24 June 2013

Bake Sale

This weekend I spent a serious amount of time in the kitchen. For the first time ever I was baking to sell my stuff which also meant for the first time ever I was baking for people other than family and friends. I was exposing myself to comments and feedback from people who aren't bound by the rules of friendship to say only nice things. 

I sold my goods at a school event. It was an outdoor summer party, but the weather was so horrendous that it definitely did not feel like summer. When I first volunteered for this, it was expected that 800 people would turn up but the awful weather meant that only around 300-400 came.

I made my best ever chewy cookies, white and dark chocolate chunk brownies, dark chocolate and strawberry blondies and vanilla, lemon and chocolate cupcakes. 

Unfortunately I don't have a huge number of photos because I was literally baking non-stop and didn't have time to many snaps. However, I shall attempt to paint a beautiful foody picture using my descriptive talents...let's see how that goes.

So I started off with the brownies. I followed Nigella's Everyday Brownie recipe from her 'Kitchen' book. I've been using this recipe for years and seriously do not think another recipe lives up to it. Every single time I've baked them they have turned out gorgeous. They are divinely gooey in the middle with a slight hint of chewy crust around the outside. Me and my brothers love our brownies seriously soft, to the point of being almost raw in the middle. 

For this event I baked them about 10 minutes longer which meant they still had the delicious soft chew factor without being so soft that you can't even pick them up let alone eat them from a napkin whilst holding on to any form of social dignity. I made four batches of these but here's the recipe for one batch of 12 really big or 16 more delicate sized brownies:

150g butter
300g light brown sugar
75g cocoa powder
150g plain flour
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
4 eggs
150g chocolate chunks

Preheat the oven to fan 170. Grease and line an 8 or 9 inch square pan.
Start off by melting the butter in a medium sized pan. Once it's all melted add the sugar, still on the heat, and beat quite vigorously until fully incorporated.
Sift in the cocoa powder, flour and bicarb and fold that in. The mixture will look really dry but don't panic. Remove the pan from the heat.
Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat in rapidly to avoid scrambling (no one wants eggy brownies).
Add the chocolate chunks and mix briefly to avoid melting. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for anywhere between 20 and 35 minutes, depending on how you like you brownies. Leave them in the tray to cool completely.

Next I baked the cookies. Follow the link above for the recipe. For the bake sale I did three times the amount in that post and ended up with 52 cookies. I should have made more because the kids really went for these and they sold out well before the evening was over.

After cookies I made cupcakes. I started with good old vanilla, then used the same recipe to make lemon, this time adding lemon juice, and then made chocolate but this time adding melted dark chocolate. Here is the recipe for 18 big cupcakes.

230g butter
230g caster sugar
4 eggs
280g self raising flour
2tsps baking powder

For vanilla - 2tsps vanilla extract
For lemon - 4tbsp lemon juice
For chocolate - 75g melted dark chocolate

Preheat oven to fan 160. Line 18 holes in cupcake pans with cupcake cases.
Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at a time. If the mixture starts to look a little curdled add a tbsp of the flour.
Fold in the flour and baking powder, followed by the additional flavourings.
Bake for 20 minutes until well risen and spring back when touched lightly. 
Leave them in the tins for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. 

I iced both the chocolate and vanilla with a white chocolate buttercream and iced the lemon cupcakes with a lemon buttercream. I also sprinkled some blue and yellow sanding sugar on the vanilla and lemon cupcakes and shaved a little dark chocolate onto the chocolate cupcakes. 

Last but not least, I made blondies. I roughly followed the Hummingbird Bakery recipe but instead of adding nuts, I threw in a whole load of dark chocolate chunks and dried strawberries, and I added half the caster sugar and replaced the other half with light brown sugar. The dark chocolate added a little hint of bitterness to cut throught the white chocolate sweetness, and the brown sugar adds a hint of toffee-ish depth, making them, in my opinion, crazy tasty. Here's the recipe:

150g white chocolate
125g butter
75g caster sugar
75g light brown sugar
2 eggs
200g plain flour
125g additional chunky goodness (whatever your heart desires)

Preheat the oven to fan 150 and grease and line an 8 inch square tin.
Melt together the white chocolate and butter in a medium saucepan, or in a bain-marie. If you choose to do it in a saucepan, make sure you pay careful attention to not burn the chocolate as white chocolate is really sensitive to heat.
Once it's all melted add it to the sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat well to combine.
Add the eggs and mix again then fold in the flour. Just before the flour is fully incorporated add the chunks and fold a few more times to evenly distribute them. 
Pour the batter into the tin and bake for 30-35 minutes so that they are slightly golden but the centre is still soft. 

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