Saturday, May 02, 2015

Aunty Merle's shortbread

We live in Scotland, and quite like shortbread.  It's rather a staple food here - the Scots invented it actually, so there are many good brands from which to choose in almost any shop you visit.  However the last time I fancied eating some, I resisted the urge to buy some.  You see, I remembered this wonderful recipe that my dear friend H had given to me, given to her by her Aunty Merle.
We had first tried it at her homestead in rural Victoria, Australia (as you do) and all loved it!  I made it first a while back and it was nearly as good as hers, so I was determined to try again.
The recipe specified that the butter had to be cold, so I chopped it into little cubes and popped it in the food processor, as directed.
It didn't mix very well for a while, and I began to panic, as I couldn't telephone H for advice due to the time difference between Scotland and Australia.  But luckily the batter 'took' and it all became one large lump of cookie dough quite soon.  
I formed the batter into little balls, about the size of a Lindor chocolate (mmm, don't get me started on how delicious they are!  Have you tried the new coconut one? Heaven).  I had made a note on the recipe the last time that they would spread...
And they did.  Ah well, life's tough sometimes, isn't it?!  ha ha.  These are probably a bit overdone, but they tasted so good, and lasted almost a week in the cake tin that none of us minded at all.  I wonder how they'd taste if I flavoured them with something other than vanilla???  Yummy, thanks H

Friday, May 01, 2015

Lemon and poppyseed cupcakes

As you may recall, I work as a Teaching Assistant in the Home Economics department of one of our city's high schools - a job I really enjoy (I love baking, almost did my teaching diploma after my Uni degree, and quite like kids too ;) ).  So anyway, one of the classes we're teaching this year involves a food development unit.  The pupils were told to think of an item they could make for sale in a coffee shop that would fit in well with the baked goods already on offer, but be new and different so as to encourage customers to buy it.
They brainstormed for a while, and we chatted about what might work and why.  Then I was tasked with finding a lemon recipe that we could use in class - so it had to be easy enough for the pupils to do themselves, within the right timescale to fit into a period and with ingredients that we could easily purchase.
BBC Good Food to the rescue! I really like the huge range of tried and tested recipes they provide, plus the colours and photography are great.  I find that the recipes usually work for me, so felt confident in looking for one there.  I settled upon their Lemon & Poppyseed cupcakes, and that choice was approved by my teacher - so we were good to go.
It started out well, one pupil in each team making the sponge, the other the icing.  One pupil was alone, so I joined her and we worked together to get the cupcakes into the oven in time.  And the result?  Oh my, they were delicious!!  
The buttercream was lemony and rich, not too sweet or tart, and the sponge was light and fluffy and had just the right amount of lemon zest.  Mmm...