Thursday, 29 September 2011

10,000 Cupcakes

No, don’t worry, I haven’t been on a huge baking spree. 10,000 Cupcakes is the name of a brand new baking book by Susanna Tee that I was recently sent by Ivy Press.
10,000 cupcakes The book is a flip book, with the pages split into three separate sections – a cupcake recipe, an icing recipe and an idea for how to decorate the cupcake. These pages are interchangeable so you can mix and match different flavours and eventually choose a page from each different section that you most like. There’s 23 ideas in each section ranging from the classic to a bit different. For the cupcakes it ranges from Lemon to Doughnut cupcakes, for the icing from Vanilla to Pineapple butter flavours. I chose to make the Apple and Almond Cupcakes with Penuche Frosting, decorated with Sprinkles._DSC0445I chose to halve the recipe which I later half regretted as the results were so delicious we could have easily eaten a full batch very quickly! The recipes were easy to follow and created very moreish results. The cupcake was very soft and tender, almost muffin like with the involvement of the fruit. The Penuche icing was not a flavour I’d heard of before which was why I wanted to try it. I learnt that penuche is a type of fudge, so this icing just involved melting together butter and brown sugar and then beating in icing sugar. It was thick and very sweet and I thought worked nicely with the apple base – the finished products were like toffee apple flavours in cake form! I chose simple sprinkles for decoration but there were lots of ideas in the book, from lavender sprigs to crushed cookies to crystallized rose petals._DSC0438I think this book would be a great gift because it is fun and light hearted but the recipes are still interesting and actually work. I also think it’s good for inspiration, mixing new flavours or ideas and creating something unique. I think the book would benefit from real pictures of the food as there’s only one at the very start, but the cartoons are still fun. Plus, as the title suggests, there are 10,000 ways to combine all the different ideas so it’ll keep you busy for a while! Ivy Press have kindly agreed to give away another copy of this lovely little book – all you have to do is comment on this post by the 7th October saying you’d like a copy and I'll pick a winner with a random number generator! Good Luck everybody!
Book credits:
10,000 Cupcakes
Susanna Tee
ISBN: 978-1-907332-85-2
Price: £9.99
The Ivy Press
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Disclaimer: Ivy Press sent me this book for free but all opinions and words are my own.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Plum Frangipane Tart

I love making tarts. The whole system just seems to fit together well – the pastry making, the making of the filling whilst the pastry is in the fridge, the making of any topping whilst the first part is in the oven. Tarts take a while and often have lots of different stages and bowls needed, but I find it quite therapeutic. I also like baking pastry blind – one of the first things I learnt to make was Lemon Meringue Pie with my sister and the pastry was always my job. However, this tart was completely new to me in that it skipped that step altogether.DSCF8803I always presumed that you always needed to blind bake a pastry case before the filling went in. Logistically, I just figured that pouring a wet filling onto raw pastry would equal disaster and ‘soggy bottoms’. Whilst this is true for many tarts, not so with this one! The pastry is rolled out and shaped exactly to the tin (there’s also no need to leave excess pastry on in case of shrinkage with this recipe) and then on goes the frangipane filling. Top that with slices of raw plums, pop in the oven and thirty minutes later a delicious tart is cooling and awaiting plates and forks! DSCF8798The almond filling for this tart stays rather soft and does not fully set into a sponge. This contrasts nicely with the crisp pastry – the pastry was crisper then any I have made before, even without blind baking! Depending on which plum variety you use, the fruit can add extra sweetness or a bit of sharpness on top. The recipe is an Angela Hartnett, and she suggests making the recipe into mini tarts. Whilst I know these would look really pretty, I wanted to keep this one large tart so that I could cut a little sliver every time I went past ;) Hope you enjoy!DSCF8808

Friday, 9 September 2011

Cheese and Onion Tear and Share Bread

I love a good foodie television show. There’s Masterchef – tears and shouty John and Gregg (who’s restaurant I did work experience at last year!). There’s Nigella’s series – fairy lights, dressing gowns and ‘cookie crumbs tumbling like Mexican mud’…There’s Nigel Slater and his gorgeous garden, Simon Hopkinson with slow-mo falling egg graphics or Sophie Dahl’s series where she cooks and reads poetry. Currently, there is The Great British Bake Off – which the week before last featured this delicious bread.2011_0901cheesebread0241Each week of the Bake Off is themed – and so this obviously came from Bread week, a challenging one that I know I would have found really hard. One of the contestants Jason, an 18 year old baker from Croydon, made this and after watching I couldn’t get it out of my mind. Melting cheese, soft bread and a crunchy top plus the onions in the mix – what’s not to like? Happily, the recipe is featured in the new book to go along with the show, and the next day another yeast adventure was going on in my kitchen.2011_0901cheesebread0243 As I’m still very much a bread and yeast novice, this took me ages to make. It was an enjoyable process, just long because rolling, stuffing (with two fillings) and folding nineteen balls of bread dough is not going to be a quick process. Add in three sets of rising times and in turned into quite a days baking but the end result was worth it, and could have been even more so had I got it perfect. The problem was I placed all the nineteen dough balls too far apart before they went in the oven so they didn’t join together to properly make a tear and share bread. This meant they were a bit drier then would have been nice and so went stale faster. I had some straight out the oven when the cheese inside was still melting and warm and it was delicious! Sadly one person cannot eat 19 rolls very quickly :( Still, I would recommend the recipe as I think this could be irresistible if done properly! There are a couple more recipes from the Bake Off book that I want to make, so hopefully I’ll get a chance to do them soon. Enjoy :)2011_0901cheesebread0232