Friday, 21 October 2011

Just some of my cupcakes

I experimented with cupcake decorating the other day, so thought I would share them on here.

Firstly, chocolate ganache, a star and glitter. This is probably my favourite.

Chocolate buttercream and some silver sparkly balls.

Red buttercream swirl.

A selection of chocolate buttercream with hand-made decorations.

Coconut and a heart.

Red with a decoration.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Chilli chocolate brownie

It's chocolate challenge time again, thanks to Chocolate Teapot and We Should Cocoa .

This month's challenge was chill.

I have the best recipe for chocolate brownie, and decided this was the perfect time to experiment with it a bit. I'm not sure of the origin of this recipe, it came to me from a friend and a workmate give it to her. It makes an enormous amount of brownie, so unless you have a small army to feed, I would recommend halving it.

330g butter
1 1/4 cups cocoa
1/2 tsp vanilla
2/3 tsp baking powder
2 cups chopped chocolate or chocolate chips
3 1/2 cups sugar
7 eggs (use 4 if halving it)
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt

Melt butter. Pour in cocoa and mix to combine. Add sugar, eggs and vanilla. Mix on high speed until the colour lightens (approx 5 mins). Add flour, baking powder, salt and chocolate chips and mix until just combined. Pour into a large, lined baking dish and bake for one hour and 10 mins at 160 degrees celsius.

To make the chilli brownie, I added about a heaped teaspoon of chilli. I made it a bit hotter than I thought it should be, as I thought the heat would bake out slightly once cooked. Turns out it didn't! But, I actually thought it was pretty good.

It received mixed reviews at work, from "awesome" and "delicious" to "Carina, I love your baking, but that was terrible". Turns out he is not a fan of chilli. I did warn everyone! If you're not a fan of chilli, I would still recommend making this brownie, as it's so tasty.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

The best carrot cake ever

I am going to share a secret with you. It's a pretty big secret, but it's so good, is should be shared.

My Mum makes the best-ever carrot cake. It's so good, it's world famous in Whangarei. Whenever I go home, this cake is on the top of my list (even though I can make it myself, my Mum makes it so much better).

So, I'll share it with you.

1 cup wholemeal flour
2 cups raw sugar
1 cup oil (a flavourless oil is best, not olive oil, it's too strong)
1 cup plain flour
4 eggs beaten
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
3 cups grated carrot

4oz room-temperature cream cheese (about half a tub)
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 cups sifted icing sugar
2 oz soft butter
Lemon juice

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius and grease and line a 10 inch cake tin. (This makes a pretty big cake).

Sift and mix dry ingredients. Add oil and stir well. Stir in beaten eggs and carrot and mix well. Pour into tins.

Bake for about an hour, until a skewer comes out clean.

For the icing, beat the cream cheese and butter together with a wooden spoon until well combined. Gradually add the sifted icing sugar, vanilla and continue to beat. Add lemon juice to taste. (I like a really tangy icing). If you add a lot of lemon juice, you may need to add more icing sugar.

I split my cake and put some icing in the middle of the cake.

I also iced the entire cake. I really love this icing!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Green pancakes with lime butter

On the recommendation of two workmates, I made a delicious dinner last night that I just had to share. I have discovered the most delightful chef - Yotam Ottolenghi. His cookbook, Plenty, is beautiful, just gorgeous. He also writes a regular column for the Guardian

I made the pancakes for dinner last night and served them with haloumi. Yum. I only made about 1/4 of the butter, as 100g would have been way too much. I used lemon instead of lime, as I didn't have any limes. Lemon was pretty tasty. The butter and pancakes are a little time consuming to prepare, but cooking is super quick.

For the lime butter
100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
Zest 1 lime plus 2 tbsp lime juice
½ tsp salt
½ tsp white pepper
1 tbsp coriander leaves, picked
½ garlic clove, finely chopped
½ tsp chilli flakes

For the pancakes
110g self-raising flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 egg
50g unsalted butter, melted
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground cumin
150ml milk
10 spring onions, finely sliced
2 green chillies, finely sliced
250g baby spinach
1 egg white
Olive oil, for frying

First, make the lime butter. Put the butter in a medium-sized bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until it turns soft and creamy. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Tip everything out on to a sheet of clingfilm and roll into a sausage shape. Twist the ends to seal, then chill until firm.

For the pancake batter, put the flour, baking powder, egg, butter, salt, cumin and milk in a mixing bowl, and whisk until smooth. Add the onion and chilli to the batter. Put the spinach in a pan with a splash of water, cook until wilted, drain, squeeze dry, then roughly chop and add to the batter. Whisk the egg white to soft peaks and carefully fold it in to the batter.

Pour a little oil into a heavy frying pan and place on medium-high heat. For each pancake, ladle two to three tablespoons of batter into the pan and press down gently. You should get smallish pancakes, about 7cm in diameter and 1cm thick. Cook for a minute on each side, until a nice golden-green colour. Transfer to a paper towel and repeat, adding oil as needed, until all the mixture is used up. Keep the cooked pancakes warm.

To serve, pile up three pancakes per person and place a disc of flavoured butter on top to melt. Serve a flavoursome leaf salad on the side.

I also think mini versions of these would be so perfect for canapes. Perhaps with cream cheese and salmon. Yum.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Becci's birthday and a pony cake

My friend Becci had a birthday this week and requested a pony cake. She is nuts about horses, is a keen rider and has her own beautiful pony (although the unfortunate fellow does have a girl's name). A standing-up pony was initially requested - a feat I declared out of my scope! Becci persisted, and sent me this link for a pony cake. So, a pony cake it was!

I baked my favourite chocolate cake from Annabel Langbein (see previous post for the recipe) in two round tins. Halfway through making the cakes, I discovered I had run out of flour (and I call myself a baker, tsk tsk!). So, I needed a substitute (it was about 9.00pm, I could not be bothered going out in the dark and cold to get more flour if I could help it). What's the lesson here - always read the recipe through and check you have everything you need before you start! I had wholemeal flour, so decided to give that a go. I think it worked pretty well, the cake had a lot more texture than usual due to the course nature of wholemeal flour, but I think it was slightly more dense than usual, which I liked.

Anyway, the following evening I turned the cakes into a pony using the template above. This is when I discovered my next problem, and decided that I really do need to learn to plan ahead better. I went to put the cut-out shape onto my cake carrier to decorate it, only to discover that it didn't fit! The only thing I could find that it would fit on was my massive roasting tray, and there was no way I was carrying that on the train to work the next morning! The only thing to do was to put the pony on a rapid weight-loss diet.

I trimmed everything up, and made him fit on the carrier. The only downside of this exercise was that I ended up turning the pony into more of a dog. His neck was the main problem - horses have long necks. So, his neck got a reasonably brutal trim, and he lost a bit of his horsey-ness. Not to worry. I iced him with chocolate buttercream and used some black food colouring to create a tail and mane. I think the tail and the mane looked pretty cool, I was really pleased. Pony was supposed to have a blanket. But, I spent such a long time fluffing about with the weight-loss regime, and it got too late to sort out a blanket - it was well past my bed time! I did give him some feet though by mixing some of the darker icing with the lighter to give his feet a bit of a shadow effect.

According to Becci, the cake was yum, so as long as the birthday girl enjoys it, that's the main thing!