Thursday, 28 June 2012
Wimbledon is upon us one again and as I write this, Andy Murray has gotten through the first round. Can he do it this year??
Anyway, on a cakey related theme, I was thinking what could I make to sit and eat whilst watching Wimbledon? The obvious choice was to do something with strawberries and cream, as that is synonymous with tennis. And I’m all about being obvious – so strawbs and cream it was.
I had seen a recipe that used sour cream in cupcakes and thought that would be nice, along with a centre squadge of cream – making them double cream cupcakes. (The middle squadge I used is actually a cream substitute – Dream Topping – it holds it’s shape better than real cream in the centre. In the States I would suggest using Cool Whip. DO NOT use ‘squirty’ cream in a can – it will deflate!!) And on top, a rich strawberry buttercream frosting. Here goes – it’s a lengthy one;
Cupcakes (adapted from Anne Burrell; Food Network):
250g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
170g unsalted butter – softened
375g granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
180ml sour cream
Sachet of Dream Topping - prepared
Frosting (adapted from Americanfood.about.com):
110g unsalted butter - softened
450g Icing Sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
100g chopped strawberries (save tops for decoration)
Yield: Makes 12 cupcakes
Preheat your oven to 180oC. Place cupcake liners in a 12 cup pan.
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set this aside.
In a mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar until pale and smooth. Gradually add the eggs one at a time to this, until the mixture is smooth and slightly thickened. Mix together the milk, sour cream and vanilla in another bowl.
Now add one third of the flour mix to the sugar, eggs and butter, incorporate until the flour can’t be seen. Add half of the sour cream mix, stir until combined – then repeat with another third of the flour, the other half of the cream mix and finish with the last third of flour. Don’t over mix as you want light cupcakes. Divide the cupcake batter between the liners and bake for about 20 minutes, until golden brown or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Leave the cupcakes to cool for at least a couple of hours. This makes it easier to core out the centre.
Now, make up the Dream topping as directed on the packet, or what ever cream sub you are using. Fill a piping bag with enough of the stuff to pipe into the centre of each cupcake.
With a paring knife – cut out the top of each cupcake, and with a melon baller scoop out some of the cupcake’s inner. Using your piping bag, pipe in some ‘cream’ and replace the top part of the cupcake. Repeat for each one.
For the frosting, cream the butter, sugar, vanilla and salt until smooth and the icing sugar is well incorporated. Now add the chopped strawberries and mix thoroughly until the frosting is a nice shade of pink. Pop this into a piping bag and pipe on top of the cupcakes. Finish by adding the cut top of the strawberry as garnish.
These cupcakes are a cream lovers delight. The hit of cream in the middle and the buttercream makes it a very rich treat, with the nice fruity sweetness of the strawberry. The cupcakes are very moist and light thanks to the sour cream. Now you can make these, and eat them pretending you are at centre court. Enjoy…
Oh and Cakeyboi loves tennis but he had a slight accident...
Tuesday, 26 June 2012
On our recent trip to London I made a concerted effort to visit a Hummingbird Bakery. I had bought one of their cookbooks and was very impressed.
Having a look around Notting Hill, we came across their Portobello Road outlet, one of five they have in London. Quite an unassuming exterior, from a distance I didn’t even realise what the shop was.
The cute window display with Jubilee cupcakes gave the game away, but so did the AMAZING smell wafting from the door. It was almost like someone had put a lasso around me and dragged me in. The warm, sweet buttery aroma was so overwhelming, our mouths were watering so much we had to buy something. The range was well displayed and it was easy to see what each delicacy was. I plumped for the Black Bottom cupcake and my partner opted for a Red Velvet cupcake. Even though the smell was divine we were still full from breakfast and asked for them to take out. The only slight niggle I had was the rushed service. I was aware that the Portobello Road outlet was the smallest and it was busy, but the experience just felt a little impersonal.
We had them later on with a cup of coffee and they were as good as they looked. The Black Bottom cupcake especially, with it's chocolate sponge and cheesecake centre was delicious. The presentation was great, but I couldn’t help wonder how much the fancy box and bag contributed to the overall cost.
A great bakery, only let down by the quick service, which may just have been due to the large amount of people in the store (that's London for you!). But this won’t put me off and I will try another one of the bakeries next time I am down – even if it is only for the incredible smell!! (Honestly if I could bottle the smell and pump it through your screen I would, it was soooo good)
Monday, 25 June 2012
Martha Stewart. To many people in the UK, this name probably won’t mean anything to them – unless they have a relative with that name of course. But in America, Martha is a media mogul – she started out catering for parties and now has her own empire. She cooks, crafts, presents TV shows, has a whole range of magazines and likes porridge ;)
I was given a Martha Stewart Cookies 2012 Calendar last Christmas (don’t laugh, I loved it!), which had loads of recipes on it. And the food photography on each page is amazing. For May, the picture was of Martha’s Lemon Bars. They looked so delicious I had to make them. They have a cookie type base covered with a lemon curd type topping, dusted with icing sugar.
But I must confess, I didn’t make Martha’s recipe – hers was a bit more involved, grating frozen butter etc. and I really didn’t have the time. So I found another recipe (very simple!) elsewhere and tweaked it to my own taste. Pucker up…
225g very soft unsalted butter
100g granulated sugar
250g plain flour
4 large eggs, beaten
300g granulated sugar
30g plain flour
Juice of 3 lemons
Preheat your oven to 180oC.
For the base in a mixer, I combined the butter and sugar until light and creamy. I then added the flour and beat this until the flour was just combined and a crumbly dough had formed. I placed this is a glass dish – I used my ‘lasagne’ dish. No need to grease or baking paper – it will come out no bother. I patted the dough down into one level and placed this in the oven for 25 minutes. It should turn golden brown around the edges and be firm to touch. Remove from oven, but leave it turned on.
For the topping in another bowl, I beat together the lemon juice, eggs, flour and sugar until combined and a bit lighter in colour. Pour this on top of the base and place back in the oven for another 25 minutes. If the top looks as though it is turning brown during baking, tent some foil over the top.
Remove this from the oven and let it set for at least an hour. The lemon ‘curd’ gets firmer as it cools. Taking a knife, carefully run around the edges to loosen and cut into squares. Dust each square with icing sugar.
The squares are buttery and biscuity on the bottom and with the soft curd on top, which has that sharp lemon tang to balance it out – these are amazing. Enjoy!!
Thursday, 21 June 2012
Okay, I had made the cinnamon baking bits (see earlier post) – now what recipe could I use them in?
How about cookies with the bits thrown in, or Cinnabit Cookies as I like to call them!
Adapted from allrecipes.co.uk
250g plain flour
½ teaspoon bicarb of soda
½ teaspoon salt
170g unsalted butter
200g dark brown sugar
100g caster sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
200g cinnamon baking bits
Makes: 3 dozen cookies
Preheat your oven to 180oC and line baking sheets with greaseproof paper. In a large bowl, I whisked together the flour, bicarb and salt. I don’t sift – I just whisk to get rid of lumps and incorporate some air – works a treat for me!
I melted the butter in a saucepan and in another bowl, poured it and added the two sugars, whisking it thoroughly. It will begin to lighten in colour and look like molten toffee. In another bowl I whisked together the egg, yolk and vanilla. Then I added a teaspoon or so of the warm sugar mixture to this. This cosies up the eggs so when you add them to the rest of the sugar/butter mix they don’t scramble. Again mix them all together thoroughly.
Now I added the wet mix (sugar, butter, eggs) to the dry and slowly mixed these until they came together. Then I stirred with a bit more vigour for about a minute. Then I slowly folded in the cinnamon bits. (break these into any size you like, the bigger the more of a cinnamon hit you are going to have).
I used a 2" cookie scoop and placed balls onto the baking sheet ( I tried a larger scoop as you can see in the pic above - it was way too big). I spaced them out, as they do spread, and got about 9 on the sheet. Place them in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until the edges turn golden. Remove from the oven and carefully transfer the baking paper to a cooling rack. This prevents the cookies from over cooking on the hot baking sheet.
(If you are using the same baking tray - pour cold water onto it between each placing of dough - putting the dough onto a warm sheet will start cooking them straight away and could result in over-baked cookies.)
If you can resist, wait until cool, otherwise they are very lovely warm! They have a gingerbread sort of consistency but are more cinnamon than ginger of course and taste very buttery. Enjoy…
Tuesday, 19 June 2012
I love my mix-ins for baking, be it chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, butterscotch chips or mint chips, I love the different flavours they give. But I came across a type I hadn’t heard of before – cinnamon baking chips by Hershey. So onto the web I go and look where I can buy them in the UK. But alas, even Americans have a hard time getting them, so no chance here!!
However, when I was looking them up on-line, I found different recipes to try making your own. So I experimented and came up with what I found not to be chips, more baking bits. Little flat nuggets of a cinnamon toffee like substance. They are perfect for mixing through cookies and sprinkling on ice cream, that sort of thing.
170g granulated sugar
3 tablespoons of ground cinnamon
30g vegetable fat (like Cookeen)
2 Tablespoons of corn syrup (or golden syrup)
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
In a bowl mix all of the ingredients together with a fork. It will resemble a wet sand consistency. Now on a baking sheet, lined with baking paper and a spritz of veg oil spray, place the sand mix into a square about a centimetre thick and pop into an oven preheated to 180oC.
Bake it for about 45 minutes. Mine’s didn’t seem all bubbly and melted like other recipes said, so I jacked up the heat for a while and left it in, until it melted. It looked yuck and I thought it was ruined, but no. It cooled, all the fat seemed to run away from it (which was good) and the block of cinnamon stuff broke up beautifully. I was left with yummy INTENSELY cinnamon flavoured nuggets.
I used them in a cookie recipe, which I will be blogging very soon! Stay posted.
Monday, 18 June 2012
Recently my friend Wendy asked me for ideas on a recipe for a cinnamon-type bread. This was for her son Callum, who loves cinnamon flavoured bread, and was eager to make some.
I had come across a recipe several months back called Monkey Bread. According to Wikipedia it is virtually unknown outside America, so that was enough for me to want to try it! The monkey bread is comprised of little pieces of sweet bread dough, coated in cinnamon sugar and then placed in a ring mould, and when it is ready the idea is that everyone picks at the little pieces of bread. Apparently the origins of its name are unknown, but it’s possibly something to do with its resemblance to the monkey puzzle tree.
I looked up a recipe and found one at The Pink Whisk blog, which is by Ruth Clemens who was a finalist on the first series of BBC’s ‘Great British Bake Off’. I have adapted a couple of things from Ruth’s version. You will need to get one of those ring moulds (bundt or kugelhopf pan). It looks difficult, but it’s really not!
500g Strong White Bread Flour
1 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoon Salt
55g Unsalted Butter
2 tablespoon Golden Syrup
15g Dried Fast Acting Yeast
2 tablespoon Milk
150ml Milk (approx)
Cinnamon Sugar Ingredients:
100g Granulated Sugar
2 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
150g Unsalted Butter
100g Dark Brown Sugar
In a small bowl, warm the milk in the microwave, until it’s lukewarm. Add the yeast, stirring it together. Leave to the side for now.
In a large bowl place the flour, cinnamon and salt. I don’t sift, I just take a whisk and stir it about for 30 seconds, which incorporates air, gets rid of lumps and is less messy than sifting. Then take the butter and rub it through the flour mix with your fingers until no lumps of butter are visible or can be felt. Next, add the eggs, syrup and yeast mix. Add a splash of the milk too and begin to mix (by hand – it’s more fun that way). If it appears too dry keep adding milk until no dry ingredients are visible and the dough becomes one mass. Next take it from the bowl and place it on a lightly floured surface and knead the dough for about 7-8 minutes. Whatever technique you have for kneading is fine - just vent your frustrations!!
The dough should appear smooth and flexible now. Place this in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel. Put the bowl in a warm spot for an hour and a half. No peeking!
Whilst this is happening, make the sugar coating by stirring the sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl. Also get your ring mould ready, which doesn’t require greasing.
After the hour and a half, remove the towel and your dough should have risen. Punch it back and tip it onto the work surface into a rough log shape. This is where you can now chop the dough up, I sliced the log breadth wise about half an inch thick, then each slice into three or four pieces.
Take each of these individual pieces, dunk it in the sugar coating liberally and throw into your mould. Do this for each piece until the mould is full, cover with the tea towel and leave for another hour in that cosy spot.
During this time, pre-heat the oven to about 180oC (mine’s is fan assisted – alter yours accordingly if necessary). Also towards the end of the hour heat the 150g butter in a saucepan along with the dark brown sugar until it is all melted together. When the hour is up, remove the tea towel and carefully pour the sugar/butter mix over the dough in the mould. Pop this in your oven for 40 – 45 minutes – and if the top looks like it is burning slightly during baking, pop foil over the top.
Once the time is up, remove it from the oven and set aside for 10 minutes. It is like molten lava so be VERY careful. Then using your plate of choice, invert the mould onto the plate and it should plop out (if not, tease with a knife).
I would wait another wee while until the syrup has cooled before trying to tear at it. But when you do try – on boy is it worth the wait!! It is sugary, cinnamony, buttery, just lovely. I took this into work and everyone loved it. Including Wendy who took some home for her son. She said she might try adding raisins when she makes it. If you try it, let me know how it turns out!
Saturday, 16 June 2012
Thursday, 14 June 2012
I love collecting cookbooks and a few months back I came across one called ‘Baked in America’. Because of my love of all things American I bought the book (well, I’d literally drooled over the pages, so had no option but to buy it!!). Flicking through, I read that the book was written by a couple of American guys who had set up a bakery in Chiswick, West London. I actually remembered seeing them on the Food Network months before and loved their concept of bringing US style baking to the uninitiated in the UK.
(I have to admit, that I haven’t yet baked anything from the book, but intend to do so soon.) However, as I was coming to London for a week in June, I made it my mission to visit the bakery – called ‘Outsider Tart’. I had time to myself on the Saturday afternoon and took a tube trip, to Chiswick, which was fairly far out. The train got emptier as it neared my stop. I alighted and found quite a charming suburban area. I had looked up the whereabouts of the store on Google Maps so had a fair idea on how to get there and made my way up the street. A lovely little exterior – with funky adjoining graffiti that only added to the charm greeted me. I entered and found a surprisingly small but modern and friendly atmosphere. I have since found out the bakery has bought the unit next door and it is being converted to give them more space.
Inside, one wall had goods to buy, where I found the green mint chips used in a previous recipe, and the other was a counter, with the baked goods laid out. There were no identifiers on each of the items, so I had to ask the member of staff. I felt that this encouraged more interaction with the customer, rather than making it an impersonal experience.
There were no S’mores brownies that day, but what did stand out for me was a Hepburn (read the book!) baked with peanut butter filled pretzels. I plumped for this and the chips and made my purchase. I loved the little branded brown bags.
I left not long after, heading back to the tube station. Looking forward to eating my baked good, the glutton in me couldn't help wishing I had purchased more. Now the strange part of this tale is, when I arrived back to the area near my hotel at Waterloo, I happened upon an International Food Fair. There were various stalls wafting amazing smells and who should happen to be selling baked goods? Only Outsider Tart! I bought two cookies – a sugar saucer (more like the size of a dinner plate) and a cinnamon snicker doodle. Now we didn’t scoff all the goods at once, but myself and ‘better half’ enjoyed them with a cup of coffee over the next couple of nights.
Heaven certainly was baked in America! Visit their website http://www.outsidertart.com/
Monday, 11 June 2012
Inspired by a recipe for Key Lime Pie Rice Krispie Treats over at another blog; http://www.americancupcakeabroad.com/ I wondered what other desserts could be given the rice krispie treatment?
Now the Germans, have given the world plenty – lederhosen, bratwurst and of course Nena and her 99 Luftballoons. But one dessert that did cross my mind was that cherry and dark chocolate combo – Black Forest Gateau. How well would this work krispiefied? Pretty well it seems.
42g unsalted butter
170g of mini marshmallows
One sachet (or 4grams) of Cherry Kool Aid powder
150 g of rice krispies
100g bar of dark chocolate
Grease a lasagne/glass dish with some butter.
In a large saucepan – preferably non-stick (mine’s aren’t – killer clean-up!) – melt the butter and then add the marshmallows, stirring over medium heat until the mallows have melted and combined with the butter. Add the Kool-Aid powder and stir until dissolved into the mallows.
Next stir the rice krispies into the melted mallow until all is combined. This took considerable elbow-grease and really called for that LARGE saucepan. Spoon the well-mixed combo into the glass dish, press down well and leave this to set. A couple of hours, or overnight if you so wish. When set remove from the dish and with a large knife cut into bite size squares.
Over a pan of boiling water, in a bowl, melt the chocolate and when done drizzle over the rice krispie squares. Chill in the fridge to set the chocolate again and you have Black Forest Rice Krispie Treats.
(If you can’t get hold of cherry Kool-Aid, a raspberry powdered drink mix (like creamola foam) would work well, but then it wouldn’t be black forest, but still yummy!
Cakeyboi loves his lederhosen…
Sunday, 10 June 2012
When on my recent trip to London, I visited Outsider Tart, a little bakery in Chiswick. A lovely little area, a good few minutes out from the centre, I travelled there by tube. I had bought the bakery’s cookbook – ‘Baked in America’ and was intrigued to see what the bakery was actually like. I will review the bakery itself in a later post, but on one side of the shop were a few shelves with American baking goods. I came cross these little mint chips. (You can also buy them online at American Sweets )
And my mind got all creative…instead of mint choc chip ice cream, how about choc mint chip cookies? Here is what I came up with.
4 oz unsalted butter, softened
3.5 oz granulated sugar
3.75 oz light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6.5 oz plain flour
0.75 oz unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarb of soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 oz mint chips
To start I preheated my oven to 180oc and lined a cookie sheet with baking paper. Then I creamed together the butter and sugars for about 5 minutes in my mixer until they were all nice and combined and creamy. I added my egg and vanilla, beating that for about 2 more minutes.
In another bowl, I sifted together the flour, cocoa powder, bicarb, baking powder and salt. I then mixed the wet and dry combos together in my mixer (very slowly at first) until it had combined. I finished this off by hand as it got a bit stiff. I then took the mint chips and stirred them through by hand.
Taking my small cookie scoop, I put around 12 balls of cookie dough on each sheet. They were a little too round for my liking and I feared they wouldn’t flatten out, so taking dampened fingers, I pressed on each one a little.
I then popped them in the oven for around 11 to 13 minutes. They start to crackle on top and that’s when you can suss that they are about ready. Upon removing them from the oven I transferred them to a cooling rack to cool down.
And the tasting did not disappoint! The vivid green chips are VERY minty. They mix well with the chocolaty cookies and leave a minty tingle for a while after. If you like your cookies slightly on the chewy side aim to bake about 10-11 minutes. For crispier ones, bake 12-13 minutes. Enjoy!