Thursday, 24 February 2011

Un Petit Pois

Photo: Beatriz da Costa for Petit Pois

So, the new cupcake isn't whoopie pies, macarons or bundt cakes, but cupcakes themselves!

cupcakes with secret ingredients. Part of a new range made by the Paris-based baking business, Petis Pois, these cupcakes have no glitter, no butter, no great mound of sickly icing, last for five days and measure in at a mere 175 calories each.

These gluten free cupcakes, from Petit Pois, are low in calories and are packed full of 54% vegetables and include flavours such as vanilla and courgette, orange and pumpkin, lemon and courgette and chocolate and beetroot.

Although I find these intriguing, I do find the whole article a bit odd - it seems to lay claim to these cakes being a wonderful new thing that the "zany" bakers have invented, yet I've had courgette cupcakes before and have baked pumpkin and beetroot cupcakes myself.

According to Petit Pois' Facebook

The iconic green pea on top of each cupcake signals that this is a cake that is actually good for you. Our cakes are delicious, stylish, healthy, honest, and let’s just say it: full of vegetables.

Petis Pois cupcakes launch at Selfridges on 15th March, and although I question some of the press I do want to try them so shall be popping along soon after the launch. I wonder if they'll have pea cupcakes? That was going to be my secret ingredient for Cupcake Camp Bournemouth if I could've make it - I adore peas!

Finally, I don't mean to be pedantic but I class a cupcake as having some kind of frosting and I'd class these as being fairy cakes, but lets not open that can of worms again! And I'm not even commenting on the fact that the Evening Standard seem to think that no glitter and no butter is a good thing when it comes to cake...pah.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Are you the Cake Decorator of the Year?

I have two free tickets for the Ideal Home Show to give away in conjunction with their Ideal Cake Decorator of the Year competition. Tickets can be used on any weekday for the event but please make sure you can get to London for the event before entering – this giveaway is for the tickets only, you’ll have to make your own travel arrangements! The Ideal Home Show runs from the 11 – 27th March at Earl’s Court. I have always meant to go but never get round to it – maybe this year I shall make it!

The Ideal Home Cake Decorator of the Year is the Ideal Home Show’s way of celebrating the recent rise in the love of home baking and cake decorating. They are launching a nationwide search for the best of the UK’s aspiring cake decorators, with an appetite for the amazing art of sugarcraft. The competition aims to celebrate the most talked about event of the year – the Royal Wedding, and entrants will be tasked with creating a royal themed wedding cake, decorated for the royal couple’s happy day, to mark this special occasion.

Entrants to the competition are asked to bring down their Royal themed cake art, to the show on Wednesday 16th March to be displayed in the Ideal Food section of the show, to be in with the chance to win a wide range of prizes which include Champagne afternoon tea for two at the luxurious regency-style hotel, The Kensington, London. Other fantastic prizes include 12 month’s free subscription to Cake Craft and Decoration Magazine along with the winning cake featured in the magazine.

“We want cake decorating enthusiasts from across the UK to create the most fabulous and spectacular cake that is worthy of a Royal wedding and embodies all that is great and British.”

All the details can be found on the official website.

Alas although my cake decorating has improved dramatically over the years, I still don’t’ think I’m quite what they’re looking for – however I may pop along on the day and see the entries!

To be in with a chance of winning two tickets to the exhibition please leave a comment below with your contact details (blog, twitter or email) and the flavour of cake you’d celebrate the Royal Wedding with. Competition closes 28th February. If you mention this on Twitter, with my name @annecupcake and a link to this blog you have a second chance to enter! Giveaway is open only to those in the UK.

Good luck and please send me pics of your cakes if you take part!

Sunday, 13 February 2011

A cupcake 'Pick me Up'

I've known for a few days that we were picking up Cupcake yesterday and I thought long and hard about what to make for her debut. I thought I'd decided on the Heart Cupcakes I'd seen on Bake it in A Cake, but then, as women are prone to do, I changed my mind. Ingredients had to be sourced and bought but it was all worth it, as I was keen to make some cakes I'd never made before.

The tiramisu cupcake includes four of my favourite things in the world; cake, coffee, booze and a bit of chocolate. How could it fail to be perfect?

I used the recipe from the Love Bakery cookbook (I know them again - but I love this book) and of course I used Cupcake to mix it all. I thought I may have over mixed as the cakes felt a little firm, but then when I poured over the syrup of Monmouth filter coffee, sugar and lashings of Marsala they soon softened up.

The cupcakes are frosted with a marscapone frosting - which is marscapone cheese, a very small amount of icing sugar and whipped double cream mixed together. I had to get out my trusty old Dualit mixer to whip the cream while Cupcake mixed the icing sugar and marscapone - I hope she wasn't too put out.

The frosting was then piped onto the booze and coffee soaked cupcakes, topped with a cloud of Green and Blacks cocoa powder and some shavings of Green and Blacks 85% chocolate. Divine.

So how did they taste you ask? Absolutely delicious. I couldn't have chosen better for Cupcake's first foray into baking. The only thing I'd do differently is soak the cakes more - I didn't use all the mixture as I thought it may drown the cakes too much, but I think it would have been fine. They cakes had a lovely boozy hit and the coffee was nice but not too overpowering - I used very strong coffee so thought it might be too much. The frosting is another to add to my list of favourite things - very light and airy - like eating a tasty cloud covered cupcake. We ate ours with a little splosh of Marsala over the top for an extra boozy kick!

Cupcake did us proud! She mixed everything beautifully and her little guard thing stopped the usual dust of icing sugar all over my kitchen. I think she can stay ;)

By the way there are a lot of different stories behind the origin of Tiramisu but my favourite is the account of the recipe's invention at an Italian brothel to provide an energy boost to exhausted clients - maybe I should be approaching the 666 Sauna down the road to see if they'd like to buy some boxes for their clientèle!

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Happy Birthday dear I Heart Cupcakes...

So today is I Heart Cupcake's birthday. Three years ago today I started this blog, my first post being about some about some cupcakes Manny had bought me for Valentines from Lola's.

So if this was my blogs wedding anniversary traditional 3rd wedding anniversary gifts have a theme of leather, or if you're going contemporary, crystal. Someone once bought me a crystal decanter - why I'm not sure - can you decant Baileys or Jagermeister I asked. And meh to leather.  Instead I went for this....

Meet Cupcake - my brand new shiny baby pink KitchenAid!!!!!!!!!! Yep that's right after years of touching them in John Lewis to the point of nearly being asked to leave I finally have one to call my very own.

I can't really put into words how excited I am about my new baby but I can't stop touching her and smiling! I was like a kid let loose in the candy store today when we went to Chiswick to buy her. Everyone in the shop was super excited too when they saw her - she brings love to wherever she goes! As you can maybe tell,  I am chuffed to bits. My  grandparents bought me Cupcake as a late Christmas present, which makes it even more special as my grandmother is one of the main reasons I love baking so much. She taught me to make fairy cakes, butterfly cakes, millionaires shortbread and my favourite rude Scotch pancakes (they used to make me giggle) on her griddle which to this day I still call her girdle. I have yet to try a millionaires shortbread that beats my grans. Her great kitchen abilities have passed through our family, my lovely Auntie Kate, RIP, was a fantastic baker and we used to often spend holidays in the kitchen rustling up empire biscuits, tiffin and my favourite of hers - strawberry cream tarts! My mother is also an amazing baker, and cook. She works in a bakery in Scotland, but the stuff they sell doesn't even compare to my her home baked goods - her cakes were legendary with my friends when I was at school and even after I moved to London my best friend Julie used to pop in on the way home to collect some cakes from my mums goodie tin!

Cupcake will be christened tomorrow - I already have some fancy pants ingredients to make some fabulous cupcakes for her debut so look out for the blog post about them!

As it's my blog's birthday and I'm feeling so incredibly happy I have decided to do a bit of a giveaway. I have received a couple of silicone giant cupcake molds and if you leave a comment below before Friday 18th Feb you will be entered into a prize draw to win one. If you don't have a blog and you comment please leave a contact email so I can get in touch if you win.

The giveaway is available to UK readers only I'm afraid, but I promise to do a worldwide giveaway soon!

Thanks to everyone who continues to read and comment on my blog after all this time - and to email me as well! I've met some lovely people through my writing I Heart Cupcakes and have had some wonderful cupcakes in the three years -and my baking, and especially my piping, has come on leaps and bounds!

Now I'm off to look at my KitchenAid some more! And maybe stroke it!

Giveaway now closed - Winner chosen on was Abbie - congratulations!

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Cake makes me stout

The theme for the second Forever Nigella, hosted by Sarah of Maison Cupcake is Seduced by Chocolate, and as Nigella is all about the sinful pleasures in life, (well sometimes, lets not forget the irritatingly named Temple Food chapters), there are a lot of chocolate recipes to choose from. I in fact ended up making two, but only one is really the focus of this blog.

I made Nigella’s flourless chocolate cake from Kitchen for Manny’s work as a last minute “good luck  moving offices” cake last Thursday night. It was a very simple cake to make and the sliver I tasted before it was whisked off to LR HQ never to be seen again tasted delicious. Something to make again I’d say. And make properly next time - this was meant to come with a margarita cream however someone, who shall remain nameless, appears to have drunk the miniature of tequilla I keep for baking so it was delivered without cream - which didn't seem to matter as it was scoffed sharpish and feedback from Manny's colleagues was very favourable. And none came home which is always a good sign.

I then couldn't decide what to make for my proper Forever Nigella entry. The peanut butter and chocolate cheesecake looked so good, as did the chocolate and honey cake, with little tiny bees on top. And then there were the churros. Hmmm churros. However one recipe caught my eye – the Guinness and chocolate cake. I like booze and I like chocolate = sold!

From her book Feast, for her Guinness and chocolate cake, Nigella (obviously from the title) uses the black stuff from Ireland. I chose to go a little more local, opting for some Kernel Brewery Export Stout (1890 London) an award winning stout from my local brewery in Bermondsey. It was incredibly tempting just to drink all this and make a different cake - I'm not a fan of ale really, but I do love a good stout.

I seem to choose well with the Nigella recipes I make - this cake was even simpler than the flourless chocolate one!  And the simplicity doesn't mean the cake wasn't tasty - the results were fantastic!

Obviously I couldn't resist it and had to cupcake a couple of spoonfuls of the cake, but who can blame me, aren't they pretty?!

So as well as cupcake'ing the recipe I made the proper cake. And boy it was a beauty - an astounding colour,  black as night with a moistness that only lashings of butterbeer can provide!

And once I covered it in splodges of ooooozing vanilla creamy creamy cheese frosting it was a thing of beauty. I know it's not shop pretty but I love it!

And it tasted as good as it looked – very moist cake and incredibly flavoursome with some of the notes of the stout (rich dried fruit, rum and raisin, espresso, chocolate etc) coming through. I’ve made Guinness cake before and although this stout was slightly more expensive I’d definitely recommend spending a little extra as it is worth it and gives it a lovely intense flavour. I also added a good splash of vanilla paste to the frosting as I can't resist adding vanilla to anything, and it really brought out the flavour of the cake for me. The frosting was fabulous - even pudding cat Angel gave it the paws up for taste. Lets face it there is little you add cream to that doesn't taste better after!

I've included the recipe below -with some changes I made but if you want Nigella's original version you can find it on her website, link above. 

Cake ingredients
250ml Kernel brewery porter
250g unsalted butter
75g cocoa
400g caster sugar
1 x 142ml pot sour cream
2 eggs
1 tablespoon real vanilla extract
275g plain flour
2 1/2teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

Frosting ingredients
300g Philadelphia cream cheese
150g icing sugar
125ml double or whipping cream
(optional) Good splodge of vanilla paste (I used quite a bit - I love vanilla!)

Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C, and butter and line a 23cm springform tin. I would pre-heat the oven a bit before starting - this cake took me less than 10mins to make so the oven wasn't quite heated and I had to wait!

Pour the Kernel Stout (or whatever Stout you're using) into a large saucepan, add the butter, sliced - and heat until the butter's melted. At this point, take off the heat and whisk in the cocoa and sugar. Nigella does the rest of the cake in the pan, but I poured the butterbeer mix into my large bowl here as it was easier to beat everything together in the bowl.

Beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla and then pour into the brown, buttery, beery pan and finally whisk in the flour and bicarb.

Pour the cake batter into the lined tin and bake for 45 minutes. Mine took 45mins but Nigella states it could take up to an hour.

Leave to cool completely in the tin on a cooling rack, as it is quite a damp cake.

When the cake's cold, sit it on a flat platter or cake stand and get on with the icing. Be careful transferring the cake – it’s quite squishy!

Lightly whip the cream cheese until smooth, sieve over the icing sugar and then beat them both together.

Add the cream and beat again until it makes a spreadable consistency. This is where I added a good splodge of vanilla paste. Slap the frosting on the cake and lick the bowl clean if you have any left.

If you’re a bit of a girl, sprinkle with glitter and assorted fancy heart shaped goodies.

Serves: yields about 12 slices (or less if you have a husband who doesn’t understand the concept of a small slice).

Can't wait to see what next month's Forever Nigella challenge brings - thanks again to Sarah for hosting this fabulous event!

Btw, not all of the cake was covered in sprinkles - just for the blog - those things are killer on your teeth!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Curly Wurly cupcakes sind sehr gut

Last year my work relocated near to Borough Market and I often pop into Konditor and Cook for my lunch, and try desperately to avoid buying either Curly Wurly cake or their Curly Wurly brownies. On Friday a new incarnation of my K&C favourite was on display to tempt me -  the Curly Wurly cupcake!!

Resistance was futile, especially when (a) they had adorable little chocolate bears on, (b) Curly Wurly is my all time favourite Konditor and Cook cake and (c) they were on offer, two for a fiver. Oh, and lets not forget  (d) I'm a fatty that cannot resist cupcakes.

We didn't get round to eating them on Friday as we were full after dinner, so had them on Saturday. They were still very moist which again makes me wonder when I buy a dry cupcake from (unfortunately) many cupcakeries in London when the heck did they make them! The vanilla cream cheese frosting is quite sweet on the curly wurly cake but I find it goes really well with the dark chocolate sponge - but be warned if you're not a fan of sweet things.

This is the first time I've seen these in store, and I visit often, so I'm not sure if they're going to start stocking them all the time, but I will check and feedback on here, incase anyone wants to try them. You can always bake your own at home if you want to - I know I shall be!

Oh and finally, I told Manny to choose one of the cupcakes while I jumped in the shower pre-gig going and he chose the teddy bear one!!! How mean!

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Nuts for nutella!

Today, February 5th is World Nutella Day so happy world nutella day, or if you're from Russia Schastlivogo Dnya Nutelly!

My friend Kirsty is a bit of a nutella addict and as I was meeting her earlier this week I decided to celebrate a little early by baking her some cupcakes.

The base is a chocolate chip cupcake, basic vanilla cupcake recipe with 50g of chocolate chips mixed in. Once they were baked and cooled I used an apple corer to make a little hole and spooned a large dollop of nutella into the cavity. Then it was time for the frosting. I used to Hummingbird recipe for nutella frosting, except I added a bit more nutella, and a bit more milk to make sure it was of piping consistency.

Alas the frosting piped a little too well, quite a lot of the leftover frosting was piped straight into my mouth, and in turn straight onto my already ample thighs! Bad Anne! 

My recipe only made 7 cupcakes (I'd aimed for 6), and 4 were destined for Kirsty but I was able to taste test one before Manny scoffed the other two as an after-gym snack, and it was delicious. I really liked the choc chip base with lashings of oooooozing nutella. The frosting really was an absolute knock-out. I kind of went off nutella years ago after scoffing loads of it in the nutella cafe in Frankfurt but this has reignited my love of it! My poor thighs! 

I really recommend making these if you're a fan of nutella! Next time I'll try my original idea - a peanut butter base, filled with nutella and topped with nutella frosting (Kirsty doesn't like peanut butter which is why I made choc chip instead!). By the way she loved the cupcakes as well!

Have a wonderful nutella day, whether it's baking with it or sitting in front of the tv with a jar and a spoon!

Finally make sure you check out the nutella day website - it's full of links to blogs, recipes and facts about the worlds favourite spread!

And check out the ladies who brought the world nutella day - Sara from Ms. Adventures in Italy and Michelle from Bleeding Espresso.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

A tale of two cupcakes

Even after nearly 3 years of writing this blog I still get excited when I hear of a new cupcakery opening in London. Alas, these days I’m often left disappointed and more than a little sad. Not to mention out of pocket.

I read about Sweet Couture a couple of weeks ago, I think via Daily Candy, and had planned to go two weekends ago. We didn’t make it until yesterday, so the anticipation had been growing. The shop itself is small but perfectly formed. Their display reminded me of Lola’s and their flavours included all the favourites, double chocolate, vanilla, red velvet and peanut butter. As usual on our first visit somewhere we kept it simple – a vanilla for me and a double chocolate for Manny. Obviously I opted for pink frosting!

The cakes got a little, well a lot shook up on the way home (I blame the extra hot salsa on my burrito from the fantastic Benito’s Hat – that stuff is HOT!) but they didn’t get too squished – this to me wasn’t a good sign. If the frosting is so hard it doesn’t squish after being turned upside down several times by a man who shall remain nameless..Manny…hmmmm

So, the taste test. The cake part was a bit stale but not as bad as some I’ve had. Not a hint of vanilla in the cake at all though. Same with the frosting, no vanilla at all, unfortunately it tasted of nothing but butter. It was incredibly cloying and unpleasant – like eating a chunk of cold butter would be. All in all it was inedible so another cupcake ends up in my bin. Manny’s chocolate cupcake fared slightly better, ending up in his belly. I tasted a little bit and the cake itself was quite dry however and didn’t taste of much, and the frosting was ok but again had a very heavy buttery flavour. As Manny put it he didn’t have that lovely “just eaten some chocolaty goodness” feeling after eating it. I fully agree.

It’s such a shame, and we may have got it on a bad day – I may pop back and try another as the lady working there (the baker?) was really friendly and helpful and we’d hoped the cakes would be nice!

On the opposite end of the scale – a cupcake to die for. Well not literally but it was divine.

We popped to Ottolenghi’s in Islington on Saturday after some cupcake baking supply shopping at Gill Wing. Braving the HUGE queues we restricted ourselves to three items – a lemon and blueberry cupcake, a flourless chocolate bundt cake and a chocolate cake with baileys frosting. Everything looked so mouth watering it was difficult to restrict ourselves to three things – every time we thought we’d chosen we’d spot something else!

As it is near impossible to get a seat, we got our goodies to go and headed back home to scoff them with a hot cuppa tea with the heating on – Saturday afternoon bliss.

The cupcake was delicious. A moist blueberry filled base with Italian buttercream on top which melted in your mouth. Absolutely delicious.

Then it got better. The chocolate bundt, which Ottolenghi calls a tea cake, what can I say but – oh my. Well I could add, I wish I'd bought two! 

Then it got even better – Manny allowed me a morsel of his baileys cake and again oh my, the cake was incredibly chocolaty, the frosting melted in your mouth – and then the Baileys cream filling – I could’ve eaten a LOT of it. You could taste the Baileys but it wasn’t overpowering – absolutely fabulous.

All fresh, all flavoursome. If only the cupcake world could take that on as their motto.

Finally, I think Angel suspected this cupcake had a hidden secret. Although she may just have been trying to hypnotise it! "look into my eyes"