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Entries in buttercream (5)

Sunday
Mar252012

Monthly Miettes : Tomboy Cake

My friend Aimee over at Food Je t'Aimee came up with nifty idea to start a monthly baking challenge using the lovely Miette bakebook by Meg Ray. Aimme says, 'The book, in a word, is darling. The pages, scalloped and glossy. The photos, stunning. The recipes, challenging, but enticing. The instant I laid my eyes on it, I knew I had to try and create beautiful cakes like the ones in Miette.'

Aimee writes, 'Having signed up for so many blogging events out there last fall, I decided it was high time that I begun my own. So I wrote to Meg and told her about my idea for a blogging challenge called Monthly Miettes. She wrote back saying that she dug the idea. I was elated! I wanted it to be easy to participate - the recipes themselves are challenging enough and Lord knows I don't have much time these days! - so the rules are quite straightforward. Buy the book. Make one cake per month along with me and then post about it. Link back to this post. Let me know you've posted by leaving me a comment, and I'll do a round up the following month. That's it!'

Aimee also writes, 'For the first month, I've chosen the cover recipe: Tomboy Cake. You have from now until March 25th, 2012 to submit your post. Wait - there's one more rule! When you make your cake, you must, must eat a slice for breakfast, along with a steaming mug of coffee (or whatever it is you drink to wake up!).' 

Mmmmmm... cake for breakfast. I'm in!!

From Miette.com - The Tomboy gets its name from the unfinished, but decidedly feminine, way that we decorate this cake. It starts with our double-chocolate cake and is layered with vanilla buttercream. Our buttercream is made the European way, starting with Italian meringue and adding pure Straus butter. The result is luxuriously smooth and not too sweet. The cake and frosting together are perfectly balanced and proportioned.

The cake was delicious - moist and super chocolatey. The Italian Meringue Buttercream was actually pretty easy to make and was lightly decadent however, the book is not well-edited and so confusing that I'm not sure how anxious I am to try another recipe.

For example, the recipe for Vanilla Buttercream has major continuity issues. A small paper insert is included inside the book that note's the corrections to be made which would be fine and dandy if the information on the card was correct. In one section you are told to heat the simple syrup for the buttercream to 248 degrees yet in another section it reads 238 degrees. That's a huge discrepancy when you are talking about stages of cooked sugar. Since the recipe calls for 6 sticks of butter I wanted to do some research before I possibly wasted good ingredients. I landed on this awesome video by CakeLove's Warren Brown to clarify how to correctly make the buttercream and it turned out beautifully.

The recipe for the Double Chocolate Cake was clear and straightforward. One of the steps involves straining the incredibly lumpy batter through a fine to medium mesh sieve. This took about 20 minutes and was, quite frankly, a pain in the ass, however, i feel it was worth it because the cake batter had the consistency of a silky chocolate pudding and baked into an incredibly moist and supple cake. The recipe is portioned to bake two six-inch round cakes, each cut into three layers. I couldn't find six-inch cake pans, so I used two eight-inch cake pans, cut each in half and made one four-layer cake.

One tip from the recipe that I thought was really great is to dust the inside of your greased cake pans with cocoa instead of flour - no white residue left on the outside of the baked cakes!

Despite the inconsistencies in the Buttercream recipe, I will most likely participate in next month's Miettes - everyone that tried this cake loved it and that really is the main thing isn't it?

Tuesday
Apr052011

Vanilla Bean Buttercream Dream {aka Nanny Burke's Buttercream}

I finally did it.

After four failed attempts, I finally made the buttercream I've been dreaming of. And it's all thanks to Nanny Burke.

You may remember my first attempt. Sure they looked good (and the cupcake itself was pretty good) but the frosting had as much flavour as a of a jar of Vaseline and the texture to match.

Then last week, I made Bacon and Baileys cupcakes. I used what I thought was a decent buttercream recipe but really, all you could taste was icing sugar. In an attempt to rescue it, I glugged in a bunch of Baileys. As you can see in the photos, it was somewhat of a droopy, oozy mess. 

On Thursday, a really cute girl I know, A, said 'Oh - you need Nanny Burke's recipe!!' She e-mailed Nanny Burke in Cape Breton and asked for the recipe on my behalf. Nanny told A that over the last 50 years, she's tried a TON of buttercream recipes and this one was by far the best (and the easiest). On Friday I got a text from A with the recipe and a few notes from Nanny Burke.

So why, oh why didn't I follow my gut and trust the wisdom and experience of Nanny Burke? {sigh}

You see, I woke up Saturday morning, inspired by a recipe I had seen online for Swiss Buttercream. Ooooooh - a beautiful meringue-based buttercream that even a beginner could make without screwing up? Or so the recipe implies. Well guess what? I wasted 8 eggs and 4 sticks of butter on a nasty curdled bowl of grossness that I hurled into my green bin in a fit of frustration. 

And then I turned to Nanny Burke.

Oh Nanny Burke, I know we've never met, but after making your buttercream, I consider us kin.

Nanny Burke's Buttercream is the stuff dreams are made of. As I was piping this perfect marriage of buttery sweetness atop my vanilla cupcakes, I constantly stopped to pipe some onto my fingertip. Some for the cupcakes, some for me, some for the cupcakes, some for me...

Ok, so are you ready for the recipe? It's ridiculously easy and by far the BEST frosting I have EVER had!!

Nanny Burke's Buttercream

2 Cups Unsalted Butter, room-temp/soft (I used 1.5 Cups Salted Butter and 1/2 Cup Crisco for firmness)

1 lb icing sugar, sifted (I used 4 Cups, unsifted - I'm lazy sometimes)

1 tsp Vanilla (I used Vanilla Bean Paste)

1/8 tsp salt (I omitted the Salt because I used Salted Butter)

Notes from Nanny Burke

~ Don't mix for more than 2-3 minutes

~ Sub in shortening for butter if you want to decorate with flowers or want a firmer texture

~ Make it once and then play with it

On a side note, here's something interesting that happened when I was baking these cupcakes. I used Ina Garten's recipe for Coconut Cupcakes without the coconut. I baked the first dozen at 350 degrees until golden on top, about 22 minutes. Then I had another look at the recipe and realized that I was supposed to bake them at 325. So I reduced the temperature on the oven for the second batch. Here's what happened:

I've discovered that it is MUCH easier to decorate a cupcake when the top of the cupcake is puffed up into a little dome. Anyway, it doesn't really matter because both batches were absolutely delicious (next time though, I think I'll omit the almond extract in the cupcakes and double up on the vanilla). Today is Tuesday, I baked these on Sunday and they are still tender and moist. I'd recommend making them for sure.

Whew - I did it!! I finally did it!!

Tuesday
Mar292011

Bacon and Baileys Cupcakes

I can't believe it's been a whole year since I created kellyneil.com. I've had so much fun shooting over the last 12 months that I decided to bake something using both bacon and Baileys as a small way to celebrate!!

I'm still getting my cupcake bearings (especially buttercream - I still can't quite seem to get the hang of it) but I came up with:

Coffee Cupcakes with Baileys Buttercream and Candied Bacon sprinkles

Originally I was going to make a Baileys cupcake with bacon-flavoured frosting but yesterday one of my food mentors, SB, threw out the idea of a coffee flavoured cupcake. I thought 'How perfect!!' - you see, I enjoy a cup of coffee and Baileys, well... let's just say 'often'.

When I  dove into the online world last year, creating this website, joining Twitter and starting a fanpage on facebook I couldn't get the username Kelly Neil (I mean really? There's more than one?!?). I sat in front of my screen staring into space thinking about what I like - things that bring me small joys. I liked the sound of 'bacon and baileys' instantly - and so here we are.

Candied Bacon is seriously one of the most unique flavour and texture combinations EVER!! Line a pan with parchment, lay out strips of bacon, cover liberally with brown sugar or maple syrup (or both!!) and bake at 350 degrees until crispy, about 25 minutes. Once cool, it's nothing but crunchy-chewy-sweet and salty-bacon flavoured goodness!!

Coffee Cupcakes (from Martha Stewart)

2 C flour, 1 tsp Baking Powder, 1/4 tsp Baking Soda, 1/4 tsp salt

1/2 C boiling water, 1 Tbsp Instant Espresso, 1/4 C milk

1/2 C butter, 1/2 C white sugar, 1/2 C brown sugar

2 eggs

1. whisk dry ingredients

2. mix espresso with boiling water - cool and then mix with milk

3. beat butter and sugars until pale and fluffy - add eggs one at a time - beat well

4. alternate flour and milk mix into butter mix - begin and end with flour

5. cupcake liners 1/2 full - bake 18-20 minutes at 350

Baileys Buttercream (Mum's recipe + Baileys)

1 C butter, room temperature, 1/2 C Crisco, 4 C icing sugar, 2 tsp vanilla, 1/2 C Baileys

Beat butter and Crisco - slowly add icing sugar and Baileys - adjust to taste

Sprinkle with chopped candied bacon, light a birthday candle, make a wish, blow out the candle and eat!!