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