Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Sunshine and Afternoon Tea

Hurrah! It would seem summer has finally arrived! Cambridge is a wonderful place to be in the sunshine. We had guests last weekend, so I made afternoon tea treats. I made scones and fairy cakes and served up with smoked salmon and ham sandwiches and a big pot of tea.

I whipped up my fairy cakes using the recipe for the sponge I made for the mini bakewells the other week. Ground almonds are my favourite ingredient at the moment – they make everything light and moist with just a lovely little hint of almondy goodness.

Almondy Fairy Cakes (makes 6)

50g unsalted butter
50g caster sugar
1 egg
30g ground almonds
30g self raising flour
100g icing sugar
glace cherries/sprinkles to decorate

1. Preheat oven to 180°C or 160° for fan ovens
2. Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and ground almonds, then stir in the flour.
3. Spoon into 6 pretty fairy cases of your choice and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 12-16 minutes.
4. Add a splash of water to the icing sugar to make a thick icing. Spoon onto the cooled cakes and top with a glace cherry or some sprinkles.

The recipe I use for scones is this one here on BBC Good Food. You may have noticed I use this site a lot - I love it, there are so many great recipes and ideas! I added a tiny squeeze of lemon juice to the milk to make doubly sure of a good rise. We scoffed them with Victoria Plum jam and a dollop of clotted cream.

I hope you've been enjoying the sunshine too!

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Mini Carrot Cupcakes

I decided on carrot cupcakes for this weekends bake and as you can see, my obsession with making all things mini continues! They were my contribution to a family Birthday bash and they went down well. I made a big carrot cake too, but I'll share that with you another time.

These nutty mouthfuls of carroty goodness require a little bit of work, but believe me they are sooo worth it!

Mini Carrot Cupcakes (makes 24)

100g self raising flour
25g plain wholemeal flour
75g caster sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking powder
30 walnuts, finely chopped
100g carrot, grated
zest of one orange
1 large egg
125ml sunflower oil

Cream Cheese Icing:
75g unsalted butter, softened
75g cream cheese
200g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C or 160°C for fan assisted.
2. Place the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the grated carrot and orange zest and stir until the carrot is coated.
3. Add the egg and sunflower oil and mix until thoroughly until you have a reasonably thick batter (WARNING: your mixture will most likely look like cat sick - don't worry it'll taste great, I promise!).
4. Fill 24 mini cupcake cases to two thirds full and bake on the middle shelf for 12 minutes.
5. Meanwhile make the yummy cream cheese icing: using an electric mixer beat together all the ingredients until smooth.
6. Pipe or spread onto your cooled cupcakes. To decorate you could make little fondant carrots like I did or use whole or chopped walnuts or perhaps some bright sprinkles - you decide!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Stitchy new look

You may have noticed my snazzy new embroidered blog header. What do you think? 

I've only recently taken up embroidery and my introduction came from the fabulous Doodle Stitching by Aimee Ray. The book has so many gorgeous designs and I can't wait to use some of them. My mum set me up with a nice little lot of embroidery thread and needles, so all I need to do now is get stitching some more.

Special thanks to Mr Makes for his design work.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Mini Bakewell Tarts

These bite-sized delights combine crisp pastry, raspberry jam and a light almond sponge. Topped with icing and a glace cherry, they're perfect with a cup of tea anytime.

This pastry recipe for mince pies is my favourite - it makes a lovely crisp, buttery pastry. As I was making mini tarts I made a smaller quantity and used milk to bind so I could roll it out. Here's my recipe. It makes 36.

Moreish Mini Bakewells
100g cold butter, diced
180g plain flour
40g caster sugar
splash of milk to bind
jam of your choice - I used raspberry
50g unsalted butter
50g caster sugar
1 egg
30g ground almonds
30g self raising flour
250g icing sugar
18 glace cherries

1. Make your pastry: rub the flour into the butter until you have a breadcrumb like mixture, then stir through the sugar. Add a small splash of milk to bring the mixture together - go carefully, if it gets too wet add a touch more flour. Wrap in cling film and pop in the fridge for 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile make your almondy sponge: beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and ground almonds, then stir in the self raising flour.
3. Preheat oven to 190°C that's 170°C for fan ovens.
4. Now take a third of the chilled pastry. It can be quite difficult to handle once rolled out so I recommend working with a small amount at a time. On a floured surface roll the pastry to around 4-5mm thickness. Using a 5cm round cutter, cut out 12 circles to line your mini muffin tin - be super careful when handling your pastry, it will be quite delicate. Repeat with the remaining dough.
5. Fill each of the pastry cases with around half a teaspoon of jam, then spoon a heaped teaspoon of sponge mixture on top. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 12-15 minutes.
6. Once they've cooled, put the icing sugar in a bowl and add small amounts of cold water until you have icing with a thick consistency. Cut your cherries in half. Spread a teaspoon of icing on top of each tart, and before it sets finish with half a cherry.
7. Brew a nice cup of tea and enjoy.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Beach boys


It may have been damp and chilly in Cambridge this weekend, but these two didn't let it bother them. These cute little fellas were living it up on the beach. I wish I could join them.

They're from the wonderful book Felties by Nelly Pailloux.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Lovely Lemony Cupcakes

After the chocolate and dinosaurs of last week it was time for something light and zingy. I loved the moist fluffy texture of the vanilla sponge layer of the choc-caramel cake, so I decided to use yogurt and ground almonds in my lemon cupcakes. 

As I couldn't decide between regular or mini cupcakes, I made both and decorated them with lovely lemony icing, sprinkles, hearts and candy slices. So cute.

Here's my recipe. It made 24 mini and 4 regular size cupcakes.

Lovely Lemony Cupcakes:
100g unsalted butter, softened
100g caster sugar
2 large eggs
75g self raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
50g ground almonds
50ml natural yogurt
1 tsp good quality lemon extract
zest of two lemons

Lemony Icing:
100g unsalted butter, softened
350-400g icing sugar
1/2 tsp lemon extract
1 or 2 tbsp lemon juice depending on how lemony you like it
few drops yellow food colouring (optional)

1. Heat your oven to 180 degrees or 160 for fan ovens
2. Beat butter and sugar until pale and creamy, then add the eggs one at a time and mix through.
3. Sift in the flour, baking powder, also adding the ground almonds, yogurt, lemon extract and zest. Mix until combined.
4. Spoon the mixture into your cupcake cases to about two thirds full.
5. Bake standard size for 20-25 minutes and mini cupcakes for 12-15 minutes then leave to cool on a wire rack.
6. For the lemony icing beat the butter with an electric mixer and gradually add 200g of the icing sugar and beat until smooth. Add the lemon extract and juice, and then the remaining icing sugar until you have a smooth and creamy consistency. At this point add the food colouring, if using.
7. Pipe or spread onto your cupcakes and pop on some pretty sprinkles and decorations.
8. Enjoy one (or two) of your lovely little lemony delights.