Return of the Blog

Last April my husband and I were lucky enough to buy our first home; a Victorian house in need of a lot of love! Whilst I've still found time to bake (thankfully!) in between all of the wallpaper stripping and painting, I've sadly not had time to write about it. But now, with only one room and the garden left to tackle, I finally have the time to write again! 

As I mentioned before though, the last 12 months have still been jam-packed with butter and icing sugar. Cue movie montage...

I loved making every one of these bakes and could bore you with details on them all, but I'll let the pictures do the talking in this instance. However, today I decided to make apple and almond muffins, and am happy to share details on these!

I couldn't really find a recipe online to suit the apple and almond muffins that I wanted to make, so I amended a few to create my own. First, I combined 200g plain flour with 100g caster sugar, 50g dark brown sugar, 20g ground almonds, a teaspoon of cinnamon, 2.5 teaspoons baking powder, and a pinch of salt. To this mix I slowly added one egg, 80ml vegetable oil, 90ml almond milk, and half a teaspoon of vanilla extract, mixing each ingredient in one at a time. I then chopped 2 peeled and cored Granny Smith apples into 1cm chunks and folded them into the mix, trying not to overwork the batter.

After 18 minutes in the oven at 200 degrees Celsius, I took the muffins out and sprinkled them with granulated sugar, just to add a doughnut-style texture on top. Icing sugar would easily work too, but it just wasn't what I wanted on this lazy Sunday afternoon.

Now all that's left is to put the kettle on and catch up on some vital TV time. Happy Sunday all!

Small Cakes for a Big Coffee Morning

Today my work took part in the World's Biggest Coffee Morning for Macmillan Cancer Support, which called for cakes, cakes and more cakes. So, as it's been a little while since I made cupcakes, I decided to make chocolate cupcakes with an orange curd filling and salted caramel buttercream.

I started by making the orange curd since it would need a little more time to cool and set. I used the BBC lemon curd recipe for this, but replaced the lemony elements with the zest of three oranges and then the juice of two and a half of these (popping the last half to one side).

Curds are easy enough to make, provided you're patient whilst it's cooking. I recommend using the lowest heat possible with them and constantly stirring to avoid the dreaded scrambled eggs forming at the bottom of the dish. After about ten minutes the mix thickens up, and you can tell it's done once it easily coats the back of a spoon.

Once cooled, I sieved the mix (to remove the zest) and added the juice of the remaining orange half (just for an extra orangey kick), before putting the final product aside for a day to set.

Last night I made the main element by using the Hummingbird Bakery chocolate cupcake recipe. I started by beating 40g unsalted butter with 140g caster sugar until pale and fluffy, and then added an egg and continued to beat until thoroughly mixed. I sifted 100g flour, 20g cocoa, one and a half teaspoons of baking powder and a pinch of salt into one bowl, mixed 120ml whole milk with a few drops of vanilla extract in another, and then added a little of each mix at a time to the butter/sugar combo. When the dry ingredients were just combined, they were ready to be baked for 20 minutes at Gas Mark 3.

Once the cupcakes were baked and cooled entirely, I cut out the middle section of each and added a dollop of the orange curd. I then replaced the top of the cake (with a little of the sponge removed to make room for the curd). 

Now to the buttercream. Lots of salted caramel buttercreams make the buttercream taste entirely like salted caramel, which is nice but not what I wanted for these little chaps. Instead, I decided to make a vanilla buttercream but then drizzle it with a salted caramel sauce, meaning the salty caramel sauce would pack a punch against the buttery vanilla icing.

For the sauce, I followed the Brown Eyed Baker's recipe and heated 200g of granulated sugar until it was entirely melted. Once the sugar hit 160°C (big shout out to my sugar thermometer), I added 110g of butter and whisked the bubbling mix until the butter melted. I then added 120ml of double cream and a teaspoon of ground sea salt after taking the pan off the heat.

The buttercream was a simpler job and just required 250g icing sugar, 80g unsalted butter, a little vanilla and 25ml milk to be beaten until thick and creamy, before piping onto the cupcakes. 

Once the salted caramel had cooled, I poured it into a piping bag and splashed it about all over the shop. Mainly on the cupcakes, but the table, cooling rack and my iPhone saw their fair share of it too.

Then the fondant called out to me... 'tiny oranges', it whispered in my ear...

And here's the finished result! I should add, the cupcake was on a glass table and was not defying gravity (sadly). Let's hope they taste that light though!