A few months ago, Mum mentioned that she had seen a notice for a new cupcake bakery, opening in Maldon, the little town I am from. I contacted the lovely Emma whose bakery it is, to discuss doing some work for her. We have talked a few times on the phone, but with one thing and another, today was the first time I could actually go and meet her, and look around her shop.
I thought that the easiest way of showing the kind of things I could do would be to take some examples with me! So yesterday evening I sat and decorated some chocolate muffins with icing ghosts, and some cupcakes with bonfires made out of icing and chocolate-orange matchmaker sweets! There are lots of photographs to follow, just as soon as my lovely husband has helped me get them off of my phone and onto the computer!
The ghosts are super easy, but look really effective. For each ghost, you start by spiking a lolly into the middle of the cupcake or muffin. You need quite a sturdy deep cake, as the ghosts are quite top heavy. The lolly needs to be globe shaped. Then you roll out some white fondant icing, and cut out a circle, slightly larger than you think you will need. You drape this over the lolly to make the ghost shape. To finish, you take two dark chocolate chips, dip them in water, then press them into the icing to make the eyes. Ideally you need to leave them overnight so the fondant can set slightly.
I thought the bonfires looked better this morning than they did last night, but I have thought of a way of reworking them already, so they are something of a work in progress! Last night I peeled the cupcake out of the case, and turned it upside down. Then I coated it with red buttercream icing, swirling it on with a knife, trying to create a pyramid-ish shape. I then took chocolate-orange flavoured matchmaker sweets and piled them around in a teepee shape, to make the kindling on the fire. I finished with a little yellow icing around the top to look like the fire was burning.
All well and good, but an awful lot of icing! So when I make these again, I will keep the cupcake the right way up, and top with a large marsmallow, which I will then cover with icing and use as the fire base, and chop the matchmakers in half. I think I will get a bit more creative with my icing on the fire too, and swirl in red-orange-yellow colours. Emma suggested a little orange edible glitter too, and as you know by now, it takes no persuading to get me to open the edible glitter!
This morning I decided I wanted to do more, so I decided to make monster cupcakes. Not monster as in size, but as in decoration! I piped a pretty buttercream swirl in ivory icing, just as you would for any pretty cupcake. But rather than topping with a butterfly or heart or flower, these cupcakes have been taken over by fondant icing monsters! I rolled a ball of green a bit smaller than a brussel sprout, and then placed on it a smaller circle of white icing, then on that a smaller circle of yellow, and then in the middle of that a black icing oval, to make a giant one eyed monster head. That I sat right in the middle of the icing swirl. Then I took more green fondant icing, rolled it into a long thin sausage, then cut into lengths to make tentacles, which I had coming out of the icing swirl. I had some long ones, and some little ones pointing upwards too, so it looks like the rest of the monster is hidden in the cake. Overall, the effect is one of a green one eyed octopus!
So, I now had a dozen decorated cupcakes, but had to get them all the way to Maldon in one piece! Happily, I still had the Lakeland gift voucher my lovely work friends had given me, so I treated myself to a cupcake carrier! I am really impressed with it. It takes 12 normal cupcakes, 24 mini cupcakes, or one big cupcake, and they didn’t move around at all, and I took them on the bus!
It must be said though, that if you go out with a filled cupcake carrier, you will get stopped to chat by almost everyone you meet! The lady’s who sell me my bus ticket in the travel office, the bus driver, the lady who sold me a latte, the checkout lady in the supermarket, even random people in the street. Which is nice really, as so often I am intimidated by people, or scared of them (alas there are a lot of drunks and aggressive people about!) so it was really nice to find that a lot of people were pleased and intrigued to see a lady carrying a caddy full of cupcakes!
The cupcake shop was absolutely beautiful, and Emma who runs it is really nice. I sampled a really delicious ginger cake with lemon icing while I was there, which was really scrumptious! As well as selling cupcakes, they make cakes to order for parties, sell cupcake supplies, and also beautiful party accessories and gift boxes for homemade cake.
I have come away with lots of ideas for future cupcake designs! My next challenge is to try and bring to life the idea I have in my head for a filigree bauble, worked in 3d rather than flat….I plan to buy those clear plastic baubles that snap together in two halves (you can get them in craft shops, to fill with tiny gifts, or to decorate with fabric, or to use as a bath bomb mould) and spray with cake-release, then to pipe each half with royal icing, stud with silver balls and the like, then leave to set, and gently prize away the plastic. I can’t decide if they would look best with two halves joined together, to sit on top of a cloud of buttercream, or only use one half, and lay it down on a flat-iced cupcake, so it looks as though the other half of the bauble is in the cake, if that makes sense.
All of a sudden, I have a lot of icing on my mind!