Chocolate fudge cupcakes

Cupcakes

Cupcakes

My favourite thing to bake is chocolate cupcakes. Cupcakes + chocolate = happy me. However, I did start to wonder whether there is more to life… and now I realise there is. Chocolate fudge cupcakes. These are happiness in a cupcake and seriously, the frosting is actually genuinely fudge.

Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 100g plain flour
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 1 and a half tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 40g unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 120ml whole milk
  • 1 free range egg
  • quarter of a tsp vanilla extract
  1. Pre-heat oven to 170C/325F/gas mark 3.

    dry ingredients

    dry ingredients

  2. Beat together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in a mixing bowl until you have a sandy consistency.

    mixing

    mixing

  3. Whisk the egg, vanilla extract and milk together in a separate bowl then pour HALF into the other mixture and continue beating until mixture is smooth with no lumps, then add the remaining egg mixture and beat until smooth. Do not over mix.
  4. Line a cupcake tin with paper cases and spoon the mixture into the paper cases until two thirds full. This recipe makes at least 12 large cupcakes, usually seems to make more so may be wise to have a spare tin and cases at the ready…
  5. Bake for 25 minutes or until sponge bounces back/skewer comes out clean.
  6. Leave to cool slightly then turn out to cool completely on a cooling rack – now make the frosting.

Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 60g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons milk, room temperature
  • 220g light, soft brown sugar
  • 240g icing sugar, sifted (I often skip sifting in other recipes, but here you really do need to make sure there are no lumps)
  • half tsp vanilla extract
  1. Place the butter, milk and brown sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan over a high heat and stir to combine. Bring to the boil, stirring continuously, and allow to boil for one minute.
  2. Remove from the heat and stir in half of the icing sugar. Then stir in the remaining icing sugar and the vanilla essence and stir until the mixture thickens.
  3. Use IMMEDIATELY! This will start off fairly liquid but will quickly set into more of a fudge texture. If you like you can add decorative toppings to the cupcakes whilst the fudge is still soft.

Warning: these cupcakes are addictive.

I mixed it up by also making some peaches and cream cupcakes which I topped with freeze dried raspberries, you can find the recipe for these here Decisions, decisions… cake or cupcakes? | miss suzylee.

(all photo credits miss suzylee)

D is for… Double chocolate and banana loaf

D is for double chocolate and banana loaf

D is for double chocolate and banana loaf

It’s been a while since I managed the latest addition to my alphabet baking – a lot of recipes just don’t lend themselves to making shapes out of them! Its also been a busy few weeks with not a great deal of time left for baking. However I felt compelled to make this as I realised I had an entire bunch of bananas that I had neglected to eat, and they were looking rather sorry for themselves:

bananas

sorry looking bananas!

I was left wondering what to do with them. The best ideas I came up with were making a cake, and making milkshakes.

Miss Suzylee’s Banana Milkshake

Into a blender jug, add chopped banana (even really, really old ones that you wouldn’t consider eating can be saved by this recipe!), a glass of milk and a good squeeze of maple syrup. Blend together well (this may take a few minutes) to ensure it is smooth, and add more milk if needed. It should come out smooth, airy and frothy and is so delicious I usually end up downing it in one!

It also goes very well with the cake in question…

Double Chocolate and Banana Loaf

Ingredients

3 medium-to-large very ripe bananas
115 grams butter, melted
145 grams brown sugar
1 large free range egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp table salt
125 g plain flour
80g cocoa powder
170g chocolate (chopped or chocolate chips – I used chopped white chocolate)

Method

1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees c,  and line a loaf tin (approx 9×5-inch)

2. Mash bananas in the bottom of a large bowl.  Whisk in the melted butter, then the brown sugar, egg, and vanilla.

whisking the ingredients

whisking the ingredients

3. Sift baking powder, salt, flour and cocoa powder sift over wet ingredients, then stir in the chocolate chunks or chips.

mmm chocolate...

mmm chocolate…

4. Pour the cake mix into the lined loaf tin and bake for 55 to 65 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean (apart from any melted chocolate).

5. Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack.

the finished loaf

the finished loaf

I think the finished loaf has a pleasing rugged effect! Very tasty… To make it into my alphabet cake I trimmed it carefully with a very sharp knife to make the D shape and added more chocolate chips on top. The cake has quite a dense finish which means that it cuts cleanly which helps!

Goes down very well with a banana milkshake! Or just a cup of tea if you’re banana-ed out.

(all photo credits miss suzylee)

Afternoon tea at the Modern Pantry

The Modern Pantry

The Modern Pantry

Nothing beats afternoon tea as a social eating ‘event’ for me, whether its ultra traditional a la Betty’s in Harrogate or low key in a local cafe. For a modern take on it in London its worth visiting The Modern Pantry – Restaurant Clerkenwell, Café and Deli Farringdon London.

In sunny weather you can sit outside in a peaceful square (you’d never think you were in the middle of the City) and have a lovely afternoon tea brought to you, with bubbles if desired as well as a wide choice of teas. Service was friendly with no rushing so that we were able to chat and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere to our hearts content.

afternoon tea

afternoon tea

The food had an outstanding range of unusual flavour combinations, none of the afternoon cliches of limp cucumber sandwiches or dry fruit scones here – the bread was fresh and light, the salmon was chunky and tasty and the range of desserts had us in raptures – the poached rhubarb stick with lightly flavoured cream was delicious, as was everything else! The bite sized cakes meant that despite our reservations we did just about manage to finish everything down to the last mini brownie, and we had fun guessing what all the flavours were (it would have been cheating to ask the staff)!

We also found a rather interesting addition to the wall of the building – is this lego graffiti?!

lego

lego

(all photo credits miss suzylee)

Lime and coconut cake

lime and coconut cake

lime and coconut cake

I had a request recently for a victoria sponge as a birthday cake where I knew I also needed a gluten free option – so I decided to combine the two! Rather than a straightforward victoria sponge I decided to go for a more summery flavour with lime and coconut. It was really delicious and in texture seemed like a lovely moist normal sponge rather than a pale gluten free imitation.

Ingredients for the cake

175 g butter

175g caster sugar

3 large free range eggs, beaten

175g gluten free self raising flour

1.5 tsp gluten free baking powder

1tsp xanthan gum

50g desiccated coconut

2tbsp coconut cream

Ingredients for the icing

3 limes

225g icing sugar

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180 c/160c fan/gas mark 4, grease and line two 20cm sandwich (round) tins.

2. Cream the butter and sugar using an electric mixer on a high speed for a few minutes, then gradually add the beaten eggs on a medium speed.

adding the coconut

adding the coconut

3. Fold in the sifted flour, xanthan gum and baking powder carefully using a metal spoon or a spatula. Add the desiccated coconut and coconut cream, carefully folding in until combined.

ready for the oven

ready for the oven

4. Spoon into the two sandwich tins smoothing out to the edges of the tins and bake for 25 minutes or until the cakes begin to shrink away from the sides of the tins.

baked goodness

baked goodness

5. Whilst the cake is baking, make the icing. Cut the limes in half, and use a sharp knife to run around the edges between the fruit and the skin. Then use the knife blade to scoop out each segment between the membranes into a bowl as shown below:

removing lime segments

removing lime segments

6. Sift the icing sugar on top of the lime segments and carefully fold in until combined.

7. Once the cakes are baked leave to cool in the tins for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack. Once cool sandwich together with half of the lime icing, and use the remaining half to ice the top of the cake.

This was such a tasty cake, and of course as it was a birthday cake we had to have candles!

birthday candles

birthday candles

(all photo credits miss suzylee)

Secret heart cake

secret heart cake

secret heart cake

I made this recently as an engagement cake, but it could work equally well for other occasions.

Now the first thing to say here is that you are going to need some specialist equipment if you are going to make this cake… the Wilton Heart Cake Tin Set. How it works is that each tin is specially shaped so that when you turn the cakes out they have an indentation that you fill with buttercream etc and when you sandwich them together you get a heart shape going through the middle of the cake like magic…

secret heart cake tins

secret heart cake tins – top of the heart on the left, bottom of the heart on the right

The second thing to say is that the special cake tin claims to come with a recipe book…which is fine if you live in the US but I for one have no idea what a ‘pack of yellow cake mix’ equates to in UK terms! The tins are pretty big so basically what you need is a double batch of cake mix.

I used the following vanilla cake recipe for each half of the cake – you could make both batches in one go, IF you have a mixing bowl big enough to take the mixture! I decided to play it safe and make one lot to fill one tin, and then the second lot to fill the second tin.

SO remember you will need DOUBLE the amounts below because you need to make two lots of this mix…

Ingredients (for each half of the cake)

200g unsalted butter (at room temperature)

200g golden caster sugar

1 vanilla pod

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 free range medium eggs (lightly beaten)

200 g self raising flour

Ingredients for the buttercream (again you will need to make two lots of this)

110g unsalted butter (at room temperature)

60ml milk

1 tsp almond extract (or you could use vanilla if you prefer)

500g icing sugar

pink or red food colouring (for the first batch only)

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180 c/160 c fan/gas mark 4. Grease the tins VERY well using the butter and then lightly dusting with flour method, or use a special cake release product if you have it – if any cake at all sticks to the tin, the heart shape will not come out properly.

2. In a large mixing bowl combine the butter, sugar, vanilla seeds scraped from the vanilla pod (cut the pod lengthways with a sharp knife and scrape the seeds out with the knife or a small spoon handle) and vanilla extract and beat until pale, soft and fluffy (this can take a little while, I used my electric mixer to save a bit of effort!).

vanilla pods

vanilla pods

3. Add the beaten eggs a quarter at a time (i.e. one egg at a time) and mix in slowly, add a spoonful of flour if it curdles. Then add the flour gradually and slowly mix until the dry flour has mostly been mixed in – don’t over mix.

4. Spoon the mix into one of the cake tins. You need to make sure that the mix covers all of the shaped bits of the tin, and repeat the above process to fill the second tin so that they look like this:

filled cake tins

filled cake tins

The mix will look very high, but it needs to be in order to cover all of the shaping in the tin.

5. Bake for approximately 30 minutes until golden and a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool almost completely in the tins and then turn out onto a cooling rack to finish cooling.

baked cake - bottom half of the heart

baked cake – bottom half of the heart

6. Make the first batch of buttercream, which should be pink/red as this will be the heart inside the cake. Beat the ingredients together (it is less messy to start by mixing only half the icing sugar with the other ingredients and then add the other half), add the food colouring and beat with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy (3-5 minutes).

pink buttercream

pink buttercream

7. Once the cakes are completely cool, spoon the pink/red buttercream into the space in the cakes, filling right up to the top. You may find that the tops of the cakes need to be levelled slightly to make sure the edges are the same hight as the centre, you can do this using a sharp knife quite easily as the cake should be quite firm. Each cake should then look like this:

filled and levelled cake

filled and levelled cake

8. Now its time to put the cake together… this is going to be very tall and very heavy so you need to assemble it where you want it to be! I used a cake board underneath, but as it was quite thin I also put this on top of a chopping board so I could easily carry it around the room when needed. Also make sure you know which cake is the bottom cake too, otherwise the heart will be upside down – the one with the v-shaped indentation is the bottom one, but you won’t be able to see this once you have filled it with buttercream! You can tell by seeing which is the deeper cake, this one is the bottom layer as you can see in the photo below.

When you are ready, carefully pick up the top layer and pop it on top of the bottom layer so that the two buttercream filled part are together and the cake looks like this:

building the cake step 1

building the cake step 1

9. Now you need to make the second batch of buttercream, which you can leave uncoloured. You are going to use a third to a half of this to crumb coat the entire cake (i.e. to roughly cover it in buttercream to cover any loose crumbs) – this can be rough and patchy, as its just a base:

crumb coated cake

crumb coated cake

10. Once the crumb coat is dry, you can go over it with the remaining buttercream to get the final finish. I tried to go for a fairly smooth finish, so I used a palette knife and a side scraper (something like this: Side Scraper in decorating utensils at Lakeland.) to smooth the icing round the sides of the cake. And the finished result looks deceptively simple:

secret heart engagement cake with bunting

secret heart engagement cake with bunting

11. Before serving, chill the cake in the fridge if at all possible – this will firm up the buttercream so that heart shape holds up as well as possible. And when slicing, use a really sharp knife and wipe it between each cut – if the cake gets squished then the buttercream will lose the heart shape when sliced.

The sheer amount of buttercream involved means this cake keeps really well (a week later the bit left over from the party was still fine!)

Next time I will try making it with chocolate cake…

(all photo credits miss suzylee)

Plum upside down cake

plum upside down cake

plum upside down cake

Its too easy to always make chocolate cake. I mean its delicious, but there are more flavours out there (or so I’m told…)! So I decided to have a go at making a plum upside down cake. I love plums, but they are almost as bad as pears for having a long hard stage before a very short edible life so baking seemed like a good way to use them. Of course its better to be seasonal with the fruit if you can as you’ll get better tasting (and better value) fruit.

Ingredients

500g plums

2tbsp demerara sugar

175g butter

175g dark muscovado sugar

140g golden syrup

2 free range eggs

200ml milk

300g self raising flour

0.5 tsp bicarb of soda

1tbsp ground ginger

1tsp mixed spice (or make your own mix)

Method

1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas mark 4. Grease and line the base of a 23cm square cake tin with baking parchment. Butter the paper generously and sprinkle with the demerara sugar. Halve the plums and arrange in the base of the tin in 1 layer, cut-sides down – this means the juice and sugar mingle to form a sort of syrup (like in the photo above).

sugar and spice and all things nice (or flour, it could be flour)

sugar and spice and all things nice (or flour, it could be flour)

2. Melt the butter, muscovado sugar and syrup in a large pan over a low heat, stirring until smooth. Cool for 10 mins, then stir in the eggs and milk. Sift in the flour, bicarbonate of soda and spices, then mix to a smooth batter.

3. Pour the batter into the tin, over the plums, and then bake for 45-55 mins until firm to the touch. Cool in the tin for 10 mins, then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool.

upside down cake the right way up...

upside down cake the right way up…

4. Cut into slices (easiest to cut into squares around each plum half) and enjoy with a cup of tea (all cake tastes best with a cup of tea, fact). This is an amazing cake!

(all photo credits miss suzylee)

Party Ring biscuits

Party Rings

Party Rings

These biscuits bought from the shop were a childhood favourite, a treat that meant it really was party time, so I was stupidly excited to try making them myself.

Ingredients

200g plain flour

100g caster sugar

100g unsalted butter

1 free range egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

Icing

300g icing sugar

food colouring

hot water

Method

1. Rub the butter into the flour and sugar until it resembles breadcrumbs, then stir in the egg and vanilla with a blunt knife. Tip onto a lightly floured work surface and bring dough together  then wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 mins.

2. Preheat the oven to 180c/160c fan/gas mark 4. Roll out the chilled dough on a lightly floured surface until 5mm thick (I checked mine with a ruler to be on the safe side!), then stamp out 6cm circles using a cookie cutter. From each circle you then need to stamp out a 2cm circle from the middle to form the ring shape.

making the rings

making the rings

cookie cutters

cookie cutters

3. Carefully put the cookies on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment and bake for 12 minutes or until golden. Cool for 3 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

4. To make the icing mix just enough water with the icing sugar to make a thick, spreadable consistency. This will take some trial and error as it needs to be a bit runny but not so much that it all slides off the cookies! Divide between bowls and dye each a different colour with the food colouring. I have seen some very elegant pastel colours used, but I was going for my childhood treats so I went for bright pink and yellow!

5. The technique I found best was to carefully dip the cookie into the bowl of icing to cover one side of it, and then place it on a cooling tray. Then using a teaspoon carefully drizzle a few lines of a different colour icing over the cookie (thinner lines work best if you can manage it) and then use a cocktail stick to pull through the icing to feather it. You may need to add more water to the icing and give it a good stir as you go as will start to dry out.

6. Voila! Nostalgic perfection.

party rings

party rings

(all photo credits miss suzylee)