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25.

The end of February is nigh, and another birthday has passed. Another year wiser.

This month I celebrated my quarter of a century milestone, and what a celebration it was!  A weekend surrounded by friends, family and rich foods, I couldn’t have asked for anything more. The dessert-celebrations began three days before my actual birthday. An elegant dinner followed by a rich Red Velvet cake, smothered in a thick buttercream filling and decorated with royal icing and sugar paste… After three days of dancing, eating and *censored* I decided to spend my actual birthday at home, with Mama.

Red Velvet birthday cake

We started the day by making choc-chip-pancakes-with-a-twist. Okay, so really it was the regular American pancake recipe, with a teaspoon of vanilla extract, grated nutmeg and a handful of chocolate chips- but it was heavenly! Teamed with a  mug of freshly brewed Kenyan Masala tea, we were in brunch haven! Birthday gifts and pancakes, what more could I ask for?  It was like Christmas in February!

Birthday pancakes

I’m looking forward to what my 25th year will bring, hopefully it includes a heck of a lot more baking and blogging!

*Raises cupcake* To my 25th year!   

25.

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Forever 21

Greetings cake enthusiasts,

How many of you remember your 21st birthday? I know I do. Truth be told, a number of years later I’m still trying to tell people I’m 21! One of my sisters recently reached this milestone and I happily offered to bake her birthday cake.

Her choice, Lemon Drizzle cake. Her specification, ‘Make it BIG!’

My previous attempt at Lemon Drizzle cake was not fantastic, it took me more than one attempt to realise that my ridiculously stodgy lemon cake was a result of squeezing the lemon juice into the batter, instead of grating in the lemon zest! Alas! Once I had realised the error of my ways I began baking endless supplies of lemon drizzle, making it a new favourite amongst my sister’s cake palette.

I chose to use a Chantilly cream to layer the cakes as I wanted something that would compliment the sweetness of the lemon cake, without overpowering it. I also added strawberries inbetween each layer for a fresh, summer taste. I made the cake without the drizzle topping, supplementing it with the cream. I’m pleased to say that my sister was more than happy with the outcome :) She loved the cake so much that she offered to illustrate the cake for my blog post. You can find more of her illustrations on her blog; www.jessnash.tumblr.com .

Love & Birthday cake,

Tracey xoxo

21st Birthday cake

(Aunty Kay’s) Lemon Drizzle cake

225g Unsalted butter

225g Caster sugar

4 Eggs

225g Self-raising flour

Finely grated zest x1 Lemon 

Chantilly Cream

284ml (10fl oz) Whipping cream

1 Vanilla pod

Icing sugar (Confectioner’s suagr) to taste

 

Preheat the oven to 180° / Gas Mark 4 and grease a loaf tin.

Cream together the butter, sugar and add the eggs one at a time.

Sift the flour into the batter and mix well on a medium speed. Grate in the lemon zest and fold in with a wooden spoon.

Bake the cake for 45-50mins or until fully baked. {If making a small layer cake, separate the batter into two or three parts. However, if you choose to go BIG, make two batches of the recipe.}

For the Chantilly cream, use the electric hand whisk to beat the whipping cream at a high speed and whisk the cream until it thickens. Cut the vanilla pod length ways and add it to the cream, stirring in the pods with a spatular. Add enough icing sugar to give a light and sweet taste, N.B. The vanilla pod will already add a fragrant taste to the cream so don’ty be excessive with the sugar.

To decorate, spread the cream over one slice of cake (ensure that the cake is fully cooled down) and slice strawberries to place on top of the cream. Add the second (and third) layers, repeating the cream and strawberry process. Refridgerate the cake for an hour minimum in order for the cream to set, and voila!

Layer it up!

Sandwich it together

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Cupcakingly Delicious Recipe book

Welcome cake-a-holics,

On my last birthday I was surprised with a very special gift from my Artist-sister. She and her ‘Artist friends’ took some of the recipes from my blog and turned it into my very own recipe book!

Recipe book

I was so impressed by their work, and my sister’s gift idea that I’ve decided to team up my sister’s illustration skills with my baking blog. You can check out her illustration blog here, www.jessnash.tumblr.com .

Double page

The other featured Artists on the recipe book can be found here:

Jolly Jubilee

The Big Apple Crumble

Leaning tower of pancakes

Illustrators

Stay tuned for her illustrative works, right here on the CupcakinglyDeliciousCakeDiaries blog!

Love & creativity,

Tracey xoxo

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Celebrate Good Times!

At the end of last month I had the privilege of celebrating another year being added to my life (or as I like to call it, the Second Christmas- no blasphemy intended!) In my previous post Ooooh Lola! I paid homage to the amazing LOLA’s Kitchen who baked me one hella’va cake on my last birthday. Today I want to show my appreciation and love for my close friend and partner in crime J aka J-Bird!

As a good judge of cake I only wanted the very best for my tastebuds so I called on one of the best bakers I know, my former Uni housemate of two years, J. A month before my birthday I phoned J and asked if she would do me the honour of baking my cake. She willingly accepted and within minutes of being on the phone she had sketched numerous cake designs. (This is the point where I brag and say how blessed I am to have such a creative friend *Aaah* I love my life!) Just as last year I requested a fusion of chocolate and vanilla cake, but without being too restrictive and demanding on J’s artistic mind I left the design and frosting flavour to her discretion. In some instances the average person may have planned their cake down to the very plate it’s served on, but I wholly trsuted J to deliver the best. After our phone call I didn’t hear anything more about the cake until the day of my party…

It arrived in my kitchen in a rectangular-form, wrapped tightly in a protective bag. A few holes had been poked in the bag to allow the masterpiece to breathe, but there was no way I was allowed to peak. The aroma of the cake wafted through the kitchen and overtook the smell of baked wedges and spicy chicken wings. Every time I walked past the mystery cake I attempted to decipher its ingredients like a hound dog: ‘It’s got nuts in hasn’t in J? Almonds right?’ She shook her head and I remained puzzled. (Now at this point I imagine you want me to cut to the chase and reveal the cake in its full splendour, but I’m afraid I can’t do that. You need to experience the very same suspense I felt that day too).

As I looked around the kitchen I saw J hard at work crafting brightly coloured fondant Calla Lillies (one of my favourite flowers) …An hour or so later I found myself spying on the baker once again; by now she had joined forces with another close friend A, and together they were putting the finishing touches to my cake by mixing a thick, creamy, chocolate frosting. (There’s no deying that at this point I was tempting to dive face-first into the bowl of sugary goodness- but I resisted. I know that I’m a cake-a-holic but goodness me I have class!)

The time finally came to reveal the masterpiece and it’s safe to say that I was more than satisfied. I grinned from ear to ear as I feasted my eyes upon the biggest birthday cake that I’ve ever received. A large rectangular block of vanilla and chocolate sponge, smothered in a rich chocolatey frosting, and laden with the fondant Calla Lillies. The only word that I managed to muster was ‘WOW’. I cut into the cake to reveal three layers- chocolate on the bottom, vanilla sandwiched in the middle and another chocolate-lid on top. If ever there were a taste I could liken to Paradise, this would be it.

The cake was so soft and moist that it crumbled on my fork. The frosting so smooth and rich that I couldn’t help but close my eyes with every bite. The cocoa flavoured cake was smooth and rich, and the vanilla was light and buttery. As if I wasn’t already having heart palpitations, J suggested that I warm the cake in the microwave. Four words:Free.Running.Chocolate.River. The frosting melted under the heat of the microwave and glided along my plate, surrounding my slice of cake like a moat around a castle. Dare I say that I was in my cake element and a C.A.M. (Cake Addicts Meeting) would have done me a hella good that day!

I wish it was my birthday every week!

I make no exaggeration when I say that this was one of the best cakes I’ve ever eaten. J-Bird, thank you once again :) You made my tastebuds dance, and set a mighty high standard for my next birthday cake! To say that you made me proud is an understatement, to say that you’re my baking-hero may be a starting point.

 

 

Love & Chocolate frosting,

Tracey xoxo

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Ooooh Lola!

So it’s officially my birthday and I’m extremely excited, but also slightly nauseous, no seriously I’m nauseous; I’ve been sick for the past two weeks and in the wee hours of my birthday-eve morning I made a turn for the worse. (If you follow me on Twitter @trace_cupcake89 you would have read my rants for the day. But now is not the time, nor place.) As I prepare for my birthday festivities I’ve been fondly looking back on last year’s photos. I thought this would be a good place to pause and show some appreciation for last year’s birthday cake.

The creative genius who baked my birthday cake was none other than the London-based perfectionists, LOLA’s Kitchen. LOLA’s is a well known bakery based in Mayfair, London and run by business partners Victoria and Romy. Victoria and Romy joined forces in 2007 to run one of London’s most successful bakeries, with concessions in top high street and department stores such as Topshop, Selfridges and Harrods. LOLA’s have made a name for themselves by creating beautifully hand-crafted cupcakes, moulded to perfection and topped with mounds of creamy frosting. Their flavours range from Vanilla milk chocolate to Carrot cake, and even Vanilla coconut. Believe me when I say there is nothing LOLA’s can’t do!

What a beauty! The cake I'll never forget!

Prior to purchasing my birthday cake from LOLA’s I hadn’t even tasted a crumb of their delectable bakes; it was not until two weeks before my birthday that I began the mad panic to find a high-end baker. (Yes, in my mind two weeks is last minute for party planning) A fellow cake lovin’ friend recommended LOLA’s and although I had heard of the bakery before, and walked past it a number of times I couldn’t justify treating myself to so much frosting. However, my birthday was more than a great excuse.

So without further a-do let me introduce to you my very special birthday cake (February 2011): Buttery vanilla sponge cake, smothered with chocolate butter cream frosting, and topped with mini vanilla, chocolate and coconut cupcakes. Oooh Lola you make me melt! Thank you once again *raises virtual cupcake* and here’s to many more cupcakingly delicious birthdays ahead!

Love & Birthday cake,

Tracey xoxo

P.S. Check out LOLA’s online to see just how genius they are:

http://lolas-kitchen.co.uk/

Last year's festivities... Looking forward to this weekend!

 I highly recommend you try LOLA’s, I mean look at the pics, why wouldn’t you?

The remains of a beautiful treat <3

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The Birthday Detox

I recently read an article somewhere that said something along the lines of ‘February is the most boring and dreary month…’ with face in palm and mouth wide open I quickly turned over that page! Come on, boring? Dreary? I can’t speak for the author of that article but February is one of the months when all my best baking happens; Valentine’s Day (see my previous post, ), Pancake day and at the end of this fine month I celebrate my birthday. What could possibly be boring about that? Before the month of January even ends I’m already thinking ahead to what I’m going to drown my pancakes in (obviously the top choice is maple syrup, but I like to dream about the trimmings too), as well as what type of birthday cake I’ll be treating myself to. It’s almost too much excitement to contain. But before I start reeling off various mouth-watering descriptions of my birthday-cake-buffet I feel like this is an opportune moment to grind to a halt and introduce a little something I call ‘The Birthday Detox’.

Some three or four years ago when I was at University I forced myself into a yearly ritual known as The Birthday Detox. If you look towards the top of my blog page you’ll see that my tagline reads ‘I love cake. I dream cake, I bake cake, I eat cake, and now I blog cake!’ excessive amounts of cake, and that excludes all the snacking I do between meals! Now cast your minds back a few weeks to Christmas time and all the unnecessary eating that happens within that season, well my birthday is like another Christmas! I seriously let myself run wild and it’s not a pretty sight. I digress… I came up with a temporary solution to my birthday gluttony, a 7-10day detox and abstinence from cake and other snacks. (If I had real will power I would detox for a month!) This sacred tradition entails purchasing an endless supply of fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts and other healthy produce. There’s no denying that trading in a slab of carrot cake for a bowl of strawberries or a raw carrot seems absolutely ludicrous, but it’s all in the name of clear skin and a birthday glow!

Stocking up on my antioxidants and the like.

A word to the wise, if attempting The Birthday Detox please recognise that you will come up against opposition and ridicule. Exhibit A, I bought a supply of candies for my piano teacher this week- he offered the bag to me but I kindly rejected saying I was starting a detox. He then told me to get out! Exhibit B, I went to the movies with a friend last night and she offered to buy the popcorn- I explained I was starting a detox and she laughed saying she didn’t believe me. It wasn’t until we were in the movie theatre and I reached into my bag and pulled out a box o’ grapes and a packet of salted peanuts that she took me seriously. Well, she laughed first then acknowledged my seriousness. It’s not going to be an easy week when Pancake day arrives in the UK, just days before my birthday, but I sure as heck will try.

 So fellow cake lovers, please show me your deepest empathies this week when I endeavour to continue blogging about my love of cake while shovelling down handfuls of raspberries, or glugging down endless cups of green tea. I can only muster up the courage to persevere through this challenge with the knowledge that they’ll be a sickly sweet birthday breakfast waiting for me on the other side! 

Love & Cupcakes,

Tracey xoxo

It's gonna be one heck of a fruity week ;) ...Spot the heart-shaped box of raspberries!