Whilst hard to believe it was only a few years ago that the bakery industry and consumers delighted at the huge comeback of the cupcake. Some attributed it to the economy downfall, providing small guilty pleasures to boost morale, others have cited the scene in Sex and the City where Carrie munches on a cupcake from the Magnolia bakery with fellow character Miranda as the true cause of the resurgence. Whichever reason it is I, along with thousands of others, have been indulging, enjoying and obsessing ever since. Wedding cakes made from towers of cupcakes, parties and hen do’s themed around making and decorating them, bakeries and shops coming up with innovative new ways to market them in every style, theme, colour and flavour imaginable, not to mention the memorabilia that has flooded the shops in the last few years are evidence of its popularity. So could the cupcake bubble be on the verge of bursting…have people had enough of cupcakes? Well the introduction of a new cake in town, the whoopie pie, certainly seems to be threatening the cupcake’s market share of the treat and cake industry.
Sneaking onto the market just 18 months ago, first through luxury London boutiques and then filtering down to high-end food retailers the whoopie pie is now being described as the new “IT” indulgence. Originating in Amish communities in America and thought to be made from leftover cake batter by wives for their farmer husbands lunch boxes the whoopie pie (two wedges of sticky cake sandwiched together with frosting or buttercream) has started showing up in food markets and on bakery shelves in places where cupcakes used to be causing me to wonder whether our love for the simple cake topped with icing is diminishing? I personally hope not. Whilst I have sampled and (eventually) liked whoopie pies (not without a few dodgy ones along the way which were just far too sickly) there is a simplicity to cupcakes which I far rather enjoy. Maybe it because it reminds me of the fairy cakes I had a child at kids parties, maybe it’s because they are far more versatile in both flavour and appearance, and easier to make (in my opinion), or maybe it’s because they somehow seem more elegant (when done properly and served on a fancy cake stand). But whilst I will rarely turn down a bit of whoopie (!), I can’t deny that I’m just a cupcake gal at heart 🙂
but these are…
I love drinking tea (everyone in my family has an amazing ability to down numerous mugs of it a day and I’m no exception) and I’ve realised recently I’m actually quite a collector of mugs. I won’t deny I have my favourites but each mug represents a part of my personality or a happy memory. Some I’ve had for over 10 years, some have been well-chosen presents and others have simply caught my eye. I have to admit I’ve even taken secret joy in serving up hot drinks to guests in some of my cheekier options depending on my mood and level of mischiefness that day!! 😉 Generally I would categorize my mugs into volume size (yes you did read that right I categorize my mugs…how else would you know which one you want to use each day?) and I’ve generally got 3 sizes…
the little ones (classified as standard size but generally only worthy choices when I’m in a rush and don’t have time to savour a good cuppa)
the larger size (when I only have time for one good cup of tea)
and the giant for when I get home from work and one cup just won’t do (these bad boys hold 2 or more standard cups in one mug)!
I love browsing the internet for new mugs, I’m still waiting for someone to create a glittery or sequined mug so anyone has seen one do let me know. Question is, if you came round for a cuppa which mug would you pick?… 🙂
So I came home today from work with a burning desire to do some baking. After much deliberating about flavours, recipes, toppings I narrowed my efforts to a batch of zesty lemon cupcakes, a firm favourite in my household, and an experimental but easy batch of chocolate orange “fridge cake”.
The cupcakes are so simple that I’ve got the whole baking and decorating process down to less than an hour (taking into account finding bakeware hidden at the back of cupboards, cats trying to trip me up by winding between my legs, and my desperate need for a new sieve!) which makes them a very quick and cheaper way to quench those sweet toothed cravings instead of heading to the supermarket for some processed substitutes.
Fridge cake is a childhood classic of mine, we used to make it just after Christmas to use up all the leftover biscuits brought round by well-meaning neighbours and relatives and any chocolate left from our selection boxes (it’s a perfect use for those below par milk chocolate treats which are inedible in their usual form!). I’m sure many people will have their own versions as variations of “Rocky Road” and know it by many other names but generally my versions include crushed biscuits, chocolate of any variety (in my case I tried using plain chocolate with orange pieces today), raisins, marshmallows and I suppose if you were so inclined you could add all sorts of other treats (nuts, cherries, honeycomb etc). This is all then just mixed together, stuffed into a tin and left to cool in the fridge, it doesn’t get easier than that and the beauty of it is there are no proportions or method to worry about!
Yes, my presentation needs some work (but quite frankly I’m lucky that I’m not under the pressure to sell these in a shop) however to me they are just about taste, reward of some enjoyable baking efforts and doing something creative after being stuck behind a desk all day long 🙂