Sunday, 31 October 2010

Blog Award

The lovely Sweetums from the gorgeous blog My Little Sweet House brought a big smile to my face last week when she gave me an award for my blog. When I first set my blog up a few months ago I didn't think anyone would even be interested in reading it so to be given a little award for it by a fellow blogger really does make me happy!

Now the only thing left for me to do is pass it onto 15 blogs that I love. I do love all the blogs that I follow and will often be found on my lunch hour at work having a good read of everyones latest posts, so this has been a really hard task to pick just 15 but I guess those are the rules so here they are....

1. Miss Jones Talks Make Up - not a baking blog but every girl needs tips on make up and all things related and Miss Jones is the girl to do this :)

2. Katiecakes - the first ever blog I came across many many months ago and have been following ever since.

3. MessyCarla - A fashion Blog in Size 16 - again not a baking blog but have recently found this blog and adore it!

4. The Goddess's Kitchen - lovely yummy recipes..both sweet and savoury :)

5. The Little House of Cupcakes - the blog of a cupcake shop not far from me. Love their cupcakes and love looking at all the creations on their blog.

6. I Heart Cupcakes - I love this girls obsession with anything to do with cupcakes

7. Chocolate Log Blog - A blog all about chocolate recipes...yum yum yum

8. Chocolate Teapot - I love love love this blog - always a fantastic read with lots of lovely piccies

9. Corner Cottage Bakery - Always enjoy reading this blog...take a look at the halloween ginger bread skeletons..soo cute!

10. Cupcake Crazy Gem - Again another girl with an obsession for cupcakes and baking. Fantastic tropical piccies too!

11. Eat My Cupcake - fantastic little blog - great photos of perfect looking cupcakes.

12. Got to Love Cupcakes - some really cute little ideas on this blog and the cakes look so yum in the pics

13. The Voice of Joyce - fairly simple posts but always enjoy reading and scrummy pictures!

14. The More Than Occasional Baker - a newish find for me but some lovely recipes :)

15. Fairy Cakes and Sprinkles - one of my first followers on here! I love this girls blog - she's not posted in a little while but hopefully she will soon :)

I'm sorry I couldn't choose you all..I honestly do enjoy reading everyones blog that I follow!

Ginger Cupcakes

Happy Halloween Everyone!!

I couldn't resist baking something halloween related this year so here they are...lovely ginger cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery book with scary sprinkles on the top. I was gonna go all out and buy some cutters and make some large halloween decorations for the top but as I haven't been too well lately these pumpkin and bat sprinkles had to make do.

I love anything with ginger in and these cupcakes taste amazing. There is stem ginger, ground ginger and treacle in the cake mixture and the syrup from the stem ginger mixed into the butter cream..yum. I've just been snacking on one for my breakfast and am comtemplating the possibility of having another..mmmm! My friend suggested I give these out to trick or treaters calling at my house tonight. I think I may have to switch the lights off and pretend I'm not in..these are far too good to give away!

PS Apologies for the slightly blurry piccies at the camera seems to be having problems focusing. Maybe I'll have to ask father christmas for a shiny new one :)

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Lady Grey Cupcakes

Cupcakes are back on my blog...hooray! It's been aaaage since I made a batch of cupcakes and I've really missed these tasty little treats!

This is a recipe I've been wanting to make for awhile be fair, more out of curiosity then for a love of tea. I'm not a massive tea drinker...I'll maybe have the odd cup of green tea every so often but I don't think I've ever really bought 'proper' teabags!

This recipe is from the Primrose Bakery cupcake book and calls for Earl Grey teabags. Now call me stingy if you want but I really didn't want to waste my pennies on 40 tea bags, 4 of which I would use for these cakes and the remainder of which would be shoved to the back of my cupboard never to be seen again, so my lovely friend at work who is a lover of tea donated 4 of her Lady Grey tea bags instead.

The tea bags are put into hot milk for half an hour to infuse and then this milk is added to a vanilla cupcake mixture along with some almond extract. I didn't really know what Lady Grey tea tasted like but as soon as I put the bags into the hot milk I could smell a lovely citrus aroma..I couldn't wait to try these cupcakes! The cupcakes were then iced with vanilla butter cream.

I didn't think I would like these cupcakes as much as I did. I thought they would either taste too much of tea or be too bland. They were neither of these...the taste of tea was very subtle and you could really taste the almond extract - this combined with the vanilla buttercream made for a lovely cupcake. A nice change to plain vanilla!

Monday, 18 October 2010

Toffee Apple Tart

A few months ago when Karl and I went to visit my parents we had a lovely lunch out at their local pub where Karl has the best dessert apparently he had ever tasted...sticky toffee apple crumble...ever since then I have been looking for a similar recipe to recreate at home. In the Sainsburys magazine this month there was a recipe for Toffee Apple Tart. I couldn't resist trying it to see how it would compare!

This recipe was so simple to make and didn't require a certain tin size etc. It tasted gorgeous...the toffee sauce was to die for! It was that good I'm sat here eating another big serving off it for my tea...yes thats main course for me..I jumped straight to dessert...perfect!!!

....And Karl's verdict...apparently not quite as good as the pub's but still a very yummy effort that he wouldn't mind me making again!

Toffee Apple Tart
Serves 8 ( and Karl must just be greedy!)

250g plain flour
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon (I added extra as I absolutely love cinnamon and apples)
100g caster sugar
125g unsalted butter
1tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 large egg, beaten

For the sauce and filling
100g unsalted butter
150g soft brown sugar
3/4 vanilla extract
1 x 150ml tub of double cream
juice of one small lemon
6 medium eating apple - such as coxs, peeled, cored and cut into wedges
50g almonds

Preheat the oven to 190C, 170C fan, gas 5. Sift the flour into a mixing bowl, then stir in the salt, cinnamon and caster sugar.
Add the butter, cut into chunks and quickly rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips. Keep the rubbing in light and airyso that flakes of butter are left rather than totally mixed in.
Stir in the lemon zest. Make a well in the centre and add all but 1-2 teaspoons of the egg to the bowl.
Bring the pastry together using your fingers. If more liquid is needed use a squeeze of lemon juice. Chill whilst you make the filling but don't let it get too firm.
Put the unsalted butter, 120g of the brown sugar and the vanilla extract in a pan and heat gently until the butter melts. Turn up the heat and let it bubble, then pour in the cream - it will bubble but keep stirring and cooking until it makes a smooth toffee-ish sauce. Add a squeeze of lemon juice.
Toss the apples with another squeeze of lemon and the remaining sugar, followed by half the toffee sauce.
Place a piece of non stick baking paper on a baking sheet and roll out the dough into a 35cm circle. Neaten the edge as you shape the dough.
Sprinkle the centre of the disc of dough with the ground almonds. Pile the apples on top leaving 4-5cm border all around.
Then using a palette knife and your fingers flip the edges of the pastry over the apples to form a shell - it will be a little uneven and home made looking but that's how its supposed to be.
Brush the pastry with the left over egg and sprinkle with a little caster sugar.
Bake for 40 minutes or until the apple is tender and bubbling.
To serve gently reheat the remaining toffee sauce and drizzle over the warm tart.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Devil's Food Cake/A Big Chocolate Birthday Cake!

I love birthdays and September was most definitely a month of birthdays! As soon as my Mum's birthday was over, it was onto Karl's. I decided months ago I was going to make Karl a proper birthday cake rather than cupcakes. I had it straight in my mind that I was going to make the chocolate cake recipe out of the Primrose Bakery book. However, a week before his birthday Karl bought me the new Nigella book Kitchen and on the first flick through the book I saw what looked like the yummiest, stickiest, chocolatiest cake and decided that this was the cake my boy would be getting for his birthday!

I've never made a chocolate cake before in the way that this recipe tells you to do. Most chocolate cake recipes I have made tell you to sieve the cocoa powder into the rest of the dry ingredients. However with this one, you make the cake mix as if its just going to be a plain cake and mix the cocoa and dark muscovado sugar with boiling water which is then added right at the end. I was concerned this wasn't going to work due to the large amount of folding in it required, however once the cake came out of the oven I was happy with the result.

The next job once the cake was made was to make the frosting. This was a mixture of water, muscovado sugar, butter and chocolate. Nigella said at the start of the recipe don't worry if it looks too watery, once it is cool the consistancy would be perfect for spreading on the cake. That wasn't what I was worried about though. The recipe said to heat butter, water and sugar together and then add the chocolate. I just couldnt understand in my head how on earth the butter and water would mix together. I gave it a good go...followed everything Nigella said in the recipe but there was no way this was going to work and as the mixture started to cool it just seperated..leaving a huge amount of chocolate gunk in the bottom of my pan with a layer of water on top..yuck!

Luckily, I had bought extra chocolate and I made a batch of chocolate butter cream from the Primrose Bakery book which I used to fill the cake and then put on the top of it. I then decorated the cake with huuuge amounts of white and milk chocolate curls and chocolate stars.

Despite the disaster with Nigella's icing the cake was one of the best chocolate cake recipes I have made. The cake was very chocolatey but not overpowering and very moist the middle. I served it with cream which made it taste even better!

Devil's Food Cake

50g cocoa powder
100g dark muscovado sugar
250ml boiling water
125g butter
150g caster sugar
225 plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line the bottom of 2 20cm sandwich tins with baking parchment and butter the sides.

Put the cocoa and muscovado sugar in a bowl and pour in the boiling water. Whisk to mix and then set aside.

Cream the butter and caster sugar together, beating well until pale and fluffy.

Sift the flour, baking powder and bicarb together in another bowl.

Put the vanilla extract into the creamed butter and sugar - mixing all the time- then drop one egg in followed by a spoonful of flour and 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.

Divide the batter between the two tins and put in the oven for about 30 minutes. Allow the cake to cool in the tine for 10 mins or so before turning out.

Ice with chocolate butter cream (sorry I've not got time to type the recipe out but I'm sure you all know how to make chocolate butter cream!).