playing with flour

Category: Cake

Buttercake with Berry Buttercream

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For the last few days all I’ve wanted is cake. Fluffy, buttery cake with frosting. Loaded with sugar and sweetness and perfect for undoing any hard work at the gym but worth it because it is just so satisfying. Rather than give in and buy one of those overpriced individual cupcakes from a bakery I whipped up this super simple recipe that makes about thirty cupcakes instead. Seemed like a good idea at the time but now I have to stop myself eating them all!

I’ve always found it tricky to find that perfect vanilla buttercake that is light and fluffy but still has a crumbly texture – you know, the one that pairs well with anything. Usually I find they’re just too dense or don’t rise enough which is incredibly frustrating. This recipe however lives up to its promises. The addition of buttermilk gives a light creaminess while the cornflour makes for an awesome texture.

You could pair the cake base with pretty much anything but I went with a classic berry buttercream for a bit of tartness and colour. If you really hate seeds in your berries you can sieve them out before adding to your mixture but I really don’t feel it’s worth the trouble. Plus the seeds look pretty in the frosting! If you wanted to make a large cake instead of cupcakes that could easily be done, just increase the baking time by about 10 minutes.

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Buttercake with Berry Buttercream

170g unsalted butter, at room temperature
350g plain flour
300g caster sugar
40g cornflour
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 ½ cups buttermilk
1 ¼ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt

Preheat your oven to 180° and prepare your baking cases. In a bowl sift together the flour, cornflour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and mix through. Add the eggs one at a time mixing well after each addition.

Stir through the buttermilk until well mixed, the mixture may look curdled at this stage. Mix through small amounts of the dry ingredients at a time until just mixed. Spoon into cases and bake for 20 minutes or until golden.

Berry Buttercream

½ cup frozen berries
240g unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 cups sifted icing sugar

Puree the frozen berries until smooth. If desired you can pass through a sieve to remove the seeds. Mix the butter until light and fluffy in a large bowl then slowly mix in the icing sugar until well mixed.

Mix through the berries until the colour is even. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes and enjoy 🙂

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Caramelised Pear and Almond Cake

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So it’s been a while huh? I could make excuses but to be honest I just got busy and lazy. I’m finally understanding what it means to be an intern – long days, stressful situations and very little time to do the fun things like baking. I’m not complaining though, I’ve learnt so much already and I’m actually enjoying it which I think has surprised me! When I did get some free time recently I took the opportunity to make dinner and dessert for a fellow intern who had resorted to eating microwaved meals – and this cake was the result.

I’ve made this recipe a number of times and keep coming back to it. It’s a moist dense cake with sliced pears covered in caramel. Yep, it’s as good as it sounds. The almond meal and buttermilk make the cake super moist and as there’s a decent amount of caramel topping it sinks into the cake and runs down the sides – does it get better than that?

Hopefully this recipe makes up for my long absence. I’d recommend not overfilling your pan as you want the caramel to penetrate deep into the cake. I’d also suggest cutting your pears a bit thicker than I did as they have plenty of time to cook through and this will give you a good flavour and texture. If the cake gets dark too quickly cover it with foil for the rest of the cooking time and make sure you cook it only until just done.

Forgive me yet?

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Caramelised Pear and Almond Cake

180g brown sugar
100g unsalted butter, melted
3 ripe pears cut into slices

Preheat your oven to 180° and prepare your baking tin with baking paper. Pour the brown sugar over the base and top with the melted butter. Use a spoon to ensure all the sugar gets coated. Arrange the pear slices on top.

170g unsalted butter
250g caster sugar
3 eggs
250g plain flour
100g almond meal
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
250ml buttermilk

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition. In a separate bowl sift the dry ingredients together then fold into the mixture. Stir through the buttermilk until just combined.

Pour over pears and cook for 60 to 80 minutes until just cooked in the center. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before inverting onto a plate. Best served still warm with ice cream.

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Espresso Mud Cupcakes

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There is nothing wrong with super sweet cakes and cookies but sometimes you need a grown up dessert. Something rich and sexy to share with a loved one or hide away and eat for a few secret minutes of self indulgence. These cupcakes fit that description perfectly.

Full of dark sinful flavours of chocolate and espresso, instead of being overly sweet they have a slight bitterness to them that may not sound appealing but is actually delicious. These are an adults only treat with Kahlua and coffee, so wouldn’t recommend giving these to children!

Initially I had planned to pair these cupcakes with a peanut butter or Nutella frosting but upon doing so found they lost some of their complexity and sexiness (don’t worry I taste tested thoroughly for you to make sure). All they need to be perfect is a light dusting of icing sugar.

I would recommend making these in small sized cupcake liners as they are seriously rich, and be sure not to overcook them to ensure a moist cake. If you wanted to convert into one large cake I would recommend doubling the recipe.

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Espresso Mud Cupcakes

125g unsalted butter
100g quality dark chocolate
½ cup hot water
2 tbsp espresso powder
50ml Kahlua
1 cup brown sugar
150g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
1 tbsp cocoa
1 egg

Preheat your oven to 160° and prepare your cupcake liners. In a medium saucepan combine the chocolate, butter, water, Kahlua and espresso. Melt over medium heat, stirring until combined. Stir in the brown sugar and allow to cool for a few minutes.

Sift in the flour, cocoa and baking powder and stir through. Add the egg and ensure the mixture is thoroughly combined. I would recommend pouring into a jug with a pouring lip before filling your cupcake liners to save on mess. Fill to 2/3 full and bake for 15-20 minutes or until just cooked through. Allow to cool before dusting with icing sugar.

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Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

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Ah, night shifts. The highly dreaded, anxiety fueling week that all interns dread. Well, most interns anyway. I do know of some people who actually look forward to night shifts, but I definitely wasn’t one of them. My biggest concern was staying awake through the night, especially as I don’t drink coffee. I was convinced I’d get to 3am and just fall asleep at a desk, or worse, while sitting with a patient. So I came up with a plan – eat plenty of sugar! That’s where these cupcakes came in. Ok, I’ll admit I had another motive as well as keeping my eyes open – I figured a little bribery of the other staff might help make things easier.

These cupcakes were born from me having a spare packet of Oreo’s and a need for something sweet. They’re a double hit of vanilla with flavouring in both the cupcake and the frosting but it isn’t overpowering thanks to the Oreo in the base and throughout the cake. To be honest I’d be keen to up the vanilla flavour a bit more using a vanilla pod but I’d run out so it they ended up fairly subtle – it’s up to you what you’d prefer to use. If you’re looking for something to make for Valentine’s day these would be perfect – and even more so if you used the pink Oreos (I think they’re strawberry?).

Oh and in case you were wondering, night shift was actually great fun. I stayed awake all night, saw a great mix of patients and slept so well once I got home!

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Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

1 oz soft unsalted butter
1 cup caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla essence
2 eggs
2 cups plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
3/4 cup milk
1 packet Oreo’s split in half

Preheat the oven to 180º and prepare your baking cups. Cream the butter with the sugar then add the vanilla essence. Beat in the eggs one at a time then sift in the flour and baking powder. Stir through the milk. Break up half of the Oreo’s into pieces and stir through the batter.

In the base of each cupcake liner place half of an Oreo (the side with the cream) then spoon over the batter until 2/3 full. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool before frosting.

Vanilla frosting

8 oz salt reduced butter
4 cups sifted icing sugar
2 tbsp milk
2 tbsp vanilla essence

Beat the butter with the sugar until smooth then add the milk and vanilla. Beat for at least 5 minutes of until light and fluffy. Pipe onto cupcakes then top with mini Oreo’s.

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Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cake

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I was always the kid at school whose birthday fell in the holidays before school started. While it may seem like a great thing to be on holiday it never felt that way for me, I always felt that I missed out on bringing cupcakes to class or getting all the attention for the day from people who wouldn’t otherwise know it was my birthday. As I’ve grown up I’ve realized these things aren’t actually important and now that I’ve started working I’d be pretty happy to still be on holidays come late January! I don’t generally do anything fancy to celebrate but this year I wanted to have dinner with the friends that got me through med school and I was lucky enough to have some of my new colleagues come along too. I find the great thing about starting a new job is meeting new people and although it’s only been a couple of weeks I feel as though I’ve already made some great friends – some of which are people I previously knew (but not well) and some who I’ve only just met. Instead of making cupcakes I decided to make a slightly more grown up birthday treat – chocolate and raspberry truffle cake.

This cake is rich and decadent and a small piece is probably enough (although that didn’t stop some people from having seconds). Layers of light spongy cake studded with raspberries are sandwiched between creamy rich chocolate truffle frosting. The raspberries are tart enough to set off the sweetness and the cake layers aren’t so dense you can’t finish.

I love the technique of pouring the frosting over the cake while it is in the tin to get smooth layers. This saves on frosting time and looks really elegant. You may have to do some touch ups after removing the tin, just use a warm dry spatula to spread leftover frosting where needed. The cake is open to all sorts of decorating possibilities but I loved how simple and classy it looked plain (and this looked even better with sparklers in it at dinner). I apologize for not having a decent photo of the cake cut but it was a dark restaurant – trust me when I say that each layer was defined and evenly spaced and looked fantastic.

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Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Tart

1 cup plain flour
4 tbsp cocoa powder
2/3 cup caster sugar
8 eggs
200g melted butter
1 cup raspberries

Preheat your oven to 180º and prepare two springform baking tins. Beat the eggs and sugar in a bowl until thick and creamy (at least 5 minutes) then sift in and fold through the cocoa and flour. Divide between the two tins then sprinkle the raspberries over the top. Bake for 25 minutes or until set. Allow to cool in the tins.

Truffle Frosting

450g quality dark chocolate
2 cups cream
6 egg yolks
1/3 cup caster sugar

Melt the cream and chocolate over a low heat until melted and smooth. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs and sugar over simmering water for at least 5 minutes or until thick and creamy. Fold the chocolate through the eggs and beat on low speed until cool.

Place one layer of cake in the springform tin then pour over half of the truffle filling. Place the second cake on top then pour over the rest of the frosting, it will run down the sides of the cake. Place in the fridge until cold and set. Carefully remove the tin after warming the sides with a warm cloth.

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White Chocolate and Caramel Gingerbread Blondies

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So it’s starting to dawn on me that I have to start being a grown up as of next week. It’s been so long since I’ve had a full time job, I’ve been living the student life for nine years now. While I’m sure the hours are going to be a shock to the system, I think the fact that I have responsibility and will be making decisions regarding people’s health is what is really stressing me out. Yes I’ve been preparing for this for years and I know I’ll be well supported but it really is a lot of pressure – it really is the perfect time to do some stress-relief baking!

These blondies are delicious. Moist, dense and full of flavour they’re super easy to make and can be adapted to use whatever you have on hand. Replace the Jersey caramels with caramel or butterscotch chips or even dried cherries or cranberries and the white chocolate with milk or dark to give a completely new taste. The ginger pairs really well with the white chocolate and keeps it all from being too sweet.

I found the best time to eat them was still warm, straight out of pan but they’re also great once cooled or even out of the fridge if you want them a bit more dense. If you have new years resolutions to eat better this year I would recommend giving these away as soon as possible (do keep one or two for yourself of course) to avoid the temptation to eat the whole pan. Trust me.

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White Chocolate and Caramel Gingerbread Blondies

1 ¾ cups plain flour
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
4 oz unsalted butter
60g golden syrup
½ cup brown sugar
2 eggs
½ cup white chocolate, chopped
½ cup Jersey caramels, chopped

Preheat the oven to 180° and prepare a 9 inch baking pan with baking paper. In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar until thick and pale. Add the golden syrup and vanilla and beat until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between additions.

Sift over the flour, baking soda, salt and ginger and fold through the mixture. Add the chocolate and caramel and mix through until just combined. Pour into pan and smooth over the top with a spatula. Bake for 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan before cutting.

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Panforte

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Wow, what a month it has been. I know that I promised to post here more often but sometimes things just don’t go to plan. We moved house which is always a challenge, and have finally unpacked and settled in and got our internet connected after three weeks. Whilst doing that I also had my graduation from medical school, my parents visiting from interstate and preparation for my new job which starts next week. Of course, just to make things slightly more hectic, there was Christmas and New Years! Thankfully things have calmed down now and should get back to normal. Fingers crossed.

Christmas this year was lovely and simple, with breakfast and lunch at our new place with family. Instead of the traditional Christmas puddings or cakes I made panforte which is an Italian variation on Christmas cake and gave it as gifts to friends and neighbours. It’s rich and flavourful and packed full of nuts and fruit, held together by chocolate and honey. The orange gives it a citrus scent and the figs make it chewy and moist. While I realise I’m a little behind with the Christmas recipe posts I don’t see any reason to wait until next year to make this. It is fantastic with coffee and makes for a great afternoon treat.

The recipe is simple and easy to make and you can feel free to make any alterations you wish. Add more or different nuts, use spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg, add glace fruit… there are endless possibilities but I found this combination worked really well. The panforte can be kept wrapped in cling wrap and stored in a dark place for up to six weeks.

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Panforte

100g plain flour
2 tbsp cocoa
150g whole almonds
125g hazelnuts
Rind from one orange
100g raisins
150g dried figs, chopped
1 ½ tsp mixed spice
100g caster sugar
185g honey
60g dark chocolate, chopped finely

Preheat your oven to 170° and prepare a 22cm round cake tin with baking paper. Combine the nuts, rind and fruit in a large bowl and sift over the cocoa, flour and mixed spice.

In a small saucepan over medium heat combine the sugar and honey and stir until the sugar dissolves. Simmer the mixture until it reaches 118° on a sugar thermometer (soft ball stage). Remove from heat, add the chocolate and stir through. Immediately pour over fruit and nut mixture and mix (it will firm up considerably).

Press the mixture into the prepared pan until even. Bake for 40 minutes then allow to cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire tray. If cutting into pieces allow to cool completely first.

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Lemon and Mandarin Madeleines

So Malta is amazing, although I have to say I didn’t expect anything less. I’m loving being a tourist and exploring some fantastic places and getting to understand all the history here. Unfortunately I’m in my last couple of days before heading home but I am looking forward to being back with my family and friends and to getting back in the kitchen.

When I was at a market in Tasmania I found this awesome tin. I had a few ideas of what I could use it for and one of those things was madeleines. I’ve always wanted to make them but I’ve never had a madeleine tin. I do understand that this isn’t a traditional tin but it is a similar depth and was definitely worth a try. Being the first time I’ve made these I’m not entirely sure they’re accurate but they do taste pretty awesome.

This recipe makes soft buttery sponge cakes with a lemony scent and they’re perfect straight from the oven. I decided to dip the cakes in a mandarin flavoured glaze to give them some extra sweetness and a bit of texture. I did find that after a while they became a bit dense and weren’t as enjoyable but they were still delicious with a cup of tea or coffee.

Some tips I found out while researching how best to make madeleines: make sure you butter your tin well (I used a pastry brush dipped in soft butter) and don’t overfill them. The longer you let the batter rest before baking the better, at least four hours is good, overnight is even better. Once you have filled the tins tap them on bench to get out any air bubbles and preheat your oven properly before baking. If the madeleines don’t come out of the tin easily use a toothpick or a spoon to help them out.

Lemon and Mandarin Madeleines

120g salt reduced butter
Finely chopped/grated rind of 2 lemons
3 eggs
100g caster sugar
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup
170g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder

In a small saucepan melt the butter and then add the lemon rind. Set aside until the butter cools but not long enough for it to set. In a large bowl mix together the eggs, sugars and golden syrup on high speed until pale and fluffy (about 5 minutes).

Sift the baking powder and flour into the mixture and fold through gently. Add the butter mix in small amounts, folding through after each addition. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Preheat your oven to 180° and butter your tin well. Spoon the batter into the moulds until 2/3 full and tap the tin on the bench to get out the air bubbles. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden then allow to cool before dipping in the mandarin glaze.

Mandarin glaze

Finely chopped/grated rind of 3 mandarins
100g caster sugar
2 tbsp water

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and heat gently until the sugar has melted. Dip the madeleines into the glaze and allow to set on a wire rack.

Walnut Streusel Mini Cakes

So I owe you all an apology, I had not intended for there to be such a long break between posts. After travelling to Tasmania for my last university placement I had planned to come home and get back to life. Instead, I took a spur of the moment trip to Malta to experience the country my mother’s family is from. For the last week I have been off exploring ancient cities and ruins and meeting relatives I did not know I had. It has been absolutely fantastic and the best part is that I’m not even half way through.

Before I left, in the few days I had at home, I did spend some time in the kitchen and one of the things I made (to give as a thank you present to my wonderful neighbours who looked after my cat while I was away) were these walnut streusel mini cakes. A fragrant and moist coffee cake topped with sweet and crunchy walnut streusel and drizzled with an espresso glaze, these cakes are delicious. They smell fantastic while baking and are the perfect size for afternoon tea. You could make them in a larger loaf pan or even as cupcakes if you prefer, just adjust the cooking time accordingly.

I have a couple of other recipes up my sleeve to share with you while I am away and I promise not to wait as long before the next post! That is, unless I get caught up getting happily lost on this incredible island…

Walnut Streusel Mini Cakes

1 tbsp instant coffee
130g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
220g caster sugar
2 eggs
2/3 cup buttermilk
180g plain flour
40g self raising flour
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda

Preheat your oven to 160° and prepare your mini loaf pans. Dissolve the instant coffee in ¼ boiling water and allow to cool. Sift flours and bicarbonate of soda into a small bowl.

Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl, add eggs one at a time until mixed. Stir in vanilla and buttermilk, alternating with flour mixture until combined, do not over mix. Fold in the coffee. Pour into prepared pans and top with streusel.

Walnut Streusel

60g raw sugar
60g brown sugar
130g unsalted butter, chopped
100g self raising flour
1 cup walnuts, chopped

Rub butter into flour with fingertips, then add sugars and walnuts. Stir to combine. Spread over mini cakes before baking. Bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out cleanly.

Drizzle cooled cakes with espresso syrup. To make, combine 1 tsp instant espresso with 2 tbsp icing sugar and a few drops of water.

Strawberry Bread

Sometimes it’s good to be creative, to give something new a go. This strawberry bread was a bit of an experiment that stemmed from having three punnets of ripe strawberries and a tub of Greek yogurt in the fridge. I had no idea how it would turn out but it was worth a try, and I’m so glad I did.

An incredibly moist and quite heavy loaf, this bread has a similar texture to banana bread but is somewhat more airy. The juicy pockets of strawberries are delicious and the aroma of the cinnamon and brown sugar baking is enough to have you checking the oven every 10 minutes to see if it is done! The batter is a gorgeous caramel colour and tastes so good I was disappointed I didn’t leave more in the bowl to eat.

I would recommend eating this on the day you bake it (best still slightly warm from the oven) but it will keep for a couple of days. I served it with some extra Greek yogurt through which I stirred some golden syrup and pistachios. Super easy to make and perfect to share for afternoon tea.

Strawberry Bread

1 ½ cups plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp cinnamon
4 oz unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup white sugar
½ cup brown sugar
2 eggs
8 oz Greek yogurt
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup chopped strawberries

Preheat oven to 180° and prepare a loaf tin. Beat the butter in a large bowl until light and creamy then beat in the sugars. Beat in the eggs one at a time then add the yogurt and vanilla.

Sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Mix through until combined. Stir through the strawberries. Pour into prepared tin and top with a sprinkling of raw sugar and some extra cinnamon. If you like you can mix a chopped strawberry in a small bowl with a teaspoon of sugar and spread over the top also.

Bake for 55-60 minutes or until golden on top and if a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. If the bread is browning too quickly cover with foil for the last 10 minutes. Fantastic served with Greek yogurt and honey or golden syrup.

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