Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Millionaire Cupcake Surprises

Millionaire Cupcake Surprises
One of my favourite baked goods is millionaire shortbread. I also love cupcakes. So I thought…why not combine the two? This recipe makes six big vanilla cupcakes filled, filled with caramel, topped with chocolate fudge icing and a bar of gold to boot!

In this recipe, I have suggested either vodka or ouzo for the gold paint on the fondant gold bars, because I didn’t have any vodka in the house when making these (honest!), so my Nan suggested I crack open my Grandad’s bottle of ouzo that was casually sitting on the kitchen side. I don’t normally say alcohol is necessary in life to have a good time, however in this case you can’t replace the vodka with anything else, such as water. In fact, when I googled possible replacements for alcohol, I found out that god lustre powder is not water soluble, therefore if you were to mix this gorgeous golden powdery stuff with water, the two wouldn’t mix together very well and you’d end up with a clumpy mess. If you use alcohol however, it creates a smooth liquid which adheres to such surfaces as fondant, very well. Essentially, this is one of the very rare times I will say: don’t scrimp on the alcohol this time guys ;)….anyway here’s the recipe (the caramel is inspired by my favourite millionaire shortbread caramel recipe by Simon Rimmer and complimented by the chocolate fudge icing recipe by womanandhome.com). Enjoy J.


For the sponge:
100g/4oz margarine
100g/4oz caster sugar
100g/4oz self-raising flour
2 eggs (beaten)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the caramel:
100g/3 ½ oz butter
200g/ 7oz condensed milk
2 tablespoons golden syrup

For the chocolate fudge icing:
100g/4oz dark chocolate
50g/2oz butter
175g/ 7oz icing sugar

Extras/ bars of gold:
150g/6oz white fondant icing
Gold lustre powder (available in cake shops)
A drop of vodka/ouzo
*chocolate covered popping candy.


1) Firstly make the gold bars. Sprinkle a work surface lightly with icing sugar and roll out the fondant icing to 1.5cm thick. Cut rectangles of approximately 5x2cm. With a knife or ruler, slightly dent all four sides of the rectangle, the innermost edge pointing towards the top (ie, so that the rectangle is moulded into a trapezoid shape). When you’re happy with the shape engrave the word ‘GOLD’ into the top of the bar with a cocktail stick- I like to trace the letters out with small dots first then gradually scrape the engraving into the surface. Set aside to dry.

2) Make the sponges: Preheat the oven to 180°C/ Gas 4 and line a muffin tin with 6 cases. Cream the margarine, caster sugar and vanilla extract together until pale and fluffy. Sieve in the flour, add the eggs and mix the batter until everything is combined. Spoon the mixture evenly into the muffin cases, levelling the tops. Bake for approximately 20 minutes- until the cupcakes are springy to the touch or an inserted skewer/knife comes out clean. Set aside on a cooling rack.

3) While the cakes are cooling, paint the gold bars: in an egg cup or something similar, mix half a teaspoon of gold lustre dust with half a teaspoon of vodka or ouzo, until you have a smooth liquid. With a paintbrush, evenly apply the gold lustre to the fondant bars- I find that it helps to paint in lines, one next to the other. Allow the bars to dry. If you want to paint the bottoms as well as the top and sides, I’d suggest you paint the top and sides first, allow them to dry and then paint the bottoms after Step 4, while you’re waiting for your caramel to cool.

4) Next, make the caramel. In a saucepan melt the butter, golden syrup and condensed milk together. Once the ingredients are melted together increase the heat and boil for 5-10 minutes, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon until the caramel has turned a golden colour and reached soft ball stage.
(normally you can tell that soft ball stage has been reached by having a jug of cold water handy: take the caramel off the heat and drop a tiny bit of the caramel into the water- use the wooden spoon obviously because sugar can be hooooot! Put your hand in the water and try to mould the caramel into a ball. If you can you’ve reached soft ball stage and if it’s too soft for that, return the caramel to the heat and try this test again in a minute or so)
Once soft ball stage has been reached, leave the caramel to cool for a few minutes. While it cools, use a skewer to poke holes into the centre of the cupcakes and paint the bottoms of your golden bars (if you so desire).

5) Once the caramel is cooled enough to handle, spoon it into a piping bag or syringe, fitted with a small round nozzle, and pipe the caramel into the holes you made in the cupcakes. If you don’t have a piping bag or syringe, just make some holes in the cupcakes with a teaspoon and then spoon the caramel in. At this stage sprinkle some popping candy onto the caramel poking out from the cakes- this will make the popping candy stick for sure! Leave to set while you make the icing.

6) Make the chocolate fudge icing. In a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt the chocolate. Take off the heat and gradually mix in the butter, stirring after each addition. Once the butter and chocolate are completely melted together gradually sieve in the icing sugar, beating well after each addition. You may find the chocolate seizes up with the addition of such a dry ingredient- in this case just add a drop of milk to loosen the icing up. To make it easier for myself I just add a drop of milk with each addition of icing sugar any way. Once the icing sugar is added, you should have a thick, spreadable consistency. If it is too runny: add more icing sugar. If it is too thick: add more milk. Simple as.

7) Assemble your cupcakes! Spoon the icing into a piping bag or syringe, fitted with a medium star nozzle. Starting from the outside, pipe a swirl of icing onto each cupcake. Alternately you can spread the icing on with a knife. Make sure you save a little icing to adhere the gold bars to the cakes. Sprinkle more popping candy onto the icing. Attach a golden bar to each of the cupcakes by piping a small amount of icing onto the undersides of them and placing them as you desire on the icing swirl (the extra icing just adds…scaffolding to hold the golden bars up on the icing swirls).

8) Enjoy :D (in this warm weather I suggest storing the cupcakes in the fridge, however they taste best at room temperature).

Friday, 25 July 2014

Tea Loaf...

As of late I have been residing with my lovely Grandparents during my search for a part-time job. After being here on and off for a good 3-4 weeks now I thought I should do something to show my appreciation. They haven’t asked for rent (yet!) but the second best thing, I thought, would be to bake them something. So that’s what I did. One of my Grandad’s favourite types of cake is a fruit cake or something of that variety so I thought I’d make a tea loaf, having the fancy for one myself!
With all the glamorous glitter dusted cupcakes and fusion flavoured brownies available nowadays, I think we sometimes forget about the simple homely flavours of a fruit loaf. It’s sweet, light and more filling than a biscuit. AND you even have the added extra of having butter on top of it or not. I suppose some people would say it’s a bit common to have butter on your tea loaf. But sod it, if you can add something to make it taste even more indulgent why not?
This was a typical situation in which I remembered having a really good recipe for such a baked good years ago. However I have since lost the tattered piece of paper on which I wrote the random recipe. So I did what all good modern people do and googled it, finding this recipe from womanandhome.com. I followed this recipe, except I added glac√© cherries and missed out the nutmeg (didn’t have any) too. The recipe also specified sultanas and currants as two separate ingredients. To make shopping easier, I just bought a bag of mixed fruit to cover both.
The good thing about a tea loaf is that, it’s so simple to put together- you cannot go wrong. However I cannot control how the batter reacts in the oven (hence the slightly deformed blob on the side of the loaf!) But who cares right? It's homemade after all... 

So here’s the recipe:
500g/18oz dried mixed fruit (raisins, sultanas, currants, mixed peel etc)
250g/9oz caster sugar
375ml/ 13fl oz cold tea
1 large egg
500g/ 1lb 2oz self-raising flour
1 tsp mixed spice
50g/ 2oz glacé cherries (cut in halves)

1) Soak the mixed fruit and the sugar in the cold tea. For better absorption of the tea flavour, it is advised to soak the fruit overnight. I only soaked them for half an hour and it tasted just fine- you can make up your own mind how serious you want to get about your loaf ;).
2) Preheat the oven to 180°C/ 160°C fan/ 350 F/ Gas 4 and line a 2lb/ 900g loaf tin with baking paper. Add the egg to the mixed fruit and mix in well. Sift the flour and mixed spice into the bowl and mix the batter until well blended. Add the halved cherries and fold through the mixture.
3) Pour the batter into the loaf tin and bake for 1 hour- 1 hour 20 minutes, or until a knife/skewer inserted comes out clean. Check the cake every 20-30 minutes to check if it’s browning too quickly on top (admittedly mine did). Leave to cool before slicing. Serve on its own or spread with a dash of butter. Perfect with a cup of tea!