Monday 2 May 2011

Cakes: Rhubarb, and Vanilla-Grapefruit Cupcakes

I have been baking today. I like the spring because it brings rhubarb, one of my favourite things. I like to make this cake with it.

12oz butter
6oz caster sugar
4 eggs
1lb self-raising flour
pinch of salt
12oz mixed dried fruit (I use a cherry/berry mix I get in Asda)
At least 12 large spoonfuls of stewed rhubarb

Beat the butter and sugar together. Add the eggs one at a time, then beat in the flour and the pinch of salt. Stir in the dried fruit and rhubarb. Turn into 2 lined 2lb loaf tins, and bake at 180 degrees for about an hour, until set.

I must say that I don't usually make it in loaf tins, as I only have one small one; it all goes in a big square cake tin and, as a result, always takes ages to set. However, it is quite a soft cake anyway.

I also had a bit of experimentation with some cupcakes before the holidays. I have gotten into the habit of baking for my year 11s, and since I haven't seen them for over a month I wanted to ensure their last memory of me was sweet. So, I made vanilla cupcakes filled with grapefruit curd, a la Cupcake Bakeshop, but with a little twist of my own. Here is the recipe I used -

8oz butter
2 cups vanilla caster sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
2-3/4 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat the butter until fluffy and then beat in the sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, and add the vanilla to the milk. Alternate adding these two things to the buttter, sugar and egg mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, which should be sifted in. Scoop into cupcake cases and bake at 180 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Make the grapefruit curd to this recipe, but using two pink grapefruits in place of the lemons.

Fill the cupcakes with the curd using the cone method. Top with a vanilla cream cheese frosting - I combine vanilla sugar with cream cheese and a bit of butter, and I added a smidge of red food colouring, for pink grapefruit suggestion. Top with pieces of candied peel.

They went down extremely well. The grapefruit curd is quite tart, which is why I really amped up the vanilla flavour of the cupcakes.

The final thing I invented recently was for the ski trip. I baked toasted hazelnut caramel flapjacks for the journey. We were on the coach for the equivalent of four meal times so I tried to come up with something that would sustain us. I used this basic flapjack recipe, and then poured a quantity of caramel sauce over the top and then pressed in 8oz of hazelnuts I'd toasted under the grill and bashed to pieces. My colleague Adam dared to suggest they were the best flapjacks he'd ever had, so I think it's safe to say I'll be making those again some time soon. Flattery will get you everywhere with me.

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