Saturday, 25 June 2011

The Mad Tea Party!

The other day I stumbled across A Fanciful Twist, which is a blog running a virtual tea party whereby bloggers blog about their tea party filled with baking creations and everyone spends the tea party frolicking about the blogosphere. It's basically a networking opportunity, and I, as The World's Suckiest Blogging Networker, thought I would give it a crack. My biggest problem is my  general laziness (business?) and lack of time spent visiting and commenting on others' pages. So I have a grand total of six followers, all of which I know in the real world, which is kind of lame, but at least I don't feel like I'm whoring myself out. The pages I read and actually enjoy are few and far between.

Also, allow me to preface this by saying that, given I only just stumbled across this concept, I had no time to organise and photograph an actual tea party, nor do I have my nice tea things here with me in Melbourne, so I decided that simply baking something that would be nice to have at a tea party would have to do the trick this year. My next post will, however, be about tea. But not tea parties. Tea. And lots of it. You'll see!

So - TO THE TEA PARTY!!! Or, more accurately, to the baked goods.

As I may or may not have mentioned before, I have a phobia of cupcakes. Well, not of cupcakes per se, because that would be quite dumb and really, quite freaky. Clowns, I can understand. I said clowns. CLOWNS!!! (Hi, Jamie :) Hehe that was mean. Sorry dude.) What I mean to say is that I have a fear of making cupcakes and having them turn out all dry and yucky and have people judge me and tell me that I'm an awful cook or worse still whisper it pityingly behind my back but tell me they're good to my face which means that I'll continue to bake them forever and think that everyone loves them because they'll just smile and nod and pretend but really they'll never ever want to eat my food ever again and also judge me on my incredible lack of punctuation even though I am deliberately attempting to convey the enormous stress of the situation by neglecting to use punctuation... Wait... I think I might have Issues (note the capital 'I')... so, in order to make peace with my Issues, I thought that I would make an effort to Embrace the Cupcake, because it's waaaay outside of my comfort zone.

Well! I'll tell you what! From here on in, I'll be referring to my Comfort Zone as my Cupcake Zone, because I really did rock these cupcakes! Hardcore! Seriously! Be jealous, because I know you can't all make cupcakes like I can! I haz wikkid skillz! And I iz very clearly exczitedz about themz becauze of my prolificz usagez of the letterz z!!! zoisdkfnxiojzoij,mnozizzz (<-- for good measure. It seemed right.)

(Oh, and back to my Issues, I really must have something very odd going on with cupcakes, because I have literally hundreds of differently coloured cupcake wrappers, despite the fact that I know that I never, ever bake them. Until now. I have photographed the Leaning Tower of Cupcake Wrappers, which have accumulated in mum's cupboard over time - every time I see a pretty or colourful wrapper, I will buy it. Nearly every time, anyway. I'm aware of it now and am trying to use what I have up, I swear! (Exceptions can, of course, be made for super-cute or themed wrappers like the ones Wilton [huh, who knew - whilst Googling this, I discovered that a cupcake wrapper is actually a fiddly, often laser-cut outer wrapper such as the ones at Pinkfrosting, as opposed to a cupcake liner, which is the traditional, concertina-edged ones like the ones here at Cupcake City], and also for cupcake wrappers that people give me as gifts. *looks around hopefully* Guys?) This stack does not take into account all the ones I have in my own cupboard in Adelaide, although the double-ups there are ones I bought Kirsti a long time ago  and forget to send her (I bought myself some, too, otherwise the freight would have seemed exorbitant on a price-per-unit basis *nods convincingly*). Literally the only ones that mum can be blamed for in this photo are the plain patty pans, and the plan Texas muffin wrappers. I can only assume that I am lured by how pretty they are. I love colourful things. I think I may have been a magpie in a previous life...)

DAMNIT!!! I say again, I rotated this bloody picture and blood well saved it, and STILL it un-rotates it when I upload it!!! STUPID BLOODY BLOGGER PHOTO UPLOAD THINGIE!!! (does anyone know how to fix this? I tried to upload to Picasa and then take it from there, but it uploaded the bloody thing sideways... grr) So I guess you're going to have to put up with the fact that a lot of my photos are sideways. I suspected this might happen again, though, which is why I tried (and failed) to take most of my photos in Landscape, not Portrait.

So, for now, turn your head sideways to fully appreciate my photographic prowess. I hope you're reading this at work so that someone sees you and it looks funny :)

 So anyway, I decided to ease myself into this cupcake business (even though I successfully made them from scratch less than a fortnight ago, but thems was the rules at the time) by being a Betty Crocker Cheat.

And you know what else? Because I was baking at mum's, I had a special treat in store.

Is it a bird?

Is it a plane?

(Are you one of those people who need to turn the map upside-down or sideways to read it, and therefore require this second photo of the same object to figure out what it might be?)

No, it's not a bird or a plane... it's... A KENWOOD CHEF!!! The above photos are of the Kenwood K-Beater!

Oh! I can't even begin to describe how happy I am to use this! (Maybe I can begin by reminding you how unhappy I am to use those stupid hand beaters, although I must admit the the one I own is a lot better than the one I was cussing about in my very first baking post.)

Look, mum, no hands! I am free to frolic about, free as a bird, and do whatever I please! Like take (slightly) better photos of my cake batter being beaten than I have been for the last two years. With two hands. Huzzah!

*wipes tear of joy from eye*

So anyway, now that I'm done being excited about the mixer I got to use, I wish to put it to you that there is something amiss in this photograph.

That's right. The good folk at Betty Crocker told me on the box that the mix made 24 cupcakes, but it only made 23. Twenty-three. How perfectly scandalous! The batter should magically fit into 24 cupcake wrappers, and not at all depend on my ability to judge what one-twenty-fourth of the batter might be in terms of soup-spoons-full. Although, just quietly, I think I did a pretty good job of it...)

While they were baking, I whipped up some buttercream frosting. At first I was lazy and tried using the whisk attachment because the K-beater was dirty, and this was the result. So then I had to wash TWO beaters, and one of them twice, which kind of countered the whole purpose of my initial laziness. I feel that there is probably a sage proverb about that...

Once I had successfully shaken off the laziness and played about with quantities (don't ask me how much butter and icing sugar I used, cos I just sort of added it until it looked right... I think it was about half a block of butter (softened a little) and maybe a cup or two of icing sugar (added a heaped spoonful at a time), but I can't be sure), I came up with this delicious creaminess.

And then I played about with flavours and colours. I began the day inspired by Cadbury's 'Snack' chocolate (a block filled with sticky, sweet, deliciousness in various flavours), discovered that there is no such thing as pineapple essence (at least, not at Safeway), and so settled on the ones I already had.

This included the below peppermint essence which I would assume is from the seventies, or at the very latest, the early eighties. It has been in our cupboard for as long as I can remember. Long enough ago for - little known fact - pharmaceutical company Faulding to still be making baking products! One can only assume that they offered this service because, back in the day, all essences were based on ethanol, and who better to make an ethanol product containing peppermint oil than a pharmaceutical company?

(FYI, they just don't make things like they used to. I miss alcohol-based essences (they are still available but harder to come by. You can tell the difference because the alcohol will either be listed on the ingredients, or it will have "keep away from naked flame" written on the bottle!), particularly vanilla essence. I think the alcohol element was what made it so good for cleaning your fridge because it actually removed the odour-causing bacteria, not because of the sweet, powerful vanilla smell which merely masks the stink the bacteria make.)

I made peppermint (green), orange (orange! Who'd have thunk!) and rose/Turkish delight (rose pink) flavoured buttercream frosting. I used a drop of green colouring with the peppermint icing (green seems to be a very strong colour, so one drop was enough. Mind you, I did use mum's old McCormick's food colouring, which, again, dates back to my early childhood, so it may have evaporated and intensified a little), along with very little essence because it was so strong. I have no idea how much orange essence I used because the stupid stuff kept running down the side of the bottle instead of neatly dispensing into the mix, but I know I had to use more of that than I did for the peppermint. The orange colour was obtained with a 2:1 ratio of yellow to red colouring, but I think I used about eight drops of yellow and four of red in total for this depth of colour. And I used rosewater to flavour the pink icing, which seems to be quite a subtle flavour, so I added and tasted, added and tasted until it was just right. I used Queen rose pink colouring (large bottle), and again, it was a case of adding just a little at a time until the appropriate colour was reached.

I just want to put it out there and say that seeing these beautiful colours fills me with light and happiness and makes me remember why I love baking. I feel that it's okay to put such freaky-deaky shee-at out there, because most of you are my friends in the real world and are already well aware of the fact that I'm a bit of a weirdo, and those of you who have stumbled across me in other bloggy ways are probably bakers, too, so you'll understand.

I had lots and lots of fun creating different swirly designs with a large star tip, which seems to be the fashion du jour, and I rocked it. Until the bag split, that is, and the tip came off, and I nearly ended up with peppermint frosting everywhere. So for all but one of the green ones, I had to improvise and spread it on with a knife and decorate with various bits and bobs from the cupboard, such as rainbow hail (which, having spent the last six months looking at animal scats (= poo) at work, reminds me of small, colourful versions of antechinus scats!!!), silver cachous (mind your teeth!) and sprinkles. I call this photo "Cupcake Wonderland". They're so very festive :)

I hate to brag, but I really do think this could be the perfect cupcake - chocolate Devil's Food Cake, with rose buttercream frosting. Yummo spagummo!

Phobia quashed.

PS - I did actually branch out a little further during my previous cupcake effort than the Thai Ginger Cupcakes - I took the leftovers, whipped some cream and made my first ever butterfly cakes! I know, I know... nearly twenty nine years and some fairly complicated baking creations, and I was a butterfly cake virgin. Go figure.
Look! Pretty, coloured cupcake wrappers!

31 comments:

  1. Cute post, thank you for stopping by mine :) those cakes look Yum!

    Zoe

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  2. Thanks for stopping by my site for some tea! Your delicious looking treats are soo tempting for me even if it is 2:30am my time! - goodness where did I put that toffee nut cookie?

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  3. Your cupcakes look very yummy and colourful.

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  4. These cupcakes loook soooo tasty!

    I too have a party and gifts for all who visit. I do hope you can make it by!

    Follow this link: http://collagediva.typepad.com/collagediva/2011/06/tea-party.html

    Sweet day to you!

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  5. I love your party! And who cares if the photos refuse to rotate, it IS a MAD tea party, right!? I love the butterfly cupcakes, so creative.

    http://pixiepages.blogspot.com/2011/06/mad-tea-tasting-extravaganza.html

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  6. Thank for having me at your party, please come and visit my Tea Party too.
    ♥ Joyce
    http://jetdtsetters.blogspot.com

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  7. oooh yummy yummy cupcakes thanks for the comment on my post hugs Sara

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  8. Your sideways photos are making me laugh and quite fit the Alica and Mad Tead adventure.
    I also had trouble getting my photos to cooperate so have fewer of them than planned. Stop by and see.
    http://dogsmom.wordpress.com/2011/06/24/dreaming-madly-of-tea/

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  9. ooohhh i love your cupcakes! come visit my tea party when you have the time!

    http://theweekendartist.blogspot.com/2011/06/mad-tea-party-2011-by-weekend-artist.html

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  10. what a wonderful party! thanks for inviting me!!!

    http://apinkdreamer.blogspot.com/2011/06/mad-tea-summer-party-in-pumpkinland.html
    ❀◕ ‿ ◕❀

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  11. mmmmhhh so yummy!

    I wanna a cupcake!

    Happy Mad Tea Party!


    Visit me anytime...
    xoxo

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  12. I would love a cupcake right about now. Lovely! xx

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  13. Lol I loved this. Cupcake phobia averted, good stuff :) I have a post of a really easy and fool proof cupcake recipe (the same batter can be used for a large cake too!) here: http://modernwomans.blogspot.com/2011/03/simple-vanilla-cupcakes-with-creamy.html (just in case you get a bit adventurous and try some non-packet mix) :) I'm glad your cakes came out well!

    I'm also taking part in the Mad Tea Party blog hop and hope that you'll visit my party to have some fun there too :)

    http://modernwomans.blogspot.com/2011/06/welcome-to-my-english-tea-party.html

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  14. Yummy cupcakes! Thank you so much for the invite! I hope you'll visit my tea party, too!

    http://scrapvamp.blogspot.com/2011/06/mad-tea-party-2011.html

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  15. What yummy looking cupcakes!!

    Happy Mad Tea Party!

    Lindsey

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  16. I need one of those cupcakes. Seriously. My diet can kiss my butt, I WANT CUPCAKES.
    I have problems with my photos too, though mine just don't want to resize. I keep making it smaller and smaller in Photobucket and re-pasting the HTML in my post, and it's still huge. Then all of a sudden it's teeny tiny. Technology hates me.

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  17. I'm new to this blogland tea party...was fun to stop by and see your cupcake making in action! Please visit for a hot cup of tea in the garden at my house~
    poetryinapotoftea.blogspot.com

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  18. you're funny! i liked your post! i'll go have a look around your blog now :)

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  19. When my photos were uploading sideways, I uploaded them in Picasa, rotated them there, and they then uploaded to Blogger fine. And then the problem went away after a week or so. Random...

    Mmmmmm, cupcakes... You've just reminded me about the pirates ones you sent me at Christmas time, which I think may require a workout soon :) xx

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  20. Wow those cupcakes look amazing, very well done!! Thank you so much for inviting me to your party :) ~Lauren

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  21. Yummy looking cupcakes!

    Have a mad party!
    Erin :)

    http://www.fairiemoon.typepad.com/weathertop

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  22. Well you did a fantastic job with those cupcakes! I am sure they taste as good as they look :D
    Thanks for sharing!
    xo,
    Karla
    www.dreamaginarius.com

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  23. Great job of making cupcakes! and the photo thing is not a blogger issue, it is an editing and saving issue, obviously didn't save after you turned them. sorry :( I had having picture issues...I always seem to have blur...arrrgh!

    anyway, come visit my party!
    Susan

    http://piecesoffatesusan.blogspot.com/2011/06/fanciful-twists-mad-tea-party-2011.html

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  24. Yay!! Your scrapped the phobia, AND you made heck of darling beautiful and tasty cupcakes too. Talk about jumping down the rabbit hole ;) Wonderland indeed ;)

    Oh and, what is wrong with pointy toothed clowns? In dark alley ways after a circus??? Humming haunting tunes? And chasing you? Isn't that fun?? Bwahaha! ;)

    ;)

    Thank you for joining in and sharing your delicious Wonderland!!

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  25. So sorry I am late
    For this important date.
    I'm still making my way down the list.

    With too little time
    I'm leaving this rhyme
    For I'm adamant about wanting to persist.

    All this running about
    Has left me dry in the mouth.
    Might I have a cup of tea?

    Your cakes of rose
    and those of orange
    are so tempting to me.

    Oh my, the time
    It goes so fast
    I must be on my way

    But fear not friend
    I shall return
    Please……Have a beautiful day.

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  26. So sorry I am late
    For this important date.
    I'm still making my way down the list.

    With too little time
    I'm leaving this rhyme
    For I'm adamant about wanting to persist.

    All this running about
    Has left me dry in the mouth.
    Might I have a cup of tea?

    Your cakes of rose
    and those of orange
    are so tempting to me.

    Oh my, the time
    It goes so fast
    I must be on my way

    But fear not friend
    I shall return
    Please……Have a beautiful day.

    ReplyDelete
  27. ... & don't worry about the twisted pictures! Anyways, we all are Mad Here!!

    Easy fix: You open the pic in your computer (any editor or preview program such as Windows preview or Preview at Mac) rotate the image and close. In windows will ask you if you want to save the changes, you say yes. If Mac, when you close.. it saves it automatically! I hope I helped, if not, feel free to email or comment in my blog :)
    xo,
    Karla
    www.dreamaginarius.com

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  28. What a lovely party. Your sweet treats were so tasty. Thank you for sharing. I had a wounderful time. Please visit me at:

    momentsinaneye.blogspot.com

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  29. I like the colors of your frosting...very soft. Thanks for adding me on Tasty Kitchen.

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  30. Glad to know about this tea party and hope it was a grand one. I am in search of a lovely LA venue for arranging garden party with my family. Got to know about some good venues and looking forward to book the right one soon.

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