Archive for the ‘Cakes’ Category

October 31st, 2013 by Pie

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Marshmallow Frosting

I hate those recipes that ask you to use a bit of this and a bit of that. If I’m buying a tin of pumpkin puree I want to use the whole thing otherwise it will sit in my fridge for a week whilst I try and decide what else I can do with it. By the time I have come to a decision it is not fit for eating. Both the cupcakes and the frosting  here require you to buy stuff that you may not have in your store cupboard, pumpkin puree and marshmallow fluff, but don’t worry you will need to use the whole darn lot. Good for fridge space and good for your tummy.

I experimented with a few recipes to come up with the perfect pumpkin cupcake but then I realised it was all for naught as Martha Stewart has already cornered the market in the recipe below. I couldn’t better it and they are one of the tastiest, moistest cupcake sponges I have ever had. The frosting recipe makes a lot of marshmallowy goodness but if you are ruffling it onto the cupcakes like I did in the photos then that means you do need all of it.

I have loved coming up with Halloween inspired recipes this past week and I hope you have enjoyed the posts. Tomorrow I am making a last ditch attempt to get healthy before indulging in the upcoming excesses of the Christmas season with a month of gluten free recipes. I’m just telling you so you know you need to have a huge blow out tonight. Eat all the cupcakes! I’m gonna!

Pumpkin Halloween Cupcakes

Pumpkin Cupcakes

Adapted from a recipe by Martha Stewart
Makes about 18

400g light brown sugar
225g unsalted butter, melted then cooled
4 eggs
1 tin of pumpkin puree (about 400g)
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground allspice

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C
  2. Blend together the sugar and butter until pale and well combined.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla extract.
  4. Pour in the pumpkin puree and mix well.
  5. Sift together the rest of the dry ingredients, then add to the pumpkin mixture until just combined.
  6. Pour into cupcake cases and bake for 16-18mins.

Marshmallow frosting

400g unsalted butter
500g icing sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 x jars marshmallow fluff (about 400g in total)

  1. Whizz up the butter and the icing sugar on a high speed in the mixer for 5-10 mins until very light and fluffy.
  2. Add in the vanilla extract and mix well.
  3. Add the marshmallow fluff a spoon at a time whilst your mixer is on a slower speed until fully incorporated.
pumpkin cupcakes



October 23rd, 2013 by Pie

Red Phantom Cake

It is the moment he has been waiting for all year. His dank hollow eyes peered at me from beneath the cheery red wrapping last Christmas morn, a relic of Halloween, his moment dead and buried with October. For the past ten months he has bided his time, trapped within his cellophane prison, a malevolent sneer upon his metal mouth as he silently watches the eight inch sandwich tins jump gleefully from the shelf, celebrating birthdays, anniversaries and Fridays.  Now his time has finally arrived. His cheeks bloom with the crimson terror of red velvet as he stares menacingly with his glowing raspberry gaze, terrifying all who dare to look upon the diamond white frosting. Finally delivering a devastating blow of delicious horror at first bite leaving you shuddering with ghoulish delight.

It seems fitting for this cake that red velvet just will not die. It is the cake flavour I am requested for the most and was the only choice for today’s Halloween cake. The moist light sponge is taken to cake heaven by the fruity addition of the last of this year’s raspberries. The cream cheese frosting is also redeemed from being too sweet by the mascarpone which evens out the sugar and reminds me once again why red velvet is now a bit of an oldie but by my word, it’s still a definite goodie. Just don’t tell the Phantom as he likes to be thought of as a bit of a baddie.



Red Phantom Cake
adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery cookbook
For the cake
60g unsalted butter
150g caster sugar
1 egg
1.5 tbsp red food colouring
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp cocoa powder
150g plain flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
120ml buttermilk
1½ tsp vinegar
raspberries to decorate

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and butter the skeleton cake tin.
  2. Beat the butter and caster sugar together for a few minutes
  3. Add the egg and beat until the mixture is thick
  4. Add the food colouring and vanilla extract and mix well.
  5. Sift together the cocoa powder, flour and bicarbonate of soda in a bowl and set aside for a moment.
  6. Mix together the buttermilk and vinegar in a jug.
  7. In alternate turns add the flour and the buttermilk mixtures to the rest of the batter. You should add the flour in 3 additions and the buttermilk in 2 additions, starting and ending with the flour. Mix until just incorporated.
  8. Pour into the skeleton cake tin and bake for 30-35 mins.
  9. Rest for 10 mins in the tin and then turn out onto a cooling rack.

For the frosting
adapted from ‘Baked in America’ from the Outsider Tart boys

300g cream cheese
250g mascarpone
140g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Beat all the ingredients until thick and fully incorporated and the right consistency for piping.

Skeleton cake 2
October 11th, 2013 by Pie

Campfire Cupcakes

There is a little tradition around these parts which I think is vital to the backbone of any nation.  It allows the common man to unite, upholding this great institution which they hold so dear.  For Cake Friday can always be relied upon at the end of any working week and in this we trust.  Friday, without doubt is the most celebrated day of the week and everyone knows that no celebration is complete without an obscene amount of sugar, butter and today, chocolate.


I will often make a variation of this cupcake at this time of year as it brings together the two most delicious things about the great outdoors, toasted marshmallows and malted hot chocolate.  Surely that’s the only reason any self respecting adult will pitch up a tent and rub two sticks together.  Otherwise, the world is going mad.  This year I have dusted off this recipe extra specially as I’m trying out my new blowtorch.  So you can expect most of the posts from now on to include some sort of singeing, toasting or bruleeing.


For these cupcakes I used my favourite chocolate cake recipe which I whip out at any given opportunity, bake sales, birthdays, Tuesdays.  It’s rather special and hails from the wonderful Dorie Greenspan.  There are very intelligent people out on the blogosphere who only cook Ms Greenspan’s recipes and they are they ones that truly have their lives in order.  The second element of this Friday treat is the inner malted chocolate filling which just happens to be the most divine chocolate heaven you will ever experience.  So, there’s that.  Then the whole extravaganza is topped with pillowy marshmallow, rising regally to the sky then torched to within an inch of its life.  But that’s just me as I’m new to the blowtorch scene and it might have got away with me a little.



Campfire Cupcakes
Makes around 12-16

Chocolate Cupcakes
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours

165g plain flour
60g cocoa powder
¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
120g butter
100g light brown sugar
112g caster sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
60g dark chocolate, melted and cooled
120ml whole milk
120ml boiling water, with ½ tsp instant coffee mixed in

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Sift together the flour, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. Whisk together the butter and the sugars for a few minutes until light and fluffy.
  4. Add in the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla extract. At this point the mixture usually looks curdled but don’t worry it will come back together.
  5. Pour in the melted chocolate and whisk together until completely combined.
  6. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk, adding the flour in three additions and the milk in two (begin and end with the flour), scrape down the sides of the bowls as needed.
  7. Finally pour in the boiling water and mix until just combined.
  8. Pour into your prepared cupcake cases and bake for 15-18 mins.
  9. Leave to cool on a wire rack completely before inserting the filling and frosting.

Malted Chocolate Filling
Adapted from Sweetapolita’s recipe for Belgium Malted Chocolate Frosting

113.5g unsalted butter
125g icing sugar
20g Ovaltine
¼ tsp vanilla extract
60g milk chocolate, melted and cooled
30ml whipping cream

  1. Whip together the icing sugar and butter until pale, light and fluffy
  2. Add the Ovaltine, vanilla extract and a pinch of salt. Whisk until combined.
  3. Add the melted chocolate and whisk together for a minute.
  4. Finally pour in the whipped cream and whisk for a couple of minutes until the filling has firmed up a little.
  5. To insert the frosting, scoop out a little circle of cake from the top of the cupcake and pipe in the filling. You can place the little circle of cake back on top.

Marshmallow Frosting
Adapted from Bakers Royale’s Marshmallow Frosting

300g egg whites
250g caster sugar

  1. Place the egg whites and the caster sugar in a bowl over boiling water.
  2. Whisk constantly for about 10-15 mins until the sugar has dissolved and the temperature reaches 71°C.
  3. Pour into a stand mixer and whisk on a high speed for about 10-12 mins until the marshmallow frosting has stiffened.
  4. Using a Wilton 2D piping tip, pipe the marshmallow as high as you like then go crazy with the blowtorch.
October 4th, 2013 by Pie

Raspberry and White Chocolate Banana Bread

Why are bananas so fun?  They are great to eat, they are great to say, you can play cops and robbers with them and they look kinda funny too.  There is a reason why slipping on a banana skin is a comedy staple as opposed to a mango skin or a peach skin which can be just as hazardous I’m assuming.  The banana not only does the job but it looks the part.  They are the stand up comic of the fruit bowl.  But c’mon you know why I like bananas.  They are just so great to bake with, especially on a grizzly October day.

I like to buy bananas, arrange them regally in the fruit bowl, perching on top of the apples and oranges.  Then I forget about them.  Deliberately.  A banana in its prime is no good to me so I will keep a subtle eye out after day four, checking for black spots, the other fruit if still around cowering under its blackening skin.  Only when I’m sure that it is definitely past-its-best will I pounce, launching myself into a banana baking bonanza.  This is the ideal stage for mashing, its flavour having matured into its innate bananainess and perfect now for its signature recipe, the banana bread.

The banana bread is such a popular and universal family favourite that when I man cake stalls we have to issue a missive that people don’t donate banana breads, otherwise that is all we would have.  It’s probably because they are easy to make well, they mistakenly sound very healthy and the cook has the added pleasure of indulging in the heady scent as the banana bread nestles in the oven, the wonderful aroma permeating the kitchen.

This recipe is adapted from a Donna Hay classic, all I did was add the raspberries and white chocolate, just because.

IMG_1983          IMG_1969
Raspberry and White Chocolate Banana Bread

125g unsalted butter, softened
200g soft brown sugar
2 eggs
185g plain flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
4 medium sized bananas, mashed
125g raspberries
100g white chocolate

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C.  Line and butter a 900g loaf tin.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until the mixture is pale and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition
  4. Mix in the vanilla extract.
  5. Fold in the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda.
  6. When just combined, fold in the bananas, then the white chocolate, then the raspberries.
  7. Pour into the loaf tin and bake for 1 hour 10 mins.
  8. Leave for half an hour in the tin before removing and cooling on a wire rack.

October 1st, 2013 by Pie

Minted Brownies

During my first year at University I developed an unhealthy obsession.  Well, I developed several but I’m not here to talk about cold spaghetti bolognaise on toast or 80s night at the student union.  I am here to admit unashamedly that I couldn’t read Proust or start writing about Proust or watch Fifteen to One without a Wispa Mint on the go.  This unfortunately meant I had several a day.  The dark years arrived soon after graduation however as the Overlords of Chocolate discontinued this perfection of a candy treat.  It seems that I was singlehandedly keeping this little number in production.



Yesterday though I was transported back in time to university like Felicity at the end of Season 4.  Suddenly I was watching Fifteen to One in our communal kitchen feeling inadequate for not knowing any of the answers and seeking consolation in my velveteen treasure.  My time machine arrived in the form of Mint Chips.  These are not a new ingredient to millions of Americans who have kept this wonder close to their chest over the years but they are new to me.  They are a delightful lurid green and perform the exact same minty miracle to chocolate as the top layer of a Wispa Mint.  As soon as I tried one of these chips I knew exactly what had to be done. Without further ado I had melted down some chocolate, threw it in the mixer with flour, sugar, eggs and the minty morsels and in less than 15 mins I had some Minted Brownies nestled in the oven.

Since these little guys are an American import you won’t find these at the local supermarket but you can happily find them online as with most things.

The brownie recipe is adapted from one by Niamh Shields from who wrote this for ivillage.  Her recipe suits me perfectly as they are dense and fudgey since they only using a scant amount of flour and lots of chocolate.

IMG_1940       IMG_1939

Minted Brownies

225g dark chocolate
100g unsalted butter, cubed
150g caster sugar
50g plain flour
A pinch salt
2 eggs
3 handfuls of mint chips

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and prepare a 20cm square brownie pan with greaseproof paper.
  2. Melt the chocolate with the butter in a bain marie or a bowl over simmering water.
  3. Mix the sugar, flour and salt together either in a stand mixer on medium speed or you can easily mix it by hand as well.
  4. Pour in the melted chocolate.
  5. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  6. Stir in the mint chips then pour into the prepared brownie pan.
  7. Bake for 20 mins until the top has just set, the mixture should still be wobbly underneath.
  8. Leave to cool in the tin for at least 3 hours before removing and cutting into pieces.


September 27th, 2013 by Pie

Don’t go near the cupcakes

One word of advice.  Don’t design cupcakes that scare you.

Jaws is my sister’s favourite film so for her 30th birthday I wanted to do something special for her cake.  In hindsight my shark phobia was a slight stumbling block to really thorough research on the project.  Searching online for pictures of shark’s fins was never going to be an option since images of gnashing teeth and beady eyes of death truly terrify me.  I have been known to unwittingly turn the page of the morning’s paper to find a grinning great white leering at me from between the print, have a heart attack and hurl the paper in a panic.  Which always goes down well on the tube in rush hour.

So I was relieved to find inspiration on 100 Great Cupcake Ideas on Squidoo who had done the hard work for me so I can’t take too much credit in the end for the design.

Stand of shark cupcakes

The cakes themselves were blueberry blue velvet, which were light and fluffy the way velvet cakes should be with the pop of blueberry to lift them.  Plus they made everybody’s mouth blue which was an amusing bonus.  I used Nigella’s red velvet cupcake recipe from Kitchen and just substituted the red food colouring for blue.  Although be prepared to add slightly more if the cocoa powder is toning down the blue too much.  I rolled the blueberries around in flour before throwing them into the mix at the very end to make sure they sat evenly throughout the batter, otherwise they have a tendency to sink to the bottom.  I then used my favourite vanilla frosting for the top and a trace more blue food colouring.

Oh, and I did need a bigger cupcake carrier, those shark’s fins were really tall.