Mini Cupcakes for Exeter Refuge……..

 

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Today we we supported SAFE (Stop Abuse For Everyone) by participating in a ‘cafe’ event. ‘We’ are Family Lawyers and regularly represent the survivors of Domestic Violence in local courts however, due to the withdrawal of Public Funding in the UK for many  cases, today’s event was about supporting those who have no recourse to public funds. It was a good opportunity to support a worthwhile cause and meet some interesting people.

So, soon after 6am this morning I was decorating 72 mini cupcakes……and in corporate colours!!!! That’s dedication to my job, even if I say so myself. It gave us an advantage  over the other participants. Free food always brings in the crowds!

For those wanting the recipe, it was my go to easy basic sponge cake recipe of

250g unsalted butter

250g self raising flour

250g caster sugar

4 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

1 teaspoon baking powder

 

Cream together butter and sugar.

Add flour, baking powder vanilla essence and eggs carefully and mix.

Add water if necessary to get batter to dropping consistency

I pipe my batter into the cupcake cases and fill to about 2/3 full

Then pop into a warmed oven (160 fan) for about 15mins for mini cupcakes (24 to a tray)

 

Now, I froze these little beauties because I made them overs the weekend (when I had time), defrosted them overnight and iced/decorated that at 6am this morning.

 

BUTTER ICING

250g butter

500g icing sugar

 

Very simple: mix together!  Add water if consistency is too stiff to pipeAnd decorate to your liking

 

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We had so many positive comments about the cakes I’m beginning to question my career choice…..

 

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And then they were iced…….

I love Sundays! Makes me feel like a bit of a domestic goddess. However tomorrow it’s back to the reality of my real job but taking homemade cakes to work helps lighten the load.

However, having baked all those little beauties this morning I then had to top them.

These ones are filled with Strawberry jam, so naturally needed a pinkish topping.

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This is was the chocolate sponge cupcakes………

 

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And this is a selection of the mini muffins, they look a bit like Iced Gems!!

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RECIPES

 

PINK BUTTERCREAM ICING

Whatever quantity you make, simply remember 2 parts icing sugar to 1 part butter. The butter needs to be at room temperature.

I start by creaming the butter with the good old electric hand whisk, on its own, to break it down a bit. Then add sieved sugar spoonful at a time and mix by hand. You can use a blender but, until I find a way to stop dusting my entire kitchen with icing sugar I do find the ‘slowly and carefully’ approach best on the long run! When it’s well enough mixed in I then use the hand blender. Add the colouring a drop or two at a time until you have the colour you want. Then simply put in a piping bag with a star shaped nozzle and pipe away. Sprinkles and other toppings can be added at your pleasure……….

 

CHOCOLATE TOPPING

The cup cakes above were topped with melted white chocolate and melted dark/plain chocolate drizzled over the to. You can either melt in the microwave or in a bowl, over a pan of boiling water.

When I have topped my cakes I do pop them in the fridge for about half an hour to set the topping, but no more than half a hour.

That’s all for this week……….

 

Bakefest weekend (again!!)

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Oh wow. What a morning!

There is something quintessentially English about my Sunday mornings. This morning started with a lovely church service on the radio: anyone who knows me knows that I’m not hugely religious but I guess all those years of Sunday school when I was a child and religious education at school have instilled a sense of morality and right and wrong as well as a love of choral music, it’s very comforting. This mornings service came from one of the churches at Manchester University, just down the road from where my daughter is living so even more emotional and meaningful.

That was followed by Radio 4 The Archers Omnibus Edition: for those of you reading this from outside the UK if you want to know anything about rural, farming country life in England (as well as a good dose of soap opera) this is the one for you. It had become synonymous in my mind with baking because I bake to the Archers (Sunday morning). I don’t watch ANY soap operas on tv but this is a real treat, it’s gentle with very little maliciousness and very easy listening on a Sunday.

Today, I have baked n baked n baked!!!! And all from one basic sponge recipe, so simple…….

BASIC RECIPE

250g/9oz unsalted butter

250g/9oz self raising flour

250g/9oz caster sugar

4 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

1 teaspoon baking powder

FOR THE LEMON AND POPPY SEED BATTER add zest of two lemons, juice of 1 lemon and 2 tablespoons of Poppy seeds

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FOR THE CHOCOLATE SPONGE  replace 100g (3.5 oz) of flour with 100g (3.5 oz) of cocoa powder (not instant hot chocolate drink!)

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OVEN TEMP 160c (fan), 310f, gas 2 or 3

METHOD

Cream butter and sugar with an electric whisk (or similar) add lemon zest if you are doing the lemon recipe

mix in by hand the sieved flour and baking powder until well mixed

add eggs and vanilla essence and mix vigorously (with electric which or similar)

If  your mix is too dry and some liquid slowly: in the lemon recipe I used lemon juice, in the chocolate recipe I used 45ml of mild olive oil (but you could use sunflower or vegetable oil)

Bake in the oven: mini muffins for 12 minutes, cupcakes for 18 minutes, loaf tin for 40/45 minutes

These recipes have made

12 lemon and poppy seed cupcakes

12 chocolate cupcakes

96 plain mini muffins

1 Chocolate Sponge loaf

1 Lemon and Poppy Seed loaf

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With the the plain cupcakes I like to scoop out a bit from the middle. I use an apple corer; it has a serrated edge and works perfectly. I then fill with jam and pipe butter cream on the top but this it what they look like without the topping

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Smartie and Minstrel Cookies

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Well, two weekends ago was a bit of a bakefest….Lemon Shortbread (recipe to follow), Smartie and Minstrel Cookies,  and a Crunchie Cake (recipe to follow)!!  It was pouring with rain outside so what else is a girl to do 🙂

350g plain flour
300g caster sugar
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
250g unsalted butter
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
300g Smarties
250g Minstrels

METHOD

Cream together butter and sugar
Beat in eggs and vanilla extract
Add dry ingredients and mix carefully
Add the Smarties and mix well.

Use two spoons, either dessert spoons or teaspoons, and spoon the mixture into a baking tray, remember to leave space for them to expand! From my photos you can see that I did 6 desert spoon sizes cookies or 12 teaspoons sized cookies on a tray. Push a Minstrel onto the top of each heaped spoonful. This recipe made 45 various sized cookies.

 

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Place in the oven for 10minutes at 180C, 350f or gas mark 4

Remove from baking tray and carefully place onto cooling rack to cool!

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TIPS

Add two eggs, then 2/3 of the dry ingredients, then the other egg and the rest of the dry ingredients

Even the small ones turned out big so don’t worry about using teaspoon sized portions!

This recipe made 45 mixed size cookies so you can halve, or even reduce to 2/3 (I accept that a recipes with 3 eggs can be challenging to divide in two!)

Felt Christmas decorations

Love this idea. Thank you

So Many Crafts, So Little Time!

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There are some lovely felt Christmas decorations in this month’s edition of Mollie Makes magazine, and I just had to have a go at making them! They have been designed by Samantha Stas, and she has decorated them in a fabulous retro style. Samantha stitches hers on a sewing machine but I decided to do mine by hand – mainly because my sewing machine was hidden away when we had the boiler fitted this week! I love hand sewing anyway, so you can choose what you prefer to do. I chose some red and green felt and some lovely ribbons and threads to make them:

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I decided to use the templates (which you can download here) and then do my own thing with the design. On this green bauble I sewed some gold strands in star shapes and some red beads to decorate (probably not the technical names…

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Minxy Meringues

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The other week I made an egg yolk only cake (I will blog about this another time) but I was then left with the dilemma of what to do with the egg whites. Meringues is the easiest option but I wanted something a bit different so thought I’d add a pinkish hue. 

 

Of course, the downside to meringues is that they don’t last long, especially when made bite sized

These little mouthfuls lasted about 48hours!

 

RECIPE

The oven will need to be warm only, start at your lowest setting above plate warming! You can always turn the heat up after an hour or so.

For 3 egg whites you will need 6oz (175g) caster sugar and a very clean mixing bowl.

Whisk the egg whites until they are soft peaks (so the top of each peak just droops a bit!)

Keep whisking and, very slowly, add the sugar, spoon at a time until all the sugar is mixed in.

The mix drops and bit but is still spoonable.

Add your colouring. I used ‘Silver Spoon Colour Creator’ in Lilac and Pink. However do not mix in fully if you want swirly colours, just stir once or twice and that will do it.

Then spoon onto a lined baking tray. Place in the warm oven.

Check every hour and increase the heat if they are not crisping up but you don’t want the oven so hot that the meringues go brown. It could take 3 hours so make sure you have something else to do whilst they cook.

 

TIPS

Make batches of different colours and sandwich together with whipped cream or jam or chocolate ganache

To create spikes use a fork or skewer, they should not change shape in the oven.

You could pipe them having painted the inside of your piping bag with food colouring to change the style of your colouring

 

Meyer Lemon, Olive Oil + Poppyseed Cake, and my “ADD”.

Will be trying this recipe soon. Thank you x

No Thyme to Waste

 

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My job is an overly social one. I spend the majority of the day talking, talking, talking, face to face with many people all day. Many of you can’t wait for the weekend so you can go out socializing after hours spent in a cubicle on the phone, or in front of a sometimes mind numbing computer screen. In fact most of the people I know can’t wait for the weekend so they can socialize. I’m different.

The best part of my work day is walking into my tiny apartment at 11:30 pm, knowing I don’t have to expend my energy talking for at least a few hours. I’m an introvert that spends most of her day communicating and socializing, and by the end of the day and when my weekend comes… sometimes socializing is that very last thing I want to do. (Not always, but sometimes).

This past…

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