Thursday, 28 February 2013

Food of Love

I don't celebrate Valentines day. It's not that I hate it, it usually doesn't even register to be honest. At least not until my facebook timeline is full of picture of flowers and champagne. Perhaps we are a scrooge of a couple but we're pretty happy whatever we are and V-day happens to fall a couple of days after my boyfriends birthday so it's still a social week :)

This year however, I was distinctly aware of Valentines day as I have been making Valentines cakes for about a month. And I must admit it was fun - I enjoy coming up with ideas for themed cakes. However when it came to getting back to my baking I was sick of all the pink hearts and sickly buttercream. So I decided that what truly spreads love is bread. Everyone loves bread, even if they pretend not to or, like me, try to avoid it for the sake of an expanding waistline, deep down we all want bread and we want it fresh and warm form the oven. And the best way to share the bread love is clearly a tear and share loaf.

I found this on which a great little blog written by Amy Jones (@jimsyjampots) and you can find the recipe here. It was originally made by Jason (@itschefjae) from the second series of the Great British Bake Off who I believe now works in Brixton Village so I am mega jealous of him!

Jason recipe called for each roll to be filled with fried red onion and grated cheddar. We rarely have cheese in the fridge but had just had enough to sprinkle on the top, so inside the rolls I used cream cheese with garlic and herbs. This provided a lovely creamy centre to the rolls.

When proving for the second time the bread didn't rise nearly as much as it should have which was disappointing. I'm not sure whether this was because our flat is so cold or because I had knocked it back to much/kneaded it too much or not enough. I put the dough in a warmer places and it rose a bit more. The bread was tasty but I think the bake was too close. I really need to read up more about bread-making and would absolutely love to do some kind of course in it so that I am able to make the perfect loaf!

But the most important part of this recipe is to enjoy with friends and loved ones :)

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Salted Caramel Cupcake Recipe

A while ago my boyfriend posted a guest blog about making salted caramel cupcakes and I promised you the recipe (you can find his post HERE). I then proceeded to forget about this promise so apologies and here is it, finally:

200g caster sugar                                                          200g softened butter 
2 eggs                                                                             200g self-raising flour 
2 tsp baking powder                                                       a tin of caramel 
salt                                                                                  533g icing sugar 
166g butter                                                                     40 ml milk 

  • Cream together the caster sugar and butter. Whisk in the eggs one at a time.  
  • Fold in the self-raising flour and baking powder until well combined (but be careful not to overmix, especially is using an electric mixer. 
  • Gently stir in 1 tablespoon of caramel (I use the Carnation tinned stuff) and about 1/4 teaspoon of salt. 
*You can add the caramel and salt to taste but be careful of adding too much caramel as it will affect the consistency of the cake and how it bakes.
  • Divide the mixture between 12 cupcake cases. I use an ice cream scoop so that all the cakes are even bt otherwise just fill to case to about 2/3 full. 
  • Bake for 20 minutes then remove from the oven and allow to cool. 
  • Once the cakes are completely cool, remove the center and fill with the caramel. I have a little device to remove the centers but you can also use a small circle cutter. 
  • The buttercream is best made with some kind of electric mixer. You can of course do it by hand and I used to but you just can't get it as fluffy. Mix the icing sugar, butter and milk for about 5 minutes and then add the caramel and salt to taste. 
  • Pipe the buttercream onto the cakes and decorate with some glitter and either a piece of dime bar or a shard of caramel. 
**When I make these in the shop I use dime bars as they are quicker and easier but I really like the effective of the shards of caramel. To make this heat 250g caster sugar and 1 tablespoon of water in a heavy based pan over a low heat. Do not stir and heat until it turns to a dark amber colour and reaches the hard crack stage. Pour on to a greased baking paper and allow to cool. Once cool you can break into pieces to decorate the cupcakes.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Farewell Brixton

I am a bad blogger. I haven't blogged properly in two months now and that makes me sad. I have really missed it but a combination of my commute, working hours and moving house left me exhausted and with little time to bake outside of work - let alone blog about it. I am not a natural writer (as you can probably tell!) so sitting down to blog takes me a while .

The last cake made in my small South London kitchen was rather a stressful affair. For some reason I agreed to make a birthday cake for someone the day before we moved so once again I worked away into the early hours of the morning this time in a kitchen that had been packed away into cardboard boxes! I was clearly suffering from sleep deprivation as I even managed to forget about one of the layers of cake but I think I got away with it being a two rather than three layer cake!

The cake was for a horse riding party so, perhaps inadvisable, I attempted to model a horse from sugarpaste. As I think I have mentioned before, modelling and cake decorating in general are not really my 'thing' and what I ended up with was a rather stocky creature! The brown sugarpaste I used was actually chocolate flavoured and it didn't seem to dry out as well as normal sugarpaste so I think I might avoid it in future.

I was relatively happy with how it turned out although in my sleepy state I forgot to take any decent photos of it. However there are a few things I would do differently if I was to make the cake again..... At first I thought I would cover the board in white and then the cake in green but as I was covering a 12" board I decided to cover the cake and board together to save sugarpaste. And as I could buy white sugarpaste in larger quantities (and therefore cheaper) I decided to opt for covering the whole thing in white. In retrospect I wish I had gone for green. I also would have made a jump and piped grass with royal icing (I actually tried this but I was without a stand mixer and had broken my decent hand whisk so was using a cheap and frankly useless replacement which would not do the job and ended up in the bin!)

Inside the cake was this simple and moist chocolate cake. I use this so often now that I now the recipe off by heart and the addition of melted chocolate in the buttercream really makes the difference.

500g plain flour
100g cocoa powder
700g caster sugar
7.5 tsp baking powder
200g butter/margarine
5 eggs
600ml whole milk

Mix together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and margarine. If using a stand mixer, make sure it is mixed well through to the bottom - it may even be worth getting stuck in with your hands! Whisk together the eggs and milk and add very gradually to the flour mixture whilst mixing constantly. Once it is all well mixed pour into a lined tin (I used a 10" round but actually think that 8" would be ideal) and bake at 150C. Check the cake after an hour but it may need a bit longer...

Once it is cooked, leave to cool and then cut in half and fill with this buttercream:

625g icing sugar
80g cocoa powder
200g softened butter
80ml whole milk
100g plain chocolate

Heat up the milk and melt the chocolate in it. Whisk it together with the rest of the ingredients for about 5 minutes until well mixed and fluffy. Fill and cover the cake and enjoy

So that was my 'so long for now' bake to the little corner of South London which I have come to love - Brixton, I will be back. But for now I have a pretty new kitchen complete with digital scales, a stand mixer, lots more baking tins and an live-in baking buddy so 2013 promises to be a pretty good year!