What's a Party without Cupcakes??

A party isn't a party without cupcakes. Especially a birthday party! My father-in-laws girlfriend threw him a surprise 60th birthday party a couple weekends ago and of course I supplied the cupcakes!

I went with a crowd pleaser Oreo Cupcakes! I followed a recipe from Love Bakery by Samantha Blears exactly. It’s a go to cupcake book.

It’s been quiet on the blog and it probably will be until the end of the year. I will hopefully be baking a bit more once the girls are off and I have a bit more down time.

I hope everyone else is enjoying the holidays! 

Cinnamon Cake & CCC Christmas Cakes!

We had our last Clandestine Cake Club meet-up of 2013! Of course being the holiday season we went with Christmas as our theme!

As always we had a nice selection of cakes and I tried to eat a slice of each. Which never goes well. I either miss one or two or end up with a load of half eaten slices on my plate! 

Once again, everything was very tasty. I never can complain about our group of cake makers!

Here is what we all made this time round:

I choose a Cinnamon Cake with Cinnamon Butter Cream because everything people bake this time of year has cinnamon in it. Well, pretty much everything!

The Cinnamon Cake turned out perfectly cinnamon-y and delicious! It was a bit like making muffins. All you do is combine all the dry in one bowl and the wet in the other. Then place in the tin and bake! So, a very minimal effort cake, but a very good cake!

Cinnamon Cake

225g self-rising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
75g ground almonds
100g golden caster sugar
2 medium eggs
50g honey
250ml natural Greek yogurt
150ml sunflower oil

Preheat oven to180C/350F/gas4 and line the bottom of a 9 or 10 in cake tin and grease the sides with oil. I used a 10in as I don’t own a nine and it came out fine with the time below.

Combine all the dry ingredients by sifting the flour, baking powder, and cinnamon before adding the almonds and sugar.

In a separate bowl combine all the wet ingredients eggs, honey, yogurt, and oil – mix well.

Fold the wet mixture into the dry until just combined.

Gently pour into the prepared tin and bake for 35 minutes. Cake should have a golden hue and a skewer should come out clean when inserted into the cake. Cool for 10 minutes or so in the tin, before completely cooling on a wire rack.

Cinnamon Buttercream

200g butter, softened
150g icing sugar, plus a little more depending on how you like the consistency
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 tbsp whole milk

Beat all the ingredients together until you get your desired consistency and it is light and fluffy! Use more or less milk for the same reasons you may need a little more icing sugar.

to finish

Snow Flake Sprinkles (optional)
Chocolate Penguins (optional) 

Evenly spread the buttercream over the cake and decorate as desired!

notes: How many C’s can I get in a title of a post?? Clandestine Cake Club is fun! Find one near you! This cake was adapted from a recipe in Cake by Rachel Allen. Chocolate Penguins are from Sainsbury’s, I bought them as I thought they were super cute! I must apologize for the quality of the pictures, the lighting is never nice to my phone camera!

Christingle Ice Cream

In Christmases past, the ones with my family in the USA, my mom always put a chocolate orange in my stocking.

It was the best part of my stocking.

In the USA they were only available during the holiday season, so it was weird when I moved to the UK and I could have a chocolate orange whenever. However I still only ever buy them during the holiday season.

Lucky for me it I the holiday season!

When I was given an opportunity to create a Christmas inspired ice cream I had so many ideas, but didn’t know if I should go traditional Christmas flavors or go with something a little more personal.

I settled on personal and made a Chocolate Orange Ice Cream. It’s smooth, creamy, and delicious. It reminds me of Christmas!

I named it Christingle Ice Cream after the traditional “Christmas Orange” and because it makes is sound more Christmasy!

Christingle Ice Cream

175g Terry’s Milk Chocolate Orange
55g Terry’s Dark Chocolate Orange
375ml double cream
375ml whole milk
150g sugar
generous pinch of salt
4 egg yolks
120g Terry’s Dark Chocolate Orange, chopped

Make sure you’re ice cream maker pot has been in the freezer for at least 24 hours and don’t take of the freezer until you are about to use it. Always follow the manufactures instructions. Prepare an ice bath.

Melt the milk and dark chocolate with the double cream in a bowl over a simmering pot of water. Gently stir until melted and set aside.

In a saucepan warm the milk, sugar, and salt. In a separate bowl whisk the egg yolks together. Once the milk mixture is warm slowly pour over the egg yolks, whisking the whole time. Pour back into the saucepan and stir continuously until the custard coats the spatula and you can run a finger through it and it leaves a line.

Pour the custard through a sieve into the melted chocolate mixture. Place the bowl in the prepared ice bath and stir until mixture is cool.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the fridge, before freeing in the ice cream maker according to the ice cream makers instructions! Towards the end of churning add the chopped dark chocolate.

Eat right away or place in a container and freeze until ready to serve!

notes: I was sent the Kenwood Ice Cream Maker to use in this blogging Challenge hosted by Curry’s. Information on Christingle found here. A couple holiday seasons ago I made Chocolate Orange Brownies! Yum! The recipe is adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz. Buy 1 milk and 1 dark chocolate orange and you have enough chocolate to make this ice cream, switch them around however you want. Or use all dark or all milk? Whatever suits your tastes!

December vs. Chocolate Guinness Cake

I don’t really need to tell you that December is a busy month. It’s just a time of year that literally everyone is busy.

For example this week there was a birthday, my sister arrived from America to visit, a Christmas fair, and tomorrow we still have a birthday party to attend!

Then Sunday I am making and baking the stuff I didn't get to do because I was sick.

Oh and there is that!

This time of year is rife with germs! Tonsillitis is always fun to have. I was told if I couldn't swallow water then I’d have to be hospitalized because my tonsils were that swollen.

I’m still taking the antibiotics for it; the nurse gave me a 10-day course. I have never in my life been given 10 days worth of antibiotics!

Anyway going back to that birthday earlier this week. My father-in-law celebrated his 60th birthday with dinner and bowling! Even though, due to various reasons I didn't get to attend, I did get a cake to him just in the nick of time!

I was told that it was absolutely delicious! 

He is and always has been, as long as I've known him, to be a huge chocolate fan and has always enjoyed a drink. So, a Guinness Cake was a perfect fit!

Chocolate Guinness Cake

250ml (9fl oz) Guinness
250g (9oz) unsalted butter
80g (3oz) cocoa powder
400g (14oz) caster sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
140ml (5fl oz) buttermilk
280g (10oz) plain flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp baking powder
50g (1¾oz) unsalted butter, softened
300g (10½oz) icing sugar
125g (4½oz) full-fat cream cheese (such as Philadelphia)
Cocoa powder, for dusting (optional)

23cm (9in) diameter cake tin (mine was a 10in)
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F)/gas mark 3, then line the base of the tin with baking parchment.
2. Pour the Guinness into a saucepan, add the butter and gently heat until it has melted. Remove the pan from the heat and stir the cocoa powder and sugar into the warm liquid. Mix together the eggs, vanilla essence and buttermilk by hand in a jug or bowl, and then add this to the mixture in the pan.
3. Sift together the remaining sponge ingredients into a large bowl or into the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer. Using the mixer with the paddle attachment or a hand-held electric whisk, set on a low speed, pour in the contents of the pan. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue to mix thoroughly until all the ingredients are incorporated.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for approximately 45 minutes or until the sponge bounces back when lightly pressed and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Set aside to cool, and then remove from the tin on to a wire rack, making sure the cake is cold to the touch before you frost it.
5. Using the electric whisk or the freestanding mixer with paddle attachment, mix the butter and icing sugar together until there are no large lumps of butter and it is fully combined with the sugar in a sandy mixture. Add the cream cheese and mix in a low speed, then increase the speed to medium and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy.
6. Place the cooled cake on to a plate or cake card and top generously with the cream cheese frosting. The cake can be decorated with a light dusting of cocoa powder.

notes: Don't even get me started on what I have to do next week! I love the holiday's but dude they get hectic! The recipe is copied directly from Hummingbird Bakery’s Cake Days. I also found it on this website. 

Lion Birthday Cake!! {guest post}

So, after my success with the Spider-Man cake, I spotted a recipe in a book that I just HAD to make. So much so, that I bought the book just for this one recipe!

The book is the Baking Recipe Collection by Sainsbury's and the recipe that caught my eye was the 'Loveable Lion'. 

My niece has loved lions for as long as I can remember, so it seemed the perfect cake to bake for her 16th birthday.

The recipe itself was simple to follow and the decorating was just as easy...and so much fun!  

I did allow myself to deviate slightly from the instructions by using cola laces for the whiskers (like a group of teenage girls are going to complain that there are sweets on the cake!), but that's part of what I like about cake decorating.

Everyone commented on how great it looked and I must admit, I was totally over the moon with the result (possibly even better than the one in the book!).

I have made so many things from this book now and it's become one of my baking bibles. It's great if you want a simple baking book with some great family friendly ideas.

 ~ Sharon 

notes: Remember Sharon's Spider-man cake? See it here! baking recipe collection by Sainsbury's is available at Sainsbury's.