Dragon Cupcakes

Another friend’s birthday, another chance to play around with fondant and make some fun cupcakes. The friend I made this for loves dragons, so I found this amazing tutorial that helped me create these three little fellas! They’re definitely not perfect, but I’m finding it a lot easier to work with fondant now.

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If you watch the tutorial, you’ll notice mine are nowhere near as good, but I wanted them to be a but more cartoony.

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For a first go, I’m pretty happy with how they turned out – and this was after they got their wings!

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Keep it sweet,

Lalena xo

Christmas Cupcakes

Last week I had the pleasure of filming a Christmas segment with Fancy Lifestyle (go like their page!)

IMG_2860Because of the fondant work I’ve been showing off on my Instagram and Facebook recently, they invited me to create some Christmas cupcakes. The video won’t be available for a few weeks, but as soon as it is, I’ll post it here.

In the meantime, this is what I managed to create on the day!

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Keep it sweet,

Lalena xo

Carrot Cake Cake Pops

In the spirit of trying new things, I decided to get hold of a cake pop mould for myself and see what all the fuss is about! I’ve seen cake pops all over the place but never actually tried one, and I was pleasantly surprised – I can definitely see the appeal and how they can make nice gifts.

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It was a little bit of trial and error to get them right as I used a recipe for a much bigger cake.

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I left them in the oven for around 8 minutes originally, and because I’ve been working with mini cupcakes recently, I knew I wouldn’t leave them in any longer than 10 minutes.  For my oven, and the settings I had it on, ten minutes worked perfectly and I left them to cool in the mould for about ten minutes after to keep their shape.

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When you’re making cake pops, you need to make sure you close the mould properly otherwise you’ll have the mixture coming out in all directions.

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To finish them off, I made a simple cream cheese frosting to coat half of the cake pop in, crushed up some pecans and sprinkled them over the top.

Keep it sweet,

Lalena xo

Triple Layer Brownies

My friends like to refer to these as ‘porn brownies’ and I probably consider these my ‘signature bake’ now. They always go down well, and I have so much fun making them. The three layers consist of cookie dough at the bottom, oreos in the middle and really gooey, fudgy brownie for the top layer.

Here’s how I put them together:

Look how glossy the brownie mixture is!

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Here is the cookie dough layer

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The oreo layer

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Ready for baking

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The finished product

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Ready to serve! I usually manage to get 32 brownies of out this, but you can make them bigger or smaller.

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Keep it sweet,

Lalena xo

150 Mini Cupcakes in Four Different Flavours!

This year marks my third year of working in education, and for anyone else that also works in education you’ll know that the start of the year is ALWAYS stressful. Over the past two years, I’ve made it my mission to bring in treats as often as possible for my colleagues – just to make things a little bit sweeter.

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Each year, I’ve taken on a new job role, starting as an Academic Mentor, moving on to an A-Level tutor, and this year, I begin my PGCE so I’m now teaching as well as working as a tutor. Because of this, I have a new appreciation for just how hard teachers have to work, especially chipping in at the start of the year to make everything run smoothly, so I decided to try and make the first official day of teaching as nice as possible, with some mini treats!

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So the night before, I set about making roughly 150 mini cupcakes in four different flavours. In the end, we had: vanilla cupcakes filled with lemon curd and topped with a lemon icing, chocolate cupcakes filled with raspberry jam and topped with chocolate icing, vanilla cupcakes with a peanut butter or vanilla filling and topped with vanilla icing and a vanilla cupcake filled with caramel and topped with a vanilla and banana icing.

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I took a basic recipe for vanilla cupcakes, and where this would normally make 12 large cupcakes, I was able to make 36 mini cupcakes. I adapted the recipe slightly for each variation, and as I knew that one of the boxes would be accompanying my mother to work, and would need to be gluten free, I whipped up a batch of gluten free ones in each flavour too!

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It took a long time, but it was well worth it – and I felt a little bit like a cupcake fairy, running around work and delivering boxes of 24 to each department that I’ll be working with this year.

Keep it sweet,

Lalena xo

Fondant Work

When it comes to making cakes, I have always kept it simple and focused my attention on flavours. I like my flavours big – and after getting my cupcake corer, I’ve been working on incorporating fillings as often as possible to add that little bit extra.

 I’m not a big fan of fondant, so I’ve never particularly had a desire to work with it… but I definitely appreciate the art of using fondant to create stunning decorations. As I’ve experimented with more and more recipes, and tried develop my baking techniques, I’ve started to feel limited.

This month, an idea arose that I should use fondant for something in particular (which I’ll be revealing soon), and from then, I’ve been interested in working with it. So I ordered myself some shape cutters and all the things a beginner would need to start working with fondant – and wish I had started sooner! I love it!

This is my very first fondant flower. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be focusing on working more with fondant to add some special touches to my baking…

photo 1 (3)Keep it sweet,

Lalena xo

Rainbow Cupcakes

Last month, it was my friend’s birthday and throughout the year, I had been promising her that I would make her some special cupcakes! I considered a number of themes (including Hannibal which I’m not sure would’ve been the most pleasant of birthday treats), but when it came down to the actual baking, I decided there is nothing better than some rainbow cupcakes!

For my own birthday, I received Lily Vanilli’s ‘A Zombie Ate my Cupcake!’ book and I’m in love with it, so I decided to use the rainbow cupcake recipe from there – and just made a few adjustments in terms of decorations and layering the cake mixture.

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Here’s what you’re going to need:

200g all-purpose flour, sifted twice
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
120g unsalted butter, at room temperature
190g caster sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
120ml full-fat milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Gel food colouring (not liquid!) in the seven colours of the rainbow

 And for the frosting:

60g unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 tablespoons full-fat milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
360g icing sugar
2 tablespoons double cream

I like to begin my measuring out of all my ingredients first. Not only does it seem to make the process of making the mixture even quicker, but it makes me feel a little bit like I have my own cooking programme. You know, feel the fantasy and all that…

You’ll need to preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4 and line your cupcake tin with whatever paper liners you like! (I went for an assortment of colours just to make it even more colourful.)

Then, using an electric mixer cream the butter (that should be at room temperature and therefore, already softened) in a bowl until it’s really smooth. Now you’ll want to add the sugar, but do this in three parts. Start mixing it on a medium speed, working up to a high speed as you continue to add the sugar. Beat the two ingredients together until it’s really fluffy and pale (this took about five minutes.)

Now for the eggs! These need to be added one at a time and you’ll need to go back to mixing the ingredients on a medium speed after each addition.

In a separate bowl, mix together your flour (which should have been sifted twice), baking powder, and salt. In a jug, mix together the milk and vanilla extract.

Next, you’ll need to start adding the dry ingredients to your fluffy sugar and butter mixt. This should be done in four parts, and you should alternate between adding the dry ingredients and your milk and vanilla mixture. Make sure that when you’re alternating, you begin and end with the flour mixture. Mix everything well after each addition, and scrape down the sides of the bowl to get everything in!

IMG_6627Now is the fun part… and the slightly time consuming part depending on how you do it. I didn’t have seven small bowls, but if you do, this will save you some time.

I tend to be quite fussy about weighing things, and making everything equal when I’m baking (which helps make everything more uniform). So I weighed the contents of the mixture first and divided this by seven, so I knew exactly how much of the mixture to use for each colour.

Then, you will want to add a little bit of each gel food colouring (and please make sure you use the gel food colouring – it keeps the colour in when you bake the cake. You won’t get the same result with liquid colours!) in to the plain mixture, and mix this around with a toothpick until you get your desired colours.

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I used six colours: Bright Red, Neon Orange, Sunshine Yellow, Lime Green, Sky Blue and Ultra Violet. I mixed the last two together for my seventh colour.

IMG_6628Once you have your colours, you can begin layering your cupcakes. I used a tablespoon of each colour, and layered them on top of each other to try and get a clean looking rainbow. However, you can start to spoon the mixture into the cases, and with each new colour, spoon slightly less into the centre, so you can still see some of the previous colour. This forms rings that look really nice in the middle of your cupcake. Repeat this process until your paper liners are around 3/4 full.

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IMG_6633Then it’s into the oven. They take around 15 minutes to bake; but it may take slightly more or less time depending on your oven. Pop a toothpick in the middle to check, and if it comes out clean, then you’re good to go!

Once I’ve taken them out of the oven, I usually leave the cupcakes to cool in the cupcake tin for 5-10 minutes. Then I transfer them to wire rack and let them cool completely before even daring to ice them.

IMG_6636When you’re ready to make your icing, you’ll want to use your electric mixer to beat your softened butter until smooth. Then add in your milk, two-thirds of the icing sugar, your vanilla extract and the 2 tablespoons of double cream. Mix it all together until it’s smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl to make sure you’ve got everything again.

Then add the remaining icing sugar slowly, constantly beating the mixture until it’s completely smooth. Then you’re ready to decorate!

Now in the book, Lily Vanilli decorate’s her cupcakes by making her icing sky blue, and adorning it with some fluffy white clouds. I opted for something more simple, so it disguised the rainbow, and made it look plainer, because I wanted it to be a surprise.

IMG_6637So I simply used a palette knife to cover the cupcake with a layer of white vanilla icing, and then decided to throw on some purple glitter dust and edible pearls, because who doesn’t love some glitter?

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They’re perfect for something plain, but something fun. Give ’em a go!

Keep it sweet,

Lalena xo

Hello :)

Before I post any recipes and pictures, I want to introduce the blog and myself just a little.

My name is Lauren and I am a jack of all trades, and master of none. What I mean by that, is that I like to do as much as possible – but I’m not an expert at anything. I’m currently a trainee teacher and a feature writer, who happens to spend an awful lot of time drawing, singing and baking to be creative – which ultimately, explains the reason for this blog. (Yeah, I know… another person with another blog – I’m sorry!)

I bake as often as I can, and though I tend to focus on muffins, cakes and cupcakes, I’m trying to explore new things, and new techniques. This year seems to be an exciting year for me, particularly for my baking, so this is essentially a scrapbook of the things I make.

I’ll be sharing my recipes and techniques, as well as pictures – because let’s face it, most people visit baking blogs more for the photos than anything else.

So I hope you enjoy what you find here – and try some of the recipes for yourself!

Keep it sweet,

Lalena xo