Matcha Green Tea Cupcakes

I can’t believe it’s already March! 2019 is flying by and that means that St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner, and with it, my desire to tint food all shades of green.

While many of my St Patrick’s day recipes (such as my grasshopper pie, mint chocolate fudge and chocolate mint sundae cupcakes) rely on food colouring for their hue, these cupcakes get their colour entirely from the natural Japanese green tea powder, matcha.

I have wanted to make these extraordinary looking cupcakes ever since I received the Hummingbird Cupcake Bakery Cookbook in 2011, and finally had the opportunity to when farewelling a matcha-loving colleague last month.

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The cakes themselves only have a mild matcha flavour but the frosting really packs a punch. If you’re not a big matcha fan or want to appeal to a wider audience, I would recommend only adding in a fraction of the matcha powder into the frosting initially and adding more to taste. Or alternatively, frosting the cakes with vanilla buttercream instead.

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Ingredients (makes 12)
120ml milk
3 matcha green tea bags
100g plain flour
20g cocoa powder
140g caster sugar
1½ teaspoons baking powder
40g butter
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Matcha frosting
250g icing sugar
80 butter
20g Matcha green tea powder (plus extra to decorate)
25ml milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

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Method
Put the milk and green tea bags in a jug, cover and refrigerate for a few hours, or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 170ºC. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with patty pans.

Put the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder and butter in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer on low until it reaches a sandy consistency with everything combined.

Combine the tea-infused milk (with tea bags removed) with the egg and vanilla extract. Slowly pour half into the flour mixture, beating until all ingredients are well combined. Repeat with the remaining milk mixture. Mix for a further few minutes until the mixture is smooth.

Spoon the mixture into the patty pans until two-thirds full and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cakes spring back when touched. Leave cakes in the tin for 5 minutes before turning onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, beat together the icing sugar, butter and matcha powder on a medium-slow speed until it comes together. Turn the electric beater down to low and gradually add in the milk and vanilla. Continue beating for a further 5 minutes or until light and fluffy.

Using a Wilton 2B icing nozzle, pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes and sprinkle with extra matcha powder. Enjoy!

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Recipe adapted from ‘Green Tea Cupcakes’ from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook

Spiced Mocha Santa Hat Cupcakes

Christmas is just around the corner which means one thing…

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….Bailey is being forced into a whole range of ridiculous but adorable costumes :’)

It also means that our kitchen is filled with the delicious scent of Christmas baking – cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger are being added to just about everything!

These cupcakes are no exception with a rich Christmas spiced mocha flavour. I’ve topped them with a vibrant red buttercream and a white mini marshmallow to look like Santa hats, but decorate them however you like.

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Ingredients (makes 12)
Christmas Spice Cupcakes
150g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarb soda
1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
100g butter, softened
160g brown sugar
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons sour cream
125ml boiling water
75g dark chocolate
1 teaspoon instant coffee

Frosting
100g butter, softened
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups icing sugar
Wilton colouring gel in Red
12 white mini marshmallows

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Method

Preheat the oven to 180ºC fan-forced. Line a 12-hole muffin pan with patty pans.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, bicarb and mixed spice. In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each, and then beat in a third of the flour mixture followed by a tablespoon of the sour cream, repeating until all used.

Put the water, chocolate and instant coffee in a pan and heat gently until the chocolate melts. Fold this into the cake batter, being careful not to over beat.

Pour the batter into the patty pans and put in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, until each cake is cooked through but still dense and damp.

Leave to cool for 5 minutes in the tray before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Once cool, cut the domes off the cupcakes until you have a flat surface.

To make the frosting, cream the butter for 1-2 mins in a large bowl using an electric mixer. Add the milk, vanilla and half of the icing sugar and beat for at least 3 mins (until the mixture is light and fluffy). Add the remaining icing sugar and beat for a further 3 mins or until of a spreadable consistency. Add extra milk if too dry or extra icing sugar if too wet. Add colouring and beat in until combined and the desired colour has been achieved.

Spoon the frosting into a piping bag fitted with a large, plain nozzle. Pipe frosting onto the cakes in a circular motion from the outside in until it looks like a santa hat. Top with a white mini marshmallow.

Enjoy!

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Cake recipe from Nigella Lawson ‘How to be a Domestic Goddess’
Frosting recipe adapted from the ‘Crabapple Cupcake Bakery’ cookbook.

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

It should be no secret by now that I love lemon meringue. I already have recipes on the blog for a traditional lemon meringue pie and for mini lemon meringue pies, but until now I haven’t had lemon meringue cupcakes.

Luckily, today is the day I rectify that sad scenario. This recipe is a combination of my butterfly cake recipe with my lemon curd and a lightly toasted meringue topping and the result is delicious!

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Ingredients (makes 12)
Cupcakes
1 cup (125g) self-raising flour
⅔ cup (125g) caster sugar
125g butter, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk

Lemon Curd
½ cup white sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
½ cup fresh lemon juice (approx. 2-3 lemons)
Zest of 1 lemon
55g butter, melted

Meringue
3/4 cup caster sugar
3 egg whites

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Method
Preheat oven to 200ºC and line a 12-hole muffin tin with yellow patty pans.

Put all of the ingredients except for the milk into a food processor and blitz until smooth. Pulse while adding the milk until just combined.

Divide batter evenly among the patty pans (I know it doesn’t look like much batter, but they will rise a lot).

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Transfer immediately onto a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cakes are baking, start making the lemon curd. Whisk together the sugar, egg and yolk in a large microwave safe bowl until thoroughly combined. Whisk in lemon juice, zest and melted butter.

Cook the curd in the microwave on full power for 50 second intervals, whisking after each interval. You will know your lemon curd is ready when it coats the back of a metal spoon (approximately three 50 second intervals). Allow to cool completely.

Once the cakes and curd are completely cool, use a teaspoon to dig a hole in the centre of each cupcake. Fill the holes with the lemon curd and set aside.

To make the meringue, whisk the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl until soft peaks form. Continue whisking, gradually adding the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue whisking until sugar dissolves.

Use a piping bag with a star or plain nozzle to pipe meringue over cupcakes. Use a cook’s blowtorch to lightly toast the meringue. Enjoy!

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Notes:
– If you don’t have a blowtorch, simply bake the frosted cakes on an oven tray at 220ºC for 3-5 minutes or until the meringue is toasted.
– Any extra lemon curd can be stored in a sterilised container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

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Cupcake recipe from Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess
Lemon curd recipe from My Baking Addiction
Meringue recipe from Taste.com.au

Easy No-Bake Lemon Cheesecake

This is my favourite cheesecake recipe which was kindly given to me by my high-school friend, Antonia. The filling has a silky texture with a delicious punch of lemon, and sets without needing gelatin. It’s a perfect no-stress summer dessert as you can make it the night before and leave it to set without a second thought.

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Ingredients (serves 8-10)
Juice and rind of 1 large lemon
400ml condensed milk
250g cream cheese, softened
300ml thickened cream
1 x 250g packet Arnott’s Granita biscuits (or equivalent)
75g butter, melted

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Method
Grease and line a 25cm round springform tin.

Crush the biscuits in a food processor and add the melted butter. Use the crumb mixture to line the bottom and part way up the sides of the prepared tin, pressing it in firmly with the bottom of a glass to ensure it is even.

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and condensed milk until smooth.

In a separate bowl, beat the cream until it is very thick but not fully whipped.

Gently combine the cream into the cream cheese mixture and stir until just combined. Add in the lemon rind and gradually add the juice (to taste).

Pour into the crumb lined tin. Cover the top with foil and secure with a rubber band.

Refrigerate overnight or until set (at least 7 hours).

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Recipe from Antonia

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Cream Tart Number Cake

I love the look of these number cakes (also known as cream tarts or alphabet cakes) that are all over Instagram and was thrilled when my sister asked me to make her one for her 21st Birthday.

While they’re a bit fiddly to make and decorate, I was surprised by how quick they are to make; largely as they take so little time to bake in the oven. I also love how customisable they are – you can use any letters or numbers you choose, pick your decoration colour scheme, and change the flavour of the filling to taste. I went with a traditional almond biscuit with a vanilla custard filling and decorated with strawberries and pink and white flowers, meringues and macarons.

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Ingredients (makes two A3-sized number cakes, serves approx. 20)
Pâte Sablée (biscuit layers)
– 225g butter, room temperature
– ½ cup icing sugar
– 1 egg
– 2¼ cups flour
– 1 cup almond meal
– 1 teaspoon almond essence
– 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Vanilla Custard Filling
– 6 cups thickened cream
– 3 100g packets Cottee’s Instant Vanilla Pudding mixes
– 1 cup icing sugar
– 3 teaspoons vanilla essence

Other
– Cut out A3 sized numbers (I used a 1 and a 2 stretched to fill an A3 page each in bolded Arial Black font)
– Extra large square silver cake board
– Fresh, pesticide-free flowers
Macarons
– Meringues
– Sugar flowers
– Strawberries (halved)

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  1. To make the biscuit layers, place all pâte sablée ingredients into a food processor and blitz until combined.
  2. Remove the dough from the processor and knead gently for 30 seconds until smooth. Halve the dough, press each into a disc shape, cover in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Pre-heat oven to 180ºC.
  4. Roll one of the pieces of dough between two pieces of baking paper until it’s big enough for your number template (approx. 5-6 mm thick). Carefully cut out the first number from the dough, keeping the excess pieces. Place onto a baking tray lined with baking paper.
  5. Repeat with the same number and the excess dough (remember that you need two of each number).
  6. Bake the two biscuits for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool completely before VERY gently transferring one of the biscuits onto to the silver cake board and setting the other aside.
  7. Take out the second half of the dough from the refrigerator and repeat steps 4-6 for the second number.
  8. To make the vanilla filling, whip the cream in a large bowl with an electric mixer until peaks form. Alternately add the pudding mix and the icing sugar while beating, until the filling is combined and very thick.
  9. Spoon the filling into a piping bag with a medium-sized round nozzle and pipe even dollops in rows on each number (as below) IMG_9951
  10. Gently sandwich the biscuit pairs on top of the filling and repeat step 9.
  11. Decorate with flowers, macarons and meringues.
  12. Enjoy!

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Notes:

  • The biscuits can be made the day ahead and kept in an airtight container, but don’t pipe the filling or assemble the cake until the day of serving.
  • If any of your biscuits break, don’t panic, simply ‘glue’ the biscuit back together with some of the vanilla filling prior to piping the filling on top and decorating – no-one will ever know!
  • Can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days but the biscuit layers will go soft.

Biscuit recipe adapted from ‘Cream Tart’ recipe on Home Cooking Adventure.com

Vanilla filling recipe adapted from ‘The Best Whipped Cream Frosting’ on Two Sisters Crafting.com

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Giant Cookie Cake

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For my birthday this year, I decided to bake something a little different. As much as I have enjoyed making (and eating!) my layered drip cakes (here and here) over the last couple of years, this year I was after something simpler. Enter the cookie cake.

I have admired the brightly coloured array of delicious looking cookie cakes on Sally’s Baking Addiction (my baking porn website of choice) for years, and finally got around to making it. Boy, am I glad I did! As promised, this ‘cake’ is so quick and simple to make and produces a deliciously chewy and flavoursome giant cookie. The recipe is also very easy to adapt – you could use M&Ms, or mix up the choc chips depending on your taste.

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Ingredients (serves 12-14)
170g softened butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg + an extra yolk
5 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons cornflour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1½ cups chocolate chips (I used dark chocolate)
Chocolate frosting for topping (optional)

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Method
Preheat your oven to 180°C. Spray a 23cm (9-inch) pie dish or cake pan thoroughly with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, beat the butter for 1-2 minutes until light and creamy. Add the brown sugar and beat for about a minute or until combined. Mix in the egg, egg yolk and vanilla on until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as required.

In a separate bowl, combine the flours and baking powder. On a low speed, gradually mix into the wet ingredients until combined. Add in 1¼ cups chocolate chips and mix for until evenly dispersed.

Gently press the cookie dough evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cake is lightly golden brown (use a skewer in the centre to check it’s cooked). Remove from the oven and set the pan on a wire rack to cool completely.

Once cooled, use a sharp knife or metal spatula to loosen the sides of the cookie cake from the pan and transfer to a cake stand or serving plate.

Decorate as desired (I made a quick chocolate buttercream using butter, icing sugar and cocoa powder and piped it on using my Wilton 1M tip), top with the remaining chocolate chips and serve with vanilla ice-cream. Enjoy!

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Recipe adapted from ‘Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake’ on Sally’s Baking Addiction.

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Lemon & Raspberry Muffins

I love Nigella recipes because they’re consistently quick, easy and delicious. These muffins are no exception, taking under 40 minutes from start to finish. The recipe is also incredibly flexible – you can use fresh or frozen raspberries (or any other fruit for that matter) or try switching the lemon for another citrus fruit of your choice. Happy baking!

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Ingredients (makes 12)
60g butter
200g plain flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarb soda
150g caster sugar
Juice and z est of 1 lemon
Milk (approx. 120ml)
1 large egg
150g raspberries

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Method

Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Line a muffin tin with 12 patty pans.

Melt the butter in a medium bowl and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, bicarb, sugar and lemon zest.

Pour the lemon juice into a large measuring jug and add milk until it comes to 200ml (don’t worry about it curdling). Add the milk mixture to the melted butter and then beat in the egg.

Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients until just combined (don’t overmix it as your muffins will be tough). Gently stir through the raspberries.

Spoon the batter into the patty pans and bake for 25 minutes or until the muffins spring back when touched. Enjoy!

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Recipe adapted from Nigella’s ‘Lemon-Raspberry Muffins’ in How to Be a Domestic Goddess.

Spiced Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Autumn is here (at long last) and the trees are looking stunning! Even though I live in the Southern Hemisphere and pumpkin flavouring isn’t as prevalent as in the US, when I found myself free on a grey Autumn afternoon I felt the need to make something using pumpkin, cream cheese frosting and my favourite spices.

My Mum, sister and I visited the Hummingbird Bakery while we were in Notting Hill in London and tried one of their whoopie pies. While everything we tried from the bakery was delicious, the whoopie pie was our favourite and so I felt the need to replicate it at home. Luckily for me, the recipe was easily available online (and also in their cookbook Cake Days) and with a bit of tweaking to add in extra spices, it really hit the spot.

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Ingredients (makes 15 whoopie pies)
120ml vegetable oil
180g brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
100ml pumpkin purée
250g plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon mixed spice
½ teaspoon ground ginger

85g butter, softened
150g icing sugar
80g cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon mixed spice
A splash of milk (as required)

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Method
Preheat the oven to 170ºC (approx. 150ºC fan-forced) and line two large trays with baking paper.

Using an electric mixer, combine the oil, sugar and vanilla until combined and light in colour. Add the egg and pumpkin purée and mix until all ingredients are incorporated. Sift together the remaining ingredients and add to the liquid mixture in two batches, beating until just combined.

Spoon 30 teaspoons full of the batter on to the prepared trays, leaving a 3cm gap between each. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until they are golden and bounce back when touched. Allow to cool completely before filling.

To make the cream cheese filling, use an electric beater to mix together the butter and the icing sugar on a low speed until smooth. Add the cream cheese, vanilla and spices and continue mixing on a low speed until just combined. Add milk or extra icing sugar as required.

To assemble the whoopie pies, take a sponge, spread approximately 1 tablespoon of filling onto its flat side and then sandwich with another sponge flat-side-down. Enjoy!

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Recipe adapted from Cake Days by the Hummingbird Bakery

Grandma’s Scones

Does anything beat scones with jam and cream and tea in the sunshine? (Answer: no).

Scones are very simple to make but tend to be saved for ‘fancy’ occasions like high-tea in my house. Well, no more. I vow to make more of these versatile beauties because, regardless of occasion, there’s something supremely satisfying about a eating a fluffy scone smothered in jam (ideally homemade) and a dollop of whipped cream.

Oh and obviously it’s pronounced scone, rhyming with “John” not “Joan”.

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Ingredients (makes 18)
2 cups self-raising flour (+ extra for dusting)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1½ tablespoons caster sugar
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 eggs

Method
Preheat oven to 230-240°C (210-220°C fan-forced).

Beat eggs together in a small bowl.  Add lemon juice to milk in order to sour it (don’t worry if it gets a bit lumpy).

Sift flour into a large bowl, add sugar and then gently mix in eggs, soured milk and butter until just combined.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently until it just comes together. Gently form into a disc 3-4cm thick. Use a 5cm-diameter round cutter dipped in flour to cut out scones (re-flouring between each scone). Arrange scones on a large oven tray lighted dusted with flour.

Bake scones for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Turn scones out onto a clean tea towel and cover with another tea towel.

Serve scones warm or at room temperature with jam and sweetened whipped cream.

NB: best eaten fresh on the day they’re made as they dry out quickly.

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Recipe adapted from Grandma, Margaret Payne, via Mum ♥

Better than Takeaway Butter Chicken

I LOVE butter chicken. It is always my go-to order at Indian restaurants and a good butter chicken is up there with my favourite foods. Sadly, butter chicken doesn’t always love me. I’m allergic to capsicum and while Canberran restaurant butter chicken was capsicum-free, the Adelaide restaurants I’ve tried all seem to add it in ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.  That meant that for 2 miserable years I had no butter chicken that didn’t result in terrible stomach pains.

Fortunately, Pinterest came to the rescue (as it often does), and after a few false starts, I found a recipe that produced butter chicken equal to or better than my favourite restaurant versions. The key ingredient is fenugreek leaves. They may be a little hard to find (I order mine online from herbies spices) but PLEASE do not judge this recipe without it – they are what set it apart from pre-made butter chicken sauces and give it its authentic flavour.

Because it is a little fiddly to make, we often double the recipe and make a huge batch that will make enough for several dinners and lunches. I actually think it tastes even better the next day once the flavours have had more time to integrate. We serve it with fluffy basmati rice and homemade rotis.

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Ingredients (serves 4-6)
1kg chicken thigh fillets, diced
2 x 400g cans diced tomatoes
1 brown onion, chopped
6 green cardamom pods
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
50g cashews, soaked
60g butter + 1 tablespoon for cooking
2 teaspoons chilli flakes
1 tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves, crushed
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon tandoori paste
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 cup cream

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Sauté cardamom pods in 1 tablespoon of butter in a large pan for 1 minute. Add onion, garlic and tomatoes with a pinch of salt and cook over a medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Add cashews and ginger and continue to cook until tomatoes are pulpy.

Cool the mixture slightly, then blend in a blender until it resembles a loose, smooth puree.

Add 60g butter to the pan and then return the puree to the pan after straining it through a sieve and discarding the cardamom pod fragments. Add chilli flakes, fenugreek leaves and salt and cook for around 15 minutes on medium heat.

Add chicken, tandoori paste, garam masala and honey. After 15 minutes, adjust seasoning as necessary and let simmer for a further 25-30 minutes for the flavours to develop.

Add cream just before serving.

Serve with rice and/or rotis. Enjoy!

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Recipe adapted from ‘Homemade Recipes.com.au’