Cakes and Baking News/Blog

You may have noticed some changes to the site and to some of our tasty cake features. We’ve given the whole site an overhaul and we hope you love the pretty new vintage theme. Look out for step by step guides (the recent red velvet cupcakes pictured here, were delicious) with images to help you along the way and a series of competitions on the facebook page. Alison, our winner of last week’s ‘cake of week’ competition created an amazing ‘stitching’ themed cake. We couldn’t believe the intricacy and detail in this beautiful cake, definitely a labour of love! You agreed with us by voting it the out and out winner. We’re hoping to do a feature on Alison’s cake soon, so keep a look out for that.

By the way, (in case you hadn’t noticed!) the Cakeulator app is out and is going down a storm. We’d love to know what you think about it, please drop us an email to: [email protected] or place a comment on the bottom of the page.

Lots of hard work and research is going into our next cake app, which we think will APPeal (you wont’ believe how many APPbsolutely dire ‘app’ puns have been used in the cakebaker office of late) to all bakers. We can’t wait to tell you about it, but our lips are sealed until it’s ready to release.

September Excitement!

5th September

Our big news for September is that the CakeUlator app for the iphone, ipad and ipod touch will be out very soon! We’re just adding the finishing touches to what we think is the best app available for any cake baker who sells their cakes or has to budget carefully.

The question you bakers are always asking us, is “how much should I charge for my cakes?” so we created the online pricing tool, the CakeUlator to help you and it was so popular, we decided to enhance it and have created a powerful app that will amaze you. Register now to be in with a chance to win one of 20 free copies or to buy the CakeUlator for 50% off during the first week.

The other big event for many of you might be a new school for your little (or big) ones. Whatever school your child attends, you’ll be faced with the school dinner or packed lunch dilemma. In the CakeBaker office we tend to go a for a mixture of both. We have a great recipe for savoury scones – a great alternative to the sandwich and you can adapt it with cheese, herbs, mustard or even bits of smoked ham or pepperoni. A little cake, cookie or flapjack never goes amiss in a packed lunch and a home baked version will be additive free to get past the no-chocolate-or-crisps-police that many schools now employ!

Test some of these or these and let us know how you get on. And of course we’d love to get your feedback and suggestions on the CakeUlator when it’s out!

A Business Idea for Talented Bakers

16th July 2012

It’s July! It’s come upon us all too quickly, probably because we’re still awaiting the summer weather.

Here at CakeBaker we’ve been working on development of the CakeUlator app for iphone (out soon – we’ll keep you posted), but today, with term end approaching, I briefly turned my thoughts to the school holidays and days out. That gave me an idea for those of you with cake baking businesses.

Why not offer boxes of picnic cakes – nicely packaged and ready to go? Many cakes like chocolate brownies and flapjacks (even some types of cupcakes) will keep for a few days so bake large batches in readiness. Package them nicely and spread the word – who would say no to the chance of turning up at a family picnic with a delicious, beautifully presented selection of little cakes to offer around?

Why not go a step further and offer a ready-to-go picnic service? If you can bake a cake, you can certainly bake a pie, a quiche, home made crackers, cheese scones, create some tasty little sandwiches… the list is endless. Add a bottle of sparkling grape juice (or cava for the adults), some olives, posh crisps and a selection of your cupcakes and brownies…you’ll be onto a winner. Extend your knowledge of packaging cakes to make the whole picnic too attractive to pass up – it couldn’t be simpler. Advertise it as a great time saver for busy mums or a posh treat for lovers.

That’s my business idea for July – given away to you for free! Now back to working on the CakeUlator app – so you can enjoy this nifty gadget from your iphones.

Sharing our Sponge Secrets!

15th May 2012

The humble sandwich was 250 years old on Saturday. Apparently the 4th Earl of Sandwich (in Kent) wanted to eat while he finished a card game and ordered his servants to bring him beef between two slices of bread. His fellow card players requested the same, and the sandwich – pretty much as we know it today – was born. So when did the Victoria sandwich (sponge) come to be so known? Who decided to cut a cake in half, fill it with jam, cream or other sweet stuff and stick it back together again?

We don’t know whether the Victorians referred to the Victoria sponge as a cake or a sandwich, but either way – this particular baked item seems to have established itself (here in Britain at least) as the measure of a good baker. You need to know about the 5 crucial baking secrets in order to bake the perfect Victoria sponge (or sandwich). These are ours…and yes we are willing to share them with you!

  1. Make sure the butter is at room temperature before you start. Why? Because having it at just the right temperature means the maximum amount of air can be beaten in – and air is important in Victoria sponge (unless you want a biscuit).
  2. You have to use a metal spoon – Why? The sharp thin edge of the spoon will cut through the mixture with the minimum of air release.
  3. After you’ve added the eggs, use a figure of eight movement to fold the rest of the flour in. Why? We don’t have a clue but it makes a difference!
  4. Don’t even think about looking in the oven before the first two thirds of cooking time is up. Why? Because you’ll alter the temperature by letting cold air in…and that means the chemical reactions taking place at the perfect temperature will stop…and your cake will sink.
  5. Tap the sides of the baking tin while humming ‘Patter Cake, Patter Cake Baker’s Man’ before removing the cake. Why? No reason at all (well it might help loosen the cake), but it amuses the kids!

Try it and let us know how you get on. Do you have any baking secrets you’re willing to divulge?

(We’ve had a few people requesting a ‘pup cake’ recipe (see below). Post a comment below if you’d want to see this on cakebaker).

Pup Cakes and Jaffa ‘Biscuits’

9th May 2012

It seems the weather might be helping baking along in its bid to become one of Britain’s most popular indoor hobbies. Apparently it was the activity of choice for those trying to escape the poor weather over the bank holiday weekend. According to Waitrose, sales of flour over the weekend rose by 35%!

We didn’t bake this weekend, but chatting to some friends, we were reminded of another little market sector many of you budding cake business owners may have (perhaps intentionally) neglected thus far. After a trip to Harrods, a ‘pup cake’ was procured as a souvenir to take back for the dog. It seems you can have a bespoke one made up and decorated to your own (well your dog’s) tastes. The cakes themselves are as beautifully presented as you’d expect from an attractive cupcake. So would you diversify into the savoury market and make pup cakes part of your offering? Love to hear your comments on this one!

Amidst all our lovely cakes on Cake Baker, you may have noticed that we also include recipes for cookies, biscuits, tarts and scones. Looking at some more biscuit ideas to include, we were tempted recently to try making our own Jaffa cakes. But which section to put them in? Are they really biscuits? There’s been controversy over this ever since the court battle won by McVities in which they were declared to be cakes, rendering them VAT free (whereas a chocolate biscuit is subject to 20% VAT). Apparently the main point that won the case was that cakes harden when they go stale, biscuits go soggy. A Jaffa cake/biscuit goes hard when stale. Chairman Potter QC ruled that a jaffa biscuit is therefore a jaffa cake.

We were interested to see (thanks to Harry Wallop in the Telegraph) that McVities do not own the rights to the name Jaffa cake which means many supermarkets have come up with their own versions. Do any of them replicate the McVities version well enough? Are some better? We favour the M & S rectangular ones. As for making your own, we’ll post a recipe soon.

Tasty Cake, Tasteless Idea?

1st May 2012

Many of our readers run their own cake businesses – and in business you always have to look out for the next big craze. So get ready to welcome, over from the USA – hot on the heels of the ‘hit’ cupcake and the ‘miss’ whoopie pie – the gender reveal cake. It sounds tasteless (the idea not the cake), but we hear it’s really catching on here in the UK, with more and more people seeking to discover their baby’s gender before the birth.

So how does a cake reveal your baby’s gender we hear you asking? Well that’s not actually how it works. In fact you will have already found out the sex of your baby and seek to surprise those at your ‘reveal party’ – by cutting the cake and revealing the gender. Some have been known to go even further, with the scan technicians sealing the scan results in an envelope to be opened only by the cake maker, thus surprising even the mother of the baby!

The gender of the baby is revealed by the colour of the sponge within the cake – stereotypically blue for a boy and pink for a girl, seems to the common choice. We’re guessing any colours will do as long as people know which one denotes which sex, before the ‘surprise’ cutting. Apparently it’s not uncommon for bets to be placed beforehand and for people to really throw themselves into the theme, coming to the party dressed in the colours of the sex they’ve guessed.

The idea, while not seeming particularly enchanting, could be another cake offering to add to your portfolio, along with mother’s day cupcake bouquets and baby shower cakes. There is plenty of scope for some interesting designs from cradles, to nappy pins, to baby’s dummies. You could also add a twist by placing a plastic toy (boy or girl baby?) inside the cake and then sealing and icing it – ready for the cutting and revealing! Hmmm, maybe not.

Traditional Cornish Baking at its Best

27th April 2012

We’re delighted to hear that the National Trust is firing up its 200 year old bread oven at the Old Post Office in Tintagel in celebration of traditional Cornish baking. Volunteers have apparently been out on the cliff tops collecting gorse to run the fire! Among the traditional ‘delicacies’ the researchers have discovered are Cornish splits and Licky pie.

Cornish splits are plain, yeasted bread buns, often filled with cream and jam. There’s actually a dispute between the folks of Devon and Cornwall over who really owns the splits (also known as Devonshire splits for that reason). We have two recipes here for Cornish and Devonshire splits here on cakebaker and there’s very little difference between the two.

We’re hoping that the National Trust (volunteer?) bakers will use the traditional method and use live, fresh yeast instead of the quick instant dried yeast we suggest. It seems that traditionally the splits were served with treacle or jam and clotted cream; ah clotted cream, there’s another longstanding ownership dispute between the Cornish and the Devonites.

The charmingly named Licky pie is not something we’ve heard of up here in Cheshire, but did leave the imagination running riot (maybe everyone just takes a lick and passes it on)? Research tells us that it is in fact a suet pie of bacon and leeks cooked/finished in eggs and cream – so basically a quiche with a twist then.

Just looking at some traditional old recipes might inspire some of you do to more vintage baking – especially appropriate in the Jubilee year!

Cakes for the Jubilee?

25th April 2012

Among all the activities planned for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, we were interested to see some special “Queen’s food” recipes discussed in the Reading Post. With ideas from Queen of Puddings to Queen Elizabeth Cake…it got us wondering what we’d come up with if asked to bake for a royal jubilee themed event.

Victoria sponge is said to be named after Queen Victoria, the only other English queen to reign long enough to celebrate a diamond jubilee (in fact the only other British monarch to do so). This sponge is always quite easy to make using the all-in-one method. Fill with jam and buttercream (or fresh) and get your kids to make a union jack template then sprinkle over with icing sugar – simple and effective!

Queen cakes certainly sound royal and delicious, but are in fact just fairy cakes with sultanas in; liven them up with some easy jubilee themed icing solutions. Make (or buy) fondant icing in white, red and blue. Roll out and cover each cake in white icing, then add red crowns and blue hearts or whatever takes your fancy.

Someone here at Cakebaker is pretty handy with cakes, so we plan to ask her to make some jubilee themed cake toppers for vanilla and buttercream cupcakes to arrange on a union jack cake stand (you can get cardboard ones relatively cheaply from places like YellowMoon, Lakeland and PartyPieces). We’ll post some pictures here for you when we can. In the meantime we hope to share some of the fabulous cake photos and comments you send in to our facebook book page.

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