In times of economic trouble, a cup of tea and a cake may well offer the answer. I met two entrepeneurs this week who have launched successful cake businesses this year, and are making lots of customers very happy too!
The winner of the Local Gem Award in this year’s St Albans Food and Drink Awards, Heaven is a Cupcake is actually 25 year old Lucy Clark. A local girl and ex-pupil of Beaumont School, Lucy started her business this summer. She now sells her pretty cupcakes at local farmer’s markets, and to order for parties, weddings and launches, and to customers who just fancy a treat. At a recent book launch she decorated cakes with Harry Potter books and broomsticks and Doctor Who darleks and tardises. Lucy has just developed a “cocktail” range with pina colada and chocolate mojito flavours! In November she is making white chocolate and strawberry cakes with 10% of the proceeds going to Breast Cancer Awareness. I tasted one of her trademark rainbow cupcakes and it was fab. Of course they are packed with sugar and butter, so won’t win any health awards, but you could always have some green tea to go with it to balance things out. You can contact Lucy at http://www.heavenisacupcake.net.
Tucked away at 64a High Street in Harpenden, Yummy Mummy’s Cakes is a small but perfectly-formed cake shop, owned by Maria DaSilva. Piled high with elaborate cakes that most of us could never make, it is the place to go for a really special occasion. It has only been open for six months and they already have an excellent local reputation for spectacular wedding and birthday cakes. You can also just pop in for a cup of tea or coffee and a slice of traditional English cake such as Victoria sponge or coffee and walnut. They also pride themselves on their American baking and they make pecan pie, pumpkin pie and red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting; they have regular American customers that drive over from miles away. They also do a great value afternoon tea (£15 for sandwiches, scones and cupcakes).
I loved the retro pink american chairs and tables; it is a lovely place to sit and enjoy a coffee. While I was there, Maria and her assistants Cara and Bianca were finishing off white cupcakes for a wedding. I could also see some very funky designs; one wedding cake was covered in tiny black polka dots and another with huge pale pink blooms.
Yummy Mummy’s Cakes hold regular decorating classes for adults and children so you can learn how they do it. My eight year old decorated a halloween cupcake with handmade spiders and a towering witches hat, and was very reluctant to leave. They will host a children’s party for you, and will teach your mini chefs how to decorate cupcakes. They also do a healthy sandwich birthday tea to balance things out (£10 a head for 2 hour party). They are planning christmas decorating classes too, so watch this space.
Lucy gave me her recipe for Apple Strudel cupcakes, which are slightly healthier than the frosting-topped ones, and will help to use up your apples:
Apple Strudel Cupcakes
Coming from an Austrian family, one of my favourite desserts (other than cupcakes!) has to be Apple Strudel so it seemed only natural that I had to create my very own Apple Strudel Cupcakes. They even have the stamp of approval from my Oma – so they must be good!
125g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla sugar or essence
125g self-raising flour
½ tbsp cornflour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cloves
2 medium eggs, beaten
125g apple, peeled and chopped
Icing sugar, to decorate
1. Preheat oven to 180⁰C. Cream together the margarine, caster sugar and vanilla sugar or essence until light in colour and fluffy in texture.
2. Sift together the self-raising flour, cornflour, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves and ginger. Add the eggs a little at a time, and mix well.
3. Fold the apple and raisins into the mixture so that it is evenly spread throughout. Divide mixture equally between 12 cupcake cases.
4. Bake for 20 minutes until the cupcakes are light brown and bounce back when touched lightly with your finger.
5. Sprinkle with some icing sugar and serve. They are best served warm, but are also yummy once cooled.