Monday, 30 August 2010

A Foodie Tour in the Big Smoke - Part 3

I stopped off at Harrods Food Hall for a mooch around. I love love love Harrods food hall. I can spend hours wandering around looking at the displays.

Lola's cupcakes are sold at Harrods. They looked yummy but after visiting Crumbs and Doilies, I felt I had had a cupcake overload.

I couldn't resist purchasing a red velvet whoopie pie though. It never ceases to amaze me how well the peanut butter frosting works with the red velvet whoopie.

This is one of my favourite counters. They have the most amazing selection of chocolate covered nuts and I can never resist getting a selection to use to top cupcakes with. The colours are so pretty too.

Don't even get me started on the sweet counter. It's like being at Willy Wonka's chocolate factory.

But best of all......

LADUREE - aka Macaron heaven!

Alas, I wasn't allowed to take any pictures inside but I did purchase a small box to take home.

I bought a selction of vanilla, chocolate, coconut and chocolate flavoured ones. Yes, I know I am a creature of habit BUT I did break the mould and get a liquorice flavoured one which was actually rather good.

My fave without a doubt though was the vanilla.

A Foodie Tour in the Big Smoke - Part 2

As I was in the area, I decided to stop off at the Hummingbird Bakery in South Kensington.

There were loads of cupcakes to choose from but I knew what I wanted.

I bought a slice of the frosted brownie to take home. The brownie was delicious.

I also bought a black bottom cupcake. It was amazing although the one I got did not have enough of the cheesecake mixture in. I have attempted these at home using the recipe from the Humingbird bakery book but was disappointed with the way the cheesecake mixture turned out. It was far too runny to add to the flavour of the cupcake, but it has inspired me to have another go at making them.

The cream cheese frosting was so delish!

A Foodie Tour in the Big Smoke - Part 1

I went to London this weekend for a family party. Believe it or not, I didn't manage to bake anything to take with me this time so I decided to seize the opportunity and try some of the infamous sweet treats that our capital city had to offer (or at least as many as I could fit into in a couple of hours!)
First stop was Partridges Food Market which is held every Saturday from 10am until 4pm at the Duke of York Square.

Partridges was amazing. A real foodie heaven. They had these cute cupcake shaped tins filled with cupcake flavoured cookies!

There was a whoopie pie stall at the market. I tried one of the oreo flavoured whoopies and I was blown away. It had oreo pieces in the batter and the filling had oreo crumbs mixed in. Yum Yum. The ladies running the stall were super nice and friendly too and didn't mind me taking pictures!

There was also a stall selling yummy looking fudge.

And this stall selling the hugest meringues I had ever seen. Seriously, they were about the size of a small side plate (no exaggeration!)

I couldn't resist purchasing one that had brownie pieces inside. It was delicious.

Last but certainly not least, I had to stop off at Crumbs and Doilies.

They had really pretty looking cupcakes.

They had a good variety of flavours: red velvet, rose flavoured, good old vanilla, oreo and chocolate.

I got a box of mini cupcakes to take home for Mr G.

I managed to only eat two before I got the box home.
Well done me.

The red velvet and oreo were my favourite but I surprised myself by enjoying the rose flavoured cupcake.

I would really recommend visting the food market if you get the chance. There was a Portuguese stall selling freshly made Pasteis de Nata (Portuguese custard tarts). They smelled absolutely delicious.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Churros & Chocolate

A few years ago Mr G and I visted Barcelona and had the most amazing hot chocolate. It was so rich and thick. We would sit at a cafe bar on the Ramblas and people watch all day.

Ever since then I have been meaning to have a go at re-creating that hot chocolate. I was flicking through one of my cookie books and I came across a recipe for Churros. These are the small doughnut- type Spanish treats that are traditionally dunked in the hot chocolate. The following recipe has been adapted.


1 cup plain flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 egg
Juice of half lime or lemon
Vegetable oil for frying
Granulated sugar for coating Churros

1. Place water, sugar, salt and tablespoon of oil into pan and bring to the boil. Add the flour and baking powder and beat until smooth.
2. When mixture is smooth add the egg and beat until fully combined.
3. Place mixture into a piping bag and using a star shaped nozzle, pipe mixture out onto a baking sheet in 3 - inch pieces.
4. Heat oil (you need oil to be about 2 inches in depth) and add the juice of half a lemon or lime.
5. When oil is hot enough to brown a small piece of day old bread in 30 - 50 seconds add the churros and cook until golden brown (about 3 - 4 minutes).
6. Leave to cool for a minute and then roll in the granulated sugar. Serve warm with Hot Chocolate.

Spanish style Hot Chocolate

5 tablespoons dutch processed cocoa powder
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 oz dark best quality dark chocolate coarsely chopped (I used Green & Back's 75% cocoa solids)
2 cups milk

1. Place the cocoa, sugar and 2 tablespoons of milk into a pan and bring to the boil. When the mixture starts to boil, whisk quickly to bring to a smooth paste.
2. Add the rest of the milk and whisk until well combined.
3. Add the chocolate and mix until incorporated. Serve immediately.
As a flavour alternative, add one teaspoon of ground cinnamon or try ground chilli powder for a Mexican twist.

It was yummy. My churros were a bit fat as I had used one of my frosting nozzles but they were so yummy with the hot chocolate. Mr G agreed. It brought memories of Barcelona flooding back.

Hasta Luego mi amigos!

Monday, 23 August 2010

The original Mrs G's 75th Birthday!

It was my mother in law's (the original Mrs G!) 75th birthday this week and we had a surprise party at ours for her.
We ordered her a cake from Richard's Cakes and asked them to have her doing her favourite things - knitting and watching Coronation Street!
I made some cupcakes for the occasion. It would have been rude not to!

I decorated the table using purple and green so tried to keep the cupcakes with the same colour theme.

Check out my bargain cupcake tray! It was only £1.50!!

She was really pleased with the cake. And the party as a whole. Now back to the clearing up!!

Birthday Cupcakes

A friend of mine asked me to make her some cupcakes for her birthday. I made vanilla and chocolate cupcakes and then topped most of them with vanilla frosting and the rest with peanut butter frosting. Like me, she has a fondness for peanut butter frosting!

Gluten Free Whoopie Pies

I tried my hand at gluten free whoopies this weekend. I got the recipe from "Whoopie Pies" by Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell.
2 1/4 cups gluten free plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon xanthum gum (see the free from section in Sainsbury's if you are struggling)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (at room temp)
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tablespooons milk
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit / Gas Mark 6. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and xanthum gum.
3. Using an electric mixer beat together the butter, shortening and both sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and buttermilk and beat until combined. (Yes, my mixture curdled again at this point- I take it that is what buttermilk is supposed to do?!)
4. In a small jug combine the milk, bicrabonate of soda and vinegar and then add to the batter along with the flour mixture. Beat on low until just combined. Add the vanilla and beat on a medium speed until well combined.
5. Using a spoon drop spoonfuls of the mixture onto the baking sheet spacing at least two inches apart.
6. Bake one sheet at a timefor about ten minutes. Leave to cool then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
I decided to use a normal vanilla buttercream to fill the whoopie pies.

And voila! Pefect Whoopie pies. The tops were smooth too. Just like a baby's bum!

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Ice Cream Pops!

I love Oreos. A lot.
Even more though, I love oreo truffles.

They have just two ingredients. Oreos and full fat cream cheese.
Mmmm, cream cheese.

You blitz the oreos until they resemble fine breadcrumbs and then mix them in with the cream cheese until the mixture is completely combined. At this point, it is best to leave the mixture in the fridge for a few hours or overnight to allow it to firm up.

Then roll out the mixture into walnut sized balls. Leave in the fridge for a couple of hours to firm up again.

Pop one of the balls onto an ice cream cone that has been cut down in size.

Have you ever used candy melts? I love them. They are basically a vanilla flavoured candy coating that comes in a variety of colours. You melt them down as you would chocolate and can then use them to cover anything or even put them in moulds to create shapes.

Dip the balls in the melted mixture.


Top with sprinkles to create an ice cream effect.

I had seen these treats on the Bakerella website and had been waiting for an opportunity to make some. I decided to make them as party favours so put them in little cellophane bags using matching twist ties.

I hope the guests like them!!

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Wedding Anniversary

Our wedding cake was amazing. We had it made at a local cake shop - Richard's Cakes in Urmston. The cake turned out exactly the way I had imagined in my head. Five layers - each covered in ivory rolled fondant and covered with fondant roses. The bottom layer was fruit and the rest was chocolate. It was the best chocolate cake I've ever had. Without a doubt.

To celebrate our wedding anniversary, I made a mini wedding cake for Mr G. Richard's kindly agreed to make the cake for me- three mini layers.

I chose a completely different colour combination to our wedding cake.

I decided to use mini cut -out fondant circles to decorate the cake.

This is what I started with. The cakes were covered with buttercream to make sure the fondant stayed put.

I bought some ready tinted rolled fondant. I have been really pleased with the taste and texture of M&B's sugar paste.

I covered each cake with a different coloured fondant.

I also covered the cake board and decorated it.

I topped the cake with one of the roses from our original wedding cake. I couldn't bear to throw them away and we had both eaten our respective weights in icing and sugarpaste roses.

I was so pleased with the finished cake.
Happy Anniversary Baby!!