Sugar Craft

I don’t really watch very much TV. Not actual broadcast TV anyway. My hubby and I tend to plough through DVD boxsets, one or two (or oh-my-goodness-we-have-to-watch-the-next-one-as-well) episodes per evening after the kidlets are in bed. But every so often I hear about a particular series being shown, and so I make a little space in my evening plans and settle down to watch it as it’s broadcast along with the rest of the country. The Great British Bake Off is one of those series.

Ever since series two, I’ve been following along with the signatures, the technicals and the showstoppers, witnessing the flips, the flops and the soggy bottoms, and I’ve been inspired to get into my own kitchen a little more. I’ve tried out a few of the bakes from the show, mostly from that second series.

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Strawberry and Custard Melts

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Iced Buns

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Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

I am not a prolific baker, nor even a particularly competent one, given the broad spectrum of baking skills required for participation in the Bake Off; but I do enjoy a little baking every now and again. And more often than not, it’s cupcakes I have in my oven. I make the occasional birthday cake – maybe I’ll show you some of those at some future point – but I generally stick to my tried and tested cupcake recipes – chocolate, lemon and vanilla. I think it’s the decorating of cakes that I particularly enjoy. It may take hours of work, and be gone in a matter of minutes, but I enjoy seeing people’s reactions, and I love the fact that because it all gets eaten, I’m not left with a beautiful but ultimately useless finished object sitting on a shelf somewhere gathering dust.

I mostly started specialising in cupcakes as a means of raising money for the theatre group I was involved in at the time. It was the midst of the cupcake craze at the time, and the group was in desperate need of funds, so I decided to wield a wooden spoon and get baking. Yep, a wooden spoon. I think I baked 120 cupcakes that week, all mixed by hand, until I managed to borrow an electric hand mixer from a friend for the last day. Given that I was being a techie for the show, as well as performing in it one night, and being a full-time mummy during the day, I was utterly exhausted by the end of the week, but the cakes went down very well with our audiences and we raised much needed funds for the group.

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Since then I’ve baked cupcakes several times for various occasions, usually related to my theatre group, and usually in fairly large batches – thank heavens for electric hand mixers (but oh! if only I had the space for a stand mixer!). Somehow this has bought me a bit of a reputation amongst friends and family as a cupcake expert, which led to my sister brokering an arrangement for me to make 100 cupcakes for the wedding of a family friend this summer.

It was quite nice to be given a brief to work to, rather than making to my own taste, but the bride was willing to be led a bit by my abilities, (and, to be fair, limitations!) I was also able to exercise a certain degree of creative freedom which suited me very well. It gave me the opportunity to try something new too, as I’d never really worked with flowerpaste before.

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It took 6 painstaking hours to make all of the tiny rose buds and rose leaves ready for the decorating and around 6 hours of baking, followed by around 4 hours of assembling icing and decorations, but I think the end result was well worth the effort.

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They looked so pretty laid out on the tables; my photography really doesn’t do them justice. The bride was delighted and they went down very well with the guests, so I was very pleased.

Now I’m back to the bureau, and hoping to show you its transformation very soon. Let’s finish off with a cupcake and a lovely mug of hot chocolate.

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