Thursday, 27 May 2010

Reunited...with an old friend

Well, the question is hummingbird cupcake - where have you been all my life?! it has been far too long since I indulged in one of these delicacies! and in fact as I've been pondering the delightful hummingbird cake I was remembering the first time I ever came across it. When I was 13 I started a Saturday job at a quaint tea room in St.Albans. They served homemade cakes that were delivered daily. As we were always at our busiest over lunchtime we didn't get lunch breaks so one of the perks of the job was that we could help ourself to whatever we fancied at any point in the day. This is definitely where my love of cake began, because it was quite normal to find me eating my way through 3 or 4 pieces of cake in one day! In fact my boss used to joke that my cake habit was reducing his profit! but you see these weren't just ordinary cakes so one piece would not have sufficed!! The chocolate fudge cake was a particular favourite of mine, but there was also a lime and coconut which I always had a slice of, and on very rare occasions the hummingbird cake would make an appearance! This always added a new level of excitement to my day because this cake was just so yummy! The combination of moist pineapple and banana tinged with a cinammon spice and topped with cream cheese frosting is just something you have to try to understand how good it is. Seriously if you haven't tried this cake really must!

I always find it rather funny that Hummingbird Bakery doesn't sell it's 'namesake' as it were! In fact I've never found any restaurant/shop that sells this cake which is perhaps what made it so exciting that they served it in my tearoom! No-one is exactly sure where the cake came from but a recipe for it was first printed in a 1978 issue of Southern Living magazine, and so it is believed to have originated from Southern America. It is usually made with pecans but as I'm not a nut lover I left these out. I also saw a few recipes that had added coconut so decided to try that with mine but I'm not really sure it gave it any extra flavour.

The last time I made these cupcakes were for my birthday last year. I don't know why I waited so long! They never fail to impress me, and taking photos of these cupcakes was painful because I just wanted to keep eating them! The reason I made these tonight was because I had 3 over ripe bananas sitting in my fruit bowl that really needed to be used so I'm pretty pleased for my laziness this week that has prevented me from waking up to a bowl of rice krispies and bananas because it led to me whipping up these treats!

If you want to try them yourself, here is the recipe:

Hummingbird cupcakes:
Makes 24 mini, 18 regular

3 cups plain flour
2 cups caster sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained
1 1/2 cups mashed banana
1/2 cup flaked coconut

1. Mix all dry ingredients together
2. Add beaten egg, vanilla extract and oil
3. Mix in pineapple, banana and coconut
4. Bake at 180 degrees c for 20-25 mins (regular size) 15 mins (mini size)

Cream cheese frosting:

300g icing sugar
50g unsalted butter
100g cream cheese

1. Beat the butter and sugar together in an electric mixer on low speed
2. Beat the cream cheese in on medium-high speed, turn up and beat for 5 minutes until the frosting is fluffy

I'm sharing this recipe at
Cupcake Tuesday at
Check out what all the other talented bakers have made this week.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Perfect Peaks...Swiss Style: Toblerone Cupcakes with Toblerone Swiss Meringue Buttercream

My little Matterhorn snowstorm I got in Zurich accompanying the Swiss cupcake!

It is my Mom's birthday on Tuesday. She was planning on coming down to London today to spend the day at Kew Gardens as a birthday treat. I fobbed her off with excuses of my busy weekend ahead and so she didn't suspect a thing when we turned up to surprise her, cupcakes in hand!

I had decided last night Toblerone cupcakes would go down well since Toblerone is one of my Mom's favourite chocolates, for as long as I can remember she would always receive one from my Dad at birthdays or Christmas' so I thought it would be fun to have a go at turning some into cupcakes.

Frosted into perfect peaks...and ready for decoration

Topped with a mini chunk of Toblerone

and I thought it needed that extra sprinkling just for fun

I based my recipe on this one here, using the Red Deer as my inspiration again! So the actual cucpake was vanilla with chopped up Toblerone baked in to the cake, it was then filled with a Toblerone ganache and topped with Toblerone flavoured swiss meringue buttercream. I'm not the biggest fan of SMBC myself but since they were Toblerone cupcakes after all I thought it couldn't be anything else really! and my mom thought it was delicious so I'm glad they went down well!

There was a bit of a cupcake theme running through the present...can you tell!

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Twist it, Dunk it, Lick it...CUPCAKE IT!

As you've probably gathered by now, oreos are a firm favourite of mine! I went to Guildford yesterday for a bakefest with a friend who is wanting to extend her baking repertoire, and decided oreo cupcakes topped with oreo truffles should be on the menu.

We began making the oreo truffles. These are just so easy to make and so delicious too, I could eat them all day long! These lovely little creations are all down to the wonderfully imaginative Bakerella, if you've never checked out her blog you're missing out. You just mix a box and a half (English style) of crushed up Oreos with a tub of cream cheese, shape them into little balls, freeze for an hour until they set, melt some chocolate in a bowl and dip away (garnish with sprinkles or crushed oreo bits at your discretion!)!

Whilst they were setting we started on the cupcakes. We used my favourite recipe from The Red Deer, where you line the cupcake cases with oreo cookies first and then pour the mix on top. There is nothing better than having a cute little biscuit as the base as you take your first bite. There were also crushed oreos in the mix, and then they were finished with cream cheese and oreo frosting. Delish!

Oreo Cupcakes:
Makes 18 Cupcakes

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
8 oz dark chocolate, melted
3 large eggs, separated
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 3/4 cups milk
8 Oreo cookies, smashed to bits
18 Oreos halved

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
In each cupcake liner place half an Oreo (the half with the cream filling still on it). 

Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Mix in egg yolks.  Mix in vanilla and chocolate.
In a separate bowl, mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda, and baking powder.
Alternate adding the flour mixture and milk to the butter/sugar mixture.

Stir in Oreos.  In a separate bowl, whip egg whites until peaks form.  Fold the batter into the egg whites.

Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Once cupcakes have cooled top with Oreo cream cheese frosting and an Oreo truffle.

Oreo Cream Cheese Frosting:

8 oz package of cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
4 cups icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup crushed Oreos 

Whip cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy.  Mix in powdered sugar one cup at a time.
Add vanilla extract. Gently stir in crushed Oreos (Ensure that the Oreos are really finely crushed otherwise bigger chunks won't fit through your piping nozzle).

Oreo Truffles:

1 package oreo cookies (divided… use cookie including the cream center)
1 8oz. package cream cheese (softened)
Milk chocolate, melted
Finely crush 7 cookies in a food processor or place them in a ziploc bag and crush into a fine consistency. Reserve for later.
Crush remaining cookies and stir in softened cream cheese. Use the back of a large spoon to help mash the two together.
Roll the mixture into 1″ balls and place on wax paper covered cookie sheet.
 Melt chocolate and then dip balls into chocolate, tap off extra and set aside on wax paper covered cookie sheet to dry. You can sprinkle the tops with the 7 crushed cookies for decoration (or use sprinkles like I did).
Once dry, refrigerate and enjoy!
Makes about 36 truffles.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Iron Cupcake...Fruitalicious

Last night was another fun filled cupcake fest at Iron Cupcake! I think our cupcake sampler tonight was the biggest it's ever been (to be fair we did have more eaters than usual) but still look at all those bad boys!

I was pretty surprised not to see a banana offering in sight! and I wish I could have sampled this banana and mango beauty that won 1st prize at Iron Cupcake Leeds this week too! How delicious does this look...yum! The baker of this is from The Sunshine Bakery and I have heard very good reports from my sister about how delicious their cupcakes are so if you ever find yourself up North you should definitely check them out! I know I plan to.

My favourite cupcake of the night had to be the Tayberry one. It must have been a hit with the other eaters and bakers too because it won 1st prize in the professional category. I also found out that my two favourites from last months competition were made by the same baker so I'm definitely a fan! The Tayberry one's are on the right in this picture, and the strawberry and cream ones in the middle had the most frosting on them than any cupcake I've ever seen!

Since I was expecting a few more eaters to join me I made sure I arrived early enough to get a big table, as I had learnt from previous challenges how busy it gets!! I arrived so early though that I actually managed to be A1! How keen am I, if you want to have a go at making these for yourself check out the recipe here

Here I am with Pip, who baked for the first time, and made some delicious peach and marscapone cupcakes. They were a yummy break from all the super sweet frostings we were tasting.

Some of my other favourites were the blackberry and apple ones (pictured below with the vibrant purple icing) and Andrea's peach and cinnamon ones that won 2nd prize.

You can check out the full write up on The Caked Crusader's blog in the next few days. Next month's theme is Celebration since it will be Iron Cupcake's 1st birthday so I've got some thinking to do to come up with something fun! It will be on Monday 7th June so if anyone new wants to come we'll be glad to have you join us!

Cocoa-nutty hi-hats

These awesome cupcake cases were a prezzie from my sister, they came from a cool little shop in Brighton. She has started going to Iron Cupcake Leeds the past two months, you can check her blog to see what it's like!

Every time an Iron Cupcake comes around I think up an idea, do a test run, and then a few days before change the idea completely and make something different. So this time my peachy test runs evolved over a few days into then becoming peach and coconut, then I thought about doing my Martha Stewart pineapple and coconut...which eventually led on to the idea of chocolate and coconut!
I used Martha's recipe for coconut cupcakes which incorporates both dessicated coconut and coconut milk. Once they were baked, I cut out a circle from the top and piped in some chocolate and coconut filling. I am currently coveting this snazzy little kit from the states which would make this step alot easier!

They were then frosted with a white chocolate and coconut buttercream. After being refrigerated for 30 minutes to harden the frosting they were dipped in a bowl of melted chocolate. It was my first time attempting hi-hats and I think they were fairly successful, and not too tricky to dip! I had planned to cover them in shredded coconut but it is impossible to find here in the uk and the website I eventually found it from did not deliver in time so I had to roll them in desiccated coconut instead:

Here, by popular demand, is the recipe:

Martha Stewart's Coconut Cupcakes:
(Makes about 20)
1 3/4 cups plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup packed sweetened shredded coconut (I used desiccated)
3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temp
1 1/3 cups caster sugar
2 large whole eggs, plus 2 egg whites at room temp
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk

  • 1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees c.
  • 2. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Pulse shredded coconut in a food processor until finely ground, and whisk into flour mixture.
  • 2. With an electric mixer on medium high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in whole eggs, whites and vanilla, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of coconut milk, and beating until combined after each.
  • 3. Divide batter evenly among cases, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, for about 20 minutes.

Chocolate & Coconut Filling:

4 oz. dark chocolate (I used 70% cocoa solids and it turned out a little too dark for my liking so I then added in about 1 ounce white chocolate)
1/4 cup coconut milk
4 oz. cream cheese, at room temp

  • Put chocolate and milk in a glass bowl over a pan of boiling water. Bring to a simmer and cook until chocolate is melted. Stir to combine. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
  • In a bowl, combine cream cheese and chocolate, and beat until smooth
  • Put into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe a squirt of filling into each cupcake hole
Coconut & White Chocolate Frosting:

1 cup/6 oz. white chocolate
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 brick/8 oz. cream cheese, at room temp
1/2 tsp coconut extract (now this is where I went wrong! I didn't have any coconut extract so I used about 3 tbsp coconut milk to give it a nice coconutty flavour. However it was then not stiff enough to pipe due to the excess liquid so I had to save it by adding lots more icing sugar and butter!)
2 1/2 cups icing sugar
1 cup desiccated coconut

  • Melt white chocolate in a glass bowl over a pan of boiling water
  • Beat butter, cream cheese and coconut extract in large bowl with electric mixer until creamed and blended
  • Beat in white chocolate until blended
  • On low speed, gradually beat in icing sugar and then add desiccated coconut
Chocolate coating:

2 cups/12 oz. Milk chocolate
3 tbsp vegetable oil
125g desiccated coconut

  • Melt chocolate and oil in a glass bowl over a pan of boiling water
  • Stir until melted and smooth
  • Take off heat to cool for 15 minutes
  • Holding each cupcake by its bottom, dip cupcake in the chocolate to coat the frosting, allowing excess to drip off
  • Transfer to a wire rack and spoon more chocolate coating around the edge of the cupcake and any exposed frosting; none of the frosting should show
  • Roll coating in a dish of desiccated coconut
  • Let cupcakes stand for 30 minutes so the chocolate hardens (I left mine overnight to harden in my cupcake courier, so am not sure how long it takes exactly until they are set)

Here's my little helper licking the bowl I melted the chocolate in!

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Life is peachy!

Next Monday is the next Iron Cupcake challenge and the theme for May is fruit. I've been thinking about doing something peachy for a while now and have been doing plenty of blog surfing trying to come up with a yummy recipe. However, most peachy bakers all seem to report that the peach flavour in their cupcakes wasn't strong enough. The only recipe that seemed satisfied with their peach flavour involved peach schnapps and since I'm a Mormon I won't be going down that route!

So I thought I'd just have a little experimenting session and see what happened. I tried 3 different types of peach cupcakes: one with actual peach chunks chopped up and put into the cupcake mixture, one with just the syrup from a can of tinned peaches and one with more of a mashed up peach puree. They were all pretty tasty. I especially enjoyed the vanilla cupcake with pieces of real chopped up peach, but as those have found before me the peach flavour just wasn't what I had hoped it would be. I'm afraid I'm a bad blogger and don't even have photos of all my different test runs because Byron and I ate them before I took a photo! so the picture at top is just the type that had peach puree in the middle of the cupcake. I also tinted half the frosting yellow and half peachy orange and did a two tone piped swirl but clearly my peachy colour wasn't quite orange enough as you can't even tell in that picture above they are different colours!

I have gone on a web hunt for some peach flavouring and think maybe this could help my quest for perfectly peachy cupcakes, so I'll experiment again when that arrives.

Upon my blog browsing I found the most amazing looking peach cakes you have ever seen, I bet you would have thought these were real fruit had I not just told you they were cakes but seriously you need to check these out.

Robin Sue is amazingly talented and after seeing these little beauties I thought I could replicate some for my entry. However, my talents are just not that advanced and I was lacking in resources! I didn't have the ball pan she used, so my peach cakes didn't even start life looking like rounded peach halves. I also didn't have any almonds to use as the peach stones, or cinammon sticks and mint leaves to replicate the stalk and leaf. I did make my own sanding sugar (thanks for the tip - how much money is that going to save me!!) and had never thought of doing this before. I just mixed some yellow food colouring with caster sugar and produced an orange kind of sanding sugar which I rolled my cupcake in. I whipped up some peach coloured frosting and spread it on and then gave up on trying to make mine resemble anything close to Robin Sue's so I give you my half hearted attempt:

and here are Robin Sue's in all their glory!

Robin Sue, I am in awe of your skills!!


Related Posts with Thumbnails