Archive for the English food Category

Elizabeth Sponge cupcakes for the Diamond Jubilee

Posted in Baking, Cakes, English food, Events with tags , , , , , , on 03/06/2012 by libbyplummer

Elizabeth Sponge cupcakes for the Diamond JubileeWe’ve got a four-day weekend here in the UK to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee – that is, 60 years since the young princess ascended the throne.

With street parties, barbecues and flags all in place, celebratory cakes will also be high on the list of priorities for many Brits (along with copious amounts of alcohol, in the guise of celebrating our Queen’s lengthy rule).

Elizabeth Sponge is simply a variation on the classic Victoria Sponge, named after our reigning monarch (and myself, of course). These cupcakes include a hidden layer of strawberry in the centre, along with red, white and blue striped icing.

I’ll be honest – the fancy icing is a little fiddly (never before have you heard such bad language directed at an icing bag) but I think it’s worth the effort.

Elizabeth Sponge cupcakes for the Diamond Jubilee

Of course these wouldn’t fit the London Baking theme without some sort of tenuous punk connection, like the Anarchy in the UK cupcakes that I made for the royal wedding last year.

That’s why the flags are adorned with circled As (grrr, anarchic baked goods!) and the God Save the Queen slogan that the Sex Pistols used for their controversial hit single that was released to conincide with the Silver Jubilee in 1977.

God Save the Queen Sex Pistols

I’ll leave you with the recipe below. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to Putney to celebrate the Jubilee (by which I mean ‘spend all day in the pub’).

What you’ll need:
110g/4oz self-raising flour (sieved)
110g/4oz caster sugar (sieved)
110g/4oz margarine
1tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
Seedless strawberry jam

For the buttercream icing:
340g/12oz icing (confectioner’s) sugar (sieved)
150g/5.25oz softened unsalted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Red and blue paste food colouring ( I used Sugarflair Christmas Red and Navy Blue)
Icing whitener ( I used Wilton)
Disposable icing bags

Makes 12 cupcakes

Elizabeth Sponge cupcakes for the Diamond Jubilee

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 160°C/140°C (fan oven)/325°F/gas mark 3. Line a muffin tin with cupcake cases (Union Jack ones, if you can find ’em). Chuck the sifted flour, sugar, margarine and baking powder into a bowl and cream together with a fork. Next add the two eggs, mixing after adding each one, then add the vanilla extract. One it’s all mixed together, give it a quick whisk so that it’s light and fluffy.

Divide the mixture evenly between the 12 cupcakes cases and  in the oven for 20 minutes (or until slightly golden brown and firm but springy to touch). After removing from the the oven, let the cupcakes cool in the baking tray for about five minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

Elizabeth Sponge cupcakes for the Diamond Jubilee

Once they’re completely cool, you’ll need to cut out a chunk from each cake to add in the jam. Carefully score a circle around the top of the cake with a sharp nice, then retrace the circle with the knife at an angle so that you cut out a section (in a vaguely conical shape). Use a teaspoon to dollop a tiny blob of jam in the crater, then replace the ‘lid’.

Elizabeth Sponge Cupcakes for the Diamond Jubilee

Next up – the icing. Sieve the icing sugar into a large bowl and cream in the butter using a fork. Once it’s all mixed in and smooth, divide the icing into three bowls.

Colour one red, using paste colouring (apply sparingly with a cocktail stick and work in with a fork until you get the colour you want). Do the same with the blue colouring and if you want, add a few drops of icing whitener to the third bowl.

Now comes the tricky bit. You’ll need four disposable icing bags. Half fill three bags with the three different colours (you can always add more as you go along). Next snip the end of the fourth bag so that a large star nozzle fits comfortably.

Striped icing

Next, snip the ends from the other three bags and put them all inside the fourth, making sure that the tips all fit inside the nozzle (this is the bit that takes time, patience and, potentially, a lot of swearing). Once in place, you can ice away as usual.

Leveson Inquiry cake pops

Posted in Baking, Cakes, English food with tags , , , on 28/05/2012 by libbyplummer

Leveson cake popsUnless you’ve been living on the moon (or simply in another country, where the state of the British tabloid press is not high on your list of priorities) you’ll know all about the Leveson Inquiry.

If you haven’t heard, it’s a public inquiry into the ethics and practices of the British press led by Lord Justice Leveson and fueled by the News International Phone Hacking Scandal, which led to the closure of the News of the World.

What the deuce has this got to do with baking? Well, Miss Insomnia Tulip has taken it upon herself to concoct a range of Leveson Inquiry cake pops. As you do.

Leveson cake pops

The selection includes likenesses of British Prime Minister David Cameron, ex News International chief exec Rebekah Brooks and antipodean media mogul Rupert Murdoch. My favourite has to be Grand Inquisitor (not his actual job title) from the News of the World committee hearing, MP Tom Watson…

Leveson cake pops

You can check out the full range of cake pops over at Miss Insomnia Tulip’s Flickr page.

Via: Miss Cakehead/Eat Your Heart Out

Ma’amite to toast the Queen’s Jubilee

Posted in English food, Gifts, Savoury with tags , , , , on 07/05/2012 by libbyplummer

Ma'amite Marmite for the Diamond JubileeMarmite is toasting the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee with a suitably patriotic version of its yeast-based toast topper and British breakfast staple.

Known as Ma’amite (the joke really only works in an English accent), the jar sports the red, white and blue of the Union Jack, rather than the familiar yellow and red.

I’ve bought myself a jar from Sainsbury’s already to sit alongside my, er, collection of special Marmite jars that includes a black and white Guinness-flavoured version that the company brought out for St Patrick’s Day a few years back….

Cadbury Screme Eggs for Halloween

Posted in English food, Gifts, Seasonal food with tags , , , , , on 01/10/2011 by libbyplummer

Cadbury Screme EggFans of Cadbury’s Creme Eggs will be pleased to hear that they’re no longer confined to Easter. The legendary chocolate manufacturer is selling a slightly more macabre version in celebration of Halloween. Renamed Screme Eggs, the sinister treats sport a suitably seasonal green, purple and black wrapper, while the traditional yellow yolk has been transformed into a toxic green.

After a Twitter-based tip-off from Miss Cakehead, I hotfooted it down to Selfridge’s on Oxford Street to pick up a few (half a dozen to be precise). In my defence – I’ve only eaten one so far.

Keep your eyes peeled in the shops or order direct from Cadbury – 15 notes for 24 eggs.

Dan Lepard’s almond layer cake with crushed raspberries

Posted in Baking, Cakes, English food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 30/08/2011 by libbyplummer

Dan Lepard's Almond and raspberry layer cakeIt was my birthday over the bank holiday weekend and I was hosting the celebrations as usual, so it was up to me to make my own birthday cake. Sad, but true. Obviously I could’ve opted for a novelty cake like the ones my mum used to make, but instead I stuck to a very grown-up concoction, in the form of Dan Lepard’s almond layer cake with crushed raspberries, as featured in The Guardian magazine a few weeks ago. I’m a big fan of Dan’s recipes although I could’ve done with a bit more help on the rather vague instructions and lack of measurements for the filling and topping….

Dan Lepard's Almond and raspberry layer cake

Thankfully, it turned out ok, although the topping was something of a bodge job. I’d definitely recommend giving it a crack if you’re looking for a summery cake.

While I’m at it, here are some coconut cupcakes that I made for my birthday last year, using an excellent recipe from the Primrose Bakery book.  I realise they look a tad girly, but I only coloured the icing pink to match the whole ‘coconut ice’ pink/white colour scheme. Honest.

Coconut cupcakes

The previous year I made this red velvet cake with cream cheese icing (as you can tell from the picture, my icing skills were clearly still ‘in the post’ at this point). I made the icing from scratch but cheated and used a Duncan Hines mix for the cake, procured from Americansweets.co.uk. It was only recently that I found out that although Duncan Hines was a genuine food critic, Betty Crocker was an entirely made-up character and never existed at all! I’m still reeling from the shock.

Red velvet cake

The Lily Vanilli Bakery

Posted in Baking, Cakes, English food, Out and about, Savoury with tags , , , , , , on 19/07/2011 by libbyplummer

Lily Vanilli bakewellsAt the weekend me and my chums set off for a mince around the markets of East London, with the primary objective of sampling some of the goods from the new bakery run by kooky baker and author of A Zombie Ate My Cupcake, Lily Vanilli.

Lily Vanilli Bakery cakes

Situated just off the famous Columbia Road flower market, the new shop sells a small range of treats, with the menu varying every week. The bakery itself is quite small but the shabby chic decor gives it a very cosy feel and we were jammy enough to grab a few seats in the corner without needing to wait.

Having all skipped breakfast and trudged through the rain from the tube station – the freshly baked sausage rolls were first on our hit list. This was no Greggs-style porcine product – it was a crispy, golden roll made with top quality sausage meat from none other than The Ginger Pig. Thankfully for pescetarian Kat, there was also a NOsage roll on offer.

Lily Vanilli Bakery sausage roll

Not content with a much-needed brunch we ordered cakes for afters – between us we opted for the Victoria sponge with fresh berries, a slice of the passionfruit, almond and poppyseed cake and a buttercream-topped cupcake.

Lily Vanilli Bakery cakes

Kate, Kat and I are all camera-toting, cake-loving wordsmiths so we’d all taken photos of our food for blogging purposes faster than you can say “what the hell are those three nutters in the corner doing”. The food was all fantastic, so I’ll definitely be returning to sample some more of the grub and if you haven’t been yet, then I highly recommend a visit.

Lily Vanilli Bakery cupcakes

The Lily Vanilli Bakery is at 6, The Courtyard, Ezra Street, London, E2 7RG and is open every Sunday 8.30am-4.30pm.

Pacman Custard Creams

Posted in Baking, Biscuits, English food with tags , , , , , , , , on 12/06/2011 by libbyplummer

Pacman custard creams
When Edd Kimber, winner of the BBC’s Great British Bake-off series, posted a recipe for homemade Custard Creams on his blog, I knew what I’d be baking this weekend. Along with Party Rings, Bourbons, and Jammie Dodgers, the Custard Cream is a classic British biscuit and one that brings back nostalgic memories of growing up and trying to sneak another biccie from the tin.

Custard Cream
I decided to make my Custard Creams using Pacman cookie cutters from Firebox (why not, eh?) although I did also make Kimber-style rounds as well (although not quite as neat as Edd’s efforts).

Custard creams

I had a bit of trouble making the filling soft enough as I don’t have a stand mixer so I had to resort to using a bowl, a fork and brute force (plus a touch of not-quite-boiling water). It may be sacrilege to say so, but I think that they actually taste better than the real thing. Thanks, Edd!

Via: The Boy Who Bakes

London Baking Battenberg cake recipe

Posted in Baking, Cakes, English food, Recipes with tags , , , , on 31/05/2011 by libbyplummer

London Baking BattenbergI first made my own version of Battenberg cake for the royal wedding back in April, but I didn’t post a recipe as I hadn’t quite perfected it – until now. This classic, British almond-flavoured cake was supposedly invented in 1884 for a royal wedding (for more info, see my previous Battenberg post).

Again, I haven’t opted for the classic pink and yellow colours, instead going for the pink and green from the London Baking logo (if you hadn’t already worked it out, this is inspired by The Clash’s London Calling album cover which was based on Elvis Presley’s first LP). Without further ado – here’s my recipe for London Baking Battenberg cake.

What you’ll need:
110g/4oz self-raising flour (sieved)
110g/4oz caster sugar (sieved)
110g/4oz unsalted butter (softened) or margerine
1 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
Paste food colouring
Apricot jam
Pack of marzipan

If you use all of the sponge, then this should make a cake that’s roughly the same size as the Battenberg that you buy in the shops. If, like me, you don’t have a tin that’s the correct shape and size then you’ll probably end up trimming alot of the sponge away to get straight edges so your cake will end up being about two thirds of the size.

What to do:
Preheat the oven to 160°C/140°C (fan oven)/325°F/gas mark 3. Line two tins with baking parchment. Unless you have two tins that are exactly the right shape, you might need to use some ingenuity here. I used one brownie tin with a makeshift divider made from foil running down the middle to make two seperate baking areas, one for each colour sponge. What you need to end up with is two rectangular pieces of sponge that are deep enough to form the cake when sandwiched together. Two loaf tins would also work well. As you can see from the picture, the layers are slightly wonky, but it doesn’t really matter. If you want it to look perfect then you’ll either need to get your ruler out or invest in some pans that are exactly the right size (or ones that come with adjustable dividers).

Once you’ve finished horsing around with cake tins and foil, it’s time to make the cake. Plonk the sifted flour, sugar, butter/margarine and baking powder into a bowl and cream together with a fork. Next add the two eggs, mixing after adding each one, then add the vanilla extract and almond extract. One it’s all combined, give it a quick go with a whisk to make the mix light and fluffy. Divide the mixture between two bowls and add your chosen food colouring. I use Sugarflair paste colouring, adding a tiny amount at a time with a cocktail stick and mixing in with a fork until the shade is right.

Dollop each colour mixture into a separate tin (or separate area of the same tin) and bung in the oven for 20 minutes (or until very slightly golden brown and firm but springy to touch). After taking out of the oven, let the two layers cool in the baking tray for about five minutes before transferring to a wire rack and leaving to cool completely.

Battenberg close-up

Now, the tricky bit. You need two rectangles of sponge, so if your pans weren’t exactly the right size to start with, grab a sharp knife and carefully level the top of the pink cake so that it’s flat and and is twice as wide as it is high. Do the same for the green cake. Spread a thin layer of apricot jam onto the top of the pink cake and stick the green layer on top. Cut lengthways down the middle so that you end up with two strips. Lay one on it’s side so that you have a line of pink and a line of green. Spread a thin layer of apricot jam on the top. Take the other strip and lay it on top the other way round so that the pink lays on top of the green underneath and vice versa.

Next, lightly dust a chopping board/worksurface with icing sugar, take a pack of marzipan and roll out until it’s about 3mm thick. You need enough to cover the four long sides of the cake, so try to roll it into a roughly rectangular shape (you can trim the excess afterwards). Rather than the usual yellow marzipan, I used white, which is much paler than the yellow, but not really pure white.

Next, heat a couple of tablespoons of apricot jam in a saucepan until it’s warm and slightly more liquid-like (being careful not to burn it). Using a pastry brush, cover the top and two long sides of the cake. Using the rolling pin for support, carefully lift up the marzipan and place on top of  the cake so that both sides are covered and there’s enough left on one side to cover the bottom. Smooth each side down and trims the ends of necessary. Once attached, paint the remaining melted jam onto the underside and fold the rest of the marzipan over so that all four sides of the cake and now wrapped in marzipan and trim the excess. Don’t worry –  it’s a lot easier than it sounds. Slice and serve with a nice brew (Americans – that means tea, not beer, unless you fancy an ale with your cake, of course).

Royal wedding Battenberg cake

Posted in Baking, Cakes, English food with tags , , , , , , on 01/05/2011 by libbyplummer

Royal wedding battenbergAlong with the Anarchy in the UK cupcakes that I made for my mate’s royal wedding tea party,  I decided to pen a speedy recipe for some regal-themed Battenberg cake. Supposedly, this square-patterned cake was invented in honour of the 1884 marriage of Queen Victoria’s granddaughter to Prince Louis of Battenberg, with the four squares representing the four Battenberg princes.

Battenberg cake

Sporting the patriotic red, white and blue (rather than the cake’s traditional colours of pink and yellow), my attempt tasted surprisingly like the real thing. However, due to a limited amount of time, and a mild hangover, it was a bit of a bodge job (the marzipan was too thick and all of the layers were completely different sizes), so I’ll wait until I’ve made it properly before I post a recipe. Stay tuned.

Royal wedding tea party leftovers

Royal wedding cakes

Anarchy in the UK cupcakes for the royal wedding

Posted in Baking, Cakes, English food, Recipes with tags , , , , , , , on 28/04/2011 by libbyplummer

Royal wedding cupcakesOk, so vanilla cupcakes aren’t going to topple the monarchy or ignite a revolution, but they are inspired by The Sex Pistols’ Anarchy in the UK AND they have a circled A on them. Anything to make my over-enthusiastic purchasing of Union Jack cake cases make me look slightly less like a royalty-loving pillock.

And for the recipe? Read on and get stuck in.

Will and Kate mural

What you’ll need:
110g/4oz self-raising flour (sieved)
110g/4oz caster sugar (sieved)
110g/4oz margerine
1tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
1tsp vanilla extract

For the buttercream icing:
225g/8oz icing (confecitoner’s) sugar (sieved)
100g/3.5oz softened unsalted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the royal icing:
1 large egg white
250g/9oz icing (confectioner’s) sugar (sieved)
lemon juice (if needed)

Whatever sprinkles/food colours you desire

Makes 12 cupcakes

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 160°C/140°C (fan oven)/325°F/gas mark 3. Line a muffin tin with cupcake cases. Plonk the sifted flour, sugar, margarine and baking powder into a bowl and cream together with a fork. Next add the two eggs, mixing after adding each one, then add the vanilla extract. One it’s all combined, give it a quick go with a whisk to make the mix light and fluffy.

Royal wedding cupcakes

Distribute evenly between the 12 cupcakes cases and bung in the oven for 20 minutes (or until slightly golden brown and firm but springy to touch). After taking out of the oven, let them cool in the baking tray for about five minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Make sure they’re totally cool before you add the icing, or it won’t stick.

Royal wedding cupcakes

For the buttercream icing, sieve the icing sugar into a large bowl and cream in the butter using a fork. Once it’s all combined and smooth, add in any colouring that you require ( I use paste colouring). On these particular cakes, I added a few drops of icing whitener, which pretty much does what it says on the tin. Once it’s ready, either pipe on with an icing bag or use a flat knife to spread onto the cakes.

Royal wedding cupcakes

Obviously you don’t have to pipe circled As onto your cakes (I don’t believe it’s a common move in the world of baking), but if you want to then read on. Whisk the egg white together with the sieved icing sugar until the misture is white and stands in stiff peaks. If it feels too thick to mix (or pipe), then add a couple of drops of lemon juice. Colour with paste colouring, pop into an icing bag and away you go.