Birthday Greetings, Cakes From The Larder and Red Velvet Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes
The first post on this blog was published on 24th September 2013, which means that Stroud Green Larder is a full 1 year old. Although you wouldn’t know it was published on that date as I still haven’t got round to fixing the lack of date on my posts – next week’s job for sure.

Going on holiday and then realising it was my blog’s first birthday has definitely been the right time to take stock of everything I’ve achieved this past year. Stroud Green Larder runs my life in the most wonderful of ways. I have been able to explore all the recipes that I have been meaning to try, although that recipe to-do list gets longer and longer no matter how many I am crossing off the list and I have been able to bake whenever the mood takes me – as long as I photograph it and write about it.

The newsletter has been one of my newest but also one of my favourite additions to the website (I know I know, I haven’t sent one out for 2 weeks – but I was in Greece where they just don’t get internet – or at least, not from the sandy shores of the beach which is where you could find me most of the week). A lot of people have been so encouraging and supportive of the weekly emails that drop into their inbox – so please keep the comments and feedback coming.

One of the main things I discussed in my very first post was how long I spent procrastinating before I set up the blog. I went on a food writing course in 2005 where we learnt all about blogs and at the time I didn’t really get how I could do it – after all I’m rubbish with computers and the blogging concept was new and it all seemed so clever. However, I knew that was what I wanted to do. But shortly after I completed the course I started work at an incredibly demanding job which had me working every evening until the early hours, a fair number of weekends and being called up at all hours of the day and night by clients from all around the world who did not think much of time zones. All my energy was being zapped and my blogging dreams were put on hold. Last year, when I finally had a bit of time to myself I found I had been documenting my recipes and writing about them on my laptop so then it seemed so natural at that point to learn how to use WordPress and stick my first recipe up on the internet, no matter that by then I was about 8 years behind everyone else.

Cakes from the Larder

Still, I haven’t learnt anything about procrastination from that experience as once my blog got underway I had wanted to team it with something else, a cake business and cake stall. My ultimate dream is to have a little café with cakes but I think I might be a while before achieving that just yet. Still, the cake stall at a little local farmers’ market sounded perfectly achievable. So why didn’t I do it?

I have run our WI Cake Stalls in the past and always loved it. I really enjoy chatting to people, making cakes obv and then seeing people’s faces light up on their first taste of swiss meringue buttercream. But in order to run a stall myself I needed to make my kitchen a viable business and little monster proof so I had a fair bit of work to do. Installing a door, for example, which again, was a study in procrastination. I also had insurance to sort out, my kitchen to register and food safety courses to take. God knows why but this took a whole year to achieve.

Anyway this past weekend I finally did it. My procrastination jag had ended. I arrived back from holiday on Saturday morning then immediately started slaving away for the rest of the day producing some of my most favourite cake recipes from this past year to sell at the newly launched Falkland Road Market N8. It was a bit of a mad rush to get it all sorted but suddenly I knew what I wanted it to do and I wanted it to start right away.
falkland road market

It was certainly worth it. I had the most wonderful time at the market, it was quiet on Sunday but hopefully business will build as more people get to know we’re there. I received an overwhelmingly positive reaction on my cakes which gave me such a buzz. This is what I made, some of the recipes are already on the blog and those that aren’t will be in due course, don’t worry I won’t hold anything back:

Blueberry Basil and Lemon drizzle cake
Blackberry Crumble Bars
Peanut Butter Chip Brownies
Gluten-Free Bounty Layer Cake
Chocolate, Olive Oil and Fleur de Sel Fudge Cake
Victoria Sponge with Homemade Strawberry and Redcurrant Jam and Whipped Vanilla Bean Icing
Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Orange, Rosemary and Polenta Cake
Caramelised Bacon and Marmalade Muffins
Pumpkin Marshmallow Cupcakes
Red Velvet Cupcakes
Vanilla Bean and Raspberry Cupcakes

Blueberry Basil and Lemon Drizzle Cake

It wasn’t that surprising to me the ones that were the most popular (the red velvet cupcakes, blueberry basil and lemon drizzle and the peanut butter chip brownies were a resounding success) but not many people were adventurous enough to try the caramelised bacon and marmalade muffins which was such a shame so they will go into hiding for a few weeks until I think the world is ready for them again.

Caramelised Bacon and Marmalade Muffins

I was also very blessed to have been supported by friends, our lovely neighbours in Stroud Green and even our whole family, who turned up from all the pockets of England. My mum sauntered into the market as if she didn’t live a good two hours away in the Berkshire countryside which was a lovely surprise since I had only been to visit her the day before and she hadn’t said a word and my sister fought back a dreadful cold in order to lend a hand (she was kept well away from the cakes – but in a good health and safety way, although she did prove indispensable when we had to pack away the gazebo which was completely flummoxing me). My in-laws also dropped by, primarily to return the puppy who had been staying with them for a week. We did try to convince them that he must have surely preferred life with them on the Cambridgeshire waterways but they seemed terribly insistent that he deserved to be back with us and hotfooted it as soon as he was plunged back into our arms.

Speaking of the cake stall mascot he was terribly good on the stall all day, and proved to be very adept at pulling in the custom with his winsome ways. I think he might have found the experience a little tiring, as it was an exceedingly hot day for the end of September.

Billy

So that was week one and it turns out that it was pretty good fun. So much so that I’m doing it this Sunday too. So if you are around Falkland Road Market in N8 this Sunday then drop by and say hi. I’ll be the girl surrounded by all the cakes.

Oh, and I would also like to mention about the lack of cake waste which goes on after the stall is over. No, I don’t eat all the leftovers, despite any proclivities I have to that very scenario. All the cake, which doesn’t get sold, makes its way to my husband’s office where the lovely people who work there voluntarily donate money to charity for in return for hovering up the leftovers. At the moment all the proceeds are going to Open Door, which is an extremely worthwhile local charity offering free confidential counselling and psychotherapy to young people aged 12-24 living in Haringey. They do brilliant work and I know young people in the area have greatly benefited from their help.

Cakes from the Larder

And finally I couldn’t leave this post without sharing the most popular recipe from my first cake stall. I surprised myself that I haven’t included my recipe for red velvet cupcakes before since they must be the thing I bake the most often. They always go down like a forest on fire and it took me ages and a whole lot of red food colouring to really to hone in on my perfect red velvet, so here it is. The icing I think works the best on the cake is a mixture of the traditional boiled flour icing (which was the original topping for red velvet cake recipes and has to be tried to be believed as it is wonderful) mixed into whipped cream cheese and mascarpone. I do it this way because just the cheeses by themselves make for very floppy icing and not good enough to pipe at all. By adding the flour, boiled with milk and vanilla, as a thickener, it stiffens the mixture and also makes the icing just deliciously creamy.

Although just because you now have the recipe doesn’t mean it should stop you from popping by Falkland Road Market on Sunday where there will be ready-made red velvets handcrafted by yours truly for your instant gratification.

Cakes from the Larder

Red Velvet Cupcakes
Makes 18 cupcakes

120g unsalted butter
300g caster sugar
2 eggs
3 tbsp red food colouring
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp cocoa powder
300g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
240ml buttermilk
3 tsp vinegar

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C and place the cupcake cases into the muffin tins.
  2. Beat the butter and caster sugar together for a few minutes
  3. Add the egg and beat until the mixture is thick
  4. Add the food colouring and vanilla extract and mix well.
  5. Sift together the cocoa powder, flour and bicarbonate of soda in a bowl and set aside for a moment.
  6. Mix together the buttermilk and vinegar in a jug.
  7. In alternate turns add the flour and the buttermilk mixtures to the rest of the batter. You should add the flour in 3 additions and the buttermilk in 2 additions, starting and ending with the flour. Mix until just incorporated.
  8. Pour into the cupcake cases and bake for 18-20 minutes.
  9. Rest the cupcakes in the tin for 5 minutes before removing to finish cooling onto a cooling rack.

For the cream cheese icing:

125ml milk
1 tbsp plain flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
300g cream cheese
250g mascarpone
140g caster sugar

  1. Combine half of the milk with the flour and vanilla extract in a small saucepan until smooth.
  2. Turn the heat on very low and whisk continually to dispel any lumps which may form.
  3. Pour in the rest of the milk very slowly, whisking all the time. Bring the mixture to a boil, then once thickened remove from the heat and continue whisking off the heat for 2 minutes.
  4. Pour the mixture into a bowl, then cover the surface with cling film and leave in the fridge for about 30 minutes to get to room temperature.
  5. Beat the cream cheese, mascarpone and sugar until light and fluffy, then add in the cooled flour mixture. Beat again until the icing has stiffened and is ready to pipe.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY STROUD GREEN LARDER!

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