Tuesday 24 January 2012


Ironic that my last post was about Weight Watchers when this one is all about CAKE beautiful, creamy, buttery, sweet cakes!

Mike bought me a day with The Gourmet Cupcake Company as a Christmas Present and I had been saving my weekly extra points on my Weight Watchers plan so that I could scoff with guilt free glee.

Mike’s Sister Emma also had a place on the course and drove from Sussex, getting up at 6am (Thanks Em!) to get us to the company’s base in central Chelmsford.

Following Em’s SAT NAV we arrived on an industrial estate, not where you would expect a bakery. But appearances are indeed deceiving; through the shop’s door was a baking heaven!

Decorated in pretty pastel colours of pink, blue and green the shops shelves were lined with all manner of baking must have’s like; cutters, piping bags, edible glitters and pens, cupcake cases in every colour, food colours/flavours galore and so much more!

The Shop

We were greeted by El our course leader who made us welcome with hot drinks and an introduction to the day’s activities. There were 8 of us on the course, all round a big table covered in a rose printed tablecloth and sat on white wooden chairs – very country, very cosy! Because of such a small group El was on hand to help us all with any problems or questions without feeling that she was rushing from person to person.

First up was the cake sponges; in groups of four we mixed large batches of vanilla sponge (I have added an Artisan food mixer to my wish list – although starting at £300 – I’ll be waiting a while for one of those!) – if you’ve ever baked a cake from scratch you’ll know this is the easy part, making a cupcake beautiful  is all down to the icing and sugar craft.

One Day!

El demonstrated how to make butterflies, daisy’s, blossom flowers, hearts and star’s  all using simple plunge cutters, but gave us ideas on how to make the 2D sweets into interesting 3D creations with flood colourings, paints, glitters and how to build the icing up into layers. These were all done with Sugar Florist Paste a tougher icing perfect for moulding more stable decorations.

I was a little worried the mild Cerebral Palsy weakness in my left hand might hinder such delicate work but most of it was easy enough to do with one hand. I later found making the sugar paste roses harder, but I think that was the case for all of us there – it just needs practice!

Sugar Art

For lunch Emma and I popped into Chelmsfords town centre which is a 5 minute walk from The Gourmet Cupcake Company. After a Veggie Delight at Subway (still saving those Weight Watchers points!) we tackled the above mentioned roses which included making Florist Paste rose leaves which we shaped with a cutter then moulded in a little gadget called a viner which you put your sugar leaf into and it creates really life like veins imprinted into the icing.

To marry cake and craft’s; El showed us how to make a simple butter cream topping and a fondant icing. Once we had coloured and added flavourings to these we were shown how to pipe and level each icing and then it was time to decorate our cakes with our creations and an abundance of glitter and hundreds and thousands in all colours of the rainbow.

This was probably the quickest park of the whole course but seeing the day’s lessons come together in what I can only describe as edible artwork – it was the most satisfying!

My Finished Cakes 

Emma and I both had a brilliant day, both learning some great new skills (or in my case – a whole new skill set) our course leader El was fun, chatty and never made you feel daft for getting things wrong. The course is a wonderful gift but I would have happily paid for it myself.

Emma's Cakes

We were presented with course completion certificates (no matter how old I am I love getting these!) and recipe cards and sadly it was time to go home! 24 hours later there are amazingly still three cupcake’s left out of my 12 – a bloody miracle, but I have earmarked one for after my Weight Watchers weigh in tomorrow – yet more irony!

L x

The Gourmet Cupcake Company - Is well established company bakery with previous client including FireFox, FedEx and Nintendo. For cake quote’s you can e-mail info@gourmetcupcakes.co.uk . For information on the 6 courses they currently run click here.

Saturday 21 January 2012

2011 A Bad Boyfriend?


How are you all? Is January treating you well? I hope so! It’s hard after Christmas, the New Year kicks in so fast it’s almost as if the festive season was mince pie filled dream!

The initial flourish of resolutions, diets and general optimism for the better person in us all, is usually starting to deplete at a rapid rate by now, but this year I feel different.

As I mentioned in my last post 2011 was a hard year for my family and there were events through the twelve months that seemed to keep pulling me down, and I felt like I was teetering on the edge of another depression bout.

Despite the usual pain I’m in, I have been suffering with hip and knee pain that wasn’t in my normal portfolio of ailments. I hit my biggest weight over Christmas and after telling a friend about these problems, she remarked that these were the pains she had whilst pregnant. Now regular readers will remember this (CLICK HERE - to read my shame!) and the remark from my niece and again it’s taken for me to be told that my body in some way relates to that of a Mum to be, before I do anything about – stupid really isn’t?

And although some months ago I declared no more diets I feel if my fat is causing more pain on top of my usual ones I would be stupid to ignore it.

I joined WeightWatchers online two weeks ago, but since Christmas I’ve lost 6lb. I’m in what you would call the honeymoon period of the diet, but that’s just it I don’t feel like I’m dieting at all, I find point counting almost fun, finding as many ways of eat as much as I can without going over my allotted points – yesterday I even had mince pie ice cream with 3 points still left over by bedtime! 

But do you know what I think I’ll succeed this time because unlike last year I only have your average run of the mill problems or worries not court cases and heartbreak. And in hard times I’m your classic comfort eater. My friends are sick of me and my weight issues but so far I cannot say a bad word about WW. 

I almost feel like 2011 was a bad boyfriend who I’ve dumped. I’m in a “New Me” phase and I’ve thrown out half my wardrobe, got a new bed and duvet sets, we’ve started preparing for a new kitchen plus I’ve got 2 hen do’s, 3 weddings, 1 holiday booked (with two more in the pipeline), a family reunion party already booked up for this year – it’s looking fun (and expensive – less money to buy junk food with I suppose!).

I hope this optimism lasts, as well as my will power, I’m sure you’ll hear all about it soon enough. What about you guys? Are we all still feeling positive and fighting off the January blues? Let me know!

Right I’m off to go count weight watchers points, I have a cupcake course on Monday I need to calculate how many points per cake I bring home, I can eat and still enjoy Nando’s tomorrow – simple things!! Will let you know how I get on.

L x

Thursday 5 January 2012

Mmm Pudding

I’m no food critic, despite the fact I’m forever eating and drinking and then talking about it on my Twitter Page . My go to eateries are Frankie and Benny’s, Nando’s and on special occasions that I brave Lakeside – Wagamama for my usual No. 43. But I love love love watching cookery programmes have a vast cookery book collection and at the end of January I’ll be attending a cupcake cookery course with Emma my sister in law at The Gourmet Cupcake Company – possibly the best Christmas gift ever from Mike.

I’ve been lucky to eat at some wonderful restaurants here in the UK, in Spain and Australia (regular readers can you believe my Oz trip was a year ago this month?!?) but last night I think I ate, my so far, favourite meal ever.

Our Christmas doesn’t end until January 4th – Mike’s Mum Andrea’s Birthday. It was decided that we would take Andrea to The Rainbow Inn in Cooksbridge, East Sussex. I called after finding their website and booked a table for the 6 of us plus our half pint Beth. The distinctly French menu was a nice surprise, I’d never been to the restaurant before but Emma recommended it highly.

When we arrived, after Emma and her little family she was a tad confused as the place she remembered was not the one we were standing in lol! The restaurant had been bought out by celebrity chef Marco Pierre White last September and there had been a subsequent makeover of the premises and menu. The dark yet unbelievably warm, welcoming and cosy dining room was so inviting and yet so chic.

The staff at the Rainbow Inn were helpful, attentive and not overbearing. I get nervous in more upmarket places that I’ll use the wrong cutlery, pronounce the wine list with the accent of Del Boy and the biggest faux pas of them all; drop food down the front of me! But the Maitre D was a funny French gent who made us all relax, laugh and charmed 17 month old Beth so much she was blowing him kisses by the end of the night!

The food was exquisite, Mike’s parents and I had potted shrimp to start, something I’ve never tried before, it was so delicious that I will be seeking it out in Old Leigh this coming Summer, whether it’ll match that of The Rainbow Inn I don’t know! Mike and Andrew had baked St Marcellin cheese with sour dough bread – Mike loved it so much he’ll be making special trips to Waitrose to “invest” lol!

Our mains came to the table like little works of art; I had Spatchcock of poussin à la chipolatas pomme fondant and rosemary roasting juice – just sound wonderful doesn’t it? It’s a small/baby chicken stuffed and roasted with a selection of herbs and garlic with beautiful roast potatos and chipolatas sausages.  The bird was flavoursome, juicy and rich.

Now the finale was my desert; bread and butter pudding. Nothing like the pudding you had as a child lovingly baked by Nan. Sorry but this was a little piece of heaven on a plate. Light, fluffy, delicate and perfect. As much as I loved the first two courses I couldn’t have eaten the bread and butter pudding three times over and still want more. Can’t believe how excited I am over a dessert!! *and Breathe*

Guy’s if you want brownie points take your ladies to the Rainbow Inn a romantic stylish venue that welcomes you even with children (always a worry – some places are so funny about children passing their pretentious threshold) wonderful service amazing food and a brilliant night out!

L x