Monday, 17 September 2012

Earl Grey Cupcakes

So I'm a massive fan of Downton Abbey, like a huge fan. Have all the box sets, watched all the episodes a dozen times, and for the past couple of weeks I was getting way too excited every time I saw an advert for the third season. Close to squealing. Let's face it, we were all waiting to see if Matthew and Mary would finally get married.

So last night I settled down with a cup of tea, thrilled that I was finally finally about to watch what I had been waiting months for. And god did it deliver, I was laughing, nearly crying, and just constantly smiling that all of my favourite characters were back on TV.

So to celebrate, today I decided to make some Earl Grey cupcakes, thinking they were suitably posh enough for Downton. 
This weekend I also found something I have been lusting after for a long time: a cupcake machine. Cupcakes ready in nearly 10 minutes, what's not to love about it!

As you can see, it cooks six cupcakes at a time, but what you can't tell is that they produce smaller cakes than you normally get/make, even though the normal size paper cases do fit in the holes. But that also means you can make more cupcakes. Normal cupcake recipes make 12 cupcakes, but I managed to squeeze out 16.

 I normally like to use buttercream for the topping, but I didn't have enough butter, so I decided to make a simple glace icing instead (purely because I couldn't be bothered to make royal icing).

Obviously there are loads of recipes for Earl Grey cupcakes. I know of a really nice recipe here:
I love this blog, there are so many cake recipes, I just want to try them all.

However, today I used a different recipe, which used less butter, and more milk.
(Still trying to be a bit healthier...)

3 Earl Grey teabags 
80g unsalted butter
280g caster sugar
240g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
200ml milk
2 eggs

(Obviously I didn't use the oven today, as I had to try out my new toy)
Heat up the milk, without boiling it, and then add the tea bags. Leave it to cool for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven  to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4, and line the cupcake tin with paper cases.
Beat the butter and sugar together, and then add the flour, baking powder and salt. The mixture should resemble breadcrumbs. 
In a separate bowl, mix the milk and eggs together, and then add to the dry mixture. Mix thoroughly.
The mixture may be a bit wet, but it will still bake fine. Put the mixture into the paper cases, and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
Once cooked, leave to cool on a wire rack.

While the cakes are cooling, prepare the glace icing.
I can't remember the exact measurements I used, but it was around 250g of icing sugar and about 3-4 tbsp of water.
Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl, and add the water. Mix until the icing is thick, and stick to the back of a spoon. If it's too watery, add more icing sugar; too thick, add more water.
Add some food colouring to the desired colour.

Once the cakes are cool, just spoon some of the glace icing onto the cakes, until it completely covers the top. If they're left for about 10 minutes, the icing hardens, so that it's less messy to eat.

And that's it. Simple :)

Monday, 10 September 2012

Low Fat Brownies

So, has anyone else been eating too many cakes, and needed to go on a diet?
No, just me?
I don't know about everyone else, but what I find the most difficult about diets is giving up the sweet stuff. It's impossible for me to do, I tend to go a couple of days on my best behaviour, and then I start to get those cravings. Those shameful, annoying cravings for sugar, which cause me to eat a nibble of chocolate. And then the diet ends up going down the pan.

So this time I thought that I would make some low fat sugary treats, so that I don't feel too guilty when I eat something sweet.
Basically this recipe replaces the chocolate and butter with yoghurt, oil and cocoa. Already sounds healthier, doesn't it? Also, the main recipe called for vanilla essence, but I decided to use orange extract instead. Obviously if you don't like orange, or if you're allergic (like one of my friends) then use the vanilla.

1 cup plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp cocoa
1 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup yoghurt
1 1/2 tbsp vegetable/sunflower oil
1tsp orange extract

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4, and grease and line a square tin.
Sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa into a large bowl, and stir in the caster sugar.
Beat in the eggs, yoghurt, oil and orange extract until mixed thoroughly.
Pour into the tin, and bake in the oven for 25 minutes, or until firm to the touch.
Then leave to cool, and then cut into squares.
Dust with a bit of icing sugar, and serve.

Perfect for when you have a massive craving, but you don't want to be naughty about it.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Coffee and Walnut Cake

My mum and I like to go out for coffee every so often as a treat, and this last Saturday we went to this nice little coffee shop in town, called Caffe Chai. It was just the typical type of cafe, with drinks, snacks and cakes (yum). Obviously, we had to have the cake. I had their chocolate fudge cake, while my mum had the coffee and walnut cake, her favourite!

I think I should add here that my mum is my cake tester when I'm baking. I'm always asking her what she thinks of my cakes, and from her suggestions I figure out how to improve my baking, normally with brilliant results. So it's understandable why she ended up doing this with the shop cake. She decided that it was too sweet, a bit dry, and the coffee taste was really weak. I think the only bit she did like was the buttercream. 

I listened to her of course, and decided that I'd have a go at baking this cake. Which I did the next day. It's safe to say that the cake didn't last a day, it was quickly gobbled up by everyone. However, my mum decided it still didn't have a strong coffee flavour, and asked me to make a second cake the next day. Which of course I did.

I got the recipe from the BBC Food website (I love that website way too much)

225g unsalted butter
225g caster sugar
3 eggs
225g self-raising flour
100ml strong coffee
handful of chopped walnuts

For the buttercream:
125g unsalted butter
250g icing sugar
50ml strong coffee
walnut halves to decorate

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4.
In a bowl, beat the butter and sugar together, until pale and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating the mixture each time.
Then add half the flour mixture, mix, and add half the coffee, beating the mixture. Then add the rest of the flour and coffee, mixing thoroughly.
To finish add the chopped walnuts and mix.
Spoon the mixture into two lined and greased 9in cake tins, and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown, and a skewer comes out clean when put into the cake.
Leave to cool on a wire rack.
To prepare the buttercream icing, beat the butter and icing sugar together until it's pale and fluffy, and then add the coffee to taste.
Once the cake is cool, spread the buttercream on the top of each cake, and put one cake on top of the other.
Place walnut halves on the top to decorate.

Enjoy with a nice cup of coffee, and you're all set.