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Tuesday 28 May 2013

Vanilla Boy Cupcakes

I am determined to get a post up here today if it kills me. It's not going to be Bircher Muesli (sorry, Clare), because that's for warm weather and we are once AGAIN in the deep mid winter here in the South East (or South West, it depends on how you peel the potatoes really). It has finished off my Busy Lizzies, and I am so annoyed about it I could spit.

Anyway, you're not getting anything Alphonso mango related either (for 'tis the season!), because I'm saving that until I have more time. So I'm revisiting the humble cupcake. With a good reason.

I was recently reading all about Green Goddess Dressing, dreaming of my dear San Francisco, and became suddenly and uncharacteristically jealous. I had realised, you see, that nobody is ever going to create and name a dish for me. And I'd really like them to.

No time to cry about it, dears. I'm only around for two days before flying off again. Instead, let's create a dish for me ourselves. I give you the Vanilla Boy Cupcake. For yes, I have been being referred to as 'Vanilla Boy' for quite some time now, and despite disliking it intensely at first (I don't like the connotations of its modern usage and anyway consider myself to be more of a Cinnamon Swirl kind of a brother), have learned to accept it.

So my recent and quick foray into the all in one method of cake making has been names, immodestly, by yours truly and for yours truly. Enjoy.

I have to stop here. Dinner is not going to cook itself.

Vanilla Boy Cupcakes

You will need:

2 eggs
125g self raising flour
125g sugar
125g soft butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder

100g soft butter
175g cream cheese
250g icing sugar
seeds from one vanilla pod

  1. Heat oven to 180°C and place liners in a 12 cup muffin tin.
  2. Put the first six ingredients into a bowl and beat until combined and smooth. Divide among the liners and bake for 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
  3. Beat the next lot of ingredients together and use to ice the cakes. 
Can you tell I'm in a rush? See you soon for the mangoes!

Thursday 16 May 2013

Coconut Fantasy Cake

You'll forgive my somewhat ridiculous naming of this cake, I know. You just have to understand that I was quite literally blown away by how beautifully soft, light and yet rich it was. A true coconut fantasy, and quite possibly the best use for Malibu there is. Aside from this.

I always used to think that I hated coconut. But now I am a man obsessed. This is known by my friends, who use it to lure me into trying new things. Recently, for example, Clare told me about her new morning lover, 'the Summer porridge', Bircher muesli. I feigned a polite, yet vague, interest, knowing that porridge is good in any season, and carried on with my life.

But then I received the following text, late one night:

Just about to prepare my Bircher muesli for the morning. It will contain dessicated coconut.
Let's be clear about this. I paid attention. Leaving for work the next day, I didn't have a chance to follow her lead but I literally cannot wait to get home and try this Bircher stuff out. I'm going to experiment with coconut and raspberry first, but also want to try getting some pineapple or dried mango in there. Delicious.

Now, I'm going to bring it back to this cake.

It is a genoise. I won't be apologising for that but I will be saying that I feel like nobody makes these cakes except for me. Which I do understand when professionals tell you that they whip egg whites, crush garlic to a paste and do all those other laborious kitchen tasks by hand. Do me a favour and ignore them. Make this. Then tell me.

The thing with lots of coconut flavoured cakes is that they contain coconut in the batter. That's lovely, sometimes, but it does lead to rather a heavy cake. If you want the kind of crumb that holds together in feathery, cloud-like perfection, then you need a genoise. Pure and simple.

Want to do that by hand? Thought not.

The recipe for the cake is here. I made up a half batch and baked it in a 6' deep sided cake tin, slicing it when cool into two layers and soaking each one with 2 tbsps Malibu. It's not a strong liqueur and as very sweet, so there's no need to thin it down with sugar syrup.

The icing is special. Follow me.

Coconut Buttercream

You will need:

3 egg yolks
75g caster sugar
85g golden syrup
250g butter, cool, but squishable
3 tbsp Malibu
2 tsp vanilla extract

  1. In a large heatproof bowl, put the egg yolks and beat them on high speed with an electric beater for about a minute, or until slightly thickened.
  2. Put the sugar and syrup into a small saucepan and stir until all the sugar is moistened. Then place on a medium heat, stirring constantly until the edges of the mixture start to bubble. Stop stirring and remove the spoon or spatula you were using from the mixture.
  3. Allow the syrup mixture to reach a full rolling boil. This means that you should see large bubbles over the entire surface, including the centre. It shouldn't take long.
  4. Begin rebeating the yolks again, on medium speed, and immediately pour in half of the syrup. Avoid pouring it directly on the beaters, as it will splash against the side of the bowl. Beat for around 30 seconds then add the remaining syrup in the same way. This time beat the egg yolk mixture until the outside of the bowl is cool to the touch. That will take maybe 10 minutes or so.
  5. Add the butter gradually, on medium speed. Once all the butter has been incorporated, add the Malibu and vanilla and beat until smooth.
Use to frost the cake and decorate with grated coconut, which I buy frozen from my Indian supermarket. You could use dessicated if you prefer, or grate a fresh coconut.

Wednesday 8 May 2013


Guys! I'm such a slacker...

I completely and utterly forgot to let you all know that I have been asked to judge a dinner party competition that you can all enter to win cash. It must have been all the lovely Champagne I drank over the weekend for my sister's birthday... (She drank some too, it wasn't just me. Promise.)

The competition is being held by Taylor Wimpey, who admittedly, don't spring to mind when you think of dinner for friends. But reading through the competition details, I can totally see the idea -

'When you move into a new house, naturally you want to show it off to friends and neighbours as soon as possible (once the unpacking's out of the way, anyway). There's no better way to do this than to get everyone round for a dinner party, allowing you to flex your cookery skills and put that new kitchen through its paces - and officially declare your home a place where guests are welcome.

We're asking bloggers to submit a dream dinner party menu, including a starter, main, dessert and an accompanying wine - you can also include a welcome drink of your own invention.'

 That is EXACTLY what I wanted to do after we moved into our current home. And we wasted no time in getting people round for full on, three course food marathons. So I can't wait to see what entries we receive.

You know who else is judging? Well, other than someone from TW (only fair that they get a say after all), my fellow judge is none other than Ruth Clemens, of The Pink Whisk.

Amazing. I love her blog. (She probably doesn't even know who I am.)

Full terms and conditions are here. I would say definitely try this one out. There are going to be 3 winners of £100 and 1 grand prize winner will bag £250. Definitely worth a flutter if you ask me!

I'll be back soon with more sugary goodness. Keep it sweet until then!
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