Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Earl Grey Cupcakes

There's no better way to celebrate the start of Spring (and hopefully the beginning of better warmer weather!) than making, and eating, a batch of pretty cupcakes decorated with spring blossoms. Here's the recipe if you want to try them:

Earl grey cupcakes
  • 125g unsalted butter (softened)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cu[p caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups self-raising flour (sifted)
  • 1/3 cup skimmed milk
  • 2 earl grey teabags
Lemon buttercream
  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp skimmed milk
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of half a lemon
  • yellow food colouring (optional)
Preheat oven to 160C (fan forced). Beat butter, vanilla extract, sugar and eggs in a small bowl with an electric mixer until mixture is light and fluffy. Stir in the flour and milk in 2-3 batches until the mixture is well combined. Lastly, stir through the tea leaves from the 2 teabags. Divide the mixture evenly between cupcake cases (fill cases no more than 2/3 full) and bake for 15-20 minutes. Allow the cakes to cool completely before frosting.

To make the buttercream, beat butter and sugar on a slow speed for 5 minutes until the mixture is as white as possible. Beat in the milk, lemon juice and zest and mix well to a smooth but firm consistency. Add yellow food colouring if desired. Pipe swirls of buttercream onto the cooled cupcakes with a star nozzle (I used a wilton 2D), then add sugarpaste or royal icing decorations if desired. The cherry blossoms I used were made by piping pink royal icing petals with a #57 tip (let flowers dry completely before using them as decorations).

Happy baking!

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Easter Tree

I recently bought a gorgeous mould from Great Impressions of leaping bunnies, which I thought would be perfect to make chocolates with for Easter.

I made the bunnies with white chocolate, and then also made some hearts with chocolate coloured with pink food colouring. After they had set (about 1 hour later), I individually wrapped them in cellophane and hung them on a branch I painted white.

To finish off the tree I hung painted wooden easter eggs onto the other branches, then stood the branch in a vase filled with sugar. The tree is so pretty and makes a lovely centre piece on a table.

To continue with the Easter festivities, I made some chocolate cupcakes decorated with mini easter eggs. So simple and so delicious....

Happy Easter x

Monday, 15 March 2010

Hot Cross Bun Cookies

These have to be some of the cutest cookies ever.....and they taste just like hot cross buns.

They are really easy to make and a perfect treat to bake for Easter. Here's what you need:

Ingredients (makes 36)

125g unsalted butter (softened and chopped)
2/3 cup caster sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup mixed peel (roughly chopped)
1/2 cup dried currants
2 cups self raising flour
1 tsp mixed spice
2 tsp skim milk
2 tbsp ground almond meal
50g marzipan
2 tbsp apricot jam (warmed)

Preheat oven to 140C (fan forced). Beat butter, sugar and egg in bowl with electric mixer until mixture is light and fluffy. Stir in peel, currants, sifted flour, mixed spice and milk until everything is well-combined. Roll teaspoons of mixture into balls and place them on a lined baking tray about 4cm apart. Knead almond meal into marzipan then roll the marzipan into thin sausages and cut into lengths about the size of the diameter of the cookies. Brush the cookies with milk then place the marzipan crosses on top. Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes until slightly brown. While the cookies are still hot, brush warm apricot jam onto them to make them shiny. Store cookies in an airtight container to retain freshness.

Happy Easter

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Winter Berry Tart

As I walked through the supermarket the other day, I couldn't resist picking up some punnets of strawberries, blueberries and blackberries. There are so many berries available in the UK at this time of year, I thought I should make a dessert to put them to good use....rather than eat them all myself! I decided to prepare a quick tart which serves 6 people. You could use any type of berries or fruit as the topping - whatever takes your fancy! I have previously made it with cranberries and dark cherries which was delicious. Here's how to make a mixed berry version:

  • 3 cups fresh berries
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 125g golden caster sugar
  • ½ tbsp arrowroot
  • 250g mascarpone
  • 200ml fresh vanilla custard (you can either make this yourself ahead of time or use a store-bought variety if you are in a hurry)
  • Cooked shortcrust pastry case (8 inches - again you can either make this yourself or buy a pre-made case)


Tip the berries (or other fruit) into a pan with the orange zest, orange juice and sugar, and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 5 minutes until the berries are just softened and the syrup has reduced slightly. Note, if you are using blueberries, add them a few minutes after the strawberries, or other larger berries as they soften faster.

Using a slotted spoon, strain off the berries and set them aside in a bowl, leaving the syrup in the pan.

Next, mix the arrowroot with 1 tablespoon of cold water, then add it to the pan and cook for about 1 minute while continuously stirring until the syrup has thickened. Pour over the berries and leave to cool.

To prepare the tart filling, put mascarpone and vanilla custard into a bowl and whisk with electric beaters until smooth. Spoon the mixture into the pastry case (note: a shop bought pastry case can save you time!).
Lastly top the tart with the berry mixture. Yum!!!
I made a bit too much syrup so you can see it running down the edges a bit - it still tasted really good though! Make sure you store the tart in the fridge until you are ready to serve it.

Happy baking!

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Cookie Cake

I am officially in love with my new cake pans. The idea of making a sandwich cake shaped as an oreo cookie is just too cute for words. As soon as I saw them on the Williams-Sonoma website I began a hunt to find someone who would post them to the UK. Three weeks later and they have finally arrived!

The box they came in had a recipe for the chocolate cake so I decided to try it out. I'd read mixed reviews online about the pans, and it seemed many people had problems turning the cakes cleanly out of the pans once they were baked. I made sure I greased up the pans well before adding the batter, so I was able to easily take them out. Unfortunately though, I had a lot of air bubbles in the mixture which left holes in the cake. Despite this, I was pretty happy with my first attempt. Even with the bubbles, the cake still looks good......

......................and tastes even better!!

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Penguin Cake

I don't usually make large cakes, as I prefer to make cupcakes and bite-sized treats, but recently I decided to be brave and make a birthday cake. I didn't have a lot of time (2 hours only!) so I decided to keep it relatively simple and made a single tier of white chocolate mudcake, layered with passionfruit and white chocolate ganache, then topped with marshmallow frosting. It might sound a little complicated, but it is actually really easy to prepare. Here's what the cake looked like before I topped it with frosting:

Yum- I love could serve the cake just like this, but I decided to top it with marshmallow frosting:

The frosting was really quick to make and was a perfect substitute for snow. My friend really likes penguins so I made some out of sugarpaste to decorate the top of the cake. I had a bit of paste left over so I also made some snow balls, cupcakes and presents to make a party scene. Aren't they cute????

To finish the cake I made a 'Happy Birthday' plaque out of sugarpaste. Here's how the cake turned out:

If you want to try making the cake, or simply fancy making the white chocolate mudcake without the decorations, here is the recipe:

IngredientsBulleted List

White Chocolate Cake
220g white chocolate, chopped
180g unsalted butter, chopped
185ml (3/4 cup) cold water
155g (3/4 cup) caster sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature, lightly whisked
150g (1 cup) plain flour, sifted
115g (3/4 cup) self-raising flour, sifted

Passionfruit Sauce
185ml (3/4 cup) passionfruit pulp
55g (1/4 cup) caster sugar

White Chocolate Ganache
375g white chocolate, chopped
125ml (1/2 cup) thickened cream

Preheat oven to 160°C. Brush a round 20cm cake pan with melted butter to grease. Line base and side with non-stick baking paper.

Place chocolate, butter and water in a saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until chocolate melts. Remove from heat and set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly.
Add sugar and egg and stir until just combined. Add flours and stir until well combined. Pour mixture into lined pan and bake in oven for 1 hour or until moist crumbs cling to a skewer inserted into cake. Set aside for 30 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the passionfruit sauce, place passionfruit and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to boil. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until sauce thickens. Set aside to cool completely.

To make ganache, place chocolate and cream in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan half-filled with simmering water (make sure bowl doesn't touch the water) and stir with a metal spoon until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour or until mixture is thick and spreadable.

Use a serrated knife to cut cake into 3 layers. Place bottom layer on a plate. Spread with half of ganache and top with half the passionfruit sauce. Repeat with second cake layer, half the remaining ganache and remaining sauce. Top with remaining cake.

To make the marshmallow frosting, dissolve 1/3 cup water and 1 cup of caster sugar in a saucepan, then bring the mixture to boil for 5 minutes. The syrup should be slightly thickened but still colourless. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Beat 2 egg whites until soft peaks form, then slowly add the sugar syrup while still beating. Mix for about 10 minutes, then spread the frosting onto the cake.

I hope you enjoy making this cake!

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Ironcupcake London: Perfect Pairs

On Monday night I entered the March round of Ironcupcake London, and this month the theme was 'Perfect Pairs'. Bakers had to make cupcakes which combine two flavours and I have to admit the standard of entries was amazing. Some people came up with really imaginative combinations and all of the cakes I sampled were delicious. Here are some photos from the night:

So many cupcakes to choose from - this is just a selection of some of them.

The strawberry cupcakes in the photo above were made by my friend who has hardly baked before and was entering ironcupcake for the first time. I was so proud of her - she did an amazing job and her cupcakes were perfect. She even made little strawberries out of sugarpaste - such an awesome effort.

I chose to make Vodka and Cranberry Cupcakes with a marshmallow frosting. Here they are straight out of the oven:

....and here's how they turned out:

I'm a massive fan of marshmallow frosting at the moment. It is so much lighter than buttercream and is easy to make. It was a perfect way to finish off these cupcakes.

If you want to have a go at making these cupcakes, here's the recipe:


Vodka and Cranberry Cupcakes (makes 24)
  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups dried cranberries
  • 1 1/3 cup plain flour
  • 2/3 cup self raising flour
  • 1/2 cup vodka

Marshmallow frosting

  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 egg whites
  • 4 tbsp vodka (or to taste)
  • Food colouring (optional)


Preheat the oven to 170C (or 150C fan-forced). Beat butter, vanilla essence and sugar in a bowl with electric beaters until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in cranberries, then sift in the flours and mix well. Lastly stir through the vodka. Divide the mixture into 24 cupcake cases and bake them for approximately 25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into their middle comes out clean. Once they are baked, cool them completely on a wire rack before icing.

In the meantime, to make the frosting, combine water and caster sugar in a saucepan and stir over a low heat until the sugar is melted. Allow the syrup to simmer for about 5 minutes (if you have a candy thermometer, the temperature should reach 116C). The syrup will thicken but should remain clear (if it turns brown - into toffee - then it is overdone). Remove from heat and allow it to cool slightly. Next, beat eggwhites with an electric beater until soft peaks form. Add the warm syrup in a continuous stream to the eggwhites while still beating. Continue mixing for another 7-10 minutes until the frosting is light and glossy. Finally, stir in vodka and food colouring if desired. Decorate the cupcakes with the frosting then top with decorations.

Happy baking!