Friday, 18 May 2012

Chocolate & Strawberry

My mum has the biggest sweet tooth ever and will often order a starter instead of a main meal to make sure she has maximum room for dessert! So on special occasions it's never difficult to think up something to make for her, since she loves pretty much anything sweet. One of her favourite things though is the strawberry cremes from Roses, so for Mother's Day I decided to make some cupcakes inspired by her favourite chocolate!

These are straightforward chocolate cupcakes decorated with strawberry buttercream from a Lola's Cupcakes recipe. It's basically buttercream with 4 mashed up strawberries beaten in. It gives the buttercream a zingy fresh strawberry flavour and a lovely natural pinky colour. My only niggle was the buttercream was quite sloppy so the rose piping didn't stand out as much - with hindsight I might add more icing sugar in future if I want to pipe it nicely... or stick it in the fridge for a bit.

All packed up and ready to go
Fairy cakes with the leftovers!
It was Mum's birthday just a few weeks after Mother's Day, and she seemed to like the cupcakes so much that I thought I would make a cake version. Again, it's just a standard chocolate sponge, sandwiched together and topped with the strawberry buttercream. I was going to ice the sides aswell but I wasn't sure if I had enough buttercream so thought I'd better not start! Having seen this lovely cake on Jo's blog recently, if I made this again I would cover it in rose swirls like that - buttercream consistency permitting!

This chocolate cake and strawberry combo is definitely a winner and I like the colours together - originally I wasn't sure if it would work. I would stick to a lighter chocolate cake to go with it though - mine was just a victoria sponge with added cocoa powder - unless you can handle your cakes mega sickly sweet!

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Oreo baking: United Bakes of America!

After much comment-drooling over Oreo bakes I've seen on other blogs, when the theme for my first ever Clandestine Cake Club in February was 'All Your Favourite Things' it just HAD to be Oreo related. I don't know where my Oreo obsession came from, I'm not even really a biscuit person and even then I'm more partial to a Malted Milk or plain old Digestive!

Since it was my first one I decided to play it safe and use my trusty chocolate cake recipe (original here on Afeitar's blog) and then just Oreo it up to the max. I crushed up some Oreos and mixed them into vanilla buttercream for the filling, then covered with the buttercream and stuck some mini Oreos into piped blobbed flowers on top (blobbed flowers are fast becoming my cake signature!). I was really pleased with the effect and was quite happy to overhear some lovely comments from people at the cake club on how it looked!

I enjoyed the CCC, while it was really nerve-racking introducing myself to the group and wondering whether my cake would look rubbish next to everyone else's, it was lovely to meet up with other like-minded cakey people and discover a new venue. As the themes are quite broad, there was such a range of cakes to try that there would always be something for everyone! Plus you get to fill your cake tin up with cake to take home at the end, although I am in awe of anyone who can face cake for the week after the event as I certainly struggled!

Of course I had bought far too many Oreos than necessary so I decided to try another Oreo bake and had seen a few recipes where you stuck a whole Oreo in the bottom of the cupcake case before filling with mixture. After an online trawl for recipes I went with this Lorraine Pascale one and just added in the whole cookies at the bottom first. I was sceptical about how it would turn out but I have to say they were delicious! Loved the Oreo surprise waiting at the bottom and the cake/cookie combo was really nice. Definitely onto the make again list!

Thanks to Mike for restraining himself for long enough for that last photo to be taken! He doesn't take too kindly to his cake consumption being interrupted!

I am entering these Oreo cupcakes into Cupcake Crazy Gem's United Bakes of America challenge! If you're baking any American recipes or with American ingredients this month you have until the 30th to enter!

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Reese's cups birthday cake

My best friend's birthday is now always a reason to bake, but since it was her 30th this year I wanted to make something extra good! Since she is a big peanut butter/Reese's cups fan I decided to try to make a cake version of them.

After much internet scouring for inspiration, I decided to stick with my now failsafe chocolate cake (originally taken from Afeitar) and do some peanut butter frosting as follows:

115g butter, softened
260g smooth peanut butter
45ml milk
250g icing sugar

1. Beat the butter and peanut butter together until light and fluffy.
2. Gradually beat in the icing sugar.
3. Mix in a little milk a tablespoon at a time.

I sandwiched the cake together with the peanut butter frosting and then covered the cake with the frosting also. I then halved some Reese's peanut butter cups to line around the base of the cake. I had loads of ideas of how to decorate the cake, and was originally going to put some chopped cups into the swirls, but I got nervous and didn't trust myself (and also squashed the first few cups I tried to quarter!). So I decided that less is more and just blobbed some frosting around the outside with my trusty Wilton 1M nozzle, and iced her name on. Is it just me that doubts how to spell things when using writing icing!? Suddenly I lose all my confidence spelling words I've written my whole life!

I modestly hailed this cake a resounding success and the birthday girl also approved! I'm not hugely keen on peanut butter so I wasn't sure if I would like it myself, but because the cake itself was just chocolate it wasn't too sickly. I think cupcake versions of this would also be good! I've made this again since, so it will be making another appearance, I've got a lot to catch up on!
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