January 21, 2011

You Get to Decide! Pick a Cake for me to Make!

Hay Everyone!

I've decided to make a cake..but you guys have to pick it!

Have a look at the cake recepie links below and post a comment letting me know which one you would like me to make!

All votes must be in by Friday 28th Janurary! Get Voting People!

Many thanks to http://www.joyofbaking.com/ !

January 19, 2011

Miss Kate's 30th Birthday Cupcake Extravaganza!

Hi All!

I am very pleased to be back for 2011 with this first post!

My darling friend Kate had her 30th birthday last week, and being the special beautiful friend she is, she totally deserved an awesome birthday cake.

Upon asking Kate's boyfriend Jimi what i should get her for her birthday he said something along the lines of "you could make her a cake!" Of course i agreed, but a little anxiety set in. What type of cake should i cook? How will i get my cake to NOT sink? Can i fashion a meringue into a big 3 and 0? Thankfully i consulted the always wonderful Joyofbaking.com and came up with these two recipes.

Lemon Cupcakes:
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup (130 grams) granulated white sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Zest of 1 large lemon (outer yellow skin)
1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (60 ml) milk
1/3 - 1/2 cup (80 - 120 ml) lemon curd (store bought or homemade) (recipe follows)
Lemon Curd:
3 large eggs
1/3 cup (80 ml) fresh lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
1 tablespoon (4 grams) finely shredded lemon zest
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated white sugar
4 tablespoons (56 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into small pieces
Whipped Cream:
1 cup (240 ml) heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon (15 grams) granulated white sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla extract and lemon zest. 
In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Fill the muffin cups with batter. Bake for about 18-20 minutes or until nicely browned and a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, cut a deep hole in the center of each cupcake, using a melon baller or the end of a large pastry tip. Fill each hole with a heaping teaspoon of lemon curd.

Lemon Curd: In a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and lemon juice until blended. Cook, stirring constantly (to prevent it from curdling), until the mixture becomes thick (like sour cream or a hollandaise sauce) (160 degrees F or 71 degrees C). This will take approximately 10 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately pour through a fine strainer to remove any lumps. Cut the butter into small pieces and whisk into the mixture until the butter has melted. Add the lemon zest and let cool. The lemon curd will continue to thicken as it cools. Cover immediately (so a skin doesn't form) and refrigerate until cold. The lemon curd can be made several days (up to a week) in advance.

Frosting: In a large mixing bowl place the whipping cream, vanilla extract, and sugar and stir to combine. Cover and chill the bowl and wire whisk in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. When chilled, beat the mixture until stiff peaks form. Spread frosting on each cupcake with a knife or spatula, or if you want to pipe the frosting, I like to use a large Wilton 1M star decorating tip.
If not serving the cupcakes immediately, cover and place in the refrigerator until serving time.
Makes 12 cupcakes    

I started my Lemon Cupcake journey on Tuesday night  (30th Birthday on Saturday). I decided to make the Lemon Curd in advance just to give myself more time on the actual day of the party.

I found the curd really easy to make but there is defiantly a fine line between “runny” and “Hollandaise”. Luckily mine turned out ok with little to no disasters. I still have a lot of this left over which I have heard is lovely on toast.

Lemon Curd

I made the cupcakes and frosting on the Saturday (party day) starting with a 6:30am wake up call. I had a super busy day planned which included going to a baby shower at 2pm so I was a little worried I wouldn’t get both recipes completed in enough time. So after some breakfast I set to work.

I made the batter with absolutely no fuss, popped the cupcakes into the oven and in no time they where out and looked good, well, 3 looked good the rest took on a funny muffin top look. But anyhoo, the first part was done.

Quick break to watch the re-run of BH&G at 8:30am. Cup of tea time and Dennis head rub time.

I then washed up the first lot of bowls I put crap on and started on the Banana Chocolate Cupcakes….

Banana Chocolate Cupcakes:

2 cups (400 grams) granulated white sugar

1 3/4 cups (245 grams) all-purpose flour

3/4 cup (75 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder (regular or Dutch-processed)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 medium sized bananas)

1 cup (240 ml) warm water

1/2 cup (120 ml) milk

1/2 cup (120 ml) canola or corn oil

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Chocolate Ganache Frosting:

8 ounces (227 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces

3/4 cup (180 ml) heavy whipping cream

1 tablespoon (14 gram) unsalted butter

Banana Chocolate Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place rack in the center of the oven. Line 24 regular-sized muffin cups with paper liners or spray each cup with a non stick vegetable spray.

In a large bowl whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In another large bowl, whisk together the eggs, mashed bananas, water, milk, oil, and vanilla extract. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir, or whisk, until combined. Pour or scoop the batter into the muffin cups, about 3/4 full, and bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.  

Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. Frost with the Ganache.

Ganache: Place the chopped chocolate in a medium sized stainless steel, or heatproof bowl. Set aside. Heat the cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil. Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Stir until smooth. Let the Ganache cool completely, and then beat until soft and fluffy. With an offset spatula or knife, spread the frosting on top of each cupcake. You can also pipe the frosting. Can garnish with colored sprinkles. Can be stored in the refrigerator for several days. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Makes about 24 regular-sized cupcakes.

Back-tracking a little bit……

I started this recipe by making the Ganashe on Thursday night (same as before, this is due to me trying to prevent a heart attack on Saturday) at 10pm after I had finished crocheting a massive blanket for the baby shower, which had already taken 3 months. To say I was tired is an understatement.

Just like the Lemon Curd there is a serious fine line between “Ganashe” and “Burning the ass out of 200g of Lindt 70% cocoa cooking chocolate, which is something like $6.00 per block”.

Luckily, this didn’t happen and my Ganashe turned out lovely. Thankyou chocolate lords!

Fast-forwarding to the morning of the party (Saturday) after the Lemon Cupcakes have been cooked and started to cool…

I was still in my pyjamas (I hadn’t showered or brushed my teeth at this stage) and onto the next lot of cupcakes I went..

Once the batter was ready to be cooked I looked at the batter and said to myself (and Dennis, who doesn’t give a flying crap what I do with anything as long as he gets head rubs), “this is super runny, I wonder if I should add more flour. No wait, maybe I should make just one cupcake and see if it rises”. So that’s what I did, in went one cupcakes and Voila, the cupcake rose! Now, I know I shouldn’t question the recipes on the Joyofbaking.com because so far I’ve had 100% success but I was a little weary of this one.

So, I got myself a ladle, yes a ladle, and proceeded to ladle my batter (if you could call it that, more like soup!) into the cupcake patties. Then popped them into the oven and rise, they did. “Fabulous” I said to myself.

What next……Ah yes the Lemon Curd holes! By the time the Banana/Choc cups where baking the Lemon ones where cooled and ready to be dug out! With a melon baller I scooped out the middle and then spooned the curd into the holes. Simple!

During a small amount of “down time”, in which the choc cups where cooling I had a shower……..YAY! this would have been about 11am.

Conversation between myself and well…myself.

“Ok Lisa, its 11am, you are now clean, well done. All you need to do now is ice these damn cupcakes once they are cooled. Ok, the Lemon cups will be iced with cream so that cant be done until just before serving, that’s ok we can deal with that. Now, the choc cups will need to be iced with the Ganashe which requires you to beat the stuff then stick it into a piping bag that you have never used properly before. Excellent. Alright lets do the damn Ganashe then.”

Let me just say for the record, I hate piping. I’m seriously bad at it. Mind you I think my icing turns out pretty good (it could be worse) but I seem to get the mixture everywhere, which is exactly what I did with this.

I had Ganashe ON the fridge, ON my Lorna Jane top, ON the bench and even on the OUTSIDE of the piping bag. I was a complete mess, I even recall dropping the cupcake that I was icing and actually catching it midair but with the icing side down, so my hand was covered also.  Luckily Marc wasn’t home to see this nightmare. I’m surprised Dennis didn’t get covered also.

After that (and another issue I had with the bag and me sticking it back in the fridge which of course makes the Ganashe hard again so I stuck the piping bag in the microwave, but I wont worry about that story because it was the worst part of my day), Marc came home and I got ready for the baby shower.

Fast forward 4 hours and I quickly duck back home from the baby shower (my blanket was very well received which I was so happy about because I put my soul and many many lunch hours into that thing) grabbed the cups and the cream that would need to be whipped and such at Kate’s house and off we went to the party!

The party was fantastic and Miss Kate looked beautiful! It was a really fun, relaxing afternoon which we both needed. I found out that Kate had been cooking all day also and she produced the most amazing rice paper roles and tarts and muffins and big jugs of Pimms! Bless you love, you are wonderful.

Cake Time – cream whipped, candles on, lighter located and out to the party I go.

It was very windy so only the most important candle was able to be lit, the number 30. Kate was very reluctant to blow this out so just as we had finished singing Happy Birthday a gust of wind came and blew the candle out for her, which she was very happy about J.

From what I heard the cupcakes where a hit! I personally liked the Banana Choclate cupcake texture the most as it was super moist but I think I liked the Lemon ones for flavour, but I’m a bit biased as I don’t like banana too much in cooking.
Overall, Miss Kate liked my gift to her on her special birthday and that’s all that mattered!

To Miss Kate – you are a beautiful friend and I promise to make you an actual cake for your next birthday, provided I can stop my cake sinking anxiety. xxx

Me and Kate