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365 days of Victoria Sponge charity

23 Feb

Photo courtesy of Bruce Adams

A teacher from Cheshire named Cath Webb has pledged to give away a Victoria sponge cake every day for a year!

The idea came about when she had found out a friend of hers had been diagnosed with breast cancer. As a gesture of support, she made her friend a sponge cake.

She said: “I didn’t know what to say to her so I made her a Victoria sponge, left it on her porch and drove off. On the way home, I got a text saying ‘You can feed people with love’. It was so moving.”

Her aim is to give one of her cakes to family, friends and strangers for the simple reward of getting them to smile. Having already started last year, she is only (at time of counting) 85 cakes away from completing her goal.

Cath is far from excited about reaching the end of her challenge, as she has so enjoyed bringing smiles to people’s faces. She says, “It’s incredible how happy baking makes people.[…] My children must be sick of cake, and my husband has done all the washing-up for 280 days, but I will be so sad when I’m done.”

Biochemist’s cake quest

18 Feb

Maria Michael is mother to a son who – like an increasing number of children his age – has multiple food allergies. These allergies can take many forms, from an intolerance of multiple food groups, e.g. dairy or seafood, to a life-threatening potential for food-induced anaphylactic shock.

Most mums would settle for the inevitability of preparing specified allergy-free food for her son for the rest of his childhood. Maria, however, is a Biochemical Engineer, so to her it seemed a relatively straightforward process to find an alternative solution.

She said: “My son has allergies to four or five food groups and the cakes I found looked different, so I just tried making him something.” She was keen to make her son’s cakes just as fun looking as the ones most parents could buy for their children. Once she’d created her cakes, her next step was to go into business for herself and start up a catering business for all occasions. The difference in Maria’s cakes is that they are free of eggs, dairy, nuts, soya and sugar. Past designs have included a hotdog, burger and a running shoe, but she is also producing more traditional cakes.

She added: “My vision is to have a universal cake which anyone can eat, whether you are a vegan, allergic to egg and dairy or allergic to nuts, and for it to taste the same as conventional cakes.”

Its inspirational to know that in these hard times, a noble idea can develop into such a lucrative business!

News: Cake beats Chicken to top spot in BBC food search

15 Feb

The word “cake” has replaced “chicken” as the UK’s most searched for food term. According to the BBC’s Good Food website, more people are now searching for cake recipes than chicken ones, ousting our main-meal staple from its top spot.

This new trend appears to have been caused by the recent rise in popularity of TV cooking shows like The Great British Bake-Off and Baking Made Easy.

Pizza also moved up the list to forth place from tenth in 2010, and pasta has moved up into the top 10 for the first time.

Editor of the Good Food Magazine Gillian Carter said: “It’s not surprising that in tough times we reach for comforting food. One of the ways we keep calm is with cake and a cuppa – or our imported national favorites – pasta and pizza.”

With the economic climate as it is, as well as comfort food, people are leaning towards cheaper meals as a way of saving the pennies. Shows like The Great British Bake-Off are showing how easy it is to bake a good cake on the cheap!

Giant Cake Baked in India

27 Jan
This past weekend, the Indian port town of Thalassery celebrated a slightly delayed anniversary of the first cake to be baked in the country. It is said that on the 20th December, 1883, a Brit associated with the East India Company asked the owner of India’s first cinnamon plantation to bake him a cake for Christmas.

To remember the occasion, modern day Indians have baked a 350 long eggless cake, weighing in at 1200kg; it took two days and a team of twenty to bake and put together. The cake will be layered with icing and strawberry jam, and topped with cornflour and sugar paste figures of well known personalities such as President Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

As this is the celebration of the first cake baked, how about telling us what your first baking memories are? Mine are of following Mum around the kitchen and of using my Easy Bake oven.

Super Trooper

26 Jan
Visitors to this year’s Arisia Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention were in for a sweet treat; a 6’4” lifelike Stormtrooper cake, made specially for the event. The convention, named after the famous ‘Lensman’ books by E.E. ‘Doc’ Smith, took place from the 13th-16th January, 2012.

Created by the husband-and-wife team Tiler and Amanda Oakleaf of Oakleaf Bakery, it took a week for the team of ten to bake and build this 300lb (136kg) masterpiece. Internally supported by an iron and plastic framework, the cake was vanilla flavoured with vanilla Italian meringue butter cream and Rice Krispies Treats; marshmallow fondant was used on the outside and made up most of the detail.

Arriving on Friday, the team had to come up with new cake building methods – their creation just wouldn’t stay put! They devised a way of constructing it using a modular system and built it on site, and say they are “incredibly proud” and that “it may be the greatest sculpted cake ever created”. We think they are right to be so proud of their achievement!

The cake was quickly consumed by 600 eager convention-goers, with more waiting in line. While there aren’t any more ‘geek cakes’ in the pipelines, Oakleaf says they may take on special commissions. Take a look at their blog to see more images of the cake being built, and to learn more about this intrepid bakery.

Boy or Girl? Cake reveals all!

25 Jan
It’s big news, and what better way to tell the surprise than with a cake? The newest craze in America, parents are hosting Gender Reveal parties where friends and family (and often the parents themselves!) find out what sex the baby will be.

When going for an ultrasound, parents are asked if they would like to know the baby’s gender; in the case of parents who want to host a reveal party, instead of looking at the slip of paper, they’ll slip it into an envelope. The parents will then take this envelope to a baker.

The suspense builds until the parents cut the cake; inside, the pink or blue sponge reveals the gender. It’s a wonderful tradition, and a great way to share good news with everybody at once.

Cakes On Wheels

16 Jan
For many of us, birthday cakes inspire some of the strongest memories we have of childhood; the lights dimmed, the friends gathered around, and the pure joy felt when all of the candles are blown out in a single, massive puff.

However, for some children in poverty stricken areas, this is not the case. One baker in Minneapolis has taken it upon herself to see that as many children as possible receive a celebration cake on their birthdays, and has set up a non-profit lovingly entitled ‘Cakes on Wheels’.

So far, Veronica Descotte bakes one or two cakes a week, though she’s had an enthusiastic show of support should the demand for more cakes become too high. She says that while she would love to supply more cakes, she has had trouble reaching the parents in need of help; while she has a website and a Facebook page, many of the people she intends to contact do not have a computer at home. She wants parents to come forward and ask her for help instead of going to them specifically as a charity; “I don’t want to be the one who gives the cake to the kid,” she said. “I want Mom to give the cake.”

It’s an incredible idea and a wonderful undertaking; after all, aren’t cakes one of the best parts of a celebration? Here at CCK we certainly believe so! You can see more of Descotte’s adorable cakes and find out more about her non-profit organisation here.

Cake Feature – Pumpkin Pie

31 Oct

© Photo by David Loftus

With the advent of Halloween coming up, we thought it might be a good idea to search for a pumpkin related recipe to send a tasty chill down your spine!

This Pumpkin Pie recipe from Jamie Oliver’s website seemed to fit the bill nicely!

Ingredients

• 1 x 500g pack ready-made dessert pastry

• 1 large butternut squash, quartered and seeds reserved

• ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

• ¼ teaspoon ground ginger

• ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

• 4 tablespoons maple syrup

• 6 tablespoons caster sugar

• 3 large eggs, preferably free-range or organic, beaten

• 200ml double cream

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/gas 6. Roll the pastry to the thickness of a pound coin. Get a 22cm loose-bottomed tart tin, line with the pastry and bake blind for 20 minutes. Set aside.

Lay the squash in a baking tray. Sprinkle with the nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon and drizzle with the maple syrup. Cover the tray tightly with a double layer of tinfoil and bake for 45 minutes until soft. Reduce the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4.

Allow the pieces of squash to cool, then scoop out the flesh. You should have about 600g of cooked squash flesh. Don’t forget to scrape out the bits in the tray and the maple syrup. Put in a food processor and whizz until smooth. Transfer to a bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of the sugar and the eggs. Mix well and stir in the cream.

Fill the cooled tart case with the mix and bake for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, wash the stringy bits of squash off the seeds, dry them and lay them flat on a tray. Sprinkle with the remaining sugar and place in the oven with the pie for the last 10 minutes until crispy.

Remove the tart from the oven. Sprinkle with the seeds when cool. Serve with a dollop of cream or ice cream.

servings = 8

http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/pastry-cake/pumpkin-pie

© Photo by David Loftus

Cake International – 4th – 6th November

25 Oct

A heads up for all you cake fans, the 2011 Cake International event is taking place at the NEC Birmingham Arena.

The event will play host to some of the most talented and creative cake crafters and decorators from around the world!

There will be seminars and demonstrations for experts and beginners, as well as competitions and special guests. CCK fav chocolate guru Paul De Costa will be there with his own stand, and will be doing demos. He will be on Bakery Theatre Y29, besides the demonstration theatres.

Cake International 2011 will be running from 4th to the 6th of November.

http://www.ichf.co.uk/cake/

Natitonal Cherry Day (is not far away)

6 Jul

black forest gat. with cherries

The British cherry is a wonderful thing…and especially when it is fresh. For the last couple of years the foodie folks responsible for focussing our national awareness on a particular product have taken care to remind us that the we should continue to love our cherries and keep them close to our hearts. And mouths.

National Cherry Day this year is on the 16th July.  Don’t forget! One other thing…you can catch performances of The Cherry Orchard by Anton C.  at the National Theatre this month. See what I did there… Cherry at the National…

Oh…the cake is a Black Forest with cherries on it.