Monday, July 30, 2012

British Baking, Part 2: Chocolate Fudge Cake

I'm back in the states! Lots of mixed emotions: I'm so excited to see my friends and family, but I miss London, and my friends from the program, or my "mates" as I've decided to call them- much easier than saying "the people I went to London with who also go to my college and now we're bff's."
I still have a couple posts left from when I was in England, including this one: Chocolate Fudge Cake.

Two of my mates had birthdays on July 13th. While they were all at the Harry Potter tour, I went to work, then went back to the house to make this cake, another from "Classic British Puddings."
The problem with these recipes is, they use grams instead of cups, teaspoons, etc. Doubling recipes is usually relatively easy, but I think I bit off more than I could chew with this one.

The further problem: I didn't have my digital scale with me.
***Digital scales are VERY IMPORTANT for baking! My awesome Uncle John gave me one for my birthday, and it makes a huge difference.***
It's not as crooked as it looks! The house actually slanted, ask anybody! :)
I also didn't have any of my cake decorating tools; no cake knife, no turntable, no cake circles, and only a small palette knife.
HOWEVER, despite all those setbacks, the birthday boy and girl thoroughly enjoyed the cake :) And that's all that matters!

One note about this recipe: it calls for golden syrup. This is very popular in the UK, and can be found on numerous sites online, and most likely in any specialty stores. I'll let you know what I find when I start searching :)
Chocolate Fudge Cake
Yield: One 2-layer cake, 8 or 9"
Unsalted butter- 175 g (6 oz), softened
Golden caster sugar- 175 g
Eggs- 3, beaten
Golden syrup- 3 tbsp
Ground almonds- 40 g (1.5 oz)
Self-raising flour- 175 g
Cocoa powder- 40 g
Pinch of salt
1. Cream butter and caster sugar together in a medium bowl until light and fluffy.
2. Gradually add the eggs and beat to combine.
3. Stir in the golden syrup and ground almonds.
4. Sift flour, cocoa powder and salt into a separate bowl, then gradually fold into the mixture. Add a little water, if necessary, to make a dropping consistency.
5. Pour mixture into greased and floured cake pans and bake at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes, or until springy to the touch and the tester comes out clean.
6. Leave cakes in pans for 5 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.
Fudge Icing
Plain chocolate- 225 g (8 oz), broken into pieces
Dark muscovado sugar- 55 g (2 oz)
Unsalted butter- 225 g, diced
Evaporated milk- 5 tbsp
Vanilla extract- 1/2 tsp
1. Place all ingredients in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Heat gently, stirring constantly, until melted.
2. Pour into a heatproof bowl and leave to cool. Once cooled, cover and chill in the fridge for 1 hour, or until spreadable.
ASSEMBLY: Frost and stack cake layers. Serve room temperature or slightly chilled, depending on your preference.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Mixed Berry Cider Cupcakes

My study abroad program officially ended on Saturday :(
The only good thing was that my mom came over to Great Britain to visit, and we're spending the week touring various parts of the country. I think this softens the blow a little bit- I'm not in London anymore, but at least I'm still in England!
I still have several posts to put up from when I was in London, they'll be going up throughout this week, since I won't exactly have any opportunities to bake while we're on the road.
First up, my last baking hurrah during the program: Mixed Berry Cider Cupcakes
We recently found out that our favorite cider- Rekorderlig- isn't sold in the U.S. The only option we have (other than to wait for it to get to our side of the pond) is to spend $80+ on a case of 15. Yeah, not happening.
I figured a good way to wrap up our program (and to bid a fond farewell to the cider we've loved so much) would be another cupcake adaptation of a delicious Rekorderlig flavour combination, as a follow-up to the Strawberry-Lime Cider cupcakes I made to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. 
The blueberry "cupcakes" I made turned out more like muffins, and the original plan to fill them with raspberry jam didn't work that well, but overall these were delicious!
Mixed Berry Cider Cupcakes
Blueberry Cupcakes
Adapted from Laura's Recipe Collection
Yield: ~18 cupcakes (12 regular-sized, I'm guessing)
Unsalted butter- 1/2 c, room temp
Sugar- 2/3 c
Eggs- 3, large
Vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste- 1 tsp
Rekorderlig Mixed Berry Cider- 1 tsp, optional
Zest of 1 medium lemon
Flour- 1 1/2 c
Baking powder- 1 1/2 tsp
Salt- 1/4 tsp
Milk- 1/4 c
Fresh or frozen (thawed) blueberries- 1 c
1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, ~2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating to combine after each. Beat in vanilla, cider and lemon zest.
2. In a medium bowl, stir flour, baking powder and salt.
3. Alternate adding flour mixture and milk to butter mixture, mixer speed low.
4. Gently fold in blueberries.
5. Bake in lined muffin pan at 350 degrees F for ~17 minutes, or until tester comes out clean. Cool completely.
Mixed Berry Cider Buttercream
Butter- 1 c (2 sticks), softened
Powdered sugar- 3-4 c
Rekorderlig Mixed Berry Cider- 2-4 tbsp (depending on taste)
Red food colouring, optional
Beat butter until creamy, ~1 minute. Slowly add powdered sugar. Once it's all added, beat an additional 30 seconds, then add cider and beat for ~1 minute. Add red food colouring if you'd like.
Here's the link to the Rekorderlig website, just for fun :)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

British Baking, Part One

I found a wonderful cookbook at Anne Hathaway's Cottage in Stratford-upon-Avon, and it was on sale, so I bought it :) "Classic British Puddings: British food for lazy days."
The first recipe I tried was Victoria Sponge Cake:

It was delicious! And super easy!
The problem with the cookbook is that it's British. Which means everything is in grams, nothing in cups or teaspoons or tablespoons. If you don't already have a kitchen scale, you'll probably need one to make this cake, and the next one I'm posting.
Victoria Sponge Cake
Butter- 175g (6 oz), softened
Caster sugar- 175g (6 oz)
Eggs- 3, beaten
Self-raising flour- 175g (6 oz)
Pinch of salt
Raspberry jam- 1 jar (book recommended 3 tbsp but I like it extra jam-y :)
Powdered sugar- 1 tbsp (for sprinkling on top)
1. Cream butter and sugar in a medium mixing bowl with a wooden spoon or whisk until it is pale in colour and light and fluffy.
2. Add eggs a little at a time, mixing well after each addition.
3. Sift flour and salt and carefully add to the mixture.
4. Divide mixture into greased and lined cake pans (8 or 9 inches), and bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes, until well risen, golden brown, and beginning to shrink from the sides of the pan.
5. Remove from oven and allow to stand for one minute, then turn the cakes out onto a clean tea towel, remove paper, and invert onto a wire rack.
6. Once the cakes are completely cool, spread jam on bottom layer and sandwich layers together, then sprinkle with sugar.


Friday, July 13, 2012

Birthday Muffins

You may have noticed I've been posting a lot recently.
The truth is, I've gone a little mental.

I've had a lot of success on Foodgawker since I've been in London, so I didn't want to break up my momentum. Who woulda thought my flat in almost perpetually rainy London (at least this summer) would have such great natural light?

Today, two of my program mates have birthdays. I'm making them an old-fashioned chocolate fudge cake for tonight, but I wanted them to start their special day with a yummy treat. These definitely qualify.

These are Strawberry Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins. With Nutella on top.
Nom time.
Strawberry Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins with Nutella on top
Adapted from Damn Delicious
Yield: ~18-20 muffins
All-purpose flour- 2 c
Espresso powder- 1 tbsp (instant is fine, I just used what we had)
Cinnamon- 1/2 tsp
Baking powder- 1 tbsp
Salt- 1/4 tsp
Unsalted butter- 1/2 c, melted and cooled
Strong brewed coffee- 1/2 c, cooled
Sugar- 1/3 c
Brown sugar- 1/3 c, packed
Egg- 1
Vanilla extract- 1/2 tsp
Diced strawberries- 1/2-2/3 c
Mini chocolate chips- 1/2-2/3 c
Nutella- as needed
1. Combine flour, espresso powder, cinnamon, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
2. In another large bowl, whisk together the butter, coffee, sugar, brown sugar, egg and vanilla. Pour mixture over dry ingredients. Stir with a rubber spatula until just moistened.
3. Add strawberries and gently stir, then add chocolate chips and gently stir.
4. Scoop batter into a paper-lined muffin tray, ~3/4 full. Bake at 400 degrees F for 14-18 minutes, or until the tester comes out clean.
5. Spread Nutella on the muffins while they're still warm, and serve with a glass of milk.

I went a little nuts with adjusting shadows in Photoshop.
I'm leaving this in here because I want to document my education and growth
in food photography.


Friday, July 6, 2012

The muffin craze continues...

You may have noticed I'm really into muffins these days. They're so simple, and so yummy, and such a nice treat in the morning.
These muffins are really special.

Why? Because they have a special treat on the inside.
They have nutella inside!!!

Nutella-Stuffed Muffins
Yield: ~1-2 dozen muffins (depends on the size)
Adapted from US Masala
Flour- 1 3/4 c
Baking powder- 1 1/2 tsp
Salt- 1/2 tsp
Ground cinnamon- 1/2 tsp
Sugar- 3/4 c
Vegetable oil- 1/3 c
Egg- 1
Milk- 3/4 c
Vanilla extract- 1 tsp
Nutella- 1 jar, just to be on the safe side (aka so you can eat the rest with a spoon)
For the coating: 
Unsalted butter- 3-4 tbsp
Caster sugar- 1/2 c (granulated worked ok, but caster would be better)
Ground cinnamon- 2 tsp
1. In a medium bowl, stir flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
2. In a large bowl, whisk sugar, oil, egg, vanilla and milk.
3. Add dry ingredients to the large bowl, and stir only to combine, don't overmix!
4. Line a muffin tray with paper liners. Scoop ~1 tbsp (1 1/2 tbsp max) of batter into each liner, then scoop 1/2 tsp Nutella on top. Add another 1 tbsp of the batter on top of the Nutella. Make sure each liner isn't more than 3/4 full.
5. Bake at 350 degrees F for ~15 minutes. The time varies greatly depending on the oven, so make sure you check them often. Insert the tester into the side of the muffin so you don't hit Nutella. The muffins are done when the tester comes out clean.
6. While muffins are baking, melt butter. Stir sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl. When muffins are done, dip each muffin into the butter, then the cinnamon sugar. Serve warm.
These are great for mornings when you have to get up super early, or have a crappy day ahead of you. Or at the end of a crappy day. They fix things. :)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Happy 4th of July!

I am on a quest.
One of my housemates asked me to make red velvet cupcakes. I love making people happy with my baking, and never like to disappoint, so I have been on the hunt for distilled white vinegar for the last week. After going to NINE grocery stores (no exaggeration), I have come to the conclusion that distilled white vinegar does not exist in London; if it does, it is VERY hard to find.
Last night, after going to my ninth store, I decided to call it quits on the quest (for now). I found a delightful-sounding recipe for red velvet brownies that does not call for white vinegar (or buttermilk), and I made those instead.

I think they turned out pretty nicely. And my housemate? I won't reveal how many of these she's eaten but she was very pleased.
I don't have a square pan so I made it in a circular cake pan. Since I only have two and a half weeks left at the program (*sobs*), I figured I might as well make do with what I have.
As a bonus, I was able to use up the leftover Cream Cheese Frosting from the carrot cakes. And I found some snazzy red, white and blue sprinkles at a shop in Bath.
I'm not sure how we're going to celebrate Independence Day tomorrow. We're assuming the Brits aren't big on celebrating the day we dipped out on their empire, so I think we'll keep it pretty low key.
Red Velvet Brownie Cake
Courtesy of What Megan's Making
Note: I doubled the recipe but made two separate batches (previous bad experiences taught me not to multiply recipe amounts unless absolutely necessary). This is the original recipe, but I put the doubled amounts in parentheses.
Unsalted butter- 1/2 c (1 c)
Bittersweet chocolate- 3 oz (6), chopped
Sugar- 1 1/2 c (3)
Eggs- 3 (6), large
Vanilla- 1 tsp (2)
Salt- 1/4 tsp (1/2)
Liquid red food coloring- 1 oz (2)
Flour- 1 c (2)
Baking powder- 1/2 tsp (1)
1. Heat butter and chocolate in a large saucepan over low heat, stirring until chocolate is melted.
2. Remove pan from heat and whisk in the sugar and eggs. Stir in the vanilla, salt and food coloring.
3. Sift flour and baking powder and add to mixture. Stir to blend well.
4. Line a 9x9 baking pan with aluminum foil- leave an overhang so you can easily lift the brownies out when they're done. Spray foil with nonstick spray, then pour batter into prepared pan.
5. Bake at 325 degrees F for 35-40 minutes (I checked at 20), or until the top springs back when touched and the tester comes out with moist crumbs.
6. After cooling for 10 minutes on counter, remove brownies from pan, lifting the aluminum overhang. Place in refrigerator for 1 hour, frost with cream cheese frosting, then return to fridge for 1-2 hours. Trust me, these bad boys are good when they're warm but incredible when they're cold.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

So, here's the thing: I hate carrots.
I'm also allergic to them (raw), but even before that weird allergy sprang up, I hated them anyway.
Maybe it was the bad early life experience I had with them.....
The story goes that when I was a year old, my parents and I were at a party and they were chatting with a doctor, who saw me and said "oh, she loves carrots, doesn't she?" My parents said yes and asked how he knew. His response? "well, her skin is a little orange."

My mother was understandably angry, and I'm pretty sure she told him off. I don't remember the first time they told me the story, but I was a little wary of carrots after that point. Also, they made my throat itchy and my mouth feel weird and my chest got tight (eventually we realized this was an allergy).
I've always avoided carrot cake at all costs, but then my colleagues asked me to make it. So I made cupcakes. Guess what? Incredible. You can't even taste the carrots, which is astonishing, because there are three cups!
The cream cheese frosting is delicious as well. And guess what? They won't turn your skin orange :)
Carrot Cake Cupcakes
Yield: ~2 dozen
The Cupcakes (courtesy of Pinch of Yum)
Flour- 2 c, sifted
Sugar- 2 c
Cinnamon- 2 tsp
Baking soda- 2 tsp
Salt- 1/4 tsp
Carrots- 3 c (~7 large carrots)
Vegetable oil- 1 1/3 c
Eggs- 4
1. Whisk flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl.
2. Stir in the vegetable oil and carrots. Add eggs one at a time and mix thoroughly.
3. Fill cupcake liners ~3/4 full and bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes.
Cream Cheese Frosting (courtesy of The Comfort of Cooking)
Cream cheese- 12 oz
Unsalted butter- 7 1/2 tbsp, room temp
Vanilla extract- 1 tbsp
Powdered sugar- 3 3/4 c, sifted
1. Beat cream cheese and butter on medium speed until combined and smooth, ~2-3 minutes. Add vanilla extract and beat 30 seconds.
2. Gradually add the powdered sugar until totally incorporated. Increase the speed and beat until smooth. If the frosting is runny, refrigerate for 30min-1 hour.

I suggest/insist you refrigerate these cupcakes and eat them cold- it takes them to the next level!

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