Muffin, Sweet

Banana “‘Nana! ‘Nana!” Muffins

Oh dear, I’ve been very lax in writing the past few weeks.  With the post Christmas lull and my ‘get slim before 30’ diet (I’m hurtling towards my 30th birthday in August!), my mind has been otherwise occupied.

I have still been baking, a little, despite not having many left who aren’t on diets to eat my baking.

The littlest baker is now 15 months old and learning new words at an alarming rate.  Two of her current favourites are:
Din-dins meaning dinner.  It is best shouted any time you think someone is even thinking about making something to eat, just in case they don’t bring you some. 
Nana meaning banana.  This is squealed in delight at the sight of this yellow fruit. Also combined with pointing and saying word repeatedly till you receive… a ‘nana.

Unfortunately, as you are probably more than aware, bananas ripen at a ridiculous rate and even a small bunch becomes over ripe very quickly.
So to counter this I’ve made the over ripe bananas into banana muffins.

It’s a staple recipe that every baker probably should have made but I never have.  Although this is my first time making them they have come out very light and tasting of banana.

The littlest baker might not automatically shout “nana!” upon sight of them but they should make a nice little treat for her.


This is the recipe I used but I only had 2 smaller bananas so I reduced the flour to 8.5oz instead of 9oz.
I did not add any nuts to this either.

BBC Banana Muffin

Cake, Sweet

My 2013 Christmas Cake

The celebrations might be over but Christmas isn’t officially finished till all the decorations have been put away and… you’ve eaten all of the Christmas Cake!

I love a rich fruit cake and our Christmas cake is the only cake that I spend 2 months loving crafting.
Feeding the cake is fun and seems to be a challenge to get as much alcohol in it as possible.

This year our cake was drowned in brandy.

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I really wanted to spend a lot more time decorating our cake after spending so much time making it but like everyone else I came down with a winter cold.

Suddenly my plans became a rush to try and get the cake decorated so it was at least covered. I went for a simple design and decided to make it a bit more personal with a little Darth Vader head.

Next year I will think a bit more of the design but I was just glad to have something done.

Cupcake, Sweet

Mincepie Christmas Cupcakes

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I love mincepies and I love cupcakes, so one day when I had a quiet few minutes I thought that it’d be a good idea to combine the two.
A family review of this recipe was “tastes just like a mincepie but without the mouthful of dry pastry”. I am taking that as a compliment and not a critique of my mincepie baking.

Its a very simple recipe to do and you can decorate them as Christmassy as you like!
Mincepie Christmas Cupcakes

This recipe made 11 huge cupcakes for me as I baked them in a muffin case.image

3oz Light Brown Sugar
3oz White sugar
6oz Margarine
6.5oz Self Raising Flour
3 Large Eggs
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Nutmeg
Mincemeat (I didn’t weigh this, it is half teaspoon in each cake)

For buttercream
2 tblsp Butter or Margarine
Lots of icing Sugar
1 tsp Christmas Pudding flavoured Essence (if you don’t have this then you could use Orange, rum, brandy or just vanilla with a little cinnamon is good)

Pre-heat the oven to Gas 4, 180c

In a large bowl beat the sugars and margarine together till they become lighter.
Mix the cinnamon and nutmeg together with the flour.
Add an egg and a third of the flour to the sugar and margarine and mix till just combined, do the same with the other eggs and flour.
Try not to overbeat your mixture as this will cause the cupcakes to have too much air and dome up when cooking.

Into each cake case add half a tablespoon of the mixture so it covers the bottom of the case then put half a teaspoon of mincemeat in the middle. Cover with another half tablespoon of cake mixture. If you are using small cases then change the amount so it fits, you want to have the cake cakes approx. 3/4 full.

Bake in the oven for at least 20 minutes, mine took 27 minutes to cook as they were large sized. You can test after 20 minutes by pressing gently on the top, if they spring back up then they are done.

Cool the cakes on a wire rack. You can use this time to either have a cuppa tea or start your buttercream.

In a large bowl add two big tablespoons of butter or margarine (butter is best but if you only have marg then it’ll still work).

Sift in at least 4 large tablespoons of icing sugar and a teaspoon of your chosen flavouring. Very, very slowly mix it all together. Once combined you can add more icing sugar. Add as much as you need till you reach the required taste and consistency.

Put your buttercream into a piping bag and pipe swirls onto the top, or just use a knife for the Hummingbird bakery style (if you’re not sure what it is, have a look online – mine never looks as good though)

Decorate with the most festive decorations you feel like! I used red, green and gold flakes and a small icing disc with a snowflake pattern.

Fudge, Sweet

The joys and pitfalls of making fudge

Fudge PartySince I am still at home waiting for HR to sort out everything for my new job I have been spending my time with my family and my stove, specifically I have been making fudge – a lot of it!

I have been really thinking about making it into a little business that I can do part time running the occasional stall here and there. Its really exciting and I’ve always fancied the idea of being my own little boss so now I am really looking it. I have contacted our local environmental health about my kitchen and whilst waiting for them I have been practicing.

Vanilla and Cranberry BrandyI have encountered a lot of issues and was kinda lulled into a false sense of security because my first few batches of fudge came out so well that I thought, “hey, this is easy!”. How wrong I have been. I am currently writing this as a failed batch of simple vanilla fudge has split and is cooling in the kitchen ready to make its way swiftly to the bin. For some reason this time it has split and I have no idea why! Still, I will get back on my fudge horse and try again.
I have learnt a lot though and every mistake tells me what I did wrong so that next time I can fix it. I’ve learnt you can re-cook over heated fudge, not to stir too early to stop crystal formation, the right pan to use, altering the temperature to suit your thermometer. It’s no wonder there is no one recipe that is fool proof.

I will get this and some of the fudge that has worked has been fantastic, my dad even said it was the best he’d ever tasted (my dad will eat anything though!) and my fudge party that I held so friends and family could help me eat some of the mountain was very well received. Now I just need to keep at it… practice, practice, practice and then one day I might be at a stall near you.Whisky and After 8 Fudge

Cupcake, Sweet

Sugar and Crumbs Black Cherry Chocolate Cupcakes

At the weekend I went to the brilliant Cake International show at the NEC. I didn’t plan to spend much money or really buy anything but I couldn’t help myself because of the amazing things to buy and ended up coming home with a lot lighter purse but a much heavier bag!

Something I bought was a complete impulse purchase and not what I would usually go for – flavoured icing sugar and cocoa powder. The problem was that the ladies at the Sugar and Crumbs stall were so nice to talk to and gave you so many free samples that I was completely hooked, but I can tell you that it is one purchase I definitely don’t regret buying after using their product to make some Black cherry & Chocolate cupcakes.

I bought and used the Black Cherry Cocoa powder as you don’t usually see cherry extract in the shops; although it is more expensive than your usual cocoa powder the flavour is fantastic and you only need to use a very small amount to make a lovely tasting cake that does actually taste of cherry. I often find with some flavoured products that the taste is very artificial, this one isn’t.

Now I am not being paid (I wish!) or been given anything else to endorse this product, I am doing so simply because it tastes fab and I would like more people to enjoy baking with it. Next up, I cant wait to try the Christmas Punch flavoured icing sugar I bought… now what to make with it?


Black Cherry Chocolate Cupcakes

This recipe is stupidly simple to make but the taste will make you smile.

Don't be fooled by the skull and crossbones icing!
Don’t be fooled by the skull and crossbones icing!

4oz Sugar
4oz Margarine
2 eggs
3.5oz Self Raising Flour
1 large tablespoon Black Cherry Chocolate Cocoa Powder from Sugar and Crumbs
1 tablespoon whole milk

Pre-heat the oven to 180c Gas 4

In a bowl cream the sugar and margarine till it becomes pale.
Combine the Cocoa and flour together in a separate bowl.
Add one egg and half of the flour/cocoa, try not to overwork this.
Add the second egg and rest of the flour/cocoa.
Stir in the milk.

Divide the mixture into your cake cases and bake in the oven till the tops of the cake spring back after a gentle poke. This should take 18-20 minutes.
Once cooked, cool on a wire rack.

Decorate with your choice of topping if you like: buttercream, fondant icing, chocolate ganache or just leave plain.