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

Baking for love – My sister’s cupcake wedding cake

My sister got married at the weekend and I have to say it was the most amazing day that we could have hoped for. Both her and her husband looked so happy the whole day. I was very proud to see my little sister married to someone who makes her very happy indeed, and for me I inherited a new brother-in-law. Though to be honest, he’s been hanging round for so long he’s become part of the furniture!

My wedding preparations started on the Thursday, when me, a friend of the family, Karen, my mom and a few more volunteers began the mammoth task of baking, icing and decorating over 160 cupcakes!

I have never baked for such a large number before but I surprisingly found it really easy to do. The mixture is the same, it is just doubled, and you need a lot more room to cool the cakes. Transporting them was a little bit more difficult but with some large boxes and a little bit of genius from my dad we managed to get them all down to the venue in their 160+ pieces… all looking perfect.

To make these cakes I used a very simple vanilla cupcake recipe, we then topped the cakes with little ‘hats’ of icing, which were circles of white icing and then used buttercream with a rose effect icing nozzle to pipe onto the cakes.
Finally, we added a little glitter and a small icing flower that we had made a couple of weeks before… and voila! Cupcakes, lots of them.

I wouldn’t suggest trying to make 160+ all by yourself (unless you are a professional) because the time and friends needed to bring it all together would mean you would be working long into the night, but 24 are very easy and manageable to make and look brilliant on a cake stand.

We made very large cupcakes because we needed them to look impressive so if you want to do this recipe then I would suggest using a case slightly smaller than a muffin and also baking them in a muffin tray, which has plenty of room.

Party / Wedding cupcakes

For the cakes
12oz Sugar
12oz Margarine
13oz Self raising flour
6 medium eggs (if you use large eggs then use 14oz of flour)
2 tsp vanilla essence

For the buttercream

We used Lurpak (brand) butter because it is a lighter colour.
For every amount of butter use double the quantity of icing sugar plus 1-2 tsp vanilla essence.

For decoration

Large piping nozzle and piping bag – for the buttercream
Edible glitter
Icing flowers – we made our own using fondant Icing, white and coloured. We cut out 2 sizes of flours, the large being white and the smaller coloured and put them together with a small edible ball in the centre.

Pre-heat the oven to 160c

1. In a large bowl combine the sugar and margarine till it is soft and changes to a lighter colour. You can’t do too much mixing at this stage.
2. Add the vanilla essence
4. One at a time add an egg and 2 tablespoons of flour and mix till it is just combined
5. Keep doing the same till all 6 eggs have been used up and all of the flour. If you have a little bit left of the flour then put that in afterwards.
6. Give it a small mix but not too much.
7. Divide the mixture into 24 large cupcake cases – make sure you fill them to half way, or very little over half way. You don’t want to go too high up the cases.
8. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes. For me this was the exact time, everytime.
9. Once the cakes spring back when poked a little then they are done.
10. Allow to cool on a rack.
11. Whilst cooling cut out 24 circles which are the same size as the top of the cakes out of white fondant icing.
12. Once the cakes have cooled – using a little warmed up jam, stick the icing hats to the top of the cakes. You want to make sure the tops are covered as this helps stop the air getting to the cakes and makes them last longer.
13. Mix up your buttercream and put into a piping bag with a large nozzle. (I don’t know the number of the nozzle we used but I will find out and update this)
14. Pipe the buttercream generously onto the cakes and top with a little bit of glitter.
15. Finally, add you flower decorations.