Saturday, 27 April 2013

Mother's Day cupcakes

 I decided to go 'back to basics' this Mother's Day and made some vanilla cupcakes with lemon buttercream. Sometimes, you just can't beat the taste of a nice, plain, simple cupcake.

To jazz them up a bit, I picked out a pretty box and some nice cases, made some butterflies and letters out of sugarpaste, and piped the buttercream in a rose swirl. Rose swirls are definitely my favourite kind of piping, it's so quick and easy to do and makes for a simple but classic effect.

I think she liked them. But to be honest, she had a piece of El Gringo cake aswell on the day and I think that stole their thunder a little! Hopefully that was the first and last time my mother has ingested tequila!

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

El Gringo Margarita cake

This is a cake borne out of an obsession. An obsession with cheese....

Back in March, I was aware that a new limited edition cheese was on the horizon - the El Gringo, from the Cheshire Cheese Company, which was a cheddar cheese with tequila, lime and chilli, or to put it another way - the cheese of dreams. Normally, I can limit myself to buying 'special cheese' at food festivals only, but I knew I would have to get my greedy paws on the Mexican cheesy goodness as a matter of urgency.

Unfortunately for Mike, the El Gringo was released during a week off work, which meant I became obsessed with tracking it down (and also possibly temporarily insane) - ordering it online and waiting DAYS was just not going to cut it. Happily we discovered there was a food festival happening in Wigan where the cheese was to be available, so I forced Mike to drive us there and I obtained two truckles of the Mexican beast from Deano, the slightly bemused stallholder. Possibly the shortest trip anyone has ever made to Wigan, we were there approximately 24 minutes!

I feel that this photo captures the mood of the day!
So since I now had Mexican cheese, we had to have a Mexican evening, which meant nachos smothered in El Gringo, followed by chilli, followed by... well, what exactly? Apart from churros I really couldn't think of any Mexican desserts and my thoughts turned to cake... so I decided to make a cake based homage to my new obsession El Gringo, but swapped out the chilli for orange to make a margarita cake! I looked for a recipe, but didn't really see anything that caught my eye, so I decided to tweak this recipe for orange drizzle cake, make up some tequila buttercream and see if it would work.

It worked. Hurrah! I was really pleased with how it turned out. I was confident the cake would be good as the recipe was a cracker when I had made it in it's original form, and the buttercream went very well with it. I'm not sure I could identify the taste as tequila if I didn't know that's what it was, but it definitely gave it a different twist to usual buttercream.


I'd love to try this recipe again and make it into a more dramatic layer cake, as I feel that a tequila fuelled cake should look a bit more flamboyant somehow!

Here is the recipe, if you would like to try it yourself:

For the cake:
175g butter, softened
175g caster sugar
3 large eggs
Grated rind of 1 orange and 1 lime
175g self raising flour
2 tbsp milk

For the drizzle:
45ml freshly squeezed orange juice
30ml freshly squeezed lime juice
10ml tequila
100g granulated sugar

For the buttercream:
500g icing sugar
160g unsalted butter
50ml of tequila and freshly squeezed lime juice (I used 2 tbsp tequila with the rest lime juice)

1. Preheat oven to 180c and grease/line a 18cm deep cake tin.
2. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat.
3. Add the orange and lime rinds, flour and milk and fold into the mixture.
4. Spoon the mixture into the tin and bake for 30-40 mins. A skewer inserted into the centre should come out clean.
5. Cool in the tin.
6. When cool, score or prick the top of the cake.
7. Put the fruit juices and sugar into a pan and heat until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to boil and boil for 1-2 mins, then pour over the cake. Let the juice soak in, then remove the cake from the tin.
8. To make the buttercream, mix the butter and icing sugar in an electric mixer until combined, then beat on a high speed for 5 mins. Gradually add the tequila and lime juice and mix until combined.
9. Spread the buttercream over the top and sides of the cake, and decorate with lime zest.

Disclaimer! This  post is in no way an advertisement, a sponsored post, or anything to do with the Cheshire Cheese Company. I just really like their cheese and felt that I should tell the full story behind the cake!

Friday, 12 April 2013

Not Cakes From Kim: Sweet chilli and tomato chutney

I LOVE chutney - chutney stalls are probably the second place you should look for me if you ever lose me at a food festival (cheese stalls being the first). I had high hopes of mastering the dark art of chutney making last year so everyone I know could have received jars of it for Christmas adorned with pretty labels and ribbons, but of course I didn't bother pulling my finger out and trying any recipes, so it was a chutney-less Christmas for all who know me! (I'm not even sure how many people I know would actually eat chutney but still, might have made a nice change from having cakes forced upon them...!)

So I had a week off in March and decided it was time to give it a go. I'd had this Pink Whisk recipe for sweet chilli and tomato chutney (a firm favourite flavour) bookmarked for a while which looked like a good place to start, having really good step-by-step instructions and handy photos, so off I went.

Well, I don't really know what else so say other than the recipe was super easy and BLOODY GORGEOUS. I was intending to make Ruth's recipe for tartlets to use up the chutney if I had to, but it all got gobbled down by us mostly as an accompaniment to chillis (though also lovely with cheese), and doled out around some friends and family who volunteered to take some off my hands after I posted a picture on Facebook - one of them even said she wouldn't mind a regular supply, which was great feedback!

You'll need to set aside a few hours, but most of it you just need to be hanging around keeping an eye on it, so it was a great excuse for me to sit guilt-free and watch back to back episodes of SATC which I am currently working my way through. I don't have any other hints or tips, because the recipe should tell you everything you need to know. If you're a chutney newcomer I can definitely recommend this chutney as a good place to start! We have just finished the last of this batch and so I am on the hunt for a new recipe to try - if you have any recommendations I would love to hear them? 

Monday, 1 April 2013

Peanut butter and toblerone cheesecake

Another post that isn't a cake! We were having some friends over a few weeks ago and I wanted to make a nice dessert. Proper desserts aren't something I've made very many of, I'm definitely more of a cake girl, and plus, I'd always rather have a boozy coffee or a cheeseboard than a dessert (or seconds from the main course...!).

Anyway, I had had a Peanut butter and Toblerone cheesecake on my 'to bake' list for a while, and as it was a 'no bake' recipe I thought it would be a fairly quick and easy dessert. And the only springform tin I had was the exact right size. AND it had an Oreo base and it's been a while since I indulged that little obsession of mine.. so you can see, I was struggling to think of a reason why I shouldn't make it. (Although one did present itself when I weighed out the ingredients and realised the sheer volume of cream cheese involved, but I was too far down the line then!)

It was super easy to make - the most difficult bit was chopping the Toblerone! And for extra fun/stress relief, bash up the Oreos yourself rather than whizzing them in a food processor! The recipe says chill for minimum 3 hours or ideally overnight - I can definitely vouch for the overnight chilling, it was still quite soft after a good 8 hours of chilling so next time, I'll make it even more in advance. I possibly should have waited until serving before adding the peanut M&M's because the colours ran quite a bit.

This is very good cheesecake - rich, creamy and a little bit different. It is also massive so make sure you've got a lot of people you can give it to, otherwise reduce the recipe (or risk a few inches on your waistline, because trust me you won't be able to not eat it...)
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