31 December 2010

Say I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do!

This has been an extraordinary year for me with many highs and some lows. It's ending on a super sweet note as I just sent a young man off into the streets of Paris with a box of cupcakes he'll be using to propose to his girlfriend tonight. I have fingers, toes and everything else crossed that she says yes though it sounds like they are madly in love. Aw.

I wanted to take a moment to wish you all a wonderful evening and much joy and prosperity in the New Year. As a friend said at my wedding: "May the best day of your past be the worst day of your future." Happy 2011 and see you all on the flip side!

xo Cat

26 December 2010

After Midnight, We Gonna Let all Hang Out

What better than to accompany the bubbly this New Year's Eve than a chocolate overloaded cupcake? I call it After Midnight -- a milk chocolate cupcake with a creamy chocolate center and bittersweet chocolate buttercream. Mmm mmm chocolatey goodness!

25 December 2010

We Wish You a Merry Christmas

May your Christmas sparkle with love, laughter and joy. From my family to yours, wishing you all the best for a magical holiday season!

22 December 2010

3rd Annual Holiday Gift Guide -Remastered & Pumped Up

This is an extremely tardy Holiday Gift Guide. Started it several weeks ago and haven't had a chance to circle back and publish it. Some of these gifts may be too late for Xmas (or maybe not if you are like me and have left your shopping for the last minute!) but you may be able to take advantage of some post-holiday sales to show the favorite cupcake baker in your life how much you really care!

I have discovered a lot of cupcake-related items through my travels, countless hours spent on the internet and through the many cupcake fans I have come to meet over this past year. Some of these ideas will not be a surprise to you because when I find something I like, I blog about it. I hope you will be just as enchanted as I am by some of the other ideas listed here. As a true cupcake afficianado, I promise you that these gift ideas will not disspaoint the cupcake lover in your life. And so without further ado, away we go......

I love how you can dress up or down a cupcake. The perfect cupcake liner can pull a whole design idea together. And this summer, I found myself literally drooling on my screen when I came across the site The Cupcake Social. I don't know where Jen, who runs the site, finds all her goodies but she stocks one of the largest arrays of cupcake cases -- for minis, regular and jumbos + a whole assortment of edible decorations and more -- that I have ever seen. I love how you can buy a batch of liners in the same design or let Jen put together an assortment for you. I love how the cases are organized by color - they are just too beautiful and I spend way too much time on this site thinking about what I could do with them! My current faves are the pink leopard, purple fieldflower and red damask liners in case anyone wants to send me a care package!

I know a lot of you have heard me talk about Sassy Apron but I have drank the Kool-Aid! I love the original designs and high-quality products Lana, who runs this Etsy shop, creates. She offers many styles in a wide range of prints (not just cupcake fabric but what else would I bake in?). She is wonderful to work with -- a truly good soul -- and ships worldwide. What are you waiting for? Go check out her store and you can easily cross several presents off your list. Be sure to tell her I sent you!

Next up is a fabulous new online store here in France that specializes in all sorts of baking goodies, Made in Cupcake. I love all the retro, kitschy items they offer including this serving tray for cupcakes. Can't you just imagine how lovely your cupcake creations would look sitting on that at a dessert table? Be sure to check out the awesome assortment of Meri Meri cupcake decorating kits they stock too - I am itching to get my hands on some!

Another online baking supply store has caught my fancy - it just opened last month but has been in the works for a few years now. I Love Cakes, is a brand new resource for us cupcake bakers run by Valerie down in Lyon. I know she has been busy scouring the world for the best items to offer like cookie cutters, stencils, cake molds and more. I see she has stocked my favorite disco dusts and has a pretty unique supply of edible decorations and the cupcake cases I normally buy in the UK. Thank you Valerie for finally bringing these great products to our side of the pond!

When I was in London a few weeks back, I had the pleasure of visiting Love Bakery on Kings Road. Sam, who runs the bakery is a baking genius and a mompreneur like me (so she gets major hi-fives in my book). I loved the cupcakes that I was able to sample there and to show my support, had to invest in a copy of her new cookbook. Inside you will find recipes for all of her best-sellers including Red Velvet and Lemon Curd Marscapone, as well as a variety of alcohol-infused cupcakes called Cuptails and whoopie pies. Even if you are not a baker, the pictures alone make this a must-have.

I have been buying tees and other accessories from other bakeries for years now and I finally decided to make some of my own gear like this Sugar Daze badge. You can check out my current selection of merchandise in the Sugar Daze store. Choose from dozens of styles of outerwear with one of my favorite movie quotes and a cupcake pic, or an apron, coffee mug and more. They're fun, fashionable and guaranteed to get other people talking.

Another cookbook I am tempted by is the new one out by the famous Bakerella, known worldwide as the pioneer of Cake Pops. Now I frequently make cake pops and I have to say they take a lot of time, patience and effort so I am always amazed by the endless talent and creativity that Bakerella infuses in hers. I will probably buy this book just to "ooh" and "ahh" at the pictures. I am sure this will be tops on many cupcake lovers lists this holiday season.

If you don't have time to make your own cupcake toppers, I can highly recommend you check out the adorable and stylish paper picks made by the TomKat Studio. They offer a wide array of free printable items like stationary, gift tags, and cupcake toppers as well as some items that can be personalized in their Etsy shop. Their blog and shop alone will give you tons of inspiration for your next party; in addition to gorgeous photographs, I'm sure you will agree their party set-ups look so whimsical and fun.

Now, let's talk serious cake decorating! Last year when I was in New York, I saw an ad for the Cricut scrapbooking machine and I thought to myself, I wonder if I could feed fondant into that thing and get it to work. Lo and behold, a few months later, a post on twitter caught my eye about the Cricut Cake Machine. Ladies and gentlemen, this is my dream come true. Now even novice bakers can make a professional-looking cake in a matter of hours. Even Martha Stewart has our own edition with unique Martha designs and fonts! I have to admit the reviews I have read are mixed and at upwards of 400 euros for the basic machine, this is a bit out of reach for many home bakers but since I just learned that one of my favorite baking supply stores in the Netherlands now carries it with shipping available to France, I figured I'd mention it!

I love cupcake bling as many of you know and absolutely adore this charm bracelet by Amy Secrest. It's available at Shanalogic and I would be ever so grateful if Santa popped one of these in my stockings this year! Love the Swarovski beads for added glitter!

For those of you with a more modest budget, check out Gaelle's, a/k/a La Peste Adoree boutique of non-edible but oh-so yummy jewelry and accessories. Every piece is unique and custom-created with Fimo, and made here in France! Her pieces are all adorable and she definitely has an eye for vibrant colors and flair.

One of my big investments of this past year was a spanking new Kenwood mixer. I had debated for many many many years as to whether to go with a Kitchenaid or Kenwood - each has its merits but in the end, I opted for the sturdiness of the Kenwood over the pretty aesthetics of the Kitchenaid. If you do a google search, you will see that much time and energy has been spent on this subject by bakers round the world; I think both are very good machines and it just comes down to your personal preference. I love my Chef and the perfect buttercreams, thick whipped meringues and more it beats up plus it's a huge time saver for when you are making large batches of batter. I've read about folks who have Kenwoods that their mothers or grandmothers passed down to them and am looking forward to getting DECADES of use out of this baby!

Last but not least, I always like to throw in some unrelated to cupcakes sparkle on my holiday gift guide and this year is no exception. Though I am roping in my tastes this year to show you a more affordable option than usual. I discovered Garnet Girl's Designs etsy store while on pinterest (yet another new obsession that has been sucking my free time and probably a big reason why I didn't publish this post earlier!). I love her designs, the hammered metals she works with and the assortment of precious stones she pairs together. Plus, I think you'll agree these are very reasonably priced!

So, what are you waiting for? Print this list and get out there! Happy Shopping, Happy Holidays and see you in the check-out line!

In case you missed them, you can check out my previous holiday gift guides from 2008 and 2009 by clicking on the dates.

16 December 2010

Oops I Did It Again

1, 2, 3 and away we go (again!). Find the Sugar Daze stand at Printemps Nation from 11H30 this Saturday, December 18, on the ground floor (RDC). I'll be bringing several flavors dressed up in their Christmas finest including the wildly popular Caramel Dolce: vanilla cake with salted caramel buttercream. Miam miam, good!

Printemps Nation,
21-25 Cours de Vincennes
75020 Paris

11 December 2010

At Printemps Nation Today!

I'm returning for two days only to Printemps Nation (today, December 11, and next Saturday) to participate in their holiday festivities.

Today I am bringing 6 different flavors:
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (pictured), Cookie Monster, You Were Mint for Me, The Movie Star, Vanilla Lovers and Storm. Find me there from 11:30AM - ??? I am supposed to be on 3rd floor next to Santa!

08 December 2010

Just Sit Right Back and You'll Hear a Tale...

You ever see that show "Dream On" where first we see the main character as a baby in diapers in front of the TV and as the years pass, he's still there on the carpet watching? Well, I've always thought that was me. I was a lifelong TV junkie. Until I met my husband who abhors television and got rid of the cable box as soon as he could. But my childhood years centered around the boob tube and I can remember spending hours pouring over the TV Guide deciding what I would watch to while away the hours. Among my favorites: Charlie's Angels, Love Boat, Fantasy Island, That's Incredible!, Lavern & Shirley, Three's Company, The Dukes of Hazard, Mork & Mindy and the syndicated Brady Bunch and Gilligan's Island.

I don't know how many of you have seen Gilligan's Island but it revolved around the simple premise of a group of shipwreck survivors trying to find their way off a desert island in the Pacific (way way before Lost). There were 3 single males and 2 single females among them, and while they never showed any hanky panky going on, one of the age-old conundrums that I've heard debated many times is : Marianne or Ginger? Referring to the cute, perky and smart but alas mousy brunette in the short shorts who mooned over the Professor, or the red hot movie star who never lacked a sequin-encrusted dress with loads of push-up to run around the island in one of their weekly capers.

Growing up, I related to Marianne. Not the brains part of the equation but the shy tomboyness. I never liked to stand out in the crowd and I was definitely not a girly girl. On the other hand, my daughter is definitely a Ginger. She has been attracted to pink and sparkly since she was old enough to crawl; she has crushes on all of my son's friends and I often see her pirouetting around in front of them, one hand on her hip as she coyly calls after them; and I am constantly chasing her out of my make-up bag less she applies that mascara one more time (looking a lot more Tammy Fay than Ginger). Did I mention she just turned 3?!? My daughter and I are clearly wired very differently and I shudder to think about her teenage years but that's a whole 'nother conundrum!

I was asked by Joannah, better known as the blogger and cupcake creator: Cupcak(e)ista, if I would like to participate as a judge in her Christmas cupcake contest. It's open to anyone who wants to create a cupcake inspired by the holiday season. You can read all the details here. In the meantime since Johanna always posts recipes to her blog for the fans to try out, I wanted to share a recipe with you for my favorite Christmas cupcake: A double chocolate Gingerbread with cream cheese frosting. I call it the Movie Star (get it?). You can see it here featured in various incarnations -- the Gingerbread man and Santa coming down the chimney (which is my "hors concours" entry in Cupcak(e)ista's contest). And now you know why my Gilligan's Island tale was included in this post! Good luck to everyone who enters; I look forward to seeing your wonderful Christmas creations!

*The Movie Star* Cupcakes
Double Chocolate Gingerbread Cupcakes with
Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting
by Sugar Daze

For Cupcakes
(Yield : 24 cupcakes)

2 ¼ cups flour
¾ cup cocoa powder
1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon instant coffee/espresso
2 ½ teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of salt
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup molasses
2 eggs
½ cup chocolate chips (optional)
¾ cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C. Line 2 muffin tins with cupcake liners.
Mix flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, coffee/espresso, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, salt and nutmeg in medium bowl; set aside.

Beat butter, brown sugar and molasses in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well mixed. Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition. Add flour mixture alternately with boiling water, beating on low speed after each addition until smooth. Stir in chocolate chips.
Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full.

Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in tins about 5 minutes. Remove from tins; cool completely on wire rack.

For Frosting
12 ozs. cream cheese, softened
4 ozs. butter, softened
5 cups icing sugar
½ vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup milk

Bring butter and cream cheese to room temperature by letting them sit out for about an hour. Beat cream cheese and butter in a large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and there are no visible lumps. Alternate adding sugar and milk until frosting is of good spreading consistency. Using the point of a sharp knife, slit the vanilla bean lengthwise and remove seeds. Add to frosting and stir until well-combined. Use an offset spatula to spread frosting on cupcakes and enjoy!

07 December 2010

Computer Blue

Good news cupcake lovers: my cupcakes will be hanging out soon permanently at a new location in the 11th. I am hoping to do two deliveries per week. I made several batches of cupcakes for their Grand Opening including these I Want (Cotton) Candy. More details to come on this very soon!

The first two weeks of January are going to be very busy. I have been getting a lot of orders from companies looking to send a unique end-of-the-year gift to Clients. I offer entirely customized options such as cupcake flavor, colored or themed cupcake case and an edible version of your logo or image on top. Here's mine; can you imagine what yours may look like?! I can also provide gift-packaging and personalized messages as well as delivery of your gifts throughout Paris. Contact me for a cost estimate at info@sugardazecupcakes.com

06 December 2010

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Sugar Daze is heading back to Printemps Nation to join in the Christmas festivities! Find me there on 11 & 18 December on the 3rd floor; I'll be right next to Santa Claus (either I was very good this year or someone has a serious sweet tooth!). The stand will be open from about 11H30 until we sell out.

If you want to know what flavors will be available, check out my page on facebook. I'll be sure to bring some of my new flavor: Dancing Queen (cardamom-white chocolate-pistachio cupcakes with rose buttercream) and a holiday favorite: The Movie Star (double chocolate gingerbread). Hope to see you all there this weekend!

Later, my sweets........

Printemps Nation
21-25 Cours de Vincennes
75020 Paris

05 December 2010

You Put Your Chocolate in my Peanut Butter!

Reese's Peanut Butter Cups have long been one of my favorite foods. Here in Paris, there are only a handful of stores that sell them, and they don't come cheap! I've tried various incarnations of peanut butter and chocolate cupcake recipes but I always come back to my tested and true -- chocolate brownie cupcake with whipped peanut butter frosting. It's one of my personal favorites and you'll find it on the Sugar Daze menu under the Old School section: Chocobutter. If you're a peanut butter-chocoholic like me, this one's got your name on it!

29 November 2010

Time After Time

Yesterday marked the 7th anniversary of my arrival in France. How time flies and oh so much has changed. I arrived here a new mom with romantic visions of what Paris life would be like. Life has certainly had its up and downs, and it's been much more of an adventure than I would have ever anticipated but I wouldn't change anything about it if I could (okay, well there are a few things....). I was on the metro the other night just as it hit 8PM and as the train came out on the above-ground tracks, as if on cue, the Eiffel Tower started to shimmer and sparkle. What a lovely site and I will never tire of the beauty of my adopted "hometown." If you care to read more about what life has been like for me here on the other side of the Atlantic, I recently pitched in a blog post on Love in the City of Lights; it's part of a series of "Dream Lives" that blogger Kasia has invited other expats to partake in.

And in the meantime -- a little food porn. These are Dancing Queens (a new flavor: cardamom-white chocolate-pistachio cupcakes with swirled pistachio-rose buttercream) in mini-format made for a 40th birthday party.

27 November 2010

California Dreaming on Such a Winter's Day

We had our first snow of the season in Paris yesterday. My kids were in HEAVEN! I was inside for most of the day working on my last batch of Thanksgiving orders. I was making some California Dreaming cupcakes (lemon with pistachio buttercream) which just seemed to be such a tease considering the weather we have been having.

One of my best friends in the whole world, Shay, celebrated a birthday this week. I missed out on the fun of course since she is home in NY. I was thinking of her as I made this cupcake -- she is the epitome of the West Coast blonde California girl -- even after years abroad living in various European countries, as soon as their is a hint of sun in the day, she breaks out one of her many pairs of flip flops!

Hope you had a wonderful birthday, girlfriend, and looking forward to spending some sunny days with you soon.....

24 November 2010

Can I Have an Ariel Birthday Cake?

This is the refrain I have been hearing since this summer. And when my daughter's birthday rolled around in September, she got her Ariel birthday cupcakes! Every day since, she has asked for more Ariel birthday cake. She tells everyone she meets about it and in fact her English teacher just the other day told me she had thought of her at a family birthday party. Why? They served Ariel birthday cake!

This past weekend, I was asked to make some cupcakes with a corporate logo on them and since I was having a bunch of edible images made, I figured I'd ask my guy if he could throw in some Ariels. Sunday morning, I served my daughter a second Ariel birthday cake. I was feeling pretty proud of myself for finally fulfilling the Ariel Birthday Cake fantasy for the second time. Two minutes after it was consumed, she said "Where's my Ariel Birthday Cake?" And it was pretty constant until this morning when she looked at me and said, "Can I have a Cinderella Birthday Cake?" Sheesh! Kids!

This is a new flavor cupcake perfect for a cold winter's day in front of a roaring fire with a hot cuppa tea. Dancing Queen is a cardamom-white-chocolate-pistachio cupcake with rose buttercream. Mmmm Mmmm Good!

21 November 2010

Don't Push Me 'Cause I'm Close to the Edge

I really am trying not to lose my head these days. I should know by now -- this is my third holiday season in business but I find these last few weeks of the year feel like everything is on speed. Including me (though that could be more of a sugar rush from the batter and buttercream I am constantly sampling!). I'm not griping though - I am incredibly grateful to all my customers who keep me employed at the best job I have ever had!

It has been non-stop madness for the past few months, I've barely had time to catch my breath. But I love every minute and find that I put out some of my best work under pressure. Like my old advertising job, I have many deadlines to meet as a baker. The difference though is that I can't ask the client for another day to analyze the data or another week to give the creatives time to finesse the work. No, when the day of the party arrives, I better make damn sure my cupcakes are ready to go when the client arrives, and it isn't always easy. Thank you to everyone who has believed me in over the years; I am grateful for your support!

When I first started out, I sometimes had up to two weeks to get ready for a job. Which was great since I make the majority of my decorations myself from scratch. Over time as order volume has picked up, that period has condensed to the point that I often am making them only hours in advance and in many cases, just before I get ready to put them on the cupcakes or cakes which when you want a nice 3D effect, makes things tricky. I am always grateful for the extra time to get ready for an order but if it's not possible, no worries, me happy!

I'd love to tell you more about the goodies you see here today but I don't want to use up too much space since I have a recipe I want to share (which was especially requested by some friends looking for a traditional holiday cupcake). Pictured are some Black & White birthday cupcakes for a fan of the group, MUSE; a Caramel Dolce communion cake topped with sugarpaste daisies and ribbon; a giant milk chocolate cupcake covered in white chocolate ganache frosting for Daphne's communion (which I had so much fun making!); a Vanilla Lovers horse birthday cake; a tower of assorted cupcakes for a baptism; one of my Jumpin' Jack Flash pumpkin cupcakes and some turkey cupcakes I made for the show 100% Mag on channel M6 which will air this coming Thursday in honor of Thanksgiving with my one of my favorite bloggers: La Mom. Thanks everyone for the challenges of coming up with these designs; I am always grateful for the smiles my cupcakes put on my clients' faces.

Oh, and did I mention the development of my first, real website is underway so I have also been busy writing the content, getting it translated for the French version as well as baking up lots of extra cupcakes to be photographed for the site!?! A big thanks to my friends and family who are providing feedback on this project, and to the folks at Aleberry Creative who have the design and technical skills to pull this together; I am gratefeul for your help.

But I digress.....many moons ago I worked over the holidays for my Jamaican friend, James, who I met at Peter Kump's. He was my partner the day I made my first arc-en-ciel tart which we covered in every fruit imaginable and it was the start of a beautiful friendship. We created many desserts together including the pumpkin spice cupcakes which I feature on my menu as "Jumpin' Jack Flash." I made a batch a few weeks ago and as I sat down last night to write this post, I realized that one of my recipe books has gone missing! I have a feeling it got lost one day in the shuffle somewhere between my home and kitchen! This is one of my seasonal recipes and I have to admit, I don't know it by heart. I could probably work up an approximation of the recipe while tinkering in my kitchen, but that's not going to help you get ready for Thanksgiving. Thanks everyone for your patience! And thanks to good friends and family who are willing to be a part of my culinary adventures. PS: I'd be ever so grateful to the random stranger who may have found my erratic scribblings in a "CatDog" notebook which doubled as one of my recipes book if you could please contact me to arrange a return!

Thankfully, I tasted some amazing pumpkin cupcakes at Cupcake Camp London a few weeks back and when I asked the baker for the recipe, she referred me to the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook. Thank you Belle of Belle Bakes - I am grateful for your generosity! I'll be making a batch of these for my daughter's class this Thursday and hopefully will be able to track down that notebook in the meantime! Hope you enjoy it.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! What are you grateful for this year?

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

From the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook

For about 15 cupcakes:
1 cup flour
¾cup sugar
1T baking powder
1½ teaspoons cinnamon, plus extra
pinch of salt
3T unsalted butter, room temperature
½cup whole milk
2 eggs
6½ oz pumpkin puree

Preheat oven to 325. Add flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and butter in mixing bowl and beat on slow until well combined.

Add eggs to the mix scraping sides. Mix in milk. Stir in pumpkin until evenly dispersed.

Spoon batter into baking papers ⅔ full. Bake 16-20 mins in preheated oven or until cake bounces back when touched. Let cupcakes cool slightly before turning out onto wire rack to cool completely. When cupcakes are cool spoon the Cream Cheese Frosting on top and dust with cinnamon.

For cream cheese frosting:
2½ cups confectioners’ sugar
3T unsalted butter, room temp
4oz cream cheese, cold

Beat sugar and butter together until mixture is well mixed. Add cream cheese in one go and beat until it is completely incorporated. Turn mixer up to med-high. Continue beating until frosting is light and fluffy. Do not over beat, it will quickly become runny.

Related Posts:
Turkey Cupcakes from Paris
A Thank-Filled Weekend
In Preparation for Turkey Day
La Mom on TV

14 November 2010

To Say I Love You

One of my orders this weekend was for a young woman who lives in Kiev. She contacted me a few weeks back to tell me she would be traveling to Paris with her boyfriend to celebrate his birthday. She wanted to order cupcakes and left me free rein on the design -- the only request was that that they be special for "the man she loves so much!" What came to mind immediately was bold vibrant colors and lots of hearts.

These are Wake Me up Before You Go Go (cinnamon cupcakes with mocha buttercream and sugarpaste red hearts and daisies), Rolo Over Beethoven (chocolate cake and buttercream, a salted caramel center, chocolate dots and mini sugar hearts) & Vanilla Lovers (vanilla bean cake and buttercream with stars, mini hearts and a "happy Bday" banner). It was raining all weekend in Paris so I hope these made their trip just a little sweeter!

11 November 2010

Things That Make You Go Hmmmm

Or Hum in this instance, as in Hummingbird cupcakes. An odd name for a tasty treat and there has been much speculation on where the name of the Hummingbird cake or cupcake gets its origins. According to the Food Timeline, “Food historians generally cite Mrs. L.H. Wiggin's recipe published in the February 1978 issue of Southern Living magazine as the first printed reference to "Hummingbird Cake." Mrs. Wiggins did not offer an explanation of the name. Evidence strongly suggests this cake was popular in the south and known by several different (and equally interesting) names.” Many say that the name is a nod to its sweetness – hummingbirds are drawn to intensely sweet sources just as people are drawn to this cake. Incidentally, the Hummingbird Cake remains Southern Living’s most requested recipe.

It goes on to say that this cake is likely Jamaican in origin - the hummingbird (aka Dr. Bird) is one of the national symbols – though may have been adapted for American tastes. The combination of bananas, crushed pineapple and nuts common in most hummingbird cake recipes certainly is reminiscent of the tropics. A press kit dating back to 1969 from the Kingston (Jamaica) Daily Gleaner included a recipe for the Doctor Bird cake, made from bananas. And a contributor to an article in the Charlotte Observer notes that her family recipe for the Dr. Bird cake came to her from Jamaican Airlines in the late ‘60’s.

Another theory is that in the old days, people would hum as they ate the cake because it was so incredibly delicious. I like this idea best of all and invite you to tell me what you think; my recipe for Hummingbird cupcakes (adapted from Martha Stewart) follows:

Hummingbird Cupcakes with Orange Creamsicle Frosting
(Makes 22-24)

For the cupcakes:
110 grams unsalted butter, melted and then cooled
200 grams sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 bananas (the riper the better!), mashed
170 grams pineapple (5 rounds, canned), crushed
120 g pecans, crushed
190 grams all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ cup white chocolate chips (optional)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ginger
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350/180 degrees. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the sugar and butter until pale and fluffy. Add in the eggs one by one and mix until blended. Add vanilla and mix. Mix in the bananas, pineapple and pecans until just combined. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, ginger and cinnamon, and then fold this into the batter. Lastly mix in the white chocolate chips. Fill either greased and lightly floured or paper-lined cupcake tins about 2/3 of the way full and bake for about 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cupcakes cool before frosting.

Orange Creamsicle Frosting
by Sugar Daze

80 grams cream cheese at room temperature
100 grams butter at room temperature
450 grams powdered sugar
zest of 1 orange
1-2 teaspoons fleur d’oranger

Mix cream cheese and butter until well-combined. Add in about half the sugar, the orange zest and fleur d'oranger and mix until smooth. Gradually add in the remaining sugar (you may not need all) until the frosting reaches a nice spreading consistency. Pipe on cupcakes or smooth on with a palette knife. Eat and say hummmmmmmm!

06 November 2010

London Calling

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending London’s first Cupcake Camp. For those of you who don’t follow my blog, back in July, I organized the first ever Cupcake Camp Paris; it was interesting to attend the London version as a spectator/baker and see what the event is like from the opposite point of view.

Organized by Daisy Coole, Cupcake Camp London was held at Proud Camden, an art gallery/bar/lounge/restaurant/performance space in the Chalk Farm Stables Market on Halloween. It was a huge space and Daisy and her crew went to town with cupcake girls passing around cupcakes and frosting shots, live music, a raffle for all sorts of cupcake goodies, contests, a cupcake drawing room for kids and much more.

There was an excellent turn-out for this event (over 2,500 cupcakes pledged!) and my kids and I had a blast; the spooky Halloween decorations and similarly themed cupcakes certainly added to the excitement of the day.

I had planned on entering 2 contests but due to a delay with my hotel check-in, arrived at the venue too late to have my entrants considered. Since I was traveling by train, I had limited space to carry cupcakes and so only brought 10 each of my 16H Gouter & Cookie Monster cupcakes.

These were literally snatched up before I had time to arrange them on the platter; I was told that chocolate variety cupcakes were in demand! All in all, I was very happy to discover several new bakers whose cupcakes were gorgeous and delicious and pick up some tips on making the next edition of Cupcake Camp Paris even more successful!

Brava to Daisy and everyone who assisted in organizing this outstanding event; Cupcake Camp London raised over 4000 GBP for the North London Hospice.

Last time I was in London, I sampled several of the local cupcake bakeries including Lola’s and Primrose. Since that time, I have met many other UK bakers online and I made a mission to see at least 1 of them during our short trip there. I chose Love Bakery because I was already impressed by the beautiful cupcake pictures I had seen, and I had it on a good authority (from my friend & fellow cupcake afficianado, Leesa) that I MUST try this place. Boy am I glad I did!

I was a little overcupcaked from Cupcake Camp London and snacking through the stash of treats my kids had collected the night before when we went trick-or-treating – a first for them – but am so happy I made the trip to Love Bakery and the room for their cupcakes. I bought two regular size – Red Velvet and Lemon Curd Marscapone, and two minis – chocolate/chocolate and vanilla/vanilla. I didn’t really get to try the minis cause my daughter gobbled them down but the Red Velvet was heavenly – one of the best Red Velvets I have ever eaten and trust me, I buy one whenever I see them on a cupcake menu, and the Lemon was tangy, fresh and delicious.

The Love Bakery store is adorable with lots of cupcake decorating goodies, jars of vintage candies and other pretty things to look at. The owner, Sam, has published her first cookbook which is available for sale in the store (launch party on 11 November). If you are planning a trip to London or live there and love cupcakes, this is a cupcakery not to be missed! I have already recommended them to a UK wedding Client, and hope I have a chance to get me some more Love soon!

Last but not least, I wanted to publish the results of my two-year business anniversary contest in which I had several cupcake gifts to give away. I very much enjoyed hearing about the “best cupcakes” you have ever eaten. Winners were chosen completely by random using the random number generator at random.org. Without further ado, congratulations to….

- Geni who wins the demi-tablier from Sassy Apron
- Chupivore who wins 12 Sugar Daze cupcakes
- Annick who wins the Meri Meri Cupcake Kit from Made in Cupcake
- Roxane who wins the cupcake earrings from Ma Peste Adoree

Winners, please get in touch with me to claim your prizes at info@sugardazecupcakes.com

In the Photos:
1) Jumpin' Jack Flash cupcake by Sugar Daze
2) Brain Cake by Made with Pink
3) Eyeball cupcakes by Genii Cupcakes
4) Cooke Monster cupcakes by Sugar Daze
5) RIP, ghost and cobweb cupcakes by Swissybuns
6) Dia de los Muertas cupcakes by Belle Bakes
7) Red Velvet Cupcakes by Love Bakery
8) Vanilla Cupckaes by Love Bakery

For more pics of Cupcake Camp London, visit their flickr set here.

Love Bakery, 319 King's Road, SW3 5EP