Monday, 30 August 2010

White Chocolate and Raspberry Cupcakes

As promised I have finally used a recipe out of a book other than the Hummingbird Bakery book...hooray! This recipe is courtesy of the Primrose Bakery Book...another favourite of mine!

It was Karl's Mum's birthday this weekend and we were heading round for Sunday Roast. I couldn't resist taking some lovely cupcakes with me. After much deliberation I went for the White Chocolate and Raspberry Cupcakes from the above book. Karl had no idea what sort of cupcakes his Mum would like so as a change to plain old vanilla and chocolate I thought I'd try white chocolate instead mixed with the summery flavour of raspberry...yum!

I decided to make these cakes on the morning that we were going round...probably not a good idea. My thoughts were that if I made them on the morning then they would be all lovely and fresh for Karl's Mum. Possibly not the best idea when I hadn't made the recipe before.

Up I got at half 7 on Sunday morning...yes yes I know...utter madness! But it was all in the name of yummy cupcakes! The actual cupcake recipe was easy to make and all went to plan. However, the icing/butter cream was a different story! By the time I had made the cupcakes and let them cool time was getting on a bit and I still had to make the icing, ice the cupcakes and get changed out of my baking clothes, into something half decent and do my hair and make up...argghh!

The icing/butter cream was made from vanilla butter cream with double cream and melted white chocolate mixed in. Now in the picture in the book it made it look like the icing was of quite a stiff consistency so I had it in my head I was going to pipe the icing onto the cakes as I normally do and they'd look all pretty. However after adding all the chocolate and cream to the butter cream there was no way this stuff was gonna pipe (I did try...but it kinda just went straight through the piping bag leaving a mess on my work top..argghh!) So at half 10 on saturday morning I start panicking...wondering what on earth to do. In the end I put the icing in the fridge to see if that would help...unfortunately in the short amount of time I had left it didn't. I ended up having to just spread the icing on the tops of the cake and put fresh raspberries on top.

I was very disappointed and when Karl came wandering sleepily through to the kitchen having just woken up he was met with an upset and stressed out girlfriend. On the positive side though he did get cupcakes for breakfast so I guess that made up for it! He kept telling me they were good and tasted lovely and his mum would love them etc etc but I had just got this picture in my head of what they would look like and well they didn't look a thing like it.

After much persuasion I did end up taking them round to Karl's Mum's. Earlier on in the week we had taken a trip to Sainsburys who have just improved their home baking range. I managed to buy some very cute cupcake boxes so I popped 4 of the cupcakes in one of these pretty boxes and took them round. She seemed impressed and I got a text from her today saying she had had one and she had loved it. Maybe they weren't so bad after all!

I think maybe the icing would have hardened up eventually in the fridge so it could have been piped onto the cake, as by the time we got back from Karl's mum's the icing was rock solid on the cakes we had kept for ourselves...on the downside the cakes had also suffered a bit from being kept in the fridge. They definitely need removing from the fridge 10-15 mins before eating.

All in all a bit disappointing for me...although everyone else seemed to like them. Maybe if I had had a little more time to perfect them I would have been happier...the actual cupcake sponge was lovely with raspberry jam mixed into the sponge mix and also popped into the cupcake after baking too, although for me I'd have to work on improving the icing. At least they look cute in the little box though...

P.S I am in a major rush to get to yoga so haven't got time to type the recipe out. I'm sure alot of you keen bakers have the Primrose Bakery book anyway. For those that don't..I can always send it you xx

Monday, 16 August 2010

Banana and Chocolate Cupcakes

I realised last week that I hadn't baked a batch of cupcakes in some time and I was missing it. It also turns out that Karl's work mates were also missing my sweet cupcake shaped treats... apparently requests had been put in.

I really tried so hard to use a recipe from a book other than the Hummingbird Bakery one..but as I started to flick through my recipes books I ended up deciding on this recipe to get me back into the swing of cupcake baking. I promise promise promise I will have a change next baking session and use a recipe from elsewhere!

These cupcakes were seriously scrummy...the mixture had cinnamon and ginger added to it which you could really taste and really made a change to plain old banana cupcakes. And anything with chocolate butter cream is a winner in my book!

120g plain flour
140g caster sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder (i think it may have meant 1 tea spoon...i added a teaspoon and a half!)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of salt
80g unsalted butter
120ml whole milk
2 eggs
120g peeled banana
40g dark chocolate, made into shavings

Preheat the oven to 170C
Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt and butter in a bowl and beat with an electric whisk on a slow speed until you get a sandy consistancy and everything is combined.
Slowly pour the milk into the flour mixture, beating well until all ingredients are well mixed. Add the eggs and beat well.
Stir in the mashed banana until evenly dispersed
Spoon the mixture into paper cases until 2/3's full and bake in th preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until light golden and the sponge bounces back when touched. Leave to cool.
When the cupcakes are cook decorate with chocolate frosting and chocolate shavings.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Didsbury Farmers Market and Macaroons!

We were so impressed with the Farmers Market in Didsbury last month we decided we would go back again this month. The market is held every 2nd Saturday of the month in the grounds of Didsbury library. Its quite a small affair but is lovely to look round with a good selection of stalls...there were even some different ones this time too.

This Saturday I headed straight to the stall of The Dish Ran Away with the Spoon...I love their cakes very much and was very impressed with them last time...(see Oreo blog post!). This month we went for a banoffee cupcake, chocolate brownie, a nutty raspberry brownie...I cant quite remember what was in but it was lovely and buttery...yum, and a snickers rocky road. All very good and were eaten pretty much straight away...oops! I was even more excited to hear that they are due to open a shop in Didsbury in the very near future. Me and karl will definitely be taking a few trips there!

Another stall that impressed me this weekend was The English Rose Bakery stall which specialises in making gorgeous macaroons. The stall wasn’t there the last time we visited the market but their display of different brightly coloured macaroons in big glass jars really caught my eye as I walked past. I had to go back for another look! And when Karl offered to buy me a box as a treat..well how could I say no?? Although at first I did think these little macaroons were slightly pricey at £7 for 6 macaroons by the time I had polished the lot off later I was left wanting more...definitely worth every penny!

Flavours available included the signature English rose, caramel, vanilla, elderflower, lemon, chocolate, blackcurrant and cinnamon but after much deliberation I went for chocolate, lemon, vanilla, cinnamon, caramel and rose. The macaroons came in a lovely little cream box with the bakery’s logo printed on it....very cute. I managed to wait until I got home to have a peek inside the box...see the piccy below for the cuteness that greeted me when I opened the box.. dont they just look so tempting!

I decided to try the caramel one first. I had never had a macaroon before ... only those cheapo ones from supermarkets when I was little and well they dont count..they’re not even in the same league as this type of macaroon! The English Rose Bakery gives a description of what the macaroons should be like....

“The delicate, crisp outer shell of the macaroon protects a soft inner core of gooey almond meringue and to add to the pleasure two halves are sandwiched together with a sumptuous ganache, cream or jam”

Never had a description been so spot on...from the first bite of the caramel macaroon I was hooked..I had to have another. I went for the chocolate one...again...gorgeous! Over the course of about an hour and a half I worked my way through all 6 and not one flavour disappointed. I think my favourites were the caramel and the lemon. ..the lemon one tasted just like lemon curd..mmmm!

I just hope the stall is there next month..I need my macaroon fix. Until then..I may have to order a book from good ol' amazon to have a go at making these tasty little morsels for myself!

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I wanted a lazy Sunday this weekend and what better recipe to make to nibble on whilst chilling out watching a film than chocolate chip cookies. I mean...who doesn't love home made cookies? There is nothing quite like the aroma of freshly baked cookies wafting through your home for bringing back all those childhood memories.

I remember as a child my mum would always, without fail use the recipe from her Be-ro flour cook book but for a change and because I absolutely love this book (if you hadn't noticed!) I decided to try the Hummingbird Bakery recipe.

I have baked some cookies from this book before (before I started blogging my baking adventures) and they were just how a cookie should be...crisp on the outside and chewy and soft on the inside. Well, this recipe did not disappoint either...again it produced the perfect cookie consistancy and lots of them! The recipe said it made around 24....I ended up with a lot more than this!

To make....

225g unsalted butter
350g soft light brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
400g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
225g dark chocolate

baking trays lined with grease proof paper

Preheat the overn to 170C
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
Add the eggs one at a time mixing well and scaraping any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl.
Mix in the vanilla extract
Add the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda and mix until a smooth dough is formed. Stir in the chopped chocolate until evenly dispersed.
Arranged 6 equal amounts of cookie dough on each prepared baking tray (I must have small baking trays cos I found I could only make 3 cookies at a time)
Bake in the preheated over for about 10 mins or until golden brown around the edges and quite flat.
Leave the cookies to cool slightly before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.