Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Saffron and cardamom cupcakes

Having been away from the blog for such a long time I felt I had to make up for it with two posts today!

About a month ago I was asked if I could have a cupcake stand at the yearly IWOG (International Women's Organisation of Greece) Christmas Bazaar the 4th of December. I am only too happy to oblige! I get to play around with different tastes for Christmas-themed cupcakes and decorations, which is all good fun!

I have already been thinking of different flavours for a while now, and with my mother-in-law's birthday last week I got the change to bake a batch of saffron and cardamom cupcakes I have been meaning to bake for a while.

For me saffron and cardamom are the two spices used in some traditional Swedish sweet buns they make for St. Lucia day (the 13th of December)called "lussekatter". We also make them in Norway and they taste absolutely heaven when made with real saffron. Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world, but luckily as they also are produced in Greece they aren't too expensive (well, almost €3 for 1g, all is relative!). They create a lovely yellow colour and they have a lovely, lovely fragance which I cannot even begin to describe!

The recipe I used came extremly close to the taste of "lussekatter", especially since I replaced the vanilla with cardamom. As the taste of the cakes themselves is so fantastic I didn't want a frosting that could potentially overpower the saffron taste, so opted for a lemon cream cheese frosting. The lemon taste was subtle and it really complemented the cake itself.

I was going to make candied lemon peel as decoration for these cupcakes, but I thought it would make the frosting too sweet and destroy the whole balance between the saffron and cardamom cake and the frosting, so decided to use only a little grated lemon peel for a nice, yellow contrasting effect to the white frosting.

Personally I thought these cupcakes tasted heavenly and they do taste of Christmas! I guess saffron is an aquired taste, so still not sure if I'll bake them for the IWOG Christmas bazaar though. Time will show!

Vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream for baptism

Wow, it has been months and months since I last wrote a post for my blog! I am blaming the hot summer, the house moving, the no oven for some weeks, and morning sickness for the absence and neglect! :)

I made these cute vanilla cupcake with vanilla buttercream for a baptism this summer. The gorgeous little girl who was baptised had a pink little bunny as a detail on her white baptism clothes, so her mum wanted the cupcakes to match the clothes. I love how things come together like that.

The frosting were in three different colours, pale pink, pale yellow and white. The little pink bunnies were made of homemade sugarpaste and they had a white sprinkle as an eye. I think the whole look came together pretty well if I may say it so myself ;)

Here are some pictures taken by my Dad (playing around with his new fancy camera!)

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Pink chocolate baptism cupcakes

It has been a while since the last post, I have been busy baking cupcakes for baptisms and having my family visiting from Norway.

The daughter of a good friend of mine (from Wishing Tree) was baptised almost three weeks ago and I was asked to bake cupcakes for the party afterwards. I was of course only too happy to obliged! We decided on chocolate banana cupakes to keep them nice and moist as they were to be picked up the day before the baptism and as the summer is pretty hot in Greece I went for poured fondant instead of any other type of icings which might melt and get spoilt by the heat and the sun.

Poured fondant is made of melted sugarpaste. It is really easy to make sugarpaste, but not having a microwave makes it a bit more timeconsuming to melt it, and also to keep it hot enough to be able to dip the cupcakes into the fondant. I dipped them twice to make it a nice, round and tall finish to the cupcake, so it did take quite a few hours to dip 100 cupcakes, but it was all good fun!

I had made homemade flowers for decorations made of homemade chocolate paste and a pink sugarpaste on top of it and then finishing it off with a silverball in the middle.

The invitation for the baptism was made by my friend who designs birthday invitations, baptism invitations etc, so obviously the cupakes had to be pink as well :)

I love the way these cupackes turned out, matching the chocolate base with the chocolate flower and the pink fondant with the pink flower. What do you think?

A view of the cupcakes on my kitchen table:

Cupcake on a princess plate:

A close-up:

And finally a view of the cupcake in the box:

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Cupcakes 4 Good

Tomorrow, Sunday 6th June I'll be at the International Food Festival - Food 4 Good - at Plaz Aretsou in Krini, Kalamaria (from 8-8.30pm) in Thessaloniki with my cupcakes. The festival will have lots and lots of delicious food from all over the world and I'll be joining the IWOG (International Women's Organisation of Greece) table with 100 cupcakes. There are four flavours: choco-banana with chocolate frosting, vanilla cupcakes with vanilla icing, lavender cupcakes with lime cream cheese frosting and carrot cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. All of them will have my handmade decorations made of homemade sugarpaste in different colours :)

The income from the festival will go to various charities, so here is your chance to eat well for a good cause!

Make sure you drop by to taste some delicious food and scrumptious cupcakes!

Here are some beautiful photos of the cupcakes I made for the event. These photos have been taken by my friend Carolyn Carter who is a photographer (among many other creative things!). You can see more photos of the cupcakes she made on her Facebook fan page called Apali Post or her blog also called Apali Post (blog)

Vanilla cupakes with a vanilla buttercream frosting:

Lavender cupakes:

Chocolate/banana cupcakes with a chocolate buttercream:

Carrot cupcakes with a cream cheese frosting:

It was so great to participate in this event, and despite the sporadic rain 10,000 euros were raised for local charities. Hopefully next year will be an even more successful one!

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Chocolate and coconut cupcakes

Last week I found myself in the chocolate section at the supermarket. Nothing unusual for me since I wanted to stock up on dark chocolate with more than 70% cocoa solids, and hoping that by some miracle I would find something higher than 70% this time (85% cocoa solids, anyone?) While studying the chocolates and desparing over the fact that one 72% dark chocolate also contains almonds (obviously no good for me since I'll be melting and using the chocolate in cupcakes and frosting) my eyes caught the summery white and blue cover of a bar of Bounty chocolate. Suddenly I remember that I once had an idea of creating a Bounty-like cupcakes, i.e. combining chocolate and coconut! I love coconut, so when some family members had their name's day I already knew what cupcakes to make - chocolate and coconut cupcakes; sounds yummy, doesn't it?

I made my usual chocolate cupakes replacing the milk/buttermilk with coconut milk, made a chocolate buttercream icing and decorated with desiccated coconut. I originally left it to my husband to judge the successfulness of these and although he claimed that you could taste the coconut milk in the cupcake I wasn't sure if he was being entirely honest with me...

Clearly I had to taste them myself. The cupcake came out a bit darker than usual and although it had a nice taste to them, the cake itself didn't have any coconut flavour at all! Big disappointment. I also found that the cake crumbled a lot quicker than usual, so next time I might try to mix some coconut cream powder with milk to get a stronger coconut flavour or make a simple vanilla-coconut base and pairing it with the chocolate buttercream. I might even add some desiccated coconut in the frosting for more coconut.

So my verdict is that although they were good chocolate cupcakes, they crumbled too quickly and the coconut flavour was hardly there. A lot of room for improvement!

However, luckily enough, they at least looked pretty nice!

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Strawberries and malteser cupcakes

Sounds like a strange mixture, doesn't it? Well, unluckily or luckily (depending on your taste!) this is not one cupcake, but two. Strawberry cupcakes and malteser cupcakes. Yes, I was a bit busy this weekend!

I had a small BBQ with friends on Saturday to celebrate my birthday some 10 days late. We have beeen talking about having a BBQ for years now, but never gotten around to it, but now we finally managed to get our act together! The occasion clearly needed cupcakes!

The supermarkets are filled with strawberries as of late and since strawberries are one of my favourite fruits it was only natural that I made some strawberry cupcakes! Last year I made these for a friend:

Strawberry cupcakes with a cream cheese frosting and a strawberry and toffee crown decoration

They were really good, but I wanted to have a frosting that contained strawberry and vanilla to get a strawberry cream taste, so I used the cinnamon frosting I used for the red velvet cupcakes without the cinnamon and added some strawberry puree. Next time I want to use a bit more puree to get a stronger pink colour and add some extra vanilla in the puree to make use of the full strawberry flavour. I find that the strawberries in the supermarkets aren't sweet enough here compared to the lovely Norwegian strawberries, so sugar or vanilla brings out the taste of the strawberries.

I also created my very own recipe for Malteser cupcakes. Ever since I saw on Baked's fanpage on Facebook that they had a photo of a malteser cupcakes from Hummingbird Bakery in London I decided that was a flavour I had to try to create. I mashed some Maltesers and added to a chocolate batter I created and the result was very moist and chocolately flavoured cupcakes. I couldn't find normal malt milk powder in the shop so used an instant chocolate malt drink powder, I guess it didn't make too much of a difference, but they did taste different from my normal chocolate cupcakes.

The frosting somehow got more compact and harder than I expected so I was very unhappy with the frosting this time, it was actually difficult to squeeze it out from the nozzle. Will keep that in mind till the next time!

As a birthday gift from my parents I got a cupcake stand which I finally got to use. Unfortunately I took the photos in a hurry and didn't think of moving all non-cupcake items out of the frame, so this isn't a very good picture. I think I'll blame the Pimms for the forgetfulness!

Friday, 30 April 2010

Red velvet cupcakes with cinnamon frosting

It was my birthday on Wednesday. Let us not dwell on the number and rather focus on the cupcakes I baked to celebrate the day. As I think I have previously mentioned I have been planning to make some red velvet cupcakes for some time now, but not found the right occasion until now. I have seen some recipes out there, but decided to use the one from "the hummingbird bakery cookbook" with a few tweaks here and there. The hummingbird bakery suggests a cream cheese frosting for the cupcakes, which I would normally go for, but I wanted to be a bit adventurous and try something new. I know Magnolia Bakery in New York partners their red velvet cupcakes with a vanilla icing, which is made out of a boiled flour and milk pudding which is let to cool a bit before adding sugar and butter. I tried this icing when I was trying out recipes for my daughter's baptism cupcakes. As it would coincide with the start of the Greek Easter week I had to avoid cow's milk and butter. I therefore used vegetable margarine and soy milk. The results was a very bland icing which did nothing for me. I decided very quickly that I did not like that type of icing. However, a fellow baker (who bakes faboulous cakes) told me that I had to use real butter and good quality vanilla.

So I decided to try out the cinammon frosting from the cookbook "Baked-New Frontiers in Baking" by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. As a red velvet cupcakes really is a chocolate cupcake I loved their idea of adding the cinnamon, I thought it would enhance the chocolate taste.

I didn't have enough liquid red colouring, so added what I got, but it didn't give much a red colour. Just as well as I a bit sceptical of putting that much red food colouring in my food. I love to add a few drops to my icing, but 40-60ml is quite a lot! I think next time I'll try to add beet juice instead, although I expect it'll change the taste somewhat.

I was really happy with the results of my cupcakes. The cupcakes themselves were not too sweet, but did remind me quite a lot of my normal chocolate cupcakes as I also use buttermilk in them. I think the white vinegar made the difference. The frosting was soft, fluffy, silky texture to it, and really, really yummy good. Despite all the butter it didn't taste butter as I found the traditional buttercreams do. The cinnamon was literally the icing on the cake!

I topped them off with some chocolate filegrees which I thought were pretty cute. I had a template in a new cupake book I recently purchased and I'll def try to make more of those.

My brother-in-law who has tasted almost all of my different cupcakes told me these were his favourite. I think I trust him on that, as he previously prefered the chocolate nutella cupcakes I have made a few times. I took the last 6 to today's baby group for the mummies and toddlers to taste and I hope they liked them. Personally I thought the cakes had already gone a bit dry and I made a rookie mistake by living them partially uncovered in the fridge. I hope the mummies will forgive me, they were really much better when I had just made them!

So for the recipe, with the adaptions I got 16 cupcakes.

Red Velvet Cupcakes adapted from "the hummingbird bakery cookbook"

60 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
150 g caster sugar
2 eggs
20 g cocoa powder
40 ml red food colouring
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
120 ml buttermilk
150 g plain flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 tablespoon white vinegar

Preheat the oven to 170 degreesC (325F) Gas3

Put the butter and the sugar in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy and well mixed. Turn the nixer up to high speed, slowly add one egg and beat until well incorporated. Repeat with the second egg.

In a separate bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, food colouring and vanilla extract to make a very thick, dark paste. Add to the butter mixture and mix thouroughly until evenly combined and coloured (scrape any umixed ingredients from the side of the bowl wiht a rubber spatula). Turn the mixer down to slow speed and slowly pur in half the buttermil. Beat until well mixed, then add half the flour and beat until everything is well incorporated. Repeat this process until all the buttermilk and flour have been added. Scrape down the side of the bowl again. Turn the mixer up to high speed and beat until you have a smooth, even mixture.

Mix bicarbonate of soda and white vinegar in a small bowl or a mug, and stir until the soda dissolves. The mixture will fizz. Add to the batter and beat until well mixed.

Spoon the mixture inteo the paper cases until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 mintues or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely. When they are cold, pipe or spoon the frosting on.

Cinnamon frosting from "Baked. New Frontiers in Baking"

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup heavy milk
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks)unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon

In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the sugar and flour together. Add the milk and cream and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally (I whisked quite often to avoid the milk to burn), until the mixture comes to a boil and has thickened, about 20 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until cool. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter; beat until thoroughly incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy.

Add the vanilla and the cinnamon and continue mixing until combined.

No you can spoon the frosting onto your cold cupcakes "hummingbird bakery" style or Carine style with some nice piped swirls. I think my cupcakes look quite pretty!

Monday, 19 April 2010


A friend of mine recently turned 30. I thought it deserved some special cupcakes. I wanted to make chocolate ones, but then I remembered that her favourites are cakes with lemon in one way or another. I also really wanted to work on my meringue, so had the best excuse to make my lime cupcakes with lime curd filling and meringue frosting. I know lime aren't lemons, but hey, they are a citrus fruit, so hoped my friend would forgive me!

I used the same lime cupcake base as the mini lime cupcakes I made during Easter and I also made my own lime curd. Even after living in the UK for quite a few years I had never tasted lemon curd, so it took Greece and a passion for cupcakes to try it out! Turns out I love it! The receipe I use calls for lemon, but I replace it with lime and it really is supereasy to make. The recipe doesn't make a whole lot, but just enough to fill the cupcakes, and I use the spare egg whites for the meringue. That way, nothing goes to waste - it really is a win, win situation!

The other two times I have made these cupcakes the meringue has always sunk almost right after taking them out of the oven. I had read that it is important to whisk the meringue long enough and also, one shouldn't make it on a wet or a humid day as the humidity causes the meringue to be limp and sticky. I was looking to get a crispy meringue on the outside and pretty soft and gooey on the inside. I know that a bit of cream of tartar stabilises the egg whites, so I did this and whisked it long enough and the meringue was perfect. It didn't sink when I took the cupcakes out of the oven, but the hard or crispy shell as wanted wasn't exactly there. I guess it is too much to ask after only 5 minutes in the oven...

I like decorating my cupcakes, so had to come up with some nice decorations for these ones as well. I was planning to have the number 30 in sugarpaste on the cupcakes, but I wasn't sure on how I would do it and get them to stay on top of the meringue, but then my creative (his words, not mine!) husband suggested I could have one letter on each cupcakes spelling out "Life begins @ 30". What a perfect idea!! My friend had already said in her blog post about turing 30 that she will embrace it, rather than fighting it, so I thought this was the best decoration ever!
I made the sugarpaste, coloured it, made 12 hearts and added the letters on 10 of them and managed to roll out thin lines to spell out @ and 30 on the last two. I took these pictures in a hurry, but I think they look pretty cool!

Some family members have their names days and birthdays coming up within this week, so I will be making some cupcakes this week again. I think I am definitely trying out a red velvet recipe and possibly a chocolate and cardamom cupcake. If you have any other suggestions, I would love to hear them!

Monday, 12 April 2010

Easter cupcakes

I know Easter is over, but I haven't had time to write this post earlier, so here goes!

My parents were visiting over from Norway and as we were going to Xalkidiki for the Easter weekend and I knew some neighbours and friends would be there as well I decided to make some cupcakes for everyone to enjoy. For me Easter treats are definitely all about chocolate (mostly together with marzipan), so clearly had to make chocolate cupcakes! A friend had brought some speckled chocolate eggs over from the UK, but I decided to make mini cupcakes for the first time, so had to make some marzipan eggs for the decoration this time. Lucikly I had bought some marizpan a few weeks earlier, so no need to make homemade marzipan this time!

I also had a banana that needed to be used so added that to the batter for lovely moist chocolate and banana cupcakes and teamed it with a chocolate cream cheese frosting. I definitely prefer the chocolate cream cheese frosting to the chocolate buttercream frosting. I wanted to create a little hen's nest with the eggs on for the frosting decoration, but apparently I am so used to make fairly nice topped swirls, so I got slightly carried away and forgot about the nest. A few cupcakes did have a little nest-feeling to it though! :)

I wanted to make another flavour in addition to the chocolate cupcakes as not everyone loves chocolate as much as I do, so was thinking of trying out a red velvet recipe, but knowing the red velvet cupcakes also contain cocoa I decided to go for a citrusy cupcake instead - lime cupcakes with lime cream cheese frosting. The recipe I got makes a moist and lovely tasting lime cupcake and the zest in the frosting really brings out the lime flavour - these were a big hit!

Although I went to bed late after making these cupcakes (obviously since I had started really late in the evening!) I loved, loved, loved making these mini cupcakes! They do not fill you up and leaves plenty of space to try a few flavours! I will definitely make more mini cupcakes from now on!

And so I leave you with this photo of five cute mini Easter cupcakes!

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Lavender cupcakes

It has somewhat taken me forever to continue this blog. I haven't stopped baking cupcakes though.

I am ridiculously proud of most of my cupcakes, so I think most of them deserve their own blog entry. I'll try to keep it short and sweet with some photos showing the cupcakes and my progress.

After the raving reviews of my daughter's baptism cupcakes, I tried a rather more complicated vanilla cupcake with a lavender cream filling and lime cream cheese frosting. I was inspired by Chockylit's lavender cupcakes, but the lavender cream failed spectacularly compared to the instructions, so I improvised and made my own lavender cream. I dare say it is probably better and it gives just the most perfect hint and taste of lavender, not too little and not too overpowering. Paired with the lush lime cream cheese frosting it is my most popular cupcake yet!

Here are some photos of my lavender cupcakes:

These have tiny handmade butterfly decorations made of homemade Marshmallowfondant (by that I mean that even the marshmallow was made from scratch!)

These are decorated with small crystalised violet petals, which I found on a trip to London.

These are decorated with homemade marshmallowfondant butterflies with blue sugar for a sparkly, glittery effect.

And finally the icing on the cake so to speak, lavender cupcakes with a handmade sugarpaste (homemade!) princess crown made for a little princess' birthday.