Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Penguin Cupcakes

I decided to make these cute penguin cupcakes inspired by my friend, Caroline's attempt recently. She followed the instructions from the hello cupcake book and hers looked amazing. I thought it would be fun to give them a go but I underestimated how time consuming and messy it would be!! I am still proud of my final efforts and would definitely make them again. In fact I'm having a little international challenge with my friends and relatives to see who can make the best penguin. If you want to join in, just email me a picture!
I used the Cranberry and Orange cupcake as a base but you can use any cupcake flavour.  I then used mini doughnuts for the head and body.  I couldn't find any donut holes (round balls of donuts) but I think these worked fine except that my penguin looks like it has a hole in its head! Note to self - fill donut hole with frosting next time! Unfortunately I didn't take many step by step pictures as it was a very messy process!
Once you've formed the head and body of the penguin, place cakes in the freezer for at least 10 minutes so it's easier to frost and decorate.
The frosting proved to be the most difficult part for me. I decided to make my own chocolate frosting but couldn't turn brown into black despite a bottle of black food colouring! I decided to make white icing instead (icing sugar plus warm water) and initially had grey frosting (white + black = grey) but eventually got a nice shiny black frosting with the help of my black food paste colouring.  In the hello cupcake book, they suggest using a tub of ready made icing (my friend used the Betty Crocker chocolate fudge icing + 1/2 bottle of black food colouring)
Then came the fun bit of putting the penguin together. Dip the cake into frosting until everything is coated. Cut a piece of marshmallow for the body.  Stick half a fruitella for the beak and oreo cookies for the wings.  Finally, pipe the eyes on with writing icing.

 shape head and body with mini doughnuts as shown 

 preferably fill top of donut with icing and then place in freezer for at least 10 minutes. 

 My icing was a little too runny! 

 the beak kept falling off! 

 droopy eyed 

 the next day when the icing had dried 

I had a second attempt at the penguins as a joint effort with my friend Dave. This time I used the Betty Crocker icing as suggested in the book. We also put a lot more icing to shape the penguin's head and body and filled the donut hole. Here they are the Happy Feet Penguins :)
Which one is your favourite?
Do you think the first or the second attempt looks better?

 filling and shaping with icing 








Cranberry and Orange Cupcake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

I hope everyone had a good Christmas.  I certainly did! :) I did a fair bit of baking last week which I will aim to post over the next few days. I made Christmas cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery this time - Cranberry and orange. These were so good, I made them 3 times!

 chopped cranberries (I used a chopper the second time round) 

 add orange zest - lovely taste and smell! 

 i love the colour of fresh cranberries 

 fresh from the oven 

 topped with a fresh cranberry which everyone thought was a grape! 

For the cupcake
Makes ~15
2 large eggs
200g caster sugar
100g corn oil
135ml sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Grated zest of 1 orange (you need 1 teaspoon but I used the whole orange!)
228g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
140g fresh or frozen cranberries, finely chopped

For the orange cream cheese frosting
175g cream cheese
450g icing sugar, sifted
125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
Grated zest of 1 orange

  • Preheat the oven to 180C.
  • In a large mixing bowl beat the eggs and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  • Slowly pour in the oil, a little at a time, beating well after each addition, then repeat the process with the sour cream and vanilla extract, making sure everything is well combined, and incorporate the orange zest at the end.
  • Sift the dry ingredients together in a bowl and then add to the batter and beat well. 
  • Finally, fold in the cranberries gently. 
  • Carefully spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases, filling them to about 2/3 full. 
  • Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until slightly raised and golden brown. 
  • Allow to cool in their tins for 10 minutes before turning out on to a wire rack to cool completely. 
  • To make the icing, place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat until thoroughly combined and the icing is smooth and pale. 

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Christmas Cupcakes

More festive baking with Christmas cupcakes from the Love Bakery.  It's a lovely combination of cinnamon and cranberries which pair really well together.  It smelt really good in the oven.  I finally got a chance to use my Christmas cupcake wrappers and Christmas sprinkles - they're red and green Christmas trees! Aren't they cute?

For the cake
125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
125g caster sugar
1.5 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs, at room temperature
125g self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoon semi-skimmed milk
150g dried cranberries

For the frosting
60g unsalted butter, at room temperature
85g full fat cream cheese
225g icing sugar, sifted
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I used double the amount)
Small pinch of ground cloves (I omitted this)

  • Preheat oven to 180C.
  • Add the butter, sugar and vanilla extract to the electric mixer and cream together for 7 minutes, or until light and fluffy. 
  • Add the eggs, one by one, and mix for 2 minutes.
  • Mix the flour, baking powder and cinnamon together in a separate bowl, then add to the mixer and mix until incorporated.
  • Add the milk and mix for a further minute, then add the cranberries and mix in with a tablespoon.
  • Divide the mixture evenly between the muffin cases.
  • Bake for 25 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and immediately transfer to a wire rack. Leave to cool. 
  • To make the frosting, cream the butter and cream cheese together in the mixer for 3 minutes.
  • Add the icing sugar and beat until smooth.
  • Watch closely, as the frosting must remain firm if you are going to pipe it. 
  • Add the cinnamon and cloves (if using) and mix to combine. 
  • Chill in the refrigerator until ready to use. 

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Christmas M&M cookies

Finally some festive baking!! I had great plans but alas was ill for a week so it's time to catch up this week! M&M'S have a special red and green xmas edition so I made candy cookies again with a festive touch. I love the colours.

175g caster sugar
110g brown sugar
225g unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract (or 2 tsp vanilla essence)
450g plain flour
pinch of salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
55ml milk

  • Beat together the sugars and butter until pale and fluffy. 
  • In a seperate bowl, use a whisk to beat together the vanilla and eggs. 
  • Gradually transfer this egg mixture to the creamed mixture, beating between each addition. This will prevent the mixture from curdling. 
  • Over this mixture, sift the flour, baking powder, soda and salt. 
  • Use a metal spoon to carefully fold together until no lumps remain. 
  • Gradually add the milk and stir until soft dough forms (be careful not to add too much milk or dough will be too sticky). 
  • Leave in fridge for 20 minutes, covered. 
  • Preheat the oven to 200 degrees (fan-forced) and prepare 2 large cookie trays. 
  • Remove from fridge and roll small balls of mixture; put on prepared tray and flatten slightly. 
  • The cookies will spread a fair bit when cooking. 
  • Continue rolling balls until no mixture remains. 
  • Decorate the balls of dough with M&Ms.
  • Bake biscuits for 8-9 minutes or until they are golden brown, but still slightly soft. They will harden slightly upon cooling. 
  • If you want a crunchier cookie, then cook for longer until brown and rather firm to touch when removed from oven.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Banana, pecan and honey loaf

Whenever I have over-ripe bananas, I tend to make banana bread. It's really quick and easy to make and perfect for breakfast or tea. I love nuts and honey so thought this recipe would be perfect for me and it didn't fail to disappoint.  The bread was really moist and flavourful.
Look out for some festive baking next week! 

 ready to go in the oven

 i love the lovely brown colour

175g softened butter , plus extra for greasing
175g golden caster sugar
3 eggs
140g self-raising flour
85g ground almonds
½ tsp baking powder
100ml milk
2 small, very ripe bananas
50g pecans , chopped, plus extra

  • Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. 
  • Grease and line a 2lb/900g loaf tin with a long strip of baking parchment. 
  • To make the loaf cake batter, beat the butter and sugar with an electric whisk until light and fluffy. 
  • Add the bananas in a few chunks and beat in with the eggs, flour, almonds, baking powder and milk until smooth - the whisk will mash the bananas. 
  • Stir in the pecans, then scrape into the tin. 
  • Bake for 45-50 mins until golden, risen and a skewer poked in comes out clean. 
  • Cool in the tin, then lift out.

Banana and honey teabread

I actually made this a few weeks ago but have not had a chance to post about it.  This is a simple recipe from Mary Berry.  I love the addition of nutmeg which really complements the banana flavour. I still can't decide on my favourite banana bread recipe and I have tried quite a few! I seem to always have over-ripe bananas and they almost always get turned into cake or bread.
Do you have a favourite banana bread recipe?

 mash bananas 

 rub flour, nutmeg and butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs  

 Add the other ingredients 

 ready to go in the oven 


225g self raising flour
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
100g butter
3 bananas
100g caster sugar
grated rind of 1 lemon
2 extra large eggs
6 tablespoons thick honey

  • Preheat the oven to 180C.
  • Lightly grease and base line a 900g loaf tin with greased greaseproof paper.
  • Measure the flour and nutmeg into a large bowl and rub in the butter using the fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  • Peel and mash the bananas and stir into the flour mixture with the sugar, lemon rind, eggs and honey.
  • Beat well until evenly mixed, then turn into the prepared tin and level the surface.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 1 and 1/4 hours or until a fine skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Red Velvet Cake

This is yet another birthday cake for my mum.  She had a birthday lunch with her friends so I agreed to make the cake for them. She had a store bought red velvet cake for one of her birthday dinners (there have been many birthday celebrations!) and really enjoyed it so I thought I'd make her one myself.  My family thought it was much better than the store bought one... well I suppose they would say that as they are family! I have to admit it tasted really good. The cake was nice and moist and I really love the colour of the cake. I wanted to try some different frosting methods but they didn't quite turn out as expected. I tried using my mum's piping syringe with attachments which was difficult to control compared to a piping bag.  Oh well practice makes perfect, right? Plus the icing got quite runny as I had to re-do the piping a few times and didn't have time to firm it up in the fridge as I was running late! The final result is quite plain and simple but at least the taste spoke for itself.
Incidentally this is also my 100th post so it's fitting that it's a birthday red velvet cake :)
PS apologies for the quality of photos, most were taken from my phone.

 fresh from the oven, I was a little worried it was not red enough but it looks better in reality.  


 First attempt at frosting borders. Didn't quite turn out so I scraped it all off ...

 ...and ended up with this! 

 tried to make lines on the side of the cake with a new cake tool I have but I obviously need more practice! I do like the borders on the edges.


 the photo doesn't do it justice but it was a beautiful red colour 

For the cake 
120g unsalted butter, room temperature
300g caster sugar
2 eggs
20g cocoa powder
40mls red food colouring (I used 30mls and it turned out beautifully red)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
240ml buttermilk (You can make your own by adding 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to 1 cup of milk)
300g plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
3 teaspoons white wine vinegar

Cream Cheese Frosting
600g icing sugar, sifted
100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
250g cream cheese cold

  • Preheat the oven to 170C
  • Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Slowly add the eggs and beat well.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, red food colouring and vanilla extract to make a thick, dark paste.
  • Add to the butter mixture and mix well.
  • Slowly pour in half the buttermilk, then add half the flour and beat until everything is well incorporated.
  • Repeat until all the flour and buttermilk have been added.
  • Add salt, bicarbonate of soda and vinegar.
  • Beat until well mixed.
  • Pour mixture into prepared cake tins and bake in a preheated oven for 30-35 minutes.
  • Leave to cool slightly before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
  • To make the frosting, beat together the icing sugar and butter and then add the cream cheese in one go and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy. Be careful not to overbeat as it can become runny.