Your Last Mouthful

Cardiff based food blog

Tag Archives: Baked by Mel

Feel Good February

Throughout the month of February, the very talented Baked By Mel will be giving away cake to a worthy cause nominated by you.

Starting today, via the Bakedbymel Facebook page, you are invited to like and share Mel’s status explaining Feel Good February and to reply underneath it with your nomination to receive a free cake.  Every Friday in February, Mel will randomly draw a name from the collected nominees and they will win! If they are local she will deliver, if not, they will receive a barabrith through the post.  You can continue to nominate throughout February, any day of the week, all names will be collected and one drawn every Friday.

Worthy causes can be anyone that you think deserves a cake in their life. Friends, family, strangers (providing you know their address!).

Head over the Mel’s Facebook page to make your nomination.

Feel Good February

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Learning To Bake Like Mel- Festive Cupcake Classes

With the popularity of cupcakes still steady, rather than buy a festive batch, the people I spent last Monday night with decided to make their own.

As a Baked By Mel cake lover, I was invited along to Mel’s first class at Rudry Village Hall. The class was fully booked so I took my seat with 12 ladies at a table laid out neatly with icing, cutters, sprinkles and edible spray paint.

Mel makes fantastic cakes so I had no doubt that we were going to go away with some lovely creations but I have to say I was far more pleased with mine than I expected to be. They looked really professional but it was all down to Mel’s designs.

We made four cake designs (two of each) and then we had four ‘free’ cakes that we could decorate as we liked with coloured balls and spray, totally 12 cakes to take home. Mel split us into three groups to start with so that we worked on three different designs and then rotated. This worked well in terms of sharing equipment as we were quite a large group.

We were shown pictures of each design and a brief demonstration and Mel was on hand to help if we needed it. The designs were surprisingly easy, even for someone as impatient as me, and very effective.

Even though we were shown what to do, there was still some creative license. We were shown how to make the components for example, the ponsetter flowers, but we could decorate the cakes with them however we liked.

Other designs needed to be followed more precisely. I thought it was a good blend of doing your own thing and learning new techniques.

Once we had worked on three designs, Mel gave us step by step instructions on how to make the topper for the amazing Father Christmas cake. With all of our design components ready to go, we were talked through the techniques for icing the cakes with a nozzle and piping bag and then we were let loose.

As I said, I was really pleased with my cakes which looked especially nice all together in a box. Mel was friendly and approachable and even though we didn’t know each other, she made us all feel relaxed.

There are still spaces on Mel’s next Christmas Cupcake Class on 10th December at £30 each. The price includes tea and cake at break time and the 12 cakes that you get to take away which I think is very reasonable for a three hour class. Please contact Mel directly to book a place.

You can read my review of Baked by Mel here.

CUPCAKE WEEK: TUESDAY- An Interview With The Lady Behind Baked By Mel

As part of cupcake week, I thought it would be interesting to interview the passionate cake baking supreme that is Melanie Constantinou, the lady behind Baked By Mel.

I first met Mel when we got together for tea so I could review some of her cakes and I found her passion and excitement for baking inspiring. So, a few weeks ago, we met for yet more tea and cake and this time I took my pad and pen. Here’s what she had to say.

How long have you been baking? 

Along time for fun but a year ago last February, I went self-employed and started Baked By Mel.

What made you set up your cake business?

I have two young children and I wanted to work around them to avoid all the issues with childcare. I knew it had to be home based and I love cake! There are cakes everywhere at the moment and I was aware of the revival of grow your own and make your own so it seemed like a perfect fit.

What sparked your interest in baking?

My Mum is very enthusiastic about food. My Dad is Greek so the food we ate when I was young was really interesting and unusual. We’d have things like stuffed vine leaves, macaroni pie, all made from scratch. My Greek Nan used to make yogurt in the bathroom so I learnt a lot.

Food is really important in my background. My Grandad owned a butchers on Brick Lane in London and my Mum ran a small fruit and veg stall next door. When she met my Dad who is Greek, his Mum taught my Mum how to cook. My parents now run two cafes in Southend so food has always been an important part of my life.

What sets your cakes apart from others?

I’ve been wondering this. Apparently they look polished! They are simple but I like things to be symmetrical and made with care. I genuinely love my cakes! They look so lovely when I look through the oven door and see them all cooking together and when I ice them I get all excited! When I deliver them to people and they are pleased it’s so exciting and I get a really warm buzz, it’s great!

Call me strange but I think that love and passion can get into food. When I see my boys eating something I’ve made I get all maternal. I feel like I’m doing my job properly.

So I guess what I’m saying is, what sets my cakes apart is ‘me’. That’s how I feel anyway. I am the biggest secret ingredient! All my love and passion goes into everything I bake and I think that’s important. Oh, that and music. I always play music while I’m baking, it’s good for the cakes!

What is your greatest creation?

Last Christmas, I asked my partner what he wanted for desert on Christmas day. I thought he’d say cheesecake but no, he wanted Dutch apple pie, just like his Mum makes. Well this worried me, I would have to compete with fond memories!

I looked at some recipes and I needed a variety of apple that I couldn’t get over here so I used Granny Smith’s and the pastry was just so rich, I had no idea how I would roll it. I had a new oven that I had never used before so I wasn’t used to the settings but it turned out to be absolutely gorgeous!

The fluted edges were perfect, the apples were shiny with a brandy glaze, it looked like it should be in the window of a French Patisserie. He was delighted that I had cooked it for him and he even said it was better than his Mother’s but don’t tell her!

Where do you get your inspiration?

I look at a lot of recipes but I also base my cakes on flavours that inspire me. I might see an ingredient I like, like some nice fresh strawberries, then I think about what flavours might go with them. I look at turning large cakes into cupcakes and I like to experiment using flavours from cocktails. I’ll think of something and wonder how I’ll get it in a cake. For example, Pina Colada. I’d soak pineapple in the cake mix and I’d add coconut milk to the frosting.

Often I’ll see something like a cake wrapper or a gorgeous plate and think of flavours that would suit them. This often leads onto a whole range of things. A beautiful vintage plate might make me think of Earl Grey as a cake flavour which leads me to think of more tea related cakes I could create.

Aside from baking, what else do you like to cook?

I love baking! I love making soda bread but that’s still baking. Soup! I love making soup! It’s straight forward, nutritious and rewarding. I would NEVER have soup from a can. Once you have the basics I think it’s impossible to go wrong.

What is the best meal you’ve had recently?

It was at the Purple Poppadom in Cardiff. I had mussels to start in a coconut sauce with different naan breads. I love dipping bread in food, it reminds me of my time living in Sinai.

If you could only have one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

….long pause. This is so hard! Hmmmm, it would have to be my Dad’s kebabs. They are so good! I have never tasted anything like it. He cooks it on real charcoal and infuses the meat for hours. It has to come with pitta and salad. Perfect!

Mel’s creations

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It was a pleasure to interview Mel. I totally agree, love and passion can get into food and you will definitely find them in Mel’s cakes. Have a look at her website to see what she can do.

                                                                                          

Baked By Mel- Cakes Crying Out To Be Eaten.

As you well know, I get very excited when someone offers to send me a box of cakes to review. Beautiful cupcakes appearing on my desk is definitely a perk but it is even more exciting when I get to meet the people behind the cakes and have a chat.

Last week I was thrilled to have tea with the lovely Melanie behind Baked By Mel at the wonderful Pettigrew Tearooms. I instantly liked Mel, she was bubbly and fun and her enthusiasm for her business and love of tea and cake was infectious. I could have chatted and eaten cake for hours.

Mel told me about her business and how she had set it up so that she could be at home with her young children and how well it is now doing. It was great to hear that she enjoyed it so much and how she was staying true to what she loves. Mel believes that a cake should be all about making you want to eat it. While cupcakes can be beautiful, they still need to make your mouth water so Mel experiments with flavours and keeps her designs simple (but still lovely to look at) so that they are not just too pretty too eat, they taste great too.

I agree fully with this ethos but for those of you who read my reviews regularly you will know this so I won’t bang on about it. I will just say that I was pleased to hear this and for me a cupcake can look like a work of art but flavour should not be compromised.

Digging into Mel’s cakes, I can assure you flavour was high on her list of priorities. The cakes were delicious and very imaginative. They came packed in a colourful box, perfect for a gift and each cake had a unique design.

Black Forest Cherry

Black Forest Gateaux has never been at the top of my list of desserts so I wasn’t expecting to like this one as much as I did but it actually turned out to be my favourite. The cake had a rich, dark chocolate flavour made incredibly moist by lashings of brandy and cherry and topped with the most gorgeous light fluffy perfectly white icing. Mel explained that the butter icing was beaten for 8 minutes and included lots of fluid to make it so light and airy.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch

Topped with a piece of snickers and a moorish chocolate fudge topping, this chocolate cake was filled with peanut butter. The combination of sweet and salty is something that I am loving at the moment so I enjoyed this one.

Lemon and Poppy Seed

You can’t go wrong with lemon, it’s one of my favourites. This one was very strong and the bitterness of lemon was matched perfectly with the sweetness in the sponge and the poppy seeds gave it an extra dimension adding a bit of crunch. Again this was lovely and moist and topped with that light icing again.

Strawberry Jam

This one certainly looked very cute with a cake heart on top. It was a very traditional combination of vanilla sponge with strawberry jam inside. The jam was also handmade by The Preservation Society.

Strawberry Cheesecake

Topped with a fresh strawberry this cake was a moist vanilla sponge with soft butter icing and a layer of cream cheese in between the two. A clever idea and very tasty although as a cheese fiend, I would have liked a bit more cheese.

At just £1.50 per cake Mel’s prices are very competitive and would make a great gift or just a guilty pleasure for a Sunday afternoon. I am looking forward to seeing what new creations Mel comes up with in the future and hope to meet her again soon.

My Last Mouthful was: Black Forest Cherry Cake

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