Friday, 30 December 2011

I raise a Baileys cupcake to you all


2011 has been quite the year for me.

In February I got a Kitchenaid, and love it as much today as I did the day I brought it home squealing all the way from Chiswick to New Cross. I still often stand in the Kitchen stroking it in a way that isn't particularly normal for a girl and a stand mixer.

In March left a job that I for some time despised with a rousing chorus of so long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu, adieu, adieu, to yieu and yieu and yieu. And yes I did sing it LOUDLY as I was leaving. Lots of J├Ągermeister may have been involved.

Then in April I buggered off to Madrid on a whim to see Manowar, visit twin baby pandas and eat cupcakes.

Then I started working in baking - first in a cafe in Brixton where I covered the bakery for two days a week while the other girl had time off. It was great while it lasted but alas I couldn't survive on just 5 or so hours of work a week and thankfully one of my favourite bakers in London was hiring and I was lucky enough to get the job. This led to months of baking, and learning, with someone I really admired. It also led to me getting more work with another fab baker. I can honestly say the time with these two has been the best time I've had at work in many years. I've learned lots - including NOT to turn a Kenwood to pulse just after adding the red colouring to red velvet batter or to turn it to pulse while only cream cheese is in the bowl. You will not look pretty afterwards. Mainly, don't pulse anything ever. And check the baking powder, bicarb each and every time - then recheck. Oh and don't pick up cake tins straight out of the oven with bare hands. This hurts. Lots.

I'm hoping 2012 leads to lots more baking and lots more good cake! Oh and can we hope that it's the year when some crapcake purveyors stop peddling their old tasteless poor excuses for cake please?

That shall be I Heart Cupcakes call for 2012:

What do we want?
Fresh n tasty cake!
When do we want it? 
NOW! please *  

Happy New Year everyone - may all your cupcake wishes for 2012 come true. 

Cheers, and thanks to everyone who continues to visit my blog!

* remember manners cost nothing

Christmas Presence - Nutella for everyone

Sarah aka Maison Cupcake has announced that Christmas Presence will be the last Forever Nigella in its current format so I had to post an entry. Luckily I'd already made something suitable as a Christmas gift for my lovely friend Kirsty. 

The Nutella Cheesecake recipe comes from Stylist magazine which Nigella recently guest edited. The cover was the talk of the town and the magazine featured other exclusive recipes including bacon brownies which I also made - I didn't eat any but Manny said they were tasty. I just can't get my head around bacon and chocolate. 

As well as the giant cheesecake the recipe was big enough to make a couple of mini ones for myself and Manny (I knew all those Gu glass pots I insist on keeping would come in handy) so we could taste test it just incase.  I can report that it was delicious, so much so that I had to stop Manny from sneaking Nigella style into the fridge late at night in his silk* robe to steal a huge slice!

This was so good I'm hoping to make another for our New Years eve dinner- complete with edible glitter of course! 

Happy New Year everyone, and thanks for reading!

*Manny doesn't really own a silk robe although he wants a red one with dragons on after watching too many bad Kung Fu movies -I've threatened divorce should he ever buy one

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Penguin Snowball cupcakes

These cupcakes are perfect for the positively Arctic temperatures out there. Ok, not quite Arctic but blooming freezing nonetheless.

I was sent some lovely chilli penguins from Hotel Chocolat, part of their Christmas gift selection, and decided to use them as cupcake toppers.

I opted for a coconut cupcake topped with a coconut covered snowball of coconut frosting - what can I say I love coconut and thought it would go well with the slightly spicy chocolate.

The chocolate penguins went really well with the cakes, and would make a lovely stocking filler for a fan of chocolate with a little chilli kick. If they're not a fan of chilli chocolate the penguins also come in caramel! Yum

Finally, don't you just love my little penguin guarding the cupcake?

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Making Marshmallow Hi Hats with Lola

I buy a LOT of cupcake books, but my favourite recent purchase is Making Cupcakes with Lola by the girls behind Lola's Cupcakes

I got the book about two weeks ago and baked these the next day - I HAD to bake something from it as it all looked so good. 

The book itself is really pretty, with a photo for each cupcake - something not all books have. The recipes are all pretty easy to follow and don't require lots of unusual ingredients - they include lots of Lola's favourites that you may have had from their stores including some boozy cocktail inspired cupcakes.

I couldn't resist the Hi Hat Marshmallow, co-incidentally Lola's flavour of the month in store now. Last months apple pie cupcake was one of the nicest cupcakes I've had recently - the candied pecan on top was delicious. 

For those of you who don't know a Hi Hat is basically a cupcake with some kind of topping which is then dipped into chocolate (or butterscotch or a similar topping). The Lola's recipe is a chocolate cake topped with Marshmallow then dipped into chocolate. 

The cake itself was a doddle to make and resulted in a nice moist, very chocolaty base. 

The marshmallow was a bit of a faff to make but really rather easy. I think there should've perhaps been a bit more though as we had to be a little mean when piping the marshmallow out, or maybe I just like a LOT of topping? Also it is very sticky -  I was covered in the stuff. 

I waited for Manny to come home from work so we could have a go at dipping them together. It was a lot of fun and the only disaster was some where I had dyed the marshmallow blue as a pre-Halloween experiment - they just kept falling off so we drizzled some chocolate on top and they looked kinda gruesome, especially in my Martha Poison cupcake wrappers. 

The 'normal' Hi Hats were a success - I'm not particularly fond of chocolate cake but this one was really good, and I loved the chocolate covered marshmallow. 

The book is full of stuff I want to bake, and shall be doing so in the next few weeks. They are having a launch tomorrow at Selfridges with free cakes, champagne and book signings - further details can be found on their Facebook page. I'm sure any fan of cupcakes would love to find a copy in their Christmas Stocking.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Raining Blood cupcakes

I thought long and hard about what would be my special ingredient for my Halloween cupcakes this year. About a month ago I decided and tried to source my chosen ingredient from various places including local shops and even resorted to asking a chosen few people on Twitter (thanks for your help if it was you!!).  I then found out a special license was required to handle my chosen ingredient and I didn't fancy getting into trouble just for baking a cake so I kinda gave up for a few minutes. Who'd have thought pigs blood was so difficult to obtain? That's right - pigs blood. Ever since I'd read about Bocca Di Lupo's Sanguinaccio desert, a sweet pate of pig's blood and chocolate I've wanted to try it and thought Halloween would be the perfect time to try my own cupcake version.

Thankfully Bocca Di Lupo's gelato shop, Gelupo, came to my rescue with their Sanguinaccio gelato - a gelato with chocolate, Marsala and PIG'S BLOOD. Perfect.

I pootled on down to their Soho store and got a few scoops of their Sanguinaccio and rushed it home on the bus to New Cross. The girl in the store was lovely and put it in a special take away container thing for me and it was still frozen when I got home.

I weighed out what I'd need and put the rest in the freezer. I'd tried some in the shop and was pleasantly surprised - a friend had bet me it would taste "like black pudding", (gag) but thankfully it didn't. It was very chocolaty, with a hint of cinnamon and an iron background from the blood. Quite tasty actually.

So I took a photo of the ice cream. It looks kinda like poo...

I did warn you.

Anyways, moving on from the poo image. I used one of my own recipes for boozy cupcakes and replaced all of the milk in the recipe with slightly melted gelato, and also replaced some of the booze with it. I added some Marsala to complement the gelato,  and a wee tipple of Cointreau for good measure. I'm not going to type out the recipe as I'm not sure many people want to make pigs blood ice cream cupcakes. If you do, mail me and the recipe is yours.

I covered them in some creamy marscapone frosting - mainly because I wasn't sure what went with blood (does anyone?) and wanted something a bit lighter to balance out the quite brownie like cakes. I resisted covering them in glitter to signify my favourite vampire in the world as Manny would have ridiculed me with his 'ooooh sparkles' routine and I tire of it and instead splattered them with some coulis.

So how did they taste? Rather good actually - they were like a brownie but a bit lighter -quite squidgy and moist with a boozy kick and just a hint of iron'y goodness. While eating them though I couldn't quite get it out of mind that I was eating blood which is odd as I eat meat but in a desert it just seemed different and a little silly really.

Incase you are wondering where the blog title comes from check out my inspiration - the fabulous Slayer covered in blood playing Raining Blood live.

Happy Halloween everyone and remember everyone's entitled to one good scare!

Monday, 17 October 2011

F*%k You Monday cake

Ever have one of those days where everything is going wrong? That happened to me last Monday so I decided to bake a 'f*%k you Monday' cake.

I had a lot of Pink Lady apples in the house so decided to make my f*%k you Monday cake my entry into the October challenge from The Pink Whisk where the theme was apples.

The Pink Whisk

I based the cake on one of my favourites from the new Cake Days book from the hummingbird bakery - the apple streusel cake. I have made this twice before - once with apples and once with lemon and blueberries (this was amazing!). The cake is easily adaptable, which is the reason I love it so.

For this one I added one of my favourite ingredients to the apples - Speculoos spread. The recipe below is my adapted recipe - for the original please see Cake Days.

Streusel Topping:
1 tsp cinnamon
40g cold unsalted butter, diced
70g soft light brown sugar
70g plain flour

60g unsalted butter at room temp
100g caster sugar
140g plan flour
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
80ml milk
3 pink lady apples
Speculoos spread (optional)

Preheat oven to 170 . Grease 8 inch tin (I line with parchment circles from Lakeland and brush with cake release).

First make the streusel. Put flour and cinnamon into a bowl. Add the butter and rub until they resemble breadcrumbs. Stir in sugar and set aside.

Now the cake - cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix again, scraping down the sides of the bowl to ensure everything is thoroughly mixed.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt and add half to the creamed sugar and butter, followed by half the milk. Mix well on medium, scraping down the sides frequently. Repeat with the rest of the dry and wet ingredients.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin.

Peel, core and slice the apples into thin(ish) slices. Arrange on top of the cake batter, and if using dollop spoonfuls of Speculoos on top of the apples, before sprinkling with the streusel topping to form an even layer.

Bake in over for about 35 - 45 mins - until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Leave to cool in tin, the scoff with a cup of tea, and some cream/ice cream if you choose and your Monday blues will disappear.

Sorry about the photos - it was a dark and dank day in my New Cross kitchen (f'ing Monday) and our light was all being blocked by scaffolding outside!

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Only 87 days till Christmas

I've been feeling very festive recently and now that Next have launched their Cupcake Christmas guide I'm ready to put up the tree and turn the fairy lights on!

Every year they seem to bring out new things I want - this year the ceramic rolling pin is on my must have list.

Last year lots of you missed out on the ceramic measuring cups and I still receive emails asking me to find them, or sell mine to people, so if you want them this year you'd best be quick. I also love the heart measuring spoons. I can never have too many measuring spoons.

I spotted the cupcake stand mixer some time ago, and had hoped to give one away on the blog but alas it wasn't to happen. It's cute though and good for young bakers I'd say. There is also a cute cupcake kit for beginners.

Also perfect for the cold weather ahead - the cupcake draught excluder. I have to get one to keep out the winter chills!

I also like how Next have incorporated the cupcake phenomenon in with crafting - the little sewing kit is very cute.

If you want any of the cupcake items I say buy them asap as they really do sell out quickly - last year we had to schlep to Bromley to get some of it!

Thanks to TCake for alerting me to the new guide being online.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Introducing the Lemmy

This is a cupcake for beer drinkers and hellraisers, for fans of rock and roll, and more importantly, Lemmy and Jack Daniels.

I once presented Lemmy with a Jack Daniels cake and a giant bottle of JD on his birthday following another legendary gig at Hammersmith Odeon so it seemed fitting that I name a cupcake featuring his favourite tipple in his honour.

I have made some JD and coke cupcakes before following a recipe in a book where lounging on a set looking like Little Red Riding Hood appears to have been more important than recipes that resulted in flavoursome cupcakes so this time I went with a coca cola cake from Nigella, tweaked slightly and a chocolate and Jack Daniels frosting using my favourite chocolate frosting recipe. The Lemmy - aka the Jack Daniels and coke cupcake was born.

Then came a little twist.

I've been thinking of ways to ensure alcoholic cupcakes retain that boozy element. All too often they are disappointing.  If you bake it into the cake it bakes away. Make a sugar syrup with alcohol and it burns off, too much in the frosting can react badly with the sugar. My plan was instead to inject it into the sponge, but instead of injecting it in pre-frosting which can result in a soggy bottom, I decided instead to use a pipette featuring a shot of JD which you can inject into the base when you're about to eat it - giving the cupcake a good boozy kick and ensuring no soggy bottoms!

While the cake tasted fab with the JD shot in it I wasn't impressed with the coke cake by itself - it was rather bland, so next time I shall use my own recipe. Then again it wouldn't be a Lemmy cupcake without the Jack Daniels now would it?
Turn the stereo to 11, put on the Ace of Spades and enjoy \m/

Lemmy photographed at the Sheraton Park Tower,London, November 2010 Photograph: Levon Biss

Turn the stereo up to 11, bung on the Ace of Spades and enjoy \m/

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Chopping with cupcakes

Help wanted: Has anyone spotted these knifes instore? They are by Kuhn Rikon and you can't buy them via their site. I checked John Lewis yesterday and will probably pop to Lakeland next week - if anyone has spotted them please let me know. 

Update: I have found them online but if you know of a store, preferably in London, where I can buy the cupcakes ones that would be fab. I already have some plain ones I got in John Lewis and Lakeland some time ago -they're pink to go with my kitchen! Ta

Monday, 25 July 2011

Do you Speculoos?

Why is it when you go abroad all the food just looks so much more interesting? Speculoos pasta is one of my favourite 'foreign' supermarket finds - it is a Dutch spread based on the lovely Lotus biscuits you can buy in UK supermarkets. I know it sounds weird but it is ADDICTIVE. I hearby start the campaign to get it sold here. You can email them via their, rather boring, UK site.

Just before I left my old crappy office job in March a colleague mentioned he was going to Amsterdam for a day and he kindly brought me back a jar of paste and two packets of Speculoos sprinkles aka Hagel. Yesterday I finally got round to using them and damn, why did I wait so long?

I made two kinds of cupcakes - one stuffed with Speculoos and one with it baked in.

I used my basic vanilla cupcake recipe (except I used slightly less vanilla than usual), and scooped some into the cases with my trusty ice cream scoop, then mixed two dollops (approx 2 tablespoons - give or take some spoon licking) into the leftover mixture for the baked Speculoos cupcakes.

For the plain cupcakes - once cooled I scooped the middle out of them and added a heaped teaspoon into the centre of the cakes. Again spoon licking may have been involved.

The frosting is trusty vanilla frosting base (125g unsalted butter, 250g icing sugar - milk if necessary), without vanilla, with about 2 -3 tablespoons of Speculoos mixed in to taste. And boy did it taste pipe straight into your mouth good.

The plain ones got topped with a swirl of frosting and a good sprinkle of Speculoos Hagel - little sprinkles of biscuit. The baked Speculoos ones I did a circle of frosting and filled the middle with spread before topping with sprinkles. This was my favourite one I think, but it was difficult to choose - they were both delicious. 

As I was baking these I realised the mixes go out of date next month so I am giving away an unopened box of Speculoos Hagel Mix, the biscuit sprinkles mixed with chocolate. The Dutch put these on buttered toast, but they are great cupcakes toppers, could be mixed into cake or just eaten from the box.

To win, just leave a comment below stating what item you have found on holiday that you wish you could buy in the UK.

You can get an additional chance to win by following @annecupcake on Twitter and tweet the following message: I've just entered to win #speculoossprinkles from @annecupcake and you can too. Enter here:

Open to Mainland UK residents only. Contest closes at midnight Friday 29th July. PLEASE ensure you leave an email address or @twitter name so I can contact you - if you do not I will award it to someone else as I work all weekend and can't chase people up! Winner will receive the prize early August and the use by date is August 18th so only enter if you are going to use it please!

Finally you can buy Speculoos paste in the UK online but compare the prices to Hollands - 1 Euro - I must get to Holland soon. They also have crunchy spread. The lucky sods.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

It's the final crapcake(s)

You may have noticed that posts on this blog have slowed down a little. This is mainly due to me working odd hours at the bakery (4am starts!!!), but also because I really am TIRED of eating crap cupcakes. They are expensive and they sadden me - my heart breaks a little more each time I spend £2 on a cake that if you threw it as someone could lead to an attempted murder charge. Also, I'm tired of the hate mail I receive from bakers when they read my reviews, accusing me of trying to hate on them or lying etc - rather than question why their cakes are, quite frankly, so f**king awful. 

Anyhow I have made the decision to only eat cakes I bake myself or from bakeries I know and trust for the time being. Don't worry I'll still review places when I travel but I am just tired of some of the awful cupcakes in London at the moment and shall be giving them a miss for a while. 

However I couldn't leave without mentioning two truly awful recent(ish) cupcake exploits. 

First up we travel to Birmingham and back in time to March. I know - it's taken me a while to get round to writing this up, for that I apologise. 

As soon as I'm travelling anywhere I check out what cupcakes there are on offer - Birmingham seemed to be quite a cupcake-free zone so I was happy when I chanced upon the 90 Day Cafe in a review about great cupcakes. Whoever wrote that review I'm imagining their pants are on fire as I type. 

The cafe itself was quite cute but when we were told to "pick whatever cake you like" from a cake stand in the window I sensed this wasn't going to be a success. Manny put down the first one he picked up as he said it was rock solid. 

I opted for...

Which swiftly became...

after my one and only bite. Completely tasteless - devoid of ANY flavour but rancid butter. And hard. Joy. 

Manny opted for what we think was....

but we can't be 100% sure - it's the flavour Manny wanted, but Andy Pipkin behind the counter couldn't come out to show us which was which and instead opted for the old point and mutter 'that one' routine. I would like to point out we were the only customers in the place but he still couldn't be bothered to properly explain which cakes were which.  

Again this cake was hard, tasteless and just unpleasant. Both cakes were about £2.50 and both were left when we decided to leave. 

I have a feeling this sign...

goes some way to explaining why the cakes were so incredibly dry - they must just bake in bulk (or buy in?) and keep them hanging round till they sell. Cupcakes in an hour will not be fresh people! Not sure why they were so tasteless though - I'd imagine a Fruit Pigeons fart would contain more vanilla than my cupcake did. 

My review in one sentence - only visit the 90 Day Cafe if you like eating cakes that appear to have hung around the shop for 90 days. Blurgh. 

no she wouldn't, my mum has great taste in cakes 

While in Birmingham we also tried a couple of cakes from Cupcake Delights in Selfridges - while they weren't the best cupcakes I've had they were edible - but a little sweet for me and the vanilla one was on the dry side, but Manny enjoyed the chocolate one. 

Next up a bakery we first visited in February 2010, Chewies.  I remember the date as we also visited Bake a Boo that day. 

I didn't blog it at the time as my photos were awful, as were the cakes. I was in the area, Chalk Farm, today and needed lunch and coffee and decided to give them another go. Sometimes I want to slap myself for my stupidity. 

There were three flavours of cake to choose from; vanilla, chocolate and red velvet. The red velvet looked frankly sweaty so I opted for the lurid blue vanilla. I should've just walked out but to be honest I felt rather conspicuous - I was the only person in the cafe - which btw is really rather cute. 

Yes, that layer you see on top was rock hard. So hard when I tried a bit, for research purposes I nearly broke a tooth. HOW OLD are these cakes!!!? I jokingly tweeted that perhaps this cake had been sitting here since my last visit - I'm not so sure it was a joke now.  Their website boasts that everything is freshly baked but I am hard pressed to believe this cake wasn't at least a week old - it was that hard.

And the frosting - I had one bite of it and it was so sweet I had toothache for about an hour - it was grainy and thoroughly unpleasant. How any baker can get frosting so wrong is beyond me. 

The photo above shows how little I ate of the cake - two members of staff were watching me the whole time (no one came in in the 30mins I was there) yet they didn't ask me if I enjoyed the cake or what was wrong - they just stood there. If it was my business and someone didn't eat my cake I'd want to know why. I can say this is one of the worst cakes I've had - no redeeming features at all.  Another £2 + down the drain. 

Now - can anyone recommend some good cupcakes, I'm sick of crapcakes. 

Friday, 15 July 2011

Wedding cakes and a rather sweet giveaway

Readers of this blog may recall a couple of months ago I went on a cupcake decorating course with Eloise of Gourmet Cupcake. This week I went on her wedding cake course as I have a couple of weddings booked and I fancied learning some tricks of the trade.

The course was really good - we decorated a three tier top cake and 6 cupcakes - my favourite was embossing the fondant - I love how pretty it looks.

The tier cake not only looked pretty, but tasted lovely as well - we had a slice each and Manny took the rest to work the next day with the cupcakes and they were all scoffed up sharpish.

After all that sweetness, I now have a giveaway for a fantastic event by the chaps famous for their love of jelly - Bompas and Parr.

Bompas and Parr are flooding part of the roof of Selfridges to create a crystal island and boating lake to celebrate the arrival of Truvia® calorie free sweetner. 

...encompasses an emerald green boating lake, thousands of stevia plants, 12 rowing boats, a gushing waterfall, a life guard, cocktails by ECC, design by Studio Toogood, uniforms by Tour de Force, tropical soundscapes by Dom James, teas by Rare Tea Company, coffee's by Caravan, and a Crystal Island - all six storeys above Londons busiest shopping street.

Tickets for the Voyage of Discovery are now totally sold out but I have 5 pairs of tickets to give away for the 5.45 - 6.15 slot on Friday 22nd July - you need to be at Selfridges in time for entry and the prize is the tickets only - you need to make your own way to London!

To enter leave a comment below telling me what you would love to learn to bake. Please make sure you leave an email address so the organisers can email you your tickets if you win!

You can get an additional chance to win by following @annecupcake on Twitter and tweet the following message: I've just entered to win #bompasandparr tickets from @annecupcake and you can too. Enter here:

Open to Mainland UK residents only. Contest closes at midday Tuesday 19th July. Winners will be announced shortly after.