Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Gotcha! Naughty Little Sprinkle Stealing Monsters Caught On Camera

 One afternoon last week, on a day much like any other, I was busy whipping up a batch of chocolate cupcakes at the bakery and all was well.  The sun was shining, the birds were singing, cupcakes were rising and buttercream was whipping.

That was of course until the first incident...

I reached up for a piping tip and in the blink of an eye, spotted a flash of pink, as soon as I saw it it was gone.

Suddenly it seemed like every time I turned around something would disappear, jars of sprinkles would fall, apparently of their own accord, spilling on the work surface and I could have sworn I heard a few tiny giggles.

Was it a ghost?

Was I going mad?

Was the heat getting to me?

Finally I couldn't stand it any longer and I called the only person I could think of to help me, namely Rebella and her super powered, motion sensor cameras.  We set up cameras in every corner of the bakery, Rebella went home for dinner, promising to return in the morning and I continued to bake, staying especially late to make some chocolate macarons.

Both Rebella and I woke especially early the next day, eager to see what secrets the cameras held, this is what we found...

Sneaky little icing muncher, just dived right in!

Totally busted!

Now I know why the sprinkle jars were mysteriously spilling...


Every time I turn my back, a naughty little creature pops out and causes a little chaos, some are naughtier than others as you can see and some don't even wait for me to leave!

Look I'm right there!

The naughty little monsters seem especially curious...

I think they're also a little greedy and must have a soft spot for chocolate.

Look at this grubby little chocolate monster!

The little monsters don't appear to be particularly clever either...

This little guy looks like he is scared of his own reflection...

...and he always seems to be falling off things.

So, it would appear Buttercream Bakery has been taken over.

 Rebella and I have decided to leave the cameras up for the time being, we're hoping to learn more about the little monsters and maybe even make friends.

 Although they do seem very shy...

...especially the pink one who only ever pokes her head out before disappearing again.

 The other, more mischievous little monsters run off at the speed of light, which is most surprising considering how pudgy they are...

Friday, 3 June 2011

Lemon Meringue Pie Macaron Recipe

Words cannot describe the deliciousness of these macarons, they couldn't taste any more like Lemon Meringue Pie if they tried and all the components come together beautifully. The meringue shells are gorgeously lemon flavoured and the vanilla meringue frosting is to die for, especially when combined with the sharpness of the lemon curd.

I came across a feature in this months GoodFood magazine on Ed Kimber's (aka The Boy Who Bakes) macarons. He had made Chocolate and Raspberry and Blueberries and Cream Macarons, both sounded divine but I fancied something a little different. 

I adapted the basic macaron shell recipe slightly but not too much. I obviously added fresh lemon zest to the shells and I prefer to add my colouring at a different point.  I used my own meringue frosting recipe for the filling and a glorious locally made lemon curd.  I have increased the quantity of egg ever so slightly, because as I mixed the unbeaten egg into the almond mixture it was way too dry and wouldn't come to a paste.  I added a few extra tsp of egg white and all was well.

Lemon Meringue Pie Macarons
Makes 35

170g icing sugar
160g ground almonds
zest of 3 lemons
4 large egg whites, separated into two equal batches -
(original recipe used 120ml egg whites from around 4 medium eggs)
1/2 tsp yellow food colouring
160g caster sugar

For the filling:

1 egg white
100g caster sugar
40ml cold water
1/2 tsp golden syrup
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
  lemon curd, good quality

Place the icing sugar and ground almonds into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until fully combined.  Sieve this mixture into a large bowl.  Add the first batch of egg whites (unbeaten) and the lemon zest to the almond mixture, mix to form a thick paste.  Add the food colouring and mix until well combined. Set aside.

Tip the second batch of egg whites into a heatproof bowl and have an electric whisk at the ready.  Place 50ml water and the caster sugar into a small saucepan on a medium heat.  Bring to a boil and cook until the syrup registers 110C, using a sugar thermometer, at which time start beating the egg whites on a high speed. Once the syrup has reached 118C pour it slowly down the side of the mixer bowl, avoiding the whisk. Continue to whisk on high until the mixture has cooled slightly and you have a shiny peaked meringue mixture - the bowl should no longer be hot to the touch, but still warm. 

Tip the meringue onto the almond mixture and gently fold together.  It is important not to over-mix the batter - it should fall in a thick ribbon from the spatula.  The ribbon should fade back into the batter within about 30 seconds - if it does not, fold a few more times.

Heat the oven to 170C/150C Fan/ gas 3-4.  Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Transfer the batter to a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle.  Pipe rounds onto the prepared baking sheets, (I like to do two sheets of big macarons and one sheet of mini macarons, if you would like to top your macarons with sanding sugar, do so now), leave to rest for 30 minutes on the kitchen counter, or until the macarons have developed a skin.

Bake the macarons for 14 minutes (around 10 minutes for mini macarons).  Once out of the oven immediately slide the parchment onto a work surface and cool for a few minutes before gently peeling off the paper.

To make the filling:

Combine the egg white, sugar, water, golden syrup and salt in the top of a double boiler and place over rapidly boiling water.  Beat on the high speed of an electric mixer for around 7 minutes or until the icing reaches soft peak stage.  Remove from the heat and add the vanilla. Beat for a further minute or until the frosting reaches desired consistency.

Pair up your macarons and spread a little lemon curd onto the flat side of one, pipe or spoon meringue frosting on top of the curd and top with the remaining macaron.  Repeat until all of your macarons are used up.

Happy macaron making!