Friday, 14 October 2011

A Change of Address

All you Hello There Cupcakes fans out there may have noticed that I'm posting less and less about the cakes I'm baking.

This is not because I'm baking less, in fact I'm baking more, as I now have a job working 3 days a week at
And The Dish Ran Away With The Spoon, purveyors of fine tea and cakes, in West Didsbury, Manchester.

Yes, batch baking for the cake-eating market is less creative than the bespoke cakes I've enjoyed making for all of you for the past year and a half, but regular work brings so many other benefits, like meeting new people, learning new skills, and leaving the house every day, not to mention a regular income!

But working every week also means that I find myself too stretched- work, family, Kung Fu and cake baking from home in combination are just too much at the moment- and so I've decided that (for now) the baking business has to go.

I'm sad to move on from Hello There Cupcakes, but happy too- I never could have got the job I have now without having gained the experience and portfolio that all your orders gave me. Thank you all for your support.

I still want to blog about food/baking/
cooking/life but I want to distance any baking I do at work from Hello There Cupcakes, so I've set up a new blog: Able Baker Charliewhich is actually the name I would have given my business, had I thought of it in time!

Why Able Baker Charlie? Well, there's the baker reference, of course, he's a character in a Richard Scarry book that I remember from my childhood (and which my kids now love too), and it's the start of the old British phonetic alphabet. Anyone who knows me, will know that I'm a sucker for all of that stuff.
There's not much there yet, but the content is on it's way. I'm really looking forward to seeing you on the other side.

Hannah x

Saturday, 8 October 2011

An early Halloween

I was asked to travel over to Sheffield last Friday to help out with a business enterprise day at Fir Vale School.

The year 8 (that's 12-13 year olds to you) pupils were having a day based round cupcakes. They had to bake cakes, cost the ingredients, design a brand and a logo, decide how they would decorate the cakes, in a Halloween theme (well it is October), and finally decorate them.

My first job was to bring over 8 boxes of 4 Halloween-themed cakes, which would be given out as prizes at the end of the day for the 8 group winners.

I also spent the day helping the pupils with their cake designs and with actually baking and decoration them - great fun! I also had to judge the winners of some of the groups and pick an overall winner, which was not quite so much fun - too many pleading cries of, "Pick me, Miss!"

Thanks to the brains (ha ha) of the operation, John Swain, for the great opportunity.

"Miss, Miss, did you make these? Are you a baker, Miss? Wow, they're well good."


Mummy (his mouth is made from those horrible false teeth sweets)


Brain #1

Brain #2

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Ruby Red 40th Wedding Pavlova

My parents celebrated their Ruby (40th) wedding anniversary at the end of September.

I was charged with making the cake but, due to various dietary requirements, it had to be gluten-, wheat-, egg-, dairy-, and sugar-free!

The solution was a ruby red fruit pavlova - an assembled version as a celebration cake, and a deconstructed version so that people could have the meringue, cream and fruit in any combination that suited their diet: some people had a bit of everything and some people ate fruit only (my kids mainly just ate cream).

Big congratulations on your Ruby Wedding, mum and dad!

Ruby Wedding red fruit pavlova

Complete with '40' sparklers


What would a family get-together be without a group photo?

my favourite.

Your able photographers (aged 4 and 2)

and some fireworks and sparklers to finish off the day.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Le Tour de France

Helen (who ordered the Lego cakes last Jan), ordered 24 Tour de France cakes for her husband's 40th birthday.

I made 12 vanilla and 12 chocolate cakes and iced them with a mix of vanilla and chocolate buttercream - some coloured grass green.

We agreed that I'd make a mix of Tricolore flags with the number 40 on them, some green, polka dot and yellow jerseys, and some roads.

I wasn't quite sure how to make the bikes, and in the end found photos online of some famous cyclists. Though I initially felt that making paper toppers was a bit of a 'cheat', in the end I think they look really effective, riding on their fondant icing roads. I only wish I had better sunflowers for them to cycle past!

Thanks again for the order, Helen, and a Joyeux anniversaire to Dominic! Hope he liked the cakes.

Andy Schleck, Miguel Indurain, Lance Armstrong, Marco Pantani, Bradley Wiggins and Alberto Contador... Can you spot them all?


Saturday, 3 September 2011

Claire & Scott's Blue & White Wedding Cakes

Claire ordered 84 vanilla cakes for her and Scott's wedding. I submitted several designs to her, and in the end she chose her and Scott's initials stamped onto fondant hearts.

I made the buttercream as pale as possible to match the wedding's blue and white theme (it looks more yellow in the photos than it did in real life), and decorated the cakes with silver balls, pale and dark blue flowers and the stamped hearts.

I also made 3 teeny-tiny cakes to go on the top layer of the cake stand, the hearts spelling out 'S+C'. I would have preferred using an ampersand: 'S&C', but I didn't have a stamp for that.

Thank you Claire and Scott for the order, and wishing you a long and happy marriage!

Claire and Scott's initials, stamped into dark blue fondant hearts.

The cakes are decorated with ivory buttercream, silver balls (I found some soft ones that won't break your teeth!), and mix of pale and dark blue flowers and the stamped fondant hearts.

Teeny-tiny cakes with S+C to go on the top layer of the cake stand.

Cake set-up at the venue (matching shirt optional!)

7-tier stand in action.

Tiny toppers.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

My wedding - 10 years on.

Thought I should post some photos from my and Sam's wedding - 10 years ago this August! Apologies for the photo quality, I had to scan them from the wedding album. The reason I wanted to post these is that we too had cupcakes for our wedding cake... before I think I even knew what cupcakes were - these are more like fairy buns!

Sam had baked the cakes in advance, and the night before the wedding, all early-arriving guests got to help out with decorating them. It means our cakes were not exactly coordinated in their design, but certainly gave the wedding a community feel, which is exactly how we wanted it.

...not sure this storage would pass any food hygiene requirements!

10 years on, we celebrated our 10th anniversary with another sweet treat: a trip to an ice cream parlour (we were on our summer holidays in Germany).

Ruby and Danny couldn't really believe their luck.

The cake stand from our wedding was made of perspex discs cut by my father-in-law and seperated by some wedding cake pillars that we borrowed from a local cake decorator.
10 years on, my mother-in-law, who is a talented printmaker, turned one of the perspex discs into a print as a present for our anniversary!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Wegen Urlaub geschlossen!

Hello There Cupcakes will be on a cake-eating tour of southern
Germany for 3 weeks, from 30 July until 22 August.

In that time I won’t be checking my email regularly, but I look forward to hearing from you on my return.

Guten Appetit!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

British Summertime

My daughter begged for (and got) a punnet of blackberries at the greengrocers this week.

She then refused to eat them, and since the weather is so un-summery (despite all the beach specials, summery fashion shoots and talk of 'high summer' that I keep reading about in the weekend papers), my thoughts turned to pie.

I love Jamie Oliver's pastry recipe, as it's made with a whole load of lemon zest, which just adds a kick to the traditional flavours of apple, blackberry, sugar and cinnamon. My only change was to make it with Trex (vegetable shortening; always referred to as T-Rex in this household) so that I could keep going with my dairy-free pledge for just a little bit longer.

Yes, it's July, and I wish I was complaining about the heat while eating ice cream, but if the terrible weather means that I can bring the flavours of autumn forward by a few months, then I'm not too heartbroken.

Got to love those glorious Manchester summer days.

The only answer is pie - apple and blackberry pie

...with an apple motif

yum, it's like autumn on a plate... hang on, it's July.

Love the colour of those blushing apples though.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Summertime, and the living is dairy-free

I've gone dairy-free for a month (trying to solve the problem of having asthma), which means a month of no cupcakes for me: boo.

In the meantime, it being summer and all that, I'm eating lots of fruit which is healthy, and lots of home made ice 'cream', which is not quite so healthy, loaded as it is with coconut milk and sugar and mmmmm, yum!

Summer in a breakfast bowl: homemade granola, nectarines, banana and home-grown strawberries.

Home-grown peas: Super-tasty, but we're only getting about this many a day. More of a taster than a proper portion.

One day's crop of strawberries...

...and the next (we're getting a bowl-full like this each day, and we can't eat them fast enough!)

With all those strawberries, I made some dairy-free ice cream:

Strawberries, coconut milk, sugar and a dash of balsamic vinegar.

It's really tasty, but a bit icy. I need an ice cream maker! Remembering to whip it by hand every 30minutes is ok, but doesn't give very smooth results.

Much more successful is the mango ice cream:

Our fruit bowl which was looking very exotic with a mango, some limes and some coconuts (left over from the school fair's coconut shy), so I decided that the only way to use all of these fruits up was to make ice 'cream'.

The coconuts weren't the best, so I used the mango, a tin of sweetened Alphonso mango pulp, some brown sugar, lime juice and 2 tins of coconut milk.

YUM! I could have drunk the whole mixture as a smoothie, it was so delicious. The ice cream is delicious too though, and even though I still used the stir-it-by-hand-every-30-m​inutes method, it wasn't half as icy as the strawberry ice cream.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Wedding Rehearsal

Some test cakes for Claire, who might want to have some Hello There Cupcakes at her wedding, in September.
She sent me some images that she liked, but they are quite different to the cakes I normally make, hence these test ones.

I don't normally post photos until the cakes are delivered to the customer, but I imagine that if these get made, they will have evolved by the time they're delivered, so I don't think I'm spoiling anyone's surprise.

Claire said that her bridesmaids would be wearing blue, and the photo she sent me had blue and white cakes. So the colour scheme I went for is dark/light blue, white and silver.

The buttercream is quite yellow in these photos, this is because I used real butter. If I was making them for real and the colour theme remained, then I would use vegetable fat to make the icing pure white.

I hope she likes them! Looking forward to hearing her feedback...

These were a copy of the cakes Claire had liked. But I don't have the nice flowers that were on the original (and don't have the skills for sugarcraft flowers), so the small shop-made ones are standing in for now.

My least favourite ones. Maybe because the colours aren't so punchy?

Blue fondant icing flowers with silver ball.

The bride and groom's initials are stamped into fondant icing.


Plain roses and ones decorated with silver balls.