home made cakes for special days and elevenses

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Mini coffee, almond and blackcurrant cakes

I have a fabulous new cake tin from Lakeland, and a new favourite cake to go with it. To make these mini coffee, almond and blackcurrant cakes I adapted the quantities of a recipe I developed for the Good Food Channel web site last year. I haven't managed to find the perfect quantity to make the 12 mini cakes that this tin will hold, but this recipe makes 9-10 deliciously moist and flavoursome little treats.

Coffee, Almond and Blackcurrant Mini Cakes
Makes: 9

For the cakes:
1 tsp instant coffee granules (for a subtle coffee flavour)
2 tsp boiling water
110g unsalted butter, softened
110g golden caster sugar
100g self raising flour
20g ground almonds
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp milk

For the buttercream:
½ tsp instant coffee granules
1 tsp boiling water
100g icing sugar
30g butter, softened
1 tsp milk

To fill:
Blackcurrant jam

1. For the cakes: Preheat oven to 180C/160 fan/gas 4. Grease ten of the mini sandwich tins.

2. Dissolve the coffee granules in the boiling water and leave to cool a little.

3. Cream together the softened butter and sugar, until pale and fluffy.  Add the sifted flour and almonds, and the beaten eggs, to the butter and sugar. Beat to combine.

4. Add the milk and dissolved coffee granules, being careful not to over beat the mixture.

5. Divide the mixture between 9 of the tins and bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until the cakes begin to come away from the sides of the tins. Allow to cool for a few minutes before removing from the tin.

6. For the buttercream: Dissolve the coffee granules in the boiling water and set aside. Sift the icing sugar into a large bowl.

7. Rub the softened butter into the icing sugar using the back of a wooden spoon, and add the coffee and milk. Whisk with an electric mixer for a few minutes, until light and fluffy.

8. To decorate: Once the cakes have cooled, split each one in half with a knife.  Spread a layer of blackcurrant jam onto the underside of one, and buttercream onto the other. Sandwich together and dust the tops with icing sugar.

The cakes can be a little fiddly to remove from the tins, but I find that the best way is to place a cooling rack on top and turn the whole tin over. As the tins are loose bottomed, a gentle push from underneath should pop the cakes out onto the rack. Any stubborn ones should come out with the help of a sharp knife around the side of the tin. I greased my tin with butter, but I see from the online reviews that some people prefer to use cake release.

The tin is available on the Lakeland website*. It's not especially cheap but it is a good quality product and pretty versatile. I'm thinking of trying individual cheesecakes or even tiny Christmas cakes in mine soon. I love that there are a couple of spare bases provided with the tin as well, as I am bound to lose one before too long!

* this is not a sponsored post, my tin was a birthday present from a thoughtful brother! 

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

A kids' birthday cake catch up

Thought I would share some children's birthday cakes that I made over the last few weeks, featuring the Ninja Turtles, a cinema theme, Peep and the Big Wide World, and superheroes. These are all first attempts at these particular designs, so still a bit of room for improvement. 

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Fig and frangipane tart recipe

Having only really eaten figs with cheese I was keen to try them in a sweet recipe. Figs are in season at the moment and can be picked up pretty cheaply in the supermarkets and on the market stalls, so it seemed a good time to play around with some recipes.

First up is this yummy fig and frangipane tart. It is delicious served warm, but also very good cold, especially when accompanied by a big dollop of crème fraiche.

Fig and Frangipane Tart

Serves: 8-10 slices 

For the pastry:
175g plain flour
1tbs caster sugar
100g very cold butter
1 egg yolk
1 tbs iced water

For the figs:
4 tbs red wine
2 tbs light brown sugar
4-5 figs

For the frangipane:
120g soft butter
120g caster sugar
1 egg, beaten
120g ground almonds
1 tbs plain flour

1. For the pastry: Place the flour and sugar into a food processor and pulse until combined. Add the butter and mix until the butter resembles breadcrumbs.  Add the egg yolk and water, and mix until the pastry begins to come together in a ball.  

If making the pastry by hand, stir the flour and sugar together in a bowl. Use the tips of your fingers to rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and water and bring the pastry together into a ball.

2. Flatten the pastry into a disc, wrap in clingfilm and leave to rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.

3. For the figs: Warm the wine and brown sugar in a saucepan, until the sugar has dissolved. Cut each fig in half, and then cut each half into three equal sections. Place into a bowl and pour the wine over. Leave to soak, stirring occasionally, but be careful not to damage the fig pieces.

4. For the pastry: Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4. Roll out the pastry to approximately 3mm thick and use to line a loose bottomed tart tin (approx. 20cm diameter).  Prick the bottom with a fork, and cover with foil or parchment before filling with baking beans.

5. Bake for 15 minutes then remove the baking beans and foil/parchment. Return to the oven for a further five minutes, then set aside to cool slightly.

6. For the frangipane: Cream together the softened butter and sugar, until pale and fluffy, gradually adding the beaten egg. Fold in the almonds and flour.

7. Press the frangipane into the pastry case and level off with the back of a spoon. Strain the figs, reserving the red wine. Arrange the figs on top of the frangipane, with the inside facing upwards, pushing them in gently.

8. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the frangipane is set. Leave to cool before removing from the tin.

9. Reduce the red wine and sugar by warming in a saucepan, until it has thickened slightly, then drizzle over the tart. Serve with crème fraiche.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Farmyard birthday party

In the summer I made some goodies for a little boy's party, which was held at Bockett's Farm in Surrey. The birthday boy's mum decides on a different theme each year, and always comes up with fabulous ideas for a beautifully styled party, with amazing attention to detail. Luckily for me, she also takes beautiful photographs and sends them to me, as well as putting lots on her own blog, The Lilac Pages.

This year I made farm animal cupcakes, decorated cookies and cake pops. I can't take credit for the design of the hatching chick cake pops, as these were spotted on another blog, but I think they look great displayed in their egg boxes.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Princess party

I just love these pictures of two beautiful princesses tucking in to the mini birthday cakes I made them. 

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

An art lover's birthday cake

I have a new favourite piece of cake crafting kit - some fabulous picture frame moulds by FPC Sugarcraft. I have had my eye on them for a while and finally found an excuse to buy them when I received an order for a Modigliani themed cake.

I thought that some little edible printed images of Modigliani's paintings would look great framed by antique style frames, decorating the top of a cake, like the wall of a gallery. I was a bit nervous that the frames would be tricky to remove from the moulds, especially the oval one, but with a liberal dusting of gold or silver lustre they came out quite easily.

I'm looking forward to using these frames again, perhaps with some printed family photographs, or I could try a bit more cake painting (see my Harry Potter cake post from February).

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Blackberry and White Chocolate Muffins

Last Saturday the kids and I jumped on our bikes and cycled through the local park, towards the canal, collecting blackberries as we went. We saw a lot of people out doing the same thing, but despite their overflowing bowls there plenty there for us to forage as well. We got stung by the stinging nettles, scratched by the brambles, and Noah took a tumble on his new bike, but we had a lovely afternoon.

After some deliberation we decided that we would bake with the blackberries, and that muffins were the way to go. I think that muffins are a great thing to bake when you have two little helpers, as one can take care of the bowl containing the dry ingredients, and one gets the other bowl with the wet ingredients, so they only really have to take it in turns when it all gets mixed together.

We came up with our own blackberry and white chocolate muffin recipe, which we were very happy with. I sense a return trip to the park with the tupperware before too long.

Blackberry and White Chocolate Muffins
Like most muffins , these are best eaten on the day they are made, and are especially tasty fresh from the oven. The tart berries are complimented beautifully by the sweet white chocolate, making for a moreish, tasty treat.

Makes: 15 muffins 

275g self raising flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
100g golden caster sugar
240ml milk
1 large egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
90g melted butter
 140g blackberries
100g white chocolate chunks

1. Preheat oven to 190°C/170°C fan/gas 5. Line mini muffin tins with 15 paper cases.
2. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and sugar into a large bowl and stir.
3. Measure the milk into a jug or bowl, and add the beaten egg, vanilla and melted butter. Mix together.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until just combined. Don’t worry if there are lumps.
5. Gently stir through the blackberries and white chocolate, taking care not to over mix.
6. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases, and bake for approximately 25 minutes.