Chocolate fondant cupcakes

I don’t know whether it’s anxiety, or some other first world disease that’s been plaguing me, but I’ve REALLY been on a roll this week with baking. I made a batch of red velvet earlier during the week, which was invariably well received. The thing about cupcakes is that it is a surefire way to please everyone and anyone at work. When one has chocolate cupcakes, the world is an exponentially happier place. It’s so cute. Anyway, the result of this free-floating mysterious need to wake up at six o’clock in the bloody morning was this: chocolate fondant cupcakes from none other than The Hummingbird Bakery cookbook. ‘

This is a decadent, super rich chocolate combination. If you’ve been having a terrible day, I guarantee this is the panacea to your problems. Or, at least, it will kickstart a whole new set of problems such as guilt trips and overexercise. Fret not, fret not: it is well worth the guilt.

Some notes: I had to attempt this recipe twice. The first time was kind of a bust: the middle was a bit undercooked, the base was concave…?! Mrs Yeti remarked they tasted a bit like chocolate mooncakes. I don’t like mooncakes. So I added some sodium bicarbonate the second time around. It got better. I also didn’t add all the liquid mixture into the dry, as you will see later, as this made my batter far too runny the first time around. Maybe Singaporean eggs are too watery? I’m not entirely sure. That has been known to happen before, according to my grandma.

Also, I didn’t bother hollowing out the cupcakes and piping  the fondant into them. I tried it with one cupcake, but I found it very overwhelming (and I was also pretty tired by the time I got around to the second cupcake), so I spread the fondant over the tops and left it at that. Still delish.

Chocolate Fondant Cupcakes
from Cake Days: Recipes to Make Everyday Special by The Hummingbird Bakery

Sponge

80g unsalted butter, softened
280g caster sugar
200g plain flour
40g cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (this I added in, for added texture. Maybe my baking powder wasn’t great?)
2 large eggs
240ml whole milk

Fondant/Frosting

150g dark chocolate
150ml double cream

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius. Line a muffin tin with muffin cases.
  2. Using a hand-held electric whisk or a freestanding electric mixer with the paddle attachment, set on a low speed, mix together the butter, sugar, flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder. Mix until the ingredients are sandy in consistency and no large lumps of butter remain.
  3. Place the eggs in a jug, then pour in the milk and mix together by hand. With the mixer on low speed, pour 3/4 of the milk and eggs into the dry ingredients. At this point, I had appx. 50ml leftover. I didn’t bother putting that in as I found the batter was of drop consistency at this point when everything was well mixed and even.
  4. Spoon the batter into the muffin tin, and bake for 18-20 minutes or until well risen and springy to touch. Leave to cool slightly before removing from the tin and placing on a wire rack to cool completely before making the frosting.
  5. Place the finely chopped chocolate in a bowl. Pour the cream into a saucepan and heat just to boiling point. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir until all the chocolate has melted. Stir until it is smooth. If you are using dark bittersweet chocolate as I did, you might want to add 30g of icing sugar to balance the bitterness.
  6. Leave the fondant in the fridge (the book does not say this, but I did). When you are ready to frost your cupcakes a few hours later or in the morning, leave it to warm up to room temperature before spreading the generously over the tops of your beautiful cupcake sponges.
  7. Or, if you want, hollow out the center of each cake using a sharp knife, cutting out a piece about 2cm in diameter and 3cm long. Set the cut-out pieces to one side, then, using a teaspoon, fill the hollow of each cake half full with the chocolate cream filling. Place the cut-out pieces of sponge on top of the filling, like a lid, trimming the pieces to fit, if then top each cupcake with more chocolate cream and swirl it.
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Dreams of Plum Ice Cream

Apologies up front – I don’t have a picture of the final ice cream.

Sorry. I took it to a friend’s house, and was late and too busy eating, and even managed to get a nice warmed spoon out to scoop it on to a plate in that nice egg-like shape. And then I forgot to take the picture. I also forgot to scoop it nicely but that’s another story.

So all you have is this measly process photo.

Plum + Cream

What to do, right? Make it yourself. Pretend it looks as good as that indulgent picture of cream and plum puree looks. Dream about if for a couple of days (yes I did that)

I have tried many times to make ice cream, and even took an ice cream course at Tom’s Palette in Singapore. My one and only cooking class, yays.

I have never been able to reproduce the results at home. Even though ice cream is one of my favourite things. I probably like a good ice cream better than cake (gasp). It is a gift that keeps giving, patiently waiting for you in the freezer until you need it most. Cake is fickle, it goes dry and weird after a few days. But, alas. No ice cream-making luck so far.

Until this day!

A whole new world of ice cream has opened up. Beware friends, fatness beckons.

Also – I don’t have an ice cream maker, only a food processor with a strong engine (hello, Rambo ;)). Hooray for multi-purpose appliances! If you saw the size of my kitchen, you’d understand.

Plum Ice Cream

Basic recipe adapted from A Canadian Foodie‘s rhubarb ice cream, various proportions edited. 

Plum puree

Will give you excess puree – eat it with yoghurt for breakfast 🙂

6~8 plums
4 tablesp sugar – or to taste

  1. Whizz the plums in a food processor to break them down.
  2. Add the sugar, and cook at around medium-high heat in a pan for 15 minutes, stirring regularly. Add more sugar to taste. 
  3. When the consistency and sweetness is as you like, return to the food processor and blitz until the puree isn’t lumpy anymore. Cool and set aside. 

Ice cream

6 large egg yolks
1 cup of milk – I used skinny, that’s all I had that day
115g sugar
1/4 teasp salt
1.5 cups plum puree
1.25 cups heavy cream

  1. Heat the milk, sugar, and salt in a pot, until it warms up to around 50 degrees (a bit too hot to touch, but not very hot). Stir regularly. 
  2. Add the egg yolks, one by one. Turn up the heat a bit to medium, and keep stirring for about 15 minutes. You want to get the custard to set a bit – if you dip in a wooden spoon, it will coat the back of it. And if you swipe your finger across the coated spoon, the streak where you swiped your finger will stay clear of custard (I’ll take pictures next time, promise)
  3. Mix the plum into the cream.
  4. Strain the custard into the plum-cream, and whisk until it cools down. Or stick it in the fridge. Mix it again by hand when it’s cool.
  5. Put it in the freezer in a metal container for around 45 minutes. After that, remove and blitz in the food processor on a high speed, until creamy-looking.
  6. Freeze again, 6 hours up until over night. Then cut it into pieces and process again until creamy.
  7. Freeze again for a couple of hours before eating.

 

 

Warm Stomach Hugs and Dessert for Breakfast

Don't you feel healthier just looking at this

A rather healthy recipe for this blog. Let’s discuss how this came to be.

  1. Christmas + trip to Thailand + Chinese New Year in quick succession = constant, consistant overeating since mid December. Yeah right, I’m not the type to diet. But I am the type to eat lots and lots of heavy tasty healthy things to prevent myself from eating cookies / cake.
  2. I have been working from home for the last month and working at home means that I take a trip to the fridge every hour. At least. Last week I restless-ate a whole box of cereal in 3 days. Granted, it was Special K (with berries!) so supposedly “healthy” but seriously, have you ever looked at the sugar content in that stuff? Also, polishing off 2 boxes of cereal per week is a rather expensive habit. That’s by calculation, FYI. I didn’t actually eat 2 boxes of cereal.

This necessitated the creation of a heavy and hearty (yet still tasty) breakfast to keep me super duper full, that doesn’t cost loads. I also need to be able to munch on it throughout the day without getting bored and switching to cereal / gingerbread / chocolate chip cookies.

On a side note, how is anyone able to keep such a large stash of biscuits in the house uneaten for so long??? Bigfoot will soon learn of my biscuit-munching ways, to his peril.

I never knew the difference a good peeler made

Enter baked oatmeal.

My house smelled amazing for the one hour this was in the toaster oven. Yes, I just moved house, and haven’t figured out how to work the proper oven yet. No cakes from me for a bit.

*hugs*

It's what's on the inside that counts

No beauty queen, I’ll admit. I should have covered it with foil for the last 10 minutes of cooking.

But, it tastes like an apple pie and feels like a big warm hug to the stomach.

Dessert for breakfast and warm stomach hugs, what more do you need to ease yourself into the cruel early light of each morning?

Update: I’ve already eaten 1/8 of this over the course of the evening… suffice to say it is super filling, I’m truly stuffed.

Baked Oatmeal with Apples and Raisins

Inspired by the recipes of Brown Eyed Baker, Eat-Yourself-Skinny, and Chocolate Covered Katie. I didn’t follow any of their recipes, mine is a much-streamlined version of theirs. But they gave me the right idea. 

2 cups rolled oats
2 cups milk
2.5 tablesp brown sugar
1 egg
3 red apples, diced – can be substituted for pretty much any fruit, except super watery ones
1/2 cup raisins – or nuts, or other types of dried fruit, or chocolate chips….endless possibilities
1/2 teasp baking soda

  1. Mix everything up in a big bowl.
  2. I baked mine in the toaster oven: 200 degrees C for around an hour (mine took an hour + 5 minutes). Cover with foil for the last 10 minutes or so once the desired charred-ness is achieved.

Reheat for a couple of minutes in the toaster oven at 200 degrees C to crisp up before eating.

A note on toaster ovens: apparently, toaster ovens lose heat faster than normal ovens so when making this in a regular oven, try 190 degrees C for 45 minutes to start with. Will test and update when I get the oven working!

Gong Xi Fatt Cake

Among other things, Chinese New Year means that people come over and there needs to be food around. Lots of food. 

*takes a bow*

At some point, you or whoever else is ordering the the food will forget exactly how much food they ordered – this happens, it’s normal, and you shouldn’t panic. You definitely ordered enough food.

Despite this, you will still end up making an extra dessert. Extra dessert is always welcome. Especially when it’s the first year you have to give out angpau, and you need a little consolation in the form of cream cheese.

Cream cheese heals all wounds

Yes, that’s two pictures of the orange flower. I’m just a little bit proud of myself 🙂 (context: I’m the least artistic person on the planet)

I have omitted the process pictures, in which I dropped the baking tin on the cake. My baking tin is metal = heavy. This resulted in a really really big dent in the middle of the cake. Like I said, there is nothing that cream cheese icing can’t solve.

Vanilla Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Icing and Orange “Flower”

Vanilla Cake

Adapted from Hummingbird Cupcakes’ vanilla cupcake recipe, and quadrupled. 

I like this particular vanilla cake recipe a lot, because it’s one bowl with very few steps, and results in a really light and springy cake (and I don’t even like vanilla cake much, it’s boring!)

480g all purpose flour – I have used gluten free with this recipe before
400g caster sugar
160g butter, softened
480ml milk
4 eggs
3 teasp vanilla essence
6 teasp baking powder
1 teasp of salt

Oven temperature: 170 degrees C
Yield: a two layer square monster, 9″

  1. In a food processor, pulse flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and butter until the mixture looks sandy. Or, you can use the rub-in method.
  2. Pour in half the milk, and beat until just combined.
  3. Drop in the milk, egg, and vanilla essence. Mix until just smooth, try not to overmix or it’ll be chewy.
  4. Split into two square tins. Fill only 1/2 to 1/3 full, this cake rises a lot!
  5. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until light golden brown, and sponge bounces back when touched. I’d start checking at 35 minutes for done-ness.

Cream Cheese Orange Icing

Adapted from BraveTart’s SMB though it isn’t really SMB anymore given that I used whole eggs. The yolk / white wastage makes me sad, so I only do SMB or Faux French if I have leftover egg parts.

I know it’s a pain, but weigh everything really well okay? Even the egg. I ended up creating an excel sheet to calculate weights based on the weight of the egg parts…super nerd with bad mental maths. Let me know if you want it.

300g whole eggs – this was 3 eggs for me
300g castor sugar
490g butter, softened + cubed
490g cream cheese, softened + cubed
1/2 teasp salt
Zest of 4 oranges – the ones used below for decor

  1. Beat eggs into sugar and salt, until the egg whips up.
  2. Heat over a water bath until it steams, approx 150 degrees C. I just look for steam, I don’t have a thermometer. Whisk continuously!
  3. Once it steams quite regularly, remove and beat until the mixture doubles in volume. Another test for this is to put some between your fingers, and see whether you can feel sugar crystals.
  4. Keep beating until it gets cool, otherwise stick it in the fridge for some time until it gets back to room temperature.
  5.  Once it hits room temperature, dump in the butter and whisk until smooth.
  6. Now you can add your flavourings – namely cream cheese and orange zest. Beat all of them in until smooth, but don’t over mix or the cream cheese will go runny.

Note: my icing didn’t hold well up in the heat after a while, so I might try adding some white chocolate next time to attempt to stabilise it a bit. Suggestions welcome.

Build the beast

About 4 mandarin oranges, peeled and segmented. Be careful not to break the sacs!

  1. Peel and set aside mandarin oranges, after breaking into segments. Leave them on a sheet of kitchen paper, so that all the juices get soaked up and the segments don’t drip all over your icing.
  2. Slather icing between, and on top of all sides of the two stacked cakes. Cool in the fridge in between coats if like me, your icing is a bit drippy.
  3. Arrange the oranges in a pretty flower pattern, and place this (piece by piece, unfortunately) on top of the cake.

Yeti Nutella Pie Cheesecake

At the time of baking, it was the Yeti’s birthday. I made him a cake though he’s precisely 9395 miles away and locked in a time zone 13 hours behind.

I thought it was only appropriate to celebrate his birthday by making Mrs Yeti and I a no bake cheesecake. In any case, Mrs Yeti typically makes a dessert on her son’s birthday regardless of his location. This seems fair to commiserate the oceans that have sundered us all apart.

What essentially started off as a thoughtful exercise in no bake cheesecake morphed more into a no bake cream pie. Not that I’m complaining. It still tastes pretty delicious to me, and is almost childishly simple to execute. There is no reason why anyone cannot have this as a simple after work treat, or for friends coming over to a dinner party.

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Nutella Pie Cheesecake, inspired by Nigella Lawson

Note: I used half the portions stated here, because I only wanted a small pie. This recipe would serve 8.

  • 250 gram(s) digestive biscuits
  • 75 gram(s) unsalted butter (soft)
  • 400 gram(s) nutella (at room temperature)
  • 100 gram(s) almonds (toasted and chopped)
  • 500 gram(s) Philly cream cheese (at room temperature)
  • 60 gram(s) icing sugar

Method:

  1. Crumble the biscuits into a food processor, add the butter and a tablespoon of Nutella, and blitz until it starts to clump. Add 25g of the almonds and continue to blitz until you have a damp, sandy mixture.
  2. Pour the sandy mixture into a pie tin and press it out with your fingers, slowly pressing at the sides to form a pie crust. Leave in the fridge for at least half an hour.
  3. Beat the cream cheese and icing sugar until smooth and then add the remaining Nutella to the cream cheese mixture, and continue beating until combined.
  4. Take the pie tin out of the fridge and carefully smooth the Nutella mixture over the base. Scatter the remaining 75g of chopped almonds on top to cover and place the tin in the fridge for at least four hours or overnight. Serve straight from the fridge.

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The Prince of Battenberg

The Prince of Battenberg was a rather illustrious man. A lover, a singer, a fighter. He protected the Earth from dragons and giant spiders and aliens from outer space. Yes, he did, why do you think we can’t find any of these things nowadays?

How did he do it, you might ask?

Overdid it a little with the food colouring

Apart from his mighty constitution, he subsisted solely on Battenberg cake. And he had a shield with a battenberg design on it. When he was ready for battle, he would close his eyes and crouch behind his shield. The sign of the battenberg would then shoot out of his shield like a laser (think Captain Planet with only 2 colours), and it became a giant multicoloured light sabre. He was then able to yield it like a mega-sword.

As Battenberg cake was the source of his special powers, I thought it was prudent to learn to make one.

They don't need to be super even. Ready to roll This is how we crimp itIf you want the real story of the Prince of Battenberg, you can find it on Wikipedia here. I think mine is more interesting. Though even without his super batten-sabre, Prince Louis was apparently a pretty successful fellow.

Seriously, don’t let other websites fool you into thinking this cake is rocket science. If you can roll out pastry (like make cookie-cutter biscuits and apple pie) then you can totally do this. It’s a cut and paste job, and the marzipan is pretty easy to roll out with a rolling pin.

Psychedelic yet sophisticated

Battenberg Cake

Almond Cake

I used the almond sponge recipe off BBC (tweaked to suit what I had in the kitchen), though any almond sponge will do.
Note that the cake gets better after a few days as the flavours meld. I don’t like almond cake, but I have it on good authority.

140g self raising flour – or normal flour with an extra 2 teasp of baking powder
150g brown sugar
175g butter, softened
3 eggs
1/2 teasp vanilla extract
1/2 teasp almond extract

Red food colouring
Yellow food colouring
Baking paper

Oven temperature: 180 degrees C for around half an hour.
Yield: 1 20cm square cake tin, split into two for the 2 colours.

  1. Dump all the ingredients in a food processer and mix until smooth. Wasn’t that easy?
  2. Divide into 2 bowls. Colour one bowl pink and the other yellow. As you can see, I added a bit too much food colouring. This affects cooking time, if you add very little then check whether it’s done at about 25 minutes.
  3. Grease your baking tin. Cut 2 sheets of baking paper to the size of the tin. Fold them in such a way that you get 2 “pockets” for your batter in the cake tin. Make sure you score the corners with the back of a spoon, else your cake won’t have sharp edges and you’ll end up wasting *even more* cake. Fit these 2 pockets into the cake tin (see the picture above if you think I sound crazy).
  4. Pour each colour of cake mix into one of the pockets. Don’t worry, they won’t mix – the batter is pretty thick.
  5. Bake, and leave to cook thoroughly.

I like to build it build it

A pink bar cake – you just made these cakes, you clever fellow
A yellow bar cake
About 500g of marzipan
A few tablespoons of smooth apricot jam
Icing sugar

  1. Stack your bar cakes one on top of the other. Using a sharp knife, cut off the edges so they stack together nicely. Then, cut them in half and switch the top and bottom layers on one side so you get a chequerboard pattern of pink and yellow (see pics above if you’re confused).
  2. Heat up some jam in the microwave so it goes a bit runny. Use the runny jam to stick your 4 strips of cake together. You can be pretty generous with the jam.
  3. Powder a surface with a little icing sugar (I did this on a chopping board to minimise mess). Roll out your marzipan, to a size large enough such that you can wrap the 4 strips of cake in it. You don’t want the marzipan to thin or it won’t be able to hold the cake together.
  4. Paint runny jam all over the marzipan.
  5. Roll the cake into the marzipan, trying to keep the marzipan as tight as possible. Once the edges meet, trim the marzipan with a knife so it sits flush with the corner of the cake.
  6. Pinch all the way along the bottom two corners of the cake with your fingers, no one will see this because it’s at the bottom of the cake. Try not to be too violent though.
  7. Roll the cake back right-side up again. Slice off the two ends of the cake so it becomes a nice even cuboid, covered with marzipan on all sides except the ends.
  8. Decorate as you will, sir.

If you leave it to sit, the marzipan hardens and tightens up

Carrots in a Blender

So, to make this you need a blender large enough to hold a whole tub of cake mix. This isn’t a serious problem for me and Mr Chopper, who has a rather large belly. If your blender isn’t big enough then you can remove everything after a bit and continue with a hand mixer. or you can grate the carrots and chop up the pineapple and crush the walnuts separately, like in a normal recipe. Or you can do your chopping in shifts, and mix everything up in a big bowl with a spoon at the end. I think that’d be how I would do it without my faithful friend.

Obligatory prep photo

I just really liked how everything was originally done in a single bowl. You know that one bowl recipes are my favourite.

Icing prep

Also, this cake is so vege-packed that it’s almost a salad. Coleslaw, to be exact, what with all the shredded carrots. Healthy cake.

My dog likes (to play with) carrots

You would eat a salad as a meal. Hence, if this cake = salad, and salad potentially = lunch or dinner, therefore cake = lunch or dinner.

I haven’t included breakfast because I feel absolutely no guilt about eating cake for breakfast.

Here is my pretty, in her lumpy glory

I do dread the day when the thunderthighs come to claim me. In the mean time, let us, with this cake, toast to the strength of the gates of Tartarus.

Sorry bad photo, will upload a nicer one next time

Healthy-as-Coleslaw Carrot Cake

Adapted, barely, from Quirky Cooking. Awesome idea, I love cakes that you can just mix and pour.

200g carrots – peeled and quartered
300g pineapple chunks – if canned, drain well
2 large eggs
40g oil
1 teasp vanilla essence
90g honey
190g flour
1 teasp cinnamon
2 teasp baking soda
¾ teasp salt
75g walnuts, whole OR equivalent weight shredded coconut
40g raisins

Oven temperature: 165 degrees C, for an hour to an hour and a half. Cupcakes only take about 30 to 40 minutes.
Yield: 1 bundt cake, or 12 cupcakes.  Or a large loaf. Don’t use a regular cake tin, or the middle of the cake won’t cook properly. Instead, flour a small glass or ramkin and place it in the middle of the tin.

  1. Grease / flour bundt tin.
  2. Dump the following in a blender for about 5 seconds, and chop until it reaches the texture of grated carrot – carrot, pineapple (if using fresh), eggs, oil, honey, vanilla. Remove and set aside if your blender has a small capacity, otherwise just leave it in the blender.
  3. Blend the following on high for about 5 seconds – flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, walnuts / coconut, pineapple (if using canned).
  4. If you have set aside your carrot mixture, now is the time to mix in the flour et al, pretty thoroughly. Then mix in the raisins.
  5. Bake! Then set aside until it cools / chill it.

Eating suggestion: wait for the cake to cool fully before eating, or put it in the fridge for a bit. This is a super moist cake, so if you don’t do this it will be a little wobbly on the inside.

Orange Cream Cheese Honey Icing 

Adapted from Janie Turner and Sam Joffe in “Fast and Easy Cooking”.

1 tablesp granulated sugar
Rind of 1 large unwaxed orange, thin peelings of skin only – or any other citrus fruit
300g cream cheese, softened
15 – 30g runny honey

Yield: the top of one 8” cake.

  1. Blend granulated sugar with  the orange peelings to get them to squish together.
  2. Add cream cheese and honey, keep blending for about 20 seconds.
  3. If you like, after this you can whisk at medium speed for about 30 seconds to get a fluffier icing. The blender has taken most of the work out of this so you don’t need to do it for long.

Tiny Tasty People

Apart from ginger flavoured baked products, my other favourite thing about Christmas is that it is socially acceptable to eat tiny baked people.

I feel that eating such people head first is the kindest way, because it ensures a clean and quick end to their misery, and is also the weakest point of the biscuit.

Squishy sogginess It was too squishy to make into a single ball

Given how I feel about this, you’d think I would be the first to blog about the spiciest gingerbread (people) biscuits, but the fact is that I haven’t yet found a homemade gingerbread biscuit that I liked. I enjoy eating gingerbread biscuits that other people have made, but if I’m going to make them myself, I want something really dark and spicy. And crisp, not cakey or chewy. So, in lieu of gingerbread people, I get my eating-tiny-people fix from other other baked goods.

But. As with all baked goods requiring the use of cutters, mince pies are a pain in the behind.

Yes that's a koala. My bookmark. Yes, that's the hobbit. I'm going to watch the movie this weekend (in 3d!)

First you mix up the crust dough, then you chill it. Then you take it out and roll it a bit. It refuses to cooperate and sticks to the table because you used too little flour on the surface and it’s warm outside. You put it back in the fridge. Repeat this about 6 to 8 times, and you will feel how I feel about making biscuit cutter snacks.

I think it’s something about Christmas, I magically forget every year what complete bullocks these types of foods are to make and how they take 3 hours or more and how I get so sweaty and angry that I very seriously consider feeding the remainder of the raw dough to my dog (try not to do that, it might not be good for dogs depending on what you’ve made).

These are the standard (larger) pies

I suspect it’s because I usually freeze my mince pies after baking them earlier in December, so by the time I get to eat them on Christmas day, I have forgotten how much the process of making them irritated me.

Pretending to be an angry cannibal, ginger spice, and Christmas. Some things in life just go together.

And these are the mini pies. Meet the Fat Man and Spooky Lady

Christmas Mince Pies

Crust adapted from the Patchwork Apple Pie recipe (doubled).

2 jars of mince pie filling – I used Robertsons, vegetarian and alcohol free
1 small red apple – the addition of apples is my way of bulking up the mince pie filling
1 small green apple

500g flour – I used gluten free
100g sugar
Zest of 2 lemons
Pinch of salt
250g butter – cold and cubed
2 large eggs

Extra flour for rolling
Egg wash – an egg beaten with a little milk
Copious amounts of patience
A cup of tea – to prolong aforementioned patience

Oven temperature: 180 degrees C, for half an hour
Yield: 36 mince pies – I had 24 large and 12 slightly smaller pies, as well as a little family of shortcrust people

  1. Sift together flour, sugar, and salt. Stir in the lemon zest.
  2. In a food processor, pulse the butter cubes and flour mixture until the texture of the mixture looks like sand.
  3. Turn out into a bowl. Directly crack in the 2 eggs, and use your hands to get everything to stick together. You have to keep going for a quite a bit, I realise last time I probably stopped a bit early which is why my dough never came together.
  4. Cover dough and put it in the fridge to firm up.
  5. Peel and core your apples. Cut them into 8ths, then slice those 8ths into thin strips. Mix into the mince pie filling in a big bowl.
  6. Flour a surface and roll out your dough. You need quite a lot of flour because it’s a bit sticky, watch out!
  7. Use a round biscuit cutter / your mother’s fancy dinner party wine glass to cut out rounds. Put each into a hole in a greased cupcake tray and press in.
  8. Spoon in a little mince pie filling / apple mixture.
  9. Use a fun cutter to cut out the pie cover, and carefully place it on top of the filling. It doesn’t need to touch the sides of the pie, or be crimped or anything complicated. I used stars, hearts, trees, fat men, and spooky ladies. I have squirrel and snail cutters somewhere too but I couldn’t find them.
  10. Dab with egg wash, and stick it in the oven for half an hour.
  11. Cool in the cupcake tray.

Notes: freezes well in an airtight box layered with baking paper.

Happy unsuspecting pastry family

A Little Pudd, Luv?

I like Christmas pudding. But my mum is wheat intolerant, and I generally don’t like the taste of anything with brandy / alcohol in it. So suffice to say the dramatic flaming of the pudding is not my favourite part, I prefer the part in which I steal a slice of hot pudding prior to the flaming, then drown it in clotted cream and stuff my face until I feel sick. Then I repeat this 2 hours later (with the second slice I preemptively pinched). And then again, after dinner.

Lumpy plumpy

I haven’t had Christmas pudding for a good many years, because it’s rather difficult to find a pudding that is both brandy-less and wheat free. Even if it was an either-or situation, it would be a pushing it a little.

I was also under the mistaken impression that Christmas pudding was an extremely involved process. I was happy to be proven wrong on that score.

The only part I was (very) apprehensive of was the steaming. Then the pudding looked scary, so I gave up and zapped the thing in the microwave for 5 minutes to finish it.

At this point I got scared and started microwavin'

In line with *cough my own new* tradition, I added a pudding star. What is a pudding star? Well, I made it up. Out of necessity. I grew up listening to stories about how the little boy found a 6-pence in his slice of pudding, and how that was supposed to be lucky. I was not amused to find out that it isn’t a good idea to put coins in puddings anymore, because of all the weird alloys in them that might leach chemicals into the pudd. Hence, the pudding star – a beautiful shining star made of tinfoil. Origami, no less. Perhaps one year I shall make a little tinfoil crane.

The Pudding Star!!

I hope I don’t choke anyone with it.

Anyway, now Mr Pudd has been wrapped up and stuffed in the freezer until Christmas day. Upon which, I shall microwave him briefly, and serve him hot. With cream.

Mr Pudd

Rich Christmas Pudding 

Adapted from Be-Ro  Flour, 37th Edition

100g self raising flour – I used gluten free
100g raisins
100g sultanas
100g currents
50g mixed peel
100g brown sugar
Zest of 1/2 a lemon
1 teasp nutmeg powder
1 teasp mixed spice powder
75g grated frozen butter – originally suet..which sounded a little too hard to get hold of

2 eggs
2 tablesp milk

Pudding star, or some other similarly cute inert metallic object

  1. Mix everything on the ingredients list from the flour down to the butter in a bowl.
  2. Drop in the milk and eggs, and mix well until everything is combined into a gloopy mess.
  3. Grease a bowl, and put a little square of baking paper in the bottom to prevent stickage.
  4. Pour everything into the bowl. Hide the pudding star in the batter somewhere.
  5. Cover with a square of baking paper, then seal with tinfoil.
  6. Steam for 2 and a half hours. You probably need more like 3 hours, and the original recipe says 10 hours. I got fed up after 2 and a half, so I removed the tinfoil and zapped the baking-paper-covered-pudding bowl in the microwave for 5 minutes or so.
  7. Let it cool a bit, then flip it upside down to get the pudding out. Wrap in cling film and freeze, or eat if you are the clever type that makes such a time consuming monstrosity on Christmas day itself.

Reheating instructions: you can either put it back in the bowl, cover again with baking paper + tinfoil and steam for half an hour to an hour, OR, you can stick it in the microwave for 2 minutes.

A note on raisins and other dried fruity bits – I couldn’t get all of these separately (and also it would have cost a bomb!). So I used a bag of mixed raisins and peel. The proportions were roughly similar to those in the recipe.  Perhaps not the most traditional, but it turned out alright.

Cake Addiction Centre: Patient “Gingerbread”

Welcome to the Cake Addiction Centre (CAC). My name is Lea and my weakness is gingerbread.

As you roam these halls you will see many victims of Cake Addiction. CAC takes care of them all – chocolate fudge, orange, berry, banana choc chip, double chocolate, peanut butter, red velvet, coconut cream, apple, custard, dark chocolate, coffee, pineapple upside down, even carrot cake addicts.

Chocolate cake takes a good many of our people. Good people. Our biggest threats are dark chocolate ganache, and cream cheese icing.

Gingerbread? No, gingerbread isn’t one of our most common addictions here at CAC. I may well be the only gingerbread inmate here at the moment. They usually allow us to conduct the guided tours because we are the most peaceful addicts. Some of them like to fight, especially those addicted to peanut butter or pineapple upside down cake.

What am I doing here, you might ask?

I ate a quarter of a sheet cake in one afternoon. Another sixth after dinner. And another quarter at breakfast the next day. After less than 24 hours, this is what was left of the cake. Suffice to say this cake did not see a second sunrise.

Oops..

I don’t have a picture of the whole cake. I could not control myself. I feel so ashamed.

Gingerbread

Adapted from the Be-Ro Flour Cookbook, 37th edition. Spicy spicy gingerbread and gingerbread people are some of my favourite things about Christmas (apart from mince pies, and crab. Yes, crab). You know how I feel about chilli. Don’t say you haven’t been warned about the possible level of spiciness. I might try adding fresh ginger, if so I’ll update the recipe.

300g flour
6 teasp ginger powder
3 teasp mixed spice powder
1 teasp cinnamon
1 1/2 teasp bicarb of soda
75g brown sugar
150g margarine – softened
225g black treacle
75g golden syrup
190ml milk
3 eggs
75g raisins / sultanas / currents

Oven temperature: 150 degrees C, for 1 1/4 hours. This is 1.5x the original recipe because I like my gingerbread thick and moist, so you might even need a little longer in the oven.

  1. Sift flour, ginger, spice, cinnamon, bicarb of soda, and sugar together. Throw the raisins in here too.
  2. Whisk together the margarine, treacle, and golden syrup.
  3. Add the milk and whisk again.
  4. Beat the eggs into the liquids.
  5. Mix the liquids into the flour.
  6. Pour it into a square cake tin, and bake for around 1 1/4 hours.

Possible pairings: orange honey cream cheese icing (if you insist on icing – I’ll post this recipe in a bit). Totally not necessary, I’m a purist and would be very unlikely to ice my gingerbread.

To try next time:

  • Add a couple of tablespoons of fresh grated ginger
  • Perhaps a teaspoon of black pepper?