Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Be My Valentine

Ahhh that time of year again, and my chance to get all pink and girly and make valentines themed creations! If you read my other posts, you will know that I intended to make peppermint cremes in the style of buttons. Well I changed my mind again and instead, for the first time ever, I got imaginative with my baking and mixed a few ideas together to come up with my own creation! I made strawberry and vanilla cupcakes, with strawberry cream stars on the top!

I used a combination of different recipes, mostly from The Hummingbird Bakery cookbook, which is one of my favourites, to make these cupcakes and I took plenty of photographs to show you the steps I took!

The first step I took was to make the strawberry cream stars that go on top of the cupcakes. It is the exact same recipe to make peppermint cremes except that I replaced the mint flavouring for strawberry and I added a red food colouring to make them more appealing for the valentines theme. Once rolled out and cut out with my star cutters they were left to chill while I continued on to the next stage.

The next step was the chop up all the sumptuous strawberries that would be the base of my cupcakes. I must admit I couldn't help eating a few whilst I was chopping them up to small pieces. Once cut I then divided them into the cupcake cases and moved onto making the cupcake mixture. This was a simple vanilla mixture from the Hummingbird Bakery cupcake book and yet again, I might have wiped up the last little dribbles with my finger... delicious!

Twenty five minutes later, out came the golden cupcakes and left to cool. It was now the time to make some mouthwatering vanilla frosting, but instead of just scraping it onto the cupcakes using a flat knife like I have in the past, this time I got to use my new piping bag for the very first time! It wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be, but it still took a few attempts and I'm not going to deny that they look a little rough! I think next time I will go a little slower and not worry if I don't finish them all. As it was my first try I was anxious to cover them all.

The last finishing touch was to add the strawberry stars and voila, heavenly strawberry cupcake goodness!

One last little note, I couldn't do a recent baking post without commenting on my friend Caroline's delicious raspberry butter cake that she baked for myself and a group of friends on a Pimms and Pictionary night. It was lovely, a light sponge with little bursts of flavour from the raspberries served with a dollop (or two) of clotted cream. Thank you Caroline!

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Going Bananas...

... for mini muffins!!! A couple of days ago I started to notice that my bananas we going to that horrible sludgy brown colour, so obviously I had to get my baking booty into shape and make some delicious banana and cinnamon mini muffins! Now I'm calling them mini muffins as I ran out of muffin cases and had to use your average joe cupcake cases, but this made them more like a lovely light and spongy biscuit - perfect for a cheeky dunk in your cuppa! The best bit of this adjustment to cupcake cases meant that instead of making 12 muffins I actually made a whopping 36 mini muffins! More to pass round I say! And that is exactly what I did...

There is no way I can eat 36 mini muffins, actually that's a lie, I could easily sit down and munch my way through all of these mini treats, but that wouldn't be fair to all my friends who like to get their taste buds on my creations. I kept a small section for myself and put the rest in my tin and took them on my merry way to work. Apart from the fact that I couldn't spell cinnamon when writing a little note to the ol' colleagues, my little muffins were practically gone before my first break, and I made a little profit towards my baking fund for next time!

Oh, and If you were wondering from my previous post, I've decided to make a selection of peppermint creams for valentines day. Not only will they be different shapes, sizes and colours but they might not just be peppermint... On that note I shall leave you for today and my next post will reveal all!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Getting Inspired for Valentines Day...

Valentines is coming up again, and like last year I want to get my creative on and bake some lovingly scrumptious valentines treats. Last year I made chocolate chip and vanilla heart shaped cupcakes with pink vanilla frosting. I based the recipe from one from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook, which was my first and the one I will always refer to compare to other recipes. Anyway... the way I made them heart shaped is by using heart shaped silicone cases, and although they looked pretty it was such a mess and such a hassle to eat them. Because they are made of rubber, you have to sort of pop the whole cupcake out, which, if you're as clumsy as me means a lot of icing everywhere. I'm a sucker for traditional paper cases, so I can just rip into it and get my munch on.

So this year, as much as I lke to make cupcakes, I want to experiment... (let's just hope my boyfriend doesn't read this post or else he'll be ruining the possible surprise). 

I'm torn to bake some delicious biscuits like these, which I spotted on the best little website I've found recently, HelloGiggles. I first looked on this website, because it is co-founded by my celebrity crush Zooey Deschanel, and then I saw these... I bought an icing set in the January sales and haven't used it yet, so making biscuits like these would not only be amazingly tasty but I could practise my icing skills. However, I can see a very big downside to making these. I haven't really iced anything before using a piping bag and I know that if I can't ice the biscuits as nicely as these I would sulk and that would defeat the point of valentines day a bit...

I first saw these amazing peppermint button shaped treats in my friends Australian magazine Frankie and I was inspired immediately! This would be so much hard work, and there is no way mine would look anything like these as these were probably made with molds. But what I love about these are the different colours and shapes, and I could definitely incorporate some heart shaped ones in there. Plus I've already made peppermint creams in the past, they are so simple to make and just enough of a sugary treat, when handed round a group of work colleagues!

My last teeny tiny idea, is based on left over candy canes from Christmas... I was thinking, yes back to the cupcakes again, that I could made red velvet cupcakes with crushed up candy canes on the top. They are still the Valentines colours after all...

Give me your thoughts... what do you think I should bake for the very lucky man :)