Friday, 31 August 2012

Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Oh dear, I am in a BAD MOOD. Its has been a long tedious study week. I feel like lying on the floor kicking and screaming in a Girl, Interrupted way. Or pulling the sink off the wall in a Walk the Line-Way. So many film references so little time. ...

In the interest of protecting the fixtures and fittings in the house (and health and safety of those unfortunates you have to live with me) I turn to blogging a post of a recipe that I made weeks ago and just haven't had time to put up. Peanut butter chocolate cupcakes.

Its like I always say 'If you can't beat 'em turn to chocolate.' Similar to 'If at first you don't succeed, give up and eat chocolate'...

From Gizzi's Kitchen Magic
170g softened butter (I prefer 100g butter and 70g margarine actually)
170g caster sugar
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
170g self raising flour
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
3-4 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Beat sugar and butter together until soft and very white, approx. 5-6 minutes.
2. Add the eggs one at a time with a heaped tablespoon of the flour.
3. In a separate bowl sift all the dry ingredients together. Dump on top of the sugar mixture, add the milk and vanilla and then fold gently but firmly until all incorporated.
4. Bake for 15-18 minutes at 180oC until golden and risen.

For the icing
100g peanut butter
85g icing sugar
75g cream cheese

1. Beat together all the ingredients. Swirl over the cupcakes.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

So sue me! Cheater Brown Bread Ice Cream

You have to go away to really appreciate home. It's a very annoying part of the human condition, but pretty inescapable. After six weeks away I almost began to miss a good Irish 'I think the world is ending' rainshower- almost. I definitely missed good tea bags, a nice Irish 'rasher' and of course brown bread. Properly known as Irish Soda Bread there is no yeast- the only raising agent is baking powder. Wholemeal flour gives it a dark appearance and a crunchy texture. Buttermilk is the liquid left over after butter is churned. It looks god awful, floating clumps in a grey-white liquid but it adds a tang to this bread balancing it out nicely. If you don't have buttermilk add a tsp of lemon juice to milk and leave it overnight. It won't be pretty in the morning but it will make good bread!

I see this ice-cream in fancy restaurants now, it's getting a sort of revival. It sounds weird but if you haven't tried it you really should, especially since this recipe is a cheater one- you could have it whipped up in minutes. Use thick country-style bread for the most authentic result.

From Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson

250g brown bread crumbled
3 tbsp butter
3/4 ground cinnamon
100g granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt

1. Crumble the brown bread into rough small chunks- you want some texture so don't pulse them in a food processor, just pull apart in your hands.
2. Mix the brown bread, salt, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.
3. Melt the butter in the microwave or on the hob and allow to cool. Pour into the brown bread mix and mix until butter evenly coats the dry ingredients.
4. Spread on a baking sheet and bake at 180oC for 15-20 minutes, stirring a few times to make sure they don't burn. You want them crispy but not burn, dark and caramelised.
5. Allow to cool and then into 1.25L good quality vanilla ice cream. Re-freeze before you serve.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Greek Yogurt Lemon Cake

I can't stand rudeness. In fact I think people should be sued for being rude and I'm not even joking. Whether its directed at me or someone else I think it's completely unacceptable. Often times there isn't much you can do about it. Sure you can give them a good talking down, tell them how they would be better mannered if they were raised by wolves in a Stephen King novel but you just know they'll roll their eyes and curse you under their breath. Enter TripAdvisor et al, slowly giving power back to the people, at least in the service industry and hitting them where it hurts- their pocket.

There is nothing worse than going out for dinner and being met with a waitress who thinks being asked for ketchup is a waste of her precious energy resources (because apparently she's competing in the Olympics after her shift). Eat a cereal bar and get over it. I'm paying for a service.

Sometimes people are just petty or over-negative and I always leave a nice review if I'd had a good time. Credit where credit is due.

So yeah rant over. Maybe I ate too much of this lemon cake and it's left me bitter...? Tangy moist sponge is topped with a sticky lemony sweet and sour syrup.  Delicious. Best of all it's super easy and quick to make.

From Good Housekeeping 

For the cake
225g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
150g caster sugar
150g butter melted
lemon rind grated
150ml Greek Yogurt
4 large eggs lightly beaten

For the syrup
125g caster sugar
75g water
juice of one lemon

1. Whisk together sugar, butter, lemon rind, yogurt and eggs.
2. Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon in a clean bowl. Pour in the wet ingredients and mix well until all is incorporated.
3. Pour into a 2lb loaf tin that is greased and lined. Bake for 1 hour to 1.25 hours at 160oC until a skewer comes out clean.
4. Put the sugar, water and lemon in a pan and dissolve over a low heat then bring to the boil and bubble for around 10 minutes until syrupy and thickened.
5. With the cake still in the tin use a cocktail stick and pierce the cake all over. Spoon over the syrup and leave to soak for 1 hour.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Rose and Pistachio Cake with Rose Creams

Honey I'm home!! I had a great time, plenty of foodie adventures - from campervan cooking in New Zealand to crocodile burgers and kangaroo kebabs in Australia (I was feeling pretty guilty with eating 'roo too but it was a 'when in Rome' adventure - tastes like steak) and back to the best pannacotta I've ever had in an Italian called Lucetta in Sydney. 

Anyway I did miss baking while I was away and this cake was a special request from my sister who ate a rose and pistachio luxury chocolate bar and was craving the cake equivalent. Not to do things by halves I made rose creams to decorate. I probably should have made them a bit smaller so they looked neater as decorations but they tasted great. 

Rosewater is one of my favourite baking flavourings, pick it up in a good health food shop or Asian food store. 

For the cake
175g butter softened
175g golden caster sugar
175g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
4 eggs lightly beaten
2 tsp good quality rosewater
100g pistachios shelled
1 tbsp milk

1. Beat butter and sugar until fluffy, around 5-6 minutes. Add a quarter of the eggs with a heaped tablespoon of the flour. Beat quickly after each addition just until incorporated. Continue until all the egg is gone.
2. Sift the remaining flour with the baking powder into a clean bowl. Fold in the rest of the flour with a big metal spoon. Finally fold in the pistachios and the milk until the batter is light.
3. Divide between two 6 inch tins and smooth the tops. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 180oC until a skewer comes out clean and the cakes are golden.

For the Rose Creams from 'Hope and Greenwood's Life is Sweet'
3 tbsp double cream
3 tbsp rose water
175g icing sugar
drop of pink food colouring
200g chocolate

Makes around 30 easily

1. Place the rosewater, cream and food colouring in a bowl and mix well.
2. Sift in the icing sugar into the wet ingredients and mix really well until it comes together in a ball. Place in the fridge to firm up for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
3. Pull little balls off the fondant and roll into balls. Leave on a plate to dry slightly.
4. Melt the chocolate adding a drop of groundnut oil if you wish.
5. Dip the fondant balls into the chocolate. I think using a fork or cocktail stick is a good plan. Roll in decorations, whether hundreds and thousands or pink sugar as I used.
6. Leave to dry for a few hours.

For the frosting 
200g icing sugar sifted
75g butter, softened
1-2 tbsp milk
1 tsp rosewater

1. Beat the butter and icing sugar with an electric beater until getting clumpy. Add the milk and beat heavily for 5-6 minutes until white.
2. Add the rosewater and beat again for a minute.

Put the cake together with the frosting and decorate with the rose creams.