Book Review- Cake Days from the Hummingbird Bakery

P1070934£20- Collins

My rating: 3/10

To quote the great Paul Hollywood this is definitely a “style over substance” book.

In my post about cocktail cupcakes I mentioned that I loved the hummingbird ideas but the reality was too sweet. They have lots of complicated and unhealthy ingredients and to be honest that seems to apply to most of the recipes in this book. The contents are beautiful, fun and original but generally you can do something similar for a fraction of the budget and calories. Some recipes such as the grasshopper pie have a horrendous amount of cream and the result was described as tasting like a bad Vienetta ice cream. I’d rather buy the ice cream, have my afternoon back and save my arteries at the same time.

P1070939 However, saying that it’s presented in a lovely seasonal way, there are loads of pictures which is always helpful and one recipe I did love is the spiderweb cheesecake: simple and not loads of ingredients for once!  

Verdict: Borrow someone else’s or get it out of the library- steal some ideas and create your own versions but the recipes themselves are not worth shelling out for.

My attempt at the spiderweb cheesecake with some other Halloween goodies.

My attempt at the spiderweb cheesecake with some other Halloween goodies.

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Antarctica in the News- The Penguins Are In Trouble!

Headlines today have picked up on a study suggesting that a third of Antarctica’s emperor penguins could be wiped out by 2100.

The emperor penguin, one of Antarctica's most iconic species. (Image http://www.emperor-penguin.com).

The emperor penguin, one of Antarctica’s most iconic species. (image http://www.emperor-penguin.com).

What’s the problem? A predicted loss of sea ice means a loss of krill, the main food source for emperor penguins. Young krill need sea ice to survive as they eat algae that lives in it.

Tasty tasty krill (image National Geographic)

Tasty tasty krill (image National Geographic).

I thought sea ice was increasing in Antarctica? That may well be the case for now, and the study does suggest that penguin numbers may actually increase for a while, but eventually a decline in sea ice will cause a  fall in penguin numbers much steeper than this increase. Can anything be done? The study’s authors suggest that putting in marine protection zones to prevent fishing in areas where penguins need to hunt for food may help, but they don’t expect that penguins will have much ability to adapt to changing conditions, unlike these clever climbing penguins.

Global number of breeding pairs of emperor penguins from 2009 to 2100. (Jenouvrier et al. 2014, Nature Climate Change)

Global number of breeding pairs of emperor penguins from 2009 to 2100. After a short spell of increase the population plummets. (Jenouvrier et al. 2014, Nature Climate Change)

You can read the full study here: http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nclimate2280.html
Sammie Buzzard

Book Review- Cupcake Magic by Kate Shirazi

P1070689

£7.99- Pavilion

My rating: 8.5/10

Simple and different cakes that anyone could manage.

I buy most of my baking books on recommendation so I thought it might be useful to start posting some reviews on here. I didn’t want to start with anything negative so here is one of my favorites. It’s subtitled ‘little cakes with attitude’ and I wouldn’t argue with that.

Straight forward instructions and plenty of pictures.

Straight forward instructions and plenty of pictures.

The book is divided into low-faff, medium-faff and high-faff so you know what you’re getting but the really nice thing is even the high-faff recipes look acheivable an really not an extreme amount of effort. The pictures don’t all look like the finely decorated immaculate cupcakes you get in many books: they’re beautiful but not unrealistically perfect and that’s what I really like about this book- they look like they’ve been made by a real person and are something that you could realistically copy (maybe not quite as well but at least you’ll get something that’s reasonably like what you expect!). In terms of ingredients and equipment I’d say they’re all pretty low-faff. Lovely.

Things anyone can do…almost.

The flavorings are great and different without being too wacky (although I’ve not investigate the savory cupcakes section yet)- the ‘grown-up’ mocha cakes have become one of my standard bakes and always disappear even when I worked in a office full of weight watchers fiends.

The best thing is this feels like a book written by a real person. Not a company or team. Kate’s sense of humor comes through and her section about free-range eggs and gluten free cakes just makes you like her. I was recommended this by someone who had attended her cupcake classes and I’m sad that I no longer live in Devon and can’t go. Her website is here, I’d recommend a look, just avoid the wedding cakes, they look too good and will make you sad (unless you’re actually getting married in which case GO, GO NOW).

Tip: This book can be found online for just over a fiver but I picked it up in The Works for about £3- definitely a bargain at that price.

 

My attempt at the star cupcakes. Not the neatest but still not unhappy as was my first time piping with royal icing. My main niggle is the fact that they are stars. Who can even draw a star well let alone pipe one?? Even so, tip in the book of practicing before putting them on the cake was a very good idea.

My attempt at the star cupcakes. Not the neatest but still not unhappy as was my first time piping with royal icing. My main niggle is the fact that they are stars. Come on Kate, who can even draw a star well let alone pipe one?? Even so, the tip in the book of practicing before putting them on the cake was a very good idea.