Archive for Cakes

Sainsbury’s launches baking website with Dan Lepard

Posted in Baking with tags , , , , , , , on 15/04/2012 by libbyplummer

Diamond Jubilee cupcake casesIt seems you’re no one nowadays unless you’ve got your own baking website which is why UK supermarket Sainsbury’s has got in on the act with www.sainsburys.co.uk/baking.

Joining the likes of Renshaw, Dr Oetker and Allinson Flour’s BakingMad.com, the new Sainsbury’s site will include recipes (obviously), along with techniques and tips, advice on food intolerances and a regular Q&A from from baking guru and Guardian columnist Dan Lepard.

Diamond Jubilee cupcake cases

To celebrate the launch, the nice people at Sainsbury’s sent me some goodies to try out including a new set of  Diamond Jubilee cupcake cases featuring Union Jacks and marching soldier designs. I knocked up some vanilla cupcakes to try them out and they’re pretty good (ie. the cases don’t go transparent and make the designs disappear when put in the oven, as some cheaper cases do).

Diamond Jubilee cupcake cases

London Baking – Big in Japan

Posted in Baking, Out and about with tags , , , , , , on 11/03/2012 by libbyplummer

Japanese snacksI was recently lucky enough to be taken on a work trip to Tokyo for a week by the nice folk at Sony. Along with a busy week of checking out the latest TV tech at Sony HQ, we also managed to find time to stuff our faces with plenty of Japanese food. As you can see from the photo above, I managed to build up a sizeable snack haul to bring back to Blighty.

Aside from the standard Pocky, matcha powder and Panda-shaped biscuits, the highlight for me was the ludicrous selection of weird Kit Kat flavours including green tea and cherry blossom. My personal favourite was the wasabi flavour – they’ll definitely be a white chocolate and wasabi-based recipe on London Baking in the near future. Other highlights included…

…The ninja star shaped crackers at the ninja restaurant, where you get served by ninjas. (Despite it being our first night in the Far East, we instigated a drinking game where everyone had to take a swig every time the word ‘ninja’ was spoken. Such fun)…

Ninja star biscuits

Stumbling across a fantastic bakery at Shibuya station following a wander round Harajuku and Tower Records with Kat

Shibuya station bakery

…this is just one of the snacks I bought there, a custard-filled pastry thingy…

Japanese cake

…a night in Bauhaus (possibly the best bar in the world) – that’s me with the Strat on the left…

Bauhaus

…and of course, the purchasing of a Totoro toy…

Totoro toy

Bauhaus image: Kat Hannaford

Exploding wedding cakes from Bompas & Parr

Posted in Baking, Cakes, Events with tags , , , , on 12/02/2012 by libbyplummer

Ryan Hopkinson exploding jellyJelly experts Bompas & Parr are launching a food explosion service for weddings. Yeah, you heard. Famous for their experimental culinary projects, the team will provide an explosives guru who will lay charges inside your wedding cake (or food of choice) which will then be detonated at an opportune moment.

In celebration of the launch of the service, Bompas & Parr have teamed up with photographer Ryan Hopkinson to document what happens when you blow up a jelly (for US readers, that’s Jell-o), as you can see in the picture.

Ryan Hopkinson exploding jelly 2

Once you’ve booked your explosives expert, they’ll chat with your wedding cake provider to go through the safest way to lay the charges and position the cake. They’ll also attend on the wedding day to set up the explosives and detonate the blast. According to the jelly mongers, “All explosives are transported within containers meeting the MoD’s SEAP 4 security standards as referred to in JSP440”. I’ve no idea what that means, but it sounds pretty cool.

Presumably the cake will be inedible once it’s been blown to smithereens, so you’d probably want to get two made for the big day if you actually intend to enjoy a slice without having to scrape it off the ceiling first.

Images: Ryan Hopkinson

Judge Fudge brownies

Posted in Baking, Cakes, Recipes with tags , , , , , , , on 06/02/2012 by libbyplummer

Judge Fudge browniesI haven’t had much time for baking so far this year, but the snowy weather this weekend was a good excuse to stay at home nursing a mild hangover while watching DVDs and snaffling copious amounts of cake. I named these brownies, in my traditionally tenuous fashion, after the Happy Mondays’ song, Judge Fudge. I always liked the cover of the single – not sure if the words are made from paint or icing (or frosting, for our American cousins), but I like to think it was the latter…

Judge Fudge Happy Mondays

Enough chat – here’s the recipe…

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
Dr Oetker Fudge Chunks (2 x85g bags)

Makes 12 brownies

What to do:
Grease and line a square brownie tin (roughly 10 x 10 inches, or whatever you’ve got) 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. Finally, mix in the fudge chunks.

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.

London Baking: best of 2011

Posted in Baking, Biscuits, Cakes, Recipes, Seasonal food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 31/12/2011 by libbyplummer

End of year blog posts tend to be lazy and self-serving and in keeping with tradition, this one is no exception. It’s basically a hastily constructed round-up of my favourite London Baking blog posts from 2011, with some nice piccies along the way. A fitting tribute to the last year or simply a piece of cakey propaganda? It’s up to you.

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading! Let’s do it all again next year.

Irn Bru cupcakes for Burns Night:

Irn Bru cupcake

Rock ‘n’ Roll Party Rings:

Rock 'n' Roll Party Rings

Cakes for Japan raises £2,000:

Cakes for Japan cakes

Anarchy in the UK cupcakes for the Royal Wedding:

Royal wedding cupcakes

London Baking Batterberg cake:

London Baking Battenberg

Han Solo in Carbonite chocolates:

Han Solo in carbonite chocolate

Kendo Nagasaki cake pops:

Kendo Nagasaki cake pops

Peanut butter plectrum biscuits:

Smashing Pumpkin cupcakes:

Smashing pumpkin cupcakes

‘Razor Blades in Candy’ red velvet cake:

Razor blades in candy red velvet cake

Syrian Victoria sponge cake:

Syrian Victoria sponge

Star Wars Holiday Special chocolate and brandy buttercream cupcakes:

Star Wars Holiday Special cupcakes

Happy new year!

Star Wars Holiday Special chocolate and brandy buttercream cupcakes

Posted in Baking, Cakes, Recipes, Seasonal food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 11/12/2011 by libbyplummer

Star Wars Holiday Special cupcakes

Never heard of the Star Wars Holiday Special? Let me enlighten you. After the success of the first Star Wars film in 1977, some bright spark had the idea of producing a Christmas/Holiday-themed TV special. What could possibly go wrong? A lot, that’s what. The story sees Chewbacca trying to get home to his family to celebrate Life Day – a thinly veiled, intergalactic version of Christmas. Highlights include a musical number by Jefferson Starship, a comedy skit in the Mos Eisley cantina (starring the Golden Girls’ Bea Arthur) and a jokey scene in which Chewbacca’s wife (essentially a Wookie in an apron) attempts to cook the Life Day dinner. Oh, and Princess Leia sings a song, too. It’s every bit as preposterous as it sounds. You can find it on YouTube or ebay, if the mood takes you…

For reasons that should be entirely obvious if you’ve read the previous paragraph, the Star Wars Holiday Special was only ever broadcast once in 1978 and has never been officially released. This festive cake-based tribute to what is possibly the worst TV programme ever made is formed of chocolate cupcakes with brandy buttercream icing (the icing method is adapted from Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery). I used a Star Wars cupcake decorating kit, along with a Star Wars cupcake stencil set from Williams-Sonoma to decorate mine, but obviously you can use whatever you like.

Star Wars Holiday Special cupcakes

What you’ll need:
3oz/85g self-raising flour (sieved)
4 tbsp cocoa powder (sieved)
4oz/110g caster sugar (sieved)
4oz/110g margarine/unsalted butter (softened)
2 large eggs
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp milk (any kind you like)

For the icing:
4oz/110g unsalted butter (softened)
60ml milk
2 1/2 tbsp brandy butter (a good quality one that contains actual booze is best)
1 tsp vanilla extract
17.5oz/500g icing sugar (sieved)
Cocoa powder for decoration (if using stencils)

Makes 12 cupcakes

Star Wars Holiday Special 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).

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.

Star Wars Holiday Special cupcakes

Once the cakes are completely cool, you can crack on with the icing. Cream together half the icing sugar with the butter, milk, brandy butter and vanilla extract using a fork, until smooth. You can add a little more brandy butter if you want a stronger taste, but I found 2 1/2 tbsp to be about right. Add the rest of the icing sugar and combine until you’ve got a smooth icing. Either spread onto your cupcakes using a palette knife or use an icing bag to pipe on and add whatever decorations you have to hand. Happy Life Day!

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.