Sunday, January 29, 2012

I Heart Cupcakes

At first glance you may think that these are fairly standard cupcakes... move along please, nothing to see here! But wait...underneath that unassuming exterior lies a secret...a hidden heart!
To make the cakes, the cake mixture was prepared and then a small amount put in a seperate bowl and coloured with red food colour. This was then baked in a 8x8 tin and when cooled, the hearts were cut out. Then a little of the original mixture was put in each cupcake case, a heart was placed in the centre of each and then covered over with the remaining mixture. The whole thing is then baked together.

The only important thing to remember is when the cakes come out of the oven it is important to keep them all facing forward on the cooling rack as otherwise when you cut through the cakes, if the heart is not aligned, you will not get the desired effect. I put the cute 'Eat Me' toppers in when iced to show which way was forward.

The idea for these cupcakes originally came from Cupcake Takes The Cake. If you'd like to try them you can check out a video tutorial on the site.

It would be quite easy to adapt this idea to include different shapes and colours inside your cakes. You could even try writing a message... I had a go at 'I Love U' as you can see...I may need to play around with this a bit but it didn't turn out too bad.

You may also be thinking it's a little bit early for Valentine's Day, these are however my entry to Cakeboule's Virtual Valentines bake and craft competition 2012. So if you want to join in, why not hop over to Cakeboule's blog. The closing date is 4th February and you can enter both crafts and bakes.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Cake Club: New Year, New You

This Thursday was the second meeting of the Cakes 4 Fun cake club. Unfortunately the first rule of cake club is not to talk about cake club... however, as a baking blogger this could prove rather difficult!

The theme for this month was New Year, New You. I was a little short on time and imagination this month, so my healthy cake consisted of baking with blueberries and using low fat cream cheese! Some of the other cake clubbers were far more imaginative with cakes such as chocolate and courgette, as well as another chocolate cake which was butter and flour free!
My offering was a Blueberry Soured Cream Cake with Cheesecake Frosting, and you can find the recipe here on BBC GoodFood. I discovered a little too late that I didn't have the size of tin specified in the recipe, I only had a larger one. So I baked my cake for less time but it was rather shallow when it came out of the tin. I therefore made a second one exactly the same and sandwiched them together with lemon curd. In order to prevent my blueberries from sinking in the cake, I also washed and floured them... which seemed to work!
Overall, this wasn't a bad cake, a little sweet but certainly tasty! Next month's theme is 'Anything Goes... except Chocolate!'. So if you are around the London area and fancy joining us for cake, wine and chat, then check out the Cakes 4 Fun website.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Double Height Stack Cake

Yesterday I attended the double height stack cake course at Cakes 4 Fun in Putney. There was a lot to fit in, in one day...cutting, crumb coating, covering and stacking... and that was before we even started on the decoration. To give the double height lower tier, it is actually two cakes on cake drums stacked on top of each other with dowels holding the weight of the top part of the tier.
Once the cake was covered and stacked it was on to the decoration. We made the butterflies using PME butterfly cutters and then left them to dry in a folded piece of cardboard so that it gives the appearance of flying! We also made the lovely rolled roses which look great and take a lot less time than proper sugar flowers.
Finally, it was on to the decorations on the sides. We used brush embroidery for the flowers and also had an opportunity to paint the darker flowers on. The finishing touch was to add the tendrils, these were added with an edible pen but these could also be painted on. When using an edible pen on icing, it is best to let the icing set for a while, hence the reason why there are two pictures at the top, one was taken yesterday and the second was taken today once the tendrils had been added.
This was a fun course with a very pretty cake as the result! There were loads of techniques to learn and it would have been nice to have even more time to really perfect our cakes.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Rhubarb & Custard Cake: Simple & in Season Blog Event

I've had my eye on this recipe for a while and then I happened to see the Simple and in Season monthly challenge hosted by Fabulicious Food. As it says on the blog 'all you have to do is come up with a dish using any seasonal produce you like (savoury or sweet)'.

Fortunately, this challenge coincides with the start of the forced rhubarb season. So I purchased my British rhubarb fresh from the Rhubarb Triangle in Yorkshire and proceeded to make my rhubarb and custard cake.
So, how did it taste? Well it tasted pretty good but I think if I were to make it again I'd want to make a few modifications. Firstly, it was a little dry and the cake mix was fairly dry to start so maybe next time I might loosen it a bit before putting it in the tin. It also seemed to be cooked in about an hour, so I might take it out earlier.

My final modification would be to add more of the star ingredient, rhubarb. In the cookbook the finished product had rhubarb that seemed to meet in the middle of the cake but I'm not really sure how it all fitted in there, when I tried there was no room in the pan so I had to cut the stalks shorter. I didn't use nearly as much as the recipe suggested! I might also try experimenting with putting an extra rhubarb layer on top of the custard...not sure if this would work or not! Anyone any thoughts on any of these modifications or any other suggestions?

Overall though, the rhubarb itself was amazingly tasty, in season and homegrown... why not join in with next month's simple and seasonal!

  • 200g butter, softened
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 185g self-raising flour
  • 40g custard powder
  • 4 stalks of rhubarb, sliced lengthways and cut into 10cm lengths
  • 20g butter, melted
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp custard powder
  • 55g caster sugar
  • 250ml milk
  • 20g butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
Firstly, start off by making the custard by placing the custard powder and sugar in a small saucepan. Gradually add in the milk and blend in to avoid lumps. Then put on the heat and stir until the mixture boils and thickens. Take it off the heat, it is important to put clingfilm over it at this point to avoid a skin forming. Leave to cool.
Preheat the oven at 180c/160c fan and then grease a 20cm cake tin and line the base with baking paper. Combine the softened butter and sugar in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs in one at a time before sifting the flour and custard powder over the top and stirring in.
Put half of the mixture into the cake tin and spread evenly. On top of this spread the custard mixture before dolloping the remaining cake mixture on top and spreading carefully with a spatula. Finally, place the rhubard in a circle on the top and brush with melted butter and sprinkle with the 2 teaspoons of caster sugar. Cook for 1 1/4 hours and then cool in the tin.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Nutella Cupcakes with Malteaser Burst

Not really the ideal cake for anyone on a New Year's diet but utterly delicious...and a bit of a looker to boot! I made these for a birthday and they were really well received.

I used the nutella cupcake recipe, although there are several different versions about. A taste tester tried one on the day they were made and then tried another one the next day, the verdict...twice as delicious on day two!

The suggested decoration for this cupcake is a couple of malteasers on top but if you really want to make an impact you can try a Malteaser burst. To make it I used gold florist wire, florist tape, a flower pick and obviously Malteasers! Cut 5 pieces of wire of various lengths and then fasten together at one end with florist tape. Push a Malteaser on to the end of each piece of wire and then bend each one outwards. It is not generally recommended to push this straight into the cakes, especially if you were to lose the piece of florist tape off the end. It may therefore be advisable to insert a flower pick before icing, although I know that some people may just push the individual bits of wire into the cake!
Finally, thanks to Matthew Piper who took the stunning photo at the top. Check out more of his pictures on Flickr.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Random Recipes Challenge: Summer Fruit Cream Slice

As it's a new year I thought I'd try a new challenge and what better than Belleau Kitchen's Random Recipes to fit in with my new year's resolution of resisting the urge to buy a new recipe book for the whole of 2012!!

This month the idea was to pick your newest cookbook and then flick through the pages with your eyes closed and whichever recipe you land on is the one you have to make! As previously mentioned my last cookbook (for the year) was McDougall's Better Bakers Guide. I flicked through and before me was a recipe for a Summer Fruit Cream Slice...slightly at odds with a cold dull January but a little something to remind us of summer.

This is a great challenge as not only does it encourage you to use the cookbooks you already have (as per my resolution) but it also encourages you to try new things. I for one have never tried making flaky pastry, it's something I've always wanted to try but may have never gotten round to... so thanks Dom at Belleau Kitchen for a great challenge.
Making the flaky pastry, it is essentially a puff pastry and requires lots of folding, rolling and chilling. As you can see the pastry was rolled out into an oblong and then roughly divided in to three, knobs of butter were scattered over two thirds of the pastry before folding it over on itself and rolling out. This process was repeated several times and eventually gave the lovely layers you can see in the picture.
This is essentially a Mille Feuille and to prevent the pastry puffing up in the oven an empty baking tray was placed on top of the pastry to keep it relatively flat! My three layer slice ended up as a bit of a humdinger, for a slightly more elegant slice you could remove the top layer as above.

I really enjoyed trying something new...why not join in with next month's challenge!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Passion Cake

So here is my first cake of 2012! A simple affair after the excesses of Christmas, it's a passion cake from the aforementioned McDougall's Bakers last recipe book for a year!! This is a nice moist cake with an extremely tasty cream cheese frosting... it would be a good one to serve with a cup of tea when you have friends round. The passion cake would be good if you're planning a frugal January but still want something that tastes ever so slightly decadent! :-)

  • 275g plain flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 150g soft light brown sugar
  • 100g carrots, grated
  • 50g walnuts, chopped
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 100ml sunflower oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 432g can crushed pineapple, drained
Cream cheese frosting
  • 75g butter
  • 75g soft cream cheese
  • 175g icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
Heat the oven to 180c/160c fan/gas 4 and then grease and line a 20cm cake tin. Mix the sifted flour, cinnamon and baking powder in a bowl before adding the sugar, walnuts and carrot. Mix together again and make a well in the middle, to which the oil, eggs, vanilla extract and pineapple should be added. Beat together with a spoon before pouring in to the prepared tin. Level off the top and bake for 1 1/4 hour. Cool in the tin.

When cool swirl the frosting on the top. This can be made by mixing the butter, cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla essence with an electric mixer. It is helpful to chill the cake for at least 30minutes before serving.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

McDougalls: The Better Baker's Guide

Happy New Year!

I hope you all had a great Christmas. Now the festivities are all done and dusted I decided to have a spring clean yesterday and happened to pile all my recipe books in one place...I have to say, I knew I had quite a few but was a bit surprised to realise how many!!

I then read a couple of great posts from Cake Boule and English Mum about New Year's resolutions and concentrating on the things that matter in life. As English Mum says life is about snapshots and not about stuff! Therefore, I have decided that one of my New Year's resolutions is to resist the temptation to buy a single cookbook in 2012...which will be tough!! But I really have quite enough already and maybe I should concentrate on making delicious treats from the ones I already have!

However, if you're planning a frugal January after the Christmas excesses but can't resist a new recipe book then this is the cost conscious option for you. McDougall's Flour publish a Better Baker's Guide, they're currently on the 35th edition! It's only £2.50, so it won't break the bank and it's crammed with over 100 classic recipes which all look delicious! Fortunately, my copy arrived just before the New Year, so this will be my last recipe book until 2013 but I think it's certainly a good one to end on... and probably has more recipes than some other books which cost at least quadruple the price!!
Today is my last day of freedom before going back to work tomorrow, so I have my first recipe from the McDougall's cookbook in the oven and I will post the results later.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2012!

To get your own copy of the McDougalls Baker's Guide then you just need to send a cheque for £2.50 (payable to McDougalls Foods Ltd) to the following address:

McDougalls Baking Book
PO Box 100

It will take about 28 days to arrive and P&P is included. You just need to send your cheque along with your name and address.