Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Coconut whipped cream

Last night, as I do, I was experimenting. I made a cake and wanted an icing for it. I didn't much like the sound of the icing that was suggested to go with my cake, so decided to make my own. I decided it needed to be creamy and rich, but not too heavy as it was a very dense cake.

I love whipped cream. I love it's billowing, fluffy, creamy, lusciousness. But, whipped cream by itself is not necessarily a good cake topper. A perfect topping for pavlova yes and excellent sandwiched, with lashings of jam of course, between beautiful light sponge cakes. But, I needed something more for my cake.

So, I decided to try something new.

I poured a good glug of cream into my mixer (I must remember to dedicate a blog post to my mixer, it is amazing) and started it whisking. As it started to thicken, I added some good thick coconut cream and continued whisking. I also added something that I never add to whipped cream - icing sugar. I don't usually like icing sugar with cream, because I don't want my cream sweet, I'm usually adding it to something that is already sweet enough. But, I thought the coconut might be a bit bitter without a little something to sweeten it, just a little.

I just keep adding a little sugar and a little coconut cream until I had the perfect combination.

The result was better than I had hoped for! It was so, so delicious! Creamy with a hint of coconut, but the coconut flavour was not too overpowering. This coconut whipped cream (its new name) would be so perfect with a pineapple dessert or cake. I need to get my thinking cap on about what I can make so I have an excuse to make this coconut whipped cream again! Yummo.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

French toast-inspired cupcakes

For a while I have been thinking about the idea of doing a play on french toast, or pancakes with bacon, banana and maple syrup by turning that into a cupcake. I love those flavours, and think they work really well together, so decided to give it a go.

I adapted a recipe from my favourite cupcake book, The Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook. I seriously love this cookbook.

I took the Crabapple Bakery banana cupcake recipe and adapted it slightly by substituting some of the milk for maple syrup, and some of the white sugar for brown sugar. I also added some cooked bacon. The result was a caramel/maple banana cupcake, quite delicious. I didn't think you could really taste the bacon, although this had mixed reviews from my workmates (who did the taste testing for me).

I made a brown sugar buttercream frosting. Again I substituted the milk for maple syrup and some of the icing sugar for the brown sugar.

Overall, I think this experiment was a success (my workmates agreed). What would I do differently though? The cupcakes for my liking were a bit sweet. I think the frosting was too sweet, and I don't think the bacon flavour was strong enough. To fix that, I think the cupcakes needed some more salt, probably in the frosting. I think a salted caramel frosting would have been better suited. I'll try that next time.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Wedding Cupcakes

Earlier this year I was stoked to be asked to make and decorate wedding cupcakes for a workmate's friend. I was so fortunate to have a very relaxed bride to work with, she was open to suggestion re flavours and decorations.

I used her questions about cupcakes and decorations as an excuse to experiment and take some photos. The bride, and my workmates, enjoyed providing feedback on my experimentation!

In the end the bride decided on chocolate cupcakes with a hazelnut filling, and white chocolate swiss buttercream icing icing in brown foil cases. For decorations she chose purple flowers (that I purchased from The Cake Shop), and pink and red hearts that I made myself.

I made a basic chocolate cupcake, and filled each with a hazelnut filling that I made by mixing cream cheese and hazelnut spread (the cream cheese helped to counter the sweetness of the hazelnut filling and was a delicious contrast). I filled the cupcakes by using a thin metal nozzle on my piping bag and piercing each cupcake to squeeze the filling in. This creates a delicious gooey hazelnut centre.

The bride wanted symbols of the bride and groom on the top two cupcakes. So, I made a tiara and a bow-tie and hat. I thought they were so cute and, more importantly, the bride loved them.

All credit to my workmate for taking these photos for me. It's fair to say I was a little stressed by my first foray into the world of wedding cakes, and I was so worried about making sure the cupcakes were delivered in perfect condition (the staff at the venue set them up, as it was a really hot day so they needed to be kept cool until the guests arrived later in the evening), that I completely neglected to take any photos at all. When I realised this, I was really gutted. Thank goodness for Anne!

Awesome websites/blogs

I have been home today feeling a little sorry for myself after a biking incident yesterday. The bike is fine, I'm a little worse for wear... Nothing that a few days of rest won't fix though.

Anyway, my forced rest means I had a whole day to fill on the couch, and what better way than by browsing baking and cooking sites. I found some beauties so I thought I would share.

The first website is The Pink Whisk. Ruth was a contestant, and eventually came second, on the first series of The Great British Bake Off. It was a really enjoyable show, and I note that the second series is running, I hope that it is shown in New Zealand.

The Pink Whisk is a great blog, really cute and informative. I only wish I could enter the wonderful competitions from NZ!

Ruth has just produced a gorgeous-looking book, The Busy Girl’s Guide to Cake Decorating. Ruth suggests Amazon, but Book Depository has free postage, so worth checking out (also on special, so even better!)

The next website I want to share is KiwiCakes. My Mum posted me this article about KiwiCakes from the local paper (the business is based in my home town of Whangarei). Oh my gosh, I could spend hours on this site trawling through the seemingly endless supply of wonderful baking goods, decorating supplies and other goodies. It's almost too overwhelming, I want everything!

KiwiCakes also has a blog which is full of delicious recipes, tips and product reviews.

The other website I discovered was Cake Central. The tutorials page is really good, full of clips and information on how to decorate various cakes and other bits and pieces. I particularly love this cake.

And, always remember that YouTube is your friend. Just about anything you want to learn about, you can find on YouTube. I can spend a good chunk of time lost in the world of YouTube baking demonstrations. On that note actually, I'd really like to learn how to drape fondant icing on a cake. But, I can't find instructions anywhere (I might be using the wrong search terms). If you can help, let me know!