Red Velvet Cupcakes!

It’s freezing here! Not snowing, because sadly the salt in the air stops that from happening, but freezing all the same. It’s the kind of cold that has your fingers screaming for mercy the second you leave the house and your stomach constantly growling for more food! So in the midst of this cold weather I decided that the perfect antidote would be a rich cupcake that, though Christmas is officially over, would keep some of the spirit alive. Hmmm, what jumps out? A RED VELVET CUPCAKE of course!!!

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These little beauties are rich, moist and best of all… Drumroll please! CHOCOLATEY! And what’s even better about them? Nobody has to know that you’re really eating a cupcake filled with the best quality dark cocoa. For all they know it could be strawberry.🙂

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Now these cupcakes don’t necessarily have to be Christmassy. If you’re one of those people who, on the 6th of January when the decorations come down doesn’t want to have to think about, in my opinion, what is the best time of year until next December, you can always omit the sprinkles. These cupcakes are just as good without them!

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Charmingly naked, you see?

I love chocolate. That’s a fact of life. And normally for me any part of a dessert that contains chocolate would be the star of the show for me. Well, that was until I met this frosting. It’s a little cloud of heaven just perched on top of a cupcake! My usual problem with cream cheese frosting is that it doesn’t hold it’s shape. I’m all for a thin icing on occasion, but usually I want my thick, pretty swirl on top of a cupcake. That was a problem, until I found a blog post from a genius at justataste! The secret: Heavy cream! Look at my cream cheese frosting, isn’t it just perfect! Here’s the link:http://www.justataste.com/2014/01/red-velvet-cupcakes-piped-cream-cheese-frosting-recipe/ 

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So here’s the link to the recipe I used for the cupcakes themselves. I just know you’re going to love them! They were a massive hit here.

http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2014/10/29/red-velvet-cupcakes/

xxx

Happy Baking!

Banana Nut Muffins with a Cinnamon Streusel Topping!

Have you ever thrown a house party for no particular reason? Well, if you have you’ll know that having 50 people ’round Isn’t an easy undertaking. Between the mountain of food the needs to be cooked, the house that needs to be tidied and the entertainment to be organised it’s a hell of a lot of work.

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So these were one of the only foods that I managed to photograph (they were out of the oven first) while the light was good. I know I’ve done a lot of muffins and cupcakes, but they really are my favourite things! And these ones are especially good.

The excessive amount of brown sugar makes these muffins almost caramelly! There’s barely any granulated in this recipe at all. And brown sugar is a bit healthier, right?

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Weirdly enough I don’t find many people who get as excited over a muffin as I do. There’s just something about the warm spongey cake studded with chocolate chips (always necessary) and hidden under the disguise of ‘a fairly healthy breakfast option’  that’s just so comforting! So these muffins are for anyone who joins me in the muffin fan club, they’ve even got a brown sugar cinnamon streusel on top!🙂

http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2014/02/18/master-muffin-mix/ This is the link to the original recipe. All credit goes to Sally.

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These high rise muffins have to most glorious crispy crust on top. It’s the initial high baking temperature that makes them rise so high and form that amazing crust. The brown sugar in the streusel also gave them a caramel sheen.  I think that these muffin tops would be worthy of Lorelai any day. If she were around I’d be making a muffin bottom pie for sure! (Sorry about that ‘Gilmore Girls’ reference there!)

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These muffins were gobbled up in no time. They were devoured even before the Avoca Carrot Cake, which is a sure fire favourite around here. It must have been that they were freshly baked and still steaming with the melted chocolate chips still warm in their centres and the aroma of cinnamon just drifting…… Sorry, I got a bit carried away there! All I meant to say was that these muffins are divine. And an amazing Autumnal treat. Perfect for the changing of the season.

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Well, happy baking guys! Hope you’ve had a good first month back to school.

xxxxx

And so my affair with Frosting began!

As you can probably tell from almost everything I’ve posted so far, I’ve been veering away from frosting. The sky high towers of sweet,buttery, creamy heaven haven’t had much of a show on this blog so far. This is mainly because I know that once I’d taken a single bite off the top of a ‘Vanilla Buttercream Frosted Fudge Chocolate Cupcake’ I’d never go back! And now I have, and I don’t think that I will.

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These chocolate cupcakes are SO moist! It’s almost unreal. They definitely deserve a picture to themselves. I almost felt bad putting icing on top of them. But then I didn’t!

Is it just me or do these look like whippy ice-creams on a cupcake? I almost feel as though I should have put little flakes sticking out of the top! Maybe I’ll do that next time!

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There is actually no chocolate in these cupcakes. It’s the cocoa that give them they’re perfect chocolaty taste and texture. Sometimes I find that putting chocolate in cupcakes or brownies can give them a slightly greasy texture. Try and use a good brand of preferably dutch processed cocoa such as Bourneville for best results. Drinking chocolate (Cadburys etc.) is usually about 50% sugar which will really change the taste and colour of your cupcakes. So basically, Emergencies Only!

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This picture here is a great example of ‘The End of the Piping Bag Conundrum’.

That was a mouthful!

What I mean by this is: With any icing I’ve piped from a piping bag I’ve always found that the last cupcake, or whatever you’re using the bit of icing at the bottom of the bag for comes out wonky. I reckon it’s that there just isn’t enough icing left to pull it off smoothly. And that would be perfectly fine if every time I took the nozzle out of the piping bag there wasn’t a good spoonful of icing just sitting there. It’s infuriating!

I usually just decorate the cupcake with something to take your eye off of the blobby mess underneath, chocolate chips in this case. Any comments or solutions would be appreciated!

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So here’s the link to the original recipe: http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2014/06/03/classic-chocolate-cupcakes-with-vanilla-frosting/ 

Happy Baking!

xxxxx

My First Paid Gig! Wedding Cake.

I’m going to start with a back story, just to get you in the loop. My friend’s dad does wedding ceremonies. They’re usually relatively small and independent, but really beautiful too. One day he asked me and his 2 daughters if we wanted to make a cake for this wedding. The only brief was that they wanted it to be chocolate. Perfect! 

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Needless to say, it took us quite a while to make! We decided to go for a devil’s food chocolate cake. They had asked for chocolate after all. It took us a little bit longer to decide on the style, but classics win every time, so a three tiered cake it was. Not the most innovative idea anyone has ever had but this really couldn’t be a flop. This cake really is my pride and joy! Me and my friends just sat staring at it for ages when it was finally finished, which happened to be about 6 hours after we started!

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The play mobile pieces on the top were a genius idea of my friend’s 10 year old sister. She even matched the hair colours on the dolls to the ones of the bride and groom! The only slight problem was the eye-patch, we’re just hoping that the groom didn’t notice.🙂

 

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This cake has a secret… Do you want to know what it is? To make this cake extra special and extra tall we decided that instead of 3 layers of cake we’d make 6. So in each tier of the cake there happens to be 2 devils food cakes separated by a thin layer of vanilla buttercream icing. I hope the wedding party didn’t die of a heart attack after all the butter that went in.

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I reckon that the hardest part of this cake was the icing. The crumb proof layer was one of the most nerve wracking things I’ve ever done! But we managed it! The cake stayed in one piece.

One of the greatest things about this cake is that it’s super easy. It’s just an easy peasy devils food chocolate cake recipe:

http://www.nigella.com/recipes/view/DEVILS-FOOD-CAKE-5310

I got mine off Nigella Lawson.

Topped off with an even easy peasier buttercream icing:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/quick-vanilla-buttercream-frosting-recipe.html

To this I just added a small amount of cocoa powder until it reached the colour I wanted. And voila! Cake made!

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Now, I know in the title I said paid gig. I wasn’t lying, it was paid. Even if it was only 6 euro once we’d paid for food and divided it up between ourselves.🙂 But it was a million times worth the effort.

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‘Till next time my friends. 

xxx

 

The Missing Link: The Classic Victoria Sponge.

This has been long due. I didn’t feel that I had the right to call myself a baker (or bakress, if you’re a feminist) until I’d proved to you all that yes, I can bake a victoria sponge, and I can get it to rise!

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I made this recently for a host of guests that we had staying over. It seemed the perfect choice, who doesn’t like a victoria sponge? I thought that everybody did, that was one rule that I thought there was no exception to. Until……. I had an 8 year old boy come up to me and tell me that he didn’t like jam, he didn’t like jam! I’m still flabbergasted, sugary berryey goodness! What’s not to like? So I commissioned a special slice without cream for him. The problem was finding it once the second layer was on top!

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However, all in all, this cake went down well, scrap that, it went down amazingly! Screw modesty! So why was I polite and took the smallest slice? When I went back for seconds it was all gone.😦

This is possibly one of the simplest recipes out there, and it’s foolproof, even if you only have one baking dish of the right size. ‘Looks down embarassedly’. Ok, I admit to it, I did have to bake the cake twice. I only have one 9 inch baking dish so I cut the recipe in half and did it again. Silly, but what could I do? (I really am in a rhetorical question mood tonight.)

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 The strawberries in the middle of the cake give it a summery zing that you just don’t get from the jam. And the buttons on the top are a kind of family tradition, my Mom’s been putting them on top of my birthday cakes since I was about 5.

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And for the leftovers.

And for the leftovers.

I’m going to write the recipe up because I’m not 100% sure where it came from, I’ve known it forever you see!

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Classic Victoria sponge Recipe:

For an incredibly moist, spongey and summery treat.

Serves 10. (8 if you want leftovers)

Ingredients:

For the cake:

300g caster sugar

300g butter

6 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla essence

300g self-raising flour

1.5 teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons of milk

For the filling:

250g strawberries

A tub of single cream

Berry jam

And chocolate buttons (optional but advised)

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/ 170F/ Gas mark 5.
  2. Grease 2 9 inch silicone cake tins.
  3. cream together the butter and sugar.
  4. Add in the eggs and vanilla essence and mix until well combined.
  5. Mix in the flour and baking powder, do not overmix. This will knock any air out of you cake mix and will make it less light and airy.
  6. Then stir in the milk to thin out. Your batter should be smooth and creamy.
  7. Pour into your prepared cake tins and level with a spatula. (I got a new rubber one recently)
  8. Pop into the oven bake for about 20 – 25 mins or until the cake springs back when you poke it and a knife comes out with only a few small crumbs attached.
  9. Cool on a wire rack until your cakes reach room temperature.
  10. Then spread with jam, cover with sliced strawberries and dollop your cream on before dropping your second layer of cake on top and covering with you (optional) chocolate buttons!

Souffle, harder than it looks!

I did say when I started this blog that I would put up the good, the bad and the ugly of what I baked. So far I’ve been veering clear of the less successful of my experiments because, well, why would you want to read about an almighty flop of a tart or an explosion of a muffin? But today I’ve decided to keep at least partially to my word and tell you about how not easy souffle is to make!

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I’m not talking about the making of the batter here, that’s incredibly easy. Whip up a few egg whites add flour chocolate etc. Easy peasy! (If you have an electric whisk, which I don’t.)🙂

It’s the timing that’s the killer, you want to get them out of the oven just before the centre hardens up, which I didn’t in the ones above! And just after they get past the ‘I’m still a blob of batter in a muffin tin’ stage!

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I’m making this post a quick one so you’re not burdened with my many failings as a baker and a human being for any longer than you have to be!

So maybe you’ve learned something today, and maybe you haven’t! But at least you got to see me make a mess of a souffle!🙂

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xxxxx

Birthday Madness! And twix truffle brownies.

This is the first post with any non-blurry pictures on it! I’ve finally got my camera set up, and I’ve even got the lead that connects it to the computer. Aren’t I modern! And it does make a difference to the photos!

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These are very rich, perfect to go along with a light sponge or something at a party. That was the route I went down with for this party, I’ll post up the rest of the food for you soon. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but it was pretty good!

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Now these little beauties came off the blog, ‘Chef in Training’. I’ve actually never baked anything off it before so I was slightly dubious. But you can see from these pictures that there really was no need. They were spectacular!

They were actually pretty easy to make, the only slight hitch for me was that I had to make the shortbread myself. I had no problem with that at all but it took extra time for it to cool. Here’s the link to my recipe, the shortbread was great and there’s loads of information on the page that you don’t really have to read but if you’re a baking geek like me you may even find it interesting!

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2010/sep/30/how-to-make-perfect-shortbread 

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So what these beautiful creations really are are: A layer of succulent rich cocoa brownie topped by a shortbread truffle (which is crushed shortbread mixed with cram cheese and sugar), with a layer of caramel on top of that and all topped off by a layer of melted chocolate. Pop it all into the fridge and wait for it to set!

ANd here’s the link:   http://www.chef-in-training.com/2014/08/twix-truffle-brownies/

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A quick tip: For when you’re cutting them into their little squares at the end.

DON’T just come at them with a massive green knife fresh out of the drawer. It’s not a great idea, I know from experience!

DO dip the knife into a jug of hot water so that it melts the chocolate on it’s way down and makes nice clean cuts instead of shattering the chocolate into many many little shards!

And yes, I was told this by someone else after I confessed why there were three or four mangled looking lumps of chocolatey caramel hidden away in a lunchbox!

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