Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Iron Cupcake London challenge VI – SPICE

I can only echo the Four Seasons and say “oh, what a night”! We had THIRTY THREE entries from 27 bakers, and in total we had over 110 people attending the event. Take a moment to consider that statistic – 110 people attending a cupcake event on a Monday night!

It still blows my mind that an event and blog I run – as a hobby - from my spare bedroom can generate such interest and I can only thank everyone for coming along each month.
Anyone know the collective noun for gingerbread men?

James contemplates what to eat....

Do you think we all had a good time?

Important tasting in progress....
Dave's arty shot across the bar:

This month’s winner was Eloise. Normally the results are very close with lots of cupcakes within a vote of each other; it’s only fair to say that Eloise was a runaway winner by some margin. Here she is with Emma, our runner up:

WINNER - Eloise’s “Spice Girls” cupcakes

Eloise took her inspiration from The Spice Girls and, while the cupcakes were all ginger, mango and lime each had a distinctive look. Here they are – reunited for one night only!

Ginger wore her Union flag
Sporty donned a Nike swoosh
Posh co-ordinated a chic black case with silver beads
Baby brought her pink bottle with her
Scary had a rather striking leopard skin case!

The cupcakes were delicious – the flavours were perfectly balanced and the sponge had little chunks of mango in providing a lovely extra texture. You can see from the photo how light and whipped the frosting was.

Congratulations must also go to Eloise for being the first person to win the ICL title for a second time. Previously, she won the dessert challenge with her Eton Mess cupcakes.

RUNNER UP – Emma’s Cinnamon toffee apple cupcakes

These were divine! The gorgeous rich frosting and light, moist sponge were so beautiful together. All the flavours were distinct and worked so well that I wondered why a toffee manufacturer hasn’t ever made a cinnamon apple flavour. I was lucky enough, on my forkful, to get the sliver of apple on top!

3RD PLACE – Amanda’s Spiced apple and caramel frosting cupcakes

The caramel frosting was amazing as it somehow managed to be crisp so that it snapped satisfyingly when you plunged your fork into it, yet still soft and creamy. The cupcake bore a secret creamy filling and the spiced apple was extremely comforting. Nice to see Amanda continuing her rich run of form and get yet another podium finish!

They were the top three on the night, here are the rest. Which would you have voted for?

Caro’s Ginger apple passion cupcakes

These tasted tropical somehow, maybe due to the passion fruit. The flavours were balanced beautifully with the warmth of the ginger coming through at the end. Special kudos must go to Caro for making a spun sugar decoration!

Caro’s Chocolate, chilli and coconut chai lattes

Chai was a popular choice on the night with everyone making their chai mix a little differently. The sponge had a lovely fudgy texture. All the flavours came through at different times – first the chai, then the chocolate then a lovely chilli warmth. Very cleverly judged.

Sasha’s Cinnamon swirl cupcakes

Sasha made vegan-friendly cupcakes. I loved these as they were really packed with cinnamon – often it’s used as a background spice but here it got to be the star.

Sasha’s Lemon and ginger cupcakes

Sasha’s second vegan-friendly entry. These had a lovely soft texture and warming ginger. The lemon was subtle but noticeable and – for my palate – it was perfectly balanced against the ginger.

Mitsu’s Chocolate and ginger cupcakes

Mitsu’s vegan-friendly cupcake had a gorgeous rich flavour and fudgy texture. The warming ginger cut through the richness of the chocolate and have you ever seen more elegant piping? I love the way the molten chocolate has draped itself over the frosting.

Mitsu’s Apple and cinnamon cupcakes

For me this is one of the all time classic flavour combinations. Mitsu’s vegan cupcake contained a secret – a scrummy pool of apple puree baked into the sponge. It was a lovely addition to the cake and an idea that I will be using (i.e. stealing, and claiming as my own) at some point in the future!

Mitsu’s Coconut and mango chutney cupcakes

Mitsu really spoiled us – here’s her third vegan-friendly entry! The sponge was mega-moist and tasty and look at the pretty two tone icing. I asked Mitsu how she achieved such delicate marbled colouring and she explained that she drizzled some colouring in the piping bag then filled with the frosting. Very clever! The mango chutney contained chilli, paprika, ginger and garlic; you don’t expect to see garlic in a cupcake but it wasn’t obvious.

Katy’s Chocolate, ginger and buttermilk cupcakes

I’m a big fan of buttermilk in baking – it gives a lightness to sponge that is unmistakable. Katy added chocolate chips to her cake which added a nice bit of “bite”. The ginger came through later and left a delicious and comforting taste. How cute is that little gingerbread man? Dave, our photographer, snapped his head off without a second thought and then it was open season with all of us trying to bag a limb!

Lynda’s Lemon and ginger cupcakes

The fresh, zingy aroma of lemon was apparent as you raised the cupcake to your mouth. The initial flavour was strong lemon but then the ginger came through; this surprised me as I expected the citrus element to be the last taste but it was the opposite. Ginger cupcakes are amongst my favourites and this was a flavour-packed beauty!

Robyn’s White chocolate chai cupcakes

Robyn’s chai mix contained nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and ginger. The frosting was amazing on these and had a white chocolate cheesecake vibe going on – it was so smooth and creamy, I could’ve eaten a bucket full of it! The chai came through afterwards and worked so well with the chocolate.

Polly’s Turkish coffee cupcakes

Turkish coffee uses cardamom and it worked very well in cupcake form. The coffee wasn’t bitter – I’d feared it might be – and reminded me of coffee Revels. How great is Polly’s decoration? She topped each cupcake with a fondant ‘evil eye’. You see this design everywhere in the Middle East – it’s actually to ward off the evil eye. I think it worked as no evil people turned up on the night!!!

Kelly’s Snickerdoodle cupcakes

Yum, yum and treble yum! A snickerdoodle is a cakey biscuit rolled in cinnamon sugar. But I don’t have to explain for you will have noticed that Kelly topped her cake with one! It is a thing of beauty when you eat a cupcake and get a bonus biscuit with it. The tastes and textures of this one were stunning – the sponge and biscuit were sandwiched with the creamiest of frostings.

Mara’s Chocolate with a pinch of cayenne cupcakes

The cayenne pepper gave the chocolate added warmth; it was subtle but you were definitely aware of it. It was quite different to the chocolate/chilli combination of flavours and I really liked it. The glossy meringue buttercream was beautiful and worked so nicely with the sponge.

Kar Yee’s Lemon and ginger cupcakes

The lemon frosting was really tangy and ultra smooth. How cute is the little biscuit nestling in the piped swirls of lemony goodness? The ginger sponge had great flavour. Lemon and ginger was definitely one of the more popular combinations on the night yet each was special in its own way – it just shows that the baker is as important as the ingredients!

Kat’s Goan curry cupcake with raita icing

I’m always pleased when we have slightly “out there” entries in ICL and it’s probably fair to award this the title of “most out there cupcake of the night”! Yes, it’s a curry cupcake, yes, it’s topped with a raita and yes, that’s a coriander leaf decoration – I see no problem with that! What amazes me with the - let’s call them ‘unusual’ - flavour combinations is how well the cupcake format adapts to accommodate them. This worked – it shouldn’t but it did!

Hannah’s Ginger and chocolate cupcakes

Another lovely little gingerbread man cruelly dismembered with eager glee by my table of eaters. Look at his innocent little face…he never stood a chance! This was a delightfully rich, dark cupcake with a real depth of flavour. The gingerbread man had a lovely spicy, syrupy flavour.

Prema’s Saffron vanilla cupcakes with rosewater buttercream

My fellow eater Jasmin, who grew up in the Middle East, went quite misty eyed when she described these as having exactly the same flavours as Iranian rice pudding. I’ve not had Iranian rice pudding but have no reason to doubt her! What I will add though is that the buttercream was so golden it practically lit the room and was so whipped and light it was heavenly.

Davina’s Chocolate, ginger and cardamom cupcakes

Such gloriously smooth buttercream – we were really spoiled with frosting in this challenge! Again, Jasmin was taken back to her Middle East days and thought the flavours reminiscent of coffees she had enjoyed in Eastern climes. I always think there’s something so pretty about little pink flowers on a green buttercream – one of my favourite colour combinations.

Isobel’s Chocolate chai spice cupcakes

Isobel’s chai mix incorporated cardamom, cloves, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. The frosting was whipped yet fudgy and was sooooo satisfying. The sponge was light and rich. Somehow the sprinkling of icing sugar makes me feel festive!

Alisha’s Red hot velvet cupcakes

Alisha took the classic red velvet cupcake and made it hot by adding cinnamon. The cinnamon really came through and added depth of flavour. Bonus marks must also be awarded for size – this was a big cupcake!

Debbie’s Lemon and cardamom

The lemon whipped frosting was exquisitely light and smooth. We all liked the little bits of lemon in the cupcake too – it added extra texture to the light sponge. I love the simplicity of Debbie’s presentation; gorgeous piped frosting with a delicate flower on top – perfect!

Gjin’s Chai cupcakes

Gjin’s vegan cupcakes packed in flavour. Her chai mix was cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, star anise and black pepper. The frosting was sour yoghurt based and two tone – the green part was peppermint and the beige part was cinnamon syrup. To accompany the cupcake Gjin provided beautiful little cinnamon star biscuits.

Rosalyn’s Cinnamon and coffee cupcakes

One for the coffee lovers – there was no mistaking the flavours at play here! Rosalyn’s frosting was soft and creamy. The little chocolate coffee bean topped off the whole cute look.

Rosalyn’s Chilli chocolate cupcakes

Rosalyn’s second entry of the night was a devilishly rich affair! The first taste was all chocolate then the chilli cut through and became quite hot, but as the heat built gradually it wasn’t too much. Definitely the hottest chilli of the night. The silver balls, while pretty, also added a lovely crunch to the cupcake. I love the way they positively shine against the dark chocolate.

Mellissa’s Pear and cardamom cupcakes

Mellissa’s vegan-friendly cupcake was titled “perfectly pear” and I think it’s an appropriate name. The sponge was light as air and had little pear chunks in it – I have a major weakness for pears in cakes…this didn’t disappoint! I’m sure that the little flowers decorating the buttercream are cut out of pear too.

Mellissa’s Cinnamon carrot cupcakes

Mellissa’s second entry on the night (also vegan friendly) was titled “Cinnamon-fully carrot cake”. I have to say that the cake was better than the pun! This was the lightest of light carrot cakes and the whipped frosting had us all oohing and aahing. Topped off with a pretty little carrot decoration and covered in a lavish layer of cinnamon this was a beauty!

Natalie’s Cardamom and apple cupcakes

Natalie’s soft sponge was studded with chunks of juicy apple and was a joy to eat. There is something so comforting about apple and sponge – how can it ever be anything other than divine? The frosting was subtle and didn’t detract from the fragrant sponge.

Cat and Hannah’s Mexican mule cupcakes

Our first ever joint entry here from Cat and Hannah. This was a gingerbread cupcake with lime frosting. You often see ginger and lemon but I’d never seen it team with lime before – it’s a great combination. The gingerbread was densely textured and rich like any good gingerbread should be and the refreshing lime frosting cut through it and cleansed your palate.

Amanda’s Spiced chocolate cupcakes

Amanda’s second entry of the night was this dark beauty spiced with cinnamon and cayenne pepper. The dark chocolate sponge hid a white creamy filling which provided a visual treat when you exposed it (it also tasted lovely!). The thick Ganache sprinkled with lusciously coloured glitter screamed ‘eat me’. Mind you, most cupcakes seem to scream that at me……

Fiona’s Chai latte and honey cupcakes

Fiona has to win the award for the most keen baker. Let me explain why – Fiona had literally got off a plane from Australia, gone home and baked. While most of us would be moaning about jet lag and wondering whether we would ever get our washing up straight Fiona was creating these elegant delights, thankfully! Her chai spice mix incorporated star anise, fennel, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. The honey added a lovely fullness of flavour and sweetness and brought out the best of the spices. The topping is not a crunchie (I think we all must’ve said to Fiona ‘ooh, a crunchie’ and she patiently explained that it wasn’t) – it’s a violet crumble bar. So now you know!

That’s it – all 33 beauties. So which was your favourite? Which one had you drooling and wishing you could reach into the screen and nab it?

Special thanks, as always go to my ever-willing, ever-volunteering team of helpers: Paul (who greets you all as you arrive), Max (who provides help wherever it is needed), Jasmin (who plates you up!) and Dave (our master photographer)

All photos remain the property of Dave Shipman and are reproduced here with his kind permission. If you wish to use any of his photos please email first.

So, that’s November’s challenge wrapped up, now it’s on to December!

Challenge VII - Christmas
Requirements: Make a minimum of 12 cupcakes that interpret the theme of Christmas in any way you wish – if you can make more please do…the more you make, the more people can taste your delicious creation (and vote for you!)Please feel free to enter as many types of cupcake as you wish, I only ask that you have at least 12 of each.
On the night everyone will have a say in declaring the winner, who walks away with the ICL Winner’s rosette plus a cupcake themed goody bag (presented in the much-coveted ICL bag!).

As our bakers are special people their votes count three times more than the eaters’ votes plus bakers go FREE! That’s right, only eaters pay the £5 entry fee.

Please let me know if you plan to enter the competition so we can gauge numbers – thanks.

Event details:Monday 7th December 2009

6.00pm – 9.00pmVenue – The Cuban Bar, Citypoint, One Ropemaker Street, EC2Y 9AY

For a map click here

Although the address is Ropemaker Street it’s actually on the Citypoint plaza. Just behind the Moorgate tube station entrance that’s in the row of shops including HMV, Hotel Chocolat, Eat and Clinton Cards, you’ll see a very tall building. That’s the Citypoint Tower. Head towards it and you’ll see a paved plaza-type area. Near the base of the tower you will see a small newsagent kiosk and a Costa, to the left of these (if looking at the tower) are The Rack & Tenter, then Prets. Head towards Prets into a covered walkway at the base of City point. This is where the Cuban bar is. We’ll be in the basement.

Entry fee for eaters: £5 (Entry fee includes tea or coffee). Bakers enter for FREE!

Timetable of events:

6.00-6.45pm – Entries are labelled and plated up
6.45 onwards – Eating and voting commences
Incidentally, The Caked Crusader and, consequently, ICL are now on Facebook and Twitter. Why not befriend Samantha Cake on Facebook – it’s me!!!! And then become a fan of the Caked Crusader page. We will be using this to post news of upcoming events, have discussions, in fact anything fun involving cake. To make it even easier here’s a link. On Twitter you can find me as CakedCrusader. So there’s no excuse not to stay in touch.

As the event expands it has become necessary for us to set out some disclaimers relating to the event namely that, as we are hosts of the event and don’t actually oversee any of the baking, we take people at their word as to the ingredients of the cupcakes and the environment in which they are prepared. It is unlikely that any entries are prepared in nut-free kitchens and anyone with allergies or intolerances should bear that in mind. Similarly, if an entrant tells us that an entry is vegan-friendly we believe them – feel free to chat to them on the night before sampling if you have any concerns. Your entry fee entitles you to free tea and coffee. Of course you can also sample all the cupcakes, for which we accept no liability.


trasha said...

Scrolling through all the fabulous entries my eye was stopped dead as soon as I spotted the Violet Crumble! Oh! Oh! Oh! If only I had known that was going to make an appearance I would have fought harder to get up from the West Country.

Choclette said...

What can I say but WOW what a talented lot.

Cakelaw said...

What fun! Shame I'm about 24 hours from London by plane, as it looks like a good night.

Katie said...

Wow what a wonderful lot of spicy cupcakes and so many eaters! Sounds like a yummy evening

Janice said...

OMG so much gorgeousness!

Rylan @ Art and Appetite said...

I've always wanted to attend one of those. All those cupcakes looks soo delish! I am really digging the flavors of the winners.