Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Mummy cupcakes


Considering that I LOVE Halloween, I have been shockingly poor on the Halloween baking front in the past. Two years ago I made some spider cupcakes and last year I made.... nothing. I think I get so caught up in buying tacky decorations and any kind of chocolate or sweets in the shape of witch hats or pumpkins with faces that I end up overlooking the baking (and being unable to justify more sweet things in the house).

This year however it is a different story! I have restricted myself to two bags of chocolate eyeballs from Tesco and therefore must force myself to bake. A couple of years ago Mike bought me the Lily Vanilli 'A zombie ate my cupcake' book and I decided to go for something from there. It's a great book if you love your Halloween baking, some of the stuff looks so realistic that it actually turns me a bit! - click here for a few examples.

I decided on the Monstrous Mummy cupcakes - I must admit I went for the simplest one because I had a bit of a bake-a-thon on my hands yesterday for a cake for Mike's sister's birthday (which will be making an appearance soon). I just used my basic go to chocolate cupcake recipe for the cakes and then mummified them to the max! Here's how...

30g unsalted butter, softened
300g icing sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
2 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp white powder food colouring
Red and black food colouring, or if you're lazy like me - red and black writing icing!

1. Beat the butter with an electric mixer until smooth.
2. Add in icing sugar, vanilla extract and salt and beat on low speed until combined.
3. Beat on medium until smooth.
4. Add the milk and powder food colouring and beat until light and fluffy. I must say that I had to add a couple of tablespoons more milk as the mixture was so stiff - it is meant to be very firm but this was a bit extreme!
5. If you're using red and black food colouring, set aside 2 tbsp of frosting for later.


Use a number 47 tip to pipe on the frosting, as you can see from the pictures - in layered lines going straight across the top half of the cupcake, then in diagonal layered lines at either side to leave a triangular shape in the middle. Colour the frosting red and pipe on two eyes (number 8 tip), then colour the spare 2 tbsp of frosting black for the pupils (number 4 tip). Or be lazy like me and use writing icing. I think it's probably worth doing it properly with the colouring/right nozzles though, if you can.


I'm entering these Mummy Cupcakes to the Calender Cakes October Challenge, hosted by Dolly Bakes this month and Laura Loves Cakes.
Next year I do want to push the boat out on the Halloween baking - I've seen some amazing bakes this year so far but I think my favourite was this Zombie Graveyard cake from Butter Hearts Sugar.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Mint chocolate whoopie pies - United Bakes of America

Ever since eating my first whoopie pie from the Hummingbird Bakery back in April, and with the exciting discovery of marshmallow fluff in Asda, I have been itching to try making them myself. And finally, I have! I had a couple of bags of mint chocolate M&Ms hanging around that I had forbidden myself to eat as I wanted to bake with them, and with Halloween around the corner an idea started to form... I would make green slime whoopie pies! Due to lack of decent quality food colouring, green-tinged slime would be more accurate, though.

Not quite the smooth perfectly formed Hummingbird ones, but still quite tasty
For those of you who haven't heard of whoopie pies, they are like a spongey cookie sandwich with a fluffy marshmallowy filling. The basic chocolate whoopie pie recipe I used is from the Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days book, and I added some crushed mint M&Ms to the sponge batter, and some peppermint essence and green food colouring to the filling. Mint and chocolate is definitely one of my favourite flavour combinations cake-wise now, it always goes down well and these disappeared quite quickly at work today even though I had thought people would have been put off by the size.

I was worried that they would be very fiddly to make, but as long as you plan time in for chilling of the batter and filling, and have some patience in dolloping them on to the tray, they are not too much trouble at all. Unless this was just beginner's luck of course. Here is the recipe if you want to try them yourself - the recipe states this makes 8-10 pies, and I got 9 out of it.

1 large egg
150g caster sugar
125g plain yoghurt
25ml whole milk
1/4 tsp vanilla essence
75g unsalted butter
200g plain flour
80g cocoa powder
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
2-3 bags mint M&Ms, bashed up (I got mine from Mr Simms sweet shop in Knutsford for anyone local)

1. Think! Have you got time/space to chill your batter? (Or are you lucky enough to have a bigger fridge than my mini-bar style one?! -it took me a while to get a configuration where it would fit!)
2. Cream the egg and the sugar until pale and fluffy.
3. Mix the yoghurt, milk and vanilla essence together in a jug, then add to the mixture. Melt the butter and mix in on a medium speed.
4. Sift together the remaining dry ingredients and add in two batches, mixing well on medium speed after each, then fold in the bashed M&Ms.


5. Put the batter in the fridge to chill for about 30 minutes.
6. Preheat the oven to 170c and line two baking sheets with baking paper.
7. Now for the fiddly bit. Spoon the batter on to the trays, there should be enough for 16-20 mounds (mine made 18). They need to be 3-5cm in diameter and spaced 2-3cm apart to allow for spreadage!


8. Bake for 10-13 minutes until springy to the touch (mine took more like 20 minutes as they were quite big I think!), then place on a wire rack to cool completely.


For the filling:

170g unsalted butter, softened
280g icing sugar
220g marshmallow fluff
1 tsp peppermint extract
few drops green food colouring

1. Mix together the butter and icing sugar on a low speed until blended.
2. Lightly mix in the marshmallow fluff, then mis on high until light and fluffy.
3. Add a teaspoon of peppermint essence and a few drops of green food colouring (if using) and mix in.
4. Put into the fridge for around 30 minutes to firm up.
5. To assemble the pies, sandwich two of the sponges together with about 1 tbsp of the filling to make a sandwich.

You can buy special whoopie pie tins like this one, which would probably be very handy if you want lovely smooth looking and all-the-same-size pies. Mine were quite beastly and not very smooth, but they really weren't too bad on the mis match front so as long as you take the time to spoon out the batter evenly you should be fine.

Obligatory seasonal photo!
It's not the greenist of slimes admittedly, so next year I will be getting some heavier duty food colouring!

I'm entering these whoopie pies into the United Bakes of America challenge hosted by Cupcake Crazy Gem.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Cakes Not From Kim: Betty's Tearooms

Another part of my 30th birthday celebrations (yes, I really did string it out!) was a trip to Harrogate in May with my best friend, who turned 30 back in February. We stayed in a gorgeous apartment with our own patio and were really lucky to have roasting hot weather while we were away... almost a bit too hot!

Anyway, no trip to Harrogate would be complete without a visit to Betty's and so we went along to check it out. We'd been past earlier on in the day and noticed that people were queueing down the street to get in, so went back about 5pm when it was a lot quieter.


It was a lot different to what I was expecting - a lot posher! It was very airy and light inside, and somehow felt like we'd gone back in time. I loved that you had to 'ask to see the cake trolley' and a waitress dutifully wheeled it over and gave us a rundown of what was on offer. I was a bit disappointed that there wasn't any 'proper' cakes on it (I was craving a slab of victoria sponge!) but everything on there did look so pretty and dainty even though it wasn't my kind of thing.

Delyth went for a meringue type thing...


... and I settled on a fat rascal, mainly because I liked the name! I wouldn't normally go for anything with fruit in, but I really was craving a big fat hunk of something and this definitely fitted the bill! Although I did feel guilty for not getting anything off the cake trolley.


I of course had tea and it was very traditional as you would expect - strainer and everything! One thing I don't get about these silver tea sets is how you are meant to pour the tea without getting third degree burns! The handles always get so hot - seriously how are you meant to do it - and look refined and civilised at the same time?!?!


It was very nice - and quite expensive - but well worth it for the old fashioned tea room experience. But if buttercream loaded cupcakes and red velvet is what you're after, you won't find it here!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Grandma's Gingerbread Cake

The theme for the Runcorn and Widnes Clandestine Cake Club in July was 'Inherited Indulgences' so I immediately knew I was going to have to bake something from my Grandma's cookbook collection, which I've blogged about before.

I also knew I wanted to make her ginger cake. It was always my favourite cake that she made, and it would also force me to find the recipe once and for all. Looking through her books before I hadn't seen anything I thought looked right and I thought that I would just have to make every gingerish cake I could see in the books, but on closer inspection, I came across a 'gingerbread' recipe that had a few tweaks scribbled on so I reckoned I had struck gold!


The recipe caused a bit of confusion -1 gill of milk and 1 egg reconstituted?!? Turns out a gill is 1/4 pint and a normal egg will do (I'm still not sure what a reconsituted egg is...). I had a practice go as I wanted to test the recipe out and run it past my Mum to confirm that it was the one. And it was!

It is a very plain and modest cake but packs a big ginger punch (depending on how generous your tsp of ginger is!), and is great with a cup of tea. It tastes even better the next day, too. It is also a good 'store cupboard' recipe - all of the ingredients are usually skulking away in my baking cupboard and since it only needs 1 egg is great for using up any lonely eggs!



4oz plain flour
4oz wholemeal flour
1 generous tsp ground ginger
4oz butter or margarine
1/4 pint milk
4oz golden syrup or treacle (I used golden syrup)
1 egg
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1.5oz brown sugar

1. Sieve all the dry ingredients (apart from the soda) into a bowl, and add the sugar.
2. Melt the butter and syrup together in a pan.
3. Warm the milk and mix with the soda (I didn't bother warming it myself).
4. Add the egg into the dry ingredients, followed by the butter/syrup, and the soda/milk. Mix together.
5. Pour into a greased and lined 8 x 10 inch tin and bake for 40-45 minutes at 190c.
6. Cool and cut into squares to serve.


I'm so glad I've managed to dig out this recipe - the parkin I made first definitely took me back to childhood but it was nothing on this one! I think it just goes to show the power of cake - I love how it can bring back memories and take you back to another time with just a whiff or a taste. I think my Grandma would have found it hilarious that I was taking her ginger cake along to a cake club to share with people - hopefully I did her proud with it.
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