Looking at cakes, baking cakes, decorating cakes... almost as good as tasting cakes.

Since Christmas 2009 I have become quite consumed by cakes, all types of cakes - as my ever growing belly will vouch for. After being asked by my boyfriends Nanny Mary "If Santa could bring you one thing for Christmas, what would it be?" I didn't hesitate to answer... "A kenwood food mixer of course!" Before I could even begin to explain my life long dream of owning my very own Kenwood she had hot-footed it out of the living room. Within a matter of seconds she returned with a whole lot of huffing and puffing... lugging, yep, you guessed it - a Kenwood. Being almost double my age there was nothing this Kenwood couldn't handle. It was love at first site, and I knew her age and wisdom would make me the cake baker I've always dreamed of becoming. "Goodbye" to the early onset of tennis elbow from my cheapo, handheld mixer and "hello" to the singsong whirrs of my k-beater.

Admittedly, I may have underestimated the true skill that is needed to make the perfect cakes- fine tools are all well and good but without a decent recipe, quality ingriedients, determination, patience, time, passion... yep, there is way more to this baking malarky than I first thought.

This blog will follow my many trials and, no doubt, many tribulations, with a little weight gain to boot, as I test out as many cake recipes as I can muster.

And it doesn't end there... I will also chase cakes around the country, even the world, and review and determine what really makes the perfect cake.

Will the 'famous' bakerys and cook books give me my moneys worth and be all they're cracked up to be? The proof is in the pudding, ahem, cake.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Vanilla Cupcakes, 'Cupcakes' from the Primrose Bakery

The first recipe I tackled from this gorgeously fun, colourful book was the sweet and simple Vanilla Cupcakes.

The thing I love about vanilla cupcakes is the versatility for decoration. The sponge is classic and beautifully simple and so the buttercream/icing can be as flavoursome and colourful as you desire. You can have some serious fun and let your imagination run wild.

So back to this recipe...

Sponge: The method is simple but gives the added details of timings that many recipe books don't include. No timings can equal disaster to an inexperienced baker. But this recipe gives specific timings for mixing, phew. It really does make a difference, I would never have creamed my sugar and butter for as long as suggested (3-5mins).

So the technique was great, thanks to the instructions, but I made a bit of a mistake... I used plain flour and wholemeal self raising flour (this recipe uses plain and self raising flour)- I thought I'd ran out of white self-raising and so replaced it for the wholemeal, annoyingly I found the white self raising afterwards. So, although it added a healthier element to my cakes it made them slightly denser (definitely needed a cuppa to wash it down), savoury tasting and the vanilla was completely lost.

All in all the sponge recipe technique was great, but I'll have to try it again with plain self raising to give it the full seal of approval.

Icing: The vanilla buttercream icing was a little disappointing- very sweet, not enough vanilla and very firm. I wouldn't use this icing recipe again.