a pic here but its rubbish as it was on my mobile and I took it very quickly as a pigeon was dying to peck it - a pigeon with good taste! I also got chatting to the lovely ladies behind Yummy Boutique and I mentioned I was hoping to try their cupcakes after last time, however they told me they're not allowed to sell cupcakes at Partridges which is unfortunate. As I couldn't buy them the ladies gifted me some and I have to say they are a must taste cupcake.

We had four flavours, all with a chocolate base except for the oreo. My favourite was the chocolate coconut - I'm a sucker for anything coconut and the frosting was so tasty - sweet but not too sweet and really flavoursome with a lot of coconut - just perfect. Manny's favourite was the double chocolate with the ferrero rocher on top and this was my second favourite. A moist chocolate cupcake base covered with lashings and I mean LASHINGS of decadent chocolate frosting - it was basically a pure ganache frosting! Third favourite was the Oreo - I could only manage about half as it was quite large, but the frosting was sublime. I've had a few Oreo cupcakes and this one is by far the best. Manny really liked the fourth flavour, which I think had cream cheese frosting on but it was a little sweet for me (But if it was cream cheese frosting I'm not keen on it as I find it too sweet so this explains it for me!)

Yummy Boutique are going to be selling their cupcakes and whoopies at the new Elephant and Castle Sunday food market or you can get their whoopies and cakes at Partridges Market on Saturdays.

Finally thanks to the lovely Yummy Boutique for the gift and I will be back for another whoopie very soon :)