Back to baking…….

Apologies for my baking blog being interrupted by cycling thoughts but I’m back on track now. Two posts in one day but I’ve got some baking to catch up on

After today’s epic (failed) battle to beat the hill I went back to the kitchen to relax.

Inspired by Friday after work drinks with the girls I thought about Apple Mojito cupcakes…….lime, apple, mint combination

Using the basic cupcake recipe…….
250g unsalted butter and 250g caster sugar blended together
Then add 250g self raising flour and 3 eggs and continue to mix/whisk

I then added the zest of 3 limes and the juice of 2 limes, finished mixing together and popped into cupcake cases and into the fan oven at 160 for 15mins

When they were done (just slightly browned) I took them out of the oven and made a little hole in each cake whilst still warm. I have a brilliant apple corer which has a serrated edge and it is perfect for this.

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I then filled the hole with apple sauce (here I have to admit to not stewing my own apples and using a jar of supermarket apple sauce, sorry) which I then topped with the remaining lime zest (5limes in total!)

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I then left them to cool and made a cream cheese and lime buttercream frosting which I piped on the top.

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Pretty little gems!!

Next time however I need to remember to add the mint element which I was going to incorporate into the icing but forgot!!!

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After the pleasure…….

 

of last nights chocolate mousse I felt it was time to go back to the gym after several weeks (well months actually) off. Not just because of the vast amount of chocolate mousse I ate last night but there is a rumour of a re-run of the charity bike ride that I completed last year and I will need to be fitter just to be able to think about it.

Its the pleasure/pain (first the pleasure, then the pain) principle followed by the ‘no pain, no gain’ principle. So, down to the gym for a half hour session (always start slow, you can always do more another time!!) and then home to bake and knit!!

Baking

I wanted to make mini cupcakes but had no mini cupcake cases so had to make big ones! Thinking along the lines of Black Forest Gateau I’ve made dark chocolate sponge cupcakes with a cherry popped inside. I’ve not topped them yet but I’m thinking either a simple piped whipped cream with a sprinkle of chocolate on the top or a piped cream cheese frosting…….will decide on this tomorrow.

This is them before the oven.

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RECIPE

250g unsalted butter (room temperature)

250g caster sugar

250g self raising flour

5 eggs

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

glace cherries

 

Whisk together the butter and sugar

Add 2 eggs and mix again

Add half the flour and mix again

Add 2 more eggs and beat well together (electric whisk used for all of this)

Add the rest of the flour and mix well again

Mix the cocoa powder with a few desert spoons of water to create a paste-add water until you have a smooth paste

Add the chocolate paste to the cake batter and add the final egg

Pipe the mix into cup cake/muffin cases but only fill to about one third

Cut glacé cherries in half and pop on the top and gently push halfway into the mix

Fan oven: 160-cupcakes 12 minutes, muffins 15 minutes

Remove from oven, cool and top  (see above for topping comments!)

 

KNITTING

Well, I’ve now made 3 knitted beanie hats for the man who keeps complaining that he cant find a hat big enough in the shops, so he has NO excuse for a cold head!!

So, what to knit next…….

Having had a glass or two of wine last night (another reason for the gym) I decided to K.I.S.S (Keep It Simple Stupid) so, after some internet search decided on egg cosies. Well, how difficult can this be????

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Ok, so it’s only one so far but I reckon by the end of the week I will have a family of egg cosies……if only I ate boiled eggs!!!!

For those who want to knit; it was a cast on of 15 stitches, very simple garter (knit) stitch, knit for about 18 cm (sorry, I lost count of the rows). Cast off and stitch up 2 sides, and there you have it; an egg cozy! Very simple and strangely satisfying.

Christmas Tree Cake…..

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Ok, so I know that Christmas has been and gone but for those of us that didn’t have a traditional UK Christmas I’m celebrating late. I made the sponge for this before we went away for Christmas and popped it into the freezer as I knew I would want to take a cake to work first week of the New Year.

It so happened that we had a training session this afternoon and, bearing in mind the topic, a sugar hit was essential!  As it happened the training session didn’t take place for technical reasons but we still ate cake!!

To be honest it was waaaaaay to sugary for my liking but that didn’t stop me having three slices over the day!! Diet starts next week…….

The recipe was my basic sponge recipe but I swapped vanilla for almond essence which gave it a bit of a marzipan taste. I also added a layer of strawberry jam for the middle so it was almost a Bakewell tart flavour.

 

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…..

 

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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