Author Archive

  1. Christmas cakes!

    Staying in Amsterdam this Christmas and want a home-baked Christmas cake this year? Or just crazy about everything to do with English Christmas traditions and can’t get enough fruit-cake?

    Then the English Cake Lady can help! I’m taking orders up until end November for 20cm round traditional Saint Delia cakes, lovingly matured and generously fed with brandy, fully marzipanned and iced and delivered to your door for just EUR 45 plus 6% BTW. This is my regular Christmas cake recipe which I’ve used for years, it never fails to please especially when well-rested and regularly drizzled with brandy for a month before decorating. The cake will be covered with marzipan, iced with snowy royal icing, decorated with an edible holly decoration and tied with a festive ribbon, and delivered to your door.

    Cost per cake is EUR 45 plus 6% BTW.


  2. The menu revamp (and testing) is complete!

    I’ve been a bit better about updating my Facebook page than this blog, thank you to all the fans who’ve “liked” the page so far, we’re nearly up to three figures! But I haven’t been completely idle, the great menu revamp has finally been completed with some flavours being culled (sadly I simply couldn’t get the Irish Cream cupcakes with the Baileys frosting to work, maybe something I can re-visit for St Patrick’s Day?), and some new varieties (Carrot cupcake anyone?) being added.

    I’m really pleased with the final line-up and feel confident about being able to deliver all of them to a high standard. Mark has taken photos like a Trojan, the only one missing is of the delicious Apple Crumble cupcake as he was working very late the day I made that. But I think my friends Lauren and Kerrie will confirm that it tasted pretty fabulous.

    I also tried out the mini-versions of the Vanilla, Chocolate and Strawberry Cheesecake cupcakes for Dewi and Corey’s leaving party this weekend, and whilst I need to source some cupcake cases which hold their shape a bit better, the mini-size was great! Corey, Dewi and Luca stayed for dinner afterwards and we managed to polish off about 3 plates worth with plenty of comments about how many empty wrappers everyone had on their plates!


  3. Is there such a thing as too much caramel?

    The final post for tonight and then I’m going to hit the sack…

    Here’s a cupcake version of the popular traybake, Millionaire’s Shortbread. This consists of a richly-flavoured vanilla base stuffed with a large dollop of caramel, topped with a light (and finger-lickin’ good) caramel buttercream, and scattered with dark chocolate curls. I used De Ruijter’s ‘vlokken’ as they were in AH, and just about everyone in Amsterdam was weaned on their hagelslag, but I’m not blown away. The cocoa content is only about 36% and they have a weird slightly gritty texture. I’ll have a bit of a faff around with making my own chocolate curls to see if I can do better next time.

    Millionaire Shortbread Cupcake

    Who wants to be a millionaire?

    Aside from the chocolate curls, this cupcake was a revelation, just proving that if in doubt add more chocolate and caramel, and it’s bound to taste better.

    Sticky Toffee Cupcake

    That's 18 pieces of chopped fudge, count 'em...

    And finally I tried out the chopped fudge decoration idea on the Sticky Toffee cupcakes and I reckon it works. Mark was disbelieving when I informed him that Sticky Toffee Pudding contained dates as he’d never spotted them, so replacing the chopped dates with fudge removed even the smallest visual clue that there might be something vaguely healthy about these cupcakes.

    And yes, I know, it should technically be chopped toffee, but have you tried chopping toffee? Life is too short…


  4. Softer than Red Velvet

    My first “commission” as the English Cake Lady was for a small party at 180 Amsterdam to give Julien a good send-off for his wedding this Friday – good luck Julien! I’m made these before but am still struggling to find the correct red colouring to achieve a really deep red effect rather than just a reddish-brown. So whilst these ate very well indeed, I think I can still improve the overall impact with a different red colouring (I’m going to try some AmeriColor next that I found in Sugarlicious today, and I’ll source another brand from France to test as well).

    Red Velvet Cupcake

    Go USA!

    Anyhow, the Red Velvet cake is a traditional American chocolate cake recipe with a vivid red sponge contrasting with a white cream cheese or buttercream frosting, and it works exceptionally well in cupcake form. These little beauties are simply decorated with crumbs from a spare Red Velvet cake, and proved a soft and tender mouthful. They even travelled well to the 180 offices in my bakfiets, definitely better than the Raspberry Trifle ones!

    I’m testing this recipe again on Saturday as it’s the base for the children’s birthday cake I’m doing, so will let you know how I get on with the colour…


  5. The Citrus Crowd

    I’ve been getting a bit behind with reporting on the testing process although Mark is up-to-date with all the photos so far. Reason is a tweaking of the menu based on customer feedback so far; this took a lot of thought and research (thanks to Steve in London for snapping a dozen cupcake menus for me!).

    More of that later, first let’s talk about citrus cupcakes.

    Orange Cupcake

    Oranje Cupcake

    Pink Grapefruit Cupcake

    Pretty in pink

    Lemon Cupcake

    Lemon difficult

    I made three versions the other day – Lemon, Orange and Pink Grapefruit, plus their matching curds. The batter is flavoured with finely chopped zest, as is the buttercream topping, and I actually doubled the amount of zest to give it a bit more oomph.I cored the centre of the cupcakes, filled them with a generous teaspoon of the appropriate curd, and replaced the core before topping and decorating with hand-made sugar daisies. I really like the way they look, despite the flower decoration not screaming “Citrus!” as some candied peel would have done (I just can’t find any candied peel here that I like). They eat very well too, however I definitely need to do some work on the orange curd recipe to improve the flavour to match the punchiness of the lemon curd. Even though I personally like the pink grapefruit variety, as part of the overall menu re-vamp, I don’t think it’s going to make the final cut.

    But all in all, some zesty, fresh-tasting cupcake options for the citrus-lovers amongst you!


  6. Babyshower cupcakes

    I helped to organise a babyshower for my friend Dewi this weekend, well, set up an FB group and volunteered to make the cupcakes. Apart from stupidly parking my bike right outside her apartment which she recognised as she came back home (doh!), the whole thing went very well indeed and we had a great time. Dewi’s baby is a girl so I had to go with the pink theme and decided to make Strawberry Cheesecake, Raspberry Trifle and Rose cupcakes. Of course, I was decorating right up to the wire, and learned a lot about transporting cupcakes in a bakfiets(!) but I was very pleased with how they turned out.

    The Strawberry Cheesecake has fresh chopped strawberries baked into the vanilla-flavoured base and is then topped with a cream cheese frosting and decorated with digestive biscuit crumbs (and I added a sliced strawberry for extra colour). Next time, I’ll make them a tad deeper and give them two more minutes in the oven, but they all went fast and I was very pleased with the overall flavour.

     

    Strawberry Cheesecake, Rose, Raspberry Trifle Cupcakes

    It's a girl, right?

    The Raspberry Trifle was another winner although (sigh) I still have to work out how to thicken the custard more so it stays on the top of the cake. As I was cycling to Dewi’s, I watched several raspberries slide slowly to the edge, so whilst the cupcakes were really delicious, Houston, we have some appearance and transportation problems. The Raspberry Trifle cupcake has a vanilla base which is stuffed with a fresh raspberry, a spoonful of raspberry jam and a squirt of fresh cream custard, and is topped with more custard and a raspberry (note to self, lay the raspberries on their sides next time). They all went very quickly as well…

    But, the Rose cupcakes, although looking spectacular with their pink rice-paper rose decorations proved much less popular. I happen to love the taste of Turkish Delight which uses the same rosewater flavouring, but I’m beginning to realise that it might not be everyone’s cup of tea. This is the interesting part of business, no matter how much you might personally like something, if the customers are voting with their feet (and not buying it), then you’d be a fool not to take notice.

    So this week I’ll be reviewing the menu and replacing some of the more eclectic flavours (after all, is anyone’s favourite cupcake flavour really Jasmine?), with some more mainstream varieties, but always with a little extra special something I hope…


  7. Caffeine surge

    I think I have a new favourite cupcake – the Espresso Cupcake. As I was making up the batter and buttercream, I was horrified at the quantity of instant espresso powder called for and went a gram or two under to be honest. But when it was assembled and in the very first bite, I┬árealised that you needed that strength of flavour to make it work.

    Espresso Cupcake

    My new favourite flavour...

    Less coffee powder would have resulted in a ‘muddy’ sort of brownish cake, neither coffee or plain, in fact rather like the free coffee refills that I’ve been offered in American diners (my only rule with coffee is that you shouldn’t be able to see through it). I really like this cupcake, and the chocolate coffee beans (thanks Hema!) look great and add a very complementary rich chocolate taste to the strong coffee.

    Just don’t eat it too close to bedtime…