Waiting for Agnes

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And so the world is divided November 18, 2010

Inspiration seems in short supply today. It could be that I’m just tired and distracted. Or it’s possible I inhaled a little too much bleach vapour in the midst of my cleaning frenzy. Either way, I’m finding it hard to get too exercised about the media coverage of Significant Progress to the Gay Marriage Cause. Perhaps I should be more impressed, but at the moment the most I can muster is ‘meh’. So politicians are being encouraged to consult their constituents? Was that not always their job?

In my relentless hunt for ideas I conducted a poll. It was brief. In an ad break during her Stories, I asked the beloved what she thought of the news.

*    *    *

Someone passed a motion in Parliament? Ha!

No, not that kind of motion. The Greens passed a motion…

A green motion!! Hahaha!

Gah. Politicians are going to consult their constituents, you know? Ask their opinions.

Oh. Good. Shhh now, my stories are back on.

*    *    *

Yup, we are political animals here.

Much as the world is divided between the gays and the ‘dinosausers’, so it is between those who love icing and those who painstakingly scrape it off every slice of cake they meet, or just eat it and then whine about its excessive rich/sugary/creamy/abundant-ness. Like the beloved. Possibly it’s fortunate that she’s not as in love with icing as I am. If she was we might both spiral into a teeth-aching, nerve-jangling, eye-popping diabetic fit by dusk each day. And small would be raised on a diet of buttercream and ganache.

Anyway, by some unintended stroke of genius, I managed to make an iced cupcake that the beloved loves.

 

Miniature Minty Cakes

100 grams of plain flour

20 grams of cocoa

140 grams of caster sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

a pinch of salt

40 grams of unsalted butter, at room temperature

120 mls of full fat milk

1 egg

1/2 a teaspoon of vanilla extract

Icing:

150 grams of dark eating chocolate

90 grams of cream

3/4 of a teaspoon of peppermint essence

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius (160 fan forced).

Line a 12 hole muffin tray with cupcake cases.

You can use a freestanding mixer, or handheld electric beaters.

Put the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in a large bowl. Mix on slow speed until everything is well combined and a sandy consistency.

Whisk the milk, egg and vanilla extract together.

Continuing to beat on low speed, slowly pour about half the milk mixture into the flour mixture.

Increase the speed to medium and add the rest of the milk mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as necessary.

Mix until smooth, without overdoing it.

Divide the mixture evenly between the 12 cupcake cases and bake for 20-25 minutes. When done they will be risen and springy.

Transfer cakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

While they are cooling, make the icing:

Break up the chocolate into a medium heatproof bowl. Add the cream.

Heat gently over a small saucepan of just simmering water until the chocolate melts.

Take off the heat and stir until smooth.

Add the peppermint essence, stirring to combine. Leave to cool and thicken, stirring regularly.

By the time the ganache thickens to a spreadable consistency, the cakes will be cool.

Swirl generously over each little cake.

Eat.

Not really a cupcake. Not just a dry, sponge-like vehicle for excessive, garnished buttercream frosting (yes yes, I know they’re not all like that). These are tiny devil’s food cakes, moist and flavourful. Like a Mint Slice biscuit, but bigger and better.

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Recipe catch up: Part 1 November 12, 2010

Filed under: Beautiful baking — titchandboofer @ 12:33 am
Tags: , , , ,

Happily, amongst the work and the surprisingly long job of potting out my eleventy-hundred tomato seedlings, I have still been baking. Following last weekend’s Serious Conversation about Excessive Baking And Not Being Supportive, it’s all had to fit the Loophole Criteria.

First up –

Beloved’s Hated Lemon Cupcakes

120 grams of plain flour

150 grams of caster sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

Zest of three lemons, finely grated

40 grams of unsalted butter, at warm room temperature

120 mls of milk (I used goats milk, as we had a lot of it, with a very tasty, non-goaty, result)

1 egg

 

Icing:

250 grams of icing sugar, sifted

80 grams of unsalted butter, at warm room temperature

Zest of two lemons, finely grated

25 mls of milk (again, goat is fine, as is any other full fat milk)

 

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees (160 fan forced)

Line a 12 hole muffin-tin with paper cases, or if you’re using the straight sided paper cases that hold their shape, just put them on a baking tray.

Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, zest and butter in a medium size bowl.

Mix on low speed with handheld electric beaters until everything is well combined and a slightly sandy consistency.

Continue mixing on low speed and gradually pour in the milk, mixing until just combined.

Add the egg and mix until smooth.

Spoon the mixture into the paper cases, filling them 1/2 – 2/3 full.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden and springy.

Leave to cool completely.

For the icing:

Using your handheld beaters, beat the butter, icing sugar and zest on medium-slow speed until well combined.

Continue beating on slow speed, gradually adding the milk.

When the milk is completely incorporated, turn the mixer up to high speed and beat until pale and fluffy, for about 5 minutes.

Swirl over the cooled cupcakes.

Don’t be fooled by their name. You will love them. They are moist and tangy, and very generously iced without being cavity-inducingly sweet. Am still sulking about having to give them away.

 

 

A little something for afters August 9, 2010

Filed under: Beautiful baking — titchandboofer @ 1:10 pm
Tags: , ,

Cupcakes do not appear very often in our kitchen. Partly because the beloved has a strong aversion to them – oddly, they seem to make her angry – and partly because they are a bit too portion controlled for me. Some things work well in little uniform serves. Rich, creamy things like brulees, petit pots and mousses. But if I’m going to have cake at home I want the opportunity to cut a big wedge of it if necessary, or to be able to sneak a little sliver as I’m passing through the kitchen. As a gift though, cupcakes work well. They’re like shiny little baubles – fun to unwrap, pretty to look at and tasty into the bargain. My grandmother (The Great Granny) is celebrating her eighty-third birthday this month. She is a woman built, as Alexander McCall-Smith would say, for comfort. She is also a woman who enjoys food, gifts, gifts of food, a good cup of tea and ‘a little something for afters’. Despite various health-related threats, pleading and cajoling from her GP and brief periods of ‘being good’, The Great Granny has declared that from now on she’s going to eat whatsoever she pleases. Tomorrow I will be shamelessly supporting this declaration with a gift of these:

Sticky Ginger Cupcakes

from The Hummingbird Bakery, Portobello Road, London

120 grams of plain flour

140 grams of caster sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon of ground allspice

a pinch of salt

40 grams of unsalted butter at room temperature

120 mls of full cream milk

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

200 grams of stem ginger in syrup (I used Buderim Baby Stem Ginger which comes in a 300gm jar – good for snacking as you go)

Icing:

100 mls of full cream milk

~10cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into four chunks

400 grams of icing sugar

125 grams of unsalted butter at room temperature

finely grated zest of half a lemon

crystallised ginger to decorate

Plus:

12-hole muffin tray

cupcake cases in any colour you like

First off, for the icing – put the milk and fresh ginger pieces into a jug, cover and put in the fridge for a few hours (or overnight).

Preheat your oven to 170 degrees celsius (160 fan forced).

Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, salt and butter into a large bowl. Using a freestanding mixer or handheld electric beaters, mix on slow speed until the mixture is a sandy consistency and well combined.

Continue mixing and gradually add half the milk.

In a separate bowl, whisk the remaining milk, the egg and the vanilla extract. Add this to the flour mixture, continuing to mix slowly until smooth.

Drain the stem ginger, reserving the syrup for later. Then, finely chop the ginger pieces. This is the messiest and fiddliest part of the whole production. If you’re at all like me, you will end up with syrup stuck to all your utensils, the bench, your face, the baby and all your cupboard door handles. Of course, this is less likely if you don’t spend as much time trying to lick the syrup off your hands instead of just washing them.

Stir the chopped ginger into your cupcake mixture by hand gently, just mixing until evenly dispersed.

Spoon the mixture into the cases lining the muffin tin, filling each one ~2/3 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes. They are done when they look golden and are slightly springy to touch.

While the little lovelies are baking put the reserved syrup and an equal amount of water in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil and let boil until reduced by one third. When you pull the cupcakes out of the oven, spoon a little of this syrup over each one.

Now you could just stop here. Eaten this way, these little cakes are still gloriously moist, hotly gingery and with a lingering zingy aftertaste. But half the fun of a cupcake is in the icing:

Beat the icing sugar,  butter and lemon zest together at medium speed until well mixed and smoothish. Switch to a slow speed and slowly pour in the strained ginger-infused milk. Once all the milk is incorporated, switch to high speed and beat for ~5 minutes until light and fluffy.

Dollop your icing generously onto the cooled cupcakes. You can be as artful as you like. In my haste to get one of these in my mouth I was not artful at all, but the snowy whiteness of the icing on the golden cupcakes is still beautiful. To finish, dot with sliced crystallised ginger and sprinkle with a little more fine lemon zest.

What could be better than a little something that has three different forms of heavenly ginger? For an even sweeter ginger hit, you could top them with Buderim Ginger Bears, serve them with ginger tea, followed by ginger nougat…..