Food is very evocative - a simple taste or scent of a certain type of food can bring back very specific memories; Cake is no different.
For me, the first cake that springs to memory's mind is lemon drizzle. Those two words will forever be associated with my Grandma Pat, who passed away over ten years ago now.
My memories of her are laden with baking - cherry buns, runny water icing, fruit cake, apple pie - but mainly lemon drizzle. It was never fancy, just a sponge, but she had a name for making a brilliant bake of it. Sure, it's a relatively simple bake, but none can compare to my grandma's! I like to think she'd be very proud of me and my lil' cake business.
The second memory blast I have when thinking about cake is a very festive one. Every year since I've been on this planet my mum has made a showstopping Christmas cake. Sometimes more than one, if a school raffle or church fete needed one. She's even been known to make it for someone's birthday, as it's their favourite. It's all about the cake here, even though the decoration is always perfect; the dark sponge is always absolutely packed with dried fruit and booze. Mum is a complete foodie, and loves a decent fruit cake, and Christmas wouldn't be the same without a big slice of her boozy Christmas cake.
Christmas is one thing, but birthdays are even more about cake in my memory. Christmas dominates with so many other foods, activities, traditions over a longer period of time, whereas a birthday is just one day (or two, if you;'re the Queen and you're reading this). So, in terms of percentage of importance, I would argue birthday cakes are even more important that Christmas cakes, being a central feature to one's big day. After all, 'a party without a cake is just a meeting', or so the famous saying goes. I've been lucky enough to have many cakes baked for me on past birthdays - here was this years! Thank you Max, very much!
And while we're talking birthdays, banana cake may always remind me of my little one's first birthday. Cake was an important part to the celebrations as a nationwide lockdown hugely restricted what we could do. I made Rox two vegan - she had an egg allergy at the time - banana cakes, one for a cake smash (see here) and one for a sandwich tea in the garden with a handful of family members. Even though I say so myself, it was a bit of a corker - fabulous memories.
What kind of cakes bring memories to your mind?
All deliveries to Hallen and Henbury in BS10 postcode (Bristol) will recieve 10% off this month. That's 10% off cupcakes... birthday cakes ... traditional homebakes... vegan cakes... gluten free bakes... ALL THE CAKE!!
Don't miss out - email firstname.lastname@example.org, send me a message or find the 280 Bakes Facebook page or Twitter!
My customers are full of questions, love 'em! Here are some of the recent queries I've had, and the (helpful) answers below...
1. Is a cupcake the same as a muffin?
Nope. A cupcake has much higher butter and sugar content and they have fancy icing on the top. Muffins are often more appropriate for breakfast, often being similar to bread, and cupcakes are better for dessert.
2. How do I pay for a 280 Bakes cake?
Paypal is preferred (to email@example.com) or cash, as a second preference. This is mainly to make it simple to take payment immediately when a customer books a delivery in, but it also limits physical contact during these Covid-19 days.
3. What's the difference between a Chocolate cake and a brownie?
The main difference between brownies and chocolate cake is that brownies have more chocolate content and are gooey. Baking powder and soda are not used in brownies and they often have more sugar than a cake would. Both are delicious, though!
4. Why are bundt cakes so much more expensive?
Simply because there's almost four times the amount of mixture that goes into the cake compared to a traditional homebake, and the size means they take so much more time to bake. Perfect for a party, a real centrepiece!
5. What do you use instead of egg in a vegan cake?
There are many different things recipes call for in egg-free cakes. For example, many of my cakes contain flaxseed, banana, apple sauce or yoghurt instead. You can also do a mixture of vinegar and baking soda, but I prefer to use fruit based or seed products.
I hope this was useful, please let me know if you have any questions I can answer for you!
I've had my busiest August ever! here's some of the delicious cakes which were hand delivered to Bristol residents and businesses...
Top line: Three Indian fusion cakes for Pipal Tree restaurant: Mango yoghurt, orange cake (vegan), and banana coconut (vegan), a large chocolate sponge - again for Pipal Tree, thanks guys! - and a gluten free chocolate cake for Emma's birthday.
Bottom line: Llama themed cupcakes, a low sugar lemon bundt, and a blue cake smash bake for a one year old. Almost a shame he had to smash it!
Let's see what September brings...
It's pretty nasty when cake batter curdles. Here's how to avoid and fix the problem!
Avoid those liquidy lumps by using room temperature ingredients. When ingredients that are too cold mix together, they don't combine and can result in a gross lumpy mixture. Eggs are normally the culprits, so ideally get them out the fridge around an hour before you start to bake.
And what to do to save a curdled mixture? You can add a little more flour to sort out the liquid mess, but don't add too much! This will cause an imbalance of the cake ingredients, making your cake drier. A tablespoon or two should be plenty to make the batter smooth.
Yes, you can bake a curdled batter, it's not the end of the world, but it may be a little more dense than you'd normally have.
Just a quick blog week, I'm going to go and make the most of the sun. August will be over before we know it!
I'm an admirer of beautiful front doors in Bristol, making doorstep deliveries so much fun!
So while I tell you why changes to my delivery policy have been introduced, take a look at some of my favourite local front doors (Thanks to a little help from my fave peeps on Instagram).
If you can prove one of these doors is yours, you can have a Victoria Sponge free!
When 280 Bakes first started in 2016, it was a porch sale enterprise only, selling all manner of baked goods.
Within three or four weeks, it became a delivery service to all of Bristol as demand for cupcakes, birthday cakes and traditional homebakes got really high. From that first Autumn I employed a team of home bakers to help support my business, which, at its peak, had six bakers on board.
Then, in March 2019, the business closed temporarily when I had a baby.
âNow 280 Bakes is back, deliveries have changed slightly...
(LOVE this bumble bee door knocker, I neeeeed!)
So, first off, I am now limiting deliveries to doors in the BS9, BS10 and BS11 postcodes. This is mainly because I bloomin' hated driving into central Bristol and further east to deliver in the past - it was once a two hour round trip to get to Kingswood and back! Traffic has been historically abysmal... Let's see what post-lockdown looks like in (hopefully) a few months, but I'd be reluctant to take on a wider area at the moment.
I also have limited the patch I deliver to because I need and want to be home more. My baby is a total delight, and I want to spend time with her. I also have extra baby-related responsibilities - like the nursery drop offs - so I can't be too far away some days/times. That's fair, I think!
Lastly, CakeOD is no longer a 'thing' for 280 Bakes. I sold the trademark name for my same day service in the Spring last year and don't, as a rule, do same-day deliveries any more.
Saying that, if you're desperate and in my delivery zone, do try me - I may have a quiet day and a long baby nap to bake through! Please note, this is generally more possible for traditional homebakes than birthday cakes and cupcakes, but never say never!
So that's the reason why I've limited delivery of my delicious cakes to around a four mile radius. The Bristol Channel doesn't accept deliveries, obviously, but I cover Southmead, Westbury-on-Trym, Sea Mills, Lawrence Weston, Avonmouth, Henbury, Brentry...
And of course, the deliveries are socially distanced. I leave the cake on the doorstep and ring the bell, standing back while the customer collects their treat.
Oh, go on then, one more wonderful door!
If you're a home baker yourself, you may have had the problem of a cake that sinks.
A sunken cake is incredibly frustrating and disappointing. Your hard work and careful preparation has ended up a disaster, and you can't really save it - not even with decoration!
<< This week I'm sharing my top five tips to prevent a cake turning out like this!
How to prevent a cake from sinking:
1. Do not open the oven door while your precious cake is baking. If you absolutely need to because the cake is browning a little on one edge, do it when there's 5-10 mins left on the bake. You should be safe in a 40 min recipe. Also, don't slam the door shut!
2. Don't use too much baking powder. It may be tempting to put a little more in for a good rise, but first of all, you may be able to taste it - ick! - and second, the cake will rise too high too fast, and will most likely result in a collapse.
3. Ensure you have your oven at the correct temperature - if it's too hot, the same will happen as with the baking powder overdose.
4. Make sure you don't under-bake the cake. If the sides (which cook first and quicker) are done, the middle may still be a little soggy. Cover your tin with foil and bake for a little longer until a deep, central skewer poke comes out clean.
5. Make the mixture and immediately put it in the pan. Don't leave it on the side for later, stick it straight into a pre-heated oven.
Prefer to use your kitchen for cocktail making, parties and doing the laundry? Save yourself a cake baking nightmare and ...
All the best,
for national afternoon tea week I'm giving away a special cake themed wallpaper for your phone.
What a glorious 'national week' to celebrate! From 10-16th August it's Afternoon Tea Week and I'm giving away a FREE phone wallpaper to cake lovers!
All you have to do is sign up to the 280 Bakes newsletter (see the bottom of our website homepage) and I'll email it over to you.
Cake smashes for babies are all the rage, so here are my SIX Top tips for a fun and messy afternoon!
I did my first cake smash last month, for Baby V as she turned a year old. I took weeks planning it, so excited... probably a little more excited than my befuddled baby!
I baked a soft vanilla cake in the shape of a heart - vegan, because she had an egg allergy until recently - and decorated it in a simple but bright design. It had to be iced with buttercream for maximum messiness, and I wanted it to have blue elements to match part of the bunting.
Honestly, I can't exactly say Baby V had the time of her life - she was a little confused and needed some encouragement - but I certainly had fun! She was very elegant, picking at it with her fingers, and a little confused, but it's a great memory as parents.
Would you brave a cake smash with your little one?
If so, here are my top six tips for a successful cake smash!
Let me know how you get on!
Here's A selection of what I've been baking this month!
Top line: Tequila Rose cake (for Rose's birthday), Espresso Brownies, vegan Chocolate Cake
Bottom Line: Lemon Drizzle Cake, Chocolate Cake (for a very pregnant friend!), Blackberry cupcakes.
Ok, the last ones were for my family, but yum, can't beat a seasonal bake!
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