Category Archives: Biscuits

2 cupcakes

Chocolate and Vanilla Cupcakes

Someone asked me the other day as we were walking past The Hummingbird Bakery just why cupcakes are so popular. It’s true, we really do have an obsession with cupcakes. While macarons, whoopie pies and marshmallows have all had their go and tried to become the ‘new thing’, the cupcake always wins. There are small (well kind of) and everyone loves little individual cakes but I think the real win is in their variation. There is a cupcake to suit everybody. Whatever flavour you want be that lemon, carrot, chocolate, vanilla, the list goes on. Covered in whatever frosting you like …. ganache, cream cheese icing, buttercream. Then of course they can be decorated however you want, be it with a quick dash of sprinkles or more elaborately with little fondant figures. It is no wonder everybody loves a cupcake. And that’s why when we were walking past The Hummingbird Bakery we couldn’t help but be tempted inside by row upon row of absolutely perfect looking cupcakes and choose our individual, just what we want, cakes. Another thing…cupcakes are great fun to make at home and with a piping bag and a bit of simple decoration, very easy to make look professional.

vanilla and chocolate cupcakes

This recipe is for chocolate and vanilla cupcakes, for that time when you can’t decide which you want. The chocolate sponge is dark and moist and is covered with a swirl of vanilla cream cheese icing. I finished these cakes with simple pink daisy, made from fondant icing.

Cupcake

To make the chocolate sponge (12 cupcakes) you will need:

110g plain flour
50g soft brown sugar
125g caster sugar
45g cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 egg
125ml whole milk
65ml sunflower oil
125ml boiling water

Preheat the oven to 190C and line a muffin tray with 12 cupcake cases. Sift the flour and cocoa powder into a bowl, add the sugars, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda and mix well. In another bowl beat together the egg, milk and sunflower oil. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and combine well. Finally add the boiling water and mix in. The cake mix will be very runny so pour it into a jug so you can pour it out into the baking cases. Divide the mixture evenly between the cases, filling each one half to two thirds full. Bake in a preheated oven at 190C for about 20 -25 minutes. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Chocolate cupcakes

Now to make the icing, you will need:

125g full fat cream cheese (cold)
175g unsalted butter (room temp)
450g icing sugar
1tsp vanilla extract

Sift the icing sugar into a bowl and mix with the butter. If you are using an electric whisk or stand mixer then you might want to cover the bowl and whisk with a tea towel while you do this bit to avoid getting icing sugar everywhere. Now add the cream cheese and vanilla extract and whisk again. You want to mix until the ingredients are just combined, if you whisk it too much then the icing will go runny and you won’t be able to pipe it. Fill a piping bag fitted with a nozzle of your choice (I used the Wilton 1M nozzle – my favourite as I’m sure you know by now!) and pipe big swirls of frosting on to your completely cooled cupcakes. Finish with whatever decoration you fancy!

Tray of cupcakes

2 cupcakes

And while we are on the topic of cupcakes here are a few cupcakes I came across recently:

How absolutely amazing are these gorgeous cupcakes that I found in the Whole Foods Market in Kensington!

Flower cupcakes

And have you ever seen so many red velvet cupcakes in one place as at The Hummingbird Bakery in Soho??

Hummingbird Red Velvet Cupcakes

Happy Cupcake Baking!

Lottie xx

Lavender and Honey Macarons

Lavender and Honey Macarons

Lavender and Honey Macarons

My favourite place to go at the moment has to be Mayfield Lavender in Surrey. It is just gorgeous. A huge field of purple that smells divine, just driving past it everyone turns their heads. If you haven’t stopped to have a walk through the rows and rows of lavender yet then make sure you do, you won’t want to leave and I’m sure you will be back. I can’t keep away, whether I’m just admiring the beauty of the purple plants, having a walk through the planted rows, buying bunches of lavender to make my flat smell just as wonderful as the field, doing aPilates class under a tree in the field, taking photo upon photo of the lavender or sipping a refreshing glass of delicious Lavender Lemonade. In fact I think I am due another trip there! Lavender is also a wonderful ingredient to add to your baking, a lovely light floral taste. I paired the lavender with honey to make these lovely Lavender and Honey macarons. I used Surrey Honey, a delicious local honey. The macaron shells are flavoured with the dried lavender buds on the top, this is all you need to flavour them with lavender, any more and it would be too much and I used the honey in the buttercream. The result, Lavender and Honey Macarons. I’ve also included some photos from the Lavender field at the end of this post, so scroll down to see the beautiful Mayfield Lavender.

Lavender and Honey Macarons

To make these lavender macarons you will need (makes approx 20):

175g icing sugar
125g ground almonds
3 large eggs (whites only)
75g caster sugar
purple food colouring (gel or paste, not liquid)
dried lavender buds
pinch of salt

To make the honey buttercream you will need:

150g icing sugar (sifted)
75g unsalted butter
2tsp runny honey

 Time to eat

Start by preparing a tray for the macaron shells (unless you have a macaron mat!). Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Under this I slide a sheet of paper printed with 3.5cm circles, this means I can create equally sized macarons and just slide the paper out before baking. Now make the shells. Sift the icing sugar and ground almonds into a bowl, pushing the almonds through the sieve so they are fine. If you have a food processor then give them a blitz in that. In another bowl whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until the egg whites form soft peaks. Add the caster sugar a little at a time and whisk, the egg whites should turn thick and glossy. Add the food colouring, a little goes a long way. You have to add the colour before adding the dry ingredients because you don’t want to risk overmixing at that stage.

 A thick and glossy consistency

Once you have achieved your desired colour add half of the icing sugar and ground almonds and fold in using a spatula. Add the rest of the icing sugar and almonds and fold in.  Don’t over mix it, you want the mixture to fall like ribbons from the spatula, not for it to be too liquid. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag, either fitted with a 1cm nozzle or with the end of the bag snipped off. Pipe small circles of mixture onto your prepared baking tray, using the printed circles as a guide. Remove the printed paper once finished. Lift the tray off the surface and drop back down from about a 15cm height 2-3 times, this helps the macarons have a good foot. Sprinkle the top of each macaron shell with a few dried lavender buds.

 Sprinkeld with Lavender

Leave the macarons at room temperature for about 20-30 minutes to form a skin. You should be able to lightly touch them without the mixture sticking to your finger. Bake in a preheated oven at 160C for 15 minutes and leave to cool on the tray. Now make the honey buttercream. Beat together the butter and icing sugar in a bowl until smooth, add the honey and beat well. Once the macaron shells are completely cool fill a piping bag with the buttercream and pipe a circle of buttercream onto the bottom of half of the macarons. Sandwich them together and they are ready to enjoy!

 Lots of Macarons

And now for some photos of the beautiful Mayfield Lavender fields:

 Mayfield Lavender Fields

 Lavender

 Making Honey

 Friends in the Lavender Field

Lottie xx

Shortbread

Chocolate, Cherry and Almond Shortbread

Chocolate, Cherry and Almond Shortbread

I thought that after exams I would have tons of time to bake but I seem to have found a million and one other things to fill up my time with and I still have lots to tick off my list! I’m pretty happy right now, for those of you that don’t know, I recently found out I passed medical school and I am finally a doctor! It is finally time for me to join the real world and stop being an eternal student. To celebrate this and then end of a long 6 years at University my lovely sister sent me an absolutely huge bar of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, and to make it even better it was personalised too! I have included a picture of it at the end of this post. This also means that everything I am baking at the moment involves Dairy Milk, this shortbread being one such example. This shortbread actually includes 3 of my favourite ingredients, hence why I created this recipe, if anyone else loves chocolate, can eat glacé cherries like sweets and loves anything almond flavoured, then this is the recipe for you!

Shortbread

 

To make this chocolate, cherry and almond shortbread you will need (this will make about 15 biscuits):

125g icing sugar
220g plain flour
125g cornflour
225g unsalted butter
100g milk chocolate
100g glace cherries
1tsp Almond Extract
Flaked almonds

Ingredients

 

Preheat the oven to 180C and grease a large baking tray. Sift the icing sugar, flour and cornflour into a bowl. Add the cubed butter to this and use your fingers to mix it all together, creating something that looks like a crumble topping. Alternatively you can use a food processor for this. Break or cut the chocolate into small chunks and halve the glace cherries. Add the chocolate, cherries and almond extract to the shortbread mix and incorporate well. Now bring the mixture into a dough, it will be crumbly but will come together. Wet your fingers to help you do this if you need to. Put the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it gently to bring it together. Carefully roll out the do to about 5mm thickness and use a round cutter to cut out discs of shortbread.

Dough

Place these onto the greased baking tray. The biscuits will spread slightly as they cook so make sure there is space in between each of the discs. Sprinkle the biscuits with the flaked almonds. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, keep an eye on them and take them out as soon as they start to turn golden brown. Leave them on the baking tray to cool and firm up. Sprinkle the biscuits with caster sugar before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Then you can enjoy!

Biscuits

 

Lottie xx

And here is the amazing bar of chocolate I was talking about!

Dr Verrill chocolate

 

Edit:

I have entered these into November’s We Should Cocoa Challenge – the theme is cookies!

This is hosted by BakeNQuilt and Chocolate Log Blog.

we should cocoa

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Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookies

December 1st and day 1 of the advent calendar. Opening mine this morning did put a big smile on my face, especially when I opened door 1 to find a lovely little Lindt reindeer waiting for me. And yes, I ate it for breakfast. Who actually saves their advent chocolate to a more appropriate time of day? However this year my advent calender is extra special, because not only does it mean the countdown to Christmas but also the countdown to Australia! Yay! I can’t wait, I think that this year December is going to have to be a combination of both Christmas bakes and Australian bakes to celebrate both things. I have baked Lamington’s in the past but haven’t done much Australian baking, so if anybody has any ideas then please do let me know! Today I have quite a simple but delicious recipe for you, for those times when you want to whip something up quickly with ingredients that are in your cupboard. Well these are perfect for that, perfect to serve on a tray with a cup of tea, whipped up last minute when you find out you have guests coming round. Peanut butter cookies, small, crumbly, easy and tasty.

Optimized-DSC_0312-2

You will need:

200g plain flour
60g caster sugar
4tbsp peanut butter
2 egg yolks
100g softened butter

Place all of the ingredients together in a bowl and mix together to form a dough. Form small balls of the dough using your hands and squash them slightly onto a lined baking sheet. Press each ball down with a fork to get the markings and flatten it a bit. You should be able to get about 16 cookies from this recipe. Put the baking tray in a preheated oven at 180C and bake for 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Optimized-DSC_0292-2-1024x685

Dust with a bit of icing sugar if you like to finish them off and serve. Simple and delicious! I think they would be nice with chocolate chips in too or perhaps half dipped in chocolate….I might try that next time!

Optimized-DSC_0306-2-1024x685

Lottie xx

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Strawberry and Cream Macarons

Strawberry and Cream Macarons

Something very sad happened recently. You may remember that on 18th September I posted about my Strawberry and Cream Macarons, well don’t cry…..but they got lost! Lost in the world of cyberspace forever! However I decided that it would be such a shame to lose them forever so here it is again! I hope you enjoy it!

Strawberry and Cream Macarons

Last time I wrote this I wrote about my experience in the Paralympic Closing Ceremony on 9th September. I was a flag escort and walked out with the San Marino flag bearer. We all formed a heart shape and then a heart of fire lit up around us. After we had done our bit we joined Team GB to watch the rest of the show. It was just amazing and Coldplay were just incredible. One of the best experiences of my life. I was on such a high from the Paralympic Ceremonies that it has taken me ages to come back down to earth! Now I am gathering things together for my London 2012 scrapbook. You can read about my Paralympic Opening Ceremony experience here. I even made Paralympic Cupcakes!

Now I am back at University and life has started to get back to normal…although I am looking forward to my next time on stage now in Half a Sixpence with Epsom Light Opera Company! Not long to go! Rehearsals also make the perfect opportunity to bake cakes for people (not that I need an excuse)! Every time I watch The Great British Bake Off I want to make what they have been baking, I am building up such a list I don’t know how I will fit it all in! Don’t forget to enter your Bake Off inspired bakes into my Bake Off Challenge….deadline for the next round up is 5th October!

Now back to resurrecting my Stawberry and Cream Macarons:

Delicious Macarons presented on a table

To make macarons I use this recipe and technique from the Delicious Magazine Website. I find it works really well. You can see how to make the basic macarons here on my Cappuccino Macarons post. The recipe and technique are exactly the same for these macarons, the only difference being adding the food colouring. It is really important that you don’t overmix when you add the ground almonds, or your macarons will be like pancakes. To avoid this you need to add the colouring to the beaten egg whites before you add the almonds. Fold the colouring into the egg whites gently, until the colour is even, then add the almonds. I did the same thing for my Chocolate Orange Macarons. The colour I used was the Sugarflair Pink Paste, a little goes a long way and pastes are good because they don’t water down your mixture.

Macarons at an early stage

Perfectly bakes macarons

Once you have baked the macarons you can do the filling. I filled these with strawberry jam and buttercream.

To make the buttercream:

100g softened unsalted butter
200g sifted icing sugar (I used golden icing sugar, hence the colour of my icing)
drop of vanilla extract

Beat together the butter, icing sugar and vanilla until well combined. Add a drop of milk if you need to loosen the icing up to pipe it.

Pipe the buttercream onto half of the macarons and had a blob of jam. Sandwich the halves together. I decorated my macarons using a Sugarflair Sugar Art pen.

Piping the filling into the macarons

Beautiful macarons

And here is the heart that we formed with the flags in the Closing Ceremony:

Paralympic closing ceremony

Thank you for reading and happy baking!

Lottie xx

 

 

 

Mum's Chocolate Chip Cookies

My Mum’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

A few months ago I posted my Blueberry, Lemon and White Chocolate Cookies and I mentioned that I would treat you all to my Mum’s cookie recipe. She is the queen of chocolate chip cookies and her simple recipe works every time . It creates lovely crumbly cookies with big chunks of chocolate and they taste delicious too! I have been busy volunteering at the Olympic Park this week and haven’t had a lot of time to bake, while I’m sure that won’t last long and my oven will be in full use again soon, it has been very very exciting being at the Olympic Park (if you are there look out for me at Park Live!). I am in full Olympic swing at the moment and the only baking I have done has been Olympic themed! Olympic ring biscuits and torch flame mini cupcakes to celebrate the Opening Ceremony and kick start my Olympic weekend! On Saturday I went to watch the men’s road race and then Sunday was my first day at the park. Busy busy! However I thought I would use this time to blog about my Mum’s cookies, luckily when she gave me some recently I managed to get some photos of them before they were demolished by my family!

You will need:

5oz salted butter
3oz soft brown sugar
8oz self raising flour
1 egg
a few drops of vanilla extract
100g milk chocolate

Mix the butter, sugar, flour, egg and vanilla together to form a dough. Hammer a bar of chocolate (in my Mum’s words!) and add the chunks of chocolate to the dough and mix well.

Form the dough into balls and squash slightly. Place on a lightly greased baking tray and bake at 140C for about 10 to 15 minutes.

If you can bear to wait, leave them to cool and then enjoy with a glass of milk or cup of tea!

Follow me on Twitter @lotts_louise and leave a comment below! Thank you!

Lottie xx

 

blueberry_lemon_and_white_chocolate_cookies

Blueberry, Lemon and White Chocolate Cookies

The London to Brighton Bike ride is just 1 week away now so today I did an exhausting 37 mile bike ride to prepare. We cycled through Wimbledon Common to Richmond Park, around the park, along the Thames for a bit and back home. Hopefully it was good preparation for next week. I am very ready for my bed right now but I have to stay up to watch the final episode of Desperate Housewives! So I’m using this time before it begins to write a blog post. I have posted lots of cake recently and nearly decided to blog the angel cake that I made this week but I thought that perhaps it was time for a brief break from cake to blog about cookies! Because everyone loves cookies! My Mum actually makes the best cookies, she gave me some today, I will have to get the recipe soon to blog about them! These cookies are blueberry and white chocolate and are based on this recipe from the Nestle Carnation site. I saw the recipe a while ago and wanted to try it as I have never used condensed milk in cookies and thought they looked good. I had lots of frozen blueberries so switched the raspberries for blueberries and also added lemon zest. They worked out really well. They give cookies that are big, flat and slightly chewy, a bit like the ones you get in the packets in supermarkets. Though be warned, this recipe creates a lot of cookies, about 25, so you might want to halve it!

You will need:
225g softened unsalted butter
225g caster sugar
350g self raising flour
150g white chocolate, chopped or broken into small pieces
150g blueberries
zest of one lemon

Start by creaming together the butter, sugar and condensed milk until well combined. Mix the flour, chocolate and lemon into this mixture to form a dough.

Line a baking tray with baking parchment. Take a small handful of the dough, roll into a ball and flatten. Put a few blueberries in the centre and fold them into the cookie. Flatten again and place on the baking tray. Leave large gaps between cookies as they spread a lot during baking.

Bake the cookies in a preheated oven at 180C for about 15 minutes until they start to turn golden. Leave them to cool slightly on the baking sheet so that they harden a bit, before transferring to a wire cooling rack. They are ready to enjoy! Nice and easy!

 

Thank you for reading, please leave a comment! I hope you like my new blog lay out!

Follow me on twitter @lotts_louise for blog updates.

There is a link on my blog to the Cosmo blog awards, if you enjoy reading my blog then I would be very grateful if you could please nominate me for Best New Food Blogger, it would mean a lot to me! As my blog is less than 1 year old you can also follow the link to the Next Newcomer Blog Awards and enter my blog there too. Thank you!!

Happy Baking!

Lottie xx

I am entering these cookies into Tea Time Treats hosted by What Kate Baked and Lavender and Lovage. The theme this month is summer fruits!

 

orange_macarons

Chocolate Orange Macarons

We have been busy this week creating a ‘balcony garden’. Although our flat may lack a garden we do have a lovely little balcony which we have decided to turn into a mini garden. We have planted a mini herb garden, some tomato plants, broad beans, a strawberry plant and some sunflowers. Fingers crossed they all grow well despite the absolutely torrential rain. I have to admit I do get quite excited about growing fruit and vegetables. Last year it was chillies, tomatoes, courgettes and spring onions, I hope we do just as well this year! But anyway, back to baking, today is another Macaron post following my recent blog for my Cappuccino Macaron success. You can read that blog post here. I have to admit I am rather fond of Macarons since my first success in making them, although until this year I hadn’t actually tried one before! I think my new found love of macarons deserves a trip to Paris to try the very best…. maybe! This time we have chocolate orange macarons, these are one of my favourites of the flavours I have tried so far, chocolate and orange are just the perfect partners (great in cupcakes too)!

You will need:

175g icing sugar
125g ground almonds
3 large egg whites (approx 110g)
75g caster sugar

Follow all the steps on this page for making Cappuccino Macarons, the basic macaron recipe is the same it comes from Delicious Magazine and works well!

The only difference is before you mix the dry ingredients with the whisked egg whites, fold in 1tsp orange extract and orange food colouring. I used Tangerine Sugarflair Paste, remember a little goes a long way!

To make the chocolate ganache filling:

200ml double cream
200g dark chocolate
1tsp orange extract

Heat the cream gently in a saucepan until almost boiling. Take off the heat and break the chocolate into the cream. Stir until the chocolate is melted and you have a lovely glossy chocolate ganache. Leave it to cool (in the fridge if you want to speed things up) until it reaches a spreadable consistency.

I decorated my macarons simply using some orange food colouring paste with a little water, brushed over the surface of the macarons.

Spoon the ganache into a piping bag, snip of the end and pipe onto half of the macarons. Then sandwich with the other halves.

Have a go!

Lottie xx (follow me on twitter @lotts_louise to keep up to date with my blog!)

This is entered into We Should Cocoa hosted by Laura at  How to Cook Good Food, Choclette Chocolate Log Blog and Chele at The Chocolate Teapot. The theme this month is Almond!