Cupcakes are still very much the ‘in’ thing. You can’t go anywhere these days without seeing them for sale. You can have any flavour or topping and can theme them to any occasion or time of year. As they’re small, it doesn’t feel gluttonous to eat a cupcake either. In celebration of the humble cupcake, 12-18 September will see the third annual National Cupcake Week. Of course, if you have a cupcake week, you need to have a cupcake champion too!
Monday 15 August saw 50 of the nation’s greatest bakers descend on London to win the coveted title of ‘National Cupcake Champion 2011’ and I am proud to say that I was there! I nearly wasn’t though and as those of you who follow me on Twitter will know, my bus driver still thought it was Sunday and he was going for a nice drive!
I just registered on time, with my heart pounding, and then joined the other fabulous bakers for a morning of demonstrations whilst our cupcakes were being sampled and discussed. The highlight of the morning was a presentation by the ‘Outsider Tarts’ http://www.outsidertart.com/ two amazing American guys who have their own bakery in Chiswick. They also have a cookery book which has just been released, so I’ve added the book to my ‘to buy’ list and the bakery to my ‘to visit’ list and I recommend you do the same.
Before we knew it, it was time to check out the competition and to have lunch. We were all itching to check out the other entrants and to find out who had won. Whilst I didn’t feel blown away, I had a few favourites and it was obvious that people had worked hard on their cakes. There were some nice ideas and it was clear that judging would have been very difficult.
The winners were announced and one cake – a lime and coconut ‘free from’ cake swept the board, by winning the ‘Free From’ category, ‘Best Tasting’ and the ultimate prize ‘National Cupcake Champion’, so a big congratulations to Jennifer Buls, from Absolute Treats.
As I made my way home (and I took a different route this time!), I firstly handed out a few cupcakes (to a street cleaner and two passing policemen!) and then reflected on my day out. I was (and am) incredibly proud that I was a finalist. I have a lovely certificate to state this and I’m going to have it framed and hung on my wall! My business has been going for less than two years and it is fair to say that it has somewhat taken over my life. I’ve been feeling a bit down recently and this has given me a nice little boost. It has also made me think about the direction that I want my business to go in, so I’m going to sit down over the next week and really give that some thought. Finally, it has shown me that the ‘humble’ cupcake is still incredibly popular and it is great that something so small is able to give pleasure to so many!
The picture above is my entry – a Peach Melba cupcake. It’s a vanilla sponge cupcake, with an injection of homemade peach jam. It has raspberry Swiss meringue buttercream icing piped on, and is then topped with a fresh raspberry and a drizzle of both raspberry and peach puree. It mightn’t be a championship cupcake, but I certainly think it’s a winner!