Yummy Scrummy Cupcakes

The only thing my daughter loves more than baking cupcakes, is eating cupcakes. So when the people over at Flora asked me to bake with their new Flora Great for Baking Block and to blog about it, how could I refuse?! I was able to get the Flora baking block with my Tesco grocery delivery at the weekend. I was pleased with the price, £1.00 for a 250g block. For baking, I normally buy the Waitrose Essential block of salted butter, which costs £1.32 for a 250g block. 

Though price matters, ultimately taste is what we care about in our cake-crazed household. So my six-year old daughter, Moozles, and I put on our matching aprons and began baking. I let Moozles pick what kind of cupcake and icing we made. I had her look through a couple of recipes books, but she said she wanted to make a Mary Berry recipe because Mary Berry has the best cakes. Yes, I am teaching my daughter well. Moozles chose vanilla cupcakes and chocolate buttercream icing (we are die-hard buttercream fans). The chocolate icing is a recipe I have used for years, but adapted, from the BBC cooking website. It is my favourite icing recipe.

So, how did it turn out? Both the cupcakes and icing turned out quite well. Moozles had loads of fun decorating the cupcakes. I think she did a fab job! I would like to say that my two-year old, Dubz, was helpful too. But he basically just spooned icing onto his face and tried to climb over the table to grab more. Husband, who is a proficient bowl-licker, told me that it was the best icing I had ever made. Hand on heart, he asked if I had used a new recipe or whether it was the Flora. He wasn’t kidding, he scoffed three cupcakes in about five minutes. Moozles said it was ‘delicious’ (she only had two). Who can argue with those reviews?!
Yummy Scrummy Cupcakes Yummy Scrummy Cupcakes Yummy Scrummy Cupcakes Yummy Scrummy Cupcakes Yummy Scrummy Cupcakes

Vanilla Cupcakes
100g Flora Baking Block (or butter)
150g Caster Sugar
150g Self-Raising Flour
3 tbsp Whole Milk
2 large Eggs
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
 
Preheat oven to 160C for fan-assisted (or 180C). Cream sugar and Flora (or butter) then add the rest of the ingredients. Moozles and I mixed everything with a spoon. Spoon into cupcake or muffin tin, bake for 20-30 minutes depending on your oven.
 
This recipe makes 12 small fairy cakes or 8 proper cupcakes (American-size). We made nine this time, and there just wasn’t enough batter.
 
 
Chocolate Buttercream Icing
110g Flora Baking Block (or butter)
180g Icing Sugar
40g Cocoa Powder (sifted, but not a big deal if it isn’t)
2 tbsp Whole milk
I actually halved this recipe to accommodate the small amount of cupcakes being made above
 
Use a hand mixer to mix it all up. It should only take 30 seconds. My top tip for mixing icing–place a big tea towel over the bowl before you start mixing so that icing sugar does not fly everywhere. 

 

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Do You Wanna Build a Birthday Cake?

 
My daughter really loves this Disney movie called Frozen. Not sure if you have heard of it. So of course Moozles wanted a Frozen-themed birthday cake. Being a novice baker, not to mention a novice mother, I was a bit worried. I am trying to make the birthday cakes for as long as possible (before the kids realise that cool cakes aren’t my forte). I still have the scars of a mother who never baked me a birthday cake, therefore I try to force myself out of my comfort zone.
 
I debated whether to get edible or non-edible Elsa and Anna figurines for the cake but decided to try an edible picture topper. I found a nice one on ebay that was personalised with my daughter’s name (which was been erased for the blog) that was already cut in the shape I wanted. I also ordered edible snowflakes. I am quite happy with how the cake turned out. It’s not the most spectacular, but when Moozles’ friends saw the cake they all oohed. And Moozles herself said it was the coolest cake. She’s barely six, so it’s not like she’s an expert on cake making. But her appreciation made me feel pleased.
 
I made a 10-inch chocolate cake for the first tier of the cake and a 6-inch vanilla sponge for the second tier (I thought two tiers would make the cake look more impressive). When you cut into the cake, you get both chocolate and vanilla sponge which looks very enticing. 
 
Moozles was desperate to help, so I let her crack the eggs and mix the batter. Her favourite part was licking the spoon. Husband normally has the honour of licking the bowl, but as the ever-dutiful dad he shared the batter with the kids. Mary Berry forgive me, but I used Betty Crocker vanilla icing as a cheat. 
 
Chocolate Cake (originally Mary Berry’s Iced Chocolate Traybake)
275g self-raising flour
225g golden caster sugar
4 tbsp cocoa powder
4 large eggs
4 tbsp whole milk
225g salted butter
4 tbsp hot water
2 tsp baking powder
Preheat oven to 160C fan-assisted (180C). Mix ingredients, adding baking powder last. This is not essential as I started to bake the cake and realised that I had forgotten the cocoa powder. Whoops. I emptied the batter and mixed in the butter and started again. It was fine. I baked it for 40 minutes in a 10-inch cake pan. 
 
 
Sponge Cake (Basic All-in-one Sponge Traybake)
225g caster sugar
225g salted butter
275g self-raising flour
4 large eggs
4 tbsp whole milk
2 tsp baking powder
Preheat oven to 160C fan-assisted (180C). I baked it for 35 minutes in a 6-inch cake pan.
 
 
After both cakes were completely cooled, I iced them, put the smaller one on the bigger one and put them in the fridge to set for an hour. I then iced the cakes further and decorated them. Easy peasy Frozeneezy.
        

 

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Blow-your-mind Brownies

 
Now these brownies are seriously good. I have previously noted my adoration of Mary Berry. And this recipe is a prime example why. It is easy (that’s right, another one spoon/no electric whisk recipe). And it will impress any guest. Husband loves it, so I make it whenever I want to keep him sweet. 😉 Anyway, the recipe hasn’t been modified much. I’ve used golden caster sugar instead of normal caster sugar. Some cooking goddess on the telly (can’t remember which one) extolled the virtues of golden caster. I like it. It has a richer taste. I wouldn’t use it for all my baking, but for most. You could also add walnuts (I am such a walnut fiend but I often go without to please the rest of my damn family).   
 
As for the actual baking, I don’t know why people always bake brownies in a rectangular pan. I used a heart pan cause I thought it would be cute. It was. I made half the recipe, as I have previously noted my inability to stop eating baked goods. But reducing the recipe by half can be quite helpful when you’re making a new recipe as it can lead to less waste if there’s a mishap. Here’s the full recipe:
 
Chocolate Brownies
275g softened butter or margarine (I prefer using salted butter)
375g caster sugar (golden or the regular kind)
4 large eggs
75g cocoa powder
100g self-raising flour
80g dark chocolate chunks (or chips, but chunks make the brownie gooier)
20g milk chocolate chunks/chips
Optional – add 30g of chopped walnuts for yummy walnut brownies
 
Preheat oven to 180C/Fan 160C. Grease the baking tin. Cream butter and sugar. Add and mix the rest of the ingredients, with the chocolate chunks/chips going in last. Spoon the mixture into the tin, ensuring that the surface is as flat as possible.
 

Bake for 40-45 minutes. The top of the brownie should look a bit crusty. Stick a skewer in the middle and if it comes out clean then the brownie is ready. Once cooled, you can store them in an airtight container for about five days. If you are having a piece later, pop it in the microwave for 5-10 seconds for more gooey loveliness.

Moves Like Mary (Berry)

As a Stay-At-Home-Mum, I feel like I should be a able to bake lovely cakes and biscuits. My five year old, Moozles, loves baking. I say baking, but really she likes cracking eggs and mixing everything up. For years I have tried baking, and always fallen short. Earlier this year, a mummy friend gave me her recipe for a lemon drizzle cake. It came out perfectly the first time I made it. This was my first introduction to a Mary Berry recipe. I had watched Mary Berry on The Great British Bake-Off but never knew why she was such a legend. After making the lemon drizzle cake, I bought one of her baking cookbooks. I have made several of the recipes and am almost-always pleased by the results.

 

Being American, I had never eaten a Victoria Sponge cake until I moved to the UK. I’ve always been more of a chocolate cake type of gal. At the weekend I attempted my first Victoria Sponge. It was okay, but not as light and fluffy as I would like. I tried again today. Even though the recipe was in my cookbook, I used this recipe as it gave me the measurements for my six-inch cake pans (btw, success in looks and taste!): 
I am feeling quite proud of myself. So I thought I would share some of my tips for a better bake:
1. Use room temperature butter or margarine.
2. First put in all the dry ingredients, then add wet ingredient last before mixing.
3. Mixing by hand take a bit more time and effort but means you can avoid over-mixing (which leads to a denser cake).
4. Grease cake pans first so that once you’ve mixed the ingredients you can start baking right away.
5. Get used to your oven as your timing might differ from the recipe. I find that I normally have to add an extra five minutes to my bakes.
6. Never open the oven before the very end. Opening the oven cools the temperature which affects how much time the cake requires to be cooked.
 
Happy baking!