Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cupcakes for Mummies

A friend of mine Claire Puzey, runs Baby Sensory classes in our fair city (click the links for further info), and let me set up a table of cupcakes for sale on Royal Wedding Day.  This week we are running the next of our partnerships, and I'm lucky enough that she offered me a table at specified times at all her classes.  So I've been baking like crazy all afternoon and this evening, getting lots and lots of yummy vanilla and chocolate cupcakes ready and decorated.  Today's offering is pink, lemon yellow and mint green (all vanilla flavoured).  We even had a team corporate branding exercise earlier and chose and branded Becca Bakes carriers.  Much fun.
Here are a selection of today's cakes for tomorrow...

Friday, May 27, 2011

Orange and pink happy cakes

There's a fairly new cookshop in town and they sell lots of cupcake/baking consumables like cases (plain and fun printed ones), nozzles, piping bags, stands, decorations, glitters, food dyes etc etc and I go on now and then to get an idea of what to buy next.  Last time I was in, it somehow came about that I'm going to sell some cupcakes there!  woop woop.  Orange and pink are happy colours to me, so orange and pink it is.  Here's the selection I chose for sale, hope they go quickly.  The leftover ones have just been collected and paid for by an avid fan (and friend) from Facebook.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Butterscotch cake

Despite the apparent success of the Maple Spiced Cake, I had bought the fresh double cream needed for his first request of a butterscotch cake (recipe found online, from Delicious magazine) and had spare time this arvo, due to an appointment being cancelled.  So I made it.  It calls itself a butterscotch sponge with cream cheese icing but I beg to differ.  Although it has both white and brown sugar, it tastes like a normal sponge to us but the sauce you make is great and mixed in with the rest of the icing makes it more of a sponge with butterscotch icing and drizzle.  All in all, it's lush but not tasting of butterscotch enough I feel.  See for yourself...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Recipe for Maple Spiced Cake with Caramel Frosting

The metric equivalents are probably within 10g/10ml of correct...
1/2 cup (120g) butter                                            
1 1/2 cups (320g) light brown soft sugar              
2 egg yolks, well beaten                                        
2 cups (300g) plain flour                                        
2 tsp baking powder                                              
1 tsp ground cinnamon                                         
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/3 cup (90ml) evaporated milk
1/3 cup strong coffee (I used 60ml pure maple syrup)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 egg whites, beaten stiff
Cream butter, add sugar and egg yolks and beat again.  Mix flour, baking powder and spices in a separate bowl.  Add the dry ingredients alternately with the milk, and beat until smooth.  Add the vanilla and maple syrup, mix and then fold in the egg whites.  Pour into the greased ring tin (this would work in a normal cake tin I'm sure, probably a 20cm diameter one would give a nicer height) then bake at 190c for 25-30 minutes.  (I found that the cake was jelly-like at this point, so gave it an extra 5 minutes and the skewer came out clean).
Allow the cake to cool (probably about 2 hours or so) then prepare the frosting/icing...

1 cup (270ml) evaporated milk                            
1 1/4 cups (300g) white sugar                              
3/4 cup (150g) light soft brown sugar
2 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Blend the milk and sugars in a large saucepan on a medium heat, add butter.  Bring to the boil and cook for a few minutes until the sauce thickens, so that a dribble dropped into a glass of cold water forms a soft ball (soft ball stage).  Cool for around 20 minutes, then add the vanilla and beat for a few minutes until the sauce thickens enough to spread onto the cake.  It thickens slightly more on standing, so spread it as soon as it's done.

Nostalgic birthday cake, maple spice with caramel icing

It's my lovely husband's birthday tomorrow and he's requested a particular cake that his mother used to bake, nearly 30 years ago.  All he could remember was that it had fudge icing and was in a ring tin.  So, problem number one, locate a ring tin.  A quick text message (ah, the wonders of modern technology) to a half-dozen friends was successful.  Next step, call his Mum and see if she knew what he meant, and more importantly, could locate the recipe.  His dad answered the phone and knew exactly the one I meant (spooky) and his Mum knew it too, and sent the recipe along a day later. 
Twenty-odd years ago, they lived in Melbourne too, so this was another Australian recipe, full of cups and teaspoons and so forth.  While baking, I converted the cups of flour, butter etc to British metric measurements in case I wanted to make the recipe again.  The recipe required liquid coffee, but he didn't want that so asked for maple syrup instead. 
I'm gonna assume that the recipe slightly didn't work (it hasn't been tasted yet) because it's old and I used a different ingredient.  After the required bake time, it resembled jelly, seriously, so I gave it 5 more mins. Here's what came out...
Or does this look more appetising??
As if that wasn't bad enough, the caramel frosting was equally difficult to get right.  Far too few instructions in the method meant using Google to figure out what on earth I should do.  I mean, does this look like it will ever be solid enough to paste over a cake?
But finally it was, hooray.
And we have the final result, ta da.  I have to assume you lot think it looks good because I've had positive feedback on Facebook and requests for the recipe too, thanks for your support!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Cranberry scones with orange glaze

We found a bag of dried cranberries that we'd forgotten about, so thought we would look for a cranberry recipe.  Then today dawned wet, cold and incredibly (in fact, dangerously) windy, so it seemed the perfect way to spend the morning after dropping mini-Becca #1 at school.  Though after she sees these photos and tastes the scones we made, she'll be upset at missing out the fun!  Here's mini-Becca #2 rolling out the dough after mixing the wet ingredients into a well made in the dry ingredients from our new Readers Digest Baking Bible cookbook.
And yes, that's her Santa's little helper apron she's chosen.  We rolled the dough out to the requisite size, then cut it into triangles and popped it in the oven.

Then glazed with fresh orange juice, zest and icing sugar moments after coming out of the oven.
Then ate some straight away.  Well, it was morning tea time!
Then it was time to clean up.  As I learnt when working for a large, multinational food corporation for a few years (a few years ago) you really need to 'clean as you go'. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Job interview

I got a phonecall today from a cafe in our fair city, who were looking to change the way the cafe ran and wanted to meet me, with a view to being their new supplier.  How very exciting!  As it happens, they needed to see me soon as they wanted to price things up with a possible order for this weekend.  I'd just delivered the birthday 'cake' for Lee, so had a pricelist and so forth handy.  Cue the meeting half an hour later and it was then time for the cafe to do the necessary number-crunching. 
True to his word, the owner called back later that afternoon but, unfortunately for us, it wasn't good news.  In order to make the profit they needed, he wanted me to almost halve my price - not gonna happen I'm afraid.  So we parted ways amicably and he said he'd keep me in mind.  Can't ask for fairer than that, and it was quite thrilling to get the call.  Go Team!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Malteser Slice for Lee

I checked my email earlier this evening (becca.bakes2@gmail.com if you were wondering), as I'd asked a friend to email my price list to her contacts.  And was very pleased to learn that she wanted something for her eldest son for tomorrow.  He'd told her he didn't want a cake, or party, but she felt she couldn't give him nothing and was wondering if it was too short notice for me.  Luckily I had her number so we chatted and agreed on a Malteser Slice traybake with red and silver sparkle (two of the colours of his favourite football team).  After all, it's not really a birthday without sparkle, even if you are a newly-teenaged boy.  I'll deliver to her work tomorrow afternoon, while Mini-Becca #2 is at nursery.  Here's hoping he likes it!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Cinnamon blueberry biscuits with Ava

After playing in the backyard/doing housework, we decided to make another recipe using Flora Cuisine liquid butter.  This time the recipe was (from a supermarket magazine again) for Cinnamon raisin biscuits.  I don't like raisins, but love dried blueberries so we used them instead.  I got all the ingredients and equipment ready, then the girls climbed onto a chair to watch me add the dry then wet ingredients into the bowl.  Then over to the kitchen table for some enthusiastic 3 and 4 year old mixing with a wooden spoon.  The girls are neighbours and nursery classmates, and shared the tasks really well.  Here we see Ava spooning the mix onto the baking tray to make 12 biscuits.  A mere 9 minutes in the oven later and we have, ta da!!
Great smelling (biscuits and kitchen), slightly healthier than average and great tasting mini biscuits.  A great way to spend a morning, and a perfect afternoon tea snack.  Well done girls.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Donna Hay chocolate brownies

Weeeeellll, they do taste good.  Just somehow, not quite chocolatey enough.  Or perhaps rich enough.  Or something.  Still, that's what trying something new is all about, experimenting and seeing if you like it or not.  Not fussed, in this case.  I have a few brownie recipes that I do like and have worked well a few times, so I think I may just stick to them from now on.  That is, unless I feel like experimenting again.

Australian recipe

No photo just yet, as the chocolate brownies have only just come out of the oven, literally.  My friend Charlotte gave me the Donna Hay - Chocolate cookbook for my birthday last year (or perhaps it was Christmas?).  I believe she's the Australian equivalent of our Nigella Lawson or perhaps Delia Smith.  I've made a few items already and they were deliciously chocolatey.  Then this morning, a local friend Jill gave me some butter that was short-dated and suggested I use it to make brownies while my youngest child was at nursery.  A reasonable suggestion, I thought, so I did it.
Because the recipe is Australian, it uses their measurements of cups not grams.  Luckily I have a lovely set of brightly coloured melamine/plastic measuring cups and spoons (from Lakeland, if you were wondering.  Although I've just checked, and they no longer stock them) which get rare use in our kitchen.  Though looking at the two sets together it would seem that we're missing a pink measuring cup - perhaps the 2/3rds one.  I'll need to check with Mr Becca later on.  British recipes use grams, and thus a set of scales.  American recipes are trickier yet, using a mix of ounces, grams, cups and sticks. 
The brownies came out done on top but soft inside, so here's hoping they're done...

Monday, May 09, 2011

Cinnamon loaf

Ok, I realise that this isn't a photo of a lovely, attractive cake.  Sorry.  But it is a photo of a cake that's kind of exploded out of its container.  Perhaps it's time I bought a larger loaf tin?  Or used less mix in the tin, ha ha.
However, this large beauty is a super moist, tasty Cinnamon and Apricot loaf and I've already, ummm, tasted a lot of it.  We are expecting visitors tomorrow morning - new to Becca Towers, let's hope they like it.  (p.s. they did.)

We live in London baby!

Well, technically we haven't lived in London for about 15 years now, but I do so love a bit of Roy Ayers.  I went down alone (I tell you, I felt naked without the rest of Team Becca by my side) very early on Saturday  morning, to visit an old friend from NYC who was in London for a few days, for about 24 hours (returning to central Scotland by the afternoon on Sunday).  While there, we stopped by the Primrose Bakery .  I bought a Peanut Butter cupcake, which was really tasty.  Plenty of peanut taste and actual Reese's peanut butter drops as the decoration, so cute!  Here's a cheesy photo of me outside said bakery, though not actually eating the cupcake.
After visiting Tavistock St, Covent Garden and the afore-mentioned bakery, it was a short walk to Wardour St in Soho and the Hummingbird Bakery .  Again, here's a cheesy pic of me outside this bakery and from these guys I chose a Black Bottomed and a Saturday-special Mango cupcake.  Both were really really good, moist flavoursome sponge and smooth tasty icing.  I don't actually have the Hummingbird cook book (either of them), but have downloaded some recipes off t'internet.  And have now downloaded this Black Bottomed one, as it was sooooo chocolately.  Shall attempt it soon myself, and will, of course, let you know how I got on.

Traybakes on order

Okay, so you probably can't tell properly from the photo, but this is two sparkly golden trays of Rocky Road and Sweet & Salty Nut Crunch Slice, made to order for Deb's fundraising coffee afternoon last week.  She was planning to cut them up, bag them and sell them as part of the afternoon's plans and I believe the whole thing went well for her.