Sunday, 28 November 2010

What's your favourite?

Quality Street are synonymous with Christmas and I know in our house the fight was always over two sweets. The green triangle (mums favourite) and the purple one (my favourite) - we used to watch other family members like hawks making sure they didn't take our favourite. Hardly the festive spirit I know but I'm sure most families are the same.

So, when I was trying to think of festive Christmas cupcakes for Cupcake Club, organised by Kelly from An American Cupcake in London, one of my first ideas was, the purple one. For those who don't know the purple one is a caramel filled chocolate with a hazelnut inside.

The cake is Mary Berry's Devils Food Cake in cupcake form, which I've made several times before and is one of the easiest and tastiest chocolate cakes I've found to make.

I then took a chunk out of the cooled cupcakes with my trusty apple corer, and filled it with dulce de leche and a roasted hazelnut. I nearly set fire to the house making the dulce de leche as I forgot about the tin and it very nearly boiled dry. I'm doubtful my lovely Lakeland milk pan will never recover but it tastes divine so was (kinda) worth it.

Now I could've taken the obvious route and just covered them in lashings of gorgeous caramel frosting, but I wanted to make the frosting something festive also. And what is more festive than my favourite Winter tipple, Baileys! So the frosting is basically butter, icing sugar and lashings, and lashings of Baileys. I have a feeling one of these cupcakes will put you over the limit for driving so if you're coming to Cupcake Club be warned!
Also I only got 7 purple ones in a whole tin of Quality Street so if you want one topped with a sweetie you'd better be quick. If not you'll have to make do with a glitter one!

Topped with some festive glitter

My second cupcake for the evening is my winning cupcake from Cupcake Camp in October - the sprout cupcake.

Fresh out of the oven

I slightly altered the recipe from last time, adding more cinnamon, a bit less raisins and more coconut and walnuts as I prefer those. If anyone wants the recipe I shall post it up.

The cupcake that is one of your five a day

I then topped it with a cream cheese and cinnamon frosting and a sprout for decoration. Don't worry it was just for the photos - I wont force anyone to eat a raw sprout. Nor will I force anyone to eat the sprout cupcake. I'm only bringing 4-6 along with me, solely for those who want to try it!

The sprout cake in all its naked glory

Saturday, 27 November 2010

May the force be with you

I was asked to put together a guest blogger Christmas Wish List by Rebecca of I Wanna Be a Domesitic Goddess and while looking for items I wanted I came across these and couldn't resist sharing them for all you sci fi fans out there.

First up the Star Wars cupcake kits.

They come in a choice of two - Galactic Empire and Rebel Alliance. I'd get the Galactic Empire ones as they  have the Stormtroopers, and they're my favourite.

As well as cupcake kits there are, Star Wars cookie cutters.

Star Wars pancake molds

And perhaps most awesome of all, after the cupcake kits of course, the Darth Vader spatula.

He's not very fearsome as a flexible spatula is he? Although when he came to our school, as the Green Cross Code man in the 70's he wasn't either. More sparkly than scary thanks to his silver outfit!

Lets hope they make Ewok cupcake kits next - they were always my favourite.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Kuchen ist sehr gut

Thursday was our first day in Berlin and after some breakfast at the local butchers and a loooooong walk to a record store, in the rain, that wasn't open (grrrr),  we headed to Cupcake for some sustenance, a sit down and a hot drink.

This was my 3rd visit to Cupcake in Berlin and it certainly won't be my last as every time I visit I fall in love with it a little more.

I opted for the Elvis - a double chocolate cake topped with peanut butter (and banana?) frosting. The cupcake was amazingly moist and the frosting was some of the tastiest I've had. I'm not sure how they made the frosting taste so incredibly light when its peanut butter, which can be a bit  heavy, but it was awesome. Which is good as the cupcake was slathered in lashings of the frosting! Not that I was complaining!

hmmmmm lashings of delish frosting
Cookies n Cream - magnificent
Manny as usual was tempted by the chocolatey'ist cupcake he spotted, the Hot Chocolate, but resisted and went for something different, the cookies 'n' cream. I tried a smidgen of the frosting, as much as I could grab before losing a finger and it was really nice and again very light and tasty.

Manny looks rather happy considering he's not slept in 24 hours!
We stayed about 10 minutes walk away from Cupcake for 5 days and had planned to make it back again to sample some more of their lovely cakes, but alas too much of this...,

Usurper of Proclamation*
Schofferhofer, and this...

Gl├╝hwein at AlexanderPlatz Berlin
We didn't get time to pop by for more of these...

Damn it! I really wanted to try a Raspberry Beret, and maybe a Peppermint Party!

We will however be back, probably next year for Nuclear War Now festival. If you're in Berlin I highly recommend popping into Cupcake! Not on do they do cupcakes, but cheesecakes, brownies and a selection of vegan goodies too. Also where else in Berlin can you buy Heinz beans on toast?

*In my opinion an hour staring at Usurper from Proclamation makes up for the lack of cupcakes, however others may disagree!

Monday, 15 November 2010

A bear, however hard he tries, grows tubby without exercise

The Love Bakery book is fast becoming my favourite cupcake book. If I fancy baking something different it is definitely my go to book at the moment. The recipes are incredibly easy to follow, don't require lots of strange ingredients (well buttermilk but I don't consider that strange anymore) and the cakes I've made from it have all been a success, which I can't say for many other cookbooks I have!

I first made these cupcakes last week on a whim after work when I'd had a bit of a shitty day and needed cheering up. They were very tasty, however not quite right as I was missing one vital ingredient, honey for the frosting, so decided to re-bake them yesterday to see how they tasted when made properly. There is only once word to describe them - DELICIOUS.

All pretty in it's gingham case (from Sainsburys)


The cake is a pretty basic cupcake with two apples (peeled and grated) added to the batter, which makes the cake incredibly moist. I used some plump Pink Lady apples as they're my favourite but you could use any apple you like. It also has a generous amount of cinnamon and this really brings out the apple in the cake.

I'm not a great fan of honey (even though my husband insists I should be because I love Winnie the Pooh so much) so when I tried the honey cinnamon frosting yesterday I was a little disappointed in it as it tasted a bit too honey-ish for me (go figure - it had 2 x tbsp of honey in it!) and had decided that if I were to make these again, I'd frost with custard frosting instead. However, when I came back from work today I had one with a cup of tea and the honey-taste had mellowed a bit and was much nicer. Or maybe I'm just growing to like it? In fact I much preferred this, the proper frosting, to my vanilla version I did it with the first time. Also the cake is still very fresh and moist. This recipe is definitely one I'd recommend -  an all round fabulous cupcake for the colder months of the year.

 First attempt with a vanilla frosting

naked vanilla frosted cupcake

You can get the Love Bakery book from The Book People for the bargain price of £4.99. 

As wonderful as these cupcakes are, before you bake a batch and sit down with a pot of tea to scoff them all remember the wise words of Pooh “When having a smackerel of something with a friend, don't eat so much that you get stuck in the doorway trying to get out.”

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Everybody ♥'s cupcakes

I'm beginning to think I should've copyrighted the name I ♥ cupcakes when I started this blog. It's EVERYWHERE now.

First was Next with their adorable I ♥ cupcakes range of goodies (I got a few bits as an anniversary present recently - expect a post of pics soon!), now David and Goliath have got an I ♥ cupcakes range too!

Items range from a cute little badge for £1 to tote bags, t-shirts and hoodies.

While I do like the  I ♥ cupcakes range, obviously, I think perhaps I love this little tote a teeny bit more - cupcakes in love and with moustaches! What is not to love? There is something incredibly cute about a cupcake with a moustache!

The Sweet Lovin' range features some different items to the I ♥ cupcakes  range, including babygro's, pyjamas and this patch I must have :)

Their nearest store to me is Covent Garden so I plan to pop in for a peak asap!

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Roobarb and Custard Cupcakes*

I got the Love Bakery book, Cupcakes from the Heart, last month and I can hand on heart say it is one of my favourite cookbooks in my collection. So far I have made vanilla (sneakily I used Love's vanilla cupcake recipe via the  Amazon reader for my Daring Bakers Challenge in August to make Brown Butter Baked Alaska cupcakes -they were divine I recommend trying the vanilla cupcakes using browned butter!), the pumpkin cupcakes and my favourite so far, the rhubarb and custard cupcakes.

The day my book arrived at work a colleague and I drooled over it for some time, deciding that the rhubarb cupcakes sounded lush. I was lucky enough to try one the very next day at Love Bakery and it lived up to the lushness!

A couple of weeks ago while Manny was at a festival I took a break from my baking with odd ingredients and decided to bake something delicious for a change - there was only one contender - rhubarb and custard.

The recipe suggests making a fresh rhubarb compote for the centre or using rhubarb jam. I checked our local Sainsburys for rhubarb but it looked beyond rotten and I couldn't face a bus or tube journey to Waitrose so I got some tinned rhubarb and made my own compote with that - it came out really nicely if I do say so myself.

I also got some lovely little rhubarb and custard sweets to decorate the cupcakes, but be warned, if you do this only do it when you are serving them as the colour runs out of the sweets over-night into the frosting!

These are definitely in my favourite cupcakes to bake list - nice moist cake, with a tangy filling and a lovely custard'y topping. How could you fail to love it!?

*Every time I think of Rhubarb and Custard this pops into my head, so the title is a tribute to one of my favourite kids tv shows, not a spelling error!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Cupcake Camp London - a gloriously gruesome day out

This Sunday was a day I'd been looking forward to for some time. Not only was it my ninth wedding anniversary, it was Cupcake Camp London.

I signed up some time ago and have been trying out recipes ever since. I finally settled on three, and gave them suitably horrific Halloween names. Well they may have been a little lame but creating the little stickers for them gave me something to do on a cold October afternoon and kept me busy.

First up - Dawn of the Dead. This was a devils food cake (what else could you use on Halloween!), filled with a bloody cherry compote (meant to look like braaaaains), smothered in a thick layer of decadent chocolate frosting and topped with crushed oreo earth. Oh and a zombie hand sticking out of it, hence the name.

Next up was Pumpkinhead - a spicy pumpkin cake, with a Halloween Oreo baked inside, covered in a pumpkin coloured cream cheese frosting. The frosting was meant to have cinnamon in it but after baking a gazillion cupcakes (well 40) I forgot. Ooops. They still tasted good though! They were also going to be topped with a pumpkin peeps but the little buggers wouldn't pull apart nicely so I gave up.

Finally was my entry into the Most Unusual Ingredient competition, Attack of the Killer Sprouts. I had tried a few other ingredients but in the end I went with possibly the weirdest ingredient I've ever used in a cupcake - brussel sprouts. That's right, the lovely little green vegetables that I never understand why people dislike as I love them.

I found the recipe via the Times Online while googling unusual cake ingredients (which I spent a lot of time doing, seeking inspiration). The actual recipe I got from Kent Online, and I thought about decorating it similarly to the pic on there, but instead went for a walnut (or braaaain if you're being Halloween'y). I slightly changed the recipe by adding a half teaspoon each extra of the spices, and I used some fabulous coconut flakes I got from M&S rather than dessicated coconut.  I wasn't that keen on the cake, it was ok in a carrot cake with an odd taste kinda way (that'd be the sprouts), but I wouldn't buy one. Manny actually ate about 4 of them. In all the excitement I didn't get any pictures of the cupcakes, but I've sent a call out on Twitter to see if anyone got some, until then;

This is it pre-baking - doesn't it look delish!

And if you look closely you can see them in the green polka dot cases, back right on the picture. There's a better pic here courtesy of Cupcake Kelly.

So, Cupcake Camp itself was AMAZING. I went along myself as Manny had sparring class and all my friends decided they couldn't face an early Sunday morning in Camden (thanks!). Alas some of my pumpkin cakes got a little squished on the way to the Proud Gallery but they looked fine when laid out in their room, Desert Orchid, sadly  I wasn't in the Manowar room!

Hail and Kill \m/

Once my cupcakes we set up I went and had a coffee and then a little chat with Kelly (who writes the fabulous An American Cupcake in London) while drooling over her wonderful creations including the gorgeous bubblegum one, second from the right. Her stall was next to the glamorous Ms Cupcake so I caught up with her and her (very exciting...more details coming soon) news and met her lovely new baker, Jayson. Just before it was all about to start Manny arrived bruised from sparring class and we pootled off to get some tokens so we could have some cake. If I'm honest, I didn't eat much cake. After baking and being on my feet solidly for hours on Saturday I didn't really feel like I could face much cake, so I bought cake, had a bit then gave the rest to Manny. That way I contributed to the great cause and got to try some other bakers cakes. 

From Kelly we tried her Orange Velvet - this was a seriously nice cake topped with frosting that tasted of a Terry's Chocolate Orange. I really liked this and can't wait till she shares the recipe on her blog!

From Rose and Rhubarb, the gorgeous and very tasty rose and rhubarb cake. These were adorable and they won my heart with her gorgeous labels for her cakes.

This is a really nice triple chocolate Manny spotted immediately - I have no idea who made it but if it was you please let me know - it was lush!

We couldn't resist a Ms Cupcake creation (and if you could there is something wrong with you!) and opted to share a bounty cupcake. I honestly don't know  how she does it. These cakes are 100% vegan yet taste more chocolatey than a lot of the high end cupcakes I buy that claim to be full of Valrhona and the like. If she made a vat of this I'd happily jump in.

Front right is a coconut cupcake from Bake Me Happy - Manny had hoped for one of their chocolate mocha cakes but they'd all sold out. This was a really nice moist cake with a hint of coconut. I loved their stall and their branding as well - we had a chat with the baker and she was very friendly.

Manny picked this up thinking it was a licorice cupcake that a Twitter friend had made. It wasn't. I'm still not sure what the flavour was if I'm honest. Sorry. It looked pretty though.

Finally a little jar of yummyness from the previously featured G Deserts. I picked up a chocolate topped with Nutella frosting and went back a few minutes later to get a couple more as gifts for people we were meeting later and they'd all gone. Very tasty moist cake, but a bit small to share.

All in all Cupcake Camp was a great day out, lots of fun, lots of cake and lots of lovely people. According to Daisy the event raised approximately £4000 and attracted not only fabulous bakers from all over the UK (and Paris!), but also lots of friendly people who wanted to eat and relax, and a couple of celebs too. The atmosphere was great and I really hope they fulfill their promise and do it again next year, I promise to make heavy metal themed cupcakes if I'm allowed to be in the Manowar room!

Oh and finally a little something I nearly forgot to mention. I WON!!

My brussel sprouts came through for me and I won. The judges on the most unusual ingredient included Lily Vanilli and Edd Kimber. Lily sent a message round Twitter to say that she'd loved my cake which I found very touching and a couple of people who spoke to Edd said he liked it very much. I was so happy and in complete and utter shock when they called out my name. I'd spent the day worrying the judges would spit it out when they tasted it.

I got a lovely selection of baking goodies, including a fabulous spatula which has some conversion tables on it which I'll find incredibly useful.

Just a final couple of pics. 

After Iron Cupcake we celebrated at a friends pub in Camden with this cake from Curly Sue Cakes that my friend had bought for Halloween from Eat your Heart Out. Isn't it fantastically gruesome. 

Hope you all had a happy Halloween and I'd love to hear what you thought of Cupcake Camp.