Thursday, 10 June 2010

Iron Cupcake London Challenge XI – Celebration

Our eleventh challenge marked Iron Cupcake London’s first birthday – we are one! Our theme was that of ‘celebration’, which our entrants interpreted in many (brilliant) ways.

I know I always say it but the standard was incredibly high – when you see the entries laid out along the bar it’s like being in the best cupcake bakery in the world! School half term and holidays meant a more intimate gathering this time with 13 amateur entries and 6 professional entries.

Before we get stuck into all the delicious entries can I please draw your attention to the announcement about future challenges at the end of this post - I mention this now in case some of you don't read to the end!

As it was our birthday we had a special award on the night, voted for by bakers, for the best decorated cupcake. As you will see, the winner is stunning and made by an amateur baker! It just shows the talent out there.

Best decorated cupcake – voted for by bakers – Andrea’s Birthday cake

Andrea’s birthday cake comprised of a light-as-air egg white vanilla and almond sponge (think Angel cake but even lighter and spongier!) with fluffy vanilla buttercream. The decoration is 100% edible and there is so much to admire – the glittering candle, the birthday plaque, and even little curly party streamers. It’s a work of art!

Here are our other winners on the night:

Winner (Amateur)– Andrea’s Pink champagne and strawberry cupcakes

Andrea’s second entry on the night won the amateur category. Her pink champagne and strawberry sponge was the most pretty shade of pink and filled with a white chocolate Ganache filling, all topped off with pink champagne and strawberry buttercream. The flavours complimented each other perfectly and, yet again, the sponge was light and soft and divine! Like eating a particularly tasty cloud!

Runner up (Amateur) – Rosalyn’s Ice cream cupcakes

Rosalyn’s stunning creation comprised of an ice cream cone, into which was baked a fruity and fragrant orange drizzle sponge topped with vanilla buttercream. Of course, every good ice cream requires a flake! I always notice that Rosalyn balances flavour well and this was no exception – the orange was subtle and built in your mouth and the cone provided a nice textural contrast.

Winner (Professional)– Amanda’s Apricot and rice pudding cupcakes

These were amazing! Amanda explained that when her children were babies she was always making them apricots with rice pudding. As this was our first birthday she made us baby food cupcakes! The apricot and rice pudding sponge was filled with apricot puree and topped with apricot buttercream. I have always loved the creamy richness of a good rice pudding and Amanda’s sponge captured that perfectly. All I can say is “I want that recipe!!!”. The little gift tag was so cute – Amanda printed it with edible ink on edible paper – how clever is that?

Runner up (Professional) – Melody’s 4th July peanut butter and chocolate cupcakes

Melody debuted in the competition with a gorgeous entry (which also received a lot of votes in the best decorated competition). Her peanut butter and chocolate sponge was topped with a whipped vanilla frosting. The flavours were wonderful and reminded me very much of a Topic bar – I think it was the chocolate and peanut combination. The little flags and star decorations were so pretty and also provided some crunch.

Those were the winners on the night; here’s a run down of all the amateur entries

Kelly’s Popcorn cupcakes

Kelly’s cupcakes took the form of a carton of popcorn – the stripy case being the carton and the frosting as the overflowing popcorn. The chocolate sponge was filled with cream and topped with a scrummy almond buttercream. It reminded me of a far classier Cadbury’s mini roll – heaven! Unsurprisingly, Kelly’s entry also scored well in our ‘best decorated’ competition.

Kelly’s White mini cupcakes

Kelly’s second entry of the night was a plain sponge topped with almond frosting and gel decoration. The sponge was very light and I could have eaten lots of it! I did feel for Kelly, these were meant to have a decoration that didn’t quite work out in the time available (we’ve all been there, haven’t we?) and then they suffered in transit meaning that some of the frosting was smudged. As we all learn eventually in life – looks aren’t everything – and I’m please to report that these tasted delicious.

Elizabeth’s “Nearly 9” crème de menthe cupcakes

Elizabeth’s vegan friendly cupcakes comprised of a chocolate sponge infused with crème de menthe and a chocolate crème de menthe buttercream. The flavours worked so well together – it takes a skilled baker to use anything mint in her cakes and balance it so that the whole thing doesn’t taste of toothpaste. Elizabeth got it spot on and I loved how the minty coolness and alcohol warmth built in your mouth.

Anne’s Margarita cupcakes

Anne’s margarita cupcakes had a most pleasing aroma of booze when she took the lid of her container…always a good start! The lime sponge was infused with tequila sugar syrup and topped with a sinful tequila and grand marnier frosting. The lime definitely hit first and I loved the way the syrup added juiciness to it. Then came the booze! Ann is a girl after my own heart – every cocktail needs an umbrella. Tina, who helps plate up all the bakers on arrival, snaffled the brolly as her daughter uses them as umbrellas for her Barbies!

Annabelle’s “Ice bucket” cupcakes

Love the concept here – Annabelle’s sponge is the ice bucket, the frosting is the ice and there’s the champagne bottle being chilled to perfection! The vanilla sponge was moist and light and the caramel cheese frosting was rich and flavoursome but not too sweet – sometimes caramel can be so sweet it makes your teeth itch, but not here; teaming it with the zingy cream cheese was genius! These tasted indulgent – perfect for a celebration.

Karen’s Choc velvet cupcakes

Karen’s rich and cocoa intense chocolate sponge was topped with a thick, smooth cream cheese frosting. The cream cheese frosting looked thicker and more densely piled up on the cupcake than you normally see – apparently, Karen’s recipe is a secret and she won’t even share it with her friends…much to their annoyance!

Tamara’s Praline chocolate cupcakes

Tamara’s praline chocolate sponge was covered with a generous helping of cream cheese frosting and sprinkled with, what I suspect were, crushed oreos. The rich sponge contrasted well with the light frosting and the mini Lindt choccy on top is always going to be a welcome addition!

Shannon’s “Celebrations” cupcakes

Shannon – I like the way you think! Her soft vanilla sponge topped with thick whipped vanilla buttercream hid a wonderful secret – Celebrations chocolates baked into each one! We all agreed that our cupcake contained Snickers. The Snickers bar baked into a gooey rich pocket which was delicious with the sponge and buttercream; the silver balls added some nice crunch too.

Becky and Flo’s Doughnut cupcakes

A team effort here; vanilla sponge housing a satisfying pocket of strawberry jam all topped off with a vanilla and strawberry buttercream. The sponge reminded me of Victoria sponge, which I think I could eat more of than anybody else on the planet! The buttercream was smooth and fruity and I loved how Becky and Flo piped it – you just look at it and think “Homer Simpson”! Tina, one of my fellow tasters, loved that the frosting tasted like candyfloss.

Gem’s Pop goes the brownie cupcakes

Gem rose valiantly from her sickbed to deliver her cupcakes to the event –lucky us! Her rich, fudgy brownie cupcakes worked beautifully with the vanilla bean frosting. As if that wasn’t enough Gem also added popping candy! Ying, one of my fellow tasters, summed it up succinctly with, “I need that recipe”. The chocolate decoration made these the tallest cupcakes of the night – Gem used a chocolate mould to make a bunch of party balloons.

Here’s what the professionals served up….

Nastassja’s Candy fun cupcakes

Nastassja took us all back to childhood parties with her vanilla sponge and vanilla frosted cupcakes topped with assorted sweeties. An ugly scene almost broke out at our table as we all scrambled for the drumstick (if anyone’s interested – Ying won). The frosting was beautifully piped and had some sort of lustre added to it that caught the light.

Nastassja’s Profiterole cupcakes

Nastassja’s second entry of the night was sheer indulgence – soft sponge with a whipped creamy topping would be heaven in itself. But no – Nastassja added a profiterole…it can’t get much better than that! When you look at the perfect beauty of the cake it’s hard to believe that there was an accident in transit and the cakes had to be reassembled on site!

Amanda’s Elderflower and blueberry cupcakes

Amanda’s second entry of the night (her first entry won the professional category) was a fragrant and delicate affair. The elderflower cupcake contained blueberry compote teamed with elderflower buttercream. It was a dreamy combination that smelled – and tasted – of summer. Light and refreshing…and how cute is that little piped 1?

Shaz’s Chocolate orange cupcakes

Poor Shaz was held up in traffic but battled through, with his cupcakes strapped to his scooter, to share another of his healthy cupcakes with us. The chocolate orange flavour was unmistakable and the sponge deliciously light, but we all agreed the star of the show was the topping. Imagine a chocolatey, moussey, ganachey smooth as silk custard and you’re getting close. Hard to believe it was low fat!

I’m sure you’ll agree that, in terms of a birthday buffet, Iron Cupcake London had the best first birthday party – EVER!

As always I’d like to thank all the bakers for taking the time to enter – each month we marvel at your skill and imagination…and go home full of sponge and sugar and chocolate and other lovely things! Thanks also to all the eaters for coming along and helping us pick the winner.

Special thanks to my awesome team of helpers who make the event run so smoothly on the night: Paul, Dave, Tina, and Ying – thanks. I couldn’t do it without you, nor would I wish to.

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

Future events:

Sadly, this is going to be the last Iron Cupcake London for a little while. I’ve mentioned before in the challenge announcements and at the start of the events that the success of ICL depends on our lovely bakers baking and our eaters respecting the effort that has gone into the cakes. We continually ask people to take only what they can eat on the night and not spirit away cupcakes in Tupperware to take home before everyone has had a chance to taste what they want to.

Regrettably, some people think these rules don’t apply to them and continue to upset the bakers – a cupcake hidden away in a Tupperware container is a cupcake that cannot be enjoyed on the night or receive a vote. A cupcake taken but not eaten is a cupcake that someone else has missed the chance to taste.

Since Monday’s event I have received several emails from bakers (and seen discussion on facebook and blogs) angry and upset at how their cupcakes were snatched out of their hands as they tried to fill their platter; how they saw their cupcakes with barely a mouthful taken out of them abandoned on plates. Much as I keep stressing this is a minority of people behaving this way, it is enough people to cause significant upset.

I don’t know what to do to change this unpleasant behaviour. As you will know if you come along we are a small team of organisers and don’t have the manpower to police the event – frankly, even if we did have more people I wouldn’t want the event to be run like this – it’s meant to be a bit of fun for people who like cupcakes.

My team need to discuss what can be done, if anything, to save the event. I would rather we stop running the competition while this happens as I don’t want to upset bakers further by having people continue to wrestle the cupcakes out of their hands.

I hope you understand this stance and I apologise to the vast majority of you who come along and enjoy the event with the spirit in which it is meant to be enjoyed.


trash said...

Oh no :-( Sadness indeed. I hope the cake-takers read this and feel suitably shamed.

Hope you find some way of resolving the sitaution as I really do plan on attending an Iron Cupcake evening one day.

I heart cupcakes said...

Oh Samantha I'm so sorry to hear that Iron Cupcake will be cancelled. I do think that people acted awfully on Monday. I thought perhaps a good solution was to just allow one tray of each cupcake per table (or two if the tables huge!) and then if people then want more after tasting each they can go back. It would be sad for such a lovely event to be cancelled as anything that celebrates cupcakes in such a lovely way is fabulous!
The cakes we did get to taste on Monday were lovely - and I do hope the two tables that acted to selfishly read this and are suitably ashamed!
Please come back soon x

silverpebble said...

I always enjoy and drool at the Cupcake Challenge posts and aim to get there one day with one or two other local bloggers. I'm gutted for you - what dreadful behaviour.

Baking and Caking said...

Oh no :( I was planning on popping my Iron Cupcake cherry next month. I don't understand how some people have the nerve to do what they did during the last event. Boo to them.

But the event must continue!

Liz said...

I'm sadden to read about the awful behaviour, ruining it for everyone else. I do hope Samantha that you and the team are not too discouraged after all the hard work you put into organising the ICL for everyone. Just a thought how about a few simple do's & don't's and if said people don't respect it, then they aren't welcomed back. I know this may seem patronising as it is always a very small minority that cause the problem. However they will have no excuse and can't say they didn't know. I haven't entered yet, but I do plan to in the near future :) Take care and sorry for the long post xx

Amanda said...

Samantha you work so hard on this event, you all do, I don't blame you for holding your hands up I just really hope it is temporary as I will really really miss it.
It's so hard when you do something just for fun and end up getting more hassle than enjoyment. I hope the perfect solution is out there but doubt it, sadly someone will always have a complaint and people will always ignore pleas. :(

It's a sad day in this house.

Cupcake Kelly said...

Samantha, this is such a shame. You worked so hard all year. I hope a fair solution can be achieved. Maybe it's time for the real cupcake lovers, the bakers (and maybe 1 supporter each) to get together instead and mingle. The majority of these eaters don't seem to appreciate everyone's hard work including the organizers. Only at the firt Iron Cupcake did the bakers all talk to each other. I think maybe the nature of a crowd and the excitement got to these extra people and they did things maybe they wouldn't have done in a small room of people.

Leanne said...

I love the profiterole cupcakes, I bet they were tasty.
I'm really sad to hear there won't be another Iron Cupcake. I've never been, I was supposed to attend my first one on Monday and I was really looking forward to the next one. Having said that, I can see everyone's frustration and it seems cruel that some people have ruined it for the rest.
Maybe it should only be open to bakers? That way (you'd hope) everyone will appreciate the efforts made and not be so greedy. I hope it comes back soon!

Peggy B said...

Oh that's a shame! I haven't been since Christmas and had been in two minds if I should attend again, due the same behaviour that appears to have taken place on Monday happening at the Christmas event.

Maybe for future events you could have the bakers, and just invite 10-20 non-bakers each month to taste and judge the cakes with you?

It is disspointing that a few people spoil it for everyone else!

I hope you find a solution. :)

Anonymous said...

What a sad thing to hear. Shame on the people who ruined this event for everyone. I saw the 2 particular tables that have been referred to, and the greed and gluttony of the people was a real turn off. Mounds of uneaten cakes piled high in the centre of their table. A lot of pushing and shoving to get at the cakes from some very rude people even when they were told they would have to wait their turn in line just like everyone else. Each table should really only be allowed 1 of each cupcake at first so everyone can try them. I see 3 (and 4!) of the same cupcake on both of the tables pictured there! The cupcakes are meant to be shared and sampled amongst the people at the table. Everyone is not supposed to take 4 or 5 for themselves because they will not get eaten. I've shared 1 cupcake between 6 people before, and we were still able to get a good idea of the flavours.

Heaven is a Cupcake said...

All those cupcakes look yummy! What a shame you may have to cancel. I hope you find a way to continue and that one day I'll be able to attend. It's a little far for me to come at the moment anyway.

Priya (Yallapantula) Mitharwal said...

Wow, those are some amazing looking cup cakes. Congrats on turning one and looks fun !!!!

Cupcake Crazy Gem said...

Oh man that's so sad, now I'm even more glad I made the effort to turn up on Monday since it'll be my last one..I'm moving to Wales in August! I hope you can figure out a way to keep it going, it's too awesome to discontinue! I think the bakers only idea sounds pretty would also motivate more people to bake if it was their only way to get in!! You could maybe chat with Iron Cupcake Leeds and see how they do things since it works pretty well up there and they don't have any problems like this. Thanks for the write up! I enjoyed hearing all about them since I didn't get a chance to sample them!

Andrea aka Made_With_Pink said...

I was so dissapointed when I heard that Iron Cupcake would be cancelled. Iron Cupcake was such a fun event for me (and not just because I won). I met a lot of nice people (inc Gem & Meg) and although I'm actually quite shy I was hoping to meet and speak to more of the bakers next month. I sincerely hope that Iron Cupcake is just on hiatus and will be back shortly. I agree with "I heart cucpakes" that perhaps there is a possible solution to the problem by providing each table with trays of cupcakes rather than allowing them to take as many as they want. I'm up for a bakers only event (or even an event where bakers can bring 1-2 friends). I'll keep watching your blog to hear if anything new is being organized. Alternatively if any of the bakers are organizing an independant meet up I'd love to come along!

Cakelaw said...

Oooh, so many devine cupcakes! The strawberry pink champagne one fascinates me - sounds like a prefct sweet to go with my Friday afternoon drink. I am so sorry that the terrible behaviour of a selfish few is threatening this event. Perhaps you could have a few judges who taste the cupcakes for free, then anyone else who comes must buy them for a flat rate? Or perhaps each table could buy a plate of cakes for tasting and sharing? This would discourage people from taking (and wasting) cakes just because they are free. I know this would change the format of the event somewhat, but may be a way of addressing the issue.

Katie said...

It looks like another tasty event, I'm sorry to hear its had to be put on hold for a while.
Maybe you could sit people at tables and give each table 5 cupcakes to taste and score - all different to ensure everyones get tasted and then after this any leftovers are up for tasting by everyone else?

It would be such a shame to stop running the event. I really wanted to come along to it one day soon.

Icing Bliss said...

Oh I'm so disappointed that I couldn't make the 1st birthday celebration, the entries all looked fabulous! I really hope that something can be done to enable you to continue with the event in time. It's been a highlight so far of my time in London and I always look forward to each month's event. You guys do a tremendous job at running the show and it's a shame that a few rude individuals are ruining everything.

I think Katie's idea of maybe putting a selection of cupcakes on each table may be a good idea to stop wastage, or maybe each cupcake can be cut in half. I hope that a solution is worked out soon and if there's anything I can help with, please let me know! x

Baking Addict said...

Well done for organising 11 events! Iron cupcake is something I really look forward to and i'm deeply saddened that it's being cancelled. However I agree and see for myself the problems that have occurred. Having read everyone else's comments I'd like to add my 2p worth as well! Perhaps it could be an inivitation only event - bakers and selected no of friends eg 4. A similar idea is a membership idea so you have to go through a vetting process. Once you're satisfied they fully understand and adhere to the rules they can be awarded full membership status. Having a tray of 1 cupcake per table is also a good idea. Hope you find a solution. First Mondays will never be the same again!

Kerryn said...

Sam, this is sad news indeed - but please don't take it personally. You and your team have done a great job building up the event over the past year.

I like the idea of just bakers plus 1-2 friends/supporters (to help add atmosphere to the event) but maybe only the bakers and the judges vote. I think more mingling would happen with this smaller group.

Or if you'd like to keep with the bigger event then I agree with the others' suggestion to provide each table with a sample of cupcakes, cut in half as needed.

Maybe you could email bakers who've entered in the past to see what they think, or as someone else mentioned, contact the other IC organisers in the UK and US for ideas.

Good luck Sam - the naughty peeps are in the minority: the rest of us are here to support you!

Anonymous said...

What a shame that this is happening. Greed is unpleasant and lets face facts - no one is making the bakers bake. They don't have to bake, so please lets play fair and respect the bakers and their creations and just enjoy some good old fashioned cake love.

MarsBars said...

This is very sad to hear! And I want to apologise if my actions from the previous contest (fruit) contributed to this effect. I'd brought about 20 of my cupcakes, but by about 8 pm, there were still nearly a dozen left on the plate!!! I didn't want them to be wasted - and was a bit embarrassed that they'd looked so unappealling that most people had not wanted to try them! - and it seemed that nobody else was going for them, so I put them back in my tupperware to take to work the next day. Anyways, I hope this isn't what you're referring to, but I hope by taking my "rejects" home with me, this hasn't contributed to a negative image.

Cupcake Kelly said...

I was just reading about Iron Cupake Milwaukee and they had a similiar problem

they decided to limit sampeling to 6 each (which is still a lot)

Jacqueline said...

Such a shame that some people are so selfish and spoiling the event. That was one gorgeous line up of cakes, so creative. Let me know what you decide for inclusion in The Food Blog Diary.

the princess said...

i am so sorry to hear that samantha, i hope you are able to work something out. you did such a fabulous job hosting the events, i hate to see a few people ruin it for all. x

Anonymous said...

What a pity. we're coming back to london from oz in october so i was looking to see when the challenge was on... please don't cancel it forever or shut out the public, i'll never make it to an event.
People are greedy, so a plate per table, or handing them out instead of people taking them could help.

Susie said...


As a baker from the Ironcupcake Leeds events, I think its a shame that there have been these types of problems.

We're asked to provide 3 x whole cakes and then asked to cut the rest into 4, so that everyone gets to taste a bit of everything and so there are some left for Bakers to try. I have to say that the cakes don't look as lovely when they're cut up, but some of the bakers have come up with ways to make them look pretty, such as icing each quarter individually.

Then, if there are any leftovers, people are encouraged to take them so they don't go to waste.

I'm not saying this is a solution for the London, as having lived in London myself it's not as if you can just drive to the venue which would make it much easier to transport the cut up cakes, but maybe it could be an option? it's just a shame that people can be so greedy and disrespectful.

I hope that there will be other Ironcupcake London events running soon though, I love reading the write ups and seeing what our friends down south are doing.

Anonymous said...

This is such a shame. I went to one of the very first iron cupcake challenges when there weren't that many people. I was so looking forward to attending another one.

To be honest I think the only way is to ration the cupcakes out.

Even if you restrict the number of people attending as eaters and limit the number of people at each table, this still doesn't control how much people take.

Here's my suggestion: Have each baker (or a volunteer server if you want them anonymous)present their cupcakes like a stall and have people going around to sample a piece. That way people aren't taking whole or half cupcakes and the sample sizes and what people take are controlled.

The baker can keep one whole to show the decoration, cut the rest up and hand pieces out when people approach.

Eaters can go to each stall, try a piece, admire a complete cupcake, score it then move on to the next one.

I personally could not eat more than the equivilent of 3 cupcakes in one sitting and I think this could increase the chance of me trying more than 12 different cupcakes. Also it means there's more chance of me trying a piece of the more popular ones as they are often the first to disappear.

Apologies if this has been suggested before....I haven't read all of the comments.

Anyway, hope it comes back soon.

Anonymous said...

have you changed your mind yet???? our tickets to london are booked, and i'd so love to be a part of the fun of it, rather than read about it from so far away. hope you're back to remembering the good bits.

The Cupcake Oven said...

I am sooo sad. I was going to try my hand at this amazing event. It is a shame the selfish few ruin such a wonderful event.

Anonymous said...

Just came lokoing to see when the next challenge was and am really sorry to hear this latest event but not surprised. My friends and I only came to one event the Christmas 2009. We were shocked by the scrum and piles of cupcakes people were taking, we saw some individuals with silver platters of cakes each. It being our first time we were slow off the mark and by the time we reached the cupcakes there were few to choose from. It resulted in our table and our neighbours sharing each single cupcake between 4-6 people. We still got to try the ultimate winner which was good! We would very much support the challenge and want to attend as bakers but somehow the rules for the eaters need to be firmer. Even just stating each person gets 5 cupcakes would be a start- thats still only a £1 each- bargain!