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Wednesday, 21 November 2012

apple cuscakes

...thats apple & custard cupcakes

I had to beat this recipe out of Jennie from the Cupcake bakery, It's my personal favorite of all of her flavors. First I held her down and gave her a bit of a kicking. She was not co-operating at all until I tried a bit of hair pulling - then she caved in and gave it to me. I am hoping to get a gluten free recipe from her in the near future and now that I know her weak points our success is almost guaranteed :)

I completely made all of that up - but these are in reality very nice cupcakes. The sponge part is pretty much perfection, but you can skip the custard making and buy a carton without too many ill effects. The frosting can just be dolloped on and still be pretty, a star nozzle is what is usually used, the one pictured here is often called a 'french nozzle' with about 12 points

Makes 12
200g all-purpose flour
1/2tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
130g plus 2 tsp butter
2 eggs
130g light muscovado sugar
3 peeled & diced or grated Bramley or granny smyth apples
About 1 tblsp milk

Preheat the oven to 180 C/350F/gas 4
Sift the Flour, baking powder & salt in a bowl
Put the butter & sugar in a mixing bowl & beat with an electric hand mixer until pale & fluffy. Stop occasionally to scrape down the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Slowly add the sifted dry ingredients & grated/diced apple & beat on low until combined. If the mixture seems to thick add the milk. Divide the mixture between the cupcake cases. Bake in a preheated oven for approx. 20-25 mins or until well risen & skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven & let cool completely on a wire rack.

Custard Recipe
570ml/1 pint milk
55ml/2fl oz single cream
1 vanilla pod or ½ tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs, yolks only
30g/1oz caster sugar
2 level tsp cornflour
Bring the milk, cream and vanilla pod to simmering point slowly over a low heat. Remove the vanilla pod (wash the vanilla pod, dry and store in jar with caster sugar to make vanilla sugar). Whisk the yolks, sugar and cornflour together in a bowl until well blended. Pour the hot milk and cream on to the eggs and sugar, whisking all the time with a balloon whisk. Return to the pan, (add vanilla extract if using) and over a low heat gently stir with a wooden spatula until thickened.

Once your cupcakes are cooled core the centre with an apple core & pour in your custard

Custard Buttercream
250g of butter, 500g icing sugar, drop of cold milk (if required), 2/3 tsp custard
Make sure your butter is soft, pop into a bowl. Add your icing sugar & start to mix on a low speed. Once your icing starts to come together increase the speed to medium. I generally leave it for about 10 mins on med-high speed or until it looks like whipped cream. I then fold in the custard as it can cause your buttercream to spilt if added to quickly.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Indian spice cookies

These biscuits definitely pack a big flavor punch due to the blend of Indian inspired spices. Cardamom, saffron and allspice with the crunch of the toasted pistachios combine to create a blend that transforms a plain cookie recipe into a complex and comforting biscuit that pairs perfectly with a smooth pannacotta or lemon posset for a sophisticated dinner party dessert, a nice finish to an indian meal or simply serve with a hot cup of tea.


1/4 tsp saffron
2 tbsp milk, warmed to dissolve the saffron
6 Cardamom pods
1/2 tsp Allspice
20 pistachios, crushed or coarsely chopped
200 gm (1 1/2 cups) flour
100 gm (1/2 cup + 2tbsp) castor sugar
100 gm butter
A few drops of milk to bind the dough if required

Makes about 20 cookies

Place the saffron with the warm milk in a pestle & mortar. In a pestle & mortar or coffee mill, grind the cardamom seeds fine powder and keep aside, disregard any husks.

Chop the pistachios into small pieces. A mezzaluna works best. Crush the saffron into a smooth paste using the mortar and pestle. In a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the butter and the sugar together. Put in the saffron mixture, cardamom and allspice and blend well.

Put in the flour and form into a dough. If the dough refuses to co-operate, add a few more drops of milk, just enough for it to come together. Preheat your oven to 350 F. Roll the dough on a clean surface. Sprinkle half of the pistachios over it and lightly press into the top with a rolling pin. Cut out with a cookie cutter of your choice. Reshape the remaining dough, roll again and cut. Repeat until you have no dough remaining. Place the cookies on a tray lined with silicone paper and bake for 15 minutes. Cool completely and store in an air tight container.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Home-made fish fingers

Home-made fish fingers have more fish, more flavour and more crunch than shop bought ones and are well worth the extra effort. Most children love them so they're a safe bet when they have a few pals over after school. I always make up some extra and freeze them. They make a brilliant midweek emergency supper, frying them in batches from frozen.

Serve them with crispy homemade oven chips, or between two slices of bread with loads of tartare sauce for the ultimate fish finger sandwich. I have lemon sole here but any white fish like cod or haddock would do just as well. Sustainable white fish, such as pollock or coley would be even better. Panko breadcrumbs give the nicest coating, but I nearly always have breadcrumbs in the freezer so that's normally what I use - either is a vast improvement on the bright orange coating of the boxed fish finger - sorry Captain Birdseye, no offense intended.

2 lemon sole fillets (skinned)
70 g cornflour
100 g white breadcrumbs (or panko)
2 eggs
250 ml groundnut oil (or grapeseed - or as needed depending on size of pan)
Salt & pepper (to taste)

Cut the fish into strips down the fillet, following the natural lines of the fish. The strips should be approximately 1in wide and 3-4in long. Sprinkle some salt onto the fish.
Put the cornflour into a shallow bowl and season with salt and pepper. Put the breadcrumbs or panko into another shallow bowl, and beat the eggs in an additional bowl.
Dip each finger into the seasoned cornflour, coating it well, then the beaten egg, and finally the breadcrumbs.
Lay the coated fish on a cooling rack for a while, and heat the oil in a pan. (Or at this point you can freeze them in layers of baking parchment in an airtight container.)
Fry the fish fingers for about 2 minutes, or until crisp and golden. Remove to pieces of kitchen paper as you go, to get rid of excess oil.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Rocky Road Cupcakes

One of my new hero's in life is Jennie Brown - a woman who gets up at 5am in the morning to start the ovens and mixers in her cupcake workshop. Aside from her regular lovely cupcakes, it's good news for many people with special dietary requirements. Coming from a family of coeliacs, Jennie knows there is a demand for good quality gluten-free products and has purpose-built a gluten-free room, with separate oven and mixers, in her workshop in Galway. She bakes fresh every day, weighting, measuring, cracking, sifting and stirring every single thing she makes, with any unsold stock at the end of the day going to the Galway Soup Kitchen.

Jennie may also, well be the mad professor of cupcake flavors, it's a surprise what flavors are available every day as she is always working on new ones. Bubble gum, tutti fruti, champagne, candy floss, jaffa cake and cheesecake to add to her established repertoire of victoria sponge, red velvet, cookies and cream, mint aero, strawberry sundae, mars bar and chocolate nutella to name but a very small few.

Her rocky road cupcakes are a firm favorite with my family, so if I can't get to her shop or any of the outlets she supplies, this is the version I make at home.

I like eating these cupcakes warm, when the chocolate chips and marshmallows are still gooey in the sponge! If you want to ice and decorate you must leave them to cool completely on a cooling rack. I top my rocky road cupcakes with a smear of chocolate fudge icing, and then press all manner of traditional rocky road ingredients into it and leave to set. However you eat them, I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Cupcake Ingredients
85g butter melted and cooled
225g plain flour
55g Green and Blacks or another good quality cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp of baking powder
115g caster sugar
100g chocolate chips
50g mini marshmallows
250ml milk
A pinch of salt
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 200°and line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases.
Sift together the flour, cocoa powder and salt into a large mixing bowl.
Stir in your chocolate chips, caster sugar and marshmallows.
Place the eggs into a large jug/bowl and beat lightly, then add your milk and butter and beat again.
Make a well in your dry ingredients and pour the liquid beaten ingredients in, stir this mixture in gently until combined, being careful not to over mix it.
Spoon the batter into your cupcake cases in the tray and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until risen and firm to touch. Leave to cool for five minuets in the tin and then on a wire cooling rack.

Chocolate fudge icing ingredients
100g plain dark chocolate
50g butter
200g icing sugar, sifted

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. (or melt in the microwave for a minute) When melted, beat in the butter until smooth, then gradually beat in the icing sugar to give a soft fudgey texture. Spread onto the tops of the cooled cupcakes and press in your selection of toppings, mini-marshmallows, flaked almonds chocolate chips and a drizzle of melted white or dark chocolate to finish.

Some of the Cupcake Bakery cupcakes - pretty :)
 If you want more information on The Cupcake Bakery, call Jennie on 086 154 3843 or email lovethecupcakebakery@gmail.com.  It's a fun feed to have on Facebook and they hang out on Twitter @galwaycupcake