Monthly Archives: September 2011

Bakewell Cupcakes

My obsession with the Bakewell tart is well-documented on this blog (I’ve made a tart AND some little baby tartlets). Well, on my new favourite television show, The Great British Bake Off, one of the contestants made Bakewell cupcakes. And I just couldn’t resist (also my friends weren’t familiar with the Bakewell magic, so I felt obligated to demonstrate).

Bakewell Cupcakes

Ingredients
150g (5 1/2 oz) butter or margarine
150g (5 1/2 oz) caster sugar
100g (3 1/2 oz) self-raising flour (or in my case, 100g cake flour plus 1 1/4 tsp baking powder and just under 1/2 tsp salt)
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp baking powder (if you’re using my made up self-raising flour, this is in addition to the baking powder there)
90g almond flour or ground almonds
1 tbs milk
a dash of almond extract
raspberry jam

250g (9 oz) icing/confectioners’ sugar
3 tbs fresh lemon juice
12 glace cherries (again, no glace cherries in Poland, so I just used some cherries from cherry compote)

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Line a 12-hole muffin pan with cupcake liners.

2. Beat the margarine/butter in a bowl until it is light and fluffy, then beat in the sugar. Beat in the eggs one at a time, followed by the milk and almond extract.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the almond flour, self-raising flour, and baking powder. Fold this into the margarine mixture.

4. Spoon the batter into the muffin tin, and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the cupcakes are golden on top and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes.

5. When the cupcakes have cooled a bit, use a knife to cut out a bit of the center, and spoon some raspberry jam in. Replace the removed bit of cupcake as a lid (you might want to cut away the excess cake in order to get it to sit smoothly). The cross section will look like this:

6. Prepare the icing by whisking the icing sugar with the lemon juice. Spread a small amount on each cupcake and top with a cherry.

Makes 12 cupcakes

The Great British Bake Off

Lately, I have become obsessed with a television programme on BBC2 – The Great British Bake Off. It combines two of my favourite things, baking and Britain – so what could be better?!

Anyway, the premise of the show is that they are looking for “the best amateur baker in Britain”, starting off with a cast of 12 bakers and eliminating them weekly in 1′s and 2′s. The bakers participate in three challenges throughout the show – a signature bake, in which they show off their “signature” item in a category, a blind bake, where everyone bakes identical recipes assigned by the two judges (this is to measure technical skill), and finally, a showstopper bake, which is meant to impress the judges. There are little historical segments interspersed (my favourites were about Henry VIII’s kitchen devoted solely to tarts, and the the bit about how bakers made all sorts of crazy substitutions during WWII rationing).

The signature and showstopper bakes tend to produce some pretty creative (and delicious) items, which I then recreate in my own little test kitchen. My favourite baker, who is still on the show, is Mary-Anne, because her recipes are almost always innovative and different than her competitors’, and she has a massive cookbook collection.

Anyway, if you live someplace where you can get BBC2, I highly recommend giving this show a try. There is only one episode left in the season, but you can get all of the older eps on iplayer. And some of the recipes are available on the BBC website.

They have a Twitter feed: http://twitter.com/#!/BritishBakeOff
And a website that doesn’t seem to get updated: http://www.thegreatbritishbakeoff.co.uk/
And here are the recipes: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/programmes/b013pqxw

Almond Croissant FAIL

Confession: I can make a lot of things, but pastry is my weakness. This is largely because I am an impatient person who doesn’t let things chill properly. A few days ago, I attempted almond croissants and met with disaster. More specifically, I set them to rise in what was probably too warm a spot, with dough that was already too warm. The butter in the dough melted as they rose, so when I baked them, they both fried in the melted butter…and then proceeded to burn at 10 out of 18 minutes in the over. The end result looked generally like this masterpiece:

Of course, I still scraped out the almond filling and ate it, since that was why I was making them in the first place.