Double finalist at National Cupcake Championships 2014

20 Nov

It’s been an exciting few months (hence why this blog has suffered once again!).

As you will have just seen, Jen’s Cupcakery was selected as being one of the Small Biz 100 companies but we  were  also thrilled to get two cupcakes through to the National Cupcake Championships  Professional category at the NEC in Birmingham earlier in the month.

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In the Classic Cupcake of the Year Professional, we entered our twist on a Summer ice cream cone.. a raspberry ripple vanilla sponge using dried raspberry powder for a tangy flavour and swirling a raspberry vanilla buttercream on top..

cupcake comp ice cream cones

And in the Made With Alcohol Professional category, our caramelised apple and pear cider cupcakes with a pear cider buttercream, apple crisp and marzipan pear…

cupcake comp my entry

The judging was fierce and unfortunately we just missed out but it was great to get to the finals out of 1000s of entries and we will try again next year!

cupcake comp entries being judged

Jen’s Cupcakery chosen as one of Small Biz 100

20 Nov

Today is a great day! We were selected as one of Small Business Saturday’s Small Biz 100. What does this mean? Well, not only does it mean that we were picked out of a lot of other companies to be profiled but also that the Jen’s Cupcakery name and our delicious cakes will be shared by them over social media all day.

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Small Business Saturday UK is a grassroots, non-political, non-commercial campaign, which highlights small business success and encourages consumers to ‘shop local’ and support small businesses in their communities. The day itself takes place on the first shopping Saturday in December each year, but the campaign aims to have a lasting impact on small businesses. In 2014 Small Business Saturday UK will take place on Saturday December 6th.

small biz sat cupcakes

That also happens to coincide with Walton Farmers Market so we will be selling some special Small Business Saturday cupcakes and  I will also be launching a quest to find my first intern!

Arty Party cakes…

17 Oct

Hello, long time no see my poor little blog that seems to have been sent to Coventry.. or wherever else blogs that get left on the shelf go.  On the positive side, the lack of posts means that I have been super busy making lots of cakes for customers and striking up exciting new joint ventures with retail outlets :-) More on that on another post…

In the meantime, back to baking, so many to choose from but let’s start with these artsy crafty little cake pops and three layer cake, abstract styley created for an artist on her special birthday.

art cakes

Here, we have a three layer chocolate cake covered in vanilla buttercream and then randomly ‘splashed’ via the end of a cake pops stick  with a mix of coloured candy melts. This was a messy business I can tell you!  Note to self, put a sheet of plastic down first…

making art cake 1

I made the artist palettes out of gumpaste and then dotted blobs of candy melt for the paint and painted a paintbrush also using candy melts.  For an easy peasy way of getting the shapes , take a small pastry cutter, cut out a circle and then taking a small icing nozzle, use the bottom to make a little indentation.  The larger palette on top of the cake was made out of marzipan and again dotted with candy melts in different colours and the paint brush made out of fondant.

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The remaining cake pops (which were also chocolate) were covered in white mint candy melts and then again, using the ends of cake pops sticks I splashed with alternate colours (again, messy business that made me rue the white tshirt I was wearing!) I actually used small batches of royal icing tinted with various colours for this.

art cake splashing

The customer was really pleased which made all the mess worthwhile :-)

“Just to say the cakes were amazing! They looked fantastic and tasted divine! Everyone commented on them!”

art cakes

I ‘dig’ this cake!

14 Apr

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I had to share one of my favourite cake orders so far! The lucky little boy received a train, plane and automobile cake, cupcakes and cookies last year – see earlier post http://ilovejenscupcakery.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/planes-trains-and-automobiles/ so I eagerly awaited this year’s theme which was…. diggers!

Now I’m no digger expert so time for some planning. The customer decided on a round vanilla sponge with a fondant digger on top rather than a whole cake shaped like a digger (phew), some little cupcakes to go with it and some cookies too.

Cue, scramble to get a digger cake cutter from Ebay (I could have printed off a template, traced around it, blah blah but sometimes tracing and copying and lining up etc is just one step too far in a busy life!) I also found a company that had cute little digger and lorry wafer icing toppers too, so that was the little accessories dealt with.

I made some simple vanilla sugar cookies which bake hard enough to take fondant icing and remain crunchy!  I cut out with the cutters before baking and then when cold, used the cutter to make the same shapes in yellow fondant, stuck to the biscuit with some warm apricot jam and then added the detail with strips of fondant icing and edible pen. By the way, just invested in some fantastic new Americolour gourmet writer  pens from the US which are much the best I’ve tried so far, giving a thin enough nib for fine detail or a broader line if you adjust the angle.

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Next came the cute little digger – we would like to point out to all you digger experts out there that this is not a technically perfect specimen! creative licence I think it is called :-) Formed out of yellow fondant with fondant accessories and then some mud formed out of Flake chocolate bars (they make perfect edible mud). Ah, so cute, you just want to…gobble him up!

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Leaving him to dry overnight, I concentrated on making the sponge cake and letting that cool, before splitting and filling with a vanilla buttercream and strawberry jam inside and a light green fondant on the outside.  A board covered with a darker green fondant became the base for the digger (ok, he’s so cute we have to name him, let’s say Digbert) and then I added the grass with a grass tip nozzle and some little fondant flowers just to finish it off.

Eh Voila! There we have Digbert the Digger vanilla sponge cake with mini vanilla cupcakes topped off with wafer digger/lorries and vanilla sugar cookie diggers, all for a happy little 2-year-old. The customer sent me a lovely note afterwards saying “his little face lit up when he saw it” and you can’t ask for better than that can you?

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Springing into cake action…

12 Mar

The scent of Spring has most definitely arrived in the air this week so I decided to pay homage with suitably seasonal creations!

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Little yellow chicks created from sugarpaste float on a turquoise buttercream sea that swirls atop mini lemon cupcakes… (it will feel  so mean to chomp into one of those cute little chicks :-0)

In the background, you can see some chocolate cake pops covered in blue candy melts and festooned with a mult- coloured carpet of Spring flowers.

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But for the Spring finale, here’s a  chocolate cake, carved to form a grassy mound with bunny holes, topped with white sugarpaste painted with edible green paste. The rocks were made from white sugarpaste with a touch of black paste ‘twisted’ in to the white until you get a mottled effect reminiscent I hope of little boulders!  

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The bunnies were made with brown sugarpaste and just a touch of white for the tail, black for the eyes and pink for their cute little noses and they are playing amongst little yellow sugarpaste flowers cut out using a small plunger cutter.

If that doesn’t put a spring in your step, I don’t know what will… ;-)

 

How to conquer the giant cupcake!

11 Mar

Once upon a time there was a baker who could conjure up all manner of delectable delights; fluffy sponges, curvaceous cupcakes, buttery biscuits and pretty pastries. She felt no fear.

raspberry

Until one day, the giant cupcake came along….

With blind faith, she mixed her batter, greased the giant cupcake tin, filled the generous proportions and into the oven it went. She merrily went about her business, whipping up some creamy frosting and  looking forward to icing this super-sized delight.  45 minutes later, the cupcake was out of the oven and cooling its jets on a wire rack. The time came to gently persuade it out of its tin and lo, her baking bubble burst for it resisted and it stuck and by the time she had coaxed it out of the tin, it was a hot mess with cracks like craters all over the top.! And so began this baker’s battle with the giant cupcake!

After many months of trying different methods, she finally managed to master this massive mound of cake and icing and giant cupcake orders were welcomed with open arms and well greased mould…

GIANT LEMON CUPCAKE

So, how did I do it…?

Well, lesson one: make sure you grease the mould/tin as thoroughly as if you were preparing a wall to be painted.:

Lesson two: where possible use a denser cake such as a madeira, or a chocolate fudge cake (or my all time best cake base of all times, my banana, rum and pecan..yum!)  Too light a sponge and it will collapse under the weight of icing.

Lesson three: make sure it is totally baked before taking out of oven, remember this is one big mamma cake, lots of depth to it.

Lesson four: once out of the oven, let it sit in it’s mould/tin till it’s properly cool. In fact, once it’s cool, I now put mine in the fridge till it’s really cold before attempting to peel away the layers.

I have to say I prefer the silicone moulds to the double tin you can buy, I find it cooks more evenly and comes out of its case more easily and boy, what a difference that makes!

So, this baker has conquered the giant cupcake, now time to settle scores with the humble scone…

GIANT CUPCAKES WITH FLOWERS

Another string to my bow…

10 Mar

It was one of those occasions when I am working on a client’s order and thinking to myself “there’s a faster way to do this.. but I can’t think what it is and I don’t have time to think what it is right now!”

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So, I painstakingly gathered together my white, black, blue, red and yellow sugarpaste and rustled through all the cupboards to find the right size cutters before patiently cutting out 20 circles of each and thanking goodness for my steady hands when placing one ring on top of the other!

I didn’t have time to make sugarpaste arrows so I improvised, luckily finding some coloured sandwich/canape flags I had tucked away..

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I simply rolled the paper part around the toothpick until it showed a little coloured end (well, artistic interpretation is everything is it not?) ;-)

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I then took my vanilla cupcakes (my go to recipe is printed below) and using my grass icing tip (Jem 233) I piped grass on each cupcake. The small tip tends to be a bit thin so I am going to get myself one of the large grass tip nozzles soon and get some proper grass action going on!

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After leaving the targets to harden up a bit, I placed on top of the icing and voila! some delicious vanilla cupcakes with archery themed decorations for a birthday boy!

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For those looking for a go-to vanilla cupcake recipe, feel free to use mine, it’s one of my best sellers with customers…

80g unsalted butter

270g caster sugar (sometimes I use the golden caster sugar to add a more treacley taste)

240g plain flour

3 tsp baking powder

2 eggs

240 ml room temperature milk

1 tsp good vanilla extract

Method

Cream the butter and sugar till light and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

When you have a nice fluffy mix, add a third of the flour (and baking powder) mix, then a third of the milk, then a third of flour etc till all mixed in. (Don’t over mix otherwise you will get a heavy sponge). Add in the vanilla extract.

Place in cupcake cases in the oven (around 160 fan) and bake for around 20 mins (this really does depend on your oven I have found).

You should have 12 lovely, golden, well risen cupcakes to enjoy :-)

If you want a deliciously creamy buttercream frosting, then I use:

500g icing sugar

110g unsalted butter

Around 50-60ml of milk (or I found to my delight, water results in just the same great texture and flavour)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Method

Mix altogether until light and soft and creamy then dollop on your cupcake if you’re in a hurry (or carefully pipe if you want a more elegant finish…here I added a touch of pink to give a rosy blush to my raspberry and almond cupcakes)…

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