April 23, 2014

Zesty Lemon Shortbread

These shortbreads are crisp, fresh and quite sour (for my sweet tooth, anyway; but this is mitigated by a liberal dusting of icing sugar).  They have a lovely smooth texture and the lemon zest really adds a pop of flavour.

Recipe adapted from: Martha Stewart via My Baking Addiction
185g butter
60g icing sugar
Zest of two lemons
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp vanilla essence
2 tbsp corn flour
1/4 tsp salt (if using unsalted butter)
280g flour
Extra icing sugar for dusting

1. Preheat oven to 175C (350F).

2. Cream the butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy.

3. Add lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla and beat until combined.  It may take a while for the lemon juice to incorporate, but let the mixer run and it'll all come together.

4. Add the corn flour, salt and flour about 1/4 cup at a time, mixing in between until it is all combined.

5. Divide the dough in half and roll them into logs.  Wrap the logs in baking paper and let them chill in the fridge for about an hour, or until they're firm for cutting.

6. Cut the logs into slices about 1cm thick, and bake for about 13 minutes or until the biscuits are lightly golden on top.

7. Let the biscuits cool and then sift icing sugar over the top to dust them with some added sweetness.

April 19, 2014

Rainbow Cupcakes

Somewhere over the rainbow...

...are these gorgeous, colourful cupcakes topped with cloudy vanilla buttercream.

I'm incredibly thrilled that these turned out so well, with relatively little trial and error; in fact, they're quite easy to create, though they do require a bit of time and patience.

I began by whipping up a batch of this cream cheese pound cake (without the berries).  I then used food colouring to tint equal amounts of batter red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple.  I decanted the batter into Ziploc bags - this is to make it easier to pipe the batter into the cupcake tin.

Now comes the tougher bit.  Pipe one layer of coloured batter into a patty pan-lined cupcake tin, then bake for about 5 minutes so that the batter flattens and forms a 'skin' on the top.  Pipe the next colour on top, bake it for 5 minutes, and repeat for every colour.  This ensures that each layer is perfectly flat and prevents the colours from sinking into each other and blending.

After the final colour was piped on (at this point the batter was almost up to the top of the patty pans), I baked the cupcakes for another 10 minutes or so to make sure everything cooked through.  If unsure, always test whether they're done by lightly touching the tops to see if they spring back, or poking a toothpick in to check that it comes out clean.

After the cupcakes cooled, I whipped up some simple vanilla buttercream and piped it on top.

The cupcakes looked really adorable with little sugar flowers crowning the icing, and it means that the rainbow inside is hidden until the patty pans are peeled away.  It was great to see everyone's surprise and excitement when they opened the cupcakes up.

Very exciting.  I got so many questions as to how I did it - these cupcakes are definitely crowd pleasers.

I think these would also be cute in a monochrome gradient or in alternating colours.  The possibilities are endless!