Sunday, 21 April 2013

Brilliant Nutella buttercream

I made some wonderful cupcakes this week. I have been suffering under peer pressure at work to bake, bake BAKE! I succumbed and decided on a simple chocolate cupcake but jazz it up with Nutella buttercream.

This is the best buttercream in the world. I cannot stress this enough. These were, thanks to the buttercream, the best cupcakes I have ever made.

250g icing sugar
80g butter at room temperature (I warmed mine up in the microwave for a few seconds)
About 50ml milk
2 heaped tbsp Nutella (or other chocolate spread)

Place the butter in a mixer and mix for a couple of minutes. Add the sugar and mix, then add the milk. Mix for at least five minutes until it turns almost white. It should be really fluffy and creamy. Mix the Nutella in by hand until all incorporated.

The best buttercream ever (well, as long as you like Nutella).

I used my new Wilton 1M star icing nozzle - it is truly amazing. No wonder everyone raves about it. You should get one, if you haven't already.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Lager and ginger cake

My boyfriend baked for this month's Clandestine Cake Club - a typically male recipe, lager and ginger cake! It was lovely - I'm not a lager fan, but this cake just had a subtle hint of lager. Steve wasn't happy with the overall look of the cake - he called it 'mashed potato cake' - but I was proud of it.

110g light muscovado sugar
110g unsalted butter
30g golden syrup
55g runny honey
225g plain flour
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 eggs
2 tablespoons lager - we used San Miguel 

For the buttercream, Steve didn't measure (I never do - just chuck the butter and icing sugar together until it looks right - and added a little lager into this too). 

Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan). 
Place the sugar, butter, golden syrup and honey in a saucepan over a gentle heat until all the ingredients have melted, leaving a smooth thick paste. 
Put the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ginger into a large mixing bowl and combine.
Pour the melted ingredients into the flour and stir well. The mix will be very thick and more like fudge at this point. 
Beat in the eggs.
Add the lager. 

Bake for about 45 - 50 minutes. 

Make the buttercream and smooth over the top (attempting not to make it look like mashed potato). 

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Cola and chocolate cake

For this month's Stamford Clandestine Cake Club, the theme was 'Quench your thirst' - beverage bakes. I wanted to stay away from alcohol, knowing that a lot of my slightly alcoholic cake club members (not really! Well, maybe) would be using booze. Instead, I researched and found a recipe for a chocolate cake using cola.

Once this was baked, I was very worried that it would be really sickly and far too sweet. But I was surprised - it was sweet, but very moist and fluffy, and not sickly. It was rich, yes, but it a good way. It went down very well at cake club, with only one slice left by the end of the night.

250g self-raising flour
300g golden caster sugar
3 heaped tbsp cocoa
pinch bicarbonate of soda
250g margarine
250ml cola
125ml milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the topping
100g butter
2 tbsp cola drink
2 tbsp cocoa
200g icing sugar

Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan).Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl.Melt the butter and cola gently in a pan then add to the dry ingredients, together with the milk, eggs and vanilla.Mix gently but thoroughly and tip into a buttered, loose based cake tin (24cm/9½ in diameter).Bake for about 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.Remove from the oven and leave for about 15 minutes while you make the topping.Put the butter, cola, and cocoa into a pan and melt slowly. Bring the mixture to the boil and then pour on to the icing sugar. Beat until smooth and pour over the cake while still warm. Cool the cake in the tin.

I have to admit to a bit of a caketastrophy with this one. The batter was very runny, and after pouring it into my loose-bottomed cake tin, it promptly starting coming out of the bottom. I placed the tin on a baking tray, bunged it in the oven, and hoped for the best. Towards the end of baking time I started to smell that all-too recognisable burning smell. When I took the cake out of the oven, there was a thin layer of burnt cake filling the baking tray, going underneath the cake tin too. The cake itself was fine - albeit a little smaller than it should have been due to the spillage! I don't know whether this was because the mixture was too runny, or whether I need a new tin... I'll have to keep my eye on that. 

I decorated the cake with cola bottle sweets, which I think might have been more popular than the cake itself... 

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Green tea and white chocolate opera cake

At the April meeting of the Stamford Clandestine Cake Club, one of our male bakers (we have a few!), Simon, made a green tea and white chocolate opera cake. He has kindly shared his recipe with me. He advised that he doubled the recipe to make his masterpiece. Warning - it's a bit of a marathon!

(Also, please note, the cake is not yellow, despite how the photos look - it is green, the lighting in the pub was terrible!)

3 large egg whites (room temperature)
43g granulated sugar
236g ground almonds
236g icing sugar (sifted)
43g matcha green tea
3 large eggs
59g cup all-purpose flour
22g tablespoon unsalted butter (melted and cooled)

1. Line a 32cm by 40cm baking tray with  (with shallow sides) parchment and grease it with butter.
2. Beat the egg whites in a bowl until they form soft peaks.
3. Add the sugar and beat until the peaks are stiff and glossy.
4. Beat the almonds, icing sugar, matcha and eggs in another bowl until light and voluminous.
5. Add the flour and beat until the flour is just combined.
6. Fold the meringue into the almond mixture.
7. Fold in the butter.
8. Pour the batter into the pan.
9. Bake in a preheated 220C (200C fan) oven until lightly browned and just springy to the touch, about 6 to 10  minutes.
10. Run a knife along the edges to loosen the cake form the pan.
11. Cover the cake with parchment paper, flip and unmold the cake.
12. Peel off the parchments paper flip and cover the cake while it cools.

Green tea buttercream

120g sugar
43g matcha
2 large egg whites
170g cups unsalted butter (at room temperature)

1. Mix the sugar and matcha in a small bowl.
2. Whisk the sugar and matcha into the egg whites in a bowl over a pan of simmering water until the mixture is hot to the touch, about 5 minutes. (The sugar should be dissolved and the mixture should look like shiny marshmallow cream.)
3. Remove the bowl from the heat and beat until the cream is cool, about 5 minutes.
4. Beat in the butter one stick at a time.
5. Beat the mixture until it thickens and becomes smooth, about 5-20 minutes.

White chocolate ganache

200g white chocolate (chopped)
35ml double cream
120ml Double cream

1. Melt the chocolate into the 35ml of double cream in a double boiler.
2. Set the ganache aside and let cool completely.
3. Whip the rest of the double cream in a large bowl.
4. Fold the whipped cream into the chocolate ganache.
5. Refrigerate until used.

White chocolate glaze

85g white chocolate (chopped)
60ml double cream

1. Melt the chocolate into the heavy cream in a double boiler.
2. Let cool for 10 minutes and then pour over the opera cake.


1. Work on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
2. Cut the cake into 4 equal pieces.
3. Place 1 sheet of the cake onto the baking sheet and moisten with syrup.
4. Spread 1/2 of the buttercream over the cake.
5. Place 1 sheet of the cake on top of the buttercream and moisten with syrup.
6. Spread the white chocolate ganache over the cake.
7. Place 1 sheet of the cake on top of the ganache and moisten with syrup.
8. Spread the remaining buttercream over the cake.
9. Place 1 sheet of the cake on top of the buttercream and moisten with syrup.
10. Pour the glaze over the cake and smooth it out.
11. Refrigerate until it sets, about 30 minutes.
12. Trim the sides to get a smooth finish.

Click here for more about Clandestine Cake Club!

Friday, 12 April 2013

Stamford Clandestine Cake Club - beverage bakes

On Monday, April 8th, 22 members of the Stamford CCC met with 19 cakes based on the theme 'Quench your thirst'.

This month's event, held at the Bertie Arms country pub, in Uffington, just outside Stamford, was sponsored by Yorkshire Tea. We were privileged to receive Yorkshire Tea tablecloths, a teapot, lots of cups, and a massive bag of teabags. What better way to celebrate a beverage-based bake than with a refreshing cup of tea!

Our beverage bakes were a triumph. We might have shown ourselves as somewhat alcoholic bakers (there were 11 alcohol-based cakes versus 8 non-alcoholic) but each and every baker put a lot of effort into their cakes. Here's a list of our bakes:
Coke and chocolate cake - Sophie
Ginger and lager cake - Steve
Stout cake - Mel
Cider cake - Anthea
Green tea and white chocolate opera cake - Simon
Beehive black cake (Guinness) - Rhoda
Mocha marble cake - Vic
Amaretto cake - Amanda
Cider fruit cake - Vicky
Margarita cake - Lisa
Snake bite and black cake - Johannah
Earl Grey and orange cake - Lucie
Raspberry milkshake cake - Judith
Pina Colada cake - Becky
Earl Grey and lemon cake - Esme
Red wine chocolate cake - Kelly
Lemonade cake - Natalie
Coffee cake - Sarah
Coconut and rum cake - Monika

Highlights of the evening had to be Simon's spectacular many-layered green tea and white chocolate opera cake, Lisa's margarita cake (if you had a whole slice you'd be over the limit, thanks to the delicious tequila frosting!), and Amanda's amaretto cake was a popular choice, despite her thinking it was a complete disaster. Comedy moments were shared by Mel's delicious creation of 'cake fudge' (you can make that again Mel!) and Vic's beautiful mocha marble 'biscuit cake' - "It's really nice dunked in a cup of tea!" said Vic.
We all shared disaster stories, a bit of a Q&A session for those caketastrophies we've all had, and much cake was eaten by all. As enjoyable as the night itself is the morning after, catching up with everyone's Twitter feeds about 'cake hangovers'.
Thanks to everyone who came and shared the Stamford cake love. It's a brilliant place for turning strangers into friends, for finding new recipes, and taking lots of delicious cake home.
Click here for more about Clandestine Cake Clubs