Sunday, 16 October 2011

Great British Bake Off! Technical challenge - Iced Finger Buns

I am a massive fan of 'The Great British Bake Off' on BBC1 and wanted to try out one of the technical challenges that were iced fingers. I've made bread once in the boredom of a family holiday in Wales and I think the bread reflected my mood at the time it was dull and tasteless. 

So i thought i'd try the iced fingers as they aren't as scary as bread but use the same principles. at one point it was a bit touch and go as the dough its very wet and sticky so I started to slightly freak out. But after kneading for a good 10 minutes the dough came together and became easier to work with. 

I left it to rise for an hour and it doubled in size, I then cut into pieces that weighed 75g each to make sure they were roughly the same size, I wasn't too bothered about this though as I like their rough charm. 
 

I then baked for exactly 10 minutes and they came out perfect and made the house smell delicious! 

 Then piped with whipped cream, and my posh Fortnum's jam and slicked a bit of icing on. 

If you would like to make them yourself visit the BBC website or buy the book it's definitely worth the investment if it can allow an awful bread maker like me to be able to make more than acceptable iced finger buns!


Saturday, 15 October 2011

Cookies for Yasmin



I still had loads of chocolate chips and buttons left over from the panda cupcakes and I hate waste so I decided to make one of my fave things to eat chewy, chocolate chip cookies. There's only one rule, they have to be the size of a child's head!

Here's the recipe:

250 g plain flour
2g bicarbonate soda
3g salt
170g unsalted butter, melted
220g brown sugar
100g caster sugar
20ml vanilla extract
1 Happy egg
1 Happy egg yolk
335g chocolate chips (add some for luck)

  • Preheat the oven to 165 degrees C). Grease baking sheet or line with baking paper.
  • Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt and set aside.
  • In a bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and caster sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon. Drop dough onto sheet at 2 big tablespoons per cookie. Leave a good amount of space between the cookies. 
  • Bake for 15 minutes or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely. 
  • Serve with a glass of ice cold milk. 

Magnolia Bakery in NYC By Chloe Sidgwick

As I don't have the funds to go to NYC my friend and fellow blogger of 'Chloe's Sidgwick's guide to Sewing and Cooking' has done a guest blog of her experience in NYC at Magnolia Bakery just for me!




As I am sure you all know, Magnolia Bakery on Bleecker Street, NYC is famous mainly because Carrie and Miranda from Sex And The City are big fans of their cupcakes…as am I and probably the rest of NY!
When I lived in NY, my apartment was on west 11th and 7th Avenue, a small walk from Magnolia, so most weekends I would go there early in the morning to beat the queues and indulge in their mouth watering cupcakes. I would try to be adventurous and go for something different like the gingerbread, carrot or pumpkin but my favorite would always be the red velvet – there is nothing better!









Here is a recipe I use when I make them (they are never as good as the ones in Magnolia though!):
Makes 12 cupcakes:
60 g unsalted butter
150g caster sugar
1 egg
10 g cocoa powder
20ml red food colouring
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
120ml buttermilk
150g plain flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 ½ teaspoons white wine vinegar
Cream cheese:
300g icing sugar, sifted
50g unsalted butter
125g cream cheese
Method:
Preheat oven to 170C
Mix butter and sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Slowly add the egg and beat well.
In a separate bowl, mix the cocoa powder, red food colouring, and vanilla extract to make a thick dark paste.  Add this to the butter mixture and mix well.  Then slowly poor in the buttermilk, beat well, and then add half the flour until everything is well mixed.  Then add the other half slowly and mix well until you have a smooth, even mixture. Slowly add the salt, bicarbonate of soda and vinegar.  Mix well for a few minutes.
Spoon the mixture into paper cases until two thirds full and bake for 20-25 mins.  Leave to cool.
Cream cheese:
Beat the icing sugar and butter together. Then add the cream cheese in one go and mix until completely incorporated and light and fluffy – at least 5 mins.
Spoon the mixture on top of each cupcake and YUM! 






Panda Cupcakes

During National Cupcake Week I was contacted by a Gary who wanted some panda cupcakes, he sent me a picture of the exact ones he wanted from a website which were red velvet cupcakes with chocolate panda details. I was happy he did because I didn't have a clue where to start with making cakes look like pandas!

I decided to visit Ho-Panda! in Trocadero - a shop completely dedicated to pandas, to get some inspiration.

I thought it was best to make the panda eyes first as I hate working with chocolate and wanted to get this bit over with. The reason I don't like working with chocolate is because my hands are really warm and it just melts and becomes a nightmare, but I recently discovered that if you wear some surgical gloves it stops the chocolate melting as quickly.

It was a bit tricky finding giant dark chocolate buttons, but it's nothing Google couldn't figure out for me. So I popped down to Montezuma's chocolate shop in Liverpool Street one day after work and got two big bags of the giant buttons.

Stage 1. 
I then cut the round buttons into an oval shape with a surgical scalpel so that it was completely hygienic. This would form the large black area of the panda eyes.


Stage 2. 
I then piped some white icing onto the oval shaped chocolate and popped a chocolate chip dead in the middle to create the finished panda eyes.


C'est fini!
















Oh and just to make the order a little more glamorous I had to drop them off at the Renaissance Hotel in the Gilbert Scott restaurant at St Pancras (thanks to the other half for getting me there!)

One Day Interiors Sale at Craft Central


My very good friends at Craft Central asked me to do a cupcake stall at their Interiors sale. I always love the crowd at Craft Central, because of the nature of the place everyone seems to be really interested in what you do and why you do it. I always get chatting with people and the atmosphere is ridiculously friendly.

More to the point I always sell TONS of cupcakes here which at the end of the day is the aim of the game really.

One guy came in wearing a suit and bought 10 brownies in one go! He had a dinner party that evening and is rubbish at making desserts. I told he would get marked down if he was on 'Come Dine With Me' for not making his own pudding as I happily wrapped the brownies for him - haha!


I ♥ Fortnum & Mason's





I was born and bred in London and I am ashamed to say that I had never visited the food Mecca that is Fortnum and Mason's in Piccadilly. With the lure of free cupcake sampling for National cupcake Week I decided to finally venture in.

Unfortunately there ended up to be no free cupcakes but that wasn't a problem as the actual store is amazing. I felt like Macaulay Culkin in Home alone when he walks into the Toy Store and is totally overwhelmed by everything.






The baking section was phenomenal look at these guys! Definitely going to get some online.

 Fortnum and Masons are known for their cream teas, when I saw the little scones topped with thick cream and shiny jam I instantly wanted to make my mini Vicky sponges.
 
I bought some rather posh strawberry jam from Fortnums it's all I managed to get my head round buying...



Here's my recipe for my mini Vicky sponges:

*For the sponge*
200g caster sugar (vanilla sugar if you have it)
200g soft unsalted butter
4 Happy eggs
1tbp vanilla extract
200g self-raising flour, sieved
1tsp baking powder

*For the filling*
100g soft unsalted butter
150g icing sugar, sifted
A drop of vanilla extract
A jar of very posh jam

To make the sponge…
    ◦    Heat oven to 190ÂșC . Grease and lightly dust with flour a muffin tray.
    ◦    Beat together the unsalted butter and sugar in a large bowl until pale and fluffy.
    ◦    Break the eggs into a jug and add the vanilla extract. Beat the mixture lightly with a fork.
    ◦    Add the egg very gradually to the mixture. Once all the eggs are in, fold in the flour with a large metal spoon
    ◦    Divide the mixture between the tins, smooth the surface. Bake for about 20 mins until golden and the cakes springs back when pressed. Turn onto a cooling rack and leave to cool completely.
To make the butter icing…
    ◦     Beat the unsalted butter until smooth and creamy, then gradually beat in icing sugar and vanilla extract.
    ◦    Split the cakes in half. Spread the butter cream over the bottom half and top it with jam. Sandwich with the top. Dust with a little icing sugar before serving.


National Cupcake Week - It started with a bang and ended with some jam.

My dog Spud reppin' National Cupcake Week!
As some of you may know it's National Cupcake Week from 12-18 September, but to be honest there is National [insert any product here] Week recently, it was even National Egg Week this week! (google it i'm not lying). I thought I would do my bit and join in the National cupcake Week frivolities.

Chloe Sidgwick of 'Chloe Sidgwick's guide to Sewing and Cooking' asked me to guest blog for her about my week as a cupcaker so I scribbled my week down in a diary format for her, so you can check out what I did for National cupcake Week on Chloe's Blog.

Strike a pose...VOGUE!

So it's been about half a year since I tapped my recipes and thoughts into my bloggywogg, no ellaborate excuses just i've been busy is all I have to be honest! But i'm back bitches and what a better way to return than with spot in Vogue!


I was contacted through my website about whether I would like to feature in an advertorial for Vogue magazine, obviously I jumped at the chance. The timing was perfect as I had just had my photoshoot with Manasi and the feature in vogue welcomed one small image. Hoorah!


I thought it was only right to take the guys and gals at Vogue some Chop's Cakes top picks so I visited Vogue HQ armed with a box of brownies and lemon and raspberry cupcakes.

You can probably make out by the awful lighting that I didn't finish baking for Vogue until VERY late, but I think it was worth it as I was placed 6th out of 33 bakers!



Outside Vogue HQ bricking it!
This guy was hilarious!


The finished Article, insanely proud of it even though it was rather far back in the magazine and quite small at least I can say to the grandchildren "your gran had her cakes in Vogue!"

The Photoshoot

If you skip to the previous post you will see that a photographer called Manasi Kashyap had taken a photo of my wedding stall at Craft Central. I got in contact with her and enquired about having a proper photoshoot with her - I was wiling to pay but like my good friends at Grab Graphics she wanted to be paid in cake which is fine with me!

It was her friends birthday and she wanted some cupcakes to surprise her with so I dropped some off to her at her local tube station which she later described as 'feeling like a drugs drop-off'.

We arranged to do the shoot on a sunny saturday as natural light is the most important thing when trying to get a perfect picture. So I set to work making all of my favourite cupcakes in my repetoire and Manasi thankfully travelled the length of the Central Line to come to my house to snap the cupcakes.

I'm saving the pictures for my new site that is currently being created by my other half but I will give you a sneak peek...


Saturday, 2 July 2011

Chop's Cakes SNAPPED!

These are two photos taken of my cakes at a recent Wedding Fair I did at Craft Central. It was hard work but I thoroughly enjoyed it in the end!

Above is taken by Sarah at Craft Central of my Cake Shots.

 This is a beautiful picture of my Wedding cake display (yes that's me in the background) taken by Manashi Kashyap

My Top 3 books of 2011...so far

1. Eating for England by Nigel Slater - He describes food in a way no other can and eloquently takes you back to the first time you damaged the roof of your mouth with a piece of toblerone or the warm feeling you get when you sink your spoon into a treacle sponge.

This is how he describes cake, I think I want this on my grave...

"British cakes have a certain wobbly charm to them, and what might be missing in terms of finesse is there in lick-your-fingers stickiness...they are something you tuck into with the enthusiasm of a labrador at a water bowl."

2. Cakes & Bakes, From my Mother's Kitchen by Linda Collister -  The cakes in this book are both special and comfortingly familiar. I made the pistachio and carrot cake for the other half for his birthday as it's shards of green pistachio make it look celebratory enough to give as a gift.
3. Weekend Baking by Sarah Randell - Fabulously easy recipes but massive crowd pleasers. I  recently adapted the chocolate and raspberry bars to sell at a fair and they were gone in under an hour! 

Sunday, 1 May 2011

If life hands you lemons...make cupcakes!

When the sun comes out and you start to fill up with the joys of being able to go out of the house without a scarf or a precautionary brolly, this is generally when I get 'lemon fever' and I also eat a lot of salads. These are two of my favourite lemon cupcakes.

The first is a Chop's Cakes classic the lemon and raspberry jam filled cupcake if I tell you the recipe I will have to kill you and i'm too young to go to prison. These were actually for an order I had for an Easter Summer Party, I much prefer topping my cupcakes with fruit as I don't think you can get anything prettier.




I recently bought a lemon drizzle cake from Marks and Spencer and devoured it with a bottle of Chardonnay, I don't know whether it was the wine but it was so good I had to make them in cupcake form.

Lemon Drizzle Cupcakes

Ingredients
125g butter, softened
200g caster sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
Zest of 2 lemons
200g Self Raising Flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
100ml whole milk


  • Preheat the oven to 180°C, Gas mark 4 and line a cupcake tin with 12 cases.
  • Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy and then stir in the lemon zest.
  • If using an electric mixer whck it up to a high speed and gradually add the eggs in splish by splash (I usually beat my eggs up ini a measuring jug so they are easier to pour into the batter).
  • Alternate sifting the flour and baking soda with a drop of milk until all is incorporated.
  • Spoon into cupcake tray (use an ice cream scoop for accuracy to ensure you dont have some cakes smaller than others) bake for 18-20 minutes until golden brown.

Lemon Drizzle
100g caster sugar
Juice of 2 lemons

  • While the cakes are baking mix together the sugar and lemon juice.
  • It is important that you spoon on the drizzle while the cakes are warm or the cakes will not absorb enough drizzle to make them moist.
  • Leave to cool, I like to mix up a little icing sugar with the left over lemon juice and drizzle it on the top aswell.