Archive for the Recipes Category

Syrian Victoria sponge

Posted in Baking, Cakes, Recipes with tags , , , , , , on 18/11/2011 by libbyplummer

Syrian Victoria sponge“What the blue blazes is a Syrian Victoria sponge?”,  I hear you cry. Well, it’s essentially a traditional Victoria sponge containing Syrian rose jam, rather than the usual, boring raspberry or strawberry. Simple.

I made this almost cripplingly sweet cake using some rose jam that my friend Kate brought back for me from her recent trip to Syria. Granted, Syria isn’t exactly a top holiday destination at present due to the wave of demonstrations that are currently rocking the Arab world (also known as the Arab Spring) and the fact that it’s potentially on the brink of a civil war, but Kate was visiting her sister who currently works for the Foreign Office in Damascus. Very brave.

Rose jam

The recipe is totally idiot-proof and is adapted from Nigella Lawson’s dreadfully titled (but brilliant) baking tome How to be a Domestic Goddess. Sorry Nigella, I love your work, but I really hate the excruciatingly twee name of that book.  You should be able to find Rose jam for sale on the web (I wouldn’t recommend a trip to Syria at the moment), or you can use any kind of jam you like. Seedless is best.

Sorry the pictures are bit rubbish – they were taken in dwindling daylight…

What you’ll need:
225g unsalted butter (softened)
225g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs
200g self-raising flour
25g cornflour
3 tbsp milk

For the filling:
4 tbsp rose jam
150ml double cream

For the topping:
Some caster sugar

Syrian Victorian sponge 2

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C (fan oven)/350°F/gas mark 4. Line the bottom of two sandwich tins (approx 22cm diameter) with baking parchment and grease the sides with butter or cake release.

Cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl, using a fork, then add the vanilla extract. Next, add the eggs, one at a time, stirring the mixture and adding a small amount of the flour and cornflour in between each one. Once it’s all combined, add a small amount of milk at a time to thin out the mixture a bit. I found 3 tbsp was about right.

Divide the mixture between the two tins and even out using a spatula. Bake for 25 minutes or until the top of the cake start to brown slightly and the cake starts to come away from the tin at the edges. Leave to cool in the tins for at least 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Once completely cool, place one layer on a plate/cake stand or whatever you’re going to serve it on and spread with a layer of jam. Next whip the cream in a bowl using a balloon whisk until it’s thickened but still soft and shiny. Don’t over-beat it or it’ll start to curdle. Spread over the jam, then pop the other cake layer on top and sprinkle with a tablespoon or so of caster sugar. And voila – Syrian Victoria sponge.

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:

‘Razor Blades in Candy’ red velvet cake

Posted in Baking, Cakes, Recipes, Seasonal food with tags , , , , , , , on 30/10/2011 by libbyplummer

Razor blades in candy red velvet cakeThis is my cakey take on the classic Trick or Treat urban myth of ‘razor blades in the candy’. Firstly, I should probably point out that there are no razor blades in this cake. The one in the picture is actually a pendant that I used for the photo and then removed. Putting actual razor blades in your cake is likely to end in tears, blood and a lengthy prison sentence. Don’t put actual razor blades in your cake. I really can’t stress that strongly enough.

If you want to include razor blades, I suggest ‘getting your craft on’ and making some out of silver cardboard.

Red velvet cake

I decided to use candy corn to decorate my ‘blood’-splattered cake as I’ve seen it dished out to Trick or Treaters in hundreds of American Halloween films and TV programmes (I exaggerate), but we don’t have it here in the UK and I’d always wondered what the hell it was. I ordered mine online from the Stateside Candy Company. Turns out, it tastes a bit like fudge.

Brach's candy corn ad

I don’t usually use ready-made cake mixes, but recipes for red velvet cake always involve so much arsing about with buttermilk and red food colouring and so on, that I find it easier to cheat (I used a Duncan Hines, again, from the Stateside Candy Company).

Brach's candy corn & red velvet mix

What you’ll need:

Red Velvet cake mix

For the icing:
450g icing/confectioner’s sugar
75g unsalted butter (softened)
190g cream cheese (e.g. Philadelphia)

For the topping:
Candy corn
1 tbsp seedless raspberry jam

What to do:

Prepare the red velvet mix according to the instructions on the pack to make two round layers of sponge.

Once the cake is cool, make the icing by creaming together the icing sugar, butter and cream cheese using a fork. Don’t be tempted to use reduced fat cream cheese as it’s far too runny and your icing will end up as a gooey mess. Once combined, spread half the mixture onto one layer of sponge using a large palette knife then place the other layer on top. Ice the top of the cake using the remaining mixture.

Razor blades in candy red velvet cake 2

Add some candy corn for decoration. For the fake blood, melt the jam in a saucepan, adding a few drops of not-quite-boiling water to thin the mixture slightly. Once melted, drizzle on the top of the cake and you’re all done. Trick or Treat!

Choccy Horror cupcakes

Posted in Baking, Cakes, Recipes, Seasonal food with tags , , , , , , , , on 24/10/2011 by libbyplummer

Choccy Horror cupcakeAnd so the onslaught of Halloween-themed baking continues. Today’s masterpiece – Choccy Horror cupcakes. As well as desperately lame punning, these chocolate cupcakes also involve toppers emblazoned with minature film posters from some of my favourite horror flicks, namely Night of the Demon (trailer below – it’s called Curse of the Demon in the US), Halloween, Night of the Living Dead and The Tingler.

The cakes are topped with Renshaw Snip & Swirl ready-made chocolate icing, kindly given to me by the makers to try out when I went to check out their latest products a few months ago. If I’m honest, I don’t think it’s quite the same as freshly made icing, but it does have a surprisingly good taste and it’s a great alternative if you haven’t got much time on your hands. Recipe after the vid…

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:
Renshaw Snip & Swirl (chocolate flavour)
Or to make your own:
8oz icing/confectioner’s sugar (sieved)
3.5oz unsalted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp cocoa powder (sieved)
Red sprinkles

Makes 12 cupcakes

Choccy Horror cupcake lineup

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).

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.

Choccy Horror cupcakes

Once the cakes are completely cool, you can crack on with the icing. If using Renshaw Snip & Swirl, simply snip the end off the pack and ice away. If making your own, 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. If you really can’t be arsed to deal with any icing, just add some chocolate spread (e.g. Nutella) to the cakes with a knife or just melt some chocolate and spread that onto the top.

The movie-themed toppers are simply made from film poster images (procured via a Google Image search) printed out on white paper and stuck onto black card, with a cocktail stick attached to the back with sticky tape. Arts and crafts, kid, arts and crafts.

Chocolate biscuits for Halloween

Posted in Baking, Biscuits, Recipes, Seasonal food with tags , , , , , , , on 16/10/2011 by libbyplummer

Halloween chocolate biscuitsApparently it’s Chocolate Week, so what better time to knock up some seasonal Halloween chocolate biscuits (or cookies, if you insist). I first made these last year, adapting a recipe from the Nigella Christmas book. They”re very easy to make and like many of the best recipes for chocolate cakes and biscuits, they, er,  don’t actually use any chocolate, instead sticking to the winning combo of cocoa and sugar (trust me, it’s much better). Don’t believe me? Try them for yourself…

What you’ll need:
125g unsalted butter (softened)
75g caster sugar
20g cocoa powder (sieved)
150g plain flour (sieved)
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
1/2 tsp baking powder

For the topping:
1 tbsp (15ml) cocoa powder
90g icing sugar
30ml boiling water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Seasonal  sprinkles

Makes 12 biscuits

Halloween chocolate biscuits 2

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C (fan oven)/325°F/gas mark 3. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a Teflon baking sheet.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl, using a fork. Once mixed in, cream in the cocoa, then add the flour, bicarb and baking powder and mix until it’s all combined.

Scoop up a blob of the mixture in your hand and roll into a ball (around the same size as a walnut). Place each ball onto the baking sheet and flatten slightly using your hand. Make sure they’re well spaced apart otherwise they’ll fuse together in the oven.

Bake for 15 minutes then remove from the oven and leave to cool on the baking tray for about 20 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack. The biscuits will look and feel soft when they come out of the oven, but they’ll crisp up as they cool.

Halloween chocolate biscuits 3

Once they’re completely cool, you can crack on with the topping. Chuck the cocoa powder, icing sugar, water and vanilla extract into a small saucepan and stir oven a low heat until combined into a shiny mixture. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for a few minutes. Next, drop a tablespoon of the topping onto the centre of each biscuit and let it dribble down the sides. Use the back of the spoon to even it out a bit if need be. Swiftly add your sprinkles before the topping dries and leave to set and you’re all done. I got my sprinkles from Target on a trip to the US, but you should be able to find them online on various sites including Amazon.

The perfect snack for grazing on while watching a horror film. Today’s choice – The Orphanage:

The Orphanage

Smashing pumpkin cupcakes

Posted in Baking, Cakes, Recipes, Seasonal food with tags , , , , , , , , , on 09/10/2011 by libbyplummer

Smashing pumpkin cupcakesIt’s nearly Halloween! Not only is this my favourite time of year, it’s also the best time for baking, largely because of the seasonal delight that is pumpkin. The fact that it’s a seasonal vegetable is however completely irrelevant seeing as this recipe uses the tinned variety (I used Libby’s pumpkin puree procured from The Stateside Candy Company).

Once upon a time, the Smashing Pumpkins were my favourite band in the whole world and they serve as the inspiration for these cupcakes. Not only are they pumpkin flavoured, but I’ve also used the band’s Bullet with Butterfly Wings track as a theme for the topping, which consists of gunmetal grey cream cheese icing and sugar butterflies, kindly sent to me by the nice people at Dr Oetker. Thankfully, the brand has recently designed its packaging  moving away from the pesky plastic bag and cardboard box combo to a more cupboard-friendly storage jar. But, enough on the riveting subject of kitchen storage, let’s crack on with the recipe, which is adapted from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook. Watch the Pumpkins video below (that’s a suggestion, not an order), then get baking.

What you’ll need:
120g plain flour (sieved)
140g caster sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
40g unsalted butter, softened
60ml milk (doesn’t matter which kind, I used skimmed)
2 eggs
200g tinned pumpkin puree

For the icing:
300g icing sugar/confectioner’s sugar (sieved)
50g unsalted butter, softened
125g cream cheese
Black food colouring paste
Edible pearlescent spray

Makes 12 cupcakes

Smashing pumpkin

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 170°/150° (fan oven)/325°F/gas mark 3

Line a 12-hole muffin tin with cake cases.

Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt together in a large bowl. Add the butter and work it in with a fork until the mixture looks like sand. Next, add the milk and mix until combined. Add the eggs one at at time, mixing after each addition then stir in the pumpkin.

Divide the mixture evenly between the cake cases and bung in the oven for 20 minutes or until the tops of the cakes start to turn golden brown and ping back when touched. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack. Make sure they’ve completely cool before you add the icing, or it won’t stick.

Smashing pumpkin cupcakes 2

For the icing, cream the icing sugar, butter and cream cheese together in a bowl, using a fork. It’ll look like there’s too much icing sugar to start with, but believe me, the proportions are correct, it just takes a bit of graft before they start to mix together. If you want to colour your icing, add paste food colouring, a tiny bit at a time, using a cocktail stick and mix in with a fork. If you want your icing to be dark grey like mine then you’ll need to add quite a lot of black colouring. Next spoon the icing into a disposable icing bag and pipe on using a large star-shaped nozzle. Lastly, add the sugar butterflies and a quick squirt of edible lustre spray for a shiny gunmetal finish and voila – smashing pumpkin cupcakes.

Here’s another Smashing Pumpkins video for your enjoyment – this time, an early performance from Japanese TV including a brilliantly awkward pre-song chat with the hosts. [Please take note: some of the lyrics might be a bit too salty for young ears].

Peanut butter plectrum biscuits

Posted in Baking, Biscuits, Recipes with tags , , , , , , , , on 22/08/2011 by libbyplummer

Inspired by a guitar plectrum-shaped cake that my mum made many years ago for my brother’s birthday, I decided to knock up some plectrum biscuits (that’s cookies to you, American cousins). In a nod to Elvis, who died last week in 1977, I flavoured my biccies with peanut butter, famously one of his favourite snacks.

Fender plectrums

I recently procured the Biscuiteers Book of Biscuits, which I used as a basis for this recipe. It’s the first time I’ve used the professional method of separate line and flooding icing, hence the slightly wobbly results. The recipe is a bit long-winded, but it’s all worth it in the end. Here’s what to do…

What you’ll need:

250g plain flour (sieved)
100g soft brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
65g salted butter (softened and diced)
65g golden syrup
1 egg
1-2 tbsp milk
65g peanut butter

For the icing:
180ml cold water
1kg royal icing sugar/mix
Whatever colours you choose (in this case, yellow, blue and black gel colours)

Plectrum biscuit and plectrum

What to do:

Mix the flour, sugar and baking powder together in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and crumble into the mixture using your fingertips until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs. In another bowl, lightly whisk together the egg, syrup, one tbsp of milk and the peanut butter. Tip the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients and mix together until you get a soft dough. Add a dash more milk if it feels too dry. Divide the dough in half and mould each into a flat disc before wrapping in clingfilm and popping in the fridge for at least an hour.

Plectrums

Once chilled, unwrap the dough and place between two sheets of parchment before rolling out to 5mm thickness. Keeping the paper on, put the dough back in the fridge for about 20 minutes (on a baking tray or chopping board). While the dough is in the fridge, pre-heat the oven to 170°C (150°C fan oven)/350°F/gas mark 4. After chilling again, you’re ready to cut out your shapes, either using ready-made cutters or your own templates. To make your own, just draw or trace your design onto a piece of parchment and then stick this a spare piece of card and cut out. You can then bung this on top of you rolled-out dough and cut round it using a sharp knife. Place the shapes on a lined baking tray, leaving plenty of room between each biscuit. Cook for 14 minutes or so (you may need more time, depending on your oven). The biscuits are ready when they start to turn golden brown around the edges. Once out of the oven, transfer to a wire rack and make sure that they’re completely cool before icing, or it won’t stick.

Plectrum biscuits

For the icing:
Chuck the water in a large bowl, then add 900g of the royal icing sugar and whisk together until the icing is roughly the same consistency as toothpaste. You might need to add more icing sugar if it’s not thick enough. For this recipe, you’ll need to save three small bowls of icing at this stage – two for making the outlines and one of the Fender writing. Colour one blue, one yellow and one black, by adding tiny amounts of colouring at a time and mixing in with a fork until you get the colour you want. Take the first outline colour, bung in a disposable icing bag and snip the end to make a small hole. Pipe the outline of a plectrum around the edges of half of your biscuits, making sure that you join the ends up to create a tiny wall of icing. Do the same with the blue icing. Next divide the remaining icing from your original bowl into two parts. This will be your flooding icing, so you need to colour each bowl to match the yellow and blue outline icing. Once done, spoon carefully into the middle of each biscuit and smooth out to the edges using a cocktail stick. Leave to dry.

Colour the third tiny bowl (that you saved earlier) with black colouring, pop into an icing bag and snip of a small section at the end. You might want to practice writing the Fender logo in a piece of parchment before you have a crack at icing your biscuits.

Finally, return your biscuits to a baking tray and place in very cool oven – about 50-70°C/120-160°F/gas mark1/2-3. This may sound like utter madness, but it actually helps to restore the biscuits’ crunch, which can be softed by the moisture in the icing.

You might also like these Elvis peanut butter chip biscuits that I made earlier this year.

Han Solo in carbonite chocolates

Posted in Baking, Gifts, Kitchen gadgets, Recipes with tags , , , , , , , on 28/07/2011 by libbyplummer

Han Solo in carbonite chocolate

When I heard that Firebox was selling a Han Solo in carbonite ice tray I was on the case faster than the Millennium Falcon on the Kessel Run. Sorry – I know I bang on about Star Wars quite a lot on London Baking, but when there’s a chance to re-create one of cinema’s coolest characters in chocolate form, there’s not a second to be wasted.

Although it’s billed as an ice tray, it can also be used for other things like chocolate and jelly, so I set about trying to craft some chocolate that actually resembled the fictional carbonite compound that Han was frozen in (I clearly had too much times on my hands last weekend).

Han Solo frozen in carbonite

The nice people at Firebox very kindly sent me one of the trays to try out. Here’s the recipe for Han Solo chocolates:

What you’ll need:
150g chocolate
Black dusting powder (optional)

What to do:
It’s really not rocket science. All you need to do is melt the chocolate, pour it into the mould and leave it to set, but if you want a few pointers then please do read on.

Han Solo in carbonite ice tray

You can use any type of chocolate you like – milk, plain or white – the higher the quality the better. If you want to make your Han Solos grey like mine then you’ll need to go for white chocolate. To melt the choc, pour a small amount of water into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down so that it’s simmering gently. Then break 150g of chocolate into small pieces and plonk in 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 until the chocolate is melted and then remove from the heat.

If you don’t intend to colour your chocolate, then simply pour it into the mould – it should be just the right amount to fill each segment to the top. Smooth the surface with the back of a spoon or a spatula and clean off any access around the edges (this will make it easier to pop the chocs out of the mould once they’re set). The chocolate should set at room temperature (provided that it’s not a really hot day), or you can bung the mould in the fridge to speed up the process. The temperature of your kitchen or fridge will determine how long the chocolate takes to set, but it should be solid and ready for scoffing within a couple of hours. Once set, simply pop the chocolates out of the mould.

Han Solo chocolates

To make ‘carbonite grey’ chocolate, you’ll need to add some black dusting powder (a little at a time) to white chocolate and stir until you get the colour you want. Water-based food colours are a no-go as they won’t mix with the chocolate.

For more photos of the mould and the chocolates that I made, head over to my hands-on write up at Pocket-lint.com.

The Han Solo in carbonite ice tray is available from Firebox for £9.99.

Space cupcakes for the final shuttle launch

Posted in Baking, Cakes, Recipes with tags , , , , , , , , on 10/07/2011 by libbyplummer

Space cupcakes 2I fully admit that I’m a bit of a space nerd (I own mission patches from all 17 Apollo launches), so the very last space shuttle lift-off on Friday 8 July 2011 was a pretty big deal, and certainly an occasion worthy of some themed baked goods (you’ve probably noticed by now that I don’t need much of an excuse).

I should probably point out these are space cupcakes only in the sense that they sport the red, white and blue of the NASA logo along with the starry sky effect icing. They’re not the kind of space cakes that contain illegal drugs. Just a touch of vanilla. Sorry.

Final space shuttle launch

You can read my ramblings on the space shuttle over at Pocket-lint.com or if you want to make your own space cupcakes (of course you do), then read on and get stuck in. In the meantime, if you want a laugh, check out this space shuttle-based post over on Cake Wrecks.  Although the comedy cake blog is always amusing, this is the only post that has ever had me guffawing uncontrollably (or LMFAO if you insist).

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

For the buttercream icing:
225g/8oz icing (confectioner’s) sugar (sieved)
100g/3.5oz softened unsalted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Black paste food colouring
Silver sprinkles
Edible silver glitter

Makes 12 cupcakes

Space cupcakes

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.

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.

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 the paste colouring using a cocktail stick, a little at a time. Each time you add some, mix it in with a fork until you get the colour you want. Once it’s ready, either pipe on with an icing bag or use a flat knife to spread onto the cakes. Swiftly add the sprinkles and edible glitter before the icing dries (it’s best to ice half the cupcakes then add the sprinkles before icing the rest to make sure that it doesn’t set in between).

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!