Friday, 26 February 2010


I was distressed dear readers. There I was, with a packet of gelatin leaves who's expiry date was fast approaching, and I had no idea what to do with them. They were mocking me from within their packaged home at my lack of gelatin-related recipe knowledge. But I was not to be beaten by these gremlin gelatin leaves. I got me on my laptop, I typed in 'gelatin-related recipes' and there shining before me, like the sun breaking free from behind parted clouds, was the word 'Marshmallow', and I knew where my destiny, for that day at least, lay.
Now, this isn't a 'I'll start making these and assume I have the ingredients knocking about' kind of recipe...only to find that I do in fact have about 2 of the required ingredients and therefore must make the long, treacherous journey into town to buy the rest. Oh no. This required strange and fantastical ingredients like Gelatin leaves and 'Liquid Glucose'. I was scared readers, but I was excited.

So to the super supermarket I sped, found some Liquid Glucose next to my future husband Dr. Oetker, and stood before it in awe. It sounded so exotic and science-y. Behold, Liquid Glucose:

Controls the formation of sugar crystals...obviously...

So! After I had finished drooling over my new magical ingredient, I continued with my weird and wonderful marshmallow recipe! Which rather oddly, required me to 'soak my gelatin leaves'. After making enquiries, you don't actually have to have a bath with your gelatin leaves which I have to say I was a little relieved about. You do however soak them in a little bath of their own so they end up looking like a mound of weird, rubbery goodness:

Now, as if everything up to this point hadn't been strange, scary and complicated enough, next I was instructed to combine sugar, water and my glorious glucose in a pan and boil it. That I can handle. But being asked to place my SUGAR THERMOMETER!, actual scientific equpiment! into my concoction, well I have to say I nearly fainted. For at this point I realised I had committed my usual cooking sin of starting something without actually knowing if I have everything I will actually need...and besides I usually run a mile from anything requiring more than a good old fashioned spoon, so you can imagine my alarm at the idea of sugar thermometers...

Not to be dismayed though! I simply boiled it up anyway for the required 10 ish minutes and pretty much guessed using my internal sense of when a sugar mixture reaches 127 degrees/sheer hope, and carried on...

My sugar mixture at EXACTLY 127 degrees!...ish

Then FINALLY it's onto the easy part! Simply plop your gelatin into your sugar mixture, whip up your egg whites to the stiff white peaks we all know and love then slowly, carefully, gently and trepadatiously add your sugar mixture to the egg whites as they're still mixing.

As you can see if you look reeeally carefully at the above picture, there are tiny little bumps in the mixture. Being the amateur marshmallower that I am, I added my hot sugar mixture straight away to my egg whites and as logic dictates, hotness + eggyness = scrambled eggs! So i did get essence of scramble in my marshmallow mix SO to avoid scrambled marshmallow...unless you love it, allow your sugar mixture to cool in a cold metal jug after you add your gelatin for a couple of minutes so you don't end up with lumpy bumpy marshmallow.

So! Then you simply leave your mixture mixing for about 10-15 minutes until its stiff-ish and glossy. I would seriously recommend using or investing in a KitchenAid/Stand alone mixer if you're going to embark on the Marshmallow making journey, otherwise you will end up with some very tasty marshmallow, but no arms if you attempt to do it with a hand whisk. Your call.

Whilst the mixture mixes in the mixer, lightlly oil a baking pan or whatever container (not the inside of your mouth) with oil, icing sugar and cornflour to make for easy release when you tip out your marshmallow. It's RIDICULOUSLY sticky...I blame Mr. Glucose.

So once that's done and dusted ('scuse the pun) You attend to your marshmallow mixture. Taste it because everything must be tasted in its raw state even if it leads to mild food poisoning...

I am warning you though that in the case of our Marshmallow friends, it's even nicer in liquid form, so do try to restrain from eating it all from the bowl before you've at least attempted to let it set...I suggest having a judgemental friend or family member with you when making these as to eat liquidised marshmallow in front of said person would be to bring shame upon yourself and your family.

Doing it alone though is just good sense and a joyous, very tasty moment.

If you still have some marshmallow mixture left at this point, tip it all into your prepared container and simply let it chill out and relax for an hour or 2! I split my mixture into 3 flavours; Vanilla, Lemon and Rosewater then splashed some food colouring on top for added 'Oooh' and 'Aaah' factor. If you do add food colouring afterwards however, the top does remain quite sticky after the rest of the marshmallow has set which makes it annoying to cut, so swirl your colours in before you tip it into your tin for a beautiful swirly effect!

Then all that's left to do is restrain from eating it all before you can show it off...Good Luck!

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Iron Cupcake: Love n' Passion

Love is a universal feeling. Between humans, rabbits and even Jelly Babies. And so I present to you dear readers the story of love between one Jelly Baby and another. It is an epic tale between two star crossed Jelly Babies, battling against the world to be together, finally united by the Cupcake. This tale is a tale of love, creation and consuming a cake within about 10 minutes of it being baked. We begin, with the Cupcake.

I travelled far and wide to gather my ingredients for this ancient recipe rumoured to be named 'The Vanilla Cupcake'. Upon my sturdy bicycle I climbed, the pedals I pushed, and the faces I pulled as I braced myself against the Northern winds intent to keep me from my treachourous journey to the glowing orange beacon that is the magical temple I can only refer to as 'Sainsbury's'.

And what a sight it was. As I wiped the rain from my brow, apologised to elderly people I narrowly missed as I sped towards my goal, I could almost hear the ingredients calling to me. I nervously approached the temple as the giant glass doors parted and a warm rush of air embraced my cold, trembling body and pulled me inside. But my journey had not ended. As I stepped inside the Super market far from my journey ending, it had just begun. Ferocious beings came running at me with giant metal contraptions on wheels, I heard people screaming 'But they're 2 for 1! I'm SAVING money!' and I witnessed children charging at their parents with arms full of chocolate and sweets only to be banished to the metal cages and strapped in. I was horrified readers. I knew my ingredients had to be rescued from this nightmare.

So through these people I ran, ignoring bright red signs intent on stopping me from my goal with offers of 'Savings' and money off. I was not blinded by these so called savings intent on deterring me from my righteous path. I would succeed where others had fallen prey to these evil signs. So to the Home Baking aisles I ventured. And to the eggs, flour, butter and sugar I trekked, crawling through giants to pluck them from their holding places I heard referred to as 'Shelves'. It was a cruel sight. And as I left I saw the most horrendous sight. For as I looked to the horizon, I saw a looming glass cabinet headed with a blinding sign, 'Cakes and Bakes'. My friends, I can only describe this place as Cake Prison. Behind the bullet proof glass were captured cakes being tortured and suffocated in plastic boxes, brown wrappers and worst of all, being sold off for cake labour at 4 for £1. As I wiped the tears from my eyes, I saluted these brave cake victims, and hastily fled the battle field of crazed shoppers brain washed by the beautiful orange glow of their Lord Sainsbury's clutching my ingredients.

Back at the safety of my trusty bike, I quickly flung my precious ingredients over my handle bars and sped off into the night, swearing to my cakey lord that I would bring justice to those cakes caught in battle, and I would bake the best cakes I could with my rescued ingredients. And this my friends, is the result of my journey.

Vanilla Cupcakes
(6 big ones...I don't know why you'd want to make little ones so I'm not telling you how many little ones this mixture makes, and if you are sane, you won't find out, you'll just make 6 big ones! Or 1 big one...even better)

2 Eggs (weigh these and ye shall discover the weight of all your other ingredients!)
Salted Butter (Unsalted butter is
Caster Sugar
Self-Raising Flower
The Holy Grail: 1 tsp Vanilla Extract. NOT Vanilla Flavouring! There are some evil doers out there who will convince you that vanilla flavouring is better, more delicious, and more cake friendly than Vanilla Extract. But they lie my friends. Vanilla flavouring is poison by another name, and to buy such a product would be like hugging the cake devil himself: The Fat Free Cupcake. We do not speak of him, but he endevours to obstruct pure cakey goodness wherever he can. Do not give in to the FFC, for he despises tasty quality cakes with all the goodness of proper ingredients and love.

Put all these glorious ingredients into your bowl/KitchenAid/bucket and mix like there's no tomorrow.
Do not fear and exclaim 'that looks DISGUSTING!' as you churn away, for granted half way through mixing you do start to wonder what kind of cake monstrosity you have created...

But bear with it and before your eyes a glossy, beautiful (and very tasty) cake mixture will appear before your very eyes!

Eat this as it is/Spoon it into cupcake cases.

Bake in your Hot Box (oven) at 160 dungarees for about 15 minutes or until you simply can't wait any longer to eat your cakes and eat/cool/decorate. Tudaah!

So that was the creation of The Cupcake. But my cupcakes were lonely. I've always thought Jelly Babies have a rough time of it being shut off from the world in a bag. They never really get to live, meet other Jelly Babies, and make their own Jelly Babies. So in a bid to protest against Jelly Baby rights, I plucked two lonely young Jelly Babies from their packaged lives and showed them what it was like to love. In three simple cupcakes I give you: Love - The Jelly Baby way.

John, Jill and Jelly Baby Jr. Happily ever after!

I'm competing in the Iron Cupcake Earth Challenge!

Sponsored by this lovely bunch of people:

The Demy™ by Key Ingredient
Hello, Cupcake by Karen Tack & Alan Richardson
Bella Cupcake Couture
Cupcake Stackers by Gourmac
The Cake Mix Doctor Returns! by Anne Byrne
Beautiful Baking Liners by Vestli House
Sweet Cuppin' Cakes Bakery & Cupcakey Supply

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Chocolate Eclairs are so yesterday...

After my overwhelming success with the Pork Pie Bakewell Tart, I set about thinking what other classic pastries I could mess about with and confuse people with. And then it hit me, it's just boring when you bite into an eclair and it's actually a cream filled eclair with a chocolate topping; where's the surprise in that? So I figured, what if it LOOKED like an eclair, but was in fact filled with many other surprising and delicious fillings!
So, onto google I hopped and typed in, wait for this...'eclair recipe' and got me the recipe from the woman we all know and love, Delia! Now, before you become angry and confused after clicking that link, it is in fact a link to Choux pastry which is what you make an eclair from!
Now, I've always thought this magical thing called 'Choux pastry' was some crazy hard pastry only French people could make. It is in fact the easiest pastry to make in the world; it can't go wrong! Well it can...but um, you'd have to be a very special kind of person to get it wrong :)
It's bizarre the way this pastry comes together, like ACTUAL magic in a pan! Its basically butter and water in a pan then once the water starts to boil you immediately turn it off, throw in some plain flour and sugar and stir with a wooden spoon like a maniac then before your very eyes it becomes a solid pastry! You then slooowly add some whisked eggs, keep stirring, and in about 3 minutes you have a smooth glossy pastry ready to be piped into pastry sausages! Even Harry Potter would be impressed.
Don't laugh.
You don't HAVE to pipe them into questionable looking 'sausages', Delia actually recommends little choux buns where you simply take a teaspoon of your pastry, plop it onto the baking sheet and cook 'em like that. But we're making eclairs here, not choux balls, that's just silly.
They rise a crazy amount which is always good. The high water content creates a lotta steam in them. Not because they're angry, it just makes them floaty light and ready to be filled with cream!
I used my special nozzle with a long pokey bit to fill my eclairs. Here's the special part; I whipped up some whipping cream, divided it into 3 and flavoured them! So I got me some orange flavoured cream, lemon and rosewater to fatten up my eclairs with. I did actually overfill them a little so they were a bit cream tastic; but whoever said that was a bad thing?!
Rosewater and Pistachio Eclair! (Rosewater cream topped with crushed Pistachios)
Now, I must confess I did also make up a load of eclairs with some orange flavoured cream and some lemon. However, whilst the fillings were all lovely jubly, the toppings looked a bit...rubbish, because I simply added the flavour to some icing sugar and it all dried clear on the eclairs so you just kinda ended up with a sad soggy eclair. SO, when I am next in an eclairy mood, the idea is to flavour some fondant to get a thicker icing that actually stays on my eclairs and looks the classic strip of chocolate we all know and love that sits upon an eclair. So until that happy day, I leave you with my Rosewater and Pistachio eclairs. Enjoy!

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Baking Withdrawal

There is a myth that those who love to bake who resist the urge will begin to sprout cupcakes and other confectionary related goods from their heads unless they give into the overwhelming need to bake. Resistance is futile; and my head is feeling itchy. I never thought I'd actually NEED to bake to keep my sanity in check, but with every day that goes by that I am apart from my KitchenAid, I become more withdrawn into my cakey thoughts. I even started drawing them on my desk today... Now, I don't think I need help. I actually believe these thoughts are perfectly normal for your average cake obsessed girl. Do I think I have an unhealthy relationship with my KitchenAid? Of course not. It's always there when I need it and it never answers back. Perfect Partner! 24 Hours until we can be together again...would it be too much if I sent my Kitchen Aid a Valentine?


Friday, 5 February 2010

Pork Pi...wait, is that a Bakewell Tart?!

Why yes, yes it is! Observe, the Pork Pie Bakewell Tart! Has to be seen to be believed. Story follows...

After baking a Bakewell Tart normally last weekend (which for those of you who have never supped upon the delights of a home made; non Mr Kipling bakewell tart looks like so:

I realised that all it really is is a rather tasty cake baked in pastry. Which got me thinking, what else is baked in pastry? Pork Pies of course! So I thought to myself...I wonder...could you bake a tart in a Pork Pie tin, make it LOOK like a Pork Pie...but not actually be a Pork Pie?! Not one for day dreaming I set about living the dream.
I set about following the basic steps to any good Bakewell Tart. Shortcrust pastry lining tin? Check. Bake for 15 minutes with ceramic baking beans? Check. Remove beans, brush with egg and bake for a further 5 minutes? Check. Bakewell Tart recipe made, I lined the inside of the pastry with Raspberry jam then filled up the case 2/3 with the mixture. Now, in my brain, I thought I could bake the case and the lid to the pie separately, then simply pop the lid of the pie on after the cake had baked and no one would be any the wiser! So, I did this. And I was not pleased.
As you can see, the tart cooks wonderfully in the pastry as expected, but as the lid was baked separately it doesn't fit on my tart! Only a maniac wouldn't suppose this wasn't actually a Bakewell tart in disguise...
So, I called up my ye old Pork Pie recipe and lo and behold the filling is cooked with the lid on top, so i figured, why not cook my cake with a lid?!
SO, Pork Pie Bakewell Tart take 2 was everything that occurred with the first, but upon the mixture being in the case I then brushed the top with egg, covered it with some spare pastry, trimmed it to size, stabbed 2 holes in the middle and baked away!
I think the holes are important in the top as, like mine, the mixture burst through the holes and a mini tart started to cook on top. Without my little holes the pastry would have broken and I would have been most upset. However, you need not suffer my pain, as if you fill the case only HALF full with mixture, it shouldn't erupt through the top! Brilliant.

So there you have it folks! A Pork Pie with a Bakewell Tart lurking inside. They said it couldn't be done, but I said...well, it can actually. Perfect if you've got a Farmer Friend. Enjoy :D

Monday, 1 February 2010

Cappuccino Cake!


Before your very eyes is a Coffee Cake baked in an earthenware mug topped with a
meringuey icing, a light dusting of Cocoa for that classic
Cappuccino look with Chocolate Steam!

Pre-decoration snaps

Couple of trial and error cup-cakes in the animal themed cups in the background; I don't think I'll ever get the amount of mixture right in a cupcake because no matter how many times I bake cakes, I always underestimate how much they rise...

But the point is cooking cake in your mum's best coffee cups works! I did wait nervously for an ear splitting crack as one by one my cups exploded under the extreme 160' heat, but as some wise person pointed out, the kiln in which the cups were originally glazed would be waaay hotter than my humble oven, so not to fear! Stick 'em in the oven all day and they'll just be a little toasty when you remove them filled with cake. Splendid.

Not content with simply creating a coffee flavoured cake I felt I must actually make it perfectly clear what the flavour of the cake is by actually sticking it in a coffee cup so there could be no confusion. And what with my obsession with making things appear not as they are, I thought it would be hilarious to make the cake actually look like a cappuccino, when in fact is is a delicious coffee cake. Genius.

In the case of creating my coffee cake I simply skimmed the top off which sadly meant I had to eat it, and proceeded to cover it in meringuey foam, cocoa and chocolate steam!

Coffee Cake in Coffee Cup? Done.


Or Gobstoppers on sticks? You decide...