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An Ode to my Parents

Today is my parent’s 24th Wedding Anniversary, and I thought it would be a beautiful tribute to dedicate a blog post to them…

In this day and age finding a married couple is like gold dust- a friend of mine recently told me that when he was in his final year of school, just seven years ago, there were only 4 people in his class (out of 28 pupils) that had parents who were still married and living together. I’m very pro-marriage, and I’m blessed to be surrounded by many married couples in my family and friendship circle. My Grandparents were married for 52yrs before my ‘Grampa’ passed away, and I was blessed to have been at their 50th Anniversary celebration. But today is my parent’s day, the day that I applaud them for being such beautiful role models, and for raising three amazing daughters- believe me when I say I’m being modest!

I wouldn’t do this blog post justice if I didn’t talk about their wedding cake… The cake was six tiers and smothered in a smoth, white, fondant icing. It was laden with light-pink fondant roses, and thick, satin-bow ribbons at the bottom of each tier. The upper layer of the cake was topped with a small flower arrangement in place of the traditional Bride and Groom figurines. It was the perfect cake to match my Mother’s frilly, lacey, feminine ’80s wedding gown.

Fruit cake is my least favourite cake, partly for the raisins and sultanas, but each to their own, they like what they like and it is a traditional choice for a wedding cake. As far as I know, my parents still have the top tier of their wedding cake in the freezer; the useful thing about fruit cake is that the rum preserves it for months, and sometimes even years after. I know a number of friends who have frozen their wedding cake and thaw it out on their anniversary to eat a slice. Again, each to their own! With my recent discovery of Red Velvet cake I’m pretty sure this will be the cake of choice. My future husband has little  no choice in the matter. I want what I want.

For my married readers: what type of wedding cake did you have, and for my unmarried readers: what type of cake do you picture yourself having and why?

Love & Wedding cake,

Tracey xoxo

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY MUM & DAD :)

25.06.1988

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Jolly Jubilee!

As with most things in life I like to take my time, hence why this post is three weeks late!

Earlier this month the UK celebrated the Queen’s 60th Diamond Jubilee. The UK took patriotism (real word?) to a whole new level with Union Jack flags draped over cars; clothes and accessories were adorned with the faces of the Royal family, and we were lucky enough to have a four-day-weekend of fun-filled festivities!

Jubilee

It rained for the most part of the weekend but this did not stop the nation from gathering to watch the Thames water Pageant and the Jubilee concert, which featured the likes of Dame Shirley Bassey, a rather raunchy Grace Jones, the legend that is Stevie Wonder, Kylie Minogue and Ed Sheeran to name a few.

Face painting at the Jubilee party

Jubilee baking

I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that I was most excited about the food! The nation had planned to have street parties and barbeques but the bad disgusting weather meant the fun got moved indoors. My Mother had the food aspect covered and so I was delegated with the dessert- I spent eight hours baking traditional British Scones, Victoria Sponge cakes and Carrot cakes (Recipes to follow in due course) for our Jubilee Party. Scones and Victoria Sponge in particularly, are widely associated with British tea parties and I thought they would be perfect for this jubilant occasion. Other guests brought muffins, cupcakes, sandwich cakes and cookies; it was the perfect fix for my sweet tooth. I’ll let the photos speak for them self. God Save the Queen.

Love & Angel cake,

Tracey xoxo

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All I See is Red!

Happy Thursday Followers!

In today’s post I’d like to conclude my baking discoveries of NYC by talking about Red Velvet cake *drool*

Aunty's RedV

FACTS: Red Velvet cake derives from the same group as the Devil’s Food Cake; the dark colouring and richness of the cocoa flavours are much like its cousin cake, originating in the United States in the early 1900’s. Previous recipes included ingredients such as cocoa, baking powder and whipped egg whites, whereas modern adaptations of the recipe omitted the whipped egg whites and required squares of chocolate to be dissolved in boiling water and soda, before being added to a mixture of sour milk and eggs. (At this point it was known as the ‘Philadelphia Red Cake’) By the late 1960’s the red coloured cake (then called the ‘Red Carpet Cake’) soared to popularity with feature articles in the Washington Post and Spokesman-Review newspapers. The red food colouring, buttermilk, cocoa powder and vinegar were now staple ingredients in the devilishly rich cake, whereas beetroot was previously used to give the cake a natural red colour. As the recipe progressed and was adapted, the red food colouring replaced the beetroot to give the cake a brighter appearance! The southern part of the United States were renown for making the traditional Red Velvet cake, and its reputation plummeted when it made an appearance as an armadillo-shaped groom’s cake, in the 1989 movie Steel Magnolias.

Having watched countless episodes of Cupcake Wars I had seen the bakers turn out racks upon racks of traditional Southern Red Velvet cupcakes before I decided to turn my whisk to this recipe too. The deep red colouring of the cake, its spongy appearance, and the thick, white cream cheese frosting was enough to have me clawing at the television screen!

One of the things I love about Red Velvet cake is the cream cheese frosting; there have been countless times when I’ve described the cake to people and they wrinkle up their nose at the thought of cheese spread over a cake. Let me reassure you that when made the right way this frosting will send you into a food coma! Striking the perfect balance between the cream cheese and icing/confectioner’s sugar is a matter of trial and error, but when that balance is found, Aaaah Heaven! For many people the red appearance of the cake is another turn-off, but having grown up in a household where it was perfectly acceptable to eat pink and green coloured cakes I had no fears whatsoever!

Initially I was slightly apprehensive about the ingredients that went into the cake, e.g. buttermilk, white vinegar- it seemed a little kooky to me, but the image of the cake was ingrained on my mind and I was determined to give it a shot. Lo’ and behold the cake was a big hit and I’ve been addicted ever since. Here’s a shot of the first Red Velvet cake I made, circa July 2011.

The first of many!

During my time in NYC I was overjoyed to be surrounded by Red Velvet cake at every street corner (okay, slight exaggeration but it definitely felt that way!)

Red Velvet cake

I spotted four tiered Red Velvet cakes in a restaurant window, I ate Red Velvet macaroons at a Bridal Shower; I devoured the latest creation of Red Velvet pancakes from iHop, and was even lucky enough to sneak a slab of freshly baked cake from my Aunt’s restaurant.

iHop's RedV pancakes

If this is a glimpse of what Heaven will be like- Lord take me now!

{Keep an eye on my Recipes page for the sacred how-to…}

Love & Cream Cheese Frosting,

Tracey xoxo

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How much is that Cake in the Window?

‘I’m on a relentless quest to discover cakes and bakes from far and wide. Where I glean my information from is limitless; who I inspire is unknown.’  

Being fortunate enough to travel to other countries I’ve been able to sift some ‘Cakespiration’ from other bakers. Whilst in NYC I literally stopped in my tracks at the sheer sight of the cakes. ‘They’ weren’t lying when they said that Americans do everything bigger!

 

On one of my many trips to iHop and Tim Hortons, I found myself stopping on route, nose pressed against the window, and camera in hand, snapping up photos of the cakes I was determined not to purchase! I stumbled across meringue pies, apple pies, cheesecakes, cupcakes, and just regular big ol’ cakes. I was mesmerized by the overall presentation of the cakes and the nonchalant-liberal use of candies and sprinkles!

 

 

The sight of these larger-than-life-cakes and bakes got me thinking that maybe it’s time to up the ante and step away from these two-tier cakes that I’ve become accustomed to. Perhaps it’s time for me to move onto three or four tied cakes? Presentation is one of the factors that I’m working on with my baking skills and these cakes in the window have fired me up to work harder. Enjoy drooling over the pics!

Love & Cupcakes,

Tracey xoxo

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Bridal Shower in Brooklyn

In today’s post I want to flashback to the month of April when I took a vacation to NYC. The purpose of my vacation was to attend my friend’s wedding (A and T), and in the week preceding the wedding I attended T’s bridal shower in Flatbush, Brooklyn.

The function hall was decorated according to the chosen colours of pink and green, laden with synthetic flowers, containers filled with green and pink Kool Aid, and a giant throne for the Bride-to-Be. I’m sure it will come as no surprise to you when I say that the dessert table caught my eye from the second I entered the room! I’m usually a lover of fruit, but on this occasion my eyes glossed over the tropical-coloured fruit platter and diverted straight to the giant cake, mini macaroons and delicately frosted cupcakes.

 I admit I’ve never been a fan of American-style frosting because I found that it had an artificial taste- you know the kind, when you can tell the difference between a home-made frosting and a store bought frosting, and the store bought kind doesn’t quite measure up? On the contrary, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the frosting on the cupcake was light and creamy; the frosting had been whipped to perfection, and the cupcake itself had a light note of vanilla which complemented the frosting to a tee. But the one dessert that I was most excited to get my hands on was the Red Velvet Macaroons. 

My sister has been bragging about the beauty of Macaroons for at least a year now. Not only is she blessed to have a baking obsessed sister like me *wink wink* but she also has a very devoted, baking obsessed friend who is renowned for bestowing treats on birthdays, particularly cupcakes and Macaroons. So you can imagine my glee when I realised that I would finally be able to indulge my taste buds with these delicacies.

 I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect with the Macaroons because they looked like a cross breed between a cake and a cookie. In essence it is the love child of a cake and cookie (yes, I actually took the time to think about that analogy and I believe it’s the most fitting description).  I’ll try anything once, and as far as red velvet and cream cheese is concerned I’m a slave to the flavours! I have no shame in admitting that I ate two or three Macaroons at the Bridal Shower, and took a few home in a doggy bag too! Hey, they were there for the taking, stop shaking your head- only God can judge me!

For those of you wondering where the recipe is, I didn’t think it would be fair of me to supply a recipe that I have not tested and tried myself. It is my mission to add Macaroons on my list of baking-trials, so until I begin to experiment I will leave you with a few images from the Bridal Shower itself.

 

 

Love & Cupcakes,

Tracey xoxo