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 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.