Black Forest cupcakes… Well, sort of.

Black Forest cupcakes… Well, sort of.

Baking day!

I have long sought to find the ‘perfect’ chocolate cupcake recipe. Something moist yet light, fluffy and chocolatey, yet able to hold whatever icing I want to pile on top of it. I’m happy to say, my long search is over, so miss Allie at baking a moment, I tip my hat to your perfect creation. Not only has this one “made the book” but the recipe was so delicious that my partner, who hates eating batter, was devouring them both raw and straight out of the oven! So please try this one out if you feel like a truly delicious cupcake. perfect chocolate cupcakes – Baking a Moment. The only variation I used, was a direct substitution of full fat sour cream for the yogurt, and reduction of sugar by 1/4 cup (I often find American recipes a teeny bit too sweet so I always reduce sugar)

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Black Forest is my favourite flavour cake, but it’s hard to get perfect. The cherries need to be sour, the cake light and the chantilly not too sweet. And as much a fan I am of a boozy Black Forest, this wasn’t the time or place for it. For cupcake topping, I needed to substitute melty cream for something that would stand up to a warmer room, it had to be buttercream, but American buttercream is too sweet and grainy, and my last attempt at Italian buttercream was… Well… Soup. And although I feared I would give my friends a cardiac episode, I went for vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream.

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I started the night before, I wasn’t sure if I should make a cherry curd or jam, in the end I decided to make a loose gel from the juice of a jar of sour cherries.

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I tore up a handful of the cherries from the jar and reduced it all down to a cup in volume, added 1.5 gold standard gelatine leaves then let it set overnight in the fridge.

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Suisse meringue buttercream is made by cooking 1 1/4 cups of sugar and 4 egg whites over a Bain Marie whisking gently until it reaches 71 degrees Celsius (160F). Remove from the heat and beat on high until cold, then add 2 cups of butter to it, one teeny cube at a time, and then beat beat beat, the more you beat it the nicer it is. Vanilla it up and colour to your liking. This makes enough for 18 very generous piles of icing.

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Then the fun bit! I baked up a batch of the perfect chocolate cupcakes from Baking a Moment, (ate way too many straight from the oven). Cooled and shallow cored them, filled them with cherry gel and dressed with silky buttercream and a shiny cherry on top.

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And the verdict? We’ll at the rate they were inhaled, I’d say a screaming success.

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Berry Butters! A sweet addition to put the awe in Awesome.

Berry Butters! A sweet addition to put the awe in Awesome.

As a child, I was never a fan of lemon butter (or curd, for the foodies). I never actually started to appreciate the taste until my late twenties when I stumbled upon a little French patisserie nestled in a little melbourne alleyway, and I was in love at first bite.
Until then, Lemon curd was always cloyingly sweet, gelatine filled crap from a jar, but this, this was special, light pastry housed a rich creamy curd with a sharp sourness as the top note completely complementing the hint of sugar that lingered on my lips.

From that moment I decided that I needed to make this, and after trial and error (and a plethora of trawling through recipes), I did. In addition to a smackingly tart lemon curd, I also mastered lime and passionfruit, but that’s all just pedestrian isn’t it? I wanted something special to fill my cupcakes with and spread on toast and put in the middle of cakes, and on ice cream and and… *breathes*

So I thought about what makes curd, eggs, butter, sugar, an ass-tonne of elbow grease, heat and an acid, if I can make this with passionfruit, why can’t i do this with blood orange, or pineapple, or mandarin. Well the answer is pretty simple. you can.

So I experimented 🙂 the recipe below is a one-size-fits-all recipe, the quantity of juice can be substituted to fit any fruit that is acidic and the curd always turns out perfect.

base curd recipe

175mls juice
165g butter, chopped
¾ cup (200g) caster (superfine) sugar
3 large eggs
2 egg yolks

method

Place the juice, butter and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat and stir until butter is melted and sugar dissolved.

Place eggs and egg yolks in a large metal bowl and whisk until combined.

Add the hot juice mixture to the bowl with the eggs, whisking continuously. (If you don’t keep the eggs moving at this stage you are going to end up with scrambled eggs)

Quickly place the bowl while whisking over a pot filled with 1/3 simmering water (Bain Marie) ensure the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water.

Cook, stirring continuously, over your Bain Marie, for 6–7 minutes or until thickened and mixture coats the back of a spoon. (Blueberry butter cooking shown below)

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Allow to cool and store in the fridge, covered with plastic wrap. Makes 2½ cups.

Store in the refrigerator for up to one week.

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variations
BLUEBERRY

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Substitute 175mls juice with 1/3 cup blueberries blended with 1/4 cup lemon juice and pass through a sieve.

RASPBERRY
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Substitute 175mls juice with 1/3 cup raspberries blended with 1/4 cup orange juice and pass through a sieve.

PASSIONFRUIT

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Substitute 175mls juice with 1/3 cup passionfruit pulp (fresh!) and 1tbs lemon juice.

I will continue to update as I experiment more. Till then, may the curd be with you!

Perfect Vanilla Cupcake recipe

Perfect Vanilla Cupcake recipe

I bake a lot, I find it cathartic, and there is nothing that makes me happier than seeing my friends and family bite into one of my experiments, their eyes roll back, and mumble “yummmm” through a half swallowed mouthful, spreading crumbs down their top.

Occasionally I will find a great recipe, something that I will obsessively bake, tweak, and perfect until it is good enough to “make the book” where it lovingly gets printed, laminated and joins its brethren in the land of recipe royalty, perfectly poised on the prime shelf of the bookcase. This cupcake recipe has made those hallowed pages, it is versatile, and easy to make, it’s forgiving if you get distracted while it is in the oven, I have not made a batch that hasn’t been absolutely ravaged by the people I serve it to.

I must make a shoutout to the Cupcake Project, I used the original recipe for her Ultimate vanilla cupcake before making a few minor adjustments.

INGREDIENTS

3/4 cup castor sugar
2 fresh vanilla beans
1 3/4 cups good quality plain cake flour
Pinch of salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda
60grams very soft, unsalted butter
2 extra large eggs
1/3 cup full fat sour cream
60ml light olive oil (definitely don’t use extra virgin, you will taste it in the cake.. Bler)
1 1/2 tbs vanilla extract (don’t use imitation, it’s not worth it)
160ml lukewarm milk

METHOD

Preheat oven to 170C

Scrape seeds from vanilla pods and in a small bowl add to sugar, mash clumps of seeds with a fork and ensure they are spread well through the sugar.

Sift together flour, baking powder, bi-carb, and salt into a mixing bowl, or bowl of your stand mixer

Add butter to flour in small chunks, mix on medium until we’ll combined (it should look like fine breadcrumb) if you prefer, you can rub the butter into the flour by hand.

Add sugar/vanilla beans and mix until combined

In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, sour cream, eggs and vanilla essence, then add this to flour and beat until smooth.

Finally while mixing add milk slowly, the batter should be like pancake batter, light, sweet and speckled with vanilla.

Fill cupcake liners to just over halfway, I use a milk steaming jug from my coffee machine for this as the batter is quite fluid, I have baked these in large, tiny and medium cases, and the recipe works fine in all sizes, you just need to keep an eye on baking time.

Baking time varies, depending on case size, for medium to large leave for 12 minutes then check every 2 until done. Cakes are done when a toothpick comes out clean, tops should not be too dark but a light golden colour.

When cakes are done, remove them immediately from the tins and place on a wire rack to cool, these do not work with freestanding cupcake liners as the delicate cake sweats and turns doughy during cooling in the thick cardboard.

These cakes are perfect to fill (I don’t bother coring them, I just pipe filling inside with a fine nozzled piping bag). They also lend themselves to sweet American buttercream icing, or an Italian meringue.

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Enjoy!

Raspberry white chocolate cupcakes.

Baking day!

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I immensely enjoy my fortnightly cupcake baking sessions. It has fast come a tradition that every dungeons and dragons game the table be adorned with well dressed sweet treats from my oven.

Each fortnight I aim to push the creative boundary just a little more.  So today I put my own little spin on an old favorite.  Raspberry and white chocolate!

Now I’ve never been a fan of berry bits or chocolate chips floating around cupcakes, so I decided that the best way to get the flavour combination was to make a raspberry filled cupcake and pipe a thick sweet ganache on top and just use a light fluffy vanilla cake. Well that idea was a stroke of genius, the cupcakes were balanced and morish and the mousse like ganash topped it all off perfectly tying all the flavors together in a soft gooey moment of extreme bliss.

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Recently I discovered a passionfruit curd recipe by Donna Hay, I previously have stuffed cupcakes with this creamy buttery goo, and I got to thinking that if I can do this curd with passionfruit, why not with other acidic fruits, orange, lime… pineapple… even berries! Even raspberries? Yes! It was so simple, but the result was amazing, my experiment paid off and the results all came in amazeballs.

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Needless to say, these were a hit. . Unfortunatley now I have to top then next fortnight!!