Sunday, 24 July 2011

Raspberry and Vanilla Cupcake Recipe

The raspberry portion of the Graduation Cakes went down best with everyone but my little siblings...but I expected that and it's exactly why I made some chocolate fudge cakes too.  The recipe was an adaptation of the Bling and Buy recipe found in the Cupcakes and Muffins book.  Not surprisingly, I didn't think the boy would appreciate cupcakes decorated with jelly rings and icing handbags. In fact, I'd have completely skipped over the recipe for myself if I hadn't noticed the use of raspberries.  They were light, moist and really really easy.

Raspberry and Vanilla Cupcakes

  • 175 g/6 oz softened butter or margarine
  • 200 g/7 oz caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 150 g/5 1/2 oz raspberries
  • 225 g/8 oz self-raising flour
  • To decorate I used one quantity of buttercream, for which you can find various recipes online and in basically every baking book there is, and added 1 tsp of vanilla extract.

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas Mark 4.
2. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with 10 paper cases. (I actually got 14 cakes from this recipe and used 12 silicone cases and 2 paper cases.)
3. Place the butter an sugar in a large bowl and beat together until light and fluffy, then beat in the vanilla extract. (I'll be honest, I forgot to add vanilla extract to the cake mix but the flavouring in the buttercream and the raspberry flavour in the cake meant you didn't really notice.)
4. Gradually beat in the eggs, then fold the raspberries and flour into the mixture. (The raspberries will break up slightly but that's ok, just be careful to ensure some raspberries remain whole as they taste great when you discover them in the middle of the cupcakes.)
5. Spoon the mixture into the paper cases. (I tried to make sure the raspberries weren't all at the bottom but spooning the mixture into the cases in various stages.)
6. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 - 25 minutes, or until golden brown and springy to the touch.

7. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
8. To decorate, mix up a batch of vanilla buttercream and pipe onto the cupcakes using a star nozzle.  Add sweets/other decorative aspects as required.  Whilst the recipe suggests handbags, shoes and jelly rings, accessorised with those little silver decorating balls, I opted to use the extra raspberries and giant chocolate buttons.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Some Day, But Not Today...

I talk a lot about becoming old, which I am aware may seem crazy as I am only 23, but I'm beginning to think it's not my fault.  It's not some mad insecurity of mine it is the pressures of society dammit.  Or something like that anyway. It's definitely people trying to rush me.  They keep asking me questions about me, about my life, what I want to do with it, who I want to do it with.  And when.  I don't know.

It all started back at university when someone asked what I wanted to do as a career.  I didn't know.  Three years later I still don't know because I want to do everything: PR, marketing, journalism, art direction, social media consultancy.... all of those would be great.  What I dream of though is being a novelist.  I want to write.  More than anything I want to huddle down in a house in the middle of the woods, next to a lake and not too far from the beach and I want to write a story.

It will be one of those epic stories that will be so amazing it will never win awards, people won't understand it, but it will lead to the odd fan letter telling me I am a genius and that I summed up their entire being within the pages, albeit probably virtual pages as by the time I finish it print will have almost died and nobody will want my book enough to get it printed on demand.  (And yes, on demand printing is a thing.  Blackwells have a massive vending machine for it and everything.)

That or it will be a really girly, chick lit type novel that will over exaggerate my love life into one amusing tale.  Not quite genius but it'll be a novel and it will be mine.  Either way, this is apparently not an appropriate career choice if I want to eat and actually able to afford to live in that house in the middle of the woods.

Lately however, the questions my family like to pose to me have upped their ante.  At the last family party my idiot uncle said "isn't it about time you pop out a few kids?" Erm, no.  No it isn't.  Then whilst baking chocolate fudge cupcakes together my little sister (age six) mumbles "when are you getting married?"  She was awfully quiet and shy, very unlike her, and didn't even raise her head to look at me instead choosing to maintain eye contact with the chocolate and butter mixture that was melting in the pan as she stirred it.  This is all down to my mothers previous comment:  "We thought you and the boy might get engaged in Portugal."

I've assured my mother she is crazy.  Sadly, my poor sister had taken this to mean that some time soon she would get to be bridesmaid, hence the shyness.  I assured her that of course she could be a bridesmaid but she would probably more like 16 than six when that happened.  She'll be even older when she becomes an aunt.  In fact, that may never happen.  Channel 4 has managed to scare the crap out of me with shows like Emergency in the Womb and One Born Every Minute.

So forgive me as I freak out a little at the thought of my other sister going to high school in September, of two best friends buying a house together and talking about having kids there, or the fact people keep telling myself that if you can't see the rest of your life with someone what's the point in being with them at all.

I know I don't need to feel rushed.  Fingers crossed I have plenty of time.  Sometimes it just gets a bit much so, throw me a stick and remind me I'm not the only one that has their feet firmly planted in the 'some day, but not today' field of thinking.  Oh, and remind me to actually sit down and finish writing that novel in the not too distant.  Even if it is chick lit and is written in my teenage bedroom at my fathers house rather than that beautiful house in the woods.  I will do it.  Some day.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Chocolate Fudge Cupcake Recipe

I did promise that I would put up the recipes I used for the Graduation Cakes so today I'm starting with chocolate fudge.  These are more hard work than the raspberry cupcakes but they are extremely rich in chocolate flavour and all dense and gooey.  I should warn you that I'm not the best baker, this was probably way more experimental than it needed to be with me adding extra water and syrup just because I thought it needed it.  I don't think they were quite supposed to look like they did, but they tasted good despite the fact the frosting was way too sticky and thick really to be you can see.

The recipe was taken from the old faithful Cupcakes and Muffins book and was one half of their Dark and White Fudge Cakes recipe.  The boy doesn't like white chocolate, but if you do make the frosting following the recipe below but replace the plain chocolate with white.

Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes

The following recipe is supposed to make 20 cakes, frosted half and half with white and plain chocolate fudge frosting.  Whilst the frosting recipe is therefore only for 10 cakes when I made this I only got 12 cupcakes and the frosting covered perfectly.  However, you may want to make extra and/or experiment first to see how far you get.

  • 200 ml/7 fl oz water
  • 85 g/3 oz butter
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 225 g/8 oz plain flour
  • 2 tbsp cocoa
  • 50 g/1 3/4 oz plain chocolate broken (I used a 85% cocoa fair-trade chocolate)
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 25 g/0.9 oz butter
  • 175 g 6 oz icing sugar

1. Preheat oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas Mark 4.
2. Line two 12-hole bun tins with 20 paper cases. (As previously mentioned I only got 12 and used silicone cases.)
3. Place the water, butter syrup in a saucepan and heat gently, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved.  Bring to the boil, reduce the hear and cook gently for 5 minutes.  Leave to cool.
4. Meanwhile pour the milk and vanilla extract into a bowl.  Add the bicarbonate of of soda and stir to dissolve.
5. Sift the flour and cocoa into a separate bowl and add the syrup mixture.
6. Stir in the milk mixture and beat until smooth, then spoon the mixture into the paper cakes.
7. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until well risen and firm to the touch.  (Whilst most cakes in silicone cases take less time this one did need the full 20 minutes but keep on eye on them.)
8. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
9. To make the frosting, place the plain chocolate in a small heatproof bowl, add the water and butter, set the bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water and heat until melted.  Stir until smooth.
10. Sift the icing sugar into the bowl and beat until smooth and thick.
11. Top each cupcake with frosting and leave to set.  Decorate with chocolate shavings.  (Or a giant chocolate button in my case.)

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Graduation Cake and a Trip to Portugal

Finally the boy has graduated.  I am very proud.  He is almost a fully fledged dentist, soon to be earning a lot of money whilst I plod on with finishing my MA and hope to God that I can get a job this autumn.  Cross your fingers for me.

This comes after a wonderful holiday in the Algarve where we did absolutely nothing but lounge by the pool, hide from the sun so I wouldn't burn, get covered by sand on the beach (and break my sisters Kindle there too as I dropped it on a rock - eek!) plus eat a lot.  Eating become the main activity...we would discuss where we would go all day and then savour three courses with a bottle of wine/sangria and topped off with some deadly cocktails.

We walked for miles on the one cloudy day we had, following a map that was not to scale.  At all.  Tourist maps, you would think, show key things that you should see so we trekked to see a statue.  The following is the statue in question...not really a statue more an island with religious connotations.

Our first holiday and our first graduation (we weren't speaking when it was mine) so to celebrate I baked cake, various cupcakes in fact: vanilla with raspberries and chocolate fudge.  Thankfully the deserts in Portugal weren't that great so my cake didn't have much to live up to.  If I'd been cooking ribs/steak/any kind of fresh fish it would have been a different matter, they were amazing in Portugal.  The old faithful Cupcakes and Muffins book came out, as did my mothers wonderful silicon cupcake cases.  They went down an absolute treat, which I'm glad of because I was too poor to buy anything better.  The raspberry is particularly amazing so I'll make sure to put the recipes up for you to try another time.