Saturday, 25 February 2012

Sticky Banoffee Pudding

I don't care what you're doing. Whether you're literally due to walk up the aisle in half an hour or have the biggest exam of your life to sit tomorrow. Leave it. Walk away. And make this pudding. Gooey, soft, moist, warm, comforting. You wouldn't need a man/woman in your life if you made this everyday. A good Sticky toffee pudding on its own is pure indulgence but add the banana and eating it feels like you're lying in bed cosy while listening to the rain beat the window pane. This pudding is not for the faint hearted. If you are one of those wimps who skip straight to the cup of tea/coffee after your main course or scan the menu for a 'light' desert this might be too much for you. At the very least you'll probably want a small slice. But if (like me) you'd skip starter just to make sure that you aren't too full to properly enjoy desert, this pudding is the bees knees.

From Gizzi Erskine, Kitchen Magic

250g dates, stoned and chopped
250ml hot black tea, made with 1 teabag
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
85g unsalted butter
175g caster sugar
2 large free range eggs,
175g self raising flour, seived
3 bananas roughly mashed
1 tsp ground mixed spice

For the sauce
100g muscovado sugar
100g butter
150ml double cream
Vanilla ice cream to serve

1. Preheat the oven to 180oC. Butter a 22cm baking dish. Place the dates in a small saucepan and pour on the hot tea. Bring to the boil and cook for 3-4 minutes until softened. Stir in the bicarb of soda. I think its great to liquidise the dates here for a smooth pudding because dates can be very stringy.
2. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy with an electric beater for 4-5 minutes.
3. Break up the eggs in a cup and add one third of the egg with a few heaped tbsp of flour and fold. Repeat until all the egg is gone. Fold in the remaining flour, mashed banana, mixed spice and dates and pour into the dish. The mixture may be quite loose- don't worry!
4. Bake for 30-35 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.
5. Put the muscovado sugar, butter, cream into a pan, place over a low heat and melt until the sugar has dissolved. Then turn up the heat up to medium and simmer for 3-4 minutes or until the sauce is light toffee colour, glossy and thickened.
6. Serve the pudding with a warm sauce and a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Butterfly Jammy Dodgers

I like Spring! And not just cos its my birthday season (26th March people mark it in your calendar). Spring is like the less sexy, hippie loving, over-sized jumper wearing sister of Summer. You've dumped the lettuce juice and other unrealistic and frankly bizarre 'health' fads of January but still haven't succumbed to the chocolate coma that left November and December in a haze. With the evenings getting brighter you feel like you should get down with your Mother Nature self, plant flowers or feed the birds. You can finally tackle the labyrinth of crap in the garage that has been looming like a bad hangover since Christmas. This is because Spring is the season of possibilities and positivity. (At least for now) you can do anything you set your mind to.

Biscuit- my basic shortbread here! I used jam to sandwich the biscuits together but I was thinking lemon curd, nutella or even toffee spread would be lovely!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Valentine's Rose Cupcakes

I was going to lecture on how Valentine's Day is the worst of all those phoney made up holidays. A day of cheap chocolate and over priced flowers. We just survive Christmas and are assaulted with sky scrappers of towering milk tray and heart hugging teddies. But HEY if the 'holiday' gives me an excuse to make kitsch cute cupcakes it would be hypocritical to knock it. These Rose Cupcakes are from (surprise surprise!) the Primrose Bakery Book. I was afraid they would taste tacky, like cheap turkish delight, over scented and strong but they made the loveliest delicate sponge with a hint of fragrance. I should be punished for ever doubting Primrose Bakery....

The sweets I used are widely available and cheap and I think look really cute. Some of the messages on them are hilarious- 'dream boy' and 'bless you'. They feel like sweets they would've sold in the 1950's and we used to have great fun handing them to boys and giggling when we were kids. The hearts were moulded out of marzipan I coloured with red food colouring and brushed with a little pink glitter mixed with vanilla extract.

You can buy Rosewater in pharmacies. Quite a big bottle will set out back around €3.

From 'Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery'

Makes 12 large
110g unsalted butter
225 caster sugar
2 large eggs
150g self raising flour, sifted
125g plain flour, sifted
1/2 tsp rosewater
120g semi skimmed milk

1. Preheat the oven to 160oC(fan)/180oC.
2. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy- around 3-5 minutes using an electric beater.
3. Combine the two flours in a separate bowl. Add the eggs to the butter and sugar one at a time adding a heaped tablespoon of flour with each addition of egg.
4. Add one third of the flour to the mixture and beat well.
5. Mix the water and rosewater together. Beat in one third milk and one third flour until all the flour and milk are gone.
6. Bake for about 20-25 minutes until raised and golden brown. Leave to cool.

Rose Buttercream
(Enough to ice 15-20 regular)
115g unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 tbsp semi skimmed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
500g icing sugar
1/2 tsp rosewater
pink food colouring

Beat the butter milk vanilla and half the icing sugar until smooth. This will take several minutes. Gradually add the remainder of the icing sugar until the buttercream is smooth and creamy and very pale. Add the rosewater and the end and taste to see if it is scented enough. Finally add a drop of pink food colouring.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Being Boring... Oh and Coconut Cupcakes

I read a recent interview with Daniel Radcliffe in which he described himself as boring. Eh... EXCUSE ME!!! What part of being the lead in a billion dollar franchise, appearing naked with a horse on the West End or being rich enough to buy your own airplane boring??? Hhrumph (read indignation). If his life is boring I am currently comatose having sent everyone I've ever met to sleep. I'm studying and working at the minute so I basically spend the day yawning and looking at the clock. The highlight of last week was buying a packet of milky bars in Lidl. I hope after exams to go travelling but right now I am DULL. In the proper sense of the word, Daniel. Use an Oxford Dictionary.

So anyway I take excitement whenever I can find it these days and these cupcakes are pure buttery joy.

Makes 12- From the Primrose Bakery Book

110g unsalted butter, at room temp
180g caster sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp almond extract
125g self raising flour, sifted
120g plain flour, sifted
25g desiccated coconut

1. Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy for about 3-5 minutes using an electric beater. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing for a few minutes after each addition and adding the extracts at the end.
2. Add one third of the flours and beat well. Pour in one third of the coconut milk and beat again. Repeat these steps until all the milk and flour has been incorporated.
3. Fold in the desiccated coconut using a metal spoon.
4. Carefully spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases filling to about two thirds full.
5. Bake in 160oC(fan)/180oC for 20-25 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.

For the icing
57g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tbsp lime juice
grated zest of 1 lime
250g icing sugar sifted

In a large mixing bowl beat the butter, lime juice and zest and half the icing sugar until smooth for several minutes. Gradually add the remainder of the icing sugar and beat until creamy.