Category Archives: Cake

Easy Chocolate Cake

A simple but slighty indulgent chocolate cake to celebrate 1500 facebook fans. A super exciting milestone for little ole me! HP1B9017 Ingredients

  • 200g unsalted butter (softened)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 200 g soft brown sugar sugar
  • 4 eggs at room temperature
  • 150g plain flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 50g cocoa powder sifted
  • 50ml milk/sour cream
  • 50 g chocolate finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. vanilla essence

HP1B9020 Preparation Preheat the oven to 350F /180C and line an 8 inch round tin with baking paper ( I used a loaf tin) . In a medium bowl mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda. In the bowl of a mixer cream together butter and sugar and salt until nice and fluffy. Stop the mixer once or twice to scrape the bottom and sides of the mixer bowl. Butter_Cake-1 Add the eggs to the creamed mixture one at a time. If you rush it, the mixture might separate so take your time. Remember to scrape your bowl.   Butter_Cake-5When all the eggs are in, add 1/2 the flour and half the milk or sour cream and gently fold them into the mixture. Then add the other half of the flour and milk, folding that in gently too. Finally fold in the chocolate chip, being careful not to overmix. Pour the mix into the prepared baking tin and place in the oven until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. I start at about 45 minutes baking time. HP1B9019

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Filed under Cake, Non-Sri Lankan Food, Sweet Treats, Uncategorized

Mixed Berry Muffins

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My first year of teaching, I taught a year 1 & 2 combined class. Come Mother’s Day, we decided to keep it simple. We asked the kids to draw pictures of themselves and their mothers and we cut and pasted cardboard frames. We were a government school and so had limited access to cardboard, a green sheet and a pink sheet were all we could scrounge up. On the day, we let the kids choose their own colours. Predictably, the gaggle of 6 & 7 years olds picked along gender lines. The girls all picked pink and the boys, despite it being Mother’s Day, insisted on green. Except for one lone male, he marched up bravely and asked for pink. When I asked him why, he quietly explained that he wanted pink because his mum was a girl and she would like pink. Bless.

I guess that’s the thing about Mother’s Day, it doesn’t matter whether you buy your mum a diamond ring or make her a cardboard picture frame, as long as as it’s something SHE will like.

I like these muffins because you can make them your own. Choose whichever berries you like, add some cinnamon or even add some chopped nuts if that’s what your mum likes!

If you want to make these for mum on Sunday morning, have the dry ingredients measured out on the bench and the wet ingredients mixed in the fridge. Have the muffin cases all ready in the pan. In the morning, add the berries, mix the wet and dry and spoon into the cases!

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup / 125ml canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon zest
  • 3/4 cups whole meal flour
  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen mixed berries
  • raw sugar, for sprinkling

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375 F/ 190 C. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin or line with paper baking cups.

Combine the yogurt, oil, eggs, and vanilla in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth.

Sift the flour, baking powder, and brown sugar into a large bowl. Gently stir the frozen berries and lemon zest into the flour mixture. Add the yogurt mixture to the flour and stir until combined.

Divide the batter evenly between the 12 muffin cups. Sprinkle muffins generously with the raw sugar.

Place muffin tin on the middle rack of the preheated oven.  Bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

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Donna Hay’s Raspberry Brownie Tarts

  HP1B1068When Mr Firehouse came home last week and said he wanted something “super chocolately”, I consulted my Pinterest treasure trove of “sweet treats” desserts I would get to one day and found this. It’s originally a Donna Hay recipe and who doesn’t love Aussie Donna?

This week we also bought a deep freeze, to try and unburden our poor refrigerator.  You see, it’s the kind of place where things fall out as soon you open the door. Generally, full, frozen, glass-like things. Now, most of these solid missiles have been relegated to the garage, and our freezer is no longer a cavernous mess where to find one thing, you must pull out all things. These chocolate tarts were part of my attempts to stock the “baked goods” sections of our freezer, along with some sticky date puddings for good measure. Sometimes the need for dessert shouldn’t have to wait. Besides, why conform to this silly notion that vegetables and meat should stock a deep freezer?  Ours has baked goods, ice cream and the bowl for the ice cream maker, lest we run out of ice cream!

I picked this recipe because the blogger did an awesome job taking photos and I thought they were really preeety. Mostly though I love chocolate and I generally eat really chocolatey things with berries. I like to eat my brownies with slices strawberries or add some raspberries to ganache. Why not combine the two? Genius!

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I added some chopped walnuts to about 1/3 of the batter and made these.

Ingredients

  • 200g dark chocolate chopped
  • 60g butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup single cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • handful of frozen raspberries to serve
Directions
Preheat oven to 150C, 300 F. grease and line your selected baking containers, I say this because the original recipe called for 4 10cm/4 inch springform pans, which I’m sure most people have lying around. I used 8 2 inch tart tins and 8 1 inch ones. Ramekins can work, but really I think 12 muffin cups would work perfect.
Place chocolate, butter, sugar and cream in a medium saucepan over low heat and stir until melted and smooth
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Place the eggs and flour in a bowl and whisk well until combined
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Whisk in the chocolate mixture until combined. Pour into lightly greased tins lined and top with the raspberries.
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Bake for 20-25 mins or until cooked with tested with a skewer.  I took mine out at the 20 min mark or just a little under. These were not going to be served immediately so I wanted them to maintain some gooeyness on the reheat. Serve the tarts with ice cream or some cream.
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P.S if you own a deep freezer here are some fabulous organisation tips
 http://stuffparentsneed.com/how-to-make-a-chest-freezer-organized-and-functional/
We’re in the process of placing all our goods into canvas bags and having heated discussions about whether we should paint the top of the freezer with chalkboard paint (which we already have) or cover with chalkboard contact(which we need to purchase).
Mr Firehouse just declared in revelatory fashion that
“we do own the appliance”….well duh! I think this might mean that this argument might go my way….paint all the way!

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Mini Baked Cheesecakes (Gluten Free)

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I want to talk a little less about the cheesecake here and more about the gorgeous cake stand that my girlfriends got me for my birthday. Isn’t it darling? It sits on our buffet and generally looks beautiful but today it was put to real use!

I’m strictly in the baked cheesecake family when it comes to cheesecake and this is my favourite recipe. I’ve changed and tweaked it a little but the best thing about it is that it is super flexible. Serve it wherever and with whatever and it’s a fabulous make-ahead dessert that can be frozen or refrigerated before you guests arrive.

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Makes 12

  • 250g cream cheese, softened
  • 75g (1/3 cup) caster sugar (superfine sugar)
  • 1 large egg (we use eggs with a minimum weight of 59g)
  • 20ml (1 tablespoon) lemon juice
  • 100ml (5 tablespoons) thickened cream (about 35 percent fat)
  •  1/2 cup  gluten free flour (simply use plain flour to make these non gluten free). 
  • 2 tbsp.  firmly packed light brown sugar
  • pinch tsp salt
  • 20g pecans (1.2 oz.)
  • pinch ground ginger
  • 1/4 cup cold butter
  • 1/2 tablespoon cold water

Fruits, sauce, topping to serve

Based on two recipes, the cream cheese mixture is from exclusively food and inspiration for the base goes to Sprinkle Bakes

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 F/ 180 C degrees. Place foiled line wrappers in the holes of a muffin/cupcake tin.

Place flour, sugar, salt, pecans and ginger in the bowl of a food processor.  Process until the pecans are finely ground.

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 Add cold butter and process until crumbs form.  Add water and process in bursts until the dough starts to come together in clumps.  Press dough evenly into the bottom of the prepared pans. About 1 tablespoon per cup seemed about right.

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Bake for 20 minutes or until the tops are lightly golden. Cool completely.

Beat cream cheese and caster sugar in an electric mixer or food processor. Stop the machine a couple of times to scrape down the sides and base of the bowl. When the mixture is completely smooth and creamy, add egg and beat until combined. Add lemon juice and cream and beat until well combined. Divide mixture evenly among cases.

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Bake cheesecakes for 20 minutes. Remove from  the oven and allow to cool in pan for 30 minutes.

Remove cheesecakes from pan, place in an airtight container and refrigerate. Cheesecakes are ready to serve when they are cold and set. Remove cases before serving. Top with your favourite berries and sauces. I love these with lightly stewed frozen berries or passionfruit….fresh is best but even canned works brilliantly.

Cheesecakes can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days. They are suitable to freeze.

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Vanilla Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream

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I suspect Mr Firehouse was duped. You see, a few weeks ago he came to me and asked for some salted caramel cupcakes for the following week. I agreed of course, this wasn’t an unusual request. When I asked why, he commented that a colleague was  adamant that salted caramel could not work as a flavour. Nuwan, always the first to defend food accepted the challenge and promised that he’d change his mind. Sounds a lot like a bit of reverse psychology to me.

In saying that, I’m not surprised. I’ve had many a terrible salted caramel that could’ve ruined me for life!

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 Ingredients

Cupcakes

  • ¾ cups self-rising flour
  • ¾  cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Buttercream

  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 11/2 -2 cups icing sugar
  • 1/2 cup of cooled salted caramel sauce

For the salted caramel sauce

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup  cream
  •  1 tsp. salt (or to taste)

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350F/180 C. Line muffin tins with cupcake papers. In a small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside.

In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

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Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over beat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended.
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Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

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Cool the cupcakes in tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

Salted Caramel

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Place the sugar in a medium saucepan and place on medium heat. As the sugar melts stir, don’t worry about the lumps, just keep stirring.

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Once all the sugar has melted, you’ll see the sugar syrup becoming a dark brown/amber colour.

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Add the butter to the sugar and it will bubble, keep stirring. Take the bubbling sugar off the heat and add the cream. Keep stirring.

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Once the mixture is smooth  add the salt, taste and leave to cool. I tend to add my salt bit by bit, tasting and every point. Refrigerate any excess.

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Buttercream

In the bowl of your stand mixer, start beating your butter. Start slow and once it’s smooth, turn the mixer to medium and beat for 2-3 minutes until the butter changes colour (this is a sign of the butter being aerated – air = fluffiness).
Stop the mixer and add your icing sugar. You can hold some back if you’re worried about the sweetness. Put the mixer on the lowest speed (mine has a “stir” function) and mix until the icing sugar is incorporated and won’t spray your kitchen white.
When the sugar is combined, turn the mixer up again to high and beat for 4-5 minutes until it’s all light and fluffy. Finally add the caramel sauce and beat for 2 minutes to mix all the caramel in.
Pipe/spread onto the cooled cupcakes and serve straightaway or place in the fridge for later.
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Lankan Butter Cake

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Have you ever heard of a cake smash? If you have a little tyke, you probably would have. It’s a uniquely American, though now a much more ubiquitous concept, of presenting a child with a cake on his/her birthday that can be smashed to their hearts content. The more mess, the better.  Owing to the diets of most little people these days this is usually the first time many of them have had proper, purposeful, sugar…..ahh!

I decided to make a traditional Sri Lankan buttercake for Callum’s cake smash, which was done on his actual birthday. It had proper sugar on the inside but whipped cream with maple syrup as icing. Strange child that he is, he just  preferred to lick the icing.

This is the first cake I learned to make from my mum and it’s incredibly versatile. Easily doubled or tripled and best eaten warm with nothing but a cup of tea (Ceylon of course).

Ingredients

  • 200g unsalted butter (softened)
  • 200 g white sugar
  • 4 eggs at room temperature
  • 200 g self raising (rising) flour sifted
  • 50ml milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla essense
  • sprinkle of salt (optional)

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350F /180C and line an 8 inch round tin with baking paper.

In the bowl of a mixer cream together butter and sugar until nice and fluffy. Stop the mixer once or twice to scrape the bottom and sides of the mixer bowl.

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Add the eggs to the creamed mixture one at a time. If you rush it, the mixture might separate so take your time. Remember to scrape your bowl.

 

Butter_Cake-5When all the eggs are in, add 1/2 the flour and half the milk and gently fold them into the mixture. Then add the other half of the flour and milk, folding that in gently too.

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Pour the mix into the prepared baking tin and place in the oven until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Usually about 45 minutes.

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Brown Sugar Swiss Meringue Buttercream

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The Aussie blogger, Not Quite Nigella once commented that most people have a celebrity cook or chef who’s recipes never work for them. She remarked that Karen Martini’s recipe always flopped for her. For me, that cook was always Martha Stewart. Living in Australia I thought her recipes would be foolproof, her shows were staged in a test kitchen after all. However I experienced flop after flop. Having moved here I suspect it was the conversions I had to do, or couldn’t do as the case may be. Now that Martha and I live in the same country the results of her recipes are infinitely more promising. This is a recipe based on a recipe of hers. I use it when normal butter cream won’t do, or I’ve made creme brulee and I have lots of egg whites left over. I find this icing not too sweet but rich and delicious all the same.
Ingredients

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1  cup packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into cubes.     

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Instructions

Put egg whites, sugar, and salt into a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. My kitchen aid has a metal bowl so I just use that. Remember you don’t want the water touching the bottom of the bowl. Whisk the mixture for about four minutes or until warmed through.

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Beat on high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 6 minutes. At this point reduce the speed. 
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Add butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating after each addition, the meringue will deflate slightly as butter is added. Sometimes it can look curdled, like the mixture has separated. This is normal too, just keep going.  You want a smooth glossy finish to the buttercream, so beat for about 5 minutes. 
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Buttercream can be refrigerated airtight for up to 3 days; bring to room temperature, and beat before using.
Spread onto a cake or cupcakes and enjoy! 
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Cranberry Orange Loaf with a Crumble Topping

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Here’s something ironic. I write a food recipe blog and I have trouble following recipes. I’m forever substituting, deleting, thinking I know better and generally being a know-it-all. Mr Firehouse is always commenting on this fact. Recently he spied me working in the kitchen, pen and paper in hand. He wanted to know what I was writing and I commented that I was writing down accurate measurements for a recipe, to blog about later. He was genuinely shocked. You see, I think he thought that my inability to follow a recipe was innate, something I couldn’t control. But often-times it’s not. Partly it’s my curiosity. Will it taste better with brown sugar instead of white? Will it cook faster if I parboil? And partly it’s a kind of experience. I know that the flavours of one recipe might be perfect, but I prefer not to follow the cooking instructions, because I’ve done it before, my way, and it’s worked. Sometimes, like for this particular loaf, it’s seasonality. I loved the idea of a yoghurty, moist, citrusy cake but blueberries are not in season and rather than use the frozen (and often just as good ones) I thought of trying a classic American fall combination of cranberry and orange.  The recipe for the cake comes from Donna Hay and was shared with me by my good friend and fellow baker Jill, all the way from Australia. I added the crumble topping for extra texture and also because as you now know, I can’t leave well enough alone.


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Ingredients 

  • 150g unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup caster/superfinesugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp. finely grated orange  zest
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups self-raising/self-rising flour, sifted
  • 150 g fresh cranberries

Crumble topping

  • 2 tbsp. cold butter chopped
  • 2 tbsp. of brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp. of flour

Preparation

Preheat oven to 160C /325F. Place the butter, sugar, eggs,yoghurt, orange zest and vanilla in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the flour and whisk until well combined.

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Fold through the cranberries and spoon into a lightly greased loaf tin lined with non-stick baking paper.

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In a separate bowl place all of the crumble ingredients and using just the tips of your fingers rub them all together until the mixture resembles bread crumbs.

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Sprinkle over the loaf  and bake for 1 hour–1 hour 10 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer.

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Allow the loaf to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

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Banana Cake with a Maple Glaze and Pecans


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Me and measuring cups have a checkered past. When Nuwan and I were getting ready for our wedding, we went to Myer (big Aussie department store) and registered. That’s the fun part where they give you scanners and you can walk around the store scanning items that your guests will hopefully buy for you. We spent a lot of time in the kitchen and home wares section. When we were selecting measuring cups I went for form over function. There were pretty white OXO ones that matched the spoons and kitchen tools I’d gotten. I decided to go for those over some of the more industrial looking (read ugly) ones. Now, I bake A LOT! Like 2-3 times a week a lot. A few months into using these cups I discovered that the paper stickers that denoted which cup measured what was rubbing off. I had to get out the whole set to make sure I was measuring a 1/3 over 1/4. It was a pain.

On a trip to home wares store I convinced Nuwan I really needed the $25 metal bakers secret set that had the measurements engraved on. He was easily convinced and I placed them triumphantly into the cupboard, relegating the plastic set to the Vinnie’s pile. No more labels rubbing off! About a week into using them I dropped the 1/4 cup measure, this isn’t unusual I’m constantly droppings things. Unfortunately, the handle broke off! I was super angry. I immediately emailed the complaints department at Baker’s Secret and told them of my predicament. Surely it wasn’t normal. They responded quickly and I got a new set in the mail. A week later I dropped the 1/4 cup again and alas, the handle snapped straight off. I now have 2 sets of measuring cups, which do actually come in handy but the quarter cup is sadly still missing.

It’s because of this I hardly use a quarter cup measure in my recipes. Today as I was making this cake I was certain it needed 1/4 cup of sugar so I hunted around the house for the remaining cup. It was still there, thank goodness, buried in my collection of metal cutters.

Be warned this isn’t a sweet cake. If you like your cakes sweet you can easily up the sugar to 1/2 cup and not affect the consistency of the cake. Likewise, cutting out the sugar altogether should work fine too.

Ingredients

Cake

  • 3/4 cup banana (mashed)
  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter at room temperature
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup millk
  • 2 cups flour (I used ½ cup wholemeal and 1 1/2 cups plain)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Glaze

  • 1/4 cup of pure maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp. of butter
  • 1 tbsp. of cornflour dissolved in 2 tablespoons of cool water
  • pinch of salt to taste

Topping

  • 1/3 cup of chopped pecans

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350 F or 180C. Grease and line a  8 inch round tin (I used a 6 inch and used the overflow cake mix to make some cupcakes for Mister C). I use the butter wrapper to grease my tin.

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In a medium sized bowl mix together the mashed bananas, softened butter, brown sugar and milk. Crack the eggs into a seperate bowl and beat until a little frothy. Add to the banana mixture and set aside.

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In a second bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.  Add the flour to the banana and egg mixture and stir. It will be lumpy so don’t stress too much about getting it smooth.

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Pour into your greased pan and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.

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Leave to cool for a few minutes in the tin.

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In a small saucepan combine the butter, salt and maple syrup over a low heat and stir until the butter is melted.   When the butter has melted add the cornflour mixture and keep stirring until the glaze thickens slightly. Sorry no photos of this one. You want it to be thick enough to pour on the cake and not have it run down the sides a little.

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When the glaze has thickened enough to pour, use the same testing skewer to make a few holes in the top of your cake. This will allow some of the glaze to soak into the cake and make it even better.

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Pour on the glaze and add a handful of chopped pecans on top for extra crunch and yumminess!

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Dairy-free Chocolate Cupcakes

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A few weeks ago someone in my mother’s group suggested going to a pumpkin patch. I was all in, it sounded fun and exciting and so quintessentially American! We found a good time and decided to go before the weather “turned”. A few days before the event when Mr Firehouse asked “what exactly is a pumpkin patch?” I was stumped! Thankfully, like all good tourist attractions Stocker Farms had a website and it told me that for a 10 dollar entry free there were hay rides, tractor rides, corn mazes and even a petting zoo amongst other things. The pumpkin patch part, was actually a patch of pumpkins (har har). A large plot of land, full of pumpkins that patrons take a wagon into and “pick” pumpkins for the upcoming carving madness that accompanies halloween.  It was awesome!

We spent the day there and even though Mister C and his friends were a little young to appreciate the fun activities on offer, they had a blast taking in all the attractions and I’m sure him and his buddies will be wreaking havoc there this time next year.

The best activity was by far the hammering station. A set of logs, arranged in a circle with a few buckets of real nails on the floor. The young children who frequented this activity were handed real metal hammers and encouraged to hammer the nails into the wood. There was a young girl supervising and a few parents keeping an eye on the proceedings but it was mainly young kids, using real hammers and real sharp nails (really real!!!). Litigation be damned! It was refreshing. We watched a young boy, no more than 4, hammering away and he of course accidentally hammered his finger. I could tell it hurt by the grimace on his face, but he didn’t cry, he barely flinched. He quickly sucked his finger and went back to hammering. There was no way he was giving his mum, who was standing by and watching, any reason to take him away from the fun.

I feel like “allergen free” cooking  a good thing to have in your tool bag these day. I seem to be meeting more and more people that can’t eat a huge variety of things. I myself was dairy free and soy free for a time to try and curtail dear Mister C’s spewiness. These cupcakes were made dairy free to  cater for a breastfeeding mum whose bub is on a dairy free diet. I made them to take with us to the pumpkin patch. I’ve used this recipe countless times as an egg free recipe too. Simply replace each egg with 1/4 cup of blended silken tofu. I iced mine with royal icing, which melted at room temperature (bleh), so I’d eat these plain with a  dusting of cocoa powder or make a dairy free buttercream with dairy free spread.

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one must clap, when one is at a pumpkin patch

Ingredients (makes about 30 small cupcakes or 2 8 inch cakes) 

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used raw cacao because I couldn’t be sure of the ingredients in my cocoa powder as I’d lost the label…oops)
  • 1  cups sugar (granulated or caster if you’re in Australia)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable Oil
  • 1/2 unsweetened apple sauce (apple puree) or another 1/2 cup oil .
  • 1 cup boiling water & 1 1/4 tsp. instant coffee mixed together and cooled
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the Chocolate Buttercream

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened (or dairy free margarine like Nuttelex or Earth Balance)
  • 2 2/3 cups icing sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

And cocoa in the following amounts…

  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted (for light)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted (for medium)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted (for dark rich)

Preparation

Preheat an oven to 350F or 180C and line 3 cupcakes trays with liners.

Mix the first 6, dry ingredients together in a large bowl using a whisk. This helps aerate and Martha Stewart once told me (via her cooking show) that whisking briskly does much the same thing as sifting.

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In a second, smaller bowl mix all the wet ingredients and whisk together until the eggs are broken up.

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Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in the wet ingredients. Whisk it all together until you have a smooth mixture. It’s a very wet batter so don’t be alarmed if it’s not thick like most cake mixes.

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Pour about 1/4 of a cup eat into your cupcake tray and bake for 25 minutes in the oven. Remember to rotate the trays if your oven isn’t fan forced.

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For the buttercream

In the bowl of your stand mixer, start beating your butter. Start slow and once it’s smooth, turn the mixer to medium and beat for 2-3 minutes until the butter changes colour (this is a sign of the butter being aerated – air = fluffiness).
Stop the mixer and add your icing sugar and cocoa powder. You can hold some back if you’re worried about the sweetness. Put the mixer on the lowest speed (mine has a “stir” function) and mix until the icing sugar is incorporated and won’t spray your kitchen white.
When the sugar is combined, add the vanilla and  turn the mixer up again to high and beat for 4-5 minutes until it’s all light and fluffy. Finally add the milk a little at time until the icing is of spreading consistency.
Pipe/spread onto the cooled cupcakes and serve straightaway or place in the fridge for later.

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