Wednesday, 26 November 2008

low-fat chocolate cupcakes -or- what to make when you have no butter but really want to bake

mmm low fat chocolate cakes? no. exactly thats what I think, but then when I found that my fridge was bereft of butter and not being up for going to the local shop in my pajamas (again) I found these to be a surprising triumph. Mainly because all they are is non-butter cakes; like lots of cakes...the low-fat title is rather misleading, yes, they are low in 'fats' but the volume of sugar more than makes up for that little diet factoid. Anyhoo, they are nice and here is how i did it...
300g plain flour
225g caster sugar
1tbsp baking powder
2tbsp cocoa powder
2 lightly beaten eggs
115ml sunflower oil
175ml skimmed milk
1tsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat your oven to 175C and line a 12-cup muffin tin (you could use fairy cake cases to make more, smaller cakes)
2. In a medium bowl sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and cocoa.
3. In the bowl of a cake mixer combine the eggs, oil, milk and vanilla. Add the dry mixture to this and beat until just combined - do not overbeat.
4. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases - half fill the cases or you will get muffin tops (heh, a little low fat irony for you)
5. Bake for 20 minutes then remove and cool in the tins for 5 minutes; remove to a wire rack to cool completely and ice as you wish (thus negating the low-fattyness!)

scrummy chocolate swirl shortbread

another beautiful recipe from one of the best presents I ever got, these shortbreads are so simple to make and undeniably sublime to scrobble down to your belly place. They take only 20 minutes to prepare, but you have to chill the dough so they are not a super quick treat, but if you have a spare hour then they can be yours!
Shortbread 1
150g plain flour
1/2tsp salt
50g caster sugar
125g unsalted butter, room temp
Shortbread 2
125g plain flour
25g cocoa powder
1/2tsp salt
50g caster sugar
125g unsalted butter, room temp
100g dark chocolate, chopped into rough smallish pieces (I have used various chocolates, the green & blacks maya gold is especially lovely)
1. Preheat the oven to 150C and line two baking trays with greaseproof paper
2. To make the first shortbread sift together the flour, sugar and salt. Rub in the butter until the mixture combines, knead lightly, then place in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.
3. Make the second shortbread by following the same steps, but including the cocoa with the flour. Again place in the fridge to chill.
4. Roll out both doughs on a lightly floured surface, roll into equally sized rectangles about 1cm thick.
5. Place the plain shortbread onto a sheet of greaseproof paper and place the chocolate shortbread on top; scatter the chopped dark chocolate over the top.
6. Using the greaseproof paper, roll the shortbread like a swiss-roll, rolling with the longest side. Don't worry if it breaks or if the chocolate pokes through, all part of the rustic charm. Once you have it rolled into a log, roll it a bit more to make it longer, but not too much. Pinch in the ends to prevent the chocolate falling out.
7. If you are making this in the middle of summer, or if you have your heating on furnace settings, you may want to pop it back in the fridge to firm up a bit more...if not, proceed...
8. Using a sharp knife slice the log into 1cm thick slices. Place onto the lined baking trays and bake for 25 minutes. Remove and cool on a wire rack before scoffing lots of them with a cup of tea.

chocolate peanut butter cake

my cake day was looming at work, pondering my options I once again returned to the sublime smitten kitchen for inspiration. And this be the result...
The Cake
2 cups plain flour
2 1/2 cups caster sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2tsp baking soda
1tsp salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups water
2tbsp white vinegar
1tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1. Preheat the oven to 175C. Line the bottoms of 2 (or 3 for super specialness, i have not three pans of the same size, I also do not have endless patience at 10pm on a wednesday...)
2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt into the bowl of a cake mixer (cough...kitchenaid...cough), whisk to combine them well.
3. Add the oil and sour cream, continue blending and gradually beat in the water. Add the vinegar and vanilla then whisk in the eggs until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and beat again.
4. Divide between the prepared cake tins and bake for 30-35 minutes (longer and cooler if just two pans), or until a knife comes out almost clean when inserted. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 20 minutes, then turn out onto cooling racks and allow to cool totally before removing the paper bottoms.
The Filling - peanut butter frosting
10 oz cream cheese, room temp
4 oz unsalted butter, room temp
5 cups sifted icing sugar
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the cream cheese and butter together until light and fluffy.
2. Gradually add the icing sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing well with each addition - scrape down the bowl often.
3. Continue to beat until light and fluffy, for about 4 minutes
4. Add the peanut butter and beat until fully incorporated
The Covering - chocolate peanut butter glaze (make after frosting the cake)
8oz dark chocolate, broken up
3tbsp smooth peanut butter
2tbsp golden syrup
1/2 cup half-and-half...not being american I used the following substitute: 2/3 cup skimmed milk & 1/3 cup double cream
1. In a bowl set over simmering water, combine the chocolate, peanut butter and golden syrup. Heat, whisking often, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth
2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the "half-and-half", beating until smooth. Use whilst still warm, yum.
The Assembly
1. Use half the peanut butter frosting to fill the cake between the layers, then cover the top and sides with a crumb layer. Put the cake in the fridge for about 30 minutes then use the rest of the frosting to coat the cake completely...pop this back in the fridge then make the glaze.
2. Put the chilled cake on some greaseproof paper and pour the glaze over the top of the cake. Use a spatula to spread it evenly over the top; if you want it to drip down all nice the spread just to the edges so that it drips down, I smothered it totally for ease of transport to work.
3. Chill the cake until about 1 hour before serving

Sunday, 2 November 2008

red velvet cake

I have been wanting to find an excuse to make this cake since steel magnolia's, and finally an opportunity presented itself in the form of a halloween/birthday shindig! yes yes. what could be more ghoulish than cutting through pristine white icing to a blood red cake, that's right, not much!

I have spent a loooong old time googling red velvet cake recipes, well, all recipes really, but I think red v-cake has taken up a large portion of said google time. I eventually settled on the recipes posted by Smitten Kitchen, no idea how I come to choose recipes, perhaps it is the reassuring photos...? hmmm. anyhoo I forged ahead, one quick trip to the dreaded asda...who of course did not have any red food dye. I hate that stupid shop, they have no concept of stock taking. And so I braved the torrential rain that was upon brighton to run to the co-op where I bought their entire stock of red food dye, all five bottles, and returned triumphant to my kitchen.


Cake Batter

3 1/2 cups plain flour

1/2 cups cocoa powder

1 1/2tsp salt

2 cups canola oil – I substituted with vegetable oil to great success!

2 1/4 cups granulated sugar

2 large eggs

6tbsp red food dye

1 1/2tsp vanilla essence

1 1/4 cup buttermilk – if you can’t get this then use regular milk and add 1tbsp lemon, leave for 10mins

2tsp baking soda

2 1/2tsp white vinegar


8oz cream cheese, room temperature

115g butter, room temperature – almost to the point of melty melty

3 cups icing sugar

1tsp vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 170C/350F, grease and line your cake tins. This recipe calls for 3x9” tins, but I used 2x8” then cut each in half to make a 4 layer cake If you do this then reduce the heat by 10 degrees and cook for 10-20mins longer.

2. Sift the plain flour, cocoa and salt into a large bowl and set aside.

3. Place the oil and sugar in the bowl of a mixer and blend at a medium speed until well combined.

4. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well to combine.

5. With the machine on a very low speed carefully add the red food dye then the vanilla.

6. Finally add the dry mix alternately with the butter milk in three batches; scrape the bowl down and beat again to combine.

7. Place the baking soda in a small dish and add the vinegar, stir and add immediately to the batter, beat for 10 seconds.

8. Pour the batter into your prepared cake tins and place in the centre of the oven, bake for 40-50minutes – or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted.

9. Carefully remove the tins to some cooling racks, leave for 20mins then turn out the cakes (I have invested in some decent sprinform pans that make this so much easier!), peel off the baking paper and leave to cool completely whilst making your frosting.

10. Place the cream cheese and butter in a mixer bowl and beat until light and fluffy and well combined. Add the sugar and vanilla. Beat on a low speed to combine, iff too soft then pop in the fridge to harden for 15mins. Add more icing sugar if you want it to be sweeter.

Frosting Tips: If you have made two big layers then slice these in half, if not then just proceed…If you have the time then it may be a good idea to chill the cake in the fridge before frosting, it is then easier to brush off the crumbs. When icing a multi-layer cake put less icing on the bottom layers, and leave a large gap at the edge of the cake as the weight of the other layers will push the frosting outwards, and we don’t want too much oooooze now do we?! I made less frosting and then covered the cake in white fondant icing, but this is up to you!