Saturday, 23 June 2012

Peanut Butter Cookies

There are several things I wanted to get done today but it is just one of those days where nothing seems to work out as planned.   So instead I decided to throw a batch of Peanut Butter Cookies in the oven and have a go at cleaning my stand mixer.  After all the kids where playing quietly (for a change) in the front room and my hubby decided to have an afternoon nap.  What else was there to do?  So I set to work.

Unbeknownst to me my son was being so quiet because he had decided to empty all the coal out of the fire place onto my white rug :(  We have now employeed a security guard for the fireplace and just hope the rug will come clean. 

Oh well, at least I have some yummy cookies to make me feel better.

My recipe for Peanut Butter cookies is a cinch to make and a real treat.  This is one my Mom taught me as a little girl and so simple you probably won't even need to write it down.

The ingredients

250g smooth Peanut Butter (get the good stuff, reduced fat won't work)
200g sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract


Mix it all together with a wooden spoon until blended.  Roll in the palm of your hand into balls and place on a cookie sheet (I personally love to use my Pampered Chef Baking Stone for cookies).  Press them down in a criss cross shape with a fork and bake at 180C for 10 - 15 minutes. I start checking them after 10 minutes.  Take them out when they start to go a bit golden.  The cookies will be very soft when you remove them from the oven.  Let cool completely before removing from the cookie sheet.

I hope you enjoy them!

Monday, 18 June 2012

The London Cake Crawl 2012

I was very fortunate to be amongst a lucky few invited to attend the London Cake Crawl 2012 organised by Cake Masters. It was a fantastic day and one of my highlights of my living in London experience so far.

We started our day at 9:00 AM in South Kennsington.  Rosie and Clare where very orgnaised and made sure everyone felt comfortable and welcome as soon as we arrived.  We were each greeted with an adorable Cake Crawl Tote full of goodies and a map detailing the locations of each of our mystery stops.  The names of the places we where to visit was kept a secret which added to the fun of the experience with everyone trying to guess where we might go next.  We were also each given an adorable Cake Crawl Cake Pop made by the lovely Zak from Zazzabella, which I can not wait to try.  Believe it or not I have never eaten a Cake Pop!  So that one is definetly going in my I will not share bag.  LOL.

Stop number 1

After group introductions we started our crawl at the Hummingbird Bakery.  This was my first time visiting Hummingbird Bakery, I've heard lots of good things about it before.  We were greeted with a lovely introduction to the bakery and what they are best known for.  They are one of London's original American Style Cupcake Boutiques.  All the cakes are baked fresh in the store.  They where particularly proud of their role in bringing Whoopie Pies into popularity.  And of course they share recipes and tips in their very popular Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook.  

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Rainbow Cake

If you live anywhere near London, no doubt you understand the inspiration for this post.  It has been raining, it feels like, nonstop since April.  As I sat this weekend watching my son look longingly out the backdoor to the garden and cry every time someone comes in from outside, desperate to get out of the house and play, I felt it was time for a little pick me up.  So I decided to make a cake with a bright, cheery surprise in the middle, a Rainbow Cake.

I really wanted my Rainbow Cake to look like a Rainbow.  To do this I started with a basic vanilla sponge cake.  (Note, whichever cake recipe you choose, make sure it is one with a realitively thick batter so your colours won't run together).  I seperated and coloured the batter as follows.

6oz batter coloured Red
5oz batter coloured Orange
4oz batter coloured Yellow
3oz batter coloured Green
2oz batter coloured Blue
1oz batter coloured Violet
1oz batter uncoloured

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes with Lemon Curd Filling

I found this recipe on Martha Stewart's website and gave it a try a while ago.  It is now one of my all time favorites and one I just had to share.  I hope you give it a try and love it as much as I do.

Let me preface this by saying I made the Lemon Curd the night before and found it really helped me with managing my time when it came to making these cupcakes.  I've got 2 toddlers at home so you can imagine what that is like :)  I suggest, unless you have a whole afternoon free, that it is a good idea to spread out the work load for this one.  

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes


675g all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
225g unsalted butter, room temperature
450g sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
Finely grated zest of 3 lemons (about 3 tablespoons), plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
240 ml buttermilk
Lemon Curd Filling
Italian Meringue Buttercream


Preheat oven to 165C, Gas Mark 3

Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

In a seperate bowl cream Butter and sugar at Medium Speed until fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as needed.  Beat in zest and vanilla.  Add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with 2 additions of buttermilk and beating until just combined after each addition.

Fill cupcake cases 3/4 full and bake roating tins halfway through until golden brown and cake tester inserted in centre comes out clean, about 25 mins.

Cool completely, cupcakes can be stored at room temperature overnight or frozen up to 2 months in airtight containers.

Once cool fill with Lemon Curd Filling and Frost with Italian Meringue Buttercream.  I also topped with a Lemon Peel Rose.  Instructions for this can be found here.

Lemon Curd Filling

This recipe for Lemon Curd filling from Martha Stewart goes great with Lemon Meringue Cupcakes.  I advise you make it the day before and save the whites for the frosting :)


8 large egg yolks
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
120 ml plus 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
225g caster sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
155g unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces


Combine yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar in a heavy bottom saucepan; whisk to combine.  Cook over medium high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon (be sure to scrape the sides of the pan), until the mixture is thick to coat the back of the spoon, about 8 to 10minutes, and registers 160 degrees (70c) on an instant read thermometer.

Remove saucepan from heat.  Add salt and butter, one piece at a time, stirring until smooth.  Strain through a fine sieve into a medium bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming.  Refrigerate until chilled and set, at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.

Italian Meringue Buttercream

Is a great frosting for Lemon Meringue Cupcakes


280g caster sugar
5 large eggwhites
pinch of cream of tartar
454g unsalted butter, chilled
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
185ml Water


In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring sugar and water to a boil.  Contine boiling until syrup reaches 238 degress (115C) on a candy thermometer (soft ball stage)

Meanwhile, place egg whites in a bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat on low speed until foamy.  Add cream of tartar and beat on medium high speed until stiff but not too dry, do not overbeat.

With mixer running, add syrup to whites in a stream, beating on high speed until no longer steaming, about 3 minutes.  Add butter bit by bit, beating until spreadable, 3 to 5 minutes.  Beat in vanilla.  If icing curdles, keep beating until smooth.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Southern Style Buttermilk Biscuits with Chocolate Gravy

I'm from the Southern USA and Buttermilk Biscuits are very much a part of my upbringing.  Just the thought of them instantly transports me home to the Deep South.  This is an authentic recipe for Southern Style Biscuits and the best one I have ever made myself.  But my Sweet Tooth wouldn't let me stop there.  I recently came across a recipe for Chocolate Gravy which transforms these perfect savoury little treats into a delicious dessert.  I hope you enjoy them:)

Southern Style Buttermilk Biscuits

16 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon biocarbonate of soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
8 ounces Buttermilk


Preheat over to 220C

Combine dry ingredients

Cut butter into chucks and cut into the flour until it resembles course meal.  I use a pastry cutter for this but you may find it useful to use a food processor.  Do not overwork the mixture.

Add Buttermilk and mix just until combined.  Again, do not overwork the mixture it just needs to be moistend.  Mixture should be wet, it it seems dry add a bit more buttermilk.

Turn mixture out onto a floured surface and pat down (do not use a rolling pin).  Fold the dough to knead about 5 or 6 times then gently press dough down till it is about 1 inch thick.

Use a round cutter to cut out biscuits.  I use a drinking glass for this.

You can gently knead the scraps and pat down again to cut out more but the best ones will be from the first batch as the more you work the dough they just don't come out as nice.

Place the biscuits on a cookie sheet about 1 inch apart.

Bake for 10 -12 minutes.

Chocolate Gravy (recipe courtesy of Sprinkle Bakes)

4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tablespoons flour

8 ounces granulated sugar

12 ounces whole milk

4 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

In a medium sauce pan whisk together the dry ingredients.  Pour in the milk and whisk vigorously to combine.  Heat over medium-high until the mixture bubbles.  Turn heat down to medium and stir until mixture has thickened to a gravy consistency.  Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla. 

Let cool slightly then transfer to a gravy boat. Serve warm over buttermilk biscuits.