Archive | April, 2012

Not bad for an experiment…

24 Apr

After a somewhat unsuccessful attempt at cooking dinner last night, I turned to my first love to cheer me up.

The boyfriend just happened to have bought cheap rhubarb from Aldi (59p for three stalks-unbelievable) so it would have been rude not to use it! Now I’ve never been a big fan of rhubarb (apart from rhubarb and custard sweets of course) but I’m quickly coming around. I decided I wanted to make rhubarb and custard cupcakes but could I find a recipe? Nope. So I made one up, mixing a number of other recipes together in an experimental fashion.

First of all my fail-safe Hummingbird vanilla cupcake recipe to give me a neutral base. If you don’t have the Hummingbird books you need them.

While those were cooking I made rhubarb compote. Simply 250g chopped rhubarb (with the help of my sous chef boyfriend) combined with 100g sugar and 1tbsp water in a pan over a medium heat. I let it simmer right down until it looked more like a jam and left to cool.

While both were cooling I made the custard frosting. I mixed 1tbsp Birds custard powder with 1tbsp icing sugar and enough milk to remove lumps. I then added more icing sugar and a lump of butter (wasn’t even slightly precise with amounts so couldn’t tell you how much I used of each) and kept adding until it resembled buttercream texture. As if by magic I somehow pulled it off!

Put them together and what have you got?


Not the most professional looking but they taste pretty awesome-even if I do say so myself.

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Marian saved my dinner

21 Apr

My recent Clandestine Cake Club shenanigans introduced me to an amazing book, Saved by Cake by Marian Keyes.
A beautiful milk cake well and truly tickled my taste buds – and when I discovered the recipe came courtesy of one of my favourite authors I had to buy the book myself.
I had already known about Marian’s battle with depression but had no idea she had found baking as a way to cope with it. Her book takes you through her journey (or at least a glimpse of it) and Marian’s personality runs right the way through. It’s a treat to read and an even bigger treat to make the recipes.
So on inviting my friends to dinner this weekend, Saved by Cake was the first book I turned to. Unfortunately time constraints meant I didn’t have time to try making milk cake; instead I opted for two recipes – mini key lime pies (an excuse to use my new mini metal pie cases) and mini amaretto cheesecakes.
The idea behind the two was so I had a back-up in case one went wrong. In the end, however, I ended up serving them both and they went down a storm!
I’m not going to put the recipes up this time because any keen baker needs the book on their own shelves but here’s a picture:


By the way, Marian this blog post (even though you’ll probably never read it) is dedicated to you. Keep on baking.

An Easter treat

8 Apr

Happy Easter everyone!

My Easter Sunday has been spent eating my weight in chocolate courtesy of a 1kg egg from the boyfriend (don’t worry I haven’t eaten it all-and we’re sharing it) and baking simnel muffins.
I used a recipe from one of my Christmas presents, GoodFood’s 101 cakes and bakes and for a first attempt I don’t think they turned out too badly.


In case you want the recipe:

Makes 12. Takes approx 1-2hr
Ingredients:
– 250g mixed dried fruit
– grated zest and juice of 1 medium orange
– 175g butter, softened
– 175g golden caster sugar
– 3 eggs, beaten
– 300g self-raising flour
– 1tsp mixed spice
– 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
– 5tbsp milk
– 175g marzipan
For decorating:
– 200g icing sugar
– 2 tbsp orange juice
– a big bag of mini eggs

Method:
1. Tip the fruit into a bowl, add zest and juice and leave to soak for one hour (or microwave on medium for 2mins if short of time);
2. Line 12 deep muffin tins with paper cases and preheat oven to 180C/gas mark 4/160C fan oven.
3. Beat together butter, sugar, eggs, flour, spices and milk until light and fluffy (approx 3-5mins) then stir in fruit well.
4. Half fill the muffin cases with the mixture. Divide the marzipan into 12 equal pieces, roll into balls


then flatten with your thumb. Put one into each muffin case


and spoon the rest of the mixture over. Bake for 25-30 minutes until risen, golden and firm to the touch. Leave to cool.
5. Beat together the icing and orange juice to make icing thick enough to coat with the back of a wooden spoon. Drizzle over the cooled muffins and top with a cluster of eggs.

Baking update

7 Apr

March was a busy baking month – and April looks like it’s going that way too.
I started the month frantically practising for a charity bake-off in Leicester, which was hosted by Holly Bell, a finalist in the latest Great British Bake Off competition.
After weeks of umming and ahhing I finally decided on an Irish theme as it was held on St Patrick’s Day and baked Guinness cupcakes. They were supposed to have icing hats on but I quickly discovered I’m rubbish at making things out of icing!


Despite the lack of hat decorations, I thought they looked quite nice but sadly the train journey squished in a cake tin did not serve them well. Needless to say I didn’t win but it was really fun and I got to take loads of cake home with me!
Next on my baking agenda was my first ever Clandestine Cake Club meeting courtesy of the Loughborough group.
With a Bake For Victory theme, the venue – the NAAFI tearoom at Great Central Railway’s Quorn and Woodhouse station – couldn’t have been more perfect.
In keeping with the theme, I baked a 1940s vinegar cake using a recipe from a book by a local author. Promise it tasted much nicer than it sounds (but forgot to take a picture).
It was technically for work but I now consider myself a member and hope to go to the next event in May. Just need to figure out what I can bake with a craft theme-any ideas would be more than welcome!
Last week I experimented with white chocolate and cherry brownies, which were lovely.


I also tried – and failed miserably – to make raspberry trifle cupcakes courtesy of Hummingbird.
For two nights running I attempted to make custard and failed both times so in an effort to make myself feel better (and not waste any more eggs or time) I turned them into raspberry and cream cupcakes instead, making buttercream using double cream.


Obviously not as impressive as they were supposed to be but they tasted lovely all the same. In case you’re wondering this is how they look inside:

Tomorrow I’m looking at Easter recipes. Wish me luck!