Friday, 29 March 2013

Easter Cupcakes

It's Good Friday today and I'm (hopefully) sunning myself in Jordan when you read this. I've scheduled a few posts including AlphaBakes on 1st April so do come back and see what letter we are baking with in April. I promise it's not an April's fool joke :)

Back to these cakes. I wanted to use my easter cupcake kit that I bought from America last year. I've always wanted to make an easter nest cupcake so thought this was a good time. I couldn't decide if I should make a chocolate cupcake or a lemon cupcake so in the end I made a lemon cupcake with chocolate cream cheese frosting. The combination was divine! The lemon cupcakes were moist and zesty and paired well with the chocolate cream cheese. The decorations on top were the icing on the cake, pun intended :)

I'm entering this to Calendar Cakes hosted by Laura from Laura Loves Cakes and co-hosted by Rachel from Dolly Bakes. The theme this month is Easter Extravaganza.

Happy Easter!

 Easter cupcake kit, mini eggs, lemon, philly choc cream cheese, twirl bars

 adding lemon zest

 fill cupcake cases about 2/3 full

 place a mini egg in the centre

 you can add more batter if you like but it will sink on baking

 fresh from the oven - can't see the hidden egg

 spread a thin layer of choccy philly on top of each cupcake. decorate with twirl bars and mini eggs as shown. 

 my easter cupcake decoration kit

 cross section - the baked mini egg held its shape really well!

Makes 12 cupcakes

110g unsalted butter, at room temperature
225g caster sugar, preferably golden
2 large eggs, free-range or organic
150g self-raising flour
125g plain flour
90ml semi-skimmed milk
30ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
grated zest of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons greek yoghurt
1 tub chocolate cream cheese
twirl bars
mini eggs

  • Preheat the oven to 180C. 
  • Place cupcake cases into a muffin tray. 
  • In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. 
  • Add the eggs, one at a time and beat well.
  • In a jug, combine the milk, lemon juice and yoghurt. 
  • Add one-third of the flour to the butter mixture and mix well. 
  • Add half the milk mixture and mix well. 
  • Add another third of flour and mix well. 
  • Add the remainder of the milk and mix well. 
  • Finish by adding the last third of flour and the lemon zest and beat well.
  • If the mixture looks like it is curdling slightly, don’t panic – simply add another spoonful of plain flour and beat well.
  • Spoon out the mixture evenly between the cases and bake in the oven for 25 minutes. 
  • Leave in the tin for 10 minutes and then allow to cool completely on a wire rack. 
  • Once cooled, spread a thin layer of chocolate cream cheese frosting on each cupcake.
  • Roughly chop some twirl bars and arrange place on top of the cupcakes in a rough triangular or circular pattern to resemble a nest.
  • Add 3 mini eggs in the centre.
  • Finish with the cupcake toppers.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Easter Mini Egg Brownies

I can't believe it's almost Easter - it's really early this year and seems to have snuck up on me. Last year I made Easter eggs with a twist - cake baked in real eggshells. This year, I made brownies and cupcakes. Guess I'd better start planning for next year! :)

I got this recipe from Jo's Blue Aga. Jo is the winner of 2011 Great British Bake Off and has really great recipes on her site. I remember seeing this last year and bookmarked it to try so here it is. It's a brownies recipe with mini eggs inside and on top. I put the mini eggs in the freezer  as suggested but mine still cracked after baking :( My new oven is very hot so next time I might try baking at a lower temperature. The brownies were crisp and chocolatey and I loved the addition of the mini eggs.

I'm entering this to Calendar Cakes hosted by Laura from Laura loves Cakes and co-hosted by Rachel from Dolly Bakes. The theme this month is Easter Extravaganza.

I'm also entering this to bookmarked recipes hosted by Jacqueline from Tinned Tomatoes.

 I finally get to use my jar of vanilla sugar which has been in storage for months and smells heavenly. 

 ready to go in the oven

 add mini eggs on top after baking for 25 minutes

 you can see the mini egg inside

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Cake & Bake Show Tickets

The Cake & Bake Show is an extravaganza of all things baking from bread baking to sugar crafting, with a few celebrity appearances mixed in for good measure - taking place in Manchester from Friday 5th to Sunday 7th April 2013.  

Renshaw have teamed up with The Cake & Bake Show to giveaway five pairs of tickets to the entire weekend, plus exclusive tickets to the Renshaw Sugarcraft Academy.

All you have to do is upload an image of a cake you’ve created and volia! You’re in with a chance to win. Hurry as the closing date is Thursday 28th March 2013 at 11.59pm GMT.  Official rules can be found here

Italian mixed nut and chocolate chip biscotti

I really struggled to come up with "I" recipes for our AlphaBakes challenge this month. I made ice cream cake pops earlier in the month and couldn't think of anything else until I thought about Italian biscotti. I found this recipe online from an Italian who lives in London and blogs at Broxholm Road. Her recipe is called Tozzetti alle nocciole della Tuscia. Tuscia is where she comes from and this recipe is from her mum. I was really excited to try this authentic Italian recipe but sadly my biscotti looks nowhere like hers :( I'm not quite sure where I went wrong as I followed the recipe closely but the end result was still really tasty. My dough was not sticky enough and I wasn't sure how to correct this - anyone has any tips/ideas? The biscotti was really crunchy and nutty and I particularly liked the chocolate chips.

As mentioned, this is for AlphaBakes, a monthly blogging challenge hosted this month by Caroline from Caroline Makes and by myself on alternate months. The letter this month is "I" for Italian biscotti. I will be hosting April's challenge so check back on 1st April to see what the next letter is. Don't worry, it won't be an April fool's joke ;) 

I used mixed nuts instead of hazelnuts as that's what I had 

 Making the dough which looks a bit crumbly 

 adding in the nuts and chocolate chips 

 my poor attempt at biscotti making! 

 baked and ready to slice 

 then baked again 


Recipe from Broxholm Road

350g flour (plus extra if required)
250g caster sugar
80g butter
2 eggs (plus 1 for brushing)
250g mixed nuts or hazelnuts
130g chocolate chips
1.5 teaspoon baking powder
Grated zest of 1 lemon
pinch of salt
  • Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
  • Roast the nuts until lightly browned, approximately 8 - 10 minutes. Allow to cool.
  • Melt the butter in a saucepan or microwave and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, beat the eggs together. 
  • Add in flour, sugar, butter, baking powder, lemon zest and salt.
  • Mix well. 
  • Stir in nuts and chocolate chips.
  • Shape the dough into 2 long sausage shapes. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour. 
  • Arrange the sausage shaped dough on a baking tray and brush with egg wash. 
  • Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. 
  • Allow to cool for 30-40 minutes.
  • Slice each log diagonally.
  • Arrange slices on a baking tray and bake until dry, approximately 10-15 minutes.
  • Allow to cool completely. 

Monday, 25 March 2013

Secret Recipe Club: Andes Mint Chip Cookie

It's Secret Recipe Club (SRC) Group D reveal day again. A quick recap about the club - Secret Recipe Club was founded by Amanda from Amanda's Cookin and is now run by April from Angels Homestead. Each month, we are assigned a secret blog where we choose a recipe to make and everyone posts on the same day of the month. This month seems to have flown by so I'm glad I was organised and baked these at the beginning of the month but I had to wait until today to share these delights with you. My assignment this month is Fearless Homemaker. It's run by Amy who describes herself as "a food + cocktail lover, entertaining enthusiast + crafty DIYer. Raised in Boston, she's lived in gorgeous Nashville, Tennessee for over ten years and documents her culinary adventures, fun gatherings and crafting projects on her blog. Do head on over and check out her blog which is easy to navigate and has lots of interesting content to keep you surfing for hours! 

The first category I looked for naturally was the desserts category and came across lots of delicious recipes. As usual, I had a hard time making a choice but finally decided on these Andes Mint Chip Cookies.  The others that made my shortlist were raspberry swirl cheesecake bars, nutella swirl pound cake, hot cocoa cupcakes with marshmallow buttercream and caramel nutella crumb bars

These cookies are deliciously minty and chocolatey at the same time. If you like the mint/chocolate combination, you will definitely like these cookies. Everyone that tried them enjoyed it and I'll definitely be baking them again once I restock on these mint chips which I bought in America. 

 mint chips from America 

 adding the mint chips to the cookie dough


Recipe adapted slightly (reduced sugar amount and minus cocoa powder) from fearless homemaker

113g butter
100g brown sugar (use 150g if you prefer a sweeter cookie)
85g caster sugar
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
312g flour
1 x 10oz bag of Andes Mint Chips

  • Preheat the oven to 170C. 
  • Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time.
  • Add in vanilla extract.
  • Mix in the dry ingredients.
  • Finally stir in the mint chips.
  • Chill dough for 30 minutes in the fridge. 
  • Use a small ice cream scoop/cookie scoop to scoop out cookie dough spaced apart on a baking tray.
  • Bake for 8 - 10 minutes or until just set on top. 
  • Allow to cook for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Bananas foster crepe cake

What's your favourite meal of the day? For me it's dinner as I associate it with fancy dinners, indulgent meals and a satisfying end to the day (food wise). Breakfast is usually cereal or fruit and lunch a quick grab and go affair. However, when I'm on holidays, breakfast is my favourite meal of the day. I love breakfast type foods such as bacon, eggs, pancakes which is why when I went to America I totally over indulged in breakfast!! Now I can have 'Breakfast for Dinner' which is the title of a new book by Lindsay Landis & Taylor Hackbarth. They are a husband and wife team who blog on Love & Olive Oil

It's a nice hardback book with a total of 159 pages including the index. There's a quote at the beginning of the book which I absolutely love. "Everyone runs around trying to find a place where they still serve breakfast because eating breakfast, even if it's 5 o'clock in the afternoon, is a sign that the day has just begun and good things can still happen" - Jonathan Goldstein. 

The book is divided into the following chapters. I've included a selection of recipes from each section but there are a lot more in the book! 

Getting Started - a list of common ingredients including photos and a brief note
Main Dishes - steaks & eggs benedict, italian-style stuffed french toast, egg & chorizo burritos, frittata florentine, bacon fried rice, goat cheese monte cristos, polenta cakes with shitake mushrooms, cornmeal pancakes with beer-braised short ribs, breakfast sausage ravioli 
Sides & Starters - maple-glazed pork meatballs, parmesan beignets, bcaon jam, espresso baked beans, moroccan chicken cinnamon rolls, scrambled egg & salmon quesadillas
Drinks & Desserts - maple bacon cupcakes, mocha ice cream pie with biscotti crust, lemon poppy seed thumbprints, bacon old-fashioneds, bananas foster crepe  cake, chocolate brownie waffles with blackberry sauce, strawberry & basil shortcakes, doughnut fudge sundaes, mint chocolate chip pancakes
Metric Conversion Chart

The book is well presented with an accompanying photo for each recipe. Each recipe page gives you a brief introduction plus basic detail like how many servings it makes, active time and total time. The ingredients list are on the left and the instructions on the right. I particularly like the step by step photo pages which are available for certain techniques such as 'how to make ravioli', 'how to freeze homemade pizza', 'crepes made easy' 

I chose to make the bananas foster crepe cake as it looked impressive and I'm sure you know how much I love bananas! It was time consuming to make and it does state in the recipe that total active time is 24 hours but it was well worth it. I served it at my afternoon tea and it was one of the favourites of the day. It was like eating a giant banana pancake with caramel sauce. 

My verdict - It's a great recipe book which contain twists on classic recipes plus some new, inventive recipes.  The main plus points for me are that there is an accompanying photo for each recipe which is beautifully photographed and presented. As mentioned, I also like the step by step photos.  It's an American book so the units are in cups but there is a helpful conversion chart at the back. Some of the recipes are a little on the adventurous side but I'd give credit for creativity. There's also a lot of bacon recipes which is great for me but perhaps not so much for the vegetarians! Personally, I think it's a great book to have in your collection especially when you want to make something a little different or when you have guests over.

 crepe making station 

 caramel for the bananas  

 cook bananas until soft and brown 

 making the filling 

 first crepe

 add filling to each layer 

 finish with a crepe on top 

 add caramelized bananas on top and serve 

 it held it's shape really well and you can clearly see the layers 

Recipe reproduced with permission from the publisher 

Simple sweet crepes
1.5 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups whole milk
4 eggs
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • Combine all ingredients in a blender. Mix on medium speed for 10-15 seconds or until mixture is smooth and uniform, with the consistency of heavy cream; if it's too thick or too thin, mix in a bit more milk or flour, respectively
  • Pour into a bowl and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hours.
  • Heat a 6 inch diameter non stick skillet over medium heat. Brush with melted butter. 
  • Ladle 2-3 tablespoons of batter onto the center of the skillet; tilt pan to swirl batter evenly around pan and form a thin, uniform layer.
  • Cook for 1-2 minutes, or until bottom is lightly golden brown. 
  • With a large thin spatula, carefully flip the crepe and cook for another minute. 
  • Transfer to a baking sheet to cool. 
  • Repeat with remaining batter. 

For filling
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 bananas, peeled and sliced
1.5 teaspoons rum
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups whole milk
4 large egg yolks
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

About 20 6-inch crepes (recipe above)

For topping
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 banana, sliced on the diagonal
1 tablespoon rum

  • For the filling, melt butter with 3 tablespoons of the brown sugar and cinnamon in a skillet over medium heat. 
  • When butter is melted and sugar is dissolved, stir in banana slices. 
  • Cook for 8-10 minutes, or until bananas are softened and beginning to brown.
  • Stir in rum and cook or 1-2 minutes more.
  • Let cool to lukewarm; mash with a fork or potato masher. 
  • In a saucepan, whisk together the 1/3 cup brown sugar, cornstarch and salt. 
  • Whisk in milk and cook over medium heat, continuing to whisk, until mixture begins to thicken and just starts to bubble, about 5-7 minutes.
  • In a small bowl, whisk egg yolks.
  • Slowly whisk in some of the warm milk mixture, 1/4 cup at a time, until about half of milk mixture has been incorporated and yolk mixture is warm to touch. 
  • You want to to this gradually, so you temper the egg yolks rather than cook them. 
  • Pour yolk mixture back into the saucepan and return to medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick, 2-3 minutes more. 
  • Stir in mashed banana mixture and vanilla extract. 
  • Press pudding through a fine mesh to remove any lumps; cover and refrigerate until completely cool, at least 1 hour.
  • Place 1 crepe on a plate or serving dish.
  • Spread a thin layer of the filling on top. 
  • Top with another crepe. 
  • Continue layering filling and crepes until you run out, ending with a crepe on top. 
  • Refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours but preferably overnight. 
  • Just before serving, prepare topping: combine butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a skillet over medium heat.
  • When butter is melted and sugar is dissolved add banana slices.
  • Cook for 8-10 minute, or until bananas are softened and beginning to brown. 
  • Add rum and cook for 1-2 minutes more.
  • Add banana slices on top of cake;pour remaining caramel sauce over top. 

Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of Breakfast for Dinner to review free of charge. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Savoury toast cups

This is not a dessert or sweet dish but I wanted to share it with you as I made it for my recent afternoon tea for the first time and everyone loved it! It's so simple to make and the variations are endless. These would be perfect for breakfast/brunch or afternoon tea. They were absolutely delicious! I was really impressed that they held their shape (apart from the vegetarian ones) and I love the individual portions. One of my guests suggested baking them in ramekins which is a brilliant idea. 

I decided to make a miniature full breakfast and put bacon, mushroom, spinach, tomato and egg in a toast cup. I also made 2 tomato, mushroom and spinach at the request of my guests. You can vary the ingredients depending on what you like. I can imagine sausages, peppers, courgettes or cheese being ideal ingredients - perhaps not all at once! The trick is not to overfill which is what I did as I wanted as many ingredients as possible.

 I used bacon (cooked until just brown), mushroom, spinach, eggs and tomatoes (not shown)

 Get a large round cutter and cut out a circle of bread. 

 use a rolling pin to flatten 

 cut each circle in half and use it to line a muffin tin rounded side up. Cut a quarter of the flattened bread and use to place in the centre. Alternatively, you can use the whole circle but you'll get some ridges. 

 Brush melted butter over the bread before filling. If you are using bacon, remember to pre-cook the bacon - do not use raw bacon as it will not cook properly. Push a piece of bacon into the toast cup with the sides overhanging, then add vegetables on top 

 Finally crack an egg in each cup - I only managed this once (bottom row, middle) as the others overflowed (bottom right) The solution - crack 2 eggs in a bowl, give it a light whisk and pour a little egg mixture into each cup. Season with salt and pepper. Bake at 180C for about 20 minutes depending on how you like your eggs done. I took them out whilst the yolk was still runny but the egg whites were just set 

 the finished product - I love the crispy bacon edge!

 cross section