Thursday, 22 January 2009

Happily Ever After Cupcakes

Lemon Truffle Layer Cake

Lemons, lemons, lemons...the basis of this (birthday) cake was built on this solid premise...from this starting point I moved onto chocolate, blates. To create the sponge I wanted a cake that could take layering and what better than a classic 1234 cake, to which I added the zest and juice of 2 lemons. To fill I made a chocolate ganache, one third of which I stole away and mixed in lemon juice to make the truffles that would top the cake. I have to say I was most pleased with the result, the 1234 sponge is light enough but sturdy enough to take the lemon flavour and still stand out against the dark chocolate ganache. And the truffles? oh yes, I'll be making those puppies again.
The Cake
225g butter, room temperature
2 cups golden caster sugar
4 large eggs
3 cups self raising flour
1/3 cup milk
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
zest of 2 lemons - or just add to taste as you like
1. Preheat your oven to 177C/350F
2. Cream the butter until fluffy, about 3 minutes, with an electric mixer
3. Add the sugar and continue to beat for another 6-8 minutes
4. Add the eggs one at a time, making sure to beat well after each addition
5. Add the dry and wet ingredients alternately, starting and ending with the dry mix
6. Divide the batter between 3 8" greased/lined cake pans
7. Bake for 25-30 minutes in the centre of the oven, test at 20 minutes with a knife...the layers will be thin so do not worry, once stacked it'll be a mighty cake!
The Ganache
11oz dark chocolate - I use 75% cocoa solids
2/3 cup double cream
cocoa powder - for dusting
3 tsp fresh lemon juice
1. Finely chop 8oz of the chocolate and place in a medium bowl
2. Bring the cream to the boil in a small, heavy saucepan
3. Pour the cream over the chocolate
4. Using a whisk, stir in concentric circles - do NOT beat - until the ganache is this point I split the mixture and added lemon juice to one lot which I then made into truffles as below....the rest I used to ice the cake layers.
5. Let it stand at room temperature for about 1 hour
6. Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper and empty out a shelf in the freezer
7. Using a piping bag fitted with a 3/8-inch tip, pipe the ganache into small mounds (about 3/4" high & 1" high)
8. Freeze to firm, for 15 minutes
9. Melt the remaining 3oz of dark chocolate in a small bowl over simmering water...set up a work station of truffles; melty chocolate, cocoa and fork, sieve over bowl & storage pot.
10. To coat to truffles; smear a small amount on a gloved hand and gently rub each chilled truffle with the chocolate
11.Toss the truffles in cocoa powder using a fork, then transfer to a sieve and shake gently to remove excess cocoa
12. Store truffles in the fridge
Secure the base layer to a cake stand using a blob of ganache, then spread over a 3rd of the plain chocolate ganache and top with the second layer. Repeat the ganache layer, and add the final layer of cake, topping this with the remaining ganache and decorate with the lemon truffles.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

dark chocolate and sour cherry cupcakes

sifting through the pile of dried fruits remaining from christmas I discovered two packets of sour cherries that I had totally neglected to put to festive use; and with a whole day to myself what better time to knock up a batch of cupcakes!
a cursory glance at my bible of a cupcake book secured me the below brownie-esque recipe...and lo what delights were in store!
1 1/4 cups golden caster sugar
100g dark chocolate, chunked
225g butter, diced
3/4 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 eggs
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1 pkt sour cherries...which is 1/2 a cup!
1. Preheat your oven to 177C
2. Melt the chocolate chunks with the butter, in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water
3. Add the sugar, stir well and let this mixture cool for about 10 minutes
4. Transfer to a cake mixer and beat for 3 minutes
5. Add the eggs one at a time, beating between each addition for a 30 seconds
6. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt, mix this in well
7. Fold in the cherries
8. Scoop into cupcake cases & bake for 25 minutes
9. Top with cream cheese frosting and a sour cherry!

Sunday, 11 January 2009

apple custard tart

upon purchasing a new food processor (eep!) I was most looking forward to using it to make pastry, having never used anything but the old fashioned hand method - albeit to great success - and lo in but a few short hand-gunk free minutes lovely pate sucree did I have! awesome.
so, the apple custard tart, from the divine Joy of Baking, is pretty easy to make but has several different sections to it so only attempt this when you have some hours to burn (bake)...
the pastry - pate sucree
210g plain flour
50g granulated sugar
1/8 tsp salt
113g butter
1 egg, beaten
1. sift the flour and salt together into a medium bowl
2. in a food processor, beat the butter for a few minutes
3. add the sugar, mix well, then add the beaten egg
4. add the flour and mix until a ball is formed
5. remove the pastry, flatten, cover & chill for 20 minutes
6. roll out to 5mm thick and line a greased, 8" loose-bottomed pie dish - prick with a fork and then return to the fridge for a further 20 minutes
7. line with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beads, pushing the beads to the edges to stop shrinkage...if you have no beads then use foil, which I used to use until Father Christmas came...
7. bake in a preheated oven at 205C for 20 minutes, remove and cool
the apricot glaze
1/4 cup apricot jam
1/2 tbsp water
1. heat the jam in a small pan until boiling
2. strain into a bowl to remove any lumps
3. mix in the water and use to glaze the cooled tart shell
the custard
1/4 cup plain flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup single cream
1/2 vanilla pod, split length ways
1. whisk the plain flour and granulated sugar together in a medium sized bowl
2. mix in the eggs and stir to a paste
3. heat the cream in a small saucepan with the vanilla pod until it is just boiling
4. remove the pan from the heat ad the pod from the pan, scrape out the seeds and pop them back into the cream (you can also rinse and dry the pod, and use it to make vanilla sugar)
5. add the cream to the flour/egg paste and whisk to incorporate, set aside
the apples
500g apples, granny smith/braeburn etc
30g butter
3 tbsp caster sugar
1. peel and core the apples
2. slice the apples into 1/4" thick slices
3. melt the butter in a large skillet (thick flat bottomed frying pan)
4. add the sugar and stir in, let it melt a bit into the butter over a medium heat
5. add the apples and saute until they begin to soften, about 5-10 minutes
6. set aside to cool
the cinnamon sugar
mix together 1 tbsp granulated sugar & 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
the assembly
1. preheat the oven to 177C
2. place the cooled, glazed tart shell on a baking sheet
3. line the apples in concentric circles in the tart shell
4. carefully pour over the custard
5. sprinkle over the cinnamon sugar
6. bake in the centre of the oven for 25-30 minutes until set
now you have a choice either let it cool and bit then scoff it right down as we did for the hour was late ad the smell too tempting...or....
7. sift over a layer of icing sugar and place under a high grill to caramelise...then serve...