Sunday, 29 April 2012

Basic Italian meringue Macaroon

I love Macaroon, I refuse to pay such stupid prices for them (sorry but they are so cheep to make) so after watching them make the on the Great British Bake Off I just had to give them a go. My first attempt was a bit mixed.  I know there is a big fear out there and that their is a lot of stigma about making macaroons, but you need to put that out of your mind and just think of it as any other recipe. Yes you may have to take a few attempts to get it right for you, but once you master it, it is so worth while.
Now for this macaroon I have used the Italian meringue method. Which basically is sugar and water heated together to make a syrup then added to your whisked egg white. I will do the other technique later on in the year.
If you are making these you will want the house to your self. I made mine on Friday with all my children in (1 year old, 3 year old and a 5 year old) it is not recommended especially when they all have a naughty head on.
I also recommend buying a macaroon mat (you can get this in Lakeland) (oh and make sure you buy a baking tray that it fits on, you wills see later on that I had to fold mine in half as I still have not got around to buying one) or a silpat mat (which I will be buy soon from Amazon) As I find they are so much better than grease proof paper.

Use the filling of your choice I used my chocolate butter cream filling.

What you need:
Almond Paste
200g Ground Almonds/Almond flour
200g Icing sugar
2 egg whites (need to be 80 mls)
Food colouring.

2 egg whites (need to be 80 mls)
1/2 tsp of egg white powder

200g caster sugar
1tsp of vanilla extract.
80 mls water

What you do:
Prepare your tray with grease proof/silpat mats/macaroon mats. depending on the size you will need about 4-6.

In a food processor ( if you do not own one sift your icing sugar) blitz your almond and icing sugar until fine and like powder. Place this in a bowl and mix in your 80 mls of egg white

 and then add your food colouring (make sure you make it bright as it will come out pale once cooked)
Put this to one side.
Now to make your meringue
Whisk your 80mls of egg white and 1/2 tsp of egg white powder until it forms a stiff peak. If you have a kenwood you can do your sugar syrup first as it will not take as long to whisk. I had to put my sugar syrup on a while after I started whisking as I did mine by hand.

In a sauce pan put your water and caster sugar on a low to medium heat. DO NOT MIX WITH A SPOON but swirl it.
 When it starts to boil put in your sugar thermometer. Take it off the heat as soon as it reaches 110oC. Do not let it get any higher.
Start whisking again and slowly add in your syrup in a nice steady thin stream. I place my bowl on a tea towel to stop it moving.  
Continue whisking until your bowl is cool to touch. You should now have a nice thick and glossy mix. You should have stiff peak when ready.
This photo was take just before it was ready.

Take a 1/3 of the meringue mix and mix it in with your paste. Use a spatula at this point. This will loosen up  your mix. 

Then mix in the rest of your meringue, Carefully again use a spatula and turn the bowl at the same time.
This is when you need to be careful, you only need to mix for minute or so if the mix plops then mix a bit more you want it so that it is just starting to get runny. If it becomes to runny then your macaroons will spread or the will not get nice feet. If it is not mixed enough they will crack while cooking.
Sorry about the photo but it was the best one out of the lot.
Using a bit of the macaroon mix stick down your grease proof onto the trays especially in the corners.
Place the mix in your piping bag, only fill it about 1/2 way full and use a 1cm round nozzle. Pipe out your circles. They want to be about 2 cm wide. You can use a small cookie cutter and a pencil to mark out your circles but make sure when you come to piping that you turn the paper upside down.
 If they have a peak when piped use a damp finger to flatten them.
 Make sure you space them apart, approx 4cm. Once you have piped your macaroons you need to give the tray a good hard tap. do this twice.

Set them to one side to form the skin you need to leave them for a least 1 hour for this to happen, it may take longer it just depends on how warm or cold your room is. 
Preheat your oven to 130oC. 
Place your macaroons one tray at a time on the middle shelf and bake for 13-15 minutes. 
Remove from the oven and leave on the tray to cool completely
 then transfer to a wire rack.
Now if you are using grease proof get a damp towel, make sure it is not to wet or you will end up with a soggy bottom, and place it under the grease proof as some time they stick. this will help you remove them from the grease proof. 
the base should be cooked 

If they come out splotchy and sunken then stick them back in the oven as they are under cooked

If the come out splotchy but have a nice shell and feet on them then you under mixed.

Once you are ready to fill put them in a line. tops and bottoms, put the fillings on the bottom and then put the lid on top.

If you have any questions feel free to ask me, either leave a comment, message me on face book or twitter.
Happy Baking

vanilla piping biscuits.

These biscuits are fantastic for piping. If you want to add nut into them make sure you use ground and reduce the amount of flour. (2 oz almond, 6 oz flour). You will want a your Biscuit mix to be a soft consistency, If it is runny it will merge and spread. (you can add a bit more flour if need be).
You can also use the nozzle of your choice on these I use this nozzel (see pic as not sure which one it is)

I have left these plain but you can melt some chocolate and dip them in it or sandwich them together with a butter cream filling of your choice, either way they are still really yummy.
For this I used the stork easy to mix baking liquid.

What you need:
7 oz butter
3 oz icing sugar
8 oz plain flour
2 tbsp of milk.
1 tsp of extract (flavour of your choice)

What you do:
preheat the oven to 180 o'C  and line your baking trays with grease proof paper.
In a bowl beat your butter and icing sugar until creamy and pale.
Mix in your flour, extract and milk mix until you have a soft dough
Place your dough into your piping bag, make sure you only fill it about half way, and pipe in a circle motion.
Place in the oven on the middle shelf for 10 to 15 minutes until a nice pale golden colour.

Leave on the baking tray for 5 minutes then transfer to a cool on a wire rack.

Happy Baking

Monday, 16 April 2012

How to make basic Cake Pops

Ok as some of you are aware I have really struggled making cake pops to view some of my disasters have a look on my face book page at the photo's but after doing lots of research and help from one of my Liker's (Lesley) I think I have finally mastered them, so I thought I would share This little how to.
Once you are ready to cover your cake pops make a little production line up. it makes it a lot easier.

This made 11.

What you need:
1 Cake ( I used a Madeira cake made the day before)
pre made butter cream ( made the day before and left in the fridge over night)
cake pop sticks ( you can get these in Asda, you get 12 in a box)
chocolate/candy melts/silver spoon buttons (aprox 200g for 12)
block of polystyrene, stand it in a tall glass, or use a egg carton

What you do:
Cut off the top of your cake and scrape out the inside ( you do not want any hard bits, my son decided to eat this bit)

then in a food processor or a large bowl break up your cake using a fork. Make sure there are no big bits, must look like small bread crumbs.

Mix in your butter cream do a tbsp at a time as it depends on the consistency of your butter cream
( I used 3 1/2. If you are using brought one use about 1/3 to 1/2 a tub, again use a tbsp to help you. Make sure you mix well together.
When the mix is one colour Knead with your hands for a few minutes just to ensure that it is a fully incorporated.

Using a table spoon scoop out some cake pop mixture and shape in to a ball, these need to weigh about 1 oz.  You will need to wash your hands after making a couple of balls. Place these on a baking tray.
 Once you have all your balls place a bag over your baking tray and place in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes. Do not forget about them other wise you will end up with frozen ones. Or in the fridge for 2-3 hours.

Melt a small amount of your chocolate/candy melts/silver spoon buttons dip the sticks in to the melted chocolate/candy melts/silver spoon buttons,
I have found using wooden lolly stick no good,  then dip this into your cake. It needs to be about half way through the cake ball. Any further and they will break after the first freeze.

Again place on your tray and cover and place in the fridge for 2-3 hours, if  you are placing them in the freezer use freezer zip/seal bags, place them in these so that they do not get a frost on them when placed in the freezer, and freeze for I hour or until firm to touch.

Once they are ready to cover melt all your  chocolate/candy melts/silver spoon buttons
 carefully dip the cake pop into this so that it completely covers the ball and gently shake off any excess, if you are using decorations such as sprinkles add them at this time.  Place your completed cake pop stick down in either a block of polystyrene, stand it in a tall glass, or use a egg carton. If you don't have these place them on grease proof paper with the cake pop end propped up.

This does take a lot of practice to master it so do not be put off if your first attempt fails it is all about trial and error in getting the consistency right.

Happy baking

Sunday, 15 April 2012

My take on Madeira Cake

Normally when you come across recipes for Madeira cake you would only put in caster sugar and lemon zest but I find putting half caster and half soft brown sugar makes it a bit more special and a bit more me.
Tomorrow I will be using this cake to make cake pop's, I have found that making the cake the day before and leaving it to rest helps form the balls.

What you need:
200g butter
100g caster sugar
100g soft brown sugar
4 eggs
200g self raising flour
100g plain flour

What you do:
pre heat your oven to 170 o'C and grease and line your cake tin. On this occasion I haven't lined my tin as I will be using this cake  for cake pop's (how to will follow)
In a large bowl cream your butter and both sugars together until pale and creamy.

Beat in your eggs one at a time, make sure they are fully incorporated after each addition.

Sift in your flour's and fold them in again making sure that it is a fully incorporated.

Pour your mix into your cake tin. Place in your oven on the second from bottom shelf and bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until the skewer comes out clear.
Leave the cake to cool in the cake tin for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Happy Baking

Friday, 13 April 2012

Best ever Chocolate Cupcakes

These cup cakes are the quite simply the best chocolate ones I have ever made. They are light and soft even after a few days.
To decorate them I used my nutella butter cream then some chocolate eggs.
normally when I make this I would use vanilla paste but unfortunately I didn't have any so I used a vanilla pod.
I also used stork ready to use butter

What you need:
115g dark chocolate ( I used bournville)
3 oz butter
6 oz soft brown sugar
2 large eggs separated
7 oz plain flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
8 fl oz milk.
1 vanilla pod. or 1 tsp vanilla paste

13oz icing sugar sifted
5oz soft butter
1tsp milk
4 heaped tbsp nutella

What you do:
in a sauce pan heat gently up the milk and vanilla pod, do not let it boil. Put to one side to cool completely.
Pre heat your oven to 180 o'C and line your tin with cupcake cases.
In a double boiler melt the chocolate, once melted remove from heat and set to one side to cool.

Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy.

In a separate bowl or cup beat the egg yolks

then slowly mix this into the butter and sugar. Make sure it is fully incorporated.

Add in the melted cooled chocolate to the butter mix. Again make sure it is fully incorporated.

In a separate bowl sift the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda.

Sieve the milk into a jug. Split the vanilla pod in half and scrape out the seeds and add them back to the milk.

Add the milk and flour to the chocolate mix, make sure you alternate between the two, beating well, until it is all fully combined.

In a clean bowl whisk the eggs whites until the form soft to stiff peaks.
Carefully fold this into the chocolate mix. make sure that you can not see any egg whites other wise once they are baked you will end up with white bits.  make sure you do not beat the mix at this stage as you will loose the air.

carefully spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases. Be careful as the mix will be a liquid consistency.
Place the tray into the oven on the middle shelf and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
Leave in the tin to cool for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

In a large bowl cream the butter and icing sugar. (sorry forgot to take photo's at this point)
Mix in the milk and nutella until smooth, thick and creamy. I do mine so that it will hold its shape. If you find it is to thin just add a little more icing sugar or if it is to thick add a little more milk. Do this until you have a consistency that you like. You are now ready to decorate.

I used my grass nozzle, it is a big nozzle with lots of holes in it, (not sure what number it is as mine do not have that on them) and made a nest then I put in the eggs.

Happy Baking

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

How to make a train Decoration out of Foundant/sugar paste/icing

I use a small cake board for sitting my figures on as if a I just work with out checking the size I tend to make them to large.
I also use a plastic place mat to work on that is dusted in icing sugar.
To make this how to I have used some old icing that needed to go in the bin so sorry about the cracks.
As I can not give you the exact sizes you need mess about with it, you do not need to use water to stick it all together until you are happy with it.
If you are colouring your own icing you will need to wear gloves other wise you will end up with coloured hands.

What you need:
ready made icing/foundant/sugar paste
Food colouring of your choice
Ball tool
Sharpe Knife
Small rolling pin

What you do:
Dye your icing/foundant/sugar paste your desired colour. Knead until it is soft and pliable.
You need to roll out a thick sausage shape, this will be your engine bit, cut off the ends so that it is nice a tidy.

Roll out a slightly thicker sausage shape and again cut off the ends, this will be the section where the driver would stand, then slightly flatten it do this until it looks right when placed next to the engine.

Once you are happy, use a little bit of water and stick this to both bits together.
Roll out a piece of icing/foundant/sugar paste, it needs to be slightly thick, using the knife cut to size it needs to be square, this will be the roof. Once you are happy stick it to the bit where the driver would stand, make sure you only use a small amount of water

roll out a small ball, this will be your chimney, using the ball toll make a slight dent in the centre. Use some water and stick this to the engine.

To make the wheels make two large balls, these will be the back wheels, and four smaller balls, these will be the front wheels. Flatten them down using your finger then using a very small amount of water stick them onto the train.

You then need to make two really thin sausages, these will go onto the wheels, use a knife a cut them to size.
(sorry I forgot to take photo at this stage, think I was a bit distracted at this stage)
But here is a picture of one I did at an earlier date.

I find that using different colours makes the bear look better.
If you want the carriages to go with the train just make some small rectangle and stick some wheels to them.

happy baking