Archive | October, 2012

Paul’s brain slug cupcakes

30 Oct

anything between 12 and 20 months ago i made a deal with my friend at work, Paul. he had been fortunate enough to pick up not just one but two (!) freebie Orla Kiely wottles. i¬†however had made my way to said freebie give-a-way location to find none left ūüė¶

so when Paul offered me the chance to bid for his wottle, recalling he had not long previous to this event sent me a link to these cupcakes, i knew i could make him an offer he could not refuse: i would make him brain slug cupcakes… lo and behold a deal was done!

numerous months and reminders from Paul later i had managed to never-quite-find a¬†convenient¬†time to create these sci-fi themed treats, until Paul sent round an email – subject: i’m leaving – and suddenly time was running out!

As a woman of my word, the rest is documented below…

Cupcakes – makes 8

preheat oven to 170c (fan)
weigh 2 eggs (mine were 120g) then weigh out that amount for soft butter, caster sugar and self-raising flour
1-2 tbspn milk
0.5 tspn baking powder
2 tspn vanilla extract

Cream the butter and sugar, with an electric whisk or in a mixer until pale, fluffy and smooth, beat in the eggs. beat in a dash of milk to thin the mix and add the vanilla, sift in 1/3 the flour and baking powder, gently fold it in, add a dash more milk if you need to, and gently sift in the rest of the flour and gently fold.

spoon even amounts of the mix into 8 cupcake cases in a muffin tin. bake for 18-20mins until mid golden brown, and springy to the touch. cool on a wire rack. Once cool cut a hole in the top, about 1.5cm across and deep, fill with the cooled creme pat. take the end off the bit of sponge you cut out and put the top back on the cupcake.

Brain goo filling
2 egg yolks worth of creme patissiere (alter the quantities found here along with the method) seeds from 1/2 vanilla pod once cool add a few drops of green food colouring

Icing
80g soft butter, 160g icing sugar, 160g cream cheese (med fat is ok but light can split), 3 tspn berry jam

beat the butter, icing sugar and jam together. drape a tea towel over the mixer/whisk to stop icing sugar blowing everywhere. then gently stir in the cream cheese – you need to combine but not thin it too much. put it into a freezer/piping bag and in the fridge.

once ready squeeze the icing to the corner of the freezer bag. snip the corner, to create a hole just a few mm across. i think i made my snip a little big. alternatively use a piping bag and small round tip. applying firm, constant¬†pressure¬†to keep the icing moving out the bag, move it over the surface of the cupcake to create a swirly back and forth line. do one ‘hemisphere’ of the ‘brain’, then the other!

Brain slugs
8 blobs of green fondant icing
8 smartie sized bits of white fondant icing
1 square of dark chocolate, melted and let to set a bit
alternative colour fondant for antenae (16 little balls)
thin wire eg floristry, green garden, trimmed freezer ties, jewellery (16 2cm lengths)

flatten the green icing, and then shape into a slug (see pics) over the end of a wooden spoon. flatten the white blob to form an eye and gently stick to the slug body, use a bit of writing icing to stick it.

i had a genius idea for the pupils (my black writing icing was too runny) Рso i put a single square of dark choc in the corner of a  freezer bag, then popped in the microwave on med for 2 mins. i then snipped off the tiniest corner or the bag ad hey presto  Рi was ready to pipe little eyes.

assemble the antennae and poke into the slugs’ heads, angling in a quirky manner :). let them dry out a bit, then place on on the cupcake. you can position them to hide dodgy bits on the icing ūüėČ

done! eat!

Scone update!

24 Oct

i repeated my scones for my mum’s botanical art¬†committee¬†lunch, with a few variations, i left out the chilli, went with walnuts and added a tbspn of chopped chives. all good moves. i also added a little more cheese and a dollop of left over sour cream in with the milk… not so good a move – and the scones were¬†considerably¬†less light than my original batch.

i have therefore concluded – don’t mess with the milk, a thin buttermilk is the thickest you should go, and go for a stronger flavoured hard cheese, rather than adding more of it.

hope that helps.

Get well soon scones

16 Oct

A work friend, Alec, had a nasty cycling accident a few weeks back and has since been laid up with a very broken knee and elbow. A few of us are taking a slightly longer lunch to go and see him tomorrow. With a fruit bowl of over ripe bananas, some hearty healthy healing banana muffins were the plan. Until our friend Emma said she was making lemon cake – a particular favourite of Alec’s!

So that left me thinking of a savoury option, easy enough to bake post 9pm (as 8 til 9 was¬†uninterrupted¬†GB Bake-Off final – oh my!!) and not lead to too late a bedtime… the perfect quick savoury bake… scones! I threw together what I could find, i am sure you can mix and match but here is what I did and the results are YUM!

100g wholemeal bread flour
150g strong white bread flour
2.5 level tsps of baking powder
75g butter
half red chilli, seeds removed very finely chopped
3 tbpn finley chopped parsley
1 level tsp paprika
75g toasted pinenuts (but I think walnuts would b better) РI put them in the oven for 12mins as I pre-heated it to 170 Celsius
freshly milled salt and pepper
75g mature cheddar grated
150ml milk
1 beaten egg – to glaze

sift the flours into a bowl (tip in the wheaty bits form the brown flour), add the baking powder and mix. Add the butter in dots and then rub into the flour with you finger tips. it will seem like there is not much butter, but you don’t need much! add the chilli, paprika, pinenuts, chopped parsley, a dozen or so turns on the salt and pepper mill and the grated cheese, stir to evenly distribute. then add the milk.

mix with a spoon and finish off with your hands, tipping it out on a lightly floured board and kneading for a few moments – it will be quick sticky. roll it to about 2.5cm thick and use a round pastry cutter (i like the classic fluted edge) to cut 12 scones. You’ll probably get about 6 before you need to gather the off-cut dough, knead and roll again, and so on.

place the scones on a floured thin baking tray (I find the heavy base ones burn the base) brush the tops with egg, then I grated a little cheese over them.

Put in the oven at 170c for 20-25mins depending on thickness and size. Cool on a rack, enjoy while warm or store in a airtight tin yaddah yaddah.

Hopefully they have healing powers!

ps this is an excellent recipe for sweet scones http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/paul_hollywoods_scones_70005

pps upon tasting a day later these did have quite a kick, go easy on the chilli if you aren’t a fan of the heat. they went excellently with butter, cream cheese, soup and/or a slice of parma ham