Sunday, 26 May 2013

Red Velvet Cupcakes

I was reminded last week, by a friend, in not too subtle a manner, (you know who you are!) that I hadn't made red velvet cupcakes in ages, so, red food colouring in hand, I got baking.  Please don't be put off by the vinegar in the sponge, you can't taste it and you need it for the acid/alkali reaction between it and the bicarb for the rise and texture, and there's just not enough acid in the buttermilk.  I decided against the usual cream cheese frosting and went with old fashioned American buttercream, which I usually use in my red velvet whoopie pies.  If you think icing made with flour and vegetable shortening sounds horrible, put those thoughts to one side and give it a try, it's actually rather good.
 The all important taste test!  Robbie tucks in and gives the thumbs up.
 Equipment -
12 hole muffin tin, lined with paper cases
Electric whisk

Ingredients -
Sponges -
60 g unsalted butter, softened
1 large, free range egg, beaten
10 g cocoa powder
1 tbsp good quality red food colouring paste or gel
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
120 ml buttermilk
150 g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 1/2 tsp white wine vinegar

Old Fashioned American Buttercream-
130 ml whole milk
4 tbsp plain flour
200 g caster sugar
110 g vegetable shortening eg. Cookeen
110 g butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla bean paste

Method -

Sponges -
1. Preheat oven to 170C
2. Beat butter and sugar together with electric whisk until light and fluffy.
3. Slowly add the egg and beat well.
4. In a separate bowl, mix the cocoa, food colouring and vanilla paste together, then add the sugar and butter mixture and beat well.
5. Beat in half the buttermilk.
6. Gradually beat in half the flour.
7. Beat in the reat of the buttermilk.
8. Gradually beat in the rest of the flour, until everything is well mixed.
9. Add the vinegar and bicarb and beat again.
10. Divide between the 12 paper cases and bake for around 20 mins or until the cakes are risen and springy to the touch.  Leave to cool before icing.

Icing -
1. Whisk together the flour and milk in a small saucepan. Place over a medium heat until the mixture thickens.  Set aside to cool.
2. In a bowl, beat together the sugar, butter and shortening until light and fluffy, using an electric whisk.  Add the vanilla and beat well.
3. Add the flour mixture and beat for a few more mins.

To Assemble -
Pipe or spread icing on top of the cooled cakes, I used a #4 star nozzle.  Decorate as desired, I used red sugar crystals.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Milk Chocolate and Pistachio Squares

This is one of my husband's favourite cakes, it's moist, nutty and not too sweet (a bit like him!), and a recipe I keep coming back too.  It's from the BBC Good Food website, I originally found it in the Good Food magazine, which I buy every month.  You'll find the recipe here.
Before I tried the recipe, I was skeptical that the milk chocolate would be too bland, but my concerns were unfounded, dark chocolate would totally overpower the delicate flavour of the nuts and the soured cream in the frosting offsets some of the sweetness.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Mile High Oreo Cake

This is a truly huge cake, and by that, I mean enormous, massive, gargantuan even!  It does taste good though!  Credit for the original recipe goes to Helen Costello, who suggests piping rosettes on the top of this cake to decorate.  I flat iced mine instead so that it would fit in my cake tin!

Equipment -
2 x 20cm springform cake tins, greased and base lined
Electric whisk
Food processor (optional)
Palette knife
Side scraper (optional)

Oven temp -
190C, Gas Mark 5

Ingredients -
Sponge -
225g butter, softened
600g golden caster sugar
7 egg whites 450g SR flour
1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
355ml milk
1x154g pack Oreo biscuits, crushed (some small chunks are fine.  I used a food processor but you could use a freezer bag and rolling pin)

Vanilla Butter Icing -
225g butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
110ml milk
800g icing sugar

Method -
Sponge -
1. Preheat oven to 190C
2. Beat butter and sugar with electric whisk until light and fluffy.
3. Add egg whites one at a time, beating well after each addition, and adding a tablespoon of the flour with the last one to prevent curdling.
4. Add vanilla, then flour and milk alternately.  Stir in Oreos.
5. Divide mixture between the tins, spreading evenly.
6. Bake for around 50 mins, until and skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.  Leave to cool in the tins for ten mins, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.

Icing -
1. Mix butter and vanilla until smooth and creamy, then beat in milk and icing sugar alternately in three or four batches.  I prefer to do this by hand as, even on the slowest setting, my electric whisk redecorates my kitchen with icing sugar!

To assemble -
1. Place one cake on a plate and spread some icing over it and sandwich with the other cake.
2. Cover the top and sides of the cake in a thin "crumb layer" of icing and allow to set, this will give a neater finish.
3. Use the rest of the icing to cover the top and sides of the cake, using a palette knife and side scraper.
4. Decorate as desired, I used Belgian chocolate drops.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Elderflower Cake

This one went down a storm with everyone who tried it, I'll certainly be making it again.  Credit for the recipe goes to Lynn Hill of the Clandestine Cake Club.
When choosing the elderflower cordial for this recipe, look at how much you have to dilute it to make a drink as they vary between one part cordial to four parts water, to one part cordial to ten parts water.  Obviously, you want to pick one which is very concentrated and which needs to be heavily diluted for a nice, intense flavour.
Equipment -
2 x 20cm round sandwich tins, greased and base lined
Electric whisk

Oven temp -
190C / Gas Mark 5

Ingredients -
Sponge -
4 large eggs, separated
230g caster sugar
2 tbsp elderflower cordial
130g SR flour

White Chocolate Ganache -
250g good quality white chocolate, finely chopped
250ml double cream

Elderflower Buttercream -
175g - butter, softened
175g - icing sugar
2 tbsp - elderflower cordial, or more to taste
Squeeze of lemon juice

Method -

Sponge -
1. Preheat oven to 190C.
2. Beat the egg yolks and 190g of the sugar using an electric whisk until mixture is light and fluffy and doubled in size (this may take 10 mins depending on how powerful your whisk is).
3. Mix in elderflower cordial.
4. In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form (make sure your beaters are properly clean too, any trace of grease will stop the maximum volume of air be whisked in).  Add remaining sugar and beat well.
5. Carefully fold half the egg whites into the yolk mixture, then sift in half the flour and gently fold that in too.  Repeat with the remaining egg white and flour.
6. Divide mixture between the two tins, spreading evenly.  Bake for about 25 mins, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for a few mins, then turn out onto cooling racks and leaving to cool completely.

Ganache -
1. Place white choc in a bowl.  Heat the cream in a small pan until bubbling slightly round the edges.  Pour over the chocolate and stir until melted.
2. Cover with cling film a put in the fridge  until it has a soft spreading consistency.  (This may take around 4 hours)

Buttercream -
1. Beat the butter until light and fluffy, then gradually sift in the icing sugar and beat that in.
2. Mix in the cordial a little at a time, taste and a more if needed along with a squeeze of lemon juice.

To Assemble -
Sandwich the cakes with the buttercream, then spread the ganache over the top and sides.  Allow the icing time to set before slicing.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Chocolate and Honeycomb Cupcakes

I think when I make this again I'll use a dark chocolate ganache instead of butter icing as I think the bitterness would offset the sweetness of the honeycomb.  The original recipe is from the Hummingbird Bakery Home, Sweet Home book, I just made a few tweaks.  The honeycomb starts to dissolve quite quickly, so these are best not made too far in advance.  If you don't want to make your own honeycomb, you could always use crushed up Crunchie bars.
Makes 16 cakes

Oven temp - 170C, 325F, Gas mark 3

Equipment -
2, 12 hole muffin tins, 16 of the holes lined with muffin cases.
Sugar thermometer 
Electric hand mixer
Baking tray lined with baking paper

Ingredients -
Sponge -
70g unsalted butter, softened
170g plain flour
250g golden caster sugar
50g cocoa powder
1 tbsp baking powder
0.5 tsp salt
210ml whole milk
2 large, free range eggs.

Honeycomb -
75g golden syrup
170 golden caster sugar
30ml water
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Icing -
450g icing sugar, sifted
60g cocoa powder, sifted
160g unsalted butter, softened
60ml whole milk

Method -
Sponge -
1. Preheat oven to 170C.
2. Using an electric hand mixer, whisk together the butter, flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt to a crumb-like consistency.
3. In a jug mix the milk and eggs together using a fork.
4. Using the electric whisk on a slow speed, gradually add half the wet mix to the dry.  When it is mixed in, increase speed and add remaining wet mix and whisk until well combined and lump free.
5. Spoon the mix into prepared tins, I used a 50ml ice cream scoop which I find the right size for cupcakes.
6. Bake for 20-25 mins or until the sponge is springy when lightly pressed.  Leave in tins for a few mins, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Honeycomb -
1. In a large saucepan, mix the syrup, sugar and water together, then bring to the boil.  Do not stir the caramel or it may crystallise, just swirl the pan from time to time.  Boil to hard crack stage, about 150C on a sugar thermometer.
2. When it reaches the right temp, whisk in the bicarb (it will froth violently) and tip onto the prepared tray.
3. When completely cold, break into tiny pieces, I used a rolling pin.

Icing -
1. Whisk together all the icing ingredients until light and fluffy.
2. Stir in most of the honeycomb pieces, reserving some for decoration.
3. Swirl onto the cool sponges and sprinkle over reserved honeycomb.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

My New Blog!

For the last few weeks I've been sharing the bakes I've made for my Monday night craft session with friends, on my papercraft blog and Facebook, and have often been asked for the recipes, so I decided to start this blog to do just that.
The first recipe I'm going to share is this one for Sticky Toffee Cake, which tastes as good as it sounds and is really easy to make.
Equipment -
A 25.5cmx20.5cm cake tin, base lined with baking paper

Oven temp -
180C / 350F / gas 4

Ingredients -
For the sponge -
200g stoned dates, chopped
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
300ml boiling water
80g unsalted butter
160g light brown muscovado sugar
2 large free range eggs, at room temp, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
175g SR flour
pinch of salt
75g walnut pieces

For the frosting -
100g light brown muscovado sugar
75g unsalted butter
100ml double cream
4 tbs mascarpone
pinch of sea salt
walnuts to decorate (optional)

Method -
1. Preheat oven to 180C.
To make the sponge, put dates in a saucepan, add bicarbonate of soda, pour over boiling water and simmer over a low heat for a minute.  Remove from heat and set aside for 15 mins.

2. Put butter in a mixing bowl and beat with a wooden spoon or electric mixer until creamy.  Add sugar and beat until fluffy, then gradually add eggs, beating well after each addition.  Beat in vanilla.  Sift flour and salt into the bowl and fold in.  Add the date mixture and walnuts and fold in.

3. Transfer mixture to prepared tin and spread evenly.  Bake for 25-30 mins until sponge feels springy when gently pressed in the middle.  Cool in the tin for 15 mins then turn out and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.

4. For the frosting, put the sugar, butter and cream in a saucepan and heat gently until melted, then increase heat and simmer for 3-4 mins until sticky.  Remove from the heat and let cool completely.  Beat mascarpone until smooth, then mix in caramel and salt.  Swirl over the top of the cake and decorate with walnuts if you like.