Halloween

IMG_3199

I was working in the lab, late one night, when my eyes beheld an eerie sight… Of a fantastically terrifying mess in the kitchen. Oh yes, I must have been baking.

But it was Halloween baking so the mess was allowed. There was blood and guts everywhere! Everywheeereee! Muahahahahaa!

*cough cough*

This year I made haunting voodoo gingerbread men and a collection of creepy cupcakes.

Let the terrifying begin…

IMG_3186

Poor gingerbread men. I don’t know who has it in for them but they are doing a good job of tormenting them. And then presently they will get their heads bitten off and that will be terrible. But delicious.

IMG_3188

I had a lot of fun with the cupcakes this year. I’ve seen broken glass cupcakes and really wanted to give them a go. Might have been a bit much for a children’s party but it’s Halloween and I am sure they want to be freaked out! Bah!

IMG_3200

I think I should have stuck with the black cases for these for the impact but they still look pretty effective. The ‘glass’ shards are melted down Fox’s mint glaciers. I just popped a dozen on a baking tray and bunged them in the oven. Then just checked on them until they had melted into a nice puddle. Once they were out and had cooled down, I just smashed it up. It was beautifully simple. The ‘blood’ was red food colouring mixed with maple syrup. I had tried to use red royal icing at first but it wasn’t flowing like it should and it was the wrong kind of red.

IMG_3205

The other cupcakes were an assortment of Halloween favorites. I quite like the eyeball. And maybe, if I had dared go super over the top, I could have put an eye ball all bloody in the glass. Urgh – freaking myself just thinking about it!

I hope you have got lots of lovely treats for yourself this evening. I would encourage you to grab the sweeties and watch a scary film but as the scariest film I will watch is Harry Potter, I will just simply wish you a magical Halloween.

Vicky

 

A Trip To Edinburgh Gin

Because I am totally spoilt and have the very best friend, last week I was taken to Edinburgh for a gin experience at the Edinburgh Gin distillery. And it was fab.

I love a gin. I love how refreshing it is and if you are ever stuck for what to drink, a G&T always hits the spot. I prefer mine with a slice of lime, of maybe some cucumber if I am feeling crazy. One time I had a G&T in a gin bar with a basil garnish. Madness. But I digress…

11407016_1003008296417148_7576247700285117341_n

I’ve borrowed this image from the Edinburgh Gin Facebook page but I hope they won’t mind because I’m about to say nice things about them! šŸ™‚

From the outside the distillery doesn’t look like much. The website describes it as ‘a hidden wonderland’ and that pretty much sums it up. Once you get down the stairs and through the door, it’s a wonderful mix of cave-like seating areas, a cosy bar and a tempting seating area that makes you feel a little bit sophisticated when you are sat in it.

The experience started with a little talk on the botanicals used to make Edinburgh Gin and went on to talk about the fascinating history of gin. We discovered the origin of ‘Dutch courage’ and ‘Mother’s ruin’ and found out the first gin to be drunk in England was basically turpentine and tasted better when flavoured with the a carcass of a dead cat. No amount of lime or basil is going to mask that…

Next we given a tour round the two old but space-age looking stills. It was pleasing to learn that Edinburgh Gin produce very little wastage during their distilling process. And everything was just so compact and tidy.

The tour was given by staff member, Dougie, and he was a delight! He had such a dry, quirky way about him that just seemed to fit with the tour and the environment and made it all the more enjoyable. And of course he was very knowledgeable about the product.

231666646alt1

And he knew how to make a tasty G&T. Now, I’m not saying the next bit was my favourite part of the tour, because the first half was very enjoyable, but when you are given a whole bunch of gin to taste it’s a good afternoon! To start, we got a sample of each of the flavoured liquors that are produced by the distillery: raspberry, elderflower and rhubarb and ginger. The raspberry was delicious: tasted like raspberries! It was just like sipping a sloe gin; not too sweet and could easily be enjoyed just with a couple of ice cubes. I love elderflower so was looking forward to the next one but was quite surprised by how sweet and thick it was. However, that floral loveliness you’d expect from an elderflower drink was there and you could easily imagine it at the bottom of a glass of bubbles or mixed in a cocktail. The rhubarb and ginger was also good but I’m not particularly a fan of either of those flavours so that was that. We each got to pick a bottle to take home. Yum!

Edinburgh-Seaside

We were also allowed to try two seasonal gins. The first was seaside gin, which was made from flavours foraged from the Scottish coastline. Nice idea but for me it just didn’t work. One of the ingredients was seaweed, which gave it saltiness I just couldn’t get away with. The second was a navy strength rum, distilled with szechuan pepper and it was good, strong but good. It was something a little different but still really smooth and would be great ice cold with a quirky garnish.

We ended the tasting with an original Edinburgh gin and Fentimans tonic, garnished with orange peel: light, refreshing and delicious.

gin_edi1-900x900

Overall the tour and the tastings was a great way to spend the afternoon. I appreciate there are loads of things to do in Edinburgh but if you like gin it’s a great use of time and I would definitely recommend it. After 5pm, the bar opens and you can enjoy drinks and cocktails. We didn’t do that but I think it would be a very cool place to have a couple of drinks, and I can only imagine the knowledgeable staff would mix up some great tipples.

If you want to book a tour or treat yourself to a new bottle of gin, you can view their website here. We did the Gin Connoisseur tour and it really is such good value.

We finished our eveningĀ at The Dome, Indigo Yard and Copper Blossom, all of which I would also recommend. Oh yeah, we also looked at the Castle the next day to get our culture fix but mostly we ate all the foods and drank all the drinks. (This was birthday related after all.)

So big thank you to Clarke for the lovely birthday present and to Edinburgh for the gin. Cheers!

Vicky

 

 

Floral Fancies

Hello lovely people,

As so many do, I adore the autumn: the feel, the colours, dark cosy nights, pumpkin spice fudge from The Fudge Kitchen. (Yup, stomps all over a Pumpkin Spice Latte!)

However, I sadly don’t have any beautiful autumnal cakes to share but I do have a couple of pretty pink flowery numbers for you, if you would be so kind as to let me share them… Yes? Lovely!

IMG_2372

IMG_2551

IMG_2459

IMG_2658

IMG_3012

’til next time,

Vicky

Me again! Or: Things I have learned in the past 6 months

Oh my gosh and goodness, it is that time of year again. The time of year where I find some breathing space to write and try to apologise and explain where the heck I have been for the past 6 months.

Well, let me tell you, I have not being sitting idle! As usual the spring and summer have been busy and I have been working full on for the last 6 months.

‘But, Vicky’ I hear you cry, ‘You’ve worked for English Heritage for 5 years. Shouldn’t you know by now that you are super busy then and get more organised?’

IMG_3106

And then I hang my head in shame, say yes I did know that, and apologise profusely for being so disorganised.

I started this cake business just two years ago and am constantly learning. I never imagined I would be as busy as I have been (and for that I am so so thankful to anyone who has ever order a cake from me) and I had no experience on running a business, let alone managing it alongside a job.

IMG_3022

I’ve had 6 months of chaos, some wonderful, some not so much. But what exactly have I learned?

1. You can’t do everything

Oh but I think I can. I think I can fit in that extra cake, or use that technique for the first time ever and expect it to work perfectly, or do 5 wedding cakes in 4 weeks. (Oh, wait I did do that!) It’s taken me 6 months but I have finally realised that I can say ‘no’ and I can be selfish and take time off. It is allowed!

2. Quality over Quantity

Yeah, I do know that already but this links back to number 1 and thinking I can do everything. It’s better for me to take on less work and put my heart and soul into it. That’s how I make something I am truly proud of.

IMG_3026

3.Ā Rest time is important

I love making cakes and it started out as a hobby and sometimes I still feel like it is. But as I am doing it more often I have realised it is a business and sometimes that means I need to take a break from it. Like with any other job, I can give myself holidays!

4.Ā Patience is a virtue

Not my patience. I am not a patient person; I need to do something right and I need to do it right now. I mean the patience of the people around me. My mum, who puts up with my little idiosyncrasies…Who am I kidding, they are strops and tantrums and fits of hysteria. But she deals with it in her calm, practical, no nonsense way. And my boyfriend who shows unwavering understanding when I am super busy or when we make time to watch a film and I fall asleep after about 5 minutes. I am surrounded by good.

IMG_2683

5.Ā  It’s never ok to put yourself down

As a baker, I can be quite needy. IĀ put my heart and soul into what I makeĀ and get (overly) emotionally attached; I just want the customer to love the cake, and always want to be better. That’s fine. But, and this is my toughest lesson, it’s never ok to be mean to yourself, and it’s never ok to get so upset about a cake that a customer has to assure you that it’s all going to be ok because it’s probably not going to kill anyone…

IMG_2851

So shall I see you in a year and see if I have taken my own advice?!

I must say I have missed the writing and sharing part of this job and I hope you will stick around while I get myself organised… But not totally organised because where’s the fun in that?!

Much love,

Vicky