Sunday, 14 December 2008


Well, the kiddies and hub demolished half of it before I remembered to take a photo hehe

This was my first attempt at a brioche; it was sort of cheating because I used 500 g of "Brioche flour" and just had to add three eggs, 130 ml of milk and 30 mg of butter, and let my bread machine work the dough while I made tea.

After 2 hours and 20 min, I just had to break off 1/4 of the dough, stuffed the rest into a greased baking mould, made a hole in the dough base, then rolled the remaining dough into a ball and put it on top. I left it to stand for a couple of hours under a clean wet tea towel, then brushed it with an egg yolk and baked it in the oven for 30 min at 200C.

Was really pleased how it turned out, but I want to have another go, from scratch next time.

Triple Chocolate Babycakes

This is basically an intensely dark chocolate brownie recipe, with a milk chocolate ganache and white chocolate shavings.

It works best as a large cake, but the cupcakes are perfect for little mouthfuls of dense moist chocolatey goodness hehe

400 g dark chocolate
200 g butter, diced
16 level soupspoons vanilla-infused caster sugar
6 level soupspoons self-raising flour
6 eggs, separated

Break the chocolate into little pieces and melt. I usually just fill a little saucepan with water, bring it to the boil, take it off the heat, drop the chocolate pieces in and leave it to stand for 1 minute max. Drain off the water carefully - it leaves a lovely moulten chocolatey goo in the bottom of the pan, which you then mix with the diced butter over a low heat til it's all melted.

Place the flour and sugar in a large mixing bowl and stir thoroughly. Pour in the chocolate/butter mixture, and stir well until all the dry ingredients are incorporated. Add the egg yolks and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites, using an electric handmixer, until they form peaks, then fold into the chocolatey mixture carefully using a fork.

Fill into a prepared tin, or cupcake papers, and bake at 180C for 30-60 min (for a large cake) or 20-30 min for cupcakes.

For the cupcakes: leave to cool in the cake tin for a few minutes, then place on a wire rack.
For a large cake: wrap immediately in foil while still warm, and leave to cool - this will make the cake extra moist.

For the ganache:
200 g milk chocolate
200 ml cream

Melt the chocolate as above, then add the cream and stir over a low heat until the mixture is smooth and very very shiny. Allow to cool (but not set), then spoon over the cupcakes/pour over the cake.

Decorate with white chocolate shavings.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

And cupcakes too

These ones were from Nigella's Fairy Cake recipe in How to be a Domestic Goddess, which is lovely and easy and delicious:

125g unsalted butter, softened
125g caster sugar
2 large eggs
125g self-raising flour
half a teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons milk

I just blitz all the ingredients (apart from the milk) in the food processor til smooth, then pulse in the milk, and spoon into cupcake cases (makes about 16-18 smaller cupcakes or 12 muffin-sized cakes). Bake at 200C for about 15-20 min, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

The frosting is taken from my mum's 1977 edition of The Cookery Year, and it's a great recipe which works every time!

Seven-minute frosting
Preparation time: 10 min

1 egg white
6oz caster sugar
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons water
Pinch of cream of tartar (I can't get this here, so have to make it without)
Food colouring paste and cocktail stick

Put all the ingredients in a deep bowl and whisk for a few minutes using an electric hand mixer.

Place the bowl over a pan of hot water and continue to whisk until the mixture is thick enough to stand in peaks, after 7 minutes.

Stir in the desired colouring (mix v. gently). Pop the mixture into a freezer bag/piping bag and pipe onto cakes.

I like to add a few sugar sprinkles. This time I added pink and white mini hearts, and popped a mini marshmallow on top, only these mysteriously disappeared when I wasn't looking - think my mini marshmallow monsters must've struck hehe

been practising my Carrot Cake...

making big family-sized ones:

and baby ones:

This is a one-bowl cake which I love because it's so easy and makes hardly any washing up! I just put everything in a bowl and mix it all up with a wooden spoon and some elbow grease.

8oz self-raising flour
2 level teaspoons baking powder
5oz light brown sugar (i use vergeoise blonde)
2oz chopped walnuts
4oz carrots (grated)
1 ripe banana (mashed)
2 eggs
5 fluid oz vegetable oil

3oz softened butter
3oz cream cheese
6oz icing sugar
half teaspoon Madagascar vanilla extract

Sift the flour and baking powder. Stir in the sugar, and mix well to get rid of any lumps. Add walnuts, carrot and banana and mix lightly. Make a well in the centre of the mixture and drop in the whole eggs and oil. Beat well with a wooden spoon.

Spoon into muffin cases, and bake for 30 min at 180C.

Test with a skewer, and when it comes out clean, transfer the baby cakes to a wire rack to cool.

Mix together the frosting ingredients til smooth. Place in a piping bag (or freezer bag then snip off the tip) and decorate.

Monday, 1 December 2008

look at dese babies!

I made some French macarons yesterday! Greeny-blue ones with blueberry jam filling, and pink ones filled with white chocolate ganache flavoured with rose cordial. I was so pleased with them! They're definitely my best ones yet. Using Bake-O-Glide made such a difference. The pink ones were still kind of crackly though - I piped them using a proper piping bag+nozzle so I don't know if this made a difference because I piped the greeny-blue ones using a freezer bag and they turned out much much better, lovely and smooth...

My recipe (which just produced about 18 medium-sized macarons - I might double it next time as they disappeared too quickly, although I gave most of them away to friends and neighbours as little impromptu treats):

for the macarons:
75 g ground almonds
120 g icing sugar
60 g egg whites (or two egg whites)
35 g caster sugar
colouring pastes

for the filling:
(pink ones)
1 x 100-g bar of white chocolate
a splash of cream
2 teaspoons rose cordial

(greeny-blue ones)
blueberry jam as required


Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C.

Sieve the almonds and icing sugar separately, then place in a large bowl and mix carefully.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form peaks, then add the caster sugar gradually while whisking.

Gently fold the meringue mix into the dry ingredients using a spatula, til smooth. Split into 2 bowls, and add the colourings using a cocktail stick. Mix carefully.

Line two baking trays (I used bake-o-glide).

Stand a freezer bag in a medium-sized glass, and spoon the mixture into the bag, then snip a tiny hole in one corner and pipe onto the baking trays. Make sure the tip of the bag is touching the tray, hold the bag fairly upright and just squeeze until perfect little round blobs are formed.

Leave plenty of room between them.

Then pick up the tray to shoulder height, and drop onto a clear work surface to get rid of air bubbles.

Leave to stand for 30 minutes until the surface of the macarons remains intact when touched lightly with the fingertips.

Pop in the oven for about 15 minutes.

Leave to stand for 5 minutes then carefully place on a wire rack.

Place the white chocolate in a little saucepan, and add a splash of pouring cream. Heat over a low flame and stir until melted, then add 2 teaspoons of rose cordial. Mix well, then pour into a small bowl and chill in the fridge until the mixture has thickened (probably best made a couple of hours in advance).

Sandwich the macarons together with either a teaspoonsful of white chocolate/rose ganache mixture or blueberry jam (beware of clumsy thumbs when putting them together - a few of mine got dented that way hehe).

Admire for a bit in shock and awe, and enjoy!