Saturday, January 21, 2012

Strawberry marshmallow cupcakes

I just wrote a whole blog entry and lost it .... d'oh!

It's been a while…. again….! Since I last wrote I got outbid on a shop, kept house hunting, looked at shops to rent, made Christmas dinner (go me) and had my first day off sick in about a year (today!)

So, this recipe is my response to lots of disappointing strawberry recipes! Plus my attempt at making marshmallow icing. Distressingly I lost the actual recipe I used, but have found one that looks almost exactly the same (to my memory). I also have to give credit to my friend Hannah who was my photographer for the day - as particularly doing the icing gives little space for stopping and taking photos!


6oz self raising flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder (NOT TABLESPOON!)
6oz sugar (granulated or caster is fine)
6oz marg, or softened butter
2 eggs (at room temp)
a splash of milk
(I usually weigh the eggs and add enough milk to bring it up to 6 oz)
4 oz strawberries

1. Put flour, baking powder marg, sugar, eggs, and milk into a bowl and whisk for 2 mins (if you using an electric whisk or mixer) until smooth

2. Chop strawberries finely and swirl into mix.

3. Spoon into cupcake cases and bake for 15-20 mins at 180C (170C for fan oven)

for the icing I shall offer two options, the first is definitely simpler, but still amazingly tasty

4 oz strawberries, chopped finely
icing sugar. 

Mash the strawberries a bit with a fork and add enough icing sugar for it to be a nice, not too runny, icing.

Strawberry marshmallow icing….

Note- for this you either need two people or a stand mixer, you'll also need a sugar thermometer.


2 egg whites
120g granulated sugar
80g golden syrup
1 1/2 tbsp water

1. Place sugar, golden syrup and water into a heavy-based pan and bring to boil

2. While this is boiling start to whisk egg whites in a stand mixer

 - You're aiming for the sugar syrup to reach 121C at the same time as the egg whites get to the stiffly whisked point.

3. Once the sugar syrup reaches 121C pour over the still-whisking egg whites and continue to whisk until the mixture cools and becomes shiny and white.

4. Add the mashed strawberries and whisk together

5. Spoon onto cupcakes and put under grill or blow torch. (Sadly no pictures of this stage)

Eat within a couple of days.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Today could be a massive day in my life. It really could. I'm going to get a phone call in the next 3-4 hours which will either change my life completely, or be quite disappointing. You'll hear more if it's the former, not so much if it's the latter ;) 

Anyway, as a useful way to distract myself from impending news, here is a fabulous waffle recipe. I have a great desire for an old school, really deep, waffle maker, but have to content myself with the one I have now. The best waffle I ever ate was at a street fair in Schaffhausen in Switzerland, it was amazing, seriously, a really deep grid, crispy on the outside, piping hot, and coated in icing sugar. Oh, how I long for the ability to make such a waffle (hence my deep and abiding longing for a deep waffle iron!)

This is one of my favourite snacks, and one that I make on a very frequent basis. They're particularly good if you add the zest of a lemon to the mix, and then coat them in icing sugar - very messy to eat, but definitely my topping of preference (if there's no bacon and maple syrup to be had…best American import of recent times ;))

This is a recipe from my lovely Patisserie book by the Roux Brothers. I'm working my way through it - the only problem being that most of the recipes are complex and require time (which is in short supply at the moment) and will all take a few attempts as they look really hard!

250g/9oz flour (83g)
25g/1oz sugar ((9g)
Large pinch of salt
75g/3oz butter, melted (25g)
3 eggs, separated (1)
400ml/14 fl oz milk (135g)
Flavouring of your choice (eg orange blossom, lemon zest, rum, Grand Marnier)

NOTE: you really need to use the mix all at once, so if, like me, you live by yourself, either make loads and freeze them, or divide it all by 3 and make it with one egg.

1. Place flour in a bowl and make a well in centre. Put in the sugar (but keep a pinch for the egg whites), salt, melted butter and the egg yolks.

2. Gradually add the milk, beating all the time with a whisk until the mixture is very smooth. 

3. Cover the bowl with a plate or cling film and leave at room temperature for at least 15 mins.

4. Turn on your waffle iron!

5. Beat the egg whites until stiff, add the pinch of sugar and beat well.

Until they go from frothy like this....
To nice and thick like this....then add your pinch of sugar

And beat until even thicker

Remove the whisk, use a spoon

6. Fold the egg whites into the waffle mixture - this is the key bit!!! DON'T BEAT THEM IN!!!! Use a metal spoon and GENTLY fold the egg whites in. It'll make strange noises as some of the air in the egg whites is squashed out. The aim is to keep as much air in a possible. That's what makes the waffles all tasty!

Full of air, and ready to be made into tasty waffles!

7. Brush the inside of the waffle maker with butter and ladle in just enough batter to cover the grid. Close the lid and cook for 3-4 mins. I like mine quite crispy on the outside, but you can choose how you like them :)

You don't need to grease the grid between each set of mixture, I tend to add another bit half way through if they start to stick.

Best to eat them straightaway. Also, this mixture does not keep well, you want to use it all up as otherwise your hard work with beating the egg whites will be lost and the mix will deflate :(

Enjoy the waffles :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

White Chocolate Brownies

So, I got up at 4.30, worked like a mule for 8 hours. Then ate masses of food. I do not appreciate having to make 4 reasonably-sized meals a day and still being starving in between! However, this evening I'm going to make waffles, 'cause I'm such a rebel ;) I'm supposed to be cleaning my house and writing a business plan for my intended cake shop....maybe making waffles will give me the energy I need to tackle the rest of my tasks!?!

On to recipe fun....

This is a recipe I got from my friend Anna. They are wonderfully, beautifully tasty.

300g/10oz White chocolate (110g/4oz into mix, the rest will be choc chips)
85g/3oz butter/marg
3 large eggs
170g/6oz light brown sugar
170g/6oz self raising flour
170g/6oz ground almonds

I always check the differences between the ounce and gram amounts, and these had been worked out badly, so I've adjusted them. You should always choose to follow either the grams or ounces though

1. Preheat your oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4. Grease and line a tin with greaseproof paper, they suggest 18x28cm but I used 15x20 cm, I think deeper brownies are gooier and therefore tastier!

2. Place 110g/4oz white chocolate into a bowl with butter,and place over a bowl of simmering water. Or, put it in the microwave for about a minute, but always heat it 20 secs (or 10 as it starts to melt) at a time as white chocolate burns very easily. Once the choc has start to melt stir it and it should gradually melt as you stir. 

It should look like this :)

3. leave the chocolate to cool (check by (dipping your finger in) that it's about body temp). 

4. Place ground almonds and flour into a bowl. NOT THE EGGS OR THE SUGAR....
5. Add the sugar and eggs to the white chocolate and butter mix (I had to rescue mine from the wrong bowl!

Mmmm, tasty
6. Sieve in the flour and fold in the ground almonds and all-important chocolate chips

I ran out of white chocolate so used milk instead, 
but I think it tastes better when it's all white chocolate

4. Transfer to prepared tin and smooth batter down. Bake for about 35 mins until risen, just set and slightly golden. Allow to cool in the tin, then cut and store. 

Uncooked brownies, tasty face

White choc brownies are easier than dark choc in this respect. As long as you set the temperature correctly you can trust the colour that it goes. I'd say mine are slightly overdone at one end - I suggest checking after 20 minutes. 

Slightly overdone this end, but you get the idea of slightly golden brown from other end of the tin :)
There we go. A guide to really, really good white chocolate brownies. Enjoy!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Hello long-lost blog

Recently this blog has joined the long list of things I should get round to cleaning the windows, checking the oil in my car, and sorting out my paperwork. Very few of those things have got done, but here's a quick update!

I really just wanted to share some cakes I've made since my last update. Just to prove I have been baking - not that there's ever really any doubt of that!

I have also, of course, got lots of new recipes to share, which I shall attempt to do some of tomorrow. But I'm going to go to sleep soon, due to my ridiculous 4.30am wake up time.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

David Tennant and Catherine Tate!

This month is running past quickly. I've been being miserable, which always cuts down on communication in all forms. Thankfully I have amazing friends and there have been exciting happenings...

I went to see David Tennant and Catherine Tate in Much Ado About Nothing and it was Fantastic!!! Utter genius. The play is brilliant anyway, though I've only ever seen the film version with Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh. I love love love David Tennant anyway, especially when paired with Catherine Tate. They just bounce off each other so well.

It was brilliantly funny. Genuinely had the whole theatre laughing from start to finish. Except when they did the sad and serious bits. I was impressed with how the two of them changed the tone, from comedy to real emotion. I haven't seen Catherine Tate do much 'serious' acting but when she does it is genius. DT was his usual incredibly energetic self. I wonder what he's like off stage, because on stage he really does exude a kind of manic energy. He is as beautiful in life as he is on tv, and possibly even skinnier (which I like in a man ;)).

The show was set in the 80s, complete with Diana-style wedding dress and various other monstrosities of fashion. Clearly the best was DT dressed in mini skirt with leggings and some weird crop top over fish net. I wish it was filmed so I could go back and watch it again, several times! I guess that's the thing of the theatre - which you forget when all you watch is films - the whole thing is so incredibly transitory. In a world full of films and recordings, you forget that most of life isn't something you can play back. I went to see Harry Potter 7.2 last night, and at the end I knew that I'd see that film again, many times. Somehow it makes you work less hard to appreciate it at the time, knowing you can go back to it.

Here endeth my little (and badly written) foray into the world of pondering. Mayhap I will try harder to live in the moments that come. I'm going to walk round to my sister-in-laws in a minute and go hang out with her and my lovely niece. She's nearly two, which is just crazy! How did she get so old?!

Today is my day off - though I did still wake up at 5! I did manage to sleep til 8 though, and all I have planned for the afternoon is to cook the fruitcake (middle) tier of my friend's wedding cake. It is somewhat overdue, but will still have a couple of weeks to mature. Whilst it cooks for the 4-5 hours that it takes, I shall do an equally overdue clean of my flat. It looks like the misery is lifting, and I shall return to a happier phase of being.

PS. I think I may have cracked the brownie question - to be posted soon

Monday, July 11, 2011

Chocolate Ganache and Strawberry Tarts

So much for updating every week….

I have a bit of an excuse though, I ran out of internet on my phone so I actually couldn't get on for over a week. It was tragic. But I've done a few recipes in the meantime. And photographed a few to add to the back catalogue. 

I just want to give you a very quick one, which was very tasty. Sainsbury's had an offer of giving a free pot of cream with each box of strawberries so I decided the best way to use it would be to make some chocolate ganache.

Chocolate Ganache and Strawberry Tarts

This is from my beautiful "Patisserie' book I was bought for my birthday by my brother and sister-in-law. Written by the Roux brothers, it's full of very complicated recipes and very pretty pictures. 

Their Pate Sucree (Sweet short pastry) recipe is what I used….

250g/9oz plain flour
100g/3 1/2oz butter, slightly softened
100g/3 1/2oz icing sugar, sifted
small pinch of salt
2 eggs (55-60g apparently), at room temperature

Place the flour on the work surface (I found this weird!), and make a well in the centre. Cut the butter into small pieces and place in the centre, then work with your fingertips until completely softened. Add the sugar and salt mix well together, then add the eggs and mix. Gradually draw the flour into the mixture. 

When everything is thoroughly mixed, work the dough 2 or 3 times with the palm of your hand until it is very smooth. 

Roll the dough into a ball, flatten the top slightly, wrap in greaseproof paper or polythene and refrigerate for several hours. 

(You can keep it for several days in the fridge)

So, to the tarts:
1. Roll out the pastry as thin as you possibly can
2. Line your tart tins with the pastry and then prick with a fork a few times
3. Cover it with silver foil, but make sure it doesn't pull the pastry away from the edges of the tart tins
4. Fill with baking beads or with cheap rice you don't want to eat
5. Bake for 20 mins at 190C/Gas Mark 5, then remove from oven and remove the rice and the silver foil (at this point I tipped rice all over the floor). it'll be a little sticky at this point
6. Bake for another 5 mins until firm, then remove from oven and leave to cool

Now, for the fun filling:

Chocolate Ganache
150ml double cream
150g dark chocolate - I prefer to use cheap stuff that's about 50% to make this a bit sweeter, but if you like really dark, dark chocolate, use the 70% stuff.

1. Break the chocolate into pieces - most people chop it more but you don't really need to. But if you feel so inclined, chop it some more!
2. Put the chocolate into a bowl, (not a metal one as you're about to pour hot cream into it), so use glass or ceramic or whatever :)
3. Place the cream in a pan and put on medium-high heat. Don't worry about stirring it, it will start to boil around the edges within a couple of minutes
4. Pour hot cream onto chocolate and stir until it's beautiful and shiny and generally gorgeous.
5. Leave to cool for a bit
6. Spoon into tartlet cases, fill them about 3/4 of the way up, or more or less depending on your preference. 

Strawberry topping. 
Slice strawberries in whatever fashion you so desire. 

Lay them onto the chocolate ganache in a generally beautiful manner

To glaze…. I had no idea how to glaze things, but I knew they should be glaze otherwise they'd go funny. So I got some seedless jam (a travesty in my opinion, but sometimes handy for baking) and heated a spoonful up in a saucepan until it was nice and thin. Then I brushed it over the strawberries which made them shiny and pretty.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Raymond Blanc's Lemon Cake

I'm off to Newcastle tomorrow! Well, today really. I'm looking forward to it a lot, and the weather forecast is good! There's also a cake festival while I'm up there, which makes me very happy!

This makes a good end to a week which has been fairly frustrating. I frequently wish that I could be in charge of my moods instead of capricious chemicals in my brain! My small group once again rescued me tonight. If I've baked a lot I've either had a bad couple of days, or I've turned slightly hyper... I turned up with strawberry and chocolate tarts, ginger cupcakes, lemon tarts, jam tarts, and lemon cake. At least my response to life is one that makes other people happy. So we ate a lot of cake and I got lots of hugs :)

Anyway, I felt I had to share this recipe as it is utterly divine. One would expect no less from Raymond Blanc! I decided to make it for the first time after I watched his Kitchen Secrets, so this was my second go. I took a few photos, but it's a pleasantly straightforward recipe.

You need a 26x9x8 (ish!) loaf tin

5 eggs,
11 oz caster sugar
5 fluid oz double cream
3 lemons, zest only
1 1/2 tbsp dark rum (I don't have any so I just left it out)
1 pinch salt
3 oz unsalted butter, melted
8 1/2 oz plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder

3 tbsp apricot jam, warmed (or lemon curd if you prefer, which I used this time)

Lemon glaze:
1 lemon, zest and juice
5 oz icing sugar

1. Preheat oven to 180C

2. Butter tin and line with greaseproof paper

3. Whisk together the eggs, lemon zest, sugar, cream, rum, salt and melted butter. It'll form a nice smooth mix.

4. Sift the four and baking powder into a separate bowl, then whisk into the egg mixture until it's a smooth batter.

5. Pour batter into tin and bake for 50-60 mins, turning halfway through cooking. 

Now, here's where it sounds more complicated, but it's not, and there's not really any hurrying involved, which is always nice.

Once it's cooked.....
6. Remove from oven but leave oven on.

7. Turn cake out onto cooling rack and leave for 10 mins.

8. Place cake onto a baking tray and brush with warm apricot jam, or lemon curd and then leave for 5 mins while you make the lemon glaze

9. Heat the lemon zest, juice and icing sugar in a pan or microwave until the sugar has dissolved and you have a syrup. (I thought I'd done that, but when I tasted the glaze after it was still grainy, so I think you need to heat it more. But on the other hand, mine tasted and look pretty darn good!)

10. Brush the lemon glaze all over the cake (mine was a bit more liquidy than his was in the episode and it dribbled everywhere)

11. Put cake back into the oven but TURN THE OVEN OFF! and leave for 3-5 mins to dry the glaze and turn it translucent

12. Remove cake from oven and leave to cool to room temperate before serving.

Best eaten with a cup of tea. Seriously. This is an awesome recipe. I bow to Raymond Blanc's sheer fabulousness.