Tuesday, 6 July 2010

The Silver Whimsy Cake Stall (2:0)

And so it was, Dear Readers, that a Whole Year passed and it was time for The Silver Whimsy Cake Stall (2:0) to be held once more at West Hampstead's finest Jester Festival!
The aim this year was for everything to be slightly less frantic, slightly more calm and slightly less damaging to general physical, emotional and mental health and...guess what?? With the help of my ever suffering, completely amazing SIBF (who has cleaned the kitchen so many times over the past three days that he deserves a medal, or alternatively beer for life), super-star cousin Lee (who both baked delicious peanut butter cookies and gave us a lift to the festival site with our ten stone trestle table), and bestest friends Sally and Dave Emery (who left thir tea-towel empire to come and visit the festival and took all these WONDERFUL photos), it was!

Obviously, that doesn't mean that there weren't any nervous bake-downs over how to make enough cakes, or crisis' over the fact that, whatever the trendy magazines say, Whoopie Pies actually do just taste horrible, but generally speaking things went a lot more smoothly and there was a lot less to cry about! The major difference this year was that we actually have our own super-cute and phenomenally indie kitten called Tilly,

which meant that I didn't have to go all Hepburn over a stray cat that turned out not to be a stray cat after all... (New readers check out entry number one for more info...) This had both positive and negative implications. Positive because I knew there would be a kitten waiting for me at the end of the day but negative because I had to keep the kitten out of the kitchen for a few days which meant that she was a little bit cross with me.

Anyway, a lot of baking products were purchased to make all the sweet treats for the festival. I started off by making the Pistachio Meringues because they keep for quite a long time so could be made in advance.

I even phoned up Ottolenghi for advice on how best to store them! Then I moved on to the Lemon Drizzle Cake which is a phenomenally popular cake stall cake.

A lovely gentleman bought four slices and then returned the next day to buy some different cake because he'd enjoyed it so much! That was one of the best things about the festival. I had repeat customers from the previous year! People were so charmed by the spirit of Whimsy that they remembered the stall and sought it out, and if they were new customers then they returned for Day Two because they loved it so. The only problem with this was that I actually sold out of cakes on Day One which meant that I was up all night re-baking for Day Two! I found myself making meringues at midnight...

and fairy cakes at four am!

I was particularly proud of my Victoria Sponge

made with organic raspberries and freshly whipped Vanilla Cream.

Last year, a number of people asked me if I had a Carrot Cake so this year I decided to make one and it was The Surprise Hit of TSWCS!!!

Who knew that out of all the super-enticing sweet-treats the Carrot Cake would sell out first?! Possibly, it was because of the addition of the trademark Silver Whimsy mini-flags, but who knows? All I do know is that I had to make another one at 10pm on Saturday night because it had been so popular! The My Little Ponies (Lickety Split and Baby Bonnet) helped to sell the Scrummy Chocolate Brownies and enjoyed frolicking on the pink lace table cloth of Whimsy.

All in all, 'twas a fabulous weekend (made all the more special by visits to TSWCS by the wondrous Lara and Dan) and a marvellous festival of general community madness. I was very excited and also quite nervous that The Kitchen Table (West Hampstead's best cafe) and Walnut (West Hampstead's finest restaurant) tasted my meringues, and was very happy that they both enjoyed them! Hooray!

I might have a little bit of a baking break for now so, until next time, kisses and cakes from

Silver Whimsy x

PS Once again enormous gratitude to Dave Emery for allowing me to use his fabulous photographs x x x

Friday, 14 May 2010

Something for the Weekend...

Hello Cake Lovers,
I hope you're all coping with the on-going battle between summer and winter? It looks like there's about to be a storm here so instead of going swimming, I decided to make a deliciously decadent dark chocolate marble cake. It's a cake that reminds me of birthday parties when I was little and has the most intense chocolate icing; a perfect remedy for post-election blues. (Or rather a momentary remedy - as much as I like to think baking could make political waves I'm not sure it can.)
Making this cake really couldn't be easier - make a Victoria Sponge, split the mixture into two bowls and add a tablespoon of coacoa powder mixed up with warm milk to one half of the mixture to make the chocolate sponge. Dot alternate tablespoons of the two mixtures in a circular cake tin and then swirl in a figure of eight with a skewer to make it marble!

I have to confess that this time for some weird reason I got it into my head that my brand new palette knife (major excitement in the Silver Whimsy kitchen at the purchase of said knife) would work just as well as a skewer. This is not a good idea! Do use a skewer to make your swirls. I kind of realised as soon as I used the knife that it wasn't a good idea but I carried on regardless because I'm having one of those days - I dropped a bag of sugar, spilt a whole cup of tea on both my feet and the sofa and put a white sheet in with an extremely dark wash. Domestic Goddess I am not. Mais je digress... I find you have to bake this cake for about 45-50 mins because you'd normally split a Vicky Sponge so it only takes 25 mins, but do check after 30 mins because it would be awful if it burnt!

Anyway, once your cake has cooled melt 100g of 70% coacoa solids dark chocolate with about 25g unsalted butter and two tablespoons of water in a bowl over a pan of gently bubbling water. It's best just to leave the chocolate mixture to do it's own thing and then stir it to combine and thicken once it's all melted because this helps to avoid the chocolate from splitting.

Then, using a spatula, ice your cake! Yay! That's the fun bit.

Then eat it with a cup of good and strong Yorkshire Tea and find temporary chocolate oblivion. One of the bst things about this cake is that it keeps really well for a few days so if you make it on a Friday you can still have cake joy on a Monday!

Until next time, happy weekend,
Love Silver Whimsy x

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Heart Shaped Pancakes

May the Fourth be with you, Dear Readers!
In celebration of this glorious day, here's a quick and easy guide to making delicious heart-shaped American pancakes! This is the recipe I use:
225 g Plain Flour
2 Free Range Eggs
300 ml Organic milk
1 tablespoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Sugar
A pinch of Salt
30 g Melted Butter
Put the dry ingredients in a bowl and make a well in the middle. Add the melted butter, milk and beaten eggs and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until you have a lump free batter. (Alternatively put it all in a blender and blitz!) Leave the mixture in the fridge for twenty minutes before use!

The trick to making brilliantly fluffy, mouth wateringly moreish pancakes is only ever frying in butter and making sure the pan is really good and hot before you add the batter. My SIBF swears by this!
This is a photograph of a hot pan. I went on a wonderful cookery course recently and the funniest thing about it was that whenever you took a pan off the stove you had to shout 'HOT PAN!' This caused me much hilarity. Anyway, to make the pancakes heart shaped, simply place a heart shaped cookie cutter in the pan. (This one was a Valentine's Day Present from my SIBF.) Then pour the batter into the mould.
In no more than a minute you will have perfect looking heart-shaped pancakes. Cover them with maple syrup and enjoy your super-special breakfast treat. Hooray! I have to admit at this point that my SIBF makes far better pancakes than I do. We sort of have an un-written rule whereby I will make the batter and he will do all the frying. His pancakes are completely perfect.
Until next time,
Silver Whimsy x

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Sail away aboard the HMS EXTRAORDINARIUM

And so it came to pass, Dear Reader, that my sister got married and there was a lot of snow and all of a sudden it's quite sunny and here I am again, albeit several months later, ready to thrill you with baking adventures courtesy of The Peryls!

Twas on a warm Saturday morn that the baking started. Window open, oven on, the commision was 100 cupcakes for the black tie event aboard the HMS EXTRAORDINARIUM in Crystal Palace. My SIBF and I came up with the idea of making mini flags with naval slogans for the cakes and so stayed up 'til very very late on Friday night doing crafts around the pink doily table-cloth-ed craft table (courtesy of @aesthetic reverie) in preparation for the big day! We thought that at that moment in time we were probably the twee-est people in North London (although Wes Peryl did point out that had we been wearing candy necklaces we would have been more twee).
The baking went well but as is always the case all of a sudden time starts running out on you and, goodness, it is already time for departure!
The main issue for this particular baking extravaganza was that, such was their quantity, the cupcakes had to be iced on site so I had to be at the venue a good two hours before the ship set sail! The wonderful Sonja came over and helped transport the baked goods which was amazing as my SIBF was unable to continue helping until later (and help he did in all his White Tie-d glory) and I really don't think I could have done it without her! Once at the Gipsy Hill Tavern I set to the icing. I was going for a 1940's naval theme with many shades of the 'blue-bow' as I think Liam Peryl called it.
I used a special colour paste to get the intense shades of blue - if you ever want to use colouring in icing it is essential to use colour paste to get the really deep shades.

The event was amazing, true to it's name, extraordinary in fact. There was no detail left unturned - the tickets were boarding passes to the ship replete with a little tear off token for '1 FREE CAKE FROM THE SILVER WHIMSY CAKE STALL'. I particularly loved the fact that that portion of the ticket was "to be retained by Silver Whimsy Staff". SILVER WHIMSY HAS STAFF!!!!!! This is amazing! Even if the Silver Whimsy staff are me and SIBF we have staff nonetheless!
The Peryls were fabulous, the guests were all wearing black tie and the other bands and acts were similarly superb! Cakes were eaten and enjoyed and one man even said that he was really looking forward to his cake because he remembered them from the last Extraordinarium and really loved them! The most exciting part of it all for me, however, was how many amazing people were there! My sister, her husband, my wonderful cousin and her lovely friends, the beautiful Lara and Dan and an exciting special extra surprise appearance from the fabulous Lupe with whom I went to the Bowlie Weekender waaaaaay back in the late 90's and haven't seen since!!!
All in all 'twas a marvellous event without too many baking traumas for once. A triumph for Silver Whimsy and a triumph for The Peryls! Hooray!

Until the next baking hour,

Silver Whimsy x