Salted Caramel Sticky Toffee Cupcakes

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Salted Caramel Sticky Toffee Cupcakes

So just putting it out there, these are stocked full of enough butter and sugar to imbue diabetes on even the most waif of individuals.  No literally, these are probably unsafe for human consumption. The cupcakes have a hidden toffee centre that melts away underneath a cap of brown sugar icing, topped with a sprinkle of sea salt. Dead easy, dead yummy.

Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 8 Oz salted butter
  • 8 Oz dark chocolate
  • 9 Oz self raising flour
  • 4 Eggs
  • 8 Oz Caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 4 tbsp milk

Caramel:

  • 200g of dark brown sugar
  • 200g of butter
  • 1tbs salt
  • 100ml of double cream

(Recipe for this is so easy: Mix all but the double cream on a med heat until bubbles start to appear then take off the heat, stir in the cream and leave for a bit, it’ll keep getting thicker)

Icing:

  • Half the caramel from above
  • 8 Oz butter
  • 300g Icing sugar (or more to thicken)
  1. Turn oven to 180 C and prep a muffin tin with cases (this mix makes around 15)
  2. Combine the caster sugar and the 8 oz of butter until creamy
  3. Melt the dark chocolate but keep it cool before adding it at step 5
  4. Add the flour, baking powder, eggs and milk and mix
  5. Add the melted chocolate and incorporate
  6. Distribute into the cases (one soup spoon heaped) and bake for 20-25min
  7. Leave to mostly cool then cut the tops off (see picture below)
  8. Now make the caramel and pour half (distributed between them obv) into the holes, then re-cap the cakes
  9. Mix the butter for the icing with the icing sugar, then add the remaining caramel and remix
  10. Pipe (as per) and then flake with sea salt. Bish bash bosh.

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Chocolate Bramble Patissiere Tart

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Bramble Tart with Creme Patissiere and a chocolate pastry base

To take a break from my regimented baking routine, I branched out like a maniac into the world of pastry. Pastry is one of those things that has taken me quite a while to get right, but that’s not to say it’s difficult. It’s not. Apart from puff. Puff can f-off. This pastry is a short (i.e. flaky) deep chocolate tart base that goes perfectly with deep flavoured fruits and some form of cream. I went for both a creme-patissiere (i.e baker’s custard) and a chantilly cream. There would be loads of variations on this. I shan’t name them. I have a life. This blog does not support that fact obviously. But hey. Work with what you’ve got right?

Recipe:

Ingredients for pastry

  • 250g of COLD salted butter
  • 450g of COLD plain flour
  • 40g of high-end cocoa powder (not drinking chocolate)
  • 20g of icing sugar
  • 9 tbsp water
  • Greaseproof paper and ceramic beads (or dry rice)
  • A large tart tin (metal with removable base is best- Tesco does a good one)

Ingredients for creme-patissiere

  • 4 egg yolks (large eggs)
  • 60g of caster sugar
  • 25g of plain flour
  • 2 tbsp of corn flour
  • 350ml of milk
  • Flavouring (essences only)

Ingredients for chantilly cream

  • 500ml of whipping cream (double will do)
  • 40g of icing sugar
  • 2 shots of a fruit liquer (or vanilla essence) I used chambord

AND :

piping bags/nozzles if wanted

fruit for decoration

Pastry:

  • Before starting, make sure both the flour and the butter are cold, this will make your job SO much easier.
  • Cut the butter into chunks about 1-2cm wide, no need to be neat with this
  • With your hands make breadcrumbs by adding the butter to the flour, cocoa and sugar. Do this by rubbing between your fingers. It should look like lightly golden sand.
  • Next add the water, try 6tbsp at first then add water if needed. Use your hands to bring the dough together.Literally squeezing it lightly together.
  • It will soon form a mostly dry ball of dough that can be rolled around the bowl. When its the correct consistency it should crack around the sides slightly when flattened.
  • Clingfilm this ball for at least an hour.
  • Turn on oven to 180 C
  • Lightly dust a surface with plain flour and place your unwrapped pastry on the surface.
  • Make sure your hands are as dry and cold as you can get them, this makes everything a lot easier as you do not want the butter in the pastry to melt.
  • Using a floured wooden rolling pin, make a basic flattened circle shape
  • From the middle, roll away from you forward. Turn the pastry 45 degrees either way and repeat all around. At half way, turn the pastry over. If the edges flake a lot, overlap the fissure and roll over
  • The result should be a nicely flat (about 5mm) thin sheet of chocolate pastry which can be lifted.
  • Place 1/3 of the circle onto your rolling pin to act as a hold for one side and use a hand to support the other. Transfer the circle to the tin, it should be at least a couple of inches too wide for the tin.
  • Lightly press in the centre and work your way to the sides, tucking the pastry in. When it gets to the wall of the tin, use a big of extra pastry to push the ‘corners’ in and also to push the walls of the pastry into the divets of the tin giving a nice effect. The walls of pastry should slightly exceed the height of the tin.You can neaten now with a sharp knife.
  • Prick the bottom of the tin multiple times with a fork to let air out
  • Place a large piece of baking parchment over your pastry and then fill with beads. Make sure to equally distribute and push them right to the walls.
  • Refridgerate for 20min
  • Put in oven for 7-10mins at 180 C (fan assisted)
  • Remove, it and the walls may have dropped down, this is normal. Now is your chance to neaten the pastry if you haven’t already (I sometimes neaten once in the tin at the beginning)
  • Remove the beads and paper and re-bake for another 7 min.
  • The pastry will be ready when hard to the touch. If it isn’t, return to the oven for another few mins.
  • Take out of the oven and leave to completely cool. It should already have retracted away from the walls of the tin.
  • You have a tart case!

Now it’s time for the insides! These are ridiculously easy to do. Just keep an eye on them!

Creme-Patissiere:

  • People make out that custards are hard to make. They aren’t, they just require a lot of attention. Never stop stirring! This one is a baker’s custard which is a lot denser and thick, meaning it sets and can be used to fill or hold other layers.
  • Start by combining the egg yolks with the sugar, flour and corn flour. This will form a thick paste. Do this in a large glass bowl. You can place essences for flavouring in here too.
  • Next on a medium heat, pour the milk (can be any but I prefer whole for this) into a pan and bring to the point of boiling. Stir with a whisk constantly at this point, it’ll tend to burn on the bottom if not. Keep it moving people!
  • On the first sign of bubbles, transfer (whilst whisking the egg yolk mixture) gently but quickly pour the heated milk onto the egg yolk mixture. This will incorporate it into the milk without the egg being ‘cooked’
  • Whisk for 3 secs then instantly transfer back into the pan and keep whisking.
  • After a minute or so, the mixture with significantly thicken. When it’s at a jam-jelly like consistency, pour straight into your base and spread out. Don’t worry if it lumps at all, that won’t be noticed. It should create a nice thinnish layer on the bottom. Repeat if you’d like it thicker!

Creme:

  • Simple as. Whip the cream with the sugar, then add the liquor as you’re still whipping. When it’s at a thick (not pourable) consistency, stop! Overworking it makes piping it hard.
  • Fill a piping bag and pipe with a circle-ended nozzle in cursive ‘e’ shapes. This will make a ‘rope’ like effect around the edge.
  • You can do the same for the centre and then use fruit to decorate. I like to cut strawberries  in half and show the cut side.

DONE. Simple as. Lots of explanation but not much effort. You can do lots of versions of this and if you just want normal pastry, omit the icing sugar and cocoa and replace with the same quantity of plain flour!

 

Strawberry and Lemon Cupcakes

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Strawberry Lemon Cupcakes with strawberry syrup and dried fruit

Who doesn’t like strawberries? Bloody weirdos that’s who. Whilst we lament these unfortunately opinionated individuals let’s eat one of these. They’re sweet and creamy on top, but tart on the bottom, like the best of us. Oh and yes, they are some 3 packs for a £1 sweets on top there. Top notch confectionery.

Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz butter
  • 7 oz of caster sugar
  • 300g of icing sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 8 oz self raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 lemons
  • Lemon extract
  • 50 ml orange juice
  • Strawberry laces (of any kind)
  • Foam strawberries
  • Dried strawberries
  • Disposable icing bags with large (1.5cm diameter) star nozzle
  • Pipette

Recipe:

This recipe makes about 12 cupcakes (The sponge is close to a basic sponge mix). Set the oven to 180 C

1) Combine the caster sugar and 8 0z of butter until all the sugar is incorporated

2) Add the eggs, flour, baking powder and the zest of both lemons and mix well

3) This will have produced a very tough mixture, that is alleviated with the subsequent addition of orange juice

4) Mix well then add 1/3 a bottle of lemon extract, and make sure to re-combine.

5) Divide the mixture (about a heaped soup spoon each) into 12 muffin cases (not cupcake!) in a DEEP muffin tin.

6) Bake at 180 C for about 20 mins. They will be slightly golden on top and will be very soft to the touch.

7) Leave to cool completely before icing!

8) To make the icing, reduce butter to room temperature. Quick hint: Add the butter to a bowl of luke warm water, it’ll equilibriate really quickly.  Combine with the icing sugar. Add icing sugar if mixture isn’t stiff.

9) Add the packet of strawberry sweets to a pan on a medium heat. Add enough cold water just to cover.

10) Stir continuously until the sweets (mostly) dissolve and reduce. It will bubble if going successfully. Never stop stirring. Pour into a small ramekin and refrigerate for at least 30mins.

11) Add half of this mixture to the icing mix and re-combine.

12) Fill the icing bag (see future post) and pipe in a out-in spiral fashion

13) Using a pipette, spiral the gelatinous syrup around the top and then peak with a strawberry sweet!

Protector of the Castle

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Protector of The Castle – My first ‘construct request’.

Why shouldn’t my most difficult attempt come first? This cake was my first officially requested ‘construction cake’  by a roomie. Her request of a dragon cake was rather pushing at the upper barrier of my baking abilities but it posed a challenge. It may be one of the gayest challenges known to mankind. So of course, I tried it. This one I’m giving a 7 on the difficulty scale. A scale I just invented. It goes up to 12.  Rebel.

Ingredients/Equipment:

Two 8″ round tins

Castle Tin (standard size)

Rolling Pin (silicon ideally)

Edible glitter

Food colouring

Green fondant (3 x bars) White Royal Icing (2 standard size bars)

Sweets

Basic sponge recipe :

  • 4 large eggs
  • 8 oz of caster sugar
  • 8oz self-raising flour
  • 80z butter (or margarine for this one)
  • 1/2tsp of baking powder
  • 50ml or so of liquid (milk if standard sponge recipe)

How to: 

1) Start by prepping the two types of tin. The round ones can’t be prepped as standard (i.e. lightly buttering the insides and if you’re not confident, layering the bottom with a sheet of baking parchment). The castle should also be buttered but subsequently powdered with plain flour

2) Turn the oven on to roughly 180 C (fan assisted)

3) Make a double dose of basic sponge. Combine the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl until all the sugar is incorporated. You will be left with a light yellow paste. Toss in all other ingredients (minue the liquid) at once and use an electric mixer to combine. This recipe will produce a tough paste-like consistency. The reason is for the ability to incorporate a flavour. You can do various things here, depending on the taste:

  • 50 ml of whole milk and 2 tbsp of vanilla essence for a sweet vanilla taste
  • 3tbsp of coffee (ground or instant) added to roughly 6 tbsp of warm water. Add 25ml of milk. Light coffee flavour.
  • Add 1 lemon peel (grated) and 50ml of orange juice. Fresh citrus taste.

4) Pour the sponge into the castle tin first but only up till about 3/4 full to allow for the rise. Next fill and flatten out the mixture in the two circle tins.

5) Bake all for roughly 25 min (test with a butter knife – it’ll come out clean if cooked). And then place on the side for at least 10-15 mins before removing the cakes.

6) To remove the more difficult castle cake, turn the tin upside down and continually tap with a knife on the outside. Turn it back over and peel away the sides, it should pop out.

7) Let both cool completely before even attempting to ice it.

Decoration:

1) Let’s be honest, this is the hardest bit. In particular, the carving. Prior to carving the two circle cakes, sandwich them together with some basic butter icing (see basics post-soon to come:P). Ask me about the carving. I can’t be arsed to explain it here….yet. Crumb coat both the constructed cakes.

Roll out the white fondant icing (royal icing) and using a wet finger, shape it into each groove of the crumb coated cakes. Cut off the excess.

2) Roll out the green fondant using a silicon (or a clingfilm wrapped wooden) rolling pin to approximately 3mm thickness on a lightly dusted (icing sugar) surface.

3) Cut 5cm long leaf shapes in a top-bottom almost tessellated fashion. These will not last too long in this state as they will harden so don’t make them too far in advance.

4) Starting at the back of the dragon (just at the hilt of the tail) arrange the leaves with the sharp point of the ‘leaf’ or scale facing toward the tail (away from the head). The crumb coat should be sufficient to adhere them but a slight dab with some water should help if not. Repeat going forward but making sure to allow about 1/3 of the scale to cover the previous layer. This will provide you with a dragon-skin effect. Dont worry about small triangular gaps, we’ll come back to these.

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5) Once these are all done up to the neck point, make some more leaves of a smaller size to arrange around the head and snout. Role a cylindrical piece about the size of one of these smaller sizes and arc to make eye-hoods on each side of the head.

6) Dampen all the skin now as you’ll still have a white matt coating thanks to the icing sugar. Next use green food colouring with a paintbrush to fill in the small holes in between the scales.

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7) Paint the castle with watered down grey food colouring all over.

8) Leave at least 10hr to dry before doing the next steps!

9) Use black food colouring (undiluted) to paint the edge of each scale. This provides a 3D effect. Do the same under the hood of the eye.

I’m bored now. I’ll get back to it.