Friday, 18 March 2011

My little sisters birthday (cake)

Its my sisters birthday next week and I'm away on holiday, so I made her a cake for her birthday, first time I ever made her a cake like slight correction, first birthday cake I ever made her. I did make her some heart shaped cookies when she got married though...have improved on some of my skills a bit since then but they were very nice at the time.

If you ever speak to my sister she'll tell you she never had birthday cakes as a child...ever!

So while I'm away in sunnier climes please gaze and admire its loveliness (its a chocolate sponge with blackcurrant jam with casis and white chocolate butter cream filling) and also gaze at the loveliness of my little sister...

That is all (for now).

Happy Birthday Kathy for next week, hope you enjoy the cake, much love

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Cupcakes Galore!

Not sure what it is about cupcakes but they are the 'in thing'...and have been growing in popularity for a while...I think it might have been a craze started in 'Sex and the city'...Carrie and the girls tucking into a lovely cupcake heavily laiden with a large amount of frosting on the top. Probably closely followed by the growing popularity of the hummingbird bakery, but everyone loves them and you can make them in a range of flavours...

Macarons and cake pops are currently a fast growing trend.... have never tried to make either but aim to soon so there will be more about these in another post.

I like plain vanilla cupcakes the best...I always use the same recipe its foolproof but the key to success is the VANILLA, for cakes like these vanilla bean paste is best, it gives a lovely rich flavour, as a second best choice is vanilla extract DO NOT USE vanilla essence, which is a synthetic taste. Vanilla pods are not normally my thing, I'm a lazy baker (unless they are plonked in a jar of sugar to make vanilla sugar).

I very recently had the chance to go a bit mad and make a couple of dozen cupcakes for two significant things...first the winners of my blog giveaway (Anne Marie, Simon, Tom and James), congratulations guys! Here's the box of cupcakes they won...don't you wish you'd entered now?

AND a similar box for the bride to be at a girlie spa event she arranged...

Enjoy the view...

So there you go, lovely vanilla cupcakes and these have a white chocolate buttercream frosting (cupcake flavour as requested by the blog giveaway winners) and various decorations...all handmade except the smarties, flakes and sprinkles...

One last of luck to Vicky and Lee flying off to Mexico in a few days to get they

Ah, no that's actually two of the girls playing havoc in the shed...they kindly give the bestest eggs for the cakes...sorry, here's the soon to be Mr and Mrs Smith...

PS Want the recipe for these cupcakes...then please leave a comment and I'll post it on...

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Pavlova's (delicious) and not really a palava! - recipe

I love meringues and I love Pavlovas even more, its the texture, the sweetness, the crunch, the marshmallow inside.

Pavlova's have a different more creamy marshmallow centre than meringues. I always make mine with brown caster sugar as I like the flavour from the sugar, it makes the Pavlova more beige in colour rather than snow white, but that's OK by me.  The best kind of Pavlova is one piled high with ripe fresh fruit laid on top of freshly whipped cream...its a lovely combination...add some icing sugar to the whipped cream to sweeten!

You need a food mixer for this unless you want your arm to drop off, seriously, but its really easy.

Ingredients: (this makes a large pavlova)
8 free range egg whites
500g caster sugar
4 teaspoons of cornflour
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
half teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.

Put a piece of baking parchment on a baking tray and draw on outline of the shape of the pavlova...usually a circle but can be any shape.

In a bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed, then whisk in the sugar, one tablespoonful at a time, until stiff peaks form when the whisk is removed.

Sprinkle the cornflour, vinegar and vanilla extract over the egg white, and fold in lightly with a metal spoon.

Spoon the meringue onto the baking parchment within the marked circle and, using a spatula, flatten the top and smooth the sides. Make a dip in the centre for the cream and fruit later.Place into the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 120C/250F/Gas ½. Cook for an hour, then turn off the oven and leave to cool completely.

When cold peel away the parchment put the base on a plate. Whip the double cream and add to the pavlova in the centre, pile on the fresh fruit and serve on its own or with ice cream and a fresh fruit sauce....

You can turn Pavlovas into birthday cakes for grown ups...just add some glitter (edible) and some longer style metallic candles and away you go.

The Pavlova (birthday cake)...

For the birthday girl... and very soon bride to be...(more about that later).

Thanks to Nigella Lawson for the pavlova recipe, it works for me every time I have made it.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

And the winner of the cupcake giveaway is...

drum roll....bbrrrrrr....ddrrrrrrrr

Anne Marie

You have been chosen at random and will be the lucky recipient of 12 cupcakes.

Many thanks to everyone who took the time to leave a comment and enter.