Wednesday, 17 August 2011

ivory blue

Since I last posted to all you lovely lurkers, I took an order for some wedding cupcakes for a lovely bride and groom, Rachel and Rhys, who were married in July and had their reception in Callaghan's Bar, just outside Reading.

The bride had seen one of my cupcake stalls at a local fair and she contacted me for some sample wedding cupcakes in their colour scheme, a gorgeous royal blue and ivory. She finally settled on vanilla cupcakes decorated with buttercream swirls, hearts and tiny butterflies. Also in the design was embossing on sugarpaste discs and the hearts and a good few handrolled pearls - as requested by the bride. 

Now, why exactly would I agree to this? Or even vaguely think about it??! Apparently the usual dragees that us cake decorators rely on seem to crack people's teeth now and again.

The start of the quest - how to match the exact shade of blue in sugarpaste, and with complementary cupcake cases. The bride had asked for blue and ivory cases. Does anyone ever think about manufacturing plain, simple, sturdy, non peeling, ivory - or even a cream, pleeeeease - cupcake cases? I honestly can't tell you how many people I found hunting for them while I was hunting for them. *Just* a thought.

As they were for a wedding, foil cases were ideal, and I couldn't find anything matching the blue unless it was shiny anyway. The ivory cases were ditched. Eventually. Thanks to Catherine's Cakes for bustling me off some pretty, shiny blue cases - happy days!

I used Hummingbird Bakery's recipe for vanilla cupcakes, which - if you haven't yet come across it - is a completely lush tasting, fluffy-cupcake-creating, fail safe, and everyone-in-your-crowd pleasing recipe. All I can say is, try it. Or even better, buy one of their books. Their cocktail cupcakes are to die for!

Here are the final pictures of the cupcakes - I hope you can see the embossing detail on the sugarpaste discs and butterflies, and the larger pearls. HAND ROLLED, all three hundred or so of them... The last touch was a stroke of silver lustre for the heart accents and a sprinkling of glitter for the buttercream:


 ♥ Many congratulations, Rachel and Rhys! ♥

Monday, 23 May 2011

Honeycomb Fudge Cupcakes

So the sky hasn't fallen down!!  Ironic that I always expect it to, just for being open and honest and true to myself - for once...  I had honestly expected a lot more comments and thoughts from anyone who read my last post.  Like I said, I wasn't even sure how many people would read it, hence the sneaky cupcake recipe offer, but in a way, the fact that not many commented on my revelations is a relief.  

Without further ado then: here is the long awaited Honeycomb Fudge Cupcake recipe.  I am afraid to have to tell all you cupcake bakers and makers out there that I have now officially named this cupcake the best cupcake ever.  I am so serious that you really shouldn't think I am kidding.  I have adapted the recipe from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook and this said, I feel that I can take a teeny bit of credit for the gorgeousness of the results.  

The cupcakes are very fluffy and very moist, incredibly tasty in a caramelly fudgy way but without being either too rich or sweet, and the light buttercream with caramel drizzles just finishes it off nicely.  I'm actually craving some for myself (and only myself!) right about now.  

Honeycomb Fudge Cupcakes
(adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook)

240g plain flour
280g soft brown sugar
3 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
80g unsalted butter, room temperature
240ml whole milk
2 eggs
130g small honeycomb pieces
195g fudge, chopped into smallish pieces
½ tsp vanilla extract
fudge buttercream and fudge sauce, to ice

1.       Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/gas mark 3.
2.       Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in a free-standing electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a hand-held electric whisk) and beat on slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined.
3.       Gradually pour in half the milk and beat until the milk is just incorporated.
4.       Whisk the egg, vanilla extract and remaining milk together in a separate bowl for a few seconds, then pour into the flour mixture and continue beating until just incorporated (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula).  Add honeycomb and fudge pieces and continue mixing for a couple more minutes until the mixture is smooth. Do not over mix.
5.       Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until two-thirds full. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until light golden and the sponge bounces back when touched.
6.       A skewer inserted into the centre should come out clean. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
7.       When the cupcakes are cold, ice with fudge buttercream and drizzle with fudge sauce.
Makes 24 cupcakes

Please do try it out - it's one of those quick and easy recipes that is really worth it and you'll probably come back to it lots of times once you've tasted them...  In any case, let me know how you get on!

Happy baking!

Friday, 13 May 2011

Fantasies in a cupcake

Well. What can I say??  I've been long absent again, and this time there's good reason for it.  I am about to make what is a very public (for me!) announcement into the wilds of cyberspace...and part of me is hoping that I don't get any interest or feedback on it whatsoever...

But the more honest and mellowing side of me realises that now is perhaps the time to be more open with myself, my friends, and even my family.  I posted on the Fans of Cake Baker facebook wall this was simply that...erm...  Ok.  Deep breath. goes!  Actually, wait.  I posted in response to a comment from another focb, who had mentioned something similar to this.  To divert slightly, for anyone who is in any way at all cake minded, this facebook page is the best thing ever.  I swear.  Ok, ok.  

Now.  Here we go.  I have suffered from the very devil's devil that is depression for most of my adult life.  The depression.  Ahh, people say.  And man, the looks!  The sympathy, as if they don't know quite where to run to but are equally scared to meet your eyes.  I'm not entirely sure what they'll find there - I am still the same Lorien!  Eeeesh.

So, alongside all that ongoing palaver, I still go on with the baking and creating, and having the enjoyment that my kitchen and oven are giving me.  I have been busy preparing for market stalls (Pangbourne Qaulity Market, in Berkshire) and then I had about 250 cupcakes made and sold at the Burghfield May Fayre - such fun!  Mr Chill insisted that there must be an Oreo cupcake:

and true to his opinion (he's usually always right - I know, I know, a conundrum in itself...), they were very popular.  

I also made batches of mint choc, raspberry with white chocolate, plain vanilla, chocolate with Bailey's, strawberry cupcakes and THE ultimate: honeycombe fudge.  This was a cakegasm, if I can claim that word for my own?  I insist.  I MUST.  Baker's rights!  

It was a mouthful of caramelly, soft, light sponge, speckled with chewy bits of honeycomb  (imported specially from Mullins Icecream in Northern Ireland) and chopped up dairy fudge. 

Here are the slightly pockmarked (with honeycomb and fudge bits!) and wailing-for-buttercream cupcakes.
To finish the killer combo, I mixed fudge sauce with homemade buttercream, swirled away, and then topped a few decadent drops of fudge sauce on top.  

And there you have it - the most delicious thing I have created in a looong while.  People raved about it!  (Some people even - although I am very sad to admit it - took pictures of the cupcakes too...)  Suffice to say that all my cupcakes sold out long before I got home.  Happy days!

So, to get you drooling - I'm heartless, I do know this - here's just a taste:

Ok.  Cruelty over.  

But I must confess that I'm curious about who's reading and peeking at my blog (if indeed anyone is...), so instead of posting the honeycomb fudge cupcake recipe right away, if anyone would like it perhaps you'd leave a comment below and I'll post it up?  If not I'll have to torment you with more pictures of delish goods from my oven until you're demanding those recipes!  

Thank you for reading - and I hope to catch you on here again soon.


Saturday, 19 March 2011

The Squire's Goodies

lots of cake goodies

I was woken up this morning by the lovely sunshine - a rare treat these days, even though spring is approaching as fast as winter's little snowlegs can carry him away.  The postman rang the doorbell shortly after, and I was handed a parcel :)

Now, I have to confess that I am very childish in this regard.  I absolutely LOVE parcels!! Anything at all that comes to me as a present, a little something brought back for me from anywhere, a parcel of goodies, you name it and I will be excited by it.  

So you can imagine my face when I opened up the box to find a goody bag from Squire's Kitchen.  I was a silver ticket winner at their Exhibition last weekend at Farnham Maltings, but I got so carried away with the floral displays and all the cakes and supplies on show that I completely lost track of time and missed the special event.  

Imagine my horror then when I found my mouth opening to one of the Exhibition staff only to squeak, 'I'm sorry I missed the workshops, but I just wanted to have the special goody bag...'.  Oh, the embarrassment!  You can surely begin to acknowledge the child in me now, no?!  And not that I hadn't already spent enough on cake supplies that very afternoon to quash any need for freebies...

Anyway, I digress.  

I really wanted to tell you about the delights that awaited me in the parcel - so lovely!  There was a pot of colour dust in the most gorgeous shade of purple; a cooking timer; a huge bag of Squire's macaroon mix (which I have wanted very much to try out but haven't yet); a teeny tiny wedding dress cutter, perfect for using with sugarpaste or embossing; a bag of jelly belly beans yum yum; a handy little brush for cleaning out your piping nozzles or tubes, and the ultimate: a silicone heart mould for making chocolates:  

The mould is made by silikomart, and they warn you (I laughed this morning at it): 'Beware of imitations...I'm still the one and original'.  I have to say that it is a most smooth and pliable silicone material, one that you just know is going to turn out probably the best chocolates you've ever made.  Luckily I have a bag of Squire's cocoform (half of which has inadvertently disappeared...) to try it out with.  I'll let you know how they turn out.  

In the meantime, here are the rest of the goodies... 

 a pot of luscious purple food colour

anything to make macaroons easier to make...

my favourite shade - I hope it comes out as nice!

  cute tiny cutter

I promise to post some pictures of the chocolates I make - I somehow have a feeling they will be white chocolate flavoured with vanilla beans in very delicate shades of lilac.  See you again soon!


Saturday, 5 February 2011

The business of cakes

I'm baaaack!  It's been a long while, I know, but lots of exciting new things have been happening at this end of the world.  Aside from the return of global warming with tons of snow being dumped on us over Christmas and the start of a brand new sparkling year, the big thing is that I am now officially a cake decorator!!!

Since I finished the Wilton course I have been baking lots and lots of cakes - mainly chocolate, wouldn't you know - not to mention the trucks of decorating I've been doing.  This is the start of two cakes I made last weekend for a friend's daughters who were having a joint birthday party:

stacked and shaped chocolate cakes covered
in chocolate fudge icing, ready for the princess skirt

another chocolate cake, crumb coated and ready to be turned into...
...a 'DeLorean' car! (yes, really...!)
Having a fight with sugarpaste is becoming a less common occurrence in my kitchen now, thank goodness - although if you look (closer!) at the finished car you will see that it sometimes likes to pop up and bite me on the proverbial.

I'd be interested in hearing from any of you that have mastered the art of crack-less fondant using whatever kind / brand / make / combination of sugarpaste available :)  Or, even better, whether there are any specific brands you recommend that (dare I say it) don't EVER crack?!

The girls loved their cakes and apparently the slices just melted in your mouth - thanks to a simple (just six basic ingredients - I love it), quick and fail safe recipe from Annie Bell, the queen of Gorgeous Cakes.

In my years of trawling recipes for good (aka rich and decadent) chocolate cakes, this one is also probably the lightest-yet-still-chocolatey cake you could ever make.  Perfect for real lil princesses and their birthday parties!

The finished barbie cake.

Setting up a dream cake business...Dream 3