Sunday, 21 November 2010

Ho's Chinese Bakery

Manchester, like most cities has its own Chinatown.

Ho's Bakery in Chinatown is one of my favourite bakeries.

Their cakes are so yum. My favourite is this Coconut Cake. The break like dough is so soft and the coconut mixture is heavenly.

Clockwise from top: Custard Bun, Cream Bun and Red Bean Bun.
I love red bean buns, although I do admit it is a bit of an acquired taste.
In Guyana, South America, where my Mother's family are originally from, they make a very similar pastry called "Black Eyed Cakes" which is made from black eyed peas.
I think these cakes are the direct result of the Chinese influence in Guyanese cuisine, and every Christmas my Grandmother would make these pastries for us to eat.
On a separate note, we also grew up eating "Chow Mein" which is a staple in Guyanese food and
again it was only until I was much older did I realise that it was a Chinese dish!

On my recent visit to Ho's, they were selling these Portuguese custard tarts. They were delish. The pastry was perfect - light and flaky!

One of my faves- good old plain cream sandwich cake. It is an eggless sponge which makes it so light, almost like a Swiss roll sponge.
The cream is light too and I love the way you get a massive wedge!
If you are in Manchester at any time, I would definitely recommend a trip to Ho's and don't be afraid to try something new!

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Ultimate Oreo Cupcakes

Why "ultimate" I hear you ask?
Well these cupcakes have an oreo base, oreos in the cake mixture, oreos in the frosting and are topped with a mini oreo!

These are definately some of my favourite cupcakes to date.
They were inspired by a cookies and cream cupcake that I recently had at my favourite coffee shop in Harrogate- Bean and Bud.
They sell the most amazing hot chocolate and when I go in, I can never resist the array of locally made cakes that they have in store. One of my favourites is the cookies and cream cupcake which has the most delicious oreo frosting I have ever had.

I started off by separating a few oreo cookies and placing one half at the bottom of the cupcake cases.

I then crushed up a few more oreos and added these to my chocolate cupcake batter.

As if these weren't delicious enough.......
....I made a cream cheese frosting to which I added finely cruched oreos.
I then topped the cupcakes with the frosting using a spatula. I tried piping the frosting, but pieces of oreo kept on getting stuck in the nozzle tip.

I then placed a mini oreo on top!

They were so yummy.
I had made them for my cousin's birthday as a treat for her.

Hope you enjoyed them Tans!!

Salted Caramel Whoopies

I have to say, salted caramel is my favourite flavour combination at the minute
Which is quite strange as I really am not that keen on caramel flavoured things.
Mr G bought me this recipe book for my birthday. The Whoopie Pie Book by Claire Ptak.
I used her recipe for salted caramel whoopies.
330 grams plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
125 grams unsalted butter
120 ml whole milk
200 grams light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to Gas Mark 4 / 180 degrees centigrade. Line two baking sheets with greaseproof paper.
2. In a bowl, sift together the flour with the baking powder and salt. Set aside.
3. In a small saucepan, warm the milk and melt the butter in. Do not boil. (see above) Allow to cool.
4. In a separate bowl, beat together the sugar and egg andwhen light and fluffy add the the vanilla.
5. Mix in the flour mixture and then add the cooled milk mixture until just combined. Allow the mixtue to chill for 30 minutes.
6. Drop spoonfuls of the batter onto the baking sheets and cook for either 10 -12 minutes if making large whoopies or 8-10 minutes if making small whoopies.
7. Remove from baking sheet then allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
NOTE: the whoopies were very flat so I would suggest either using self raising flour or increasing the amount of baking powder if like me, you are not a fan of the flat whoopie.

I didn't use the recipe for Caramel Swiss Buttercream that was suggested in the book, as I had come across a jar of this in my local Waitrose supermarket....

Bonne Maman Confiture de Caramel.
It was much nicer than the Carnation version I had recently tried.
Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
25 grams unsalted butter
65 grams of cream cheese
150 grams of icing sugar
2 tablespoons caramel
1/2 tsp salt

1. Mix together the butter and icing sugar
2. Add the cream cheese and beat until smooth
3. Add the caramel and when fully combined, add the salt.
NOTE: you may need to add a little more icing sugar if the mixture is too runny to spread on the whoopies.

Spread the filling on with a spatula.

They were very sweet, butting adding the salt cut through the sweetness a bit.