buttercream

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?

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!!

Pink Peppercorn Cupcakes

Yesterday was one of those days when it seemed like it was never going to stop raining, so I knew I wanted to make something that would be the exact opposite of a gloomy grey February day. Now, I don't know if you've noticed, but over the last year or so, I've developed a love for pink - and pink is DEFINITELY the opposite of grey and gloomy.

I searched through my pantry to see what I had on hand that could be turned into something special - and here's what I came up with.

Pink Peppercorn Cupcakes topped with Pink Vanilla Bean Buttercream

I thought Pink Peppercorns would add a really interesting flavour to a basic vanilla cupcake recipe. You see, Pink Peppercorns aren't peppercorns at all - they're actually the dried berries of a bush called Baies Rose. They have a light peppery taste that borders on sweet with a hint of rose (sometimes, Sean will roll the edges of beef tenderloins in crushed Pink Peppercorns before grilling - this is a fantastic addition of flavour to a steak that you should try if you haven't). I thought, 'Why not try them with something sweet?'.

I've never actually baked cupcakes before (which a few of my friends found surprising) so of course I turned to the Queen of Baking, Ms. Martha Stewart for a basic Vanilla Cupcake Recipe:

  • Whisk 3 Cups Flour, 1.5 tsp Baking Powder and 3/4 tsp Salt together in a large bowl
  • Cream 12 Tbsp (1.5 sticks) room temp Butter with 1.5 Cups Sugar 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy
  • Add 4 eggs - one at a time until well mixed
  • Add 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • Need 1.25 Cup Milk
  • To Butter, Sugar, Egg mixture - Add flour, milk, flour, milk, slowly until both are gone - beginning and ending with flour
  • Add 2 Tbsp Pink Peppercorns (I smashed mine in a Ziploc Baggie with a rolling pin)
  • Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees or until tops spring back

The cupcakes were super easy and VERY tasty. I also used Martha's Vanilla Bean Buttercream Recipe - I added 2 drops of red food colouring to give a warm pink glow:

  • Beat 2 Cups room temp Unsalted Butter until creamy
  • Slowly add 3.5 Cups Icing Sugar
  • Add pinch of Salt, 1 Vanilla Bean, scraped and 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • Slowly add 0.25 Cups Milk then food colouring - continue on med/low speed until smooth and creamy

Ok so here's the thing. Decorating cupcakes is harder than I thought it would be!! Here's a pic of the rest of the batch so you can see more of my attempts. The Buttercream was light and subtle and tasted like it was fresh from a professional bakery however, I decided next time I bake cupcakes, I'm going to make Frosting a la Ms. Betty Crocker instead. I LOVE frosting!!

If you love cupcakes then DEFINITELY use the recipe I've posted - you could swap out the Pink Peppercorns - lemon, lime or orange zest would be wonderful - or, you could leave the recipe as is, straight-up Vanilla and then go for flavour with your icing.

Thank goodness for pretty pink cupcakes in the middle of February.