Monday, 28 July 2014

Farm Fresh Rhubarb Cake

Hi hello!  It is good to be back!  We've had a crazy few months, with buying, selling and moving house, followed by an amazing holiday away to Estonia and England exploring and visiting family... Before coming back to our incredible new house to make it our home :-)

So the blogging had a little break, and so did my baking while everything was packed up in boxes for a month or so which was super sad, but I'm happy to be back baking - and made up a little bit as I baked twice in two days which is just perfect!! 

Our new home is just down the street from a local farm, with pick-your-own seasonal fruit and veg, and a farm market, so before baking this week I wanted to pick up some farm fresh rhubarb, because why not buy local?!  And it was so worth the taste!! 

So here I am - super excited to be back baking and blogging.  Super relieved that our new oven worked and baked the cake through evenly.  And SO happy and excited to be in our new home and for all the adventures that are coming up!
We had the big cousin Summer bash last weekend, where I have made a citrus cake, and nautical themed cake in past years, but this year went a bit more rustic and fresh with a Rhubarb cake (inspired by all the rhubarb flavours we tasted while in Europe in various cakes!), with almond buttercream and fresh strawberry filling.
I am totally in love with this new recipe (firstly inspired by The Transplanted Baker) and how it turned into a deliciously moist and tangy rhubarb cake, with the sweet almond buttercream and fresh strawberries.  A perfect dessert!
First came a test run in muffin form that were for an event I had signed up to make 12 muffins for.  It was great timing to try it out, and I had plenty of rhubarb! 

And then the next morning it was time for the full on cake ready to take to the party! 
Here's the recipe, and finished product photos at the end.  I'll DEFINITELY be making this recipe again :-D
6 stalks (450g) fresh rhubarb, sliced into 1cm pieces
200g sugar
225g unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup buttermilk
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
280g all purpose (plain) flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Some more coarse sugar for sprinkling
and for the buttercream:
6oz unsalted butter, softened
18oz icing sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1.  Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease two 9/10 inch sandwich tins.  Line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper.
2.  In a large mixing bowl (I used the stand mixer) - cream the butter and sugar.
3.  Add the buttermilk, then the eggs, one by one mixing until well blended.  Add the vanilla.
4.  In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt.
5.  Incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet, until everything is combined.  Then fold in the sliced rhubarb.
6.  Fill the prepared pans with the batter, and smooth the top with a spatula.
7.  Sprinkle the top with the coarse sugar.
8.  Bake in the middle of the oven for 40-45 minutes, checking to test if it is done with a cake tester/skewer.  The top should be golden brown and should spring back when touched.
9.  Leave the cakes to cool on the rack.
10.  While cooling, you can prepare the buttercream in the mixer - cream together the butter and icing sugar.  Add the milk and extracts and beat until well whipped. 
11.  Slice the fresh strawberries and when the cake is cooled fill and decorate with buttercream and strawberries.

This cake was a really great, easy recipe, that was perfect for a summer's day - fresh and sweet.  And there were NO leftovers!  Good and bad right?!  I hope you find some deliciously fresh rhubarb somewhere and get a chance to try this out - I'll for sure be making it again later this Summer!... And there's still some rhubarb left in the fridge... expect another rhubarb bake coming soon :-)
I also just noticed this is my 100th post!!  YEY! 

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Scones

Does anybody else always have to buy such a lot of buttermilk and only ever use such a small amount of it in each recipe!?  That's what happened last week when I made the Coca-Cola BBQ Cupcakes which only required 1/2 cup (125ml) buttermilk for the whole batch of cupcakes!  So, let's just say I had most of the carton of buttermilk leftover.  Bring on the following week's baking and of course, practically it just had to be something with buttermilk in! 
I had made these chocolate chip buttermilk scones once before (originally found and adapted from Skinny Taste), and thought they would be a great little dessert, snack, or even a great breakfast for the coming week!
And they're almost all gone so yes, they went down a treat!
I doubled the recipe so it made lots (and I made them big!) and used up as much of the buttermilk as possible!... But feel free to halve the recipe in case you don't need so many. 
Enjoy :-)
1.5 cups cold buttermilk
1/2 cup sugar
4 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
4 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
6 tbsp cold unsalted butter (cut into small pieces)
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
1.5 tbsp sugar
1.  Preheat the oven to 375°F and spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
2.  Combine buttermilk, sugar, vanilla extract and eggs in a medium bowl and stir with a whisk.

3.  Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. 
4.  Add the small cubes of cold butter and work with a pastry blender, or your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

5.  Gently fold in the chocolate chips.  Then add milk mixture and fold until moist.
6.  Place the dough onto a floured surface and knead lightly with floured hands.
7.  Pat out the dough to desired thickness and cut out with a round cookie cutter (I used a large round cutter, and also a small one to get various sizes of scones!).  You could also form the dough into a circle and cut the dough into wedges all the way through as the original recipe on Skinny Taste does!
8.  Brush egg white over the dough and sprinkle evenly with sugar.
9.  Bake until golden, about 20-25 minutes - depending on the size of your scones.
10.  Serve warm, and maybe even slice them open and spread a little butter over, mmmmmm!

After these were baked up they kind of reminded me of giant footballs!  They were rather big and the chocolate chips looked like the old school kind of black and white footballs so I added a couple of candle decorations I had in the cupboard and renamed them (in my head!) 'Soccer Scones'!

A little bittersweet now as England are out of the World Cup (and Canada never even made it!) but oh well.. at the time of baking there was still hope!... Bring on Wimbledon I guess!!
This may be the final blog post I'll get up on here for a while... There's all kind of busy times ahead, lots of adventures and things going on - I'll update you all soon, and hopefully write a few extra blog posts to make up for a few weeks off but for now - enjoy July and I'll be back soon :-)

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Summer Grillin' - Cupcake Style!

Summer is here and it is most definitely BBQ season!.. More than it usually is in our house anyway!
We celebrated our friend's 30th birthday the other day with lots of delicious bbq food and a great evening, topped with a donut tower birthday cake (what a great birthday when it lands on National Donut Day!), cake and then also more cupcakes from me!  Perfect!
I went with the BBQ theme seeing as that's what we were going for, and it is the season after all! 
Using the same recipe for Coca-Cola Cupcakes as my New Home Cupcakes over a year ago, I thought it was time to use this recipe again, especially as the birthday boy is a fellow coke lover.  They're a little different to regular "cupcakes", with a super dense cake part, and a delicious glaze - with no swirl of buttercream.  This meant I wanted cupcake toppers that were flat, 2D rather than 3D ones so it would lay flat on the surface of the cupcake glaze.
So I got to work creating the BBQ themed fondant cupcake toppers.  First up were the burgers.  These were my first idea, and the one I definitely knew how it should look.  I coloured small amounts of fondant a brown colour for the burger, and then a yellow-brown colour for the bun, and used a sharp end of a cake decorating tool to make little "sesame seed" indents.
Next was the ketchup and mustard!  A little out of scale compared to the burger, but who wouldn't rather have a big burger!?
Then the choice was between making a '30' cupcake with some birthday decorations, or doing a third BBQ topper.  I went for a third design on the same theme, tying it all together with some corn!  Green and yellow fondant coloured and then cut out with various parts of cookie cutters to get the shapes and sizes I wanted.  The green part came from a maple leaf cutter, and the corn part from the little finger on a high-five hand cookie cutter.  Just using what I had instead of free-styling the cutting!  Then I used the end of a cake decorating tool that looks like a scalloped shell on the end to create the texture of corn.

 Fondant cupcake toppers all done - giving them a little chance to dry out/harden slightly through the morning.  This was some seriously early cupcake prep - after not getting back to sleep at 5.30am on a Friday where I wasn't working, I decided the only way to be productive that day was to just accept that sleep was done for the day and I might as well start baking!

So, with the Coca-Cola cupcakes baked, and cooling, and the glaze deliciously smooth ready to be spread over the cupcakes - see the recipe here - it was time to decorate!

The great thing about decorating with cupcake toppers when they are already made is that, once the cupcakes are baked up, everything is ready to go!  Assembly is nice and easy, and in fact, it made the early baking wake up worth it!

As the recipe is already on an old post, all that is left to share are some close ups of the cupcakes, and more photos!

Which is your favourite design of the 3?  I think I still love my original idea of the burger, but I also am really pleased with how the corn turned out!


Perhaps you'll give them a bake this weekend for Father's Day, or for a BBQ Birthday coming up this Summer!  Have fun with fondant cupcake topper prep - and then enjoy how easy everything is to put it together once you're done baking :)   I'd love to see your BBQ cupcakes if you try them!!
Happy BBQ Season!!