A Successful Start To National Cupcake Week

Quote: ‘It’s all about the licking.’

Blackberry picking on Tooting Common is where our weekend continues, after great cake purchasing, yay, and poor coffee drinking at Old York Road Street Party in Wandsworth Town, boo.  Strange working times meant our weekend was Sunday and Monday.  Crestfallen at our surveyal of the empty brambles we thought we had been beaten to the bush by the real weekenders.   We thought we were destined to have an unsuccessful weekend.  We kept hunting and I began to spot blackberries, small ones, but ripe.  I pointed my Partner in the right direction and off he went.  I wasn’t just there to be the foreman, it wasn’t planned like that. I had romantic images of us hand in hand plucking juicy fruits from the bushes and popping the odd one into each other’s mouths.  My idealistic and possibly unrealistic ideals came crashing down when I couldn’t even reach the blasted blackberries.  I was too short and they were either high up or far into the bush. 

My Partner began to become more frenzied and determined, like a child on an Easter egg hunt.  And just like a child he came running back to me with scraped knees and nettle stings, but with a big smile, proud with his bounty. A rub of a doc leaf and a hug later we decided that he had a lovely day out.  We strolled back to the car hand in hand, finally a little romance, and I planned what I could make with the blackberries other than the obligatory crumble.  I was thinking about cupcakes.

On the Monday it was cake making day.  Shopping for ingredients, dull! So I ask my Partner what we should do that afternoon.  After contemplating, so I thought, really he was fascinated with his new find on the TV: the shopping channel.  Not to purchase just to marvel at the tat people would by.  What is Tanzanite anyway? He said we could go shopping for different coloured beetroots to go with dinner.  Well, I could barely contain myself with excitement.  I love food, I really do, but I had just spent the morning shopping and had already bought beetroots.  Not impressed I went for a wander anyway.  We eventually got to the fruit and veg guy and have a nose, he then asks my Partner what he wants and put on the spot he replied that he would like beetroots.   Noooo! We have some I was shouting inside, say that we are just looking.  We got given more beetroots and yes they were the common garden purple beetroots as expected.   I couldn’t take it and I intervened before I couldn’t move for beetroot, then we made a swift apology and an even swifter exit.

Baking blackberry muffins was the best way to kick off National Cupcake Week which runs from 17th-23rd Sept.  Everything was falling into place. I have worked with children for a long time and that evenings events were not dissimilar, except for perhaps the wine drinking.  An excited assistant in tow, eager and ready to learn we began.  I gave him the helpers’ job of putting out the bun cases, very important, well done darling.  Then I handed over the filling of the cases, with direction of course but, as he knew and had been anticipating, the best bit was oh so close.  Yes, I said, now you may lick the bowl.  It’s similar routine with the chocolate cakes and even better as we inserted the chocolate buttons: two in the cake mix and one in the mouth.  Once again the much anticipated words were uttered and the frenzied licking began.  With everything in the oven he washed up.  Very easy on the eye, willing and eager to help, even in the worst task of all, I think I could get used to having a helper. 

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A few wines later we decorated, it’s his first attempt and he was pretty good, even if he did say so himself.  He now thinks he has found his calling. Hey bun case boy, no usurping in the kitchen. We proudly stood back and viewed our creations. We, as adults, ‘chinked’ our glasses and ‘cheers’d’ our efforts, but as the bowl licking children, we gave each other an excitably self-satisfied high five.  And you know what we did next?  After all when it comes to cakes we are all children and just like children we couldn’t resist temptation. 

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Old York Road Street Party, Wandsworth

Quote: ‘I’m not sure if the coffee is made with skimmed milk; let me look at the sachet.’

Food and drink was the accidental focus of my Sunday.  Driving around Wandsworth Town’s dreary one way system was, strangely, a bonus to my day.  Out of the window I spotted a busy street party so Partner and I parked up to see if they had lovely people selling carefully crafted cakes and coffees, ohh, I literally love alliteration. Back to the goodies: yes they did, and to very mixed abilities. 

Firstly, at the Old York Road Street Party I found a new innovative way to eat cake: Cake Pops made by The Little Cake Pop Company. These are spherical sponges covered in a variety of different styles for children’s parties, weddings and other special, fun events.  There are kits for sale, so that you can make your own.  Worth getting in early if you want to use these ladies so that you are the first to have the innovative cake pops and have lots of smiley admirers wishing they had found them first.  Unless they branch out with other ideas then this may be a flash in the pan company. 

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Check them out on: www.littlecakepop.com.

Secondly, cupcakes from Yummy Boutique Bakery: an online company with fabulous looking sweet goods including toffee apples.  Cheesecake is my favourite dessert so when a cake is advertised as a blueberry cheesecake muffin there is simply no other option.  Review: Soft sponge, Fresh blueberries inside and on top, generous buttercream sprinkled with a little biscuit and topped with more blueberries.  The buttercream was just the usual topping and I feel it should have been made with some cream cheese, hence the cheesecake advertising, and there could have been more biscuit sprinkles which would have made it more a cheesecake muffin and not just a blueberry muffin. Having said that it looked fab and tasted great. 

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My Partner had a new concoction, one which looked delightful and would have been a favourite in the greedy eyes of children.  A cross between a Rocky Road and a Millionaire’s Shortbread it contained, ready for the list? Shortbread, lots of caramel, pistachio’s, milk chocolate, white chocolate, pink chocolate and marshmallows.  Frighteningly sweet and horrendously calorific, but, and oh so predictably and dangerously, really yummy, a sweet lover’s treat.  The cost was £2.50 each. 

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For delivery contact: http://www.yummyboutiquebakery.com.

Thirdly, and unfortunately for me: a cappuccino from a sachet.  The stall looked so promising, with lots of lovely looking coffee products for sale.  So, when I coughed up £2 for a cappuccino and asked if it was made with skimmed milk I was a little surprised to see the lady pick up a sachet and say, I’m not sure I’ll have a look at the back of the packet.  The most technical element to this coffee making was stirring the coffee powder into hot water. I wanted to say, don’t worry, I’ve changed my mind.  Give me my money back and we’ll forget all about it.  But, I was very British and didn’t want to offend the friendly lady, or cause a scene.  I was a little curious too.  It tasted like cream mixed with my sweetener and unsurprisingly it ended up down the drain.  It is one thing to use up my calorie intake on a yummy cake but it is quite another to waste it on cream in a cup. 

It’s a shame that this coffee stall let my experience of the street party down.  Keep an eye out for further events there and take my advice: stock up on cakes but go to one of the cafes for a coffee.  I have no idea if they are any good but they can’t be any worse than the one from the stall.

Unknown Comedy Genius

Quote: “Just ordered a coffee at Costa, 5mins later the woman is shouting ‘Americano, Americano’ whilst looking at me nodding, I said ‘I just ordered a coffee, love.’ The Americano turned out to be my coffee. Got a round of applause and a s**t load of laughs from some posh golfers saying ‘well said.’ I weren’t even being funny, I ordered a coffee, what the f**k is an Americano?” 

Thanks to my FB friend Kelsey.  Gotta laugh.

Massive Muffins and Meringues

 

Quotes: ‘It’s a shame they don’t do Moomin cakes.’

Out and about on a lovely girlie afternoon and the usual average brownie and cappuccino later my friend and I, in a very touristy way, took a wander through Covent Garden (that’s in London for those who may be annoyed with my assumed southern knowledge). 

After carrying my over excited friend out of the Moomin shop we spied a food market.  This is exactly what I like to see in Covent Garden: fresh, fab looking and not too expensively priced goodies.  It had a hint of the US with its colossal cakes and supersize sausages.  But, for me, if anything is going to be big, make it my cake. 

I wasn’t disappointed with my finds.  First of all the lovely lads at the Red Gingham Bakery stall, the cakes were varied and exciting, from multi-coloured sponge centres to Rolo filled fudge (I think that is what it was, my eyes found it difficult to focus on the totality of treats).

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Secondly, my friend and I pause, looking agog at meringues, massive meringues stacked up like the Great Wall of China, but fresher.  The Chinese blocks were made into Eton mess: small £4 large £6.  Make of those prices what you will.

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Thirdly and finally, I end on my favourite: Karantania Deli.  As I was taking photos, the lovely ladies asked me why I was taking pics of the food, so I explained that it was for this blog.  She looked relieved then proceeded to tell me that other people take photos of their marvellous muffins, copy their ideas and then have the cheek to sell them.  Obviously I understand that nothing is really 100% new, but after working hard and creating something that looks and tastes good it must niggle to have someone swooping in taking the potential glory.  I like to create something new and take pride in my work so I don’t understand (even though I know it’s money) why anyone would want to steal another’s ideas, whatever the form.  And that’s all I have to say about that, as Forest Gump would say.

Back to the lovely ladies; take a look at these muffins.

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£3 for a very, very large savoury muffin; it was at this point that I wished that I hadn’t eaten the brownie earlier.  They did give me a little nibble on a lovely cake though.  Yum!  Thanks ladies.

If you are a foodie like me then you may like to take a look at a very new company and their website, set up by one of the ladies with the muffins.  A lot of food passion here.  I am not promoting it for any other reason than I like the sound of it.  She, along with her partner, has set up http://www.polankatravel.co.uk which is a travel company where food enthusiasts and travel lovers can explore Sri Lanka and learn to cook like a local.  I will be checking it out as it contains two of my faves.  If I go AWOL then you know where I am.

If Sri Lanka’s too far then take a trip to Covent Garden and try some of London’s Food instead.

World Domination

Quote: “Hold it still, it’s frothing at the lip.”

It’s a skill alright.  The Partner hasn’t mastered it, my mother certainly hasn’t mastered it, but, whether it is a natural skill or just years of practice, I seem to have it.  I can walk along the street and drink a coffee at the same time.  Yes, honestly, it’s true.  There are a few caveats to this: pushing a pram or similar and anything faster than a quick walk can result in messy issues.  Some drinks are easier than others.  I, as the more astute of you may have guessed, have a cappuccino.  Thicker than an americano its viscosity helps it stay in place.  But I have noticed that it has a hint of the rabies about it.

After purchasing two of the same my partner and I wandered down the street chatting about politics, economics and world domination whilst practicing our evil plan laughs: the usual.  I think that during one of our BRUHAHAHA’s or MWAHAHAA’s my Partner lost all control and I had to point and stare at his incapability of controlling his coffee.  It began to froth out through the lip and spurt onto his shirt.  Oh dear, I shook my head and looked at mine with smug pleasure at my clean cup and more importantly, pristine shirt.

I offer him some wisdom.  First hold the cup away from you a little.  Then you need to keep your arm still, as if it has suspension, like in the car, honey: the body moves around it whilst the arm stays in place.  You may look a little like you have had an accident and your arm is propped up in plaster, but it works.  And last of all practice, practice, practice.  How he doesn’t leave me and my pompous prattling’s there and then I don’t know.

He tries harder and there are no further incidences.  We leave off the evil plan laughs and decide we should try and concentrate on the smaller tasks at hand before we take over the world.

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Inspiration

Quote: “If it tastes as good as its concept.”

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Happy Butterfly Day.   Baked by Peggy Porchen, inspired by Andy Warhol.

Stylist Issue 139.  This is where this blog inspiration comes from.  The superb free, yes free magazine had a dedicated issue to art.  Celebrating the return of the Great British Bake Off they, in their words, got the nation’s best bakers to recreate six classics, using icing for paint and sponge as their canvas.

If you can inspire those who love art to bake then that’s great, but if you can inspire those who bake to love art then that, for me, is even better. 

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Composition With Red, Yellow, Blue And Black. Baked by Ed Kimber, inspired by Piet Mondrian.

Well done Stylist for the whole arty issue.  For more arty cakes check out www.stylist.co.uk

I Want To Be Queen

Quote: “Of course I can write anywhere, I’m a writer.”

I would like to say that as a writer I can hone in on my writerly genius (Ahem) and spin gold at any time.  But honestly it’s a real exercise of determination to sit and write for a continual length of time.  I put it on a par with training for the marathon or Bikram yoga.  I say this because I have participated in both and during these (feats of endurance) activities my mind was battling with my body, trying to convince it that there is something else that I must be doing.  In the marathon my body was screaming, you have done enough training, stop now, what if you injure yourself, stop.  All lies from my own head.  In Bikram my mind is shouting, help you’re suffocating in an old sports sock, you’re going to pass out in this heat, sweating this much is not normal, maybe you’re coming down with something.   Writing is similar, no matter how much I love it, need or even want to do it; my tricky, ever so creative little mind tries to distract me.   

Image Most of my writing, creative writing, is done in cafés where the environment is not my own so I can switch off and people can bring me things.  Not that I want a slave, it just saves me removing myself from my computer or pen.  I tend to edit and re write at home.  Sounds strange that a busy café may be more productive, but most writers will probably understand where I am coming from and how much being at home can be the biggest distraction of all.  It takes a lot of will power to write at home, so congratulations to those who manage it.  Cleaning the bathroom becomes something strangely attractive: something that I have to do and I can’t believe that I have left it so long, it must be done now or I will never be able to concentrate.  I settle back down to writing with the basin sparking but what’s that I hear?

“How can you relax?  Look at that speck of dust on the carpet.  You must vacuum immediately.”

What’s that?  My conscience?  Surely not.  I shake my head with derision in a Sheldon manner. I try and ignore it and I look at my computer but before I know it my hands are wrapped around the nozzle and I have stripped back the sofa and taken down the curtains to do the best job, a job worth doing and all that.  It won’t take long then I can concentrate on my writing.

All better, I sit back and sigh, a sigh of relief because now I can relax. But what’s that?  My mouth is a little dry.  Of course, I have been working hard and I must replenish my fluid intake immediately.  It will only take five minutes max.

Settled with tea I begin.  Like Mozart I strike away at the keys with only a flourish that comes with genius.  Yes, I’m on a roll. But wait, what’s that sensation, ignore it, it will go.  Tap, tap. tap, oh for goodness sake I say, or something similar.  I stop wriggling in my seat, uncross my legs and make my way to the pristine bathroom, relieved now I return to write.  I have to re-read to get back into the flow (so to speak).

Whatever it is: food, having a bladder like that of a heavily pregnant woman or a pigeon flying past the window there will always be something to distract me.  Inspiration is ebbing away; I decide today has been a rite off anyway so I may as well finish chores and start afresh tomorrow. 

Good luck queen of procrastination.