Baking: Hot Toddy Cupcakes

Yep, I’m on a diet. Nope, I shouldn’t be eating cakes. Especially not moist stick cupcakes, slathered in zingy sweet alcoholic icing, drizzled with tangy, spiced ever more alcoholic syrup.

 photo 2015-01-03 18.14.24_zpsc05yoh56.jpgBut these are SO DAMN TASTY.

Just the right amount of spice to warm, the right amount of lemon to make you feel energised, and enough sugar to add some life back in…these are wonderful winter bakes. With or without the whisky (I love the stuff) these are enough to chase away a cold, brighten up a miserable afternoon, and put a smile on anyone’s face. They’re like a hug in a cupcake.

 photo 2015-01-03 18.14.18_zpsjxfdtogb.jpg photo 2015-01-03 18.13.36_zpstsbxnxwo.jpgI like to avoid cupcake and proper cake mixing, as they are so much better when made with an electric whisk. I refuse to add to my kitchen equipment with one yet – my parents will undoubtedly disown me if anything else gets purchased. These were made using my boyfriend’s electrical items…and now he has a shiny purple KitchenAid (when are we moving in together?!) I’m hinting that he really doesn’t need a hand-held one too…BUT anyway, if you fancy making these by hand, have two as you’ll have burnt off enough calories!

 photo 2015-01-03 16.01.18_zpsf74tpdmm.jpgNow, there’s a lot of ingredients here, but the recipe is simple, many of them are easily found in the average cupboard (I had everything but the cloves). The amounts make 11 generous cupcakes – I reckon they’d be great as mini fairy cakes too!

Ingredients (sponge)

  • 120g self-raising flour (the advantages of a well stocked kitchen, I normally stick to plain!)
  • 115g caster sugar (again, I usually use ordinary granulated)
  • 1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 big teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • a pinch of ground cloves
  • 140g very soft unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • Zest of 1 lemon, along with two tablespoons of juice
  • Splash of milk, if the mix looks too dry

Ingredients (icing)

  • 150g butter, again very soft
  • 325g icing sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons of whisky

Ingredients (syrup – makes a little more than you need, add some to hot water for a warming drink!)

  • 100g caster sugar
  • 50ml lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons whisky
  • 3 cloves

 photo 2015-01-03 15.33.34_zpsthefjgq2.jpg photo 2015-01-03 16.00.14_zpsofburr7y.jpgStart by making the sponge. Sift the dry ingredients together into a large bowl.

 photo 2015-01-03 16.03.53_zpstjrjfvzx.jpg photo 2015-01-03 16.07.33_zpscribqyil.jpg photo 2015-01-03 16.08.59_zpsnasm0tcd.jpgAdd everything else (not the milk) and beat until combined. Add the milk if needed.

 photo 2015-01-03 16.09.07_zpsjqrikkdq.jpgDivide between cupcake cakes and bake for around 18 minutes at 170C.

 photo 2015-01-03 16.09.15_zpsfaq64jff.jpgWhilst the cakes are baking make the syrup; it needs plenty of time to cool. Put all the ingredients into a good saucepan and heat, slowly and on a low heat, until simmering. Simmer until you have a syrup-y consistency, but you don’t want the mix to darken – it will taste burnt if it does. Try not to stir (or it will crystallise) but instead swirl the pan from time to time. Pass through a sieve into a jug and let cool.

 photo 2015-01-03 17.26.40_zpszsl83aph.jpg photo 2015-01-03 17.26.49_zpssxzsmp80.jpgAnd while the cakes and the syrup cools, make the icing. Beat the butter until light and fluffy, then beat in the icing sugar in stages. Yep, this causes the kitchen to suffer a bit of a ‘snowstorm!’

 photo 2015-01-03 17.29.27_zpsf9kohue6.jpg photo 2015-01-03 17.29.54_zpstpe4h6gh.jpgOnce the icing sugar is all mixed in, beat in the honey, lemon juice and whisky. Taste and adjust if necessary.

 photo 2015-01-03 17.47.07_zpshtorltno.jpgAdd the icing to the cupcakes – I had a lovely boyfriend ready with his piping bag but otherwise I’d have just piled it on with a spoon. Drizzle over the syrup, and there you go.

 photo 2015-01-03 18.15.52_zpsuvxpdbwi.jpgZesty, spicy, warming cupcakes with the most delicious whisky kick. One of my best bakes.

Have you baked anything recently, or are you trying to be ‘good’ too? I promise I’ll be back to more healthy recipes soon! 

Baking: Carrot Cupcakes

Happy Saturday everyone! I’m rather happy as I have Monday-Wednesday off work (celebrating my birthday, if you haven’t guess from my previous posts!), it’s my first days off since I started way back in July, so I’m looking forward to quality time with friends and family, and a few good lie-ins. Now, to today’s recipe;I moaned in this post after my influx of carrots. ASDA somehow sent me 5kg of the things, despite me only ordering and paying for 1kg. Hence soup making and cake mixing. It probably wasn’t the greatest idea in the world for me to do those two things simultaneously. Whilst the soup came out unscathed, the first batch of these carrot cupcakes went in the oven lacking eggs and sugar. I thought the mix looked a little oily. Luckily I still had 2.5kg of carrots left at that point, so more grating happened, and these lovely little cakes were bought. Almost a traditional carrot cake in miniature, these are moist and slightly less sweet than the traditional version. The icing is a lot lighter than normal, and almost sharp, whilst the cakes are heavily spiced.

 photo b95e2038-df50-4078-9ff0-538a34de2377_zps2a36ae48.jpgAnd it’s a simple recipe too! When I was researching, so many asked for expensive ingredients. Or ones I just didn’t have. Six eggs in a cake mix is also excessive if you ask me! Tinned pineapple is unnecessary. As is sorting out the spices from whole. This is a dream in comparison to some, yet it is still insanely delicious. I had one with every cup of tea until they were gone (I drink a lot of tea). Even one for breakfast, as I reckon they are healthy enough to justify morning eating.

 photo 002445db-6644-4a65-b666-45da6a486dec_zps101b0f89.jpgThe bad point about this recipe? Grating a load of carrot is really…grating on the nerves sometimes.

Ingredients

  • 150g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 150g sugar
  • 150-160ml vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 175g carrot, grated – I would take 250g carrots, peel them, top and tail, then that should be enough!
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice (double up on the cinnamon if you don’t have any)
  • For the topping: 125ml mascarpone, juice of 1 orange, 1 tablespoon of sugar, pinch of cinnamon (I forgot this and it was still fine)

 photo ba40e98a-958e-43ea-9f58-e0b4cb37796f_zps52af0474.jpg photo 69b49467-01fd-4926-b86a-add80d5c34dc_zps6e066fa0.jpgNow, this is a super easy recipe to mix up. Finely grate your carrots and orange zest into a large bowl. Add the flour, sugar and spices. Mix together.

 photo 2f7c8c72-3794-4b92-a774-af57503e8d0b_zpsd7e8fec2.jpg photo efaa19d0-2764-45a7-8ead-3f235a5d0e67_zps36ee432b.jpg photo aeb61cce-6575-4447-8e48-d25ca461efea_zps04174b8b.jpgAdd the eggs and the oil. Mix until just combined. Spoon into cupcake cases (fill generously – this amount made 11 for me) and bake for 15 minutes.

 photo 7b47ebf9-4f17-42da-acc9-2198445fa832_zps1c4464cd.jpgLet cool completely before making the topping, which is also super simple. Simply beat together all of the ingredients, adding more sugar if necessary. Spoon onto the cupcakes and swirl as attractively as you can. These need refrigerating ideally – and the topping does crack a little unattractively. But they taste great, so I’m more than willing to forgive them.

 photo 03785d27-8357-47ec-8515-5067581cbc1b_zps3dd3ffa8.jpgThese are great for this time of year. The spices add a festive touch, without being so Christmassy that you forget it’s November. I have a rule, and that’s no Christmas until after my birthday. So on Wednesday I’ll be decorating! When’s your tree going up?

Any more ideas about what I can do with carrots? Admittedly the 5kg is now down to two single carrots, and I’m turning orange…carrot cake was definitely the least virtuous option I went with!

Baking: Peanut Butter Jam Muffins

 photo 2014-08-03153439_zpsb87ffac8.jpgAnyone know what the difference is between a cupcake and a muffin? I always thought muffins were bigger, but it seems the pans in the shops (well, Wilkinsons, I’m not made of money!) are all the same size. I’ve decided cupcakes are iced, and muffins are appropriate breakfast food!

 photo 2014-08-03153516_zps2bb22f2a.jpgThese muffins would definitely back fabulous breakfasts…in fact I know they do as that’s exactly what I had this morning. A cup of tea (or three), a banana, and a muffin. Yum yum. I seriously enjoyed getting my bake on over the weekend, I’ve recently moved into new accommodation for my placement year and was itching to play with the cooker! A huge improvement on student accommodation I have to say! Back to the muffins, and these do make relatively acceptable breakfast fare – especially good for one the go when I’ve snoozed turned off all my alarms. Went down well with the office too, though I’ve made a mental note that my boss is allergic to peanuts!

 photo 2014-08-03133923_zps750492ea.jpgI made these with another of the hand-stirred conserves I received from Mackays* – this time the raspberry one. Again I’m not 100% convinced this has the fruity flavour I’d want from a jam, but unlike the bakewell recipe it doesn’t matter too much here. You just want a nice fruity sweetness against the peanut!

I’ve moved towards cup measurements recently, as I’ve found it a lot easier to make up my own recipes using these quantities – the mathematical-geek part of me loves the ratios involved with baking…

Ingredients.

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup peanut butter – I used crunchy which added a fab texture
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp oil (which I forgot to add, hence mine were a littleeee dry)
  • Jam*

This is such an easy recipe; I love muffins as they really are throwing things into a bowl, a little mix, then bake. Couldn’t be simpler!

 photo 2014-08-03134622_zps1f5c7468.jpgMix your flour, sugar and baking powder together in a large bowl. You should probably sieve them, but I’m lazy and lacking in the sieve department right now…

 photo 2014-08-03134856_zps7d8ee533.jpg photo 2014-08-03135401_zpscc1a6e07.jpgAdd your peanut butter, and mix until it looks bread-crumby. This is probably the hardest part as p-butter is so sticky – I’d recommend using a knife and chopping motions.

 photo 2014-08-03135735_zps72a4188c.jpgMix together your egg, milk and oil in a jug, then pour into the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined.

 photo 2014-08-03140134_zpsc0db9850.jpg photo 2014-08-03140142_zpsed85ee81.jpgHalf fill twelve muffin cases (in your tray, of course!) with the mixture, then top with a small teaspoon of jam. Top with the rest of the batter mix, and smooth over so no jam is visible…or it bubbles up and burns…

 photo 2014-08-03142041_zps1cbd3aa6.jpg photo 2014-08-03142048_zps28b9e2e9.jpgBake at 180C for 15 minutes – they should be risen, golden, and give when pressed. And they should smell delicious too!

 photo 2014-08-03153439_zpsb87ffac8.jpgLet cool completely, as hot jam is not something you want to bite into. Enjoy for afternoon tea, or breakfast; hide them away for yourself, or leave unattended in the office – and enjoy the classic ‘peanut butter and jelly’ flavours in a muffin. Yum…

Have you baked anything recently?

 

25% Discount: BBC Good Food Bakes & Cakes Show

When I first read about this new BBC Good Food show I was rather excited – one of the items on me and my boyfriend’s ‘bucket list’ for the year is to go to a Good Food show so fingers crossed we’ll get to this one as it sounds right up our street. Demonstrations, masterclasses and products, all aimed at bakers – get me there!

I also have a rather lovely deal for my readers – a rather wonderful 25% discount on the regular ticket price. This brings the cost down to a rather bargainous £15 per person, which for the day sounds amazing value. As  a massive Great British Bake Off fan I am hugely pleased with the ‘lineups’ of demonstrators, it looks a fab day out!

Here’s some more information for you…

The BBC Good Food Bakes & Cakes Show, sponsored by Lexus, launches at the beautiful Business Design Centre in Islington, London from 25-27 October 2014.   Bringing the popular BBC Good Food Bakes & Cakes title to life, the show will be packed with baking, bread-making and cake-crafting demonstrations, free master classes, and hundreds of products to get you baking like a pro.

PLUS!  Don’t miss out on seeing your favourite baking stars, LIVE at the show!  Every full day adult ticket includes a seat for the Bakes & Cakes Theatre, where you can watch Mary Berry, Mich Turner, John Whaite, Paul Hollywood, and other expert bakers in LIVE 30 minute baking and technique demos.

Whether you’re new to baking or a seasoned baking veteran, the BBC Good Food Bakes & Cakes Show is the perfect place to meet bakers, cake-crafters and confectioners, learn new skills, and pick up all the essentials you need to develop your home baking hobby.

Doesn’t it sound great fun? Tickets are on sale now, and to use my off just visit the site here, and use the code EBPAR1 to knock 25% off the price. 

*Disclaimer – I have been offered a press pass to the show, in return for this post and offering yourselves a discount. I have not been paid for this post.

Restaurant Review: Number 12 Tearoom

 photo 2014-03-12133535_zpsde638408.jpg A few months ago I was spending some time procrastinating and reading Groupon deals when I came across an offer I couldn’t resist. This result in myself and Libby ditching revision one sunny Wednesday afternoon a few weeks ago and treating ourselves to a pretty bargainous afternoon tea.

Our voucher was High Tea for Two – we paid £12 for this instead of the usual £30, which we thought was excellent value. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t worth £30 (in my mind Canterbury is pricy as we get loads of tourists who do actually pay the full price!) but for £12 it was wonderful and I’m searching Groupon for deals like this in the future!

 photo 2014-03-12133659_zps4a371a7c.jpg We were brought out a huge pot of tea (we got three cups each, and they kept offering more), and then a three-tiered stand with all kinds of yummy things…

 photo 2014-03-12133637_zps4a8cff04.jpg

 photo 2014-03-12135007_zps966dc185.jpg I’m one for doing things in the ‘proper’ order so we started with the sandwiches. We both avoided the Tuna & Cucumber, but devoured the others. I was a bit dubious about the Cheese & Chutney as I am not the biggest chutney fan – its often a bit sweet and I don’t find it the best partner for cheesy. However this was quite savoury, there wasn’t too much of it, and it went well with the local sourdough bread. The best though (and probably THE best sandwich I’ve had in a long time!) was the Ham & Mustard. I’ve now developed a love for mustard, and I’ve had to include the extra picture – just look at how thick that ham is!

 photo 2014-03-12133733_zps2d6f6608.jpg

 photo 2014-03-12135516_zpsc0676df7.jpg The next tier was the scones. I scored the plain scone (dried fruit is not my thing at all), and after a quick debate of ‘cream then jam’ or ‘jam then cream’ we got stuck in. The scones were crispy on the outside and fluffy within – only problem was they were so big I couldn’t finish mine. Not when there was another tier to go…

 photo 2014-03-12133726_zps97bade82.jpg

 photo 2014-03-12142816_zpseb3ce93b.jpg I’d been eyeing up the top tier since we sat down, the cakes are always the best bit in my opinion. These didn’t disappoint. There was a slice of Victoria Sponge each – I thought it was a nice touch that this included a different flavoured jam to that served with the scones. Then there was a few little bits to share. First was a Gypsy Tart, which was lovely although very sweet and virtually impossible to share as it was so gooey. I’m tempted to try and bake a version myself though! Finally we finished with a very small piece of brownie – thankfully it was small as it was very rich.

 photo 2014-03-12134046_zps1b70aa94.jpg Eventually we left, very full, to spend some quality time with the Boots make-up aisles…It was lovely to spend some time with a friend and relax for an afternoon. No chance of that now – exam timetables are up and its all systems go on the revision front for the next few months!

Have you ever been for Afternoon Tea?

Baking: Cake Pops

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After a week of deadlines, the start of some rather scary modules, and horribly wet and windy weather, a night out was less than appealing. This led to me and a housemate (she blogs over at Life of Libby and took the fabulous pictures on this post, if you’re interested!) spending a Friday night in making cake pops. Actually we didn’t make the cake pops that night. We kinda underestimated the time and sheer effort they take, although the cake element did get made! The cake part is a recipe I’m working on that you should be able to read in less than a fortnight once it gets a Valentine’s makeover, so today I’m just going to talk about Cake Pops.

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Cake Pops are an American thing, and haven’t been overly popular here in the UK. I reckon that’s because they’re not really a commercially baked good, they really wouldn’t be great at anything but their freshest. They are baked a good cake, crushed into crumbs (gotta admit doing that hurt a little, especially as the cakes looked pretty much perfect!), mixed with cream cheese, left to harden, and then dipped in melted chocolate and decorated. To be honest if I was ready this I’d have stopped by now. My reaction is pretty much “why on earth would you take good cake, break it up, and mix it with cheese?!” But I have to admit these do make a good and calorific change to plain old cake, they’d be fantastic to make with kids and, if you are better at decorating than us, they’d be a pretty impressive bake.

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So, to make cake pops;

  • Make a cake. We went for a rich chocolate sponge (recipe coming soon).
  • Blitz the cake in a food processor until it’s all crumbs.
  • Beat some cream cheese until a little lighter than it normally is.
  • Add the crumbs to the cream cheese, We used 1 sandwich tin worth of cake (freezing the crumbs of the other) to one tub.
  • Mix really, really well. You don’t want any cheesy lumps!
  • Shape into balls and push a stick halfway through.
  • Refrigerate for a few hours. We didn’t do this, and found it was a really important step. If you don’t, you will make a mess and lose many cake pops as they turn into mush.
  • Melt some chocolate. We went for a mixture of white, milk and orange chocolates.
  • Dip the cake pops into the chocolate. There’s an art to this, and unfortunately its not one we possess.
  • Decorate as you see fit, we took the easy options of chocolate shavings to hide our dreadful dipping!

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And that’s it, a quick guide on how to make cake pops! They do taste nice, I did enjoy them, but they were a lot of effort and at the end of the day I’d rather have a slice of cake. And save a couple of hours, and plenty of washing up…

Have you ever made cake pops?