North Northamptonshire based food blogger who is obsessed with good food and proper cooking. I'm part of the Midlands Blogging team for the BBC Good Food Shows. This is where I share my own recipes and carry out recipe development and product reviews for brands, including food and wines. Please contact me using the link below.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

I am taking the plunge...

I've been asked recently to make birthday cakes for my neighbour's two children, Sammah who has just turned 6 and Zain who has just turned 3 along with my daughter's friend Tegan, who was 11 in March.  I've always been a baker and maker of cakes and to have the honour of producing cakes for such special occasions really touched me.

This was Tegan's cake - a giant cupcake in tones of yellow (her favourite colour) and orange.  I have to thank my husband for taking this photo and making it look so beautiful (Thanks Will! x)

The cake I made for Sammah was this 8" square one (on the finished version I added her name):

This pond themed cake was for Zain:

(Apologies for the photo quality; they were taken on my iPhone).  I will try to remember to replace them with 'proper camera' photographs.

This was made for a friend to say 'Thank You' for her kindness

Whilst this one was for my lovely friend Susan's birthday:

Remember my Whitworth's cake mix I was given?  Well this is what I made with it and decorated up with white fondant and some bright red and yellow flowers (photographs courtesy of hubby).

Inspired by these cakes and also by the fact that my neighbours seem to love my frequent baking gifts to them, I registered my kitchen with my local Environmental Health Department and am now waiting for my inspection to start a little business doing something I absolutely LOVE to do!

Business cards and postcards have been ordered tonight from Vistaprint.  Although not necessary, my Public Liability Insurance will be organised next week and my Level 2 Food Hygiene course has been booked for the beginning of May.

I already have orders for cakes, starting with a Hello Kitty cake for my great niece Shannon's birthday next weekend, followed by 4 more for May and June and an enquiry for wedding cupcakes to accompany their wedding cake.

I'm hoping that this is the start of something good.  Wish me luck!


Monday, 2 April 2012

Most Marvellous Chocolate Cake Results

If you remember, I was invited recently by Vanessa Kimbell, the author of Prepped to take part in a bit of a supermarket ingredient experiment which involved us all making a cake using the same ingredients, to the same recipe and methodology but sourcing our ingredients from our 'allocated supermarket'.

Well, we all dutifully purchased our ingredients as follows:

Aldi - Jayne
Asda - Karen
Co-Op - Ren
Lidl - Rosie (Me)
Marks & Spencer - Rachel
Sainsbury's - Carmela
Tesco - Vanessa
Waitrose - Fleur

Charlotte was due to cook from Tesco ingredients, but due to her becoming quite unwell, Vanessa stepped up to the bar and filled the place.  (Get well soon Charlotte x).

This was my cake made using Lidl ingredients.

We had two judges who were blind tasting the cakes; William Sitwell; writer, presenter and editor of Waitrose Kitchen magazine and Helen from the fantastic food blog Fuss Free Flavours. They were helped by three chocolate cake connoisseurs; namely Libiana, Alice and Albert.  The judges knew the baker, as we each presented our cakes to them. What they didn't know was the Supermarket that the ingredients were bought from or the cost of the cakes being presented.  The results were broadcast LIVE on BBC Radio Northampton's Kitchen Garden show at 10am.

There was quite a vast difference between prices of ingredients purchased.  The most expensive being Marks and Spencer, with the cheapest being Aldi.  The cake costs varied from £12.50 to £6.78 per cake.

I have to say, it's really quite scary presenting such fantastic foodies with a slice of your cake, even through it's pretty much out of your hands what it tastes like as we were reliant on the ingredients being used.

It didn't take long for the first cake to be dismissed (Asda), rapidly followed by Aldi and then Lidl hot on their heels.  The judges whittled the rest of the cakes down to their final three which were placed on the top table for final judging.

I really didn't envy the judges task; 9 sumptuous chocolate cakes, decadent, rich and calorie laden!

The final three were ranked as follows:

1st - Morrisons (4th most expensive at £9.61 per cake)
2nd - Co-Op (3rd most expensive at £10.32 per cake)
3rd - Sainsbury's (6th most expensive at £8.63 per cake).

The 'budget brand' supermarkets of Aldi and Lidl were in the bottom three along with Asda.

So, if you want to make Vanessa's Chocolate & Raspberry Cake, make sure that you go and buy your own brand supermarket ingredients from Morrisons!

I had a fantastic time, the calories that I burnt off with the nerves were rapidly replaced post-judging with a slice of chocolate cake.... or two!

If you're local and want to to have a coffee and possibly a slice of yummy cake in a Most Marvellous Cafe, take a trip along to Most Marvellous on Kettering Road in Northampton.  While you're there, take a look around at what there is to offer in this most unique vintage/retro store.

Thanks to Vanessa for arranging this.

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