Monday, 27 August 2012

Cardamom, coconut and vanilla cupcakes

I absolutely love cardamom in baking, it adds such a lovely warmth and flavour to biscuits and cakes. The other week I had a fantastic cardamom crème brulee that reminded me just how much I love it.

I had some coconut milk left over from a curry on Friday and an idea was born. Coconut and cardamom are always combined in curries to delicious affect and I saw no reason why combining them in a cupcake would not be as equally delicious.

I only made 6, there are only two of us! The recipe is easily doubled.

Cardamom, coconut and vanilla cupcakes

For the cakes

65g butter
65g caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
seeds of 5 cardamom pods, ground in a pestle and mortar
1 egg
65g self raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp coconut milk

For the frosting

60g butter
125g icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
2 tbsp coconut milk

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C FAN and line a cupcake tin with cases. 

Beat the butter, sugar, vanilla and crushed cardamom seeds together until very light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat for a further minute.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula and add the flour and baking powder, beat until just combined. Add the coconut milk and beat for a further minute.

Divide the cupcake mix between the cases and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. When done the cupcakes should be golden and springy. Transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely. 

To make the the frosting beat together the butter, icing sugar, vanilla and 1 tbsp of the coconut milk until very light and fluffy, add the remaining coconut milk and beat again. Refrigerate for about 20-30 minutes. Once the cupcakes are completely cool pipe swirls of frosting onto each cupcake.

These cupcakes are lovely and light with the warming, aromatic cardamom really coming through. The cake is complemented perfectly by a creamy luxurious frosting.

I am giving these cakes full credit for helping me get through my science report! It is my firm believe that  cake will help any form of writers block/work issue.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Apple and almond cake

M had a bake sale at work last week and asked if I would make him some treats to take in, I of course said yes. I made white chocolate and pecan blondies, a chocolate orange cake and an apple cake. The problem with making cakes for a bake sale is that you do not get to try the fruits of your labour. Ok ok I had the trimming of the blondies but they NEEDED trimming, I could not send wonky blondies could I?

Anyway there is no way I could send the cakes with slices missing, so not only did I not get to eat my baking, I have no idea what they tasted like when I sent them off. And this worried me. A lot. However it transpires that I need not have worried. According to M the apple cake was the first to sell out and disappeared within minutes, followed shortly by my other stuff. He also had a piece and said it tasted amazing.

That did it I had to try a piece of this cake. So I made it again. A whole one ALL FOR ME. Well the two of us.

This cake is from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall and I have stayed true to his recipe with only a couple of tweaks! I added a little vanilla paste to the cake mix, he suggests almond extract but I like my frangipane taste to be subtle and I also used all spice when I cooked the apples.

Apple and almond cake

makes 1 cake

For the apples

3 dessert apples, I used gala
25g butter
tablespoon of sugar
1/2 tsp mixed spice

For the cake

150g butter
125g caster sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
75g self raising flour
75g ground almonds

Grease a 20cm springform tin and line the base with baking parchment. Preheat the oven to 170C/150C FAN.

Core the apples and cut into 4, slice each quarter into 3 wedges. Put the butter into a frying pan and allow to bubble add the sugar. Add the apple and the mixed spice to the pan and cook gently for about 5 minutes until starting to become lightly caramelised and tender. Put aside for a few minutes to cool. 
Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add one egg and beat again. Add the second egg and a tablespoon of the flour and beat until fully incorporated. Add the remaining flour and the ground almonds and fold in with a spatula. 

Place the cake batter into the prepared cake tin and level with a spatula, arrange the apple on top. Place in the preheated oven and bake for ~45 minutes until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Leave to cool in the tin for at least 10 minutes before releasing and allowing to cool on a wire rack. 
Ok M was right, not that he is wrong often, this is a really nice cake. The texture of the cake itself is lovely and light but robust enough to stand up to the apples, which are soft and enhanced by the mixed spice.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Kings Bread

Kings bread is a bread made in Mexico, and Spain, on January 6th. Traditionally a small porcelain doll or more likely a  dried bean is hidden in the bread, symbolising baby Jesus. Whoever gets the bean has to buy the tamales on 2nd of February for Candlemas day.

How do I know this? The book for this months cupcake book club is set in Mexico.
Kelly from american cupcake abroad has started a cupcake book club, the basic premise is to read a book with a foodie theme then bake a delicious treat inspired by the book. You can read all the details here, why don't you join in?

The book has a recipe for each month, many are savoury and there is even a 'recipe' for matches!
I liked the sound of the kings bread and searching around online found many variations, below is my own interpretation.

Kings Bread

Makes 1 wreath

2 tablespoons milk
tsp active dried yeast
80g caster sugar + 1 tsp
zest of 2 oranges
tsp mixed spice
2 eggs + 1 for egg wash
55g butter
tsp vanilla paste or extract
280g plain flour
80g raisins
sliced almonds for decoration.

Gently warm the milk, stir in the yeast and tsp sugar and leave to stand.

Combine the flour, sugar, orange zest and mixed spice into a bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the milk mix, egg, butter and vanilla. Mix the wet ingredients together, I used my hands, and gradually incorporate the flour until a smooth dough is formed. 

Knead the dough for 5 minutes, place in a lightly greased bowl, cover with clingfilm and allow to double in size. 

Punch the dough down and knead lightly to incorporate the raisins. Roll into a long narrow log and then form a circular wreath.

Place on a greased baking sheet, cover with greased clingfilm and allow to double in size again ~2 hours at room temp.  I put mine in the fridge overnight as I wanted it for breakfast.
Preheat the oven to 170C/150C FAN. Brush the bread with egg wash, add the sliced almonds in whatever pattern you so choose. Wash again and place in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes.
The bread should be golden and sound hollow when tapped underneath.

I enjoyed the book and I enjoyed this bread. In mexico they have it with hot chocolate. I had it split and spread with butter for breakfast and had a cup of tea! Flavour wise it reminds me of a teacake or hot cross bun, though the texture is different. 

Any leftovers can be wrapped in foil and kept in a tin, it is still nice the next day warmed up in the oven. 

Friday, 17 August 2012

Spelt, orange and maple biscuits

These are one tough cookie! Not to eat, I would not give you a tough biscuit recipe to make, but I personally found them tricky to make, especially as I was expecting them to be simple and quick to do.

The recipe states that once the dough is brought together to chill it for 30 minutes and then roll it out. Mine did not roll. It crumbled. Only the heat of my hands would bring it together enough to stamp out. Although I measured everything I suspect maybe my dough was a little dry and maybe a splash more orange juice and oil would have solved the problem.

Once they were baked however these biscuits held together perfectly well. They are good biscuits for those who do not have a sweet tooth, or for those of us that do but fancy a change, they do not contain much sugar and the main flavour comes from the orange and the nuttiness of the spelt four.

Spelt, orange and maple biscuits (slightly adapted from Biscuit by Miranda Gore Browne)

250g wholemeal spelt flour
50g oats
60ml olive oil
50g caster sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
zest and juice of 1 orange

Mix the flour and oats together in a bowl. Mix the remaining ingredients together and then add to the bowl, mix until a dough comes together. If it is a little dry maybe try a smidge more oil/juice. Divide the dough into two and shape into a flattish disk. Wrap in clingflim and chill for at least 30 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C FAN and line two baking sheets with baking parchment. Take your dough and roll it to about 3 cm thick and using a cutter of your choice cut out biscuits. I had problems rolling and ended up kind of squishing my dough out. 

Place the cut out biscuits onto the prepared baking sheets and bake in the preheated oven for ~10 minutes until lightly golden. Transfer the biscuits to a wire rack and allow to cool. 

I kept them in an airtight tin and thought that after day 3 they were past there best, M thought no such thing however and polished off the remaining few on day four!

I really like spelt flour at the moment and plan on trying it in a few more bakes soon

Monday, 13 August 2012

Thyme, parsnip and cheddar bread

This is one of my favourite breads that can be whipped up in a hour when you decide you want it. It is fantastic warm from the oven served with fresh soup.

Thyme, parsnip and cheddar bread

1 loaf

175g grated parsnip
175g self raising flour
50g vintage cheddar, finely grated
fresh thyme leaves, at least 1 tsp, I tend to like more.
few twists of fresh black pepper
1 large egg
2-3 tablespoons of milk

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C FAN and lightly oil a baking sheet, I used a spray oil for a very light covering. 

Mix the parsnip, flour, cheese, thyme and pepper in a bowl. Lightly beat the egg with 2 tbsps of the milk and then add to the dry ingredients. Mix until all the ingredients come together as a dough, if the mix is still a little dry add the remaining milk.

Shape into a flattish ball and place onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake in the oven for ~45 minutes, until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped underneath. 

Cool on a wire rack for a couple of minutes before devouring warm!
This loaf is so delicious but unless there are more than two of you or you are VERY hungry you will probably have some left over. I store it in a tin and it is just as nice warmed through in the oven the next day.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Lime and coconut cupcakes

I made these a few days ago, mainly as I wanted to bake something using the lime curd I had recently made.

They are simply a coconut flavoured cupcake, with a lime curd filling and a coconut buttercream. Sometimes I find that coconut buttercream made with coconut milk a) does not really taste that coconut-y and b) unless I making something else with coconut is quite wasteful. I tried an experiment with a block of creamed coconut and am pleasantly surprised by the results, especially in the buttercream.

Lime and coconut cupcakes

makes 12

125g butter
125g caster sugar
2 eggs
125g self raising flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tbsps of milk
10g of creamed coconut

Lime curd

80g butter
250g icing sugar
2 tbsps milk
10g creamed coconut

Preheat the oven to 190C/170C FAN and line a cupcake tin with cases. Gently heat the milk with the coconut, with gentle stirring, until the coconut has melted into the milk. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. 

Cream the butter and sugar5 for ~ 5 minutes until light and fluffy. At the eggs and mix for another minute. Add the flour and bicarbonate of soda and beat slowly until just incorporated. Add the cooled coconut-y milk and beat for a final minute. Fill the cupcake case2/3 full, I use an ice cream scoop for ease. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and springy to the touch then transfer to a wire rack to cool. 

Once the cakes are cool, use a knife to take a cone from the cupcake, make sure you keep it! Fill the cupcake with lime curd, place the cone back on top, the cone may need a little trimming to refit. 

To make the frosting gently heat the milk and coconut as before and set aside to cool. Beat the butter and icing sugar together, it should come together after a while. Add the cooled milk and continue beating until light and fluffy. 

Place the frosting in the fridge to set up a little then pipe onto the cupcakes.

These are indulgent little cupcakes with an uplifting zing from the lime curd.

White sourdough

Having stored my sourdough starter in the fridge as described at the end of the post here, I reactivated it to make a white sourdough loaf.

To reactivate the starter I removed it from the fridge, removed and disposed of half and then added 100g of white flour and enough warm water to take the starter to a thick paint consistency. I left this overnight. and then made my loaf as described here, using all white flour instead of any wholemeal.

The white loaf seems a little softer then one made with spelt and wholemeal flour. It spread a little more on the baking tray and the end texture of the bread was a little lighter than the wholemeal. Its too close to call, both will be baked weekly in my house from now on.

This bread makes an excellent sandwich, is good toasted and, left to go a little stale, makes fantastic croutons and crunchy topping for macaroni cheese!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Lime curd

A quick post today. I had eggs to use up before I go away for the weekend and on a whim decided to make some curd, not lemon but lime. I have not made any sort of curd before and wondered if it would be hard. It was not, really very easy indeed.

The end result is lovely, tangy and delicious, later on in the week I will share some recipes containing the curd.

Lime curd

makes one jar

2 eggs
100g butter, cut into small cubes
125g caster sugar
zest and juice of two limes
1/2 tablespoon cornflour (this is optional, some recipes use it others do not)

You will also need 1 jar. I washed an old jam one out in hot soapy water and then dried it in a low oven to sterilise it.

Lightly beat the eggs in a saucepan and then add all the other ingredients. Heat the mix gently over a low heat, stirring all the time. You can use a balloon whisk or wooden spoon, I used a spoon. Keep stirring for about 7-10 minutes until the mixture has thickened up. 

Be patient if after 10 minutes the mixture has not thickened turn up the heat very slightly and it should thicken up. 

Once it has thickened up increase the heat and allow it to gently simmer for 1 minute, keep stirring all the time. 

Pour the curd into the jar and leave to cool. Once cool keep in the fridge, the curd will keep for a couple of weeks. 

Saturday, 4 August 2012


I have had my eye on making these for a while, the only thing that niggled me was the fact that the recipe said they needed to be eaten on the day they are made. Even if I halved the recipe that is a lot of teacakes for the two of us.

However an extra house guest and the letter 'T' being the letter of the month for alpha bakes meant that these finally got made.

 Alpha bakes is a blogging challenge which is hosted on alternate months by Ros from The more than occasional baker and Caroline from Caroline makes. This is a monthly challenge where the aim is to bake with an ingredient that starts with the random alphabet letter chosen for that month.

And I am so very glad I did make them, they are yummy.

Five teacakes managed to be eaten by the 3 of us for an afternoon snack, I am going to keep the remaining one and see what happens to it when I keep it overnight.

The teacake recipe is from Peyton and Byrne, I have adapted very slightly, due to personal taste and to what I had in.

Marshmallow Teacakes (Peyton and Byrne)

For biscuits

60g butter
60g caster sugar
tsp vanilla paste
2 egg yolks
tbsp whole milk
110g flour
good pinch bicarbonate of soda
good pinch baking powder

For Marshmallow

2 egg whites
90g caster sugar
good pinch cream of tarter

200g of milk chocolate (I used dairy milk)

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C FAN and line a baking sheet with baking parchment.

Cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla paste until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and milk then beat to combine. Add the flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder and mix until it is incorporated, make sure it is combined but do not overmix. 

Place tablespoon sized balls of dough onto the prepared sheet ~5cm apart.  Bake for 8-10 minutes until golden round the edges. Remove from the baking tray and cool completely on a wire rack.
Whilst the biscuits are cooling make up the marshmallow. Put all the ingredients in a heat proof bowl and place over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Whisk the mixture until it is opaque and you can feel no sugar granules when you rub a little of the mixture between your fingers.

Remove the meringue from the heat and keep whisking until the bowl is cool to the touch and the marshmallow it holds its shape.  

Pipe generous blobs of the marshmallow onto the completely cooled biscuits and set aside to set while you prepare the chocolate.

Melt half the chocolate over a gentle heat, once melted add the remaining chocolate, leave for a few minutes and then stir until smooth. 

Using a teaspoon spoon the chocolate over the teacakes, this will be messy and rustic looking!

Leave the teacakes for at least an hour to set up.  

Friday, 3 August 2012

Maple, raspberry and orange cupcakes

Hmmm I do like chocolate but it has come to my attention that out of my last 5 posts 4 contain chocolate, and the fifth was a savoury bake! I am sure this is just coincidence with various blogging challenges and celebration bakes resulting in more chocolate than usual!

Still it was my aim to make something a little less rich and a bit more fruity. I had a little think and adapted a love bakery recipe I liked the sound of. The book has a 'breakfast' cupcake that is flavoured with honey and topped with greek yoghurt frosting.

I flavoured my cupcake with maple syrup, filled it with cooked raspberries and while I did use a greek yoghurt frosting I spiked it with orange zest.

Maple, raspberry and orange cupcakes

makes 12

For the cakes

125g butter
125g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 eggs, room temperature
125g self raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 tbsps milk

For the filling

120g raspberries
20g raspberry jam

For the frosting

50g butter
60g greek yoghurt
350g icing sugar
zest of one orange
handful of oats 

Preheat the oven to 180C/160 FAN and line a cupcake pan with 12 cases.

Using a handheld or free-standing electric whisk, beat the butter, sugar, vanilla paste and maple syrup together until very light and fluffy (up to 5 minutes). Add the eggs and beat for a further two minutes, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the flour and baking powder to the bowl and beat until fully incorporated, scrape down the bowl again. Add the milk and beat for a further minute.

Fill the cases 2/3 full, I used an ice cream scoop for easy filling. Bake the cupcakes for 20-25 minutes, until golden and springy to the touch. Note the maple syrup does result in them colouring a little more than other cupcakes but all is fine. When done cool the cupcakes on a wire rack.

While the cupcakes are in the oven pop the raspberries and jam in a small saucepan with a teaspoon of water. Cook gently until the raspberries have mainly broken down. Leave to cool. As this mix cools it will thicken. 

When the cupcakes are completely cool cut a cone out of each of them. Fill the cavity with the cooled raspberry mixture and place the cone back on top. The cone will have to be trimmed to fit back in, and YOU, the baker, can nibble these off cuts as a bakers treat!
For the frosting beat together the butter, greek yoghurt and orange zest, continue beating and add in the icing sugar a tablespoon at a time. Do not panic it will get soupy initially, just keep going. 

Now if you want to pipe your frosting you will have to keep it in the fridge for at least an hour, I tried piping mine straight away and my beautiful spirals did not stay. 

Dry toast a handful of oats in a pan, keep an eye on them they can burn quickly, scatter the toasted oats over the frosting and you are done!

Thanks to the raspberry and orange these cupcakes are not overly sweet, and the cake itself has a lovely flavour. Just the cupcake for the sunny days that have finally arrived!

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Chocolate and raspberry celebration cake.

Hurrah I passed my driving test! A nerve racking experience I thankfully do not have to repeat. Cake was in order, firstly as a celebration and secondly as an apology to everyone for not telling them I was taking it despite many requests.

I had wanted to make a cake like this for a while but it seemed a little to extravagant to be sitting in a cake tin for the two of us to eat. And besides I do not think it will keep for very long.

I made a chocolate cake, filled with cooked down raspberries and softly whipped cream. I then smothered the whole thing in white chocolate butter cream, studded the sides with chocolate fingers and topped the whole thing off with more fresh raspberries. I know, I know, it sounds a lot but does not take long to make, the longest thing was waiting for the cakes to cool.

Chocolate and raspberry celebration cake

For the cake

225g butter
160g caster sugar
65g light brown sugar (If you prefer use all caster sugar)
160g self raising flour
65g cocoa powder (I used green and blacks)
1/2 tsp baking powder
4 eggs

For the filling

150-200g raspberries
60-80g good raspberry jam
150-200ml double or whipping cream (I used elmlea)

For the frosting

90g butter
1 tsp vanilla paste
375g icing sugar
2 tablespoons whole milk
150g white chocolate, melted and cooled


2-3 packs of chocolate fingers
200g raspberries

Preheat the oven to 190C/170C FAN and grease 2x 20cm springform cake tin and line the base. If you only have one (like me) make all the cake batter, bake one cake and then bake the next. 

Put the butter, sugars, self raising flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and eggs into a bowl. Using a free standing, or hand held electric whisk, beat until all the ingredients are fully combined and smooth. The batter will be very thick.

Dive the batter between two tins (or halve the batter and cook one cake at a time) smooth and level the batter using a spatula.

Bake in the oven for 22-25 minutes until the cakes are springy to the touch and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean (If you do not have a skewer a dried strand of spaghetti works a treat!)

Whilst the cakes are in the oven make the filling. Pop the jam and raspberries into a saucepan and heat gently until the jam has melted and the raspberries are breaking down. This will take 6-8 minutes. Put the jam aside to cool.

Leave the cakes to cool in the tins for 5 minutes; they will shrink away from the edge as they cool. Carefully ease the cakes from the tins and leave to cool completely on a wire rack (remember to remove the lining paper!)

Once the cakes are completely cool they are ready to be assembled! If either of the cakes need levelling use a very sharp serrated knife to do so, make sure the cakes are cold for any trimming you do, it will be easier.
I had to trim one slightly
Place a cake on a serving plate. Carefully spread with the cooled raspberry jam mixture, careful not to let it drip down the sides. 

Lightly whip the cream until soft peaks form and then place dollops over the raspberries. Very gently press the second cake layer on top. Squish down carefully, you do not want the filling oozing out as you will be covering the sides of the cake in buttercream. If any does spill out use a palette knife to scrap it off the cake.

To make the buttercream carefully melt the white chocolate and leave to cool. Beat the butter, vanilla paste and icing sugar until it is all starting to come together. Add the milk, a tablespoon at a time and beat the frosting until it is very light and fluffy, ~3-5 minutes. Add the cooled, melted chocolate and beat to until it is fully incorporated. 

Using a palette knife carefully spread the buttercream around the sides of the cake and on the top, work with little amounts of buttercream at a time, it will be easier. The buttercream on the sides of the cake needs to be thick enough to anchor the fingers in place. When you are done there should be no cake showing.

Place the fingers around the edge of the cake, in whatever design you choose. I alternated white and milk chocolate fingers.

Finally top the whole cake off with fresh raspberries. I only put the raspberries on an hour before I wanted to serve it as I was not sure if they would bleed into the buttercream.

This cake needs to be eaten either the day, or the day after it is made. It also must be kept in the fridge if you plan to keep it overnight, when serving it keeping it at room temp for a few hours is not a problem (maybe not in blazing sunlight!)

This cake was very nice, I was slightly suspicious of the all in one cake batter but it made a good robust cake that stood up to the filling well and held together very nicely when sliced. I would possibly still try other chocolate cake variations though.

I only had two packs of chocolate fingers but ideally would have liked to have used three so that the the fingers were flush next to each other instead of having a gap between. 

I also wonder about Swiss meringue buttercream to cover the cake, I love SWBC but time restraints meant that regular buttercream was the way to go this time. 

As you can probably tell from the photos it was eaten very quickly and I did not get a really pretty photo. Still peoples reactions are worth a lot!
This cake could be made in so many variations the mind just boggles, the cake could be vanilla or lemon, various fruits could be used for the filling, the buttercream could vary in flavour and  type. Instead of chocolate fingers you could use curls, or wafer fingers. Its making my head spin just thinking about it!

All in all I love this cake and need another celebration or event so that I can make another variation of it!