Tag Archives: Calendar Cakes

Chocolate and Strawberry Cupcakes

Strawberry and Chocolate Cupcakes

Strawberries are everywhere at the moment, made famous by Wimbledon’s strawberries and cream, they are the perfect summer fruit. Therefore also the perfect fruit to use in your baking this summer! I can’t seem to get enough of strawberries right now but chocolate and strawberry are a perfect combination.

I finished University recently, finished 6 years of medical school and had a lovely graduation day (you can see a picture of me on my graduation day below) earlier this month at Royal Festival Hall as well as a graduation ball at the Tower of London. A fantastic end to an amazing 6 years! During my last placement I had promised my class that I would bake them something and bring it in, I made them 12 of these strawberry and chocolate cupcakes and 12 orange and lemon cupcakes and then transported them across London in my amazing 24 cupcake carrier! These cupcakes are chocolate sponge iced with a strawberry cream cheese frosting topped with a strawberry and a drizzle of melted chocolate.

Chocolate and Strawberry Cupcakes

For the cupcakes I based the chocolate cupcake recipe from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook as I find this Hummingbird recipe works very well every time, it is also a lovely moist chocolate cake. I used it in my very first blog post – Black Forest Cupcakes and also for these Christmas cupcakes. This time I adjusted the measurements of the ingredients to give a slightly bigger cupcake.

Cupcakes

To make 12 cupcakes you will need:

150g plain flour
30g cocoa powder
210g caster sugar
2.5 tsps baking powder
pinch of salt
60g unsalted butter (softened slightly)
180ml whole milk
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180C. Put the flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt and butter in a bowl and beat slowly until the mixture looks sandy. You can do this with your fingers if you prefer, rubbing the butter into the dry ingredients. Whisk the milk, eggs and vanilla together and pour half of this into the flour mix in the bowl. Beat well before adding the remaining milk and egg mix and beating again until well combined. The mixture should be smooth. Pour or spoon the mixture into the prepared cupcake cakes until about two thirds full. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 180C. When they are done they should be bouncy to touch. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

Chocolate cupcakes

To make the strawberry cream cheese frosting (I used this recently without the strawberry on some vanilla and raspberry cupcakes) you will need:

200g unsalted butter (softened)
200g cream cheese
500g icing sugar (sifted)
3 tbsp strawberry purée (made from fresh strawberries)
pink food colouring (I use the Sugarflair pastes)

Start by making the strawberry purée with a handful of fresh strawberries. There is no need to cook the strawberries first, using a food processor purée the strawberries. If you don’t have a food processor or blender just use an electric hand whisk. Once you have made a purée push it through a fine sieve to remove the little strawberry seeds that coat the strawberries on the outside.

Beat together the butter and icing sugar until well combined and then add the cream cheese and beat well. Finally add the strawberry puree and pink food colouring until you get your desired colour. If you are using the pastes, a little goes a long way. Beat well but don’t over mix or the frosting will go runny. If this happens you can add more icing sugar or you can leave the frosting in the fridge to firm up so that you can pipe it.

Strawberry frosting

Now it is time to assemble the cupcakes! Use a piping bag fitted with your favourite nozzle (I used the Wilton 1M to create a Mr Whippy style swirl) to pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes. Top each cake with half a strawberry and drizzle with melted chocolate. Leave the chocolate to set before serving. Enjoy some lovely fruity, summery cupcakes!

Cupcakes on stand

And here is a picture of me with my siblings on my graduation day, it was such a lovely day and a great way to end 6 years. Hope you like the shoes! On to the next chapter!

GraduationLottie xx

PS. I am entering these fruity cupcakes into this month’s Tea Time Treats and this month’s Calendar Cakes as theme for both is fruit! Tea Time Treats is hosted by Lavender and Lovage and What Kate Baked. Calendar Cakes is hosted by Laura Loves Cakes and Dolly Bakes.

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Christmas Cupcakes!

Christmas Cupcakes!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

There is something just so magical about Christmas, everything is so exciting and there is so much going on! I am away for Christmas this year and will actually be on a plane so I am determined to make the most of everything Christmassy before I go. We may not be here on Christmas Day but the Christmas Tree is still up in our flat, decorated with red and gold glittery baubles, glittery little birds and traditional white lights. When the Christmas tree goes up that means that Christmas really is here! I made some of my own decorations too this year and have given them to people as presents. I dried oranges (which made the kitchen smell delightful), then threaded them with cranberries and cinnamon sticks to make decorations! And of course I have been doing some Christmas baking, mince pies and even Panettone this year. These though are my Christmas cupcakes for this year, they have a variety of decorations, the snowflake ones being similar to my Winter Cupcakes from last year. These cakes were made to sell at ELOCs performances of Jingle Belles where I was working behind the bar and selling lots of mulled wine!

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I made half of them vanilla and half of the chocolate cupcakes. I topped the vanilla cupcakes with either the festive red sparkly icing or with the fondant icing present design. I topped the chocolate cupcakes with either chocolate icing and holly or blue icing and snowflakes. All of them were finished off with a touch of edible silk shimmer dust.

To make the vanilla cupcakes:

6oz golden caster sugar
6oz butter or margarine
3 large eggs
6oz self raising flour
splash of milk
1tsp vanilla extract

Beat together the sugar and butter. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each one. Fold the flour into the mixture with a wooden spoon or a spatula. Add a splash of milk and the vanilla and mix in. Spoon into cupcake cases and bake at 180C for about 20 minutes.

To make the chocolate cupcakes I used the recipe from the Hummingbird Bakery book which gives lovely, moist cupcakes. You can see the recipe here where I used it for my Black Forest Cupcakes.

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To make the frosting:

Beat 250g softened unsalted butter together with 500g seived icing sugar. Add 2 tbsp milk and 1 tsp vanilla essence. Beat until smooth and creamy. To make the chocolate icing add seived cocoa powder to the frosting.

The cupcake toppers were made out of rolled fondant icing using holly and snowflake cutters.

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I rolled a pattern onto my present toppers using a textured rolling pin like this, I love the effect!

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Merry Christmas everybody!

Lottie xx

I am entering these into Calendar Cakes hosted by Dolly Bakes and Laura Loves Cakes.

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Paul Hollywood’s Plaited Loaf

Paul Hollywood’s Plaited Loaf

There is something extremely satisfying about making bread and it always feels like such an acheivement afterwards. I have to say, making sourdough bread from scratch and making my own starter was a very proud moment for me but at the same time even a simple white loaf gives me a sense of satisfaction. And the smell of baking bread….well it is delicious. I think part of the reason it is so satisfying is that you really have to set aside some time to make bread, it can’t be done in a rush, unless you have a breadmaker that is. You have to really put some work into making bread, some tender loving care shall we say. After all my recent birthday cake baking, I have to say I really did miss baking bread, so when I had a few spare moments to bake some this week, I grabbed the chance. Also it was Homemade Bread Day on 17th November, a perfect time to get bread baking again!

I still have a huuuge long list of things from the last Bake Off that I want to make…chiffon cake, strudel, doughnuts, the list goes on. On my list was also the amazing 8 strand plaited loaves they made on the show, I’m always up for a challenge and when I saw them make these I wanted a go. So here it is…Paul Hollywood’s Plaited Loaf from the book ‘The Great British Bake Off – How To Turn Everyday Bakes Into Showstoppers‘.

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There seemed to be a lot of trouble with the plaiting on the show but I found that if you follow the instructions exactly how they are written then you shouldn’t have a problem with it….next time I might try 8 strand plaiting my hair!

You will need:

500g strong white bread flour
10g salt
14g fast action dried yeast
20ml olive oil
340ml water at room temperature
1 beaten egg with a pinch of salt (to glaze)

To make the dough put the flour in a mixing bowl, then add the salt on one side of the bowel and add the yeast to the other. These are instructions given by Paul Hollywood and are a way of making sure the two don’t touch each other as the salt can kill the yeast.

Next add the oil and mix in. Add three quarters of the water and use your hands to combine the ingredients. Add the rest of the water and work it into the dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled surface and knead for about 10 minutes until it is stretchy. This is the fun, messy bit, but also pretty hard work!

Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with clingfilm. Leave it to rise for about 1 hour at room temperature, it should double in size.

Knock back the dough and turn onto a floured surface. Divide it into 8 equal pieces and roll each peace into a long 40cm strand. Lay the strands out on the work surface, gathering the ends together. Now you are ready to GET PLAITING!

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Follow the instructions, it will work, even though it seems a little odd at first. Number the strands, the strand furthest left is number 1, the strand furthest right is number 8, when you move the strands the numbers change and you start from 1 to 8, left to right again.

1. Strand 8 under strand 7, then over strand 1.

2. Strand 8 over strand 5.

3. Strand 2 under strand 3, then over strand 8.

4. Strand 1 over strand 4.

5. Strand 7 under strand 6, then over strand 1.

You only do step 1 once, right at the beginning. Keep repeating steps 2 to 5 until the plait is finished. Finish the ends off neatly.

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Leave the plait to rise on a floured baking sheet. Leave it for 1 hour at room temperature. After an hour you can brush the loaf with the beaten egg, then bake in a preheated oven at 200C for 20-25 minutes. It should be golden brown and should sound hollow when tapped underneath.

Serve with butter and jam and enjoy the smell of freshly baked bread. Delicious!

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Lottie xx

I am entering this loaf into the Fresh From the Oven challenge, the theme this month is a plaited loaf and it is hosted by Fuss Free Flavours. This challenge is ran by Claire and Michelle fromPurely Food and Utterly Scrummy Food for Families.

I am also entering this into Calendar Cakes, because of Homemade Bread Day this month the theme is Bread, Rolls and Buns! This is hosted by LauraLovesCakes and Dollybakes.

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Chocolate Dipped Rose and Strawberry Meringues

The last 2 weeks have seen me practically glued to the TV at any spare moment. I will admit it, I was addicted to the Olympics. I’m not even a very sporty person, yet I found myself enjoying every sport that there is and screaming at the TV with excitement when we won medals! I also thought that both of the ceremonies were just absolutely fantastic! Like many, I did feel a little bit sad at the end of the closing ceremony, that was the end of the Olympics and it was such a fabulous 2 weeks, everywhere in London was buzzing. Now I am just as excited though for the Paralympics, I cannot wait for them to start. I am performing in the Opening and Closing ceremonies and had my first rehearsal recently, I cannot put into words how excited I am to be a part of these ceremonies! Bring on the Paralympics!

Me and Russ supporting Team GB at the Olympics:

However you may have noticed that I haven’t had a chance to blog over the last 2 weeks of the Olympic period, there was just too much happening! Then this weekend I went on a little Camping Trip to Eastbourne. Turns out a 6 man tent really isn’t big enough for 6 people! All of us being Olympic fans we found a big screen in Eastbourne where the Olympics were being shown. We turned out there at 10am on Saturday morning to watch the diving semi final and cheer on Tom Daley and were practically the only people there. We were back again in the evening and sat in the cold to see Mo Farah win and Tom Daley get his bronze. This time a few more people were there. On Sunday we turned up for the Closing Ceremony, armed with sleeping bags to keep us warm, to find the place absolutely jam packed with people! It was fantastic and the atmosphere was amazing. An excellent end to the Olympics. Now though it is time for another little blog. This is another pretty post, I do like a bit of pretty baking. These meringues are lovely and make a fantastic summer treat for a party or picnic. They are rose and strawberry meringues dipped in chocolate and drizzled in chocolate. Yum!

 

To make these meringues you will need:

4 large egg whites (at room temp)
120g caster sugar
120g icing sugar
2 tsp rose water (I used English Provender Co. Essence of Rose Water)
Freeze dried strawberries (I used a tube by Cake Professional from Waitrose)
Pink food colouring – optional  (I use Sugarflair Colour Pastes)
Chocolate for dipping (I used white and dark chocolate)

Beat the egg whites on medium speed with an electric whisk until they form stiff peaks. Add the caster sugar a bit at a time and beat in between each addition. Also add the rose water and a small amount of food colouring if you are using it. Add the icing sugar half at a time and fold in using a metal spoon trying to keep as much air in the egg whites as possible, also fold in the freeze dried strawberries at this stage.

Spoon or pipe the meringue mixture onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. I tried to pipe swirls using a 1M nozzle but the strawberries get stuck in the nozzle so make sure you use quite a large round nozzle if piping.

Bake in a preheated oven at 100C for about 1.5 hours. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl over a pan of hot water. Once the meringues are cool dip the bottom of the meringues in the chocolate and put on a piece of greaseproof paper to leave the chocolate to set. Drizzle any left over chocolate over the meringues.

I made half of mine pink and half of them white. The white ones I dipped in dark chocolate and the pink ones in white chocolate.

On another exciting note, The Great British Bake Off starts tonight! Woop woop!

Enjoy!

Lottie xx

I am linking this to the Cook.Eat.Delicious-Desserts blog event because the theme this month is Chocolate! It is hosted this month by Culinary Vibes.

I am also entering it into Simple and in Season hosted by Ren at Fabulicious Food because strawberries are in season this month.

I am also entering this into Calendar Cakes hosted by Dolly Bakes and Laura Loves Cakes. The theme this month is British Summertime, so these fit in nicely!