The world has gone cupcake mad – or at least, so it seems. Just last week we saw one of The Apprentice finalists try to start up with Sir Alan specialising in sparkles and sprinkles for wee cuppycakes. She didn’t win, but she’s probably not bothered considering all the exposure the programme will have garnered for her already successful cupcake business.
Homebakers are making a killing in the UK right now. If it’s not bespoke baking for weddings, it’s decorating classes for kids parties. You can even order them online these days and have them delivered to the office if you forgot the boss’ birthday. But how do you know the best from the rest? One friendly competition is selecting the buttercream of the crop (sorry!) every Sunday right here in our own fair city.
IronCupcake:Leeds has something of a cult-like status on social media and to win one of its titles is a true reflection of cupcake perfection. The competition itself is great fun to attend, as we can solemnly testify. And the best part? They welcome those that just want to stuff their faces full of cake, as well as the talented bakers themselves. We spoke to Charlotte, the newly sworn in organiser, about the concept, the level of competition and, most importantly, cake.
Who are you and how did you get here?
We are IronCupcake:Leeds – a friendly cupcake-baking competition every month at the Adelphi pub in Leeds that is open for everyone to attend! If you like baking, you can enter 12 cupcakes with the chance of winning fantastic prizes. If you like eating cupcakes, you can enter as a judge to taste and score the entries on taste and appearance. And if you like baking and eating (like me!), you can enter your cupcakes and sit on our Bakers Panel to judge the other entries and tell us why you liked them! We have a different theme every month which is now picked by our Bakers and Eaters – next month is Disney on Sunday 11th August, 6pm at the Adephi.
The IronCupcake competitions were created in America and the competition takes its name from the TV series ‘Iron Chef’. Our well-loved Leeds version began in September 2009, when my cousin Zoe stumbled across it on the internet. The first event attracted only a handful of people, but it wasn’t long before IronCupcake:Leeds moved to the Adelphi pub due to the amount of people wanting to attend! I took over the competition from Zoe in June and my goal is to make IronCupcake the most fun it has ever been for our Bakers and Eaters!
What do you think makes your business unique?
To my knowledge, we’re the UK’s only monthly cupcake competition, so that makes us pretty unique! But we’re so much more than a competition – I like to think of it more as a club for people united by their love of cupcakes. I’ve been attending for the last four years and I love the friendly, social atmosphere at IronCupcake, alongside the excitement of the competition. There’s none of the competitiveness that you might expect between the Bakers as everyone takes part just for fun. We now meet at Bakers Corner to chat and swap recipes during the judging!
What can customers expect from IronCupcake: Leeds?
People who attend IronCupcake:Leeds can expect to have a really fun, social and chilled out evening, with the addition of LOTS of cake! Eaters will taste up to 10 different cupcakes, and if you’re a Baker, we have cupcakes exclusively for you in the Bakers Corner. But it’s not all about cake – you’ll get to meet friendly fellow cake lovers, use your discerning cupcake palate to judge the best entries, or have the chance to win one of our great prizes! When the competition is over, there’s always cupcakes left over which you’ll be able to taste or take home.
What has been your favourite IronCupcake competition theme?
For me, the most memorable theme has been ‘Cupcakes for Men’ around two years ago. The theme was really inspiring and we saw entries with Guinness, beer and miniature weight lifter decorations. I made Rock Star Jack Daniels and Coke cupcakes – chocolate brownie with Jack Daniels, and coca cola in the buttercream. I decorated the cupcakes with the faces of the band KISS which was incredibly time consuming but had a great effect! It paid off as I came second and the feedback from the Eaters was really lovely!
How did your first event in charge go?
We had 13 fantastic cupcake entries to The Great British Summer event in July, and around 30 Eaters to judge them! The winning cupcake was Life’s a Beach by Lisa, who made her very own recipe for toffee ice cream cake batter filled with butterscotch sauce and decorated with a parasol, windbreaker and two sun loungers! She won our first place prize of a 30 voucher for Bibi’s restaurant. Some of the other delicious entries included raspberry ripple ice cream cupcakes complete with cone and flake, cherry cheesecake cupcakes with an ameretti cheesecake base, and champagne cream tea cupcakes with home-made champagne strawberry jam and miniature tea pots! You can see all our entries and read Lisa’s winning recipe on our website.
What do you think makes Leeds so awesome?
Leeds has such a fantastic personality as a city – you can’t compare it to anywhere else! Our independent restaurants, cafes, bars, cinemas and shops give the city a unique individuality that people love. We’re a city that eats, drinks and shops indie – and we need to keep it that way!
Where do you like to hang out in Leeds?
I’m really lucky to live near Kirkstall Abbey, which is beautiful to walk round in the summer and a great place to chill out. I love the Deli market there too! Some of my favourite restaurants in Leeds city centre are Little Tokyo, Neon Cactus and Fazenda. For tasty pub grub, you can’t really beat the IronCupcake hosts, Adelphi. I love a good cocktail in Mojo and a good dance in Sandinista.
Finally describe IronCupcake:Leeds in 3 words…
Experience cupcake heaven.
IronCupcake: Leeds is just a fiver to enter and welcome Bakers and Eaters whether it’s your first time or fiftieth time! You can find out more on the IronCupcake website, including all of the latest winning recipes!