Sunday, 28 August 2011

Another market stall success + new and improved website goes live

Yesterday Melissa and I spent the day selling our handmade wares at Nigel's Eco Market in the Lanes.  We had a great day, met some interesting and likeminded people, gave out lots of business cards and even made a bit of a profit - hurrah!
Check out Melissa on the stall, modelling one of our new Brighton Baker aprons:

There was a great vibe about the day, all the other stall holders we met were really friendly and were showcasing some fantastic products from recycled clothing and accessories to teacup birdfeeders - it was hard not to blow our takings before we'd even left the building. 

And just in time for the event, our new and improved website is now live.  Thanks to Marc at Unemployedesigners for all his work on the site.  We still have a couple of tweaks to make and some more cake photos to be uploaded but please take a look and like us on Facebook.

Until next time, happy baking xx

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Come and see us at Nigel's Eco Market in Brighton's Lanes this Saturday

It's been a wee while since we held a market stall but we've got another bakeathon tomorrow in preparation for Nigel's Eco Market this Saturday.  The Market runs from 10am - 5pm at the Friends Meeting House in the South Lanes in Brighton, where we will be selling our delicious handmade cakes and treats alongside stalls for cool eco products, upcycled furniture, handmade jewellery and loads more quirky and unique stuff.

We've got some of our well loved favourites like Beetroot Brownies and Luscious Lemon Trickle Cake, plus we're trying out two new seasonal cupcake flavours - Courgette & Camomile and Raspberry & Elderflower.

You might also like to know some of our green credentials:
  • Many of our cakes contain vegetables, which are all locally grown and sourced from the Park Farm Shop in Falmer
  • The eggs we use are always local and free range
  • As far as possible we only use British ingredients, but for things we can't grow in the UK, such as lemons and cocoa, we buy Fairtrade
  • Our kitchen is powered by 100% green energy from Ecotricity
  • We make all our cakes and treats from scratch, by hand, less than one food mile away from the stall at Nigel's Eco Market
  • All of our cakes are suitable for vegetarians, and we always have a selection of vegan treats (as well as dairy free and gluten free options for those with intolerances)
  • We never use margarine or artificial flavours and as our cakes are all baked fresh the day before the event you can be sure there are no artifical preservatives
If you're in town on Saturday please come and say hello - if you're lucky there will be some free samples too :o)

A quirky character cake for Sheena

Sometimes Melissa and I can be a bit rubbish at remembering things, especially important dates like friends' birthdays.  No matter how many times we mention it and remind ourselves in the weeks before the event, the date will fly right past us until that forehead-smacking moment when we realise it's too late.

So when it's a really good friend's birthday that escapes us (sorry again Sheena!), we usually make up for it by making an extra nice cake. 

I had borrowed this great book in the library called Fun and Original Character Cakes and I had been waiting for an excuse to make this really cute cake that appears on the front of it.  Sheena and her husband Nathan have just had a beautiful baby boy called Murphy, so we thought that Sheena deserved a little pampering in return for the sleepless nights she's been having with the little one.  This cake seemed to fit the bill.

The cake was a beetroot and chocolate loaf cake which I based on a Diana Henry recipe.  I was a bit worried about how the cake would turn out as we had a power surge that blew the fuse for the cooker right in the middle of baking it.  Luckily we replaced the fuse quickly and it didn't make any difference to the final result.

The book gives step by step instructions for making all the decorations.  I made a few tweaks to the design, mainly making it into an old fashioned roll top bath shape on a chequered floor.  The original design has a round bath which is covered with black sugarpaste, but I try not to use black very much as it has so much colouring added it doesn't taste very nice.

About half way through making the cake, Melissa and I had a little panic that Sheena might be offended by giving her a cake with a hippo on it.  At this stage I'd already spent hours making it and they were due to arrive soon so there wasn't really time to change plans.  I just had to hope that it would be cute enough and she would appreciate the effort we had gone to.  And the main thing that matters is the taste right?

Luckily Sheena loved it, and really liked how long Miss Hippo's eyelashes were.  She took the cake to her family gathering the next day and they all gave really great feedback.  What was interesting was that the cake actually got more chocolatey and moist the following day -  I think that might be because of the beetroot.

There are some other quirky cake designs in the book that I really want to make.  I guess I'll just have to wait to miss another friend's birthday to try one out ;o)

Monday, 22 August 2011

Chocolate Campfire Cupcakes - Happy Birthday Mark x

Mark is a friend of Melissa's from work and a follower of the Brighton Baker blog from the very start.  I'm told that he often asks Melissa when he's going to get a mention and I was half tempted just to stick his name randomly at the end of a completely unrelated blogpost just to appease him.

But Mark - as it's your birthday - our gift to you is a post dedicated entirely in your honour.  Last night I cooked up a batch of birthday cupcakes that Melissa should be delivering to you as I type.

Knowing that Mark has a sweet tooth and loves chocolate cake, we found a recipe in the lovely Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days recipe book that looked spot on.  The recipe is actually called S'moreanne Cupcakes, but if you live in the UK like me then this name might not mean much to you either.  Apparently a s'more is an American campfire treat: marshmallow and chocolate sandwiched between crackers and toasted.  Sounds like my kinda treat - think I'll be trying that one next time we do a barbecue on the beach.  But S'moreanne sounded a bit girly and obscure so I have renamed these little beauties Chocolate Campfire Cupcakes.  And look how pretty:

These cakes begin with a chocolate cupcake baked with a topping of crushed biscuits and grated dark chocolate, then they're finished off with an Italian meringue frosting, a sprinkling more of crushed biscuits and a square of chocolate.

The chocolate cupcakes were a cinch to make, but I've not made Italian meringue since pastry school and I was a bit nervous as to how it would turn out.  It involves boiling sugar and water to exactly 121°C and pouring it in a steady thin stream into half whipped egg whites.  I'm not sure if I got it totally spot on but it turned out pretty well and I love how you can create little peaks in the icing which look a bit like the flames of a campfire once you flash it under a hot grill. 

If I made these again I think I would change the crushed biscuits for honeycomb which would give these cakes an extra dimension in terms of texture and sweetness.  Also as honeycomb is also known as cinder toffee it would go even better with my new name of Chocolate Campfire Cupcakes.

So Mark, you've finally got a mention on the blog.  Hope you like it, and the cakes too :o) x  

Friday, 12 August 2011

White Chocolate, Almond & Apricot Cookies

As you may be able to tell from this blog, I love to experiment with new recipes and ideas in the kitchen.  To be honest, I'm not even sure I can ever follow a recipe exactly word for word, not that I have a problem with being told what to do, but more often it's that I'm not usually organised enough to have all the ingredients in the cupboard in advance, so I have to improvise.
This cookie recipe came about in just such a way.  I was in a baking mood, and while flicking through my copy of River Cottage Everyday for inspiration I stumbled upon a recipe for Ten Minute Chocolate Chip Cookies.  I was in a greedy mood and the speedy rewards promised by this recipe made it instantly appealing.  I didn't have any chocolate chips in the cupboard, but I happen to think that the flavour combination I tried instead was a real winner, so I thought I would share it with you.

White Chocolate, Almond & Apricot Cookies
Makes 14-16 generous cookies
125g unsalted butter
100g caster sugar
75g soft light brown sugar
1 medium egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
150g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
A pinch of sea salt
50g white chocolate, chopped
75g blanched almonds, roughly chopped
75g dried apricots, chopped
1.  Preheat the oven to 190C (170C fan assisted) and line two baking sheets with baking parchment.
2. Gently melt the butter in a small saucepan.  Meanwhile add the sugars to a large bowl, then beat in the melted butter well with a wooden spoon. 
3.  Next beat in the eggs and vanilla extract.  Once it's nicely mixed, sift the flour, baking powder and salt into the bowl and stir them in.  Finally add the chopped white chocolate, almonds and apricots and you'll end up with a nice sloppy mixture.
4.  Spoon blobs of the mixture onto your prepared trays using a dessertspoon - make sure you leave about 4cm between each as the cookies really spread out while cooking. If you don't then you'll just end up with one big cookie!
5. Place in the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes until the cookies are just beginning to turn golden brown.  As with all biscuits, they will firm up as they cool so don't worry if they still feel very soft.
6. Leave on the hot trays for a couple of minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Happy baking :o)