Friday, 27 November 2009

Vanilla layer cake for the inlaws

Ok so this is slightly off topic, but i had to post about how amazing Primrose's vanilla layer cake is...can they do no wrong??

I had to do an emergency bake as i've been away all week and hubby's parents are visiting this weekend. Despite my rickety electric-hand whisk braking half way through, the recipe the sponge turned about amazingly light and moist.

Other victoria sponge recipes i've tried in the past have been disappointing, but i think the addition of cornflour and baking powder made the cake a winner.

I'd recommend trying this recipe in an emergency situation as you will certainly have all the ingredients in your store cupboard.

Happy baking! x

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Primrose Marmalade and Pecan cupcakes

For a second week running hub's selected this week's bake and so for a second week running i have baked cupcakes with ingredients i don't like. Whilst this in indeed good for my waist line, my opinion of the marmalade & pecan cupcakes from Primrose's cookbook may be a little skewed.

The blurb states that these are great for a post Christmas treat as they are a tad healthier than the traditional frosting heavy cupcakes. For me, part of the fun of a cupcake is that its sinful, there is absolutely no point in trying to make it healthy!

So firstly the sponge, which was pretty dry despite lashings of corn oil, i'm putting this down to the pecans. These really did taste like muffins rather than cupcakes and hubby ended up eating them for breakfast with his morning coffee.

There isn't much to say about the 'icing' which was hot marmalade except read the instructions carefully as you are supposed to spread the marmalade whilst the cupcakes are still hot. I left them to cool as usual and i'm sure the cupcakes may have been a little bit more moist had i spread the marmalade right away.

Considering my prejudice to marmalade i'd give these cupcakes 6/10, my marmalade loving hubby says 8/10.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Hummingbird's ginger cupcakes

This week i decided on ginger, partly because i thought the warming spice would take the edge off of the miserable rainy weather and mainly because of hubby's insistence. After initial dragging of feet from me, i left it up to the supermarket gods, if stem ginger was stocked in Sainsbury's i'd make them and dammit it was!

I chose Hummingbird's to see if they were any better than the banana and chocolate recipe, but oh Hummingbird! I'm beginning to wonder if you have deliberately altered recipes?Yet again the amount of ingredients in both the sponge and buttercream were questionable.

Firstly if you do make these cupcakes please avoid using all 200g of stem ginger, it is far far too much and the ginger ended up sinking to the bottom which caused the sponge to break in half. I'd suggest using around half the amount, but do amend according to your preference to ginger.

Next i'd have to call into question the ginger syrup made to put on the cupcakes before the buttercream. It seems a tad unneccessary and didn't really make an impact once i'd added the frosting. I'd recommend using either the syrup or the buttercream and i'm sure the leftover stem ginger would have been better used as part of the frosting.

I did enjoy the lemon and ginger combination of the frosting, but it seemed a slight waste of ingredients to use fresh ginger and milk rather than the stem ginger syrup. I'd suggest less butter and milk, or more icing sugar depending on your frosting style as if you did follow the recipe exactly you'd end up with a runny mess.

Unfortunatley these Hummingbird cupcakes score a rather lowly 4/10.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Primrose Carrot Cupcakes with Orange cream cheese frosting

Wow! who'd have thought the humble carrot could be transformed into such amazing cupcakes? Carrot cupcakes with cream cheese icing almost sounds like something you'd choose if you were (unsuccessfully) dieting and I had been reluctant to attempt Primrose's carrot cupcakes, but these little guys have turned into my favourite recipe to date.

The sponge was moist, which i'm sure was down to the use of corn oil and of course the carrots! I also loved the use of raisins, orange zest and cinnamon. The recipe called for the sponge to be baked at 180c for 25 minutes, but i went for 170c as mine is a temperamental fan oven. I have absolutely no criticism of this recipe i followed it to the letter and it worked, just make sure you amend timings for your own oven, speaking of which i really must buy an oven thermometer...

Now i really wasn't sure about cream cheese icing, yes i know carrot cake is always made with cream cheese frosting, but i was a tad worried it would turn out um, too cheesy. Again, i was pleasantly suprised and the grated orange zest gave a delicate citrus taste which complimented the sponge perfectly. However, if i were to do the recipe again i would use around 50g more icing sugar as the buttercream was slightly too soft for my preference.

Overall i'd give these cupcakes 9/10, it's a good job they destined for hubby's work or i'd have scoffed the lot already!

Happy Baking xx

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Hummingbird's Banana and Chocolate cupcakes

A couple of quid off The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook in Waitrose was all the excuse i needed to purchase yet another cupcake themed book. The recipes not only include Hummingbird's famous red velvet cupcakes, but a delicious array of cheesecakes, layercakes, muffins and traditional American pies.

But this is a cupcake blog and onto the job in hand i set about choosing this week's cupcake. In the end it was a toss up between the chocolate & banana or marshmallow cupcakes. In an unusually thrifty move i decided to use up the neglected banana's that were slowly browning in the fruit bowl.

Unlike Primrose's recipes, which use a mix of plain and self-raising flour, Hummingbird uses plain with a spoonful of baking powder. This immediately had me worried, as the recipe didn't specify a heaped or level tablespoon, would i be able to get baking powder amount accurate enough?

The recipe also called for a 'pinch of salt' which in my opinion was unnecessary, but this could be because i never salt my food to taste. I also felt that at 120g, there was far too much banana in the mix, which gave the final cupcake a squidgy texture despite an additional 8 minutes baking.

I was unconvinced by the banana sponge and wasn't very confident with the texture. After 23 minutes (the recipe called for 20 mins baking at 170c) the sponge was far too soft and after a further 5 minutes it wasn't much better, although on both occassions there was no raw batter remaining. The plain flour meant the cupcakes didn't rise as much as with other recipes i've used and i was left with a dip in the centre of the sponge.

If i were to bake these cupcakes again i'd use less banana (around 100g) and use self-raising flour, or even a mixture of the two. On a more positive note, the cupcakes did have a lovely caramel smell when they came out of the oven.

The banana cupcakes were topped off with a chocolate buttercream, which is pretty difficult to get wrong! The recipe did make the right consistency of buttercream but there wasn't enough to coat 12 cupcakes and i ended up making more. Instead of 300g of icing sugar its probably worth using 500g and upping the butter, milk and cocoa powder accordingly.

Overall the combination of banana and chocolate was pleasing, but i'd have to give the recipe a pretty average score of 5/10.