Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Double whammy

I swear, this wasn't designed to be a baking blog. Except that seems to be what I spend most of my time doing at the moment. That might account for the fact that none of my trousers fit me any more....thank goodness for elasticated leggings.

red(ish) velvet cupcakes

I read a lot of American blogs, and Red Velvet Cakes seem to be really popular state-side. It's not something I've ever seen over here, so I was dying to give them a try. It took a while to find a recipe, because American recipes use different measurements. Eventually I found this lovely website and got started.

I guess when you are experimenting, you have to be prepared for things to turn out differently from what you expected...although these were nice, there is definitely some room for improvement. They didn't really turn out red enough for my liking - must add more food colouring. And I had the same problem as a couple of commenters on the original blog - the cakes were much more dense than my usual cupcakes. These were 'ok', not 'great'. The smaller cupcakes were nicer as they had a better cake-to-frosting ratio. I will try them again at some point, if only just to try and make the corrections and get them 'perfect'.

lemon meringue cupcakes

Can you believe I've never made meringue before? Actually, after doing these lemon meringue cupcakes, I can see why: it's a faff. But worth it because they look quite pretty. Now I come to think of it, these cupcakes were quite dense as well, so maybe it was something in the air on Sunday. Again, these were 'good' but not 'perfect' so I'll have to try them again in the future to see if I can get them just right. I think (and Mum agrees with me) that a lemon & sugar syrup would be better to drizzle over them rather than the lemon juice. In case you fancy trying them yourselves...

Basic Cupcakes:
150g (5oz) butter, softened
150g (5oz) caster sugar
150g (5oz) self-raising flour
3 medium eggs
2 tablespoons milk
Finely zested rind of 1 lemon (I forgot this bit!)
Juice of 1 lemon
Lemon curd
12-hole cake tray, lined with paper cases

Set the oven to Gas Mark 5 or 190C.
Place all the ingredients in a bowl and beat until smooth. (You could use the creaming method but I don't always bother.)
Divide the mixture between the paper cases and bake in the centre of the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until they have risen and are just firm to the touch in the centre.
Remove cakes from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Brush the tops with lemon juice.

Meringue topping:
3 large egg whites
250g (8oz) caster sugar
Pinch of salt

Tip the egg whites into a bowl and add the sugar and salt. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir until the sugar dissolves completely.
Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk the mixture (you'll need an electric mixer of some description, this takes FOREVER)until it bcomes a thick meringue.

Spread a little lemon curd over the top of each cake.
Fill a piping bag with the meringue mixture, and pipe spikes over the top of each cake.
Place the cakes on a baking tray and return to the oven for about 5-7 minutes, or until the meringue is just starting to turn golden. Remove the cakes from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.

It was definitely hard work doing two lots of cakes at once, and I won't deny that it was a bit disappointing when they didn't turn out quite as perfect as I'd hoped. BUT - they were still good, and everyone enjoyed them. I think maybe the lesson in this one might be not to push myself so hard.

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