27 April 2013

Brown Sugar Cupcakes and A Promised Icing

My littlest brother is going to be taking his scholarship exams to his senior school next week and he has to stay overnight for three nights so I decided to give him a  little home comfort to take with him; rolo cupcakes. These are brown sugar cakes, each filled with a rolo, then topped with chocolate buttercream. I piped some of them with icing roses and some of them are done with a traditional icing swirl and finished with another rolo. Pure decadence…and simply delicious.

I started off by mixing together the flour, two sugars and the butter

I then added the egg and vanilla

I beat this just a few times to incorporate the egg. I then added the milk and golden syrup

I beat this in until fully incorporated then filled the cupcake liners two-thirds full and baked for 20 minutes

[how cute are these pastel cupcake cases?]

I then placed a rolo in the centre of each cupcake

Next came the chocolate buttercream icing. Now, I’m going to be honest with you, this is not my best chocolate buttercream icing, Don’t get me wrong, this stuff is still addictively and I will be sneaking spoons of the leftover when no one’s watching but I made this one with milk chocolate and my all-time favourite is made with dark chocolate

I creamed together the butter and icing sugar until it was almost fully blended. I then added the melted chocolate and a little bit of milk before taking the electric whisk to it to make it super whipped and fluffy (trust me, being super whipped and fluffy makes the piping process A LOT easier)

I used my most prized kitchen possession; my Masterclass icing gun

Cake Ingredients:
115g self-raising flour
75g soft light brown sugar
75g caster sugar
1 large egg
1tsp vanilla extract
50g butter
100ml milk
2tbsp golden syrup

Preheat the oven to fan 160 (or 180 in a normal oven)
Line a 12-hole cupcake tin with cupcake liners
Mix together the flour, sugars and butters until it has a sandy texture (this step may take a little longer than expected; just when I thought I was done I found an unmixed patch of flour and a big ol’ lump of butter sitting pretty on the other side of the bowl)
Add the egg and vanilla and beat slight to semi-incorporate the egg
Add the milk and golden syrup (without making an unholy sticky mess all over the kitchen like I did whilst attempting to take photos with my useless right hand)
When everything is fully mixed together, fill each cupcake liner two-thirds full and bake for 20 minutes
Leave them to cool for a few minutes in the tray then move them to a wire rack to cool completely
Meanwhile, prep for the icing…

Icing Ingredients:
225g icing sugar
100g butter
1-2tbsp milk
50g chocolate (milk or dark), melted
2tsp cocoa powder

As soon as you’ve taken the cupcakes out of the oven, take the butter out of the fridge to soften a little
Break up the chocolate and melt either in the microwave or in a bain-marie and set aside to cool
Once the butter is sufficiently soft, beat it together with the icing sugar. Fold in the melted chocolate and 1-2tbsp milk, depending on how you like the texture of your buttercream
At this point, I whisked my icing for a few minutes with an electric whisk to make it light and fluffy which makes icing a lot easier but this step is not strictly necessary
Top the cupcakes with the icing and scoff to your heart’s content 

25 April 2013

Super Moist Chocolate Cake

When it comes to cake I like it moist. One of my bug bears is a dry cake. It’s all crumbly and more like bread than delicious perfection that it cake. Now, there’s nothing wrong with bread. I’m a big fan of a really good brown seedy loaf. But when I go in for a slice of cake, I expect the full cake experience. And that is exactly what you get with this super moist chocolate cake.
I think there are so many different types of chocolate cake that it’s almost impossible to say that one recipe would suit all purposes. I mean, there are your standard chocolate two-tiered cakes, then flourless cakes, tortes, mousse cakes, sheet cakes and so much more. Having said that, if, there was a recipe that worked for all occassions, this would be the one. 
This cake is, as the title suggests, super moist, and it stays that way for a good few days. It’s texture is melt-in-the-mouth almost-fudgey scruminess. That seems like an apt description.
Instead of having the fat content from the traditional butter, this cake has oil which provides liquid moistness (what else would a liquid be?). On top of that there’s both milk and water in the liquid. I also added ground almonds to pump up that final moistness to a whole new level. Even without the ground almonds this cake will be amazing but the almonds take it that little bit further.

1 cup plain flour
½ cup ground almonds
2/3 cup cocoa
1 ½ cups caster sugar
1 ¼tsp baking powder
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 large eggs
½ cup flavourless oil (I used sunflower)
2tsps vanilla extract
¾ cup milk
2/3 cup hot water

Preheat the oven to fan 160 (or 180 for a normal oven)
Grease and line 2 9inch cake tins
Sift the flour, ground almonds, cocoa, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl along with a pinch of salt
Whisk together the eggs, oil, vanilla and milk together in a jug then pour into the mixing bowl
Beat until just combined
Add the water and mix again. The batter will now be quite liquidy but do not fear, that’s how it’s meant to be

Divide it equally between the tins and bake for about 25 minutes. The cake should only just spring back when touched. When I took mine out it was at that point where you ask yourself “is it baked? Is it not baked?” should I put it back for 5 more minutes?”. Do NOT put it back. Take it out now
Allow them to cool in the tins for 5 or 10 minutes before taking them out and letting them cool completely on a wire rack

You can fill and top these with whatever icing your heart desires. I made up a vanilla buttercream and added pink colouring in stages to create a pink ombre finish. My photography skills are seriously lacking and this picture was only taken on my phone so it doesn’t do the finished product half the justice it deserved but I’m going to share anyway:

I’ll soon post a couple of different icing recipes which would go beautifully with this cake but if you have a personal favourite recipe ,spread it liberally all over this beauty

Best Chewy Cookies Ever

For as long as I can remember I have been searching for the perfect cookie recipe. I am very much a member of the chewy cookie team. Crispy cookies just won’t do it for me. Unfortunately, when I was little and the role of head baker had not yet been passed to me, my mum used to ALWAYS make crisp cookies. Every time she told me she’s baked cookies she’d set my heart a-flutter with the hope of a deliciously chewy cookie waiting for me after tea. This was never the case.
Now don’t get me wrong, my mum is an incredible cook and is highly skilled at baking too, but chewy cookies never were her forte. We can’t blame her for that. But now whenever I find myself eating a perfectly chewy cookie, the little child in me deprived of them for all those years does a little happy dance.  
Honestly, this is not a recipe I came up with myself. After many many hours of research and trawling the internet, and many more experimental batches of cookies, this recipe finally came to me via one of my best friends, Chloe. She came to visit me at uni one weekend and with her came a box of the most delicious homemade cookies I had ever had. With my mouth still full I demanded where she’d got the recipe from and she told me simply to Google ‘millie’s cookie recipe’. And this is exactly what I did.
I know there are slight variations out there but this is the version I found and the recipe I will use for the rest of my life. It is that good.

125g butter
100g soft light brown sugar
125g caster sugar
1 large egg
1tsp vanilla extract
225g self-raising flour
200g chocolate chunks

Preheat the oven to fan 160 (or 180 for a normal oven)
Line 2 or 3 trays with greaseproof paper
Cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and egg and beat until combined
Fold in the flour and add the chocolate chips just before it’s fully combined to avoid overbeating

Use a dessert spoon to blob cookie dough mounds onto the tray. You could probably get 6-8 cookies on each, depending on what size tray you have

I tend to bake mine for around 10 minutes I like my cookies seriously cookie; as in, verging on still being cookie dough. If you like yours chewy but still able to hold the shape and have a slightly crispy edge I would bake them for closer to 15 minutes
Leave them to cool on the trays for a few minutes after taking them out of the oven then move them onto a wire rack to cool completely

I know it's not a great photo but it was a quick one I took to send to a friend via whatsapp. I'm putting it in so you can see just how gooey they really are (check out the upside down one...sooo good)

P.S. this cookie dough is devillishly tasty. Before you know it half will disappear...or more if you're like me and my friends at uni

24 April 2013

Chocolate and Vanilla Zebra Cake Hearts

So maybe the most appropriate start to my blog would be a post about the cakes that are currently my background picture. Those little bad boys are chocolate and vanilla zebra cake hearts. Bit of a mouthful to say but a totally tasty mouthful to eat.
Zebra cake is a bit of a trend at the moment. It’s just like marble cake in that you make two batters and mix them together to create a cool looking cake, but zebra cake takes a little more effort. You can create the zebra effect in two ways; piping or spooning. Whichever method you choose, you want to create rings of the different cake batters which, when baked and sliced, end up looking like zebra stripes.

The final product, before baking, should look something like this. 

Once baked, it looks like this

To make my cake hearts I baked my batter in a rectangular cake tin (about 15x8 inches) then used a heart-shaped cookie cutter to stamp out heart shapes.

For this is the recipe I used:
100g dark chocolate
100g butter
25ml flavourless oil (e.g. sunflower)
75ml natural yogurt or buttermilk (depending on what you have in the fridge)
175g caster sugar
2tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
100ml milk
50g ground almonds + 1tsp baking powder (x2)
50g plain flour (x2)

Preheat the oven to fan 160 (or 180 in a normal oven)
Grease and line either two 8inch round tins or one 15x8inch rectangular tin
Melt the chocolate either in a bain marie or in the microwave if you can guarantee you’re not going to burn it. Stir in 50ml milk and then set aside to cool
In a bowl, mix together the butter, oil, yogurt and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and eggs and beat well (don’t worry if the mixture separates at this stage)
As best you can, divide the batters into equal halves. For the vanilla batter, fold in one lot of the ground almonds and baking powder along with one lot of the flour.  Stir in the remaining 50ml of milk to bring the batter to quite a runny consistency (this makes it easier to pipe or spread if you’re spooning)
For the chocolate batter, fold in the second lot of ground almonds and baking powder. Measure out the second lot of flour and subtract one tbsp of it for a tbsp of cocoa powder. Fold this into the batter
Put each batter into a piping bag and pipe round the edge of whatever style tin you have chosen with the vanilla batter. Next pipe a ring of chocolate batter, followed by another ring of vanilla. Continue alternating batters until the tins are full.
Bake for about 25 minutes until the cake springs back when touched and is shrinking away from the edges of the tin slightly.