Tweet Tweet – Twitter cakes for iCake

Run-out twitter birds

It’s Tuesday afternoon and I’m having a great time thanks to Emma – aka Miss Cakehead. I’ve been doing some very therapeutic run-out work making little tweety birds to put on cupcakes for tomorrow’s iCake Shop at the Hospital Club.

Lots of cakes, all themed around things geeky, and all profits to a good cause.  Make sure you get down there tomorrow!

Sneak preview of the twitter birds on the left ūüôā

And more details about the event here.



Geek cakes

It’s nice to have something to look forward to. ¬†I’ve been spending much of the last few months concentrating on the savoury side of GF cooking in preparation for what we do next year. ¬†Yes, it’s still on the cards, but no, I’m still not going to put the kiss of death on it by putting it in writing. ¬†Suffice to say the experiments have been equal measures fun and frustration and, while I’ve carried on caking in the interim [note to self: MUST post some pics at some point!] the most fun cake I’ve made in a while was this years Maclaren Formula 1 car for my husband’s birthday. ¬†And that was almost a month ago.

However, thanks to the lovely Miss Cakehead, I have something else to get stuck into. ¬†A few months back, she organised Cakes for Japan, which managed to raise ¬£2K in three hours flat, purely from selling cakes donated by cakers all over London. ¬†This time, she’s organising a geek cake shop as part of Internet Week Europe, with proceeds to Pancreatic Cancer Action. ¬†So all cakes themed around Steve Jobs/Apple, or taking inspiration from other geeky things.

Which will have me making Twitter cupcakes for definite, and hopefully having more fun letting my inner geek out with other creations. ¬†It may have been kept somewhat under wraps since leaving Syzygy all those years ago, but I know it’s in there somewhere…

Plain eggless sponge – the vegan adaptation experiment

I was having a chat with someone in one of my favourite Facebook groups last night. ¬†It won’t surprise anyone to hear that the group in question is a bunch of ladies who are obsessed with making beautiful and delicious cakes. ¬†Someone posted up a request for a decent eggless sponge recipe – something actually worth eating. ¬†The lovely Sandra posted up this recipe, as the first eggless recipe she’d actually found to be edible.

Of course, the next step was someone wondering whether it was possible to do a dairy free version of the recipe, and we all got to thinking of alternative for the condensed milk, which seems to have a dual role of binder and sweetener in this recipe.  My first thought was using coconut cream, as I had a 250ml carton sitting on a kitchen shelf needing a cake to call home, and volunteered myself for the experiment.

What I’d not initially considered, of course, is that the original recipe also calls for butter, which may be part of what makes the original taste nice. ¬†Still, I had some Trex in the fridge as a substitute, and decided that, so long as I tasted the mix and adjusted the flavouring before getting it into the oven to bake, I probably couldn’t go too far wrong.

While the recipe in question could be used as well for a large cake as for cupcakes, I decided to use cupcakes for proof of concept: if it turns out as nice for cupcakes as I think it will, I’ll definitely be using it in future as a sort of vegan Madeira.

Here’s how it went:

Preheat the oven to 180C. ¬†Harvey helped out, as he’s finished school for the summer, so between us we added 310g of Dove’s Farm plain gluten free flour, 1.5tsp baking powder, 1tsp bicarbonate of soda, and 0.75tsp xanthan gum to a large bowl. ¬†I got Harvey to stir this gently to mix it all evenly, and then we added 250ml of coconut cream, which we mixed in thoroughly before adding 225g of melted Trex and 235ml of orange juice, plus 2tsp vanilla essence.

So far, so good. ¬†However, since the original recipe calls for close on 400ml of fluid in the form of the condensed milk, we weren’t surprised to see that it was going to take more fluid to get us where we needed, and that, like it or not, the mixture we had in the bowl wasn’t really sweet enough to call itself a ‘proper’ cake. ¬†So, testing all the way, we ended up adding 100g of golden syrup in total, plus another 120ml of orange juice. ¬†And by the time we’d done that, we had something that looked and tasted like a decent cake batter.

Some 35 minutes of baking later Рwhich is a lot for a cupcake, even in a muffin case, and I finally called a halt to things.  There was no doubt that the cakes were cooked, but the texture, just from doing the spring test with a finger, made me suspect we had a problem on our hands, even before we got them out of the tin.  Yes, the cakes sprung back, but there was an obvious underlying squidginess that had me thinking of steamed puddings.

Actually, steamed pudding is not a bad way to think of the final result we achieved.  There was a lot of melted fat in the base of my muffin trays once the cakes were removed from the tins and the texture of the first one we demolished tested was very much more of a pudding than a cake.

And so, in one sense, we have a failure. ¬†We didn’t end up with a cake. ¬†However, for all that we didn’t get a cake out of the deal, the underlying flavour was good, and could only be improved by reducing the amount of Trex. ¬†I think, were we to lower the amount of Trex and swap sugar for the golden syrup, we’d have a much better result. ¬†So that’s an experiment for later in the week and next time, I’m pretty sure, we’ll have a winner on our hands ūüôā


Back online at last!

It has been far too long since I last posted on here. ¬†Between issues of family illness – my lovely Granny, who has been defying all medical expectations – and then some kind of problem with my computer which has been making internet access intermittent at best and impossible at worst, it’s not been possible to get on here, so it’s lovely to be back.

Fortunately, everything in the kitchen is working, so I’ve been busy baking through the last months with a mixture of cakes and quiches: everything from cupcakes for my brother’s wedding to girlie birthday cakes, via a Bugatti Veyron cake and a number of yummy vegetarian quiches.

And right now I have in the oven another experiment – of which more in another post – and the smell wafting round the house is amazing. ¬†Which probably means it’s time for me to go and get things out of the oven. ¬†Mmmmm… cake!

Wedding fever

Don’t panic, this is categorically NOT another post about the Royal Wedding as the country becomes ever more obsessed with the event: even those who profess no interest at all in the wedding seem to spend an awful lot of time talking about it.

No, the wedding I’m thinking of is my brother’s. ¬†About the only things it will have in common with Wills and Kate’s bash is that it will be on a Friday, vows will be exchanged, and the reception will be held at the family home. ¬†Beyond that, however, I’m hoping it’ll be a very different event. ¬†And, knowing my brother, it will be.

My involvement in the process is – you’ve guessed it – the cake. ¬†Or cakes, to be precise. ¬†Having tempted little bro away from the delights of serving a giant steak and kidney pie in lieu of a wedding cake, he and his intended have decided on cupcakes for the big day, both to eat and to take home as favours.

This week, we finally managed to sort out a tasting session.  I had taken the monster to see his grandparents in the Cotswolds, so it was an easy trip up from Bristol for little bro and the kids to come and try some cakes.  On the menu were lavender and lime and the blueberry basket, partly because Simon was keen to try the lavender, and partly because the blueberry baskets are always a hit with children.

Mum had expressed some surprise at the number of cakes for a guest list of just 60 people: 150 seemed like a lot to her, especially since a traditional wedding cake usually ends up with considerable amounts of leftovers. ¬†I had explained to her that doing cupcakes pretty much guaranteed there’d be nothing left, as the whole idea is to provide sufficient variety of flavours that everyone can find something they like, but I don’t think she was convinced until she saw how quickly two dozen cupcakes disappeared on Tuesday.

Notwithstanding the difficulties of mobile cakery – I’m based in London, the wedding is in Bristol and so I’m baking out of Mum’s place to make it easier to get everything there intact – I’m quite looking forward to this one. ¬†It’s a fairly relaxed wedding, and the choice of cakes reflects that: flavour is much more important than fitting them into a colour scheme. ¬†And it’ll be quite relaxing to revert to some simple swirls after the birthday cake I’m preparing earlier that week, which is to be a Bugatti Veyron.

It’s the simplicity of Simon’s wedding that makes me feel a little sorry for the royal couple. ¬†Simon and Rachael have been able to choose to do things the way they want, that reflects their taste and personality. ¬†They will know everyone on the guest list and there will have been no diplomatic requirements to fulfil. ¬†The food will be delicious (BBQ – yay!), the band will seriously rock and laughter will be the order of the day. ¬†It’s going to be a wonderful day.

William and Kate, on the other hand, will have hundreds of guests, won’t get to talk to the majority of them, have various protocols to follow and will be lucky if they even get two minutes to themselves before they head for bed that night. ¬†Is this really Kate’s fairytale, or has she, like many brides, found herself occasionally wishing she was heading for Gretna or Vegas so that the whole point of her marriage – her love for her husband and their desire to be together forever – doesn’t get missed in all the trappings of the wedding?

Oops. ¬†And I really hadn’t meant to write about the royal wedding. ¬†Back to the kitchen for me, then…