Tuesday, 27 January 2015

New Blog

I haven't posted since this summer. This time I am not going to apologize for the lack of posting but instead tell you that I've been blogging elsewhere. I love baking but the truth is I don't have time for it every week and it can be hard to bake a new recipe every time just so that I can make a blog post about it. Instead I've been writing a lifestyle blog which baking is definitely still a part of. Additionally I'll be blogging about beauty, cooking, reading etc. and posting much more regularly. If you're interested in reading this blog you can check it out HERE!

Monday, 16 June 2014

Maple Pecan Muffins

My next bake of the summer combines the ongoing theme of British baking as well as a Canadian flavour. You don't know how hard I just laughed when Blogger told me that was misspelled. It's a Canadian flavour not a Canadian flavor!

The recipe is from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook (an American inspired British Bakery) and I'm determined to try more of these recipes as the ones I've tried previously were slightly lacklustre. The recipe said to mix with an electric mixer but I thought it would be better to do them by hand. Muffins can very easily be over-mixed which leaves an unpleasant texture after baking.

Maple Pecan Muffins (from Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook, makes 12)
-2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
-3/4 cup sugar
-3/4 teaspoon salt
-1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
-1 1/2 cups buttermilk
-1 egg
-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
-5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
-1 2/3 cups shelled pecans, chopped
-12 pecan halves to decorate
-3/4 cup maple syrup

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl and mix by hand until evenly dispersed.

In a larger bowl, add buttermilk. egg, and vanilla and whisk by hand. Slowly add the flour mixture, mixing between additions.

Add melted butter and beat. Then add half the maple syrup and all chopped pecans and stir until evenly dispersed. (I found the mixture at this point to be quite wet and doughy)

Evenly spoon the batter into the cupcake liner, about 2/3 full. drizzle remaining maple syrup on top and garnish with a pecan. Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden or a skewer inserted comes out clean.

(before going in the oven)

 Now I'm 98% sure I under-baked the muffins as they were not golden but when I pressed on the top with my finger it did spring back. I did also overfill them (my bad!). I can honestly say that regardless, they were moist and not over-mixed and deliciously sweet.

Okay, so looking back on the photo in the cookbook, I really regret not waiting until they were golden.

The End.

 Anyone else cringing from how bad that ending was?
Just one more thing I'll regret.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Cath Kidston Inspired Cookies

I have never been one to have creative ideas of my own. I have always replicated other designs and while I wish I was waking up at 2 a.m. with the perfect design idea that I just have to write down, for now I will stick to doing what I do best and with that continuing to develop my cookie skills and piping technique.

The theme of this summer so far has been "The Great British Bake Off" and where my last post was a recipe from the show this one is more inspired. I was looking to create some beautiful, floral, spring cookies and who does spring florals better than Cath Kidston. During my research phase I came across some beautiful cookies and hunted them down here by Icing Land.

Also in my research was icing recipes and techniques. In the past I've found the stiff peak/soft peak technique was a lot of effort and mess. I also found that often the stiff peak icing would come separated and often get pulled off the cookie. A lot of the cookie gurus tend to stick to one icing consistency to pipe and flood, all from one piping bag. I found this recipe by Sugarbelle (one of my favourite blogs) that has definitely replaced my old recipe.

Royal Icing
-2 pounds icing sugar (in Canada we have 1 kg. which is fine but will require a bit more water)
-5 tablespoons meringue powder
-2-3 teaspoons vanilla extract (or other flavouring)
-1/2-3/4 cups warm water

With a paddle attachment, mix the meringue powder and icing sugar.

Mix half the water with the vanilla extract.

With the mixer of its lowest speed slowly add the water (staring with the vanilla mixture) and continue until it forms a thick honey-like consistency.

On medium speed whip from 2-4 minutes until stiff peaks are formed. (I found that 2 minutes was too much with my mixer on 6, so be careful not to over whip).

The whipping was probably the most important change in the recipe for me as it really helped the icing increase in volume. I don't think I will ever have to make more icing again. Another technique I tried to incorporate (but didn't quite hit the nail on the head) is the 10 s. rule by Sweetopia (a fellow canuck) where when you slice the surface of the icing it should take about 10 s. to smooth over.
The polka dot cookies were the simplest to create. I piped and flooded the cookies with a pink icing and immediately after used white icing to pipe dots (as evenly as possible) on top. This is a wet-on-wet technique and creates a smooth finish. 

The rose cookies were slightly more complicated because the base was not a simple/freehand shape. In the past I've used a transfer technique which works well if you can do them the day before. See my tutorial here. In this case I decided to try something new. I took an image of what I was trying to create and cut out the centre, making a simple stencil from printer paper. Now this isn't a perfect stencil by any means but with the wetter icing, the stencil could be easily removed with disrupting much the shape. For a quick fix, it worked well to make sure I had an even, symmetrical base. The flower design however was done freehand (but could also be done by transfer for a better finish) and while it was by no means perfect, the abstract rose design still looks pretty darn good.