Thursday, June 30, 2011

Jackson Pollock meets Becca Bakes

This is a chocolate cake with white chocolate chips mixed in, ably assisted by Mini-Becca #2 while Mini-Becca #1 was at her last morning of school as a P2 girl (that's Grade 1 to you non-Scots out there).  It's then covered in chocolate icing and drizzled with melted white chocolate and topped with dark chocolate stars.  Why?  Well, firstly why not.  And secondly because we were going to play at Liz's house for lunch on the last day of the school year and she and I like to bake.  Lastly, I'd seen an idea for a 4th of July cake (we've been invited to a 4th of July party) and wanted to try out the icing technique.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

End-of-year school teacher thankyou gifts

I've been lucky enough to get orders for gifts-for-teachers.  Most are for cupcakes, I've done singles, fours, and sixes.  And one order changed from 10 singles to a whole cake.  There's nothing much to tell you about this, it's kind of self-explanatory.  Except to say that luckily I knew that 2 orders were for the same teachers, so I was able to make them fairly different.
Vanilla sponge, layered with pink icing and raspberry jam and covered in lilac-coloured vanilla buttercream

The brief was pink and butterflies.  Hope these nursery teachers love them

There are a few of these for some lucky teachers, aren't they cute?
And I believe these are going to the same class teachers, so are different colours, swirls and sprinkles.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Hummingbird Black bottom cupcakes

I wanted to try another recipe from the first Hummingbird book and chose the Black bottomed cupcakes, coz I'd been so impressed by the one I'd had from the Bakery on my super-brief visit to London back in May. 
Mini-Becca #2 and I had some spare time this morning after chores and before lunch, so got our aprons on and started weighing out the flour and mixing it with cocoa etc.  She helped me whisk together the wet ingredients and add them to the dry - that made a very solid sticky mixture, most unlike any other recent recipe we've done.  Nonetheless, having double-checked the recipe in case I'd made a mistake (I hadn't) we soldiered on.  She licked the beater arms and I spooned the mix into 15 midi cupcake cases.  We then quickly washed some items and made the cheesecake section of the cupcake mix.  It, on the other hand, was very very runny.  Again, following the recipe I added about a tablespoon to each cupcake and put them in the oven.  Upon removal 20 minutes later, they looked like this...
Which isn't a bad way to look, but not much like the picture in the cookbook.  The consistencies of my component mixes caused this look, but I'm not sure what caused the consistency issues.  No big deal, they tasted good anyway.  Not as chocolatey as I remembered, and when I queried this on the Bakery's Facebook page they suggested that I didn't use the same ingredients, so it wouldn't taste the same.  Fair comment, really.  Me and Mini-B declared them yummy anyway!

Holy Communion order

I was thrilled to get an order a month or so ago for a girly Holy Communion.  The brief was pink and girly, with both mini cupcakes and a couple of traybakes.  I mentioned that I didn't have any cross cutters but could pipe some crosses on (didn't want to use silver balls after the creamcheese icing situation, just in case) and the mum said just go for it.  So here we have the finished product - cream iced ones with a sparkly pink cross piped on top and pink swirly iced ones with white butterflies, flowers or plain and all dusted with pink glitter.  Both the mum and daughter loved them!!  They also chose a pink glittered Malteser Slice and Rocky Road, which went down a treat I'm sure. 
It was the younger sister's 3rd birthday that day too, so the mum asked for a cupcake with either her name or initial and a number 3 if at all possible.  Here's what I did, a large orange butterfly, letter J and a heart with a sparkly purple piped 3 on it, all dusted in gold glitter - my 3 year old loved it, hope hers did too.

Friday, June 24, 2011

End-of-year school class party cupcakes

Well, it's that time again but this time end of term actually means end of year.  Gosh, that time has flown past.  Such a shame that the weather is truly rubbish just now, it certainly doesn't feel like Summer at all.  Mini-Becca #2 was told that it would be summertime after Daddy then Mummy's birthdays (May 25 and June 4) and she was excited, because it meant she could wear short-sleeved tee shirts and shorts, but alas that isn't the case. 
Yesterday at 4pm we were caught in an almighty thunder and lightening hail storm while walking home from coffee at a schoolfriend's house.  Yep, that's right, walking.  We were totally drenched and peeled off our sodden clothes the minute we finally got home.
Perhaps that's why Mini-Becca #1 chose the particular shade of blue for the P1, P2 and P3 classes garden party mini cupcakes (party held this morning), to reflect the sky she so desperately wants to see...  She also chose mini marshmallows as the decoration, and here we see her and her sister trying very hard to place the marshmallows on top of the iced cupcakes, without upsetting the design. 
Do you think they managed??
The larger ones to the left, with fresh blueberries, are for the teachers - no reason they should miss out (and a batch makes more than the requested 51 mini cakes).  Initial feedback was very positive, with compliments from the kids on the cupcakes, and from teachers on the icing.  Go Team Becca, we rock!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Cupcakes for a boy

Well, they're as boy-ish as I could make  - hope they're what he would have wanted.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Hummingbird Lemon Poppyseed cake

For my birthday I got a voucher for Amazon, and chose for myself (ostensibly from the Team) 2 cookbooks - the first book produced by the Hummingbird Bakery and the other from one of the ladies who featured on the Channel 4 tv series Cook Yourself Thin Harry Eastwood's Red Velvet & Chocolate Heartache. 
Having flicked through the former, I was really keen to try out the Black Bottomed cupcake recipe, coz it'd been so good when I'd tried it on my mini-break to London in May.  Also, the Lemon Poppyseed cake looked good.  And I just happen to have found a lovely metal ring cake tin at TK Maxx, which is supremely helpful for this cake, as it's made in - you guessed it - a ring tin.
It was easy enough, and rose beautifully in the greased and floured tin. I was worried that a) it wouldn't rise much as the only other cake I've tried in a ring tin didn't and b) I'd struggle to remove it from the tin.  Luckily, both fears were unfounded.  However, the recipe did state you were to make a drizzle syrup and pour it on to the sponge fresh-out-of-the-oven then tip it onto a wire rack to cool completely before icing.  Logically, I didn't see how that could work, as evidenced by the following photo...
Nevermind, it cooled soon enough anyway.  But because it was on a small plate, the icing overflowed.  And I was slightly heavy-handed with the decorative poppyseed at first...
But it sliced up beautifully and tasted great - soft, light sponge, sticky lemon glaze and sweet lemon icing.  Mmmm, but you do need a tooth pick handy afterwards, ha ha

Friday, June 17, 2011

Mini marvels for toddler group

We go to a lovely toddler group each Friday  morning in a church hall in the West End of our fair city (have done for years, since mini-Becca #1 was nearly 1).  When it came up in conversation that I sometimes baked for sale, it was decided that I could bring in mini cupcakes and see how they went.  So today I did. 
I used our trusty Vanilla recipe, and tried a new one for the Chocolate ones this time.  It was less fiddlesome to do (hence the desire for a new recipe), and they tasted lovely.  However, it took 3 batches for me to almost get the oven temperature vs. length of baking time correct.  I had mini-Becca #2 and a good friend on hand to taste-test each batch, and had them compare the crispness of the surface to the softness of interior.  While they tried really hard, they declared that each cupcake tasted as delicious as the last.  And they were most impressed that they could take the paper cases off by themselves, the cake didn't stick to the cases.  All in all not a bad review, and you can't be fabulous without a little bit of effort, tee hee
Once the display was set up in my two (yes TK Maxx, my old employer, furnished me with another cupcake holder recently, oh the joys) special cupcake holders (available for hire, should you need to display some cupcakes at some point) with a simple, elegant white china cake stand to boot, it all looked like this...
And I'm very pleased to say that at the end of the selling frenzy, it all looked a lot less full.  Thanks so much to all the parents who bought, and those of you who picked up business cards!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

As you may have noticed, we like to bake sweet stuff here at Becca Towers.  However, should you fancy a trip over to the dark (i.e. savoury) side, check out my friend's fabulously fun blog at She posts videos and snippets of all sorts of food-related fun and delivers in a style very unlike any tv presenter you've yet seen.  Think Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous, and you'll be closer, ha ha.  Hope you enjoy her stuff!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Being a bit silly

While shopping in the baking aisle of a major local supermarket, we spied these super-cute letters, which mini-Becca #2 insisted we simply must put into our shopping trolley.  So I played around last night after finishing the birthday order mentioned below.  The girls were thrilled when they saw this, and even more so when I showed them the one below...

As was Mr Becca (Daddy, to them) when I showed him.  He can't eat it yet, coz it isn't Father's Day until Sunday.  By which time it will probably be inedible, but hey - don't they say it's the thought that counts?!  And he thought it was fab.  And ate one of the spare cupcakes, and thought that was very tasty indeed.

Birthday surprise for Sara

A lady called Lorraine bought some cupcakes at one of the baby gym classes I sold at a couple of weeks ago, and decided to order a box of 6 as a surprise for her friend Sara.  They were to have a pink theme and be delivered today.  All do-able, and here's the result. 
Sara had no idea, and was really pleased and touched when I delivered them.  I hope she liked the taste...

Monday, June 13, 2011

Chocolate gives her migraines...

An old friend has been following our page on Facebook, and happened by Becca Towers in time to get the last slice of the Butterscotch cake we had tried out specially for Mr Becca's birthday, along with her order of cupcakes.  She was really impressed by it, bless her, and commissioned one for her mum's 65th birthday a few weeks later.  Turns out her mum gets migraines from chocolate, so they'd never really got her a special cake before.  I was most happy to oblige, of course, as the cake had worked well the first time and tasted good, yet I saw where I could make modifications without ruining it.
So this time, I used half and half dark brown and light brown sugar which gave a slightly stronger butterscotch taste.  I also baked the cakes for a few minutes less each, giving a softer springier sponge.  Tanya had given me her gravy boat, so that I could keep all the pouring sauce for her to pour over each slice rather than over the cake in its entirety.  She had requested silver balls on top in the number 65 and some glitter.  No problem, I said, not realising that the silver balls would sink into the cream cheese icing and even bleed and droop slightly.  I had taken my photos immediately the cake was completed, and it looked  little worse when it was collected.  Luckily Tanya was really kind and said it was fine.  I just hope I remember this the next time it comes up...

Oh, and everyone loved the cake!!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Heidi's birthday traybake

One of the toddler group helpers/ex-mums (i.e her youngest child is at school now) had her birthday the day after mine, and was planning birthday drinks at hers the week after.  And couldn't decide between little pink mini cupcakes to go with the Prosecco, or wee tidbits of traybake to go with coffee at the end.  Independently we came to the conclusion that the latter would work better, and after some deliberation she chose our Sweet & Salty Crunch Nut slice with pink sparkle.  I find it hard to take an attractive photo of an entire traybake, but hopefully you get the idea.
It went down a storm too, if the comments on our Facebook page are anything to go by!

Pale lemon coloured icing

Sparkly and pretty - that was the client's brief for her daughter's 1st birthday cakes.  One chocolate, one vanilla both double-layer and the rest was up to me.  Ooh, the pressure to be creative.  Could I do it??  I don't really think of myself as creative, but perhaps I'm getting better - what do you think? The top one is the chocolate cake, layered with vanilla buttercream icing.  The lower one is the vanilla sponge cake, layered with strawberry jam and vanilla buttercream icing.  Mr Becca didn't realise that they were for the same customer, so at first couldn't understand why they looked so similar.  Silly boy!

Bit of an oddity but the chocolate cake didn't rise very well when I baked it yesterday afternoon.  Really scary, but luckily I'd started early enough that I had time to re-do it.  And phew, this time it worked beautifully.  So, for afternoon tea (after busy days at school and nursery), we all had some totally delicious surprise chocolate cake - the girls were not unhappy! tee hee  Once both cakes had cooked and cooled I made a double batch of icing so I could match the colour of both cakes, and was away.  Thanks to advice from a friend, I'd made the sugar shapes in advance, and it really was just like using playdough. 
The customer's mum has just collected the cakes and thinks they're great - woo hoo.

Friday, June 03, 2011

It's my birthday!!

I saw this cake on Meg BerryCupcake's Facebook page and had to try it for my birthday tomorrow, with her blessing.  It's a chocolate layer cake, with chocolate icing edged with chocolate finger biscuits and topped with my favourite Lindt Lindor chocolate balls, mmmmm.  It's slightly wonky, and I think it'll be too sickly for words, but we get to cut into it tomorrow... 

And I get to officially appreciate my gifts - a Hummingbird Bakery cookbook (the first one), Harry Eastwood's vege cake cookbook, other Hummingbird goodies and a fab carrier for transporting cupcakes.  Mr Becca is cooking some secret delicious treats for lunch tomorrow, and the kitchen smells amazing.

Last lot of cupcakes for mummies, for now

There were to be 3 classes today so I baked a full batch each of chocolate and vanilla cupcakes, and had fun with four different icing colours and loads of toppers, glitter and sand.  The girls could barely contain their excitement when they saw them all this morning, wanting to try one of each. 

As it turned out, sales weren't booming, even though I offered 3 for the price of 2 just before the end.  Ah well, you win some, you lose some.  We have a good friend's son's 5th party tomorrow, so we'll take the leftovers along to share...

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

More cupcakes for Mummies

I was really pleased to see that so many of today's cupcakes sold!  And the new bags came in really handy, fitting three cakes across.  So this time we chose pale orange for the icing and bought some new, even more fun toppers.  Here's a selection.  Methinks blue or lilac for the icing for Friday's cakes, or even both...
Just one of our new corporate cupcake bags, branded by mini-Becca #1.