Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Website Refresh 

is having a bit of makeover. And we will soon be selling our product range on Its an American based website which sells things in the UK too. This is the next phase! Ok, Luce, calm  down and have (another) cup of tea.

We're moving to Bicester, so it makes sense to update all the information on the website and bring you a little more when it gets re-launched in July.

I'm super excited about the new house and it will be a cake making paradise! With my very own light and airy space ot take pictures and work in the evenings. I can't wait to show you what I've been working on, mum too (keepsakes) and will be posting my wren blacka nd blue bird mini cake How To soon

Love, hugs and chocolate biscuits xxx

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Objects of Desire

Pretty things are nice, I've decided.

I thought I'd take the time to show you the Cupcakes and Keepsakes current surroundings in pictures. Its mum's house, so its really the Keepsakes' point of view you're getting this from. Don't worry, she said it was OK.

Don't worry, there are fruit bowls with actual fruit in. What can I say, we're magpies. Attracted to anything shiny
More sparkly stuff
The Big Man
Oh gosh, is that the time?! I use this clock even though its set five minutes fast. I think they moved the minute hand to avoid being late. Its powers as a time saving device are yet to be proved
 This is my Roberts radio, which I mostly have on when I'm at home on UCB Radio. I listen to Scott Mills on my way home from my part time job but I'm not so keen on Radio One DJs in the day and this seems to fill my ears with good things while I bake or wash up.

I've left the cellophane on the handle for when we move into the new house in Bicester. Geek.

There were no toffees in this when we bought it. Not sure what state they'd be in if there were. Mum found it in an antiques shop in Yorkshire. I love old retro kitchen stuff. Tesco have tried to replicate stuff like this, but the originals always win.

A pretty jug for when the queen comes round for tea.

Mum's love of form and colour influences her handmade creations.

This is a corsage brooch with a handmade ribbon rose.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Vanilla Frosting Recipe

Vanilla Frosting Recipe
This recipe is a take on a Hummingbird bakery vanilla frosting, which I have adapted to get the best consistency. I have doubled the book's quantities and I use Sugarflair Claret.

Some people don't sieve their icing sugar as they believe that it doesn't make a difference. I tried this and it does! The finer the sugar (American's refer to it as confectioner's sugar)

The longer you whisk frosting, the fluffier it gets. I've invested in a good handheld mixer by Breville but i've burnt out three in my time! A larger mixer with paddle attachment will work well on high speed but remember to use a rubber spatula to encorporate all the butter from the base of the dish.

The recipe suggests unsalted butter. Some lightly salted butters are a suitable alternative, as you may have bought this for your cake recipe. The end result will not be bitter due to the ratio of sugar to butter. Always use room temperature butter and never margarine. Your frosting would be greasy and will not hold any shapes which you pipe.

Invest in a good bottle of Vanilla extract. I use extract instead of essence. This gives you a deeper flavour and is made from natural ingredients.

If you have made my chocolate cupcakes from my blog, you will have enough frosting from this recipe for these and enough to keep for emergencies. Do as Nigella does and keep it in the fridge for a sweet hit at nighttime, or freeze in an airtight container with cling film under the lid for up to a month. Defrost and re-whisk for a few minutes to get a perfect consistency.

500g Icing sugar, sifted.
160g butter, at room temperature (this is important)
50ml Whole milk (semi-skimmed works if that's all you have)
A couple of drops of vanilla extract

Put the icing sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl.
Use the back of a wooden spoon to work the sugar into the butter. This will take around five minutes.
Add the vanilla extract to the milk and add a few tablespoons to the icing sugar and butter mixture.
Once the mixture all comes together, use an electric whisk to get a smooth consistency.
If using supermarket bought colouring, add your food colouring now, before the rest of the milk mixture until you are happy with the colour. If using Sugarflair colour, add a small amount with the end of a toothpick until you are happy with the colour.
Add the milk mixture a splash at a time until it reaches a soft peak consistency, taking into account the amount of colouring you used. This will avoid a runny mixture.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Cupcakes Traditional vs. Contemporary

I've been thinking about which I prefer in the cupcake stakes and I think it boils down to two types, traditional (i.e. pretty) and contemporary (a bit different) My repertoire has taken most forms, mostly whatever takes my fancy for bake sales and village fairs and then exactly what people want for celebration cakes. What I want to know is, which do people prefer?!


When it comes to the type of cupcake, I have found a good chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting goes down very well. But! Of course, a cupcake which looks appealing is important too.

 I'm torn, because you get the likes of Hello, Cupcake! who were one of the original ambassadors for the weird and wonderful cupcakes, like the corn on the cob feast for the eyes (above) and the trend at the moment, which is the traditional tea party style. Florals, intricate hand piped patterns require a degree of skill, which I admire, but the funky and head-turning cupcakes seem to be great for the male audience, great for kids and add more colour to the table.

I made these baby cupcakes for an nct picnic

And these Elvis cupcakes got some great comments but weren't as popular as...

Chocolate with a rose or...
hand piped mini cakes!

I asked some friends and the general opinion is that taste is paramount. You can make an OK looking cupcake but if it has a soft, sponge with delicate sweet topping, people are happy. There's nothing worse than seeing a beautiful cupcake and it tasting average. I find this with most supermarket tray bakes and mass-produced cakes. This must be down to quality of ingredients. Free range eggs and god flour make a difference.

Strangely, some comments I have had, such as "they look like ornaments" or some say soaps, even, because they are very neat looking. I sometimes wonder if a more handmade style would appeal more. But I'm aiming for a bit of perfection for your eyes and your tongue!

I'm happy to compromise if it means a good cause gets a look-in. Hosting a bake sale for kids who are affected by cancer is a fab idea. Here's a link to their downloadable marketing pack:

But I think, after all my research, a mix of the traditional and modern wins every time.
Tiffany ringbox mini cake
Peggy's cupcakes on

Notonthehighstreet is another blog for another day. Is it worth the charges? What do the charges cover and what is the benefit over having your own website?

Sunday, 12 June 2011

The Best Chocolate Cupcake Recipe

Hints and Tips:

One way to reduce time when baking, is to use the handheld electric whisk, but I find working by hand with a wooden spoon is fine too.

It describes the milk to be used should be full fat but semi skimmed works fine. I've tried both and I don't notice a big difference.

This recipe is enough for 15 cupcakes, to be baked in muffin sized cupcake cases. My favourite are Morrison's brown for these but metallic gold work well for a more celebratory look.

You can use salted butter and leave the pinch of salt out of the recipe if you need to.


Dry ingredients:
200g Plain flour
40g Cocoa Powder (Cadbury's Bournville if you can find it is best)
280g caster sugar
3 level tsps of baking powder
A pinch of salt

Wet Ingredients:
80g unsalted butter, at room temperature. This is very important.
240ml Whole milk
2 Eggs
1/2 a tsp of Madagascar Vanilla Extract. (Extract gives a richer vanilla flavour, whereas essence uses more manmade ingredients)


Preheat the oven to 170 C (325 F) Gas 3. Adjust for fan assistant ovens (usually 10 C lower is fine)
Put the dry ingredients and the butter ina  bowl and work with a wooden spoon until the butter has been encorporated into the dry ingredients until you reach a sandy consistency.

In a seperate container ( I use the jug that i have used to measure the milk into ) whisk the milk, eggs and vanilla extract for a moment.

Slowly pour half the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk until combined, using a rubber spatula to swipe any mixture on the sides of the bowl. Turn the mixer up to full and whisk for a moment to get rid of any lumps.

Slowly pour in the remaining wet ingredients with the mixer on low, scraping the sides of the bowl as you go.

Do not over mix.

Use an ice-cream scoop to evenly measure the lovely brown mixture into the cups. I sometimes use two soop spoons which you give you the same outcome. Making sure each cup has a similar amount in each. If you want a really even batch, put one small scoop in every cup, then return adding small amounts at a time until the mixture is gone.

Lick the bowl. =D

Bake for 20-25 minutes in the middle of the oven, or until the sponge bounces back when touched. A skewer inserted into the cake after 20 minutes which comes out slightly wet needs another five minutes.

Cool in the trays for ten minutes then place on a wire rack.


Allow to cool completely before putting the cupcakes into airtight containers to avoid moisture affecting the batch.
Freeze cupcake for up to one month in baking paper, wrapped in foil, in an airtight container ideally. Defrost thoroughly before frosting.