Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Cupcake Workshop

Well, I have attended my first ever Cupcake workshop held at Loafonline.

The workshop was run between Tom (Loaf) and Mary & Dali (Kiss Me Cupcakes).

The course was attended by six eager "cupcakers" and we were treated to a master class in making the best cake base (I still have to try them both, so cannot comment on which is the best) and then how to decorate them.

The six delegates were paired off into one of the three workstations set up in Tom's kitchen, where we tried to follow the demo we had seen. It was far better than watching the top chefs working on TV, as you got to see the whole process rather than the "here's one I prepared earlier" routine.

Once the cakes had cooled, Kiss Me Cupcakes went on to talk to us about icing and decorating the cakes we'd made.

It was at this point that I felt slightly at a disadvantage due to my lack of "artistic" talent (hence my desire to attend a workshop on cupcakes!).

We were shown how to flavour and colour the icing - I was very impressed with the colour paste, which seems so much easier and better than the usual food colouring I would have usually used. I was even more delighted to find out I'm not the only person who seem to have an ongoing war with Icing sugar and the mess it makes.

After a few practices on icing the cakes (or more than a few in my case - thanks Dali for your patience), this is what I came home with:

I am pleased how they turned out (especially if I compare them to any previous attempts!)

The only problem I had after the workshop was that a various stages during the night I kept dreaming of icing cupcakes (of course these came out perfect!) and wondering whether I could try and turn my Canadian Carrot Cake & Chocolate Guinness Cakes into cupcakes - perhaps I'll have to have a go.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

More Children who cook.

Well, I have to say that whilst the French & Flourless cake did not look as the picture should, it tasted very nice!

Today is baking day three, and what did Isi & her friend choose to make today? They chose to make Oreo Truffles!

A good choice as I have about 10 packets of Oreos in the boot of my car (don't ask!)

I'm not sure that the truffles are as small as they should be (should have made 42, but made 17), so I think that they may be a little too sweet to eat in one go!

Tomorrow, Isi has no friend to play, but I wonder whether that will stop her from wanting to make some more cakes!

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Children who cook

I have two children, Toby aged 7 and Isi aged 10. During the second week of the this Easter holiday, Toby (who by the way is football crazy) has been on a football coaching course, whilst Isi, has had friends round.

As you can tell, one of my loves is baking cakes, so its been great to see that Isi is also picking up the desire to bake.

Yesterday, she had a friend round for the day, and the first this they wanted to do was bake. So they looked through the various cook books I've got and settled on Annie Bell's book - "gorgeous cakes". They nearly decided that Annie's Gin & Tonic minis would do, but finally decided that they would make Vanilla Cupcakes. What was wonderful was the confidence to not completely follow the recipe and mix and match the ingredients we had.

So, what was the outcome?

This is all that is left!!

Today, she had another friend around, and baking was the first thing on the agenda! Again, Annie Bell's book stole the show, and "french and flourless" was chosen. Quite a big jump from yesterday's cupcakes. A cake that needed eggs separating, chocolate melting and eventually folding all together.

Well, what was the out come? Isi and her friend have call it the chair cake!

As to how it taste - well, I'll have to wait until later tonight to test it!

Well, tomorrow is another day - what baking will take place? We'll have to wait and see.

However, something is not quite right - why do I seem to get stuck with all the washing up!

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Charity Cakes and other things.

Well, I am now out of the Charity Cake baking season (for now anyway). I’m not sure I have baked so many cakes over such a short space of time and have come to the conclusion that whilst I love baking and getting people’s reaction to my cakes, I’m not sure I’d like to bake at that tempo all the time!

Everywhere I turned in the kitchen where either cakes waiting to be cooked, waiting for tins to become available, those cooling and others waiting for decorating.

All this, with the air full of Icing Sugar - just one sniff required and your nose is filled with sugar!

Out of the back of this event, I'm hoping that I may get into the Birmingham Evening Mail career section. I had a chat with a reporter who is interested with my change in circumstances and career. We'll see whether anything happens with that.

I've been down in Kent visiting my parents and whilst there, Ruth (my wife) and I stayed at a lovely hotel with excellent food - Walletts Court Hotel.

We stayed there about 5 years ago and the food was super and it was just as good this time round.

When my starter of Pan Fried Chicken Livers & Pomegranate was served, I tried to sneak out back to my hotel room to get a camera to photograph it, but Ruth wouldn't let me! The liver was very tender and tasted divine.

I followed that with that with Fruit fed tenderloin of pork with roasted plum and apples, with a black pudding sauce. The presentation was excellent (you'll have to imagine it) and it tasted wonderful.

the meal was finished off with Rhubarb (one of my most favourite foods). It was broken down into 3 separate pieces.

1) A couple of pieces that had been roasted,
2) A Rhubarb mousse,
3) A Rhubarb sorbet.

At first, I was quite disappointed - I tried each item on its own and was not impressed. However, when you put them all together, the taste was exceptional. The sweetness of the sorbet mixed with the tartness of the mousse, combined with the texture of the roasted rhubarb certainly worked.

Over the weekend, we went to a couple of other foodie type places. I came across my first Meringue Cupcake. Not a cake base with meringue on top, but a meringue in a cupcake case. These were made by Head in the Clouds.

They were certainly a little more unusual than the usual cupcakes you see (sorry all you cupcake makers!).

We also went to a place called Brogdale Farm. A new farm shop, The Butcher of Brogdale had opened there. I got talking to the manager (as you do), thinking my cakes looked better than the ones they sell (as you do) and she asked whether I'd deliver there. Well, that would certainly be a new venture.

To be honest, I've never really thought about delivery further than I can drive. The farm shop gets most of their cakes delivered from either Rochester or Sussex - I suppose the midlands is only a little bit further away!

So if anyone has and suggests for good and cheap next day delivery systems, I'd be very interested.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Update at last

Well, the last 3 months obviously goes to prove that I am not the most consistent blogger!

The last part of December was pretty busy with Christmas fairs and individual orders to fulfill. I even had to buy my own fridge freezer to keep all the extra ingredients in.

January was very quiet - dam the snow (people not getting out to the cafes) and new years resolutions (generally, I find these last until February!).

During January, I received my new logo, developed and designed by Homegrown Designs who have done a great job. They also develop web sites etc, so I would certainly recommend them.

Things have really picked up over the last couple of weeks - mainly with the two cafe's I provide cakes for. The cafe at Pacific Nurseries and Simply Delicious.

I am currently up to 2 to 3 cakes a week for Simply Delicious and 3 to 4 for Pacific Nurseries.

In fact, Pacific Nurseries have opened a new farm shop called "The Pantry", who have agreed to buy some smaller versions of my cakes (6 inch).

These go on sale this coming Saturday (13 March). Lets hope that these sell well and this turns into a regular order. Certainly, my cakes sell in a day at the cafe, so I have suggested that they put a sign up saying that my cakes are available to buy in The Pantry!

Also during March I am supporting a Brain Tumour Trust with their cancer awareness month where the focus is on Tea Parties.

I know Sharon Sambrook from the "school gate" have agreed to supply the cakes for a couple of her fund raising events. We running a coffee morning at school where my cakes will be sold and % of the sales will go to the charity. And then for the week of the 22nd March, Simply Delicious will be selling my cakes and for each sale, a % will also be donated to Sharon's charity. I have agreed to sell my cakes at a reduced cost to Simply Delicious to help fund this.

I don't know about you, but I think that even as a small business it is important to support your people in your local community.

Well, I shall try and blog a little more frequently over the coming months.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Cakes Cakes and more Cakes

This week has been pretty busy getting ready for the Deanery Christmas School fair on Saturday.

I've decided to make some "trio" taster packs (4) which will contain three 4 inch cakes (1 Canadian Carrot, 1 Chocolate Guinness and 1 Chocolate Fruit Cake). In addition to that, I have made 8 x 4" Carrot cakes, 6 x 4" Chocolate Guinness Cakes, 4 x 4" Chocolate Fruit cakes and 4 slabs of Fridge cakes, which should end up into about 20 plus packs.

If this goes OK, then I'll use the same format and numbers for the Christmas Fair I'm doing on the 12th December at Esporta in Lichfield.

This week has also seen me engage a marketing company to create a "logo" and brand identity called "we are homegrown", as I'm rather "eclectic" in my branding.

I am also the proud owner of some flyers to give out this Saturday, using some photo's taken by Kirsty Heaton. The flyer is simple (if not somewhat small - learn for next print, larger font!), but will do the trick.

Picture used for flyer

This week has also seen me follow up some "cold calling" I did with two other cake outlets, which saw me give them a free cake. On Thursday, I went to these places again to see what they thought.

It's great - I got an order for a Canadian Carrot and Chocolate Guinness cake, which may turn into a regular order. At the other outlet, the manager really like the chocolate fudge cake I made (said it was "orgasmic"!), so I think if nothing else, the manager may buy a cake for her Birthday! Hopefully, I'll know in the next few days whether they are interested in more cakes!

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Tobizzy2bake hits a Christmas fair

Well, I've gone and done my first Christmas fair. Having never had a stall at one of these events, I was a little nervous and particularly unsure about the amounts of cakes to make. It seems a little easier with cupcakes as people can by these individually or in multiples, whereas this doesn't tend to happen with the bigger cakes (especially when it's not being sold by the slice).

However, rather than making lots of 23cm cakes, I decided to make a few 4 inch "tasters" of my Canadian Carrot, Guinness and Chocolate Fruit cakes along with packs of Chocolate & Ginger fridge cakes.

4 inch Canadian Carrot cake (I know, it looks like a cupcake from this photo, but its not.)

I borrowed some 4 inch cake tins and spent most of the week baking (oh how I really dislike lining tins!).

As it was a last minute decision to attend the fair, I also had to investigate getting cake boxes (I only have 10 inch ones and thought the cakes might look a little lost!)so had to pay extra for next day delivery from RyePac to get some smaller window cake boxes and 4 inch cake boards.

I also decided that I needed to add a sparkle to these cakes (it is Christmas after all!) so ordered some edible glitter from

As the week leading up to the fair progressed, I was surrounded by more and more cakes and my kids where most put out that none were for them.

In addition to the smaller cakes, I made three "demo" cakes, as my main aim was to get some interest in my bigger cakes which people could order, so here are some pictures of the cakes.

I now have this Christmas fair bug, as I'm doing another two, one on the 5th & 11th of December, so need to start thinking about baking and changing some of the things I did in the first one (win - learn - change).

One thing that did go well, was to have some "tasters" for people to try. For these I used the Fridge Cake, and had little squares for people to try - this bought people to the stall and got them interested in the other types of cakes on offer, so i will certainly do that again and will consider making a cake specifically for that purpose.