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Strawberry Sweetheart

Today the UK celebrates Mothering Sunday, and like I always say, there’s no better way to celebrate an occasion than with cake! Although I do have a confession to make, this is the first time in all my years of Adulthood that I  have eaten so much cake that I can’t see straight! Yup that’s me right now, (somehow typing this out while cross-eyed).

Earlier today I indulged in a plethora of sweet delicacies – from pistachio to carrot to lemon cake. Well, at least I slotted in my 5 a day *shrugs* The sweet treat that I created today was inspired by the incredible Hummingbird Bakery, one of my favourite UK high street bakeries.

As I nurse my headache and throbbing teeth, I leave you to admire these bite-size, mouth watering delights… Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes. A crunchy biscuit base, topped with a light vanilla sponge and fresh strawberries embedded in between each crumb. Top this off with a fresh buttercream frosting and a sprinkling of biscuits for a finishing touch.

Happy Mother’s Day! 

Tracey xo

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The Only Way Is Silicone

For my British readers, fear not! This post is not a spin-off of the UK reality show TOWIE. (Nor am I surfacing my views on plastic surgery.) Seeing as it’s a new month I thought I should venture into something different and do a product review.

For the ardent bakers among you, you may already be aware of the life-changing invention of silicon baking moulds. Long gone are the days when you would have to knock the metal baking tin against the kitchen work surface to liberate your cake! And you can also wave goodbye to the days of scraping out half of your cake from the tin, because silicone moulds are the next best thing. Easy to clean. Easy to turn out the cakes. And if you’re brave enough, you won’t even need to grease the silicone beforehand.

I remember the first time I used a silicone mould in my parent’s gas oven and my Dad asked me if I was trying to burn the house down! Rest assured the silicone will not catch fire and nor will your cake, (well, the cake part isn’t guaranteed, that depends on your own baking skills!) Over the years I’ve upgraded all of my baking tins and I recommend you do so too.

Love & Cupcakes,

Tracey xoxo

The Only Way Is Silicone

The Only Way Is Silicone

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Red, White & Blue

Greetings cake-a-holics,

Yes, I’m still here, I have no intention of abandoning you (even if it seems that way)! As you all know, London had a pretty exciting summer as we welcomed the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. I was fortunate enough to be a Games Maker throughout the Olympics, hence my prolonged absence from blogging. Forgive me, please?

The 2012 Games has made it a summer that I will never forget, and I’m sure the same can be said of the amazing Team GB who collected 65 medals in the Olympics, and 120 medals in the Paralympics, making it Team GB’s most successful Paralympics to date! And not to rub it in or anything, but Team GB came third in the medal table for both the Olympics and Paralympics Games! The atmosphere at every venue was electric, but none can compare to the sea of red, white and blue that could be seen in the Olympic park. It was patriotism at its best, and I was overjoyed to be a part of it :)

Now that all the pandemonium has subsided I can’t help but think that I have a serious case of post-Olympic-blues. It’s a serious illness guys, don’t laugh. The only way that I could begin to heal my wounds is to bake! This week I made vanilla cupcakes with a cream cheese frosting, and attempted to dye the cakes half red, half blue. The colours didn’t come out as strong as I had hoped, but I award myself 6/10 for effort! The texture of the cakes remained light and fluffy, and the cream cheese frosting was mixed with just the right amount of sweetness to compliment the cake.

(The recipe for vanilla cupcakes can be found on the Recipes page, and the cream cheese frosting is the same recipe used for Carrot cake and Red Velvet cake. I used two tablespoons of red dye and two blue so I guess it’s a matter of trial and error.)

Are you drooling yet?

The final ingredient… a good ol’ British brew!

And here are a few snaps from my time at the Olympics… #Iwasthere. (All pictures are my own, so please reference back to this website if you choose to share them).

Love, Tea & British cupcakes,

Tracey xoxo

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For a Good Cause

Hello cake lovers,

Apologies for another late start to the month, my cake-infused life is getting busier by the day! Today’s post is dedicated to my late ‘Grampa’, Anthony A. Beeko and an amazing charity, Cancer Research UK.

Two and a half weeks ago I took part in a 4K sponsored run to raise money for Cancer Research UK. (I ran the race on 1.07.2012 in 22min 15sec.) and 2.07.2012 was the 5yr. anniversary of my Grampa’s death. He passed away from Cancer of the colon, so this charity is the best one for me to support. I had been trying to persuade myself for the past 3yrs. that I would run this race and it wasn’t until a few months ago that my friend, S, signed up and encouraged me to join her.

I’ve spent the past few weeks encouraging my friends and family to sponsor me and so far I’ve raised £200, £100 more than my target :) Even though the 4K run was an achievement in itself I decided to set myself an extra goal- for every friend/family member that sponsored me £10 or more I would bake them a cake of their choice. (No one can resist cake, so I knew this would be a good bribe!) So far I’ve baked five cakes and I have another eight or so to bake! With every cake I’ve baked the money has come from my own pocket, and every penny donated has gone to charity.

The actual day of the race was so much fun- there was a Zumba instructor who helped us warm up; the Mayor of the City came to encourage us, and everyone who participated was in such good spirits. After the race, myself and S indulged in a little post-workout treat of McD’s and Red Velvet cupcakes at the Fallen Angel bakery :) …Don’t judge us, I can feel you judging us! You gotta live a little!

My donation page is still open for sponsorship so feel free to drop some pennies my way. It’s for a good cause.

http://raceforlifesponsorme.org/traceytrace

Love cupcakes & a cure for Cancer,

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

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Stressed Is Desserts Spelt Backwards

Crêpes served with fresh Mango and Strawberries

Crêpes a la Tracey!

Every body copes with stress in different ways. Some become introvert, extrovert, some drink, some shop, and some attempt to take on odious tasks to mask the problems. But I clean and bake. Truth be told I clean and bake regardless, but my best work is done when I am stressed or upset. (I know, I know, I’m going to make someone a very happy wife one day.)

Over a week ago, on Mother’s Day in the UK, a friend of mine passed away suddenly and even today I’m not sure if I’ve grieved properly. (Is it possible to go through the 7 stages of grief in a week? Probably not, I admit I most likely need therapy.) It may sound strange, but cleaning and baking are two stress relief methods that keep me distracted.

After scrubbing the bacholerette pad from top to bottom all week I spent the weekend baking up a storm. I attempted to make crêpes for the first time- they tasted okay but I should have fried them a little thinner, I think I had the-pancake-mentality in my head! Practice-makes-perfect so I’ll be sure to keep making them. I also baked a classic Victoria Sponge cake and Chocolate cupcakes with a candy-cream frosting. 

Chocolate Cupcakes

175g/6oz Unsalted butter

1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

175g/6oz Caster Sugar

Eggs x3

115g Self-Raising flour

1.5 teaspoons baking powder

6 teaspoons Cocoa Powder

80ml Double cream

Icing Sugar/Confectioners Sugar

Milk & White Chocolate sprinkles/candies- for decorating

Makes 15-20 cupcakes.

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees/Gas Mark 3 or 4.
  2. Whisk the butter, sugar and vanilla extract together until smooth. (I usually use approx. 140g of sugar instead and the cakes taste just as sweet, but you can measure to your liking and taste.)
  3. Crack the eggs into the mixture one at a time and whisk for a few seconds, avoiding over heating the mixture.
  4. Measure the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder into a bowl and sift it over the cake mixture. Sift half of the flour mixture and use a spatula to fold and mix the batter together. Repeat this process until all the flour and cocoa is mixed in and of a smooth consistency.
  5. Line a cupcake baking tray with cupcake cases, and using two teaspoons spoon the mixture into the cases half way full.
  6. Bake for 15-18mins and use a skewer/cocktail stick to check that the cake is fully baked. Leave to cool for 10-20mins.
  7. While the cakes cool, whisk the double cream until the consistency becomes thicker and sieve some icing sugar into the mixture for a sweet kick. Leave to cool in the fridge while the remainder of the cupcakes bake.
  8. Once the cupcakes are baked and cooled, spread the cream mixture over the tops of the cakes and sprinkle with the chocolate candies, or any topping of your choice.

Serve with a fresh pot of tea :)

Victoria Sponge cake & Chocolate cupcakes

Tea & Cake is the best medicine!

A little bit of everything on my plate ;)

Stressed is Desserts Spelt Backwards :)

R.I.P Christina. The world has lost a friend, but Heaven has gained a soul.

Love & Cupcakes,

Tracey xoxo

How do you cope with stress? Drop me a comment. (Please note, I’m not a psychiatrist I’m just intrigued!)