Saturday, 27 June 2009

mini cupcakes - a quartet of flavours

mini cupcakes in red velvet, chocolate, vanilla and coffee...all iced with buttercream and fondant flowers/butterflies...

daring bakers challenge: bakewell tarts, a few berries and some rhubarb

The June Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart... er... pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800's in England.
Never been a massive fan of Bakewell Tarts, all stemming from my aversion to almonds, which I am working, and also the fact that my first inrroduction to them was thos sticky little Mr K ones that I know everyone LOVES but I simply can not abide.
But I have been getting better with my almond uncertainty latley, and thusly charged right in to this far in, infact, that I made 4 different types. Using the sweet shortcrust recipe given in the challenge (below) I made reaspberry, blackcurrant and rhubarb tarts...and then to use up come chocolate pastry I had lying about I made some morello cherry ones. Oh yum! They were so good...and I do like bakewell tart it seems, fantastic!
The Recipes - to make 5x 3" tarts and 1x 5x13" tart...
Sweet Shortcrust Pastry
225g plain flour
30g sugar
1/2tsp salt
110g unsalted butter, cold/frozen
2 egg yolks
1/2tsp almond extract
1-2tbsp cold, cold water
Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater. Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside. Lightly beat the egg yolks with the almond extract (if using) and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough. Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes
125g (4.5oz) unsalted butter, softened
125g (4.5oz) icing sugar
3 (3) eggs
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract
125g (4.5oz) ground almonds
30g (1oz) all purpose flour
Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is primrose in colour and very fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. After all three are in, pour in the almond extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again. With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour. Mix well. The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) and retain its pallid yellow colour.
Assembling the Bakewell Tarts
Place the chilled dough disc on a lightly floured surface. If it's overly cold, you will need to let it become acclimatised for about 15 minutes before you roll it out. Flour the rolling pin and roll the pastry to 5mm (1/4”) thickness, by rolling in one direction only (start from the centre and roll away from you), and turning the disc a quarter turn after each roll. When the pastry is to the desired size and thickness, transfer it to the tart tins, press in and trim the excess dough. Patch any holes, fissures or tears with trimmed bits. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 200C
Remove shell from freezer, spread as even a layer as you can of jam onto the pastry base. Top with frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart. Smooth the top and pop into the oven for 30 minutes. Five minutes before the tart is done, the top will be poofy and brownish. If desired - remove from oven and strew flaked almonds on top and return to the heat for the last five minutes of baking.
The finished tart will have a golden crust and the frangipane will be tanned, poofy and a bit spongy-looking. Remove from the oven and cool on the counter.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

toot toot tractor birthday cake

ordered for a 1st birthday so sweet, am all smily at its cuteness!

mini banana breads

random favourite memory: eating honey and banana sandwiches with my grandad, who only made them with the squishiest of bananas on brown bread with plenty of runny honey. bliss. and so when I spied 4 decidedly shoddy looking bananas hanging out in my fruit bowl, looking all dejected, I knew it was time for a cake...hmm..but is it not ALWAYS cake time? Well yes, but this time was banana cake time, correction, banana mini-cake time!
Banana Loaf Cake
3-4 superbly ripe bananas, mashed with a fork
75g melted butter
150g light brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
180g wholemeal flour - or 187g plain if you'd rather...but why would you?
Runny honey
1. Preheat the oven to 180C - lower if using mini tins, I used 150C
2. In a large bowl, mix the butter and bananas together
3. Add in the sugar, egg and vanilla - mix to combine
4. Add the spices and mix
5. Add the baking powder and salt - mix
6. Sift over the flour and beat in
7. Pour into prepared loaf tins, makes one large or 16 mini
8. Bake in the centre of the oven for 50 mins, or about 25 if mini
9. Remove when done and cool for in the tins before turning out...whilst cooling I pricked the top of the cakes with a skewer, heated some runny honey and poured a little over each cake

Monday, 8 June 2009

happy birthday cupcake!

20 x cupcake order; 10 vanilla & 10 chocolate, iced with buttercream and topped with fondant birthday wishes...

cake? for me? whoo hoo!

happy birthday to me! and thanks to lucy for my AMAZING cakes! I am so very glad you caught the baking bug too! Hurrah!