What’s up Doc?

A couple of weeks ago I was presented with a free bag of organic fruit and veg, courtesy of Abel and Cole. Included in that bag was a punnet of peaches, which as a family we simply had not got round to eating. So one morning, I trundled downstairs clutching some pretty cupcake cases and a recipe book, intending to make peach cupcakes of some variety or other. I had been beaten to the punch; I walked into to the kitchen to see my mother, apron on, radio on, cake mixer on as she whipped up a summery fruit loaf – using up the peaches, just as I had intended to do. I could have been bitter about my baking intentions being thwarted, but the cake she made was really very tasty, and she had the Archers Omnibus (she who cooks has control of the radio) so I got to listen to it anyway, even without being Queen of the Kitchen. Even now I have seen some of the mythical countryside for myself, I feel it important to keep up with David, Ruth and the gang from time to time and remind myself where this all started.

I had just left the house for work last Thursday when I got a phone call saying there had been a leak somewhere in the clinic and please don’t come in. So I turned on my heel, retraced the 10-15 steps back to my front door and immediately decided that today was a Baking Day. One supermarket sweep later (all heavy-lifting credits go to my little brother) and I had planted my feet firmly in the kitchen, apron on, beautiful beloved birthday mixing bowl out and wooden spoon in hand.

We’ve had a little box of icing carrots in the pantry for a couple of years now, that Mum has been saving to adorn a carrot cake. We also had enough carrots in the house to satisfy Bugs Bunny, so you can see where this is heading. I followed the Hummingbird carrot cake recipe to start with, but at mother’s request and for a (slightly) healthier cake, used entirely wholemeal self-raising flour, and added sprinklings of baking powder and bicarb to help boost the little bubbles that should make my cake nice and light. I also added sultanas; thankfully everyone in my life in Twickenham likes sultanas, so I am free to enjoy using them once again! I also added some milk, as someone, somewhere told me, or I read/saw/heard, that the wetter your cake batter, the moister your cake – and it makes sense when you think about it. After all, where is a little cake going to find any extra moisture in a hot hot oven?! As with fruit cakes, carrot cake batter must have some oomph about it to hold up all those bits of carrot, nuts and now sultanas, but the mixture seemed too stiff. I popped in a generous splash of milk to loosen it before decanting my mixture into pretty turquoise spotty cupcake cases and silicon mini loaf moulds. A beep of the timer later, and the cakes were out cooling, getting ready for their cream cheese icing.

This again was a Hummingbird recipe to start with, but I often find that their icings are a little too soft to pipe. Perhaps I don’t start with my butter cold enough, but it’s certainly chilly enough to crumble into the sugar and send puffs of icing sugar into the air until the kitchen was full of a sweet, white fog. Anyway, this time I blitzed my butter and cream cheese together quickly before mixing in the icing sugar a bit at a time. I didn’t weigh it, I simply kept going until the mixture looked stiff enough to pipe – and it was! Once piece of advice here: don’t use a piping bag with a hole in. It leads to very sticky hands, a messy piping bag and counter, and worst of all, wasted icing. But eventually I had piped generous swirls of cream cheese icing onto each cupcake – topped of course with a little, iced carrot. I then piped more icing onto the loaves, snaking my way over the top of each one. Mum helped with decorating, popping blueberries (because we had them!) and carrots onto each loaf. In the end, we were left with some rather pretty cakes, even if I do say so myself! What they tasted like remained to be discovered, but they did at least seem to sit there with plenty of confidence and say “Hey Bugs, want some cake?”

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Batch number two was more of an adventure. Years ago, when I decided as a teenager that my life long dream was to become a chef, my aunt and uncle gave me Gordon Ramsey’s Secrets, a recipe book with lots of exciting things. I might get around to trying a few more of the recipes in years to come… Anyway, one of the dessert recipes (that I have actually made!) is for berry kebabs with a lavender honey dip, made with mascarpone cheese, and it was really lovely, indulgent but Summery all at once. This recipe was the inspiration for the second batch of cakes – why not try for indulgent Summeriness in cupcake form? I made a simple vanilla sponge cake mix, with what was left of the wholemeal flour topped up with white, and folded in some lovely juicy Spanish Blueberries. I even cut a couple up and mushed them a bit before folding those in too, in case it helped flavour the sponge (word to the wise: it didn’t).

As the cakes baked, I popped round to a neighbour’s and collected six lavender heads, four for the recipe and two for luck. I dissolved some sugar in water, just as Gordon instructs for his dip, and then popped the lavender heads in for two minutes to infuse over a low heat, filling the kitchen with a very relaxing, flowery scent. Once infused and left to cool (with lavender still in), I strained the syrup and mixed it with honey, mascarpone cheese and 50g butter (the same amount Hummingbird instructs for the cream cheese icing) before again adding icing sugar until the mixture looked stiff enough to pipe, and purple food colouring until the icing was – wait for it….. lavender purple. Who could have guessed?! This icing was piped on top of the cooled buns in an attempt at a rose – starting in the centre, and slowly working your way out so the lines of the icing (from the nozzle) overlap and loop a bit like petals. The final adornment was a sprinkling of lilac edible glitter, and the cakes were finished! I sat down with a big mug of Earl Grey tea and admired my lovely little creations, basking in a glorious mix of pride and smud self-satisfaction.

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For the verdict on the taste, you’ll have to wait until the next post. I elected to save most of them to take along to E J Churchill’s mini-game fair, speedily set up in a fortnight since the announcement of the cancellation of the CLA event. I knew a few of the girls from the Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club would be there with stalls, selling with lovely cards, bracelets and tweed, and thought that cakes would make a nice surprise for them (in true Chelsea Bun spirit!) I shall be writing about that – including the shot-shredded cabbage, smashed melons and splattered eggs that rained down on us – soon, but for now, that’s all folks!

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Shotguns and Chelsea Buns

Last week I encountered a chain of bad luck. One due to my own clumsiness, one actually due to sheer bad luck, and all of which culminated in me bombarding my few Twitter followers with tweet after tweet after tweet last Saturday morning, every single one of them moaning about the traffic jam I was sat in for an hour and a half. There were four key factors that led up to this moment:

  • First, last autumn a girl I was working with wrote an article about her experience on a grouse moor for a new website, ladies-shooting.com.
  • Second, I started this blog.
  • Third, a couple of months ago I was embarrassed by my mother’s proficiency and persuaded by work to rediscover my Twitter account – which I duly linked to the blog, rechristening it @TheFirstFrost – and started ‘tweeting’.
  • Fourthly and finally, due to a diagnosis of bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome, I have recently found myself living back in Greater London – temporarily I might add – and thus with a slight lack of anything even vaguely country to write about.

These circumstances all combined to stick me in the worst traffic jam I’ve yet experienced as a driver. I shall explain.

A friend at work encouraged, persuaded and bribed us all to ‘follow’ @William_Powell on Twitter. So that evening, I logged onto my dormant, near extinct Twitter account and did just that. Embarrassed by the fact that my mother was more social-medialy active than I was, and armed with a brand new shiny phone and my brand new shiny blog to talk about and shamelessly promote, I decided to pay attention to my neglected Twitter account. I promptly set about hunting for people to stalk – I mean ‘follow’. Amongst my victims were my colleagues, including the girl mentioned above who wrote the piece about the grouse moor. Sheep that I am, I also set about following people they were following, picking out anyone who seemed familiar, interesting or with an interesting name. Being a lady (or woman at least) who likes shooting, I opted to follow owner of the website she wrote for, @ladies-shooting. Little did I know it would bring me one step closer to that awful traffic jam.

City-bound as I was (and still am for that matter) I’ve had to actively hunt out things to write about, and so I derived my first benefit from Twitter. @ladies-shooting kept tweeting to the world about a clay shoot happening one weekend with the Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club. I looked into it, and discovered that it is a ladies-only shooting club, where everything you require is provided, from guns to tuition, good company to cake, and I swiftly signed up.

The day before the shoot saw disaster number one. I set about making a ginger cake to take along, a very simple but very lovely, until-now failsafe recipe, requiring plenty of sticky ingredients – I finished off a tin of golden syrup in the making, which my dog very much enjoyed cleaning out.

However, one foolish and distracting phone call mid-bake meant that I forgot to add the key ingredient of my ginger cake: the ginger. After two minutes in the oven, I remembered, whipped the mostly-uncooked mixture out of the oven, and grated in my stem ginger, stirring it as little as possible before returning it to the oven. Sadly my last-ditch effort to gingify the cake meant that it sank in the middle, quite drastically; the Titanic of cakes if you will. Ever the optimist, I decided that I would cut the cake into squares, ice it, and no one would ever know of my ginger omission and its results. I released the sides of the springy cake tin, inverted it onto a plate, and removed the base of the tin. I then placed a cooling rack on the exposed bottom of the cake, and with one hand on the rack, one on the plate, set to turn it right way up onto the rack to cool. At this point my carpal tunnel kicked in: I dropped the lot. Half the cake slid off the plate onto the floor (much to the dog’s delight) and the rest smashed onto the counter. The cake was, even for the eternal optimist, ruined.

Not to be deterred, I reminded myself that there was nothing about Saturday’s shoot saying that you had to bring a cake, simply that you could if you wished. Next morning, I set off in plenty of time to drive to the Oxfordshire Shooting School to join the Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club for the first time, sadly empty handed but armed with my ear defenders. Traffic caused by an accident earlier in the day caused everyone on the M40 to be diverted off at my junction down the A40, the road that I needed to drive down; and so we reach my traffic jam. I sat and crawled along, occasionally lifting my foot from the clutch as I reached the dizzying heights of 8mph, only to be shown a sea of red ahead of me as all cars hit their breaks and we ground yet again to a halt. I spent longer in that traffic jam than the entire journey should have taken. And so I tweeted my little heart out, simply as a means to keep myself amused. I also encountered a traffic sign that I don’t recollect specifically seeing before, and perhaps it was the petrol fumes, but it greatly amused me, surrounded as I was by stationary vehicles:

None of us had much need to be wary of tractors; unless one planned to drive over us all and crush us into real traffic jam (tasty and spreadable, with absolutely no pips!)

Luckily for me, I wasn’t the only one delayed, and when I finally made it to the Shooting School I was just in time to join a group on their first peg, and managed a decent score of 20/30 across all three targets. There was plenty of cake provided by luckier (or simply more organised) members of the group and we stood and sat around, chatting away drinking tea from beautiful china cups with matching saucers. All in all, it was well worth the wait, though I will aim to arrive on time next time.

For any women out there wanted to get involved in shooting, I highly recommend the club as an in. I knew no one at all when I arrived, but had a thoroughly lovely morning. The range of members is wonderful – there are people from a very country background kitted out in Dubarry’s and tweed, and people like me who really really aren’t. There’s also a fantastic variety of ability – you would not be alone as a complete beginner, and the instructors are prepared for that; but there were also a couple of experienced game shots that were both educational and a delight to watch. As I watched one of the women shooting one of the more challenging driven targets off a tower, she seemed to shoot in slow motion; she made it look elegant and easy, and there never was a better reminder that you have so much more time than you think you do from the moment you call for your target to the moment when you pull the trigger.

Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club has achieved something noteworthy (aside from there being tea and cake provided at every get together); they’ve managed to create a group serious about shooting without shying away from the feminine. Everything from the scorecards to the tea sets used at the end was oriented to women. And watching the lady I described above shoot demonstrated that it is possible to be a phenomenal game shot and be ladylike with it; as with all things, it simply takes practice. I very much look forward to the next shoot, on the 2nd June in Barbury near Swindon, and hopefully I can arrive with baked-offerings next time – if I can manage to bake a cake without dropping it or forgetting any ingredients.

The Ghost of Christmas Presents Past

At the back of the house I lived in in Banbury was a little square of lawn. Well-kept and maintained by the landlord, the flowerbeds surrounding the grass sported some fairly hardy plants that could cope with the physical and emotional neglect of the residents. At the back, stood a tiny little Conference pear tree that last Autumn, either due to a freakishly warm spell earlier in the year, or simply its own enthusiasm and determination to prove itself, produced a crop of fruit so substantial that the weight of the pears snapped the main trunk of the tree (still only about 2-3cm in diameter). I called my landlord to explain that I had picked all of the not-quite-ripe pears from the tree, and strapped it up as best I could in the hope that without its fruity burden it might recover. I asked if the landlord and his wife wanted the pears, and in answer he explained, in a bemused tone of voice, that he had only bought the tree for decoration because it looked pretty.

When I moved to Banbury last year, and despite my naivety when it comes to all things country, the girls I moved in with demonstrated fairly clearly that there is a whole other category of people who are in no way country-kitchen inclined. I stuck out like a sore thumb amid the hair extensions, acrylic nails, intense gym regimes and sunbeds, with my tweed coat (and yet only Joules tweed, not ‘real’ tweed), a pair of non-fashion wellies (despite what some people I’ve met in the last year might say about Hunters, mine are green and normal, not crocodile print, patent, beribboned, high-heeled or fluorescent) and my culinary habits. Admittedly, the girl who lived there before me had enjoyed cooking also (she and I in fact became good friends, and I’ve been lucky enough to taste some of the products of her kitchen, including the best Shrove Tuesday feast in history!) so the kitchen wasn’t entirely unused, but one of the current residents described her style of cooking as “pop, pop, pop!” alluding to the noise of piercing the film on ready meals before popping them in the microwave.

The attitude of the girls probably goes some way to explaining my landlord’s bewilderment when I called him up to ask about the pears. But due to his lack of interest in the products of the pretty tree and his generosity, I was left with 6kg of under-ripe pears to play with. Even after leaving them to ripen for a few days, they weren’t sweet enough to enjoy in a crumble or cake, and so I decided to try and make chutney – the first time of doing so without my Mum taking the reins. I picked and followed a recipe from the web, and added my cranberries, apricots, chilli flakes, spices and vinegar to make a Christmas chutney. By the time I reached the end of the recipe, I was left with what seemed to me to be a slightly vinegary fruit salad. It bore no resemblance to either the chutney my Mum makes, or the chutney served in restaurants with pate and Melba toast. The fruit pieces were all still very much identifiable but warm with a sweet, tangy coating. Frustrated and disappointed, with two saucepans of this fruit mixture in front of me, and a house smelling rather strongly of vinegar, I decided I had only four options. After neither my mother nor grandmother answered the phone, I had only two: give up, or Google.

Trusty Google suggested that other, non-pear based chutney recipes had vastly more sugar and vinegar than the recipe I had followed, and so after a mercy dash to the supermarket for more vinegar and a jam pan (I was running out of room in the pans I had been using), I took a deep breathe, hoped for the best and emptied a bottle of cider vinegar into the mixture, and added more sugar. Sure enough, after more cooking time and some stirring, poking and prodding, I was left with a mixture that looked much more like chutney. The only problem was, it tasted very much more like a pickle. Never one to be defeated, I sterilised some jars, filled them with the mixture, wiped the edges and sealed them. Later on, I covered each lid in a square of  tweed, tied them with rafia and labelled them all as ‘Spicy Christmas Pickle’.

These jars of pickle – and I had quite a few of them – were the beginning of my Christmas hampers last year. It was only September, but still I started collecting bits and pieces as I went along. Empty Dowe Egberts coffee jars from the office were perfect for homemade fudge. I bought some cheap but nice jars and a basket from a warehouse sale, and knowing my mother’s taste for gardening, bought a rather lovely trug as the base for my parents’ hamper (she has sworn to actually use it to garden, and not keep it ‘for best’). Closer to Christmas, I set about making the other bits and pieces. I strained and bottled half of my sloe gin, and made up a batch of fudge from a recipe given to me by a colleague – a sort of cross between fudge and Scottish tablet, very yummy and very moreish. Then I began the epic battle with the gingerbread men. I mixed up a batch of gingerbread men, and having carefully cut them out and baked them to perfection, laid them carefully in my biscuit and cake tins until I was ready to ice them. Sadly, either a caring housemate or gravity caused the lid of the tin (balanced slightly on top, as my biscuit tin was too popular, and over filled with gingerbread guests) to close properly, and broke every single gingerbread person bar two.

After a whiny phone call to complain to a friend, I took another deep breath and piled the broken pieces into a container to be taken to work (people there were always happy to help clear away the evidence of baking mishaps), then set about making another batch. I used the opportunity to use a different recipe, as the one I’d followed originally didn’t seem that gingery or spicy to me, and I wanted my gingerbread men to have a real spicy flavour. The new recipe had black treacle (molasses) and far more spices, and I used the syrup from a jar of stem ginger instead of golden syrup to add to the flavour. After baking, I spread them all out on the kitchen counter to cool before icing – and there were quite a lot of them. My housemates couldn’t believe it when they walked into the house one evening, slightly tipsy, to see their kitchen turned into a Gingerbread Man production factory. Once they’d got over the shock, they agreed to be my taste testers, and agreed that the newest batch of gingerbread men was much tastier than the old one. And after icing in red, white and green (it was Christmas after all!) they looked the part too. Once fully cooled and set, they were bagged up in groups of four (with at least one gingerbread lady per bag), tied with red or green ribbons, and labelled for the appropriate family members.

Final additions were made: some chocolate fridge cake bars (with edible gold stars on for a bit of Christmas sparkle), soft cinnamony Snickerdoodle cookies for grandparents with false teeth, a few prettily wrapped bars of soap we’d had come in at work, novelty Geordie-themed items for my Northern grandmother, and a couple more gardening and home bits for Mum and Dad. For those recipients who I knew wouldn’t appreciate clutter, the bits and pieces were popped into recyclable cardboard boxes wrapped in wrapping paper instead of baskets, and were filled with raffia or tissue paper. The results looked pretty, were very well received and according to feedback were tasty too.

The things to remember when making bits yourself are never to be deterred, and to use your imagination to personalise and also to cover up mistakes. One of my gingerbread men was blessed (cursed?) with ginger hair for one of my best friends – only because I knew how much it would irritate him. And when I dropped the edge of the baking tray onto one still-soft gingerbread man’s arm, he was graced with a white-iced bandage and sad face when it came to icing. You can add a sense of humour to your gifts, and while it sounds cliché, people really really do appreciate the effort you’ve put in. I’ll definitely be doing it again, though possibly not next year as I think it might be my turn to cook Christmas dinner again, and there’s only so much cooking one person wants to commit to at Christmas.

Lemon Curd Love Affair

I cannot for the life of me remember what inspired this, or even planted the seed in my head, but driving down the M40 one evening, I decided I wanted to make lemon curd. I quickly checked a recipe online (the combined joys of internet on a mobile, and Nigel Slater’s lovely recipes for The Guardian) and stopped off at Tesco Express to buy a bag of lemons. The next day I whisked up about two jars of lemon curd, and provided that you’re patient, and don’t take your eye off it – multi-tasking is not a talent to be boasted of when discussing the art of making lemon curd – it really truly is remarkably easy, and so so much tastier than shop-bought. The first thing I did was lick the spoon. The second thing was to eat a full spoonful. And only then did I make lemon cheesecake cupcakes.

This was also my second venture into Proper Icing. In Summer 2010 I ended up making my first Proper Cake. I had started making a fruit cake for my friend and flatmate for her 21st birthday (fruit cake is a favourite of hers). The week before her tea-party-themed birthday celebrations, she called me and said that her grandmother (the designated cake-maker) was ill, and would it be possible to have the fruit cake as the cake for the Main Event. Worried it wouldn’t be large enough – and also, many people don’t enjoy fruit cake – I knocked up a quick, simple Victoria Sandwich, and then set to icing them. Trying to fit in with the elegant, Summertime theme of the party, I decided to ice them in lilac and white. It’s important to bear in mind at this point that I don’t like icing myself, and we haven’t had iced cakes in many, many years. Mum made us each a birthday cake every year, but long ago she started icing them in coloured white chocolate, as none of us ate the icing. So my experience of proper icing was precisely none, but not to be deterred, I rolled out my lilac icing and set to laying and smoothing it over the cakes. One cake iced in lilac, with a white fully edible icing bow, and the other in white with a lilac equally-as-edible bow, I have to confess they looked rather lovely. And aside from a brief panic when one of the bows shattered the night before the party (my boyfriend of the time, darling that he was, rushed over via the cookshop bringing the emergency lilac sugar paste, and calmed me down as I quickly rolled, modelled and assembled a replacement bow), and an incredibly tense drive from London to Northampton with the cakes on the back seat, it all went remarkably smoothly. Unknown to me, I was in fact paid for the cakes by my friend’s father, though this was arranged between him and my boyfriend behind my back and I was only told about it the next day. But this did officially make these two cakes my first ever commission.

 

At Christmas I delved back into the childhood world of writing icing, decorating the gingerbread men and ladies for my Christmas hampers – more to come on those later. But that wasn’t enough; I wanted to do something more, something easy but something proper; something with roll-y icing. Despite the lack of a captured, icing-enjoying audience, I decided that simple icing shapes couldn’t be that difficult to make. I bought a probably too-expensive set of icing cutters from The Cake Shop near work, and with tubes of writing icing left over from Christmas gingerbread men, I rolled, cut and decorated lots and lots of little icing daisies. My lemon cheesecake cupcakes were simply a lemon sponge, with the homemade lemon curd filling, and cream cheese icing, each topped with two or three icing daisies. And I must admit, they looked lovely (and didn’t taste bad either). The success of the little white-and-yellow flowers was what inspired me to make the sugar roses I described before. As for what’s next, we’ll have to wait and see.[i]


[i] Two colleagues at work have set me some cake-related challenges, so I suspect one of those will be the next Cake Adventure to be featured here. Stay posted.

Interlude: Chocolate cake – one of your five a day?

Wandering down the vegetable isle in the supermarket last week I saw a fresh beetroot. In Country Living last month was a recipe for beetroot-cured salmon, and so into my basket went a fresh beetroot. But instead of home-cured salmon, I made cake. Chocolate cake. Chocolate and beetroot cake.

This wasn’t the first time I’ve attempted this, but it was definitely the most successful. At university I lived with a lovely girl with a wheat intolerance, who on her birthday was on a diet (why?!) sooo for her birthday cake (and it isn’t a birthday without cake) I tried to make a low-wheat low-sugar chocolate cake, with almonds for flour and beetroot for sweetness. It was completely the wrong time of year, and so I used cooked (not pickled) beetroot instead of the fresh in the recipe, and the added liquid in the cooked beetroot resulted in a sort of unplanned, dense, wet truffle cake. It tasted okay, but  the minute we told the boys in the flat of the healthy vegetable smuggled into their digestive systems amid layers of chocolate ganache and clouds of cocoa, they promptly declared themselves too full to eat another bite. Overall, sogginess aside, it wasn’t a complete disaster, and looked quite pretty – fresh flowers make a wonderful calorie-free alternative to sugar flowers, particularly if you don’t eat them.

Last week’s attempt proved much more successful. Using a recipe for chocolate and beetroot cake found on BritishLarder.co.uk as my starting point, and almost following the recipe, I casually whipped up a batch of 24 chocolate-beetroot cupcakes – assuming at this point that ‘casually’ means with much trepidation and very stained pink fingers.

Officially The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe I’ve ever baked, it may well take the place of all ordinary chocolate sponge for the rest of my life. It’s moist, yummy, deeply rich and chocolatey without being at all bitter, and goes very very well with a cream cheese icing – and the vegetable-phobe at work ate and enjoyed it, and even looked for another after learning it contained beetroot. I also decided to make sugar roses for the first time – though this swiftly became a solitary sugar rose, as while it was (I personally think) successful for a first attempt, it took quite a while as I have a slightly injured hand at the moment. The rest of the cakes had a light dusting of edible gold stars so they didn’t feel too left out, and they were quickly inhaled by the girls I shot with at BUCS last weekend and colleagues from work.

     

Continuing the cupcake-theme I’m going to backtrack to my last cupcake creation: salted caramel cupcakes. The livestock-and-peas farmer mentioned recently told me in passing of his love of caramel muffins. I’m not yet an experienced muffin-maker, but it did make me want to try caramel cupcakes. The unfortunate and unwitting contestants of The Great British Bake Off has taught me never to stir caramel, or else the sugar will crystallise. Admittedly I didn’t entirely follow this, but restricted my spoon-intervention to the odd poke just to assuage my worries that the sugar was sticking to the bottom of my non-stick pan. Of course it wasn’t. I must have more faith in my poor saucepan. Anyway, one brown-sugar victoria sponge later I was making two lots of caramel – a thick filling to fill the cakes, and a runnier sauce to mix into butter cream for the frosting.

In Richmond-upon-Thames there is a wonderful, Johnny Depp-worthy chocolaterie called William Curley (you can see some of his creations here: http://www.williamcurley.co.uk). When I was at school, a friend introduced me to William Curley by bringing into school a little cellophane bag for me, sealed with a pretty sticker. Inside was a solitary sea-salted caramel chocolate, and it was melt-in-the-mouth amazing. And so out on a limb and inspired by William Curley, I decided to add salt to my caramel mixtures. My advice for others would be to spoon a little of the mixture out and add a little salt to that, see if you like it before you contaminate the whole mixture. But apparently I don’t practise what I preach, and so sprinkle by teaspoon and teaspoon by sprinkle I added sea salt flakes to my filling and icing, and made my first ever salted caramel cupcakes. Not to blow my own trumpet, but it worked! I will definitely be making these again (at some point).