Afternoon tea and a lesson at Bea’s
The cupcake craze hit these British shores a few years back and me being always a step behind everyone else only caught up with it around mid-2009. In the early days, I used to trip around London trying out cupcakes from different bakeries, patisseries and cupcakeries all in the name of ‘research’ – Hummingbird’s, Lola’s, Primrose Bakery – just to name a few. As my knowledge of the different types of cupcakes available in the London market expanded, so did my waistline. But the one thing that eluded me was the perfect ‘icing on the cake’.
Everyone has their own interpretation of the perfect icing. I don’t like my icing too sweet or too fanciful i.e. to me, the icing should complement the cupcake and not the other way around. Most of the icing I’ve tasted was always too sweet – that is until I discovered Bea’s. I don’t know how else to put this but the icing on the cupcakes at Bea’s was a revelation – soft, fluffy, not too sweet and light, oh-so-light! How on earth do you get icing like this? I had to find out.
So, a few months ago when a few girlfriends and I enjoyed the Afternoon Tea at Bea’s Theobald Road branch (where everything tasted simply fabulous and was very good value for money), I decided I HAD to find out the secret to this icing. Lucky for me, Bea was around then and she said it was simply an Italian meringue buttercream. Of course I immediately tried recreating the buttercream at home. But somehow, it just didn’t turn out right.
Fast-forward six months down the road and Bea sent out a holler on Twitter that they were offering a cupcake decorating class at Theobald Road. Needless to say, I signed up immediately – I have been baking for a few years now, but thought it would be useful to pick up some tips from an actual pastry chef.
Yes, I did learn how to make Bea’s buttercream icing. I also learnt how to make chocolate ganache, use melted chocolate to write on cakes, pipe buttercream on to the cupcakes, make little flowers from royal icing and picked up tips that I have yet to pick up from a cookbook or online research. Plus I did all this in the actual kitchen that churns out the hundreds of cupcakes and other sweet delectables at the Theobold Road Bea’s – I actually felt a little ‘cheffy’ for a few hours 🙂 . At the end of the class, I took home 24 cupcakes (a mix of Vanilla and Chocolate) with different flavoured buttercream icing I’d piped on – a total hit at work the next day.
Find out more about Afternoon Tea at Bea’s here. I’m not sure how often their classes are but do get in touch with BoB via their website if you’re interested.