The Great Hummingbird Bake-Off: October 2014

Every month the Hummingbird Bakery, which is one of my favourite cupcake shops EVER, creates two new, special edition cupcakes.  Every month, these cupcakes go head-to-head, battling it out for the number one spot.

October 2014 has seen the rivalry of two delicious cupcakes: S’moreanne vs. Popcorn.  One is a rich chocolate sponge topped with a mound of toasted marshmallow, biscuit crumbs, and chocolate chunk; the other is a velvety vanilla sponge, crammed with popcorn, and topped with a dream of caramel frosting and popcorn.  But which cupcake deserves the number one title this month?

S’moreanne Cupcake

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The S’moreanne cupcake is based on the traditional American camp fire treat, S’mores, which consists of biscuits, melted chocolate, and marshmallows.  It is hardly surprising that this delicious delicacy is a celebrated part of American life, with a whole day dedicated to it each and every year; it makes my mouth water just thinking about it!  This cupcake is no exception.  All of the traditional components are combined together to create something quite magical.  The S’moreanne consists of a thick, velvety chocolate sponge, topped with a toasted marshmallow mound that quite frankly I could eat by the bucket, a generous helping of biscuit crumbs, and a massive chunk of Cadbury’s chocolate.  I genuinely do not know what could make this cupcake any better.

Popcorn Cupcake

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This popcorn cupcake may have been battered from my adventures along the bustling Oxford Street, but this did not detract from the beautiful caramel cream that caressed every mouthful.  The sweet, thick caramel frosting is the perfect accompaniment to the fluffy vanilla sponge, which is packed full of popcorn chunks.  I probably would have preferred a plain vanilla sponge, as you always get those certain bits of chewy popcorn pieces no matter how great the quality of it is!  But the whole popcorn pieces that carefully crowned this caramel creation were the piece de resistance – they were drowned in the most fantastically sweet and sticky caramel sauce.  All in all this cupcake was delightful.

However, nothing can top the wonderful mound of marshmallow on the special edition S’morreanne cupcake.  And so it goes without saying that this traditional American treat, which was so delightfully reformed into a cupcake, is without a doubt this month’s Great Hummingbird Bake-Off winner.

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The Great Hummingbird Bake-Off: July 2014

Black Forest vs. Hummingbird

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Every month the Hummingbird Bakery, which is one of my favourite cupcake shops EVER, creates two new, special edition cupcakes.  Every month, these cupcakes go head-to-head, battling it out for the number one spot.

July 2014 has seen the rivalry of two delicious cupcakes: Black Forest vs. Hummingbird.  One is a rich chocolate sponge, filled with a beautiful black cherry jam, and topped with a creamy custard frosting; the other is a banana and pineapple explosion with a thick cream cheese frosting.  But which cupcake deserves the number one title this month?

Black Forest Cupcake

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This delicious black forest cupcake is absolutely delightful.  Its chocolate sponge is beautifully rich and moist, and is made even more luxurious by the sweet addition of the black cherry jam that oozes out of the middle.  The surprise centre is absolutely wonderful, although the black cherry flavour blends into the chocolate sponge so well that there is little noticeable contrast in flavour.  This decadent black forest cupcake is topped with a creamy custard frosting, another dollop of black cherry jam, and luxurious chocolate shavings.  The frosting was lovely, although the generous helping seemed to detract from the overall chocolate and black cherry taste, which personally was my favourite part.  Nevertheless, this is not a cupcake that I would readily turn down if someone was offering me a delicious cupcake twist on the classic Black Forest Gateux.

Hummingbird Cupcake

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The hummingbird cupcake is based on Southern hummingbird cake and is an absolutely sublime tropical treat.  Its beautifully moist sponge is packed with bananas, pineapple, and handfuls of crunchy pecans, giving it a slightly different texture to most cupcakes.  Its flavours are perfectly combined to provide the most delicious sponge I have ever had the pleasure of tasting.  I just could not get enough of this cake!  And a surprise chunk of banana in the middle was a great addition.  The cream cheese frosting, covered in cinnamon and crushed pecans, also complimented the sponge beautifully.  This cupcake could just not put a foot wrong.  Whichever Hummingbird book has this recipe in it, someone needs to get it for me, I cannot live without it!

My undying love for this incredible cupcake makes the delicious Hummingbird Special Edition Cupcake July’s Bake-Off winner without a doubt.  I just cannot wait to get my hands on this wonderful recipe and fill my house with these fabulous fruity treats!

Foodies Festival Highlights

This weekend Bristol Harbourside has been graced with the Foodies Festival, which is popping up in different locations all over the country this summer.  There are lots of different food tents hosting cooking, baking, and beer-tasting demonstrations – whatever takes your fancy, there will be something for you.  However, the highlight for me is the variety of stalls selling thousands of wonderfully different food and drink products, and the happy atmosphere with smiling crowds drinking, eating, and watching live music performances in the hot summer sunshine.  I had a wonderful time at the festival today, so I have decided to share with you some of my personal favourites from the event.

1. Custom Creams

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As you can see from the picture, Custom Creams offers their customers a bespoke ‘create your own’ ice cream/sorbet experience from a multitude of fresh and seasonal ingredients.  You can even choose to mix together two flavours that are not ‘tried and tested combos’, so you can really get your creative juices flowing!  Once you have chosen your flavours, you get to watch the very friendly men in charge of the magnificent machines freeze your chosen flavours ‘in a spectacular theatre of nitrogen mist’ right in front of your eyes!

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I chose to create a refreshing raspberry and mango sorbet and it was absolutely delicious!

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2. The Bourneville Waffle

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I had this wonderful waffle for brunch and I do not regret my choice in the slightest.  I opted for the Rocky Road waffle, although the Banoffe Pie waffle was extremely tempting!  However, I just could not resist marshmallows this time round!  My waffle was made with absolute precision.  After being made fresh in front of my own eyes, my hot waffle was delicately loaded with whipped cream, crushed cookies, chocolate buttons, mini marshmallows, and topped with a generous helping of luxuriously dark chocolate sauce. It was crisp on the outside, whilst being light and fluffy on the inside, and there was enough topping to make every mouthful a spectacular tasty treat.  It was rich and indulgent, and the perfect start to a fun and busy day!

3. American Kitchen

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Unfortunately, I was so focused on getting the last slice of ‘Fat Elvis’ pie that I completely forgot to take a photo of any of American Kitchen’s beautiful brownies or pies.  They had a wonderful variety, ranging from orange and raspberry brownies to the classic key lime pie.  However, I just could not miss out on this wonderfully strange sounding ‘Fat Elvis’ pie, and was more than enthusiastic when I was asked ‘would you like candied bacon with that?’  At no other point in my life have I ever thought that I would want candied bacon, and especially not on a pudding pie.  However, one spoonful of this wonderfully sweet and salty treat told me that I had made the right decision.  If you have the chance, buy a slice of this peculiar pie!  It looks magnificent, and it tastes magnificent!  It is completely unlike anything you will have ever had before.  And the portions are so big that I still have some left for pudding tonight.  Good old American food and portions for you there!

4. Dimkins Patisserie

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Today I had the pleasure of sampling Dimplin’s Blueberry and Liquorice flavoured macaroons, a flavour that I have never come across before.  Naturally, I was quite excited about this discovery, as I am a MASSIVE macaroon fan.  They were light and airy, yet crunchy on the outside, and beautifully creamy in the middle.  The flavours were very subtle, which gave a lovely contrast in flavours without the liquorice overpowering the delicate blueberry flavour.  With lots of different flavours to choose from, these will attract anyone who loves a little bite of everything!

5. The Fresh Lemonade

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Last but not least, The Fresh Lemonade Company is the perfect place to grab a refreshing cocktail to sit down with and listen to the live music that has been put on for your own enjoyment.  I had a wonderful Cherry Bakewell cocktail (left).  All of these cocktails are made with the company’s fresh lemonade and are absolutely beautiful.

If you are heading to the festival tomorrow you are guaranteed to have a fabulous time.  There is an amazing variety of foods and drinks for you to try and buy, and a multitude of entertainment acts to enjoy whilst you rest your feet and arms from all the bags full of fresh food (and the cheeky bottle of elderflower gin) you have purchased!  I hope the summer sun stays out for you and that you have as much fun as I did today.  Happy eating my fellow foodies!

American Style Afternoon Tea at BRGR.CO

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Walking past BRGR.CO on Wardour Street in Soho, there is no mistaking that this place will serve a really good, juicy, posh burger.  With its uncomplicated black and white facade, it is evident that simplicity and quality are key features of this restaurant.  Being major fans of Gourmet Burger Kitchen, my boyfriend and I put it on our list of ‘must-try’ burger bars, but when I found out that it did an American themed burger-style afternoon tea, and at only £17 including two drinks, BRGR.CO jumped straight to the top of the list!

I have to say that this is one of the most satisfying afternoon teas on the savoury front.  Burgers are always a winner in my eyes, and these burgers were particularly good!  The buns were fresh and sturdy, holding in and soaking up those beautiful juices that oozed out of the burgers with every bite.  And they were not skimpy on any of the fillings!  From left to right, the first burger is a mini version of the Butcher’s Cut with cheddar cheese.  It was tender, tasty, and tantalising, and my first mouthful convinced me that this was somewhere I would definitely like to return!  Surprisingly, the Chicken Ceasar burger was my favourite.  The chicken was so succulent with a beautiful BBQ grilled flavour to it.  It literally melted in your mouth and unfortunately was gone in seconds!  The third burger was also very special and something that I would not expect from a classic burger joint.  The Lobster Blat Slider was absolutely wonderful: full of flavour, soft, creamy, and adding a completely new and different flavour dimension to the whole meal.  It made it feel rather special!  And having a mini portion of chips was definitely a major benefit for my boyfriend, as he didn’t risk losing half of his portion to me!

Inevitably, the burger half of the afternoon tea was going to be better than the sweets, given the name and specialities of the restaurant.  However, it was only the doughnut that was slightly disappointing.  Unfortunately, the doughnut was so chewy that it pretty much gave me jaw ache by the time I had chewed through its thick, doughy centre; it was a far cry from the soft, fluffy, but slightly stodgy doughnuts that I am used to from the farmer’s market and I was disappointed that I didn’t taste the salted caramel that the menu had promised.  However, the other three desserts were complete winners!  The vanilla milkshake was hands down the best milkshake I have ever had.  I am SO excited about returning, simply for the milkshake (and I don’t even like milk)!  The mini chocolate brownie was also beautifully rich and chocolatey.  I fell in love.  It was perfect!  The mini white chocolate and strawberry cheesecake was also perfectly delectable, with its smooth strawberry topping, light creamy filling, and crumbly biscuit base.

All in all, it was an extremely satisfying and filling meal that I would happily order again and again, especially for the price and the quality of the burgers, milkshake and brownie.  It also comes with two drinks: one is a beautiful homemade pomegranate and mint infused ice tea; the other was a glass of San Marco Prosecco (a raspberry and cranberry concoction).  Again, this made the meal feel a little bit more special than your average meal at a good burger restaurant, and for the same sort of price you would normally pay for a two-course meal and a couple of drinks.  I’m super greedy and can’t say no to something I normally love, so I also ordered a homemade lemonade, which was sweet and tangy at the same time and completely and utterly delicious.

The quality of the burgers, chips, drinks, and the brownie thoroughly impressed me at this small independent burger bar and I genuinely cannot wait for my next hangover, where I will enjoy tucking into a large succulent burger, a bag of chips (full-sized portions of chips come in a cute little brown paper bag!), a large vanilla milkshake, and a large slice of chocolate heaven in the shape of a brownie!  This is an excellent restaurant, whether you want something a bit more special, or a general catch-up over a burger with friends.  I can assure you that vowels are the ONLY thing that BRGR.CO is lacking when it comes to good food, good service and honest burgers!

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