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Monday, 23 February 2015

Vanilla Cupcakes with Homemade Sprinkles



I have a confession to make....I'm a big old cupcake snob.

I have pretty strong views about basically all things cupcake and I kid you not when I say, I could rant about vanilla cupcakes for hours, maybe even days!

I have tried so many hard topped, dry, flat, flavourless vanilla cupcakes. I honestly can't think of anything quite as disappointing as a rubbish cupcake and so as mad as it may sound, of all the Buttercream Bakery cupcake recipes, I spent the most time perfecting my vanilla cupcake recipe.   

   For me, this really is the ultimate vanilla cupcake recipe. They are beautifully soft, light and fluffy, moist, sweet, buttery and generously vanilla bean studded.  They rise into a beautiful dome and pair beautifully with every buttercream and frosting in existence.


Here I have topped my Vanilla Cupcakes with silky smooth Vanilla Bean Buttercream and seriously cute homemade jumbo sprinkles.

Making your own sprinkles may seem a little over the top but trust me, when you taste them you will be immediately converted. These are the yummiest sprinkles ever!

If you decided to make flavoured sprinkles like I have, I highly recommend using a pipette to add your extracts and flavourings. There is nothing worse than extract over kill.


Here is a little list of the food colouring pastes and flavours I used:

Baby Blue - 1-2 Drops Natural Blueberry Flavouring
Light Green - 1-2 Drops Natural Apple Flavouring 
Yellow - 1-2 drops Natural Mango and Natural Tropical Flavouring
Baby Pink - 1-2 Drops Natural Raspberry Flavouring
Aqua - 1-2 Drops Natural Coconut Flavouring

My fruity sprinkles tasted absolutely amazing with my vanilla cupcakes.

Notes on the Recipe:

Use room temperature ingredients to make your cupcakes!! If you use cold butter, milk or eggs to make these cupcakes they will NOT come out perfectly. You absolutely must use room temperature ingredients.

Every time I post a picture of a vanilla cupcake online I get asked for my buttercream recipe. Most people think that the recipe is the key to perfect buttercream but when it comes to American Buttercream this isn't really the case. American Buttercream is really simple and most recipes really do not differ that much. The secret to perfect buttercream is in the method. Think Michael Jackson and beat it, beat it...beat it!! Follow my method exactly and you will have the silkiest, smoothest buttercream around.


Vanilla Cupcakes

175g plain flour
25g cornflour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
125g unsalted butter, room temperature
190g golden caster sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla paste
125ml milk

Vanilla Bean Buttercream

250g unsalted butter, room temperature
200g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste
60ml milk

To Make the Cupcakes:

Preheat the oven to 180C (170C FAN OVEN).

Line a 12-hole muffin pan with 12 muffin sized cupcake cases and set aside.

Sift together the flour, cornflour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl with a handheld mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer beat the butter for 1-2 minutes until smooth and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the golden caster sugar and continue to beat for 3-5 minutes, or until very light and fluffy. Do not forget to stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl periodically as you beat.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl between additions.  Once the eggs are completely combined, beat the mixture for a further 30 seconds.

Add the vanilla paste and beat until evenly distributed. 

Add one-quarter of the flour mixture and beat at a low speed just until combined, now add one-third of the milk and beat just until combined.  Continue alternating between the flour and milk beating just until combined after each addition and no longer. Do not forget to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl periodically between additions.

Divide the mixture evenly between the 12 cupcake cases in your prepared muffin pan and bake for 18-22 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the centre of one of the cupcakes comes out clean.

Remove the cupcakes from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before icing.


To Make the Buttercream:

In a large mixing bowl with a handheld mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer beat the butter for 2-3 minutes until very soft, smooth and creamy. Add two-thirds of the icing sugar, the milk and the vanilla paste and beat for 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for a further minute.  Add the remaining icing sugar and beat the buttercream on a medium speed for a minimum of 5 minutes.  

Use a large rubber spatula or scraper to push and spread the buttercream against the sides of your bowl to remove some of the larger air bubbles.

To Assemble:

Transfer the buttercream to a piping bag, fitted with a piping tip of your choice. I have used a 1.5cm plain round piping tip. Pipe swirls of frosting onto the cupcakes, practising a few in the buttercream bowl first if you do not feel confident and scatter with sprinkles if you wish.


Homemade Sprinkles 

450g icing sugar
2 large egg whites, room temperature
1/4 tsp salt

assorted food colouring pastes
assorted extracts and natural flavours

To Make the Sprinkles:

Line two baking trays with baking paper and set aside.
Sift the icing sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer or large mixing bowl.  Add the egg whites and salt and whisk at a low speed to a paste. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and whisk once again ensuring all of the ingredients are fully combined.

If you are making lots of different coloured sprinkles; divide the mixture between a number of small bowls and add food colouring paste sparingly until desired colour is achieved. Add tiny drops of extract or flavouring to each bowl if desired.

Transfer the various coloured pastes into their own piping bags fitted with small round piping tips (#1 or #2) and pipe out long thin lines onto the prepared baking trays. Make sure your piped lines do not touch each other.

Repeat until all of your coloured pastes have been used up.  Allow the sprinkles to set for a minimum of 3-4 hours or ideally overnight before using a sharp knife to cut into pieces. You can make longer jumbo sprinkles like I have or chop your sprinkles into smaller pieces.

Store the sprinkles in an airtight container or jar.

Other Decorating Ideas:

Pretty Pink Vanilla Cupcakes


Here I have iced my cupcakes with pink buttercream using an Ateco 855 Closed Star Piping Tip and topped with pretty pink Very Berry Vanilla Bean Macarons

Check my recipe index for alternative macaron recipes.

99 Ice Cream Style Cupcakes

This is a brilliantly simple way to decorate your vanilla cupcakes.  Frost your cupcakes using a plain round piping tip, break up a Flake chocolate bar and push around a quarter of the bar into the frosting, sprinkle with any remaining shards of chocolate.

Happy Cupcaking!

Friday, 13 February 2015

Mini Waffles and Nutella Dipping Sauce




Soft, light and fluffy on the inside, golden brown and crisp on the outside, lightly cinnamon and vanilla scented, these waffles are just perfect.

 Drenched in maple syrup, dusted with powdered sugar, dipped in silky smooth Nutella dipping sauce, served with strawberries and cream. I'm not fussy, just bring on the waffles!


Mini Waffles

Makes 14 mini waffles or 3 large waffles 

210g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp caster sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

200g Greek yogurt
60ml milk
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
3 large eggs, separated
100ml vegetable oil

Combine all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. 

In a separate bowl whisk together the Greek yogurt, milk and vanilla. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the yogurt and milk mixture. Beat the egg yolks together and pour into the well, finally pour in the vegetable oil and stir everything to combine.

In a separate bowl beat the egg whites until just stiff. Gently fold the egg whites into the waffle batter, do not over mix.

Preheat your waffle maker or iron and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Using an ice cream scoop or large spoon, scoop portions of the batter and dollop right into the centre of each waffle plate. Cook until golden brown and crisp.

Dust, drizzle and dip as desired.


Nutella Dipping Sauce

70g Nutella
60ml double cream

Combine the Nutella and double cream in a small saucepan and place over a low to medium heat. Stir, warming through, until the Nutella and cream combine and the sauce becomes silky and smooth. Remove from the heat and serve.


Enjoy!

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Brioche Doughnuts



Oh hello doughnuts!

These doughnuts are seriously the stuff dreams are made of, this amazing recipe from Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery is probably the best doughnut recipe I have ever tried. I have made these beautiful brioche doughnuts a number of times now and can safely say this is a flawless, no fail recipe.



A couple of notes on the recipe before you begin:

1. If you have the Bouchon Bakery cookbook and are working from the recipe in the book, there is a little mistake in the list of ingredients. the book says you will need 5g of butter when you actually need 57g.

2. To make these doughnuts you will need a stand mixer, you need to mix the dough with a dough hook for half an hour so make sure your mixer can handle it.

3. Note that both the eggs and milk in the recipe are measured in grams.


Brioche Doughnuts

Recipe adapted from Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller

518g plain flour
10g instant yeast
74g golden caster sugar
9g kosher salt
212g whole milk, warmed to 23.8C (75F)
111g eggs
9g vanilla paste
57g unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces, at room temperature

canola oil for deep-frying

300g vanilla sugar or caster sugar 

non-stick spray

1 x 3 1/4 inch round cutter

1 x 1 1/2 inch round cutter


To Make the Dough:

Begin by dusting your work surface with a little flour and spray a large mixing bowl with non-stick spray.

Combine the flour and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and mix together, ensuring the yeast is evenly distributed. 

Add the sugar, salt, milk, eggs and vanilla to the flour mixture and mix on a low speed for 4 minutes to incorporate.  Continue to mix the dough on a low speed for 30 minutes, the dough should begin to stick to the sides of the bowl.  Add the butter a few pieces at a time, mixing until each addition is incorporated before adding the next.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl and push the dough off the hook. Continue to mix for a further 5 minutes.

Use a dough scraper to release the dough from the mixing bowl and turn it out onto the prepared, flour dusted work surface.  With your hands gently pat the dough into a rectangular shape, the dough will be sticky but add flour sparingly only as needed to keep it from sticking.

Once the dough has been shaped into a rectangle, you want to fold the dough like a letter; stretch the left side of the dough out and fold it over two-thirds of the dough, then stretch and fold from the right side to the opposite side.  Repeat the process, working from the bottom to the top.

Lift the dough up with a dough scraper, turn it over and place it seam side down in the prepared mixing bowl you sprayed with non-stick spray.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough sit at room temperature for 1 hour.

Lightly dust your work surface with flour once again. Use the dough scraper to release the dough from the bowl and turn it out onto the floured counter top. Once again, gently pat the dough into a large rectangle, pressing any air bubbles to the edges and out of the dough.  Repeat the stretching and folding process exactly as you did the first time. Stretch the left side of the dough out and fold it over two-thirds of the dough, then stretch and fold from the right side to the opposite side.  Repeat the process, working from the bottom to the top.  Transfer the dough to a large mixing bowl, placing it seam side down as before, cover the bowl and refrigerate the dough over night.



To Roll Out, Shape and Proof the Doughnuts:

Lightly flour your work surface and begin to roll out the dough, stop, lift the dough and rotate it clockwise. Continue rolling, repeating the lifting and rotating periodically as you roll out the dough into an 11 inch round.  Transfer the dough to a parchment lined baking tray and refrigerate for 30 minutes or freeze for 10 minutes, until the dough is firm enough to cut.

Line another two baking trays with parchment paper and lightly spray the surface of the paper with non-stick spray.  Take the larger 3 1/4 inch round cutter and cut as many rounds from the dough as you can, then cut holes in the centre of each round using the smaller 1 1/2 inch cutter.  Reserve the small cutouts to make doughnut holes and use the small cutter to cut a few extra doughnut holes out of any remaining dough.

Brush any excess flour off of the doughnuts and doughnut holes and place them on the prepared baking trays.  Cover the baking trays with a large plastic tub or cardboard box and proof for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  The doughnuts should have doubled in size and when the dough is gently pressed with a finger, a little indent should remain.

To Fry the Doughnuts:

Fry the doughnuts in a Dutch oven or heavy stockpot: pour 3 inches of canola oil into the pot making sure it does not come more than one-third of the way up the sides of the pot but is still deep enough to allow the doughnuts to float freely.

Heat the oil to 177C (350F).

Place a cooling rack over a baking tray and pour the vanilla sugar out onto a large plate.

Gently drop a few doughnuts into the hot oil, being careful not to over-crowd the pot, fry for around 30 seconds and then flip the doughnuts over and fry on the second side for 45 seconds. flip the doughnuts over one final time and fry for 45 seconds, or until they are golden brown.

Transfer the cooked doughnuts to the prepared cooling rack and allow to cool slightly before tossing each one in the vanilla sugar, make sure the doughnuts are coated on all sides.  Continue to fry the remaining doughnuts and doughnut holes, coating each batch in vanilla sugar as you go.

The doughnut holes will fry very fast, fry just until golden brown and be careful not to over do it.

Doughnuts are best eaten the day they are fried but you can store them in an airtight container for 1 day.

Enjoy!



Saturday, 31 January 2015

Beautiful Blueberry Muffin Recipe




I love a blueberry muffin, I am a sucker for anything blueberry studded and sugar dusted.


To me muffins are a wonderfully cheeky way to totally legitimise eating cake for breakfast and lets be honest, what's not to love about cake for breakfast?

These blueberry muffins are absolutely gorgeous, light, fluffy, vanilla scented and bursting with beautiful blueberries. They are a favourite of mine and I can't recommend them enough.

The promise of a warm blueberry muffin is one of the few things that will actually get me out of bed on a cold, wintry Monday morning.  


Blueberry Muffins

Makes 12 Muffins

230g plain flour
30g ground almonds
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt

110g unsalted butter, at room temperature
175g golden caster sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla paste
120ml milk
200g fresh blueberries

2 tbsp icing sugar, to dust, optional 



To Make the Muffins:

Preheat the oven to 190C.

Line a 12-hole muffin tray with 12 cupcake cases and set aside.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, sift together the flour, ground almonds, baking powder and salt.

In a separate large mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla paste and beat until combined.

Gradually add the flour mixture, alternating with the milk and beat on a low speed just to combine. Do not over mix. Gently fold in the blueberries, ensuring they are evenly distributed throughout the batter.

Divide the batter between the 12 holes of your prepared muffin tray, turn the oven down to 170 C  and bake for around 22 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the centre of one of the muffins comes out clean.

Remove the muffins from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Once cool dust the muffins with a little icing sugar to serve.


Enjoy!


Monday, 12 January 2015

Glorious Granola - Mango and Pistachio Granola and Cranberry and Almond Granola




What's not to love about granola? 

Sweet, cinnamon scented, nutty, oat clusters and plump juicy dried fruit, it is surely the cereal of the gods!


One of the best things about making your own granola has to be how easily customisable it is.  

You will need 125g of nuts and 250g of dried fruit for this recipe but you can use absolutely any nuts and dried fruit you like. The flavour combinations are seemingly endless!

  I have used 125ml of maple syrup to sweeten my granola but I often use honey instead and you can absolutely play around and reduce or increase the amount of syrup or honey used as you wish. 

I have also used raw virgin coconut oil to make my granola, I honestly can't recommend it enough.  The oil is really important in this recipe because it makes the granola beautifully crispy and crunchy but you can substitute the coconut oil for grapeseed, canola, or extra virgin olive oil if you prefer.

 I have made not one but two batches of granola, a batch of Cranberry and Almond Granola and a batch of Mango and Pistachio Granola.

Cranberry and Almond Granola

To make the Cranberry and Almond Granola I added 125g of flaked almonds to the granola mixture and stirred in 125g of dried cranberries and 125g cape raisins once baked.



Mango and Pistachio Granola

To make the Mango and Pistachio Granola I added 125g of chopped pistachios to the granola mixture and stirred in 125g chopped dried mango and 125g of cape raisins once baked.


Here are a few of my other favourite flavour combinations:

Blueberry Maple and Pecan Granola

Use maple syrup to sweeten your granola, add 125g chopped pecans to the granola mixture and stir in 250g dried blueberries once baked.

Pistachio, Coconut, Pineapple and Papaya Granola

Use honey instead of maple syrup to sweeten your granola, increase the flaked coconut from 50g to 100g, add 125g chopped pistachios to the granola mixture and stir in 125g of dried pineapple and 125g dried papaya once baked.

Cherry and Almond Granola

 Add 125g of chopped or flaked almonds to the granola mixture and stir in 250g of dried cherries once baked.

Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Granola

For a totally decadent Granola, add 125g chopped Hazelnuts to the granola mixture and stir in 200g of  chocolate chips in place of the dried fruit once baked.


Apricot Almond and Honey Granola

Use 125ml of honey to sweeten your granola, add 125g of flaked or chopped almonds to the granola mixture and stir in 250g of chopped dried apricots once baked.

Apple and Walnut Granola

Add 125g of chopped walnuts to the granola mixture and stir in 250g of chopped dried apple once baked.

Whatever dried fruit you use, make sure you do not add it to the granola until AFTER baking. Baking the dried fruit will cause it to go hard, dry and maybe even crunchy! Oh the horror!


Granola

Makes approx. 10 servings


275g old fashioned rolled oats
125g nuts of your choice 
50g unsweetened flaked coconut
65g pumpkin seeds
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon

40ml coconut oil, melted
125ml maple syrup or honey

1 large egg white

250g dried fruit of your choice, chopped if necessary

Preheat the oven to 160C.


Line a large baking tray with parchment paper and set aside.


In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, nuts, flaked coconut, pumpkin seeds, salt and cinnamon.  Add the coconut oil and maple syrup or honey and stir with a wooden spoon until all of your dried ingredients are evenly coated.


In a separate bowl, whisk the egg white, just until frothy. Add the egg white to the granola mixture, folding until completely combined throughout.


Spread the granola mixture out onto your prepared baking tray in a single even layer and place in the preheated oven for 45-55 minutes. Use a large spatula to lift and turn sections of the granola halfway through baking to ensure it browns evenly, be careful not to break up the forming clusters too much as you do this. Continue baking until the granola is evenly golden brown all over and feels dry to the touch. Remove the tray from the oven, place on a cooling rack and allow the granola to cool completely.


Once the granola is completely cool, mix in your dried fruit.


Store the granola at room temperature, in an airtight container for up to two weeks.



This granola is gorgeous with milk and hugely addictive just to snack on but my absolute favourite way to serve granola is with organic natural yogurt or Greek yogurt and fruit. 

Enjoy!

Friday, 2 January 2015

Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe




Hi Everyone,

Happy New Year!

I hope you have all had a wonderful break over Christmas. 

I thought I would start the year with a big bang and an unbelievably delicious recipe. This chocolate cupcake recipe is probably my most requested recipe, it is the official Buttercream Bakery chocolate cupcake recipe and one of my favourites. I have been making these cupcakes for years and years and I still love them as much today as I did the very first day I pulled a batch out of the oven.

This recipe never ever fails me, the cupcakes are light, fluffy, rich, chocolatey and they rise beautifully. The frosting is smooth and silky, not overly sweet and unbelievably decadent. 


I recommend you frost these cupcakes somewhat sparingly, both the cake, frosting and drizzle are very rich so you don't want to over do it.  Here I have used a 1.5cm plain round piping tip and piped a two layer swirl of frosting.

This recipe requires melted chocolate for both the cupcakes and the frosting.  To melt your chocolate, use a double boiler: place a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, ensuring that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water.  Place your chocolate in the bowl and heat gently, string occasionally until completely smooth.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.


Chocolate Cupcakes

Makes 16 Cupcakes


230g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
1/2 tsp salt

110g unsalted butter, room temperature
220g light brown sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature, separated

165g dark chocolate, melted

200ml milk
1/2 tsp vanilla paste

Chocolate Buttercream

275g unsalted butter, room temperature
250g icing sugar
150g dark chocolate, melted and cooled
50ml milk
50ml double cream
1/2 tsp vanilla paste

Chocolate Drizzle

65g dark chocolate
1 tsp coconut oil, butter or vegetable oil



To Make the Cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 170C.

Melt the chocolate and separate the eggs into two bowls, placing the whites in a large stainless steel mixing bowl and the yolks in a separate small bowl.

Line 16 holes of 2 x 12 hole muffin pans with cupcake cases and set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powered and salt, set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, using a handheld or stand mixer, beat the butter for 1-2 minutes until smooth and creamy.  Add the brown sugar and beat for 3-5 minutes until very light and fluffy, stop periodically to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks with a fork or small whisk for 1-2 minutes until thick.

Add the beaten egg yolks to the butter mixture and beat to combine.

Add the melted, cooled chocolate and beat until completely combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat the mixture once again.

Pour the milk into a measuring jug and whisk in the vanilla paste.

Add one third of the dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture and beat just until combined, add one third of the milk mixture and again beat just until combined. Continue to add the flour and milk, alternating between the two and beating just until each addition is fully combined and no longer. It is important not to over mix the batter at this stage.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure all the ingredients are completely combined and the batter is smooth.

In a large stainless steel mixing bowl, beat the egg whites just until soft peaks form. when you lift the beater out of the egg whites, the egg whites should almost stand in a small peak but the top point of the peak will flop over itself.

  1. Gently fold the whisked egg whites into the batter using a rubber spatular, ensuring no streaks of white remain. Do not beat the mixture.   
Divide the mixture evenly between the 16 cupcake cases and bake in the preheated oven for 18-22 minutes or until well risen and a toothpick inserted into the centre of one of the cakes comes out clean.

Remove the cupcakes from the muffin pans and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

To Make the Chocolate Buttercream:

In a large mixing bowl, using a handheld or stand mixer, beat the butter for 2-3 minutes until smooth and creamy. 

Add two-thirds of the icing sugar, the melted chocolate, cream and milk and beat for 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl halfway through.  

Add the remaining icing sugar and the vanilla paste and beat for 3-5 minutes, until smooth, silky and creamy.

To Make the Chocolate Drizzle:

Place the chocolate and coconut oil, butter or vegetable oil in a heatproof bowl and place the bowl over a pan of simmering water, ensure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water, stir the chocolate until completely melted and the oil and chocolate are completely combined. Remove from the heat and allow to cool before using.


To Decorate:

To decorate the cupcakes, pipe frosting onto each cupcake using a piping tip of your choice. I have used a plain round 1.5cm piping tip and piped a two layer swirl of frosting onto each cupcake.
Take a teaspoon of chocolate drizzle and simply pour over the top of the buttercream. you can now decorate as you wish, I have topped my cupcakes with a sprinkle of shaved white chocolate, chopped nuts and halved Oreo cookies.

Other Decorating Ideas:

There are so many delicious and simple ways to top a chocolate cupcake, a few of my favourite chocolate Cupcake toppings include:

Hershey's Chocolate Kisses
Sliced Chocolate or Candy Bars
 Oreos - halved or crushed
Chopped Nuts 
Shaved chocolate


As always I would absolutely love to see your bakes, you can hashtag your yummy pictures with #theextraordinaryartofcake on Instagram and Twitter when posting your extraordinary bakes and I will be able to have a look at your delicious creations.

Happy Cupcaking!