Saturday, 27 June 2009

Jam and Custard Cupcakes

Well, it's been three days now. You should've had time to absorb the magnificence of those banoffee cupcakes (please let me know if you try them, I delight in sharing yummy things). Which means that it's probably okay to do another post. Not that there's anything particularly special about these cupcakes. They were another experiment that semi worked and were yummy enough, but I'm not sure I'd do these again unless I needed to use up ingredients.

Jam and Custard Cupcakes

Your regular batch of vanilla cupcake batter
Your favourite jam, heated and strained to get rid of pips and to turn it into that wonderful pouring consistancy
The custard topping from the Rhubarb and Custard cupcakes of yore.

Put batter into cupcake cases, drizzle liberally with the strained jam and bake. When cool, spread another layer of jam on top before topping with the custard. In the words of Alexander the Meerkat, simples!

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Banoffee Cupcakes

I'm going to share with you one of the loves of my life. For too long, I feel, have I kept this to myself. I have been selfish and arrogant. So today, I'm going to share with you the wonderful banoffee cupcakes. I even coloured the lettering in a sad attempt to impress on you all how wonderful these are.

I got the idea for these while wondering which of my favourite desserts would make good cupcakes. I've since learned that banoffee cupcakes and lemon meringue cupcakes are already popular and that pastry does not work well as a cupcake base, regardless of whether you blind bake it first or not. Although I will get back to you when I've perfected my bakewell tart cupcake.

However, I have thrown together my own recipe for these, pieced together from various other recipes that I've found along the way.

You can put a biscuit base on these - as I did for the first four or five batches - but I've found that this is a bit messy, a bit unnecessary and that people tend to complain about getting crumbs down their clothes. So I now leave out the biscuit base. It's up to you guys and your personal preference.

Banoffee Cupcakes

For the banana cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup caster sugar
3tsp baking powder
1tsp bicarb of soda
pinch of salt
punch of freshly ground nutmeg
2 medium bananas, mashed
1/2 cup butter or marg, melted
2 eggs, whisked till frothy
1tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk

For the toffee:
Use this stuff. It will change your toffee eating life. You'll never go back. Unless you, like me, have a rubbish co-op near you that doesn't stock it. In which case, you'll need
1/3 cup brown sugar
50g butter
1 395g tin of sweetened condensed milk

For the toppings:
Whipped cream
A flake. Or some other crushed chocolate. You could use chocolate shavings if you wanted to be extra fancy :)

Make the toffee by putting all the ingredients in a pan and cook over a low heat, stirring continuously, until thick. This should take about 10 minutes. Don't let it boil and don't let it stand for any amount of time without stirring or it will stick to the pan and you won't be able to clean it. Ask me how I know this. Go on. Set the toffee aside to cool (don't taste it unless you've cooled it down beforehand. You don't want to skin your tongue or anything) and make the cupcake batter.

Sift all dry ingredients together and add the wet ones in the following order: butter, milk, vanilla, egg, banana. Mix well after each addition. Spoon into cupcake cases and bake for about 15 minutes on about 180'C. A medium heat anyway.

When cakes are done, leave to cool and then cut a cone out of the top of each. Fill this cone shape with toffee. About 10 minutes before you want to serve them, whip the cream until stiff and pipe on top (or if you can't find your beloved 1M piping nozzle like me, just spoon the cream on, spreading it out gently to look pretty). Sprinkle with crushed flake.

And watch as your friends propose, fall at your feet and declare their undying devotion.

You think I'm joking.

I'm not.

I'd make them for the bake swap I'm joining, but I don't think fresh cream travels well *le sigh*

Which reminds me, this is wicked cool. Basically, you sign up and get assigned a partner. You then send your partner a care package containing some homemade baked goods, a recipe card and a little gift. They return the favour. I'm honestly not sure which I'm looking forward to the most - making cakes or cookies and sending them to a stranger or receiving a random package in the mail with yummy treats in. It's only in effect in the UK, but if you live here, get involved! Or set up an American/French/Australian/insert-country-here bake swap. I'm crazy excited about it. And I just can't hide it. :-D

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Happy Father's Day.

I love my Dad. I love him a lot. So I couldn't exactly let Father's Day go by uncake-ified.

It's a simple lemon drizzle cake with piped cream on top - very simple but very yummy. I hope he liked it anyway :-) I didn't want to make anything too sweet as he wasn't a huge fan of the fondant topping on his birthday cake. Butter cream would've been overpowering and probably quite sickly as well and a complete cover of cream would have been too cloying. So I present one of the least fussy cakes that I've made in about a year. But hopefully it got the message across. If it didn't, let me recap. Daddy, I love you enough to make you a cake. In fact, I love you a whole lot more than that but cake is how I show it. P.S. Sorry for feeding you so many calories. I'm sure you don't mind though.

He's awesome, I'm a lucky gal. Happy Father's Day Dad. xx

Friday, 19 June 2009

Birthday Cupcake Order

I had an order for 25 cupcakes yesterday, with instructions to make 'girly' cupcakes with guest's names on (on similar scrolls to the Supernatural cupcakes). So I made these cuties.

GAH! I've really got to find a way of getting non-blurry close ups. Maybe next time. Anyway. I'm a big fan of butterflies and as I was given free reign within the girly category it was pretty much inevitable that I was going to make fondant butterflies as toppers. I also made little pink and purple flowers to go on top, but I figured the cupcake would be a little busy with all the decorations going on. So I stuck to the butterflies instead :)

I don't think you can see very clearly on these, but the butterflies were embossed with little flower designs using these embossers. I adore these. Love them, love them. I first found them on CakeJournal, where she used them on these cupcakes and ordered them almost straight away. My only irritation is that I don't use them very often as I don't often use fondant on cupcakes. The fondant discs are nice and all, but they bring down the taste quite dramatically unless you lather the underneath with jam! I like the effect on the butterflies though :-)

One more photo for luck I think. The cakes are in one of my tins as she specifically asked for no packaging. I'm still waiting for her to return it actually. Ho hum.


Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Cupcakes for a birthday

For my birthday, my mum's friend smuggled me into the spa that she works in and paid for lunch and paid for a treatment, plus I got to use all the fabulous spa rooms, pool and loungers. It was her birthday this week and because I'm poor and have no connections to any amazing places that she could go to, I thought that the best way to say a joint thank you and happy birthday would be to make her cupcakes. I'm quite good at it after all :-)

There are an extra two crammed into the box to stop them moving around - I couldn't exactly charge her for packaging when she was getting them for free and I was a bit too skint to buy a couple of the proper cupcake boxes. :-( Anyway, so the presentation wasn't as it could've been, but in all fairness, she got an extra 2 cupcakes, so I'm sure she wasn't complaining!

There's vanilla with vanilla butter cream, mocha (coffee cupcakes with mocha icing) chocolate and rhubarb and custard.

The rhubarb and custard were made with almost 50% more rhubarb than they were made with last week and the result was a bit weird. They were hardly a cake at all in the end, but when you bit into the slightly chewy crust you got a viscous rhubarb ... almost paste. It was heavenly. Next time I'd take the rhubarb content down a bit, but only because I'm on a quest to find a cake recipe, not a cakepie. But seriously guys; yum.

My mother, who normally limits her evaluation of my food to 'very nice' or constructive criticism rang me as I was at the supermarket to tell me that they were 'criminally good' and that they were the nicest things that she's ever eaten, ever. I'd say that she's exaggerating, but she doesn't do that with my food. So I was pleased! Of course, that's dependant of tastebuds. I'd also sorted the custard topping so that it was pipable (basically by whisking the cream till stiff and then folding in enough custard to taste but not enough to ruin the consistency) and she almost fell in love with that. She had about 5 ("but only two with the topping on!") and then wondered why she felt very sick *rolls eyes affectionately*

Monday, 15 June 2009

Cake Order - 70th birthday cake

So here is the 70th birthday cake that I made and delivered for Saturday. It was a rainbow cake, covered in ganache, topped with a rainbow cupcake and fondant roses. None of this was my idea, but I think it's awesome. A very elegant and dignified cake on the outside that reveals a mad and fun side when you cut into it.

I'm also quite pleased with the colours. The photo (once again *eyeroll*) doesn't do it justice, but each colour was really vibrant, with minimum amount of food colouring, which was good.

Top is blue, middle is violet and bottom is yellow.

Then I layered them and cut of the edges to make them all the same size and to give an even side. This photo is missing the red layer, as I believe it was still in the oven or on the cooling rack.
I do like making thin layer cakes as they do cool very quickly, which makes them easier to work with quickly. Even though it takes forever to cook all the layers in the first place.

Crumb coat of ganache. This turned out to be vital as this picked up every single crumb on the outside and the finish would've been awful if I'd only done the one layer.

Final layer of ganache - this had a lovely finish to it; bright but not shiny and greasy looking. It was also a nice thickness too. My main worry was that it would be too runny, but it was almost too viscous.

250g good quality chocolate, preferably 60-70% cocoa, depending on the depth of flavour you want
100ml cream
tbsp butter

Bring cream to boil, remove from heat and stir in chocolate, returning to a low heat to melt any lumps. Beat in butter and spread over cake.

This is the cake with the cupcake and roses on. My first attempt at roses - think they went pretty well! I painted them with both peach and white lustre so that they were shiny and the white ones were slightly tinted to blend in with the peach.

Annnnd the finished cake (finally) with '70' on sprung wires. It looks like '10' but that's just the camera angle I assure you :-D

All in all, a pretty nice cake. I was quite proud of it. Especially the roses *strokes them lovingly*

Dad's birthday cake

Hey there folks!

I've got a fancy smancy cake for you and a few cupcakes as well as this, but as I'm feeling a) lazy and b) intriguing I'm going to eek them out over a few days. So this is my Dad's birthday cake. It was a coffee cake with coffee butter cream and was delicious (although my Dad ate the fondant rope and then complained that the cake was too sweet. Well, yes, it would be if you ate the decorative bit made of 90% sugar. The cake itself was fairly unsweetened actually :-)

Coffee Cake

8oz butter
8oz sugar
4 eggs, beaten
8oz flour
2 tsp instant coffee dissolved in 2 tbsp hot water

Cream butter and sugar till pale and fluffy, add egg and flour in batches, a little bit at a time. Adding the flour in stops the mixture curdling and losing air. A tip my Grandma taught me. :-) Add the coffee at the very end - all of it if you want a strong coffee taste, less if you want the flavour to be quite subtle. I found that this cake wasn't overpowering but did taste distinctively of coffee.

Bake for about 20 minutes (or until golden and bounces back when you touch it) at about 180'C.

What's weird is that I really like coffee cake but hate coffee. One of my all time favourites is coffee and walnut fudge cake.... mmmm... okay, I'll be making that some time this week!

And you can have a few pictures of the decorative process as I took them and there's nobody else interested in them :-D

Here's the cake in two leveled halves (I say leveled, I actually didn't level them at all as they turned out beautifully flat. Go me)

Note to self: next time, use less butter cream on the outside. Delicious it may be, but it causes your fondant icing to bulge out unattractively at the bottom, like an obese Aunt.

Just like that, y'see? And I've just noticed my freaky stubby hands in the corner of the photo. I believe I was moving the board around at the time. Also, note a trend - amateur cakes that I'm not selling get presented on crappy chopping boards (or microwave plates if I don't have a chopping board big enough). I'm sure this is perfectly acceptable. And thankfully my friends and family don't seem to notice/care.

And here is the finished cake. I got a tad carried away with my new edible pen and so the tails of the balloons are a bit... long and wiggly. All in all a simple celebration cake.

Happy Birthday Daddy - I love you!

Maag xx

Thursday, 11 June 2009

A tired mind gives you photos

A bit of a strange post I guess. I've got a few Oreo cupcakes, a few toffee cupcakes, a brand new cupcake stand and a couple of peach roses to show you :-)

Pic spam? Oh go on then.

So here is a fairly vague shot of cupcakes. We like cupcakes, we know this. The speckly ones are Oreo (I've not made them before, but they were lovely. Not quite Oreo enough for me, I think I'd put them with Oreo butter cream to finish it, but I ran out of cookies and the poor cakes were saddled with vanilla butter cream instead. With a hint of almond. Because I shake things up like that *winks*)

And here is my cupcake stand that my awesome sister (the same one that made the glorious cake) gave me for my birthday. I'm still working out how to best love this. I think I'll adorn it with some wedding-style cupcakes next week (gotta build me a portfolio yo) and see if that does it justice. We shall see. The photo definately doesn't do it justice. You've got to see it in person. It's glorious. :-)

What next? Ah yes, the combination of the finished cupcakes and the cupcake stand of joy. I was really quite happy with how these turned out, particularly as this is my first foray into the world of chocolate pretties.

I took these into my old work to say hi and I've got to show you the way they looked in the box because I had a very childish squee over how professional they looked. I need to work on my photography though. Apologies for that :)

I've also got a cake order for Friday, an elegant ganache and rose cake that just happens to also be a rainbow cake (I think the idea is that you think that the cake is a very mature and pretty 70th birthday cake and then when you cut into it you see all the pretty colours. I've just got to get my layering right lol). And part of the decoration involves fondant flowers. So I figured I'd make some roses to go on top.

That was an awful photo. My sincere apologies. Try this one.

I've got to say, I'm really quite proud of my very first rose attempt. :D

Right, I'm off to bed. You may have gathered from the overall tone of this post that I'm quite tired... but you would be too if you'd spent nearly 24 hours out of the last 48 in a hot kitchen. I know, I know, you'd think a hot kitchen would be my ideal place - and it is normally - but the fun gets taken out of it somewhat when you're cooking what someone else has decided goes on the menu and when you're cooking to a time limit. Saying that though, I do like my job at Jacqueline's and it's definately perfect for me - they're so flexible about when I work. I've been there nearly 5 years now, first as a Saturday girl, then as a holiday girl (term time I worked in Accessorize, yay!) from Uni.

Bah. My jobs are not interesting, but there's a bit of Maag-trivia for you. Hold it close and cherish it.

ARGH! Right, I'm going to bed now, my tired addled brain is crying. Night all!

Maag xx

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Maag's 21st Birthday Cake

In the next week or so there should be three new cakes, plus (hopefully) a wedding cupcake display, but for now I want to show you my own birthday cake.

My baby sister (who is not as much as a baby as I say she is, but is still not as old as she thinks she is) made me my birthday cake. My birthday was Friday the 5th and apparently she spent weeks online choosing different designs and combining them to make the perfect Laura-cake!

Before I show you it I should probably mention that red and white polka dots are my favourite pattern in the whole wide world. My blog is red and white; most of my cooking impliments are red and white - some with polka dots; I have shoes that I adore with red and white polka dots... you get the picture. And so she made me this:

She's never done any cake decorating at all, this is her very first attempt. Which is a hell site better than my first attempt, let me tell you! Mum helped her a very little bit with the white cover fondant, but I'm told that she did everything else. :-)

I love it. I love it a lot.

Although I wasn't thrilled when I brought it back for my housemates to try and they declared it a better carrot cake than mine. Especially as she's never made carrot cake before either! I'm telling myself that it's because mum was helping her make it and hers is better than mine anyway (mine is delicious, but always a little more dense than hers). Please, for the sake of my ego, could nobody correct me on this? Kthx :-)

Carrot cake is my favourite cake as well. I don't know if it's the cream cheese icing (I could eat that with a spoon) or the cake or the combination, but I love it.

So thank you very much Holly, I love you very much! xx