Monthly Archives: August 2011

National Cupcake Championship 2011

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!

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Procrastination

Now, as many of you know, I don’t just bake and decorate cakes. I am also in charge of marketing and PR, I source all of my ingredients and equipment (which can be very time consuming), I look after the finance and admin of my business and I also (sporadically, shamefully) update my blog, my website, my facebook site and my twitter account. On top of that, I have a full time job!

All of this means that I need to be very organised and I need to have military precision with my planning. So, where does procrastination come in? Surely with everything else I have to do, there is no time to procrastinate?

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by what I have to do so I play games on my laptop. Or, I read blogs, newsletters and websites I like, in order to ‘gain inspiration’. In other words, I put things off!

My flat is full of to-do lists. I’ve just written a new one actually as I had more or less finished my old one. So, to reward myself for crossing off items on one list, I create a new one! Some reward.

I went to a meeting a couple of weeks ago organised by Judy Heminsley of ‘Work from Home Wisdom’. We were talking about procrastination. I left feeling inspired and also very positive. I’m very hard on myself and I put a lot of pressure on myself. I want my business to succeed, so I spend most of my spare time on it, one way or another, and if I feel I’m wasting time, I can beat myself up about it. Invariably though, I am doing something useful. It may not ever produce tangible results, but it’s something that needs to be done nevertheless.

Actually, when I have an order, or a deadline of sorts, I am very good at putting my head down and getting stuck in; it’s just those tasks that aren’t urgent, but need doing at some point that I struggle with. They do all get done in the end and whilst it sometimes seems like I’m painting the Forth Bridge, I am working towards having a successful and sustainable business. Thinking about the bigger picture usually inspires me and the things that I put off? Well, they never take as long as I expect and tend to be enjoyable!

For more work from home wisdom, go to http://www.workfromhomewisdom.com/