Sunday, 27 March 2011

Peppermint Tea Cupcakes

This has been a wonderful weekend of baking and bbq-ing but boy am I shattered now. Today was the turn of the Peppermint Tea cupcakes. I was originally going to make the Angel Food cake but due to my lack of successful in finding a Ring tin in time, I had to make a last minute decision on what to substitute it for. Settled on the Peppermint Tea Cupcakes as I love making cupcakes and had all the ingredients available in my cupboards for these, bonus!

Was up at 8.15am this morning (after turned clocks forward) to start this recipe. The recipe itself is the same as all the usual cupcake/sponge ones, just requires a little forward thinking to make sure the peppermint tea bags are left to brew for 30 minutes, first in a small amount of water to add to a milk and egg mixture for the sponge and then in milk for the icing.
Had another minor slip-up and added too much flour to the dry ingredients, measured out the sugar correctly and then used that same weight needed for the flour by mistake. Corrected it easily though but really must find my reading glass as this is not the first time it has happened and I am only 4 recipes into this challenge so far! I'm surprised this blog is readable to be honest. The batter also came out a little lumpy, the butter would not seem to mix easily this morning but it didn't seem to affect the cupcakes once cooked.

I found that the cupcakes themselves took a little longer to cook than recommended but that could have also been down to the fact I had to rotate the two trays midway through cooking to make sure they cook and colour evenly and I know you should try to keep the oven closed once the baking is underway until required cook time is up.

Onto the icing whilst these cooled from the oven. Nothing to report on this batch, again an icing sugar explosion over half of my kitchen and having read the comments on the whoopie pie blog before this entry, I am going to desperately try and find a bowl cover to slot my whisk into to prevent this from happening..I shall keep you updated. If anyone know where this can be purchased from or its technical name I will be forever in your debt.
I halved the quantity of ingredients for this batch of icing as I usually do and it worked out well. A nice covering on the top of the cupcakes but not too much that they became top heavy or overloaded and none of it was wasted. The icing smelt devine with the peppermint tea flavouring and I decorated them with a little icing peak and leaf of fresh mint each.

Once iced and finished I didn't get a chance to taste them as was rushing to clean the kitchen, and myself, ready for our friends to arrive for a BBQ that my Husband decided all of yesterday evening, that we should throw. Hence the early start this morning to get my baking done..and who doesn't love showing off their skills with some unusual flavoured cupcakes to company. The children attending were the first to taste them and they gave them the seal of approval so myself and the rest of the party dove straight in...They were absolutely gorgeous!
The peppermint tea icing is definately one of my favourites now and the sponge, when tasted alone, has such a wonderful subtle hint of the peppermint tea. To get the thumbs up from children, whos ages range from 3 to 9, was also lovely since they don't usually go for something with that sort of flavour and they turned down the Chocolate Whoopie pies for the cupcakes as well! Shocked and Stunned.

This is definately going to be one of my favourites to bake from now on and cannot wait to try the Earl Gray and Fruit Tea variations too.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Chocolate Whoopie Pies

I bought my new electric whisk and all ingredients today in the wonder that is a Tescos on a Saturday. Started this recipe late in the day, 7.30pm to be precise, due to a very busy day and time just flying by.

Making the batter for the whoopie pies, no complications, just the usual staple cake ingredients except for the natural yoghurt, I have never baked with that in a cake mix before. The first half of the batter mix is very liquidly, it put me off slightly as I thought I might have maybe measured something out wrong. Once the dry ingredients were added it looked a lot better, in fact it seemed stiffer when whisking than what you would usually expect. It then had to be chilled in the fridge for about 30 minutes whilst the oven heated up.

During this waiting time I had a little sing-song to an old cd, Destiny's Child - The Writings on the Wall. Wonderful, although I don't think my Husband would agree.

Once the mixture has hardened slightly it was time to make the whoopie pie mounds on the grease-proof papered baking trays. I overestimated the amount needed for each mound and due to this only had 14 instead of 16-20, making only 7 whoppie pies in total. This is because, in my wisedom, after ready people's comments on the difficulty of trying to get the same amount of mixture for each mould so they sandwich together properly, I thought I would use an ice cream scoop. A good idea in principal but didn't think through as to whether it would still make the estimated amount.

Either way I managed to get them all laid out and into the oven. Then started on the filling with the marshmallow fluff. Again a simple recipe to mix together. I love baking..except for one part..the damn icing sugar. It goes EVERYWHERE when u try to sieve and mix it! Just sends up a choking cloud of fine suga,r than manages to reach across the whole kitchen and cover every surface. It annoys me so much I might start taking drastic action and covering everything in dust-sheets prior to whisking.

Once the dust had settled and I could see clearly again, I measured out the Marshamallow fluff to add. Before this point I hadn't checked the amount needed in each whoopie pie filling recipe nor the amount in each jar. There is, according to the label, 212g in each jar, the recipe needs 220g. Due to the consistency of the fluff its difficult to get out of the jar and so I actually needed a little more than 8g from a second jar. In total I think one jar gave me about 190g so not too far off the mark. The filling is all blended up nicely and that then needs to settle in the fridge for 30 minutes while the Whoopie pie halves cool on the rack.

Having waited for the filling to chill, whilst now listening to a few Panic at the Disco songs and some of the Glee soundtrack ( I know, a very strange taste in music) I set about filling and sandwiching the pies together. I have to say I am actually very proud of how well my icecream scoop idea worked out with regards to the size of the halves, although some slightly varied they all seemed to have a perfect partner to squish together with. I did use a generous amount of filling in each pie yet there seemed to be a lot left over afterwards. I have learnt from the Red Velvet cupcake recipe in the first book, that the bakery use a lot of icing on their cakes, which seems too much to myself even if used willingly, so I usually half that icing recipe. I will in future now do the same with the whoopie pie filling recipe too. Too much extra to be able to spread evenly through the pies and a waste to throw away. This said the whoopie pies are complete and the time is now 10.30pm though!

And the and my Husband had half of one each due to the...ahem..large size. Amazing!! For my first whoopie pie I think chocolate was the best choice. The filling is a little sickly if there is too much of it, so definately going to stick to my tip and half it next time, but the sponge with the filling goes brilliantly together and something so unusual about eating a sponge cake like that. Looking forward to making some of the other whoopie pie recipes in the book now.

Also going to invest in a tray for them, this will help to solve my over-eager portions and time as it is a little consuming trying to get them all the same size and height. Thanks for the advice on the pies and trays. Tomorrow I am hoping to get baking after my baby's first feed, which usually ends at 7.30AM! Looking forward to the Peppermint tea cupcakes.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

The Summer Fruits Cheesecake

Second recipe of the cook book and into the Challenge. Its the Summer Fruits cheesecake, the first cheesecake I have ever made that needs to be baked in an oven, not just chilled.
The recipe was simple to follow, this time I managed it without any mishaps or adding ingredients at the wrong time. Still haven't managed to replace my broken electric whisk, thank god for my Mother-in-law and her vast baking abilities and equipment!

Although the mixing of ingredients was hitch-free, I hit upon the problems when getting the cheesecake ready to go into the oven. It needs to be put into a water bath to cook but due to the springe-tin the water leaked all inside even though I had wrapped it in foil to prevent this. Cue me hollaring at my Husband to come and help me lift the tin out and re-foil it. The extra foil seemed to do the trick and so into the oven it went for 45 minutes.

Once cooked I peeled the foil off and was met with a gush of hot water running from the tin..obviously the foil failed to keep the water out after all! The cheesecake looked fine due to being inside greaseproof paper, rather than just straight inside the tin. When I had finally mopped up the river running through my kitchen, the cheesecake was left to cool at room temp before it went into the fridge overnight to chill.

Today (21/03/2011) having checked it has set fully, I carefully lifted the cheesecake out of the tin inside its greaseproof sheet and noticed there was still a small amount of water in the bottom of the tin which has seeped through the greaseproof sheet overnight and into the biscuit base...not good! I managed to manoeuvre the cheesecake off the baking sheet and into a plate and it held together, although the water had to to the bottom, it hasn't affected it enough to cause the cake to break apart, its just a little soggy.

Here we are to the tasting and...It was lovely. Even with a soggy base it still tasted like it should, just minus the crunch.So I now have another successful recipe under my belt and also learnt my lesson. Next time I am not going to put the cake into the water bath but on the shelf above it, which should still retain the moisture inside the oven but stop the cheesecake getting soggy again. We will see how this works out next time.

Here we are at the Beginning

Hello Everyone! This is what will be my first post of many. I am so excited to get this going. I was originally going to start on page 1 of the cookbook and work my way through the recipes, but having decided to start this now in March I realised this wouldn't work out with the book ending in Halloween and Christmas treats. So I have decided to randomly pick out the two recipes a week and can therefore make the holiday treats at the correct time. Pictures of each treat will be uploaded as I go.
This weekend we are kicking things off with the Caramel Cupcakes and the Summer Fruits Cheesecake. One is to be made on Saturday and one on Sunday, which is how the pattern should be for the next year.

So lets get onto what will be the first recipe and blog...The Caramel Cupcakes.

Where to begin. The recipes are simple to follow as they were before, from the previous cookbook. No issue in finding the ingredients for these recipes either. The start of baking was a little shaky. It started with me trying to meaure the sugar and getting it wrong three times before noticing I was getting it confused with the flour measurement underneath! Also managed to spill sugar everywhere..cue the hoover! Once I had all the dry ingredients and butter in the bowl ready to mix, I also made the mistake of adding some of the milk too early..luckily it worked out fine and the batter came out perfectly.

Seems I still have baby brain as was a little out of sorts having not baked anything more complicated than a prepared cake mix from a box in the last few months. Kept forgetting what I was doing and whilst trying to make the icing, I tried to sieve the electric whisk, which then decided to break just as I was about to complete the caramel icing, so the rest had to be folded in with an old school wooden spoon. Apart from the few mishaps the cupcakes turned out wonderfully, as usual, and I decorated with a few blobs of caramel on top of the icing.

A successful and tasty first just another trip into town tomorrow to purchase a new .whisk before we start on project number 2, The Summer Fruits Cheesecake

My Cookery Challenge

I am a 24 year old Married mother of one, to my gorgeous baby girl born September 2010. Being a stay at home Mum, apart from being run off my feet with my daughter and the housework, I still love to bake and wanted to do something a little bit different to spice up just a normal baking afternoon/weekend.

Having been inspired by The Hummingbird Bakery and their first cook book, and now spurred on by their recently released second cook book Cake Days, I decided to set myself a challenge.

Over the next year I intend on making all 100 recipes and variations in the new Cake Days cook book. I shall be making two recipes every weekend, since this is the easiest time for me to bake uninterrupted since my husband will be around to baby watch, and blogging about the creations with photos on here.

I started this challenge on the weekend just gone, 19th March 2011 and will finish the blog in a years time on 19th March 2012, hopefully as a success.

You can also follow myself and the actual Hummingbird Bakery on Facebook, just type Hummingbird into the search bar and you should be able to locate both separate pages.