Sunday, 15 July 2012

Baking for Babies

A couple of months ago two fellow bloggers, Dolly Bakes ( )and Mummy's Little Peeps ( ) announced a call to arms. The idea was a rather fabulous one, they decided to hold a pop up bakery in a local venue in order to raise funds for the local neonatal unit. The announcement came for bakers young and old to join forces and bake goods to be sold at a summer fayre, which the public could come along and buy whilst also enjoying an array of stalls, including face painting, vintage clothing, sweets and even a vintage photo booth! Brilliant!
I jumped at the chance to help support such a worthy cause and began to decide on what to bake. After an initial obsessive patch of brainstorming, I had a million and one ideas on what I wanted to make for the big day. However, fast forward two months to this Thursday just gone and I still had not made my mind up.

My initial plans and preparations had all gone to pot, what with Si being away on a vintage car rally for the week and my crazy need to paint and decorate part of downstairs in 2 days, whilst simultaneously dealing with builders, visiting family and a marauding 2yr old. Why do I do these crazy things, I ask?

On the last minute, I decide to make some unusual cupcakes which involved arts and crafts to make them quite unusual. It called for a trip to hobby craft, which was endured with a screaming toddler who would only be appeased by a human sized bag of chocolate buttons they were selling off and letting him be in sole control charge of a drag along basket, which kept taking out rather large displays every 5 minutes! Not a great start! On returning home, I also realised that the idea, whilst being a good one, was not a very practical one, so the plans had to be changed again. I settled on a plain cupcake and baked 48 of the lovelies and decorated them with edible glitter and some sprinkles. I then stupidly left them to one side whilst I tended to J's bedtime routine.

Mistake number one was letting J see then in the kitchen, mistake number two was to have left them on the dining table. Mistake number three was not taking any photos. Mistake number four was leaving J alone whilst I ran to get pj's etc. All I can say is that it was pure carnage, that required a thirty minute scrub in the bath and an hours cleaning once I had managed to get downstairs!!!

On top of that I had also used up most of my ingredients on the original batch of cupcakes. After scrabbling around in the cupboards for some additional ingredients, I settled on Almond and Raspberry Cupcakes (recipe below) with a Vanilla and home made Raspberry Coulis icing and some Vanilla Fork Biscuits.

When we rocked up on the morning of the big day, I was staggered by just how many people had baked and brought cakes and bakes to be sold. There was such an array of beautifully iced and decorated cakes, it took all of my will power not to launch myself head first into what can only be described as cake heaven!!!

The whole day was fantastic and the ladies had done a magnificent job of organising the event, helped by many amazing people. Going forward the only other thing I can say now is that I really hope they make this an annual event!!

Almond and Raspberry Cupcakes:

145g caster sugar
145g self raising flour
225g unsalted butter
115g light brown sugar
110ml double cream
55ml milk
4 eggs
75g ground almonds
Best quality raspberry jam
1tsp almond extract
1tsp baking powder
1tsp bicarbonate of soda

Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas4/350f and prep a muffin tray with muffin cases.
Beat butter in a bowl until fluffy and add the sugars. Cream together, then add the eggs one at a time. Beat for about 5 mins.
Stir in the almond extract and gradually add the dry ingredients. Mix well.
Add milk and cream and mix.
Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases to about half full.
Place in the centre of the oven for about 15-20 mins.
Remove and cool.
Once cool, using a sharp knife, remove a small circle from the top of each of the muffins and spoon in a tsp of Raspberry jam into each cake.
(don't add the jam whilst baking, as I learnt, as the jam will sink to the bottom of the cakes)
Replace the cake lids you cut off and top with vanilla icing and drops of raspberry coulis.

All in all I was rather pleased with them, considering I only had 1 hr to make them and get them down to the fayre. Though definitely next time, I will put the jam in at the end of cooking and cooling, as above.

Happy Baking!!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Strawberry Jelly Cake

Yet another cake club has come around and today's theme is "Sweets for my sweet". Cue memories from my youth ( yes I can remember that far back!!!) of Cherrylips, Cola Bottles, Fruit Salads and Blackjacks, along with going to the corner shop with 10p, that my sister and I had managed to alleviate from our dad, for ten penny sweets. Fantastic!

Originally, I toyed with the idea of doing a Cola Cube Cake and even purchased the cola crystals from the local sweet shop, but at the last minute bottled it in favour of a Strawberry Jelly Cake. And I am do glad that I did!

The idea came about from yet another tried and failed attempt to get J to try something new. I bought a couple of packets of jelly and attempted to get him to try and eat some. Needless to say no amount of Si and I trying to eat it and make mmmm noises would even get him to take even a bite.

So here I was left with a whole pile of jelly and no idea what to do with it. I HATE waste and needed to come up with something to do with it. So an idea formed. Would it work in a cake? The answer is a massive resounding yes!!!

The recipe is super easy, yet yields a huge reward. You need to make a plain vanilla sponge (my favourite recipe is below) and bake in a round cake tin. Allow it to cool completely and then turn the cake upside down.
Grab a skewer and stab holes all over the base of the cake, taking care to not go all the way through the cake. You probably want to only go about two thirds of the way through the cake. Make up two packets of full fat jelly with 100ml of cold water and microwave for about 1 min / 1min 30, until it is liquid and mix to make sure all of the jelly has melted.
Si then came up with the genius idea of syringeing the jelly into each of the holes until all of the liquid had been soaked into the bottom of the cake, taking care not to let any of the jelly roll down the sides of the cake, as this would lead to the cake sticking to the plate it was on, and trust me it is near impossible to get off again without leaving half of the cake behind!
Transfer the cake, covered to the fridge and let it set overnight. Serve by itself, or even with vanilla ice cream!!
Also we store ours in the fridge to keep the jelly set.

Vanilla Sponge Recipe
200g self raising flour
1tsp baking powder
200g caster sugar
200g unsalted butter at room temp
4 large eggs
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract or paste

Preheat the oven to 180C fan/350F /gas 4 and grease and line a baking tin
Mix all the dry ingredients together and add the wet ingredients. Then mix in a stand alone mixer or with an electric hand mixer for about 2 mins.
Place ingredients into the tin and bake for about 20-30mins until a skewer comes out clean.
Leave to cool completely on a wire rack.