Tuesday, 8 September 2015


So hey. I've not posted in a while and it's the first time I've posted from my flash new phone (just an iPhone 5c, don't get excited). Anyway I made some nice muffins today which was a complete surprise because I always thought that this perfectly round-topped fluffy light creation was the stuff of Starbucks dream world. I found out today that this ideal baked good is not so unachievable as we all think. The recipe I found was from littlesweetbaker and the ingredients are all in cups. If you are clever and have a contraption with the cup measurements on it, use that. If you're like me just pick a mug - any mug- and use it to measure everything where the word 'cup' is mentioned. 
In the rewrite here I missed out bicarbonate of soda from the original recipe purely because I didn't have any and I wrote the oven temperature which I used on my oven after translating it. The article along with the recipe on littlesweetbaker.com discusses how to achieve that bakery style idealised iconic muffin we all dream of and apparently it's simply down to raising agents and temperature: the raising agent to make the batter rise and the high temperature at the beginning of the bake to make that top spring out straight away. Obviously after that happens it becomes necessary to turn down the heat to avoid book ends for muffins. If you want to read it for yourself go ahead, very interesting stuff! And if you're reading this littlesweetbaker...props to you! 

Here's the recipe anyway: 

2 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter (melted)
2 eggs (beaten)
1 cup chocolate chips

1) Preheat oven to 220 degrees / gas 5. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases.
2) Place the flour, baking powder and salt into a big mixing bowl and stir to combine. Mix through the chocolate chips and set aside.
3) In another bowl, mix together the sugar, eggs, milk, vanilla and melted butter. Gradually pour into the dry ingredients, stirring as you go. Once both wet and dry ingredients are just combined, stop what you're doing and take a step back.
4) Divide the mixture between the 12 cases, filling them right to the top. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes and then turn the temperature down to 180 degrees or Gas 4. Bake for a further 15 to minutes. Once springy to the touch get the muffins out of the oven and allow to cool or eat warm.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Chocolate Brownies or 'Brazzies'

Wow it’s been a while since my last blog post. When I last posted I was a week away from finishing my university final year exams, probably bored stiff of film and Greek revision so baked a cake to remain sane. So much has happened since then; I finished said exams, moved out, got my final degree classification and completely graduated from university (gown an’ all). So now that’s all done with I thought it was time to get back on the baking sharing thing. It’s not that I haven’t baked anything since my last post in May – BELIEVE ME there have been cookies and cakes baking in my oven since then- but I just had no energy to write about them after. But now I’m back on the baking blog writing wagon. For now.

So what better way to get back on track than with a brownie recipe that actually works.
Now, I think I can confidently say ‘I can bake’. But I have to say the humble brownie has always been something that I’ve not been that good at baking; you could say it is my Achilles heel in my baking arsenal. I have simply never been able to achieve that crunchy topped, chewy but not gooey brownie. Instead I have always achieved this very under-baked style brownie which is fine around the edges but a half-baked gooey nightmare in the middle. Don’t get me wrong I’m a huge fan of under-baking, for example in the loyal cookie (who wants a crunchy cookie over that dreamy chewy number we all know and love?), however in this case I would say my brownies have always been TOO under-baked. So you can imagine when I found the following recipe I was sceptical. Firstly the title of the book in which I found the recipe sounds dodgy: ‘Perfect Cakes Every Time’ along with the byline: ‘…guaranteed to succeed!’
I mean those are some bold statements right? When I saw this in the shop I just had to put it to the test. Once home I was flicking through the unillustrated pages of classic recipes when I stumbled across a recipe for ‘Rich Fudge Brownies’. I thought ‘hmm that’s always something I’ve fallen short of the mark of…so let’s put this failsafe status to the test!’
And I’m happy to say that I have now used this recipe three times and it has worked every.single.time!! Woop I am no longer a brownie baker failure!

Now the concept of this book really is very good. Apparently a newly-wed Victoria Combe baked a horrendous cake for her in-laws and, in despair, wrote a plea to readers of the Daily Telegraph for recipes that she could not mess up. Subsequently readers of said newspaper sent in their cherished and fool-proof recipes to help her out and of course her baking improved. THEN she put all of these recipes together into the book which I now hold in my hands ‘Perfect Cakes Every Time’. So even though this is a big statement I think we can all have a little faith that these recipes…well they clearly know what they’re talking about!

Now I have to say a big thanks to ‘Karin Smith from Reading, Berkshire’, who sent this recipe into this charity baking mission. It truly is fab. The only thing I tweaked was the sugar. Firstly I tried the recipe straight with the caster sugar it suggests, and they came out well if a little lighter in colour to what I’m used to. So the next time I used light brown muscovado sugar to add more density in colour and flavour and I haven’t looked back since. I find muscovado sugar always adds to the chewy element of baled goods too, hence why it is used in the likes of cookies and other chewy nuggets of joy. As well as this I’ve messed about with adding choc chips too and I find doubling the ingredients is always a better idea. THIS TIME however I dipped some of my brownie cubes in chocolate and hundreds and thousands to channel that well-loved chocolate drop sweet ‘Jazzies’; I call these beauties ‘Brazzies’. I did leave half of them naked though because my Mum was disgusted I had the audacity to pimp a brownie. Let’s just say we have agreed to disagree.

So here’s the recipe from this book (in doubled format):

200g / 8 oz plain chocolate
100g / 4 oz unsalted butter
4 eggs
300g / 12 oz light brown muscovado sugar
1-2 teaspoons vanilla extact
150g / 6 oz self-raising flour
·     100g / 4 oz  chopped walnuts/ chocolate chips (optional)
·         For ‘Brazzies’: 100g / 4 oz melted chocolate and a bowl of hundreds and thousands.

1) Preheat oven to 180°C / Gas Mark 4. Grease and line a 9x9”/22x22cm square baking tin.
2) Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Once melted add in the cutter bit by bit and stir to combine to a smooth chocolatey silky bowl of joy.
3) Whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract together until pale. Pour in the chocolate mixture and whisk to combine.
4) Sieve in the flour and use a metal spoon to fold everything lightly together. Now stir in any nuts or chocolate chips you desire. Pour into the tin, leveling off with a spatula. Bake for 30-40 minutes. The brownie is baked when the surface is crispy and cracking, pulling away from the sides a little and not wobbly when shaken slightly. Allow to cool in the tin until cold before cutting up.

5) For ‘Brazzies’: Melt chocolate as above and pour hundreds and thousands into a bowl. Dip the bottom of each brownie cube into the melted chocolate and then into the sprinkles. Leave to set, dipped side up.

Enjoy x

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Raspberry and Apple Country Crumble Slice

I made this traybake with wholemeal flour for a change, something I've never used before but I've always heard is supposed to seriously pimp up any normal cake mixture. And I can safely say it does! The wholemeal flour definitely adds an extra nutty layer to the cake flavour and goes really well with anything fruity. Plus the use of less refined sugar and flour always makes you feel that tad bit healthier even if you are still eating cake ;). Here's my recipe:

For the cake:
250g / 10 oz light brown muscovado sugar
250g / 10 oz margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 eggs (beaten together)
250g / 10 oz wholemeal self-raising flour
75g / 3 oz sultanas
1 green apple (Granny Smith’s)
50g / 2 oz raspberries (each one cut in half)

Crumble Topping:
 75g / 3 oz butter (chilled)
150g / 6 oz plain flour
40g/ 1 ½ oz demerara sugar

6 tablespoons icing sugar
3-4 teaspoons water (more or less, go by eye rather than recipe with this one)

1) Grease and line a 12 x 9 rectangular tray-bake tray with baking paper and set aside. Preheat the oven to 180°C / Gas 4.
2) Make the cake batter: Cream the margarine, vanilla extract and muscovado sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the beaten egg and wholemeal flour bit by bit, mixing after each addition. Once combined, stir through the sultanas.
3) Make the crumble topping: Dice the butter and rub into the plain flour until a breadcrumb consistency has been achieved. Stir through the demerara sugar.

4) Spread half of the cake batter into the tin, leveling it off nicely. Peel, core and cut the apple into four wedges. With a vegetable peeler, peel length-ways down the apple wedge to get extra thin apple slices.

Use two apple wedges for the middle layer of fruit, distributing the thin slices evenly onto the cake batter.

 Follow with half of the raspberries. Spread the rest of the batter evenly over the layer of fruit. Peel the last two apple wedges and scatter slices over the top along with the rest of the raspberries.
Sprinkle the crumble topping over the top fruit layer, pressing down lightly. 

5) Bake for 40-50 minutes, until golden, springy to the touch and an inserted skewer comes out clean.

  Top tip: Place a bit of foil on top of the cake after thirty minutes to prevent further colouring on the top – just because it looks golden and lovely on the top doesn’t mean it’s cooked all the way through yet!

6) Once baked, allow to cool in the tin for 10-15 minutes, before tipping out onto a cooling rack. Sprinkle liberally with more demerara sugar and cut into squares.

7) Make the icing: Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl and gradually add the water, until it reaches a thick pipeable consistency. Pipe or drizzle the icing over the squares with a spoon. Store in the fridge to retain the fresh flavour of the fruit. Simply eat with a cup of tea, or warm up in the microwave and serve with ice-cream or custard for a lovely dessert.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Chewy Red Velvet Cookies: Take 2

 So once upon a time I stumbled across a great recipe for chewy chocolate chip cookies. See the recipe here. Back then I did traditional vanilla cookie dough with chocolate chips. But this time I added a little twist to the mix to make red velvet chewy goodness. I have made red velvet ones before but I didn’t think they were red enough; so this time I made sure to use a food colouring PASTE rather than the liquid stuff (Trust me, once you try pastes you’ll never go back). The great thing about making different flavour cookies is that for minimal ‘pimpage’ of the cookie dough, you get drastic results. In this case for red velvet cookies, simply take out 1 oz/ 25g flour and replace with 1 oz / 25g cocoa powder, add red food colouring, ALWAYS compliment with white chocolate chips and you’re sorted.

Anyways here’s the recipe as I have noted down in my recipe folder:

9 oz / 225g plain flour
1 oz / 25 g cocoa powder
7 oz / 170g butter (melted)
8 oz / 200g light brown muscovado sugar
4 oz / 100g caster sugar
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 egg & 1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 oz / 150g white chocolate chips (though the amount of chocolate one uses is obviously not set in stone…)
*red food colouring (pastes are more expensive but stretch further, but liquid form colourings are also good)

1) Preheat oven to 170°C / Gas 4. Grease and line a baking tray and set aside.

2) In a bowl mix the egg, egg yolk, vanilla extract and sugars together and beat until pale (an electric hand whisk does the best job here). Stir through the melted butter. Sieve in the flour, cocoa powder and bicarbonate of soda until combined. Colour the dough with the red food colouring- how red you want them is really up to you. Fold through the white chocolate chips.

3) Take one tablespoon for each cookie portion and place four on the tray, spaced well apart. Flatten the heaps of dough slightly and bake in the oven for 10-12 mins, until the cookies are visibly set around the edges but still slightly doughy in the middle. Allow to cool slightly on the tray before placing on a wire rack to cool. Repeat with the remaining dough. If you prefer a crunchier cookie, cook for a couple of minutes longer until the cookies are more set.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Post-Easter Marble Cake

Here's my recipe for a marble cake I made the other day during a revision/ coursework break. I had LOADS of chocolate left over from Easter so I literally plastered the top of my cake with it.  I suggest you do the same! Enjoy :)
For the Cake
8oz / 200g caster sugar
8 oz / 200g margarine
8 oz / 200g self-raising flour
4 eggs
3 tablespoons cocoa powder (+ 4-5 tablespoons milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

White Chocolate Buttercream
4 oz / 100g white chocolate
4 oz / 100g unsalted butter
8 oz / 200g icing sugar
Dash of milk
Dark chocolate Buttercream
4 oz / 100g dark chocolate
4oz / 100g butter
8 oz / 200g icing sugar
Dash of milk
*broken up chocolate of choice to decorate

1) Preheat oven to 180C / 170 Fan/ Gas 4. Grease and line two cake sandwich tins and set aside.
2) Make the cakes: Cream margarine and caster sugar together until pale and fluffy. In a separate bowl beat the eggs. Gradually sieve the flour into the butter-sugar mixture, adding a bit of egg and mixing with each addition. Once all flour and egg is incorporated thoroughly stop mixing the batter.
3) Put half the cake mixture into another bowl. In a mixing jug or something similar mix the cocoa powder with the milk, until a thick paste has been achieved. If it is does achieve this and is still too powdery add a dash more milk – try to be sparing with the milk as you go so you don’t reach a situation where you have to add loads more cocoa to compensate for adding too much milk!
4) Add this cocoa paste to one half of your cake batter with a teaspoon more flour to prevent curdling. Mix until a beautiful chocolatey brown had been achieved. Add the vanilla extract to the other half of the batter with a dash more flour, again to prevent curdling.
5) Randomly drop spoonfuls of both of the batters in the tins- this is a marble cake remember! Ones you’ve spooned all the batter into the tins, it’s time to marble: with a cocktail stick or a knife, start on one side of the tin and make horizontal cuts through the batter like a zig-zag pattern. This should make a nice rippling effect through the batter.
6) Bake the cakes for 20-25 minutes until springy to the touch or an inserted skewer comes out clean. Turn out onto a wire rack and allow to cool.
7) Make the Icings (or just one if you can’t be bothered): Whichever icing(s) you decide on making do the following: Break up the chocolate and melt, either in the microwave (watch it though!), or over a pan of gently simmering water. Allow to cool. In a bowl, cream the butter with a dash of milk until softened. Gradually sieve in half of the icing sugar, beating after each addition. Next mix in the chosen chocolate, followed by the rest of the icing sugar. The result should be a smooth, spreadable gloriously chocolately smelling icing. Either make two batches of the same icing or use two batches of icing with different chocolate (as I have) to continue the ‘marble’ theme. Use the icings to fill and decorate your cake as desired – I used a bit of both in the middle and on the top of mine to continue the rippled effect. Next bash up some chocolate and scatter, stick it, grate it, sprinkle it, chuck it (however you treat your chocolate is your own preference) on top of your cake. For an extra ‘TA DAAA!’ factor, sprinkle with glitter and the like.
8) Cut a massive slice and drink with a nice cup of tea. Chef perks an all that ;). 

Monday, 16 March 2015

Rainbow Checkerboard Cake

 OK so I've been away for a while because I thought this next recipe would be really complicated to write and I just couldn't bring myself to write it. But then I realised...actually it's dead simple. There's only a few ingredients, a few colourings and it's sorted. So if you're looking for a simple cake with the wow factor (and maybe some hyperactive children depending which food colourings you use) read on!

Tips before you start: be prepared to make three batches of cake mix in a go. One cake mix makes 2 sponges. It's better to do two cakes at a time because it's easier to divide a mix in half than it is into 6, and also you don't end up with cake mix on your kitchen ceiling - a possibility if you have a stand mixer as strong as mine. Anyway once you've done one cake mix and the two cakes are in the oven, get started on the next one. Carry on like this and dance to some music while you do it. I find Disney Enchanted 'Happy Working Song' does the trick. I'm not even ashamed  to admit it.

Oh and FYI you don't have to use an electric mixer at all but due to the volume of cake it did make my life easier...

And one last thing: make sure you keep track on your colours. I found it easier to do the cold colours (blue, purple, green) first and then the warm colours (yellow, orange, red).


Cake: 3 quantities of the following:
 6 oz / 150g caster sugar
 6 oz / 150g margarine
 6 oz / 150g self-raising flour
  3 eggs (beaten)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

*food colourings: red, blue, yellow (you can use these to make the purple, orange and green - or just buy these too)

Buttercream Icing
20 oz / 500g icing sugar
10 oz / 250g soft unsalted butter
4-6 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Royal Icing
18 oz / 450g icing sugar
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon glycerine
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Equipment:  2 circular cutters: 5 cm and another 10cm approx.

1) For the Sponge Cakes: Grease and line two sandwich tins and set aside. Preheat the oven to 180C /170 Fan/ Gas 4. Cream the margarine, caster sugar and vanilla extract together until pale and fluffy. Gradually mix in half the beaten eggs, only adding a little at a time to prevent the mixture curdling. Sieve half of the flour into the mixture and lightly beat in. Repeat with the rest of the eggs and flour until all cake ingredients are mixed together. Place half the mixture into another bowl and tint with your colour of choice. Bake the sponges in the middle of the oven for 20-25 minutes, until springy to the touch and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Turn out onto a cooling rack. Repeat twice more with the other colours. Once cooled trim the brown crust off the sponges to reveal the bold colours underneath.

2) Make the Buttercream Icing: Beat the butter, vanilla extract and a little of the milk together to soften everything together. Gradually sieve in a little icing sugar at a time, beating after reach addition. Continue this until all the sugar has been incorporated and the icing is light and spreadable.

3) Cut the cakes: Align the warm and cold colours next to each other as the picture above. With the circular cutters, cut each cake into two concentric circles and one small circle from the centre. Carefully mix and match the pieces of cake so there are three different colours in each circle.  Repeat this process until no ring or circle is next to another of the same colour. Once you're happy, stick these in place with butter cream Aim to use no more than a quarter of the buttercream for this.

4) Stack the cakes together with another quarter of the buttercream icing. Next use the rest of the icing to cover the top and sides of the whole cake. Refrigerate for an hour or so to allow the icing to set. This makes the next stage less fiddly.

5) Make the royal icing: Whisk the egg white until frothy - but not stuff - sieve a couple of tablespoons of icing sugar into the egg whites, adding the glycerine and lemon juice. Beat until smooth. Continue to sieve in the rest of the icing sugar, mixing after each addition, until a thick but spreadable consistency has been achieved. If it's too runny, add more icing sugar and if it's too thick add a dash of water. Cover with a cloth for 20-30 minutes to allow any air bubbles in the icing to disappear. Take 5-6 tablespoons of icing and place in a separate bowl for decorating the cake later.

6) Decorate the cake: Spread the royal icing onto the top of the cake, allowing it to cascade over the sides. Then continue to spread the icing around the sides until  the whole cake is covered. Allow to dry for an hour or so before decorating

7) For the decoration: Divide the remaining icing into 6 separate small containers like a mug and colour each little portion of icing in the colours you used for the cakes (blue, green, purple, yellow, orange and red) Place these into 6 separate disposable piping bags and pipe a rainbow style boarder around the cake (use your own imagination with this ;) ) I dusted mine liberally with glitter because...well why not? Allow to set before amazing everyone with this technicolour dream cake. Yeah that's right, I made THAT reference.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Salted Maple Cupcakes

For those who like salted caramel cupcakes, this is one for you! As I've mentioned in previous posts, I'm really getting into these modern flavour combinations lately, that mix sweet with savory. Not gonna lie, these cupcakes are mostly sweet, but the added touch of salt in all stages of the recipe adds a whole other dimension to these little treats. Going with the salted caramel idea, I've noticed quite a few people go as far as adding a piece of bacon on the top of, or even in their creations. To give these cupcakes a longer shelf-life (and not to scare the unadventurous away), I decided not to add that little piece of savory goodness. Anyway here's my recipe:

For the Cupcakes
6 oz / 150g margarine
6 oz / 150g light brown muscovado sugar
6 oz / 150g  self-raising flour
3 eggs
3 oz / 75g milk chocolate chips
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon maple syrup

Icing / Topping
8 oz / 200g icing sugar
4 oz / 100g soft butter
½ teaspoon salt
1-2 tablespoons maple syrup
Dash of milk
3 packet waffles
100g milk chocolate
Pinch of salt
*extra: grated chocolate, glitter, anything else that takes your fancy


1) Preheat oven to 180°C/ Gas 4. Line a muffin tin with muffin cases and set aside. Make the Cupcakes: Cream the margarine, sugar, salt and maple syrup together until light and fluffy.

2) Gradually add the egg and sieve the flour, mixing well after each addition. Fold through the chocolate chips

3) Spoon evenly into the muffin cases and bake for 20 minutes until springy to the touch or an inserted skewer comes out clean. Whilst the cupcakes are cooking, cut the waffles into quarters ad melt the chocolate. Dip the waffle pieces in the chocolate and sprinkle a tiny amount of salt on each one. Allow the chocolate to set before using them to decorate the cakes in the next stage. Once the cupcakes are baked, allow to cool on a wire rack.

4) Make the Buttercream Icing: Cream the butter with the milk, maple syrup and salt until softened. Sieve in the icing sugar gradually, mixing well after each addition. Keep mixing until the icing reaches a spreadable consistency.

5) Decorate the Cupcakes: Spread or pipe the buttercream icing onto the cupcakes, top with a any decorations you desire and ALWAYS add a touch of glitter ;)

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Pina Colada Cupcakes

Pina Colada Cupcakes

These cupcakes are potentially the most exotic specimens I've made ever. When I choose a cupcake, I don't normally pick anything coconutty or pineappley, however I was pleasantly surprised by these. When you have so many flavours going on, I think it's important to show what's on the inside, on the outside (famous words by Mary Berry I think??) Hence the bits of fruit and coconut chunks. As well as this, to show the cocktail get-up, you can't show these beautiful cupcakes off without a straw and a bit of bling. Of course if you're going to keep these to yourself, the get-up is not necessary ;) Additionally, if you want to add actual rum or other alcohol to this recipe, I ain't gonna judge (I just thought non-alcoholic cake would be more acceptable eat at tea time!)

For the cupcakes:
6 oz / 150g caster sugar
6 oz / 150g margarine
6 oz/ 150g self-raising flour
3 eggs
2 oz / 50g desiccated coconut
2 tablespoons coconut cream
1 teaspoon rum essence
1 tablespoon pineapple juice (use excess from the can you will use)
1oz / 25g dried pineapple

For the Filling:
200g tin pineapple ( drained +1-2 tablespoons of the juice)
2 tablespoon caster sugar
2 teaspoon corn starch

For the Buttercream and Topping:
8oz / 200g icing sugar
4 oz / 100g unsalted butter (softened)
2 tablespoon coconut cream
1 tablespoon milk
-desiccated coconut
-fresh pineapple chunks, glacé cherries, fresh coconut, straws, edible glitter
*cocktail sticks

1) Preheat oven to 180°C / Gas 4. Line a muffin tin with muffin cases and set aside.

2) Make the Cupcakes: Cream margarine, sugar, coconut cream, rum essence and pineapple juice together until pale and fluffy. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl. Add a bit of egg and sieve a little of the flour into the creamed butter-sugar mixture at a time, mixing well after each addition. In the last addition of flour, add the desiccated coconut. Chop the dried pineapple into small pieces and stir through the cake batter.

3) Spoon the mixture evenly into the muffin cases and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden, springy to the touch and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

4) Meanwhile make the Pineapple Filling: Put the pineapple, juice, sugar and corn starch into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to a simmer and keep on the heat until thickened. Mash the pineapple chunks to create a smoother texture. Allow to cool.

5) Make a small hole in the middle of the cupcakes (perhaps an apple corer would be useful for this). Pipe or spoon the pineapple puree into the hollows made.

6) Make the Buttercream: Cream the butter, milk and coconut cream together to soften. Gradually sieve in the icing sugar and cream after each addition, continuing to mix until light and spreadable. Spread or pipe onto the cupcakes and decorate with desiccated coconut and edible glitter if desired. To create the cocktail get-up push pineapple chunks and glacé cherries onto the cocktail sticks and push into the cupcakes. Trim the straws to fit the cakes and push into the sponge, alongside the cocktail stick. Place a bit of fresh coconut onto the cakes wherever there's space after you've adhered them with everything else. Enjoy alongside some real alcohol.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Strawberry and Raspberry Daiquiri Cupcakes

Last week I was asked to contribute to some cupcakes for a charity cocktail evening. My friend from the society, which organised the event, said to make about 50 cupcakes as they already had a professional bakery contributing about 70. Now I could have made 50 vanilla cupcakes. But with the cocktail theme I just couldn't quite leave it at a drop of vanilla extract. So I mind-mapped what I could make and settled on 5 flavours:
Strawberry Daiquiri,Pina Colada,Mohito,Salted Maple and Milk Chocolate,Plain Jane Vanilla (posh name for just vanilla). 
The Salted Maple and Milk Chocolate Cupcake I admit is not a cocktail (though there should be one with these flavours!), however I just thought of it at midnight after baking the other 4 flavours and thought it'd be a nice idea. Similarly I accept that the Vanilla cupcake is also not a cocktail, however I don't think you can have a collection of cakes without the classic vanilla playing a starring role. I will be posting all five recipes for the above cupcakes. Let's start with a strawberry daiquiri...now where's that beach and sunshine to go with it... (goes and wonders to the airport with suitcase and sunglasses in tow).

For the Cupcakes:
6 oz / 150g caster sugar
6 oz / 150g margarine
6 oz/ 150g self-raising flour
3 eggs
1 teaspoon rum essence
5-6 strawberries (finely diced)
2 packets (40g) fruit flakes, like these
12 raspberries
Pink food colouring (1 teaspoon liquid colouring or ½ teaspoon colouring paste)

Filling (Strawberry and raspberry puree):
8 oz / 200g mixture of strawberries and raspberries (diced)
2 tablespoons icing sugar
1 teaspoon corn starch

Buttercream Icing:
4 oz / 100g soft unsalted butter
1-2 tablespoons of the strawberry and raspberry puree (above)
10 oz / 250g icing sugar
Dash of pink food colouring (if necessary)
6 strawberries (halved lengthways), 12 raspberries, 12 mint leaves, freeze-dried strawberries, glitter

1) Make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 180°C / Gas 4. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases. Cream the caster sugar and margarine with the rum essence and pink food colouring. In a separate jug, whisk together the eggs. Bit by bit add the beaten egg and sieve the flour into the butter-sugar mixture, mixing after each addition. The batter should be ‘just drop off the spoon’ consistency.

Stir through the diced strawberries and fruit flakes. Spoon evenly into the muffin cases, pushing a raspberry under the batter of each one. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

2) Make the puree: Place the strawberries, raspberries, icing sugar and corn starch in a saucepan on a low heat. Once the sugar has melted increase the heat slightly to bring the berries to a simmer. Continue to simmer until the mixture has thickened slightly Use a masher to squash the berries (alternately blitz them in a food processor beforehand). Sieve the berries, using a spoon to get the most out of the berry pulp. Discard the pulp and set your fresh puree aside to cool.

Pre-simmer puree

Simmered and sieved puree, ready to use.
3) Once cooled, pipe the puree into the centre of each cupcake, leaving at least 2 tablespoons for the buttercream.

4) Make the buttercream: Cream the butter and a dash of milk together. Add the berry puree and food colouring, if using, and gradually sieve in the icing sugar whisking well after each addition (I always find an electric mixer does the best job here). Once all of the ingredients are well combined, the icing should be smooth and spreadable. Due to the addition of the puree, the icing could curdle; if this happens keep adding icing sugar and beating it into the icing well until the curdling disappears. Spread or pipe icing onto the cupcakes and decorate as desired with the berries, mint leaves and optional freeze-dried strawberries and glitter. If you’re feeling extra crazy stick a straw in each cupcake to mimic the cocktail get-up. Now pretend you’re in an exotic beach-front setting, watching the sun go down over the glistening sea.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Fondant Fancies Two Ways!

So it was my turn on the weekly cake rota in my German class on Thursday and I racked my brains for a while to think what I could make that’s acceptable to eat at 10:30 in the morning. I mean…chocolate fudge cake is not really elevenses material is it, nor is a salted caramel cupcake. I thought it had to be something basic basic but also a bit pretty too. Then fondant fancies came to mind because they’re light, not too sweet and actually quite impressive-looking when they’re finished! For some reason I thought one tray would not suffice so I did two, which then lead onto two different flavours of fondant fancies, which then lead to 40 cakes!!! What was a light bake for my class turned into a cake mission, but I’m not complaining- the result was well worth it!
Now you’d think 40 cakes!!! Does this girl live with an army?! Or is she just really hungry!? Well…I took 15 into my class, all of which got eaten, and I left 25 in my flat. I came home and thought there is no way we’re going to be able to eat 25 of these, I’ll have to take some to work…give some to family…freeze some….
But oh no no no no no. It turns out as well as being lovely people, my flat mates also have a talent for cake eating too (It's not been 2 days and we have one left minus its cherry...). So thanks to them I can now bake much more frequently without worrying about the waste. I just hope they don’t
think I’m trying to fatten them up…

Anyway here’s my recipes for Bakewell Fondant Fancies and Plain Jane Vanilla ones:

For the Cake:
200g / 8 oz caster sugar
200g /8 oz margarine
150g / 6 oz self-raising flour
50g / 2 oz ground almonds
1tsp almond extract
For the Filling:
6 tbs apricot jam
4 tbs strawberry/raspberry jam
250g / 10 oz white marzipan
For the Icing and Extras:
750g fondant icing sugar
6-8 tbs water
20 halves of glacé cherries
75g / 3 oz dark chocolate
*muffin cases

1) Preheat oven to 180°C / Gas 4. Grease and line a deep rectangular tin approximately 6 x 8 inches.

2) Make the Cake: Cream margarine, caster sugar and almond extract together until pale. Beat the eggs in a separate jug and sieve the flour and ground almonds into a third. Add a third of the flour and egg mixture at a time and beat after each addition, until a smooth batter is formed (It should be a ‘just drops off the spoon’ consistency). Spoon the batter into the tin and bake for 25-30 mins, or until springy to the touch and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Turn out onto a wire rack and allow to cool.

3) Fill the Cake: Once cooled, carefully trim up the top and edges until they’re straight and slice the sponge in half horizontally. Spread each half with the apricot jam. Sprinkle the work surface with a little icing sugar and roll out half of the marzipan at a time, roughly the shape of the cake and place each half onto the cake halves. Spread one of the halves with the strawberry or raspberry jam and sandwich the other cake on top. Chill the cake for about 1 hour, to make the cake more manageable.

4) Measure the cake and divide into 20 squares (I found that 4x4.5cm worked best). Place the cakes on a wire rack, with a baking tray or tin foil underneath it – it’s about to get rather messy ;).

5) Decorate the Fancies: Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl and add the water sparingly until a runny paste is formed, just thinner than the consistency of golden syrup. Spoon a tablespoon-worth amount of icing over each cake and encourage it to go over the sides with the spoon or a knife. Give each cake a good spoonful first before you do any fill in the gap/ touch ups on any of the cakes. Place a cherry half on each cake and allow to dry for a couple of minutes. 

6) Meanwhile fold the muffin cases out flat; imagining a square base, fold edges into the middle four ways to make a kind of square shape. 
Take each cupcake and place in a case, roughly wrapping the sides around the cake to make sure it sticks to the icing. Tightly pack the fancies in the tray you baked the cake in, to encourage the cases to stick to the cakes in a square shape.

7) Melt the chocolate and allow to cool. Once the icing is dry, pipe or drizzle the melted chocolate over the fondant fancies. Devour.



For the Cake
200g / 8oz caster sugar
200g/ 8oz margarine
200g / 8 oz self-raising flour
4 eggs
1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract.

150g / 6 oz icing sugar
75g / 3 oz soft unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
Iced Topping:
750g / 1 lb 14 oz fondant icing sugar
8 tbs water
food colourings (pink, blue, green, yellow etc)
Muffin cases
75g chocolate of your choice (white, milk or dark)
*Any sprinkles, glitters etc that take your fancy.

1) Preheat oven to 180°C / Gas 4. Grease and line a deep rectangular tin (8x12 inches approximately).
2) Make the Sponge: Cream the margarine, caster sugar and vanilla extract until pale. Beat the eggs in a separate jug and sieve the flour into a separate bowl. Add a bit of flour and egg at a time to the butter-cream and mix to combine after each addition. Repeat until all ingredients are used up. Spoon into the tin and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden, springy to the touch and a skewer comes out clean. Turn out onto a wire rack and allow to cool. Trim the edges until they are straight, including the top if it’s a little uneven.

3) Make the Buttercream: Put the butter and vanilla extract in a bowl. Gradually beat in the icing sugar (so as to avoid an icing sugar cloud), until the icing is pale and spreadable. Smooth 2/3 of the icing onto the cooled cake, taking care to make the surface as even and flat as possible. Chill for an hour to set the icing, and keep the rest of the buttercream alongside it in the fridge (I find it easier to leave the icing in a piping bag so it’s ready to use in the next step.

4) Once chilled enough, measure and divide the cake into 20 square cakes (4x4.5cm did it for me). With a round nozzle pipe a globule of icing onto the centre of each square. You can chill the cakes again after this step for 30 minutes or so, but I didn’t find it necessary.

5) Make the Iced Topping: Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl and sparingly add the water until it forms a smooth runny paste, just thinner than golden syrup. Divide into as many bowls as you have food colourings. Colour the icing as desired and pour a heavy tablespoonful onto each cake, encouraging it to fall over the sides (be wary of the buttercream dome though!). Try to leave icing remaining so you can fill in any gaps left over. At this stage, add any sprinkles you fancy. Allow to set a little.

6) Meanwhile flatten out the muffin cases and fold the edges in four ways, as if the base is a square. Place each fondant fancy into a case and fix the sides to the icing. Tightly pack them into the rectangular baking tin you baked the cake in, so that the cases stick to the fancies. Allow to dry.

7) Melt your chosen chocolate and allow to cool before piping or drizzling over the fondant fancies. I also like to finish them off with a sprinkle of glitter. Enjoy.