20 December 2008

Secret Santa and More Cupcakes

Every year at the office we have a Secret Santa and I always get such wonderful pressies. I must be a very good girl......Hee! Hee! Last year I was given a small selection of chocolates from Harrods. Yum......I can still remember the taste.. Look what I got this year:

I'm really please with my present...Thank You Santa! I love it. I took it to the office Christmas party (no I'm not that sad to read it at the bar) so I can take it home for the weekend. Considering the amount of alcohol I had I still remembered my book.
This evening I had the urge to bake some cakes, but I didn't have the ingredients to make anything from the book, so I made the usual cupcakes. My daughter was so please to be able to help me as we haven't bake together for a long time. Instead of cream and icing we used melted Belgium milk chocolate and some sprinkles to decorate the cakes. Hasn't my little rascal done well with the decoration. We will be taking some to my Mums and to a good friend who we will be visiting tomorrow.

8 December 2008

Wemake - Webake

What a fantastic day we had last Saturday!

We have been preparing for the Wemake fair since August this year, experimenting with various menus, coming up with different flavours, working out the logistics of how were going to complete our mini challenge...

So we are happy to say that it all came together in the end and I think it was a success ! The most important thing was that we had lots of happy customers and got some great feedback. So a BIG thank you to you all for letting us share our passion for treats with you!
We both took Thursday and Friday off work to prepare for the day. We were baking like mad from Thursday (till Saturday early morning ... I mean very early morning). To ease the stress Mary had some music on and singing at the same time (her poor neighbours had to put up with her singing and the smell of cakes with the torture of not getting any).
Gracie was up to her eyeballs in cake batter... cheesecake mixing and watercolours ! Oh yes, watercolours indeed. In a moment of 'inspiration', she decided that we would bring our cakes to life in a customised menu... she had much fun with it... maybe too much fun, as it detracted from the baking which then had to go on until the wee early hours of Saturday morning... Probably not helped by her typical 'last minute' alterations to her cake designs either ;) - the fiddly work of the chocolate surrounds took longer than she had anticipated, though were definitely worth the effort...!
It took a good hour to set up the stand with some help and artistic direction from the lovely boys (thanks Jackson and both Alex's!). All whilst Mary was quickly piping away to finish off her cupcakes...
Our first customer was a toddler girl who had been curiously watching this flurry of activity with her father whilst we were setting up... She picked the 'OoOoo Chocolate' cupcakes - which turned out to be a shrewd choice as it ended up being our best seller and were quickly sold out before we knew it! As the day progressed, our cakes, truffles and other sweet temptations were rapidly disappearing before our eyes. We received positive feedback throughout the event, with many asking us whether we have our own cafe/shop... So that was very encouraging !

By the end of it all we were both completely shattered and ready for a good night's sleep ! :) Once again, thanks for all the great feedback... would love to hear what you the rest of you thought !

2 December 2008

Birthday cakes birthday cakes...

Even though am supposedly focusing efforts for the fair - I did had a couple of distractions last week - 2 birthday cakes... and one that I was only given notice of in the morning, for the very same evening - yep, so I only had a couple of hours after work to come up with an idea, make it and deliver... I really should be more stringent about lead times... :)

Last minute madness: White chocolate and praline decorated with fresh Strawberries and a mixed berry creme.

Second Cake: A twist on the blackened forest - with the addition of a praline sponge, Baileys creme filling and decorated with special kirsch laced chocolate surprise cups (I loved making those!)

30 November 2008

Final Preparations and Nigella

I've managed to upload my photo of Nigella ('the' Domestic Goddess) from my phone, don't you think she is so pretty and I like her fluffy white coat. I wanted to get a signed copy of her Christmas book, but the queue was so long and it was pouring down with rain outside....nevermind.
Last Sunday went really well, we got very good feedback from our tasters (thank you darlings) and we have now finalised our menu. Yay. Grace even popped over to my place for a quality inspection of my green tea cake today.....Hee! Hee! My favourite cake last Sunday has to be the Black Forest Cake (photo above) which I only got a bite from my husband's portion (Grace, you must make me some more, otherwise you may find one missing next week from our stock :)).
Most of the packaging has been bought and organised, this is just a sample:
The pretty apron was given to us by Alex and we will be wearing this on the day. I'm looking forward to next Saturday.

24 November 2008

First snow

So, it was the first snow yesterday, what luck! Could it get any more festive for our Great Tasting afternoon! :)
BIG THANKS to all our tasters and cake munchers... it was a really fun afternoon, the cakes were in abundance and the mulled wine was flowing... Of course, there were some feedback forms on hand to help us on our way... afterall, "there's no such thing as a free cake !";)

Cupcakes Galore:
* Matcha Green Tea cupcakes
* Chocolate Chestnut
* Lemon Glazed and white cherry
* Carrot Cake
* Choco-Banaramel

Other Cakes:
* Cranberry Walnut Brownies
* Cheesecake Brownie bites
* Pistachio and white chocolate mousse mini gateaux
* Mini Blackforest Gateaux
* Baked Vanilla-Caramel-Raspberry Cheesecake
* Mincepie Streusel slices - (I made a batch of these, and put them back in the oven just as people were arriving, to warm through... and of course - me with my less than effective memory forgot all about them, and they didn't make it out for the party ! Doh! Sucha muppet! )

17 November 2008


So I had an idea... well, it's a been on my mind for a while, though I had't found the key ingredient until Saturday...! Okay, I may have been a bit casual in my efforts to track it down, though still... it has been on the to do list for sometime...!

What is the big idea? Well... since we decided that we would be predominantly cupcakes, you may have noticed that I do tend to veer a lot from the brief. Well, who wants to be too predictable and is so much fun coming up with new ideas. Anyways - as usual I am digressing... So, whilst thinking about cupcakes and cupcake cases... I have been wondering what I could use other than your usual paper muffin/cake cases. Then it came to me... cake and ice cream, cake and ice cream... what about an ice cream cone as the shell for my cupcakes! Though obviously I needed the sort that could stand up on their own... hence the search for the right cone...
Best of both worlds... especially as the weather turns a little too chilly for the real thing... I hope you agree...! All that is missing is the 99 Flake... next time perhaps... and what about neopolitan sponge... :)

16 November 2008

Shopping and Christmas Truffles

This weekend I have driven from the South East of London down to Kingston upon Thames (1.5 hours one way) on Saturday and then all way down to Bromley on Sunday (40 mins one way). This is all so I can get my hands on some lovely packaging and supplies. I also managed to squeeze in some time to make some truffles for my Mum and work colleagues who wanted to have a taste. So it has been very productive weekend. In fact, if my rascal falls asleep early tonight, I might make some cupcakes. A few of my colleagues are having a 'Cake-Off' tomorrow and the theme is 'Cupcakes'. However, my cakes won't be in the competition as, according to my colleagues, I have the advantage of running Simply Scrumblicious with Gracie (so I would have had quite a lot of practice.....I should have kept quiet about it...huh). Nevermind....
Anyway, here are some photos of the truffles:

(Dark chocolate ganache covered in white chocolate with a cranberry topping, dark and white chocolate with glazed cherries and hazlenut)

Also, I was suppose to have a meeting with Gracie last Thursday at Waterstones, Piccadilly, but due to work commitments Gracie couldn't make it. Instead I met Nigella Lawson at her book signing. Hee! Hee! I'll post the photo of her signing her books once I figure out how to do this from my mobile.

10 November 2008

Baked with love...

Like buses - I don't blog for a while but when I do, they come in quick succession! :)

This weekend was a busy one. I was commissioned with my first birthday cake and it was for a very special person too, which made it all the more important that I get it just right. I don't know about you, though the I always find there is just something a bit special when someone bakes something just for you - whether the outcome is good or bad, it's the thought behind it that will make the cake so enjoyable for me. I was hoping this would be the case for auntie Mina's birthday cake.

Armed with an idea of the flavours and colours she likes I came up with an idea for a chocolate raspberry gateau. I wanted a shiny chocolate ganache glaze, though was worried that it would look too dark for such a joyful occassion, so offset it was my signature charlotte surround and some white chocolate decoration, with some fresh raspberries thrown in too! The chocolate decoration didn't quite turn out as I had hoped - I was aiming for a two-tone chocolate ruffle - though I didn't quite have the technique right. It ended up looking slightly like a scarf flying in the wind... ;)

Charlotte Cake - Chocolate sponge, layered with chocolate mousse and fresh raspberries, another layer of sponge topped with a Tia Maria cream, and then decorated with a chocolate ganache almost mirror glaze (think will have to spread it whilst it is warmer next time to get a smoother finish!)

Sunday - early morning baking, getting into the festive spirit and preparation for the fair - mincemeat streusel squares ... They were a bit yummy served warm with a dash of cream! :)

9 November 2008

Feeling Festive

Yay! It's almost Christmas and the Wemake fair is under a month away. I've been busy with Mary sorting a few changes to our original plans. Here is the final voucher to all the stall holders:

There will also be a choir there so it will be very festive, so we have agreed to provide some handmade mince pies to them. So this morning I made some with my daughter which was really fun, which is what Christmas Fair should be all about. The pastry was made from scratch and we added some ground almonds. We added some dried cranberries and chopped walnuts to the mince.
I was having a discussion with Kyoko regarding 'handmade' goods one evening over a light dinner at Liberty. She often hear people say that handmade goods/food are not 100% perfect, e.g if you buy certain mass produce goods, they are often made to the same proportions and size etc each time and they are cheaper. However, handmade goods are produced to a high standard and the fact that they are not all the same makes them unique.
Anyway, I will stop ranting. On Saturday, I took a bus journey around South West London to buy a few things for the fair and I will be ordering a few supplies from the internet. I'm just a bit worried that if I leave it all till the last week everyone will be fighting for them. I go back to my checklist now.

7 November 2008


So, I have been awol for a while...

Though it has not been a quiet time away! What have I been up to? To be honest, I have been overwhelmed by work these past few weeks to be baking as much as usual. Though there were still a few treats to be had, and some disasters too! (What's with the flower? It's just beautiful don't you think?)

October came and went too quickly, it brought with it a quick dabble with truffles with some left over ganache from a chocolate truffle cake, though being the mischievous types we are, it was the adulterated version gently laced with some rumlicious tipple. Very naughty, but oh so nice against the smoothness of the chocolate...

It was a month of birthdays too... though disorganised as I am, usually forget what dates they land on. Pleased this year that I had managed to get the date right, I decided that morning that I would surprise my friend with an impulsive visit to personally deliver her birthday wishes... for once. Of course, I was armed with some equally impromptu cupcakes, though being less than prepared, I was baking early on the Sunday morning, with only the ingredients I had to hand. This evolved into some cute caramel cupcakes, some matcha experiments, and some others with the lovely chestnut cream... I vow to be more organised next year and bake a properly planned out cake! :)

Finally, the disaster... oh well... my friends came last weekend for our usual catchup, though it was the first time they had come to see me in London. Again, due to disorganisation and general skattiness, I only decided on the morning that I was going to make them profiteroles. Though having been out the night before celebrating all that was goulish, I was somewhat late in actually getting up and getting to it before they arrived. This resulted in a very flustered me, rushing and underbeating my batter, which resulted in some very sorry looking deflated choux wannabes.

Refusing to acknowledge that I cannot make the perky little puffs (as I have successfully done so in the past!) I tried again last night, and am happy to say, they poofed !

16 October 2008

Rasberry and Almond Cupcakes

As promised here is a photo of the Rasberry and Almond Cupcakes I made this week. Its a cross between a Friand and Angel Cake, so it has a nice texture and has less calories so you could eat more. Hee! Hee! It past the Husband test (he doesn't normally eat cake) who asked for seconds.

13 October 2008

Wemake Fair, More Truffles and the Disappearing Strawberries

I've been quite busy working with the lovely Mary Mcdermot from Wemake on the admin side of the fair in Christmas. So far:

  • I have sent her my food safety and hygiene certificates - very important
  • Agreed that the Choir should get some treats from us for volunteering to sing at the fair
  • Wemake has sent us the invite for the Christmas fair
  • Discussing the 50p voucher (some of the summer fruits will not be in season during Christmas time, so the photos on this draft voucher may change to more seasonal cakes)
  • Providing information on the name badges
  • Sorting out what we can and can not sell in the Church
  • Writing the Seller Feature

I have also been making more truffles, this time the chestnut milk chocolate coated in dark chocolate and coating in chocolate shavings. The verdict was that most people could not taste the Chestnut, so I may think of something else.....

I also managed to buy some lovely strawberries at my local supermarket, which was great considering they are out of season now. So I made my Mum her favourite strawberry and cream swiss roll. I used half of the strawberries in this cake and I thought I'd use the rest in an almond strawberry cupcake. When it came to making the cupcakes, my strawberries were gone? Shock, horror, my husband and rascal had eaten them all. I think I will have to use rasberries or black berries next time.I will post the photo of the cupcake when I buy some fruits.

12 October 2008

Cheesecakin' around...

Well, I mentioned last time that I had got a new baking pan… so this has been my toy recently, and with it I have been having a lot of fun experimenting with mini cheesecakes.
I have settled on a lovely vanilla cheesecake filling and I took a wander down the biscuit aisle in the supermarket for inspiration to move away from the typical digestives base… I am now happy with the variation I have come up with; nutty and crunchy - adds a nice twist!
So armed with the basics, I have experimented with adding various flavours to varying degrees of success. The banoffee was lush, and the cookies and cream also seemed popular… rum & raisin didn't have the kick I was anticipating... though my personal favourite was a combination of fresh raspberries topped with caramel swirls and more berries…

28 September 2008

Going nuts...

This week has been a bit of a nutty one... I had a hankering for coconut during the week, so had a go at making some coconut tarts - instead of making the filling-bit as you are supposed to, I wanted to try and make them a bit less dense, so whipped up the egg whites separately - whilst this did mean that the mix did end up lighter, it wasn't quite firm enough to hold up the cherry! I was very excited when they began to foof up in the oven, though the next minute I looked, all the cherries were playing hide and seek with me! Oh well... it did mean that you get a nice cherry surprise when you bite in!A couple of weeks ago, I got myself a fantastic muffin type tin - why was it so fantastic? Well... each individual muffin "pit" was loose-base! Never seen one of those before. Have since been playing with ideas about individual cheesecakes and other mini-bake creations.

I ended up baking a batch of sponge fingers and sponge, only to realise that there was no way I could assemble the cakes inside the tins, as the diameter was just too small for the Charlotte fingers as well as the cake... Doh!
Finally, I had to assemble the actual spongey bit of the cakes inside the tin, and then adding the surround after I had popped them out of the mould. It was a bit of a slow process and probably won't make it to the fair exactly for that purpose - though they did look cute in their minature form - the chestnut and Tia Maria whipped filling was a verrry tasty combination too! I will surely try and incorporate that for the fair somehow... Maybe in a seasonal yule-tide log...!
Mini-Charlie-Chestnut goodness

Imagine a chocolatey sponge to get you into the Christmas mood... ! ( I didn't have enough charlotte fingers for more than a dozen minis, so just made a swissroll with the leftover sponge and cream!)

21 September 2008


After reading lots of books, researching on the internet, sampling and checking out all the cooking tools that would make my life easier, I finally took the plunge started my R&D on truffles this weekend. I went to buy lots of chocolate and decided to make the classic version of the dark chocolate with a hint of vanilia. I coated one in cocoa and the other in walnuts. The ganache turned out well (thanks for Dehlia's nippy little Kenwood chopper) but I felt that it could do with a bit more cream.
The chocolate was a bit strong for my taste as I used a plain chocolate with 85% cocoa content, I think I will stick with 70% next time. I took them to the badminton club that I go each week to share them with the team. I got some suggestions from them such as adding honey to make it sweeter and a bit more cream.
I'm planning on making some chestnut milk chocolate truffles next time and Gracie has recommended this chestnut puree.

15 September 2008

Thames Festival and Market Research

While Gracie was baking her beautiful and delicious Charlotte Cake, I went to the Thames Festival to do some (ahem) Market Research. This weekend Southwark Bridge was closed to all traffic and was occupied by more than a dozen food stands selling cakes, chocolates and savory food (the sweet corn was particulary good). There were also more than fifty tables and chairs on the bridge for the visitors to dine. The weather was on our side and I spent just over three hours there and a lot of money as well.

Chocolate, pumkins filled with fruit sauces from Konditor and Cook.

Artisan Chocolates from Cocoa Loco

Cakes and Brownies made locally

As well as checking (and eating some of) the range of cales and chocolates I over heard a conversation about how this particular person would not buy the cakes at the prices sold as they could easily have made them at home (I'm an auditor so eavedropping come naturally to me). Now this is a potential challenge for Gracie and me. We will have to think about how we can stand out in the crowd and ensure that our cakes and chocolates are different (in a good way).

14 September 2008

Merry Charlotte Cake...

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival ! This mooncake festival has happily fallen on the eve of my mum's birthday this year, so it's a bit of a double celebration!
Due to the R&D we have been doing for the cake stall, there has been no shortage of cakes for the family to try. Though I was keen to make something a wee bit different for this double celebration... It's funny, I have always enjoyed baking, though due to this new little venture, I have found myself unexpectedly carried away by the excitment of trying out new ideas, new techniques, and day dreaming about possible flavour combinations... ;) It is a really creative process, and I am loving every minute of it...! Especially as I marry my two favourite hobbies, the baking and photography !

Anyways, I digress... so, back to the birthday cake - Following on from the lusciousness of Alex's Tiramisu last weekend, my love of sponge fingers was reignited, and I was inspired to make my own Charlotte cake...

The cake is probably the most involved project I have undertaken to date, especially as I couldn't decide what centre I wanted inside and so settled on a combination of layered mango and mixed berry mousse. I have never tried making mousse before, am not a dessert-making person, so to test something new was a bit daunting as well as exciting! Proceeding with much caution, it was touch 'n go, for a while. The sloppy mousse, although tasting very berry, did not resemble anything that was every going to set into anything beyond its milkshake consistency. It also didn't help that i was working off of a combination of various recipes. I don't know if anyone else does this, though do you find that when you are looking for a recipe, you really want the best of everyone's experiences, and end up just mixing and matching... probably not the best method, but I guess I have been lucky so far! :) Lady luck stayed with me for this one too, it did turn out well in the end... in a leap of faith, I just used the mousse-shake anyways, and it actually set! In fact, the mango layer did a little more than set, and was a little denser than I hoped... Though the berry one worked a treat - if asked to do it again, would I remember the proportions I used ? Probably not...

Sponge... Berry mousse... sponge... mango mousse... sponge and mango 'mirror'

10 September 2008

A Feast and Cupcakes Galore

Last weekend we popped over to Gracie's for some baking and dinner (thanks Alex). I had a few errands to do in the morning, so when I turned up at Gracie's with only my ingredients for my Spider cupcakes, my host wasn't impressed at my tardiness... hehe ! I was given an hour to quickly whizz them up with the help of my rascal, as Gracie's other half was planning to cook us a proper Chinese feast, as I had been warned that I would be kicked out of the kitchen.

Grace, being as organised as usual, had already baked her Banoffee, Pandan and Panilia cupcakes - re-tweaking the recipe to get the perfect light and fluffy sponge...
Luckily I made up for my lateness with some yummy spider cupcakes.

I ate so much cake and was also picking at the food that Al was cooking (whilst he was still preparing it) that I was already a bit full even before dinner had began! Although I made sure that there was space for the surprise dessert, Tiramisu. Yummm!

Next week will be chocolate truffles...