November 20, 2010

Gingerbread Cupcakes


I hope everyone is familiar with gingerbread, at least the biscuit version.  Well, it comes in cakey form too!  I must say, that in cake form it is very good.  I found it had a more intense gingery, sweet flavour than biscuits and it provides the joyous opportunity to apply icing in a range of flavours.  Mmmm.  I made the gingerbread into mini cupcakes with cinnamon buttercream.

This recipe comes by way of my friend Em, who made gingerbread slice in one of her food classes.

Recipe Adapted From: school recipe
Ingredients
150g butter
125g brown sugar
150g treacle
200g golden syrup
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp bicarb soda
2 eggs
250mL milk
300g flour


Method
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.


2. Put patty pans in a cupcake tin, it can be big or small.  I used my mini tin.  Alternatively, you can make the gingerbread in slice form (line a 22cm x 32cm slice tin with baking paper).


3. Heat butter, sugar, treacle, golden syrup, ginger and cinnamon in the microwave until butter is melted.  Whisk the ingredients together.


4. Stir in bicarb soda.


5. Add eggs and milk, whisk well.


6. Add flour and whisk until there are no lumps.


7. Spoon mixture into the patty pans or pour into the slice tin.



8. Baking: for large cupcakes, bake for 20 - 30 minutes; for mini cupcakes, bake for about 15 minutes; for slice, bake for 35 minutes.  To check, stick a skewer into a cupcake/in the middle of the slice; it should come out clean, and the top of the gingerbread should be springy.



9. Cool.


10. Ice with buttercream or lemon icing.




Lemon Icing
Mix together 200g icing sugar, 1 tbsp water, 2 tsp lemon juice and 1 tsp vanilla essence.


Cinnamon Buttercream
I don't have proper ratios for this (because I'm lazy), but here goes.
Whip softened butter until fluffy, add icing sugar until it's sweet enough for you.  Whip some more.  Add a whole pile of cinnamon until it tastes cinnamonny.  If the buttercream is not soft enough to pipe/spread, add a tablespoon of milk at a time until it's softer.


November 13, 2010

Yeastless Walnut Maple Sticky Buns


Yeast is a beautiful thing.  It creates bread, babka, and helps with beer production (if you are are that way inclined).
But...it takes ages.  I mean, you have to wait for the stuff to get all bubbly, then you have to let whatever delicious baked good to rise for ages then rise again for ages.


So, if you are impatiently hungering for a breadlike treat, these walnut maple sticky buns are for you!  They have...no yeast.  No waiting!  Plus, these little buns sport maply-sticky walnuts and the tops are soaked in maple syrup sweetness.


Recipe Adapted From: Oishii
Warning - if not consumed in 2 - 3 days, these buns go stale.  STALENESS BAD!  So eat them.  Eat them quickly.
Ingredients
3/4 cup whole walnuts (or pecans)
310g flour
60g sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
180g butter - 4 tablespoons melted, the rest cubed
250mL buttermilk
1 tsp cinnamon
6 tbsp maple syrup (or more)


A word on buttermilk
If, like myself, you don't keep buttermilk readily on hand in your fridge there is an easy solution!
Just mix 1 cup of normal milk with 1 tbsp of lemon juice and let sit for a couple of minutes.  There.  Buttermilk substitute.
Reference: Joy the Baker


Method
1. Preheat oven to 220 degrees C.  Butter a 12 space muffin tin.


2. Toast the walnuts in a frypan and let cool.


3. In a food processor, pulse together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and 2 tbsp of the sugar.



4. Add the cubed butter and pulse until the butter bits are the size of small peas.


5. Add the buttermilk and pulse until a smooth dough is formed.


6. Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and knead a few times.



7. Roll the dough out to a 20 x 30cm rectangle.



8. Brush the dough with 2 tbsp of the melted butter.



9. Combine the remaining sugar with the cinnamon.  Sprinkle this mixture over the dough rectangle.



10. Beginning at the long side, roll the the dough tightly into a cylinder and pinch the seam closed with your fingertips.  Cut the dough into 12 equal slices.



11. Mix the remaining melted butter (2 tbsp) with the maple syrup.  Divide this mixture between the muffin moulds.  I grabbed some extra butter and maple syrup for this bit so my buns would be sweeter.


12. Scatter the walnuts over the top of the maple syrup mixture, and squash a dough pinwheel on top.




13. Bake for about 18 minutes, or until golden.



14. Invert the muffin tray with a cooling rack and let the buns cool.  If any nuts get stuck in the tray, peel them out and stick 'em back on their buns.  No one will ever know...





November 6, 2010

Caramel


Ah, caramel - I had searched for an easy recipe to use with my brownies, not realising that a perfect one existed right on my bookshelf.  Thank you again, Nigella.  This caramel is thick, rich and absolutely delectable; you can do heaps of things with it.  Make caramel frosting, caramel brownies and I bet it'd taste amazing poured over vanilla ice cream.

Ingredients
300g caster sugar
125mL cold water
250mL double cream

Method
1. In a heavy based saucepan, dissolve the sugar in the water over a low heat.  Do not stir it, or the sugar will crystallise.


2. When the sugar seems dissolved, turn up the heat and boil until the mixture turns a darkish golden colour.  Make sure you don't cook it for too long, or it will burn!
This should take about 10 minutes or so.




3. When the caramel is golden, take the pan off the heat and slowly whisk in the cream.  Don't have a fit if it fizzes and bubbles furiously!  If the cream doesn't completely combine and the mixture is lumpy, put the pan back on the heat.


4. Leave it to cool.



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I used this caramel in a butterscotch frosting, that was hailed as 'the best frosting I've ever had' by one of my Mum's colleagues.
To make butterscotch frosting, beat 400g cream cheese until smooth and softened.  Add 1 cup of the caramel and beat gently to combine.  Spread over a delicious cake.

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This caramel would be pretty much perfect (...I think) to use in caramel brownies.
To make caramel brownies, use this brownies recipe.  Pour half of the brownie mix into the tin and bake for about 10 minutes, so the top is a bit baked.  Pour a layer of caramel over the top and spread gently.  Pour the rest of the brownie mixture over the top of the caramel, so there are 3 layers: slightly cooked brownie, caramel, then uncooked brownie on the top.
Bake for another 20 minutes or so.


November 1, 2010

Brownies


"I don't understand why people don't make brownies all the time - they're so easy and so wonderful."
Nigella Lawson

Thank you, Nigella, for thou hast shown me the light.  Brownies are truly wonderful; with their wonderful flaky top, cakey outer and gooey middle.  Don't forget the oh-so-chocolatey taste.  Plus, they are super easy to make and always a crowd pleaser.


Ingredients 23 x 32cm brownie tin (approx 9 x 12.6 inch)
375g soft unsalted butter/margarine
375g very good quality dark chocolate
6 large eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
500g caster sugar
225g plain flour
1 tsp salt (omit if using salted butter/margarine)
300g chopped walnuts or pecans (optional - can substitute choc chips or other bitty ingredient instead)

Method
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.  Line a 23 x 32cm rectangular tin (or equivalent) with baking paper and set aside.

2. Melt the butter and chocolate together in the microwave, or in a heavy based pan.



3. With an electric mixer, beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla together until well blended.


4. When the chocolate mixture has cooled a bit, beat it into the eggs and sugar until just blended.  If you beat it on too high speed for too long, the brownies will be more cakey than fudgy.


5. Fold in the flour, and nuts if you're using them.

6. Scrape into the lined tin and flatten the mixture out with a spatula.

7. Bake for about 25 minutes in the preheated oven.  When the brownie is done, the top should be have a thin layer of flakiness but the middle should still be dense and dark.  Make sure you don't overcook them!



8. Cut into slices as big or small as you want.  I like about a 6cm square; the brownies are pretty rich.


You can add caramel in the middle, too - split the brownie batter into half.  Pour half in the pan and bake it for about 10 minutes or until the top is cooked-ish.  Then pour caramel in and the rest of the brownie over the top.  Make for another 10 - 15 minutes.



The caramel was a real hit with my friends.



So, whip up these delicious brownies for whatever event you next have on - believe me.  They are pretty much the best.