Monday, 30 June 2014

Smarties cookies

It has taken me years to perfect cookies, whilst they are very simple and only require a few ingredients, everyone knows they need to be gooey on the inside and crunchy on the outside. This BBC Food recipe does exactly that.

First cream together 125g of butter with 100g of light brown sugar and 125g of caster sugar. Once combined, add an egg and 1 tsp of vanilla essence. 

Then add 225g of self raising flour and a pinch of salt. The recipe suggests adding chocolate chips but smarties look and taste a lot better!

Then make walnut-sized balls and place them on a greased baking tray, make sure you leave enough room for them to expand to prevent them from making one giant cookie.

Place in the oven at 180°C for between 7-10 minutes depending on how gooey you want them to be in the middle.

These are definitely best eaten the minute they come out of the oven!

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Lemon Cupcakes

These cupcakes are easy peasy lemon squeezy (excuse the pun) and take no time at all to make. The recipe is adapted from a Baking Mad orange cupcake recipe to make lemon cupcakes with a lemony frosting.

Just like any other cupcake recipe, first cream together 200g butter with 200g caster sugar until light and fluffy. Then add the zest of one lemon and the juice of half a lemon.

Once combined add in the 4 eggs - a top tip (which I must confess I found on the Baking Mad website) is to add a tablespoon of the flour to the eggs to prevent it from curdling. Then tip in the remaining 200g of self-raising flour to the mixture.

Place 24 cupcake cases into two muffin trays before spooning in the mixture. A great way to make sure all of the cake mixture is evenly distributed amongst the cupcakes is to use an ice-cream scoop to make sure each cupcake is the same size.

The cupcakes need to go in the oven at 180oc (fan 190oc) for 15-20 minutes or until brown.

Whilst the cupcakes are cooling, you can begin making the frosting; combine 200g cream cheese, 100g butter, 600g icing sugar and the remaining lemon juice. Then place it into a piping bag, wait until the cupcakes are cool and ice onto the cupcakes.

These cupcakes were made to celebrate Just Pootling's 1st birthday! So it was only right that they were decorated accordingly (with lots of glitter). The bunting and flags were made from Washi Tape and cocktail sticks.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Stripey Meringue Kisses

I first saw this recipe on Bakerella (my favourite baking blog ever) which was taken from the Meringue Girls cook book, the blog post featured a really helpful video on making meringues which is worth taking a look at. If you haven't heard of meringue kisses before they are little meringue bites with a crisp shell and a soft chewy centre.

To begin first spread out 300g of caster sugar on a baking tray lined with grease proof paper (or foil if you do not have grease proof paper - like me), the recipe suggests you put it in the oven for around 5 minutes at 200 degrees C (mine took longer than this) but it is ready once the sugar turns brown round the edges.

Whilst the sugar is in the oven, measure 150g egg whites (around 5 eggs) and place in a mixer, begin on a low speed to form bubbles and then increase until stiff peaks begin to form. You'll know when it is at the right consistency when you can tip it upside down without the egg whites falling out (best tried out on somebody's head!). 

Then once the sugar is ready (like the photo above on the left) begin to spoon it into the egg whites whisking at a high speed, once it has all been added, leave it to whisk on full speed for 5-7 minutes. There are two ways to tell when it is ready, one is when you can no longer feel the sugar when you rub the mixture between your fingers and the other is when it forms smooth shiny peaks on the tip of your finger.

Then for the fun part, take a piping bag and place it inside out over a bottle or something similar (I went for a Rose wine bottle of course) to create striped kisses, draw on stripes on the piping bag before turning it back out again and spooning in the mixture. Then snip off the end, make sure you don't snip it too high as the kisses will be too big.

Then begin piping them out onto a tray of grease proof paper by gently squeezing the piping bag once and then pulling it up. This sounds easier than it actually is (hence the odd shapes of some of mine) therefore it takes a while to get the hang of it but don't worry once baked no-one will complain regardless of the shape!

Then pop them in the oven at 100°C for 30-40 minutes (until they can be lifted off the tray in one piece).

You can either store these (for up to two weeks) and eat them as and when you feel like a sugary little lift...

Make a very fancy eton mess with them...

Or if you're feeling generous you can give them to someone has a gift!

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Chocolate Chip Pancakes

This chocolate chip pancake recipe is from the GU cook book (yes GU the amazingly chocolately pudding GU), it's a bit more fussy than your usual pancake recipe but its definitely worth doing.

First sift 100g of plain flour, 1tsp of baking powder and 2 tbsp of cocoa powder into a bowl. Then in a jug whisk together 150ml milk with 3 egg yolks, before combining it all together.

In a separate bowl whisk the three egg whites together until they form soft peaks, then add 25g of caster sugar and a pinch of salt until it resembles 'shaving foam'. Mix in one third of the the whisked egg whites into the batter before folding in the rest.

Heat a non-stick pan (I added a small amount of butter just to make sure they didn't stick) and spoon on the mixture (to make one pancake I used roughly a tablespoon and a half). They only need 30 seconds on each side but you'll know when they need turning as bubbles will start to form on the top of the pancakes.

Depending on what time of the day you are eating them, they are even tastier with chocolate sauce and ice-cream...but maybe not for breakfast!

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

These have been on my list of things to bake for a long time and this weekend (being the hottest weekend in a long time) seemed like a good time to try them out.

I used a simple BBC Food recipe to make these, so simple in fact you just throw all the ingredients into a bowl and mix. This includes; 200g butter, 200g caster sugar, 200g plain flour, 4 tbsp custard powder, 1 tbsp vanilla essence and 2 eggs. I halved this recipe to make 6 cones but in the end it made around 9.

Then spoon the mixture into flat ice cream cones which need to be placed into a muffin tin to make sure they stay upright whilst baking. Fill the cones 2/3 of the way with mixture so that the cakes rise to the top of the cone.

They will need to go into the oven for about 30 minutes but I found mine needed to come out before then, so keep an eye on them and take them out when they are golden brown in colour (use a cake tester to make sure it comes out clean).

To make the butter icing combine 350g of butter, 350g icing sugar and 2 tbsp of vanilla essence. Then spoon it into a piping big, ideally one with a star shaped nozzle or a relatively big one.

Once the cakes are cool, you can pipe the icing onto of the cones, starting from the edge into the centre.

Then you can decorate them with whatever you fancy, I went for the traditional 99p cone as you can see, only with added sprinkles (obviously)!

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Cake in a Mug

I've seen several microwave mug cakes on Pinterest recently (unfortunately mine doesn't look quite as good as them), so I thought I'd give it a go and it turns out it is even easier and quicker than I thought.

             1. Add 4 tbsp of S.R. flour, 4 tbsp          2. Stir in one egg until all the 
             of caster sugar and 2 tbsp of cocoa      ingredients are combined.
             powder into a mug and mix.

              3. Add in 3 tbsp of milk and                  4. Put the mug in the microwave
              3 tbsp of vegatable or sunflower          on a high heat for 4-5 minutes
              oil. As well as any extracts or               or until it has stopped rising.
              additional chocolate drops.

Then tah-dah, you've made a cake in less than 10 minutes!

Whilst I can't say it was the tastiest thing I have ever baked, it was by far the quickest bake I have ever done.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Chocolate Smartie Bark

If you're struggling to get through your Easter eggs or trying to start your diet again but you've still got lots of chocolate lying around the house, why not throw it all together and just be done with it.

Chocolate bark, layered chocolate topped with sweets, nuts or even more chocolate, is probably the easiest thing you could possibly make. I can't even pretend any effort went into making it but it is fun to do and looks great afterwards.

First I melted a Cadbury's Easter egg in the microwave - be careful as the chocolate is so thin it is easy to leave it in the microwave until the lumps have melted completely but it will more than likely be burnt by then so take it out whilst there are still chocolate pieces and mix them in. Then pour this into a baking tray which is already lined with grease-proof paper.

Then put it in the freezer until the chocolate has set (I'm sure this isn't normally how you do it but I was too impatient to wait). 

Then I melted a bag of white chocolate buttons and spread it evenly over the milk chocolate (make sure the white chocolate is cool as it will melt the milk chocolate and it will no longer be white). Alternatively you could drizzle or splatter this on top to make it more decorative. The great thing about using white chocolate is you can colour it too, a drop of pink food colouring would look great for chocolate bark.

Then it is up to you how you decorate your chocolate bark, I used smarties (half whole and the rest crushed) with a sprinkling of silver dust (obviously).

Then all that's left to do is smash it up into pieces of chocolate bark.