Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Tea For Two Biscuit Cake

I am having such a lovely week, I've been pretty busy making loads of Royal Wedding cupcake toppers and have some gorgeous designs on order.  I'm really excited about Friday, not because of the Royal Wedding but because it is mine and Mr. P. 6 year anniversary.  In honour of the Royal Wedding, which I know not everyone is into, I have decided to make us a glorious afternoon tea and I'm really looking forward to spending the day with my hubby, especially since Thursday is going to be pretty manic at the bakery.

Since it is nearly our anniversary I decided hubby and I deserved a mid-week treat so  I made this cute miniature vanilla layer cake (10cm), with coffee buttercream and covered it in biscuits.  I used Custard Creams, Mini Jammy Dodgers, Fox's Creams, Shortbread, Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies and Chocolate Fingers. It is such a simple idea but the cake looks lovely and it was so fun to put together.

I am totally getting into the spirit of the Royal Wedding, it is probably due to all the cute cupcake toppers I'm getting to make but I think it is great to have something to celebrate.  I'm loving all the themed cakes, bakes and cupcakes I'm seeing on the blogs I follow and even if you hate the whole thing I hope you all get to have a lovely day on Friday.

x x x

Monday, 25 April 2011

Happy Easter From Buttercream Bakery

 I hope you are all having a fantastic Easter weekend, the weather was perfect here so after a very busy few days at the bakery I had a lovely day at the beach with Mr. P.  I ate my weight in doughnuts and chocolate and felt thoroughly sick, just as it should be at Easter.

I wanted to post the Easter cupcake before Easter weekend was over and I have just about managed to do so.  We had some gorgeous cupcakes on order, traditional and not so traditional, lots of chocolate and eggs and bunny rabbits, flowers and er...koala bears... 

Vanilla Cupcakes

I love the bunny butts (giggles), they are adorable and I think they will definitely become and Easter staple at Buttercream Bakery.

It wouldn't be Easter without Speckled Mini Eggs would it?

Chocolate Cupcakes

More adorable bunny butts and sweet wafer paper Daisies.

Chocolate overload, chocolate cupcakes with chocolate fudge frosting and chocolate toppers. Well it is Easter after all.

Lemon Cupcakes

More wafer paper flowers, I adore these Orchid toppers and will be ordering some more for the bakery, the colours are stunning.

So pretty.

Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon & Strawberry Buttercream

This batch is just too cute! Not only was the frosting slap yourself silly delicious but the adorable Strawberry filled koala bears are as yummy as they are adorable. 

The Koala cookies are Japanese and these aren't really an Easter design but I made them on Good Friday so they still count.

Happy Easter everyone.
 x x x

Friday, 22 April 2011

A Creation Story - The Panda Gummy Bear

You know you are truly crazy when you see a picture of a Panda Gummy Bear online and literally cannot rest until you make one of your very own.

At first I figured turning a Gummy Bear into a Panda would be relatively simple, I grabbed some Gummy Bears, a paintbrush and a little pot of black food colouring paste and set about trying to create a Panda.  It didn't work. The food colouring wouldn't adhere to the Gummy Bear at was on to plan B, a black food colouring pen.  This was ever so slightly more effect but still wouldn't adhere to the bear properly and the colour was very wishy washy.

At this point it was time for a cup of tea...I absolutely had to find a way to turn this Gummy Bear into a Panda, I was a little obsessed and extremely determined.  I pondered for a while...

What I needed was a thick glaze. All of a sudden it came to me, I mixed a little black food colouring paste with some Gum Arabic .  I held my breath as I made the first brush stroke and hallelujah it worked! Bold, black solid colour.  The mixture was a little gloopy and was a little difficult to paint with but I got my Panda in the end.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Eton Mess Cake Recipe

It feels like summer is finally here and although I'm sweltering and cursing the heat in the bakery, at home I'm fully embracing the season and baking all sorts of beautiful summery cakes.

This Eton Mess cake was gorgeous, it is massive and would serve an entire garden party of people, this is a great recipe if you're having friends over for the Royal Wedding.  It is simple to make but as impressive as it is delicious. 

I left the tops on the strawberries so that my cake appears exactly as pictured in the original recipe but I may remove them next time, I like the look but for ease when eating I think the cake would be better without.

I also adapted the topping a little, whipping the cream with the sugar and port, before spreading on the cake and sprinkling with crushed meringues and decorating with strawberries.  I have provided the original 'mess' method below.

3 cups (420g) flour
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
170g butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (300g) sugar
3 large eggs
1 tbsp vanilla essence
1 1/2 cups (375ml) buttermilk

Pre heat the oven to 180C.  Grease a large 24 x 32 cm sheet cake pan.
Into a medium bowl, sift the flour, bicarbonate soda, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until creamy.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time.  Mix in the vanilla essence.
Add the flour and buttermilk alternately to the butter mixture, ending with the flour. 
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and then bake for 50-60 minutes.  Rest for 10 minutes before turning out.  Once completely cool, spoon the mess over the cake.


The volume of the mess is all up to you, so no exact measurements here.

3 cups (450g) strawberries
a dash of sugar
a dash of port
meringues, broken up
cream, softly whipped (I used about 500ml)

Mash half the strawberries with a little sugar and port, fold in the broken meringues and whipped cream.  Use remaining strawberries to decorate.


4 large egg whites
1 cup (200g) caster sugar

Pre heat the oven to 140C.  Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites until soft peak stage.  Gradually add the caster sugar, one tablespoon at a time, making sure to incorporate completely.
Whisk until stiff peak stage and very shiny.
Pipe desired shapes onto the baking trays and bake for 1 hour, and the switch of the stove and let the meringues dry out in the oven.

x x x

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Strawberry Milk

I have had a bottle of Monin Strawberry Syrup lurking in my kitchen for ages now and I decided it was high time I did something with it.  Monin syrups are used in most coffee shops, bars and restaurants, Cafe Nero's strawberry milkshake is made using this syrup and I like it because it doesn't have that horrid artificial taste you often get with such things.

There is no recipe as such, I just filled the bottle nearly to the top with milk and added about 2 tbsp of syrup.  I'm not a huge milk drinker so after marveling at the utter adorableness of my gorgeous glass bottled strawberry milk and tasting a little to check the strawberry flavour was OK, I popped it in the fridge till Mr. P. came home.

I was amazed at the joy in Mr. P. eyes when I presented him with his strawberry milk, he was like a little boy and it did make me giggle.  He drank the entire bottle in one go and said the strength of the strawberry flavour was perfect.  I will definitely make this again and since the weather is getting nicer now I may make some thick milkshakes too.

I just love my gorgeous glass bottle and it looks so cute in pink.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Mac Attack #18 - Oreo Easter Macarons

This months Mac Attack Challenge is all about chocolate, a theme that is always OK by me and great for Easter. 

 I decided to make Oreo Macarons, a flavour I have been meaning to try for a while, the shells are a simple dark chocolate Macaron but I used a recipe I hadn't tried yet.  For the filling I have taken the yummy middle out of two whole packets of double stuffed Oreos and added a little butter, milk and icing sugar to make a very simple buttercream.

Once my Macs were sandwiched together with filling I used a paintbrush to brush a ring of melted chocolate on the top of each Macaron.  I crushed Oreos to ruble and using the chocolate as an adhesive sprinkled the rubble over my Macarons to create a yummy ring of mud.  I love that Oreos make such great mud!

I made little fondant carrot tops and affixed these to the centre of each Macaron using more melted chocolate. 

If you love Oreos you will love these and although I doubt the French would approve of my creation they really are delicious. 

These cute Macarons are great for Easter and children and adults alike will love the novelty of them but as the shells are plain chocolate you could easily make half a batch with Oreo filling and the rest with something slightly more adult and less sweet so that everyone is happy.

Oreo Macarons 
Basic Macaron Recipe adapted from Mad About Macarons

150g organic egg whites
100g fine caster sugar
180g ground almonds
260g icing sugar
20g unsweetened cocoa powder

2 x packets double stuffed Oreos
1 tbsp softened butter
4 tsp milk
6 tbsp icing sugar

Preheat oven to 150 C. Sift together the icing sugar, ground almonds and cocoa powder.

Whisk the egg whites until half stiff, sprinkle the sugar over and whisk until very stiff but not dry. Gradually fold in the sifted ingredients.

Pipe small rounds, a couple of cm apart onto your lined baking sheet, using a plain 1 cm nozzle. Rap the baking sheet hard on the counter top to flatten the batter before baking.

Let them sit for 30 minutes to form a skin.

Bake for 12 - 15 minutes: you want them dry on top but, but still chewy underneath. Remove from the oven and let cool on their sheets for a few minutes before removing and placing on a wire rack.

For the filling:

Using a knife remove the filling from your double stuffed Oreos, reserving the cookies to decorate if you wish.  In a medium bowl combine the Oreo filling, milk and butter, beating until well combined.  Add the icing sugar a tablespoon at a time until you reach piping consistency.

For the decoration you will need:

30g dark chocolate, melted
a handful of Oreo cookie shells, crushed
orange and green fondant.

Simple paint a ring of chocolate onto the top of each sandwiched Macaron using a paint brush, sprinkle with crushed Oreos and affix small fondant carrot tops to the centres.

I'm so glad to get back into the Mac Tweets challenges after a few missed months and can't wait to get stuck into some summery Macaron flavours, I've been meaning to make lemon Macarons for months.

Random Recipe Challenge 3 - My First Cookbook

For the 3rd Random Recipe Challenge, Dom asked us all to go back to our first ever cookbook, for many I'm sure this will mean retro recipes galore but since I didn't start cooking until about 4 1/2 years ago, none of my cookbooks are that old.

I thought my first cookbook was this funny little cookie book but I wasn't sure so thought I'd better check with Mr. P. who immediately told me Jamie's Italy was in fact my first cookbook.  He was right, I remember now when he bought it for me, I love Italian food so I was pleased, I love this book and that funny little cookie book isn't the best.

I always aim for somewhere near the middle of the book for these recipe challenges, mainly because I know the cakes and desserts are always at the back of a cookbook and aiming for that bit would be cheating.

 I was so chuffed to land on this gorgeous sausage carbonara, I love carbonara but hubby isn't a fan so I very rarely make it, this was a fantastic excuse and even hubby admitted it was really good, the sausage meatballs are a lovely variation on a beautiful classic. 

Sausage Carbonara - Jamie's Italy

4 good-quality organic Italian sausages

 olive oil
4 slices of thickly cut pancetta, chopped
 sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
 500g dried linguine
4 large free-range or organic egg yolks
 100ml double cream
 100g freshly grated Parmesan cheese
 zest of 1 lemon
a sprig of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
extra virgin olive oil

With a sharp knife, slit the sausage skins lengthways and pop all the meat out. Using wet hands, roll little balls of sausage meat about the size of large marbles and place them to one side.

Heat a large frying pan and add a good splash of olive oil. Gently fry the sausage meatballs until golden brown all over, then add the pancetta and continue cooking for a couple of minutes, until it’s golden. While this is cooking, bring a pan of salted water to the boil, add the linguine, and cook according to the packet instructions.

In a large bowl, whip up the egg yolks, cream, half the Parmesan, the lemon zest and parsley. When the pasta is cooked, drain it in a colander, reserving a little of the cooking water, and immediately toss it quickly with the egg mixture back in the pasta pan. Add the hot sausage meatballs and toss everything together. The egg will cook delicately from the heat of the linguine, just enough for it to thicken and not scramble. The sauce should be smooth and silky. If the pasta becomes a little claggy, add a few spoonfuls of the reserved cooking water to loosen it slightly. Sprinkle over the rest of the Parmesan, season if necessary, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and serve.

Eat immediately!

This months challenge really made me look back to a time I couldn't cook at all, just so you all know the full extent of my lack of culinary skill when I was given Jamie's Italy I will tell you this...

I couldn't even cook rice! I couldn't cook anything but my first few attempts at rice were bad, really bad.  I didn't realise you had to let the water absorb and kept topping up the pan with more water as the rice was cooking.  Such a fool!

  I decided to learn to cook because Mr. P. and I had been living together for a couple of years and eating rather badly.  Once I started I couldn't stop and I became completely obsessed with baking and cooking.  I was always amazed and astounded when I created something delicious in the kitchen and every tiny little triumph was like gold dust to me.  I have had so much fun on my culinary journey so far and can't imagine what life would have been like had I not learnt to cook.

I'm going to dig out my first ever cupcake book and bake something form that soon, just for nostalgia's sake really but I can't wait.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Delicious Carrot Cake Recipe

I love carrot cake and this is a beautiful recipe.  If I'm in a cafe I will always order carrot cake but I don't often make it at home, this is probably because I hate grating all those carrots! The grating attachment on my food processor doesn't grate them fine enough so I do it all by hand, which when you need 450g of grated carrots is no mean feat.

That being said this carrot cake was totally worth it and I highly recommend it, I might at some nuts next time but it is delicious without.  I always grate my carrots onto a plate lined with paper towels and then pat with further paper towels to soak up some of the moisture.  I have plenty of experience with dreaded soggy bottomed carrot cakes and do not wish to return to that dark place.

Carrot Cake 
 Recipe adapted from A Piece of Cake by Leila Lindholm

Makes 1 two-layer cake

For the cake:

3 organic eggs
270g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste
180g plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 pinch of salt
150ml sunflower oil
450g grated carrots

2 x 20cm cake tins

Cream Cheese Frosting

65g unsalted butter, softened
240g icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
100g cream cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/gas 2.  Line the bases of your cake tins, butter and flour the tins tapping out any excess flour.
2. Beat together the eggs and the sugar until pale and fluffy, add the vanilla paste and beat until well combined.
3. Sift together the dry ingredients and blend into the egg mixture.
4. Stir in the oil and the carrots.
5. Divide the mixture between the two cake tins and bake in the centre of the preheated oven for about 55 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
6. Leave the cake to cool.
8. Mix together the ingredients for the frosting, beating until creamy and smooth.
9. Once the cake is completely cool turn one of the layers upside down and frost the flat side, place the second cake layer flat side down on top of the frosted layer and spread the remaining icing on top.

I love carrot cake at Easter time and it's so easy to make your carrot cake more festive.  I made this one a couple of years ago now and even though it's a little messy Bunny is super cute.

However you decide to decorate your carrot cake it is a brilliant cake to have around the house at Easter and it's good to get some veg in after all that chocolate.

x x x