Monday, 25 March 2013

Easter Lemon and Ginger Cupcakes

With less then a week until Easter (and my mum's birthday) its time for some Easter cupcakes!

I'm keeping this blog post short as my eyes are killing me. I've been told that I need to wear glasses when I'm on computers but thats cool I'm mostly in the kitchen baking anyway. Next Sunday I'm making 50 cupcakes for my mums 50th birthday! I'm fine with making cupcakes but all in one go. Yikes, but challenge accepted. Will definitely keep you posted.
Ginger and Lemon Easter cupcakes.

(Recipe from Making Cupcakes with Lola)
Recipe: Cupcakes (Makes 17 normal cupcakes and 24 mini cakes)
·       75g Steamed Ginger syrup
·       75g Golden syrup
·       170ml double cream
·       300g all purpose flour
·       1 tsp ground cinnamon
·       ½ tsp ground cloves
·       2 tsp baking powder
·       1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
·       ¼ tsp salt
·       125g unsalted butter, room temperature
·       180g dark brown sugar
·       3 eggs
Recipe: Lemon Buttercream
·       125g unsalted butter, room temperature
·       300g icing sugar
·       Grated zest of 1 lemon
·       Lemon juice 1 teaspoon lemon juice
·       Food Colouring (Purple, pink, green)
·       Various sprinkles, and Easter decorations of your choice. (IF YOUR USING PLASTIC DECORATIONS, REMOVE THEM FOR CHILDREN)
·       Bowl x 2
·       Electric Whisk
·       Saucepan
·       Wooden spoon
·       Sieve
·       Muffin tray lined with 17 cupcake cases x 2
·       Mini cupcake lined with 24 cases x 1
·       Palette knife
Step 1
1.    Put the golden syrup and ginger syrup in a saucepan with the cream and heat gently until well mixed and melted. (Do not allow to boil!)

Step 1. After the syrup has turned golden.
Step 2. Sieve dry ingredients
2.    Sieve the flour, ground cinnamon, ginger, cloves, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
Step 3. Cream the sugar and butter
3.    Cream the butter and sugar in a separate bowl with an electric whisk. Stop occasionally to scrape down the sides. Add the eggs in one at a time.
Step 4 Add the dry ingredients and syrup mix
4.    Gradually add the syrup mix and the sifted dry mix alternately, beating well between each addition.
Step 5 Spoon into cases
5.    Divide the mixture between the muffin cases. Bake in the preheated oven. 20-23 minutes for the normal cupcakes and 15 minutes for the mini cupcakes. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
6.    To make the buttercream, put the butter and mix until really smooth with an electric mixer. Stir in the lemon juice and sift the icing sugar in 4 batches, mixing really well so that the frosting is smooth.
7.    If the mixture is stiff, add a teaspoon of lemon juice or milk if you prefer.
8.    Separate the frostings into different bowls and colour as desired.
9.    Spread the frosting with a palette knife when the cupcakes are cold.
10.   Sprinkle and decorate. 

With this recipe you can really be creative with the decoration. I used stuff that was just sitting in the cupboards. 
Happy Easter and Happy Baking!

Bake On! Penny x

Saturday, 16 March 2013

St Patricks Day Soda Bread and Pistachio Cupcakes

Happy St Patricks Day! Coming from an Irish family, we celebrate in a wonderful way... with food of course! In this case, bread. 
When I think of Ireland, I think of my Grandad, potatoes, green shamrocks, Mrs Brown's Boys and Leprechauns of course. But when I think of Irish food, my bread brain always thinks of soda bread. However, other countries have there own claim on the soda bread, but its mainly associated with Ireland. 
The Plain Soda Bread I made in pastry class.
My Grandad, (aka Gramps) is your typical, stereotypical Irish man and so he has to share his memories with me constantly. He told me that his granmother (my great-great granmother) would make her soda bread with currents to make it sweet. 
When I told him that I would be publishing a soda bread, which you can add cheese to. 
He looked mortified. 
So in this recipe, you can add currents or cheese and a little paprika (Just don't tell my Gramps!)

Ingredients: (Recipe Inspired by my Gramps and My patisserie tutor Faye)
·       300g Strong Flour
·       4g bicarbonate of soda
·       15g baking powder
·       15g Sugar
·       4g Salt
·       30g Unsalted butter
·       210ml buttermilk
(Add about 75g currents or 80g of a cheese of your choice with a pinch of paprika but this is optional)

·       Sieve
·       Bowl
·       Jug
·       Baking sheet covered with silicone paper

Great with cheese or currents baked in it.
    1.    Sieve all the dry ingredients into a bowl.
    2.    Rub the butter into the mix until it resembles breadcrumbs
    3.    Make a well in centre and add most of the buttermilk but not all of it. Only add the last part if it’s too dry.
    4.    Mix all the ingredients together to form a dough. (Add the currents or cheese at this stage)
    5.    Turn out onto the table and knead until the stickiness has gone. Mould into a round and place on a baking sheet.
    6.    Make a cross with a very sharp knife almost cutting all the way through. Dust with a little flour.
    7.    Leave to rest in a proofer for 10 minutes then put into a hot oven 230c/450f/ Gas Mark 8 then turn the oven down and finish cooking for 25 minutes.
   8.    When cooked, it should appear golden brown and sound hollow when tapped when tapped on the bottom. 

    The next recipe is not traditional, in fact when I saw it, I went: “Huh, this is erm.. different? At least it's green.
     In fact, I didn't think it would work! But the saltiness of the pistachios contrasted with the sweetness of the icing. It is a combination that will make your tastebuds dance a little Irish jig! 

    Recipe: Pistachio Cupcakes Makes About 16 (Adapted from Cupcakes Galore by Gail Wagman)
·       150g plain flour
·       1 teaspoon baking powder
·       1 teaspoon salt
·       190g unsalted butter, softened
·       150g dark brown sugar
·       3 eggs
·       1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
·       125ml natural yogurt
·       150g salted pistachios, roughly chopped

       Recipe: Green Icing
·       20g unsalted butter, softened
·       4 tablespoons hot milk
·       220g icing sugar
·       2 drops of Peppermint flavouring
·       Green food colouring paste (I used Gooseberry Green)
·       Green sugar
·       Gold and green glitter or other decorations.
·       Knife
·       Chopping board
·       Bowl x3
·       12 hole muffin tray filled with cupcake cases x2
·       Electric whisk/handheld whisk
·       Scales
·       Spoons
·       Small palette knife

1.    Preheat oven to 180c/350f/Gas Mark 4
2.    Mix the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside.
3.    Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and add vanilla. Alternately beat in the flour mixture and the yoghurt. Fold in the pistachios.
4.    Spoon batter into cupcake cases, filling about 2/3 full. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
Green icing was used to top the cupcakes
5.    For the icing: Mix the butter and milk together in a large bowl. Slowly beat in the icing sugar until the icing is of a good spreading consistency. (You may need to add a little more milk depending on how runny you want your icing, but it should but thick but spreading).
6.    Add the food colouring and the peppermint flavouring, mix well and spread on cooled cupcakes. Decorate as desired. (Glitter and tried to do some shamrocks.)

Have a Happy St Patricks Day and Bake On!

Bake On! Penny x

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Mother's Day Decoration Class at Primrose Bakery

It would be completely wrong if I had a baking blog and not tell you about my visit to Primrose Bakery, in Covent Garden. I was lucky enough to go a Mother’s Day themed class to bring home some cupcakes as a gift for mum. (She’s cool about eating cupcakes, just not decorating them)

Primrose Bakery was first founded in 2004 by Martha Swift and Lisa Thomas who started baking from their own kitchen in North London, for children’s parties. They realised that cupcakes were perfect for every occasion and versatile. They soon started to sell their cakes to a local delicatessen and the business grew when they were approached by Selfridges Food Hall.  In 2006, the first bakery in Primrose Hill opened and history was made. Now with 2 shops (with another one on the way!) and 2 cookbooks  and my sources at the Primrose class, tell me that a new book is coming out roughly about October time, which features some of the very trendy cocktail cupcakes (can’t go wrong with a boozy cake.)

Now if I have to be honest, I felt slightly intimidated going into a cupcake class on my own. I was expecting that there would be mother and daughters together and that made me feel a little like the odd one out. However, once I stepped through the threshold that feeling was replaced by one of welcoming. The pastel hues and the smell of freshly baked cupcakes just lift’s the spirit and puts a smile on your face.
Primrose Bakery at Covent Garden 

I was quickly greeted by the lovely Laura, one of the bakers and helpful Becky, one of front of house staff. They asked me my name and gave me a name sticker and I was offered a drink. Diet coke, of course, and once all the class had arrived we were ready to begin.
Laura making vanilla butter cream. Ignore the little kid in the background. 
The start of the class began with Laura showing us how to make a basic vanilla buttercream. Now, I have loads of experience making buttercream, so to me I wanted to get right down to the decorating. But some of the girls I spoke too weren't familiar with making buttercream, so it was something new to them. What was new to me, was the signature Primrose swirl. Laura had demonstrated to the group and she made it look really easy. In practice, it’s very hard. It requires lots of practice and patience. The group I was sitting with all had such a laugh while trying making that swirl.
Laura showing us the Primrose Swirl.
Both Becky and Laura were ready to lend a hand to show us how to do that lovely swirl. There were cupcakes squashed in hands, melted buttercream on fingers (and into our mouths! The chocolate buttercream was to die for!) and even buttercream in the floor. It took me ages for a decent swirl but finally I got one! Woo! 

My first Primrose Swirl.
We were also given a decorating tool kit along with some various coloured buttercreams, floral decorations and sprinkles. 
Chocolate cupcakes decorated by me.
We then decorated mini cupcakes, which I found easier. However the opinions were mixed. The same thing happened with the chocolate buttercream, which I found easier to work with as it was easier to work with, but the girls on the table had mixed opinions.

Laura then showed us how to decorate a cupcake with a flat top so that it makes it easier to write on. Continuing along this line, we were shown how to make a paper piping bag, which I found very difficult to do up until now.  Laura showed us how to fill up our piping bags with buttercream, and pipe out messages on a large cake and on cupcakes. We were given a round sheet of baking parchment to practice writing on.
Oh gez what a mess!
Since it was a special mother’s day class, we were given a Violet flavoured cupcake to decorate. This was the cupcake I decided to write on. I think it turned out pretty well!
I love you Mum Violet Cupcake.

Just at the end of the class were shown how to ice a layer cake the Primrose way. Including making a flat surface, and textured cake.
A lush chocolate cake!
One thing that I regret is not decorating more cupcakes. I was in such a concentration mode that I only managed to decorate 5 cupcakes in total. I now know for next time, decorate more cakes!
But overall, I was very proud of the end results! My mum loved them so much she was upset about eating them.
The end results!
Regarding the class, what can I say? It was a pleasure to be there. The whole experience was homely, personal and fun to do. It was a really intimate class and I think that everyone enjoyed the class regardless of their decorating skills.
My goodie bag contents.
I almost forgot about the goodie bag! Our cupcakes got packed into boxes, along with a recipe card, postcard signed by Martha Swift and Lisa Thomas and a card for a free cupcake! So was it worth going? Definitely! Even if you just get dragged along with a cupcake fanatic, you'll enjoy the atmosphere. (I'm sure everyone knows a cupcake fanatic.)

Wondering if it's for you?
What to Expect: Warm welcome, the smell of cakes, personal help and a cool goodie bag. Oh and seriously good cupcakes.
Level: Beginners/Intermediates (who can’t do the swirl!)
Type of Class: Decoration
Price: £50 or £45 if you book two places at once
Go with: Mum or sister

Remember to check out the Primrose Bakery website for the latest classes. (Keep in mind that classes and prices may change etc)

Finally I want to thank Laura and Becky for really making my Sunday and my Mother’s day really special for my mum as well. Thanks girls!

Bake On!
Penny (hope you like the new siggie!)
Bake On! Penny x

Friday, 8 March 2013

Decadent Chocolate and Cola Cake

Cola and chocolate cake is not one of cakes that come to mind when I think of when I fancy an afternoon sweet treat. But I thought, what the hell, it's Friday after all.
I baked it, iced it and tried it. 
Oh my cakey kitchen goddess, this is one smexy cake!

I had a little bite for my lunch break and was in such a blissful chocolate state that I was late afterwards! It's got all the best ingredients. Cola, chocolate and marshmallows! I would suggest that you bake it for a birthday treat, or a catch up with friends. Or you can do what I did. Take it in for some very hungry office workers and watch it disappear! 

Recipe: The Cake
·       250g self-raising flour, sieved
·       225g butter, at room temperature
·       290g brown soft sugar
·       2 eggs
·       2 teaspoons vanilla extract
·       250ml cola
·       125ml natural yogurt
·       30g cocoa powder, sieved
·       1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda, sieved
·       200g mini marshmallows
Recipe: The Cola Icing
·       90ml cola
·       110g butter
·       3 tablespoons cocoa powder
·       250g icing sugar
·       A bag of cola sweets to decorate
·       Bowl x 2
·       Electric hand-held whisk
·       Sieve
·       Scraper
·       Saucepan
·       Wooden spoon
·       Deep baking tray lined with silicone paper

Step 2. Sieve the flour, cocoa powder, and bicarbonate of soda together in one bowl.
     1. Pre-heat oven to Gas Mark 4/350f/180c. Grease and line a big tray.
     2. Sieve the flour, cocoa powder, and bicarbonate of soda together in one bowl.

Step 3. Creamed sugar and butter mixture.
 3. Cream sugar and butter together in a separate, until creamy. Add the eggs one at the time and then add the vanilla extract. Mix until smooth.
Step 4. the cola and yoghurt mixture
    4.  Mix the cola and natural yoghurt together in a smaller bowl. Until it looks foamy and gross. (I know it looks awful but trust me it works.)
    5. Pour 1/3 of the cola and yoghurt mix into the creamed butter and sugar, then mix in 1/3 flour, cocoa and bicarbonate of soda mix. Add another 1/3 of the liquid mixture, mix again and then add an additional 1/3 flour mixture. Do this a third and final time so that all of the flour and cola mixture is incorporated into one bowl.
Step 6. Add the marshmallows
   6. Add the mini marshmallows and stir in with a scraper.
Step 7. Into the tray it goes.
Step 8. Cool on a wire rack

   7. Pour the cake batter into the prepared tray and bake for 35-40 minutes. Once baked leave in the tray for about 15 minutes and transfer carefully, to a wire rack.
Step 8. Add the cola, cocoa and butter in a saucepan.
Step 8. Bring to the boil and keep stirring
   8.To make the icing, put the cola, butter and cocoa powder into a saucepan, until the butter is melted. Bring to boil, stirring constantly.
   9. Sieve the icing sugar into a big bowl and pour the chocolate butter mixture into it.
Step 10. Spread that icing!
  10. Whisk until all of the icing sugar has been incorporated.  Leave the icing to thicken in the fridge. Once the cake and the icing have both cooled spread the icing over the cake and decorate with cola bottle sweets.

Bake on!

Bake On! Penny x

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Fougasse, bread sticks and assessment bread

I haven't really had a lot of chance to do much baking in the last few weeks as I've been really busy. 
I've been booking another trip to Disneyland Paris with my pal Sofia, she's never been so she is 'foaming at the mouth' excited! So June can't come quicker enough!
More recently, I have booked myself a cupcake class at Primrose Bakery. I'm going this sunday which is Mother's Day but I'm decorating the cupcakes for mum and then taking her out for a lovely lunch afterwards. So watch this space! 
Other reasons why I haven't been as busy in the kitchen because I've been visiting family and trying to sort out my baking cupboard. 
There was quite alot of baking stuff to sort.
 But I am posting up a recipe. Yesterday, I passed my third pastry class assessment, with merit! I had to bake a flavoured loaf, which turned out so lovely and the smell was to die for! I also have a recipe her for fougasse and breadsticks which make good film night snacks. 
Penny's Assessment Fennel and Thyme Bread
Recipe: Penny's Assessment Bread aka fennel and thyme bread
·       500g strong flour
·       10g fresh yeast
·       10g salt
·       350ml warm water (plus a little extra)
·       1 tbsp fennel seeds
·       1tbsp fresh thyme
·       Bowl
·       Scraper
·       Sieve
·       Loaf tin lined with silicone paper
·       Tray filled with water

   1.    Pre-heat oven to Gas Mark 9/475f/250c so that is very hot. Place the tray with warm water into the oven at this stage.
2.    Sieve the flour into the bowl and rub the fresh yeast into the flour. (Make sure that the salt doesn't make contact with the yeast.) Add the fennel seeds and fresh thyme at this stage.
3.    Add the salt and warm water, once the yeast has completely rubbed in.
4.    Using your scraper, mix the dough until smooth. It may need a little more warm water just add a little bit at a time so that its sticky but not wet.
5.    Remove from the bowl and place on work-surface (without flour on the surface). Fold the bread like this. Pick it up, slap it on the surface of the table and fold it over itself and repeat until it forms a smooth lovely dough. (It looks like it's gone wrong but trust me it works)
6.    Cover with clingfilm and leave in a warm place to proof for about 30 minutes.
7.    The dough should have doubled in size. Lightly scrap the dough onto a work surface and knead it a little again. And fold it to shape it to fit the loaf tin.
8.    Proof again for another 30 mins.
9.    Turn the oven down to Gas Mark 7/425f/220c and bake for 20-25 minutes.

A fougasse is a leaf shaped bread which comes from France, however the taste is very similar to a focaccia. This is a 'sharing' bread, great for dipping with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. 

Recipe: Fougasse and bread sticks
·       Semolina
·       Black Olives, chopped finely
·       Parmesan cheese, grated
·       A little thyme
·       Ingredients as above, leave out the fennel seeds
·       Baking tray lined with silicone paper x 2
·       Sieve
·       Scraper
·       Bowl
·       Rolling pin
·       Tray with warm water placed in the oven.
·       knife

1.    Prepare as above. Until step 5.
2.    Cut the dough into three using bread scraper. Roll 2 pieces of the dough into flat leaf shapes.
3.    Place the two leaves onto a baking tray and using a cut long line in the middle of the bread, and then cut 6 more slits on the side. This represents the veins of a leaf.
4.    Using the 1/3 of the dough, roll it into a flat oval shape, place the chopped olives, cheese and thyme into the middle of the dough and fold over.
5.    Then using a sharp knife cut strips of dough. So that each strip has a little filling in each.
6.    Twist the dough and place on the baking tray.
7.    Bake at Gas Mark 7/425f/220c for 20-25 minutes. 
I hope you all treat your mum's really well on her special day! 
Bake on! and Happy Mothers Day!
Bake On! Penny x
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