Baking Bonanza!

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This weekend has been full of baking, decorating and eating cupcakes! I made these Hummingbird Bakery vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting for my best friend’s birthday yesterday. They went down a treat! I can definitely recommend using Green and Black’s cocoa powder and the decorations were from Just Bake and I also received the other sugar flowers in my Christmas stocking. A few people have asked me where I get the boxes from – you can buy them online from Cakes, Cookies and Crafts.

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Since I had made a double quantity of chocolate frosting for 20 cupcakes (I doubled the sponge recipe) I still had some left so tonight I russled up some more vanilla cupcakes. This time they’re for Easter and I’ve used Smarties eggs. The one in the middle is for a colleague who has given up chocolate for Lent. I used caramel dipping sauce from Waitrose – it’s a bit like dulce de leche and tastes delicious. Last weekend I baked some shortbreads from the Great British Book of Baking and it tastes fab to add a dollop of caramel to those! If you’re wondering how I’m not the size of a house making these cupcakes, I made it to my first spin class tonight in eight years. I think the endorphin kick spurred me into baking again tonight!

Hummingbird Bakery Cupcake Challenge

Angel Cupcake_Naomi Longworth_compressed2To celebrate the third anniversary of Cake Takes the Biscuit, I decided to invent my own cupcake and enter the Hummingbird Bakery Cupcake Challenge to boot. I started researching my ideas for American home-style baking whilst on a recent trip to Australia. My American friend out there talked about her childhood memories of angel food cake, a super light fluffy cake made with egg whites. So I set upon creating Angel Cupcake – a light and fluffy vanilla sponge, reminiscent of angel food cake, with a lemon curd frosting to symbolise luscious Californian lemons and topped with a sprinkle of strawberries, one of America’s most important fruits.

After three nights of baking perfecting the sponge recipe, making lemon curd and trying out different backgrounds for the photograph, I finally managed to submit Angel Cupcake to the Hummingbird Bakery Cupcake Challenge with two mins to spare. Look out next week for the full list of ingredients and method so you can try out the recipe yourself! My colleagues and friends thought the cupcake was a hit because it was super light and the lemon curd frosting was delicious. So glad it was worth all the long hours of baking!

Angel Cupcake by Naomi Longworth

Photo story: Squires Baking Exhibition – part 2 – Baby cupcakes

At the Squires Baking Exhibition (you can read part 1 here) they had some fantastic competitions going on. One included a baby cupcakes competition and the amount of detail which went into the decoration was fantastic! From teddy bears to Beatrix Potter characters, plenty of imagination was used! Check out my pics below to give you inspiration for your own baby cupcakes.

Squires Baking Exhbition

Baby cupcakes competition, Squires Baking Exhibition

Squires Baking Exhibition cupcakes

Squires Baking exhibition competition - teddy bear cupcakes

Ideas for Halloween Cupcakes!

Chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream - Halloween cupcakes

I have been thinking about Halloween for several weeks but I’ve been away for several weekends in October and just couldn’t get to the baking until this weekend. I opted for some simple choc cupcakes as I was limited on time.  Waitrose had a good selection of spooky products although you needed to get in early as I arrived when there were no more orange and black sparkles and various other baking ingredients.  The website is probably your best bet – tip for next year! I did like their spooky cupcake set, complete with Halloween baking cases, and little ghouls and pumpkins on cocktail sticks.

Photographed by Hannah CarmichaelMy friends Hannah and Hazel were much more adventurous and used ‘A Zombie Ate My Cupcake’ book by Lily Vanilli  to create spooktacular treats including graveyard cupcakes with marzipan worms complete with gingerbread cookies for the tomb stones and eyeballs speared with sugar glass oozing with cherry jam for bloody treats (I actually shivered when I saw the photo!). They also made fondant death masks so their friends could decorate them at the party! You can check out Hannah’s photos here.

I used the Cakes4Fun chocolate cupcake recipe and chocolate buttercream for these Halloween treats with the Waitrose witches and Frankensteins on top. I was really chuffed with how the fairycakes came out of the oven – they were totally flat! The secret to this is to mix the ingredients for atleast 3 minutes. It seemed that if the cupcakes weren’t atleast half full though, the baking case collapsed. I did have a slight mishap on the piping as I cut my disposable piping bag too close to the metal nozzle and so icing could escape from the bag. They still tasted good but I think that next time I still stick to my trusty baking cases rather than the Halloween ones plus I won’t be making the same mistake again with the piping bag!

Hummingbird Bakery Chocolate Fondant Cupcakes

iPhone app Hummingbird BakeryFellow baking blogger Boom Bakery recently tipped me off about the Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days app for iPhone. I had been on the look out for a decent cake app for a while so I was excited to give the app a try! The photography and layout of each recipe is great and I love being able to access the recipes even when I’m offline on a train. I think the split of recipes by summer, spring, mother’s and father’s day is a bit arbitrary though. Recipes I’m keen to try are the blueberry crumble loaf, summer fruit cheesecake, and summer berry muffins (you can read the recipe review on Boom Bakery’s blog).

Chocolate sponge cupcake with chocolate ganacheThe boyfriend was in the mood for something chocolatey so I found the most chocolatey recipe on the app – chocolate fondant cupcakes. It’s a simple choc cupcake recipe but once cooled, you have to cut out a 2-3 cm deep and wide part of the sponge. You then fill it with the chocolate ganache which is pure indulgence – 200g dark choc and almost a pint of double cream! I did follow the recipe carefully and ensured the cream came to the boil before I poured it on top of the choc pieces. However, the ganache was rather runny. I put a good dollop in the middle before adding the centre of the sponge. I then poured a lot of ganache on top. I found that you could see the top of the cupcake poking through the ganache which made it look untidy. Once set, the cupcakes are yummy. I’d def recommend leaving them overnight though as it takes a while to set. When I looked at the photo again on the app, it looks like they have actually used frosting rather than ganache. I think it would be worth experimenting with the ganache ingredients/method as it was too runny to decorate with. Nevertheless they tasted great! Not for the calorie faint hearted 🙂

Angry Birds Cupcakes

Angry Birds Cupcakes for the Cake takes the biscuit blog

My boyfriend sends me lots of links to cool cakes he sees on the web and hints at which cakes he’d like for his birthday. I knew an Angry Birds cake was on the list after he sent me the Playable Angry Birds Cake video and this clever modelled one. I’m not all that experienced at modelling so didn’t think I’d be able to do the birds justice. In the end I came up with the idea of cupcake toppers but found there are very few items of Angry Birds merchandise out there at the moment. I bought these off eBay and they’re very reasonably priced and were delivered quickly. I made vanilla sponge cupcakes with piped buttercream (Cakes4Fun recipe) and then added the toppers. I found the pigs came out the best because the printing of that topper was the most accurate colour wise. I then bought some happy birthday candles and was set! Note to self though, don’t walk with those happy bday candles – the wicks are really short and they fizzle out in seconds!

Easter vanilla cupcakes recipe

with mini eggs in pink gingham cupcake boxHaving recently been to the Cakes4Fun cupcake course in Putney, I have continued to use their vanilla sponge and vanilla buttercream recipes. The sponge is light and the frosting is yummy! This time I made a mistake to use Lurpak spreadable butter as the icing wasn’t stiff enough. Next time I will definitely stick to the butter blocks as this tends to give a better result. I made these cupcakes for my friend’s birthday and she was over the moon with them. They make great pressies when you put them in a professional looking cupcake box. I bought this pink gingham one from Cakes Cookies and Crafts. See below for the Cakes4Fun vanilla cupcake recipe. Have a lovely Easter everyone!

Cupcake sponge (makes about 10)

  • 125g castor sugar
  • 125g margerine
  • 125g self raising flour
  • 2 eggs (large)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • 2-3 tablespoons of milk as needed

Vanilla buttercream:

  • 125g soft butter (use salted)
  • 250g sifted icing sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • 1 tablespoon of water as required

Hummingbird Bakery cafe review – Old Brompton Road

Last night, I visited the Hummingbird Bakery on Old Brompton Road (nearest tube is South Kensington). I went there with a friend back in February but had poor customer service and emailed the bakery to let them know I had been disappointed. Their customer services team were very good, made some changes, apologised and offered me and my friend complimentary cupcakes and coffee. We decided to give it a shot yesterday and I had a red velvet cupcake and my friend had a choc chip cheesecake cupcake (hard to say!). I thought the icing on my cupcake was delicious but the sponge was rather dry. I tried a bit of my friend’s and hers was nice and fresh and she really enjoyed it. It was a little sweet for me but then that’s what cupcakes are all about! The staff were OK but still slow to clear tables and bring drinks. On a Monday evening this could definitely have been a bit swifter. I’d like to return for take-out to keep trying their different cupcakes and cakes but I still think the ambiance of the cafe is missing that bit of sparkle.

Paris: the tale of the tart, the cupcake and the macaron

Lemon cupcake from Miss Cupcake shop in ParisI recently visited Paris for the very first time and as part of my trip, I made it my quest to sniff out a cupcake shop and devour raspberry tarts and try my first Parisian macaron. First up, I stumbled across a cupcake shop not far from the Sacré Coeur called Miss Cupcake (nearest metro station is Abesses). I chatted to the two ladies in there and bought a lovely looking lemon cupcake with yellow edible glitter. Whilst admiring the view from the Sacre Coeur I took this pic of the cupcake which came in a very handy portable cupcake container. The sponge melted in your mouth and I loved the amount of icing. As it was a lemon cupcake I think it could do with a little bit more lemon juice to make it really lemony.

Raspberry tart from Les Magots, ParisNext up was this corker of a raspberry tart in Les Deux Magots in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés area. The crème anglaise was yummy and the raspberries were plump and delicious. I did have one other raspberry tart which was superior in fact. It was from La Durée and I devoured it on the Eurostar home but I couldn’t get a snap of it with flash as everyone was fast asleep!

Macarons from La DuréeFinally, I spent a good 20 minutes queuing up for some of these beauties in La Durée. I chose vanilla, blackcurrant, caramel, red berries and chocolate. Six of these will set you back around eight euros. The intensity of flavour was incredible. I loved the blackcurrant and caramel ones. My friend told me that Pierre Hermé (here’s his chocolate macaron recipe) sells delicious ones near le Jardin des Tuileries but I didn’t get time to pop in there. I will have to save that for my next culinary visit to Paris! According to the Daily Telegraph, his book ‘Macaron’ should be publishing this autumn in English so I will be keeping my eyes peeled for that! I’ve done a bit of digging but can’t find it on sale yet so the mystery continues…Finally, if you fancy reading a bit more about macarons and Pierre Hermé, I enjoyed reading He-Eats’ blog post.

Primrose Bakery cupcake review

Primrose Bakery vanilla cupcake in foreground, lemon cupcake in backgroundToday I wandered the streets around Primrose Hill and went to the Primrose Bakery cafe on Gloucester Road. I have been to the Covent Garden branch many times but was curious to see the original one and see how they compared. The Primrose Hill one is a little rougher round the edges in the nicest possible of ways.  It is on a very quiet street tucked away. As soon as we walked in the door, my friend noticed that the smell of cupcakes was exactly the same as the Covent Garden one and I agreed. All the tables were taken but we didn’t want to rush our cupcake and get a takeaway so we hung out by the cupcake gifts, Primrose Bakery lemon frosted cupcake with lemon decorationrecipe books and cards. Eventually we landed a table! I chose a lemon cupcake and my friend had the vanilla frosted one with yellow icing and multi-coloured confetti. See here for their range of cupcakes. Mine was delicious – the sponge was a teensy bit dry but there was so much yummy lemony frosting that it all worked out. They have lots of Vanity Fair and Harper’s Bazaar magazines for you to browse over whilst you devour your cupcake slowly.  I loved the daffodils in jugs on the table – added a touch of spring on a cold May day and the place feels homely.  Whenever I go to Primrose Hill, I’ll definitely be making an excuse to detour via Gloucester Road…

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