Thursday, 30 October 2008

iced sugar cookies

these little beauties are incredibly simple to make and lend them selves to a variety of shapes and icing formats. And in what format did I bake them for my market stall? well...I halved the dough and did one batch of simple iced circles and stars, and the other half as hearts iced with a lemon glaze and pink sugar edging.
the dough has to sit in the fridge for at least an hour before rolling out so don't forget to work this into your timing if you are making them last minute...I have a number of recipes for these cookies, but the one I have used the most is from Joy of Baking, which makes 36 cookies.
Ingredients
490g plain flour
1/4tsp salt
1tsp baking powder
227g unsalted butter, room temperature
300g granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2tsp vanilla extract
Method
1. In a large bowl sift together the flour, salt and baking powder
2. With an electric mixer or hand mixer cream the softened butter and add the sugar, beat for a further 3 minutes
3. Add the eggs ad vanilla gradually and incorporate fully
4. Slowly add the dry mix on a low speed and beat until you have a smooth dough - it may seem quite sticky, this is fine, leave it for a minute then halve it and wrap in cling film, chill in the fridge for at least one hour. If you have time then you can make the dough a day in advance a leave overnight.
5. Preheat the oven to 176C/350F...though as mine is craaaazy hot I put it at 170C, with the racks in the centre of the oven. Line two baking trays with baking paper (I just bought two silicone baking mats, which are awesome! and save me soooooo much paper, and I am a tree fan)
6. Remove one half of the dough from the fridge, and on a lightly floured surface, roll out to just under 1cm (I do mine about 5-8mm and they are fine, I find 1cm a touch big).
7. Using your cookie cutter of choice cut out shapes from the dough, if you flour the cutter you may find this easier, and transfer to the baking sheets.
8. Bake the cookies for 10mins - or until just starting to lightly brown on the edges - then transfer to a cooling rack. Once all the first half of the dough is used, get the second out and repeat - this keeps the dough all nice and cool while you do the first batch.
9. Ice the cookies as you wish...For the market I made up some simple red and blue icings; icing sugar, a few drops of dye and then dribbles of water til it reaches a decent spreading consistency. For the hearts I made an undyed icing with icing sugar and water, the rolled the edges of the hearts in pink granulated sugar (just drip a drop of dye into some sugar and mix it all about!)...
and for halloween, little pumpkin shaped goodies for the mini-trick or treaters that visit each year...

coffee and doughnut cupcakes

as inspired by the amazing chockylit, I think these are possibly the most outlandishly awesome cupcakes ever. The trick is in the eating (isn't it always?)...dipping the mini doughnut in the creamy icing, scoffing that down and then slowly consuming the intensely coffeesome cupcake...mmm, hmmm..delish!
I used the cupcake recipe from chockylit, and found a yeast-free doughnut recipe for the mini toppers...making these was hilarious, there were quite a few mutants at first as I tested out sizes and volume but in the end I pressed out little rounds with the large end of a piping nozzle (about 1.5cm diameter) and the cut out the middle with the smaller end, then pushed the dough over the nozzle to make a larger hole. Success!
Ingredients
Cupcakes - makes 19
170g unsalted butter, at room temperature
375g caster sugar
3 large eggs
1tsp baking powder
1/8tsp salt
1tbsp coffee grounds - I blitzed these up a bit more, and used a very strong roast
1/2 cup (4 floz) strong brewed coffee - I have a stove top espresso maker and used this, so it is pretty strong
1/4 cup (2 floz) and 2 tbsp milk
Topping:
6 floz double cream
2 tablespoons caster sugar
Doughnuts - makes about 30 mini ones, or 19 and some mutants
250g plain flour
125g caster sugar
1tsp salt
1tbsp baking powder
1/4tsp cinnamon
1/8tsp nutmeg
30g butter - melted
1/2 cup (4 floz) milk
1 egg - beaten
lots of oil for frying
cinnamon & caster sugar mixed and in a shallow dish, to toss the doughnuts in - optional, but nice!
Method
Cupcakes
1. Beat the butter until soft and creamy, then gradually add the sugar and continue beating for about 3 minutes until light & fluffy
2. Add the eggs one at a time, making sure to beat until well incorporated between each addition
3. In another bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and coffee grounds
4. Add the milk and cooled, brewed coffee together so you can add them combined
5. Add the dry ingredients alternatively with the milk/coffee mix, ending with the dry mix and beating well to incorporate with each addition
6. Fill the cupcake cases about 3/4 full and bake in a preheated oven at 175C for 20-25 minutes (until a skewer comes out clean when inserted), remove and cool on a rack
Topping
1. Whisk the cream until thick, add the sugar then beat again until the cream is able to form very stiff peaks
2. Pipe onto the cooled cakes in swirls using a star tipped nozzle
Doughnuts
1. Heat oil in a deepish very thick frying pan, or deep fryer to 375F/180C...I do not have a thermometer, so I just let it heat up and did a test blob of dough...
2. Sift the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and spices into a large bowl
3. Mix in the melted butter with a knife, then add the milk and egg, stir in again
4. Using floured hands, knead the dough lightly - you may need to add more flour, just add a bit at a time until you are happy that the dough is not too sticky
5. Turn out onto a well floured surface and pat to a 1/4 inch thickness
6. Cut out using a floured cutter, or piping nozzle!
7. VERY carefully drop the doughnuts into the hot oil, a few at a time, and fry - turning once - for about 3 minutes or until golden brown
8. Toss in the cinnamon sugar and place on kitchen roll to drain
9. Place on top of the piped topping and serve!

the merchant market or a work based bake off!

a market was announced at work, so I thought a nice wee cake stall of delights and delectations would go down well...and so it did! I spent 1 1/2 days baking, which I loved loved loved! hah, so much better than sitting at a computer all day...I was surrounded by yummy smells and ingredients, listening to plays on radio four in my kitchen all day...knackering but brilliant!
I made a variety of treats for sale; coffee & doughnut cupcakes, boston cream pie & coconut cream pie cupcakes, iced sugar cookies, flaked almond cookies, gluten free spiced shortbread, orange butter biscuits and dark chocolate ginger cookies, chocolate macaroons....and....rocky road!
I also started promoting my Christmas Treat Boxes, which I hope to get some orders for - everyone likes a nice home baked cookie at crimble time don't they? Hope so!
The recipes will be forthcoming...