Brown Sugar Pecan Praline Cookies

These cookies are soft and buttery, topped with a brown sugar frosting & crunchy pecan praline. I made these ready for having with tea & coffee at out ‘Chrisgiving’ celebration tonight and I must say I am pleasantly surprised – they are very more-ish and feel appropriately Thanksgiving-y.

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Ingredients (Makes around 35-45 cookies)
For the cookies
250g butter, softened
½ cup white sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups plain flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ cup finely chopped pecans

For the praline
1 cup pecans
½ cup white sugar
2 tablespoons water
For the icing
1 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup milk
1 tbsp butter
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
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Method
In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add in the egg and vanilla and beat until combined.

Add the flour and baking soda and beat until combined. Gently stir in the chopped pecans.
Cover the dough in cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 30mins.
While the dough is chilling, make the pecan praline. To make the praline, combine all ingredients in a frying pan over a moderate heat and stir well. Continue to stir as the water evaporates and the pecans become covered in white sugar. Continue stirring as the sugar melts to form a toffee around the pecans. Once all of the almonds are coated in toffee, pour onto a tray lined with baking paper to cool. Once cool, cut up with a knife or blitz in a food processor to make a fine crumb.
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I then blitzed these in the food processor for a few seconds to get a finer crumb
Preheat the oven to 160°C fan-forced. Line 3 large baking trays with baking paper. Shape dough into roughly golf-ball sized balls, flatten them with the palm of your hand and place them approximately 4cm apart on the lined baking trays.
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Bake for 10-15 mins or until fully cooked and lightly browned at the edges. Cool for 10 mins on their trays before transferring to a cooling rack.
To make the icing combine brown sugar and milk in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Bring to a boil and boil for approximately 3 mins, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and stir in butter.
Add in the icing sugar and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. If the frosting is too thin, add more icing sugar (but leave it for a few minutes before doing this as it will thicken over time). If too thick, add more milk.
Spread icing on each cookie and top with praline. Let the icing set fully before storing in an airtight container. Enjoy!
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Adapted from ‘Brown Sugar Pecan Cookies’ from The Recipe Rebel

Vanilla Raspberry Layer Cake

Well.. I lied. I completely intended to blog more in the last few weeks (as evidenced by my last post!) but I’ve just been too busy. I had my 21st Birthday to plan, uni assessments galore, the Psychology ball to organise, and now Laura’s 18th is coming up in a couple of weeks. Yikes, I get exhausted just thinking about it all! However, while I haven’t been blogging, I have been baking.

Here is the cake I made for my 21st Birthday afternoon tea – triple layer vanilla cake with a tangy raspberry filling & super glossy meringue frosting, topped with vanilla bean macarons. The raspberry filling was perfect as, otherwise, this cake was going to be too sweet, so I would certainly recommend leaving it (or perhaps substituting it for a tangy lemon curd if you’re not a raspberry fan) to cut the sweetness from the frosting.

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Don’t worry, the empty plates in the background didn’t stay empty!

For my 21st birthday cake, I used 2 packets of Betty Crocker’s SuperMoist Vanilla cake mix, with some extra vanilla added so they tasted more ‘home-made’ divided into 3 20cm lined pans. I did this for 2 main reasons; it saved a lot of time (and time was precious as I had so much other cooking to do!), and because it reliably produces an even, stable, fine-crumbed cake that is easy to work with. If you don’t want to use cake mixes, just make a double batch of your favourite vanilla/butter cake and that will work as well 🙂

The raspberry filling needs to be made at least a day ahead but keeps well in the fridge so can be made up to a week ahead.

I also made the macaron shells a couple of days ahead to save me some stress on the actual party day.

The frosting should be made the day of serving as it does not keep particularly well.

Ingredients

For the raspberry filling (make at least a day ahead)
340g frozen raspberries
⅔ cups water
½ cup white, granulated sugar
1 tblspn lemon juice
2 ½ tblspns cornstarch dissolved in ¼ cup of water

For the cake
2 boxes Betty Crocker’s SuperMoist Vanilla cake mix (made following instructions, so add the eggs, milk, butter etc. as specified by the box)
½ tablespoon vanilla extract

For the meringue frosting
6 egg whites
1 ¾ cups caster sugar
2 tblspns liquid glucose (or light corn syrup)
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the macarons
https://bakerholicsanonymous.wordpress.com/recipes-2/cookies-biscuits-macarons/vanilla-bean-macarons/

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Method
To make the raspberry filling:
In a saucepan combine the raspberries, water, sugar, and lemon juice. Bring to boil and simmer for 15-20mins  or until the raspberries have broken down.
Remove the mixture from the heat and strain with a fine mesh sieve. Return the stained mixture to the heat. Dissolve the cornstarch in water. Whisk the cornstarch mix into the raspberry mixture.
Bring the mixture back to a boil and simmer for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and cool completely.
Refrigerate overnight to set.

To make the cakes: Line & grease 3 20cm cake pans. Set oven to temperature specified by the cake mix boxes. Make cakes according to box instructions, add ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract to each cake mix & divide mixture among the three pans. Bake for specified time, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

To assemble the cake: Carefully place a cake layer on your serving platter. Top with a generous amount of raspberry filling and spread gently using a spatula to make an even layer. Top with another cake layer and repeat. Finally, top with the final cake, ready to be frosted.

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To make the meringue frosting: Add egg whites, sugar, liquid glucose and cream of tartar, and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 54°C on a thermometer (be patient, it does get there eventually!).
Beat heated mixture with electric beaters on a low speed for 2 minutes, then increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 more minutes. Increase the speed to high and beat until it is very thick and glossy, about 5 minutes.
Add vanilla and beat to combine.
Frost cake immediately by piling the frosting on top of the cake and, using a metal spatula, gently spreading from the top down. Smoothe as much as possible with your spatula.

Top with 6 macarons, 3 of each colour and a candle (if desired).

Serve each piece with a macaron & enjoy!

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Elise August 2015 131

Elise August 2015 132

Raspberry filling recipe adapted from: Pinterest (various sources with the same basic recipe)

Meringue frosting recipe adapted from Sweetapolita’s ‘Perfectly Pink Angel Food Cake’ http://sweetapolita.com/2015/05/perfectly-pink-angel-food-cake/

Giant Vanilla Cupcake

I haven’t made a giant cupcake for about 18 months but I’m so glad I found my giant cupcake cases again because they’re so much fun to make (and eat!) They’re also really easily adaptable as you can make them any flavour you like and decorate them in a million different ways. This time I’ve used buttercream roses but you could ice it as simply (or complexly) as you like – there’s a link to my fondant ‘soft serve’ icing instructions at the bottom of the page.image1-16

Ingredients (serves 10-12):
Cake
375g butter, softened
375g caster sugar
6 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
375g self-raising flour
3 tablespoons milk

Cupcake Case
375g white chocolate melts or Wilton candy melts

Buttercream icing
250g butter, softened
800g icing sugar
1 ½ tablespoons vanilla extract
4 tablespoons of milk
Food colouring

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Method
Spray silicone giant cupcake pan liberally with canola oil and preheat oven to 160°C fan-forced.

Cream together butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add in vanilla and then eggs, one at a time, ensuring that each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next. Add in half of the flour followed by two tablespoons of the milk, and then add remaining flour and milk. Mix until just combined.

Fill the giant cupcake pans, starting with the cupcake top. Fill until approximately 2cm shy of the top of the pan. Then fill the bottom pan with the remaining batter.

Bake in the oven for between 40-70 minutes, checking regularly. Note: the cupcake top will bake faster than the bottom so take it out before the bottom is done. The cake is ready when a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Leave cakes in their pans for at least 20 minutes before gently peeling the silicone off and allowing the cakes to cool completely on a cooling rack.

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Image credit: The Pink Whisk

While the cakes are cooling, wash and dry the bottom cupcake pan ready to make the cupcake case. Melt half the chocolate/candy melts and pour into the bottom cupcake pan. Spread evenly up the sides using a pastry brush. Refrigerate for 20 minutes and then repeat with the remaining melts. Refrigerate for 30 minutes and then gently peel off the silicone mould.

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Image credit: She Who Bakes
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Image credit: She Who Bakes
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Image credit: She Who Bakes

Using a serrated bread knife, trim around bottom cake so all crunchy edges are removed. Level top (of base) and then cut base in half. Cut off bottom layer off top piece. Level base (of top).

Make buttercream by beating all ingredients but the food colouring until light and fluffy. Set half aside for the crumb coat, and then add the food colouring to the remaining buttercream.

Put a 1cm thick coating of the uncoloured buttercream between 2 bottom layers of cake and then between the base and top (ensure level – cut if necessary). Then put a thin layer of buttercream on the inside of the chocolate case and gently ease cake into it. Cover top of cake liberally with buttercream to form a protective barrier against crumbs.

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Put the coloured buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a Wilton 2D nozzle (to make roses) or equivalent, and pipe icing in a rose swirl pattern, starting from the bottom of the cake and working your way up.

Decorate with icing flowers, sprinkles, silver cachous, glitter… basically whatever you like!

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Alternatively, if you’d prefer a soft-serve, fondant look. Halve the buttercream recipe to only make the crumb coat & then follow these directions: https://bakerholicsanonymous.wordpress.com/recipes-2/cakes/giant-cupcake/

Recipe adapted from ‘Vanilla Giant Cupcake Recipe’ by The Pink Whisk

Red Velvet Christmas Cupcakes

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Wow! Only a week and a day until Christmas 🙂 It’s warming up around here which means that having the oven on and heating the house isn’t ideal and so I’ve had a couple of organised baking spells to try and minimise the amount of oven time.

I made these cupcakes yesterday for an afternoon tea with friends and they’re easy and delicious (and still soft & moist today).

For decorations, go as crazily festive as you like. There are plenty of cute Christmas sugar icing decorations that are cheap and readily available, you could make up a range of different coloured icings and pipe a wreath on them or something along those lines (if you can be bothered), or do as I did, and cut out some holly out of ready-made fondant icing.

Of course, these cupcakes aren’t reserved just for Christmas time, they would work equally well as birthday cupcakes with piped icing and candles!

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Ingredients (Makes 24)
Cupcakes
150g softened butter
⅔ cup caster sugar
2 tspns vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 ⅓ cups self raising flour, sifted
4 tblspns cocoa, sifted
½ cup buttermilk
1 ½ tblspns of good quality red food colouring (I use Wilton’s, you may need to adjust the amount depending on the brand you use)

Cream Cheese Icing
500g cream cheese, chopped
100g butter, softened
1 tspn vanilla extract
1 ½ cups icing sugar
2 tblspns milk

To Decorate
Ready made white fondant icing
Red food colouring
Green food colouring
Holly leaf cutter (or stencil)
Sharp Knife

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Method
Preheat oven to 160°C fan-forced. Place butter, caster sugar and vanilla into a large bowl and beat with electric mixer until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, beating until well combined. Add the flour, cocoa, buttermilk and food colouring and beat on a low speed until just combined.

Divide mixture into cupcake tins lined with (green) patty pans. Bake for 15-20 minutes (depending on your oven) or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the largest cupcake comes out clean. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

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While the cupcakes are cooking and cooling, divide half of the fondant icing into 2 and colour one lot vibrant red, and the other a deep (holly-ish) green. Roll out the green fondant with a rolling pin and cut out 48 holly leaves. Then, using a sharp non-serated knife, mark out a leaf pattern by running the knife through the centre so that it leaves an incision but does not cut through. Then cut diagonal incisions from the centre out so that it looks like the veins of a leaf (see picture below).

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Pull small pieces of the red fondant off and roll into 48 small balls to make the holly berries.

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Once the cupcakes are almost completely cool, start making the cream cheese icing. Place the cream cheese and butter into a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer for 8-10 minutes. Add the icing sugar and vanilla and beat for a further 5 minutes or until completely smooth. Add the milk and beat until just combined.

Ice each cupcake with a generous amount of icing and top with 2 leaves and 2 berries. Enjoy!

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Recipe adapted from Donna Hay’s recipe ‘red velvet cupcakes with sugared cranberries’.

Simple Sugar Cookies

Happy 1st birthday Bakerholics Anonymous! To celebrate this milestone I thought I would share a recipe that I have only recently discovered but used frequently – with delicious results. These sugar cookies are perfect for any occasion as you can use any shaped cutters you like (my most recent batch were heart shaped for Valentine’s day but I have made a number of different varieties: stars and angels for Christmas, & even some Emperor’s New Groove themed ones!) The real beauty of these cookies is their versatility; they can be flavoured (via the cookie dough – think cocoa or cinnamon, or the icing), be very plain for fussy eaters by omitting the icing, and can be as thick or thin as you desire – just be sure to adjust oven times accordingly.

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Image                                   Emperor Kuzco Cookie from ‘The Emperor’s New Groove’

Ingredients
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 egg
1 teaspoon water
3 cups flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

Icing
2 cups icing sugar
15g (1 tablespoon) or so of melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla (or flavouring of choice)
Food colouring of your choice (I used Wilton Red food gel)Image
Method
Cream butter, sugar & vanilla using electric beaters until well combined.

Add the egg and water and beat until light and fluffy.

Using a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, mix sifted dry ingredients into wet ingredients until a dough forms. Divide into 2 roughly equal pieces, cover with glad wrap (or plastic wrap) and refrigerate for an hour.

Preheat oven to 190°C. Roll out dough using a rolling pin until you reach your desired thickness (anywhere between 5mm & 1cm is good) and cut out shapes using cookie cutters (or freehand with a knife if you’re skilful!)

Place onto a baking tray (they don’t have to be spread out much as they don’t really expand) and bake for 5-8minutes.

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Once cool, ice with icing and decorate as desired.

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Adapted from ‘Alice & Lois.com’ – ‘The Best Valentine Sugar Cookies’

Giant Chocolate Cupcake

I love giant cupcakes. They’re so much fun to make, decorate and, more importantly, to eat. This recipe is for quite an intricate giant cupcake but it is easily adaptable – if you don’t want the bother of working with fondant you can just double the buttercream and ice the cake with that. The cupcake case is also optional (but I think makes the end product look so much more professional). Of course, you could also make the cake batter from scratch but do keep in mind that it is quite a time-consuming process already and the box mixes are relatively stable and so good for cutting and shaping.

The cupcake easily serves 10 adults and would be perfect for a kid’s party serving up to 20 children who have eaten other party food.

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Equipment
Silicone giant cupcake kit
Turntable
Serving plate
Pastry brush

Ingredients
Wilton candy melts
2 boxes chocolate mud cake mix

400g sifted icing sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk
2 tspns vanilla extract
125g unsalted butter

White fondant icing
Blue food colouring
Red food colouring
Yellow food colouring
Large sprinkles (pre-made using fondant)
1 red gumboil

Method
Make cupcake case by pouring a small amount of melted melts into the silicone bottom case and, using a pastry brush, spreading it until the entire inside of the case is thinly coated. Refrigerate for 20mins and repeat. To remove from silicone once completely set, loosen by pulling  & pinching edges away from the chocolate & then gently peel down the sides of the mould.

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Make cake according to packet instructions and fill greased (spray oil) cases 2/3 full. Bake in moderate oven (175°C) for 40-70 mins (bottom will need longer than top) or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave in silicone moulds for at least half an hour or until cool. Then carefully peel off silicone, ensuring the cake is supported at all times.

Using a serrated bread knife, trim around bottom cake so all crunchy edges are removed. Level top (of base) and then cut base in half. Cut off bottom layer off top piece. Level base (of top).

Make buttercream by beating ingredients until light and fluffy.

Put a 1cm thick coating of buttercream between 2 bottom layers of cake and then between the base and top (ensure level – cut if necessary). Then put a thin layer of buttercream on the inside of the chocolate case and gently ease cake into it.

Cover top of cake liberally with buttercream to form a protective barrier against crumbs.

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Transfer cake onto a cake board on a turntable. Make a thin sausage out of white fondant (or a thick one for a really cartoon-ish soft serve effect) and put on cake in a spiral manner to achieve a ‘soft serve effect’ in the end.

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Roll out fondant until thin & large enough to cover top of cake and gently place on the cake. Gently massage fondant onto cake, hugging the curves & taking particular care not to pleat the fondant. Cut off excess if necessary and tuck the bottom up so all buttercream is concealed. Decorate with giant “sprinkles” made from red, yellow & blue fondant icing and place the gumball as a cherry on top.

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Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

This is probably my most requested frosting/icing/addictive substance that goes on cakes. It works beautifully on cupcakes and large cakes and is a favourite with both children and adults!

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Ingredients
Note: This makes HEAPS and I often halve or only use 3/4 of the recipe, however if you want really thick icing or will make a second batch soon after, the full recipe is the way to go (it lasts for about a week)
200g butter, softened
½ cup milk
1 tblspn vanilla extract
8 cups icing sugar
A few drops of food colouring/flavouring as desired

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Method
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/flavouring and beat in until combined and the desired colour/flavour has been achieved.

Using a knife or piping bag, apply buttercream to cupcakes or cake and decorate as desired.

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Adapted from the Crabapple Cupcake Bakery Cookbook

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Flourless Chocolate Cupcakes

I LOVE this recipe (another adapted from the Crabapple Cupcake Bakery Cookbook). The cupcakes  are dense, dark, rich and suitable for the gluten intolerant. These cupcakes are incredibly versatile and can be decorated however you please (flavoured buttercreams, glace icing, dusted with icing sugar and served with berries, or with fondant icing).

Here I have included a couple of ideas, but don’t feel you have to stick to them!

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Photo courtesy of the Australian Women’s Weekly Cupcakes By Colour Cookbook.

Ingredients (makes approx. 30 cupcakes)
350g butter
450g dark cooking chocolate, chopped
2 ½ cups caster sugar
1 ½ cups almond meal
2 cups cocoa
10 eggs
2 tspns vanilla extract

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Method
Preheat oven to 140°C. Line 3 12-hole muffin trays with patty pans (about 30).

Combine butter, chocolate and sugar in a heavy-based saucepan over a low heat. Mix continuously until melted and smooth.

Sift the almond meal and cocoa into a large bowl. Add the chocolate mixture and beat for 1min on a low speed.

Add eggs two at a time, beating after each addition until combined. Add vanilla and beat until combined.

Divide mixture evenly between patty pans (filling each about 3/4 full) and then bake for  30mins or until a fine skewer inserted comes out clean. Remove from the tray and let cupcakes cool on a wire rack completely before icing and decorating. Enjoy!

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Adapted from Jennifer Graham’s ‘John’s Baci birthday cupcakes’ in The Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook. 

Velvety Vanilla Cupcakes

This is my absolute favourite vanilla cupcake recipe adapted from my absolute favourite cupcake cookbook (and that’s saying something because I have A LOT), ‘The Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook’ by Jennifer Graham. I’m not paid or employed by them (promise!) but I have tried so many cupcake recipes in my time, and have found this book to contain many of the best (as well as providing fabulous decorating ideas).

Anyway, now my spruiking is out of the way…  This vanilla cupcake recipe produces cupcakes that are full-flavoured, not overly sweet or cloying with a beautiful, delicate texture. You can ice them any way you like – I love vanilla buttercream, but you can just as easily ice them with chocolate icing, plain glacé icing or fondant icing as I have done directly below. Perfect for birthdays, picnics, afternoon teas or anytime you have a hankering!

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Ingredients (makes 24+ cupcakes)
2 ¾ cups plain flour
2 tspns baking powder
200g unsalted butter, softened
1 ¾ cups caster sugar
4 eggs
1 tblspn vanilla extract
1 cup milk

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Method
Preheat the oven to 170°C (150°C-ish fan forced). Line two 12-hole muffin trays with patty pans.

Sift together the flour and baking powder. In a different bowl, cream the butter for 1-2 mins. Add the caster sugar about a third at a time, beating for 2mins after each addition. After the last of the sugar has been beaten, beat until the mixture is light and fluffy and the sugar dissolved. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 min after each addition or until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and beat until just combined.

Add approximately a third of the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and beat on a low speed until combined. Add half of the milk and beat until combined. Repeat this process until all of the flour and milk is thoroughly combined but be careful not to overbeat (this will toughen the mixture).

Spoon mixture into the patty pans (filling each about 3/4 full) and bake for about 18-20mins or until the top springs back when touched. Remove the cupcakes from the trays immediately and cool on a wire rack for at least half an hour before icing.

Buttery Orange Cake

I have a thing for orange cakes. I’m not really sure why, I’m not a fan of most fruit cakes, but orange cakes fall into a category of their own. The original recipe for this pairs the cake with a simple glace icing flavoured with orange juice but I found that a cream cheese icing works better for a stronger, less sickly-looking cake. Here I have gone over the top with fresh roses and white chocolate shavings but you can decorate it as simply as you like.

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Ingredients (serves 12)
250g softened butter
2 tblspns finely grated orange rind
1 ½ cups caster sugar
4 eggs
1 ½ cups self-raising flour
½ cup plain flour
¾ cup orange juice

Icing
30g softened butter
80g softened cream cheese
1 tsp finely grated orange rind (although I tend to add a bit more – up to you!)
1 ½ cups icing sugar mixture

Method
Preheat oven to 170°C. Grease a deep 22cm round cake-pan; line base and sides with baking paper, extending it 5cm above the top of the pan (this will make getting it out easier and will assist with the cooking process).

Beat butter, rind and sugar in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating until just combined between additions. Mix in flour and juice in two batches.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for approximately 1 hour and 10mins then carefully turn onto a wire rack to cool.

Place cake top-side up onto a serving plate or cake stand then spread cold cake with icing and decorate as desired.

To make the icing, beat butter, cream cheese and rind in small bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy, gradually beat in icing sugar.

E cookbook 3 012Adapted from the Australian Women’s Weekly’s “Buttery Orange Cake” in the 2002 ‘Best Food’ cookbook.