Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Giant Strawberries and Cream Cupcake

I made this for a surprise birthday at work. I wanted something girly and pink so decided on a giant strawberries and cream cupcake. I've made the same cake about 4 years ago back in 2010 and it looks so much better now. It's good to know that my cake decorating skills have actually improved! Back then it was my first time making a giant cupcake and I had no clue about decorating it. I have to say this is the first time it's turned out so professional looking and that's mainly due to the candy melt base. I will definitely be using this technique in the future although I may try my hand at using fondant one day. 

The cake itself was delicious and the layer of strawberry jam in the middle really added to the taste and texture of the cake. The candy melt shell was tasty too as it was vanilla flavoured and complemented the cake well. 

 making the candy melt shell 

 coat the cake pan in melted candy melts and allow to set in the fridge 

 adding fresh strawberries to the cake mix 

 trim the cake so it will fit into the shell. A small bit broke off as you can see but it will be covered so no one will notice! 

 add some strawberry jam in the middle 

 then cover with the top layer 

 Pipe pink buttercream frosting on top, add some sprinkles and edible glitter and a wafer daisy on top. 

 You can see the edible glitter - it really makes the cake sparkle and gives it a special touch

For the cupcake
225g caster sugar
210g self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
25g cornflour
150g fresh, ripe strawberries, hulled and roughly chopped
225g unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 large eggs

For the Buttercream Icing 
110g unsalted butter,at room temperature
220g icing sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract
a few drops of milk if required
a few drops of pink food colouring 

For the cupcake shell
1 x 340g bag of white candy melts

  • Make the candy melt shell by melting the candy melts in a microwave or in a bowl over a pan of simmering water.
  • It will be quite a thick mixture so use a pastry brush to coat the inside of the cupcake case and place in the fridge to set. You will need to repeat this process twice to ensure a thick shell. 
  • To remove the shell, very gently peel the edges back and then turn out the shell - be very careful towards the end as you don't want to break it. 
  • If the top is uneven, heat a large pan on medium heat. Place the shell upside down and give it a few twists then remove immediately. 
  • Preheat the oven to 160C.
  • Spray giant cupcake cases liberally with non stick spray. 
  • Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. 
  • Beat in the eggs, one at a time until well mixed.
  • Mix in the flours and baking powder and finally stir in the chopped strawberries 
  • Carefully spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases, filling them to about 2/3 full. 
  • Bake in the oven for about 35-40 minutes - the bottom will need longer to cook. Check that it is fully cooked by placing a skewer in the centre of the cake and ensure that it comes out clean. 
  • Remove from the oven and leave in their tins for about 10 minutes before placing on a wire rack to cool. 
  • Make the icing by beating all the ingredients together in an electric mixer until smooth. You may or may not need the milk depending on the consistency of icing required. 
  • Decorate as shown or be creative and choose your own design. 

Monday, 28 April 2014

SRC: No Bake Berry Cheesecake

It's the last Monday of the month which means that it's Secret Recipe Club Group D Reveal day! I love the Secret Recipe Club and look forward to reveal day every month. The concept is simple each blog is assigned another blog in secret and the idea is that you choose a recipe to make from your secret blog and reveal it on the same day.

This month my assignment is Fantastical Sharing of Recipes written by Sarah who shares what her family likes to eat and what they like. She is also working on recipe development and sharing original ideas. Her blog is really easy to navigate and I like that there are thumbnail pictures for the recipe index. As expected, they are mostly family recipes and she has lovely photos to accompany each recipe.

As usual, it was difficult to choose a recipe to make as there were so many I wanted to try. So I asked J what he would like and he immediately chose this No Bake Berry Cheesecake. It's not a surprising choice as he loves cheesecake and he loves berries! This is the first time I've used condensed milk in a cheesecake recipe and it's absolutely gorgeous. The cheesecake is really smooth and creamy and the berry sauce is divine. I made a really thick biscuit base which helped to cut through the sweetness of the filling and berries.  I can foresee a lot of repeated requests for this one!

Other recipes that I've also bookmarked are Caramel Filled Brownies, Nutella Twix Blondies, Rolo Cupcakes, Caramel Frappucino Cupcakes, Candied Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies, Death by Chocolate Sea Salt Cookies and Best Ever Peanut Butter Fudge. She has a really good selection of recipes to suit every occasion and every taste so do check out her blog.

 I made a thick base layer 

 Filled it with the cream cheese/condensed milk filling 

 cooked down lots of berries with some sugar 

 piled the berry sauce on top 


Recipe adapted slightly from Fantastical Sharing on Recipes

1 large pack of digestive biscuits
155g butter
200g cream cheese
1 can condensed milk
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the berry topping
I used a mixture of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries - approximately 450g 
Approximately 50 -75g caster sugar -adjust to taste

  • Blitz the digestive biscuits in a food processor or place in a ziplock bag and bash with a rolling pin then place in a large bowl. 
  • Melt the butter and pour over the crushed biscuits.
  • Mix well with a spoon. 
  • Press into your serving dish and let it set in the fridge. 
  • Make the filling by mixing the cream cheese and condensed milk together in an electric mixer. Add in the vanilla extract and lemon juice.
  • Spoon over the cheesecake base and allow to set in the fridge. 
  • Cook the berries and sugar in a small saucepan on a low to medium heat until the berries have cooked but not turned to mush. 
  • Pour over the cheesecake or serve it on the side. 

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Trash Pack Birthday Cake

This is another cake order from work. Danny wanted a trash pack cake and again I had no idea what they were. It's a set of toys called trashies that you collect and it's basically things that are in a bin such as a rotten apple core, pizza slice, fish bone. He initially wanted a cake in the shape of the garbage truck but I didn't feel I had enough cake decorating skills to pull it off! A quick search on the internet showed different ways of making a cake that resembles a trash can and that's what I went with in the end. I am really impressed with the end result and so was the birthday boy! He thought it was the best cake ever and was really excited to show it off at his birthday party!

The cake is chocolate cake as requested. I baked 5 x 7inch round cakes and stacked them up with chocolate buttercream in between. I used Nigella's old fashioned chocolate cake recipe which is one of my favorites. It's a really easy mix all in one recipe and tastes divine. I made some grey buttercream by adding a small amount of black food coloring to vanilla buttercream. I'm not as confident with fondant and wasn't sure how to wrap it round the cake to look like a trash can - I suppose I'd have to freeze the cakes and put them on their side? 

The best bit of the cake is the "green slime". I bought a tube of Wilton sparkle gel and drizzled it all over so it looked like slime oozing out. The kids were seriously impressed and so am I! The trash can lid is made from a mixture of modeling paste and fondant. The dirt is crushed Oreo and rich tea biscuits (I had some leftover from my minecraft cake). I poked holes in the cake and pushed the jelly worms inside so it looks like the worms are crawling out. The fish bone was piped freehand with melted white chocolate. I ordered a fish bone ice cube tray but didn't realize it was being shipped from outside the uk so it arrived too late. However this messy fish bone looks more realistic as a rotting fish bone in the trash! 

 Building up the layers 

 I used 5 layers in the end 

 Grey buttercream, chocolate frosting, chocolate "dirt", Wilton sparkle gel, edible paper wafer trash pack characters, sour worms 

 After stacking the cakes, I put grey buttercream around the outside. 

 Making the trash can lid - I made this 2 days in advance so that it would set. I cut out the same size circle as my cake tin 

 I used a smaller bowl to make the inner round indentation and a skewer to make the grooves. The handle was formed freehand with fondant. 

 The melted white chocolate fish bone 

 The eyes are made from marshmallow with a bit of black food colouring for the eye ball and really transformed the cake when I put them in! I ordered some edible trash pack cake toppers from ebay as I was initially planning on a slightly different cake so I just stuck them all around the trash can and it worked beautifully. The best bit as I mentioned is the green slime! Look at it oozing beautifully :) 

 With the lid on. I put a blob of 'green slime' and added a '7' cut from fondant. 

 With the fish bone 

 The view from the back - a little wonky but I think it adds to the overall trash can effect. 

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Orange Spice Cake, Breakfast Smoothie and a Review

If you know me well, you will know that I love kitchen gadgets. I have a lovely new addition to my kitchen and to christen itI started thinking about recipes to showcase my new food processor. I remembered watching Mary Berry making an orange spice cake on the Great British Bake Off which looked really good. She used a food processor to make the recipe so I decided to give it a try. Plus it's a very spring-like cake which is perfectly seasonal.

The cake itself was really easy to make. You have to boil a whole orange until it's soft and then blitz it in the food processor. You add all the cake ingredients into the food processor and that's it. The cake itself was absolutely delicious with a strong orange flavour. The hint of spice added to the flavours and paired well with the mascarpone cheese filling. My colleague made the lemon version of this cake and that was really good too! I will have to try that next time.

I also made a smoothie with the liquidiser and it was so quick and easy. It has now become a breakfast staple which is perfect for the warmer weather. I used up fruits that were past their prime and added some milk, honey and a little scoop of ice cream. You can of course use yoghurt and the fruit variations are endless.

So what I did think of the Kenwood FP190? Well, when it first arrived I thought it was smaller than I imagined but it's really handy to have in a small kitchen. I have a lot of kitchen appliances and a lack of worktop space so this is a good space saver. It's handy having a food processor and liquidiser in one as it's so versatile. You can use both at the same time as the blades operate simultaneously when you turn it on. It's a nice, simple design with added functional details such as the suction cups at the base which keeps the unit steady when you're using it and the bracket at the back to wind up the power cord. It's light yet sturdy enough to blend, chop and blitz food, fruits and nuts. It's dishwasher safe but as I don't have one I'm pleased that it's quite easy to clean as there's no little nooks and crannies where food gets stuck which I have experienced previously. 

This little gadget is perfect for a small family but would not cope with large volumes. For example with this orange cake mix, the processor was at the maximum volume limit and it just about coped with mixing the batter. The cake turned out beautifully so it obviously did a good job but would not have coped with a larger recipe.  I've also made crumble, waffle batter and another cake mix with it and they all turned out beautifully. The whisk attachment is really handy for whipping cream or egg whites - I have to say I wasn't sure it would work looking at the attachment but it does. It whisked up my cream perfectly in less time than it takes with my KitchenAid! It's also perfect for small volumes whereas the KitchenAid or similar is better with larger volumes. 

 The Kenwood FP190 with a liquidiser and food processor and different attachments - knife blade, slicing plate, shredding plate, plate carrier, whisk, maxi-blend canopy. 

 ingredients for orange spice cake 

 boil whole orange until soft 

 blitz the whole orange 

 making the cake batter 

 adding the orange pulp to the batter 

 first layer of cake 

 completed 4 layers 

 cover with mascarpone filling 

 For breakfast smoothie - milk, banana, strawberries, kiwi, honey, ice cream 

 pour in 100mls of milk - the liquidiser jug has measurements in mls and cups on the side 

 add the other ingredients 

 and pulse for 1-2 minutes 

 smoothie to go 

Recipe for Orange Spice Cake available online 

Recipe for Breakfast smoothie
Place 100mls milk, 1 ripe banana, 1 kiwi and a few strawberries with a small scoop of ice cream (optional) and a drizzle of honey (to taste) Whizz in the liquidiser and serve.

Disclaimer: Thank you to Argos for the Kenwood FP190 used in the creation of these recipes. All opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Apple and Blackberry Crumble

This month AlphaBakes has teamed up with Random Recipes. They've decided to start at the beginning of the alphabet with A but here's the twist - you have to select a book at random and then randomly choose a recipe under the 'A' section of the index. My random selection lead me to British Baking by Peyton and Bryne. There are 8 recipes listed under 'A' and my random number generator came up with 4 which was apple and blackberry crumble. I've made a lot of crumble over the years but I've never made one in a pie dish and I'm quite pleased that mine looks quite similar to the picture in the book. Apples and blackberry are a winning combination and it tasted absolutely delicious especially when served with custard and ice cream.

As mentioned, I'm entering this to AlphaBakes hosted by Caroline from Caroline Makes and co hosted by myself. It's also a joint challenge with Random Recipes hosted by Dom from Belleau Kitchen.


 I had some blackberries in the freezer from a colleague's garden so it was a good chance to use them 

 I added more spice than suggested as I love cinnamon in crumble 

 The only change I made was to add some oats as I love an oaty crumble and a teaspoon of ground cinnamon as well for added spice. 

Recipe is from British Baking by Peyton & Bryne page 154