Sunday, 19 June 2011

Chocolate Birthday Cake :)

well, this is a slightly misleading title, because my dad actually baked the basic chocolate sponge which i was using. but i'm sure you can achieve the same results as me by just using your regular chocolate cake recipe :)

what i'm loving at the moment is this chocolate frosting recipe that i just discovered. it's from Joy of, and you can find the recipe here, so i won't post the whole recipe, only my pictures.
most of the chocolate icing i've made hasn't actually involved chocolate, just cocoa powder, so i was intrigued to see what would happen. i was worried that it would go really hard and be difficult to cut.
but it made a really smooth, whipped texture that was a delight to work with (and eat) and although it did set slightly, it never went hard - it sort of went into a kind of moussy texture rather than crusting over.
i was using a glass cake stand, so that cake was prone to sliding about, so i fastened it to the base with a bit of icing :)
to keep the sponge nice and moist, i spread a little jam over the middle as well as the icing, the slight sweet-sour of the raspberry contrasted nicely with the sweet chocolate.
then you just basically cover the whole cake with the rest of the icing, making sure to have a even coating - there's always arguments in my household over who has more cake/icing than everybody else!

finished off with a glace icing 'happy birthday' the cake is ready for the table :) yumss

sarahh xxx

Vanilla Cupcakes

i like a good vanilla cupcake, me. a good, moist, fine crumbed, delicately flavoured, simple tasting cupcake. so, i'm not after much. i daresay i haven't yet reached the epitamy of vanilla cupcakes, and have a long way to go - but this is the recipe my old ma gave to me when we started baking, and after a few tweaks, i think it'll take a lot to knock this one off the top spot.
the icing sugar and milk are there because i had originally planned to do a simple vanilla buttercream to go on top, but i had to chocolate frosting left over from the main birthday cake, so i just used that up :)
you're looking to introduce a lot of air into the mixture. with muffins, you mix it as little as possible, with cupcakes you really want to whip that bad boy to get a good thick batter that you just know will produce a good airy sponge.
i like putting cupcake cases in my silicon tray instead of my metal one because it make the cupcakes taller rather than having them spread out, which isn't all that attractive.

i seem to have mislaid my final picture of the plain, un-iced cupcakes :( but rest assured, it made 30 or so cupcakes, all looking like regular, vanilla flavoured cupcakes.

3 eggs
the weight of those 3 eggs in self raising flour
" in caster sugar
" in butter
a splash or two of vanilla extract

cream together the butter and sugar until really whippy and pale cream coloured.
mix in the eggs and vanilla extract.
mix in the flour in 3 parts.
turn the mixer up high, or just whisk really hard, for a minute or so until thick and air filled.
spoon into cupcake cases.
bake at 180 degrees for 15 minutes or so, until golden brown and springy.

finish off with an icing and sprinkles of your choice. yumsss

sarahh xxx


now, my mum makes the most amazing scones ever, so i've been wary of attempting them for her, because i knew the benchmark she has set. plus, i couldn't find her recipe (i think she snaffled it away somewhere so i will never know!) so i used the next best thing: river cottage's! i am completely and utterly obsessed with river cottage - hugh f-w was my first chef 'idol' when i was about 11, because my dad introduced me to his world of cooking and i loved it! so, naturally, i went straight down the RC route!

in my opinion, scones are the epitamy of english tea, so the pressure really was on to make them as nice as possible!
the recipe actually states just sultanas, but we didn't have enough, so i had to add in some currants too, but i don't they suffered as a result.
you really have to rub in the butter to reach fine breadcrumbs because that way they really will be light and airy not heavy and stodgy. keep your hands and the butter cold, and you'll find it much easier to work with, because the flour won't stick everywhere. i try and use all my fingers and thumbs, not just my forefinger because otherwise it takes forever!!!
i used a mixture of natural yoghurt and milk, i don't exactly know why, but it just makes it taste nicer (if anyone actually does know, feel free to tell me :D)
you might not have to use all the liquid, so add it in tiny parts until it starts to come together - you don't want a giant sticky mess.
don't twist the cutter when you cut the scones out, or they won't rise properly, and there's nothing worse than a flat scone. so just, in - out, no twisting you hear me? :)
okay, so i singed a few edges, but who doesn't! still tasted good with a good load of raspberry jam and clotted cream.

450g self raising flour
pinch of salt
2 tsp baking powder
100g butter
100g caster sugar
125g sultanas (or mixture of dried fruits)
150ml natural yoghurt
150ml milk

sift flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl.
rub cold butter in flour until it looks like very fine breadcrumbs.
mix in the sugar and fruit
using a knife, mix in small quantities of the milk and yoghurt mixture until it comes together.
tip out onto a floured surface, roll out to about 2 cm.
use a 5cm cutter to cut out the scones (no twisting!!!!) until there's no more dough.
place on a lightly floured baking sheet.
bake at 230 degrees for 10-12 minutes until golden brown.

eat on the day with anything from jam to lemon curd. yumsss :)

sarahh xxx

Happy Birthday Mum!!

wow, its been over a month since i last posted. darn it. i think next time exams come up, just before i'll make a load of posts in advance and then just load them up so you guys don't get that big a gap between posts.

hopefully, this set of posts will cheer you up!

it was my mum's birthday at the beginning of june, so my dad and i set out to make sure we made it special. her present is the culmination of several months work and planning, shopping and searching. we brought together a mix and match bone china tea set of mostly english origin, and laid it out for her birthday tea - an old fashioned english cream tea!
the set consisted of:
8 cups and saucers
6 side plates
cut glass butter dish
cut glass cake stand
2 tea pots
large sugar bowl
small sugar bowl
sterling silver cake slice
milk jug

no two peices are the same (well, except for a few) and it makes the whole set completely unique, and if one peice is broken it is very easy to replace!

for the meal we had:

champagne (for the adults!)
cranberry juice (i don't drink fizzy drinks)
scones - no cream tea should be without freshly baked scones! we served them with butter, raspberry jam and clotted cream! :D
vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting - gave me an opportunity to test out my new piping nozzles, which i hope will make more of an appearance in the following posts.
chocolate birthday cake - well, my dad made the cake simply cause i had to make everything else! but i did use a new chocolate frosting recipe which i love love love and also used on the cupcakes.
triangle sandwiches - egg mayonnaise, poached salmon, ham salad. all on white bread with no crusts - i like my hair straight thank you very much!

then, a little quirky family tradition - mozarella, artichoke hearts and peppadew peppers. years and years ago at family birthdays my parents used to set out 'childrens' food and 'adults' food, however, my siblings and i decided enough is enough, and we requested to have adult food instead of party rings and cheese and pineapple on sticks. so now no family birthday is the same without them - even a posh english tea!

i'll do individual posts on the scones, cupcakes and cake - and i'll link them back to this one if i remember (if i forget, give me a poke and i'll see what i can do!)

i think i must have drank 4-5 cups of tea that day, kept me up all night!

sarahh xxx