Blueberry Sour Cream Cakes with Cookie Butter Frosting

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You have not lived until you’ve tried the wonder that is Speculoos. What is this gibberish, you say? Is she making Harry Potter references again?

Usually, that would be a fair assumption, but this time I’m talking about the delicious Dutch cookie butter spread. My levels of consumption have grown perilously high of late, even to eating it straight from the jar with a spoon. So, naturally, I wondered how I could incorporate it into a becma bakes recipe.

Happily, I had a fresh jar of Speculoos in the cupboard, but if you don’t have it there is a handy list here via Sweetest Kitchen. It’s also available via Amazon. The recipe would also work nicely with a nut butter like peanut, almond or cashew, and you can achieve a cookie butter vibe by adding spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger and cardamom to the frosting mixture.

The cupcakes are lovely and moist thanks to the addition of light sour cream and are super quick to make. The spiced, caramelly frosting and blueberries set each other off beautifully, too. I spent a bit of time fussing around with the presentation (I had run out of piping bags, the calamity!), but they will be just as tasty when topped with a quick spread of frosting and devoured quick smart.

You’ll need-

For the cupcakes: 

  • 2 cups self raising flour
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 125g unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup light sour cream
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 125g blueberries, fresh or frozen

For the frosting: 

  • 1/3 cup Speculoos or substitute
  • 45g butter, melted
  • 45g butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • extra blueberries or edible flowers to decorate, if desired

Method-

1. Pre-heat oven to 190° and line a 12 hole cupcake tray.

2. Sift your dry ingredients into a large bowl and stir to combine.

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3. Whisk wet ingredients together in another large bowl or jug until combined (this reminds me of making pancake batter!)

4. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the contents of the jug. Stir until just combined, taking care not to over mix.

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5. Add the blueberries and fold through your cupcake batter.

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6. Spoon batter into the prepared tray- make sure you don’t fill the cases more than 2/3 full, or you’ll end up with mushroom cupcakes!

7. Bake the cupcakes for 20-25 minutes, until just golden brown and the top springs back when tested.

8. For the frosting, add your Speculoos, butter and icing sugar to the bowl of an electric mixer and mix on medium until combined.

9. Add milk and vanilla essence- stir in on a low speed and then increase to high and mix until your frosting is light and fluffy. The flavour is amazing.

10. When cool, ice your cupcakes and top with decorations of your choice.

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My family gave these top marks at a recent birthday party, so I hope you’ll give the recipe a try and let me know what you think. At the very least, get your hands on some cookie butter!

 

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Apple and Earl Grey Cupcakes

 

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These babies have taken me a couple of tries to perfect, hence the lack of posts in the last couple of weeks. The photos aren’t my best as they were taken in a little bit of a hurry on a late work night- but I think you can still see the pretty end result!

Earl Grey is my favourite tea and I’ve been thinking about a way to incorporate it into a recipe for a while. The little apple cakes and sweet, tea-infused icing work to balance each other and make for a pretty morning tea or party treat.

The tea flavour of course isn’t going to appeal to everyone but it’s something different and definitely worth a go if you are a fan of  the Bergamot brew yourself. You could even swap it out for an English Breakfast or Darjeeling.

I came up with two different looks for the toppings, and I think they both turned out nicely.  The icing is light and fluffy and pipes well- you can just as easily leave the food colouring out for a more simple look.

Next time I think I’ll try crushing the violets and combining them with the edible glitter- purple is the way to go and the violets are always well received my taste testers.

Which decorations are your favourite- do you have any go to toppers like me and my violets?

You’ll need:

For the cupcakes:

  • 100g butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light muscovado sugar (or light brown sugar)
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 2 cups self raising flour, sifted
  • 1 earl grey tea bag
  • 100ml boiling water
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 granny smith apple, peeled and chopped in thin wedges

For the icing:

  • 2 earl grey tea bags
  • 1 cup icing sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 100g butter, half melted, half softened
  • blue and red food colouring
  • decorations of your choice (I used edible glitter, crystallised violets and freeze dried raspberries)

Method:

1.  Preheat oven to 180°and line a 12 hole muffin tray with muffin cases of your choice.

2.  Place teabag and boiling water in a medium bowl and brew for recommended time. Add chopped apple and leave to soak for 5-10 minutes.

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3. Using an electric mixer, mix egg, sugars and vanilla essence on medium speed until combined. Add butter and mix on high until the mixture is combined and slightly paler in colour. Add salt.

4. Add half the flour and mix on a low speed until combined, then add half of the milk. Repeat.

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5. Drain apples and add to the mixture, folding in gently.

6. Spoon the finished mixture into the prepared cases, filling them to no more than 3/4 capacity.

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This is actually a shot of my first batch- they were slightly overfilled and I was left with mushroom top cupcakes- so be cautious, cooks!

 

7. Bake cakes for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool in tray for 5 minutes and then move to wire cooling rack.

8. Meanwhile, prepare your Earl Grey icing. Microwave the milk in a small glass or ceramic bowl for 30 seconds on medium heat and then add your teabags and brew. Add a splash of boiling water if necessary to add a bit of heat.

9. Mix the butter on high for 1-2 minutes or until beginning to turn pale and fluffy. Reduce speed and gradually add icing sugar.

10. With the mixer on low, pour in the milk-tea brew, squeezing the bags to make sure you have enough flavour. Add a small amount of each food colouring and stir through, repeating until you have your desired colour. I was able to achieve a pale purple which I really liked the look of.

11. Mix the icing on high until you are satisfied that it is nice and light and fluffy- a few minutes should be long enough.

11. Using a fluted piping attachment, pipe the prepared icing onto the cooled cakes (I’m still perfecting my piping technique, but the texture of the icing is forgiving, and your decorations will help distract from any imperfections).

12. Decorate with your chosen toppers and serve on pretty floral plates!

 

Let me know how you find this recipe- it’s one I’m quite happy with as it has taken some experimentation to get right!

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Grandma’s Christmas Fruit Cake

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I realise that being so close to Christmas this recipe might be a bit late for most readers, at least until next year, but I’ve been so busy with all of my baking that this is the first opportunity I’ve had to write it.

My Grandma, who turns 90 next year, makes six Christmas fruit cakes every year, one for each of her children, and one for her brother. I was lucky to have a morning with her in her snazzy new kitchen a couple of weeks ago. I went to help her make two cakes, and came home with her tried and true recipe and some important tips.

This cake is great in that you can put it in the oven and then get stuck into whatever else you need to do that day- it goes in the oven for 5.5 – 6 hours at 120 and cooks nice and slowly, keeping it dense and juicy.

I had my first solo attempt on the weekend and my cake turned out well- though it cooked a bit more quickly- in 4.5 hours- as my oven dial is obviously a bit inaccurate on the lower end.

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You’ll need

  • 900g mixed fruit (with glace cherries)
  • 2 cups lightly packed brown sugar
  • 30g blanched slivered almonds
  • 220g unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1/2 tsp lemon essence
  • 1 tbsp medium or dry sherry
  • 2 tbsp decent quality brandy
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp bicarb (baking) soda
  • 3 cups plain flour
  • 1 tbsp each of sherry & brandy, for topping

Method 

1. Combine mixed fruit, sherry, brandy and brown sugar in a large bowl and mix well. Cover and leave for 2 hours or overnight.

2. Pre-heat oven to 120ºC and line a deep,20cm wide cake tin with at least two layers. Grandma uses four- white card, brown card, brown paper & baking paper, for the bottom and sides. The expert assures me that this is well worth it “I haven’t had burnt bottom yet!”. Secure with pegs until needed.

3. Uncover soaked fruit and add spices, salt, bicarb soda, and almonds and mix well.

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4. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Remove from heat once melted, add milk and stir to combine.

5. Add warm mixture to fruit and stir well until all combined and sugar has dissolved- you’ll notice the grainy feeling disappear as you stir.

6. Lightly whisk the eggs and essences, and add to the main bowl and mix well.

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7. Add sifted flour, one cup at a time, and stir very well to combine, making sure you get all of the flour that might be stuck on the bottom or sides.

8. Pour the mixture into your prepared cake tin and drop from 20-30cm height onto bench or hard floor to evenly distribute mixture and get rid of any air bubbles. Top with extra almonds.

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9. Place on the middle shelf in your very slow oven. Cook for 5.5-6 hours, checking if it’s cooked with a metal skewer inserted in the centre of the cake.

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10. Remove from oven and pour over an additional tablespoon of both brandy and sherry, particularly focusing on the edges of the cake- this will make sure it’s lovely and moist all over.

11. Top with baking paper and, still in tin, wrap in a clean dry tea towel. After about half an hour wrap the bundle a couple of layers of newspaper and set aside until cool.

12. Enjoy- and have a happy Christmas!!

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My finished cake- destined for Mum’s table.

(Gluten Free!) Nutella Cake

DSC_0108   Nutella!That delicious nutty chocolate spread that more than a few of us have surreptitiously eaten straight from the jar. I came across this recipe when I was looking for something to take to dinner at my Uncle & Aunty’s places. Nigella is rightfully called a domestic goddess- lots of my favourite cakes are hers. The effort vs pay off for this cake is crazy, it’s easy and tastes amazing. I made it for my best friend Jackie’s 24th birthday dinner a couple of weekends ago and it was delicious, even her Mum, who isn’t a Nutella fan, enjoyed it (we were sneaky and didn’t tell her exactly what type of cake it was). You’ll need: DSC_0073 Cake

  • 400g jar of Nutella
  • 100g dark chocolate, melted
  • 100g hazelnut meal
  • 6 large eggs, separated (do this with cold eggs, over a separate bowl to avoid yolk/white contamination- mine were room temperature and I tempted fate separating them over the main bowl)
  • 125g soft unsalted butter
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon Frangelico

Icing 

  • 100g hazelnuts
  • 125g double cream
  • 1 tablespoon frangelico
  • 125g dark chocolate, chopped

Method:  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC 2. Whisk egg whites and salt in a large bowl until soft peaks form. In another bowl, beat the butter and nutella together (this takes some elbow grease, so make sure your butter isn’t too cold), then mix in the the egg yolks and hazelnut meal and finally the Frangelico. 3. Add the cooled melted chocolate and fold through, before adding a dollop of egg white and mixing until combined. Fold in the rest of the egg white mixture gently, a third at a time. DSC_0089 4. Pour the mixture into a  greased and lined 23cm round springform tin and cook for about 40 minutes or until risen slightly and beginning to come away from the sides of the tin. Cool on a rack, leaving in the tin. 5. Toast the hazelnuts in a dry frying pan over medium-high heat until golden brown. Make sure you keep shaking the pan to achieve an even colour and avoid burning one side. If there are still skins on your hazelnuts after toasting, place them, still warm, onto a slightly damp tablecloth fold, rubbing until the skins come away (this can take a number of minutes,  especially depending on how finicky you are about getting all the skin off). Cool on a plate. DSC_0102 6. To make the ganache icing, place the double cream, frangelico and chocolate into a saucepan. Heat gently until the chocolate has melted, then remove from the heat. Whisk mixture until it has thickened enough to ice the top of the cake (again, this takes some time). 7.  Carefully remove the sides of the tin, leaving the cake on the base. Ice generously with your chocolate icing and cover with the cooled whole hazelnuts. I added some food safe gold shimmer to mine as it was a special occasion, but the cake looks great as Nigella created it. The picture of Jackie’s cake shows what happens when your egg whites have some yolk in them- they still went stiff but the consistency was a bit off- hence the slightly sunken look.

The end cake should serve at least 6-8 people, it’s very rich and dense, so each person only needs a sliver!

Let me know how you go with it 🙂

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The birthday cake sunk a bit because I had trouble with the egg white/yolk separation. For some reason I’d thought that starting to make it at 12am was realistic.
The first cake rose as it should because the whites were yolk-free.
But the first version rose as it should have!