Sunday, 17 June 2012

A Beautiful Bundt & Perfectly Piped Swirls

I've had a fair bit of time on my hands this past couple of weeks. It's been kind of nice to see old friends and more of my lovely nephews but what to do when you find yourself with a bit too much time...? Renovating a chair is always an option if you agree with the eHarmony advert, as is watching the French Open tennis (better option, so I did some of that). Inspired by the force that is Nadal, I resolved to get back in the game and booked my orthopaedic surgeon appointment for my wrist and enlisted Kirstie to help me out with a gentle game of short tennis. And then, after I'd squeezed in a bit of schoolwork, I did the one other thing that I do best - I baked!

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

(taken from The Hummingbird Bakery cookbook by Tarek Malouf)

This recipe is for a large 20cm, 3 layer cake but I experimented with making cupcakes out of it recently and it worked brilliantly. You really must use greaseproof lined cases if you don't want a stained cup case though as the oil content is quite high.

(for the cakes)

300g soft, light brown sugar
3 eggs
300ml sunflower oil (I used 250ml - it just looked so much and had faith in my carrots being moist)
300g plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

300g carrots grated
100g shelled walnuts (plus extra to decorate)


Preheat the oven to 170 degrees.

Put the sugar, eggs and oil in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat until all the ingredients are well incorporated (don't worry if the mixture looks slightly split). Slowly add the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt and vanilla extract and continue to beat until well mixed.

Stir in the grated carrots and walnuts by hand until they are all evenly dispersed.

Pour the mixture into the cupcases (no more than 2/3 full).

Cook for about 20-25 minutes or until they are fully risen and a toothpick inserted comes out clean and the tops bounce back to the touch.

These quantities made about 20 cakes.
Once cooled you can frost them. Cream cheese frosting is perfect for these and I like the Hummingbird Cream Cheese Frosting recipe so I used that:-
These quantities frost about 12 cupcakes according to the cookbook, I trebled the quantities below (but I did had frosting leftover).
300g icing sugar, sifted
50g unsalted butter, at room temperature
125g cream cheese, cold

Mix the butter and icing sugar together, then gradually add the sifted icing sugar.
Wendy Kitchenaid made light work of this as always :)
Then you need the PERFECT NOZZLE! This is vital. Using a disposable piping bag, I like to use either a big, soft swirl nozzle or a Wilton 1m nozzle (no need for a "coupler" especially). You can buy them from here:-
And what you do is fill the piping bag fairly full by stretching it over a glass and smooth a little frosting to the edge of the cases with a palette knife. Then, with the piping bag in an upright position begin at the centre, apply consistent pressure and make a complete swirl pushing down slightly at the end to finish the swirl.

But one cake variety is never enough so I made Chocolate Bundt Cake (whilst feeling very guilty for still not returning Priya's tin). It will come back to you soon Priya, honest!
And the recipe I got from the marvellous Shutterbean website. I love, love love Tracy Shutterbean and Joy the Baker (Wilson) and their podcast keeps me amused on many a car journey.
I will re-type Tracy's bundt cake recipe as I have converted the U.S quantities into their U.K equivalents but you can see the original step-by-step process here (also love her flower idea - classy!)
But, if you'd rather the U.K quantities, here they are...

Beautiful Chocolate Bundt Cake

For the Cake
2 sticks of butter (230grams) - plus more for the pan.
1/3 cup of cocoa powder (45grams)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
2 cups plain flour (plus more for the pan) 300g
1 3/4 cups sugar (360g)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream (150g) (used a 150ml pot)
1 teaspoon vanilla
For the Glaze
4 oz dark choc (115g)
1 1/2 tablespoons agave
1/2 cup of double cream
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

Make the Cake:

Position a rack in the centre of the oven and heat to 350 degrees (180)

Butter and flour a 10 or 12 cup bundt pan and set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine the butter, cocoa powder, salt and water and put over medium heat. Cook, stirring, just until melted and combined. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Put the flour, sugar and bicarbonate of soda in a large bowl and whisk to blend. Add half of the melted butter mixture and whisk until completely blended (it will be very thick). Add the remaining butter mixture and whisk. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking each to blend completely before adding the next. Whisk in the sour cream and vanilla until smooth. 

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean (40-45 minutes).

Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then invert onto a rack. Let cool completely before making the glaze. 

Make the glaze:

Put the chopped chocolate and agave nectar into a medium bowl and set aside. 

Combine the heavy (double) cream and sugar in a medium bowl and put over medium heat. Stir constantly until the cream is hot and the sugar is dissolved. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. If it's very runny, let it sit for a minute or so to thicken. Drizzle (I slathered) the glaze over the cake.
Then I decorated mine with lovely sprinkles and silver balls - ahhhhh!

Happy Birthday to me!

I did have 16 others helping me out with consuming these treats though (just so you know!)
And I got so many lovely cards and gifts but this one from Kay is definitely sums up my outlook for the year ahead...

And finally, I got this amazing print from my sister's family and my parents.
I cannot wait to hang it up above Wendy - how totally retro American cool is this...!
It's by Patrick Edgeley from this website and appears to be scrolling across their homepage at the moment!

So that's it, another year older, another year wiser! I'll confess I was a bit nervous about turning 34 but now it's here, how do I feel...? Exactly the same! Roll on 35; if only because I'd like a print for my study...

J :)