Friday, 29 April 2016

Cake shop exploration: Crumbs cupcakery

10 College Street, York, YO1 7JF. Open Mon - Sat 10am - 5pm, Sun 11am - 4pm | www.crumbscupcakery.co.uk

A delightful hidden gem tucked behind York Minster that's full of cupcakes and delightful vintage sweetness that makes for a rather delicious and sweet experience.

Crumbs cupcakery is as the name suggests home to an abundance of cupcakes, they've been serving York's residents with their delicious treats since 2010 and they've certainly made a name for themselves with their tasty selection of more-ish sweets.

A delightfully sweet cake shop, as you enter your greeted with a counter choc full of the days freshly baked cupcakes, tucked behind is their cupcake kitchen when cake porn connoisseurs can watch the delicious magic happen. Surrounded by vintage furnishings and decor which fit in perfectly with the quaint building. The settings make for a relaxing stop off whilst you munch upon't your cake.

The cupcake selection is truly astounding with plenty to choose from alongside a selection of daily baked offerings, mini cupcakes and other baked treats. Whether you prefer chocolate to lemon, something decadent like their brownie cupcake with a hidden brownie filling or a sweet take on a classic with their Victoria sandwich inspired cupcake there's plenty to choose from, and they also offer gluten free options.

On my visit there was certainly an abundance of choice, torn between their daily specials and their seasonal offerings I decided to try one of their specials that day, a double chocolate cupcake. A moist and rich cupcake with tasty hidden chocolate chunks inside, the dark chocolate base was complemented by a white chocolate buttercream that was delightfully sweet and creamy, I could have easily ate another...

To go with the cake I choose their Earl grey tea, they have a full selection of Tea pigs blends to choose from and this went rather well with the cupcake in an equally sweet tea pot. If however you prefer something different to tea you'll find a full selection of coffees and soft drinks to choose from.

If you have a rather sweet spot for the cupcake you simply must pay a visit to Crumbs cupcakery for some of the tastiest you'll ever experience.

Cake score:
5/5 | Free from options available.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

A cake fancier's guide to the BBC Good food summer show.

It's sweltering in mid June yet thousands of keen foodies are embarking upon the NEC for the summer stint of the BBC Good Food show. It's certainly takes this much dedication to source out tasty new treats and tipples and that's one thing that this show is choc full of!

I, of course was there primarily to sample the delicious cake offerings on show, but also to have a good old food perv at the same time, you know, whilst I was there with all that tasty booze and tempting sweets on show... One thing that's certainly apparent as you approach the main entrance way to the show is the staggering size of the food halls, you almost don't know where to start, especially amongst the bustling crowds, thankfully you can preview the show guide before attending on the website, so you can plan out a course of action to visit the stalls that take your fancy.

For me of course it was the cake stands, these were dotted throughout the venue including a small selection of dedicated cake and baking supply stands in the 'Cakes and bakes village'. There was a lovely feeling of variation wandering throughout, you'd find a macaron stand next to a rum stall, a cake stand next to a preserves and gin stall and baking supplies nestled amongst teas, they've obviously got their cake priorities right!

Starting from the entrance way the first cake stand that caught my eye was The little round cake company, they're staggering sized Merangz immediately stand out next out to their generously sized Tweeners, mini-ish versions of tasty bakes that are rather delicious, they regularly trade at food fairs so chances are you'll stumble across them at some point.

Not too far away from their stand was The brownie bar whose tempting treats I'd been eyeing up on twitter for a while now, a delicious selection of their brownies from Malteaser to Lemon meringue were available alongside their tasty brownie bombs.

Another must visit nearby was Sponge cakes, a mail order cake company who certainly know a good bake, with their £1 cake boxes there really was no excuse to not try a few out, and with traditional bakes next to their Bounty and Snickers cakes you really are spoilt for choice.

A good pit stop as any was the delightfully sweet Simply vintage designs, a rather lovely stall full of vintage tea wares and vintage inspired bake wares, if you were looking for a cute tea stand or tea set you'd certainly find one here.

Their stall marked the start of the 'Cakes and bakes village', a little smaller in size than I was expecting with just a few stalls, but there was a nice selection to browse, with sweet baking supplies and tasty treats like Tophat teacakes yummy tea cakes.

Nestled nearby in the 'Great taste market' was Chocolicious cakes whose stall was (if you'll pardon the pun) choc full of tasty slices of cake to take away, from tiffin to rocky road including a few gluten free options too.

The final cake stop was the rather manic Mrs Crimbles stand and with gluten free bakes that are this tasty you can see why. Their bakewell slices and macaroons have long been a Cake porn favourite and you could stock up on them over at their stand.

There was a few other baked treats dotted amongst the stalls to browse, from Dimkin's macarons and Vanilli's tasty cakes, so there was certainly plenty to taste amongst the stands. It's a great way to sample treats from exhibitors you may not normally see at local markets and fairs and I can see why some of the event goer's stockpile so much at the show!

Of course it's not just about shopping you'll also see a variety of baking and cooking demonstrations during the day, with demonstrations from Stacie Stewart, John Whaite & Frances Quinn covering the cake side of the show, alongside an amusing pun laden chat with Paul Hollywood & Mary Berry in the super theatre (sadly no Mel & Sue doing cheeky innuendos at the side of the stage though..). So there was certainly plenty to keep this cake fancier amused!

My tips for future show goer's would be to get there early or later in the day to beat the crowds, take your time browsing the stalls and be prepared, the venue gets rather toasty during the day so pack a hand fan & spare bottle with you, even in the winter, as it does get infamously warm in the venue. But, above all have fun, sample as many treats as you can and don't overload yourself too much with cake to take home!

There's always a Good Food show lined up whatever time of the year, visit their site for future dates including the Bakes & Cakes show in October, www.bbcgoodfoodshow.com

Note: I attended the event with a free press pass but this does not affect my view of the show, I'd have attended anyway as a ticket holder had I not been granted a pass.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Cherry bakewell cupcakes

A homage to the tasty classic tart, these bakewell cupcakes takes a pinch of inspiration from the treat with the addition of Sugar and crumbs cherry bakewell flavoured icing sugar on top. A delightfully sweet bake that's rather scrumptious with all the flavours of the cake, jam and buttercream combined!

Ingredients
  120g self raising flour
  140g caster sugar
  1/2 tsp baking powder
  40g butter
  120ml milk
  1 egg
  1/2 tsp vanilla essence

For the buttercream and filling
  125g Sugar and crumbs cherry bakewell icing sugar
  40g butter
  1 tbsp milk
  1 tsp red food colouring
  6 glace cherries halved
  Raspberry jam

Pre heat the oven to 180c/160c fan/gas mark 4 and line a cupcake tray with cases (makes 12 cupcakes).

Beat together the sugar, flour, baking powder and butter to a sandy consistency, if beating by hand try to break down the butter with the back of the spoon to aid the process.

Whisk in the egg, vanilla essence and milk and blend, this will be a somewhat runnier batter than other cupcakes so don't worry if you have a loose runny mixture.

Spoon the mixture into each case, fill each case up around half way. Before placing the tray in the oven turn it down a notch to around 170c/150c/gas mark 3 to create the perfect flat top, bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and risen.

Leave to cool on a rack for 30 minutes, whilst you do this prep for the next stage of the cupcake process! Mix together the butter with half of the Sugar and crumbs icing sugar and blend your buttercream topping to a smooth mixture, then add the remaining icing sugar and blend. Add 1 tbsp of milk and 1 tsp of food colouring and blend to a light, smooth mixture; these cakes will have a light covering of buttercream rather than towering peaks to create more of a classic bakewell look to the cupcakes, so don't worry if the quantities look a little small! The sweet cherry bakewell flavour finishes off the cupcakes perfectly, I won't blame you for inhaling the cherry aroma as you mix your buttercream...

Set your buttercream aside for later whilst you core out your cupcakes, to do this use a cake corer (you can find these beauties for a mere 99p at Dunelm mill so they won't cost the earth) and remove around 2/3 in depth from the centre of the cupcake, fill this with jam then slice the top off from your cored cake centre and place it back on top; this makes covering the cake with buttercream much easier. Repeat this process for each cupcake.

Now take your buttercream and place a small spoonful on top of each cake until all 12 are covered then finish off with a cherry half on top of each cupcake.

Best eaten: These cupcakes make for a sweet afternoon tea treat, the flavours from the Sugar and crumbs cherry bakewell flavoured icing sugar in the buttercream complement the raspberry jam beautifully and it certainly evokes the senses with fond memories of the classic bakewell tart. A delightfully sweet flavour that's also light and fluffy thanks to the bake.

Want some delicious flavoured icing sugar to enhance your bake? Take a peek at Sugar and crumbs full range including the cherry bakewell flavour used for this bake!

Cupcake base recipe adapted from : Hummingbird bakery's Vanilla cupcakes

Note: When this recipe was originally posted at www.cake-porn.co.uk I was sent this icing sugar by Sugar and Crumbs for free to try some recipe ideas out. Had I not been sent the icing sugar for free I still would have tried this recipe idea out, so this by no means affects my recipe post and baking suggestion. You can easily adapt this recipe should you prefer, by using a plain icing sugar and adding cherry flavouring to the bake.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Chocolate lime and coconut cake.

An exquisite dairy free cake that certainly packs a punch with it's taste thanks to the addition of Sugar and crumbs chocolate and lime cocoa powder in the bake, you'll want to eat this in one sitting, yes really it's just THAT delicious!

Ingredients
  190g plain flour
  150g light brown sugar
  30g Sugar and crumbs chocolate lime cocoa powder
  1 tsp baking powder
  1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  180ml coconut milk or 50g coconut milk block to mix
  120g soya margarine
  1 tsp vanilla essence

For the topping
  50g dark chocolate
  3 tbsp grated coconut milk block

Pre heat oven to 180c/160c fan/gas mark 4 And line a round 8" cake tin.

Mix together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder in a large bowl with a pinch of salt. The Sugar and crumbs cocoa powder is certainly rich in taste so you won't need to add any extra chocolate to this bake.

In a separate bowl pour in the coconut milk, if you have this in block form instead simply add 160ml of boiled water to a jug and add 50g of coconut milk block to this and stir to melt the block and create your milk.

Now add the margarine with the coconut milk to the bowl along with the vanilla essence and stir well.

Pour the coconut mixture into the flour mixture and blend together, a rich smooth substance should start to form.

Pour this mixture into your cake tin and bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 10-15 minutes before removing it and placing on a wire rack to cool.

While this cools melt your chocolate down for the topping, once melted stir in 2 tbsp of grated coconut milk block, this will result in a delicious chocolatey bounty topping to spread over the top of your cake! Spread the chocolate mixture on top and sprinkle 1 tbsp of grated coconut on top.

Best eaten: An hour after baking this cake is deliciously moist and soft, you'll eat your cake slice in 2 maybe 3 bites, we promise.. it's extra tasty when warm but equally just as scrumptious when cooled. The addition of the Sugar and crumbs chocolate lime cocoa powder certainly adds a touch of zing to the bake and really enhances the coconut flavour making it taste like a delicious lime bounty bar, yum!

Want some delicious flavoured cocoa powder to enhance your bake? Take a peek at Sugar and crumbs full range including the chocolate lime flavour used for this bake!


Note: When this recipe was originally posted at www.cake-porn.co.uk I was sent this cocoa powder by Sugar and Crumbs for free to try some recipe ideas out. Had I not been sent the cocoa powder for free I still would have tried this recipe idea out, so this by no means affects my recipe post and baking suggestion. You can easily adapt this recipe should you prefer, by using a plain chocolate powder and adding lime flavouring to the bake.

American vs British cupcakes, what's the difference?

You'll have seen the term 'American style cupcake' crop up in discussion to describe bakeries like Hummingbird bakeryViolet cakes and Buttercup cake shop. But exactly what makes a cupcake an American cupcake? How does it differ from it's British cakey cousin? and does it make a big difference in flavour? Naturally, here at Cake Porn I've been making some tasty comparisons..

So what makes a cupcake an American cupcake? It's not dotted in stars and stripes if that's what your wondering, what makes a cupcake more American in style is the difference in texture and sizing compared to traditional British cupcakes, or fairy cakes as they're sometimes named.

Your typical American cupcake is larger in size than your average British cupcake, with generous lashings of frosting on top and a more moister bake. Generally, very sweet in taste and usually packed with flavour, you'll instantly recognize American style cupcakes like Red velvets on the menu at American style bakeries.

One of the key differences between the two is the ingredients used, American style cupcakes tend to use plain flour with plenty of baking powder in the bake to create the rise whilst using the addition of milk, or sometimes replacing the butter with oil in the recipe, to create that moist bake. You'll also find cream cheese frosting used much more often on American style cupcakes to their British counterparts, alongside a plethora of sweet additions to the recipe like Marshmallow fluff and of course peanut butter.

With all these super sized, extra frosted, sweet, moist bakes it's easy to see why we've taken to them so well, but how does the British cupcake compare to it's moist, sweet and generously sized American counterpart? Sometimes referred to as fairy cakes as opposed to cupcakes your British cupcake tends to be a little smaller in size, much like a dainty cake.

Delightfully light and sweet these delicate cupcakes are made using self raising flour with the occasional pinch of baking powder to help the bake along. Compared to the American cupcake we tend to use butter for our bakes which helps compose the light, fluffy texture of the cupcake. We don't tend to go as overboard for the buttercream topping, preferring to add a dainty swirl or layering of frosting on top with the occasional pretty addition of sprinkles or fruit.

The differences may not be terribly noticeable on sight, if you were to place one of each together on a plate the mainly noticeable difference would be the size, it's not until you taste the cupcakes that you can really make the comparisons. American cupcakes tend to have a denser, moister bake with a very sweet flavour, whereas your British cupcake will have a lighter, fluffier texture with a sweet yet subtle flavour. Of course it's all down to the recipes as to the real flavour comparisons but with the American bake taking so well here you may well find a few traditionally American flavours brought into a more British bake.

As far as I'm concerned I'd happily take either cake any day, some days when you crave a really sweet treat you can't beat scoffing upon't a Red velvet cupcake, but sometimes a plain vanilla fairy cake just really hits the spot! Either way, it's all delicious cake!

Images: American cupcakes - Thephotoguy | Dreamstime Stock Photos &Stock Free Images, & British cupcake Theresa Iovcheva via Free images.com.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Tea room exploration: Sugar Junction


60 Tib Street, Manchester. Open Mon 9am-6pm, Tues-Sat 9am-11:45pm, Sun 9am-5pm | www.sugarjunction.co.uk

Nestled in Manchester's Northern Quarter is a delightful tea room, a lovely little haven for tea drinkers, cocktail connoisseurs, and decadent cake eaters.. With a vintage flair that makes for a delightful experience.

Tucked on Tib Street at the start of the Northern Quarter you'll find the loveliest tea room with a delightful vintage feel, 40's tunes waft around the room filled with vintage decor from lace doilies to pretty floral table wares and eccentric little finds throughout the tea room.

Tea is their speciality and you won't find a more darling afternoon tea in the city, with vintage cake stands towering with cakes and lovely little tea pots making for a rather pleasant experience. With a lavish selection of tea and cakes on offer everyday, they even have their own signature blends and a selection of cakes baked by some of the best in the city.

Wandering into their tea room your eyes immediately go towards to the cake selection, tarting up the counter and tempting you, I've never spent as much time eyeing up the cake as I have here.. The daily selections of cake are certainly impressive.


On my visit there was plenty to choose from varying from the incredibly decadent looking Mars bar cake, to blueberry and vanilla, but I decided to go for the rather sweet looking Vanilla, Strawberry and marshmallow cake which was surprisingly gluten free. A delightfully sweet, moist and flavoursome cake topped off with a tasty pink strawberry frosting which complemented the cake perfectly, the dinky marshmallows on top made for a tasty addition to the cake.

To go with the cake I tried one of their signature blends, Nuts about tea, a rather tasty blend with marzipan and hazelnut notes which went rather well with the cake. It's certainly worth trying one of their tea blends for something a little different, but if you don't find yourself swayed by tea they have a full range of drinks on offer including delightfully boozy offerings, did you know they do cake and cocktails in the evening? I can't think of a more decadent combination!

If you like your cake with a dash of tea or tipple it's certainly recommended, even more so if you adore the vintage lifestyle it'll be right up your street!

Cake score:
5/5 | Free from options available.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Dutch fruit cake with lashings of gin

Who said that fruit cake had to be plain?! This cake brings a touch of sweetness with a delightful kick courtesy of a pinch of tipple.. Perfect for pudding or an extravagant evening snack, I even believe it could class as lunch if you have a large enough helping, so why not tuck in! This cake uses icing sugar in place of your usual caster sugar to give it a sweeter taste which lets the fruity flavours come through.

Bake it as a whole round cake in a large round tin, or in a 6 cup bundt tin, if works perfectly either way!

Ingredients
  100g raisins
  100g mixed peel
  100g glace cherries
  50ml Martin Miller's Westbourne strength gin
  125g butter
  125g icing sugar
  3 eggs
  1 tsp vanilla essence
  125g self raising flour
  1 tsp baking powder

Pre soak the raisins, peel and cherries 2 hours prior to baking this recipe in the gin, this will let the fruit infuse the intoxicating gin aromas. After pre soaking drain the fruit, to do this drain the gin off into a bowl and save aside for later.

Pre heat oven to 170c/160c fan, and grease/or line your tin of choice.

Sift the icing sugar with the butter and beat until light and fluffy, add the eggs and one at a time and beat, don't worry if it looks curdled at this stage.

Add in the vanilla essence and 3/4 of the flour and fold to combine. Add the remaining flour with the fruits and mix well.

Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 45-55 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and sprinkle half of the drained gin over the cake, leave it to cool for 15 minutes.

Remove the cake from the tin and place it on a wire rack, sprinkle the remaining gin over the cake then brush with apricot jam and leave it to cool.

Best eaten: this cake will keep well for 3-4 days in an airtight container, but it's so light and delicious that it won't survive that long...

Adapted from SBS.

Brownies, to crunch or not to crunch?

Brownies are a delicious fickle creature, who'd have thought that having a crust or not would cause such a fuss for such a delightfully simple baked treat. Some of us love the crunchy topping on a brownie whereas some of us just can't stand it, so what is the best way to bake a brownie and how can you bake it to perfection your way?

The secret to any good brownie is a deliciously squidgy chocolate content, whether you prefer to bake them with dark chocolate, white chocolate as a blondie or throw a whole ton of different flavours in, the main key ingredient to achieve brownie perfection is the right amount of chocolate.

To melt or not to melt? Melting the chocolate for the bake will ensure a very moist and squidgy brownie, if you want a deliciously soft brownie you'll certainly want to melt the chocolate down first, whereas leaving it in chunks will add a delicious bit of bite to your brownie.

The key though to a perfect brownie for me is the deliciously paper thin crust on top, with the crust on the side it's a delicious combination of crunchy topping and a soft squishy brownie centre, yum! But how do you achieve that lovely crunchy topping? It's actually the result of creaming the eggs with sugar and butter, the more that you beat this mixture to a light fluffy consistency the more of a crust you'll ensure on the bake. Essentially the crunchy topping is like a meringue that's been formed as a result of this beating process, when you add the eggs to the sugar and butter mixture. So if you prefer your brownies without this crust then the trick is to beat the mixture as little as possible once you've added the eggs to ensure that they blend in smoothly to create a softer brownie.

What about the crust around the edge of your bake? As your brownies bake you'll notice a hard crust forming around the edges, some people prefer to remove this afterwards, whereas some people relish the brownie crust, one way to ensure less of a crust again is to beat the mixture as little as possible when you add the eggs to ensure a minimal crusting around the edges too. Any edges remaining when you cut out your brownies you can always trim off. Me, I love the crust, the brownies from the edge of the tray can be some of the tastiest, if you try the same method to ensure a crunchy crust on top you'll ensure that your edge brownies will be simply delicious.

There's so many methods to try out when it comes to brownies, if you prefer a really soft squidgey crust free brownie you may want to try a free from recipe that uses egg substitutes like bananas and apple sauce to ensure a really deliciously soft bake. Even the chocolate that you choose to use for the basis of your brownies makes all the difference, for me it's a dark chocolate for a really tasty bake, but you may prefer a delicious combination of chocolates, if you want to be really decadent try adding Nutella to the mix, you can thank me later for the suggestion..

For the adventurous baker brownies can be an extremely fun bake to try, they make look like a tray of innocent baked goods but you can create a delicious, tasty monster in the oven.

Images: Brownies & coffee Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net & brownie pic Dinner with Kirsten

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Scrumptuous chocolate and cherry cupcakes

Take a staple classic like black forest gateaux and turn it around on itself, these tasty chocolate cherry cupcakes combine some of the tastiest elements of the classic dessert and turn it into a cupcake sized snack.

Ingredients
  100g butter
  140g caster sugar
  2 eggs
  225g plain flour
  25g cocoa powder
  1 tsp baking powder
  150ml milk
  100g glace cherries

For the topping
  150ml double cream
  cherries & chocolate to decorate

Pre-heat your oven to 180c/160c fan/Gas mark 4 and pre line a cupcake tray with cases.

Cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Adding the eggs and mixing well.

Sift in the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder and blend well, add the milk and blend to a smooth consistency.

Chop the cherries into halves and add to the mixture, blending well to ensure an even distribution.

Divide the mixture into your cake cases and bake for 15 minutes. Leave aside to cool.

Whisk the cream to a stiff mixture and pipe onto each cupcake, decorating with a sprinkling of grated chocolate and cherries.

Best eaten: As soon as possible, these tasty cupcakes are certainly rather moreish!

Recipe inspired by BBC Good Food | Left image:Boophotography/Dreamstime Stock Photos.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Disaster cake? Worry not! Here's my tips to help fix it..

Lopsided?! It's supposed to look like that it's a cake tribute to the leaning tower of pisa.. No it's supposed to be that lumpy... why yes I did intend for it to turn out that pink... How many times have you found yourself blagging a cake disaster, frantically fixing a cake up with more buttercream than is normally possible, don't worry we've all been there and here's a few tips to turn that disaster bake around, who knows you could end up creating a delicious monster!

Admittedly I'm the queen of monstrous bakes, sometimes it seems like every other bake ends up with some sort of delicious flaw, granted it's part of the fun of trying a new bake. Burnt cakes, conjoined cookies, loaf cakes that tend to stay inside the tin when half of it has come out and pure liquid buttercream.. yes I've tried them all.. but without making mistakes how can you learn the art of baking?!

The burnt cake
One of the most common disasters, we've all been there at least once, a minute too long in the oven can spell crispy disaster but there's always a way around it. The easiest solution is to carefully cut off the burnt parts, if it's on one half of a sandwich cake simply slice across taking the burnt bits off and use it for the base, disaster averted!

The cake that got stuck in the tin
Oh dear.. it seems that your cake enjoyed being inside the tin so much that it wants to stay there, fret not there's always a way around it. First take a knife and run it around the edge of the cake, it may just need a gentle coaxing out, tip it upside down over a stand and see if it comes out. No joy? turn it upside down and leave it onto the stand for 5-10 minutes and let gravity do it's work.

Now if that doesn't work and only part of it comes out here's our very cheeky tips to avoid disaster.. Option 1) salvage what has come out and turn it into tiny cakes, top with frosting and viola! Tiny treats.

Option 2) Take 2 similar sized plates and place what did come out of the tin onto one plate, now remove the cake from the tin using a spatula and press this down into the already placed cake bits, start to form the cake shape and leave it to set for 5 minutes. Place the second plate on top and turn it over again leaving it to set for 5 minutes and you should have a cake base. Generous layers of buttercream will cover up your cake shaping and nobody ever need know about your mad cap cake surgery!

The dry cake
Dry cake always makes us a little sad, it's cake that just didn't get enough moisture, but fret not you can turn it around and into a rather sweet little treat. You could use the cake to make cake pops or rum balls but if you'd prefer an even boozier approach, pierce the cake all over and place it on top of a plate, sprinkle your tipple of choice over the cake (not so much that it's flammable) then place it into a tin and leave to soak in for 1-2 days, the tipple should soak in and help to add some moisture.

The sunken cake
Oh no! There's a sunken dint in the middle of your cake, don't worry there's a simple tasty solution to fix this.. buttercream.. and lots of it.. use the frosting to cover up the dint and spread over evenly with a knife. Alternatively you could cut the middle around turning it into a ring cake.

The pure liquid buttercream
This is my favourite, a disaster that's happened far too often when I first started baking, your buttercream seems to be runnier than ever, now before you start frantically whisking away at it there's a simple solution, add more icing sugar and by more I mean a heck of a lot more, go on just plonk it in the bowl. Now whisk away and you should find that the more icing sugar is added the thicker the buttercream goes. You could also try placing the frosting in the fridge for an hour to set, sometimes all it needs is some time to set in a cool temperature and it will thicken.

Now we can't prevent all cake disasters, sometimes it's just not meant to be for your bake but there's always a few methods that you can try to save that bake, and if all else fails simply eat the evidence, nobody will know.. If however it's completely inedible you could try doing this..

Monday, 11 April 2016

Tea room exploration: Cuthberts Bakehouse


103 Mt Pleasant, Liverpool. Open 7 days a week, Mon 9am - 6pm, Tues 9am - 8:30pm, Weds-Fri 9am - 6pm, Sat 10am - 5:30pm, Sun 11am - 5pm | www.cuthbertsbakehouse.co.uk

There's some many hidden nooks and crannies to Liverpool's city centre that your bound to come across something new, Cuthberts bakehouse is one of those finds I've only just recently come across and now I wish I knew about it before..

Located in a picturesque corner of the city Cuthbert's bakehouse is a quaint tea room that's delightfully cosy. Reams of bunting adorn the counters, adorable vintage tea wear sits on the shelves and you can snuggle up with your cake near their old fireplace, there's a delightfully homely feel inside.

It's location makes it's a lovely hidden gem, away from the busy Liverpool One quarter but not so far out of the way that you have to trek to find it.

The bakehouse has been serving up baked treats for the past few years at their Mt Plesant tea room, there's certainly plenty to choose from on their menu with a vast selection of cakes, scones, cupcakes and savoury treats; you can even sample afternoon tea with a few variations on offer to try.

On my visit there was plenty of cake to tempt, from towering chocolate cakes and dainty cupcakes to red velvet cake. I decided to try the coffee and walnut cake, to call this a generous portion would be an understatement it was by far one of the largest slices of cake I've ever had, it felt like a cake endurance test at one point.. Of course it was incredibly tasty, the bake was delicious, moist and with a very good crumb, just the right amount of butter cream between each layer and a generous portion on the outside of the cake too. Sadly if this was an episode of Man vs Food the cake won, but it was certainly worth it for the delicious cake...

To accompany my cake I went for their chai tea, a gorgeous loose leaf blend for a change without milk which was actually rather scrumptious. You can find a full selection of tea blends to choose from alongside coffees, hot chocolates and soft drinks.

A wonderful find and certainly an experience, next time I'll be sharing the cake or at least trying a cupcake.. If you fancy a tranquil cake eating experience in the city it's most definitely worth a visit, or if you just fancy eating a generous piece of tasty cake...

Cake score:
5/5

Thursday, 7 April 2016

The anatomy of a red velvet cake : Just why is it red?

The delicious layers of red chocolatey sponge and cream cheese frosting are a delightfully mysterious baked creation, it's risen in popularity here in the UK thanks to bakeries like the Hummingbird bakery where it's become a firm favourite but just where does this deliciously unusual cake come from and just why is it so red?

The red velvet cake can be traced back to America, the first recipe for this cake can be found in James Beard's 1972 book "American Cookery"(1) but the red velvet cake dates back further than that. The actual creation of the first ever red velvet can't be pinned down but variations on the recipe can be found far and wide in American history, like this recipe by Adams extract from 1969 which was given out on free recipe cards at grocery stores which became a firm favourite with home bakers.

However this cake first came about is still a mystery but the same common construction is used with all of them, a layered cake made with red food colouring whilst also making use of the reaction between buttermilk, baking soda and vinegar which reacts with the use of cocoa powder and food colouring to create a much brighter, more vivid red hue in the bake. Finished off with layers and a generous coating of cream cheese frosting, which gives this cake it's much raved about flavour.

There has often been talk of how this red reaction comes about in the bake, some citing that it's simply down to the reaction of the buttermilk, baking soda and vinegar and others that it's simply due to using lashings of food colouring but in essence it's all 4 ingredients alongside the addition of cocoa powder(2) that help to bring about this strong red colouring and believe me I've tried a few variations myself to see what works best, as long as the key ingredients are fresh and in date (trust me out of date food colouring does not make for a red, red velvet cake) you'll easily get that reaction.

Why the velvet? Well that's down to it's velvety texture, nothing mysterious there. A good red velvet cake is moist and soft, often down to the use of ingredients like shortening or vegetable oil which gives the cake a tender crumb and light texture.(3)

The recipe may vary from place to place, and baker to baker, but the same common ingredients are always used, buttermilk, baking soda, vinegar, red food colouring, shortening or vegetable oil and cocoa powder alongside sugar, eggs, flour and a pinch of salt. Finishing it off with the famous cream cheese frosting to complement the flavour.

As to which recipe is best it's all down to personal preference, for me the Hummingbird recipe and Lily Vanilli's recipe have had the best results, but you may find that another recipe works just as well for you. Besides when you can eat the test cakes what better an excuse to find the perfect recipe!

Images: Red velvet cake Baking mad & Adams extract
References: (1Red Velvet cake wikipedia

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Cake shop exploration: Cookies and Scream

The market hall, Camden lock place, London. Open 7 days a week Mon - Sun 11am - 5:30pm | www.cookiesandscream.com

Update 2018 - since this cake exploration Cookies and Scream have now moved to 130 Holloway Road.

In Camden's infamous lock market hall sits a delicious treat, full of gooey pies, tasty brownies, and deliciously moist cakes, you may even be pleasantly surprised to discover that these delectable treats are all vegan and gluten free. Cookies and Scream is a delightful find amongst Camden's food stalls, and a delicious one at that.

A delightful bakery housed inside the picturesque market hall, you could call it a cake bar even with it's plush stool seats lined up amongst the counter, so you can literally perve over the cake whilst you eat it, this is perhaps where daily cake habits are formed... It makes a welcome change from the savoury food stalls around the market and when all the bakes are free from it makes for quite a pleasant surprise.

Cookies and scream are infamous for their baked treats, their award winning brownies have admittedly had me cooing, the counter is lined up full of the day's freshly baked goods and there's certainly a wonderful variation of treats to choose from. From their brownies to gigantic layered cakes, donuts and cookies, you almost won't know where to start.

The bakes can vary from day to day as their tempting Instagram feed shows, so you'll always be sure of a different selection to choose from each time, with their signature favourites going down a treat. On my visit there was certainly plenty to choose from, admittedly I got there somewhat early to make sure I didn't miss out. It literally is like a feast for the eyes, a cake fancier could very nearly have a heart attack being in such close proximity to such tasty bakes..

Having heard such wonderful things about their brownies I decided to go for their signature Gosh! Brownie, past experiences with gluten free bakes are always a bit hit and miss, when you've had a cake with the texture and weight of a brick in the past you find yourself erring on the side of caution from time to time, but this was a delightful experience, the taste is deliciously sweet and the texture is certainly very soft and cake like, if you didn't know it was gluten free you'd certainly be surprised and you can just see why they're award winning.

Of course just the one cake wasn't enough I decided to grab one of their Mook bar's for the journey back as well, a tasty rocky road like bake choc full of peanut butter, chocolate and delicious crispy bits, certainly very sweet and deliciously more-ish, the peanut butter gives it a deliciously rich texture.

If you fancy washing down your cake with a tasty beverage you can sample one of their shakes, for the incredibly indulgent you can even opt for their Gosh brownie shake combining milkshake and cake, or go for a cuppa if you prefer, you'll find a full range of teapigs brews and coffees on the menu.

Whether your gluten intolerant, vegan or not it's certainly worth popping in next time you find yourself in Camden, we suggest taking a box of treats home with you, you can thank us for this suggestion by picking us up an extra treat...

Cake score:


4/5

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

The boozy chocolate cupcake : Baileys cupcakes

The classic chocolate cupcake gets all grown up with a touch of boozy frivolity. Classic Irish cream liqueur adds that sweet and creamy contrast to a classic chocolate cupcake, why have just chocolate when you can add a touch of tipple! I won't blame you if you eat them all..

Ingredients
  55g butter
  55g dark chocolate
  a pinch of coffee granules
  2 tsp baileys
  100g self raising flour
  50g plain flour
  15g cocoa powder
  a pinch of bicarbonate of soda
  120g caster sugar
  1 egg
  25ml milk

For the buttercream topping
  100g butter
  200g icing sugar
  a lashing of baileys to blend to the consistency of your choice

Pre-heat your oven to 160c/Gas mark 3 and pre line your cupcake tray with paper cases.

Place the butter & dark chocolate into a large bowl to melt over a pan of boiling water. Stir until it has melted and leave aside to cool.

Sift the flours, cocoa & bicarbonate of soda together in a separate bowl, adding the caster sugar. Make a well in the centre and add the egg, milk and your cooled chocolate mixture, beat well.

Add a pinch of coffee granules and the baileys to the mixture, beating well.

Fill your cupcake cases and bake for 30 minutes, or until they are springy to the touch.

Leave your cupcakes to cool whilst you prepare the buttercream, blending butter with icing sugar to a stiff mixture. Now start adding small quantities of baileys at a time to soften this mixture until it reaches a soft consistency.

Simply pipe onto your cupcakes once they have cooled down and you should have a delightful boozy dozen of cupcakes.

Best eaten: As soon as possible, the chocolatey boozy consistency tastes delightful when the cupcakes are a touch warm.

Recipe adapted from Good to know | Images: Yulia Davidovich/Dreamstime Stock Photos