A free Hummingbird (or three)

This time last year I compiled a post in which I waxed lyrical about my love of high quality cupcakes and the Hummingbird Bakery, so it seemed appropriate that last night I should enjoy an evening’s free champagne drinking and cupcake eating courtesy of them.

It’s all thanks – rather randomly – to Twitter. God bless Twitter!
At some point last week the Hummingbird Twitter account invited its followers to share their dream cupcake flavour, to which I replied:
Devil’s food chocolate cake (with white & dark choc chips), soft meringue frosting & just a touch of silver glitter. Mmmmmm.

Mmmmmmm indeed. Some may recognise that this flavour had a certain amount of inspiration from my all-time favourite Magnolia Bakery creation (honestly, sometimes I do dream about that cake), albeit with added chocolate chips and sparkle. 
Anyway, my tweet worked and I was given two invitations to their Christmas preview evening at their new Spitalfields branch (I have now officially been to all the Hummingbirds, what an achievement!). Also thanks to Twitter, I acquired a wonderful friend’s company for the evening – someone I don’t get to see often – so it was a great combination of cake, friends and champagne. 
On to the cakes… Hummingbird have seasonal daily specials and what we were getting to sample were their Christmas season. On offer were the following: 
Photo from here. (Click to view larger.) 

I was doubly pleased to be part of the experience as last year I managed to epically fail to get hold of any of the specials – having now sampled three of them, I’ve got a head-start on this year’s! We had a Chocolate Orange and Candy Cane between the pair of us – the Candy Cane one winning the prize for appearance. The Chocolate Orange had an uncanny ability to make a mess, getting frosting all over my face and half-way down my arm. It seems that there is no lady-like way to consume a cupcake when holding a glass of champers in one hand and cake in the other, while stood in a crowded shop. (Pleasingly, there are no photos of my chocolate covered face.) 
 From top left: Chocolate Orange, Candy Cane, Christmas Pudding, Snowflake
In addition to the special flavours, there were also some incredibly sweetly decorated vanilla and chocolate cupcakes – our particular favourite being the aquamarine confection with sparkly snowflakes above. We consumed a special each, did some catching up in the evening sun outside the shop (I was amused to spot staff from the nearby Fitness First handing out leaflets encouraging the cupcake eaters to join the gym) and then noticed that we could take some cakes home too. 
The Christmas Pudding and Snowflake cupcakes were shared at work this morning and made me a popular lady (well, except for the colleague who was in a meeting at the point at which they were circulated). I’m happy to report that the pudding cupcake was nothing like I thought it would be – I’m not the biggest fan of the festive dessert – instead, it turned out to be a light fruitcake with frosting that didn’t overwhelm it. There was nothing but good things said about the chocolate snowflake cupcake either. My colleagues are really going to miss me… 
Continuing this week’s Hummingbird theme, tonight and tomorrow I will be baking two varieties of their cupcakes with which to feed friends at Saturday’s birthday tea party. It seems only appropriate that the week of a big birthday has seen a lot of cake consumption! 

So, there was this wedding…

Most impressive venue for a street party (possibly). 
Best uses of themed Union Jacks [From The Sun *shudder*.] 

Best ridiculous, yet wonderfully alcoholic, royal tie-in – ably modelled by Andy.

Best cupcake tie-ins 

Friday was quite the day. Deserted streets; the few people on them seen scurrying to the nearest TV; a cheerful tube; a sudden preference for red, white and blue clothes…surreal to say the least. Choosing to watch the event of the year at church in the company of lots of friends was an excellent move – as was simultaneously following proceedings on Twitter. 
Satire of the nuptials may have been banned, but that didn’t stop Tweeters from providing chuckle-worthy material at the most inappropriate moments. Below are just a few of my personal favourites:

markaugustyn:
Simon Schama discussing David Beckham, this will never happen again, embrace it.

mrchrisaddison:
A nod to the recession from the Royal Family who haven’t updated their car in 80 years. Come on, Liz, get a Twingo for about town.

Grazia_Live:
Dress workers washed their hands every 30 mins to keep lace pristine & needles were renewed every 3 hours to keep them sharp & clean.

notthatandym:
Mate, Middleton’s sister is hot…

simonmayo:
That nun is a secret agent.

therealgokwan:
I wanna be a choir boy!

LizaClutterbuck:
Will I stand for the national anthem? No. But I will air drum the timpani part. [I ended up having to stand – peer pressure from 300+ people gathered round me…]

mim_monk:
Oh a new Rutter anthem? Just what the world needed…

A special mention has to go to Queen_UK who, as usual, was awesome. I loved her not one, but two, mentions of the King of Tonga and her running commentary was hilarious…

Text from Elton John: “I’m here”. Well, that’s a load off.
Royal iPhone to silent.
One does wish Nick Clegg would stop winking at me.
Feeling slightly awkward about Princess Beatrice’s hat, to be honest.
The RAF will now fly onto the continent and fire a few warning shots at France.
Lunch finished. Queen medley coming up. Don’t stop one now, one’s having such a good time, one’s having a ball!
Text from the Pope: “Watched the whole thing on TV. You looked A-MAZ-ING. Love, love, love that hat!”
Approximately 3/4 full of gin, 1/4 full of wedding cake and 100% full of happiness. God Save One.

Fun times, all in all. And no, I still don’t have a commemorative biscuit tin. There are none to be seen in M&S – rumour has it that McVities ones are now reduced, but I’ve yet to see any…

Friday Fun with goats, stoats and parodies

Firstly for today’s fun I need to tie up a couple of loose-ends from last week’s foolish fun. Rachel sent me a link to the Daily Mail’s [shudder] fool – extreme dog grooming. Really rather fabulous, yet worrying as it may give dog owners some ideas…

Several people were amused by SE1’s Boris Bike Statue fool, it was certainly a terrifying prospect – even more terrifying now that it appears it might actually be happening, albeit in a different location (the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square). Really? Is this necessary? I’m all for the bikes, but this is taking things a little too far.

In other news, a recently discovered gem is My High School Boyfriend Was Gay. This would be ridiculously apt for me, were it not for the fact that I went to an all-girls school and had no boyfriends, but applies to an unhealthy majority of my crushes.

Like that discovery, the next one should have featured last week, but was displaced by the fools. It’s now two weeks since the Boat Race, but these still amuse me. It seems there are now fringe events attached to this sporting institution – an Oxford & Cambridge Goat Race and Oxford & Cambridge Stoat Race. Personally, I think the goats looked far more interesting than the rowers.

It really wouldn’t be a classic Friday Fun without any musical entertainment, so I’m grateful (in a way) for this turning up on Twitter this morning. Unless you’ve lived under a rock recently, you will probably have come across Rebecca Black’s nauseating Friday, which contains lyrics that are so stupidly inane and obvious that it would make John Lennon turn in his grave. [‘Yesterday was Thursday, Today is Friday…Tomorrow is Saturday, And Sunday comes afterwards…’] You might think that things couldn’t get worse than this, but you’d be wrong.
A parody of such a song is a great idea – take the mick out of something that’s utter dross – but this is an altogether different kind of parody, a Christian parody

So it’s not all about Friday, it’s Sunday – of course. Lyrics include such gems as:
“Can’t forget my Bible, God is my friend.”
“Worshipping, worshipping, worshipping – yay!” 
“Fun, fun, church can be fun, you know that it is.” 
“…looking forward to communion.” [Well, who doesn’t?]
“We so excited, we so excited, we know Jesus is alive today.” 
God help us – quite literally.

Finally, a regular Friday cupcake update. I’ve come across an American blogger blogging about cupcakes in London – an excellent place for tips on where to find good (and bad) ones as well as recipes. It had me drooling over my keyboard yesterday. Oh, and she’s made a map of cupcake places in the capital – genius woman!

Sticky and childish Friday Fun

To quote HM The Queen on Twitter this morning: “Thank Crunchie it’s Friday.”
I couldn’t agree more.

Some of you may wonder how I find inspiration for Friday Fun (I wonder myself actually). In the dim and distant past I used to rely upon contributions from friends whose discoveries I would disguise as my own; in these days of Twitter and The Hairpin, it’s more a case of keeping track of things that I like – which I usually do via a Post-It on my desk.

I love Post-Its, which I believe I may have mentioned before. Therefore I rather loved a couple of Post-It related videos I discovered yesterday:

1) Post-It Love – for the hopeless romantics amongst you.

2) Ode to a Post-It Note – A beautiful, award-winning short that reunites a humble yellow Post-It with its creator. No word of a lie, it nearly made me cry.

While on a bit of a YouTube kick, one of my favourite YouTube innovations has been the growth of the tutorial. We already know that you can find tutorials for practically anything (in fact, some ballet ones are helping me learn terminology and moves) and that some can be quite unintentionally hilarious – in fact, last year I even had a go at making one of my own. However, it comes to something when a 5 year old girl’s favourite game to play is ‘make-up tutorials’…

At this point, I would logically link to the videos, however in the last 24 hours they’ve been removed [i.e. in the time between me drafting this post last night & editing it this morning] which is gutting. So you’ll just have to believe me that at one point they existed. A few minutes ago I emailed Annabelle to tell her of this disappointment (she’s a fellow Hairpin addict and I figured she’d probably seen it) and she fabulously came to the rescue with this contribution:

I am a 4 year old – people lists questions that a 4 year old then answers. For example:
Q: If you had a whole day to do whatever you wanted, anywhere in the world, how would you spend it?

A: I would be the king! And I would kill everybody else except my family.
Fabulously, when asked “What’s the scariest thing ever?”, his response – “A green man changing into aliens who can shoot things out of his mouth and throw up and the throw up can turn into guns and start shooting people.” was then drawn by someone.
Finally, the Friday cupcake story. I’ve recently got into Groupon (I say ‘got into’, I’ve not bought anything yet, thought am very tempted by a deal on a massage today – especially as that would tick off another First) and at the moment they’re offering a cupcake decorating workshop. I spent some time yesterday investigating this, ultimately deciding that I’d prefer a (free) tutorial from my friend Mills and some experimenting at home, however, the company (Cocoa Box) in question also happened to have a cupcake related blog which proved to be rather interesting reading… 
In amongst tips on cupcake frosting and recipes for chocolate cakes (and breads, weirdly) was a post that caught my attention. It seems that a bakery in Soho (of course, it has to be Soho) is making erotic cupcakes. That really takes the cake…but would anyone be up for visiting Cox Cookies & Cake with me at some point? (They do sell non-erotic cakes too apparently.)  
In more staid cupcake news, new Hummingbird daily specials came out last week and are well worth a trip (I say that solely based upon photographic evidence – haven’t tasted one yet). I’m particularly excited about Tuesday’s S’moreAnne cupcake which may be the closest I can get to my all time favourite cupcake (purchased from Magnolia bakery during my last hours in New York), combining chocolate cake and meringue frosting. Yum, yum and yum again. 
Happy Friday people. 

The things cupcakes do to people…

When it comes to things I get nerdy about, I generally have little control over when such nerdiness appears. (It’s how I find myself telling stories about disused tube stations at parties.) This is often embarrassing, especially if it manifests itself by me grabbing a plate out of someone’s hands so that I can photograph its contents…

…well, who wouldn’t, when the plate bore beautiful cupcakes? 
Photo courtesy of the Corker & Mills’ blog
Corker & Mills are a fabulous catering duo, one half of which is a lovely friend of mine and goes to my church. Last Sunday they catered the post-church evening meal and made colourful cupcakes. I was in a high state of anticipation having spotted a tweet from them earlier in the day mentioning the cupcakes, not to mention the fact that I’ve seen plenty of photographic evidence but never sampled them. I was not disappointed. 
Thing was, while I took photos of my cupcake, there was such a diverse range of designs that I couldn’t help wanting to document as many as possible. Having a friend serving behind the counter meant I was able to sneak some shots of the cake stand, but otherwise I sidled up to friends and borrowed their plates before consumption had begun. This inevitably meant explaining what I was doing and it has to be said that several people (male students in particular) did not fully appreciate the art of cupcake photography. 
There are rules when it comes to taking photos of cupcakes (well, in my world there are) – once looking down from above, once from the side and occasionally one minus the cupcake case: 

That top one (which was mine) was a gorgeous cake, by the way – divine chocolate sponge and not excessively frosted. Later in the evening I sampled a similarly lovely lemon sponge (with yellow icing) which had luckily stayed intact during the cupcake stampede. Yes, ‘cupcake stampede’. When it was announced that the leftover cakes would be free, there was a mad dash to the table (I did not participate in this – it was mostly men) which sent the cake stand and cakes flying. Mills said she wished I’d filmed it – so do I. 
Also, Sunday saw the creation of an interesting bit of cupcake sign-language. Friend, regular blog reader and server in the church cafe came to find me at the start of the service to let me know that cupcakes were being served (he also wanted to point out that the first song was the song I mentioned loathing last week). The music was loud (because the band were rocking out to Jesus Saves) and he felt gesturing would help get his message across. Thing is, I can’t help feeling that cupping both his hands in front of his chest was the most appropriate way to do this… 
My only regret about the cupcake extravaganza is that the lighting wasn’t great and the location not super exciting, meaning the photos I took weren’t the best. My latest hobby is taking excellent cupcakes to interesting locations: 
A Hummingbird Peanut Butter Brownie Cupcake visits the Natural History Museum and the V&A