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 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.
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.