Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Let your lighter side out! Maltesers chocolate cake!!

This three layered moist chocolate sponge, smothered and sandwiched together with a light, airy malt chocolate frosting, might possibly be the best chocolate cake I've ever made.  It was for my Boyfriend's Dad's birthday and he was delighted! The making of this cake would have been relatively simple, had it not been for the roasting sun which threatened to melt my frosting and send my cake slipping all over the kitchen! Let's just say this cake spent a lot of time in the fridge!

Firstly, the chocolate sponge!
Ingredients:
330g plain flour
600g caster sugar
135g cocoa powder (I always use Green and Blacks)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 eggs
360mls buttermilk
360mls of strong coffee
180mls vegetable oil
1 1/2 tablespoons of vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180 degrees and prepare and line three eight inch cake tins.
Combine and sieve all the dry ingredients in your mixer.
In a separate bowl, combine your wet ingredients and beat lightly with a fork.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until combined.
Divide into the three pans and cook on the middle shelf of your oven.
The cakes will take approximately thirty minutes, depending on the ferocity of your oven!
Once done, take out of oven and place on racks to cool.

Whilst the cakes are cooling, you can make the frosting!
455g butter
500g icing sugar
75g malted hot drink powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
 250g dark chocolate
120mls double cream
(I didn't say this cake was easy on the calories!!)

In a stand mixer, combine butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy. This will take around 5 minutes. Add the malt powder, vanilla and salt and continue to mix until well combined. Now add melted chocolate and continue mixing. Once completely combined, add the double cream and whip.

Now for the assembly:
Place the first cake layer on your cake board and spread an even layer of chocolate frosting on top.  Sprinkle some crushed up maltesers on top and then add the second layer of cake sponge. Repeat the process for the next layer.  Then crumb coat the whole cake in the frosting and refridgerate for at least half an hour.  Then add a second, thicker layer over the top of the crumb coat.  Once the sides are smooth, I used an offset spatula to impress a spiral into the frosting. Top with a malteser andit's re`dy for the tasting!

Thursday, 27 June 2013

How to...

Been wondering how to frost a cupcake? Well, I thought I'd make a little video going through one technique of frosting a cupcake.  There are many ways, but this technique is simple, easy and effective!! It also reminds me of a Mr. Whippy Ice cream!!

video

I hope this helps, enjoy!

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Mango Berry Swirl!!

These cupcakes are straight out of a LOLA cupcake book.  They were deliciously fruity and topped with a frosting that was light and smooth but not too rich or sweet, unlike traditional buttercream!

I'll start with the cupcakes:

Ingredients:
125g self-raising flour
125g ground almonds
1 teaspoon baking powder
75g butter
grated zest of half a lemon
2 eggs
70g creme fraiche
100g finely chopped mango

Before you do anything, preheat your oven to 180 degrees and line a 12 hole muffin tin with cupcake cases. Combine the flour, baking powder and ground almonds in a bowl. In a separate bowl, or stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the lemon zest and eggs one at a time, beating well following each addition. Once incorporated, beat in the flour and creme fraiche. Fold in the chopped mango and divide the batter between the cupcake cases.  Pop in the oven for twenty to twenty five minutes, until well risen and golden brown on top.
Whilst the cupcakes are cooling, you can begin the frosting:

Ingredients:
110g blueberries
90g raspberries
100g strawberries
200g caster sugar
600g mascarpone

Put the berries and caster sugar into a heavy bottom saucepan and bring to a simmer over a medium heat.  Let the mix simmer until thick, it will take about twenty minutes.  Once thick, take of the heat and allow to cool.
Once cool, blitz in a food processor and sieve to remove pips.  This can then be mixed into the mascarpone and left to refrigerate for about thirty minutes, until firm.  Then pipe onto the cooled cupcakes and top with leftover berries. 

These cupcakes make a great summery treat ready for picnics in the park, bbqs in the garden, or wherever the sun may take you!!


Monday, 20 May 2013

Peppa Pig!

Apologies for my quietness over this last month.  When I first started this blog, I intended to post once a week, however, this last month has been filled with particularly crazy shifts which meant that blogging has had to take a back seat! However, I'm back, and I'm back with a bang! This month, I was set a seemingly simple task of baking cakes for a little girl's Peppa Pig themed fourth birthday party.  Simple enough right? Wrong! The order was for one birthday cake, forty cake pops, and forty cupcakes. As soon as I read the words forty, twice, I knew I was going to need to plan this down to the last second.  My problem was that I wanted every thing to be as fresh as possible. I knew I could bake the cake pops a couple of days in advance because the cake would be insulated by the chocolate, so I set about making these two days before the party.

Pig Cake Pops:
These are relatively simple to make but they take a steady hand.  Start off with a regular cake ball that has been rolled and put on a stick.  If you're unsure how to get to this point, read my post: Cake POPs! I then, took two tic tacs, dipped them half way into melted chocolate and stuck them half-way into the tops of the cake pops, forming ears.  They were then left to set.  Once set I coated the cake pops in pink candy melts, just the same as you would an ordinary cake pop.  Whilst the chocolate was still wet I stuck a pink M&M onto the front, this was my "snout".  I drew two dots onto the M&Ms with an edible marker to form nostrils.  Once all forty cake pops were coated and had M&Ms stuck to them, I left them to dry overnight.  The next morning, using a tooth pick and some gel food dye, I painted two dots on the cake pops to form eyes.  And hey presto! I had my forty cake pops!!



The next day, I tackled the big birthday cake!  
Peppa Pig Birthday Cake:
I had pre prepared my fondant Peppa Pig family a week in advance, to allow the fondant to harden. If you don't have the time to prepare a week before, you can use sugar paste, which sets hard very quickly.  The disadvantage is that it is quite a lot more expensive than fondant!
The Peppa Pig family all have pretty much the same structure, with different colour clothes and a few little details to set them apart. So once I had mastered Peppa, the rest were pretty easy to form!
I am aware that if I go into how to make Peppa from fondant, this post will be ridiculously long, so if you want details on how to make her, then you can email or comment me and I will go through it with you!
So, I started off my morning, baking a simple three layered vanilla sponge, sandwich with vanilla buttercream... yummy!! I covered the cake in blue fondant and stuck on white fondant clouds to make the sky. To make the hill, I rolled out green fondant in, wait for it, a hill shape and stuck it onto the front of the cake. Then all that is left to do is to stick on some fondant flowers and place your Peppa Pig family onto the top of the cake.



I left the cupcakes until the morning of the party so that they would be fresh and moist and yummy!! The order was for twenty vanilla cupcakes, and twenty chocolate cupcakes. I have blogged about vanilla cupcakes plenty of times so I will just tell you how to make chocolate cupcakes.
Ingredients:
for twenty-four cupcakes.
190g plain flour
300g caster sugar
60g cocoa powder
1 1/2 tspn baking powder
1 1/2 tspn bicarbonate of soda
1 1/2 tspn corn flour
160mls buttermilk
180mls coffee
90mls vegetable oil
2 eggs
3 tspn vanilla extract

The recipe is really simple! Just combine all the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients and whisk for two minutes.  Whack in the oven for fifteen minutes and you'll have your chocolate cupcakes!!

Now for the frosting.
You need 4 large egg whites, 8 tablespoons golden syrup, 200g caster sugar, half a teaspoon cream of tartar.  Whisk the mixture, over a bain marie, until the mixture hold stiff peaks.  It will take around five minutes.  Once done, take off the heat, add two teaspoons vanilla extract and continue to mix until the frosting is at room temperature. I added a tiny bit of pink gel food dye to give me a piggy colour!!

To make the pig faces, I first piped a dome of frosting onto the cupcake. For the snout, I used half a pink marshmallow and placed it in the centre of the cupcake and then I used small white chocolate buttons with stuck on chocolate drops, for the eyes and stuck them into the frosting on an angle.





 It was a long three days, with a night shift in between, and so this project was a bit of a labour of love! I so pleased with the results and I hope the little girl enjoyed the treats too!!


Sunday, 14 April 2013

Check Mate!!


 It was my Nephew's 10th birthday. I had been asked to bake him a cake, and I knew it had to be something special! I had seen a few chess board cakes on the internet and thought I'd give it a try!
(Warning: this cake took me fourteen hours.  Do not attempt if you want a quick bake!!)  For the first time since embarking on my baking journey, I threw a baking induced wobbly!  I made a few measuring errors that, if I were to do it again, I would need to either buy a bigger cake tin, or smaller chess square moulds! But anyway... let me start off right at the beginning (I've heard its a very good place to start)!
First of all, you need some chess piece and square moulds. I got mine on Amazon and they weren't overly expensive.  This is where choosing the size of your squares is important.  A standard chess board is eight squares by eight squares.  I had a twelve inch cake tin.  The squares I ordered were an inch and three quarters. Now, for all you mathematicians out there you will quickly find that that does not calculate! And so, I had to build a wall of chocolate to balance the outer chocolate squares that did not fit on the cake.

It would be a good idea to begin making the chocolate chess pieces and squares a few days before you need them.  I started the night before and I could have done with starting at least one day before this!


Once you have baked your cake, using your favourite chocolate recipe, you will be ready to decorate.  For my chocolate recipe, see this cake, and double the recipe to fit the twelve inch cake tin.

Now is the time to channel your inner brick layer.  The chocolate squares are your bricks, your chocolate frosting is your cement.  First of all, start at the left hand corner of the cake and lay a white square down. Then begin to build your checkerboard alternating between black and white.  Once you have made your checkerboard you can either pipe a fancy boarder around the edge, or you can continue your checkerboard pattern round the edges of the cake, which add stability to the chess board, (chocolate is surprisingly heavy)!

Once set, its time to lay your pieces down, and get playing! Enjoy!!!



Thursday, 28 March 2013

Some like it hot...

This week, I got challenged with making a chilli chocolate cake from my Sister's Fiance's birthday!  It was quite a challenge to find a recipe I liked and trusted for this special occasion! It was my first "commission" so it was as exciting for me as it was for my Sister!

After struggling for a few days to find a recipe for a chilli chocolate cake, I decided to take a standard chocolate cake, and then make a chilli chocolate ganache to go with it!

The chocolate cake I chose to make was from a blog called Sweetapolita.  It is an incredibly dense and moist cake, with frosting which reminded me more of chocolate mouse rather than a chocolate frosting!  This cake has quite a few processes, uses lots of pots and pans, and take quite a few hours to make.  So if you love baking, and have half a day on your hands, this recipe is definitely for you! If you aren't particularly keen on baking, or like to make quick bakes, don't choose this one! However, I can't imagine someone who doesn't like baking, would be reading this!!
So here's how I did it:

Ingredients:
For the cake:
145g Dark Chocolate (I used Lindt)
260g Butter
315g Plain Flour
24g Cocoa Powder (I used Green and Blacks)
2 tspn Bicarbonate of Soda
1 tspn Baking Powder
4 Eggs
1/2 tspn Salt
200g Caster Sugar
220g Light Brown Sugar
1 1/2 tspn Vanilla
475ml Sour Cream

Preheat your oven to 180 celcius and prepare four 8 inch cake tins.
Melt the chocolate and butter together in a bain marie until smooth and glossy, and bring to room temperature. Meanwhile, sift together the flour, cocoa, rising agents, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar and eggs until light and fluffy, it takes about five minutes (2).  Once light and fluffy, slowly add the cooled chocolatey-buttery mixture and whisk until incorporated.  Then its time to add the dry ingredients and sour cream. You should add the wet and dry ingredients in three parts alternately, starting and ending with the dry ingredients (3).  This makes for a well mixed cake batter. Then spoon into the four cake pans and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, depending on your oven.  Once baked, take out of the tins and leave to completely cool.

Meanwhile, you can make the chilli chocolate frosting! This is like no frosting you will have ever tasted! If you have read my other posts you will see that I'm not a huge fan of buttercream frosting, however this is completely different, it's light, it's moussey, it's like nothing of this earth.  However, like the rest of this cake, its pretty lengthy, but its oh so worth it!!

Ingredients:
200g Caster Sugar
47g Plain Flour
36g Cocoa
360mls Whole Milk
115g Chilli Chocolate
2tspn Chilli Flakes
1 tbspn Vanilla
680g Butter

You start off by whisking together the cocoa, flour, sugar and milk, in a saucepan, over a medium heat. It will take about 5 minutes to become thick and glossy. Once this has happened, take it off the heat whisk in the chocolate, vanilla and chilli flakes and then allow to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, take the butter and whisk in a stand mixer, until lighter in colour and aerated. Then, slowly incorporate the chcolate mixture into the butter and leave to whisk for another five minutes.  
Remember, you can always add more chilli flakes, but you cannot take them out, so be careful!

Now assemble the cake and crumb coat.  For an explanation please see my first ever blog post: Pink Rainbow Cake.  Once crumb coated, refrigerate for half an hour to firm up the frosting.  Now for the fun bit! Load up the rest of the icing into a piping bag, with a round piping tip.  Pipe a line of circles up the length of the cake (1), take a small offset spatula and position in the middle of the circle, and drag the frosting across the cake (2). Repeat the process and all around the cake.  For the top, use the same method, but pipe the circles in circles (how many times can I say circles in a paragraph?) around the top of the cake (3). 

Top with a happy birthday cake topper and a fondant chilli and hey presto! A chocolate chilli birthday cake!!





 


Friday, 15 March 2013

Getting my bake-on for Comic Relief..

My sister's is having a bake sale, at work,  for comic relief so yesterday, I made red nose day cupcakes.



I started off by baking twenty-four cupcakes.  For the recipe, please see my post: "fondant ducky, you're the one"

These cupcakes have lots of little steps to them that can be rather time consuming.  But once you get the hang of it, and work in a "conveyor belt" type of way you will soon speed up.  Never-the-less it took in excess of three hours to bake and decorate twenty four of these bad boys! If you are new to the cupcake decorating game, maybe start with twelve, unless you have a lot of time!  The ingredients needed for the decorating are: fudge, giant white chocolate buttons, red peanut M&Ms (or any large round red sweets), soft eating liquorice.  


 Start off by spreading a little butter cream frosting into a dome shape on your cupcake.  This gives a rounded face shape, making your cupcake more 3D. Then, knead the fudge until soft and pliable and roll out.  You need to cut out a circle, using a circular cutter, that is one size bigger than your cupcake cases.  Then place your fudge circle onto the cupcake and mould into place. 





For the eyes, take two giant white chocolate buttons. Using melted white chocolate as glue, stick on a chocolate chip for a pupil.  Repeat until you have enough for all your cupcakes, two per cupcake. Once all your eyes are complete, pop them into the fridge to set.  This should only take five minutes! The trickiest bit of the whole process is positioning the eyes.  To do this, mark out where you want to put the eyes, and then make a slight incision into the fudge.  Then stick the eyes into the incision, using melted chocolate as glue. The eyes will slant upwards,
creating a 3D effect. 




Then, using melted chocolate, stick on your peanut M&M in the centre of the cupcake to form your red nose! Remember to have the M&M logo on the side facing the fudge!




To make the liquorice mouth, take a piece of soft eating liquorice and roll out into a flat shape.  Then fashion a smile using either a knife or a round cutter. Using a little water, or melted chocolate, stick on your liquorice smile!



This is done by taking a small amount of fudge and rolling into a sausage shape. Then curl the roll so that the two ends meet. The fudge ears should stick onto the fudge with little need for glue, however, if you feel that they need a bit more stability, then by all means, use a little more melted white chocolate!



And there you have it! Cupcakes fit for any red-nose-day bake sale! These fudgey-faces can be modified for numerous events.  You can substitute the liquorice smile for a moustache for Movember, or you can take off the big red nose and substitute for a plain fudge nose for a more subdued face for any occasion!


This week, I joined the world of twitter! So for more information, or updates as to when new posts are published, follow me on twitter: twitter.com/Lizzies_Bakery


The original idea for this cupcake was by "My Cupcake Addiction".  This is a youtube channel which give you step by step tutorials on cupcake decorating.  Check her out, I've learnt a lot!!

Sunday, 10 March 2013

COOKIES!!! UMM-NUM-NUM-NUM-NUM!!!


 Today I spent the morning making cookie monster cupcakes.


Firstly, I made red blue velvet cupcakes.
Ingredients:
20 ounces self raising flour
14 ounces sugar
2 cocoa powder
3 eggs
7 ounces butter
8ounces water
2 tbspn olive oil
2 tspn vanilla extract
Blue food paste dye

This recipe yields twenty-four cupcakes in total - good for large number orders but you can always just half the recipe if you don't want that many!!  And, simple as anything, pop everything into the bowl and mix until incorporated.  This batter is thick, and spoons easily into cupcake cases.  Just remember to only fill them three quarters full!! Then pop them into a preheated oven at 180 degrees for twelve to fifteen minutes. 

Once they are cooked pop them on a cooling rack and begin your buttercream frosting.
Ingredients:
Blue paste food dye
140g softened butter
280g icing sugar
2 tspn vanilla extract
2 tbsp milk
Begin by whipping your butter until it is light in colour and texture! Then add your icing sugar a little at a time to avoid a icing sugar snow storm!! Once half the sugar has been incorporated, add the vanilla extract, followed by the milk and food dye.  Then add the rest of the sugar little by little until combined.  Continue whisking for a further five minutes on high speed.  Your buttercream frosting will then be ready to go!

To decorate:
Pipe a mound of buttercream onto the cupcake and smooth into a dome shape using an offset spatula.  I have seen the frosting covered in blue coconut shavings or blue sprinkles but I used my offset spatula to "rough up" the frosting adding a fur effect.  The choice is yours!




For the eyes, take two giant white chocolate buttons.  Using melted white chocolate as glue, stick on a chocolate chip for a pupil. These were then placed into the frosting with the chocolate chips facing different directions. This makes cookie monster look crrraaazy for cooookies!! 



For the mouth, I used a mini cookie and wedged it into the frosting and into the cake in an upward slant.  When doing this, take care to support the cake to ensure the top half of the cup cake does not tear off!!  It was at this point that Michael came into the kitchen to hear me squeaking and jumping around in excitement (simple things)!!




I was so so pleased with how these turned out, they look pretty impressive (even if I do say so myself) but are relatively simple to put together!

I have been thinking for a while now that I would like to start selling my baked goods.  If you have seen anything you like on my blog, or have a specific requirement, and would like to place an order, please leave me a comment, or email me: elizabethwoodcock1989@gmail.com and I will get straight back to you!!

Thursday, 7 March 2013

The Boyfriend Bakes with Bananas...

So, this week, my lovely boyfriend decided to join me in the kitchen to bake! We made one of his favourites, banana bread! I have tried out lots of different recipes for banana bread but this time I tried Sophie Dahl's recipe and it tasted amaaazing!

So, here it is:
Ingredients:
75g butter
4 bananas
200g soft brown sugar
1 egg
1 tbspn vanilla extract
1 tspn baking poweder
1 pinch of salt
170g plain flour

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees.
The main principle of baking banana bread is to ensure your bananas are very ripe.  When I make my banana bread I prefer to keep the bananas quite chunky so I chop them with a knife rather than mashing them with a fork.  So begin by doing this.  In a large bowl, add your; bananas, sugar, butter and egg and mix.  Then add your vanilla extract, plus your baking powder and salt.  Last of all, fold in the flour until just incorporated.  Pour into a buttered and lined loaf tin and pop in the oven for approximately an hour.  And it really is as easy as that! Good for a first time baker, like my boyfriend!

You can really get creative with what you put on top.  Most people go for chocolate spread, cream cheese frosting.  Sophie suggests a lick of butter! However, I like mine plain and simple - all by itself!





 http://www.sophiedahl.com/recipe/banana-bread







Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Fondant ducky, you're the one...

These are my "never-fail" cupcakes.  The recipe is quick, simple and, like I said, never fails!  It's a simple, bung everything in the bowl, and whisk recipe, yielding 12 deliciously moist, deliciously fluffy, deliciously vanilla-ry cupcakes!

Ingredients for the buns:
  • 125 gram(s) butter (soft)
  • 125 gram(s) caster sugar
  • 2 medium egg(s)
  • 125 gram(s) Plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon(s) bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 teaspoon(s) baking powder
  • 2 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoon(s) milk
  • - See more at: http://www.nigella.com/recipes/view/love-buns-2922#sthash.43e7gknp.dpuf
     125g butter
    125g sugar
    2 medium eggs
    125g plain flour
    1/2 tspn bicarbonate of soda
    2 tspn baking powder
    3 tbspn milk
    3 tspn vanilla extract

    So, as I said, put all the ingredients in one bowl and whisk until incorporated.  Then, add the milk. You want the batter to be of a dropping consistency.  Then spoon into a muffin tin lined with cake cases and pop in the oven at 200 degrees for around 15-20 minutes.

    Whilst the cupcakes are cooling you can make your frosting. 
    Ingredients for buttercream:
    Paste food colouring of your choice
    140g softened butter
    280g icing sugar
    2 tspn vanilla extract
    2 tbsp milk

    Begin by whisking the butter, you want to do this for about 5 minutes, until the butter is lighter in colour and fluffy in texture.  Once the butter is whisked, add the icing sugar in two parts.  After the first half, add the vanilla and milk and continue whisking until the vanilla and milk is incorporated.  Then, add the second half of your icing sugar. Continue whisking for another five minutes.  Add your food colouring. You can then pipe, swirl, or spread your buttercream onto the cooled cupcakes in whatever way you choose.

    I then topped my cupcakes with a fondant duck, rendering the cupcake fit for a baby shower or a baby's first birthday! They were surprisingly easy to model.  I got so into making them, I forgot to take pictures, faux pas!! To make the body of the duck, take a piece of fondant and roll into a ball the size of a marble.  Roll the ball into a cone shape and lift the pointy end upwards.  Cut out two fondant-shaped hearts and stick onto body of the cone using water.  These are your wings.  Paint on two eyes, with food colouring, using a skewer.  Make a teeny tiny cone from fondant and stick onto the head of the duck for a beak.  Put the whole thing into the freezer for ten minutes and then stick on top of your cupcake.

    In the past, I preferred to steer clear of fondant, thinking it was too technical, however, I have become rather fond of using it to model shapes and animals to make toppers for cakes and cupcakes! Don't be afraid, you'll be surprised what you can achieve with a little bit of fondant...  



  • 125 gram(s) butter (soft)
  • 125 gram(s) caster sugar
  • 2 medium egg(s)
  • 125 gram(s) Plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon(s) bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 teaspoon(s) baking powder
  • 2 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoon(s) milk
  • - See more at: http://www.nigella.com/recipes/view/love-buns-2922#sthash.43e7gknp.dpuf
  • 125 gram(s) butter (soft)
  • 125 gram(s) caster sugar
  • 2 medium egg(s)
  • 125 gram(s) Plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon(s) bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 teaspoon(s) baking powder
  • 2 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoon(s) milk
  • - See more at: http://www.nigella.com/recipes/view/love-buns-2922#sthash.43e7gknp.dpuf

    Thursday, 21 February 2013

    Cake POPs!

    Today, I ventured into the world of cake POPs! These were such fun to do and pretty easy! If you haven't made them before they are definitely worth a go!

    You start off with a simple vanilla cake,  I tinted mine hot pink, and bake it.  Then once it is cooked and cooled you crumble the cake into a bowl and add some frosting.  Not too much, just enough to bring the crumbs together to form a dough-like consistency. Then roll into little bite-size balls and refrigerate for 30minutes!  Once the cake balls have been refrigerated, melt some candy melts, or chocolate. Dip a lollipop stick into the candy melts and then plunge into the cake ball,  about half way. Repeat on all your cake pops.

    The cake pop should still be cold so the candy melt sealing the stick to the cake ball will set quickly, giving you a sturdy cake pop! It can then be plunged into the melted candy! Cover the ball but do not twist into the melted chocolate as it will cause the cake ball to fall off the stick! (Trust me, it happened to me twice)! Then dip into a bowl of sprinkles of your choice! Pop the stick into some styrofoam to set!

    These cake POPs were so much fun, and so delicious! I hope you have fun making them!

    Monday, 11 February 2013

    Valentines sugar cookies...

    You may say I'm a cliche. You may say, "Pooh! What a cheeseball!!" However, surely, if you can't be cliche, or cheesy, on valentine's day that when else can you? Therefore, I have thrown myself, whole heartedly into designing some of the cutest cookies I have ever made! So forgive me, but I loved it!!!  I bought a set of measuring cups this week and so you will notice I have used cup measures in the recipe list, rather than grams.  It seemed to work, however, I found that I feel more comfortable, and trusting, of grams rather than cup measures!

    For the sugar cookie dough you will need:
    230g of butter.
    1 egg.
    1 cup of icing sugar.
     2 1/2 cups of plain flour.
    1/2 tespoon of salt.
     1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.






    The method itself is incredibly easy.  You start off by creaming the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Then add your egg and vanilla essence and beat until incorporated. Slowly, mix in your flour until a soft dough forms.  It will be quite sticky, this is normal!! Then wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for two hours! I'm told, you cannot skip the refrigeration step.  I'm not entirely certain of why you need to refrigerate for so long, however, I do as I'm told!!

     Afterwards, knead the dough and roll out to desired thickness.  I then used a heart cutter and shaped different designs.  These then went in the oven at 180C for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. 








    The royal icing for decoration was pretty simple to whip up.
    Ingredients:
    675g Icing sugar.
    3 egg whites.
    3 teaspoons lemon juice.
    1 1/2 teaspoon of glucose syrup.

    You start by whisking the egg whites until they are frothy. Fold in icing sugar spoon by spoon.  Add in the glucose and lemon juice and then whip the mixture to thick peaks. I then added food dye in three batches. 

    The decoration is then up to your imagination!!



    I have recently found a new love, a love that sees me glued to my mac screen and visiting youtube more than ever.  And that love is baking blogs.  I couldn't write a blog post about the cutest cookies I've ever made, without pointing you in the direction of a blog that makes the most cutest cookies I have ever seen:                               
    http://thedecoratedcookie.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/logo.buttonsm.png
                                                    http://www.thedecoratedcookie.com

    Lakelands spree..

    Good evening fellow baking, blog-reading enthusiasts! I am writing this during the early hours of the morning.  Due to shift work, my body clock is completely up the duff and so I thought, what better time to fill you in on my baking adventures?! I can not be held accountable for mispelt words, and oddly structured sentences!
    This week, I went on a Lakelands spree.  I decided, if I'm going to give this baking blog a real go, I should have a certain amount of kit to bake with! So, during my Lakelands spree, I bought my first offset spatula. Well, my first two offset spatulas!! One large, one small! It was an exciting moment I must say! And from now on in, may all my cakes forever be covered in super smooth, silky frosting (No excuses)!


    I also bought some disposable piping bags. I have a reusable piping bag but I find it rater stiff to work with, plus disposable means less washing up, which I detest!

    I lastly bought some lollipop sticks, 10cm in length! I have made cake balls several times ( including some ridiculously cute Christmas pud ones during the festive season) however, I have never tried cake pops! In my head it will be easier as I should get a smoother coating on chocolate, but that remains to be seen!

    So, of course,  with this new kit, I had to bake something! I ended up baking a plain vanilla sponge! The same recipe I used in previous blogs and so I won't bore you with repeating myself! However, what I would like to tell you about is my new found white chocolate frosting! I'm sure this ha been done before but to me it feels like my own invention! I stumbled across it rather coincidently! I had started to make a white chocolate ganache when I realised I would have liked a stiffer frosting that holds a better shape when set. So there I was, with white chocolate ganache, wanting frosting. So I whipped up some vanilla buttercream, poured in the ganache and hey presto, I had a luxurious, silly smooth white chocolate frosting! Well I tell you, it is incredibly sweet, and terribly bad for you,  but one slice can't do too much damage right? How about a second? Or third?...



    Friday, 1 February 2013

    Cinnamon rolls...

    These deliciously sweet, doughy, cinnamon-ny rolls are time consuming but, worth the wait.  They're good for a sweet breakfast/ brunch, or afternoon tea with Mum and go perfectly with a cuppa! 

    Start off with a basic dough mixture, flour, tepid water, your choice of yeast (I always use dry yeast), and salt.  Bring together and knead for around ten minutes.  You know your dough is kneaded enough if, when you push your finger into the dough, it springs back up. Once you're at that stage, put back into bowl and leave to rise for one to two hours, until doubled in size.

    The filling is really very simple, just beat together 150g of softened butter, 125g dark brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of cinnamon.  This can be done whilst the dough is rising.  A simple glaze can also be made in this time.  Melt 150g of butter and 125g of dark brown sugar over a low heat. from 150g of butter and 125g of dark brown sugar.  It will form a sticky syrup which tastes divine!   

    Once the dough has risen, remove from the bowl and roll out into a rectangle.  Spread an even layer of the filling over the dough. Roll up the rectangle tightly.  The dough can then be cut into even slices.  Brush the glaze over the rolls and allow to sit for one hour to rise.  Then pop into an oven at 200 degrees celcius for 40minutes and bingo! Cinamon rolls.

    Enjoy!  


    Thursday, 31 January 2013

    Graffiti Cake..

    Today I attempted to make a "Graffiti" Cake.  This idea was taken from Lorraine Pascale's: Home Cooking Made Easy.  It a simple sponge with an amazing coloured candy outside.  I tweaked her recipe slightly to make it my own.
    Ingredients for sponge:
    200g butter, soft.
    200g soft light brown sugar.
    1teaspoon of Vanilla extract.
    5 free range eggs.
    200g self raising flour.
    Pink food dye.


    Preheat oven to 180 degrees.  Grease and line two 8 inch cake pans.  Next, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs and flour and whisk until combined.  Add your food dye until you get the desired colour - for me, the deeper the better!  I chose pink but you really can use any colour that takes your fancy!  Then divide the mixture into two pans and pop in the oven for around 25-30 minutes.

    Lorraine's recipe uses buttercream but I used a swiss meringue icing as I prefer that!
    Ingredients for icing:
    2 medium eggs whites.
    4 tablespoons of golden syrup.
    100g caster sugar.
    1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar.
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

    Whisk all ingredients, bar vanilla extract, over a bain marie. You need to whisk until the icing becomes thick and glossy.  It will take around five minutes to take on that meringue like consistency!  Once the mixture is holding peaks, remove from the heat.  Add the vanilla and whisk until room temperature.  

    To assemble the cake, put a blob of icing on your cake board and stick the first cake down.  Then smooth icing in a thin layer over the top.  Stick your second layer down. Then apply your crumb coat.  This is a thick layer that glues all the crumbs to your cake before applying your final layer of icing.  It basically stops any crumbs mixing with your icing and being visible on your finished cake! Then put your cake into the fridge for half an hour to set.  Then apply a final, thicker, neater, layer of icing.

    Meanwhile... the exciting part begins!!!
    Ingredients for the graffiti edging:
    250g granulated sugar.
    130mls water.
    130mls golden syrup or liquid glucose (I used golden sugar!).
    Food colouring (I used the same pink as the cake!)
    1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

    Put the sugar and water into a pan on a low heat to dissolve the sugar. Swirl, rather than stir the sugary water.  Once dissolved, bring to a boil.  Check on the sugar every five minutes. You do this by dipping a teaspoon into the sugar and then into a cup of water. After a minute or so, check the teaspoon. If the sugar on the spoon has disappeared, its not ready, so continue boiling.  It is ready when the sugar on the spoon it hard.  When it is, take the pan off the heat, add the food dye and vanilla.  Pour the sugar into a jug (be careful - hot sugar syrup on skin hurts!!!) Leave to cool for a minute and then pour, in bands, onto a prepared length of baking parchment, making circular shapes.
    When the graffiti is firm, but pliable, peel off the parchment and wrap around the cake.  I had trouble getting it all off in one go so I broke it up and wrapped it round the cake in pieces - it still looked good and I could pick the best bits of the graffiti to go on the cake!   

    This is a really fun cake, it is relatively easy but looks very impressive.  I think it's definitely worth a go!!





    Thursday, 24 January 2013

    Pink Rainbow Cake..

    My eldest sister is getting married in the summer and she has asked me to bake something for the reception party. I have had countless ideas as to what to bake.  As I am a bridemaid, and the wedding being far away, I have had to rule out treats that will require baking on the wedding day, namely cupcakes (what she originally asked for) and go for bakes that I will be able to make the morning before!
    So, after giving this quite some thought, I decided to try out a few ideas and then test them on her so she can decide which she likes best.

    So today, I made a pink rainbow cake.  Rainbow cakes seem to be very popular at the moment, and, even though I love the multicoloured versions that are commonly seen, I think the pink rainbow is a little more "grown up" and suitable for a wedding.  It was great fun to make, however, it took in excess of three hours to bake.  I'm sure my second attempt (if this is picked) will be a bit quicker!






    For the actual cake I made a basic vanilla sponge:
    -Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
    - Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
    - Whilst mixing, add the egg whites a little at a time.
    - Add the vanilla.
    - Add the milk and flour in two equal parts, alternating between the dry and wet ingredients. 

    By substituting whole eggs with egg whites, you get an overall paler batter meaning that when you add your food dye, the colour will be more vibrant. 
     

    - Divide the batter into five equal parts ready for dying.
    - The first layer should be left plain. 
    - To the other bowls, add little by little more dye for each layer.
    Don't be afraid to really pump up the colour for the last layer!
    These can then go into your greased pans into a pre- heated oven at 180 celcius for approximately 15minutes. 

    Once out of the oven, leave to cool whilst getting on with the Swiss meringue buttercream.  I decided to make this type of buttercream because I find conventional buttercream too rich, especially considering there are five layers to the cake! However, even though this buttercream had a lighter taste, it was still far too rich, and so I next time I plan to use American style meringue frosting, which cuts out the butter! I really think it is up to personal preference!

    So... the big assembly.  First, whack a dollop of frosting onto your cake board. This allows your first layer of cake to stick and prevents any flying cake!! Decide whether you want to go from dark to pale or pale to dark and then place your first cake accordingly.  I went for dark to pale! In between each cake, apply a thin, even layer of frosting, so that the next layer has something to stick to. Once you have all your layers up, apply a crumb coat.  This is a think layer of your frosting around the whole cake to "glue" any crumbs and stop them from showing on your final cake. 
    Once you have done this, put the cake in the fridge for around thirty minutes.  Then repeat the process.  This will be your final layer of frosting so it should be a little thicker and neater.  Use a palette knife and warm water to smooth the sides as you go.  Then decorate with sprinkles or glitter or even chocolate flowers, the possibilities are endless!! I chose strawberry sprinkles and white sugar pearls.   


    Not bad, right?


     And the verdict? She really loved it!