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.