Saturday, August 04, 2007

Coloured Cupcakes

Having lost my baking mojo yet again I was forced to make a comeback this evening. Boy is having an impromptu sleepover at his aunties tomorrow night along with her friend and her two boys. Not only did I have to chuck on a load of washing to make sure he had some clean socks (note the summer holiday slacker!) but there was also the question 'Is there any cake?' so I had to come up with something in a hurry. It seems that getting rid of Boy for the evening comes at a price.

Those figures to the left, to the untrained eye, may just look like a bunch of muppets in costumes. Not if you are 6 years old, To Boy, being a Power Ranger is an actual job description and he firmly believes he will grow up and go to Power Ranger school for training. He wants to be the red one. I haven't had the heart to tell him that in real life the world does actually suck a fair bit and no amount of Mystic Morphers and Delta Blasting is going to change it. He quite happily goes through the day starting every sentence with 'When I'm Power Ranger I can watch tv/ go to the cinema/ blast down the neighbours gate whenever I like. The programmes are truly awful though. They don't appear to have any storyline whatsoever and are full of cheesy lines such as 'Welcome to my sty, hope you like it coz you're never leavin' which does make me laugh. I'm actually considering having that made into a welcome sign to hang in the front porch.

So Power Rangers were the inspiration for my cupcakes, I figured they would be popular with the boys. I had most of the colours of food colouring paste from other projects, the only thing I am lacking is a yellow which I also need for Girls' birthday cake in a couple of weeks (I'm attempting to make her a Teletubbies cake), I bought the coloured paper cases while in the cook shop searching for the yellow colouring. All the cakes are iced in matching colour apart from the yellow ones which had to be done in white which does ruin the effect somewhat. I also had nothing more exciting than the ubiquitous sprinkles to put on top but all in all not a bad effort for short notice.

The recipe I used was the one size fits all cupcakes made in muffin cases. They came out perfectly flat so no need to trim any peaks off them. According to a discussion on Damsels, peaks are made when the oven temp is too hot. Learn something new every day.

Friday, May 11, 2007


Sorry I haven't been updating lately. It's one of those small jobs that gets bigger and bigger until I'm scared of it and have no idea where to start! I have made a few good things and also the obligatory Bad Things have Happened. I have all the pics but there is something wrong with my computer at the moment and when I get pics from my camera a message comes up that I don't understand so that's got to be bad, right?

So if there is anyone still out there please check back and hopefully I will have some baked goods to show you.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Smartie Cookies

This is the closest I get to a Valentines Day post as it was a total non-event in this house. I'm currently very cross with Mr AG as he made no effort whatsoever. I had a special meal planned but I thought why should I bother when he hadn't? At the moment we aren't talking. He of course has all the excuses under the sun.

Anyhow, back to the interesting stuff. I had a big tube of special edition pink Smarties in the cupboard left over from Christmas and thought they would fit in nicely for a Valentine baking session. Boy wanted to help as he is off on school holidays at the moment and very bored, but his food hygiene knowledge leaves a lot to be desired. I ended up telling him off and sending him to watch a DVD instead after he tried licking flour off the worktop (and no, he didn't learn that from me, and who would want to eat flour???)

I have a new book that I got this recipe from, it has quite a few interesting things I look forward to trying out. The cookie recipe is from there but I changed it slightly to have a mix of soft brown sugar and caster sugar as the brown sugar alone can be a bit overpowering. I also have a new and very lovely pink spatula. See, I'm easily pleased.

Smartie Cookies
Makes 14-16

115g/4oz unsalted butter, softened
50g/2oz caster sugar
50g/2oz light brown soft sugar
1tbsp golden syrup
0.5tsp vanilla essence
175g/6oz self raising flour
85g/3oz Smarties (sugar coated chocolate beans)

  • Preheat oven to 180c/Gas 4. Grease 2 baking sheets, or do them in two batches
  • Cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy then beat in the vanilla and golden syrup
  • Sift in half the flour and work in with a wooden spoon. Add the Smarties and the remaining flour and work into a dough.
  • Roll into 16 balls and place spaced apart on the sheets allowing room for them to spread. Do not flatten.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges are golden. For soft cookies be sure to remove them while the centres are still bubbling and pale. Leave them on the tray to firm up for 2-3 minutes then carefully remove them to a cooling rack.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Blueberry Muffins

I bought a cheap punnet of blueberries and was looking for something exciting to make with them but inspiration was lacking so muffins it was. I haven't got a tried and tested muffin recipe so turned to Google and ended up even more confused than ever. Some recipes are made of some very dodgy things and others are just extra ingredients added to cake mix. Where is the fun in that? Most of them claim to be the 'bestest ever in the world x1000' (exaggerating now) so I took a stab in the dark and just chose one that hadn't got weird stuff in and they were fantastic! The recipe does seem a bit odd with the quantities but who am I to argue? I added some demerara sugar and cinnamon to the top as well. I'm also running out of ways to photograph my cakes, can you tell?

Blueberry Muffins
Makes 12

2 eggs
1 cup milk (250ml)
1/4 cup melted butter

1.5 cups plain flour
3tsp baking powder
half tsp salt
2tbsp white sugar

1 cup blueberries
1/4 cup plain flour
1/2 cup white sugar

  • In a small bowl, whisk first 3 ingredients together till the sugar has dissolved
  • In a large bowl mix the next 4 ingredients.
  • Stir the wet ingredients into the dry
  • Add the blueberries, flour and sugar and gently fold in
  • Fill 12 muffin cases and bake for 20 minutes at 190c/Gas 5

Marmalade Sponge Traybake

I made this as a midweek lunchbox filler as I had bought a huge jar of marmalade for £1 and even I can't eat that much (all right, I can but lets keep that between us, ok?) Despite that and the orange juice it doesn't actually taste that orangey. I was going to put a syrup topping on but lost interest when the middle collapsed as I tried to get it out of the tin too early, so totally my fault! The recipe is from Gorgeous Cakes (again!) and is the base for the Heart of Gold cake.

Marmalade Sponge Traybake

180g unsalted butter, diced
180g golden caster sugar
3 eggs
5 tbsp orange juice
250g self raising flour
100g marmalade

  • Preheat oven to 160 fan/Gas mark 4/180c and grease a 23cm round or similar sized rectangular tin.
  • Cream the butter and sugar together until pale, then incorporate the eggs and juice. Don't worry if the mix appears curdled. Stir in the flour and then the marmalade.
  • Pour into tin and smooth the surface and bake for 50 minutes until skewer comes out clean.
  • Leave to cool in the tin then cut into squares.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Raspberry and White Chocolate Muffins

I saw some raspberries in the supermarket and they were calling to me so I bought them and put them in the fridge and couldn't think of a thing to do with them that didn't involve cake. So cake it was. I had a choice of 2 recipes that are quite similar, the Ainsley Harriott one and this one on Muffin Recipes. As I had to use up all the raspberries I went for the second one. It made 20 cupcake size and 4 muffin size which came out a bit tougher than I would have liked, maybe could have done with reducing the oven temp a bit. I made the small ones to prevent the kids from eating too many. I've tried cutting up larger muffins and only giving them half but they are wise to it now and expect the rest! The smaller ones took about 17 minutes to bake.

Raspberry muffins with white chocolate chips

400g plain flour

3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
100g white choc chips

2 eggs
125 ml vegetable oil
250 ml milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
200 g sugar

150g raspberries

  • Preheat the oven to 200°C (gas mk 6, 400°F). Place the egg, oil, milk, vanilla essence and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat together until sugar has dissolved.
  • In another large bowl, thoroughly mix the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the white chocolate chips - mix.
  • Add the liquid mix to the dry, and roughly mix it in - it does not have to be absolutely smooth. Add the raspberries last and mix very, very carefully not to break up the fruits (you can never avoid a few of them mixing in with the dough...).
  • Fill a muffin tray with paper muffin cases, and then fill each case approximately two thirds with the muffin mixture. Bake the muffins for 25 minutes.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Victoria Sponge Birthday Cake

My Nigella cake stand got it's first outing recently and for a special occasion too! Boy was 6 years old. I've no idea how he got to that age so quickly, hasn't helped my broodiness one bit! I'm always a little bit fazed by celebration cakes as I have a deadline to meet (so no time for Bad Things to Happen) and it has to look at least halfway nice. Boy wanted me to make him a cake which I was secretly pleased about as he is very into Power Rangers and I thought he would prefer one of the themed cakes from the supermarket. I did look at them in a moment of desperation but the use by date was over 3 weeks away. There is something not quite right about a cake that keeps that long in my opinion. Sinister, I tell thee. He calls any sponge with jam and butter-cream 'birthday cake' so i thought that would be a good place to start. The recipe was from Gorgeous Cakes by Annie Bell. From her instructions it says to bake it all in one in a 9cm deep baking tin which I don't have and to be honest, I don't think you need. All the mixture would have fitted in my 5cm deep tin I'm sure but I did it in two halves anyway as I wanted a nice flat top for the icing.

Victoria Sponge Cake

225g unsalted butter, diced (or spread suitable for baking, I prefer this)
225g golden caster sugar

225g self raisin
g flour
2 teaspoons baking powder (I'm presuming it
means level ones)
4 eggs (book says medium but I always buy large and it do
esn't seem to make a difference)
100ml milk
  • Preheat oven to 170c fan/190c/Gas 5. Grease and base line one 20cm x 5cm deep tin, preferably with a removable base or two 20cm sandwich tins.
  • Cream the butter and sugar together until light
  • Add the eggs and milk and mix until incorporated
  • Sift the flour and baking powder into the mixture and mix until smooth
  • Transfer to tin(s) and smooth the top
  • Bake for 50 mins for whole cake and 30 mins for sandwich layers, until a skewer in the centre comes out clean. Run a knife around the edge to loosen and leave to cool.
Filling and icing
raspberry seedless jam
55g unsalted butter, cubed
110g icing sugar, sifted
2 tsp boiling water
1 pack ready-to-roll white icing, eno
ugh to cover 1 x 20cm cake
  • Trim the domes from the cake layers so they fit together as neatly as possible. I used the cut sides innermost to leave the flat base at the top.
  • Spread the cut side of one layer with the jam
  • To make the butter-cream whisk the butter, icing sugar and boiling water together until fluffy. Spread this on the cut side of the other layer and sandwich together.
  • Using about 3/4 of the white icing, roll out into a circle slightly bigger than the top of the cake. Spread the icing with warmed jam and smooth onto the top of the cake then trim round the edge with a sharp knife.
Then you can decorate with icing pens, writing icing or whatever else. I used the rest of the icing and made it red with some food colouring paste (liquid would make it too runny) and cut out a number 6 freehand. I do have some number cutters but they weren't quite big enough and to be honest I was rushing at this point as Z was due back from school and I wanted it ready for when he came back. It's not hugely artistic but was a lot better once the candles were on.