Monday, 10 May 2010

vanilla cupcakes.

i made these cute little cupcakes for easter, however, leave off the chick decorations and they are perfect for any occasion!


120g plain flour
140g caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
40g unsalted butter
120ml whole milk
1 egg
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
250g icing sugar
80g unsalted butter
25ml whole milk
a couple of drops of vanilla extract
food colouring


1. preheat the oven to 170c/gas 3. put the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in a mixer and beat on a slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined. gradually pour in half the milk and beat until it is just incorporated.

2. whisk the egg, vanilla extract and remaining milk together in a bowl and add to the flour mixture. continue to beat together until you have a smooth mixture. don't overmix!

3. spoon the mixture into a tray with twelve cupcake cases. bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the sponge bounces back when touched. leave the cupcakes to cool on a wire rack.

4. whilst the cakes are cooling, make the icing. beat the icing sugar and butter together in a mixer, until everything is well mixed. turn the mixer down to slow and incorporate the milk and vanilla extract. if you are using one colour, add this at this point. beat the frosting for five minutes until it is light and fluffy. if you are using several colours, divide the icing into bowls and put a couple of drops of colouring into each and mix before icing the cupcakes. decorate with whatever!

light chocolate cake.

my boyfriend's mum very kindly posted me harry eastwood's book 'red velvet chocolate heartache' this week. the book is mainly cake based, but with a twist - each recipe uses a vegetable! i decided to make the light chocolate cake (made with butternut squash) for my friend may as a birthday gift. i didn't get to try it but the reports have been good


3 medium eggs
160g caster sugar
200g peeled and grated butternut squash
120g white rice (or plain) flour
3 tbsp good quality cocoa powder
80g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp salt
125ml buttermilk


i used 200g melted chocolate and some sugar flowers for the topping and decoration, however, the book suggests:

50g unsalted butter
200g icing sugar
50g marscapone
4 tsp cocoa powder


1. preheat the oven to 180c/gas mark 4. line an 18cm cake tin with baking parchment and brush a little vegetable oil over the base and sides. (i used my bundt tin again!)

2. whisk the eggs and sugar in a large mixing bowl for about 4 minutes until pale and fluffy. beat in the butternut squash, followed by the flour, cocoa powder, ground almonds, baking powder, bicarb and salt. add the buttermilk and beat again until the ingredients are well mixed.

3. pour the mixture into the tin and bake for approximately 30 minutes. once cooked, remove the cake from the oven and peel off any baking parchment. leave to cool on a wire rack.

4. to make the icing that is recommended, beat the butter with 100g of the sugar in a large mixing bowl, until they form a paste. add the marscapone, cocoa powder and a pinch of salt, along with the remaining sugar. beat together. refrigerate for fifteen minutes, and spread over the cake once it has cooled.

i didn't use this icing! instead, i melted 200g of dark chocolate in a pan over a low heat, then spread it thinly over the top of the cake, before decorating with small icing flowers.

gin and tonic sorbet / earl grey cupcakes.

i made these things separately, however, served them together when some friends came round for dinner. i served the sorbet in china tea cups, as if both things weren't twee enough already!

gin and tonic sorbet.


350ml sugar syrup:
1 litre water
125g liquid glucose
375g caster sugar

put all the ingredients into a pan and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. simmer for two minutes, then leave to cool down.

250ml tonic water
75ml gin
juice of 1/2 a lemon


combine all the ingredients together (including the sugar syrup once cooled). place in a container that is suitable for freezing, and freeze until the mixture is slushy. remove from the freezer and whisk until the icy lumps are broken up and the texture is smooth. place back into the freezer and repeat the chilling and whisking process until the sorbet reaches the right consistency.

earl grey cupcakes.


120ml whole milk
3 earl grey tea bags
100g plain flour
140g caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
40g unsalted butter
1 egg
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
250g icing sugar
80g unsalted butter
25ml whole milk
blue/pink food colouring


1. put the milk and tea bags into a jug and leave to soak for at least an hour.

2. preheat the oven to 170c/gas 3. put the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in an electric mixer and beat on a slow speed until everything is combined. it should have a sandy consistency.

3. remove the tea bags from the infused milk and add to the egg and vanilla extract. slowly pour half into the flour mixture, beating well until all the ingredients are well mixed. pour in the remaining mixture and beat everything together on a medium-slow setting until the mixture is smooth.

4. sppon the mixture into a tray lined with twelve cupcake cases. they should be about two thirds full. bake for 20-25 minutes. once cooked, leave them to cool on a wire rack.

5. whilst they are cooling, beat the icing sugar and butter together in a mixer, on a medium speed. turn the mixer down to a slow speed and slowly pour in the milk and a drop of pink and blue colouring to form a purple colour. continue beating the icing on a high speed for about five minutes until it is light and fluffy. once the cupcakes have cooled completely, spoon or pipe the frosting on top. decorate with silver balls, or whatever else you would like!

aubergine cheesecake and cheesy polenta chips.

i made these as a treat dinner for sean last week. both went down incredibly well. i was put off as i thought both things may be complicated to make, but they were pretty stress free! the recipes come from my new fave chef, yotam ottolenghi's vegetarian section on the guardian website.

cheesy polenta chips (with a rich tomato sauce).


375ml vegetable stock

60g quick polenta

20g butter

60g grated cheese

salt and black pepper

vegetable oil

plain flour


350g fresh plum tomatoes

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 a medium onion, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves

1 pinch of chilli flakes

1/4 tsp caster sugar


1. line a shallow tray with clingfilm. in a pan, bring the stock to a boil and add the polenta. stir over a low heat for about five minutes until it thickens. remove the pan from the heat and add the butter and cheese, season well with salt and pepper and stir.

2. transfer the polenta mix into the tray and smooth across with a wetted spatula (anything else will stick to the mixture!). it should be approximately 1.5cm deep. cover with clingfilm, then put in the fridge and chill for at least 30 minutes.

3. meanwhile, place a large non-stick pan on a high flame. once it has heated through, add the tomatoes to the pan and leave for fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally. this will cause the skins to blacken. once done, put the tomatoes into a bowl and break them up, removing the skins too.

4. heat the olive oil in a pan. cook the onion for three minutes to soften. add the onion and the oil to the tomatoes. then stir in the garlic, chilli, sugar and salt. leave at room temperature.

5. when the polenta has set, cut it into approximately 6cm long chips. fill a medium saucepan up to about 2cm with vegetable oil and heat. toss the chips in flour and fry in batches for about three minutes at a time. they should be golden brown. drain them on some kitchen towel and serve immediately with the tomato sauce.

aubergine cheesecake.


90ml olive oil
2 small aubergines, cut into 2cm slices
150g feta cheese
150g cream cheese
60ml double cream
3 eggs
150g baby plum tomatoes, cut in half lengthways
2 tbsp picked oregano leaves, torn
salt and black pepper


1. preheat the oven to 190c/gas mark 5. line a 19cm square/22cm round baking tin with foil, then brush lightly with oil.

2. lay the aubergine slices on a baking tray lined with baking paper and brush with four tablespoons with olive oil. sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake for approximately 40 minutes until they are soft and golden. once cooked, set them aside to cool. lower the oven temperature to 150c/gas mark 2.

3. put the feta, cream cheese, cream and eggs in a bowl with some pepper and whisk until thick and smooth. arrange the aubergine neatly in the prepared tin, some may need to overlap. fill any gaps with the tomatoes and sprinkle in half of the oregano.

4. pour the cheese mix over and sprinkle on the rest of the oregano. bake for 30 minutes until the mix sets. leave the cake to cool down slightly, then cut into slices and serve.

i have been...

i have been incredibly lazy with this blog. a slap on the hand is deserved!

i have some updates, though!

the first, a continuation of the last post. i made the chocolate cake for a work friend's birthday. i made it in a bundt tin (my new favourite tin!) and decorated it with grated white chocolate. everyone at work thought i had cheated and bought it! winner.