Monthly Archives: April 2011

Cake Crawl 2011 by Rosina

A few weekends back I organised a Cake Crawl across London with 12 other crawlers, some of which bake professionally and others who bake on the side and dream of baking full time! I was wondering if you would be interested in including this in your magazine or blog as we would love to share how much fun it was with all your readers!
I work in the city for a bank and have in the past few years heavily got into cake decorating, sugar paste modelling and sugar crafts. From what started as a hobby on the side, I now run my own cake decorating classes twice a month at weekends.

Through classes I have been on and classes I have run I have met some fabulous people who also love to bake and decorate. We have formed a North London cake decorating enterprise club, and a group of us meet on a monthly basis to discuss everything and anything to do with cake!

Last Saturday, we had a lot of fun on a Cake Crawl across London which I organised with 12 fellow crawlers. We visited some of the best cake boutiques across London and had the most inspirational and fun filled visit. We started off at 10am in the morning at Jane Asher’s in South Kensington. We were warmly welcomed with a platter of cupcakes, one each for every crawler. Unfortunately Jane was not at her shop to meet us, but her manager for over 20 years David, was there to speak to us about Jane’s shop.
Jane’s shop makes fabulous novelty cakes for all occasions and includes a shop which sells sugarcraft and baking supplies. There were hundreds of things on sale, and really was a cake decorators DREAM!
David was lovely, and spoke to us about how the cakes were baking downstairs and how they expanded the shop so that they also have room for more supplies and more room downstairs to finish the cakes in the fabulous way that Jane’s cakes are finished. David also shared with us stories of unusual cakes requests they had been asked for and mentioned how they made a 6ft high cake of the Albert Memorial commissioned by English Heritage for the launch of the appeal to restore the Albert Memorial.

Our group were able to ask lots of questions and David was happy to answer all of them. We were then given complimentary goody bags with Jane Asher cake mix; edible glitter; a large pot of sprinkles; a cake board; blossom tint and best of all a letter from Jane herself. After buying some supplies our group moved onto the next stop of the Crawl. Partridges fine food market on Dukes York Square. There we visited Peggy’s cupcakes stall and Crumbs and Doilies. Both stalls had fabulous cupcakes, the assistant at Peggy’s was especially nice and talked about the different flavours that were popular. We purchased the best selling cake which was banana and caramel- it was light and fluffy and above all very yummy! Crumbs and Doilies had a lovely stall decorated with miniature cupcakes as well as the fairy cake size all cupcakes were beautifully presented on three tier stands and the miniature ones looked especially cute.
The next stop on the stall was Bea’s of Bloomsbury which was one of my favourite stops along the crawl. We had the Chef’s lounge reserved for us and were warmly welcomed by Elizabeth and Kirsty who form part of the Bea’s management team. Our seating area was situated right next to the kitchen were got live action of the baking process which was just great! This was the only stop on the crawl where we were able to get this insight and it was great to see the baking process as well as be offered complimentary flavours of all the cakes produced by Bea’s.
The best cupcake had to be their red velvet cake with cream cheese and mascarpone frosting. The cupcake was so moist, and tasted divine- definitely the best red velvet cake that I have tasted hands down!
Elizabeth and Kirsty from Bea’s kept bringing out samples for us to try, some of my favourites were the chocolate and raspberry and vanilla and passion fruit.
We were overwhelmed with cupcakes and desserts and left Bea’s of Bloomsbury with full tummies!
Our next stop along the way was Cox and Cookies in Soho, this bakery is a joint venture with Patrick Cox and Eric Lanlard, aka Cake Boy. The bakery also known as the disco bakery was stunning and beautifully illuminated with neon lighting. The displays in the window were particularly cool and consisted of stacked neon cubes.
A few of us in the group had the fabulous opportunity of filming an episode of Eric Lanlard’s upcoming “Baking Mad” TV show which will be shown on Channel 4 in April later this year. We were given lovely goody bags from Eric which consisted of an apron and some chocolate.
We had two more stops in Covent Garden where we did a whistle stop tour of Candy Cakes and Lorraine Pascale’s lovely bakery.
The whole day was absolutely fabulous, and it was made extra special by Jane Asher, Eric Lanlard and Bea’s of Bloomsbury.

Looking forward to organising the 2012 Crawl already!

Save 1/3rd on Icing and Marzipan

From 15th April, Silver Spoon Cakecraft Ready to Roll Icing and Silver Spoon Finest Quality Marzipan (36% Almonds) will have 1/3 off in selected Sainsbury’s stores. These products are great for making sugar decorations or for traditional Easter cakes.
Why don’t you try some of our baking ideas and get creative with your baking over Easter and for the Royal Wedding.
Don’t forget to show us your finished results.
Click Here fo some Baking Ideas

Guest Blog Post: Paul.A.Young

Being Yorkshire born and Durham bred, baking and desserts were part of every day eating, especially with an array of seasonal ingredients to look forward too. I can still remember the excitement and anticipation I felt as Bramleys and blackberries season grew ever closer, ready to be muddled together with a buttery crumbly topping and a dredging of demerara sugar for crunch and flavour.

Growing up in the early eighties, my diet consisted of seasonal produce, natural home baked, roasted, cooked and prepared food with occasional new innovations of convenience foods. I preferred the home cooked from scratch option as so much love and attention went in to every creation. I learned to bake from the age of 6 or 7 as both my Mum and Grandma allowed me to get involved, get my hands dirty and have a mix or two, and then scrape the cake bowl clean of the buttery uncooked floury cake batter. It’s still magical to see how these basic raw ingredients, with a relatively short blast of heat in a metal box, leave the oven with such glorious textures, flavours and aromas.

From a young age, I knew food and cooking would be my career path and training to become a chef in Durham was indeed a highlight of my life so far, during which time I discovered French cooking with glorious amounts of butter, cream and most importantly for me, sugar. Sugar is part of my life and always will be, it fuels my whole existence and I chose to specialize in Patisserie when joining Marco Pierre White’s Criterion Brasserie in 1996. I learned to truly cook in his kitchens and became head patissier in his Quo Vadis restaurant in Soho and remember feeling complete and whole as I spent more time in this pastry kitchen than out of it. Sugar once again was the stronghold of my life and without it I would not be sat writing this today.

At my two successful chocolateries in London we hand make everything from scratch using French chocolate of the highest quality, seasonal ingredients and of course hundreds of kilos of sugar.
For ten years my choice of sugar has been Billington’s organic and unrefined golden caster, light and dark muscovado, demerara and molasses. I’m a purist and even my sugar has to be of the highest quality with complex flavours and textures. I learnt from a wonderful lady who was working with Billington’s that not all sugars were the same and some disguised with overcoats of caramel colour concealing white sugar beneath and I haven’t used anything else since.

Only Billington’s sugar gives my chocolates, cakes and brownies their balanced sweetness without the tooth aching sugary sensation that over refined white sugars can give. Balancing sweetness with chocolate is vital for a rounded and well-finished truffle, too sweet and the complexities of the finest cocoa beans will be compromised and ripped apart.

Billington’s golden caster and dark muscovado gave me the inspiration to develop the ultimate chocolate fudge brownie for my shops and we sell hundreds each week, as well as my team eating a few too! Being seasonal and with Easter approaching I wanted to create something traditional but with a modern take, so the classic Simnel cake was my platform. We had this traditional cake at home every Easter, with my Grandma ruling the kitchen and the only one allowed to bake this very unique cake with a squidgy layer of marzipan baked though the centre of the cake.

Aromatic cinnamon and nutmeg with brandy soaked vine fruits, Billington’s golden caster sugar and an incomprehensible amount of 70% Valrhona were muddled together topped with real marzipan pieces and a showering of dark muscovado, then baked to a fudgy dense texture and rested for 24 hours before cutting and wrapping. A well-balanced taste with rich chocolate and toasted nutty marzipan, what makes this brownie so very special is the melt in the mouth dark muscovado crust giving a treacle toffee finish.

If you wince at the thought of the heavy traditional Simnel cake then this recipe is a gusty spring breath of fresh air. Easter week would not be the same if I didn’t share this new brownie recipe with you. It will become, I am sure, as big a part of your Annual Easter celebrations as it is mine and it’s all down to Billington’s amazingly pure and flavoursome sugar.

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