Sunday, 29 January 2012

Well it was *supposed* to be red velvet...

I know. I've commited a huge blogging sin. It's been four months (FOUR!) since I last wrote a blog post. I've missed blogging edible goodies for all the fun holidays; halloween, my birthday, Christmas...I'm disappointed in myself! I started a new job in October and I feel like it's taken over my life. Sadly it's completely baking unrelated, and I'm working early, late, away, even a weekend or two. My New Year's resolution should definitely have been to make more time to bake.

But anyway, here I am, back with another promise to try and turn over a new blogging leaf! Here goes...

I'm no stranger to red velvet cake. I've tried Eric Lanlard's offering from his Soho shop Cox, Cookies and Cake:

Delicious and perfectly blood red!

I've sampled a mini red velvet cuppie from Ella's Bakehouse in Covent Garden:

I've even tried my own hand at Hummingbird Bakery's red velvet cupcake recipe.

But I've never made a large layer red velvet cake, and I wanted to give it a go. The results were not exactly as desired...

The recipe I used was from a book I got for my birthday in November, Cake Magic, and have yet to even open. Shameful. Anyway, it was slightly different to most other red velvet cake recipes I had seen, but I decided to give it a go.

The first disaster was that the recipe doesn't state how much red food colouring you should add, so I went with a guess of one tablespoon, and when that didn't appear to be enough, I added another tablespoon. But the result was...well just muddy purple. I thought there was rather a lot of cocoa powder for a red velvet recipe (30g), so I guess that explains the muddy colour. It suggested spreading the mixture over 3 x 8" tins, but I barely got it to spread over 2 x 7" tins. And well...when I took it out, it may as well have been a couple of biscuits. I know my oven IS pants but still, I expected them to rise a little, but nope, nothing!

So basically, I ended up with what I can only describe as two purple velvet excuses for cake, which were yummy, but pretty much tasted like your bog standard chocolate cake. And one fell apart when I took it out the tin. A failure you might think.

But fear not, because, as my dear old Grandad used to say, I have a cunning plan! And here is what I actually ended up with...

Mini layer cakes! Ok, so really it's just the size of a normal (ish) cupcake. But how cute! I ended up cutting out the decent bits of cake with a 68mm round cutter, sandwiched them together and voila! Not what I intended, but it all worked out tastily in the end. 

I haven't mastered the art of icing the cakes without getting the crumbs all through the icing yet...

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Boozy Amaretto Cupcakes

Ok, so it goes without saying that if you don't like amaretto, you won't like these cupcakes. However if, like me, you love amaretto, you have to try these!

I have to say though, the cakes themselves, whilst really lovely, moist and fluffy, weren't perfect. They rose really well, but it seemed as if the amaretto pretty much cooked out of them. Next time I might try a different recipe for the cake, because it was a bit bland, and use the same amaretto icing to see if it tastes better.

However, they still looked really cute and I chucked loads of amaretto in the icing to make up for it.

I decorated with little marzipan hearts coloured with a bit of red food colouring. It's not necessary to put pink food colouring in the icing, I just thought it looked pretty!

Anyway, here's the recipe for the cakes:

55ml Amaretto (but I tripled this and still barely a hint of amaretto!)
230g plain flour
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp salt
170g unsalted butter
110ml buttermilk
170g soft brown sugar
  • Preheat overn to 180C and line a muffin tray with paper cases
  • Sift flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a bowl and put aside
  • Beat butter and sugar until smooth and creamy, then beat in eggs one at a time
  • Alternate adding 1/3 of the flour and the buttermilk, followed by 1/3 more of the flour and all of the amaretto. Beat well each time. 
  • Fold in the last of the flour until smooth
  • Spoon mixture into cupcake cases and bake in the centre of the oven for 15 minutes.
Ingredients for the icing:
345g icing sugar
180g butter
Lashings of amaretto (recipe says 3tbsp but I poured until it tasted perfect!)
  • Beat butter and sugar then add in amaretto (and food colouring if desired) until smooth and delicious. Then pipe!


Thursday, 15 September 2011

Devil's Food Cupcakes for National Cupcake Week

As I'm sure most of you know, this week in the UK is National Cupcake Week, so I couldn't let it pass without trying a recipe I've been wanting to taste for ages, and it did not disappoint. I can't believe I waited so long to make these cupcakes, because they are, in a word, amazing. Not that I mean to blow my own trumpet, but wow, I loved this recipe so much I made them two nights in a row! But don't worry, I didn't eat them all myself...

Anyway, I'll share the recipe, which is from the Next I <3 Cupcakes book, which someone bought for me as a gift. It's actually quite a nice little book. It says it makes 18 cupcakes, but if you ask me they'd have to be quite stingy cupcakes because I only made 14 in quite small cupcake cases.

Ready for the oven!
You may (or may not) know from reading my previous posts, I'm always a bit skeptical of 'all in the bowl and beat' recipes, probably because my mum taught me to bake a lot as a child in the old wooden spoon and fold in the flour method. But I was pleasantly surprised, because these cakes did actually rise very well, in spite of my cranky old oven. I suppose you do fold in the sour cream, so maybe that traps the air in!

But alas, another failed cupcake case, as these went horribly see-through.

Anyway, here's the recipe, let me know if anyone gives it a try!

For the cakes:

50g butter
115g soft dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
115g plain flour
1/2 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
25g cocoa powder
125ml soured cream

  • Preheat oven to 180⁰C and line a muffin tin with cases
  • Sift flour, and beat sugar, margarine, eggs, flour, cocoa powder and bicarb of soda until just smooth
  • Fold in sour cream with a large metal spoon.
  • Bake for 15-20 mins until well risen and firm

For the icing:

125g plain chocolate
3 tbsp caster sugar (use more or less depending on how sweet you want the icing)
150ml soured cream

  • Melt chocolate, and leave to cool slightly once fully melted, then whisk in sugar and soured cream until combined. Ice each cupcakes and decorate as desired!
The see-through case :(
But oh, the yummy, yummy chocolate!

    Thursday, 1 September 2011

    A trip to Hummingbird Bakery

    My friend Luke and I took a trip to London a while back, so of course I visited a few bakeries, and I've been meaning to blog about them ever since. So lets start with the good for this post... 

    During our day, we visited Portobello Road market. While we were there, I obviously had to visit Hummingbird Bakery - I've got the cookbook, but unbelievably I've never actually been! I opted for something I've never tried before, a mango cupcake, and Luke was served the biggest slice of lemon meringue pie I've ever seen. 

    I was so glad I tried this mango cupcake. After the first bite, I thought I was going to be disappointed, as the 'mango scented frosting' wasn't really to my taste. But that aside, the sponge was light, and moist, and once I got into the middle, I discovered the most amazingly tangy and fresh mango puree. I loved this cake, it was truly yummy. And as Luke was quiet for at least five minutes (a rarity!), I can only assume his lemon meringue was delicious too.

    After I had demolished half of the gooey and yummy!
    Unfortunately I don't have the mango cupcake recipe in my Hummingbird Bakery book, but if i can get my hands on it I will definitely be giving it a go! I fully recommend it :)

    Tuesday, 23 August 2011

    Coffee cake for a special lady

    Last week it was a very special person's birthday, my mum, so of course I had to make her a birthday cake. She loves coffee cake, so I grabbed my favourite recipe book from the shelf (which I actually 'acquired' from her). It's called 'The Love of Cooking', and was published in 1972. It is very dog-eared, but I love it all the same, and it has some of my most trusted recipes.

    I wanted to make a nice, simple but delicious cake, so I adapted a recipe from the book and here was the finished result:

    The recipe and method was as follows:

    200g butter
    200g caster sugar
    4 eggs
    200g self-raising flour
    4 teaspoons instant coffee (I just used coffee mixed with a drop of hot water, but by all means just use coffee flavouring-I suggest adding more or less coffee to suit your personal tatse)
    If desired, you could also add around 50g chopped walnuts

    • Pre-heat oven to 180C and grease and line a 7cm round tin (you can split the mixture between 2 tins, or bake in one and cut in half once it's cold to fill - again it's down to personal taste!)
    • Cream butter and sugar with coffee flavouring until light and fluffy
    • Beat in eggs one at a time, adding a tablespoon of flour with each
    • Fold in the rest of the flour
    • Bake near centre of oven for around 20-25 mins until golden
    For the icing, I made a simple coffee flavour buttercream, which as usual I just threw together until it looked (and tasted!) right. By estimation I think I used around about the following amounts:
    • 125g butter
    • 250g icing sugar
    • 2tsp coffee flavouring
    That is just a rough guess, so I suggest adding icing sugar bit by bit until you get the consistency you want!

    I finished by filling and covering the cake, and gave it a light dust of cocoa powder. I then made some dark chocolate coffee bean shapes, using a mould I bought when I visited the amazing Cadbury World last year (chocoholics heaven!) and voila! Birthday cake for my mum :)

    Thursday, 28 July 2011

    I'm back! With gardening cupcakes and a new kitchen addition...

    Oh dear. I'm very aware it's been over a month (!) since my last post; quite shameful. Unfortunately I seem to have had a run of bad news, and blogging has fallen by the wayside.

    However I'm back to try and redeem myself, and to share some of my latest cakes. These were garden/gardening themed cupcakes in honour of someone very special to me, and they are just oh so cute. There was sadly one or two casualties with my toppers (sunflower petals and carrot leaves falling off), but I was really pleased with the ones that made it.

    Here is a picture of some of the toppers halfway through progress...

    The spades were the hardest to make, and to get the silver 'metal' half to stick to the brown 'wooden' half. I also would have preferred a lighter silver colour for them, but this glittery grey was all I could get my hands on. I still love them.

    My favourites were the sunflowers; sunflowers hold a lot of happy childhood memories for me, and these toppers were so easy to make, yet so pretty.

    I wish my bad photography did them justice! I used a small PME daisy plunger cutter, and cut flowers from yellow fondant, then coloured the remaining yellow with a tiny bit of orange colouring paste, then cut flowers from that. I layered the orange tinted flowers with the yellow on top. Then just a tiny dark brown circle for the centre, which I pricked with a cocktail stick several times to give the impression of the sunflower seeds. 

    The finished cupcake looked lovely.

    For some reason I can't get my photo of the full lot of finished cupcakes to load, but here's a few individuals. There were also tiny apples and pears...

    And mini carrots...

    Alongside the roses and the spades.

    I also seem to have a constant gripe with cupcake/muffin cases. First it was the foil case catastrophe. These latest ones I tried out seemed to sort of...stretch out when I took them out of the packet and put them in the muffin tray. Instead of neatly sitting in the muffin tray, then seemed to expand, and the creases unfold of their own accord. It was really irritating because when I then went on the pour the cake mixture in, the cases folded in on themselves - not a good look, difficult to pipe on the top of the cupcake, and leaves a funny shape. Please someone recommend some good muffin cases!

    And lastly I have a happy new addition to my kitchen, which I am really loving so far...

    It's a lovely little Kenwood mixer. Now I know it's no Kitchen Aid, but there is an economic downturn don't you know! 
    I promise to try not to leave it so long between posts next time :)

    Thursday, 16 June 2011

    Indulgent Toblerone Cheesecake

    I'm aware that so far my whole blog has been very cupcake orientated; it's not that I don't like other cakes, it's just that I don't make them very often, and cupcakes are definitely more my forté. Nevertheless, this week I have revisited an old favourite recipe of mine. It came from a local chef, who owns a restaurant in my village, and I've been making it for a couple of years now. Along the way I've tweaked the recipe ever so slightly to suit my own taste, so here it is, Toblerone cheesecake:

    Recipe and method as follows:

    30g unsalted butter
    10 chocolate digestives
    250g philly cheese
    200ml double cream
    50g caster sugar
    70g Toblerone, melted
    70g Toblerone, chopped 
    (you can add more or less chopped Toblerone, depending on how chunky and chocolately you want your cheesecake to be!)

    • Crush digestives in a bowl to a fine crumb, melt the butter and combine well with the biscuits. Cling film a sandwich tin, and press the biscuit in a layer along the bottom. Flatten down well and refrigerate to set.
    • Mix the caster sugar and cheese in a bowl and put to one side.
    • Whisk the cream in a seperate bowl.
    • Melt 70g of Toblerone, and once it has cooled slightly, stir into the cheese mix.
       Then fold in the 70g of chopped Toblerone and whisked cream.
    • Pour the mixture on top of the biscuit layer and refrigerate to set.
    • Dust with cocoa powder to finish!
    It's not the most aesthetically pleasing cake I've ever made, but it's super easy, and so so tasty. It makes a really lovely chunky cheesecake, definitely one for those with a sweet tooth (like me!).

    I enjoyed my slice with a puddle of cream :)