Archive for the Events Category

Depressed Cake Shop comes to London

Posted in Baking, Biscuits, Cakes, Events with tags , , , , , , , on 21/07/2013 by libbyplummer

Gloomy Grey Lemon MacaronsThe Depressed Cake Shop is a pop-up shop that aims to raise awareness of depression and well as making some cash for a mental health charity in the process. All the baked goods in sold in the shop will be grey on the outside.

The first shop will open on 2 August in Brick Lane, London, with plenty more pop-up shops planned all over the country. The project is also set to go global, with bakers already lined up in the US, Australia and Malaysia.

Depressed Cake Shop

The splendidly grey-tinged, fundraising idea is the brainchild of Miss Cakehead, who’s previous projects include the gruesome Eat Your Heart Out shop for Halloween, the Katy Perry-themed Cakey Perry afternoon tea and the Cakes for Japan shop which raised money to help rescue efforts following the 2011 tsunami.

Among other things, the Depressed Cake Shop will be selling Gloomy Grey Lemon Macarons from Dainty Bakehouse, Misfortune Cookies from Miss Insomnia Tulip, and Life’s Taken a Bite Out of Me Biscuits from Laura Fortune.

Life's Taken a Bite of Me biscuits

For more details, head over to: The Depressed Cake Shop

If you want to get involved in the project, join The Depressed Cake Shop Facebook group or  contact emma@misscakehead.com

Eat Your Heart Out 2012

Posted in Baking, Cakes, Events with tags , , , , , , , on 28/10/2012 by libbyplummer

EYHO 2012Eat Your Heart Out 2012 was the latest project from Miss Cakehead, whose previous projects include the kitsch Cakey Perry afternoon tea and Cakes for Japan – a cake-based series of fundraising events to raise money for victims of the 2011 tsunami.

I went along to Eat Your Heart Out 2010 – the world’s first 18+ cake shop, so I as soon as I got word of Eat Your Heart Out 2012, I stuck it in the diary and booked my (free) ticket) faster than you can say “make mine a polycystic ovary cupcake”.

EYHO 2012

The EYHO pop-up shop was open for three days over the weekend before Halloween with the pathology museum at St Bart’s hospital in London providing the perfect venue for the macabre cake sale.

The gruesome treats on offer included aorta cupcakes (with rum syringe shot!) from Leshie Loves Cake, lung cancer cookies from Nevie Pie Cakes and polycystic kidney cake from Cakes by Victoria.

EYHO 2012

You can check out the full EYHO 2012 menu here.

While designed to shock, the baked goods also carried a serious message, many of which were displayed to raise awareness of the conditions that they represented, like the prostate cancer truffles and mole cupcakes.

EYHO 2012

It’s testament to the artistry of some of the bakers involved that their cakes simply looked too horribly realistic to buy. While I appreciate the edginess of the STD cupcakes, stool sample cakes and limoncello cocktails disguised as urine samples, I simply couldn’t bring myself to try them (although I’ve no doubt that they were very tasty).

EYHO 2012

Instead I opted for some macarons shaped to look like internal organs (kidneys and lungs) from Miss Insomnia Tulip and a ‘wounded bakewell’ from the All Mine Patisserie. As you do.

EYHO 2012

Bravo, Miss Cakehead – I do hope you’re planning EYHO 2013…

EYHO 2012

Kendo Nagasaki biscuits for Sugar Slam III

Posted in Baking, Biscuits, Events, Recipes with tags , , , , , , , on 13/08/2012 by libbyplummer

Kendo Nagasaki bicsuits
Last year I entered Bake & Destroy’s wrestling-themed Sugar Slam bake-off with the world’s first Kendo Nagasaki cake pops. This year? Kendo Nagasaki matcha biscuits.

I’m referring to the British name for ‘cookies’ of course, not the rolls that our American cousins serve with gravy. You can call them cookies if you like.

As someone who grew up with the British wrestling of the 1980s rather than the more flamboyant fighters from the US, the only distinguishable characters that stand out in my mind are Big Daddy, Giant Haystacks and Kendo Nagasaki.

Kendo Nagasaki

The latter (not to be confused with an American wrestler of the same name) rarely took off his mask, but one memorable bout saw him not only being stripped of his striped camouflage by his component, but also ‘hypnotising’ the offender with an intent stare and a wave of his hands.

Entranced as we were at our young age, my brother and I still were still not entirely convinced by his magical powers.

Sadly, ITV cancelled its wrestling coverage not long after that, quite possibly as a direct result of it.

Kendo Nagasaki

Despite his Japanese-inspired moniker and his Eastern mysticism, Kendo Nagasaki was in fact an English chap from the West Midlands called Peter Thornley. Which, in a roundabout way, brings me back to baking.

This year, my entry for Sugar Slam is again inspired by the masked wrestler, with the quintessential English-ness of the plain biscuit representing Thornley and the matcha green tea flavour standing in for his mystical Japanese alter ego. I cannot believe I just wrote that sentence.

Recipe? I thought you’d never ask…

Update: Voting for the Sugar Slam III People’s Choice Award is now open – if you like my biscuits, please head over to the gallery and leave a comment. Voting closes on 27 August at 9pm CST!

What you’ll need:
350g/12oz plain flour (sieved)
100g/3.5oz self raising flour (sieved)
125g/4.5oz granulated sugar
125g/4.5oz salted butter (softened)
125g/4.5oz golden syrup
1 large egg
4 tbsp matcha green powder

For the icing:
150ml/quarter pint cold water
900g royal icing sugar (sieved)
Paste icing colourings

Kendo Nagasaki

What to do:

Mix the flours and sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and use your fingertips to blend it together with the dry mix until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs. Once mixed in, add the egg and syrup and mix together (at first with a wooden spoon, and then with your dainty hands) until a ball of dough is formed.

Divide the dough in half and mould each into a flat disc before wrapping in clingfilm and bunging  in the fridge for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 170°C (150°C fan oven)/350°F/gas mark 4. Once chilled, unwrap the dough and pop it between two sheets of baking parchment and roll out to about 5mm thickness. Cut our your chosen shapes either using ready-made cutters or your own templates.

To make your own, just draw or trace your design onto a piece of parchment and then stick this a spare piece of card and cut out. Stick the shapes on a lined baking tray, leaving plenty of room between each biscuit. Cook for 14 minutes or so (you may need more time, depending on your oven).

The biccies are ready when they start to turn golden brown around the edges, at which point you need to take them out of the oven and transfer to a wire rack. Don’t even think about icing them before they’re completely cool otherwise the icing just won’t stick.

Kendo Nagasaki matcha biscuits

For the icing:
Stick the water in a bowl and then using a fork to mix the icing sugar in. Once mixed together, you need to siphon off separate bowls for as many different colours as you’re planning to use. I saved a small bowl of white mixture for the stripes, plus a small amount to colour grey for the facial features and a small amount to colour red for the outlines.

Take the outline colour ( in this case red) and pop into a disposable icing bag and snip the end to make a small hole. Pipe the outline around the edges of your biscuits, making sure that you join the ends up to create a tiny wall of icing.

The remaining icing in the original bowl will be your flooding icing, which will need to be coloured to match the outline. Once done, spoon carefully into the middle of each biscuit and smooth out to the edges using a cocktail stick. Leave to dry.

Using the same process as you used for the outline, you can use the remaining colours to pipe on the rest of the details. And then you’re done.

Recipe adapted from Biscuiteers Book of Iced Biscuits

SugarSlam III: Batter Royal

Posted in Baking, Biscuits, Cakes, Events with tags , , , , , , on 15/07/2012 by libbyplummer

SugarSlam III flyerPunk rock baking blogger Natalie is once again running the wrestling-themed SugarSlam bake-off over at Bake & Destroy and the good news is that the deadline for entries has been extended to 15 August 2012 so this blog  post isn’t quite as last-minute as I’d feared. Huzzah!

The lucky winner will be awarded the coveted SugarSlam World Championship belt along with a host of other prizes and there’s also a top prize stash in store for the People’s Champion.

Check out the official SugarSlam rules over at Bake & Destroy and take a gander at the SugarSlam 2011 entries here (including my Kendo Nagasaki cake pops).

Elizabeth Sponge cupcakes for the Diamond Jubilee

Posted in Baking, Cakes, English food, Events with tags , , , , , , on 03/06/2012 by libbyplummer

Elizabeth Sponge cupcakes for the Diamond JubileeWe’ve got a four-day weekend here in the UK to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee – that is, 60 years since the young princess ascended the throne.

With street parties, barbecues and flags all in place, celebratory cakes will also be high on the list of priorities for many Brits (along with copious amounts of alcohol, in the guise of celebrating our Queen’s lengthy rule).

Elizabeth Sponge is simply a variation on the classic Victoria Sponge, named after our reigning monarch (and myself, of course). These cupcakes include a hidden layer of strawberry in the centre, along with red, white and blue striped icing.

I’ll be honest – the fancy icing is a little fiddly (never before have you heard such bad language directed at an icing bag) but I think it’s worth the effort.

Elizabeth Sponge cupcakes for the Diamond Jubilee

Of course these wouldn’t fit the London Baking theme without some sort of tenuous punk connection, like the Anarchy in the UK cupcakes that I made for the royal wedding last year.

That’s why the flags are adorned with circled As (grrr, anarchic baked goods!) and the God Save the Queen slogan that the Sex Pistols used for their controversial hit single that was released to conincide with the Silver Jubilee in 1977.

God Save the Queen Sex Pistols

I’ll leave you with the recipe below. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to Putney to celebrate the Jubilee (by which I mean ‘spend all day in the pub’).

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
Seedless strawberry jam

For the buttercream icing:
340g/12oz icing (confectioner’s) sugar (sieved)
150g/5.25oz softened unsalted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Red and blue paste food colouring ( I used Sugarflair Christmas Red and Navy Blue)
Icing whitener ( I used Wilton)
Disposable icing bags

Makes 12 cupcakes

Elizabeth Sponge cupcakes for the Diamond Jubilee

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 160°C/140°C (fan oven)/325°F/gas mark 3. Line a muffin tin with cupcake cases (Union Jack ones, if you can find ’em). Chuck 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 mixed together, give it a quick whisk so that it’s light and fluffy.

Divide the mixture evenly between the 12 cupcakes cases and  in the oven for 20 minutes (or until slightly golden brown and firm but springy to touch). After removing from the the oven, let the cupcakes cool in the baking tray for about five minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

Elizabeth Sponge cupcakes for the Diamond Jubilee

Once they’re completely cool, you’ll need to cut out a chunk from each cake to add in the jam. Carefully score a circle around the top of the cake with a sharp nice, then retrace the circle with the knife at an angle so that you cut out a section (in a vaguely conical shape). Use a teaspoon to dollop a tiny blob of jam in the crater, then replace the ‘lid’.

Elizabeth Sponge Cupcakes for the Diamond Jubilee

Next up – the icing. Sieve the icing sugar into a large bowl and cream in the butter using a fork. Once it’s all mixed in and smooth, divide the icing into three bowls.

Colour one red, using paste colouring (apply sparingly with a cocktail stick and work in with a fork until you get the colour you want). Do the same with the blue colouring and if you want, add a few drops of icing whitener to the third bowl.

Now comes the tricky bit. You’ll need four disposable icing bags. Half fill three bags with the three different colours (you can always add more as you go along). Next snip the end of the fourth bag so that a large star nozzle fits comfortably.

Striped icing

Next, snip the ends from the other three bags and put them all inside the fourth, making sure that the tips all fit inside the nozzle (this is the bit that takes time, patience and, potentially, a lot of swearing). Once in place, you can ice away as usual.

Ireland biscuits with Baileys buttercream

Posted in Baking, Biscuits, Events, Recipes with tags , , , , , on 12/03/2012 by libbyplummer

Ireland biscuits with Baileys buttercreamI’m not Irish. Not even remotely. But that’s no reason not to make some garish green-tinted biscuits (or cookies, if you insist) in celebration of St Patrick’s Day on 17 March, especially when there’s Bailey’s buttercream involved (last year I made whoopie pies with bright green filling).

I was given a cookie cutter set shaped like the British Isles for Christimas (thanks mum!), hence I have a cutter shaped liked the Emerald Isle. If you haven’t got one, you can just make your own template from grease-proof paper and cut around it with a knife.

Apologies for stating the bleedin’ obvious, but thanks to the Baileys, these biccies contain booze so may not be suitable for the nippers.

Ireland biscuits with Baileys buttercream 2

Makes 16-20 biscuits (8-10 when sandwiched together)

What you’ll need:

For the biscuits:
90g/3oz unsalted butter
100g/3.5oz caster sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200g/70z plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
Green paste food colouring

For the buttercream filling:
225g/8oz icing (confectioner’s) sugar (sieved)
100g/3.5oz softened unsalted butter
1tbsp Bailey’s Irish Cream

What to do:
First, cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl, using a fork. Next, beat in the egg and vanilla extract.  In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt and then add to the original mixture. Stir together until it’s all combined. Lastly, add some green colouring, a tiny bit at a time, until you’ve got the colour you want. Once all mixed in, roll the dough into a ball, squash into a flat disc and wrap in clingfilm. If the dough feels a bit too sticky, then add a touch of flour. Leave the dough to chill in the fridge for about an hour.

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C/160 degrees C (fan oven)/gas mark 4. Roll out the dough between two large sheets of greaseproof paper. This avoids you having to add any more flour to stop it sticking, which can make the dough too dry. Cut out your shapes and place onto a lined baking sheet (make sure they’re well spaced, or they’ll fuse together in the oven when the dough expands). If you’re using an asymmetric shape (such as the outline of Ireland), then you’ll want to flip half of the biscuits over as you’ll be sandwiching two together to form a sandwich.

Bake for about 10-12 minutes or until the biscuits are slightly golden around the edges and slightly soft in the middle (they’ll firm up while they cool). Once out of the oven, transfer them to a wire cooling rack and after they’re fully cooled down then you can make a start on the filling.

Ireland biscuits with Baileys buttercream

For the buttercream, 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 Baileys and mix in. Pop into an icing bag and pipe a blog into the centre of half your biscuits (on the flat underside), then sandwich together with the remaining half (with the flat side touching the buttercream).

Finally, sit back with your ‘Oirish’ snacks, and listen to some suitably Celtic rock, like this ditty from the Dropkick Murphys. They’re not from Ireland – they’re from Massachusetts, but don’t let that stop you. It’s a good tune…

Exploding wedding cakes from Bompas & Parr

Posted in Baking, Cakes, Events with tags , , , , on 12/02/2012 by libbyplummer

Ryan Hopkinson exploding jellyJelly experts Bompas & Parr are launching a food explosion service for weddings. Yeah, you heard. Famous for their experimental culinary projects, the team will provide an explosives guru who will lay charges inside your wedding cake (or food of choice) which will then be detonated at an opportune moment.

In celebration of the launch of the service, Bompas & Parr have teamed up with photographer Ryan Hopkinson to document what happens when you blow up a jelly (for US readers, that’s Jell-o), as you can see in the picture.

Ryan Hopkinson exploding jelly 2

Once you’ve booked your explosives expert, they’ll chat with your wedding cake provider to go through the safest way to lay the charges and position the cake. They’ll also attend on the wedding day to set up the explosives and detonate the blast. According to the jelly mongers, “All explosives are transported within containers meeting the MoD’s SEAP 4 security standards as referred to in JSP440”. I’ve no idea what that means, but it sounds pretty cool.

Presumably the cake will be inedible once it’s been blown to smithereens, so you’d probably want to get two made for the big day if you actually intend to enjoy a slice without having to scrape it off the ceiling first.

Images: Ryan Hopkinson