Gallery

My Cake Origins

A few weeks ago my sisters and I went to visit some old friends for dinner- My Mother has always told me never to go to someone’s house empty handed, so I did what I did best and asked my friend ‘A’ what his wife (I’s) favourite cake was- lemon cupcakes with a buttercream frosting. As we all sat nibbling nachos and playing Irish snap, I naturally began talking about my blog. ‘I’ stopped me mid-sentence and asked when and how I started baking. We’ve known each other for years and she claimed to have no recollection of me being such a cake-a-holic. Reflecting on this conversation I thought this would make a brilliant blog topic: My Cake Origins.

My earliest memory of home-made cakes was when I was no more than 7yrs old. Society often paints a quaint, picturesque scene of the Mother as Susie-Homemaker, but in my household Daddy could do one thing Mum hadn’t quite mastered- baking. (Yep, my Dad is a DIY-fixing-Accountant-Preacher that can bake!)

One of Dad’s specialities was vanilla sponge cake with a twist. This cake was not your ordinary sponge: the outside was a sandy-brown colour with firm crisp corners, but when served a bright pink or green colour illuminated from the inside! (There’s nothing like a splash of food colouring to keep the kids excited eh!) And there was always the lingering mystery as to what Dad’s secret ingredient was. There was no doubt in my mind that it was a vanilla cake, but I couldn’t quite place my finger on the unidentifiable taste. Was it nutmeg, cinnamon? The mystery remains unsolved…

Another one of Dad’s specialities is Ghanaian meat pies, oooh my mouth waters at the thought of it! Meat pies are a traditional Ghanaian snack, oftens sold by street vendors (and according to my Mum, best washed down with a glass of milk). Whenever Dad gets a ‘free weekend’ he either spends it sleeping, watching sports or at the gym. Or if our household is very lucky we’re blessed with meat pies! Made completely from scratch, a flaky brown pastry is folded over a fistful of seasoned corned beef. Every bite is sacred and every crumb is savoured. Pure perfection to my tastebuds. All other words escape me. You would have to be fortunate to even nibble at this delicacy to understand my love for it.

Ghanaian meat pies

Birdseye view: Ghanaian meat pies

Then there was the summer of ’98 when my Grandparents came to visit from Ghana along with my Aunt, Uncle and cousin from NYC. My Grandma, like many Grandmas is brilliant at everything. But one of the areas she excels in the most is the kitchen. That summer the family were treated to fresh, weekly batches of Ghanaian doughnuts. (Again, nothing is ordinary when it’s a Ghanaian recipe) The doughnuts were small, round, deep-fried balls of gluttony. They were deceptive in their appearance because when consumed they actually sat like rocks at the bottom of my stomach! But my oh my, they were gluttony in the most delicious form. And not forgetting AuntyA who is a pastry chef in Manhattan NYC, surely that says it all. The summer of ’98 was not only a cupcakingly delicious time, but I grew a few inches too, sadly not in height!

The handful of baking influences in my family in my family was only the beginning of my baking habits. It was not until I moved out of the family home for University that I adopted a cake obsession. In my second and third year I lived with two fantastic bakers ‘A’ and ‘J’. When the mood struck them these girls would whip up the nuttiest choc chip and macademia cookies, madeira/chocolate cake, Cornish scones, or even a tropical flavoured sorbet. My word, this household was a cake-a-holics dream come true. If you came for dinner at our house wearing skinny jeans, you would be certain to leave wearing borrowed sweats! ‘A’ and ‘J’ were wizards in the kitchen and I longed to be just like them.

Unfortunately my baking skills did not come naturally and it took me at least a year’s practice to stop my cakes from falling, let alone looking and tasting as the recipe books described. But with a pinch of perseverance and a sprinkle of determination I learnt how to bake some pretty awesome cakes, and developed a love and passion for baking.

Home is where is the heart is, and home is where the baked goodies are too!

Love & Cupcakes,

Tracey xoxo

Gallery

Never Judge a Cake by its Cover

Welcome to 2012 fellow cake followers! We’re just three days into the new year and I’m super eager to bring some ‘cakespiration’ to you ; )…

There’s nothing I love more than the sweet, crisp smell of freshly baked goodies wafting through the hallways of my home. The excitement of knowing that a golden-coloured sponge cake awaits my tastebuds, or perhaps a rich and buttery apple crumble, is almost too much glee to contain. But what if I were to offer you ‘garden cakes’ with your mug of tea or coffee? Carrot cake sounds normal enough, but would you be willing to try beetroot cupcakes, or a slice of courgette cake? I have a feeling that some of you may be putting your foot down at carrot cake. But wait, it’s a new year, aren’t you willing to try something new?

Hear me out, I recently went to visit relatives and my Aunt, who is a fantastic baker, offered me the very same ‘garden cakes’ that I told you about. Naturally a look of horror swept over my face as I imagined the taste of soggy courgettes embedded in a cake, but I was reassured that I wouldn’t be able to taste the veg, and they were only used to keep the cake moist. When it comes to food I like to think that I’ll try anything once- so I did. One of each…

Lo and behold, it was pretty darn good! Both the courgette and beetroot cakes were so soft they broke in my palm. They weren’t too rich, neither were they tasteless. My tastebuds and my stomach were happily lapping up this new cuisine and I have to admit that I had judged a cake by its cover. I can’t say that I’m reformed and delivered from the chocolatey goodness of a marble cake, or devilishly tasty brownies, but at least I can now eat a cake and count it as one of my five a day ; ) Moral of the story: Never judge a cake by its cover.

Viva la vegetables!

Love & Cupcakes,

Tracey xoxo

Garden cakes

Beetroot cupcakes. Courgette cakes. Carrot cake. Mince pies.

Are you tempted now?

Gallery

Farewell Twenty Eleven!

It’s that exciting time of year again. New Years Eve. The beauty of NYE brings forth countless emotions- for some, it may be the excitement of having a fresh start and rectifying mistakes; for others it may bring a sense of peace, knowing that you will never see the year 2011 again! And yet still, others may be looking back with a sense of nostalgia, reminiscent of the collage of memories that have been harvested over the past year. 

As I wave goodbye to the delectable foods, cakes and bakes of 2011, I also raise my glass to the new. However you choose to spend NYE, be grateful for every blessing that was passed your way, and be expectant that ‘the best is yet to come’. (Frank Sinatra)

Happy New Year!

Love & Cupcakes,

Tracey xoxo

Farewell Twenty Eleven

'Til next year

Vanilla sponge cupcakes

Two blogs that I recommend you read in the new year:

www.cupcakesandcashmere.com

www.estherjoy.co.uk