Posts Tagged With: tea

Vanilla Chai Polar Bear Cupcakes

I have been doing oodles of baking over Christmas, as I’m sure many of you have, but all my creations have involved using existing recipes and I haven’t ventured into conjuring up any of my own recently.

My efforts for edible gifts this year included meringue cookies, chocolate macaroons, dairy-free fruitcakes, iced lebkuchen and my own failsafe stollen biscotti – all delicious and fun to pack up cosily in little starry cellophane bags.

I also finally got round to attempting proper bread – with actual yeast! – after writing it down as a new year’s resolution the last two years, and made a no-knead tear & share garlic wreath. It was super simple to put together and my family and I enjoyed liberally dunking it into a big oozy baked Camembert cheese for Boxing Day lunch (after a nutritious breakfast of Quality Street, naturally).

Anyway, I have managed to come up with a new recipe to blog, just in the nick of time before 2017 draws to a close, and I have my culinary idol, the wonderful Nigella Lawson, to thank for the inspiration.

I made a batch of her delicious chai muffins from her book Simply Nigella a few weeks ago, which are one of my (many) favourite recipes of hers. One of the key ingredients is milk infused with the gorgeously aromatic contents of spicy chai teabags, and the result is like a warm hug in cake form. They’re filling, subtly sweet, and the perfect tummy pleaser on a dreary winter morning.

These gave me the idea of trying something similar in cupcake form; a soft, spiced sponge with a light vanilla frosting. A liberal sprinkling of desiccated coconut and a few chocolate buttons completed the transformation into polar bears, as I wanted something fun to serve for a girly night in with my two best friends. By happy coincidence, the combination of the marshmallowy meringue topping and coconut shreds is reminiscent of those divinely gooey chocolate snowball cakes you can get in the supermarket.

I am currently nibbling the plain cake offcuts as I type, which have been sat in a margarine tub for 24 hours, and, if anything, they taste even better than when they first came out of the oven! I therefore think I’ll give this sponge another go without the frosting and decorations, as it’s certainly capable of standing on its own two feet unadorned as a wonderfully moist and fragrant cake in its own right.

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INGREDIENTS – makes approx. 9-10 large cupcakes

For the cakes:

  • 155g/5.5 oz self-raising flour
  • 40g/1.5 oz ground almonds
  • 170g/6 oz butter or margarine
  • 70g/2.5 oz brown sugar
  • 85g/3 oz caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 tbsp milk (or almond milk if you prefer)
  • 2 x vanilla chai teabags (I used Pukka brand ones)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the frosting/decorations:

  • 2 egg whites
  • 85g/3 oz caster sugar
  • Half a tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Half a tsp ground cinnamon
  • 5 tbsp (approx.) desiccated coconut
  • 18-20 white chocolate buttons
  • 9-10 milk or dark chocolate buttons
  • 18-20 milk or dark chocolate chips

METHOD

For cakes:

  1. Tear open the chai teabags and tip the contents into a heatproof jug or saucepan, then pour over the milk and stir briefly.
  2. Heat the milk and tea together either in the microwave on a medium heat for about two minutes, or over a medium heat on the hob, until it is warm and fragrant but not boiling. Leave to cool slightly.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 fan) and line a muffin tin with cupcake cases.
  4. Whisk the butter/margarine and sugars together in a large mixing bowl until pale, then whisk in the eggs and tea-infused milk mixture.
  5. Fold in the flour, ground almonds, cinnamon and vanilla extract until a batter of a soft dropping consistency has formed.
  6. Pour the mixture into the cake cases until they’re each about two thirds full, then pop in the oven and bake for around 15-20 minutes until a cocktail stick inserted into the sponges comes out clean.
  7. When baked, leave the cakes to cool on a wire rack. At this stage the they can be frozen for decorating at a later date if you wish.
  8. When cool, use a serrated knife to saw off any domed tops from the cakes so you have a flat surface to add the decorations (don’t bin the offcuts – put them in a sealed container and munch them later!)

For the frosting/decorations:

NOTE: Only add the frosting a maximum of a couple of hours before serving as it doesn’t keep well.

  1. Place the desiccated coconut in a wide-rimmed bowl and set aside.
  2. Place the egg whites into a clean bowl and whisk until white peaks form.
  3. Add the cream of tartar, cinnamon and vanilla extract, then add the sugar gradually while continuing to whisk until you have a stiff, smooth mixture that holds its shape and stays put when you turn the bowl upsidedown.
  4. Using a palette knife, generously and evenly spread the mixture over the top of each cupcake.
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  5. Turn each cake upsidedown and dunk the tops in the desiccated coconut so they’re evenly coated.
  6. Add two white chocolate buttons, two chocolate chips and one milk/dark chocolate button to each cake to create a bear face, as in the photos.20171228_180536
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Categories: cupcakes, Festive, Icing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Year in Cake – 2016

As I’m currently tucked up in bed with a rotten cold on New Year’s Eve, I thought I’d do another blog post like I did this time last year looking at my top bakes of 2016.

I won’t bore you with the details but this year has been the worst one for a long time for many reasons and has left me a bit emotionally battered to say the least. I’m hoping with all my strength that 2017 is an improvement and that the changes I’m desperate to make in my life will come about.

Still, baking is a part of my life come rain or shine and I’ve managed quite a few successful bakes this year, including several celebration cakes which I was really pleased with. My creations will never be up there in the showstopper stakes, but I think my presentation skills have improved and I’ve been a bit more daring with decoration.

One new thing I’ve tried this year is meringues. I’d always been a bit nervous to try them as I got the impression they’d be very temperamental and difficult to pull off, but happily I was wrong. My piping skills are still as dire as ever, but they were surprisingly easy to make and tasted absolutely delicious – crispy on the outside with a gooey marshmallow-like interior. And so SO much better than the brittle, chalky shop-bought ones. I was hoping to make a chocolate or cappuccino pavlova for NYE dessert and unfortunately being ill has put paid to that, but I’m keen to make something meringuey again soon! Like an idiot I forgot to include the fruits of my labour in the collage below so here’s a snap of my cute little ghost meringues from Halloween:

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I’ve decided to make on culinary resolution this year, and I’m sure I’ve made it before. I would really like to have a go at making proper bread, i.e. using yeast (not soda bread!) I’m a very impatient cook which is what’s put me off trying this previously but the effort would be worth it in order to create a nice big tear-and-share centrepiece, either a delicious chocolatey monkey bread or a mouth-watering sundried tomato and cheese number. I also fancy having a go at brioche, which is my all-time favourite bread, with its indulgent melt-in-the-mouth buttery sweetness and cloud-like texture. Watch this space!

So anyway, here’s a wee compilation of my personal favourite bakes from 2016:

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  1. Chocolate Orange Bonfire Cake (recipe here)
  2. Spiced Tea & Chocolate Cake with Cinnamon Ganache Icing (recipe here)
  3. Banana, Peanut Butter & Caramac Loaf (recipe here)
  4. Honeycomb & Chocolate Flapjacks with Marzipan Bees (recipe here)
  5. Raisin Spice Christmas Cake with Fondant Sealies (base recipe from the 1000 Cakes & Bakes cookbook)
  6. Moomin Lebkuchen (base recipe from the Bake Off Christmas cookbook)
  7. Lady Baltimore Cake (recipe here)
  8. Ducky Custard Cream Cake (base recipe here)
  9. Cheese & Sundried Tomato Quiche (recipe here)

I’ll sign off now by wishing everyone in the Bakeosphere a very happy and healthy 2017! 🙂

Cloud9.1 x

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Spiced Tea & Chocolate Cake with Chocolate & Cinnamon Ganache Icing

I first came up with the idea of, and impulsively made, this cake for the first time over a year ago when I wanted to combine the winning combination of chocolate and good old-fashioned English tea in sponge form. The addition of cinnamon and mixed spice adds an extra layer of depth to the flavours and I’m really pleased with how the finished product turned out.

The flavours are slightly reminiscent of my Christmas favourite, chocolate gingerbread cake, but the texture is less dense and more akin to a traditional sponge, making it an ideal treat all year round.

I stupidly didn’t take any photos of my first attempt but, when asked to make a birthday cake for a pony-mad colleague, I decided to recreate it in deceptively simple but eye-catching horseshoe form. The equine motif is, of course, optional and the cake tastes just as delicious made in a regular round or square tin. It’s also very tasty in its naked form, minus the icing, but the cinnamon ganache adds an extra touch of indulgence.

I must give credit to the inspirational domestic goddess and my all-round food idol, Nigella Lawson, for the aforementioned icing – the original recipe is hers (part of her decadent Devil’s Food cake), and I simply added some cinnamon.

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INGREDIENTS – makes 1 bundt ring cake as in the picture, or 1 deep round 20cm/8in cake

For the cake:

  • 225g/8 oz butter or margarine
  • 115g/4 oz caster or granulated sugar
  • 115g/4 oz brown sugar
  • 225g/8 oz self-raising flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 heaped tbsp cocoa powder
  •  120ml/4 fl oz strong cold tea
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 0.5 tsp baking powder

For the ganache icing/decorations:

  • 125g/4.5 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 90g/3 oz butter
  • 20g/0.75 oz dark brown sugar
  • 65 ml/2 fl oz water
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 7 Caramac buttons (optional)
  • Silver shimmer spray (optional)
  • Palm-sized piece of marzipan (optional)
    + horse-shaped cookie cutter (optional)

METHOD

For the cake:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 fan) and line your cake tin of choice with parchment paper or spritz with cake release spray.
  2. Whisk the butter/margarine and sugars together in a large mixing bowl until pale, then whisk in the eggs.
  3. Fold in the flour, cocoa powder, tea, cinnamon, mixed spice and baking powder until a batter of a soft dropping consistency has formed.
  4. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin, then pop in the oven and bake for around 25-30 minutes until a cocktail stick inserted into the sponge comes out clean (it might need a bit longer if you’re using one round tin instead of a ring-shaped one).
  5. When baked, leave the cake to cool on a wire rack before turning it out of the tin. At this stage it can be frozen for decorating at a later date if you wish.
  6. If you’re making a horseshoe cake, cut out a section of the sponge ring (and eat later!)

For the ganache icing/decorations:

  1. Place the water, butter, brown sugar and cinnamon in a saucepan and melt together on a low heat.
  2. When the mixture begins to bubble, take the pan off the heat and add the finely chopped chocolate. Swirl the liquid over the pieces so that they melt evenly.
  3. When the chocolate has all melted, whisk the mixture until smooth and glossy, then transfer into a cool mixing bowl.
  4. Leave the frosting to set for at least one hour (place it in the fridge to speed up the process a bit) until it’s a spreadable consistency.
  5. When set, spread the frosting onto the cooled cake.
  6. If you’re making a horseshoe cake, arrange the Caramac buttons, evenly spaced, along the middle of the sponge and finish with a spritz of silver shimmer spray for a metallic sheen.
  7. To make the little yellow horse centrepiece as in the photo, roll out the chunk of marzipan until it’s about the thickness of a pound coin, then stamp it out using the horsey cookie cutter and place in the middle on the serving plate/board.

 

Categories: Chocolate, Icing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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