Search Results for: Iron Cupcake

My First Iron Cupcake Challenge

A couple of months ago I came across something called the Iron Cupcake Challenge, and I just knew I had to participate in the next contest which happened to be at the beginning of May. 

 
The Iron Cupcake Challenge began in Milwaukee USA in 2008, and has since spread to a total of 15 different locations throughout the USA, Canada and the UK.  Each city’s Iron Cupcake Challenge operates independently from the others, and therefore will have a different flavour theme.  The theme for May’s Iron Cupcake London Challenge was fruit, and I immediately knew that I wanted to do a cinnamon and peach combination.  When I was younger and living in Canada one of my favorite ways to eat fresh fruit was to cut up fresh peaches and sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar.  The flavour combination was amazing, and I often enjoyed them on top of vanilla ice cream, and even waffles. Back home in North America cinnamon and peach is a very common combination and can be found in cobblers, pies, tarts, etc, but here in the UK the flavor combination is virtually unheard of.  I’d never made a peach cupcake before, so I tried out 5 different recipes until I found the perfect combination – a cinnamon and peach flavoured cake,  filled with a cinnamon and peach compote, and then topped off with a cinnamon cream cheese icing.  To participate in the Iron Cupcake Challenge each baker can enter as many different cupcake flavors as they’d like, providing that they bake a minimum of 18 cupcakes of each flavor.  The Cupcake Challenge starts off with all the bakers laying out their cupcakes so everyone can get a good look at the entries.  When “eating time” comes along bakers and eaters (yes, you can enter as an eater for £5)  get to eat as many cupcakes  as they ‘d like, and then vote for the winner.  Sitting with a group of friends  works best so that you can take one of each cupcake, and then divide them into several pieces so they can be shared amongst everyone at the table.  Doing this allows you to  every flavor of cupcake without stuffing yourself so full that you never want to see another one again.  When it came time to announce the winners, I was pretty sure my name wouldn’t be called since I had found out that cinnamon peach wasn’t a flavor combination that was popular here in the UK.  To my surprise my name was called first, meaning that I had come runner up out of 25 entries in the amateur competition!  Not bad for my first time entering a cupcake competition. 

Above picture courtesy of Iron Cupcake London’s Dave Shipman


The theme for June’s challenge is “Celebration” and I’m already busy planning my next entry, so check back the week of June 7th to see what I whipped up and how I did!

Cupcake Camp London

After months of anticipation Cupcake Camp London finally arrived last Sunday, which also happened to be Halloween.  As I’m sure you’re all aware, I helped to sponsor the event, and shared a table with Cupcake Kelly from an American Cupcake in London.  I’ll admit, that although I was a sponsor, I underestimated just how popular Cupcake Camp London was going to be.  It seemed like almost every day a new judge or special guest was being added, and more and more cupcakes were being donated. As a result I began to feel under a bit of pressure to show up to Cupcake Camp with loads of amazing cupcakes.  For some reason I hadn’t given a lot of thought to the cupcake flavours I was going to bake, and as a result found myself testing out new recipes the day before.  I don’t recommend you do this by the way.  In the end I settled on making 4 different cupcakes:    

Blood Velvet Cupcake

Cookies & Cream: Moist chocolate cake with  an Oreo cream cheese filling and Oreo crumb buttercream 

Apple Spice: Apple spice cake topped with cinnamon cream cheese icing 
Blood Velvet: Red velvet cake topped with cream cheese icing and “blood” drops 
Pink Champagne: Pink champagne cupcakes filled with white chocolate ganache, topped with strawberry champagne buttercream

Apple Spice Cupcakes with mini fondant apples

After baking nearly 100 cupcakes, I stood back, looked at them and thought – how on earth am I going to get 100 cupcakes, 3 cake stands, posters, fragile gumpaste decorations, and all my other supplies down to the venue in Camden using only the train and tube?  Let me tell you – it wasn’t easy!  Luckily I had a strong husband to help!  But seriously, I don’t recommend anyone try and lug 100 cupcakes + supplies 25 miles using only public transportation.  The only saving grace was that we were travelling on a Sunday, and not in week day rush hour traffic like I had done before for Iron Cupcake London. 

 Made With Pink’s Table Display

When we finally got to the event, I still needed to ice my Blood Velvet and Apple Spice cupcakes (the cream cheese frosting is soft & I didn’t want the swirls loosing their shape), set up my table and put the decorations on my cupcakes.  To make a long story short, I just barely managed to get everything done in time, before the public started filtering in, but I did it and I think our table looked pretty good!  Daisy Coole (the event organizer) hooked Kelly and I up with a pretty good table location as well – we were the second table in the main room which meant that our cupcakes were among the first that people would see when they entered the venue.

Cupcake Kelly’s Table complete with Sundae, Bubble Gum, Orange Velvet & Root Beer Cupcakes

One of my cupcake stand with Cookies & Cream, Apple Spice & Pink Champagne Cupcakes

Cupcake tickets were sold for £1 each, and could be exchanged for 1 cupcake, which meant that a person could come away with 12 delicious cupcakes for only £12. A bargain!

 Cupcake Camp London also sold frosting shots!

The Camp was held at the Stables Market in Camden at a venue called Proud Galleries which was actually an old horse hospital back in the 1800’s.  I think that’s pretty cool. Unfortunately the lighting inside wasn’t great for taking pictures, so I didn’t get many good ones.  And because I had to stick near my table to hand out my cupcakes, I wasn’t able to get many pictures of  all the amazing cupcakes that the other bakers had donated, but I managed to get a few.   

 Little Work of Art Category

Halloween category

Halloween category

As you can see above, there was a also contest element for Cupcake Camp with several different categories including “Halloween”, “Best Taste”, “Little Work of Art”, “Best Vegan” and “Taste of London”.  I had been planning my Halloween entry for weeks after coming across an amazing cupcake book called A Zombie Ate My Cupcake, which had loads of Halloween inspired decorating ideas. I had planned on making the “Bleeding Heart” cupcakes, which was essentially a Red Velvet Cupcake wrapped in red fondant and coated in a slimy red piping gel to look like a real bleeding heart! 

Bleeding Heart picture courtesy of Lily Vanilli

I managed to find some gory paper plates with bloody hand prints on them to serve up my bleeding heart cupcakes, but my plans were foiled when I found out that the author – Lily Vanilli had been added as a last minute judge in the Halloween category.  I didn’t want it to look like I’d directly copied all her ideas and presented them to her at Cupcake Camp, so I had to come up with a new idea.  Something artistic, and a bit gruesome!  After a lot of thought, I settled on a Red Velvet cupcake that I covered in cream cheese frosting, and then rolled peach fondant to look like a brain.  But a just brain alone is a little boring.  It needed a something extra so I made a saw blade out of grey gumpaste, and added some shimmer dust to it to give it a metallic look. And of course, I had to add a bit of blood to complete the realistic look! 

I wasn’t sure if the Halloween category was going to be judged on looks or taste, so I also included a normal blood velvet cupcake on the plate as well.  In the end, the cupcakes were only based on looks and although my brain cupcake didn’t win, I’m still really pleased with the way it turned out.  Eerily realistic!  I’d love to make these again next year, and if people are interested I’ll even do a little tutorial to show you how I made them.  They’re not hard – I promise! 

Overall, I had a really great time at Cupcake Camp, and look forward to next years event.  A huge congratulations must go out to Daisy Coole who organized the event – I don’t know how she did it!    

There was so many cupcakes at Cupcake Camp, I don’t know how people chose!

In the end, nearly 2,500 cupcakes were donated and the total money raised for the North London Hospice Society was nearly £4,000!  All you bakers out there should be very proud of yourselves!

Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes

I love peanut butter.  I really do.  In fact most North Americans love it, but the British – well let’s just say they’ve got mixed feelings about it.  I’ll eat anything with peanut butter in it. Granola bars, sandwiches, ice cream, cookies, soups, noodles, chicken satay, anything – I love it all.  For me, peanut butter and chocolate is the ultimate combination, but this isn’t the case for a lot of my friends in the UK.  Upon moving here I discovered that peanut butter is more commonly associated with savoury dishes such as Pad Thai, and not with sweet things like it is in North America.  About a year ago I remember trying to convince a friend to try one of my peanut butter and chocolate cupcakes, but they wouldn’t even try one because they found the flavour combination far to strange and repulsive.  Well – if anyone reading this finds peanut butter and chocolate a repulsive combination (and if you weren’t already turned off by my previous post) I’m warning you – STOP reading this right now. There. I’ve warned you.
To show you how crazy Americans are about peanut butter, I took the first picture below at a Target store in Texas.  The second picture is of the peanut butter selection in a UK Tesco store. In America it’s all about variety.  I’ve found that American companies don’t usually remove items from their product lines, instead they’ll just add to them.  In the UK they’re more likely to remove a product and replace it with another one.  Unless that product is tea. If it’s tea, they’ll just go ahead and add another 10 flavours to the product line. 

American peanut butter selection: Smooth, crunchy, extra crunchy, honey roasted, reduced fat, natural, organic, omega 3, peanut butter & jam swirl, peanut butter & white chocolate, peanut butter & dark chocolate and peanut butter & banana.

  

UK peanut butter selection:  Smooth & crunchy.  If your lucky you’ll find natural, and maybe even organic. The store pictured above is a big one, so it stocks all varieties.  Chocolate and hazelnut spreads are more popular here.

When I lived in Canada Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups were my favourite chocolate bar (even though they’re not really a chocolate bar at all).  Every time I passed the candy section of a store here in the UK I’d be on the look out for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.  My search went on for over a year without any luck, so I just figured they weren’t available.  I was pleased to discover that I was wrong, and that they did actually exist.  I was just looking in the wrong place.  Well – actually I think I was looking in the right place, but some strange person in charge of super market planning decided to put them in the wrong place!  For some reason Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are kept in the cookie (biscuit) aisle at the grocery store.  Why?  I have no idea! These are not cookies.  I mean really? Who thinks they’re cookies?  Thankfully, my mind is now at ease knowing that I am able to indulge in a peanut butter cup whenever I want, and I no longer have to wait until I go back home to stock up on them.  I’ve even found a local shop that stocks Reese’s Pieces.  I doubt I’ll ever find one of my favourite North American cereals here in the UK though – Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup cereal.  Yes, that’s right!  North Americans put their candy bars in cereal form.  There’s no better way to start the day!  Good thing I still have a box of Reese’s cereal from my last trip to the US.  And look at the top right corner, the box even says it’s good for you!  “Nutritional Highlights” – it’s got vitamins and everything!  Ha!  Yeah right…
 
I was so ecstatic about my recent peanut butter cup discovery that they inspired my next cupcake.  A Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup cupcake!  A rich chocolate cupcake with fluffy whipped peanut butter frosting and a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup tucked inside.  Delicious!  I had originally intended on making these cupcakes for July’s Iron Cupcake London competition, but it was cancelled.  Luckily one of my fellow Iron Cupcake bakers decided that it would be nice to have a cupcake get together anyway.  Due to some last minute cancellations it was a small gathering, but very enjoyable none the less.  Kelly made some delicious coconut cupcakes that were dipped in pink and milk chocolate, Gem made some really good snickers cupcakes topped with rocky road, and Tamara made some yummy lemon and lime cupcakes.   I had a really nice time chatting about cupcakes with the girls, and at the end of the night we all swapped cupcakes.  We each went home with a nice selection, and since I was on the verge of a cupcake overdose I brought them all into work with me the next day where they were quickly gobbled up with rave reviews.   

Below are my Reese’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup cupcakes.  I topped them off with peanut butter frosting and a chocolate peanut butter crunch. These are probably one of my favourite cupcakes, and they’re so easy to make.  
 
 Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes

1 1/8 cups (255g) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (55g) Cocoa
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup (110g) packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup (100g) granulated white sugar
1/2 cup (125ml) milk, plus2 tbs milk
1/4 cup warm water
2 tbs brewed coffee
1/2 cup (125ml) melted butter
12 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (not the mini ones)

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (175ºC)
2.  Line a cupcake pan with 12 paper liners, and place a Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup in the bottom of each paper liner.
3. In one bowl sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.
4. In a separate bowl, mix together the egg, brown sugar, and white sugar. Then whisk in the milk, coffee, and melted butter.
5. Add in the dry ingredients until well mixed.
6.Divide the batter evenly among 12 cupcake molds. Fill about three-quarters full.
7. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the middle of the cupcakes comes out clean.

For the frosting simply whip in some smooth (not natural) peanut butter into your regular buttercream icing and pipe on top of your cooled cupcakes.  The result is a moist and delicious chocolate cupcake with a peanut butter surprise at the bottom and a nice creamy peanut butter frosting on top.

Cinnamon Peach and Ice Cream Waffles

For those of you that have been following my blog since the very beginning, you may remember one of my very first posts, which also happened to be about my first entry in the Iron Cupcake London competition (which was sadly cancelled a couple months later).

The theme for my first contest was fruit, which meant that every cupcake entry needed to incorporate fruit into it in some way.  I choose to do a cinnamon and peach cupcake because the combination of cinnamon and peaches was a favorite ever since I was a little kid back in Canada.  Shortly after arriving at the Iron Cupcake competition I discovered that cinnamon and peaches weren’t a very common combination in the UK, so I had convinced myself that the people there that night wouldn’t like them.  Well…. I was wrong!  My cinnamon peach cupcake ended up winning the Runner Up prize for best cupcake that evening, and I was glad to have introduced so many people to the wonderful flavor combination of cinnamon and peaches.

My Cinnamon Peach Cupcake (slightly smooshed)

Peaches with cinnamon still remain one of my favorite combinations, and I look forward to peach season every year, although I do find it hard to get a nice ripe peach in most supermarkets these days.  (If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll have seen me tweeting about my search for the perfect peach!) 

One of my favorite desserts that I’ve been making for years is my cinnamon peach and ice cream waffle.  The hot waffle with cold ice cream, cinnamon and peaches makes for a truly delicious flavour combination.  And best of all, they’re incredibly easy to make!


To make this yummy dessert you’ll only need a few things: peaches, cinnamon, sugar, ice cream and waffles.

Now, I’m not going to lie – sometimes I cut corners when I can, so rather than taking the time to make my own waffles (not that it’s hard) I choose to use an instant waffle mix from Cost-Co that only requires a bit of added water and a tablespoon of oil.  Even though I cheated on this occasion, I’m going to include my favourite waffle recipe that I use regularly because not everyone has (or wants to have) instant waffle mix at home.  If you don’t have a waffle iron you can also use store bought ones, it’s totally up to you! 

Waffles With Peaches, Cinnamon and Ice Cream 

1 – 2 Peaches
1/2 – 3/4 tsp Cinnamon
1 Tbsp Sugar
Waffle (recipe follows)
Ice Cream 


1.  Since peaches have a fuzzy skin on them that’s not very nice to eat, you’ll need to peel them.  Peeling the skin off a peach is really simple if you use one little trick – boiling water!  Bring a small pot of water to a boil and submerge your peach in it for about 30 – 45 seconds.  Remove the peach from the boiling water and place it on a cutting board for about 30 seconds, just so it cools down a bit.


The skin on the peach should be very loose when you touch it.  If you gently pinch the skin between your fingers a part of it should tear upwards, allowing you to start peeling the rest of the peach.  The skin should be so loose and slippery that it peels off the entire peach with out any effort, often in one big piece.  You should end up with a juicy slippery skinless peach. 

 

Cut your skinless peach into slices, and put them in a bowl along with the cinnamon and sugar.  Stir them around and set them aside for at least 5 mins to allow a nice juicy cinnamon syrup to form.

2.  Next you’ll need to make your waffle.  If you’re making your own, pre-heat your waffle iron and follow the waffle recipe below (or the manufactures instructions if you’re using a mix).  ** Because I add peaches and ice cream on top of my waffle I purposely fill my waffle iron only about half full so I get a smaller waffle.  Alternatively you can make the full sized waffle and only use 1/2 of it.  Now’s also the time to leave your ice cream out to soften up a bit. so it’s easy scoop.

3.  Once your waffle is done cooking and your ice cream has softened up a tiny bit, all that’s left to do is assemble your masterpiece!  This probably doesn’t need explanation, but start out by placing your waffle on a plate.  Next, add a scoop of ice cream (I prefer vanilla or something with a caramel swirl in it), and then spoon the peaches and cinnamon syrup on top.  That’s it!  Really simple, but really delicious!


Waffles 

Ingredients:  

1 Egg 
1 Cup (125g) Flour 
3/4 Cup (175ml) + 1 Tbsp Milk
1/4 Cup (60ml) Vegetable Oil 
1 1/2 tsp Sugar 
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/8 tsp Salt 
1/4 tsp Vanilla Extract

Instructions:

1.  Preheat waffle iron. Beat eggs in large bowl with hand beater until fluffy. Beat in all remaining ingredients (flour, milk, vegetable oil, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and vanilla), until just smooth. 

2.  Grease your preheated waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray. Pour the mix onto your hot waffle iron, and cook until golden brown. ** Because I add peaches and ice cream on top of my waffle I purposely fill my waffle iron only about half full so I get a smaller waffle.  Alternatively you can make the full sized waffle and only use 1/2 of it.

The combination of cinnamon and peaches is one of my favourites,  It’s so good that I’ll often eat a peach (or two) in the evenings with a bit of cinnamon on sugar on it, just as I described in step 1.  In all honesty, they really don’t need any added extras like whipped cream or ice cream, but if you’re feeling rather indulgent then adding a waffle and a bit of ice cream is definitely the way to go!

Time to Celebrate – Part II

What I didn’t tell you in my post below was that I made 2 cupcakes for the Iron Cupcake competition. I couldn’t decide which ones I wanted to make, so I just made both.  My second entry (which was almost my only entry) is one of my favorite cakes.  I just call it birthday cake.  It’s basically a regular vanilla cake with a hint of almond flavoring, but I LOVE it.  As I mentioned below, I came home and sketched out this cupcake immediately after returning home from last month’s Iron Cupcake Challenge.  For me, this cupcake was all about decorating and experimenting with new techniques.  I’m always looking for new excuses to decorate cupcakes and try out new ideas.  I purchased some fun confetti sprinkles during a recent visit to the US, so I knew I was going to use them on my cupcakes but they needed something else to really tie in with the celebration theme.  I had originally planned on making edible birthday candles out of twisted fondant, but luckily I  came across some pink candy sticks in a bulk candy store and thought they would be the perfect substitute.  They were, and they saved me a lot of time as well! In order to make the candles a little more real looking I added a sugar paste twist and topped each of them off with an edible orange glitter flame.  And in case confetti and a birthday candle didn’t give off the “Happy Birthday” vibe enough, I decided I’d make an edible sign that said so. You know, just in case someone who had been living in an underground bunker without any human contact and interaction decided to show up to the Iron Cupcake event.  Surely, I should spell it out for them to make sure I got my point across!  So off I went, and made little sugar paste plaques with “Happy Birthday” written on them using my new edible marker pen.  When I was done making all of my plaques I had a few little bits of sugar paste left, so I decided to take my decorations one final step further.  I added a bit of coloring to the sugar paste, and began twisting the long flattened bits around a pen.  Ta da!  Instant party streamers!  After that I decided to quite while I was ahead, and left the decorations at that.  After all, there’s only so much “party” the top of a cupcake can take.  Luckily for me, a few days before the competition, and after I had already made all of my decorations, an additional prize for the best decorated cupcake was announced.



So here are my 2 cupcake entries all ready to go in my cupcake caddy.  I love this thing!  The cupcake caddy can safely hold up to 36 cupcakes at once – perfect for my rush hour train journey into London.  A journey that I don’t recommend anyone make unless absolutely necessary.  If you’ve ever been on the London tube at 5:30pm on a weekday then you know what I mean!  It was really funny to hear the comments and see people’s eyes bulging out of their heads as I walked through the station with my cupcakes.  “OMG, look at those!”, “Where did she get all of those cupcakes?”, “She’s even got her own special carrier”. The looks on people’s faces were priceless!  Especially on the tube – there were a lot of subtly downward drifting eyes as they oogled my cupcake carrier that was sat on the floor beside me.  
Upon arriving at the event more oogling occurred – partly by myself and a friend who came with me.  There were so many yummy looking cupcakes!  Last month I forgot to bring my camera because I was in a rush to get out of the house and catch my train to the competition.  This month I remembered my camera, but neglected to ensure the batteries were charged before leaving.  They weren’t.  So I don’t have any pictures of the other cupcakes, but trust me there were some really nice ones there.  Some of my favorites were a lime margarita cupcake with a cute little paper umbrella topper, Gem’s brownie cupcakes and her sister Tamara’s hazelnut praline cupcakes.  I also really liked the creme de menthe cupcakes and the apricot rice pudding cupcakes. 

After everyone had stuffed their faces, and we were all about to collapse due to a sugar coma it came time to announce the winners.  The winner for best decorated cupcake was announced first, and guess what – it was me!  My Happy Birthday cupcake had won!  All my hard work had paid off – well ok, I don’t think of it as hard work but they did take a lot of time.  The prize was a smaller version of the Iron Cupcake prize bag, and a few other lovely goodies that were tucked inside.   Then it was time to announce the overall winners.  The runner up was an Ice Cream Cone with Chocolate Flake cupcake – very similar to the ones I made in April.  And then to my complete surprise my Pink Champagne Cupcake was announced as the amature winner!!  And to think I wasn’t even going to bring them to the competition!  So lesson learned, even if you think it’s a complete disaster, it’s worth a try!

Above is my winning cupcake ribbon, and below are the fabulous prizes I won. The best decorated cupcake prize:  small Iron Cupcake bag, cupcake lipgloss, cupcake pot holder and a cupcake candle.  Overall winning cupcake prize: large Iron Cupcake bag, cupcake display tower, cupcake lipgloss and the cutest little cupcake eraser!  I’m a happy girl!

On a much less celebratory note, I was saddened today to hear that the Iron Cupcake London challenge has been put on hold for the foreseeable future due to some attendees not behaving themselves and basically offending the bakers.  It takes a lot of hard work and effort by both the organizers of the event and the bakers to put on the Iron Cupcake London challenge, and I’m really hoping that the issues can be resolved soon so we can all get back to what we do best – baking and eating cupcakes!
I already had my next 2 Iron Cupcake entries planned for next month ,so I will likely still go ahead and bake them and post the results here in a few weeks for you all to see.