I ‘dig’ this cake!

14 Apr

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I had to share one of my favourite cake orders so far! The lucky little boy received a train, plane and automobile cake, cupcakes and cookies last year – see earlier post http://ilovejenscupcakery.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/planes-trains-and-automobiles/ so I eagerly awaited this year’s theme which was…. diggers!

Now I’m no digger expert so time for some planning. The customer decided on a round vanilla sponge with a fondant digger on top rather than a whole cake shaped like a digger (phew), some little cupcakes to go with it and some cookies too.

Cue, scramble to get a digger cake cutter from Ebay (I could have printed off a template, traced around it, blah blah but sometimes tracing and copying and lining up etc is just one step too far in a busy life!) I also found a company that had cute little digger and lorry wafer icing toppers too, so that was the little accessories dealt with.

I made some simple vanilla sugar cookies which bake hard enough to take fondant icing and remain crunchy!  I cut out with the cutters before baking and then when cold, used the cutter to make the same shapes in yellow fondant, stuck to the biscuit with some warm apricot jam and then added the detail with strips of fondant icing and edible pen. By the way, just invested in some fantastic new Americolour gourmet writer  pens from the US which are much the best I’ve tried so far, giving a thin enough nib for fine detail or a broader line if you adjust the angle.

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Next came the cute little digger – we would like to point out to all you digger experts out there that this is not a technically perfect specimen! creative licence I think it is called :-) Formed out of yellow fondant with fondant accessories and then some mud formed out of Flake chocolate bars (they make perfect edible mud). Ah, so cute, you just want to…gobble him up!

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Leaving him to dry overnight, I concentrated on making the sponge cake and letting that cool, before splitting and filling with a vanilla buttercream and strawberry jam inside and a light green fondant on the outside.  A board covered with a darker green fondant became the base for the digger (ok, he’s so cute we have to name him, let’s say Digbert) and then I added the grass with a grass tip nozzle and some little fondant flowers just to finish it off.

Eh Voila! There we have Digbert the Digger vanilla sponge cake with mini vanilla cupcakes topped off with wafer digger/lorries and vanilla sugar cookie diggers, all for a happy little 2-year-old. The customer sent me a lovely note afterwards saying “his little face lit up when he saw it” and you can’t ask for better than that can you?

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Springing into cake action…

12 Mar

The scent of Spring has most definitely arrived in the air this week so I decided to pay homage with suitably seasonal creations!

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Little yellow chicks created from sugarpaste float on a turquoise buttercream sea that swirls atop mini lemon cupcakes… (it will feel  so mean to chomp into one of those cute little chicks :-0)

In the background, you can see some chocolate cake pops covered in blue candy melts and festooned with a mult- coloured carpet of Spring flowers.

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But for the Spring finale, here’s a  chocolate cake, carved to form a grassy mound with bunny holes, topped with white sugarpaste painted with edible green paste. The rocks were made from white sugarpaste with a touch of black paste ‘twisted’ in to the white until you get a mottled effect reminiscent I hope of little boulders!  

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The bunnies were made with brown sugarpaste and just a touch of white for the tail, black for the eyes and pink for their cute little noses and they are playing amongst little yellow sugarpaste flowers cut out using a small plunger cutter.

If that doesn’t put a spring in your step, I don’t know what will… ;-)

 

How to conquer the giant cupcake!

11 Mar

Once upon a time there was a baker who could conjure up all manner of delectable delights; fluffy sponges, curvaceous cupcakes, buttery biscuits and pretty pastries. She felt no fear.

raspberry

Until one day, the giant cupcake came along….

With blind faith, she mixed her batter, greased the giant cupcake tin, filled the generous proportions and into the oven it went. She merrily went about her business, whipping up some creamy frosting and  looking forward to icing this super-sized delight.  45 minutes later, the cupcake was out of the oven and cooling its jets on a wire rack. The time came to gently persuade it out of its tin and lo, her baking bubble burst for it resisted and it stuck and by the time she had coaxed it out of the tin, it was a hot mess with cracks like craters all over the top.! And so began this baker’s battle with the giant cupcake!

After many months of trying different methods, she finally managed to master this massive mound of cake and icing and giant cupcake orders were welcomed with open arms and well greased mould…

GIANT LEMON CUPCAKE

So, how did I do it…?

Well, lesson one: make sure you grease the mould/tin as thoroughly as if you were preparing a wall to be painted.:

Lesson two: where possible use a denser cake such as a madeira, or a chocolate fudge cake (or my all time best cake base of all times, my banana, rum and pecan..yum!)  Too light a sponge and it will collapse under the weight of icing.

Lesson three: make sure it is totally baked before taking out of oven, remember this is one big mamma cake, lots of depth to it.

Lesson four: once out of the oven, let it sit in it’s mould/tin till it’s properly cool. In fact, once it’s cool, I now put mine in the fridge till it’s really cold before attempting to peel away the layers.

I have to say I prefer the silicone moulds to the double tin you can buy, I find it cooks more evenly and comes out of its case more easily and boy, what a difference that makes!

So, this baker has conquered the giant cupcake, now time to settle scores with the humble scone…

GIANT CUPCAKES WITH FLOWERS

Another string to my bow…

10 Mar

It was one of those occasions when I am working on a client’s order and thinking to myself “there’s a faster way to do this.. but I can’t think what it is and I don’t have time to think what it is right now!”

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So, I painstakingly gathered together my white, black, blue, red and yellow sugarpaste and rustled through all the cupboards to find the right size cutters before patiently cutting out 20 circles of each and thanking goodness for my steady hands when placing one ring on top of the other!

I didn’t have time to make sugarpaste arrows so I improvised, luckily finding some coloured sandwich/canape flags I had tucked away..

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I simply rolled the paper part around the toothpick until it showed a little coloured end (well, artistic interpretation is everything is it not?) ;-)

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I then took my vanilla cupcakes (my go to recipe is printed below) and using my grass icing tip (Jem 233) I piped grass on each cupcake. The small tip tends to be a bit thin so I am going to get myself one of the large grass tip nozzles soon and get some proper grass action going on!

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After leaving the targets to harden up a bit, I placed on top of the icing and voila! some delicious vanilla cupcakes with archery themed decorations for a birthday boy!

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For those looking for a go-to vanilla cupcake recipe, feel free to use mine, it’s one of my best sellers with customers…

80g unsalted butter

270g caster sugar (sometimes I use the golden caster sugar to add a more treacley taste)

240g plain flour

3 tsp baking powder

2 eggs

240 ml room temperature milk

1 tsp good vanilla extract

Method

Cream the butter and sugar till light and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

When you have a nice fluffy mix, add a third of the flour (and baking powder) mix, then a third of the milk, then a third of flour etc till all mixed in. (Don’t over mix otherwise you will get a heavy sponge). Add in the vanilla extract.

Place in cupcake cases in the oven (around 160 fan) and bake for around 20 mins (this really does depend on your oven I have found).

You should have 12 lovely, golden, well risen cupcakes to enjoy :-)

If you want a deliciously creamy buttercream frosting, then I use:

500g icing sugar

110g unsalted butter

Around 50-60ml of milk (or I found to my delight, water results in just the same great texture and flavour)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Method

Mix altogether until light and soft and creamy then dollop on your cupcake if you’re in a hurry (or carefully pipe if you want a more elegant finish…here I added a touch of pink to give a rosy blush to my raspberry and almond cupcakes)…

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The perfect Autumn cupcake…

22 Oct

Ok, I know that’s a bit of a sweeping statement but, honestly, try them and you might just agree!  My customers at the Farmers Markets certainly do as they fly off the table…

apple with toffee frosting

Autumn’s here and I love it, it’s my favourite season; the perfect excuse to wrap up cosy, get into the kitchen and bake up a seasonal selection of delicious cakes.  The cake part is a beautiful blend of soft fluffy cinnamon scented sponge and toasted hazlenuts whilst, for those of you who prefer a slightly sour tang to a hefty sweet kick, the cream cheese frosting is the perfect addition (I prefer an even sharper bite so I go half mascarpone and half cream cheese!)

Here’s how folks… makes 10-12 delicious cupcakes.

Ingredients

80g unsalted butter

270g golden caster or soft brown sugar

2 medium eggs

240g plain flour

3 tsp baking powder

1 tsp good vanilla extract

½ apple (or 1 whole apple if you really like apple) cut into small cubes

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tbs chopped roasted hazlenuts

Cream cheese frosting (courtesy of Primrose Bakery – after experimenting with lots of different recipes, this is still the best!)

175g cream cheese (or half mascarpone and half cream cheese – full fat of course!)

450g icing sugar

125g unsalted butter

1/2 tsp cinnamon (if you like, if not, add 1/2 tsp of good vanilla extract)

Method

  • Preheat the oven to around 180°c (160° fan). Place cupcake wrappers in 12 hole cake tray (or you can use silicone moulds if you prefer).
  • Cream together the butter and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  • Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each.
  • Sieve the flour, baking powder and cinnamon into a bowl and add one third to your butter and sugar mix, followed by one third milk, until all is mixed in.
  • Add the vanilla extract (you need to use the good stuff for this not the thin vanilla essence)
  • Fold in the apple chunks and the hazlenuts.
  • Spoon into your cupcake cases and bake in an oven on  around 180°c (160° fan) for around 20 minutes but ovens vary so take a toothpick or cake tester to make sure.
  • Whilst the delicious little cupcakes are baking , prepare the cream cheese frosting
  • Mix together the icing sugar,  soft butter and cream cheese till blended but don’t mix too much or it loses its shape and gets too loose I find.
  • Transfer the baked cakes to the wire rack and take the cupcakes out of tin and cool. (tip: if you take them out straight away from the baking tin, the wrappers are less likely to pull away from the cake).

When they’ve cooled down, pipe or spread the cream cheese frosting on top and either sprinkle with some toasted hazlenuts or, if you’re feeling adventurous, roll some little apples out of marzipan, mix a little green paste colouring with a couple of drops of water (or vokda!) and paint them, finishing with a clove as a stalk.  Then sit back with a nice hot cuppa in one hand, a cupcake in the other and enjoy :-)

APPLE CINNAMON CUPCAKES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The deconstructed cupcake!

10 Sep

Oh dear, I can’t believe April was my last post, what a terrible blogger I have turned out to be!  It’s not even as if i can revert to childhood excuses like “the dog ate my blog” a) I don’t have a dog more’s the pity and b) technology has moved on since I was at school although I suppose a dog could chew a computer or tablet in theory…

Anyway, life has led me along it’s twists and turns and I’m afraid my blog has suffered but I’m back, still baking, still growing my business and excited about new products that I am introducing or have in the pipeline, such as my cupcakes in a jar or deconstructed cupcakes as I prefer to call them! Now, I know these aren’t a new idea but they are new to me and to my customers who loved them when I added them to my table of baked goodies at my regular pitch at Walton Farmers Market last weekend.

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walton market 4

Not only do they look cute ( I tried to get small wooden spoons as I felt they would add a more rustic look than the multi- coloured plastic ice cream spoons but nigh on impossible it seems in the UK.  Boy, do I need that buying trip to the USA though I hate to think of the excess baggage allowance on the way back :-0 ) BUT they also stay fresher longer and are much easier to transport.  As my plans for world domination have been a tad stymied by the impossibility of sending cupcakes through the post (unless the customer’s preference is for smooshed icing and crumbs), this might just be the opportunity to take Jen’s Cupcakery global (or to the other end of the UK at least!)

Anyway, one of my Twitter followers (@jenscupcakery for anybody that wants to know)  asked for the recipe for my “Luscious Lemon” cupcake in a jar so here it is… of course you could double this recipe and make a sheet cake and then just use a small dessert ring to cut out circles depending on the size of your jar.  The jars I am using are 190 ml (8.1cm x 6.6cm).

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Lemon sponge (makes about 12-14 cupcakes)

  • 80g unsalted butter
  • 270g caster sugar (sometimes I use golden caster sugar to add an extra oomph!)
  • 2 eggs
  • 240g plain flour
  • 3 tsps baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp good vanilla extract
  • 2 lemons grated (you can use more or less depending on how lemon-ey you like them)
  • 240ml milk (I tend to use semi-skimmed as a token effort to make them slightly more healthy!)

1) Cream the butter and sugar till soft and pale.

2) Add one egg and beat till mixed in and then add the other till batter is light and creamy.

3) Add flour and milk concurrently until the batter is smooth (but don’t mix too long otherwise it makes the batter heavy).

4) Add grated lemon rind to your taste (I tend to use the rind of two lemons).

5) Dollop into individual cupcake cases (this is where wastage comes in if you are using the cupcakes in a jar so you could make sheet cake or use silicone cupcake moulds).

6) Put in an oven at around 350 degrees f/170 degrees c for around 20 mins depending on your oven. You can use a cake tester or skewer to check if the cake is cooked sufficiently.

Lemon Buttercream

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  • 110g unsalted butter
  • 500g icing sugar sieved
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2/3 tsps of grated lemon

Mix all the ingredients together till smooth and creamy – as simple as that! :-)

Lemon Curd

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Now, if you’re short on time you can simply use a tablespoon of shop bought lemon curd but if you want to make your own, here’s a recipe I use (thanks to BBC Food Recipes).

  • 4 unwaxed lemons zest and juice
  • 200g unrefined caster sugar
  • 100g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 3 free-range eggs, plus 1 free-range egg yolk
  1. Put the lemon zest and juice, the sugar and the butter into a heatproof bowl. Sit the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, making sure the water is not touching the bottom of the bowl. Stir the mixture every now and again until all of the butter has melted.
  2. Lightly whisk the eggs and egg yolk and stir them into the lemon mixture. Whisk until all of the ingredients are well combined, then leave to cook for 10-13 minutes, stirring every now and again, until the mixture is creamy and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  3. Remove the lemon curd from the heat and set aside to cool, stirring occasionally as it cools. Once cooled, spoon the lemon curd into sterilised jars and seal. Keep in the fridge until ready to use.

Then comes the fun part! Simply cut your cupcake in half, squidge (carefully) one half into the bottom of the jar (I cleaned and sterilised mine before use), then add a layer of the cooled or shop bought lemon curd, then a dollop of the lovely tangy lemon buttercream, followed by the other half of the cake, more lemon curd and one more layer of buttercream. I finished mine with some crystallized lemon.. and there you have it… luscious lemon cupcake in a jar.  Enjoy!

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open lemon

Millionaire’s Shortbread Cupcakes

12 Apr

When I can’t sleep at night, it’s often because I am thinking about cake.  Not a bad thing to be causing insomnia I suppose!  Mostly it’s about cake recipes and trying to invent new ones.  Now, I am not saying this is a new one. In fact, if I googled Millionaire’s shortbread cupcakes, there would probably be reams of them but I shall remain in blissful ignorance and pretend I invented it!

Firstly, I whizzed a handful of digestive biscuits in my food processor (you could just as easily put them in a food friendly bag and bash with the end of a rolling pin, I would heartily recommend this option if you have had a bad day and need to let some frustration out!)  I think it was about 200g of biscuits in all.

digestives

I then melted some butter  (about 75g), just good old plain unsalted variety and mixed the biscuit crumb in. How easy is that! If only all baking was as simple.

I put a layer of this biscuity buttery crumb in the base of the cupcake cases and then added a blob of dulce de leche (or posh caramel sauce or translated correctly candy of milk). You can make this yourself by boiling a can of condensed milk for about three to four hours but that’s a bit of a hassle so I would recommend purchasing! (sorry for the pics, I was having a bad camera day).

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On some I added some rounds of banana (thereby turning it into a Millionaires Shortbread/Banoffie hybrid), whilst others I left as was and then topped with my usual chocolate cake batter.

mil and banana

Into the oven the decadent little beauties went whilst I made my buttercream (wondering whether to incorporate a bit of dulce de leche in that but deciding against though I may try that next time).

20 minutes later, the cakes had risen nicely and before they even cooled, I had to take a little taste just to make sure they were edible you understand :-)

millionaires shortbread cakes 1

I hadn’t quite packed the crumb down firmly enough so it was a bit too.. ahem crumbly at the base but a mouthful of that and then the caramel sauce and the chocolate cake was divine.  It actually didn’t need anything else but I topped with  buttercream anyway,  a drizzle of the caramel sauce and some chocolate shavings and a chocolate heart .  I would have liked to put a bit of shortcake crumble on top to finish but I didn’t have any. Next time though…

millionaires shortcake cupcakes cropped

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