Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Devilishly good?

It's Halloween tomorrow and a few days ago I saw a fab photo of some yummy looking cupcakes. These were last year's (orange sponge, black frosting) so decided to do something similar this year. 

The recipe which went with the photo I saw of the cupcakes I wanted to make, was a devil's food cake recipe. But it used cups. I don't like using cups so settled on god old faithful Ms Lawson's Devil's food cake recipe. The recipe is for a cake (8"/20cm) but I figured it'd fit into 12 muffin cases. And it did! I use muffin cases rather than cupcake cases

Devil's food cupcake batter:
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 100g dark brown muscovado sugar
  • 250 ml boiling water
  • 125g soft unsalted butter
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 225g plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 large eggs

  • Preheat the oven to 170c fan.

    Put the cocoa and dark muscovado sugar into a bowl and pour in the boiling water. Whisk to mix, then set aside. 
    Cream the butter and caster sugar together, beating well until pale and fluffy.

    Measure the flour, baking powder and bicarb together in another bowl, and set aside for a moment. Add 1 egg to the creamed butter and sugar, followed by a scoopful of flour mixture, then the second egg. Keep mixing and incorporate the rest of the dried ingredients for the cake, then finally mix and fold in the cocoa mixture, scraping it's bowl well with a spatula.

    It's a runny batter so I used a ladle to fill the muffin cases until 3/4 full. 

    Bake for 18 minutes until they're nicely risen and a cake tester comes out clean. Leave to cool.

    (Excuse the yellow patches in mine, I didn't mix the batter well enough)

    I've been struggling with buttercream frosting being too sweet recently (for my very opinionated family cake testers) so decided I'd have a go at a cream cheese frosting for these bad boys and hope that it would take colouring without turning funny. I have a red sugarflair gel but I wanted to use extra red as most times I use the normal red it'll turn what I'm colouring pink.

    4 tbsp butter (softened)
    200g cream cheese
    400g icing sugar

    Mix the icing sugar and butter for 2-3 minutes until combined and creamy. Add the icing sugar in 2 or 3 goes (attempting to avoid an icing cloud of doom which covers the kitchen in fairy dust). Pop into the fridge until you're ready to use.

    It's preferable to make the devil's horns the day before to give them time to go hard. Colour fondant black (I used extra black) and break off little balls, roll in your hand to a taper on one end and turn upwards to make a horn shape.

    Frost the cupcakes when cold and add your horns!

    I think someone enjoyed them!

    Saturday, 26 October 2013

    Peaches and cream

    I decided to try a recipe that wouldn't be one I'd go for seeing as I won't be eating what I was going to bake so decided I'd try Hummingbird Bakery's coconut and pineapple cupcakes.

    After a small family discussion (read argument), it was decided for me that I wouldn't be doing coconut and pineapple cupcakes rather that I should do the peaches and cream. Everything was store cupboard anyway for both so off I went to start.

    120g plain flour

    140g caster sugar

    1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

    40g unsalted butter

    120ml full fat milk

    1 egg

    1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

    400g tinned sliced peaches 

    Beat the flour, sugar, baking power and butter until the mixture has a sandy consistency. Gradually pour in half the milk and beat until it is just incorporated.

    Whisk the egg, vanilla and remaining milk together then pour it into the flour mixture. Beat until the mixture is smooth. Don't overbeat. It's a very loose mixture, one that I'm not normally used to when making cakes.

    Add the sliced peaches to the cupcake cases. I found that one tin had enough peach segments to put two per case and fill 11 cases like this:

    Fill the cases until two thirds full

    Bake at 170c fan for 20 or 25 minutes, until the tops are golden. Leave in the tin to cool. When you take them out they'll have a very squishy bottom oo er


    250g icing sugar

    80g unsalted butter

    25ml milk

    a few drops of vanilla extract

    Beat the icing sugar and butter together until the mixture comes together. Add the vanilla extract and milk. Turn your mixer up to high speed and beat for about 5 minutes or until the frosting is light and fluffy. I found though it was too loose so added more icing sugar. 

    Ice the cupcakes and top with some Demerara sugar.

    Warning: These need to be eaten with a spoon!

    Comments were that the cake was lovely but the icing too sweet. Next time I'll substitute the topping for whipped cream or just pour over some cream as you need to eat with a spoon anyway.

    Monday, 21 October 2013

    Piece of pie

    Pies and pies. I decided to make a chicken pie and then as dessert I'd decided that I wanted to make a recipe I saw a couple of weeks ago. Ok, so it meant pie followed by pie but actually, if you ask yourself, what is wrong with having pie then pie? After all, one is savoury, the other sweet and in my defence they both had different pastries.

    So the savoury pie was chicken, tarragon and mushroom with (shocker) shop bought puff pastry. I've still to make puff pastry, even rough puff. But this wasn't the time (aka cba).

    I made a chicken and tarragon pie twice last year but can't remember which recipe I used so I decided to make Jamie's 30 minute chicken pie and add tarragon.

    I used to detest tarragon until about two years ago. It's an odd flavour and probably one a lot of people don't like, but this pie can easily be made with another herb or non at all. So here goes with my slightly adapted recipe:

    One pack puff pastry
    Four chicken breasts
    One onion, chopped
    One pack chestnut mushrooms, chopped 
    1 tbsp flour
    2 tbsp creme fraiche
    2 tsp English mustard
    250 ml chicken stock
    Half pack of fresh tarragon
    Egg for glazing

    Preheat the oven to 200/180 fan

    Chop the chicken into chunks and fry with the onions for a few minutes until sealed. Add the mushrooms and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the flour then the creme fraiche, mustard and chicken stock. Finally add the tarragon.

    Roll out the pastry to cover the dish you're using. I used a rectangular dish approx 30 x 15. Pour in the pie mix, top with the pastry crimping the edges and brush with egg wash. Cook for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

    I did get some leakage into my oven from the pie so best to put the dish on a tray.

    Unfortunately I don't have any photos. But it did look yummy, take my word!

    So the second pie was a flaky pastry toffee apple pie (links are at the bottom) 

    The pastry recipe is in the link and made a lovely buttery flaky pastry, a pastry I've never made before. For the pie, a really easy pie, you just need to make a toffee, add some sliced apples, cover and bake.

    150g butter
    75g light muscovado sugar 
    475g apples (I used bramley)
    1 egg to glaze

    I didn't have any light muscovado sugar in so used half Demerara and half dark brown soft sugar. 

    Melt the butter and sugar together gently until it makes a thick toffee then leave to cool while you slice the apples.

    Decore, peel and slice the apples.

    Roll out half of your pastry and line the tin/dish. I used a ceramic pie dish which I thinks about 25cm diameter. Scatter in the apples, they don't need to be in a pattern. Pour over the toffee. Roll out the second half of your pastry and cover the top, crimping the edges and glaze with egg wash. Bake for 35 minutes until golden brown. Serve with custard (yuck) or cream (heaven)

    Thursday, 17 October 2013

    A cake for an occasion

    Long story short, I was asked to make a small lactose free post-wedding cake so the blushing bride could enjoy some cake as didn't get to at her own wedding.

    Now I love baking more than anything (except my family) but decorating is not my forté. I did do a cake decorating course but I struggled to get my head round spending hours making something for it to be destroyed in seconds so never sat the final examinations. At least with sewing, I'm general what I make can last a lifetime potentially.

    All credit to people who decorate cakes as a job. It's hard work getting that fondant to place right. But I'm always up for a challenge and having made 40 roses for some anniversary cupcakes in July, I decided more roses (as were also on the original wedding cake) were the way to go. 

    Slight disaster when my royal icing was too runny and I'd run out of icing sugar so the initial edge piping turned out too runny but I managed to get it sorted to pipe the little dots into the cake. Add the roses et voila: 

    Lemon and blackcurrant midi two tiered celebration cake 

    Hope the happy couple enjoy it!

    My next attempt at a decorated cake will be coming up end of November and I'm petrified already.


    Friday, 11 October 2013

    Custard Creeeeaaammmm

    I plumped for custard creams today as I was flicking through Jo Wheatley's book but having made them twice before using Nigella's recipe, I decided to go back to good old faithful never let's me down Nigella.

    Behold the goldeny custardy goodness that is a custard cream

    Makes about 20

    For the biscuits:
    175g plain flour
    3 tbsp custard powder
    1 tsp baking powder
    50g unsalted butter
    50g vegetable shortening
    3 tbsp caster sugar
    1 egg
    1 tbsp milk (or more, to bind)

    Preheat the oven to 180c
    Mix flour, custard powder and baking powder in a food processor. Add the butter and shortening in smallish cubes and mix to a crumbly mixture. Add the sugar and mix again.

    In a separate bowl, mix the egg and milk, then add this to the processor and mix it until it clumps into a ball. You may not need all the liquid so go slowly, (or you can always add a little more flour, or more milk if it's too dry)
    Form the dough into a ball, press it into a flat disc and wrap in clingfilm. Pop it in the fridge for 20 minutes.

    Flour a clean surface, and roll out the ball to about 4mm thickness. Use a 4 / 5cm cutter and cut out as many as you can, putting them on a lined baking sheet as you go along, and re-rolling the scrap bits of dough until it's all used up.

    Cook on lined baking sheets for 15 minutes, or until golden.

    Cool on the sheet or on a rack 

    For the custard cream:
    1 tbsp custard powder
    100g icing sugar
    50g soft unsalted butter
    1 tsp boiling water

    Mix the custard powder and the icing sugar in the processor. Add the butter and mix until you get a smooth cream. Add the teaspoon of boiling water and combine again.

    Sandwich each biscuit with the cream by gently spreading a layer of the cream on one underside then wiggle a matching biscuit on top of it.


    Friday, 4 October 2013

    That's a Scotch Egg!!!!

    Anyone remember the Michael McIntyre Scottish joke where Scots take things and make them their own? Well, after that sketch, we can't say Scotch Egg in our house without a deep Scottish accent.

    "You've taken the egg, you've put a bit of breadcrumb on it. That's a Scoootch Eeeg!"

    But why make your own when Scotch Eggs are readily available and in certain different guises: Scotch Egg, party egg, picnic egg. Why not?!

    One year at the Good Food Show there was a stall selling all different versions of a Scotch Egg with different ways of doing the meat and fillings. I remember enjoying mine a lot and have always heard home made are hard to beat.

    So when you think about it, Scotch Egg doesn't actually comprise much and with another surplus of free range eggs at my mum's, I decided to have a go at my own.


    However my dad then decided that not only did he want Scotch Eggs, he also wanted Picnic Eggs. Can you find a recipe for Picnic eggs. No! Well I didn't really want the recipe (doesn't take a genius to work it out), but I wanted to know if there was a certain method to making them. Who knows so I just made my own.

    The smallest ingredients list in the world!
    500g Sausage meat
    6 Eggs
    Flour for dusting and 1 more egg for coating

    Makes 7

    Scotch eggs:
    Boil 3 eggs for 5-6 minutes. Cool rapidly and peel.
    Heat oil to 180c
    Spoon out some sausagemeat (I actually added some salt and white pepper) into a roundish circle. Coat the egg in flour, put into the sausagemeat and bring the cling film up to cover the egg. Ensure the egg is covered with not too much or too little sausagemeat. Coat in the egg then straight into breadcrumbs. Fry for 8 minutes until golden brown.

    Picnic eggs:
    Boil eggs for 7 minutes, cool then peel. Chop up with white pepper and mayonnaise. 
    Heat oil to 180c
    Construct the eggs in a similar way just adding the prepared egg mixture to the spread out sausagemeat. Roll up the sausagemeat gently around the mixture, dip in the egg, coat in breadcrumbs and fry for 8 minutes until golden brown.

    I've only got photos of the Scotch eggs and not the picnic eggs