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Toddler trouble.

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The Bears and I have been absent for a while. There is a very good reason for this, and it comes in the shape of a not-so-small two year old. I tried baking with him.

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It ended in a state of sugar induced hyperactivity, a broken measuring jug and very very little sleep. Oh yes, and a cake which looked like I had assembled it, run over it with the car, and then tried to fix it up again.

Image(It’s a Maple Syrup and Pecan layer cake with marscapone frosting, from Delia’s gorgeous new book. It did taste fantastic, but not fantastic enough to warrant only two hours sleep.)

And then I tried baking without him. This time the cakes were at least edible looking. And tasted exactly as they should:

 Image(These are Turkish Delight Bear-y Cakes: Chocolate cake, topped with a rose flavoured buttercream and dark chocolate sprinkles. Recipe may follow. Should the Toddler ever sleep.)

However, my living room wall no longer looked like it should:

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Neither did Daddy Bear’s computer screen. Or the sofa. And so, we stopped baking.

That completes my absence letter.

We hope to be back soon!

Mummy Bear x

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Round, round spinning out on me

Well who doesn’t love a bit of classic Sugarbabes?! Ok, I admit, there may be a few several people who don’t, including Daddy Bear, but that doesn’t matter because he’s outside swearing at the car. Or rather as he calls it – servicing it. And this means I have had a whole day in which I can do whatever I like (except change the TV channel. God forbid the Bears house as anything except Bob the Builder on loop).

And what I wanted to do was to bake more spirals! Or, to be more precise, attempt cinnamon buns. I’ve wanted to try these since the Sweet Dough episode of the Great British Bake Off, but have put them off because of the time it takes to bake them. You would have thought that having thought about it for over a month, I would at least have all the ingredients in my cupboard. I didn’t, hence the half egg situation where, because I had too little flour. If you’re planning on following this recipe, I’d suggest doubling everything, and only using strong white flour. Also, you would have thought I’d know what I wanted to fill the buns with. But no, I was there with the knocked back dough waiting to be filled, still dithering between the fig and walnuts and the chai spice. In the end the figs and walnuts won out, but only because their cupboard was closer to where I was standing.

Ingredients

230g strong white flour

20 g plain flour plus extra for dusting

40 g unsalted butter, melted.

150 ml whole milk

Half an egg

3.5 g dried yeast

vegetable oil for greasing

2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tbsp soft brown sugar

100g dried figs, chopped

30 g walnut halves, chopped

150 g icing sugar

3 tbsp maple syrup

In a small pan, melt half the butter and then pour in the milk and heat until luke warm. Whilst waiting for the milk to warm, weigh out the flour and stir in the yeast. Pour the milk and butter mixture into the bowl with the flour, and stir with a wooden spoon until combined into a dough.

Sprinkle flour onto a clean surface, and then kneed the dough for five minutes until smooth and elastic. You may need to add a little bit more flour to stop it being so sticky. Grease a clean mixing bowl with vegetable oil, put the dough in, cover with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for on hour.

Knock back the dough, remove from the bowl and roll out on a lightly floured surface. Try to achieve a rectangular shape, with the long side about 30 cm, and the short side about 20 cm. Melt the other half of the butter, and brush over the dough using a pastry brush. Sprinkle on the ground cinnamon, soft brown sugar and then the chopped figs.

Press the long edge of the dough closest to you against the board so that it sticks to it, and then begin rolling the dough up from the opposite side, towards your body, remembering to keep pulling it tight as you roll. Once all rolled up, slice the roll into 7 equal pieces. Then arrange in a round cake tin with one roll in the middle and the other six around the outside, and with the cut sides facing up. Cover with a warm damp tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for a second time, for approximately 30 minutes. The rolls will rise and will touch each other, to form one large wheel which can be torn apart when ready to eat. Pre heat the oven to 190C.

Remove the towel and put the buns in the oven for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, cover the top of the tin with foil to prevent the bun tops from burning, and cook for a further 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, leave in the tin and whilst still warm brush the tops with maple syrup. Sprinkle on the finely chopped walnuts, and then leave to cool.

Once cooled remove form the tin  and place on a backing rack. Mix the icing sugar with 1 tbsp of water (or more if required) and the fill a sandwich bag. Snip a small corner off the sandwich bag, and drizzle the icing over the cooled buns. Try not to squeeze the bag too hard – or you’ll end up with one bun drowning under a flood of glace icing (speaking from experience!)

Tear the buns apart when ready to eat, or don’t tell anyone and eat the whole lot. I wouldn’t blame you!

Mummy Bear x

Girls just wanna have…… cake

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It’s got to the point where I ramble on about cake so much that my grown up friends have become interested in baking too…. either that or their just taking pity and pleasuring me. So last night we banished all boys and there were the four of us larking around in the kitchen. With wine. It could have been a recipe for disaster (we did invent some sort of cranberry toffee by accident) but actually turned into a recipe for Cosmo Bear-y cakes.

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They had zingy lime sponges, glazed with a Cointreau and lime syrup (and a little more Cointreau) and then frosted with a Cranberry and lime infused buttercream. I’m going to attempt to remember the recipe, but please take into consideration Mummy Bear regularly forgets where her phone is and finds it in places like the fridge, or the post box, so some details may be a little on the vague side. I blame the Little Bears. I used to be intelligent. Or at least able to function without coffee.

Cosmo cocktail Bear-y cakes

For the lime sponge:

80g Stork

280g Golden caster sugar

240g self raising flour

240 ml full fat milk

Grated zest of 1 lime

2 large free range eggs

Preheat oven to 170C. Beat together 80g stork, 280g golden caster sugar and 240g self raising flour until they look like fine bread crumbs. We used an electric hand whisk but you could use a normal hand whisk, if you have amazing biceps or feel guilty about eating your body weight in cake.

In a measuring jug, hand whisk together 240 ml full fat milk and 2 large eggs, just until they’re combined properly, you don’t need to make any air bubbles. Slowly pour this into the dry mixture, beating with electric whisk on a low speed until everything is combined and the batter is smooth. Using a spatula mix in the grated lime zest gently until evenly combined.

Divide the mix between 14 muffin sized cases or about 22 fairy cake size cases (At this point it is useful to have an ice cream scoop. I wouldn’t really recommend using a 7.5 ml measuring spoon because it takes forever and batter seems to escape all over the work top. But that could just be my inability to transport liquids from one pot to another.)

Bake in the centre of the pre heated oven until the spring back when touched. I think this took about 20 minutes, but to be honest Mummy Bear was distracted by Dominos pizza at this point so the time could vary, don’t take it verbatim and then blame me for burnt cakes. Remove from the oven and leave them in the muffin trays to cool. If you’re impatient like Mummy Bear, and it’s not raining outside (or, you have a porch) pop them outside to cool faster.

For the Cointreau and lime glaze:

5 tbsps of Cointreau

3 tbsps of caster sugar

Juice of 1/2 a lime

Put the ingredients into a pan and bring to the boil, stirring frequently until a runny syrup forms. Use toothpick, strand of dried spaghetti of even a fork to prick holes in the surface of the lime cakes, and then glaze the cakes with the syrup using a pastry brush (or a spoon!). Remove the cakes from the muffin tray and place on a cooling rack.

For the Cranberry and lime infused buttercream:

100ml Cranberry Juice

Juice of 1 lime

3 tbsps of caster sugar

120g unsalted butter softened

700g (approx) icing sugar

2 tbsps Cointreau

1 tbsp vodka

1/4 tsp salt

Wilton Rose gel colouring

Wilton Red gel colouring

Combine the Cranberry juice, 1/2 of the lime juice and the caster sugar in a pan and bring to the boil stirring frequently. Boil for 10 mins or until a thin syrup forms. Don’t heat for too long, otherwise when you combine the syrup with the butter an amazing cranberry toffee will form. Which is delicious, but it isn’t buttercream.

Meanwhile in a bowl beat the butter with and electric whisk until creamed. Add 1/2 the icing sugar, all of the Cointreau, vodka and the other 1/2 of the lime juice and beat with fork until combined. You could use an electric whisk for this, but the icing sugar will form a cloud in the kitchen and you might become hyper just by breathing. Also, it could result in the untimely demise of your electric mixer. Mummy Bear learnt the hard way.

When the cranberry syrup has cooled, add 4 tbsp of it to the icing in the bowl, and then add in the remaining icing sugar. Combine with a fork initially, and then beat with an electric whisk for several minutes until smooth. Use a tooth pick (or a kebab stick) to add in a generous and equal amounts of the Wilton gel colours to achieve the cerise pink colour of a Cosmopolitan. Taste the frosting and add in the salt and more Cointreau/lime if you need it.

We used an Ateco 846 nozzle for the piping in the photo above, but a similar effect can be achieved with the Wilton 1M or the Wilton 2D, and then it was garnished with a lime wedge and a cocktail umbrella.

There were other bakes, and some more disasters (although nothing quite along the lines of the accidental cranberry toffee) so look out for some more posts later. And if you got to the end of the very very long winded description you deserve a medal for perseverance. Or at least some cake!

Mummy Bear x

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