Archive for the American food Category

Blanka Pound Cake

Posted in American food, Baking, Cakes, Recipes with tags , , , , , on 21/07/2013 by libbyplummer

Blanka Pound CakeBlanka: “Would anybody like some pound cake?”

Ryu: “I’d like some pound cake”.

Ever since Street Fighter aficionado Pete sent me this Blanka Makes Pound Cake YouTube video the other day, I’ve thought of little else but pound cake.

Suffice to say, the joke only works if you’re familiar with Ryu’s Hurricane Kick sound effect from the Street Fighter games – which I am, it being one of only about five games that I’m able to play with any kind of socially acceptable dexterity.

Apparently Ryu is actually saying Tatsumaki Senpu Kyaku, but it does sound remarkably like something to do with pound cake…

Just in case you’re not schooled in the ways of baked goods, pound cake is popular in the US, particularly the south. The traditional recipe calls for a pound each of sugar, butter, flour and eggs, hence the name. Incredibly, 4 March is National Pound Cake Day in the US.

Blanks Makes Pound Cake

The fact that this particular version as got turmeric in it sounds a bit weird and gives it a slightly yellow colour, but DON’T PANIC. I can assure you it’s very pleasant with a tasty cup of tea (or coffee, if you insist).

Enough chat, here’s the recipe (not sure where it originates from, it’s the one my mum always uses)…

What you’ll need:
200g/8oz unsalted butter (at room temp)
325g/13oz caster sugar
5 large eggs
250g/10oz plain flour (sieved)
2 tbsp cornflour
1/2 tsp fine salt
1/2 tsp ground mace
pinch of turmeric

What to do:
Preheat the oven to 160°C /140°C  (fan oven)/325°F/Gas mark 3. Grease and line a loaf tin with greaseproof paper. Cream the sugar and butter together in a big bowl, using a fork. Once it’s all mixed together, add the eggs one at at time, mixing each one in as you go. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Dollop the whole lot into the tin and smooth over the top with a spatula. Bake for 1 hour and 10 mins, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean (my oven took about 1 hour 20 minutes). Once it’s out the oven, leave in the tin for about 10 minutes then turn onto a wire rack to cool. Game Over.

Chocolate marshmallow cupcakes

Posted in American food, Baking, Cakes, Recipes, Seasonal food with tags , , , , , , , , on 27/11/2011 by libbyplummer

Chocolate marshmallow cupcakesThe evenings are drawing in, there’s a chill in the air and I can no longer resist saying “yes please” when the man in Costa Coffee asks if I want marshmallows on top of my hot chocolate. This is basically a recipe for a cakey version of my child-like beverage choice, making use of some Mini Mini Marshmallows (kindly given to me by the chaps at Dr Oetker) along with some suitably autumnal orange cupcake cases. Excellent when served with hot chocolate. Or wine, as it turns out. Here’s what to do…

What you’ll need:
3oz self-raising flour (sieved)
2 tbsp cocoa powder (sieved)
4oz caster sugar (sieved)
4oz margarine/unsalted butter (softened)
2 large eggs
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp skimmed milk (or any kind of milk you like)

For the icing:
8oz icing/confectioner’s sugar (sieved)
3.5oz unsalted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp cocoa powder (sieved)

Makes 12 cupcakes

Chocolate marshmallow cupcakes

What to do:
Preheat the oven to 170°C/150° (fan oven)/325°F/gas mark 3. Line a muffin tin with cupcake cases.

Mix together the flour, cocoa powder, and sugar in a large bowl, then cream in the margarine/butter using a fork. Next, add one egg at at time, mixing with the fork after adding each one. Then, add the milk and baking powder and mix until everything is combined. Lastly, give the mixture a few stirs with a whisk to make sure that it’s nice and smooth. Using a tablespoon, bung the mixture into the cupcake cases (dividing it evenly among them, of course).

Chocolate marshmallow cupcakes

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until a cocktail stick or skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean (with no runny cake mix on it). Once done, take the cakes out of the oven and leave in the tin for around 15 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack.

Once the cakes are completely cool, you can crack on with the icing. Cream the icing sugar together with the butter using a fork, then mix in the vanilla once combined. Add the cocoa and mix in until the colour is even and you’re ready to stick it in an icing bag and pipe away. Before the icing sets, add a few mini marshmallows for decoration. Couldn’t be easier.

Libby’s Pumpkin Pie recipe for Thanksgiving

Posted in American food, Baking, Pies, Recipes, Seasonal food with tags , , , , , , , on 24/11/2011 by libbyplummer

Libby's pumpkin pureeHappy Thanksgiving! Time for turkey, back-to-back NFL games and of course, pumpkin pie. Obviously, we don’t actually celebrate Thanksgiving here in the UK, but I’ll use any old excuse for some extra pudding.

I’ve named my recipe, somewhat narcissistically, after myself, as it uses Libby’s tinned pumpkin and I do like to have things with my name on (a point illustrated by my gargantuan collection of Tatty Devine name necklaces). Libby’s tinned pumpkin isn’t that easy to find in the UK, so I get mine online from the Stateside Candy Company and you can also find it at Whole Foods.

You can make the pastry yourself if you want, but I prefer to cheat and use a ready-made pie case as they’re much less likely to burn or go soggy. Enough waffling, let’s talk turkey and crack on with the recipe…

What you’ll need:
2 x ready-made pastry cases (around 8in diameter)
4oz/110g/1 cup light soft brown sugar
A good pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
1 large egg
14oz/450g/4 cups canned or fresh pumpkin puree
1/4 pint/150ml/just under 3/4 cup whipping cream

What to do:
Pre-heat the oven to 190°C/170°C (fan oven)/375°Fgas mark 5. If using fresh pumpkin, boil the flesh until soft and then drain. Make sure that it’s as drained as is possible, otherwise you’ll end up with far too much moisture in your mixture. Next, mash it up with a potato masher.

If you’re a lazy sod like me and you’re using tinned pumpkin, then you can skip to straight to the easy bit. Mix together the sugar, salt, cinnamon, mace and egg and beat with a fork. Once it’s all mixed in well, add the pumpkin and the cream and mix together until it’s all combined. Dollop it carefully into the two pie cases and even the mixture out with a spatula. Bung in the oven for about 35-35 mins until the filling looks slightly firm and the pastry is just beginning to go golden brown. Leave to cool. Serve on its own or top with cream (there’s usually some leftover whipping cream if you’ve bought a big enough pot).

Smashing pumpkin whoopie pies

Posted in American food, Baking, Cakes, Recipes, Seasonal food with tags , , , , , , , on 06/11/2011 by libbyplummer

Smashing Pumpkin whoopie piesHalloween may be done and dusted, but with Thanksgiving on the horizon, there’s still plenty of time for seasonal pumpkin concoctions. I made these pumpkin whoopie pies for the 5th of November or Bonfire Night (also known as Guy Fawkes Night).  For our non-UK chums, this is when we light bonfires and set off fireworks to commemorate the day in 1605 when Guy Fawkes and his fellow conspirators tried and failed to blow up the Houses of Parliament and King James I. Although, to be honest, it’s really all about the fireworks these days. But enough about Catholic rebellions, let’s crack on the with cake and celebrate the fact that I made it through the first paragraph without using the ‘making whoopie’ joke. Oh, bugger…

I’ve already made Smashing Pumpkin cupcakes, so I thought I might as well call these Smashing Pumpkin whoopie pies. Well, why not, eh? There’s a Smashing Pumpkins video after the recipe for your viewing pleasure.

Here’s the recipe, adapted from Whoopie Pies by Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell.

Makes approx 12 whoopie pies. (A tip: stick to using either cups, ounces or grams for the measurements otherwise it’s likely to end in tears).

What you’ll need:
2 1/4 cups/10 oz/280g plain flour (sieved)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp fine salt
1 cup/7oz/200g light brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter (softened)
1 1/2 pumpkin puree ( I used Libby’s, from the Stateside Candy Co.)
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the filling:
1/2 cup/4oz/110g full-fat cream cheese
4 tbsp unsalted butter (softened)
3 1/2 cups/16oz/450g icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Smashing Pumpkin whoopie pies 2

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C/160°C (fan oven)/Gas mark 4. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment or a non-stick Teflon baking sheet. So far, so easy.

Next, mix together the flour, baking powder, bicarb, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt in a bowl. In a new (and bigger) bowl, cream together the sugar and butter using a fork until it forms a creamy mixture. Now, mix in the pumpkin, followed by the egg and the vanilla extract, stirring in between each addition. Add the flour mixture and mix together until it’s all combined.

You want to make your pies as even as possible, so either use a two-tablespoon scoop (such as an ice cream scoop), or pop your mixture into an icing bag. I used disposable icing bags to pipe out rounds about 2 inches across onto the baking sheet. Make sure they’re well spaced as they’ll expand as they cook. You might need to bake them in two batches, depending on the size of your oven. Bake for 15 minutes or until the they’re firm to touch and just starting to turn golden brown. After removing them from the oven, allow to cool on the baking sheet for five minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

Smashing pumpkin whoopie pie

Once completely cool, you can make a start on the filling. Cream together the cream cheese, butter and icing sugar in a bowl using a fork, and once combined, add the vanilla extract and mix in. Spoon the filling into a piping bag and ice half your rounds with a generous helping of filling, before popping the tops on to make your pies. Easy.

Tenuous link time – here’s a Smashing Pumpkins video:

4th of July cake balls

Posted in American food, Baking, Cakes, Recipes with tags , , , , , , , , on 04/07/2011 by libbyplummer

It’s been 235 years since the Declaration of Independence was approved by Congress, marking the start of the United States’ official separation from Great Britain. Nowadays, this momentous occasion is marked largely with fireworks, barbecues and baseball. And of course, cakes. (Check out the hilarious gallery of disasters over at Cake Wrecks – the  “4 Jluy” is possibly the highlight).

Getting into the spirit of things (despite being British and living in London), I knocked up a batch of 4th of July cake balls, mainly to justify the large stash of red, white and blue sprinkles that I’ve been building up from numerous trips to Target when in the US. The recipe is adapted from Molly Bakes‘ excellent new Cake Pops book and uses Renshaw Simple Melt topping, kindly given to me by the manufacturer to try out. Read on and get stuck in, y’all.

What you’ll need:
For the cake:
120g margarine (or softened unsalted butter if you prefer) plus extra for greasing tin
150g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
180g self-raising flour (sieved)
4 tbsp milk

For the icing:
80g softened unsalted butter
40g cream cheese (not low fat version)
200g icing sugar (sieved)
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the topping:
Yoghurt Simply Melts (or white chocolate or whatever topping you want to use)
Red, white and blue sprinkles

4th of July cake ball close-up

What to do:
Preheat oven to 180° C /160° C (fan oven)/350° F/ gas mark 4. Grease and flour a 20-25cm cake tin (round or square). I use Wilton cake release, which doesn’t need flouring – you just spread it round the tin with a pastry brush. Cream the margarine and sugar with a fork until light and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla extract. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing in between. Add the flour, mix until combined and then gradually add the milk and mix again.

Dollop the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 35 minutes or so, or until a cocktail stick inserted into the middle comes out mostly clean with a couple of crumbs. Remove from oven, leave to cool in the tin for 5-10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the icing, cream the butter and cream cheese together with a fork, add the icing sugar and continue to cream until it’s all mixed in and as smooth as possible. Lastly, mix in the vanilla extract. Bung in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before using.

Once the cake is cool, carefully remove the crusts with a bread knife and crumble the cake into a bowl. Once you’ve transformed your cake into a bowl of crumbs, take one tablespoon of the icing at a time and work into the crumbs with your hands (you might not need all of the icing). Mix together until you’ve got a fudge-like mixture that’s not too tough or too soggy. Wrap in clingfilm and stick in the fridge for at least an hour.

Once chilled, break off a chunk of the mixture and roll into a ball in using your hands. The size depends on how big you want your cake balls, but about the size of a ping pong ball is a good place to start. Pop them on a tray lined with baking parchment and stick back in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Next, remove the cake balls from the fridge, turn them over and insert cocktail sticks into the flat-ish side of the ball (the stick needs to go about halfway through). Now melt your Simply Melts according to the instructions (you can also use candy melts or melted chocolate if you prefer) and transfer to a heatproof bowl. Take one cake ball at a time and dip it into the mixture, swirling around until the ball is completely covered (use a spoon to drizzle the mixture over any bald patches if you’re finding it a bit tricky to get them totally covered). Now place them on a cooling rack with the cocktail stick pointing downwards, between the wires. If the cooling rack is too near to the kitchen worktop, rest it on a couple of glasses at either end to raise it up. As soon as you cover each ball with topping, swiftly add a few sprinkles before they dry. Leave to set (they only take about 10 minutes). Happy Independence Day!

SugarSlam 2011 – Whisks of Fury

Posted in American food, Baking, Events with tags , , , , on 27/05/2011 by libbyplummer

Sugar Slam 2011

Being a huge fan of any kind of non-twee baking, I was pleased to see that my favourite US blogger, Natalie at Bake & Destroy, is once again running the SugarSlam wrestling-themed bake-off.

Having grown up in 1980s England – the era of rather non-glam contenders like Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks – my knowledge of wrestling from the other side of the pond doesn’t go far beyond Hulk Hogan, The Undertaker and Rowdy Roddy Piper.  I’m still tempted to enter the competition though. Kendo Nagasaki cakes, perhaps?

There are two titles up for grabs – SugarSlam 2011 Champion and People’s Choice – and there’s a massive stash of prizes on offer. The contest is open now and runs until 11 July 2011, so there’s plenty of time to get your bone-crunching baked goods in order. For more info, check out the official rules over at Bake & Destroy.

Via: Bake & Destroy
Artwork: Betty Turbo

Easter brownies with smashed up Cadbury’s Mini Eggs

Posted in American food, Baking, Cakes, English food, Recipes, Seasonal food with tags , , , , , , , , on 24/04/2011 by libbyplummer

I considered making zombie Jesus biscuits for Easter but I didn’t have time (next year, readers, next year). Instead I decided on some less blasphemous brownies. I topped the whole lot with melted chocolate and covered one half in Dr Oetker citrus strands and edible glitter. Stumped for inspiration for a Easter-based topping for the other half, I finally decided to smash up some Cadbury’s Mini Eggs, before adding some edible silver spray, just in case the brownies didn’t look quite camp enough.

Easter citrus brownies
The basic recipe (which can be used on its own, without the need to set about a bag of Mini Eggs with a rolling pin) is an old classic from my mum. As with most of the best chocolate cake recipes, the taste is accomplished with cocoa and sugar, rather than chocolate, which results in a tasty, moist cake rather than a greasy, sickly stodge, like many of the brownies that you get in the shops.

What you’ll need:
250g/8.82oz unsalted butter
325g/13oz caster sugar
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs
100g/4oz plain flour (sieved)
75g/3oz cocoa (sieved)
0.5 tsp baking powder
0.5 tsp salt

For the topping (optional):
1 big bar of plain chocolate
Citrus sprinkles
Edible glitter
Cadbury’s Mini Eggs
Edible lustre spray

Makes 12 brownies

Easter brownie

What to do:
Grease and line a square brownie tin (roughly 10 x 10 inches, but it doesn’t really matter) and pre-heat the oven to 180°C/160°C (fan oven)/350°F/Gas mark 4.

Melt the butter in a saucepan and pour into a large bowl. Add the sugar and vanilla extract and mix together. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating the mixture with a fork in betweeen each one. Add the sieved flour and cocoa powder (actual cocoa, not drinking chocolate), baking powder and salt and mix it all together.

Easter brownies

Pour into the tin and spread evenly using a spatula, then bung in the middle of the oven for 40 minutes. Once the cooking time’s up, remove from the oven and leave in the tin to cool completely.

For the topping:
As I mentioned earlier, you can leave the brownies plain, or if you require some comically over-the-top seasonal topping then read on. First, pour a small amount of water into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down so that it’s simmering. Break the bar of chocolate into small pieces, drop into a heat-proof bowl and sit the bowl on top of the saucepan, making sure that there’s some distance between the water and the bottom of the bowl. Stir the chocolate until it’s all melted then pour over the cake and spread out evenly with a spatula.

Easter brownies

Then add whatever decorations you require before the chocolate sets. I used citrus-flavoured sugar strands from Dr Oetker, edible glitter, Cadbury’s Mini Eggs (which I smashed up in a bag with a rolling pin), and edible lustre spray.

Here on London Baking, I do like a tenuous link, so in honour of my smashed up Mini Eggs, here’s Smash it Up by The Damned. Happy Easter!

Chocolate Zombie Bunny

Posted in American food, Baking, Gifts with tags , , , , , on 14/04/2011 by libbyplummer

Chocolate Zombie Bunny in basketLike the Canned Unicorn Meat and the Tauntaun Sleeping Bag that came before it, the Chocolate Zombie Bunny is the latest April Fool gag to become a reality from the pranksters over at ThinkGeek.

A perfect Easter treat for zombie movie fans, unhinged relatives or those that are simply bored of the annual Cadbury’s Creme Egg-fest, the edible rabbit is crafted from 8oz of solid white chocolate and is dyed green for an appetizing undead look.

Chocolate Zombie Bunny
You can order your Chocolate Zombie Bunny now for $14.99. ThinkGeek will also ship outside of the US, but prepare to get stung for postage and packing.

(Update: It’s currently out of stock, but new supplies are due on 15/04/11).


Sweet potato cake for Mother’s Day

Posted in American food, Baking, Cakes, Seasonal food with tags , , , , , , , , on 03/04/2011 by libbyplummer

Sweet potato cake for Mother's DayFirstly, if you live in the USA – don’t panic. You haven’t forgotten Mother’s Day. We celebrate it on a different day in the UK, always exactly three weeks before Easter Sunday. This year I decided to bake my dear old mum a sweet potato cake from Warren Brown’s splendid United Cakes of America book. I first went to one of Warren’s CakeLove bakeries in DC a couple of years ago while visting my Arlington-dwelling brother and sister-in-law, so I was extremely chuffed when they gave me his book as a present last year.

United Cakes of America

This compendium of mouth-watering recipes is broken down state by state, including everything from Maryland’s Smith Island Cake to Hawaiian Coconut cake, but most of my favourite recipes come from The South. Sweet potato cake is the recipe for Louisiana because, as ludicrous as it sounds, this bright orange tuber is the ‘state vegetable’ of Louisiana.

Teamed with canned-milk cream cheese frosting, this is one hell of a rich cake and it’s not the quickest recipe in the world, but it’s definitely worth the effort. If you haven’t got the book already, I highly recommend that you seek it out.

Whoopie pies for St Patrick’s Day

Posted in American food, Baking, Cakes, Pies, Seasonal food with tags , , , , , , , on 13/03/2011 by libbyplummer

St Patrick's Day Whoopies PiesI’m not even remotely Irish, but any excuse to drink large amounts of Guinness and eat green-coloured cakes and I’m interested. Who cares about preposterous leprechaun-based stereotyping when you’ve got bright green icing? Not I. That’s why I decided to make my very first batch of Whoopie Pies, with obligatory green colouring, in celebration of St Patrick, whoever the hell he was.

St Patrick's Day Whoopie Pie

I used the basic chocolate pie recipe from the Whoopie Pies book by Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell (last year’s birthday pressie from my aunt and uncle), and filled them with vanilla buttercream (coloured green, natch). It may be a tenuous link, but here’s a fantastic pic of aging Irish hellraisers Richard Harris and Peter O’Toole enjoying a sedate afternoon tea and probably trying to reminisce on a hedonistic past that neither of them can actually remember. I like to think that these green-tinged cakes would make the perfect addition to an Irish ex-boozers’ tea party. If you happen to be catering for one.  Cheers!

Richard Harris and Peter O'Toole taking tea

Harris and O’Toole in their hellraising prime:

Richard Harris and Peter O'Toole