31 Mar 2009

C is for cookies

Lurking in the back of my kitchen cupboard lives a massive bag of oatmeal. I have no idea how long it's been there for or why I even bought it, but there it was, watching, waiting.

I recently discovered a wonderful baking group named Sweet and Simple Bakes and for once, it was based in the UK. Now don't get me wrong, I have nothing against American baking groups, in fact I've just recently joined Sweet Melissa Sundays and those pesky Tuesday With Dorie girls rock my socks on a weekly basis! I just really dislike converting American butter measurements into grams. Sticks, cups, ounces I hate you all. Anyway, I digress, Sweet and Simple bakes were very true to their name this month in choosing Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies. Simple and delicious, how could I possibly resist?


Oh, what can I say about these cookies other than YUM! Crispy and chewy, sweet with a hint of savory, who could stop at just one? They have brightened up my morning cuppa for the last week and when the last cookie has crumbled, well I'll just go ahead and bake another batch...this time with raisins :)

Ingredients
110g (4oz) butter, softened
110g (4oz) caster sugar

110g (4oz) soft brown sugar

1 egg

2 tbsp water

1 tsp vanilla extract
250g (9oz) porridge oats

110g (4oz) self-raising flour

1 level tsp salt

110g (4oz) chocolate chips, raisins or chopped nuts


Preheat the oven to 180oC (350oF), Gas Mark 4. Cream the butter in a large bowl or in an electric food mixer until soft. Add the sugars and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the egg, water and vanilla extract while still beating. Reduce the speed and gently mix in the oats, flour, salt and raisins to form a dough. Using your hands, roll the dough into walnut sized balls and place slightly apart on two baking trays. Bake in the oven for 12-25 minutes or until light golden brown but still slightly soft in the centre. Allow to cool on the trays for a minute before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

23 Mar 2009

Cupcake extravoganza!

For reasons I am not yet at liberty to disclose (it will all become clear very soon), Sundays on my calendar are now simply cupcake tasting days. Every Saturday a good friend and I whip up a few batches of our favorite cakes before convening over a pot of tea on a Sunday afternoon to try our lovingly crafted baked goods. Sundays are now my favorite day of the week.



The Marshmallow cupcakes are from the wonderful Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook which I picked up a few weeks ago. I've used this book tonnes since I bought it, best £17.00 I ever spent :)


Chocolate chip cupcakes with a peppermint cream cheese frosting with a Plain Jane vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream. I based the recipe for these on the Oreo cupcakes I made a few weeks ago.


And last of all a chocolate custard cupcake which I saw on Anne's Kitchen a while ago. I wasn't to impressed with this one, it was a bit of a faff to make and they came out rather dry. I probably baked them too long, they certainly didn't come out as pretty as Anne's *jealous*

Also, I'm very excited to add that my red velvet cupcakes (which I forgot to photograph, d'oh) shall be featured as wedding favors at my best friends wedding. Not only that, but they will be served in one of Newcastle's best restaurants, Jesmond Dene House. I'm ecstatic and also very jealous that my darling Georgia is getting married in such an exquisite venue.

12 Mar 2009

The cake that almost killed me!

My latest project was, at first, seemingly simple. The pictures, the directions, all straight forward and perfectly documented. Once I began the process I saw I may have bitten off more than I could chew. Luckily it all worked out and the finished cake turned out fabulous, but the time and effort involved was massive! I would now like to introduce my 14 layer cake.

It may not look too impressive from the outside, in fact it kinda resembles Bruce Bogtrotter's cake from Matilda. However once you cut it open and reveal all those little layers, the wow factor takes over and you're filled with an overwhelming sense of pride.


As much as it was a hard graft, I really enjoyed baking this masterpiece. The process wasn't actually too difficult, just time consuming and a little hectic. If you were to attempt this, I recommend you follow Bakerella's advice and use 14 disposable baking pans, rather than just buying 4 and washing your trusty springforms between each layer, like I did. I'm covered in little burns and my kitchen hasn't quite recovered, but boy was it worth it.


Thank you Bakerella, for such wonderful inspiration and detailing it in such an easy to follow manner :)

3 Mar 2009

Passionate for passion fruit!

I'd like to say I devised this recipe souly for In The Bag, but in reality I saw a similar muffin for sale in Waitrose a few month ago and the thought has just stayed with me. When I saw passion fruit and white chocolate on the menu for the month of love I knew it was time to make my banana and white chocolate muffins with a passion fruit cream cheese frosting.


I used a basic vanilla cupcake recipe for the flour/sugar/butter measurements and just threw caution to the wind and bunged the rest of the stuff into the batter. They didn't rise as much as I had hoped (I have illusions of me chopping off the peak and sandwiching it back together with the frosting, oh well) but they were still tasty good! The flavors really complimented each other while the chocolate added a well needed bite. The one thing I felt needed changing was the frosting, rather than just popping the seeds on top I think I'll stir them through.

Recipe:

120g plain flour
140g caster sugar
1tbsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
80g unsalted butter
120ml whole milk
2 eggs
120g peeled banana, mashed
a small handful of white chocolate chunks

Frosting:

125g cream cheese, cold
pulp from 4 passion fruits
300g icing sugar
50g unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 170C

Put all of the dry ingredients into a bowl and add the butter. Beat together till you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined.

Slowly add the milk, beating well till ingredients are well mixed. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition.

Stir in the mashed banana and chocolate by hand, do not over mix.

Spoon the batter into cupcake cases and bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until the cakes are light golden and spring back when touched. Leave the cakes to cool slightly before turning out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

While cooling make the frosting. Beat the butter and sugar together until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. Add the cream cheese and beat till fully Incorporated. Continue beating for around 5 minutes, or until the frosting is light and fluffy. Take care not to over beat as it can quickly become runny. Once the right consistency has been reached, add the passion fruit puree and stir through.

Once the cakes are cool, spoon on the frosting and leave to set.