Monday, 20 December 2010

Christmas Cake - Done!

Well, after weeks of careful 'feeding' and loving tender care, my Christmas brick, sorry cake, was ready to ice. I'll be honest, there was no making my own marzipan or royal icing from scratch, I settled for the shop bought variety, and to be honest, what reason is there not to? That stuff's great and much less hassle. 
So, to a back drop of cheesy Saturday night television, off I went about icing my mahoosive Christmas cake! It was actually more fun than I remember icing usually is. As a rule, I intensely dislike icing big cakes as I'm rubbish at it, but this time all went smoothly (quite literally) and lo, here is my effort:

Rich Fruit Christmas cake iced with marzipan and royal icing (in ivory not white for a more authentic feel!)
I used the left over strips of icing to make some stars and a Christmas tree decorations.
p.s really love marzipan these days, I used to hate it as a kid but I've changed my mind now, mmmmm! And another thing, this cake wouldn't have turned nearly so well if it hadn't been for the marzipan underneath, it's great for creating flat surfaces to ice on. Afterall, my fruity cake was a little bumpy and the marzipan concealed this brilliantly. 


Coops x :) Merry Christmas! xxxx

Monday, 6 December 2010

Finlay's 1st Birthday Cupcakes

I made these for a friend at work for her little one's 1st birthday:

Chocolate cupcakes with chocolate and blue icing and wintry sprinkles.


I was going to create some snowflakes out of Royal icing and egg white powder, but after many attempts I just wasn't happy with the outcome. I couldn't get them dainty enough without them breaking! Boo :( I guess I really am only capable of using shop bought sprinkles at the moment.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

My London cake escapades.

Had a lovely time in London, we stayed really central (Hyde Park) and managed to pack about as much in as you possibly could in 3 and a half days. We did all the touristy things - London Eye, Westminster, Big Ben, Harrods, Oxford Street, Portrait Gallery, Theatre - that kinda thing. Boy was it cold though?! I've never been as cold in all of my life (fact.), I thought it was 'up-north' where all the minus temperatures came from?! At one point my boyfriend David had to stop and take his socks off and give them to me to wear outside Buckingham Palace. My feet had turned blue! Saying all this, we did just about evade the snow though so we should count ourselves lucky for that!
Anyway, safe to say that as opposed to feeling thoroughly rested and filled with interesting knowledge and a new found enthusiasm for our capital city, I am instead exhausted and thouroughly broke. Too many expensive hot beverages and cakes were needed to see us through the bitter weather I think.
As promised though, a couple of the highlights of my little trip:

The Hummingbird Bakery (Wardour Street)

This was everything I expected it to be :) Rows and rows of pretty cakes and full of bright cheeryness the minute you walk through the door! Just the antidote to a miserably cold day. The only thing that was a shame was the seating capacity inside, we were lucky and found somewhere but I can imagine having been very disappointed if we hadn't!
I think I spent about £14 on 2 cupcakes, 1 carrot cake and 2 coffees in here.

So, here are a few pics:


 

I mean, come on! How good do these cakes look! And nearly everyone is listed in their cookbook, I love that I can have a go at baking these myself!


Some more delights... (brownies and vanilla cupcakes)


Red Velvet Cupcakes - beautiful!!


Carrot Cake (my boyf's choice), I tried some and it was unbelievable! The frosting is just so well done, no matter how hard I try I could never get it as good as this. I need to get practicing because I want more cake like this one! The only complaint from my partner was that 'There too much "chomp", I feel sick "chomp"' ...

My Red Velvet Cupcake, again, just lovely. The frosting was indeed as the saying goes 'The icing on the cake'. The colour is just for effect but it definitely adds something to the eating, ,such a special looking little cupcake :)
Me snaffling said delight.

I'd like this in my kitchen.

The Primrose Bakery

Sadly this was a short lived affair, we turned up 5 minutes before they were closing (which to be honest was something like 07:25pm!) so we didnt really get to take much in. There was also a rabble of 'boystrous' children clambering everywhere when we got in there too so we dashed in, grabbed our goodies and went with haste! Again, it was small in here and not much room, but it still looked so inviting in there. We got 4 little cupcakes :)



Funky.
I couldn't believe they had so many left at the end of the day, what became of these delicious beauties I wonder? I love how these are simply decorated (as things can get a bit OTT with cake decorating these days), but it does leave me feeling that I've paid an awful lot of money for something I could defnitely make myself just as well. Their mini cupcakes tasted just like anything I'd knock up for taking to work.

We got some of the little cupcakes to the right there.


Again, nice and so sweet (in both senses) but worth £5...?

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Quick vanilla cupcakes with a jammy centre

Just a quick post here, (I'm cream crackered) have just finished these, wish I could eat one but I don't want to leave a gap now do I?
They're for the Children In Need bake sale at work tomorrow. xx

Vanilla with a jammy centre

Christmas Cake

So... are we all getting out lovely Christmas cakes made? I think technically they should have been done a week or so ago now (to give them time to mature before Christmas) but you all still have time should you want to!
I just love the idea of making such a sturdy complex cake, nurturing it and 'feeding' it delicious brandy for weeks before finally icing it with extravagant decorations. Nothing says Christmas like a bit of this cake.
Saying all this, I'd never made one before until this Friday when I finally decided it was time to get a little advance planning for Christmas done! I'm making this one to take around to my partners parents at Christmas, I'm determined to make it perfect for everyone! And suitably boozy too of course...
So here's a few pictures of 'the beast'

After soaking all the fruit in brandy overnight, I started the cake mix:

The mixture called for currants, sultanas, raisins, mixed candied peel, chopped almonds, glacĂ© cherries, ground nutmeg, flour, salt, ground mixed spice, 4 eggs, black treacle, grated zest of one orange and one lemon and soft brown sugar.
So many things! All the ingredients can mount up to quite a bit price-wise too!   
Gotta make sure you really line your tin for this one!
After, oooh only 5 and half hours in the oven, here she is! I would have liked it to be a bit deeper but I'm pretty pleased with it apart from that.
Then a quick 'feed' with brandy and it's thoroughly wrapped and placed in a tin before another feed next Friday.
I love a bit of old school cookery - you can always rely on Delia for a good Christmas recipe. I got this book off my partners Dad, he found it in a charity shop and it's like new!

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

OK, asked by a work colleague for chocolate orange cupcakes, here is my interpretation:

Chocolate and orange cupcake iced with an orange buttercream icing.



So, for the chocolate cupcake base, the recipe I used was a little different. It's more of a dense brownie type mixture as opposed to an airy sponge. This was achieved by using melted chocolate, butter, eggs and plain flour without the use of any raising agents (like baking powder). And the addition of some orange juice and grated orange zest for that slight hint. The cases were then filled right to the top before baking.
I was a bit apprehensive about this recipe as I was taking a risk doing them like this, and didn't have the opportunity to make any more should they go wrong!! But luckily, the gamble paid off! The cake is great and a provides a much better, denser base for all that yummy buttercream.
For the buttercream I just jused my normal buttercream recipe but with orange juice, zest and some orange food colouring. So there you are!
Hope you like them David! :)

Coops x

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

My local cafe (one of...)

So I went for a quick coffee break at my local cafe (I love it, it has the nicest atmosphere, yummy food and they love kids) on Monday, with William. He'd been a good boy all morning and I thought he was in the right frame of mind for sharing a bit of cake with his Mummy :)

I went in and they had a beautiful collection of cupcakes sitting there on the counter, in their own little stand, covered in glitter and decorated wonderfully. Some had strawberries dipped in white chocolate on top, some had little sugar paste flowers adorning their perfectly whipped buttercream.
I was a little jealous I have to say. I mean although I've no doubt my cupcakes look lovely, these were just beautiful.
But there was just one thing bothering me about them, and this is something I see quite a lot...
'Edible Glitter' -  it doesn't sit right with me!
I mean I know it's classed as something that you can safely eat without any harm incurred, but that's only because it's classed as non-toxic. The glitters are actually suggested as only for use as decoration. I can't find one example of an edible glitter that doesn't actually have 'only for decoration purposes' in small print. If you want a truly edible glitter that is completely water soluble and for specific consumption you need to buy 'flakes' - which aren't nearly as sparkly and 'WOW' but are, actually supposed to be eaten. Here's what some of the websites say:

"The brand of edible glitter we offer is a non toxic, inert substance which doesn't flavour the food or bleed colour. It's not digested by the body, but passes through your system harmlessly." 
"It contains additives which are usually harmless but on very rare occasions, as with any food item, allergic reactions may occur."
"Because it's not broken down by the body's digestive system, we recommend that you use it lightly"

And I mean, I see some of these cakes, literally covered in it. So all this lovely glitter that is used to make these cupcakes look that bit extra special, to me, just puts me off. I don't really fancy having glitter in my insides for a while, God know it's hard enough to get out of the carpet...

I might just be over reacting, but there we are! Safe to say, I just bought a piece of regular cake. :)

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Meringue

I am AWFUL at making meringue. It's a known fact. I don't know what it is that I do so wrong but they're usually a crumbly mess, but this time they seemed much better, still not bright white like everyone else's seem to be though?? Whaa!

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Very Naughty Double Chocolate Cookies

I've just finished baking the most beautiful cookies I've ever tasted!! Oh my, they're chocolately :D And they came out of the oven just perfect too (not in one homogenous gloopy super cookie mess like I've had before!) The recipe was SO simple really, here's what I did (would and should also mention I got this fantastic recipe out of the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook - it's brilliant):
  • melt 450g quality dark chocolate with 50g butter
  • mix 170g soft light brown sugar with 2 eggs and some vanilla essence.
  • mix chocolate mix with sugar and egg mix.
  • add to 85g of flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder and a pinch of salt.
  • stir in some belgian chocolate (chopped into large chunks)
  • bake in the oven at 170 until just cracked on top. (10-15 minutes)
Here they are:





Saturday, 2 October 2010

Coffee frother (in case you were interested in the results)

Coffee frother works a treat, I'm gonna hold out on the cake till' I see my friends though. :D



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Friday, 1 October 2010

Simple Chocolate Sandwich Cake

After an excitable to trip to the new Waitrose near me (yes, on a Friday night! :p) I got home and had an urge to use my newly purchased cake tins. (God this is making me sound sad). I'm seeing my friends over in Manchester tomorrow and thought bringing them a lovely cake would be nice :)
This one's nothing too fancy, just a basic chocolate sponge sandwiched and coated with chocolate frosting and topped with grated white and dark chocolate. Simple, but one of the best. I can't wait to have a slice of this with a cup of coffee tomorrow. Incidently, I bought a 'coffee frother' while I was out this eve too...I'm a sucker for gadgets. You know things used to be very different... Ha! I used to GO OUT of a Friday night... but hey, I'm out tomorrow night instead and boy am I looking forward to it! If anything, it'll give the oven a well deserved rest.
x

Chocolate Sandwich Cake

Jaffa Cakes

Brought some 'Jaffa Cakes' into work today to put on the 'treat table'... which begs the question: "are Jaffa CAKES even cakes?" - I say no, no they are not. They are a cakey biscuits and no more. Cakes are much greater and bigger and fluffier. Not to say, Jaffa Cakes aren't ace, it's just maybe they should be called something more akin to 'Soft Jaffa Biscuits' or something like that...err...

This could lead onto the KitKat debate quite quickly too, chocolate bar or biscuit?

...there's more to life than contemplating stuff like this isn't there?

"Scone" or "Scon"
"Bap or Barm"

x

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Oh dear...

I made a cake for my friends birthday last night, a great big Madeira (nice and sturdy supposedly) cake ready for lashings of icing and decoration. Cooked to perfection and one of my best yet!
...
Then, I dropped it.
AAAAAAAAAARGH! I can be so clumsy sometimes. I spent ages exacting everything about that cake so that it would turn out well (I'm not the most amazing at big birthday cakes) and I was so pleased. I think in my hurry to slice the cake in half ready for some filling, it might of have been a smidge too hot still and and... *FLUMP* onto the kitchen counter it went...
So then I tried to salvage it, that didn't work, so yep, no Cake for my friend Chris. I feel so bad, I've been promising him this lovely cake for like 2 months, and I'd have made him another one if it weren't 10pm and I'd used all the eggs!

Oh well, disasters happen don't they? I'm rubbish at laying Royal icing on things anyway...though I was looking forward to really making this one look great.

Right. I'm over it now. I'll stick to cupcakes. I know my place in the baking world, and it's simple little frosted sponges.

Boohooooooooo!

Coops x

P.s Just a note though, the Madeira recipe I used was brill, I'll post it up here in the recipes bit soon, though obviously it didn't turn out because I dropped it, if I hadn't, it would have been a great cake for decorating, and the sponge tasted amazing (we still got to try it at least!!).
x

Friday, 17 September 2010

Blueberry lovelies

Well, my gorgeous lovely cousin Helen is visiting tomorrow, and as per my promise, I have baked some gorgeous lovely cupcakes as a fitting welcome present.
These are some vanilla blueberry cupcakes I've just made. I love how when they're cooked, the blueberries double in size and and become all juicy, it helps make the sponge a lot softer with a wonderful gooey texture. The blueberries on top were simply coated in some caster sugar (I'd normally use some vanilla sugar for this but had ran out!)
These were also tres easy to make!
x








Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Fshktidhbdhvdjb1!!!!!!!!!

GRRR. SO not happy with those mint cakes. FAIL.

The Chocolate Mint Leaves were a disaster! Well, sort of...

Ok, I wanted to make some chocolate mint leaves to decorate some cakes tonight...

You know when I said making these little things should be fairly straightforward? I was fairly wrong, they are not straightforward. I got covered in chocolate, demolished the kitchen surfaces, and made basically, a mess! And for all my efforts managed to obtain about 5 "decorative leaves".
Argh.
I think I did everything right with them apart from the 'peeling' - all I had to do was paint some mint leaves with dark chocolate, leave to set, then.. peel. I couldnt get my hands cool enough though, so they melted and wilted and disappeared to nothing, booooo! Maybe I should have used tweezers? I didn't think anybody would want eyebrow hairs on their cakes though...

So I salvaged a few anyway, and added them to my chocolate mint cupcakes. I don't think they look great, and even if the mint leaves had turned out, I'm not convined I'd have loved them anyway...




Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Chocolate Mint Leaves

In preparation for some chocolate mint cupcakes I'll be making tomorrow, I thought I'd attempt the tricky business of creating my chocolate mint leaves now. (to go on the top for decoration).
It's not too bad though saying that, you just melt your chocolate, paint, leave to dry and peel... in theory. No doubt tomorrow I'll be changing my recipe due to leaf peeling mishaps...
I'm sat looking at them now thinking 'how the hell am I going to peel set chocolate off these flimsy leaves???' - but if it's good enough for Martha Stewart, it's good enough for me.
I should probably call this post 'first try' maybe though?


Painting my mint leaves.


Letting them dry...
 

Monday, 13 September 2010

A go at sugar paste icing...

Ok, to seasoned cake decorators, or actually, anybody who's any good at baking, this won't seem like such a mean feat. But to me, this was new and a little difficult I must say. I was never tempted to buy the shop bought icing, but half way through my gooey mess I did wonder if I shouldn't have written off that idea so quickly.
Anyway, I did have a go, and the results weren't too bad, although I definitely wouldnt call them my best:


I even got some special little flower cuttersand moulding devices to create my... errr... very boring little flowers on here.

I think these would have looked tons better if I'd improved mysuagr paste recipe i.e. got the ingredient quantities just right and added some more glucose, and if I'd really gone to town with the flowers and added gezillions to them! Instead of just like, 3. I just got so peeved with how bland they were looking, I decided not to carry on I guess.

But hey, they tasted good and my kitchen table looked a little brighter with these displayed :)

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Delving into the unknown... cake toppings and decorations.

I seem to keep sticking to two fail-safes when it comes to cake toppings. Butter-cream frosting or regular icing, often with a few shop bought sprinkles. And I do love the 'piped' appearance of icing them this way. But I know there's heaps more things to try out there, so, my new objective is to try and delve into the more skilled and varied types of cake decoration!
I'm not oblivious to the fact that so far, my efforts haven't exactly tested the boundaries of the skillsphere, so I'm going to rectify that and show you all (all being probably me, my partner and friend Ben at the moment....) that I can do fancy shmancy cake as good as the next... er... cupcake blogger?
So watch this space...! I'm thinking maybe I'll do some this weekend.
Oh and if any of you imaginary readers out there have any ideas as to what I should do / try, let me know!

Coops x

Saturday, 4 September 2010

What I'm up to this eve.

wine and baking - my kinda Saturday night... ahh how things have changed...



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Wednesday, 1 September 2010

butterfly decorations

I've just got my order of edible sugar paper butterfly decorations in the post - they're a bit big but I think they'll look great on some bigger cupcakes!



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Orange and Cranberry


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New to this game...

Ok, I don't really know a whole lot about 'blogging' or who will actually read this...
That little fact isn't going to stop me trying though.
Everytime I look for inspiration for new recipes and ideas on-line, I always come across gorgeous little blogs, full of lovely photos and descriptions. So, as I have oodles of photos of my very own creations, I thought I might try my hand at this too. Even if it's just me looking back over them!
I won't add anything to this just yet, I'm going to wait until I bake something afresh (this Saturday actually). But in the mean time, here are some pics of my past cakes.
Coops x
Lemon Cupcakes
French apple tart
Vanilla Cupcakes
Chocolate cake
Strawberry and vailla cupcakes and chocolate and banana cupcakes.

Vanilla Cupcakes

Polka Dot Cupcakes