Mini madelines

Well as much as I am enjoying getting back into baking, I am struggling to get creative. I find it too easy to slip in to a routine of baking certain tried and tested recipes that I know everyone likes. When actually I want to learn new baking skills and try new things.

So, on a quest to try new things I went to Lakeland to see if anything there could inspire me. I left with a mini madeline tray, okay so it’s not exactly learning new skills but at least they aren’t something I have made before.

When I looked for recipes I found there were actually large variations in the recipes and methods used to make Madelines. So, this is a bit of an amalgamation of different advice and recipes, but I mainly used the Joy of Baking and Waitrose websites.

Having never tried a madeline I expected it to just taste like plain sponge cake, but I was very pleasantly surprised. The cakes were lovely and light, and they tasted beautifully buttery and sweet. They disappeared very quickly after they had been baked, so I have no idea how well they would keep. But I imagine they would be fine for at least a couple of days if they were stored in an air tight container.

Ingredients:

  • 60g Melted unsalted butter
  • 50g Caster sugar
  • 50g Plain white flour
  • 1 Egg
  • 1tsp Vanilla sugar
  • Icing sugar to dust

Makes 25 mini madelines or 15 regular sized madelines.

Preheat the oven to 190°C.

Method:

  1. Whisk the egg and caster sugar until the mixture is very thick, this takes around 10 minutes.
  2. Sift the flour and vanilla sugar into the egg and sugar mixture, and carefully fold it in.
  3. Then fold in 50g of the butter, set aside the remaining 10g.
  4. Refrigerate the mixture for at least 30 minutes to allow it to become firm.
  5. While the mixture is being refrigerated brush the Madeline tray with the remaining 10g of melted butter and dust the tray with flour, tapping out any excess.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the tray, do not spread the mixture out into the mould otherwise the cakes are likely to become flat, rather than having their expected ‘humped’ look. If using a mini madeline tray its around half a teaspoon of mixture needed per mould.
  7. Bake these for around 7 minutes or until they are golden brown and the cake springs back when you touch it.
  8. Leave the cakes to cool for around 5 minutes then turn the tray upside down and tap it against the worktop. They should all easily fall out.
  9. When they are completely cooled lightly dust them with icing sugar, before you tuck in.

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And she’s back! Whoopie!

I decided that I just couldn’t stay away from the wonderful world of baking any longer! I hadn’t realised how much I had missed baking, until I started again. It’s so nice to escape away into the kitchen and get really stuck into a recipe or dream up a new creation.

I will try and bake each weekend from now on, and might post some of the more adventurous midweek meals I hope to start making. I have been eating too many pre-packaged meals recently and want that to change, to save money if nothing else.

So my return to baking begins with manuka honey flavoured whoopie pies with a filling that I think is similar to a Swiss meringue buttercream.

The recipe is one I have been asked to review, and the Comvita manuka honey and bee pollen were sent to me with it. However, there has been no payment for this review and all opinions are my own.

The recipe I was given was for cupcakes but with some tweaking I adapted it to be a whoopie pie instead. I have previously made the cupcakes and thought they were very nice but a bit over sweet (I will include the original and adapted recipe below). Although, when I originally made the cupcakes I did think that the recipe would make a lovely fruit flan base, which I will endeavour to try out some time soon.

This is the first time I have made icing like this, normally it comes out of a box and water or lemon juice is added! So this was slightly daunting, especially when it felt like I should have been doing numerous things at once, but it seems it doesn’t matter if you do each step one a time. Which is lucky as multi tasking is a skill I was never blessed with.

Overall, I found the cakes tasted much better with slightly less sugar and the buttercream was delicious, and definitely improved over time. I always struggle to work out whether things like this should be kept in the fridge due to the butter, so I tried both. I still don’t know exactly which it is meant to be, but I preferred the ones kept in the fridge as i liked how firm the buttercream became, but I think this is totally down to personal preference.

Right now for the recipe:

Cupcake recipe from Comvita

Ingredients:

  • 250g Softened butter
  • 250g Golden caster sugar
  • 250g Self-raising flour
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1tbsp Comvita UMF10+ Manuka Honey
  • 1tsp baking powder

Makes 12 muffins or 18 cupcakes

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Method:

  1. Using an electric whisk cream the butter and sugar until it is pale and creamy.
  2. Whisk in the eggs and a tablespoon of the flour, if it looks like it is curdling.
  3. Sieve in the remaining flour and baking powder, fold this in and add the Manuka honey. If the mixture looks to dry a little milk can be added.
  4. Do not over mix the batter as this will prevent the cakes from being light and fluffy.
  5. Spoon the mixture in to the cupcake or muffin cases.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes or until they are golden and spring back when you touch them.

Whoppie pie recipe using Comvita honey

This recipe was adapted from the recipe for Vanilla whoopie pies in a book called ‘Whoopie Pies’ by Love Food.

Ingredients:

  • 125g Plain flour
  • 0.5tsp Bicarbonate of soda
  • 85g Softened butter
  • 75g Golden caster sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 75ml Buttermilk or a milk and lemon juice mixture
  • 1 tsp Comvita Manuka honey

Makes 7 whoopie pies.

I made this recipe in a whoopie pie maker, so do not know how well they cook in the oven but the book advises they should cook in 20 minutes at 180°C.

Method:

  1. Whisk the butter and sugar together until they are pale and creamy and then mix in the egg and a tablespoon of flour.
  2. Sieve in half the remaining flour and add the buttermilk, thoroughly combine the ingrediants. The rest of the flour along with the bicarbonate of soda can now be folded in.
  3. Spoon a heaped teaspoon of the mixture into each ring in the whoopie pie maker and cook for 7.5 minutes.
  4. Leave them to cool before filling.

Buttercream recipe

Ingredients:

  • 75g Golden caster sugar
  • 50ml Water
  • 2 Egg whites
  • 125g Softened butter
  • 1/2tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1/2tsp Yellow food colouring
  • 1tsp Bee Pollen to sprinkle

Makes enough to fill 12 whoopie pies.

  1. Whisk the egg whites and gradually add 15g of the sugar, until the egg whites become stiff.
  2. Combine the water and the remaining 60g of the sugar in a saucepan and heat stirring until the sugar disolves, then stop stirring until the mixture boils and reaches 121°C.
  3. Sit the saucepan in a bowl of cold water for just a few seconds, to prevent the syrup from getting any hotter (if it’s left too long, it will be too thick to pour).
  4. Gradually pour the syrup in to the whisked eggs. Continue whisking the mixture for around 10 minutes until the bowl feels lukewarm. If the syrup starts to become too thick to pour, return the pan to the hob very briefly, for the heat to thin it slightly.
  5. Slowly whisk in the softened butter. Then add the vanilla extract and food colouring and keep whisking it until it forms a smooth fluffy buttercream.
  6. Spread the buttercream on to the flat side of one of the whoopie pies and sprinkle on some of the bee pollen, then put the two halves together. I am not entirely convinced that the bee pollen is necessary, as the flavour of it gets lost when combined with the buttercream and cake. However, on its own it has a very strong floral taste, so I am still trying to come up with something that it would work well with.
  7. These would also taste nice with some jam spread on the whoopie pie beneath the buttercream.

Jam and Buttercream Whoopie Pies

For Christmas I was bought a Sweet Treats Whoopie Pie Maker and for some reason have only just got round to using it. I have never even eaten a whoopie pie before let alone making one, so, I can’t really say if these taste as a whoopie pie should, as I have no idea. However, what I do know is that they are delicious and everyone that has tried them agrees! The machine is great, they were cooked in less than 7 minutes, and the non stick worked perfectly so it was very easy to clean.

The recipe I used came with the machine for a vanilla whoopie pie, they came out great but the quantities were a bit off. The recipe stated it made 14 but it actually made 24.

I have made them a couple of times now the first time I used their buttercream recipe, but found this far too sweet and instead I used 140g butter and 200g of icing sugar, this made enough for about 20-22 whoopie pies. This was just whisked using an electric hand whisk until it looked creamy. The pies were then put together by spooning jam on one half and buttercream on the other and sandwiching them together.

I also received a recipe book dedicated to whoopie pies for Christmas and so am planning on trying lots of different flavours, the next is likely to be carrot cake pies with a sweet cream cheese filling.

Fruity Scones

It’s been a while since I last baked anything and I fear this sporadic baking may continue for a while. I have recently been offered a job and so have been sorting everything out as this means moving to a new town and being a lodger for a while. But today I decided I have had enough of sorting things out for my move and instead I spent the morning baking. I have been meaning to try and bake scones for a long time, as I was told they were very simple but had never got round to it. For a first attempt at scones these were absolutely delicious, soft and light with a nice crisp crust, I didn’t even need any cream with them, the taste of the scone with some butter and jam was perfect.

This was adapted from a Mary Berry recipe out of her Baking Bible (Special Fruit Scones, page 322), which is an invaluable book for a fail safe recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 116g Plain flour
  • 2 tsp Baking powder
  • 15g Sugar
  • 25g Butter
  • 1 Egg
  • Milk
  • 25g Currants (or any mixture of dried fruits that you have)

Makes 4 scones

Preheat the oven to 220C

Method:

  1. Combine the flour, baking powder and butter in a bowl and rub this together using your fingertips until fine breadcrumbs are formed. Then add sugar and fruit to the mixture and combine.
  2. Place a bowl on to scales and crack in a small egg, add enough milk to make the mixture up to 75g – this can be done in a measuring jug as well, but mine doesn’t show measurements any lower than 100ml so using the scales was easier.
  3. Combine the dry and wet mixtures and lightly knead, but do not over handle or they will not be so light and fluffy.
  4. Place the dough onto a floured surface and pat down to around 1.5cm, don’t roll as this is also likely to result in over-handling. Place a 2.5inch circular  cutter into flour and then push straight down into the dough and pull straight up, do not twist the cutter at all or it will prevent rising
  5. Place the scones onto a lined or greased baking sheet and brush the tops with a little milk, where possible try not to allow the milk to run down the sides of the scones.
  6. Bake for around 15 minutes or until they look well risen and golden brown. Allow them to cool slightly on a wire rack before eating, they are best eaten on the day of baking but can be stored for a few days in an airtight container. To re-fresh them after a couple of days they can go back in the oven for 4-5minutes and then will taste as good as a fresh one, this also works well if you freeze them.

Poppyseed crumble cake (mohn streuselkuchen)

After doing very little baking over Christmas, I decided today was the day to get back into it, and seeing as I’m currently visiting family I left it open to what they fancied. This is not something I would normally make, but it is something I have always enjoyed on trips to Germany. The recipe is very simple, and if you do not have access to the poppyseed filler then I would definitely recommend the German Deli shop, or a quick Google search shows there are many ways to make the filling using dried poppyseeds.

Here is the recipe:

Pastry:

  • 185g plain flour
  • 75g butter, cut into cubes
  • 25g icing sugar
  • 1 large egg, beaten

Poppyseed filling:

  • 300g poppyseed filling (mohnback) – available from The German Deli in London
  • 227g curd cheese
  • 75ml sour cream
  • 10g Vanilla sugar

Crumble topping:

  • 110g butter (softened)
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 200g plain flour
Icing:
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 15ml water
This requires a 26cm circular springform tin.
Preheat the oven to 190C
  1. To make the pastry, add the flour, butter and icing sugar to a food-processor bowl, and process until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the  egg and pulse the processor until the dough forms a ball. Bring all the dough together, wrap in cling film and chill for around 30 minutes.
  2. To make the poppyseed filling thoroughly combine all of the ingredients.
  3. For the crumble topping, place all of the ingredients in a food-processor bowl and pulse briefly as the crumbles should remain relatively large.
  4. Roll the pastry out thinly and place in the buttered tin. Then smooth the poppyseed mixture over the pastry and lay the crumbles on top. Lightly compact the crumbles into the mixture, before baking.
  5. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 25-30minutes. Remove the side of the springform and allow to cool completely, preferably overnight.
  6. Lightly glaze the top of the cake with icing and leave to set before serving.