Sunday, 30 January 2011

Tropical Cupcakes

There is always a lot of citrus baking happening in January and February. There’s not a lot of fresh local fruit and vegetables around at this time of year, and after the excess of Christmas it’s time to turn away from chocolate (unless you’re making this, in which case I am rather envious). Also, when the weather is grey and cold the zing of citrus acts as a great pick-me-up. And when combined with rich buttercream and soft cupcake, citrus baking sounds pretty good to me.DSCF8338Depending on where you live, the flavours might not be tropical at all but pineapple, lime and cherries aren’t grown round London! I’ve only baked with pineapple once before but I loved the results here. The pineapple chunks are sweet and juicy and add fresh bursts of flavour as the cupcake is eaten. Lime is also not an ingredient I have regularly used but it’s sharpness stops the buttercream becoming sickly. This recipe was extremely easy to make – oil takes the place of butter in the cake so there is no creaming done and everything is simply stirred together in one bowl. The cake is also delicious without the buttercream, becoming more like a muffin and far less rich. I wanted these cupcakes to be bright and colourful so I used spotty cases and decorated them with Dr Oetker jelly beans and sprinkles, which made for a cheery kitchen! This vibrancy combined with the lime tang and juicy pineapple made these cupcakes a winner for me. Enjoy!DSCF8340Tropical Cupcakes
Makes 12-15, depending on your cupcake case size

Ingredients: 200g self raising flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
100g caster sugar
50g dried tropical fruit
3 medium eggs
100ml sunflower oil
75ml buttermilk (or 75ml milk and 1/2tsp white wine vinegar)
1 x 227g tin pineapple slices, chopped finely and fully drained
Buttercream: 200g icing sugar
100g butter
1 lime, the zest and juice

1. Preheat the oven to 190’C (170’C fan oven). Line a 12-hole muffin tin with cases, although you may need a few more if your cases are small like mine.
2. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, caster sugar and dried fruit into a large bowl.
3. Put the eggs, oil and buttermilk into a jug and whisk until all combined.
4. Pour the egg mixture into the flour, and add the pineapple pieces. Stir everything together until combined and divide between the cupcakes cases – you can fill the cases quite high as the cakes do not rise hugely.
5. Bake for 15-20minutes until golden and risen slightly. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
6. For the buttercream: Whisk all the ingredients together until smooth and fully mixed. Either pipe or spoon the icing over the cupcakes, and decorate how you wish. :)

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Celebratory Chocolate

On Monday I finished my mock exams. Exams which caused my left hand (I'm a leftie and proud) to feel like it was going to fall off after all the writing its done. Exams that caused revision which did its best to ruin the Christmas holiday. Exams that made me miss the January sales. Exams that have caused a persistent aching back after being hunched over hours of exam papers. Exams that kept me out of the kitchen. Exams that buried my room under revision lists and guides and files and notes. Everybody knows there's only one way to celebrate the end of exams. Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart.DSCF8304 Ok, maybe that was just me. But it’s a pretty good way to go! The recipe came from one of my top Christmas presents this year – a copy of Rachel Allen’s latest book, Entertaining at Home. I love Rachel Allen and IMG-20110124-00140our house has all her books, but this one was extra special because it was signed! I’m yet to meet the lady herself and the book was won from an auction, but its still exciting. I knew that I wanted to try something special to celebrate exams – something more complicated and different to what I normally make. This tart certainly went there for me! I practised pastry making, caramel making, and tried to improve my resistance around large bowls of melted chocolate. I’d never made caramel before and was extremely nervous but, although it wasn’t completely perfect, it turned out tasty and not at all burnt!DSCF8302 The pastry provides the necessary crunch after all the soft sweetness of the tart fillings. The caramel is the strong sweet kick, with just a hint of salt at the end. The chocolate layer is thick and soft, like a mousse or truffle, but the use of dark chocolate prevents everything becoming too sickly. Perfect. DSCF8299 As you may be able to see from the above picture, I had a slight issue with my caramel layer. Although it tasted divine, my fear of burning it meant I removed it from the heat too early and it was not thick enough (the consistency should be almost like dulce de leche). This meant when the chocolate was poured on top, the caramel in the centre was pushed from underneath and spilled out. In the end this wasn’t too bad as it caramelised the pastry at the top which was delicious, but it’s something to bear in mind. Overall, I was more than pleased with this tart. It was my first baking challenge of 2011, and it was utterly irresistible! Having a slice in my lunchbox every day makes me feel like I’m eating at a fancy restaurant, and makes those exams seem a hundred years ago… You can find the recipe here – enjoy!

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Back In The Kitchen

Today was my first time back baking in the kitchen since long before Christmas. It felt good to be back: creaming butter and sugar, weighing out flour, fetching the eggs and scales. Tying up my apron strings, switching on the oven. Dusting off the KitchenAid and examining the recipe. Manically charging my little pink camera so I can grab a decent photo before the light goes. I've definitely missed this.DSCF8281 The recipe today had to be quick and easy, and sweet – because its January and a pick me up at 4pm is always necessary. This cake was definitely a good choice! It is a Date, Orange and Almond cake and combines the sweet softness of the dates with citrus zing and nutty background. Very moreish! 

The amounts of ingredients seemed worryingly large for this cake – 300g of butter anyone? – and I thought I would end up with a massive cake that my family wouldn’t be able to finish. However, whilst this cake is large, it isn’t as large as the mixture may originally seem, and stays incredibly moist for several days. The top and edges of this cake form a crunchy biscuit-style texture which makes a delicious contrast to the soft cake within. Oh, writing about this makes me feel I definitely need another slice….You can find the recipe here – enjoy!

Sunday, 9 January 2011


This New Year saw my family headed to work off the Christmas excess by exploring the streets of the beautiful city of Venice, Italy. Although we have been previously, a place like Venice never loses its charm and there were plenty of new places to discover as well as old favourites to visit…IMG-20101228-00050 The tiny island of Burano in the Venetian lagoon, where all the houses are brightly painted.

IMG-20101229-00084 The view over Venice from the top of the Campanile in St. Mark’s Square.

IMG-20101227-00017 Sitting in the sun, eating amazing Italian pizza, watching the gondolas go by…

IMG-20101227-00013 A view down the bustling Grand Canal from the top of the Rialto Bridge.

And now for some food…

IMG-20101229-00068 Amazing works of pasta art!

IMG-20101230-00115 More food art, in the form of marzipan fruits.

IMG-20101230-00097 Nutty, sticky, chewy Torrone.

IMG-20101230-00116A whole host of delicious goods spied through a bakery window :)

Monday, 3 January 2011

Stollen Swirls

I made these before Christmas, and the post I’d written about them was pre-Christmas themed. That post never got posted and so new words had to be written. Except, why not keep it simple? It is New Year, a period when everybody is meant to be eating healthy salads and vegetables in order to get over festive excess (although who really does?). So, my main stollen point is: the swirls  were good, but I think could be a easily improved to make them so much better. DSCF8265 I’ve never attempted making the classic stollen before so I was eager to give it a go this year. This recipe was a little bit different and as I can never resist anything involving marzipan the baking began. The end result was tasty, they made the house smell gorgeous and the recipe worked perfectly. My key adaptation would be instead of forming a marzpian log down the centre of the swirls, roll it out into a thin layer on top of the dough and then add the fruit. This way, just like here, the marzipan would melt and go toffee-ish and impart its flavour across the whole swirl. Yum. I’d also up the fruit levels, and cut the rolls thinner so its less plain doughy. Failing that, I’d flavour the dough with spices like cinnamon to give this extra punch. Double Yum. You can find the recipe here, enjoy :)DSCF8272

Saturday, 1 January 2011


Although December and the end of 2010 was rather quiet on Teen Baker, 2010  had been a good year. And just before we get properly into the grand heights of 2011 and all the new, exciting things I hope it has to offer, I thought it was time for a reflection. Month by month, my highlights of 2010. Hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and have a brilliant New Year and I wish you the best for 2011!
January – Glazed Fruit Rolls
Sticky, irresistible, crunchy on the outside, melting and soft on the inside. 2010 opened with a classic and sometimes it just doesn’t get much better.DSCF6035

 February – Cheese Straws
A rare savoury appearance on the blog, perfect for parties but pretty hard to stop yourself munching on any time.
March – Rhubarb Tart
This tart was the first delicious taste of summer, even though made when still in spring. The colours and flavours wake you out any winter stupor and truly brighten the day.DSCF6473

April – White Chocolate Cookies
A surprise top-blog hit, made with a great friend, celebrating the end of a No Chocolate month and dangerously moreish. Four months in to the year and a great cookie was found. And now, I think it is definitely time the cookie is repeated…Up for it, P?
May – Vanilla Pannacotta with Strawberries
Reaching the summer season and it is time to create something silky smooth, fruity, and make something I had previously thought I didn’t like. Turns out as a success!
June – Roasted Tomato&Thyme Soup with Twice Baked Potatoes
A mouthful of a title but a scrumptious savoury mouthful cooked up in June with my sister. It may have been the summer but a hearty soup always wins.
July – Brunch with Alice Hart at La Fromagerie
Not a recipe for July, but a chance to meet the author of a delicious cookbook, sample delicious food cooked by her and hear her tell my Dad about the wonders of food styling v. being a lawyer.
August – Blueberry Muffins
My Dad’s favourite, inspired by a great summer holiday and enjoyed back home really rather quickly…

September – Celebration Chocolate Log
I celebrated my blogoversary a little late but with something truly amazing, rich, decadent and above all – tasty. You cannot beat a chocolate overload. Fab.
October – Banana Cake
The controversial banana (in my house) was used in my baking for the first time with colourful and tasty results :)
November – Ricciarelli
Got to finish the year on a high, which for me means something addictive, delicious, perfectly flavoured and textured and just all round ‘mmm’.

December – Nutmeg Custard Creams
Perhaps there is not the largest selection here, but these were still a lovely bake and finishing the year on the Biscuit Challenge seemed like a yummy enough idea to me.