A gift that keeps giving…kind of

Just when you thought I’d hung up the apron for good, along I come and dust off the keyboard to make a not so gallant return to the blogosphere.

Considering how long it’s been since I posted an entry (so long it’s embarrassing and we won’t post any figures regarding this) my site stats have been pretty good. It’s nice to know people are still stopping by.

The prompter for me posting today was a Wedding Shower I attended on the weekend. Instead of bringing gifts for the bride to be, we were asked to bring one of our favourite recipes that would be then made into a special recipe book.

I thought for a little bit, and given that I am definitely a baker (although I can cook, just not as well as I bake) I of course had to bring a baking recipe.

Now while I have not blogged for a while, the baking has not ceased, although it has certainly slowed down. In the past however long, there have been numerous birthdays, fathers’ day, mothers’ day etc, and I have had the chance to try out some new recipes and perfect some old ones. The recipe that was possibly the most time consuming, although certainly most worth-while was Dory Greenspan’s Bill’s Big Carrot Cake.

Requiring 9 carrots, this cake is surprising on a number of levels. Given the nine carrots and all (which is three whole cups of grated carrot) I thought there was WAY too much carrot in this recipe – turns out I was wrong. The carrot bakes in and is not obviously carroty ie no big lumps of carrot. Secondly, I was concerned the batter I made would not be enough for the three cake tins, given how little batter there seemed to be for each tin. Wrong again – this batter rises beautifully in this recipe, which is once again surprising given how much carrot and nuts are included.

This is the second layer cake I have ever made, and it was certainly a proud moment when I managed to pull it off.

In previous posts, I have complained about cream cheese icing. I have yet to have success in creating something that doesn’t resemble cream cheese soup (sounds ok, but really isn’t) and was slightly nervous in making the icing for this triple layer cake. I shouldn’t have worried – the icing turned out perfectly, and the lemon juice in the icing was lovely.

Once the three layers were levelled slightly, iced between the layers with a crumb icing all over, the end result:

Not only is this cake visually pleasing, I will vouch vouch VOUCH for its tastiness factor (and the fact that this cake will last you a while given how HUGE one slice of this thing is!!).

Therefore, I could think of no other recipe to pass along to our bride to be, other than this fabulous carrot cake. I hope it brings you as much satisfaction and delight as it has me!

Enjoy,

F-la-C

October 6, 2008. Uncategorized. 1 comment.

Winging it

*crickets* yeh, I know, it’s been quiet around here. My life has been a cup-cake and baked good free, fat-free, low carb, low calorie zone for the past couple of weeks.

But hey, I fit into my jeans again :D

After diving off the band wagon on Saturday at a friend’s 21st, Sunday saw me trying to kinda be good, but also not really caring, so when I felt like scones, my LORD nothing was going to stop me.

Not the lack of a recipe, not the lack of a computer to find a recipe, nor the fact my Mum wasn’t answering her phone to give me a recipe….I winged it.

Now, a scone recipe really isn’t TOO hard, but Mr la Cupcakes laughed at me as I surveyed what I guessed my ingredients would be and pointed to each, thinking out-loud what their part in the baking process would be: pointing to self raising flour ‘that’ll make it rise’ pointing to bi-carb soda ‘that’ll make it rise’ pointing to eggs ‘that’ll bind it, and kinda make it rise’ and so on…he described it as Year 11 Chemistry all over again.

photo credit: Blue Lotus Products

So I got about 200g self raising flour, 1/2 tsp bi-carb soda, a pinch of salt, 1 egg, some milk and some caster sugar, mixed it all together, and then kneaded it, adding more flour until it wasn’t too sticky. It made about 6 scones, and they tasted just as they should, if not better – could probably have done with more milk, but meh.

And it’s OK, because I used low-joule strawberry jam ;)

Fi

July 1, 2008. Uncategorized. 5 comments.

When a baking fail turns into a save…

I have to admit, I have become slightly lazy in my baking documentation. Believe me, the baking has been happening, but the blogging hasn’t. I apologise for my laziness.

Last weekend, I went over to my Father’s house for dinner with his wife, my brother and his girlfriend (my boy was busy studying for exams!) and I made a last minute decision to bake – as my Dad and his wife were my baking benefactors, having given me my mixing stand for my birthday earlier in the year. Of course, it had to be made from scratch, and preferably have involved the mixer in some way. I was also going straight to my Mum’s house on the peninsula straight after dinner, so I needed ‘enough’ to go around. Inspired by the sad news of Crabapple Cupcake Bakery (see post below) I whipped out my Crabapple Cupcake Bakery recipe book, and got deciding. I landed on a splicing of a couple of recipes* and ended up with something along the lines of Almond and Orange cupcakes with vanilla butter cream icing. They were DELICIOUS, such a subtle, discerning taste, I was smitten.

So, completely bolstered by my amazing experience the weekend prior, and with my Mum’s birthday looming ever closer, I had another go at my spliced recipe* on Thursday night and mixed Almond with raspberries and turned the recipe into a cake. Well, I TRIED to turn the recipe into a cake. After baking for an hour, at 11:30pm the cake was still not baked through, I pulled the plug on the gas and left it on the top rack hoping the hot air would bake it through a bit more. I woke on Friday morning to check out the damage. I got a tooth pick to test what was going on – inserted and NOTHING came out…odd. So I cut a tiny hole and looked in…nothing? I tapped the top of the cake and it sounded hollow…I tapped some more, and the top of the cake CAVED IN! The cake had become somewhat of a hollow shell. I was MORTIFIED. Would I have time to bake another cake? I was a bit short on cash, and had used up all my eggs, butter , almonds and sugar the night before

I spent Friday at work trying to find another recipe, because I simply could not give my mother a retarded-looking cake fail for her birthday. I searched and search, and bit the bullet, and pulled out the credit card, purchasing rosewater, pistachios, almonds and the aforementioned other necessities. I had to forego my gym class on Friday night (haha, yeh, “had to”) in order to be able to bake another cake, make dinner, and spend some QT (quality time) with my darling boyfriend. With some amazing assistance from said amazing partner in crime, we managed to turn whole pistachios into pistachio meal, sliced almonds into almond meal (the supermarket was out of ALL types of almond meal..it was weird, I had such a panic attack!) and get a cake into the oven in time to watch a move AND an episode of Sopranos before hitting the hay! While we were baking, we also had a BRAIN WAVE as to what to do with my fail cake.

The fail cake, post cutting the top third off

I had initially thought I would turn my fail cake into those darn cute Cupcake Bites things that everyone’s been making, but, after a bit of looking at the fail cake from a different perspective (I looked at it side on) I simply cut the top 1/3 of the cake off, and was left with a perfectly good cake. This remaining third was to become the bottom half of my Mum’s double layered birthday cake. How’s this for a combination:

Raspberry almond cake on the bottom

Layer of sweetened whipped cream

Orange, almond, pistachio and rosewater cake on top

Covered in white chocolate ganache.

yes yes YES YES YES!!!! It was AMAZING, and visually, the layers looked awesome! This was one HEAVY cake, both halves being seriously dense and delicious! Mum loved it, as did the other guests who came over for afternoon tea (although I’m amazed we had space, after having the most delicious meal at one of the local wineries, Ten Minutes By Tractor – I might have to give a write up of this place, because it was fabulous in every sense of the word!)

So, my friends, this just goes to show that when we have baking ‘fails’, all is not lost. Take a different perspective, think laterally – you don’t have to waste all your hard work and resources! And as in my case, your baking fail could turn out to be a massive victory!

Until next time I don the apron,

Fifi la Cupcakes xx

(yes that’s me handing out cake!!)

You can really see the colour difference of the pistachio vs the raspberry

* I rarely stick exactly to recipes – I’m not anal about having exactly a cup of flour, if I haven’t got caster sugar, but I do have brown sugar, I’ll use that, if I don’t have 7 eggs, I’ll use however many I have and substitute some extra liquid etc etc. I change recipes ALL the time, or combine certain aspects of recipes that I like with others. Most of the time, the cakes rock…in fact, yet to have a TRUE disaster that I cannot fix (touch wood!) FFLCC

June 15, 2008. Uncategorized. 1 comment.

Hot (Melbourne Cupcake scene) Gossip

I have it from a close source that the delightful Crabapple Bakery, a Melbourne Cupcaking Institution, has gone into liquidation and will be no more.

Will try and find out more – there’s nothing on their website, and at the moment, this is strictly hearsay – I loved going to the Prahran Market and Mornington Racecourse Market and Suzuki Night Market to grab one of their beatific cupcakes with signature swirl.

We’ll always have the recipe book.

Fifi x

June 5, 2008. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

If it’s a vegetable, it’s healthy, right?

Thursday afternoon at work, I felt an attack of the ‘baking urge’ coming on. Rather than fight this urge, I embraced it, and went about surveying those around me what they would like for Friday’s baked treat.

I had made raspberry white choc muffins a couple of weeks prior, along with fudge, ANZACs, rum balls etc. Given that whatever I baked was likely to be what I ate for breakfast, I wanted something that was somewhat accepted outside the Cupcaking blogisphere as ‘breakfast friendly’ (sadly, cupcakes are not seen as breakfast food to others…) I had already made banana bread that week, so I thought and thought and POW the thought was genius – CARROT CAKE. Perfect for breakfast time, and it’s got vegetables in it, so it’s healthy, right?! ;) And of course, I turned them into cup cakes :)

Mixture - happy carrots

Carrot Cake – from Lion House Desserts

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups grated carrot
1 cup flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup dessicated coconut
1/4 cup nuts (I used walnuts)
1/4 sultanas (I left these out…dead flies!!)

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Get your baking pan ready – greased and floured. Combine sugar and oil in a large mixing bowl. Add eggs and mix well. Add grated carrot. Slowly stir in all dry ingredients. Add coconut, nuts and sultanas and mix well. Pour into baking pans and bake for 20-30 mins (less for cupcakes…probably 15-18 would do it). When cool, spread with cream cheese frosting.

Now, there are 101 different cream cheese frosting recipes out there, and everyone has their favourites. I’ve never had any really good experiences with cream cheese frosting, and was determined to not end up with cream cheese soup again. So, I took 150 grams cream cheese and 4 tables spoons of icing sugar, and scraped 1/3 of a vanilla pod and whisked the ingredients together with a fork until the mixture was fluffy. Finally, Success!

Now, if you have a look at the pictures of these little treasures, they’re probably a little darker than they should be – see, I got caught up in watching the Sopranos (On DVD, my boyf got me into the series – I’m up to series three, about half way) and forgot EVERYTHING. Highly-addictive watching. So, note to selves, don’t watch high-involvement TV while baking :)

ANYWAY, I took these Carrot Cake Cup cakes to work, and they were a great success. What a great way to celebrate Friday, with a Medium Skinny organic chai latte with organic honey, and a carrot cake cupcake with vanilla bean cream cheese. :) YUM

Enjoy folks!

Fifi La Cupcakes xxx

May 31, 2008. Uncategorized. 1 comment.

Some bunny thinks I’m SPECIAL :)

I saw something today on my blog that made me smile at my monitor almost all afternoon.

my blog is rated E

The dear, sweet Airy Fairy of Airy Fairy Cupcakes fame has rated my blog E for Excellent! :D Boy did it make me feel just a LITTTTLE bit special! As the Airy Fairy notes, I’m fairly new to this blogging thing, and she had been totally encouraging and supporting from my very early days – if I had a blogging mentor, it would DEFINITELY be her :) So THANK YOU Miss Fairy, I feel honoured! :)

Now to share some love: I rate Lick the Spatula as E for Excellent – also a relative new-comer, Lick the Spatula has been a BUSY girl, churning out some awesome posts, and really gorgeous photography – check her out!!!

Well, the past couple of days have simply been filled with baking, and I have never been more content! On Thursday of last week, I made Raspberry and White chocolate muffins for Friday brunch at work, as two of my dear colleagues move on to bigger and more challenging roles. I made the muffins in mini and normal size – it looked to weird to see these ‘naked cup cakes’ – no icing, no patty pans – I had forgotten what anything other than a cup cake looked like! The muffins were well appreciated, and were lovely with my organic skim-chai latte (can we say high-maintenance?!? :P).

Saturday was spent making cupcakes for a friend’s BBQ – I had a lot of pressure to live up to my cup cake reputation, so made something that was no-fail, and becoming a bit of a signature style: Golden Butter Cupcakes with Vanilla butter-creaming icing, and filled with raspberry jam (yes, I LOVE raspberries!). I also had a play around with the remaining white chocolate and melted it down to make shapes – results were CUTE and delicious, my favourite type of cupcake!

I’ve been playing around with my piping bag attachments and have been having a lot of fun experimenting – I like this attachment best, as I think it looks like ribbons of icing – one friend mentioned it looked like fettucini, but I will ignore said comment (it’s ribbons dammit!!!).

To fill the cupcakes with jam I’ll use photos from my mothers day cupcakes as an example (which sadly didn’t get photographed once complete…) we filled the cupcakes with Dulce de leche that I had made by boiling a tin of condensed milk for 4 hours straight! I cut out a cone shape from the middle of the cupcake, fill with whichever filling I’m using and then cut the pointy end of the cone off – leaving a nice little disc to place back over the hole. Tadaaaaa:

Thus ends today’s post!

From a fairly chuffed little cupcake,

Fi xx

May 19, 2008. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. 3 comments.

Are you thinking what I’m thinking B1?

I think I am B2 – it’s NQN Banana Bread Bake-off time!!!

I’m just going to throw photos atcha as I’ve already posted this recipe in my Nom Nom Nom post – I mentioned that I’d baked this previously and it worked so much better since I got my Mum’s old retro BAKING scales (that’s for you Neil!!!) I’ll take a photo of the battling baking scales one day….

So enjoy my Banana Tea loaf, from my Mum’s 1981 South African Good Housekeeping – I added some mixed-spice and sprinkles the top of the loaf with cinnamon sugar, so it was lovely and spicey!

xxx

May 12, 2008. Tags: , . Uncategorized. 3 comments.

Getting Fudgey for Master Baker

Hello all out there in interweb!

I return to bring you my second ever entry for Master Baker, hosted by the lovely Nikki at Crazy Delicious! This month’s ingredient was vanilla. Vanilla – wow, such a broad ingredient (maybe that would actually be a broad bean???) the possibilities are endless, which is the beauty of this choice

I bring you: Vanilla bean FUDGE!

I thought to myself: Vanilla cupcakes with vanilla butter cream – too obvious! Vanilla tea cake? Yes, I’ve made that already, but I wanted to make something DIFFERENT! Plus, there would be extra e-cred for using vanilla BEAN which I’ve never used before…THEN, it struck me! Something I’ve made before (many many times!) with the new addition of vanilla bean…it’s almost like ‘something old, something new’!

The recipe I use for this fudge is so so simple, and not scary or messy at all. I once again pay homage to one of my Mum’s awesome retro style cookbook, but wait til you get this. This recipe comes from a folder style recipe book my Mum got when she went and did a MICROWAVE COOKING COURSE when she first got her Microwave. Now for all us Gen Ys out there who have grown up with TV, VHS, Microwaves, Internet etc…the Microwave only really became accessible (according to wikipedia) in the late 1960′s, early 1970′s. Wow, what was life like BEFORE that??

So, back to the fudge. This is a microwave recipe. It is SO easy, maybe a little time consuming, but SO worth it. I brought some of this fudge into work with me, and rave reviews were received…I got a 9/10 from the lady who sits next to me (calorie content lost me the extra point!) and was asked by another to bring more in!

To make this delectable fudge you will need:

2 cups of caster sugar
100 grams butter
1 tin condensed milk (around 400g)
1/3 vanilla bean pod, scraped out

Put all ingredients in microwave safe bowl and heat on ‘high’ for 2 minutes – stir.
Heat for a further 10 minutes, stirring every minute or so to ensure the mixture doesn’t bubble over. Pour mixture in a buttered square pan and refridgerate for 10 minutes – after 10 minutes, cut the fudge into squares and refridgerate until cool – enjoy!

The texture of this fudge isn’t soft – one of my colleagues asked me if it was actually something called Russian toffee, but I only know this as fudge – it’s almost a bit crumbly, and MELTS in your mouth! If you prefer softer fudge, I would recommend heating the mixture for less time.

Happy baking :)

Fi xx

PS – Vanilla bean wasn’t scary either….it was so cool scraping all those tiny beans out. Can’t wait to use the rest of it for other stuff!

check the beans dude!!

May 8, 2008. Tags: , , , . Master Baker. 2 comments.

I’m sowwy

Somewhere along the line, I got really caught up in my off-line life. Work got really busy, I did my ‘smack down’ month which saw my visits to gym increase, and I also started and completed a short course in Food Writing.

During that time, I did have a couple of baking escapades (always makes me think of Dorie in Finding Nemo: ‘es kup ay’). I did take photos for a couple of them, but not all of them. I’ll give you a run through of the ones that I didn’t end up having Kodak moments with:

ANZAC biscuits: 25 April in Australia is ANZAC day, where we remember the Australian and New Zealand troops who fought in Gallipoli. ANZAC biscuits were supposedly sent over to the troops while they were off fighting, and have since been associated with this day of remeberence. They’re a really good bikkie, so I’ll probably make some more at a later date. Main ingredients are rolled oats, coconut, flour, sugar, golden syrup and butter (there are more, these are just the main!)

Cupcakes: Vanilla Vanilla for some friends who came over for afternoon tea (Hi Iva and Charissey!!) I made half plain, and half with raspberry jam surprises – the jam was received very well!! Had one of my most successful butter cream experiences…I was proud.

Stuff that I baked and DID take photos of that I will write up at a later date: Tea Cake and Banana Tea Bread – the Banana Tea bread I will be entering in the Not Quite Nigella Banana Bread Blogging Event . It’s a take-two of the banana bread a made a little while ago, however this time much more successfully as *trumpets, horns, drum rolls etc* I have received baking scales. They’re my Mum’s seriously retro dieting scales from the 70′s..but they’re awesome and slightly cracked, but I grew up with them, and I love them!

So look out for my return to blogging, and I’m sowwy it took me so darn long.

x

May 2, 2008. Uncategorized. 1 comment.

It’s not as simple as black and white…

I am a cupcake trend wh*re. Black bottom cupcakes and black/white cupcakes are EVERYWHERE, at How to Eat a Cupcake, at Airy Fairy Cupcake, at the Black Oven at Cupcake Rehab! So naturally, I must follow.

Now, in my previous post, I mentioned I would bake something 150 related. Well…i tried. In a really lame and convenient way. It almost wasn’t trying. I’m sorry. Forgive me?

I have been facinated with these back bottomed little creatures since I received the book ‘Cupcakes’ by Susanna Tee from my Mum for my birthday (or was it Christmas? They’re quite close together). Chocolate…plus cream cheese. Wow. My only problem with these babies is…are they cupcakes, or MUFFINS?!?! I define a cupcake as being quite sweet, with icing on top, whereas muffins can be a little less sweet and don’t have icing. These are sweet, but don’t have icing, but do kinda have cream cheese at the top, which is maybe a teensy bit like icing? I still think they’re muffins…WHAT DO YOU THINK?? HOW DO YOU DEFINE A CUPCAKE??

ANYWAY, I detract. Black bottom cupcakes ingredients below!!

Black Bottom Cupcakes, from Susanna Tee’s ‘The cupcake book’

225 g plain white flour
1 tsp bicarb of soda
3.5 tbsp cocoa powder
275g caster sugar
5 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g full fat soft cream cheese
1 egg
150 g plain chocolate chip

Preheat oven to 180C. Line muffin pans with 16 fluted paper baking cups and generously spray the inside of the cups with a non-stick cooking spray. Sift together the flour, bicarb of soda and cocoa powder.

Stir in 200 g of the sugar into the flour mixture and make a well in the centre. Mix together the the water, oil, vinegar and vanilla, and pour into the well. Mix thoroughly and pour the batter into a jug.

Out the cream cheese, egg and remaining sugar in a bowl and beat together until light and fluffy – NB – not with an electric mixer, as I did…perhaps try by hand with a whisk or a fork. Then, stir in the chocolate chips.

Pour the mixture from the jug to fill each baking cup no more than two-thirds full. Top with a dollop of the cream cheese mixture (note – mine didn’t dollop as I beat the bejeebus out of my cream cheese and it became cream cheese soup :() and bake in the oven for about 25 minutes until firm to the touch. Leave in pans for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Now as I mentioned above, I encountered a couple of difficulties – one, I didn’t have enough muffin cases and I had driven down to the coast with what I thought was enough, and my Mum had some cool silicone muffin cases, but yeh, not enough. To combat this, I just sprayed the metal trays LOTS with cooking oil…it worked well! ALSO note, don’t over beat your cream cheese…cream cheese does not like to be beaten, it likes to be shaken, not stirred etc etc.

In all, these turned out pretty well. Baked from scratch and all. Aren’t ya proud?? The bitterness of the chocolate really complimented the creaminess of the cheese. It was also quite a spongey consistency, and almost a little bit red looking. This made me interested in the Red Velvet cup cake that I’ve been reading up on – so it may just be my next baking project, after my hiatus!! A more ‘dollopy’ consistency would also have gone down well, as the cheese qouldn’t have baked quite so much and would have been nice and gooey in the middle. Ah well, ya live, ya learn.

Now, my super lame 150 reference? It’s all in the choc chips…150 GRAMS of choc chips were used in this recipe. How convenient is that?!? Yeh, it was lucky!

Okie dokes, til my next food inspired thought pops into my head, stay sweet

Fifi xx

April 8, 2008. Uncategorized. 4 comments.

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