Cupcake, Sweet

Sugar and Crumbs Black Cherry Chocolate Cupcakes

At the weekend I went to the brilliant Cake International show at the NEC. I didn’t plan to spend much money or really buy anything but I couldn’t help myself because of the amazing things to buy and ended up coming home with a lot lighter purse but a much heavier bag!

Something I bought was a complete impulse purchase and not what I would usually go for – flavoured icing sugar and cocoa powder. The problem was that the ladies at the Sugar and Crumbs stall were so nice to talk to and gave you so many free samples that I was completely hooked, but I can tell you that it is one purchase I definitely don’t regret buying after using their product to make some Black cherry & Chocolate cupcakes.

I bought and used the Black Cherry Cocoa powder as you don’t usually see cherry extract in the shops; although it is more expensive than your usual cocoa powder the flavour is fantastic and you only need to use a very small amount to make a lovely tasting cake that does actually taste of cherry. I often find with some flavoured products that the taste is very artificial, this one isn’t.

Now I am not being paid (I wish!) or been given anything else to endorse this product, I am doing so simply because it tastes fab and I would like more people to enjoy baking with it. Next up, I cant wait to try the Christmas Punch flavoured icing sugar I bought… now what to make with it?


Black Cherry Chocolate Cupcakes

This recipe is stupidly simple to make but the taste will make you smile.

Don't be fooled by the skull and crossbones icing!
Don’t be fooled by the skull and crossbones icing!

4oz Sugar
4oz Margarine
2 eggs
3.5oz Self Raising Flour
1 large tablespoon Black Cherry Chocolate Cocoa Powder from Sugar and Crumbs
1 tablespoon whole milk

Pre-heat the oven to 180c Gas 4

In a bowl cream the sugar and margarine till it becomes pale.
Combine the Cocoa and flour together in a separate bowl.
Add one egg and half of the flour/cocoa, try not to overwork this.
Add the second egg and rest of the flour/cocoa.
Stir in the milk.

Divide the mixture into your cake cases and bake in the oven till the tops of the cake spring back after a gentle poke. This should take 18-20 minutes.
Once cooked, cool on a wire rack.

Decorate with your choice of topping if you like: buttercream, fondant icing, chocolate ganache or just leave plain.

Cupcake, Sweet

Halloween Strawberry Brain Cupcakes

I had really intended to post this on Halloween but as usual the time has completely ran away from me and before I realised it is over a week into November. 

It might be a bit late but I was really happy with the way these came out and they were so easy to do that I wanted to share the recipe so that everyone can make them.

No one can say that baking doesn’t make you clever, after making these you’ll feel very brainy! Hehe.


Strawberry Brain Cupcakes

This recipe will make 12 average size cupcakes or 9 larger muffin ones (larger will need longer cooking).
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4oz Sugar
2oz Margarine
2oz Butter
4.5oz Self Raising Flour
2 eggs
1-2tbls Whole Milk
1-2tsp Strawberry Essence
Red or Pink Gel food colouring (if using liquid colour then do not add the milk) I used claret gel colour.

Pink buttercream:
2 – 3 large tablespoons of butter or margarine
Icing sugar
Red or pink food colouring

Pre-heat oven to 180c Gas 4

In a bowl cream the butter, sugar and margarine till it becomes pale.
Mix in the food colouring till completely combined.
Add one egg and half of the flour, try not to overwork this.
Add the second egg and rest of the flour.
Stir in the milk (if using gel colour) and the strawberry essence.

You should now have a lovely very vibrant colour. The colour should be brighter than you think it needs to be as it will lose some colour once baked.

Divide the mixture into your cake cases and bake in the oven till the tops of the cake spring back after a gentle poke. This should take 18-20 minutes.

Once cooked, cool on a wire rack.

Whilst the cakes are cooling make the buttercream.
The best way to make the buttercream is by taste. Add 2-3 large tablespoons of butter or margarine in a bowl and stir in 3-5 tablespoons of icing sugar and a enough food colouring to give it a very bright pink colour. If you think it needs a little more icing sugar then add more to taste. You’ll be surprised how much icing sugar you can add to a buttercream.

Once the cakes have cooled fully, fill a piping bag with a small star nozzle.

To decorate – pipe 2 lines down the centre of the cake the either side pipe tight zigzags. This will give you a lovely brain look!

Experiment with colours and zombie brains, I’d love to see any pictures if you make some.

Cake, Sweet

Alice’s Party cake – In the Night Garden

I created two first birthday cakes for my daughter, the first was a small zebra cake to take with us to the Safari Park (as seen in my last post) then the second one I made was a lot larger for her birthday party.

Alice isn’t really into much at the moment, being only 12 months old so far, but she will stop everything she is doing to sit down and watch an episode of In the Night Garden.  It is also a great theme for a cake as there are loads of colours and simple characters to make.

I decided to be brave and have a go at making a figure for on the cake – Maka Paka!

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I have only ever made one figure before and that was a rather sad looking teddy bear which was far too fat and sunk down after a few weeks.  It wasn’t my finest cake decorating moment so I don’t know what possessed me to try again but I did.  I think he actually came out ok, not perfect by a long way but he had the general appearance, though his eyes were quite big giving him a ‘chibi’* look.  He managed to make it to the party without his head or any other limb falling off so I think that was a bonus!

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Sorry for the poor photo, it was late at night when I finished.

I also made circles of icing of the other characters and places them around.

Unfortunately I didn’t have a clear image in my head of what the final piece would look like but I hoped that when I started to put it together I would get an idea.  The cake board I bought was too large, the cake didn’t seem high enough and the green colour icing I made was a little too bright but I thought that I had come this far… I was going to finish the cake!

So this is it, my final In the Night Garden cake.  There are lots of little bits that I would have changed on it but for my first time trying to do something like this I was happy with it and so were the family and friends who came along.In the Night Garden Cake

The cake itself was a simple sponge filled with seedless raspberry jam and a buttercream.  It is strange how when you put these ingredients together and use fondant icing then it always tastes shop bought?  It was soft and moist and held together well when cut so I am pleased with how it tasted as well as looked.  Next year I guess I am going to be doing this again, I wonder what she will like next time.

*as in the Manga meaning of Chibi – cute, small, big eyes.

Cake, Sweet

Happy first birthday Alice – The Zebra Cake

Unfortunately there’s been a lot going on over the past couple of weeks which have caused me to be forgetful in updating my blog.

I’ve celebrated my daughter’s first birthday, been made redundant from my job and but also been offered a new job!
Although its been pretty rubbish to lose my job, I want to speak about the happy thing – Alice’s first birthday.

I haven’t done too much baking recently except to bake for her birthday party but I definitely did plenty of baking for that.
I made 2 birthday cakes, both sponge with buttercream and fondant icing.

The first one, that I will talk about today, was a small cake I made, enough to feed 6 hungry adults and a little lady, I think this equated to an 8″ cake.  I didn’t want it to be too large or fancy as we were taking it to West Midlands Safari park and I needed it to survive the car journey and trip round the animals. 
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This is one of the reasons why I decorated it with a zebra theme, simple but effective.

I iced it with white fondant icing and then used edible airbrush paints to hand paint on the stripes.  I was a bit worried it would look a little old for her but it was linked to her day out.

I coloured the royal icing, that I used to pipe the writing with a baby pink but on the cake it seemed to come out white.
I was quite pleased with the end results and the advantage of painting the cake was that you didn’t have to colour icing black – which is a pain to do.

I should have used my big camera (Canon 50d) to do some good photos but the house was so full of things for the party that there was barely room to store the cake!

Anyway, I’ll finish this on one of my favourite jokes:
What’s black and white and eats like a horse?

…a zebra!

Food Ramblings

Getting ready for a 1st birthday

It doesn’t seem long ago that I was sitting at home eating my cake that I’d made myself to pass the time and waiting for my little girl to be born; but fast forward almost a year and I’m suddenly planning her first birthday cake! 

On the 11th October Alice will be a whole year old.  Wow.

It’s been a very eventful time and although I haven’t baked as much as I though I might have whilst I was on maternity leave it’s something I wouldn’t have missed for the world. 

For her birthday I am planning on making 2 birthday cakes, the first will be a small cake which will be for her actual birthday.  We are celebrating by taking her to a safari park along with her grandparents. I think this cake will be quite simple with plenty of number 1s all over it.

The second birthday cake is taking a lot more planning as it’s for her party in which most of the family are invited! 

I’m having a little difficulty in planning this cake because I am not yet fully sure on the theme of it.  The party is going to be a little mad hatter’s tea party but her favourite thing at the moment is the show In the Night Garden.
So my brain is working overtime trying to pin it down!  Now in my excited parent delirium I am considering making fondant figures for the cake.  Oh dear, I might have ideas beyond my skill level but I’m sure I’ll come up with something. 

It might not be perfect but it’ll be home made, with love… and we can always stick a candle in.