Sunday, 30 September 2012

Violet Cream --Cupcakes

As a little girl, my favourite sweets were panama violets, were? who am I kidding! - are, I cannot pretend that the bumper mixed bag of sweets that I purchased recently was for any other reason than that it contained some packets of these sparkling with nostalgia morsels. Regrettably it appears that my son is also rather fond of them and Mummy's packet is usually blessed with additional sticky fingers

So, you can imagine it was with some delight when calling in to my local sugar craft shop for some cake board or fondant or some other sundry, long since forgotten, that I noticed they had started stocking flavourings that included the rarely discovered violet. I usually like to use a natural flavouring or at least provide a natural  alternative, however, I think that this is one of those occasions when you need to buy a flavouring, unless you happen to have an abundance of violets and the knowledge of how to infuse their flavour.


This sponge part of this cupcake is a standard equal measure creamed sponge, with a teaspoon or so of the violet flavouring added and, if you like, a couple of toothpick dunks of violet colouring. For 12 small cupcakes you will need a two egg recipe. Weigh your two eggs, which will probably weigh about 100 grams or 4 oz and then weigh out equal amounts of butter or margarine, caster sugar and self raising flour.

Cream together the butter or margarine and sugar with the violet flavouring until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, adding a tablespoon of your flour if the mixture struts to curdle and beat well. Finally add the flour, mixing until just mixed in. Over mixing you flour can make the texture of the cake hard, so stop when just mixed. Divide the mixture between your baking cases and bake at 350 F / 180 C for about 15 minutes. The cakes are cooked when they spring back, if you press them lightly on top.

This is a sweet chocolaty buttercream frosting. Make sure that you sift the icing sugar and cocoa powder if you are going to pipe the frosting otherwise you can guarantee that those pesky little lumps are going to get stuck in your piping nozzle or tip.

300g icing / confectioners sugar sifted
100g unsalted butter (soft)
40g cocoa powder sifted
40 ml whole milk or cream

Mix together the sifted icing / confectioners sugar and sifted cocoa powder. Beat the butter until soft. Add about a third of the icing sugar cocoa powder mix and beat really well. Add the milk and beat again until combined. Add another third of the icing / confectioners sugar and coca mix and beat again and finally beat in the rest of the sugar and cocoa mix

The frosting is piped onto the cakes using a Wilton 2 D nozzle / tip, piping from the inside towards the edge. To finish the cupcake I have sprinkles on crystallised violet flowers from Squires Kitchen.

What would i do differently next time?

These cupcake are super scrummy, if i was going to make them again, I would add a little more colouring to my sponge mix, I didn't get the shade of violet that I wanted. When you add violet colour to a yellow cake mix, it turns quite a grey colour initially, this tends to put you off adding any more, whereas actually this is the stage you need to add more colour. I would also like the frosting to be a darker chocolaty shade and should perhaps have used a chocolates fudge icing.

That's all for today
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Thursday, 27 September 2012

Lemon Polenta Springerle Cookies

Whenever I bake a batch of cookies, I have started using some of the mix to see how it works with a Springerle mould. You may have noticed, I have a couple of favourite springerle moulds...

This is part of the batch of dough for the Triple Rose Lemon Polenta cookies. The design on the cookies hasn't come out quite as crisp as I would like, if I was making a batch of cookie dough just for moulding with the Springerles, I would use three tablespoons of egg white rather than a whole egg as this tends to give a better result.

This is my very favourite Springerle Mould, the Round Rose from House on The Hill.

Moulding the Cookies

To mould the cookies, roll out the dough about 1cm thick. (Use marzipan rollers or spacers to get an even thickness) It is usually recommended that you dust the mould with flour, I prefer to dust a light layer of flour on top of my rolled cookie dough and gently smooth it over with my fingers. Once rolled, gently, but firmly and evenly, press the mould on to the dough to make the impression. If you are happy with the moulding, use a suitable sized cookie cutter to cut out the cookie and put it on a baking / cookie sheet that has baking parchment or a non stick silicone sheet on it. It sometimes takes a couple of goes to get the hang of moulding the cookies so don't get disheartened if it doesn't come out right first time. Just knead re-roll and try again. If your dough is sticky, try kneading in a little more flour or putting the dough in the fridge for 20 to 30 minutes.

Once your cookies are all beautifully lined up on your baking / cookie sheet, put them in the freezer for about 15 minutes before baking. This helps stop the cookies spreading whilst they are baking. Baking at a slightly lower temperature can also help stop them spreading and give a crisper design.

This is my other very favourite cookie mould, Amo Te, also from House on the Hill, (isn't it beautiful)

And here is the matching Amo Te Lemon Polenta Cookie. A tad over baked on the point, good job Paul and Mary aren't judging these ...

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Friday, 21 September 2012

Triple Rose Lemon Polenta Cookies

We have a little tradition at work, where we bring cakes in on our Birthday to share with the other members of our team. Persoanlly, I have always thought that this is a bit backwards and that people should be buying cake for me on my Birthday, but, you know how it is, you go with the flow.

One of my colleagues in another team, brought in some very delicious home baked cakes, I managed to sneakily blag one via one of my friends who is in her team. These cakes were lemon, polenta and blueberry. Well, you know what, these were some of the most delicious cakes I have ever tasted, so obviously I immediately confessed to having snuck one of her cakes and very politely asked for the recipe and this was produced the following day.

I have baked the recipe for the lemon, polenta and blueberry cake twice now, I to develop and perfect a variation on the frosting for these, to make it both delicious and pipe - able before I can share those with you ...

I was however, inspired by the lemon, polenta and blueberry cakes to make some lemon polenta cookies. I used a variation of my simple sugar cookie recipe with lemon flavouring added and about a third of the flour replaced by polenta. The polenta gives the cookies a beautiful colour as well as a lovely crunch. Depending on what is in you cupboard or fridge, you can either use lemon zest for flavouring or a teaspoon or so from a bottle of lemon flavouring


200g / 8oz butter or block margarine

200g / 8oz caster / superfine sugar
zest of 1 lemon or 1 teaspoon of lemon flavouring
1 egg
125g / 5oz quick cook polenta (corn meal)
275g / 11oz plain flour

Mix the polenta / corn meal into the flour then make and bake as per these sugar cookies


Rose cupcake topper mould (I used one from Karen Davies)
Modelling paste
Petal Shaped Cookie cutter
Petal dust. (I used Primrose, Lemon Ice and Spring Green all by Sugarflair)
Couple of clean paintbrushes
Edible glue or piping gel

This is the lovely mould that I used from Karen Davies. This mould is intended to be a cupcake topper, Karen shows you how to use it herself here

You can either mould a the full circle in the mould and then cut out the shape with a petal shaped cutter, or just mould the roses in the centre and cut out a flat petal shape from rolled fondant. I used the latter method.

What a difference a little modelling paste makes

You can use ordinary fondant for making these moulds, modelling fondant gives a much crisper and more detailed finish. Modelling paste is fondant or sugar paste that has had "stuff" added to it to make it stretchier and less sticky. You can also get sugar flower paste, this has about twice as much of the "stuff" added to it which is why you can made modelling paste by mixing ordinary fondant and sugar flower paste. For a very finely detailed mould, you can also use sugar flower paste for moulding, be aware that sugar flower paste can dry rather hard and may not be that nice to eat.

If you can't get hold of modelling or sugar flower paste, you can get better results by freezing the fondant in the mould.

This mould has been made with ordinary fondant or sugar paste

This mould has been made with modelling paste. (I used one by Squires Kitchen)

What a difference a little petal dust and lustre makes

I started by painting the leaves in Spring Green, then the centre of the roses with the Primrose colour and finally brushed all over the roses with the Lemon Ice

Finally, assemble the cookies using edible glue or pipping gel to stick the different elements together.

That's all for today
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Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Vintage Brooch Champagne Celebration Cookies

There is a lovely trend in England for champagne afternoon tea, just like a traditional afternoon tea with teeny tiny sandwiches (no crusts) a few slices of different cakes and a scone with jam and cream all served on the daintiest of cake stands, except instead of the usual pot of tea, this tea is served with a lovely glass (or two) of champagne, most likely pink and maybe in a teacup.

These cookies were my contribution to a very special champagne afternoon tea to celebrate a long awaited engagement.

You can only really add champagne flavour to a cookie by using a ready made flavouring, as to add enough actual champagne to a cookie recipe would make the dough overly wet. These cookies are made using a basic Sugar Cookie Recipe  adding a teaspoon so of champagne flavouring (I used one by Beau) along with the egg. I also added about four toothpick dips of Wilton Creamy Peach colour.

Cut the cookies out with a fluted oval cutter slightly bigger than the mould you want to use and bake as the instructions.


Vintage brooch mould
Modelling paste (you really need to use a modelling paste to pick up the finer details in this mould - if you can't get any, you could try using regular fondant or sugar paste and freezing it for 15 minutes before un-moulding)
Selection of lustre dusts (see below for the ones I used)
A couple of paint brushes
Edible glue or piping gel

These cookies are decorated using a vintage brooch mould from Karen Davies. I have quite a few of Karen's lovely moulds and will be using this one again for a couple more projects over the coming weeks. 

I have had this mould for a while, but was finding it difficult to paint, I mentioned this on Karen Davies' Facebook group and she kindly directed me to this video of her decorating the moulded brooch. I used a slightly different method to Karen in that I rubbed vegetable fat between my palms and rolled the ball of paste between my palms to stop it sticking and I applied the lustre at the end rather than the beginning. If you are going to have a go, try both ways, see which works best for you

What a difference a little lustre makes ...
I love the way that brushing a mould with petal dust and/or lustre dust completely transforms it, so thought I would show you three stages of the process here - 
1. The plain mould
2. Holly green petal dust and dusky lilac lustre dust added
3. All over brushing with ivory lustre and a little edible glue and edible glitter applied to the centre and finally a few highlights added with a little edible gold paint.

All of the dusts used are by Sugarflair from my local sugar craft shop.

Once decorated, leave to dry for a day or so, the attach to your cooled cookies with a little piping gel or edible glue. 

That's all for today
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Oh, if you are idly wondering what this mould looks like in pink - watch this space

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Espresso Cupcakes

If you are anywhere near as obssessed by interested in cakes and cookies as me, then when I shared my lavender and lace cookies with you, your first thought was, I wonder what that would look like on a cupcake?

Well, we aim to please, so here are some dainty little espresso fairy cakes. Like an espresso I have made them diminutive on size, but big on flavour. The easiest way o add coffee flavouring to a cake is to use instant coffee, you need 1 teaspoon per egg for your recipe. If you want a more subtle coffee flavour use a level teaspoon, for an espresso type flavour use a heaped teaspoon. Just remember to dissolve the instant coffee in a title boiling water before mixing in to your cake mix. (I may have forgotten this part in my excitement at making these little cakes - minor cake disaster averted by the addition of another teaspoon of instant coffee mixed with just boiled water)


I used a two egg mix to make about 12 of these fairy cake size cakes. Start by weighing your two eggs in their shells, they will probably weigh about 100 to 150 g or 4 to 6 ounces. Then weigh out the same amount of

Margarine / Softened Butter
Caster / Superfine Sugar
Self Raising Flour

You will also need
Two teaspoons of instant coffee
1 tablespoon just boiled water

Pre-heat the oven to 350 F or 175 C
Pop some cupcake cases into a bun tin

Cream together the margarine or butter together until light and fluffy

Gradually beat in the eggs adding a spoonful of the flour should the mix start to curdle.

Dissolve two teaspoons of instant coffee in about a tablespoon of just boiled water.

Mix in the dissolved coffee

Add the flour and stir until just incorporated

Spoon or pour the cake mix into the cupcake cases
Bake for about 15 minutes.

When cooked the cakes will spring back when lightly prodded

These cakes are decorated in just the same way as these lavender and lace cookies, just using brown fondant and gold coloured pearls. 

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Lavender and Lace Cookies

Whenever I bake a batch of sugar cookies, I always make more that I need, in some different and sometimes random shapes for practising various techniques on. I had had these cookies in mind for a while and my plan was to make fondant lace and then top them with a rose, when I came to do it, I found that I preferred the look of a few (shop bought) sugar pearls instead.

These are lavender flavoured cookies adapted from a basic sugar cookie recipe. The same recipe I used for the Lavender Chrysanthemum cookies find it here.

If you have never tried decorating cookies with fondant, this is a great place to start. I used this beautiful "Amy Lace" mould by Karen Davies who is generous enough with her talent to make many wonderful moulds. If you pop by her shop, bet you can't just buy one!

You can use any lace mould, embossing sheet or rolling pin to get a similair effect.



Lace mould or embossing sheet
Lavender colour sugar paste or fondant
Small rolling pin
Marzipan spacers (optional)
Small round plain or fluted cutter, (that you have used to cut out your cookies with).
Edible Glue or piping gel (optional)
Sugar pearls 


I remembered to snap some photographs of what I was doing when making these, they are only snapped with my phone, but, I hope that you will appreciate them to illustrate the method.

Roll out your sugar paste to about 1 cm thick, using the marzipan rollers as a guide if you have them.

If your sugar paste is sticky then rub a little vegetable fat (trex) onto the surface.

Place the rolled out sugar paste on to your mould or embossing sheet and roll a little more to impress the pattern from the mould or embossing sheet on to the fondant

Position a cutter over the part of the patterned sugar paste that you want to use and cut out

Carefully lift the sugar paste and place on top of one of your cookies.

You may need to use a little edible glue or piping gel to make it stick

Brush the holes in the lace mould, or anywhere else that you want the sugar pearls to stick with a little edible glue or piping gel and then  place a sugar pearl in position. A pair of clean tweeers can be helpful.

Before you go, please indulge me with one gratuitous china shot, this vintage plate is just too pretty not too show you

That's all for today
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