Sunday, 22 May 2011

Mini Victoria Sponge Cakes

Things are stressful at the moment. I'm writing my thesis and working and still trying to have some kind of normal life at the same time. Last week I made some Oreo chocolate chip cookies for a friend at work. They were ok but not good. This scared me....what if I've lost my bakingness?!

This week was another friend's birthday....and another chance to see if my bakingness remains MIA. I asked my friend to choose what she would like me to bake for her birthday. She choose a fruit tart, but this worried me because I knew it would not be able to be refrigerated and might get soggy or something. So, I decided on these mini Victoria Sponge cakes. They still had the fruity taste that she wanted but were much more party friendly. I filled these with buttercream instead of the traditional whipped cream. They tasted great and held together better than they would have with cream.

Mini Victoria Sponge Cakes
Makes 14 mini cakes

280g butter, very soft
280g caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
5 large eggs
250g self-raising flour (if you do not have self-raising flour, substitute all-purpose flour and 3 tsp baking powder)
30g cornflour (cornstarch)
3-4 Tbsp milk

For the filling:
1/3-1/2 cup strawberry jam
1 punnet of strawberries, finely chopped
125ml double cream or 1 recipe of buttercream

Vanilla Buttercream
8oz butter at room temperature
2 Tbsp double cream
2 1/2 (300g) cup icing sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt

To make the cakes:
Preheat the oven to 180*C. Grease and flour two 8-inch cake tins.

Combine the flour and cornflour.

Cream the butter and sugar for 3 mins. Add the vanilla. Add the eggs, one at a time, adding a spoonful of the flour mixture between each. Fold in the rest of the flour mixture. Add a little milk as needed until the mixture passes the spoon test. To do the spoon test, lift a spoon of the cake batter up and allow to drop back. If it falls quickly, add a little more flour. If it doesn't fall at all, add a little more milk.

Pour the batter into the tins and bake 30-35mins, until the cake edges are beginning to come away from the edges, are springy to the touch and a cake tester inserted in the centre comes out clean. Leave the cakes in their tins on a wire rack to cool for 10mins before turning out and leaving to cool completely.

While they are cooling, make the buttercream, if using. Beat the butter on medium high speed until pale (2min). Reduce the speed and add sugar 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each. After every 2 additions, beat on high 10 seconds, then return to medium speed. Add vanilla and salt and beat until smooth. Add cream, beating throughout. If not using buttercream, whip the cream until thickened but still soft.

When cakes are cool, cut out rounds with a 2 1/4-inch biscuit cutter. Slice each round in half horizontally. Spread the bottom half with jam and add a few pieces of chopped strawberries. Pipe buttercream or whipped cream on top of jam and top with the other half of the cake. Dust the tops with icing sugar.

Recipe for Victoria Sponge Cakes adapted from Nigella Lawson's How to be a Domestic Goddess

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Daring Baker's Challenge: Maple Syrup Mousse in a Bacon Cup

The April 2011 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Evelyne of the blog Cheap Ethnic Eatz. Evelyne chose to challenge everyone to make a maple mousse in an edible container. Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote for your favourite from April 27th to May 27th at

This challenge was really fun, quick and yummy! I don't get any creativity points, as I just made the recipes that they provided. I love sweet/salty combinations, so a maple syrup and bacon combination seemed pretty perfect for me! The flavour of the maple syrup mousse is a very intense maple syrup flavour. It's amazing!

Bacon Cups

24 thin slices of streaky bacon

Preheat the oven to 200*F.

Take a muffin pan and turn it upside down and form aluminium covers on the back of the muffin cups.

Taking 2 strips of bacon at a time, crisscross the stips over the backs of the muffin cups and cut to size a bit longer than the bottom part of the cup. Now use 1 to 2 more strips to cover the sides of the muffin cups in a weaving fashio. You want a full tight weave beacause the bacon will shrink.

Tuck the ends of the bacon strips inside. Insert toothpicks where the crisscrossed bacon meets in the weave.

Place muffin in a cookie tray to catch dripping. Bake in oven for 25-40min until the bacon is golden and crisp but not burned.

Cool completely (at least 1 hr) before removing from foil.

Maple Mousse

1 cup pure maple syrup
4 large egg yolks
1 package (7g) unflavored gelatine (4 leaves)
1 1/2 cups whipping cream

Bring the maple syrup to boil and remove from heat.

In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks and pour a little bit on the syrup in while whisking.

Add the warmed egg yolks to the hot maple syrup until well mixed.

Measure 1/4 cup whipping cream in a bowl and sprinkle with the gelatine. Let it rest for 5min. Place the bowl in a microwave for 45 seconds, checking every 10 seconds to ensure the gelatiine has completely dissolved.

Whisk the gelatine/whipping cream misture into the maple syrup and set aside. Whisk occasionally for 1 hr until the mixture has the consistency of unbeaten raw egg white.

Whip the remaining cream. Stir 1/4 of the whipped cream into the maple syrup mixture. Fold in the remaining cream and refrigerate at least 1 hr.

Remove from the fridge adn divide equally among the bacon cups