Your Last Mouthful

Cardiff based food blog

Tag Archives: cakes

The Great Roath Bake Off 2013- Well Done Wayne!

Following last years success, organiser Wayne Courtney can be very proud that this year’s Great Roath Bake Off kicked last years backside!

Cakes- judgesWith fellow judges, I chomped my way through almost 100 entries. I have never eaten so much cake! The standard of entries were high but the winning cake stood out above the rest.

cakes- caramel

Lisa Watts’ Chocolate Salted Caramel Crunch cake was my favourite by far. I clocked it before the judging began because it looked so delicious and it tasted even better than it looked. It scored very highly on all four of our judging criteria- taste, presentation, quality of bake and texture.

The savoury category was a welcome break from all the sugar and the winner was Bill Ward with his Pork Pie. Pork Pies don’t usually float my boat but this one was packed full of well seasoned meat and light and crispy pastry and was a clear winner for me.

cakes- pie

There was also a Professional Bake category won by Nato & Co Portuguese with their Portuguese Tarts and a Children’s category won by Molly Spivey with her White chocolate, pomegranate and raspberry cake.

All in all a great day and I am honoured to have been asked to judge. Roll on next years event!

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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.

                                                                                          

Cupcake Week 2012: Who Makes The Most Beautiful Cupcakes?

To celebrate cupcake week 2012, I am going to create a cupcake gallery of beautiful handmade cupcakes. Whether you are a professional baker or a keen amateur, whatever your age or your style, I need pictures of your cakes.

All you need to do is send me your photo, your name, the name of your cake and a link to your website or social media page if you have one to be included.

I will feature all of the cakes in the gallery and then I will shortlist the best and put it to you to vote for Your Last Mouthful’s Most Beautiful Cupcake 2012.

You have until the Friday 21st September to send me your cakes. Please email them to me at nikki@yourlastmouthful.com

Get decorating!

It’s a Cake Off! Cake Decorating at Red Hot World Buffet

Last week Red Hot World Buffet in Cardiff launched their new ‘Cake-away’ service and to celebrate the event, I was invited along to take part in a cake off!

Head Pastry Chef, Darshan Choudhari has designed eight cakes ready for customers to order and take away to enjoy at home. The cakes are have been designed so that there is something for everybody from a classic Strawberry Cheesecake to a more exotic Pineapple Passion.

Photo by Lauren Mahoney

I joined Cardiff bloggers, Helen Limbrick, Babettesffest and Cardiff Food Project along with two competition winners to sample some of the cakes and to decorate our own. The morning started with a demonstration from Darshan on how to make the perfect baked strawberry cheesecake which he made look effortless and then it was over to us! With tables full of icing, cream, ganache, unlimited supplies of fruit and the all important chocolate and other toppings, we were left to get creative.

I do enjoy baking but nevertheless, my impatience usually gets the better of me and my decorating skills wain slightly after a time. Neat and symmetrical is not my forte so I decided to go for ‘effortlessly random’ which is a stance I usually take when dressing and doing my hair on account of my lack of skills to make anything match and look ordered.

It was great fun being let loose on all the toppings and I think I got carried away with my three layer chocolate cake covered in ganache and coated with cream. Sickly was not the word! To cover my sorry attempt at icing, I topped my cake with randomly placed fruit and chocolate pieces and dashed almonds around the outside to hide the mess I had made with the cream.

I have to say, I don’t think my attempt was all that bad. Obviously it wouldn’t pass as a professional offering but considering the resources and the time, I was fairly happy. Saying that though, I did get pipped to the post by a small child!

You can view the range of cakes on offer from Red Hot World Buffet on their website.

Cupcake Week 2012! Calling All Cardiff Cupcake Lovers!

It’s almost cupcake week 2012!

Last year, my week long feature on cupcake week 2011 was my most popular search ever so this year I will be doing it again. Expect reviews, recipes, tutorials, guest posts and cakey interviews.

Cupcake week starts on 17th September so get involved and get baking. I’d love to see the cakes you make and will post them all on the blog if you send me photos.

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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Love, Peace and Cupcake- Unique and Tasty!

It seems at the moment that every week I hear about a new cupcake company in the area. Cupcakes are extremely popular but with so many businesses setting up and established in Cardiff, new entries and old favourites really need to set themselves apart. Last week was the turn of Love, Peace  and Cupcake.

When Debra from Love, Peace and Cupcake emailed me to say that she was going to send me some of her Easter cupcake creations I had a look at her Facebook page and got very excited when I saw that she was baking cakes with creme eggs inside! I wondered how this would work and thought they would melt but when Debra delivered the cakes, she explained that she had frozen them before adding them to the cake case and so when the cake cooked they stayed perfectly intact.

I was intrigued to try the creme egg cupcake as I thought it was a very clever idea and I was interested to see how solid the creme egg had remained. I cut into it and it was exactly right. It wasn’t too hard but it definitely hadn’t melted either. The chocolate cake surrounding the egg was moist and flavoursome and the icing was sweet and filling. It was a real sugar overload!

I loved the creme egg cake but my favourite was Debra’s ingenious parma violet cake. Parma violets have always been a favourite of mine but I have never had a parma violet cake and I did wonder how much like the sweets it would taste. I needn’t have worried. It was spot on! I am very impressed with how much like the sweets it was.

This was another sugar explosion with a subtly flavoured parma violet cake and icing but what made it a winner was a cake pop on top. The cake pop was very well made and was dense and moist and it contained a huge burst of parma violet flavour as well as being covered in little pieces of the sweets. It transported me back to childhood trips to the sweet shop.

Debra is obviously very creative and I love trying new things so I was very impressed with her original ideas. Along with the cakes, Debra delivered me a very novel Easter gift, a cake in a jar. Layers of cake, icing and mini eggs looked beautiful in a jar which came complete with spoon.

Price wise, Love, Peace and Cupcake’s prices are comparable. A muffin sized buttercream cake is £1.50 or 6 for £10. More elaborate cakes cost more. The creme egg cakes are £2 and the parma violet cakes are £2.50 due to the cake pop. The cake in a jar is £6 or 2 for £10 which I tnihk is very reasonable as it’s a good quality jar that can be re-used and you even get a spoon!

All in all, these cakes were great and it’s nice to see such imaginative, original ideas. Debra has lots more ideas and I’ll be interested to see what she comes up with next.

My last mouthful was: The Parma Violet Cupcake

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For more reviews, competitions, foodie news and a directory of the best places to eat in Cardiff and the surrounding area, please see my website.

Teisen Deg- Cakes like they used to make!

I have been getting a lot of requests from cake companies lately to review their wares and this can only be a good thing! I love cake and recently, with the current cup cake craze, I have developed a real liking for these little works of art. When I got a call from Jayne, the very nice lady behind Teisen Deg, I was very happy to review her products but these aren’t just any cakes…

I arrived at the home of Teisen Deg and was greeted by Jayne and her daughter. It was very nice to spend some time with them both hearing about the cakes and what they offer. It was my lucky day because Jayne not only presented me with a box of 6 cupcakes  but also a whole giant carrot cake and a bara brith! As much as I wanted to eat these all by myself, I thought it would only be right of me to enlist some help so I called some friends who were happy to oblige.

What immediately struck me was how different these cakes looked to others that I have reviewed lately. I really like the new cupcake fashion and the quirkiness of cakes these days. I love the intricate designs and the bright colours. However, Teisen Deg’s cakes have a different stance. They are more from the time when cakes were cakes and were all about creating different flavours rather than funky designs. I found this quite refreshing.

The cakes were simply presented in boxes with labels indicating the type of cake and the ingredients which I found very useful. This was especially useful as Teisen Deg’s cakes are more than just sponge so it was very interesting to see what was in them.

Carrot Cake

We started with this monster of a cake first. Carrot cake is a favourite of mine so I was eager to try it. It cake was moist and spongy and full of flavour. The cream cheese icing was sweet and cheesy and not too sticky. It wasn’t at all cloying like some cheesy icing can be and it was very nice with the crunchiness of the walnuts. I really enjoyed this cake and 3 days on and it is still as fresh as the day I brought it home. The only issue I have with this cake is that rather than carrot, the overriding flavour is banana. Looking at the handy ingredients label, I can see that there is banana in it. This really isn’t a criticism because the cake is lovely but I think I would change the name to banana and carrot cake.

Breakfast Muffin

Now I really should have done as the cake said and had this for breakfast but it looked so yummy I got over excited and had it as an evening snack instead! It would have been perfect for a weekend breakfast as it wasn’t too sweet but it still had the fruitiness of the apricots and orange juice and a gorgeous topping of cereal and apricot jam. This was quite different to anything I have tried and is a really good idea.

Dairy Free Coconut  and Raspberry Muffins

I have tried lots of gluten-free cakes but I don’t think I’ve ever had a diary free one. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting this to be that good, I thought it might be a bit dry. How wrong was I! This one was so moist and light! The raspberries were fresh and gave the cake a wonderful sharp flavour which was counter balanced by the sweetness of the coconut and the raspberries really helped to moisten the sponge. These muffins were made with coconut milk so I needn’t have worried about them being dry. The coconut milk made them creamy and somehow still very light and airy.

Simnel Muffins

I wouldn’t generally pick a fruit cake if I had to choose but I really enjoyed this one. The sponge was fruity and dense and was dried fruit, spices, and marzipan. It was very nicely presented too with icing and some mini chocolate eggs. I suggest you get your order in for Easter!

I really enjoyed these cakes. Prices are average for Cardiff at £12 for a big cake and the smaller cakes depending on the size of the order and there is even a discount for students. If you’re looking for beautifully decorated, bespoke cakes and cupcakes, there is plenty of choice available. However, if you’re looking for cakes that come in a variety of flavours and focus on flavour rather than intricate decorating, these are for you. I think these will appeal to a variety of people and will continue to do so long after the cupcake craze has died down.

Breakfast Muffins, Dairy Free Raspberry and Coconut Muffins and Simnel Muffins

My Last Mouthful was: The Dairy Free Coconut and Raspberry Muffin.

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The Great Roath Bake Off!

Last weekend, I was very happy to be a judge at the extremely successful Great Roath Bake Off! After meeting organiser Wayne Courtney at an event recently, I was thrilled to be asked to be involved and it really was a fantastic event and one that I would love to be involved in again.

Leading up to the event, there was quite a lot of hype on Twitter and Facebook but I had very little idea how popular the event was going to be and how many people were going to enter so when I arrived on Saturday to endless streams of people bringing in their baking creations I was shocked!

The event was held at The Coffi House in Roath. Organiser Wayne Courtney raves about this quaint little cafe and it is often the venue of choice for other events he holds to promote independent businesses and causes in Roath. I can see why. The owners and staff were lovely and the Coffi House was perfect for this type of event as it is so laid back and the whole evening had such a wonderful friendly community feel.

I watched eagerly as the cakes and bakes continued to pour through the doors until there was nowhere left to put them. The place was packed to the point where some people just couldn’t get in! My fellow judges and I (Sarah from the Cakehouse, Matt from Roathcardiff.net, and student journalist Emma Gilbertson) took our seats and the competition began!

A selection of the cakes and bakes

We judged on three categories: Taste, Presentation and Originality. With 35 entries in total, there was a lot to eat! There was a real mixture to work through from a beautifully decorated cake resembling The Coffi House, some prawn canapes (someone misunderstood what baking is), pasties, cupcakes, a ‘penis cake’, tarts and many many cakes. Some were delicious and some not so…

The Coffi House Cake

We picked three winners with first place taking the money from the entries and the raffle. We also awarded a special prize to 6 year old Silas who impressed us with his ‘weird cake’ which was smothered in chocolate and green on the inside. Very creative!

And the winners were……..

THIRD PLACE– Stefanie Lehman – Pineapple Praline Creme Torte.

This lovely cake gave us some much needed freshness after eating so many cakes. It was beautifully sweet and moist but also fresh thanks to the pineapple.

Third place- Pineapple Praline Creme Torte

SECOND PLACE- Lisa Watts – Sticky Toffee Walnut Tart

For me this one was very close to being a winner. I liked it because it was different so it really stood out. The walnuts went beautifully with the toffee in what is traditionally more likely to be a toffee and pecan tart. Lovely!

FIRST PLACE- Kate Lloyd Hughes – Earl Grey infused Chocolate Cake

Kate’s cake was a unanimous winner. It was one of the first ones we tried but it stuck in our minds. The subtle tea went beautifully with the chocolate and the moist cake was baked very well. A lovely cake.

Wayne Courtney

All in all this was a fantastic event. Wayne Courtney certainly has a knack for this kind of thing and I hope he does it again next year. Wayne will be the first to tell you that he doesn’t cook and prefers eating out so this really wasn’t something he would usually do but he was a fantastic host and organiser. There were also some great decorations from Crafty Cakes. It was a wonderful thing to see a community come together and to have such a range of people attend. I might even enter myself next year!

Leftovers!


Cocorico Patisserie – Vive La France

Guest review by Mr. V

We arrived at this little gem, which sits on Whitchurch Road in Heath, at lunch time last Friday. We entered and in front of us were glass display counters of French cakes, savoury pastries, fruit and a collection of large colourful meringues.

The light interior had the standard fair of café style tables, chairs, soft benches and a breakfast bar, with people reading newspapers and filling in crosswords created a very relaxed atmosphere to while away the hours. Blackboards displaying the choice of sandwiches and drinks, freshly made bread behind the counter and rustic French signs hanging on the wall giving it the French patisserie feel.

The clientele of the café was a mixture which shows it caters for all. The pleasant atmosphere is also welcoming to anyone – whether you’re with someone or by yourself.

I was with my friend Mr B who lives just around the corner from Cocorico and comes here every Saturday morning to get a freshly baked loaf of bread. We discovered later that everything is handmade and baked by the friendly, French owner – even the bread for the sandwiches – which shows the dedication and passion he has for his business. The tea we both ordered was served in small tea pots with loose leaf tea.

We made up our minds and placed our order with the friendly waitress at the counter.
I went for a black forest ham, avocado and sun-dried tomato sandwich in a brown crusty roll. The bread was lovely and soft and a very good combination of ingredients (£3.50).

Mr B went for the Cocorico Club sandwich which had chicken, chorizo and salad on white soft, fluffy bread (£4.95). He gave it the definite thumbs up. He also went for a leek and cheese quiche which was also very nice, well made pastry and a nice warm and soft leeky, cheesy filling.

Right, onto the cakes. The cakes look fantastic and it took a while to choose. Mr B went for the orange and cinnamon cake which was soft and mousse like and a nice combination of flavours.

I went for the pineapple and coconut cake. It looked the business and the taste was even better. A French tart covered in a hard yellow icing containing a sweet, soft, cakey, crumbly explosion of pineapple and coconut with small chunks of pineapple and coconut shavings. Mr B decided to talk to me while I ate this cake but I have no idea what he was saying. C’etait Magnifique!

The prices of the cakes ranged from £1.60 to £3.20 which for the high standard is very good. In fact I took Mrs V back there the next day and bought a lemongrass, basil and lime meringue tart, a sweet chestnut cheesecake and a raspberry chibouste which put us both in a good mood for the rest of the day.

Overall, this is an excellent place to sit a while and have a good tea or coffee and have a quality bite to eat, or just pop in and take away cakes or freshly baked bread.

My Last Mouthful was: The pineapple and coconut cake

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