Sunday, 12 June 2011

Can I Be Your Friend?

Whilst doing my usual Sunday morning perusal of blogs I came across the video 'Can I be your friend?' on Slash/Slash.  The video brings the actions we use online into the real world and demonstrates just how strange a concept poking people, liking things and announcing our relationship to the world really is. What's stranger still is that the video is to promote a new opera, not the first medium you'd expect to exposure the dangers associated with living our lives online.

"Ever thought how odd your online life is?  Ever thought what could go wrong?  This film looks forward to ENO's production of Nico Muhly's new opera 'Two Boys'."  If that sounds like your kind of thing the opera premieres on the 24th June at the London Coliseum.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

The Cupcake Miracle/Peanut Butter Cupcake Recipe

I love cupcakes.  In fact, I love cake of any kind but unfortunately I am terrible at baking without supervision.  Oddly, I've been told this is because I follow the recipe too much... I think it's more I'm inpatient, rarely have every ingredient and the oven at home likes to burn everything on the right hand side.  I like to try to counteract the last aspect by turning things regularly but of course this means my cakes are usually flat as a pancake.

Today I decided to bake at my moms house.  I was armed with a good oven, all the ingredients and a peanut butter cupcake recipe that I was determined to follow to the letter... When I took them out of the oven they had risen, cooked to perfection and tasted divine.  It was a cupcake miracle.

My yummy cupcakes :) - I didn't say they looked professional, I said they baked perfectly.
I'm no Astral when it comes to decorating but I promise they're amazing!

As a baking retard if I can make this recipe I'm sure anyone can.  It's from the book Cupcakes and Muffins: A Collection of 200 Delicious Recipes, but I have shared it with you here so you can try right now.  The recipe is apparently for 16 but that must be for massive cupcakes... I got 21 so decided to do half chocolate and half frosted.  There was an absolute tonne of frosting left over.

Frosted Peanut Butter Cupcakes

  • 55 g/2 oz butter, softened, or soft margarine
  • 225 g/8 oz soft light brown sugar
  • 115 g/ 4 oz crunch peanut butter (I used smooth because that's what was in the cupboard.  They still tasted yummy but didn't have the crunch...obviously.)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten (Apparently I should have beaten by eggs before putting them in with everything else - I didn't.)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 225 g/ 8 oz plain flower
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 200 g/7 oz soft cream cheese (I used ricotta.)
  • 25 g/1 oz butter, softened
  • 225 g/8 oz icing sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas Mark 4.
2. Line two 12-hole bun tins with 16 paper cases.  (I used silicon cases and cooked in two batches.)
3. Place the butter, sugar and peanut butter in a bowl and beat together for 1-2 minutes, or until well mixed.
4. Gradually beat in the eggs, then add the vanilla extract.
5. Sift in the flour and baking powder, then fold them into the mixture, alternating with the milk.
6. Spoon the mixture into the cases.
7. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until well risen and golden brown.  (15-20 minutes with my moms small cases and fan assisted oven.)

8. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
9. To make the frosting, place the cream cheese and butter in a large bowl and beat together until smooth.
10. Sift the icing sugar into the mixture, beat together until well mixed, then spread the frosting on the top of each cake.  (My mom has no sieve.  God knows why.  This of course meant I had to massively beat my frosting, and the more you beat the cream cheese the softer it gets.  This is why my icing is a lot runnier than the one in the book, so it was more pour than spread.  Still tastes amazing though!)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

The ingredients are exactly the same as for the cake above but all you need is chocolate spread (I used Nutella) instead of any frosting ingredients.

1. Follow the above method until step 5.
2. Spoon half the mixture into the paper cases then place about 1/2 a teaspoon of chocolate spread into the centre of each.
3. Carefully spoon the remaining mixture into the paper cases so that it completely encloses the chocolate spread.
4. Bake as before.
5. Cool and cover with more chocolate spread.

Voila :) both batches taste absolutely yummy.  The chocolate cupcakes are much stickier, with the frosted cupcakes coming across lighter even though they're the same cake.  The peanut butter makes the mix rather sticky and heavy but I promise they are divine.  If you give either recipe a go let me know!

Sunday, 5 June 2011

BLAC Space Scape

Now I'm back in the Midlands I decided to try my luck and see if Fused Magazine would let me write for them again...and they said yes.  I will be writing for Fused/Area Culture Guide online and in print, so keep an eye out for me.  For those of you who go to Birmingham uni look out for my reprise in Fused's Student Issue, where I give you the best trends for the coming season...all affordable of course.

My first article went up on Tuesday entitled BLAC Space Scape.  (If you follow me on Twitter you'll already know this but I am a bit behind with my blog sorry!) You should read it because it features fabulous jewellery by BLAC and an incredible shoot by creative director Ashley Hilton, who will be graduating this summer.  It also features an amazing film of the shoot by Videographer Dima Kalenda.