Monday, 30 May 2011
I love making jam, I think it is largely since for years I thought jam was a rather difficult thing to make. Truth is, nothing could be easier, fruit, sugar, boil, done. However nothing I can think of quite makes you feel like a domestic goddess as much as making preserves.
This jam is gorgeous, especially on toasted brioche or scones. I love apricot and peach and the vanilla really is another flavour here, not just a subtle hint. The flavour is beautiful and it really was a breeze to make, so if you haven't yet made jam you should definitely give this one a try.
Apricot, Peach & Vanilla Jam
Makes 1 large jar
3 ripe peaches
1 vanilla pod
350g caster sugar
Cut the fruit into quarters and remove the stones, place in a large heavy bottomed saucepan. Split the vanilla pod lengthwise and add to the pan along with the sugar and water. Bring to the boil over a medium heat and leave simmer for one hour.
After 40 minutes, sterilize your jar by washing in boiling water and placing in the oven. Once your jars are in the oven turn the heat to 160C allow the oven to come up to temperature, leave the jars in the oven for the final 20 minutes of cooking your jam. Pour hot jam into the hot jar.
Place jam in the fridge to set.
Friday, 27 May 2011
I decided to make a blue (with a little green) macaron for my base, I was planning to make white chocolate macarons but I didn't make it to the shop, so in the end I opted for bright, sunny flavours, a lemon macaron with meringue filling, a light strawberry whipped cream buttercream and a cherry on top.
I knew the colour would dull slightly, so made the macaron batter a little darker than I wanted. I wish I had gone dark still, as the macarons came out a little too pale. The bottoms of my macarons also browned slightly, which was very irritating, I may double line next time.
After all cherries are in season.
x x x
Wednesday, 25 May 2011
Last week the rather fabulous Miss Cakehead posted a few of my bakes to her blog Cakey Perry. Cakey Perry is a brilliant pop up high tea event, publicised as a 'high tea to melt your Popsicle' the theme is Katy Perry's California Girls music video and the work of artist Will Cotton who inspired it. The tea is set to feature the bespoke bakes of some of the most talented cake makers and bakers around.
The lovely Miss Cakehead contacted me to let me know she had posted some of my goodies on her site and asked if I'd like to get involved and design a few cupcakes based on the theme.
I was obviously dying to get involved, I'm a sucker for a brilliant theme and this is about as good as it gets. I watched the California Girls music video about five times and spent about an hour marveling at the amazing work of Will Cotton before designing my toppers. I thought it would be really fun to show you the cupcakes and the images that inspired them.
First up is what I call the Candy Wonderland Set
I glazed all the candy pieces to get that sugary sheen.
Complete with Ice Cream, Candy Canes, Sticks of Rock, Wrapped Sweets, Cupcakes, Strawberries, Chocolate Pond, Chocolate Bar, Hearts, Roses and even a Candy Cane Snake.
I took inspiration from a few images, this one in particular...
Next up another candy wonderland but this time in softer pink and white tones.
Again this one features Ice Cream, Candy Canes, Sticks of Rock, Wrapped Sweets and Cupcakes but we also have a tiny little house and gingerbread man.
I wanted to create a path through this candy wonderland and took inspiration from this gorgeous Will Cotton painting...
The last of the candy wonderland set is actually a shoe...
Katy Perry may not have worn these shoes in the video but she should have. The shoe features everything your standard candy wonderland would, cupcakes, sweets, candy canes, chocolate bars, jelly beans the list is endless.
Next up is the Madeleine tiara..
I wanted this to be as near to the original painting as possible, in the end my tiara was taller and a little more bling. I love this topper, very Marie Antoinette.
I had to build the tiara over 3 separate days, making it the most complicated of all my Cakey Perry cupcakes. It wasn't difficult at all but each layer needed 24 hours to dry before I could apply the next layer.
I also made some gingerbread men toppers, inspired by the grumpy gingerbread man Katy Perry eats in the video.
I love his pants.
Inspired by the rather fabulous blue wig Katy wears in the video.
The whole set together...
All toppers are made from Marshmallow flavoured sugar paste, it is much yummier than normal sugar paste and I think I will be using it often. The sugar paste also comes in vanilla flavour, which I like too.
All cupcakes are Chocolate with Vanilla Buttercream Icing.
Please visit Cakey Perry to learn more about the amazing upcoming, high tea event and to leave a lovely comment championing my cupcakes.
Visit Cakehead Loves Evil to learn more about Miss Cakeheads other work and events.
Friday, 20 May 2011
As promised here are some dinky mini cupcakes I made last weekend for what could only have been, judging by the cupcakes of course, a very swanky party.
I love these leopard print mini cupcake cases, they held their colour beautifully, they are a little larger than your standard mini cupcake case and stand nice and tall which I love. The bows, made in pink and black looked brilliant and really pulled the design together.
I'm feeling particularly inspired today and feel some new cupcake designs coming on, I've been looking at shoes all week and thinking, 'could I make those...because they'd look good on a cupcake'.
I'm hoping Mr. P. will be taking me for breakfast at Woodies Diner this weekend, breakfast at it's best if you ask me and one of my favourite places in Brighton (well Hove actually).
I hope you all have a fabulous weekend, I am, like a fool, hoping for sunshine.
x x x
Wednesday, 18 May 2011
I use both vanilla sugar and vanilla paste rather than just extract in our vanilla cupcakes because I have a serious aversion to bland cupcakes. These really are vanilla cupcakes, not just plain sponge cupcakes masquerading as a vanilla cupcakes.
Vanilla Sugar is a breeze to make at home and in large quantities, one big bag of caster sugar and a couple of vanilla pods will last you ages and make such a difference to your baking. As for vanilla paste, it isn't cheap (especially from supermarkets and I think only Waitrose and larger Tesco branches stock it) but it is so much better than extract and definitely worth it if you're making these for a special occasion. If you do make these using vanilla extract instead of paste add 2 tsp instead of 1.
The buttercream recipe is quite a sweet one, it is lusciously thick and creamy and very adaptable. Add the juice of half a lemon for a gorgeously tangy lemon buttercream that goes beautifully with these vanilla cupcakes. If your buttercream is too stiff or it needs thickening a slightly add milk or icing sugar a tablespoon at a time, beating all the way until you are happy.
Buttercream Bakery Vanilla Cupcakes
Makes 12 Cupcakes
120g unsalted butter, room temperature
100g caster sugar
20g vanilla sugar
2 large eggs
100g self-raising flour
75g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1tsp vanilla paste
Preheat your oven to 170C. Line a 12-hole cupcake tray with paper cases.
Sift both flours, the baking powder and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl beat the butter, caster sugar and vanilla sugar until light and creamy, beat for no less than 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition.
Add one third of the flour and fold into the batter, pour half of the milk into the batter and beat until totally incorporated. Repeat this process, adding another third of flour, followed by the rest of the milk and vanilla extract. Finish by adding the final third of flour.
Spoon the batter into the cupcake cases, filing each until 2/3 full.
Bake for 20 minutes or until well risen and a cake tester inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Leave cupcakes to cool in the tray for a minute or so before removing and placing on a cooling rack.
Buttercream Bakery Vanilla Buttercream
160g unsalted butter, room temperature
225g icing sugar, sifted
2-3 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla paste
Place the butter into a large mixing bowl and beat for about 5 minutes or until significantly lighter in colour.
Add the sifted icing sugar and 2 tbsp of the milk and beat until totally incorporated. Add the vanilla paste and beat for a further 5 minutes or until the buttercream becomes lighter in colour and creamy. If necessary add the remaining tbsp of milk and beat for another minute of so.
I hope you like the recipe and enjoy your cupcakes. x
Tuesday, 17 May 2011
Wednesday, 11 May 2011
This months Mac Attack is a great one, what could be more fun than Ballpark snack macs?
Hot Dogs, Popcorn, Peanuts, French Fries, Crackerjacks, Corn Dogs and Soft Drinks. No sophisticated and elegant flavours allowed, this month was all about junk food. Snack macs with a ballpark twist, sweet and salty, creamy, crispy or ice cold the possibilities are rather exciting.
I have been to a ball game, hubby and I went to see the NFL in London last year (I think that counts). The game was fantastic but the snacks were terrible, lets just say at Wembley Stadium I had the worst hot dog I have ever tried in my life, I say tried because I chucked it after one bite.
I'm convinced that this is us Brits. being quite frankly rubbish and in my head the ballpark snacks in the U.S. are utterly awesome and a big part of the experience and excitement of the day. Needless to say I decided not to take inspiration from Wembley Stadium for my Mac Attack and instead decided to make my ballpark macs the ball game snacks I always dreamed of.
I finally decided on Toffee Popcorn Mini Macarons, sweet and salty, cute and bite size, perfect macarons for a ball game.
The popcorn boxes just pulled it all together perfectly, I didn't buy them especially for this, I have had them cluttering up my kitchen for ages now and was really pleased to find something so fabulous to use them for. I am obviously a trashy mac type of girl because I love both these and my Oreo Macarons from last month. Malteser Macarons coming up...
Toffee Popcorn Mini Macarons
100g (about 3) egg whites, room temperature
66g caster sugar
120g ground almonds
180g icing sugar
1tsp cocoa powder
30g toffee popcorn.
Line two baking trays with baking paper and set aside.
Place the toffee popcorn in a food processor and blitz to crumbs.
Sift together the almonds, icing sugar and cocoa powder into a large mixing bowl.
In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until half stiff, gradually add the caster sugar, beating until the egg whites become egg whites reach stiff, firm peaks stage. The mixture should be glossy.
Fold the beaten egg whites into the dry ingredients, incorporating gently with a rubber spatula. Once fully incorporated, use your rubber spatula to press down the mixture, going back and forth to press out the oxygen. The mixture will be smooth and fall in a ribbon from the spatula when ready, do not over mix.
Transfer the mixture to a piping bag fitted with a 0.5cm plain round piping tip and pipe 1-1.5cm rounds onto your prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle with your toffee popcorn crumbs over the piped macarons.
Preheat the oven to 160C.
Leave the trays out on the kitchen counter for around 30 minutes to set, when they feel hard to the touch they are ready to be baked.
Bake in the centre of your oven for around 5 minutes. Touch the top of a macaron and gently move your finger side to side. If there is no wobble they are ready.
Leave the macaron shells on their baking trays to cool before using a palette knife to carefully remove them.
50g light muscovado sugar
3 tbsp water◦