Clapton Festival – it was all about the cake

It’s all about the cake were out enjoying the slow beginnings of summer a couple of weeks ago at the Clapton Festival, a new festival in yes, you guessed it, Clapton. We were part of the Hackney Homemade market at St John’s Church in Hackney, where there was around 60 stalls of varying crafts and edible items.

Getting set up

A hard days baking the day before resulted in 12 cakes in a variety of flavours and all looking very lovely. There was a minor disaster when I ran out of sugar but this was quickly resolved by popping to the corner shop to buy some more.

Gazebo in tow, we were hoping that we would be using this to shade from the sunshine than protect from the rain, but with the forecast as ‘sunshine and showers’ it was hard to tell. A few drops of rain early on and before the gazebo was up prompted minor panic but thankfully it didn’t last for too long and all the cakes remained intact.

The cakes

And then the sun came out!

The morning got off to a slow start as people lumbered out of bed to have a look at what was on offer. But afternoon is really ‘cake time,’ so it was after lunch when the main cake action took place. It was the rhubarb and almond cake’s first outing with It’s All About the Cake, but it seemed to go down pretty well, as did the mocha cake, another newbie. The old favourite, baked cheesecake, got off to a slow start, but once the first slice had gone, the momentum picked up. The sun got to the rocky road cake a bit, but not enough to put anyone off giving it a try anyway!

So all in all, a successful day. And as Hackney Homemade has now made this Saturday market a regular weekly feature, you may well see us there again some time soon!

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It’s all about the cake at the Clapton Festival

Roll up, roll up, for cake at the Clapton Festival!

For those of you that have been wondering what has happened to It’s all about the cake, don’t worry we’re still here! And to prove it we shall be selling our lovely cakes at the Clapton Festival on Saturday 11th June. We’ll be in the market outside St John’s Church, near Mare Street, from around 12-4.

It’s the first time Clapton has had its own festival, so I thought that it deserved some lovely cakes to help it on its way. And so do you, in fact! So please pop along to get your cake fix and to sample all the other exciting things happening at the festival.

There’s more information about the festival here. And for more information on other markets like this one in Hackney, have a look at Hackney Homemade.

Paradise Gardens 2010 – cake cake cake!

Paradise Gardens festival in Victoria Park, London has been and gone for this year. It was It’s all about the cake’s premier appearance at the festival. And a cake success I think.

Me and my cakes

A pretty full on day of baking at home on the Friday meant that the rest of the weekend was largely spent sitting around eating and selling cake. Perfect! And oh, was there some good cake. Cheesecake (of course), hummingbird cake, brownies, rocky road, lemon, double chocolate, shortbread… mmmm…! I also decided to employ less haste and more patience on the Friday during my baking session, which meant that there weren’t even any baking disasters to report. Therefore, no cake wastage whatsover.

After a short stroll over to the park on the Saturday morning, cakes in tow, shoulders aching, the festival got off to a bit of a slow start. It was looking a bit overcast. It was super windy. Let’s be honest, sitting behind the cake stall it felt like winter, not June. A quick trip back to the flat by Ian for an extra jumper and some more socks, meant that I didn’t get too chilled anyway.

And thankfully, the cold didn’t put people off the cakes, which seemed to go down a treat. Many were shocked at the size of the slices, purchasing a cautious one piece between two, but quickly coming back for more. Both the brownies and the cheesecake were described as ‘the best I’ve ever tasted.’ And I believe it was the rocky road bars that made a child cry (because they wanted more). A successful day anyway, which meant that Saturday evening was spent doing a bit of panic baking – the cheesecake and rocky road bars were just too popular.

Sunday, as I remember from the days when I wasn’t baking cake or running, is for lie ins, so another slowish start. But on Sunday afternoon, the sun finally came out. I was able to take my second pair of socks off. Ian headed out into the great unknown of the festival to lure people to the stall and away from the ice cream with samples of lemon cake. And I, single-socked, just, well, stood behind the stall eating cake (not really, no – not me). The final count at the end of the day meant that there were was just enough cake left for me and Ian to tuck into, but not enough to make us stupidly fat. So all in all, a success!

The Stall

Given its success and the said loveliness of the cakes, it’s likely that It’s all about the cake will be looking for other festivals to premier at this year. So keep an eye out for any more news. Likely to be east London, or thereabouts.

The Cake Line-Up

Chocolate Brownies

Rocky Road Bars

Vanilla Cupcakes

Double Chocolate Flake Cake

Hummingbird Cake

Super Lemony Lemon Cake

Cheesecake

Paradise Gardens Festival, Victoria Park

We can now officially announce that It’s all about the cake will be attending the lovely Paradise Gardens Festival in Victoria Park, London on the weekend of the 19th and 20th June.

The festival is FREE to get in and will transform the park in east London into a 21st century pleasure garden. It features a circus, live music, DJs, theatre dance and much more. It’s a family-friendly event with activities for all ages. Plus there will of course be lots of food and drink on offer including some of my cakes.

So if you’re in the area then please pop in and give the cakes a try and enjoy a cheap and chilled out festival weekend. Fingers crossed the sun keeps shining!

There’s lots more info on the festival here.

The Infamous Hummingbird

This cake apparently originated from the southern American states. It is said to have been around for quite a while. I am therefore always surprised that no-one I bake this for has heard of it or eaten it. Anyway, once they do, they are always wanting more and wondering why they have only just discovered it!

There are no hummingbirds in this cake. It has been said that it is named so because the cake is sugary rich and is therefore like the nectar that hummingbirds like to feed on. Whatever the name, the cake is a moist and packed with flavour. Similar to a carrot cake in many ways, but with banana and pineapple. A great all-rounder to spoil your guests with.

THE RECIPE

300g caster sugar
3 eggs
300ml sunflower oil
270g peeled bananas, mashed
1 tsp ground cinnamon
300g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vanilla essence
100g pineapple (fresh if possible)
100g shelled pecan nuts (or walnuts), chopped

For cream cheese frosting:
300g icing sugar, sifted
50g unsalted butter
125g cream cheese

Preheat the overn to 170C, gas mark 3. Grease and line two or three cake 20cm cake tins, depending on how many layers you want.

Put the sugar, eggs, oil, banana and cinnamon in a bowl and mix together until well incorporated. Slowly add the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and vanilla essence and continue to beat until everything is well mixed.

Stir in the chopped pineapple and pecan nuts carefully until evenly dispersed.

Pur the mixture into the prepared cake tins, dividing evenly and smoothing over. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and the sponge bounces back when touched. If you only put into two cake tins, it will need a bit longer than this. Leave the cakes to cool slightly in the tins before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

As you can see, I went for the 'two cake tin' option, one of which is smaller than the other. It didn't seem to affect the taste though!

Now make the cream cheese frosting. Beat the icing sugar and butter togetyher until they are well combined. Add the cream cheese in one go and beat until it is completely incorporated. Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy (approx. 5 minutes – it helps if you have an electric mixer at this point!). Do not overbeat, however, as it can quickly become runny.

When the cakes are cold, spread a layer of the cream cheese frosting onto the first one. Place a second cake on yop and cover with frosting too. Also cover the side with frosting if you want. Finish with pecan nuts and a sprinkling of cinnamon.

Black bottom cupcakes

I like cupcakes. I especially like cheesecake. This recipe, therefore, appealed to me – combining both together in one cake. Another innovative cupcake solution from the guys at the Hummingbird bakery!

The chocolate sponge base is a dark, dense mixture, which strangely has no butter or egg in it. It combines well with the cheesecake centre though, which provides the extra sweetness and goo. The recipe suggests you might want to put some cream cheese frosting on top. I didn’t think it needed it, but it’s always an option if you want it even more sweet.

THE RECIPE

190g plain flour
120g caster sugar
40g cocoa powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
40ml sunflower oil
1½ tsp white vinegar/lemon juice
½ tsp vanilla extract

For the cheesecake filling:
140g cream cheese
60g caster sugar
1 egg
½ tsp vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
100g milk chocolate chips

a 12-hole cupcake tray, lined with paper cases

Preheat the oven to 170°C/gas mark 3. For the chocolate sponge base, put the flour, sugar, cocoa powder and bicarbonate of soda in a large bowl and mix with a handheld electric whisk on slow speed until all the dry ingredients are well incorporated.

Put the oil, vinegar, vanilla extract and 125ml water in a jug and whisk to combine. While the electric whisk is running in the flour bowl, slowly add the contents of the jug, increasing the speed of the blender as the mixture thickens. Continue to beat until all the ingredients are incorporated. Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until two-thirds full. Set aside.

For the cheesecake filling, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, egg, vanilla extract and salt in an electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) on medium-slow speed until smooth and fluffy. Don’t start of too quickly or the mixture is likely to separate.

Stir in the chocolate chips by hand until evenly dispersed. Don’t overmix.

Scoop about 1 tbs of the cheesecake filling on top of the cupcake mixture in the cases and bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until the cupcakes are firm to the touch and they have an even golden colour on the cheesecake filling. Don’t overcook, as the cheesecake will become dry and crumbly. Leave to cool slightly before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Turkish Delight – patience required

Turkish delight is quite the opposite of some of the other recipes I have made, which have a vaguely healthy tone. There is nothing healthy about this. It consists predominantly of cornflour paste and syrup. The only healthy thing about it is that your arms may get stronger with the constant stirring you have to do (see recipe below). If you are impatient, like me, it might also help you learn to garner some patience and just take…. your….. time…

I, however, have seen no healthy benefits at all. My first attempt was a disaster. I wasn’t patient enough with mixing together the cornflour paste and the syrup and, as with my usual attempts at custard, it ended up in a lumpy mess. I therefore didn’t even get to the arm strengthening mixing stage. My second attempt was better. My boyfriend, Ian, who has siginificantly more patience than me, did the combining and the mixing. I watched and took the role of official taster. There was therefore no patience development or arm stengthening for me – just sugar and cornflour eating.

Here is the recipe I used anyway. Dating back to the 15th century, this is a true sweet classic.

THE RECIPE

125g cornflour plus a little extra
650ml cold water
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tbsp natural essence of rose water
1tbsp grenadine
500g white sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
Icing sugar

Grease and line a baking tin approx 24x15cm and then dust lavishly with sifted cornflour.

Place the sifted cornflour, 150ml of the cold water and the cream of tartar in a mixing bowl. Stir the dry, pastey mixture until smooth. Add the water gradually to avoid any lumps.

Place the remaining 400ml water, white sugar and lemon juice in a spacious, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir with a wooden spoon over a medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Add the lemon juice and continue stirring as the liquid simmers and turns from cloudy to clear. Stir the cornflour again until smooth, then stir in a couple of spoonfuls of the syrup before VERY carefully adding to the sugar syrup (add it gradually, not all at once or it’s likely to go lumpy).

Stir the ungainly mixture constantly, working in a figure of eight and going round the sides to keep the liquid on the move until very thick. If it begins to form jelly-like globules, lower the heat and stir more assiduously until they disappear. Add the rose water and grenadine.

Continue until the mixture turns glossy and so thick that it won’t run off the spoon – this arm-aching job will take at least 35 minutes, probably longer. To check for setting, drop a little mixture on a saucer for a minute or so. If it sets hard, the mixture is ready. Pour into the tin and leave to set (0vernight is best). Dust a sharp, thin knife with cornflour. Spread a layer of icing sugar on a work surface, turn out the Turkish delight, gently slice the soft block into about 40 pieces and roll through the sugar.

Store in a cool dry place (not the fridge). Make sure the storage container is NOT airtight. Turkish delight will sweat if it’s put in an airtight container and will just end up as a liquidy gooey mess – not really what you want after all that effort!