Two Sweet Melissa's in a row? I must be getting my wee bot back on track ;)

First of all, I'd like to say one thing. For the first time since I was 17 I am no longer employed by the protective and cushy bubble that is the local authority. Yup, on Friday I bid Gateshead Council and Housing Company a final farewell, thus closing that chapter of my life forever. I've met some wonderful people and had some super fun times and I hope whoever may be reading this knows I'll miss that little corner of my office deeply. However, in the same breath I am overjoyed to state that I am now the newest member of the Bigface Studio family. Yeah sure, there might just be Kris and myself at the moment, but that's not the point ;) Now, onwards and upwards!

Right, now I've got that out of the way let me get to the main attraction. I've never been a big fan of sugar cookies, I've just never found a recipe that has worked for me. They're either too tough, to crumbly, too bland or just too damn difficult to work with. Sweet Melissas version was one of the better cookies I've came across. The dough came together quickly and easily and was very pliable. Now, I'm certainly not a fan of delicate flavours, I like to taste my food and taste it big, so with this in mind I upped the amount of vanilla and lemon zest by half a tsb each. After reading my fellow SMS bakers comments I'm certainly glad I did, the main theme running through the posts were 'lack of flavour' and 'bland'. Glad I dodged that bullet.

I've always been a little bit obsessed with sugar skulls and after having a rake through my assortment of cookie cutters I decided to use my halloween skull and spend an afternoon colouring in bright and beautiful Day of the Dead style biccies. I sold the biscuits at a friends gig and boy were they the hit of the show. Everyone that wandered past out little stall commented on their decoration before digging deep in their wallets to become a proud owner ;) Thanks Melissa and thanks Nina for your awesome pick this week, you've rekindled my faith in sugar cookies!

I do apologise for my early post, but I have a very busy day ahead of me tomorrow and I just wouldn't get the time to get this up. I hope you forgive me!

Cupcake fun

Lordy lordy, am I cupcaked out! And the way Pet Lamb is going there isn't an end in sight. I've been baking solidly for about 2 weeks now, baking, freezing, frosting, selling. It's a never ending cycle, but I've never been happier! Plus, this week marks a huge milestone in my life, but more on that later ;)

This week I've been doing some more experimenting with vegan baking, but this time I've combined elements of two special diets to create these not only vegan, but gluten free beauties. Flavored with a drop of almond essence combined with the classic vanilla, I'm sure these babies won't just appeal to celiac's.

Next on the menu is every Geordie's favorite drink, magicked into a beautiful cupcake! That's right, a Brown Ale Cupcake! I can't bring myself to say Newcastle Brown Ale as they've gone and moved the brewery to Yorkshire, heathens! I don't half miss the smell of the hops drifting over the river come brewing day. Sigh. If I had the patience I would have doodled the Newcastle sky line upon the blue starts, but the last of my patience was spent icing next Sundays SMS challenge :p

Gluten Free, Vegan Cupcakes (adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World)

1 cup soy milk
1/3 canola oil (I used veg oil)
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup gluten free flour blend ( Doves do an excellent blend)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 175C and line a tray with cupcake papers.

In a large bowl combine the soy milk, oil, sugar and extracts. Mix to combine then add flour blend. Its important to mix the batter very well, remember there is no fear of over beating as there is no gluten to make the cake tough.

Fill liners little over 3/4 full as these cakes won't rise as much as a traditional cupcake.

Bake for 20-23 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted. Let cool completely before frosting.


Double Melissa

I've been naughty, very naughty indeed! I've neglected my poor Sweet Melissa cook book and more importantly, I've neglected my dear Sweet Melissa Sunday ladies. *Hangs head in shame* I do apologise my sweets, how can I ever make it up to you? I know, how about a double header, will that make you smile? I thought so ;)

Now that's out of the way let me tell you why I've been such a lazy bones. Firstly, and most importantly, I've been a poorly Katiecakes. Sore throat developed into a cold, cold developed into a chesty cough, chesty cough developed into a chest infection, you know how it goes. So I've been holed up in my teeny little house going stir crazy. My passion for all things kitchen went out of the window and I sat on the sofa eating nothing but take away's for a week and a half. Poor me! But, I'm all better now thanks to a fist full of antibiotics every day and I'm itching to get back into the kitchen.

Firstly, I'd like to say sorry specifically to Rosy of Rosy Lips and Lavender. I feel dreadful for missing your pick last week. I did bake along, I just never got round to posting those delicious red velvet morsels of nomminess! Well, I say delicious, I never actually got to eat one. I baked last weeks choice for an Alice in Wonderland themed event for Pet Lamb and decorated them like wee toadstools. Boy were they a hit! So thumbs up to Rosy, the punters couldn't get enough :D

Now, for this weeks choice Spike of Spike Bakes picked the perfect desert to follow absolutely any Valentines feast, easy chocolate mousse. I mean, who doesn't like chocolate mousse? And talk about easy, I was overjoyed with how simply the recipe came together, especially as I'm currently in the process of making a beef wellington and didn't really have the time for an overly complex desert. Hurrah for ten minute mousse!

Don't forget to have a peek at my fellow SMS girls! Now, I'm back off to see to my wellington. Happy Valentines my lovelies!

Make and Mend

2010 is the year of the lamb. Not really, but it certainly is the year of Pet Lamb Patisserie, the cupcake company I run with a friend. Last weekend we were asked to do the Make and Mend Market in Newcastle, a great medley of handmade, vintage and incredibly original stalls all ran by like minded people! My very favorite was Paperfaerie, one of our lovely Craft Mafia sisters who specialises in modifying old books into amazing and unique sculptures. Gotta get me one of those.

The market was a roaring success leaving us sold out by 2pm! Unfortunately, I had to leave early due to illness but my partner in crime handled the baying crowds just fine without me :)

Here's a few of my very favorite treats from the market...

Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes, went down a storm with dairy eaters and vegans alike.

The sweetest cupcake that ever lived. A marshmallow filled cake with marshmallow frosting.

The Elvis! The star of the Star and Shadow Cinema! A chocolate chip banana cake topped with peanut butter frosting.

Vanilla cupcake topped with vanilla butter cream and a lovely valentines fondant heart!

Rocky Road! Because everyone loves Nigella's Rocky Road!

And don't worry, you purest among you. Pet Lamb do offer a selection of pastry based products including lemon and filled fruit tarts. They're just harder to transport to markets and such ;)
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