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.