Cupcake making insanity continues...

The beginning of November saw mad cupcake frenzy here, as I used the Hard Kaur Chocolate cake recipe with vanilla bean icing and various combinations of cinder toffee, white chocolate and royal icing (cut into bats!) to create a dozen cupcakes for a little boy's birthday, and 2 dozen to sell for the benefit of our local Sikh group. I think I need a small cupBreak from the cupCakes.


Zombie brain cupcakes: Hard Kaur Chocolate Cake Goes Halloween

Remember Hard Kaur Chocolate Cake? The delicious, moist, fudgy, VEGAN cake? Remember the eggless buttercream icing?

This is what happens when you make a vanilla buttercream icing, add a few drops of peppermint and a smidge of blue food colouring, pipe with an angled nozzle and decorate with red gel and red dyed white chocolate (which you have to melt wrongly and destroy by getting water into it in order to get the correct GUTsy texture). Delicious, chocolate mint, irresistable, Halloween Zombie Brain cupcakes.

Bake Much? Canneles, Bread and zOMBIE BRaIn CuPcAkES

A whole plethora of plentiful baking: first attempt at Cannelés, another loaf of my favourite coconut milk bread (from the wonderful book Warm Bread and Honeycake),

and then, a special invention for Halloween 2012 (and looks to be an annual favourite),
Zombie Brain Cupcakes (chocolate cupcakes from my Hard Kaur Chocolate Cake recipe) with Vanilla Mint Buttercream icing (just use my vanilla bean icing, add peppermint essence SLOWLY a TINY BIT AT A TIME to taste, and add a little bit of blue food colouring), with dyed white chocolate gore (for this, just melt the chocolate wrong...add a bit of water...and watch as it gets a consistency which would normally make you tear your hair. Then add red food colouring and blend imperfectly to give flecks of white. Absolutely disgusting. Totally tasty!)


And a big plate of pasta and turkey meatballs.

spicy sauce with broad beans and thyme-scented turkey meatballs!

And the family loved it. :)

Bon Appetit Vanilla Cloverleaf Bun Session

These were delicious for breakfast and tea...the vanilla interestingly developed a grassy flavour...really special, pandan-like, and special. Having tried this recipe with Swedish pearl sugar I must admit that I prefer the effect of a sugar crust created by spooning on caster sugar or golden caster sugar.

You can find the recipe here. The only change I made was to use golden caster sugar. I also added a bit of self raising flour (about a half a cup from the total amount) and found that that led to an even softer consistency. It is a *beautiful* elastic, fragrant dough, and one to be savoured in the using and the eating!


Bakery Hit List 2012/13

At the Hot Cross meet & greet today we discussed our ambitions for the coming year. I have quite a few, and as I'm on maternity I have a *little* bit of time to make them happen. My hit list is below, so if anybody knows how to make any of these please let me know...I would love your tips! Most of these are pretty complicated so we may not want to do all of them in the club, but I will be pursuing them in my own time, and I will keep everyone posted of my experiments (and results!); so if anybody wants to join me in having a go, just let me know!

1. Macarons (left)
2. Brioche (my favourite!)
3. Madeleines
4. Cannelés (below)
5. Financiers
6. Choux pastries
7. Some Viennoiseries.
and last but not at all least, I am going to begin the big project of making:
8. my own sourdough bread including cultivating my own sourdough starter.

I'd like to get a bit creative with sugarpaste too...I tend to do buttercream icings because they are tasty and I'm lazy.

I would like to inject cream into something: a pastry, a cupcake...I want to create something with a creamy filling! yum yum!


The bun has landed, and in fact, she's over 3 months old now, and keeping us very busy.

Blogosphere, meet Léontine Ishwar June-Ting Giet!


re cap/bun in the oven

Weird things have happened to blogger's format since I put in a post, and lots of things have happened to me, I must say. I haven't been writing much here because after arriving in Oxford I set up a baking group for students of my college St. Cross...you can see that here: http://hotcrossoxford.blogspot.com/ so all my baking energies have gone to that. As if that weren't exciting enough...I got pregnant right after I started my PhD...now, in under 4 weeks I will be a Mama. So at 35 weeks pregnant I'm not doing much cooking...but I still have a few tricks up my sleeve.


Mahlab Shortbread



The key ingredient is Mahlab, sometimes spelled Mahleb, or Mahlepi; According to Wikipedia "it is an aromatic spice made from the seeds of the St Lucie Cherry (Prunus mahaleb). The cherry stones are cracked to extract the seed kernel, which is about 5 mm diameter, soft and chewy on extraction, but ground to a powder before use. The flavour is similar to a combination of bitter almond and cherry."

It does have a dried cherry resonance and an almondy doughy scent...and is frankly different from anything else, and quite extraordinary. I've been dying to try it for ages and finally got a great recipe and the mahlab to go with it.

I got the recipe from Zamouri Spices (www.zamourispices.com)...one of my favourite online spice emporia when I was living in the US and a good place to get your Mahlab from if you live in the USA. If you are in the UK, you can order from http://www.maroque.co.uk/, or check out your local Turkish or Middle Eastern grocery...I was pleasantly suprised to find Mahlab readily available in several shops in the Cowley area of Oxford, so you'll definitely see more food adventures and photos up here soon.

The recipe couldn't be easier, and it's really quick. Note that it calls for SALTED butter.

6 Tbsp Salted butter
1 C Flour, sifted
2 tsp Mahleb (ground)
1/4 C Sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla
Confectioners'/powdered sugar

Melt the butter and cool until lukewarm. Mix the flour with the mahleb and sugar. Add the butter and vanilla and mix to a crumbly dough. Roll rounded teaspoons of the mixture into balls and place on baking sheets lined w/ parchment paper.

Bake at 300 F/ 150C for 30 minutes. Take out of the oven and let them stand about 30 seconds so they can firm up. While hot, roll in confectioners' sugar (be careful as they are still crumbly), and return to oven for 1 minute. Cool a few minutes on the sheets then transfer them to a wire rack with a spatula to finish cooling.

The perfect accompaniment to this tasty tea time treat, as far as I can see, is a cup of Mariage Freres Sakura scented Green Tea.

It's fragrant floral and cherry taste compliments the chewy moist biscuits beautifully...you can order online and there are a few other outlets that do sell Mariage Freres (although not a tenth of the selection available in that Emporium of French style scented teas with multiple Parisian outlets), and it is worth the trouble, trust me.