Monday, 30 January 2017

Cherry & Almond Cupcakes

The delicious flavour combinaton of cherry & almond can be found in these pretty cupcakes.  The pink colour of the buttercream frosting make them perfect for a girl's birthday, Valentine's day ....... or simply just because.

Cherry & Almond Cupcake recipe

If you popped into my recent side-by-side baking post where I looked at eggs curdling in cake batter, you may have been left wondering what I did with the cupcakes.  Well, those plain and humble cupcakes were very simply transformed into these pretty and inviting Cherry and Almond Cupcakes.


Friday, 27 January 2017

Side-by-Side Baking - Split Cake Batter

If you've ever wondered why cake batter splits when eggs are added, if it can be rectified or even if it really matters then continue reading.  Here I carry out a 4 way comparison bake looking at the different batters and the resultant cupcakes.  

Discussing why cake batters curdle and split, how we can prevent it happening and asking id it really matters

It's been quite some time since I last shared a Side-by-Side Baking post, in fact it was way back on the 9th August.  Metaphorically speaking there was certainly a thick layer of dust on them when I dug them out, think Miss Havisham of Great Expectations and you probably won't be far wrong!   As I mentioned in my end of year review post it's a series I want to continue here on Only Crumbs Remain not least because it allows me to learn why certain techniques, for instance, are employed in baking.

Now, I have two warnings about this post.  Firstly this post is a little bit lengthy so you may want to grab a pot of tea or coffee before settling down to read!  And, secondly, there is a little bit of science in this post (after all, baking in the school setting wasn't once called 'Domestic Science' for no reason!).  I've aimed to keep the technical stuff to a minimum, especially as I'm not the greatest scientist (you should see my face when Mr E tries to explain the bending of timespace - and yes, those conversations do happen!), and so I've linked into several internet articles should you want to read more detail from the author's particular slant.

About my Side by Side Baking Series.


Why cupcake and cake batters curdle

If you're new to Only Crumbs Remain, you may be wondering what my Side-by-Side baking series is all about.  Basically, it's an ongoing series of posts where I look at the effects certain techniques and food products have on given bakes.  More often than not, and I certainly include myself here, we are shown how to make, say a Victoria Sponge, but with little understanding of why we may be folding in the flour so gently and what would happen to our cake if we don't.  This series is designed to experiment with and highlight such techniques and products with a view to appreciating why we carry out them out.  So for instance, I've already looked at resting Yorkshire Pudding batters before baking, folding in flour by hand against that folded in with a spatula, butter quality in cake batters and the all-in-one method against the traditional creaming-in-method.  These bakes are designed to focus upon one aspect of baking (or even ingredient) to see if we can make our bakes even better or even if there are some, dare I say, short cuts we can take to achieve a good result.  Therefore, in this series there will always be at least two separate batches baked in these comparisons to allow me, and you as the reader, to literally compare them Side-by-Side. 

Side-by-Side Baking - Split or Curdled Eggs in Cake Batter 

Why eggs cause our cake batters to curdle

So our first foray into our baking comparisons this year is to look at why a cake batter splits / curdles when eggs are added, can it be rectified, and to ask if it really matters or if it affects the final bake. 

The prompt for this baking comparison came from one of my recipe books, How Baking Works (and what to do when it doesn't) by James Morton (I'm sure you recall him as the young Scottish GBBO constestant in series 3 who was training to be a doctor.)  As the title implies, his book is far more than a recipe book.  If you're unfamiliar with it he goes through the step by step process of making chocolate brownies,  macarons, biscuits and so on and explains why we carry out certain steps and even offers troubleshooting guidance if the bake fails.  In his chapter for cakes he goes through the steps for the classic creaming method.  He explains that the eggs need to be added to the creamed butter and sugar one at a time and went on to say that  'curdling has been shown not to affect the final rise'!

When I read this I was somewhat surprised.  Not only because just about every cake recipe we read on line and in many tangible recipe books suggests adding a spoonful of flour with the last egg (in order to prevent, or remedy, any split / curdled batter) but also because the darling queen of baking herself, Mary Berry, has probably pulled a few faces at split batters on GBBO in the past!   


Monday, 23 January 2017

Mincemeat & Apple Galette (Free Form Pie)

This charmingly rustic galette (also known as a free-form pie) makes great use of left over sweet mincemeat.  The mixture is bulked out with apple which contains no additional sugar.  Decorated with a few slices of apple, this mincemeat & apple galette makes a lovely midweek dessert.  

How to make a mincemeat & apple galette / free form pie

Four weeks post Christmas, I can now confirm that all of our sweet mincemeat has been used!  

After the Christmas period I often find that we have half a jar, or so, of mincemeat lurking in the back of the fridge, hiding behind the yogurts and cheeses!  It sits there for days, which soon become weeks, being ignored and overlooked.  Not wanting to waste it, after all there is nothing wrong with it, the question is what use with this fruity mixture.

homemade mincemeat & apple galette / free form pie recipe

In fact there are several recipes which can be rustled up with half a jar of mincemeat, most of which are a far cry from the traditional mincepie.  How do flapjacks, chocolate brownies, cupcakes or even stuffed apples grab you?  (Further into the post you will find links to 6 recipes by UK bloggers perfect for using up left over sweet mincemeat.)        


Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Vegan Chocolate & Cherry Cupcakes

Whether you're taking part in Veganuary, want to make a batch of tasty vegan cupcakes for a vegan friend or relative, or are simply intrigued by egg free and vegan cake recipes, then these easy to make vegan cupcakes, flavoured with the classic combination of chocolate and cherry, are a must try.  They are super light and moist, and are topped with a vegan chocolate ganache and a fresh cherry!

Easy to make vegan Chocolate & Cherry Cupcakes

Being quite a traditional home baker eggs feature regularly in my bakes.  Whether its a simple Victoria sponge, fun cupcakes, a pastry bake or even a meringue, it's rare for eggs not to feature in my ingredient list.

Although Mr E & I have been vegetarian for more years than we care to remember, we seldom try out vegan recipes.  It's relatively straightforward to replace butter, milk and cream in a recipe - but eggs are a different matter.  Imagine baking a Victoria Sponge or attempting a genoise cake without eggs!  As a traditional baker the thought leaves me in a bit of a spin to be honest!

Hen eggs

Back in November, regular readers of Only Crumbs Remain may recall our Pear Chocolate and Spice Cake which had started out with the plan of being a vegan cake, well that was the intention on the drawing board!  However my chosen egg replacer, chia seeds, had proved to be difficult, near impossible, to grind with a pestle & mortar (not being in possession of a spice or coffee grinder) and so after an hour of pounding those pesky little seeds I cracked and added eggs to the mixture instead! Literally!


Friday, 6 January 2017

Vegetarian Tomato, Lentil & Bacon Soup

A delicious, hearty & nutritious soup containing easily sourced frugal ingredients and chunks of vegetarian bacon!  To bring further texture and interest to the soup,  it can either be served with more crispy meat-free Quorn bacon pieces or croutons.

Homemade Vegetarian Tomato, Lentil & Bacon Soup recipe, made with Quorn meat free bacon

Soup is a perfect quick meal for those cold and frosty winter days.  Homemade soup recipes are nutritious, quick and easy to make.  Not only are they perfect for using up any left over vegetables, grains and even pasta from the previous day, but such recipes can easily be scaled up for the surplus to be portioned up and stored in the fridge or freezer for another day.

This Vegetarian Tomato, Lentil and Bacon Soup is perfect for those chillier days.  Imagine returning home from a walk when the ground beneath your feet is frosty and cold and the northerly breeze makes the air feel even colder!  Brrrrr!  Chilly!  Within ten minutes, if there's a batch stored in the fridge, you could be sat down cradling a bowl of thick hearty vegetarian soup, perhaps served with some crusty bread, enjoying the warmth as it returns to the extremities.