Hey Little Cupcake: Decorating Class

Hey Little Cupcake! is a fabulous, bright and colourful little cupcakery tucked away in Manchester city centre just off Deansgate. It was my birthday about 2 months ago and I decided to book myself onto their cupcake decorating class with some of my birthday money. As the classes are so popular I wasn’t able to get a space until this week. But it was worth the wait!

I was offered a complimentary drink on arrival, and had my own work station and pink polka dot apron to wear. It was definitely a very girly experience! The class began with making some sugarpaste flowers, leaves and other shapes of our choice for putting on the cupcakes later. It was fun experimenting with the different cutters and playing with the sugarpaste. I’ve never used it before but I can see my interest developing after this class! We also got taught how to make buttercream and learnt some tips on getting the right consistencies and flavouring the buttercream with different things.

The first cupcake we made was the Cookie Monster! I’ve seen this done before with blue icing, or blue sprinkles. This one is made with coconut flakes that have been dyed blue. He makes me chuckle everytime I look at him!

 

The second cupcake we made was this ‘Paris’ cupcake using strawberry flavoured pink buttercream. The nozzle we used is called a closed flower nozzle which created very thin delicate layers of buttercream.

This Oreo cupcake has an Oreo biscuit baked into the cupcake sponge. You can just seen it peeking out at the left under the vanilla buttercream. The nozzle for this was just a simple circular one. I found this quite hard to get neat and had to start over with this as I wasn’t happy with my first try.

This nozzle with lots of holes in created this brilliant grass effect! You can also use it to create the effect of hair. This was easy and fun to pipe and I overloaded the cake with all my sugarpaste decorations!

This cupcake is called the ‘Viva Las Vegas’. I went a bit wild with my chocolate buttercream on this one and piled it slightly higher than I perhaps should have. We were told that the cupcake used to be covered in cupcake glitter, but this had to be changed because cupcake glitter is not technically edible and so the food standards people weren’t happy with it being served. It is non-toxic though I am happy to report, so if you still want to use cupcake glitter on your creations, you can. I’ve eaten it before and lived to tell the tale! You can also buy the glitter at Hey Little Cupcake!

Finally my proudest moment – my rose! I did this with my first try and I’m so pleased with the effect, it looks fantastic! Don’t think I can bring myself to eat this! The icing comes out in very thin layers using the nozzle above and you pipe from the centre outwards.

I had so much fun at the cupcake class. If you’re interested in attending one they cost £35 and you’re there for about 2 hours, you get a complimentary drink, and to take all the cupcakes you decorate home. Plus the staff are lovely, are happy to answer questions and have lots of knowledge. They also sell most of the products we used during the class in the cupcakery if you want to take what you’ve learnt home. Sugarpaste specific decorating classes are also available as well as jam making classes. Check out their website: http://www.heylittlecupcake.co.uk/

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A Taste of Trafford: Altrincham Market

This Sunday I headed to Altrincham Market for A Taste of Trafford. This is an annual festival celebrating the food and flavours of local businesses. Held at Altrincham’s covered historic marketplace the festival included hot ready-to-eat dishes, deli produce, as well as cakes and desserts. The place was bustling with people when I arrive around midday and smelt great!

The first thing I noticed was La Rioja‘s chicken and chorizo paella. They also had other Spanish delights on offer such a calamari, meatballs and chicken kebabs. The food looked really fresh.

I ended up opting for La Vina‘s chicken and chorizo paella (photo above is while it was still being prepared) as they were offering paella and a glass of sangria for £4 – and I can’t resist a good bargain! The paella was delicious, moist and full of flavour. I thoroughly enjoyed it and am planning on visiting their restaurant on Deansgate soon.

My friend went for The Farmer’s Wife‘s pork meatballs in a tomato sauce. I had a bite and they were very tasty. The business supports British farmers who keep pigs in the traditional way and they also had pork burgers on offer as well as sausages for the kids. The dish on the left is tuscan bean stew.

Pies are so traditionally British it was interesting to see that The Real Thai Pie Company add Asian flavour to the dish.

Dozo Sushi (07877048634) had delicious chow mein, siu mai and steamed pork buns on on offer. The food was fantastic quality – not your typical Chinese takeaway. They also offer Sushi Workshops.

I saw End of the Rainbow cupcakes at Eccles Farmer’s Market last week and mentioned them in my review. There were a lot more flavours on offer today and I thought the cupcakes were better presented. These cupcakes are also an absolute bargain at only £1 each. My friend bought four in a variety of flavours and was equally as impressed as I am with the generous application of buttercream!

I thoroughly enjoyed my toblerone brownie from Lush Brownies. I wish I had taken advantage of the four for £5 offer, but by the time I tucked in I had left the market. Very very good brownies, light, moist and super tasty! Will be searching these out again at another market soon.

I wanted to eat pretty much all of Vanillis Cafe‘s stall! The desserts and cakes looked amazing. I’m ashamed to admit but I forgot about these guys on my second walk round. (I did a browse, then went back round to buy.) When I saw this photo my heart dropped as I wanted to buy this chocolate mousse things that looked fantastic. Next time!

I saw Dough It Yourself at Westfest (see my review here) and made the terrible mistake of not trying their pizza because I was really full at the time. This time however I gobbled up a couple of slices and was immediately converted. Their pizza bases are fantastic. Perfectly crispy and light. Me and my friend both bought two bases and a pot of sauce for £5. I’ve put them in the freezer for now but will be cracking them out at the weekend and getting creative with my toppings!

The Pate & Wine Company had some great pate’s including duck & gin, and smoked mackerel. I was really impressed with the flavour but the pots were quite big for just me and also a little more pricey than I was willing to pay. Would be great for a family though.

Mininki’s Kitchen make pesto (basil, coriander & tomato) as well as the Turkish bread pictured above, biscuits and chilli jam. My friend really liked the chilli jam. The pesto was really good, full of flavour and very fresh. Pesto is quite simple to make yourself, but if you aren’t inclined to make your own, Mininki’s would be a great alternative.

And finally I have to finish with the fabulous The French Corner. The photos say it all really. Fresh, crusty, golden bread. Their products are handmade by highly trained French bakers. The queue for this stall was rather lengthy but worth the wait! The lady ahead of me bought 10 pastries (croissants and pain du chocolats). My friend got a Marguerite loaf, and I chose an Onion loaf that I ate some of in the evening dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Yummy!

Other businesses deserving a mention are Dilli Indian Food, Love Thai Cuisine, and Cacao & Co Luxury Chocolates.

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Chocolate Fondants: GBBO Week #6

Last week’s 6th episode of GBBO was all about puddings. 6th episode – that means we are halfway through the series now bakers! The first request from the judges was for a dozen sponge puddings, two different flavours, six of each flavour. Several bakers went for sticky toffee puddings and chocolate fondants. Danny’s pudding is pictured above (with the collapsed fondants just out of shot). Poor Danny dropped a fondant when it came out of the oven, you could tell she was really devastated about it. The competition is getting serious now and little mistakes like this are starting to affect the contestants. The reality is mistakes like this happen all the time when you’re baking, and as well as talent, you need luck in GBBO!

The technical challenge this week was a Mary Berry recipe called ‘Queen of Puddings’ (pictured above). I haven’t heard of this pudding before, it is custard, with jam layered on top, then finally a layer of meringue. Of course this sounds fairly simple, but there are several technical details that need to be just right, also none of the contestants had made jam before! This is where Brendan really stood out because he had technical knowledge on the setting point of jam. Sometimes age has it’s advantages!

The final challenge was to make a strudel, savoury or sweet. Even Mary Berry admitted that when making a strudel she would buy the pastry, so it was obvious this was going to be a tough one! Strudel pastry has to be stretched by hand until it is incredibly thin, without tearing it of course. Once again Brendan stood out here. He rolled his sleeves up, oiled his arms and got stuck into the pastry stretching without a single bead of sweat or a hint of panic.

Meanwhile Cathryn accidentally launched her pastry across the room, and poor John got taken away by paramedics after cutting his hand. Oh the drama!! I was quite on edge! Brendan’s strudel turned out fabulous (pictured above) and he added a lattice work on top for bonus points. John sadly did not get to make his strudel because of his injury, which meant no one was eliminated this week! Two to go next week though…

I decided to make a chocolate fondant and started by melting 150g butter and 150g dark chocolate in a glass bowl above simmering water.

Meanwhile I lined the sides of 4 ramekins with butter and the bottom with baking paper. There were many instructions on how to line the tins. One recipe I read said to use melted butter, then let it chill, then flour it. The way I chose worked fine.

I let the chocolate and butter mixture cool slightly and whisked together 3 eggs with 75g caster sugar.

I poured the butter/chocolate into the egg/sugar and whisked as I poured. Finally I sieved in 1 heaped tbsp of plain flour.

I poured the mixture into the ramekins, make sure not to fill to the top, and baked on 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6 for exactly 12 minutes.

Let them cool for a couple of minutes. In my eagerness I immediately tipped one out onto a plate and it collapsed immediately. The second one came out intact. I used a palette knife to loosen around the edges and it slid out of the ramekin very easily and I peeled the baking paper off the top.

I cut into the chocolate fondant and was pleased to see a gorgeous warm chocolate goo spill out.

A dusting of icing sugar and it was ready to eat! You could also serve with cream or ice cream. So rich and decadent – absolute chocolate heaven!

I am adding this to Classic French August 2013, ran by Blue Kitchen Bakes and this month hosted by Under the Blue Gum Tree.

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Review: Eccles Farmers Market

For those of you that don’t know (which until a couple of weeks ago included me!) there is a farmer’s market in Eccles on the third Saturday of each month from 9:30am until 2:00pm. It’s also Salford Food & Drink Festival at the moment, so I decided upon discovering the existence of this farmer’s market I ought to get myself down to it and have a gander. Eccles is super easy to get to on the tram and the farmer’s market is a five minute walk from the tram stop.

It was hard not to miss Shirley’s pies! There were giant slabs of cheese and onion pie, a variety of generously sized pork pies, huge sausage rolls and tubs of pie gravy. My friend had one of the apple sauce topped pies in the bottom right corner of the photo and was very impressed. They seemed to be a very popular stall too with lots of people purchasing pies.

I love the cute polka dot labels on Well Pickled and Well Preserved’s jams and chutneys. They look fab! I commented on them to the stall owners and they were really pleased to hear so as they had spent ages picking them. An eye catching design can really make a big difference to a product.

I can never resist cheese! Leagram’s Organic Dairy had so many different varieties, including a cheese flavoured with Marmite (I love Marmite!) It was three cheeses for £5 so after much debating I got smoked cheese, a delicious red onion cheese, and a smoked garlic cheese. It was hard narrowing it down to three!

Was very tempted to buy these quail eggs but wouldn’t have a clue what to do with them… I need to research some recipes and go back next month! The same stall also had the biggest chicken’s eggs I’ve ever seen, they were massive!

Choco-lori had a very tempting stall but thoughts of an expanding waistline meant I only had a sample of the white chocolate fudge, it was fantastic though. Creamy, soft and melted in my mouth. Any of their products would be great for a gift as they are so well presented. Kids would love the chocolate dinosaurs!

Cupcakes! This company is called End of the Rainbow and the cupcakes are really cute and impressive. They are very generous with the buttercream which puts them in my good books! Plus their website is as pretty as their cakes!

Shaw Meats had a vast selection of different kinds of local and exotic meats. Despite being a big meat fan and carnivore enthusiast, there are plenty of meats that I haven’t yet sampled. I still haven’t tried rabbit, or pheasant. But my eye was caught by the more exotic meats on offer and I purchased wild venison, springbok, kangaroo and ostrich burgers. Eight burgers in total for £12.

Saturday night I cooked these all up with my housemates and we all tried the different meats. I’ve had kangaroo steak before when I was in Australia, but it tasted different in burger format. The venison was a very strong taste and I’m not sure I liked it on it’s own, but my housemates liked it a lot. My favourite was ostrich, I crumbled some of the red onion cheese I got onto it, some actual red onions, and the obligatory dollop of ketchup and thoroughly enjoyed my ostrich burger!

Other stalls at the market included fresh fruit, Port of Lancaster Smokehouse, Lancashire Black Puddings, and Oliviccio. Go check it out if you live in the Manchester area, next month’s is on the 20th October.

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Key Lime Pie: GBBO Week #5

This week on GBBO was pie week! The contestants first challenge was to make a wellington, these are typically made using beef. Sarah-Jane used a fantastic looking fillet of beef, although she didn’t chill her meat after sealing it and her pastry collapsed when baking! (See picture below). It was such a struggle to watch this, I understood that she was thinking of quality and expense of the meat and wanted to keep it moist, so she had good intentions. But at the same time I was biting my nails with worry! I could see that Mary and Paul felt the same when she told them what she was doing, and I was shouting at my TV for them to tell her.

The other contestants used different meats including fish for their
wellingtons. Danny chose to do a vegetarian wellington. The reason I
have never made a beef wellington is because a nice beef fillet is going
to set you back upwards of £50! Seeing the contestants using different meats definitely gave me inspiration to try out other meats. Cathryn’s English breakfast wellington filled with sausage meat and eggs caught my eye, she described it as a giant sausage roll, sounds delicious to me!

The second challenge is what I would describe as the meanest challenge on GBBO so far – hand raised pies (see picture above). The contestants had to shape pastry around a dolly, which was a disaster for the majority of contestants as once shaped and chilled, the pastry wouldn’t come off the dolly! No one did very well on this one.

The final challenge was American Pies. This challenge produced what has been called ‘the best bake of the series’. Ryan Chong’s Key Lime Pie (pictured above). He struggled during baking, but managed to turn out the beautiful pie you can see above. He was awarded star baker and praised highly by Mary and Paul. It was a very emotional moment and I was so pleased for him! This had to be the bake I tried out this week!

The recipe I used said your lose bottomed tart tin should be 24cm wide. However, mine was a lot bigger, about 29cm (11-ish inches) wide. So I decided to double the recipe! One of my philosophies in life is “better to have too much than too little”. And I definitely stick to this when baking. I put 350g of plain flour and 170g of butter into a large bowl.

Using my hands I rubbed the butter into the flour until fine crumbs formed. I then added 90g of caster sugar and mixed together.

In went 2 eggs and again use your hands to bind the mixture together into a dough. Knead it briefly into a soft ball of dough, wrap in cling and chill for 1 hour.

Meanwhile I made the filling. I whisked together 3 egg yolks and the zest of 3 limes until the mixture thickened. I then added a can (usually 397g) of condensed milk, and whisked again for 5 minutes. Finally in went the juice of 5 limes, whisk some more until thoroughly combined and nice and frothy.

Once the pastry was fully chilled I took it out of the fridge and used about two thirds of it to roll out on a floured surface. Make sure to flour the rolling pin too as the pastry sticks otherwise. I lined my tart tin with the rolled out pastry. Make sure you keep the edges hanging over as pastry shrinks when baking, you can trim them off later.

I lined the pastry with baking paper and poured in ceramic baking beans. You can use dry rice if you don’t have beans, but I recommend using them as the ceramic distributes the heat evenly. I baked the pastry on 180C/350F/Gas 4 for 20 minutes. Then removed the baking beans and baking paper and baked the pastry alone for another 5 minutes.

Let the pastry cool completely. You can neaten up the edges now and trim any bits off that are hanging over the side of the tin. Then add the lime filling and bake for 15-20 minutes until it’s set, but still wobbles in the centre.

It’s your choice how to decorate! You could use meringue like Ryan did. I chose to whip up some cream and covered the pie in it, then garnished with lime slices and a sprinkle of lime zest. The cream balanced out the zingyness of the lime filling really well. My pastry was lovely and baked throughout, and my filling set perfectly. The edges of my pastry did go quite dark, I found it difficult to trim off but did the best I could.

This was a bi hit with my housemates, and I ate two slices so it must’ve been pretty tasty!

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The September Lust List

It’s September, the beginning of autumn and back to school time for those of us young enough to still be in education! It’s getting cold outside, I’m thinking about cosy autumn dishes and even Christmas baking already! Here are the items I’m coveting this month…

Emma Bridgewater Union Jack Recipe Box
Planet Bake £13.95
I think this is just brilliant! Bright, colourful and patriotic. Plus anything that involves organisation I automatically like!

Judge Kitchen Essentials Shaker
Barnitts £6.79
I always use a sieve to sprinkle icing sugar over my baked goods. One of these would be so much easier, definitely a September purchase for me!

Cast Iron Round 26cm Casserole Dish
Le Creuset £150
Autumn is a great time for warm comforting dishes like casseroles, and if you’re going to make one, do it properly with a Le Creuset dish. They’re expensive, but last forever!

Nordic Ware Heritage Bundt Pan
Cookware £22.05
Bake a cake in one of these pans for amazing visual results that are bound to impress!

That’s all for this month folks! Happy shopping 🙂

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Double Chocolate Cookies

My recent foray in sharing my baking with the world has brought me lots of attention from my friends and family. I have always baked, for many years now, but with my blog more people are seeing my kitchen creations on a regular basis. Usually my housemates and work colleagues are my main baking beneficiaries, but now everyone wants a slice! So last week I asked my friend if he wanted to grab some dinner, and he said yes, and can I bake him some cookies? Seen as I am such a nice friend I said yes immediately. Any excuse to bake!

I’ve made these cookies so many times as this recipe is so easy and the cookies are SO tasty. First you melt 150g dark chocolate in a glass bowl over a pan of shallow water.

In a bowl mix together 175g light brown sugar and 75g butter.

Add one egg and 1 tsp. vanilla extract and mix well.

Add 100g self raising flour and 25g cocoa powder to the mixture and fold in.

Then add the melted dark chocolate and mix well. This can be a bit tricky as the glass bowl is hot, so be careful, I dropped the entire bowl into the cookie mixture first time I made these, but it all turned out ok!

Finally add your chocolate chips. I used white chocolate chips. You can also add nuts, I didn’t use any this time as I knew my friend’s son might eat them, but last time I made these I added chopped almonds. You could also try macadamia nuts, or walnuts. Cover the bowl and chill the mixture for 30 minutes in the fridge.

Roll out into balls and flatten down with your hands. About 6 fit on a baking tray, lined with baking paper. The cookies will expand and grow as they bake, so leave space in between them. About an inch is enough. Bake for 12 minutes on 180C/350F/Gas 4. I find 12 minutes produces perfect cookies for me, it will depend on your oven, and how crisp or soft you like them, but I recommend this timing.

Leave them on the tray for a few minutes, then move to a cooling rack.

They are really good warm so dig in! The great thing about this recipe is it’s so flexible. You can use other kinds of chocolate in the dough, add your choice of nuts or even dried fruit. You could also try M&Ms or Smarties! Decide what you like and make it work for you!

I made these again a few days later for a family get together and my nana liked them so much she kept encouraging everyone to eat the Fudge and Raisin Oat Cookies I had also made so she could have more Double Choc ones for herself! My stepmum also asked for the recipe and subsequently passed it onto my stepsister who’s son loves the cookies. They are also one of my boyfriend’s favourite bakes of mine, and my colleagues love them too. These cookies have to be tried! And maybe if you are a friend of mine, ask nicely and I might make you some too 😉

 

Print

Double Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients

  • 150 g Dark chocolate
  • 175 g Light brown sugar
  • 75 g Butter
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 100 g Self raising flour
  • 25 g Cocoa powder
  • White chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Melt the dark chocolate in a glass bowl over a pan of shallow water on a very low heat. Make sure the water does not touch the bowl. Or you can melt it in the microwave, start with a 30 second blast then continue with 10 second blasts, stirring in between, until it's fully melted

  2. In a mixing bowl cream together the light brown sugar and butter

  3. Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix well

  4. Add the self raising flour and cocoa powder to the mixture and mix in

  5. Then pour in the melted dark chocolate and mix well

  6. Add the chocolate chips. then cover the bowl and chill the mixture for 30 minutes in the fridge

  7. Scoop the mixture out with a spoon or your hands and roll each piece into a ball and flatten it down a little with your hands. Place onto baking trays lined with baking paper. Leave about an inch of space in between them as they will expand when baking

  8. Bake for 8-12 minutes on 160C Fan/180C/350F/Gas 4. The timing will depend on your oven, so aim for 10 minutes, then adjust as needed

  9. Leave them on the tray for at least 5 minutes, then move to a cooling rack

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Creme Caramel: GBBO Week #4

This week on the Great British Bake Off the theme was desserts. The contestants first challenge was to make a multi-layered torte. I always thought a torte was kind of like a tart, but apparently it’s more cake like and usually has a few layers involved, although not always. They weren’t allowed to use standard flour either, which gave the bakers the opportunity to use different types of flour such as potato and chestnut. There are so many different types of flour and it’s interesting to see the bakers be creative with a technical aspect of a bake rather than the aesthetics.

The second challenge was creme caramel (pictured above). It is a relatively simple concept – custard with a caramel coating – but the brief instructions the bakers were given caused confusion! Some contestants used egg yolks only in the custard, and others the whole egg. Of course, everyone had problems making the caramel, which is a problem I can definitely sympathise with!

The final challenge was a show stopping layered meringue that the bakers has 6 hours to create. Above is my favourite contestant Brendan’s Pear, Chocolate and Hazelnut Dacquoise, which was a huge hit with the judges! I’m pleased he did well as last week he struggled. Stuart left in the end which I was sad about, as I think he had a lot more to give, and I love how creative and brave he is. He reminds me of myself, I am always having grand ideas, but they never turn out how I imagine!

Out of the 3 challenges I chose to make the creme caramel. My creative juices aren’t flowing much at the moment (baker’s block?) so a technical challenge suited me just fine! I followed a Delia Smith recipe, and I started by melting 175g caster sugar on a low heat.

I stirred it gently as it melted. I took the pan off the heat, added 2 tablespoons of hot water and stirred some more. Then I quickly poured the caramel straight into 4 ramekins. Do this quickly, the caramel cools and goes solid very fast!! I also put the ramekins into a deep roasting tray for transferring to the oven later.

Then I began making the custard. I poured 150ml of whole milk and 275ml of single cream into the pan that had the caramel in and whisked it over a low heat until the remaining caramel melted into the cream mixture.

In a bowl I beat 4 eggs together, then poured in the cream mixture, whisking constantly as I poured. Once it was all mixed in, I added 1 tsp. of vanilla extract and mixed again.

I poured the mixture into the ramekins on top of the caramel through a sieve. The sieve caught any crystallised lumps of caramel in the custard. Then I filled the roasting tray with hot water until it came up to about two thirds of the ramekins height. This is called a bain marie.

I baked the creme caramels on 150C/300F/Gas 2 for 45 minutes. The recipe said 1 hour and 15 minutes, but after 30 minutes they started browning on top, and after 45 minutes I decided to take them out as they were firm on top.

After leaving to cool, I turned out the creme caramel and was very pleased! The caramel sauce was lovely and golden., the custard was firm and set all the way through. A great result if I do say so myself!

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Fondant Fancies

This is another recipe from my Clothes Swapping/Afternoon Tea party last weekend. I love having people round and hosting parties, although I have to admit I do get a bit stressed out worrying if there will be enough food, if everything looks good and tastes nice, and that my house is clean and tidy! Of course it always turns out ok! But didn’t stop me from getting up around 8am on the morning of my party with these very worries! I flicked through one of my recipe books to find something quick I could make with the ingredients I had at home and decided to make these cute pink Fondant Fancies!

I started by lining a square cake tin. I used the same tin that I made brownies in the other week. This tin is going to turn out to be a great baking purchase.

In a bowl mix 175g butter and 175g caster sugar. In a separate bowl beat 3 eggs and add 1 tsp. vanilla extract.

Measure out 175g self raising flour. Add a little of the egg mixture into the butter and sugar, along with one tablespoon of the flour and mix well. Continue adding more of the egg mixture, mixing in well each time. Finally add the rest of the flour, along with 2 tbsp. milk and mix thoroughly.

 

I put the mixture into the tin and baked on 190C/375F/Gas 5 for about 25 minutes. It will be golden all over when ready.

I left it to cool on a rack, then cut the sponge into small squares. I ended up with about 30 squares.

I put jam (St. Dalfour raspberry again, as mentioned in my Victoria Sponge Cupcake post!) on half of the squares.

I then sandwiched on top the other sponge square and put a chopping board underneath the cooling rack as it was about to get messy!

For the icing I mixed the juice of half a lemon with 60ml hot water and poured into 450g of icing sugar, mixing well. I’ve never added fruit juice to icing before, it adds a really nice flavour to the icing and I’ll definitely be doing it again and experimenting with different fruits. I added a few drops of pink food colouring, and mixed again.

Then I poured the icing over the sandwiched squares, suffice to say there was pink icing everywhere! I kept scooping icing up and pouring it over again to cover as much of the sponge as I could.

For the final finishing touch I used these sugar pearls. I put one of each colour on top in a triangle shape. You can use anything you want to decorate the top of these. But I would recommend something small and delicate for the best effect.

I put them in some pretty floral cake cases to serve. These are very girly treats! You could also cover them in chocolate, or put buttercream in the middle instead of or as well as jam. Or make them a bit more manly with different coloured icing and decorations. Experiment and enjoy! Let me know if you try these out 🙂

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Victoria Sponge Cupcakes

I had a Clothes Swapping/Afternoon Tea party at the weekend and decided to make a few classic treats for my guests. I will be covering what I made over my next few posts. I have to highly recommend Clothes Swapping parties as well – it is such a brilliant idea! There was 12 girls, all with bags full of unwanted clothes, shoes, bags and accessories. We hung the clothes all over my house, and then everyone went shopping! It was a free for all as we browsed the selection, tried on clothes, picked things we liked, and bagged some new things. Free shopping has to be one of the best things ever! I have to admit I was quite giddy when I found a beautiful black sparkly dress, I may have even twirled around a little bit. I also bagged two other dresses, two black embellished vest tops, a lovely black hangbag and even some purple nail varnish! And combined with a selection of cake goodness… What more can you ask for?!

I chose to make Victoria Sponge Cupcakes because Victoria Sponge Cake is a traditional afternoon tea cake. It is usually made with a buttercream and jam filling, now I love buttercream, but it is very sweet, so I decided to use fresh cream instead to make the cakes a little lighter on the sugar. I also thought cupcakes made it a lot easier to serve. I used a muffin recipe to make sure the cupcakes were nice and big!

First I melted 60g butter in a pan. I sifted 280g plain flour, 1 tbsp. baking powder, and a pinch of salt into a large bowl, then stirred in 200g caster sugar. In a separate bowl I beat one egg, added the melted butter, 250ml of milk and 1 tsp. of vanilla extract. I made a well in the flour, and added the egg mixture bit by bit, mixing in thoroughly each time.

I divided the mixture into 12 muffin cases in my muffin baking tray. I baked on 220C/425F/Gas 7 for 20-25 minutes until they were golden brown.

I constructed the cupcakes the next day when they were fully cooled, but this can easily be done the same day as long as the sponge is thoroughly cool so that the cream doesn’t melt. I started by using a sharp knife to cut the cupcakes in half.

I have to recommend St. Dalfour jam. Which is what I used for these cupcakes. It is an old french recipe where the jam is sweetened with fruit juices instead of with sugar. Jam is often too sweet and processed, but this jam retains the flavour of the fruit and has the added bonus of being lower in calories! I get it from Asda, and I used the raspberry flavour for this recipe. It’s also available in strawberry and blueberry.

I put jam onto the bottom section of the halved cupcakes.

In a food processor, I whipped up a pot of double cream. I like to mix my cake batter by hand, but having a food processor for a job like whipping cream is so handy and time saving! I smeared the cream onto the top half of the cupcake and sandwiched the two halves back together again.

Then I sprinkled icing sugar over the tops (messy warning!)

And ta-da! There you have it! A delicious individually portioned Victoria Sponge Cupcake oozing with freshly whipped cream.

These were extremely well received by my party guests and they all got eaten up. A couple of people thought they were shop bought which I was quite pleased with. Try these yourself for an easy, yet impressive result!

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