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!

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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!