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Favourite gadget: silicone muffin cases

18 Jan
Corn muffins in ever so clever and bright silicon cases

Corn muffins in ever so clever and bright silicone cases

Silicone bakeware is great. It is easy to clean, comes in bright colours, stored away small, is light-weight and is non-stick. Pretty and easy to use.

I recently bought a bunch of muffin cases in the Habitat sale and find myself making muffins every second day. To have a good reason to make muffins, I’ve been experimenting with egg and dairy free corn muffins. Corn muffins because I love American corn bread. Egg and dairy free so that my vegetarian, dairy sensitive and currently detoxing live-in can have some too. (Hush. Don’t mention the sugar.) The recipe below yields six to eight moist corn muffins with a good chilli warmth. They go well with soup and make an easy breakfast for lazy people, like me. They are a fast way to make a tasty snack. Should you, like e rucola, have decided to spend a week eating only what you yourself have cooked, pack these when you go out.

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Quick bites … Ruthven’s at the Dean Gallery

17 Jan


Ruthven’s is something of an Edinburgh institution it dates back to 1983. Before the museum closed for refurbishment, their restaurant at the National Portrait Gallery was a favourite lunch places for me.

Now part of Heritage Portfolio, Ruthven’s continue to operate a “scratch” kitchen ( everything cooked from scratch), at various venues including the Gallery of Modern Art and the  Dean Gallery. (Non-art lovers can be easily bribed by the prospect of tea).

Cafe Newton, Dean Gallery

Cafe Newton, Dean Gallery

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Love Cooking – James Martin and Guests

19 Oct
James Martin on Love Cooking, Edinburgh

James Martin on Love Cooking, Edinburgh

 I don’t watch Saturday Kitchen and chances are I’m not going to start after this experience. Although the food looked decent enough, the personality of the cook rather put me off eating it. Saying that, James’ guests, entertaining Oz Clarke and demure local hero Tom Kitchin, made the hour and a half  quite pleasant. Two skilled chefs, a three-course cookery demonstration and wine advice to boot – what’s not to love? Let me tell you.

Celebrating cupcake week 2010

9 Sep

What a lovely week to celebrate, I hope that you discovered Kelly’s red velvet cupcakes?

Alice Rose Cakes and Cookies

Alice Rose Cakes and Cookies

I am always curious as to why people start up a business and how they found their passion, so  I asked some cupcakers (is there such a word) to share their experiences. In this post, Alice Rose who is starting up a new business distributing cupcakes across the UK (yum!)

Like many great people, Alice’s inspiration came to her in the bath. Three years ago, she’d left university with a business degree but wasn’t sure what she really wanted to do. Her Ah Ha moment was to become a cake decorator. The first cake she made was for her own birthday whilst she was doing up her own house. She had to contend with a really old cooker the previous tenant had left behind and the only work surface available on top of the fridge! She wishes she had taken a photo of that first effort, to see just how far she has come. Night classes at college followed to learning basic royal icing skills then more modern sugar paste techniques.

Tennis theme cake and cupcakes

Tennis theme cake and cupcakes

Cupcakes have become increasingly popular amongst her customers but she also makes an equal amount of large celebration cakes combined with cupcakes as well.

Cupcake Canapes

Cupcake Canapés

Alice explains “Cupcakes are so flexible, you can add them to a children’s party bag or customise them with a company logo. The range of flavours are also endless – traditional puddings are now lending their flavours to cupcakes including black forest gateaux and banoffee pie. I have also  just started creating cupcake canapés which are bite size and are in an edible case for easy eating”. Not surprisingly, her favourite pastime is creating new flavours and of course, sampling them!

An alternative wedding cake?

An alternative wedding cake?

I was keen to hear more about the cupcake delivery system. Alice explains “My partner and I are setting up a delivery system working with a team of independent cupcake makers and decorators across the country. Once we receive an order on our Direct Cupcakes website, we commission the bakers to create the order for us and deliver. We are planning to launch it in the next couple of weeks.

If you are interested in getting involved, visit the website, or send Alice a tweet @arcakescookies

Celebrate National Cupcake week with Red Velvet Cupcakes

4 Sep

National Cupcake Week (13th to 19th Sept) is just around the corner and what better way to celebrate than by making a batch of classic Red Velvet Cupcakes?

Often called the Devil’s Food Cake, the origins of Red Velvet Cake are have been shrouded in myth. The earliest recipes date back to the 1920s when boiled beetroot would be added to the cake to give it its glorious red colour, nowadays we tend to use food colouring. It can be difficult to get the really red colour with liquid food colouring. I’ve used recipes that ask for 6 tbsp of food colouring when even with the whole bottle included they still come out reddy brown. To avoid the hassle I use Sugarflair sugar paste colouring in my cakes as it’s stronger and gives the guaranteed colour you want.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes

The unsweetened cocoa, buttermilk and vinegar included in this recipe means your cakes will not taste as sweet as traditional vanilla cupcakes. This is balanced out with a cream cheese icing which is both sweet and tart at the same time. Also don’t panic if your cakes turn out a little dense, you haven’t overbeaten the flour. Traditional American cupcake recipes such as this are much denser than more the traditional British fairy cakes we are used to.

Red Velvet Cupcakes (makes 12)

You will need;
• 140 g sifted self-raising flour
• 60 g butter at room temperature
• 170 g sifted caster sugar
• 1 large egg at room temperature
• 2 tbsp sifted unsweetened cocoa powder
• ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
• 110 ml buttermilk
• 1 tsp cider or white wine vinegar
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 4 tbsp red food colouring or ½ tsp of red sugar paste

For the icing;
• 300 g cream cheese (should work out to be a whole tub of Philadelphia cheese)
• 60 g butter at room temperature
• 1 tsp lemon juice
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 340 g of sifted icing sugar

Preheat your oven to 170C or Gas Mark 3 and line a muffin tin with 12 muffin cases.

Using either a stand or hand mixer, cream your butter until it is light and airy gradually adding in the sifted caster sugar. When the sugar and butter are completely mixed together add your egg and continue to mix until you have a smooth mixture.

(If you are using a liquid food colouring mix the cocoa powder with the food colouring together in a separate bowl in to a smooth paste before adding to your main mixture.)

Add the cocoa and food colouring and vanilla extract to the main bowl and blend well until you have a smooth red mixture. You can optionally add a little more red food colouring here if you feel your cakes aren’t red enough. Add some of the flour and mix then add some of the buttermilk. Alternate this way until both have been fully incorporated in to your cake mix. Separately add the bicarbonate of soda and the vinegar together before throwing this in to your cake mix, blend your mixture for around a minute more before equally dishing out the mixture in to the waiting muffin cases.

Place your cupcakes in the middle of your preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, use a skewer to check if your cakes are cooked in the middle before removing them from the oven and letting them cool in the pan for 5 minutes before placing them on a cooling rack.

For the icing cream the butter, cream cheese, lemon juice and vanilla extract together until equally combined then gradually add in the icing sugar a little at a time. You can either smear this icing over your cupcakes or using an icing bag to pipe your icing on.