Showing posts with label buttercream. Show all posts
Showing posts with label buttercream. Show all posts

Friday, 1 February 2013

Valentine's Bouquet of Roses Cake

If we're being honest, Valentine's day tends to pass me by a bit. As a teenager, I remember getting excited about it, only to face the realisation that it was going to be yet another year without receiving a card (although I gave a few). Heck, it was yet another year without even the merest sniff of a boyfriend, so I suppose fair's fair. But it is hard to stand by and watch others gleefully receiving when you are not.

When Mike and I began going out during our uni days, I eagerly anticipated my first Valentine's card. I could not believe how upset I felt when, after handing over a lovingly and painstakingly selected card - just the right hint of intimacy but with a certain sangfroid - and gift, it slowly dawned on me that Mike was standing there looking pained. He had forgotten. He tried to pass it off, as did I, but it was too late. I had a severe case of wobbly lip and was stifling tears. A hastily drawn heart on a piece of card was proffered. It wasn't bells and whistles, but it was good.

As the years have gone by (over 25 of them now) I've realised that I have something far more valuable than a card on one day of the year. It's the little things he does for me every day that really matter. Like still laughing at my really poor jokes. Like putting up with my addiction to Amazon and cookbooks (and handbags). Like queueing for hours at Ninian Park to get FA Cup tickets (OK, maybe not every day for that one). Like making me a tea for breakfast and a coffee after a hard day. Like bravely attempting some d-i-y for one of my whims. Like getting up to Sam during the night. So many things I can't possibly list them all here. He may not be perfect, but he's all I want.  

So this cake is for Mike.

That being the case, it's chocolate. Rich, dense chocolate.

Covered in rich, red buttercream, iced to resemble roses.

I wanted to bake a deep, dark chocolate cake to go with the red. The recipe I used is adapted from one in Annie Rigg's 'Make, Bake and Celebrate'. It was fairly straightforward and produced a lovely, moist cake.

Valentine's Bouquet of Roses Chocolate Cake

Ingredients (makes one 23cm / 9 inch cake)

125g 70% chocolate
300g plain flour
25g cocoa powder
2 tspn bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tspn baking powder
pinch of salt
125g softened unsalted butter
200g light brown soft sugar
200g golden caster sugar
4 large eggs, beaten
2 tspn vanilla extract
225ml room temperature sour cream
175ml just boiled water

For the buttercream
375g softened unsalted butter
450g icing sugar
2 tbspn milk
red and violet food colouring - I used Wilton's gel pastes

Preheat the oven to 160 Fan / 180 conventional / 350 F / Gas 4. Grease and baseline two 23cm / 9 inch sandwich tins.

Break the chocolate into chunks and melt it in a bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Put on one side and allow to cool.

Sift together the flour, cocoa, bicarb, baking powder and salt.

Put the butter and both sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle, beat for 3 - 4 minutes until light and fluffy. Gradually add the egg, and mix until smooth (scraping down the bowl if necessary). Add the vanilla and chocolate.

Add a third of the flour mix and mix until just incorporated, then half of the sour cream. Continue with a third flour, half cream, third flour. Mix until smooth. Very slowly and carefully, add the boiling water, and mix in.

Bake in the centre of the oven for about 25 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Mine were a little big to sit next to each other on the same shelf, so I had one one the middle shelf and one on the bottom. I swapped them after 15 minutes, but the one from the bottom shelf was still very runny in the centre and needed an extra five minutes (making 30 in total for that cake) after the other one had cooked. 

Place tins onto a wire rack, cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out onto the rack to cool completely.

When the cakes are totally cool you can decorate them. I made up the buttercream by mixing the butter and sugar, and adding a little milk until I got a consistency I liked. You may need a little more or less icing sugar than I've quoted, but see how you go. I then added some food colouring. It took a lot to get the deep rose red colour I wanted (about 2 tspns), and I even added just a little violet to help deepen the colour (just a toothpick worth).

I used a little of the icing to crumb coat the cake, and then let it chill in the fridge for 20 minutes to firm up.

To get the roses, I used a Wilton 1M tip to pipe. You start in the centre and swirl outwards, this creates the little folds that look like rose petals. You just fill in any gaps with a little more buttercream.  

Finally, I should warn you though, that following one of the steps in the original recipe left me a bit concerned. The final step in mixing the sponge is to add some just boiled water. Supposedly with the mixer still running, albeit slowly. I can see why - as it makes the mixture lovely and smooth, and adds moisture to the cake. But, and it's a big but, I found it really dangerous, as by this point my mixer was pretty full, and so adding the just boiled water made it splash everywhere. Over the counter and over me. This is something that you can overcome by gently folding it in first, and then turning the mixer on. But you do need to be careful. It's not something I would have wanted to do if Sam had been running around me.

Anyway, the finished cake is definitely worth it.

So an early Happy Valentine's Day, baby.

Loves ya lots.


I'm entering this into this month's 'Achy Cakey Heart' Calendar Cakes challenge, which is being organised by Laura at LauraLovesCakes and Rachel at Dollybakes. This month's host is Rachel, and the roundup of Valentine's themed bakes will appear on her blog at the end of the month.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Anticipating Summer - Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes

Nothing screams summer in Britain like strawberries. I know it's not yet summer, but with the lovely warm sunny spell we recently had, it was easy to imagine it had arrived early. And so I simply couldn't resist these gorgeous berries from my local supermarket. I do try and buy fruit and veg in season, and local if I can. Marked 'early season', they were at least British, and not too far from Cardiff (as the crow flies), being grown in Somerset.  I must admit though, they had me at 'hellooo ... I'm a beautiful, luscious, red strawberry and I taste divine'. No more, no less.

Now I know that some would say it's a crime to eat these any other way than au naturel. But I have always wanted to make fresh strawberry cupcakes. While I've tried some perfectly adequate supermarket ones recently, I thought home made would be miles better. With that firmly in mind, they found their way into my trolley.

I adapted Mary Berry's cupcake recipe from 100 Cakes and Bakes (which I last used for the Weekly Bake Off) here, using 3 tbpsns of fresh strawberry purée instead of the milk. I also guesstimated my own buttercream as I found Mary Berry's recipe stingy for the number of cupcakes. I also wanted to use more of the puréed fruit to flavour and colour the buttercream.

Ingredients (makes 10 cupcakes)

100g softened unsalted butter
150g caster sugar
150g self-raising flour
3 tbspn milk
2 large eggs
1/2 tspn vanilla extract
3 tbspn strawberry purée

Buttercream Frosting

150g softened unsalted butter
300g sifted icing sugar (but use more or less to get the consistency you like)
200 - 300ml of fresh strawberry purée

Preheat the oven to 160 fan / 180 conventional / gas 4. Line your muffin pan with cupcake liners.

To make the strawberry purée, blitz the strawberries in a food blender with a little icing sugar (to taste really - I used about a tablespoon). Then pass through a sieve to remove the seeds. Set aside. I used two, 250g punnets of strawberries and reserved five of the smaller ones for topping the cupcakes.

For the cupcakes, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs and vanilla, mixing gently until smooth. Add in the flour, and mix again. Finally add in 3 tbspns of the strawberry purée, and mix gently until incorporated, being careful not to overbeat the mix.

Scoop into the prepared cups, dividing equally between them. I use an old-fashioned ice-cream scoop (2 1/2 inch diameter) for mine and found this amount of mix gives 10 cupcakes.

Bake in the centre of the oven for approximately 20 minutes, until risen and and a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and after leaving to cool for approx 5 - 10 minutes, turn out on to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the buttercream frosting, I first reduced the 200 - 300ml of strawberry purée by simmering over a low heat in a small pan. This left me with about half the original volume - around 100 - 150ml. Leave this to cool completely, so that it does not melt the butter.

I normally use my stand mixer to make frosting, so this is what I do. Cream the butter slightly to break it up, then add in little by little the icing sugar. Once you think it's nearly ready, add in the strawberry purée and mix well [it may look a little curdled at first, but carry on mixing and it will come back together, trust me]. Then, add in a little more icing sugar until you get the consistency you want. Leave to beat for a few minutes to ensure that it's really smooth and creamy, and that the strawberry purée is mixed throughout the frosting. Decorate how you want.

I used my Wilton 1M tip to pipe rose swirls (you start at the centre and move to the outside edge of the cupcake), and then used some strawberry slices to decorate some of them.

The cupcakes were a little denser than normal, but still really moist. The lovely fresh strawberry aroma and flavour came through in spades. I was really pleased with them, and they were definitely better than shop bought.

The irony, of course, as I sit and type this, is that the weather in Cardiff has now taken a turn for the worst. Summer seems so very far away again. But at least not in my cake tin ...


Thursday, 23 February 2012

How Do You Like Yours? Cupcakes for the Weekly Bake Off

There are occasional downsides to being the only female in the house. As much as I  probably am, by nature, a bit of a tomboy (alright, quite a lot), sometimes the testosterone is a bit much. There's the perennial toilet seat issue. The amount of sprinkling when tinkling that takes place. There's the fact I have resigned myself to never being the mother of the bride. And there is the absence of pink. Baby boys simply don't do pink. Teenage boys predominantly don't do pink either (unless it is a fairly bright shade in some super trendy t-shirt).

Now don't get me wrong. If I'm asked my favourite colour, it is unhesitatingly blue. But I must admit, whether it is mid-life crisis, or what, sometimes I find a bit of pink now creeping in. Whether it is the thinnest of thin pin stripe in an otherwise shades of blue and purple shirt, or some dusky rose lip tint, it is undeniably there.

So when Amy of Weekly Bake Off decided that this week's bake should be cupcakes, I knew where I was heading. Pink, swirly buttercream. And lots of it.

For those who don't know, Weekly Bake Off is Amy's challenge to bake her way through Mary Berry's 100 Cakes and Bakes. Each week she picks a different recipe. Having missed the last couple of weeks, I knew that I had to make time to do this week's cupcakes.

Now there are infinite varieties of cupcake flavours and even more ways to decorate them. I used loads of different glitters today, some natural violet sugar (made from violet petals) some silver dragrees, some funfetti, and some mini sugar coated chocolate sweets.

The recipe itself is super easy. Bung all the ingredients for the cakes into a bowl and mix. Similar with the frosting. I decided to add some pink colouring (one colour I have never used before). I used Wilton's Rose Paste Colour. Just a dab on a cocktail stick. Even then, the colour came out a bit more intense than I wanted. More of a Barbie pink than an elegant pale rose. Ah well. Learn by experience.  

The cakes themselves tasted great. The sponge was quite dense but moist. The buttercream seemed a little thick (piping showed this as it was difficult to get a nice peak to the swirls), but it tasted lovely. I didn't find it overly sweet as some recipes can be. Another Mary Berry winner.

However ... (prepare for mini rant here). I love cookbooks. I really do. They are staple bed-time (any time) reading for me. I'm lucky enough to own lots. And I mean lots (I get embarressed every time we have a visitor as it seems almost compulsory for them to comment on the wall of books that threatens to topple down on them. They tend to leave fairly quickly thereafter. Whether that's because they fear the obviously crazy, obsessed lady, or the fact that the wall might just detach from the house and crush them, I'm not sure).

Anywho, the point that I am slowly getting to is that having shelled out for these weighty tomes, and the not so weighty, and lovingly read them and looked after them, I hate it when I find something that leads me to question the author/editor/proof reader. I mean recipe wise. Whether it is clearly a typographical error which calls for 1500ml instead of 150ml, or a photo to accompany a recipe which shows a dish clearly made with different ingredients (I know you can argue that one, perhaps, as artistic license, but I like to see what the recipe that is included will look like. At least as a starter.) I start to worry about a lack of care. Or of more concern, have they actually tested this recipe?

On this occasion, I couldn't help notice the contrast between the measurements given for ingredients in metric and imperial. For example, Mary cites 100g/4oz of butter, but then 150g/5oz of self raising flour, and 150g/5oz of sugar. 50g does not equal one ounce. 100g does not even equal 4 ounces. (Commonly held that 1oz is equivalent to 28g). I appreciate metric conversion of imperial measures can give you odd amounts but I worry that, particularly in baking, the correct proportion of your ingredients is important.  Accuracy is important, so I've been told.

Maybe it's just me. Maybe it's a lack of experience on my part - after all, I'd love to be able to whip up the perfect batch of cupcakes by instinct alone, but at least at the moment I need a recipe as a starting point. I used the metric measurements on this occasion. I wonder if, if you use the imperial, you get the same results? It's probably just me worrying over nothing as, after all, the cupcakes as already noted tasted great. And the proof is in the pudding.

In this case, Mary's book costs a fantastically reasonable £4 (I got mine from my local Asda, but you can follow the link above to Amazon if you'd like to check it out). So I'm probably way over-reacting and so rant over. It's well worth it and I'd really recommend that you get a copy. :-)

I used the quantities given in the recipe. I found that I only got 10 cupcakes. I used the buttercream measurements, but as I have - clearly from the pics - been pretty generous with the frosting, only managed to fully cover seven cupcakes. I'd therefore adjust this accordingly next time. 

100g softened unsalted butter
150g self-raising flour
150g caster sugar
3 tbspn milk
2 large eggs
1/2 tspn vanilla extract

For the Buttercream
100g softened unsalted butter
225g icing sugar, sifted
1/2 tspn vanilla extract

Mixing the mix ...
Scooping the batter ...
Naked cupcakes ...
Good to go.
E=MCsquared. Relativity of Cake to Buttercream.
Sorry, D'arcy. Guess you know what Mike's bringing in to work tomorrow. Cupcakes. Again. That's if there are any left ...



Friday, 3 February 2012

Farmhouse Orange Victoria Sandwich for the Weekly Bake Off

I was really pleased with Amy's selection for this week's Bake Off - Mary Berry's Ultimate Cake Book was the first Baking book I bought, back in 1995 (it was first published in 1994 and by the time I bought a copy it was already on its eighth reprint). The very first recipe I did was her small all in one Victoria Sandwich, and consequently the very first cake tins I purchased were Silverwood 7" sandwich tins. They have seen many, many outings over the years, by way of this cake and the Sunday Best Chocolate Fudge Cake, also from the same book. I still have them and used them for this recipe.

Interestingly, in flicking through 'Ultimate Cake Book', I caught sight of an Orange Victoria Sandwich, which is practically the same recipe as this one (size aside), with the exception of the filling, where Mary instructed that it should be 'about 4 tablespoons of orange mamalade and a little caster sugar'. Hmm, not sure about that one. I certainly loved the butercream based orange filling used in this version, and I'm not sure that using totally marmalade would appeal to modern tastes now used to Buttercream and Frostings more in the American style. Well, maybe not mine, at least.

So, my familiarity with the recipe and ingredients meant that I was relatively confident going in to this one. It's a simple all-in-one cake which produces fantastic results. Mike loved it and wanted to take it into work today. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of leaving it on the worktop overnight (under cling film). We found that the cats had investigated it overnight, and while they had ultimately decided it was not for them, it was not before they sampled one of the sides. :-( 

Anyway, here's the recipe:

Ingredients (makes one 7" cake):
175g softened unsalted butter
175g light muscovado sugar
3 large eggs
175g self raising flour
1 1/2 level tspns baking powder
zest of an orange

40g softened unsalted butter
100g icing sugar, sifted
1-2 tbspn fine cut marmalade
icing sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 160 fan / 180 conventional / gas 4.

Grease and base line two 7" (18 cm) sandwich tins.

Place all the sponge ingredients into a large bowl and beat well until smooth.

Divide the mixture between the tins and level the top.

Bake for 25 - 30 minutes until coming away from sides and springy to touch.

Turn out onto wire rack and allow to cool.

Make the filling by blending the ingredients together until smooth. Mine was a little stiff so I added a tablespoon of milk to loosen it slightly. You want a nice spreading consistency, but one which will not slip down the side.

Spread the filling on the base layer, place the top layer, and then decorate with a little sifted icing sugar. Note the schoolgirl error - I left the 'top' layer top side down on the wire rack, leading to line marks left in the top. Doh. At least it still tasted great!

Enjoy with a cuppa.


Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Sweetheart Cupcakes

I've been playing around with some baking ideas for Valentine's Day for some weeks now, and this was my first attempt at making some of them a reality. It also gave me the opportunity to try out some cute heart shaped foil baking cups I found in my local kitchenware store.

These cupcakes are made using the Amaretto Cupcake and Frosting recipes from the Primrose Bakery Book. I've made a few of their recipes before, so was fairly confident the sponge would work (while delicious, the sponge was a bit dense for me), but the buttercream turned out a bit runny, so if making again, I would adapt the recipe to not include as much liquid.

The little chocolate love hearts were made using one of my new toys - a silicone chocolate mold from Lakeland in the shape of little 'love hearts'. This was the first time I had melted chocolate to make decorations (I love doing this blog - it's making me try so many new things!). The one thing I learnt from this is the importance of making sure the melted chocolate fills every last nook and cranny in the mold, otherwise you end up with little air bubbles that spoil the effect.

Ingredients (makes 12)

110g room temperature unsalted butter
180g caster sugar
2 large eggs
125g self raising flour, sifted
120g plain flour, sifted and combined with the self raising flour
125ml semi-skimmed milk
1/2 tspn amaretto or almond extract

125g caster sugar
125ml water
1/2 tspn amaretto or almond extract
(This makes a lot of syrup - you could easily halve the proportions and still have plenty for the cupcakes)

115g room temperature unsalted butter
60ml semi-skimmed milk at room temperature
1 tspn vanilla extract
500g icing sugar sifted
1/4 teaspoon amaretto or almond extract

Prehat the oven to 160 fan / 180 conventional / gas 4 and prepare your baking tins.

Cream the butter and sugar until pale and smooth, then add and mix in the eggs one at a time.

Add the amaretto or almond extract to the milk. Add one third of the flour mix to the creamed mixture and beat until smooth. Add a third of the milk, and incorporate. Continue alternating flour and milk a third at a time until all incorporated.

Scoop into the cupcake cups to two thirds full.

Bake for approx 25 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack.

Combine the ingredients for the syrup in a saucepan and heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Spoon over the cupcakes while they are still warm.

To make the buttercream, place the butter in a bowl and mix briefly so it is smooth. Add half the icing sugar along with the milk, vanilla and amaretto. Beat well until smooth. Add the remaining icing sugar and beat again to make a smooth icing.

When the cupcakes were cool, I then piped swirls over the top an decorated with some heart shaped sprinkles and my chocolate love hearts.

As I mentioned earlier, if making again, I would not use as much liquid in the buttercream, as the swirls did start to collapse slightly. Perhaps try 30ml milk only, and see how you go checking the consistency until you get what you like.

To make the chocolate hearts, take 100g chocolate (I used Milky Bar buttons). Place 70g in a double boiler and heat gently until just melted and smooth. Remove from heat and stir in the remaining 30g chocolate. Mix until incorporated and smooth. Pour into mold and allow to set (I placed it in the fridge for 20 minutes).

Decorate the cupcakes. Here's how mine turned out.

Happy Valentine's Day,