Sunday, 27 March 2011

Nice as pie

I thought I'd have my hands full this weekend with my little (BIG!) brother's 21st birthday cake to make, but while having a quick flick through my little pink Hummingbird bible (as us geeky cake enthusiasts tend to do over a cuppa) I stumbled across the Grasshopper Pie and thought it looked quick and easy to knock up. And I was right!

Now, call me a traditionalist, but I like my baked goodies to be, well, baked. If something hasn't hit the oven, then it's not baked. Cheesecake, in my (humble) opinion has to be baked for it to be "proper".

But this weekend I broke all the rules.

After hours spent baking, icing and decorating my brother's mahoosive birthday cake, I couldn't even bear to turn the dial on the oven. But, luckily for me, the Grasshopper Pie doesn't require any baking. The closest you come to any heat is melting a bit of butter and some marshmallows. The rest of it is putting dishes in the fridge and, literally, chilling out!

And that's all there was to it. I whisked, I melted, I threw things in a pie dish... and that's it. The Grasshopper Pie was born!

All I had to do then was convince a few young nieces and nephews that there weren't "actual" grasshoppers in it...

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Rose Cupcake, anyone?

I was planning to make the uber pretty rose cupcakes from 'Cake Days' for Mothering Sunday, but I decided I couldn't wait that long (a whole other week!) and so have done them as a sweet gift for my step-mum's birthday.

The baking officially started at lunchtime today when I began what I thought was going to be a long and tedious hunt for the rose water. I'd never noticed it before while meandering the baking aisle at the supermarket, but soon stumbled across it in the local Waitrose.

The messy (read: fun) part started tonight! KC and I got beating and a'mixing as soon as I got home from work and the sponges were soon baking away in the oven. The scent wafting through was amazing... remember that floral perfume your mum or one of your friends' mum's would undoubtedly always wear when you were a kid? There was always one, wasn't there? But a nice, sweet scent. It's that. Pretty.

There were no hiccups with the sponges this time - beautiful, springy, full of air. I could be a baker, me!

The buttercream went without a hitch, too.

In fact, I'm fully expecting one of the handful of people who eat these to report food poisoning or something after tomorrow, considering how well the whole experience has gone so far!

Taking further advantage of this unexpected run of good fortune, I decided to try my hand at some "rolled roses". Well, being called Roses Cupcakes it seemed wrong to not decorate with roses, and I'm not very green fingered so it's not like I could just go and prune a few buds from the garden!

I don't think they're bad for a first attempt, but I have a long ol' way to go before I'll be anywhere near happy enough to start on the ones for my cousin's wedding cake I'm doing next year. Eep!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Vanilla cupcakes & Chocolate cupcakes... with a leaselou twist!

I was asked to make a dozen cupcakes for my colleague and friend Jackie's husband's birthday yesterday, so we came up with the idea of six vanilla "sweety" cupcakes, and six chocolate "+chocolate" cupcakes - ideal for kids and the young at heart alike!

This gave me the perfect opportunity to not only give KC his first run out (yippee!), but also to kill two birds...hang on, not the best turn of phrase when referring to a "hummingbird" recipe book. Ahem! Gave me a perfect opportunity to blast out not one but two yummy recipes from my little pink bible.

Remember the little hiccup I mentioned in my first post, about KC? Well, all was going swimmingly - the mixture went in, the mixture was mixed, the mixture was spooned into cupcakes cases and the tray was popped into the oven. What I didn't factor in was that ol' KC was a much better mixer than me! These bad boy cupcakes were so light and fluffy and had so much "oomph" that they sprang up and overspilled their cases!

Anyway, all went well with attempt two and three -

- and I've had a lovely text message this morning from Jackie saying how much her husband and the family enjoyed them, which is always a bonus!!

Wonder what I'll do next. Stay tuned!

KC & me

I am coinciding the start of A Very Hummingbird Year with the arrival of the new love of my life.

Enter, KC.

KC has been handed down to me from my step mum. Without sounding too melodramatic, I feel really quite privileged that Yvonne has passed her mum and dad's old Kenwood Chef on to me as she has three children of her own.

Anyway, KC (as the Kenwood Chef is now known) came into my life last week and has been a ray of light, save for one little hiccup, which I'll go into at a later date.

Here is my little shining star -

I'm not sure how old KC is, but the old boy's at least 30 years old, so he's older than me! Because of this, I'm going to tend to let him lead the way in the kitchen...he's obviously the more experienced one out of the two of us! Like a tree and its trunk, you can get an idea of KC's age just by looking at his coloured plug lead -

Thankfully my dad's an electrician so put a new plug head on before KC came home with me!

So, I was all set with my new partner in crime, I was armed with my 'Cake Days' book, just one thing left to do. Get baking!

Monday, 21 March 2011

Happy Hummingbird Year

Hip hip hooray! The Hummingbird Bakery's newest book has finally hit the shops and caking enthusiasts across the country... even the world! are hitting their kitchens like feisty little hummingbirds.

This year, I vow to fatten up all of my family, friends, colleagues and perhaps even random strangers if times get desperate, by working my way through 'Cake Days' - in no particular order - and creating each and every recipe, one by one.

So, raise your cupcakes, and here's to a happy Hummingbird year. Cheers!