Archive for the Cakes Category

The Lily Vanilli Bakery

Posted in Baking, Cakes, English food, Out and about, Savoury with tags , , , , , , on 19/07/2011 by libbyplummer

Lily Vanilli bakewellsAt the weekend me and my chums set off for a mince around the markets of East London, with the primary objective of sampling some of the goods from the new bakery run by kooky baker and author of A Zombie Ate My Cupcake, Lily Vanilli.

Lily Vanilli Bakery cakes

Situated just off the famous Columbia Road flower market, the new shop sells a small range of treats, with the menu varying every week. The bakery itself is quite small but the shabby chic decor gives it a very cosy feel and we were jammy enough to grab a few seats in the corner without needing to wait.

Having all skipped breakfast and trudged through the rain from the tube station – the freshly baked sausage rolls were first on our hit list. This was no Greggs-style porcine product – it was a crispy, golden roll made with top quality sausage meat from none other than The Ginger Pig. Thankfully for pescetarian Kat, there was also a NOsage roll on offer.

Lily Vanilli Bakery sausage roll

Not content with a much-needed brunch we ordered cakes for afters – between us we opted for the Victoria sponge with fresh berries, a slice of the passionfruit, almond and poppyseed cake and a buttercream-topped cupcake.

Lily Vanilli Bakery cakes

Kate, Kat and I are all camera-toting, cake-loving wordsmiths so we’d all taken photos of our food for blogging purposes faster than you can say “what the hell are those three nutters in the corner doing”. The food was all fantastic, so I’ll definitely be returning to sample some more of the grub and if you haven’t been yet, then I highly recommend a visit.

Lily Vanilli Bakery cupcakes

The Lily Vanilli Bakery is at 6, The Courtyard, Ezra Street, London, E2 7RG and is open every Sunday 8.30am-4.30pm.

Cakey Perry afternoon tea coming to London

Posted in Baking, Biscuits, Cakes, Events, Out and about with tags , , , , , , , , , on 13/07/2011 by libbyplummer

Cakey Perry afternoon teaCakey Perry is an afternoon tea that’s set to tickle the taste buds of London from 29 to 31 July 2011 and is inspired by Katy Perry’s California Gurls video.

Described as “a high tea to melt your popsicle”, Cakey Perry is the brainchild of curator of cakes and chaos, Miss Cakehead, whose previous projects include the Cakes for Japan pop-up shop and the world’s first 18+ cake shop. The kitsch menu will include Molly Bakes‘ Perry Pops, Gummi Bear martinis and Edd Kimber‘s raspberry and chocolate macarons. You’ll also be able to help yourself to a mini candyland featuring peppermint patties, candy canes and flying meringues.

Snoop Dogg cookie

Me and my chums have already got our tickets – the lure of Snoop Dogg cupcakes was too strong to resist.

For tickets and more information, head over to

Kendo Nagasaki cake pops for SugarSlam 2011

Posted in Baking, Cakes with tags , , , , , , , on 11/07/2011 by libbyplummer

Kendo Nagasaki cake popsThe three people that I told about my plan to make Kendo Nagasaki cake pops probably thought I was joking. I wasn’t. As well as being a cakey representation of cult ’70s and ’80s wrestler Nagasaki (and possibly some sort of cry for help), they’re also my entry for the wrestling-themed SugarSlam 2011 bake-off run by Natalie over at Bake & Destroy.

Kendo Nagasaki

For the uninitiated, Kendo Nagasaki was a masked wrestler who used to dress as a Japanese Samurai warrior, complete with ‘hypnotic’ powers, despite being a bloke from Stoke-on Trent called Peter Thornley. No 1980s Saturday afternoon was complete without watching a bout involving Nagasaki, Giant Haystacks or Big Daddy on ITV.

Kendo Nagasaki cake pop

My somewhat ham-fisted baked versions of Nagasaki are cake balls made from red velvet sponge and cream cheese buttercream icing, covered in red candy melts and painted with white cocoa butter. Whatever next. Giant Haystacks cake, anyone?

Update: Voting for the SugarSlam 2011 People’s Choice Award is now open so if you like my cake pops please do head over to the Flickr gallery and vote for me by leaving a comment on my picture. You can check out all the entries here. They are amazing. 

Update: Voting is now closed. Check out the winners over at Bake and Destroy.

Space cupcakes for the final shuttle launch

Posted in Baking, Cakes, Recipes with tags , , , , , , , , on 10/07/2011 by libbyplummer

Space cupcakes 2I fully admit that I’m a bit of a space nerd (I own mission patches from all 17 Apollo launches), so the very last space shuttle lift-off on Friday 8 July 2011 was a pretty big deal, and certainly an occasion worthy of some themed baked goods (you’ve probably noticed by now that I don’t need much of an excuse).

I should probably point out these are space cupcakes only in the sense that they sport the red, white and blue of the NASA logo along with the starry sky effect icing. They’re not the kind of space cakes that contain illegal drugs. Just a touch of vanilla. Sorry.

Final space shuttle launch

You can read my ramblings on the space shuttle over at or if you want to make your own space cupcakes (of course you do), then read on and get stuck in. In the meantime, if you want a laugh, check out this space shuttle-based post over on Cake Wrecks.  Although the comedy cake blog is always amusing, this is the only post that has ever had me guffawing uncontrollably (or LMFAO if you insist).

What you’ll need:
110g/4oz self-raising flour (sieved)
110g/4oz caster sugar (sieved)
110g/4oz margarine
1tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
1tsp vanilla extract

For the buttercream icing:
225g/8oz icing (confectioner’s) sugar (sieved)
100g/3.5oz softened unsalted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Black paste food colouring
Silver sprinkles
Edible silver glitter

Makes 12 cupcakes

Space cupcakes

Preheat the oven to 160°C/140°C (fan oven)/325°F/gas mark 3. Line a muffin tin with cupcake cases. Plonk the sifted flour, sugar, margarine and baking powder into a bowl and cream together with a fork. Next add the two eggs, mixing after adding each one, then add the vanilla extract. One it’s all combined, give it a quick go with a whisk to make the mix light and fluffy.

Distribute evenly between the 12 cupcakes cases and bung in the oven for 20 minutes (or until slightly golden brown and firm but springy to touch). After taking out of the oven, let them cool in the baking tray for about five minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Make sure they’re totally cool before you add the icing, or it won’t stick.

For the buttercream icing, sieve the icing sugar into a large bowl and cream in the butter using a fork. Once it’s all combined and smooth, add the paste colouring using a cocktail stick, a little at a time. Each time you add some, mix it in with a fork until you get the colour you want. Once it’s ready, either pipe on with an icing bag or use a flat knife to spread onto the cakes. Swiftly add the sprinkles and edible glitter before the icing dries (it’s best to ice half the cupcakes then add the sprinkles before icing the rest to make sure that it doesn’t set in between).

4th of July cake balls

Posted in American food, Baking, Cakes, Recipes with tags , , , , , , , , on 04/07/2011 by libbyplummer

It’s been 235 years since the Declaration of Independence was approved by Congress, marking the start of the United States’ official separation from Great Britain. Nowadays, this momentous occasion is marked largely with fireworks, barbecues and baseball. And of course, cakes. (Check out the hilarious gallery of disasters over at Cake Wrecks – the  “4 Jluy” is possibly the highlight).

Getting into the spirit of things (despite being British and living in London), I knocked up a batch of 4th of July cake balls, mainly to justify the large stash of red, white and blue sprinkles that I’ve been building up from numerous trips to Target when in the US. The recipe is adapted from Molly Bakes‘ excellent new Cake Pops book and uses Renshaw Simple Melt topping, kindly given to me by the manufacturer to try out. Read on and get stuck in, y’all.

What you’ll need:
For the cake:
120g margarine (or softened unsalted butter if you prefer) plus extra for greasing tin
150g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
180g self-raising flour (sieved)
4 tbsp milk

For the icing:
80g softened unsalted butter
40g cream cheese (not low fat version)
200g icing sugar (sieved)
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the topping:
Yoghurt Simply Melts (or white chocolate or whatever topping you want to use)
Red, white and blue sprinkles

4th of July cake ball close-up

What to do:
Preheat oven to 180° C /160° C (fan oven)/350° F/ gas mark 4. Grease and flour a 20-25cm cake tin (round or square). I use Wilton cake release, which doesn’t need flouring – you just spread it round the tin with a pastry brush. Cream the margarine and sugar with a fork until light and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla extract. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing in between. Add the flour, mix until combined and then gradually add the milk and mix again.

Dollop the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 35 minutes or so, or until a cocktail stick inserted into the middle comes out mostly clean with a couple of crumbs. Remove from oven, leave to cool in the tin for 5-10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the icing, cream the butter and cream cheese together with a fork, add the icing sugar and continue to cream until it’s all mixed in and as smooth as possible. Lastly, mix in the vanilla extract. Bung in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before using.

Once the cake is cool, carefully remove the crusts with a bread knife and crumble the cake into a bowl. Once you’ve transformed your cake into a bowl of crumbs, take one tablespoon of the icing at a time and work into the crumbs with your hands (you might not need all of the icing). Mix together until you’ve got a fudge-like mixture that’s not too tough or too soggy. Wrap in clingfilm and stick in the fridge for at least an hour.

Once chilled, break off a chunk of the mixture and roll into a ball in using your hands. The size depends on how big you want your cake balls, but about the size of a ping pong ball is a good place to start. Pop them on a tray lined with baking parchment and stick back in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Next, remove the cake balls from the fridge, turn them over and insert cocktail sticks into the flat-ish side of the ball (the stick needs to go about halfway through). Now melt your Simply Melts according to the instructions (you can also use candy melts or melted chocolate if you prefer) and transfer to a heatproof bowl. Take one cake ball at a time and dip it into the mixture, swirling around until the ball is completely covered (use a spoon to drizzle the mixture over any bald patches if you’re finding it a bit tricky to get them totally covered). Now place them on a cooling rack with the cocktail stick pointing downwards, between the wires. If the cooling rack is too near to the kitchen worktop, rest it on a couple of glasses at either end to raise it up. As soon as you cover each ball with topping, swiftly add a few sprinkles before they dry. Leave to set (they only take about 10 minutes). Happy Independence Day!

Renshaw debuts home baking range

Posted in Baking, Biscuits, Cakes, Out and about with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 21/06/2011 by libbyplummer

Renshaw Simplymelt
Professonal baking supplier Renshaw – which has been in business since since 1898 – has launched its very first range for home bakers and I was invited along for a sneak preview and to sample some of the goods.

The new range comprises four products – my personal favourite being the Simplymelt flavoured toppings (£1.39), which can be melted in the bag in a microwave and used for pouring over shortbreads, flapjacks and crispy cakes. It also looks ideal for decorating cake pops without having to bugger about melting chocolate or candy melts on the hob. There are five flavours – white chocolate, milk chocolate, toffee, strawberry and yoghurt – most of which I tried and found to be dangerously tasty.

Renshaw cake pops

The range also includes Ready to Roll Coloured Icing (£1.25), which comes in black, red, green, pink, blue and yellow, along with Snip & Swirl ready to pipe icing (£2.49) – available in strawberry, chocolate and vanilla – and edible icing ribbon (£2.49), which is perfect for making fancy borders on celebration cakes.

Renshaw home baking range

The baking supplier has also launched Renshaw Juniors for kids which includes Magic Melting Icing (£2.09) which comes in raspberry, blackcurrant or tropical flavours along with coloured sugardough (£2.59) and flavoured sugardough (£1.99) which is basically edible Play-doh.

Renshaw cupcakes

Alongside the new range, Renshaw also launched the website for keen bakers and you can also find them on Twitter and Facebook.

The products will be available at Lakeland, Hobbycraft, Morrisons, Bako BFP and Culpitts and you’ll also be able to pick them up in Asda and Tesco from August 2011. Renshaw gave me a stash of the products to try out, so I’ll be coming up with a few recipes for them in the near future…

Terrorist threat thwarted by cupcakes

Posted in Baking, Cakes with tags , , , , on 03/06/2011 by libbyplummer

Anarchy in the UK cupcakes
I tweeted about this ludicrous, but apparently true, story this morning and have had lots of feedback – so here’s the lowdown. British intelligence officers recently managed to scupper the launch of the first English language website to be set up by an affiliate of terrorist organisation al-Qaida.

The jihadist site, known as Inspire, was crippled courtesy of a pdf file full of cupcake recipes which managed to garble the website’s existing instructions on how to “Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom”.

Traditionally, the art of baking minature cakes hasn’t been widely used as a weapon in the war on terror, but if it works then I’m all for it.

Via: The Guardian

London Baking Battenberg cake recipe

Posted in Baking, Cakes, English food, Recipes with tags , , , , on 31/05/2011 by libbyplummer

London Baking BattenbergI first made my own version of Battenberg cake for the royal wedding back in April, but I didn’t post a recipe as I hadn’t quite perfected it – until now. This classic, British almond-flavoured cake was supposedly invented in 1884 for a royal wedding (for more info, see my previous Battenberg post).

Again, I haven’t opted for the classic pink and yellow colours, instead going for the pink and green from the London Baking logo (if you hadn’t already worked it out, this is inspired by The Clash’s London Calling album cover which was based on Elvis Presley’s first LP). Without further ado – here’s my recipe for London Baking Battenberg cake.

What you’ll need:
110g/4oz self-raising flour (sieved)
110g/4oz caster sugar (sieved)
110g/4oz unsalted butter (softened) or margerine
1 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
Paste food colouring
Apricot jam
Pack of marzipan

If you use all of the sponge, then this should make a cake that’s roughly the same size as the Battenberg that you buy in the shops. If, like me, you don’t have a tin that’s the correct shape and size then you’ll probably end up trimming alot of the sponge away to get straight edges so your cake will end up being about two thirds of the size.

What to do:
Preheat the oven to 160°C/140°C (fan oven)/325°F/gas mark 3. Line two tins with baking parchment. Unless you have two tins that are exactly the right shape, you might need to use some ingenuity here. I used one brownie tin with a makeshift divider made from foil running down the middle to make two seperate baking areas, one for each colour sponge. What you need to end up with is two rectangular pieces of sponge that are deep enough to form the cake when sandwiched together. Two loaf tins would also work well. As you can see from the picture, the layers are slightly wonky, but it doesn’t really matter. If you want it to look perfect then you’ll either need to get your ruler out or invest in some pans that are exactly the right size (or ones that come with adjustable dividers).

Once you’ve finished horsing around with cake tins and foil, it’s time to make the cake. Plonk the sifted flour, sugar, butter/margarine and baking powder into a bowl and cream together with a fork. Next add the two eggs, mixing after adding each one, then add the vanilla extract and almond extract. One it’s all combined, give it a quick go with a whisk to make the mix light and fluffy. Divide the mixture between two bowls and add your chosen food colouring. I use Sugarflair paste colouring, adding a tiny amount at a time with a cocktail stick and mixing in with a fork until the shade is right.

Dollop each colour mixture into a separate tin (or separate area of the same tin) and bung in the oven for 20 minutes (or until very slightly golden brown and firm but springy to touch). After taking out of the oven, let the two layers cool in the baking tray for about five minutes before transferring to a wire rack and leaving to cool completely.

Battenberg close-up

Now, the tricky bit. You need two rectangles of sponge, so if your pans weren’t exactly the right size to start with, grab a sharp knife and carefully level the top of the pink cake so that it’s flat and and is twice as wide as it is high. Do the same for the green cake. Spread a thin layer of apricot jam onto the top of the pink cake and stick the green layer on top. Cut lengthways down the middle so that you end up with two strips. Lay one on it’s side so that you have a line of pink and a line of green. Spread a thin layer of apricot jam on the top. Take the other strip and lay it on top the other way round so that the pink lays on top of the green underneath and vice versa.

Next, lightly dust a chopping board/worksurface with icing sugar, take a pack of marzipan and roll out until it’s about 3mm thick. You need enough to cover the four long sides of the cake, so try to roll it into a roughly rectangular shape (you can trim the excess afterwards). Rather than the usual yellow marzipan, I used white, which is much paler than the yellow, but not really pure white.

Next, heat a couple of tablespoons of apricot jam in a saucepan until it’s warm and slightly more liquid-like (being careful not to burn it). Using a pastry brush, cover the top and two long sides of the cake. Using the rolling pin for support, carefully lift up the marzipan and place on top of  the cake so that both sides are covered and there’s enough left on one side to cover the bottom. Smooth each side down and trims the ends of necessary. Once attached, paint the remaining melted jam onto the underside and fold the rest of the marzipan over so that all four sides of the cake and now wrapped in marzipan and trim the excess. Don’t worry –  it’s a lot easier than it sounds. Slice and serve with a nice brew (Americans – that means tea, not beer, unless you fancy an ale with your cake, of course).

Bakery County Hall

Posted in Baking, Biscuits, Cakes, Out and about with tags , , , , , , , on 30/05/2011 by libbyplummer

Bakery County Hall

On Saturday I finally got round to visiting the Ray Harryhausen exhibition at the London Film Museum in County Hall on the South Bank (which I can highly recommend). After a couple of hours buggering about with film props, followed by a pizza and wine-based lunch, I suggested a visit to the Bakery Country Hall. I first heard about this place when it appeared on the I Heart Cupcakes blog, complete with some cool pics of the macaroon and cupcake-adorned cafe interior.

There was a large range of goods on offer including tarts, brownies and various layer cakes and cupcakes. I opted for the Victoria sponge, which was fantastic, while my tea party buddy went for the carrot cake which I’m reliably informed was also very tasty but could have done with a bit less of the rich icing.

Victoria sponge
A word of warning – the prices are a tad steep. In fact, they’re extremely bloody high (£5.50 for a slice of cake!). Luckily for the bakery, I’m both stupid and greedy, so I paid it anyway. However, the service was very good, the tea was nice, the cakes were lovely and it was all served on vintage china. Plus, being on the South Bank, just round the corner from the London Eye, it is a bit of tourist hotspot, so prices will inevitably be slightly marked up.

For a more detailed write-up of the bakery and some nice pictures of the decor, check out the post by @annecupcake over at I Heart Cupcakes.

Lomography LC-Wide cupcakes

Posted in Baking, Cakes, Out and about with tags , , , , , , , on 21/05/2011 by libbyplummer

Lomography LC-Wide cupcakesCouldn’t resist posting a pic of these cool cupcakes adorned with images of the new LC-Wide analogue snapper from Lomography. Served up at the launch party for the new camera at the Lomo Gallery Store in central London, these kitsch cakes were very tasty as well as being a handy way of soaking up the numerous Moscow Mules.

If you want to know more about the camera, check out my hands-on write-up over at