playing with flour

Category: Vanilla

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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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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Almond and Rhubarb Pannacotta

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Wow it’s hot. The heatwave is starting to have an effect on me, I’m tired and cranky and have no desire to do anything but lie on the couch and read novels. Not that there is anything wrong with that, it’s pretty much a perfect afternoon for me, but it is hard to be productive when you’re melting.  For anyone not in Australia we’re currently experiencing some super hot and dry days, with temperatures exceeding 45° in some areas. It’s been up to 38° here at home and I’ve spent some of those days moving furniture around, which in hindsight was not the smartest idea. Unfortunately my problems are only minor compared to others, as the heat is leading to bushfires throughout the country and many people have lost everything. If you’ve been affected or you’re in a risky area I hope you’re safe and doing all right, my thoughts are with you.

When it’s this warm it is hard to get up the motivation to bake anything and turning on the oven seems ridiculous. This is where these desserts come in. Creamy smooth pannacotta, fragrant with the smell of almonds layered with tangy bright rhubarb – it’s the perfect treat to cool you down.

The almonds infuse really well into the milk and leave a sweet and strong liquid that sets to give a complex and delicious custard. While they’d be fantastic just like that the rhubarb simmered with vanilla gives a great contrast and freshness to keep the dessert from being too heavy. If you don’t have a vanilla pod use a teaspoon of vanilla essence instead. If you buy pre-toasted almonds there is only a small amount of stove work needed, so this is a simple and delicious treat for a hot day.

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Almond Pannacotta

3 tsp gelatine
½ cup sliced almonds
300g cream
80g caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 180° and spread the almonds on a tray. Place in the oven and toast for 5-10 minutes until golden and fragrant. While cooking place the cream and sugar in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Once toasted immediately add the almonds to the mixture and turn off the heat. Cover with a lid and let sit for half an hour to infuse.

Sprinkle the gelatine over the almond mixture and turn the heat back on until small bubbles appear around the edges of the liquid. Stir the mixture thoroughly to ensure the gelatine is dissolved. Strain through a sieve then ladle into glasses or pannacotta moulds. Place in the fridge for half an hour to cool before adding the rhubarb.

Vanilla rhubarb

2 cups chopped rhubarb
½ cup sugar
Vanilla pod

Place all ingredients in a saucepan and heat over medium heat for 10-15 minutes or until the rhubarb is soft, stirring occasionally. Remove the vanilla pod before spooning on top of the pannacotta. Return to the fridge for another hour to set completely.

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Miniature Neapolitan Cakes

Did you find when you bought neapolitan ice cream that there was a favourite flavour that always went first? For us it was chocolate and then strawberry, but at a distant second. It was only when low on the others or when told off by the adults that we would eat the vanilla. Which is funny really because I love vanilla ice cream these days, although if given the choice I think I’d still choose the same order of preference.

These miniature cakes bring together that classic combination of chocolate vanilla and strawberry so that you don’t have to choose just one. While you could bake each of these in individual moulds, to make life easier I baked 3 larger cakes and then use a cookie cutter to make smaller ones. You do end up with a lot of excess cake so I blitzed this in a food processor and combined it with the leftover frosting to make cake balls. You could easily make them into cake pops if you were so inclined. I wont write a full post for them but I will put a picture up on my Facebook page if you want to see them.

The cakes are dense and very flavourful with rich creamy frosting in between. I used the same frosting as in the cappuccino cupcakes but feel free to use buttercream frosting or any other that you prefer. The cakes are made from one simple recipe with minimal variations. If you’d prefer you can substitute your own recipes but I’d try to keep them similar so each layer is as dense as the next.

I took these cute towers of cake to an 80s themed birthday party over the weekend and they were a hit. Not that neapolitan is particularly 80s but it does evoke childhood memories which for many of us were from the right era. Being so tall it is hard to eat all 3 flavours at once (unless perhaps you use a fork) so it’s interesting to watch and see who eats what layer first. I haven’t quite decided which I like best so perhaps it’s time for another taste test!

Miniature Neapolitan Cakes

Vanilla Cake

1 cup caster sugar
4 oz unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla essence
1 ½ cups plain flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ cup milk

Preheat oven to 180° and prepare an 8 x 8 inch pan.

Cream butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly. Add the vanilla, baking powder and flour and mix until incorporated. Stir through the milk until smooth. Pour into pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Chocolate Cake

As per vanilla cake with the following variations:

Decrease flour to 1 ¼ cups
Add ¼ cup sifted cocoa when adding the flour
Omit vanilla essence

Strawberry Cake

As per vanilla cake with the following variations:

Combine 1/3 cup chopped strawberries with ½ tsp sugar and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Mix into batter with milk. Add ½ tsp strawberry essence and a few drops pink food coloring to batter and stir through before baking.

When all three layers are baked and cooled cut out small rounds of cake with a cookie cutter and level the tops so they’re all the same height. Stack each cake with corresponding frostings in between and finish with a frosting swirl on top.


Sour Cream Frosting

Vanilla and strawberry frostings

170g white chocolate
60g unsalted butter
120g sour cream
300g icing sugar

Melt the butter and chocolate in a large bowl over a pan of simmering water. Allow to cool slightly before adding the sour cream and stirring through. Gradually add the icing sugar and beat well until the frosting is smooth.

Split the frosting in to two bowls and add a teaspoon of vanilla essence to one and ½ tsp strawberry essence + a couple of drops of pink food dye to the other.

Chocolate frosting

As for basic frosting above but substitute in dark chocolate for the white chocolate. This frosting can be quite thick so add a splash of milk if required.

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