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Posts Tagged ‘Hummingbird Bakery’

The weather has finally turned a corner here in London Town! A whole weekend of Sunshine – long may it continue…

Of course there is the small issue of the volcanic ash cloud that shut British Airspace……..

It’s been eerie, and as strange as it may sound the sky just looks so big without the ever present vapor trails and airplanes heading to and from one of London’s 5 airports. It’s also been quiet  –  it’s going to take a while to get used to the sounds again. There are some amazing stories coming out about the journeys people have undertaken trying to get back to ol’ Blighty!  My colleague Louise has been stuck in Dubai – sounds great but probably not so when you have to foot a large hotel bill you weren’t expecting and you have no idea how and when you are getting home! We were lucky as James flew in from Munich the day before the closure – phew…..

We enjoyed a wonderful London weekend with lunch on the Heath and an afternoon in Greenwich Park – one of my favourite ways to spend a sunny weekend. Everyone just looks so much happier – it did feel like Winter was never going to end this year!

On our trip into Blackheath I stopped at the Cook Shop – I can’t walk past without popping in. Izzy chose herself a new cookie cutter and I came across a product I had eyed up in Lakeland……..couldn’t resist….

New Kitchen Gadgets!!

Then we moved onto some shoe shopping for the girls. Izzy’s feet are growing an astounding (& expensive!) rate and with summer on the horizon we invested in matching purple Birkenstocks. But someone please explain to me why Izzy’s were more expensive than mine?!?

Back home we began work on a birthday cake. Saturday was Isobel M’s 3rd birthday and next week is Mer & Stu’s so a joint birthday cake was in order. Was also a great excuse to try out my new decorating kit plus try out some techniques learnt in the cupcake decorating workshop and use the cute butterflies I found on eBay.

Making butterfly decorations!

So what cake to bake?, back to old faithful I think….The Hummingbird Bakery!!

Hummingbird Cake (courtesy of the The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook)

Ingredients:-

300g caster sugar

3 eggs

300ml sunflower oil

270g peeled bananas, mashed

1 tsp ground cinnamon

300g plain flour

1 tsp bicarbonate soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

100g tinned pineapple, chopped into small pieces

100g shelled pecan nuts (or walnuts), chopped, plus extra, chopped and whole, to decorate

2 quantities Cream Cheese Frosting

Three 20cm cake tins (I used 2), base-lined with greaseproof paper

Preheat the oven to 170C.

Put the sugar, eggs, oil, banana and cinnamon in a freestanding electric mixer, with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat until all the ingredients are well incorporated (don’t worry if the mixture looks slightly split). Slowly add the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt & vanilla extract and continue to beat until everything is well mixed.

Stir in the chopped pineapple and pecan nuts by hand until evenly dispersed.

Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tins and smooth over with a palette knife. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown and the sponge bounces back when touched. Leave the cakes to cool sightly in the tins before turning out onto a wire coking rack to cool completely.

When the cakes are cold, put on a cake stand and spread about one-quarter of the Cream Cheese Frosting over it with a palette knife. Place a second cake on the top and spread another quarter of the frosting over it. Top with the last cake and spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides. Finish with pecan nuts and a light sprinkling of cinnamon.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:-

300g icing sugar, sifted

50g unsalted butter, at room temperature

125g cream cheese, cold

Beat the icing sugar and butter together  in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. Add the cream cheese in one go and beat until it is completely incorporated.

Turn the mixer up to medium-high speed. Continue beating until the frosting is light & fluffy, at least 5 minutes. Do not over beat, as it can quickly become runny.

The finished cake

I loved my new decorating tools – although I only tried out one – as it made writing on a cake so quick & simple. Much easier than a piping bag.

This is definitely my favourite cake flavour – perhaps I should have been considering Isobel, Mer & Stu’s favourite flavour when deciding what cake to bake?!? oops…. Isobel seemed to enjoy it – she is all about the icing anyway!

Happy 3rd Birthday Isobel xxx

On another note, last year my friend Jenny had a gorgeous painting done of Izzy. I loved it so much that I have had 2 done as gifts since. As Isobel M had her Big Girl Room done for her birthday I thought one of these paintings would be a great addition. Thanks to Kim @ Allsmilez for another great job capturing the girls and their personalities!

Cheeky Monkeys!

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So anyone who reads my blog semi regularly will know that I am partial to a cupcake – any occasion, whether big or small, is perfect for a cupcake! Birthdays, Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Valentines Day, Birth of a baby, feeling happy, feeling sad, picnics, afternoon tea, childrens parties, adult parties, just because….

My sister found me this birthday card and I think I may adopt this as my mantra…..

Easter is definitely worthy of a cupcake baking session. Earlier this week I referred to my tried and tested Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook (can’t recommend this book enough) and opened up to the chocolate cupcakes recipe. In the hundreds of cupcakes baked in the last year this was the first time I had made the chocolate ones. 2 dozen cupcakes later we were ready to make a delivery to Izzy’s nursery teachers and to my work colleagues on Thursday. They seemed to go down well – chocolate – tick, cupcake – tick – it’s the ultimate feel good food!

Chocolate Cupcakes (courtesy of The Hummingbird Bakery)

Ingredients:-

100g plain flour

20g cocoa powder

140g caster sugar

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

a pinch of salt

120ml whole milk

1 egg

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 170C.

Put the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whsk) and beat on a slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined.

Whisk the milk, egg and vanilla extract together in a jug, then slowly pour about half into the flour mixture, beat to combined and turn the mixer up to high speed to get rid of any lumps.

Turn the mixer down to a slower speed and slowly pour in the remaining milk mixture (scrape any unmixed ingredients from teh side of the bowl with a rubber spatula). Continue mixing for a couple more minutes until the mixture is smooth. Do not overmix.

Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the sponge bounces back when touched. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

When the cupcakes are cold, spoon frosting on top and decorate.

Chocolate Frosting (courtesy of The Hummingbird Bakery)

Ingredients:-

300g icing sugar, sifted

100g unsalted butter, at room temperature

40g cocoa powder, sifted

40ml whole milk

Beat the icing sugar, butter and cocoa powder together in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. Turn the mixer down to slow speed. Add the milk to the butter mixture a couple of tablespoons at a time. Once all the milk has been incorporated turn the mixer up to high speed. Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. The longer the frosting is beaten, the fluffier and lighter it becomes.

Another couple of batches later (Easter Egg hunt tomorrow….) I broke out my new edible glitter to decorate the tops – so pretty!

A few months ago I came across The Make Lounge and I have been trying to get onto one of the very popular Cupcake decorating course – a 2 1/2 hr session learning decorating techniques. A few weeks ago I finally managed to nab the last spot for yesterdays session. For anyone in London I would definitely recommend – really good fun. Making your own sprinkles is far easier than I realised – just takes the right piece of equipment and someone to show you how. Thank goodness James forgot to ask for his credit card back…hee hee….I am now in possession of some great new cupcake decorating gadgets (including above mentioned edible glitter).

First off we learnt how to make paper piping bags for precision piping and then trying out some lettering. Next were some piping techniques – swirls, stars, using 2 colours in one bag. Lastly, and most fun was creating our own sprinkles using ready made marzipan and cutters. I went a little glitter crazy but hey, what’s a girl to do?!

I was quite pleased with my final handy work….

I will definitely be returning to The Make Lounge – next course will be the Fashion-tastic biscuit decorating, and after that I might tackle some of the learn to sew workshops………so much to learn, so little time!

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One of Izzy’s teachers at nursery asked me if I would make her sisters 21st cake. I was flattered to be asked but nervous as well as I would hate to disappoint. I can follow a recipe and do basic icing but that’s about it. But I gave it my best shot and had fun doing it!! Of course every cake should be accompanied by some matching cupcakes! Izzy also had a lot of fun licking the spoons…..

For inspiration I turned to the trusty WI – who better to turn to for fail safe recipes?

Chocolate Fudge Cake (courtesy of Liz Herbert – Cakes Women’s Institute)

Ingredients:

80g dark chocolate

2 Tbsp cocoa powder

175g soft butter or soft margarine

1 tsp vanilla extract

175g soft light brown sugar

3 eggs, separated

175g self-raising flour

For the chocolate fudge icing :-

225g plain chocolate

8 Tbsp double cream

225g icing sugar, sifted

2-3 Tbsp recently boiled water

Grease and base line two 18cm sandwich tins (I doubled the recipe and used 24cm tins). Preheat the oven to 180C.

Place the chocolate cocoa powder, butter or margarine and vanilla extract in a bowl and melt over a pan of hot water. Remove from the heat, stir until smooth and allow to cool slightly.

Cream together the sugar and egg yolks until light and creamy. Fold in the chocolate mixture, followed by the flour.

Stiffly whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Fold one Tbsp into the cake mixture to loosen and then add to the remainder.

Divide the mixture evenly between the tins. Smooth the surface, leaving a small hollow in the centre of each. Bake for 30-35 minutes until risen and springy to the touch. Remove from the oven and leave in the tins for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.

For the icing, melt the chocolate and cream in a bowl over a pan of hot water. Remove from the heat and gradually beat in the icing sugar. If the mixture becomes too stiff, add enough hot water to make it a spreadable consistency.

Use a third of the chocolate fudge icing to sandwich the cakes together. Smooth the remainder over the top and sides.

The best place to lick a spoon is in the bath!

Mmmm...Chocolate Fudge Cake

More spoon licking! What a mess!

I must have made hundreds of these vanilla cupcakes – so easy and with different cases, decorations and colourings they can be different each time but just as delicious! I have given the recipe before so just click on this link if you want to give them a go.

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Today was the annual Macmillan Coffee Morning and so I thought it would be a good chance to raise some money for a great cause (whoever came up with this idea at Macmillan is genius!) and ask all the girls in the office to get involved. I sent out an email to all the girls requesting cakes (baked or bought), and I know it seems a bit 1950’s of me to only send  it to the girls, but meet the guys in my office and you will totally understand. Not a baker amongst them!!

So it was awesome when everyone (except one – who is a right misery!) bought in a plateful of goodies to sell. There was rocky road, flapjacks, lemon loaf, about 4 different types of cupcakes, cookies, doughnuts and brownies. A right sugar smorgasboard so needless to say that within an hour there was a considerable sugar high spreading throughout the office. One of my colleagues, Carol, was happy to admit that she was not a baker and years ago this had been confirmed by her effort at rock cakes when she mistakenly substituted salt for sugar. Well turned out great for us as Carol had purchased home made cupcakes from a lady in the next village – they were beautiful and looked amazing. I didn’t get a chance to try one as they went like hot cakes!! I have looked up the cupcake lady online – Janes Cupcakes – so if you are ever looking for a supplier check her out.

Word spread quickly around the building and we had colleagues from other departments and floors coming to visit us in support of Macmillan. Not only was it great to raise money for an important cause but there was a fantastic sense of comraderie in the office. People were laughing and joking with each other and the atmosphere was fun so Macmillan were not the only ones to benefit.

So, how much did our team of ladies raise? Well I was hoping that we might make 50-100 pounds and our final total was 216.95!! How awesome is that!!! There was no set donation and so all this was raised through the generosity of all my colleagues!

So, what did we (James & I presented a joint effort!) make? Well there is a bit of funny story here… Yesterday morning I went to work and was chatting away with Louise who was despairing over her baking efforts the night before  and I was reassuring her that one of my efforts had gone in the bin so I was not having much luck either. We continued moaning and then I mentioned that I had made lemon loaf…well ends up Louise had made the same thing from the same book – total coincidence!! Made us both feel so much better….must have been the recipe then 😉 Louise salvaged hers and iced it (and it was yum!) but my issue was the lemon syrup for the top as I failed to taste before pouring it all over – like sunlight liquid! yuck!!!

So anyway, that was our failed attempt so we reverted back to our tried and tested cupcakes from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook….All I can tell you is that they smelt good and they were complimented but I never tried them – too full from tasting everyone elses efforts!! I made the Pumpkin cupcakes and James very kindly whipped up Strawberry Cheesecake cupcakes. We also made Chocolate cookies that are filled with M & M’s and Peanut M & M’s – this was half a success but still delicious and so we will be working on this one.

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Pumpkin Cupcakes (courtesy of Tarek Malouf – The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook)

Makes 12

Ingredients:-

120g plain flour

140g caster sugar

1 Tbsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, plus extra to decorate

a pinch of salt

40g unsalted butter, at room temperature

120ml whole milk

2 eggs

200g tinned pumpkin puree

Preheat oven to 170C. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and butter in a freestanding electric mixer with paddle attachment (or use a hand held electric whisk) and beat on a slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined.

Gradually pour in the milk and beat until well mixed. Add the eggs to the mix and beat well (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula). Stir in the pumpkin puree by hand until evenly dispersed.

Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until 2/3 full and bake in the preheated oven for about 20 mins, or until light golden and the sponge bounces back when touched.

Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely. When cupcakes are cold, spoon the cream cheese frosting on top and finish with a light sprinkling of cinnamon.

Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes (courtesy of Tarek Malouf – The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook)

Makes 12

Ingredients:-

120g plain flour

140g caster sugar

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

40g unsalted butter, at room temperature

120ml whole milk

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg

12 large strawberries, chopped into small pieces

200g digestive biscuits

Preheat the oven to 170C. Put the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder & butter in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a hand held electric whisk) and beat on slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined.

Pour in the milk & vanilla extract and beat on medium speed until all the ingredients are well mixed (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula). Add the egg and beat well for a few minutes to ensure the ingredients are well incorporated.

Divide the chopped strawberries between the paper cases. Spoon the cupcake mixture on top until 2/3 full and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until light golden and the sponge bounces back when touched. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

Roughly break up the digestive biscuits and put them in the food processor. Process until finely ground. When the cupcakes are cold, spoon the cream cheese frosting on top and finish with a sprinkling of finely ground of biscuits.

Cream Cheese Frosting (courtesy of Tarek Malouf – The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook)

Makes enough for 12 cupcakes

Ingredients:-

300g icing sugar, sifted

50g unsalted butter, at room temperature

125g cream cheese, cold

Beat the icing sugar and butter together in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a hand held electric whisk) until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. Add the cream cheese in one go and beat until completely incorporated. Turn the mixer up to medium high speed. Continue beating until the frosting is light & fluffy, at least 5 minutes. Do not over beat, as it can quickly become runny.

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Cupcake anyone?

Well, I have had a busy couple of nights and right now I am ‘Cupcaked Out’!. Today is fun day at Izzy’s Nursery  and I offered to make cupcakes for the 75 children. Cupcakes are quick and easy and with a piping bag to ice they look like they took longer than they did. Most importantly, they are delicious!

First step was to find some cool cupcake cases and colour pastes. I have been using http://www.cakescookiesandcraftsshop.co.uk as they have a good range of cases, sprinkles and colours.  I decided on football & dinosaur cases for the boys and flower & pink cases for the girls, plus I have some jungle cases left over from Izzy’s party.

Once Izzy was in bed on Tuesday  I  got started and made 84 cupcakes ready for icing on Wednesday night. Once again turning to my trusty Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook for the tried and tested Vanilla cupcake. I thought best to keep it plain in order to keep the sugar high for 75 kids as low as possible….

Vanilla Cupcakes (courtesy of HB Cookbook)

Makes 12.

Ingredients:-

120g plain flour

140g caster sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

a pinch of salt

40g unsalted butter, at room temperature

120ml whole milk

1 egg

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 170C. Put the flour, suar, baking powder,salt & butter in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat on slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined. Gradually pour in half the milk and beat until the milk is just incorporated.

Whisk the egg, vanilla extract and remaining milk together in a separate bowl for a few seconds, then pour into the flour mixture and continue beating until just incorporated (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula). Continue mixing for a couple more minutes until the mixture is smooth. Do not overmix.

Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until 2/3 full and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes (I have a fan oven and so 20 mins is perfect), or until light golden and the sponge bounces back when touched. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

When the cupcakes are cold, spoon the Vanilla frosting on top (I use a piping bag) and decorate with hundreds and thousands (or whatever you want to decorate with).

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Now, the icing is where it got messy. No doubt I will find icing sugar in every corner and on every surface in my kitchen for the next month – no matter how much I try and clean it now! A couple of hours and the plain cupcakes were transformed……….

Vanilla Frosting (once again, courtesy of HB)

Makes enough for 12 cupcakes

Ingredients:-

250g icing sugar, sifted

80g unsalted butter, at room temperature

25ml whole milk

a couple of drops of vanilla extract

Beat the icing sugar and butter together in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. Turn the mixer down to slow speed. Combine the milk and vanilla extract in a separate bowl, then add to the butter mixture a couple of tablespoons at a time. Once all the milk has been incorporated, turn the mixer up to high speed. Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. The longer the frosting is beaten, the fluffier and lighter it becomes.

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