02 December 2009

World Cupcakes

So by now you know a little more about me ... most importantly, that I LOVE cupcakes ... and that I live in sunny South Africa - Cape Town more specifically.

And if you know anything about Cape Town and/ or anything about sports - football in particular - you'll know that the two are intricately linked this week.

Yes, that's right, Cape Town is beautifying herself for the arrival of our very own Charlize Theron, as well as the devilishly gorgeous David Beckham, along with a flurry of other superstars.

You see, while the FIFA World Cup Football Tournament only kicks off (please excuse the dreadful pun) in June 2010, this Friday evening, 4 December, Cape Town plays host to the Final Draw. That means we find out who plays in what pools, against who and where. It's the last piece of information the world is waiting for - it affects the flights people book, the places they stay, where they party - you get the picture!

Have I lost you already?

I promise I can bring this back to cupcakes - but I needed you to understand why all the hype first!

I took some inspiration from a little chocolate football mould I found at my local baking shop last week.
And I came up with the World Cupcake ... in celebration of the World Cup Final Draw!

This is why I love cupcakes - they are so adaptable ...

And because I'm feeling particularly patriotic, I added this special touch.



You want to see a close up?

And for good measure - I made one football half in white fondant icing.

It took a fair amount of petal paste dusted in the mould to ensure I'd be able to get it out afterwards, but it worked a treat!
Of course I then had to colour in with an edible pen!
I felt like a child again!

I hope you enjoy them?

20 November 2009

Lovely layers ...

So I recently had another request for a kiddies birthday party ... a tiered cake ...

Guess where my head went?

Pink Cake Box Cake

Thank goodness that wasn't the request ... in fact, the cake was for a small birthday party, so it didn't need to be over the top - there were only going to be five of them after all.

I was still stressing a little (!), until it was suggested that the bottom tier be a normal sandwich cake, the next level a mini cake, and the next a cupcake ... I loved the idea!

And how easy!

I was also asked to make brownies with strawberries (because something had to be healthy!) and a batch of cupcakes.

My kind of party!

This one I was looking forward to ...
And when I was told the birthday girl wasn't a particularly girly girl ... well, I think I didn't really listen!!!!

Check out the cupcakes that became the inspiration for the cake!

See what I mean - pink bows!
You can't get more girly!

Now I could have gone the whole rolled fondant route - and perhaps I will for the next one I do ... but we went with chocolate.
Yummy chocolate.

What I have learnt over time with all this cake baking ... is something they call crumb coating ... it will save your life, I promise!

You see, you bake your cake.
You can use the recipe featured in Let Them Eat Cake.
However, I used Nigella's recipe for Victoria sponge, which is essentially double quantities of the cupcake recipe which you can find on Icing Innovation. Although you do need to add a teaspoon of baking powder if you make it in the food processor.

Once it's out of the oven and cooled, i brush the edges with a pastry brush, to lose the excess crumbs.
Then, you ice it with a very thin layer of your icing - normally butter icing in my kitchen!
Then, put it in the fridge.
And wait.
Take it out about 20 minutes later, and if you touch the icing gently, you'll feel it has hardened a little.
Then, ice away as you want for your finished cake ... and ... no crumbs in sight in the icing!!!!
You heard it here!

Because the mini cake that was to be the second layer was so small, I didn't bother with putting supports into the base cake ... I hope I don't get a call this afternoon to say it's collapsed!!

When I'd iced the bottom cake and mini cake, and put them both back in the fridge for another 20 minutes, I put them all together ... and then I piped around the edges to hide gaps ...

And then I put all the little sprinkles on - this was hard work because the icing wasn't essentially wet anymore, so a little pressure made it work.

And the final touch (and fast becoming my every time final touch) was edible glitter.

What do you think?
I loved it!
I didn't want to let it go!

So gorgeous you must see more photos.

Here's a close up...

And a really close close up...

I want this cake for my birthday next year!

I hope you like it!
Keep reading!

04 November 2009

She wants this one ....

OK, I don't have kids, but I can just imagine how many times you moms hear that ...

"I want that one".

I got a call from a friend of mine a few weeks ago ... her daughter's birthday party was coming up, and she needed to finalise the cake ... and of course - she wants that one.
She made it sound very complicated, so I was really quite nervous to see this cake I was being asked to reproduce.
So, the colour photocopy was hand delivered to my house, and this is what I found inside:

Not so bad, I thought.
I was clearly relieved! I've been asked for Pirate Ships before (no, I didn't do it - are you mad!), so this was great.

Now, we must understand that this picture is copied from a Donna Hay cookbook, in other words, it comes from Australia.
And of course the cake is wrapped in Musk Sticks ... never heard of them in my life before - seeing as how we're sitting in Cape Town, sunny South Africa.
So that was challenge number one.

I had to go on a shopping expedition to see what else we could find here that would work.

Pink Boudoir Biscuits?
Possibly, but I was worried about them getting soggy.

Fizzers? Would have been my choice, but can you just imagine all those sticky little fingers! Mom didn't go for that option ... lucky me, I didn't have to unwrap 50 Fizzers!

I liked the look of these guys, but I nearly broke my tooth on them, so thought best not to go with this one for health & safety issues - never mind public liability insurance!

Then these Strawberry Pencils could definitely have worked, but at R2 each, and being as thin as they were, it was going to make a very expensive cake! Oh, and I thought too red too...

And then I stumbled into my fabulous local Chinese shop and found these little guys.

And of course, Mom loved them.
So that's what we went with.

And with 30 kids coming to her party, I made a large square vanilla sponge cake (using twice the quantity of the recipe from Let Them Eat Cake).
And a plain vanilla butter icing and no colouring, and using yellow margarine to get that pretty creamy vanilla colour.

Attention to detail is the name of the game, you understand, so I found a beautiful pink wrapping paper and carefully wrapped the cake board.
I also edged it with a simple pink and silver edged ribbon.

The marshmallows stuck easily to the fresh, moist icing, and as soon as I was done, I put it in the fridge to firm up. They were much shorter than the Musk Sticks though, so I used one row of vertical marshmallows, and topped the cake with two rows going horizontally.

Once ready, I took a big pink bow, layered with the same pink and silver edged ribbon from the base, and wrapped them around the top edge of the marshmallows.

I couldn't resist the little pink rose to finish off the ribbon.

I have also had these mini marshmallows in my store room, from Jacqui in London (again!), and this was the perfect opportunity to use them.

I think it came out really well.
Admittedly, it doesn't look much like the Donna Hay cake, but we took the idea and interpreted it to what we have here in SA, and I think it worked.

I hope you like it?
And I hope you keep reading ...

22 October 2009

Supposedly Gooey Caramel Cupcakes

OK, so the other day I was asked if I'd ever made gooey caramel centred cupcakes.

It sounded so good, I had to try.

And I have an excuse, tomorrow I've been invited to attend an open house shopping day, cupcakes in tow of course ... which should be fun, it's a new experience for me.

So, I had my camera at hand, so you could follow the process with me.

From the title, I guess you'll gather that they didn't quite work out as they should have, but let me tell you they do still taste divine, so all is not lost!

After a little Google search, I found these.
So this is the holy grail - this is what I was going for. And just in case you don't follow that link, this is the image they lured me in with.

Gorgeous - right?

I even Googled the kind of caramel sweets they used before I went and bought a South African equivalent!

Anyway, it also made me realise I haven't shared my cupcake recipe with you. So here it is.

Vanilla Cupcakes (recipe from How to be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson)
125 grams unsalted butter (I use Rama margarine for Baking)
125 grams castor sugar
125 grams self-raising flour
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence (I'm sure she says extract, but it's expensive!!!)
2-3 tablespoons of milk

Put everything in the food processor and blend until thoroughly mixed.

Yup. Everything.

Then spoon into your cupcake pan - lined with cupcake papers.

I make 24 at a time and so I just double up the recipe. Works perfectly.

So, for the caramel centred cupcakes, all you're supposedly meant to do is press a caramel into the centre of each cupcake before baking.
Like this.

A little aside here - see how the last three cupcakes don't have caramels? I'm sure there were 24 in the box ... clearly I am so bust!!!

Then, this is what they looked like when they came out of the oven. No pretty square shaped whole in the top.

Anyway, I was still holding out hope that the gooey centre would be yummy.

I couldn't wait ... of course.

So I dusted one with icing sugar.

So pretty.

And then took a big old bite ...

It really was yummy - but I don't think that's where the caramel is supposed to be.

Never mind, I think we'll call these chewy caramel bottom cupcakes.

I'm sure that'll be fine!

Have a good weekend
Keep reading

21 October 2009

Icing Innovation

When I made cupcakes for the first Vintage Fair, I went to town.
There were four different tea infusions, champagne and then three liqueur infusions, as well as vanilla butterfly cupcakes for the kiddies.
That was a lot to keep on top of and required a lot of organisation!

So this week, I wanted to go back to basics somewhat.

What I mean is - chocolate and vanilla - was all I had energy for!

But, I did go to town when it came to the icing.
And that was so much fun ... and honestly, so easy.

First, you have to bravely spend time in the chocolate aisle in the supermarket - and pick out some favourites.

I went with Oreo cookies, Crunchies and Peppermint Crisps.

With my best friend, the food processor, we blended each separately, then stored them in a Tupperware.

I made a huge batch of butter icing, and then split that into three, adding to the prepared chocolate and cookie crumbles ...

The icing then took on the flavours of the chocolate, and even the colour to some degree - ok, I added some green food colouring to really differentiate the peppermint crisp ones!

And once I'd piped on the icing, I sprinkled a little of the crumbled topping over them so that I was sure I knew which was which.

Of course a little gold dust goes a long way too.

These ones were Peppermint Crisp flavour - obviously.


And Oreo Cookies - so pretty.

For the purists, I did keep some plain chocolate

and vanilla.

Oh yes - and for those who were watching their waste lines (although to be fair, there weren't many - when it comes to cupcakes it seems part of the indulgence is the guilt of consumption!) I made a fat free option.

Not completely fat free, as they still had sugar and eggs in them, but fat free in that there was no butter, margarine or oil added at all. All you do is substitute the margarine with apple sauce.
And there it is - guilt free at just 2.5 Weight Watchers points each.

I hate to think how many points are in the other ones.
So I won't.
I'll just enjoy them.
Hope you do too.

Which one would you pick?

Keep reading ...

14 October 2009

Cakes and cupcakes meet local wire artist ...

One of the other things that has kept me busy in the lead up to the Vintage Fair, is a range of cupcake and cake stands that I have developed with a local wire artist here in Cape Town.

I know it's slightly off topic from baking and all things yummy, but it is related!

I've been surfing the net for a while now - all things related to cake decorating, weddings, packaging, events, recipes, chefs, food bloggers and of course all the various suppliers, stockists and retailers all over the world - from the UK and US, to Denmark and Australia.

I could spend hours on these sites - it's so interesting to me how different the offerings are in different countries.

There are amazing images of cupcake stands, many by a retailer called Wilton, who we don't get in South Africa.

Here's an image to give you an idea:

My local baking shop has a number of imported products from Wilton, but this makes them sooooo expensive.

And then something dawned on me - we have incredible local crafters in SA, many of whom dedicate themselves to doing wire craft work. In this age of environmental consciousness - why import things from the US, when we have the materials and the skills right here on our doorstep. Never mind the carbon footprint, we have high unemployment here and to my mind we should be supporting our local crafters first and foremost and keep these kinds of opportunities home grown.

I got in touch with contacts at a local non-profit organisation called Wola Nani who do amazing work to improve the quality of life for people living with HIV & AIDS

And they in turn put me in touch with Zola Hector Senteni, a wire artist they had worked with previously.

Doesn't he look happy?

We had a meeting about my ideas and I showed him a number of images - he was so excited to have a new project, and of course the prospect of an additional income stream to him, was too good to pass up. He got stuck in right away.

Zola is incredibly talented -
he exhibited as one of 17 crafters at the Decorex exhibition in 2005.
He also travelled to Munich in 2006 to produce a wire art installation to showcase South Africa for the 2010 World Cup.

He's an amazing man, and I'm very happy to be working with him.

He has produced a fantastic cupcake stand for me - and the three tiers even come apart so that they can be flat packed, for easier storage.

Here it is with no stock.

And here it was on our stall at the Vintage Fair.

Don't you think it's beautiful?

This one I spray painted cream.

Here's a close up.

With the Vintage Fair in mind, I also asked him to produce a cake stand for me - with old style French trimmings, which I just adore.

Here it is in pink ...

I hope you like them as much as I do?

And if you do, let me know - we would be very happy to fill your order!

Have a great week - keep reading!