Sunday, November 6, 2011

Out with the old.....

We have a new website!!!

Curiositea has evolved so much over the last 18 months, and the Curiositea Shop blog has been such an enormous part of that evolution.

I'm so grateful to everyone who has followed me, and would like to invite you to now continue the Curiositea ramblings via our new website!
Though this is the last post on this page, the blogging will continue via the new website, and you can keep up with us on Facebook and Twitter too.  You can also contact us and order directly through the website.

We'd love to hear what you think about the new look Curiositea Shop!

Thank you for reading and do join us in our new swanky looking blog!!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Autumn Apple Traybake

If I knew you were coming I'd have baked a cake!  Well, that was what should have happened, but the idea to bake a half-term cake for my parents who visited this week only occurred to me hours before they were due to set off!

Undeterred, I decided to make a quick traybake - but decided to give it an Autumnal twist.

My parents had brought some apples, among various other produce, so I decided to use some of them in this bake.  The apples were smallish eating apples, with beautiful red skin.

I greased a roasting tin (and in hindsight should have lined it too but was in a lazy mood this afternoon!)

I sliced the apples and laid them on the bottom of the pan.  I then sprinkled brown sugar over them, hoping to create a bit of a toffee apple taste once baked.

I made up my usual traybake recipe and added about a teaspoon of cinnamon and a teaspoon of nutmeg to the mix, before pouring it over the sliced apples.

 I baked it in the oven for approximately 35 minutes at 160*C until golden brown on top and smelling delicious!!

Wanting the apple juice to soak into the cooling sponge (and also concerned they might weld themselves to the tin once cool) I turned the tin upside-down and let the cake fall out.

My thoughts about the greaseproof paper lining were accurate as had I lined it first the apples would have stayed put.  As it happened some did stick but it was fairly easy to replace them.  A quick sprinkling of more brown sugar and it was done!  We had to eat it warm, but no one complained!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Lazy Sunday Pudding Experiment

This pudding was most certainly an experiment, but I was so pleased with the outcome (taste-wise at least!) that I had to share it.  I had some sponge cake trimmings left over from making some mini victoria sponges, and never wanting to throw anything away (especially cake!) I'd kept it in a bowl covered in cling film.

We also had a couple of raspberry doughnuts left in the cupboard which had gone stale (rock solid to be precise!) so again my "waste not want not" ethics came into play.  Rather than waffle on I'll write this as a recipe:
You will need:

Sponge cake trimmings (or the ends of a loaf of bread
2 stale jam doughnuts (or you could used pain au chocolat - improvise!)
Handful of fruit (raspberrys, apple, banana, chocolate - that's a fruit right?)
3/4 pint cheap instant custard
1 egg


  • Break the cake trimmings into pieces and cover the base of an oven-proof dish. 
  • Slice the doughnuts and lay across the top of the cake.  
  • Tuck the raspberries into any gaps between the cake and doughnut pieces.
  • Make up the custard according the the packet's instructions, but err on the side of 'runny' in terms of consistency.  Allow to cool slightly.
  • Beat the egg in a separate cup, before beating a little of the cooled custard in to the egg.
  • Pour the beaten egg into the the rest of the custard - adding a little custard to the egg beforehand helps to stop the egg cooking before stirred in.
  • Pour the custard mixture over the cake pieces ensuring all of the cake is covered.  Push the cake pieces down into the custard if necessary.
  • Bake at 160*C for an hour.
  • Remove and allow to cool slightly before serving. 

This was such a lucky experiment.  Loosely based on Nigella Lawson's Pain Au Chocolate recipe from How to be a Domestic Goddess, but I opted for an incredibly lazy alternative, but loved how it turned out.  We had ours with icecream, but cream or more custard would have been just as good.  Might try it again with apples and syrup... or chocolate chunks and croissants..... or bananas and toffee... or.....

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hares, tortoises, skylines and favours....

Oh my bloggness how I've neglected you!!!

Things have been plodding on at a somewhat steadier pace of late, though not entirely through choice.  I've been feeling a bit under the weather of late so have had to cut back on a few of the plans I'd had, while keeping up with the essentials.  I'm delighted to be continuing my relationship with York Theatre Royal with my cupcakes continuing to be stocked in the cafe there.  They currently feature The Hare & The Tortoise for the production by Tutti Fruitti Productions.

The cakes are vanilla sponge with chocolate buttercream.  The Hare features chocolate flavoured ears and fudge nose, and the Tortoise has a multicoloured buttercream and sugar shell!  I had such fun designing these, in collaboration with the catering team at the theatre.  The cakes can be bought individually or as part of the children's lunch bags.

The other activity undertaken over the last few weeks were the creation of mini cupcakes which were given away as part of the York Food Festival last week.  They were given away with purchases of the York Evening Press.

It was strange to be doing promotional items for myself!  The favours were individually packaged in clear boxes, and featured a 10% discount voucher packed in the base of the box, and decorated with branded stickers.  These favours start at £1.50 each depending on the amount of packaging or decoration required.

The other activity is slightly less cakey, but no less exciting.  I'm due to launch my new website in the next few weeks and cannot wait!  As soon as it goes live you will be the first to know!!

Finally, and returning to the theatre connection for a moment, I wanted to share with you a cake which I loved making.  This three tier cake was for the young cast party of Peter Pan at York Theatre Royal.  We wanted to create a magical Pan-themed cake, but avoiding anything too Disney-esque, as the cast were aged between 10 and 19 years old.  The programme design instantly sprang to mind, and so we decided to use this to create the cake.  Having the three tiers meant that the flying silhouettes would be perfectly placed.  I used a mixture of blue fondant icing to create a marbled covering for the cake.  I then used various lustres to create light and shimmer across the sky.  The silhouettes were traced using greaseproof paper and painted using black food colouring.  The design went all around the cake, with me inventing the London skyline slightly around the back!

I loved creating this cake.  It was great to approach things in a different way, and painting cakes was a revelation!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Second star to the right....

This week I've been thinking a lot about choices; particularly in light of the A-Level results coming out last week and the flurry for prospective students and their parents visiting York over the weekend and this week.  It's made me reflect on my own choices and how I've come to be doing the things I am currently doing.

To be honest I would probably put it all down to fate.  I remember nervously choosing my A-Level choices (French, English Literature, English Language and Theatre Studies).  Dropping out of French in the first term, I was surprised to find myself confidently having a considerable go at conversing in French while on holiday recently.  I particularly learned how to say "I've been stung by a wasp" as I was!

My love of theatre and literature saw me through a degree in Theatre, Film, Television and Literature and MA in Creative Writing.  Initially planning to write and direct theatre, I graduated intending to work in the arts administration field.  I am now a Creative Business Development Officer and I bake cakes!

The building blocks of my career and associations I have made along the way are on one hand entirely fortunate and unplanned.  I have made choices as opportunities have presented themselves and I am thankful that I am where I am now.

On the other hand however, it could be said that it was inevitable that I have arrived here.  The foundations are laid deep within my upbringing - a quiet undercurrent of enterprise, with both parents and two uncles running their own businesses to some degree.

My studies and subsequent employment has given me the skills to start my own business.  One way or another I draw on those A-Level choices made (quite a few!) years ago; I write; creative writing used for my blogs among other written communication, French; deciphering patisserie labels in French shop windows to learn more about their marvellous creations, and theatre studies; I am proud to be providing cupcakes to accompany the fabulous production of Peter Pan at York Theatre Royal.

Was it planned?  No.  Could I have known what I'd be doing now?  No.  Am I happy?  Oh yes.  To all those who are making choices this week regarding their futures; there are countless choices yet to make, and you never know where those choices will lead.  Just be confident in your decisions, and know that in the long term, you won't get it wrong.

Friday, July 22, 2011

An Eclair to Remember...

I was asked by my partner in Afternoon Tea crime, (Yorkshire Teas), if I could make mini chocolate eclairs.  "Yes!" was my immediate response, hastily followed but lots of reference to books and the internet to work out whether I actually could!  I've been keen to develop my skills further, and there's nothing like a deadline to get you working!  I opted for a traditional recipe from the Be-Ro which has straightforward instructions and I always tend to opt for the more traditional recipes.
You make the pastry batter in a completely different way - so if you're pastry - adverse it's a great one to try!

 And of course you get to smother the finished puffs of choux pastry with chocolate and fill them with cream!  I loved making these.  I'm always amazed that from the most basic ingredients you can create something incredible!  Perfect for a dainty (and delicious) Afternoon Tea!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Cyber Cupcakes!

Picture courtesy of @TomFaller
Today my cupcakes really did take a step towards being cyber-cupcakes as they were the focus for the afternoon coffee break at the TEDxYork Conference at York University today.

I'd been listening to the event online via the web streaming which took place throughout the day, so when I arrived with the cupcakes in the afternoon I'd felt as though I'd been a part of it all.

I tried to make cupcakes fit with the technical tone of the event, so avoided swirly piped frosting, opting instead for a clean circle of buttercream and a printed logo topper.

We narrowly managed to snap a few official photos of the display before the afternoon break commenced.  I suddenly realised that while posing for a photo next to the cakes, I was suddenly holding up the queue!

Picture courtesy of @YorkConferences
 Suddenly over 200 delegates descended on the display and filed passed in an orderly fashion, collecting their cake as they went.  I loved how many delegates took photos before picking up their cake!  Within minute they were viral, being posted on Twitter and shared.  The photos featured here are those taken by delegates and shared as part of the #TEDxYork Twitter feed.

Picture courtesy of @bristoljames
I was so glad I stayed to see how quickly the cakes disappeared from the stand.  I thoroughly enjoyed my virtual conference attendence today, and I hope the conference delegates enjoyed the reality of my cyber cupcakes.

Curiositea's Cyber Cupcakes in the Press