Cakes fit for the catwalk
Norwich Fashion Week is in full swing and a trend is emerging. But this isn't about clothing; in fact it's the elegant cupcake that has been making a regular appearance at the events throughout the week such as the Vintage Tea Party. Emma Lee has a go at making the fashion week treats.
But in recent years buns have had a makeover. They're not called buns any more for a start – they're cupcakes.
They've grown in size – and they've grown up.
Now an indulgent treat, you're just as likely to find them served up at weddings as you are at a tots' gathering.
And when it comes to flavouring and decoration, then anything goes – they're miniature works of art.
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While my mum is a fantastic cook, the kitchen isn't my natural habitat.
The last thing that I tried to bake, several years ago, was a batch of cheese scones which came out of the oven slightly more biscuit-like than I had imagined they would.
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But Lorraine Pascale's new cookery series, Baking Made Easy, got me thinking that maybe there could be a domestic goddess lurking in me somewhere.
Despite the fact that my scones hadn't turned out as I'd hoped, the show reminded me that I found the baking process incredibly enjoyable.
So feeling inspired I went along to a cupcake making class run by Julie Philpot.
Baking is one of Julie's passions – and her cupcakes are legendary among her family and friends.
Julie holds regular cookery classes at her Norwich home. She set up Plan to Cook last year and as well as passing on the secrets to making the perfect, springy, light-as-air sponge, she runs courses in authentic Indian cooking, vegetarian cooking, dishes for university students and beginners in the kitchen and dinner party cooking.
The classes, which last between two-and-a-half and three hours cost �30 each and there are a maximum of four people on each.
All the ingredients and equipment is provided, you get to take home everything you've made and you're given recipe sheets so you can recreate the dishes at home.
We were making coconut cupcakes with a Malibu topping, chocolate cupcakes with a chocolate ganache topping and vanilla cupcakes with a fudge topping.
Baking and decorating three different types of cupcakes in two-and-a-half hours sounds like it might be a race against the clock, but the pace of the class was nice and relaxed.
There was even time for a cup of tea – and to sample some of the cakes that Julie had made earlier, Blue Peter style.
Julie had already measured out the ingredients and set out the equipment before we arrived, so all we had to do was put on our aprons, make sure our hands were squeaky clean and get whisking.
Julie is full of helpful tips for successful baking for novices such as myself. I didn't know that once you've whisked up your margarine, sugar and egg it's important make sure you fold in your flour carefully so as not to knock the air out of it. And Julie's secret ingredient for perfect cupcakes is adding soured cream.
It's really easy to create different flavour sponges – we just added cocoa for the chocolate cakes and a bit of creamed coconut for the coconut cakes.
When the cakes were out of the oven it was time to whip up the frosting. Again they were surprisingly straightforward to make. And the real fun part was decorating them.
There are no worries if (like me) you're not particularly artistic – edible glitter and star-shaped chocolate sprinkles will cover up a multitude of mistakes.
The finished cakes almost looked too good to eat. Almost...but they went down a treat.
They were a pleasure to make and a pleasure to eat. The course was great fun and Julie is an excellent teacher.
For one evening I really felt like a domestic goddess.
Julie is running a number of courses during March.
Monday March 7, students and new cooks, 6pm-9pm; Tuesday March 8, cupcakes, 6pm-8.30pm; Saturday March 19, cupcakes,1pm-3.30pm; Monday March 21, vegetarian cooking,10am-1pm; Monday March 28, cupcakes,10.30am-1pm; Tuesday March 29, dinner party cooking, 10.30am-1pm.
All courses cost �30. For more information phone 07795 361828, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.plantocook.co.uk