Monday, 13 October 2014

Vanilla and Chocolate Marble Cupcakes

 
Not very seasonal for this Fall/Thanksgiving time of year, but I wanted to share these cupcakes I made a few weeks ago as it was a try at marble cupcakes that I had never made before.
 
I was SUPER excited to also first be using my new 24 cupcake baking pan that I got for my birthday this Summer.  So much easier to make lots of cupcakes, and bake them evenly and quickly.  We had the youth group over for a back-to-school but also housewarming event so I needed cupcakes for that, and then the following day my choir threw me a really nice 'baby day' celebrating together with cake and sunshine so this was my sweet treat that I took along for us to all share... especially as I'm not at choir rehearsals this semester so no snacks to take there each Tuesday!
 
 
I wanted to make cupcakes, and the marble idea just popped in my head!  I've never tried it but have seen it many times and thought it was time for me to try it too.  I had one other idea of cupcake flavour but thought I would wait until Autumn really hit to try that, so I went with basic vanilla and chocolate flavours but to make it more exciting it would be marbled.  I decorated it with a vanilla buttercream and milk chocolate curls. 

I whipped up two batches of cake batter... Here's the recipe...

Ingredients:

For the vanilla ~
4oz unsalted butter
4oz sugar
2 eggs
4oz self-raising flour
1 tsp vanilla essence

For the chocolate ~
4oz unsalted butter
4oz sugar
2 eggs
4oz self-raising flour (minus 2 tbsp)
2 tbsp cocoa powder

 
Method (for both batches):

1.  Preheat oven to 375°F. 
2.  Cream together the butter and sugar in mixer until light and fluffy.
 
3.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition.
4.  Add vanilla essence *if on the vanilla cake batch*
5.  Sift in self-raising flour *and if on the chocolate batch, take out 2tbsp flour and replace with cocoa powder)
6.  Mix well until all combined.
7.  When both batches are made, take a small cookie scoop and place one scoop of vanilla cake batter, and one scoop of chocolate cake batter into each cupcake liner.




 
8.  Using a cake tester/skewer, swirl the two scoops together to achieve the marble effect.


 
9.  Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until cooked through and spring back to the touch.




 
10.  Cool on a cooling rack and admire the marbled effect, and how cool and unique each cupcake looks!




 
11.  Using a 18oz icing sugar, 12oz unsalted butter, 1.5 tsp vanilla essence and 1.5 tbsp milk mixture, make buttercream to frost the cupcakes. 

 
12.  I used a large Wilton closed star tip to pipe the buttercream onto the cupcakes.  I was sad to be covering up the marble design of the cupcakes!
 
 
13.  Using a potato peeler, a few curls of chocolate later and these cupcakes were ready to be eaten!

 
 
Thanks Mum for this amazing new cake server you got me for my birthday in August, it's my new favourite!  I love it :-)



 
So next time I make cupcakes, I'll try the more Autumn-y recipe I had in mind, so watch this space for more baking soon!


Monday, 6 October 2014

DIY Baby Burp Cloths

 
Not a baking post!  Who knew!?  ... Baking for me has that has to happen that weekend, or for that particular event feeling as well as being a consumable that obviously makes it delicious enough to want to do immediately!  But then all my ideas for sewing projects and things I want to craft and make get put on a list in my head and wait until everything else is done which means I often don't get around to it!
 
BUT this week, with a bunch of important and necessary to-do list things checked off the list, I finally got around to getting out my sewing machine and getting to work on these nice and easy baby burp cloths I had been wanting to make since I found this variety of super cute flannel fabric at Fabricland a good few months ago!
 
Expecting an Autumn baby, the colours and the designs are perfect for our soon to arrive little one (or perhaps...already arrived by the time this post goes live!?) and burp cloths were something we didn't have yet.
 
It was a nice and easy project to start with... We don't know the gender yet, so sewing clothes will have to wait until he or she is born, so I thought I'd start simply.  I bought some soft white flannel to back the cloths with, contrasting against the fun flannel prints I had found in the 'quarters' section. 
 
If I'd been in the States, I'd have been able to do this for even cheaper!  So at trip to JoAnns might be necessary soon for more baby related projects :-)
 
So with pre-washing fabrics done, I was ready to start... These cloths could be made with any design of fabric, to any size you desire - and don't have to be flannel like mine were, but I personally LOVE flannel so chose to do both the front and back in that, but I might also try something with more of a terry cloth backing to it as well perhaps.  But, I'll share the way I made mine, with my dimensions and the way it worked out!
 
1.  Select your fabric to make the cloths and pre-wash and iron before starting to cut and sew.

2.  I chose 4 designs of flannel prints for my burp cloths, a large print animal, a small print animal and two camping designs in contrasting colours.
 
 
3.  Cut fabric into a rectangle by 17 x 10 inches.  

 
4.  Cut backing fabric (white flannel) into the same rectangle shape - 17 x 10 inches.
 
 
 
5.  Taking a printed flannel piece, and a white backing flannel piece - put right sides together and pin around the edge, leaving a seam allowance around the edge. 

 
6.  Make sure to leave a gap of around 2 - 3 inches somewhere along the pinned edge so when it has been sewn, you can turn it back with right sides out.  I chose to do this at the bottom short edge of the rectangle - thinking it would be the least noticeable part of the cloth, and wouldn't mean for any awkwardness in sewing the corners of the cloth!


 
7.  Back stitch a little at the start of where you sew, and the end - just to make sure no stitching comes apart when you turn it right sides out.
 
 
8.  Once you have sewn all around where you have pinned (I chose white thread to go with the white flannel backing), cut the corners of the cloths to give them a nice corner when you turn them right sides out.


9.  Turn the cloth right sides out through the gap left at the bottom of the cloth.  I use a chopstick to poke to corners out as much and as neatly as they can.


 
10.  Iron the burp cloths flat, making sure to press the open area in as if it was also stitched!

 
 
11.  Nicely pressed, now go around the edge of the cloth top-stitching all the way around.  I used a white thread again, but you could also go with a contrasting but complementary colour to your fabric to make it stand out intentionally!  Stay closer to the edge of the cloth than your seam allowance was, it gives the cloths a really nice finished edge. ... And yup, that's it!  Cloths finished!

 
As I had the four designs of flannel print, I did all four cloths at the same time - but could have easily made more in that same window of time.  The part that takes the most time is the cutting out (at least for me it did), but I'm glad that I did all four cutting out, pinning and then I could just whizz around the edges with the machine of all four, iron all four, and then top stitch all four all at once but this could easily be more without adding much more time!
 
Not too difficult at all, good for me - having not done much sewing recently (with our sewing machine packed up in a box before we moved, not being able to do any crafting while we tried to sell our home!) so I'd definitely recommend whipping a few of these up - they'd make great gifts for a new baby or for yourself like I did! :-D



 
Burp cloth photo shoot time of course! 
 
Before I cut these out (which was half of the fabric I had in these designs), I checked they would be a good size for placing over a shoulder, for both me and my husband but I'm sure they'll be used for all sorts in the near future!


 
I just can't decide which fabric design is my favourite!  They each have something I love about them!!  What do you think!?


 
Can't wait to use these when our little one arrives, and at least I'll always have these pictures of how clean and pressed they were... once upon a time!! 
 
Now to use the remaining fabric for each of the designs... Maybe some bibs using the same idea... Watch this space!

Monday, 29 September 2014

Cranberry Frangipane Tart


I am SO excited to be sharing this recipe with you today.  Baked for a family Sunday lunch the other week, I am already looking forward to the next time I can bake this delicious tart!  I LOVE the flavours, the texture and the overall look of the tart and for me at least, the cranberry paired with the almond flavour couldn't be a better combination!

For me, cranberries are the perfect Summer into Autumn fruit, and they're only just making their way onto the shelves freshly picked.  Sadly the weekend I baked this they weren't ready yet and fresh cranberries weren't anywhere to be found, but frozen ones did the job, and next time I'll definitely try fresh ones just to compare!

I used an Anna Olson recipe for this tart, but adapted the recipe a little as I went, as well as making a bigger tart than she did - which meant some maths to figure out ingredients and how much of everything I would need for the tart pan size I had but everything worked out so I guess my calculations were correct!  I used her Cranberry Frangipane Tart recipe along with her Nut-Crust Tart Shell which was delicious, from her 'Back to Baking' book that I love, but I'll share the recipe how I prepared it :-)

For the Nut-Crust Tart Shell (to fit an 11-inch tart pan) -

Ingredients:

1/2 cup ground almonds
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
3/8 tsp salt
9 tbsp cold and cubed unsalted butter (1/2 cup + 2 tsp)
2.5 tbsp cold water


Method:

1.  In a mixing bowl, mix together the ground almonds, flour, sugar and salt until combined.

 
2.  Add the butter and using a pastry blender (or fingertips...or food processor) combine with the dry ingredients until it has a sandy, breadcrumb texture.

 
3.  Add the cold water and mix together with a fork until the dough comes together in a ball.


4.  Shape the dough into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap (cling-film) and chill the dough until it is firm, at least an hour.

5.  Preheat the oven to 350°F. 

6.  On a lightly floured surface, break the chilled dough into 4 pieces and then push them together, kneading them to soften them slightly (Anna tells me; this will make it easier to roll the dough without cracking it).
 

 
7.  Roll out the dough until it is just under 1/4 inch thick and carefully lift it to line an 11-inch, removable-bottom tart pan.  Press the crust into the corners and trim away any excess dough.  Chill the dough for 10 minutes.

 
 
8.  Pierce the bottom of the dough with a fork, place the tart pan on a baking tray, and bake it for 25 to 30 minutes, until the crust is golden brown around the edges, and the pastry is dry in the centre.


9.  Let the tart shell cool and fill it soon after.

 
When I baked the crust, I was surprised that the edges shrunk lower than how high the actual edges of the pan were.  Next time I try this I will bake it with pie weights to see if that helps it keep it's shape.  

And now, the cranberry frangipane filling!

Ingredients:

1 cup ground almonds
1 cup sugar
1 1/8 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 eggs
1 1/2 egg yolk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/8 tsp almond extract
1/8 ground cinnamon
2 1/4 cups cranberries (fresh or frozen - thawed)
1 1/2 tbsp flour (if using frozen)

Method:

1.  Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Place the pan containing the crust onto a baking tray.

2.  Mix together the ground almonds and sugar, and add the butter, egg, egg yolk, extracts and cinnamon and mix until evenly blended.


 
3.  Transfer the almond filling to a bowl.  If using thawed frozen cranberries, toss them with 1 1/2 tablespoons of flour.
 
 
4.  Stir the cranberries into the almond filling and scrape the filling into the cooled crust.
 


5.  Bake on the tray for 50 - 60 minutes, until the filling is set and evenly browned.  Cool to room temperature in the pan before removing the outer ring of the pan.

6.  When fully cooled, carefully transfer the tart onto a serving platter and slice - serving at room temperature. 
 
I did find that there was some leakage of the tart filling - perhaps my cranberries were too big and I ended up with too much volume in the tart, or maybe it was because of my shrinking tart crust edges that it wouldn't hold as much, but luckily it didn't effect the taste or texture, there was just a little I had t cut off the edge of one section of the tart edge before serving, but no big deal!  I wont add it all next time if I think it may happen again.




 
 
My parents will be visiting us in October, and a request was already made on my Instagram sneak peek for a re-bake of this, and I loved it so much I will definitely bake it again for them to try ... and for me and Jonathan to enjoy again as well!!