Category Archives: Parties

National Cupcake Week 14 – 18 September

Despite the odd start to cupcake week with the Sunday Express article (!) I still had a few friends to make cakes for and of course to help celebrate National Cupcake Week.

Firstly a friend in the office asked me to make a few cakes to help a celebration of a member of the public winning a competition.  Part of the prize was to have tea with Dame Tani Grey-Thompson and I said I would give them a few cakes to help with the afternoon tea.  So I gave them a box of a dozen cakes, gluten free vanilla with courgette and apple and cinnamon. P1060305 I went with vanilla and courgette considering a healthier option for an Olympic Athlete. But I also added some apple and cinnamon cakes in case diet wasn’t a factor at the moment.

Day 1 of National Cupcake Week was gluten free apple and cinnamon.  P1060313I made a pured of apples stewed with a cinnamon stick stired through the cake batter. The buttercream as vanilla.  They went down well. I asked for feedback giving catergories such as cake texture and flavour, icing texture and flavour, overall appearance, should it go on a stall (when I get one!) and price. Generally all the feedback was incredibly positive with some obvious subjective comments about flavour and in particular strengths of flavours.  I think the Apple was lost and needs beefing up more.

Day 2 was gluten free pina colada.  I made stewed pinapple in pinapple juice to add to the top of the batter just before cooking. The batter also had pineapple juice in it as well.  The icing was buttercream made with coconut milk and then sprinkled with desiccated  cocnut and topped off with a bit of dried pinapple and a straw.IMG_0098P1060323

Again some great comments, particularly around presentation and not overpowering the coconut. I think again the cake was so subtle that I perhaps need to get a more concentrate pineapple flavour to really pick this up. But I was very happy with this gluten free little cake. 

Day 3 was also a friends’ daughter’s birthday cake which was a chocolate and chocolate ganache cake and some cupcakes. This gave me endless worry over transporttion and it did suffer slightly so I think I’ll stick to cupcakes. Hopefully she liked it though.P1060328 P1060332


Day 3 of the cupcake challenge continued with a triple chocolate cupcake.  This was a light chocolate sponge with a dollop of chocolate ganache in the centre giving a gooey, moist cake.  All topped with a generous swirl of chocolate ganache and grated 100% Venezuelan Black cocoa.  P1060339

Really good feedback that this was extremely moist and the chocolate gooey centre was a nice surprise. I used slightly smaller cupcakes and a couple of people commented that there could have been more!!! As I felt that I had probably peaked too soon with the chocolate, I decided to give the decision on the last cupcake to my audience so offered them three choices of Strawberries and Cream, Lemon Meringue and gingerbread.

Day4 and my final contribution. I was slightly surprised to see gingerbread winning the poll but I guess people are gearing up for autumn and winter and the taste buds are crying out for some heart warming winter concoctions such as mulled wine, spiced pears and of course, gingerbread. IMG_0136-1

 Personally I felt most happy with this cupcake. The sponge was light and airy (perhaps because it wasn’t gluten free?) and was made with ground ginger and grated fresh ginger.  The topping was cream cheese and icing sugar with ground ginger topped off with crystaline ginger and mini gingerbread men. It was just lovely, and will certainly feature a lot more.





I love it when they’re all the same and lined up. I’ve also chosen to depart from some of my ‘usual’ toppings as this is what I’m more interested in rather than sugarpaste.  Also I decided to get over my hang up of the ‘poo’ nozzle as I like to call it (I still won’t use it with chocolate or coffee though) and I quite like this smooth swirl even if it does still look a bit like anaemic poo.

Phew, it was a mamouth week and was also finished by another quick box of cakes for a friend to take to her friend’s baby shower. She just wanted something completely un-babyshowerish so i decided to use the same decorations as the cupcakes at the beginning of the week as the bright colours look so lovely together. I added the names of the parents to be and step daughter and hopefully they all had a lovely weekend. IMG_0137

The Olympic Park in cake

Last week I was asked to make some Olympic inspired cakes for a friend at work’s birthday. I decided, after discussing with Phil, that one venue didn’t pose enough of a challenge and went for the entire Olympic Park in cupcakes.

I was asked to write a blog about this for the London2012 website which you can see here:
London2012 Olympic cakes

The also mentioned me on twitter too
London2012 Olympic cakes on Twitter

Great exposure for me and also I’ve made a new set of friends in the New Media team who have invited me to contribute a regular baking blog….So all possible suggestions on an cupcake shaped postcard to me please!

Apparently there are over 200 competing Olympic Countries – that’s a lot of cupcakes…

40th birthday party

The weekend started off with a friend’s 40th Birthday party in Farringdon.  I found this lovely image on google of 1969 and showed it to my friend who loved it so this became the theme.  She had quite a few people to cater for in a pub with a 1969 themed pub quizz so I made her a big cake and 92 cupcakes.


She was so lovely and bought me a bunch of flowers to say thank you.  Totally unnecessary but very appreciated.  I think her friends enjoyed them, I loved the colours.

At this point of the weekend, this was the biggest cake I had ever made. 28cm diameter, chocolate with chocolate ganache buttercream inside and out.



Here’s the cakes set up at the venue.Birthday cakes on table

Scary cupcakes….

The challenge this weekend was to bake cupcakes for a group of 13/14 year old boys for Sam’s Birthday party at Skirmish paint ball. I know, the last thing on a 13/14 year old boy’s mind is eating cupcakes but I couldn’t resist the challenge.

In the end I just went with dark colours and one cutter which I had of a skull and cross bones. I did think about doing targets for shooting but couldn’t work out how to do it without buying lots of circle cutters….
Anyway I think these are ok, and Sam liked them which was just great.

Next weekend, Maddie’s birthday party and the school summer fete….major baking…Oh and I have to squeeze in a little minor surgery in the middle of the week which should make life interesting.

Almost perfect!

I’ve actually made three batches of cupcakes in the last week but only managed to photograph one. Fortunately I saved the best until last! I made one batch to take to a coffee afternoon for mums and kids and to take home for my sister and mum. The second batch I made for the masterclass I held with Sarah and her friend Jo. These weren’t as successful cake mixtures unfortunately and were hard little pebbles. Oh well I guess there have to be some mistakes along the way.
The third batch I made when we got home on Saturday night, having so little time to make them before lunch on Sunday. But I am so proud of these!

I hope Lizzie doesn’t look at my blog this week as I’ll be reproducing these on Friday for her Party on Saturday!

Irene at her birthday meal on Sunday.

February 2009

Phil had a birthday cake from me this year and also a birthday weekend at The Pudding Club which is at the Three Ways House Hotel in the beautiful Cotswolds. Here’s a great montage Phil made of our weekend.
His choice of birthday cake was a combination of fruit and chocolate so I opted for a pear and chocolate cake – which is also rather marvellously gluten/wheat free and has come in handy for those with intollerances that we know. The recipe for this came from BBC Good Food online and is made with hazelnuts instead of flour. You also have to get your pears right, too hard and they can be too crunchy against the moist chocolate cake.
Speaking of people with intollerances, our friend Wendy is one such person. So she got a chocolate and raspberry roulade for her birthday which is entirely wheat free. Again another recipe slightly adapted from James Martin’s recipe on UKTVFood which has a delicious chocolate and cream mousse in the middle. This mousse is currently giving me problems. The first time I made it it came out perfectly, ever since though the chocolate has split which is annoying. I’ll have to get someone to work out the science for me so Ican get it right each time!

January 2009

As part of ‘Bampa’s 60th birthday celebrations we went out for a meal in a local restaurant. We decided to make a bit of a fuss for this family meal and turned up with balloons to make him smile.
I made a coffee and walnut sponge which was really nice, very light and crumbly. Here’s a picture of three of his grandchildren helping him blow out the candles.
In addition to cakes I’ve also made quite a few pavlovas in the last year or two. They’re a brilliant invention and deserve a posting of their own really. Unfortunately I’ve only got one photo to show here but I’m sure there will be lots more to come.
Pavlovas are indeed named after Anna Pavlova the russian ballet dancer in 1926. For this pavlova opposite I used a smaller circle or oval to have enough left over for a lid. I’ve also doubled up the mixture to make a really big pavlova with a big lid for family parties.

Here’s my recipe for perfect, gooey pavlova:
Serves 8
3 egg whites
190g 61/2 oz caster sugar
1 level tsp cornflour
1 tsp raspberry vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
Large tub of whipped/double cream
Any fruit you like I normally use a berry mix including strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries but whatever is in season. Equally an exotic fruit pavlova is lovely with pineapple, passion and kiwi fruits.
Draw a 23 cm (9inch) oval on a piece of baking parchment and place on a baking sheet.
Whisk the egg whites until stiff then gradually add the sugar, 2oz at a time whisking after each addition until the whites are stiff again. Then fold in the cornflour and vinegar.
Pipe, or dollop the meringue into the oval marked on the baking sheet making a dip in the middle to hold the filling. Bake in the oven at 180C 350F mark 4 for 5 minutes then lower to 130C 250F mark 1/2 for a further 45-50 minutes until set but soft in the middle.
Leave to cool slightly then carefully peel off the paper. When completely cold, add the whipped cream and remaining 1/2 oz of sugar (if you want to) with the fruit and pile on top!
You could also make a coulis from some of the fruit to drizzle over.

December 2008 part 2

Hettie shared her birthday cakes with Aunty Sarah again so this time I made lots of cup cakes with pink icing, glitter, silver balls and flowers. At some point I’m going to have to learn how to make the flowers and other decorations…

The cakes were specifically vanilla as ordered by Sarah. Phil took these rather lovely shots of them as we’re combining both our passions, mine being baking and his being photographing (and then eating) what I make!
Hettie enjoyed eating the icing first. Again I’m quite happy with these cakes, they look wonderful together on mum’s old fashioned glass cake stand.

I forgot to put a couple of other pictures of cakes I made in 2008 including the first roulade I made for a competition at work. I didn’t win, but it was the best raspberry roulade I’ve ever made!

Also some cakes I had commissioned for Phil’s 30th birthday party with Star Wars characters from Konditor and Cook a bit sickly to eat but great fun to look at!

December 2008

Hettie’s birthday cakes finally get a blog! As she has been under-represented so far, I made her two cakes, one for her birthday party and one for her actual birthday. So she can have two blog entries.
Birthday cake for the birthday party.
Hettie’s theme for her 2nd birthday party was Charlie and Lola so I used a butterfly as that’s a familiar theme in the stories.
I really enjoyed making this cake. Again a chocolate sponge mix but with three colours of butter cream and as many sweets as I could find to stick on it. I had also invested in some edible glitter which I think is just magic for children’s cakes. Again I think it could have had a bit more icing but I’m really proud of this cake!
And Hettie had a Charlie and Lola mural showing the blocks of flats where they live made from collage pictures of windows on painted buildings.
I really like Lauren Child’s style of collage mixed with painted images. I’ve also found Helen Darik who is an illustrator fond of Lauren Child as well. Helen is represented by Lila Rogers in New York.

September 2008

Firstly I’m sorry to my little Hettie who did have a 1st birthday cake, shared with Aunty Sarah but we didn’t take any photos when it was in one piece!
It was a lovely chocolate ring cake and Aunty Sarah had half on Christmas Eve and Hettie had the other half on Boxing Day. I don’t think Hettie noticed that it was half a cake, I told her it was a big smile. I made up for it for her second birthday however.
So, back to Millie’s 3rd birthday which had a Harry Potter theme so this time the easiest shape I could think of was a witch’s hat. Millie dressed up as Hermoine and Hettie went as Dobbie the House Elf. She was the best House Elf I’ve ever seen.
Here’s my attempt at a witch’s hat. It was a beast to cook, using three batches of my 8, 8, 8 and 4 recipe for chocolate sponge.
And here’s my mural showing Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry complete with flying witches, Quidditch rings and Hagrid’s house.

I also made some cup cakes with spiders, bats, broomsticks and lightening. Also there’s some wizard hat pasties.

I found this blog link and a great pictures of some witch’s hat cupcakes on
And here’s a couple of other images that I’ll aspire to for future creations. I like the idea of a tall hat, made up of discs of cake piled up on top of each other and secured with a skewer in the middle. Hmmm…next time…

Posted by Claire G at 13:46