Monday, August 20, 2012

Favourite Chocolate Bar His 'n' Hers Cupcakes

This weekend we had another wedding to attend, this time of our fabulous friends Doyle and Jeni. We were even more excited for this one because not only are these two lovlies some of our bestest friends but also we were involved in the wedding - me as a bridesmaid and Bailey as the official wedding photographer! Wow!

So following the success of our Mexican Cookies wedding as a wedding gift to tell their recipients how ace we think they are, we decided we would bake something nice for the Doyles too. But what to bake?

Well we know that the Doyles like a nice bit of chocolate so Bailey had the brainwave of making some His 'n' Hers cupcakes and basing them on their favourite chocolate bars. Easy... only... I didn't know what their favourite chocolate bars were (yeah, I know we said they are our best mates but it's never come up in conversation, alright?!) Unfortunately "What is Doyle's favourite chocolate bar?" hadn't come up in the Mr & Mrs quiz we'd done for Jeni's hen party - what a goof!

So I decided I would go on Facebook and ask Jeni another Mr & Mrs question which was to name Doyle's favourite chocolate bar and just asked what her's was too. They probably worked out what I was up to but oh well!

Turns out Jeni and Doyle (much like most of Doyle's answers to the Mr & Mrs questions) were quite unusual - Jen's favourite is a Dark Chocolate Bounty and Doyle's is Galaxy Fruit & Nut  - two chocolate bars I never even knew existed before then!

So I had a look through my trusty Primrose Bakery Cupcakes book and adapted two recipes from there to make a Bounty Coconut Cupcake and a Galaxy Fruit & Nut Cupcake!

The rarity of both of these chocolate bars meant that neither of them were sold in the local Asda... and I really didn't have time to go on the hunt unfortunately. So I had to make a few adaptations to the planned recipe... For example, for Jen's I just bought ordinary Bounty then made sure the icing was dark chocolate, and for Doyle's I had to make do with Galaxy Hazelnut then put some sultanas in the cake mix!

I think the cupcakes turned out OK - I was happy with how they looked, shows that I should take the time to do things neatly more often. I made an extra of each cupcakes for Bailey to eat and he said they were nice but that not only was the icing too buttery, there was also too much icing. Oops, maybe I went a bit icing crazy after my trip to Sweet Tooth Cupcakery.

The wedding was an absolute success and I can safely say everyone had a ball. Not only was it one of the best weddings I've ever been to, it was one of the best parties I've ever been to full stop! So thanks and congratulations Doyles, wishing you the happiest of marriages!


For the Bounty Coconut Cupcakes
55g butter
90g caster sugar
1 large egg
1/4 tsp almond extract
65g self raising flour
60g plain flour
60ml coconut milk
12g desiccated coconut

For the Galaxy Chocolate and Sultana Cupcakes
42g butter
85g soft dark brown sugar
1 large egg
60g dark chocolate
90g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pinch salt
125ml semi-skimmed milk
50g sultanas
1 tsp plain flour

For the Chocolate Icing
175g dark chocolate
225g butter
1 tbsp semi-skimmed milk
250g icing sugar

To decorate
Desiccated coconut
Bounty Bars
Galaxy Hazelnut

I made the coconut cupcakes first. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Add the egg and beat well.

Sift the two types of flour into a separate mixing bowl. To the original mixing bowl, add a third of the flour and a third of the coconut milk and keep mixing. Repeat the previous steps until all the flour and coconut milk is mixed in.

Finally, add the desiccated coconut before setting up your cupcake tray with muffin cases.

Add around 2-3 teaspoons of the cake batter to the muffin cases until they are all two thirds full. Place in the oven and bake for around 25 minutes or until the cakes are golden and cooked through. Leave to cool

While the coconut cupcakes were baking, I made my batter for the Chocolate and Sultana cupcakes. Cream the butter and brown sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Separate the egg and put the white to one side but beat in the yolk. Melt the chocolate carefully in the micrwave and add to the mixing bowl. Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a separate mixing bowl. Add one third of the flour and one third of the milk to the original mixing bowl and stir well. Repeat the previous steps until all the flour and milk is mixed in.

Mix the sultanas with the flour and shake around to make sure the sultanas are fully coated in flour. This is a little tip I heard somewhere that apparently stops the sultanas from sinking to the bottom of the cakes.

Whisk the egg white until soft peaks have formed. Fold into the cake batter using a metal spoon. Line a cupcake tray with muffin cases and fill them to two thirds full as with the coconut cupcakes.

Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until cooked through.

Leave to cool completely. Meanwhile make the icing by melting the chocolate and mixing with the butter and milk in a large mixing bowl.

Gradually sift the icing sugar into the bowl until the icing is thick and smooth. Leave to cool before piping the icing onto the cakes.

Decorate the coconut cupcakes with chunks of Bounty and sprinkles of desiccated coconut. Decorate the chocolate cupcakes with chunks of Galaxy et voila!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Iain's Stuffed Bread (Parmesan and Proscuitto)

A couple of months ago my friend Iain invited a bunch of us over to his flat for dinner. Not only were he and his fiancée (now wife!) Dani the most excellent hosts, Iain made the most amazing tapas and we were all super impressed by his fantastic cookery skills. Among other amazing Spanish treats, he made us the most incredible bread which looked amazing and then completely blew our socks off when we bit in to it to discover it was stuffed with Pata Negra jamón ibérico and Manchego cheese both purchased no doubt rather expensively from The Cheese Hamlet. He'd even made me a little meat free corner - what a legend, this was the best bread I'd ever eaten.

Pretty much as soon as I awoke (hungover as usual when Iain has been involved) the next day, I was pestering him for the recipe. I was even more impressed to be told that he had actually made the recipe up himself by adapting a Delia recipe. Awesome!

I'd been sitting on this recipe for a while but the perfect opportunity to make it cropped up last week when we were at my parents' house. My auntie Patricia and uncle Dave were coming over for dinner and Bailey and I decided to cook a lasagne. As I'm sure people are pretty much fed up of me always making them eat my veggie food, I decided I would whip up something meaty to go on the side and this bread seemed like an excellent idea.

As the rest of the meal was Italian, we decided we would use Parmesan instead of the Manchego and Proscuitto instead of the Pata Negra. But I will definitely be going back to Iain's original recipe next time we have a tapas night.

The bread went down really well at the dinner, Roy was munching away saying it was beautiful and Bailey described it as "salty deliciousness". An absolute cracker of a recipe, thanks Iain!

250g white bread flour
1 sachet of yeast
150ml warm water
Olive oil
100g Parmesan cheese
90g Proscuitto
Several good pinches of dried sage
Sea Salt Flakes
Several good pinches of rosemary

Mix together the flour and yeast with a pinch of salt. Add the water and a glug of olive oil and mix together to form a dough.

When the dough has come together, take out of the bowl and knead for 10 minutes.

Pop the dough back into the bowl and coat with a little olive oil so it doesn't stick to the sides.

Cover the bowl in cling film and leave in a warmish place for an hour to prove.

Once the dough has proved, take it out of the bowl and knock it back. Cut the dough into two and roll out into two rough rectangle shapes. Put the first of the two rectangles onto the baking tray you intend to cook the bread on.

Place the proscuitto evenly onto the dough, leaving a bit of space at the edges about half an inch.

Shave the parmesan into thin slices and place on top of where you have put the proscuitto.

Sprinkle the top of the cheese with the sage and some black pepper.

Put the second rectangle of dough on top of the first rectangle and pinch the edges together. Cover with cling film again and leave for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.

Drizzle the top of the bread with a little olive oil and spread it out with your hands. Top with sea salt flakes and dried rosemary.

Put the bread in the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until golden on top.

Cut up into large slices and serve with your favourite Italian meal or as part of an antipasti-tastic party. Yum! Thanks again Iain!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Eilis and Kat's Afternoon Tea: Banana and Chocolate Sour Cream Cake

On Tuesday I was very privileged to be joined in my kitchen by two very super young ladies named Kat and Eilis. These girls are cooking and baking enthusiasts and had come over to help me prepare a slap-up afternoon tea while Bailey and their mum, Kate were hard at work.

Even though we had all morning and a few hours in the afternoon to dedicate to putting our afternoon tea together, I did think before we started baking that perhaps I had been ambitious in all the things I wanted the ladies to make - finger sandwiches, Red Velvet Cupcakes from the Hummingbird Bakery, scones, paleo cookies (for Kat and Eilis' dad who is currently following a paleolithic diet) PLUS a massive Banana and Chocolate Sour Cream Cake from the Primrose Bakery...?! Wow - this seemed like loads!

Well I needn't have worried a jot - these clever ladies rose to the challenge excellently and produced all of the above items using elbow grease alone (I don't have an electric mixer let alone a, drool, Kitchen Aid) and we even had time for a half an hour sit down before Kate and Bailey came back! What's more I didn't help at all, just sat back and chipped in with bits of advice here and there. Amazing girls!!!

Not only were we baking to get our afternoon tea ready and obviously for fun, we also had the very important job of reviewing some products I had been sent to try out by Dr Oetker from their baking range. We took this job very seriously and made sure we all discussed the products as we used them.

The product we definitely liked the best was the Cake Release Spray - our recipe for the Banana and Chocolate Sour Cream Cake said we needed to use butter to grease our tin. This task was made loads easier by using the spray which saved us loads of time. I have to admit I never really use butter anyway as I am lazy and tend to use Frylight. However I found the Cake Release Spray worked much better - not a single crumb stuck to the side of the cake tin which gave us a cake with absolutely gorgeous golden edges. I will definitely be using it again!

I'd also told the kind folks at Dr Oetker that quite a few people had recommended their gel food colourings when my Red Velvet Cupcakes had turned out more like brown velvet... Well this time our batter was absolutely bright red which really surprised Kate and Bailey when they took a bite! Great stuff.

We also used the Dr Oetker decorating bits and bobs that they sent me - the Polka Dots and Wafer Daisies - to make our Red Velvet Cakes look pretty. The dots were an absolute hit and the girls were very creative with their use of colours - what brilliant icers we had here! Bailey thought that although the daisies were pretty, they didn't taste that nice.

We also used some Dr Oetker Chocolate Hearts to decorate our Banana and Chocolate Sour Cream Cake and these looked great - I was so impressed with the girls' decorating skills. Eilis also admitted later that she'd eaten a few of the hearts on their own and they were yummy!

I know that Bailey and Kate were really impressed with what the girls had achieved in such a short time and we all loved sitting down to sarnies, tea, cakes and crazy stories - we felt very civilised. This was also both Eilis and Kat's first afternoon tea experience - I did warn them that once you've discovered the wonders of afternoon tea there's no going back!

I was so impressed that the girls' Banana and Chocolate Sour Cream Cake came out so well - big cakes can be risky at the best of times and this wasn't an easy recipe! Although we had to serve the cake a little warm because there wasn't time for it to fully cool down I thought this worked well! I've decided to share the recipe below.

I'm really looking forward to cooking with the girls another time soon. They're such lovely ladies and very talented bakers. They are both already better than me at cracking eggs (no shell to be seen), at making perfectly lump-free buttercream icing and at keeping the workspace tidy. I hope they keep up the cake love!


For the cake
400g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
280g butter
90g sour cream
3 tsp vanilla essence
4 tsp grated lemon zest
350g caster sugar
4 large eggs
5 ripe bananas

For the icing
100g dark chocolate
240g milk chocolate
360g sour cream

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Sift the flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl before adding the butter. Beat until the mixture resembles crumbs. A lot of elbow grease was involved here!

In a different bowl, mix the sour cream, vanilla and lemon zest and pour this into the flour mixture in the first bowl.

Gradually add the sugar.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating each egg in once you've added it and making sure there are no lumps.

Mash up the banana using a fork or masher.

Add the mashed banana to the cake mix and beat well to make sure everything is combined.

Get a large cake tin ready. We sprayed ours with our Dr Oetker cake release spray before lining it with greaseproof paper but you could always use butter or cooking spray to grease your tin.

Pour the batter into the cake tin and place in the centre of the oven to bake for 2 hours. Check the cake is baked by inserting a skewer to the centre of the cake and see if it comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool.

Meanwhile, make the icing. Break the chocolate up into a mixing bowl and pour in the sour cream.

Put the bowl in the microwave for about a minute and a half or until the mixture is hot. The chocolate might not melt straight away but once it comes out you can give it a good stir until all the lumps of chocolate have gone.

Leave the icing to cool.

When both the cake and the icing are cool (our cake was actually still a bit warm inside which was actually quite nice!), cover the top with a nice layer of icing. Decorate with chocolate shapes (we used Dr Oetker Chocolate Hearts) and serve on a nice cake stand with a pot of tea!


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