Monthly Archives: November 2010

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Mini Gingerbread Cupcakes

My mum always used to make the most delicious gingerbread loaf for tea when I was growing up. So I decided to dig out the recipe and use it as the basis for some little festive cupcakes. I have to say I am very pleased with the result!
And so I give you my mini gingerbread cupcakes topped with a spicy ginger buttercream and little pieces of crystallised ginger to give them that extra little kick!

Ingredients
125g butter
175g treacle
50g golden syrup
140ml milk
2 eggs, beaten
250g plain flour
50g caster sugar
rounded 1/2 teaspoon of mixed spice
rounded teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
40g sultanas
40g stem ginger, finely diced

Method

  • Preheat the oven to fan 160°C.
  • Put the sugar in a large bowl and sift in the flour, spices and bicarbonate of soda.
  • Put the butter, treacle, golden syrup and milk in a pan and warm it until the butter has just melted and the mixture has blended together.
  • Add the syrup mixture to the beaten eggs.
  • Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well before stirring in the sultanas and stem ginger.
  • Spoon the mixture into a mini muffin tray lined with cases.
  • Place in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes or until they have risen and are springy to the touch.
  • Leave the cakes in the tin for a few minutes before placing them on a cooling rack to cool completely.
Makes approximately 45 mini cupcakes. The mixture sits fine so don’t worry if you have to cook it off in several batches.
For the buttercream…
200g unsalted butter, softened
300g icing sugar, sifted
ginger syrup (from the jar of stem ginger) to taste (I used approx. 4 tablespoons)
Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Gradually mix in the ginger syrup a tablespoon at a time until you reach your desired taste.
Finally, pipe the buttercream onto the cupcakes, top with diced crystallised ginger. I finished mine off with a sprinkling of red glitter for that extra festive sparkle!
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I was asked by a colleague to make this cake for a little baby girl’s 1st birthday. I lightly dusted it with glitter so when the birthday candles are lit, it should sparkle away!

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Battle of the Lemon Cupcakes

Having purchased the “Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery” cookbook yesterday, I decided to put the lemon cupcakes to the test. The recipe was easy to follow and the cupcakes came out looking perfect. Tastewise though, I wasn’t blown away. The sponge was like that of a dense American muffin which I found a little dry. The lemon wasn’t that zingy either but this could have been down to the lemons I used. I had loads of lemon buttercream leftover so decided to put a different recipe to the test to act as a comparison.

I therefore dug out my trusty Fiona Cairns “Bake & Decorate” and put her very lemony crunch cake batter to the test. I omitted the lemon syrup as I wanted to really taste the basic sponge and make a fair comparison to the Primrose recipe. This second attempt was a definite winner. The result was a much lighter and moister sponge than the former.

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Chocolate Biscuit Cake Recipe

This is a recipe that I have adapted from my mum’s cookbook. She used to make chocolate biscuit cake decorated with Smarties for all our birthday parties when my brother and I were little.

Ingredients
450g digestive biscuits
3 rounded tablespoons cocoa powder
200g butter (margarine works just as well)
2 tablespoons sugar (any type will do)
2 tablespoons golden syrup
150g chocolate

Method

  • Grease and line an 11″x7″/27cmx17cm tin (or whatever you have of a similar size)
  • Blitz up the biscuits with the cocoa powder to a fine crumb.
  • Melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup together in a microwave or in a saucepan.
  • Mix the butter and biscuit mixture together.
  • Press the mixture into the tin evenly.
  • Place the tin in the fridge.
  • Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a bain marie until smooth.
  • Remove the tin from the fridge and spread the melted chocolate evenly over the biscuit mixture.
  • Return to the fridge to set.
Once the chocolate has set, it is ready to slice. It will be easier to slice neatly once the chocolate has just set. After a few hours in the fridge, the chocolate will become more brittle. If this happens simply remove the biscuit cake from the fridge and bring it to room temperature by leaving it out for half an hour before slicing. Makes 12 generous triangles.
I used milk chocolate for the batch in the picture (simply because I happened to have some in the larder) but you can use whatever type you prefer. My personal favourite is dark chocolate for a rich indulgent treat!
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Mint Chocolate Cupcakes

Another Fiona Cairns recipe…
The cake batter is traditional, simply substituting plain chocolate for mint. I used Tecso Finest mint chocolate which is tasty but not too pricey. The icing is a traditional buttercream with a few drops of peppermint essence. I made the flower and butterfly decorations out of pastrima and then finished off with a touch of sparkle using rainbow dust in hologram white. I’m going to try out this recipe with different flavours…chocolate orange next time I think!

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Carrot and Banana Cupcakes

On discovering some overripe bananas the other day, I decided to put them to good use and make some carrot and banana cupcakes. I had used this recipe from Waitrose online previously to make a large cake. The recipe found here makes 18 muffin sized cupcakes.

I made a little more cream cheese icing than the recipe called for. 100g each of butter and cream cheese to 200g icing sugar. I intended to pipe the icing but found that it was too soft even after being left in the fridge to harden so I settled with spreading it on with a palette knife. I made the carrots out of marzipan which I coloured orange. The carrot tops were piped on with a little bit of left over icing which I coloured green.
I think the room was probably too warm for the cream cheese icing that I made. If anyone has any tried and tested cream cheese icing recipes that they would recommend, please send me details!
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My Technic 1210 Turntable Cake

I made this cake for a friend’s birthday recently. It was definitely my biggest challenge to date.

I made a madeira cake in a 10″ square tin following a recipe from “The Essential Guide to Cake Decorating” by Murdoch books. The recipe was easy enough to follow although my Kenwood wasn’t too happy about the large quantities! Once the cake had cooled I levelled the top using a pastry knife and then flipped it upside down to give a good flat even surface. I then sliced it in two and filled it with raspberry jam (I generally always use seedless as most people seem to be fussy about the seeds) and vanilla buttercream. I then covered the cake with a very thin layer of buttercream to act as an adhesive for the sugar paste. I used Asda’s ready to use fondant icing which I coloured grey to cover the cake and board. All of the black parts are made out of Regalice black fondant (apart from the base which is just a black ribbon). The rest of the buttons, knobs and tone arm are made out of pastrima which I coloured grey to match the fondant. Finally I used royal icing to pipe the dots onto the platter.

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Sticky Toffee Cupcakes

Another Fiona Cairns recipe. Sticky toffee cupcakes with salted caramel buttercream icing. The recipe gave two different options of method for the buttercream. I chose to buy Carnation dulce de leche instead of making my own caramel (purely for ease and to reduce washing up!). As with a traditional sticky toffee recipe, this cake batter uses dates, brown sugar and bicarbonate of soda but the real show stopper has to be the salted caramel buttercream. I took my first batch of these cakes into work and my colleagues raved about them.
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My Recent Creations

In order to kick-start my blog I thought I would show you all some of my recent creations.
One of my favourite books at the moment is Fiona Cairns’ “Bake & Decorate”. Each recipe that I have tested has turned out perfectly delicious!
Most recently, I made Fiona’s pistachio and orange blossom cake for my dad’s birthday.
The result was delectable. A light and moist nutty sponge delicately steeped in an orange blossom syrup with a subtly flavoured mascarpone icing that cut through the sweetness of the cake beautifully. I would highly recommend this recipe for any occasion. However, I do think it is worth mentioning that it is not the cheapest cake to make. Fiona Cairns claims in “Bake & Decorate” that beautiful cakes needn’t cost a fortune. Out of interest I worked out the costings for this cake and it came in at just under a tenner. Hardly a cheap eat.