Neapolitan Dreams

I’ve been on a baking spree lately, which I can blame on three things:

  1. I keep offering to bake, and people don’t turn me down
  2. There have been a lot of beautiful afternoon teas and birthdays which require decadent cakes and cupcakes
  3. I’ve had a lot of spare time lately, and seem to be filling it by watching all of Cupcake Jemma‘s videos.

I’d been dying to make this particular kind since I first stumbled across her channel, and when I offered to make some cupcakes for Brooke and Sean’s Engagement Afternoon Tea, I couldn’t resist trying these out.

The cupcake I was itching to make was indeed the Neapolitan cupcakes; full of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry layers. An ice-cream lover’s dream.

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For those of you playing along at home, line your cupcake tray with paper cases, and whack that oven on 180 degrees C. {This recipe will make 12 delicious morsels}

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Grab yourself 200g of Bourbon biscuits, or any chocolate biscuit with a chocolate cream inside, and whiz them up in a food processor to make a fine crumb. {Side note: doesn’t it look like these biscuits are floating? They were in a glass bowl, hehe}

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Add 50g melted butter and a tablespoon of golden syrup to your biscuits, combine and pop them into the paper cases. Give them a little push so they make a nice base.

Having made a biscuit base before, and knowing I wanted it to be properly set, I blind baked these for 5 minutes before adding the batter in. This is your call though!

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To make the vanilla batter, add 250g softened butter and 2 large eggs to 250g sifted self raising flour, 250g caster sugar and 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda. Using a free-standing or hand mixer, combine well and distribute among the paper cases.

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Pop these in the oven for 22 minutes, until golden, springy to the touch and when a skewer comes out clean.

Now, you can move onto the icing; the strawberry-ness and deliciousness!
Grab yourself a jar of good quality strawberry jam (I recommend this one) and whaz it up in a food processor until smooth.

In your mixer, pop 200g soft unsalted butter and mix until light and creamy. Then we add in 450g sifted icing sugar in two stages (otherwise you’ll end up with a light layer of icing sugar covering your entire kitchen). Finally, grab your jam and add in 6 – 8 tablespoons, mixing well, until¬†the icing is perrrrrfecto.

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By now your cupcakes should be done and dusted. Leave them to cool on a wire rack, and once they’re room temp you can get to the fun part! {I made two batches, in case you were wondering why the cases went in pink, and came out yellow ūüėČ }

Ice your babies with a piping bag all fancy like, or by hand, no judgements here!

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I topped mine with some wafers, and took them along to the celebrations. I love baking at the best of times, but it’s so much fun baking for someone’s big day. I had these two love birds in mind the whole time I was making these, and even though it’s only something small, it’s nice to be able to contribute.

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Happy engagement Brooke & Sean! I’ve got nothing but sugar-coated love for you both…

Hanbel.
x

P.s. stay tuned for the next round I’ve got my eye on … White Russian Cupcakes¬†{anyone a Big Lebowski fan?}

Let Them Eat Cake!

So, I’ve been baking again.

And if you like chocolate, coffee, salted caramel, snickers or sugar and butter in general, you will LOVE these cupcakes.

Andrew’s Cousin (also Lucy’s bestie – Perth is too small) is getting married in under a month!!! We celebrated her kitchen tea this past weekend, and the bridesmaids asked if I could contribute my baking skillz.

I’m sure you all know by now that I will take any opportunity to bake, so this was a no brainer. Also, I found this video by Cupcake Jemma and was DYING to try it out. The name itself says it all: Salted Caramel Chocolate Mudslide Cupcakes. C’mon!!

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First up, we’ve gotta make some Salted Caramel, which is so much easier than you think!
Pop one teaspoon of vanilla extract (essence is way better, but this is what I had) into 1 cup of double cream, and put to the side.
Put a tea towel down on your bench, you’ll be needing this very soon!

Then, combine 6 tablespoons of tap water with a cup of caster sugar and bang it on the heat (that was a bit Jamie Oliver wasn’t it?). Now here’s the tricky part: leave it on medium heat for around 8-10 minutes. Do not touch it. No stirring, no whisking, no sloshing around. Let it do it’s thing.

When it looks like this:

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Take it off the heat, and add in your cream. AND NOW YOU GET TO STIR. Please don’t stop stirring while you pour the cream in steadily until it’s all combined. It will then smell unbelievable and look like all your caramel dreams. Which is when you add in a teaspoon of good quality sea salt flakes and set the jar aside for later on.

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Now, the actual cupcake part.
Make a dry ingredient bowl: 350g plain flour, 60g cocoa powder, 370g caster sugar, 1 teaspoon bicarb soda, a pinch of salt and 150g chocolate chips. Mix it up!
Then a wet ingredient bowl: 240ml cooled coffee (I made two cups that morning, one for the cupcakes, one for Hanbel), 240ml buttermilk, 210ml vegetable oil and 3 large eggs.

Add the dry into the wet and combine, simples!

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Pop them into cupcake cases, and then into a 180 degree oven for 22 minutes. While they’re cooking and getting even more delicious, move onto the icing.

Start by beating 300g soft unsalted butter until it’s light and fluffy (I use a hand mixer, but a standing mixer is perfecto). Next up, 540g SIFTED icing sugar is added in two stages. I say SIFTED in CAPITAL LETTERS because I didn’t sift mine, and had piping bag issues later on. It wasn’t the end of the world, but life is easier with sifted icing sugar.
Add in half of the salted caramel we made earlier (around 150ml) and whiz away.

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These bad boys come out of the oven, and it’s time for the sneaky part.

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Using a chopstick, or something similar, poke a decent hole in the top of each cupcake. This is where the rest of that amazing salted caramel goes!

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Frost your cupcakes however you like, piped or spooned on, and you’re almost good to go! I had a little of the salted caramel left over, so I drizzled that over the top. As per Jemma’s suggestion, I had also frozen mini snickers bars ahead of time, to chop up and place on top. Because these cupcakes didn’t have enough chocolate in them already…

There you have it, the final product:

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So dense, soft and delectable (I’m avoiding the M word, but you all know it). I went a little light on the frosting, but as these were very sweet and rich, I think it worked out well.

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Go on, give them a go. You know you want 24 of these puppies to yourself…

Hanbel.
x

 

 

New Year, New Mug

In a time of fresh starts, new beginnings and resolutions to be made, I’m feeling a little lost. I spent the last two weeks on “holidays” running around like a mad woman, picking up and preparing food for Christmas day, organising costumes for various events or recovering from those days.

When I did sit down to relax I felt guilty, like I should be organising something or socialising with someone I haven’t seen for a few days. I honestly couldn’t switch off, but at the same time got bored very easily.

I think I’ve been so used to be horrendously busy, that when the time came to wind down my mind flipped the hell out. Enter moodiness, feeling fidgety and over-eating. Also, a lot of “taking it out on the ones you love”.

Now, back at work I’m sitting here wondering why I didn’t take advantage of those days off. I did enjoy myself, don’t get me wrong, and this was the most wonderful Christmas with my beautiful family. I think I’m just regretting some of the grumpy days. Anyway, following on from last year’s lessons, here are mine for 2016:

  1. Whenever you’re on holiday but you don’t actually go on a holiday, book yourself a massage! Budget for it in your Christmas spending and let it be your present to yourself.
  2. Similarly, write a list of things you’d like to do so that when you get bored you have something to inspire you.
  3. Let yourself binge on Netflix shows, it’s okay to be lazy sometimes.¬† Especially on 40 degree days where an air conditioned lounge room is the only place to be.
  4. Find friends with pools. They should be your best friends. I failed on this one, miserably.
  5. Find new outdoor activities to try out; stand up paddle boarding is actually pretty awesome.
  6. Keep up your current hobbies, but if yours is mountain biking please make sure you wear knee pads. If you think you don’t look “cool” in them, come and check out my knee. I’m not cool anymore.
  7. Get in the kitchen and create! Whether it’s cooking a “sorry for being so drunk and annoying last night” dinner for your boyfriend or a batch of cupcakes to palm off to the in laws – get creative!
  8. Cut your hair, change up the style or dye it a bright colour. Holidays are the best time to freak out over a huge change.
  9. Go nuts on the fruit mince pies, Christmas ham, boozy trifle and stuffed turkey. These treats come around but once a year, and what’s a new year without a truckload of guilt?
  10. Make sure you have a new mug to take to work, it’s the one thing that will brighten your day. (Thank you Brianna!)

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In addition, I’d like to give a shout out to one pretty awesome dude.
I’m sorry I’m so grumpy and you have to put up with my bad moods, but I do bake you cupcakes, so I hope that makes up for it a little?

You were the best part of my 2015, and I know you’ll be my 2016 highlight.

Happiest of years to you all!
Hanbel.
x

Cuppa Tea Love?

Welcome 2016, it’s very nice to meet you. Minus the lingering hangover, I like you already.

I’m very excited to see what you have in store for me, and for Andrew.

We have kick-started our year hanging out at home, watching Star Wars and packing up the Christmas decorations. For the first time, I’m actually not too sad about Christmas being over, because I’ve got a good feeling about what’s coming next.

Before, we get into any of that though, let’s reminisce a little.
Christmas morning was spent at Andrew’s parents place with coffee in hand and nibbling on potato cakes topped with smoked salmon and cream cheese. Lunch at Mum’s house was perfection. The food was spot on and absolutely delicious, with just enough for leftover packs. We spent the afternoon sipping tea and watching the Grinch until we were ready to do it all over again.
Dinner with Andrew’s loud, crazy, lovely family means a huge secret santa game of stealing and swapping, more food than you could ever imagine and so much laughter.

I hope you all had just as amazing day!

A few friend-related events, many busy days and exercise attempts later, brought us to New Years Eve. This year, Andrew organised for us and 22 of our closest friends to take part in a small ‘tour de fridge’, with just 5 stops very close to one another.
Each house had a loose theme, and we picked two drinks accordingly. Our house became the British house with Pimms and Gin & Tonic on offer. Never one to shy away from a theme, I wanted to go one step further and try out a new cupcake recipe I stumbled across.

Enter The English Breakfast Cupcake.

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Thanks to Cupcake Jemma (friend of Jamie Oliver) I whipped these up yesterday, and despite having a lot of elements, it was a fantastic recipe to follow.

  1. Lemon curd: Combine 2 whole eggs, 2 egg yolks and 3/4 cup caster sugar in a saucepan. Then, place over the heat and add the zest and juice from 2 lemons along with 1/3 cup chilled butter. Keep stirring until thick and strain into a bowl to use for later.
  2. Tea Milk Mixture: Pop 6 english breakfast tea bags into 150ml of milk and heat on low for 3-4 minutes. Pop to the side, with the lid on until cool.
  3. Biscuit base: Ground 150g of your choice of biscuit (usually one you’d have with a nice cuppa – I went with Maries), add in 50g melted butter and 1 1/2 tbsp golden syrup. Pop a spoonful of the mix into your cupcake cases and press down to firm it up.
  4. Cupcake batter: Combine 125g self-raising flour, 125g caster sugar, 1/4 tsp bicarbonate soda and the zest of one lemon. Then pop in 125g butter and give it good zap in a mixer or hand-mixer. Add in 2 large eggs, mix for another minute before popping in 1 1/2 tbsp of that lovely tea milk. Whaz it all for another 30 seconds, and you’re good to go!¬†Pop a dollop on top of the biscuit base and these babies go into a 175degree oven for 20-22 minutes.
  5. Tea Drizzle: 5 tea bags go into 100ml of boiling water, to which 80g caster sugar is added and heated over a stove for 3-4 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  6. Icing: Mix 200g soft unsalted butter on it’s own until it’s beautifully smooth and light. Add in 450g icing sugar in four batches, mixing in between and finally 3 tbsp of the tea milk.
  7. Cupcakes! Assemble! This is the fun part…
    Once your cupcakes are cool make a little hole in the top (Jemma uses an apple corer, I just used a small cheese knife) and pop in a little dollop of lemon curd. I used a star nozzle, but it’s baker’s choice of course, to pipe that lovely icing on top. The last step is to drizzle the cooled tea syrup over the top.

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They were time consuming, but so much fun to make, and very well received. Not many can refuse a little sugar on New Years!

And now, I need to get back to exercise. Ha! Soon enough…

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Happy New Year everyone, wishing you lots of love and big smiles for this fresh year.
Hanbel.
x

You’ll Never Catch Me, I’m the Gingerbread Man!

After a wild Saturday night watching the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show and eating eggplant pizzas (which you need to try, so easy and absolutely delightful), I naturally woke up at 6:30am on a Sunday morning.

Andrew and I hopped on our bikes, rolled down to Finlay and Sons and enjoyed a beautiful breakfast in the sunshine. We were also home by 8:30am and at a loss for what to do next. [This is why people sleep in!]

IT’S CHRISTMAS BAKING TIME. I had all the ingredients for gingerbread men, and having never made them before I was super keen to try them out. On went the Christmas tunes, out came the ingredients and I set to work.

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In one of the many Christmas magazines I bought last year, there was a mini cookbook which I’ve grabbed the recipe from, adapted from this one. Thank you Australian Women’s Weekly!

125g of room temp butter (your life will be much easier if you let it warm up a little) and 1/4 cup of brown sugar are beaten in a bowl. I use a hand mixer throughout. Add in 1/3 cup treacle (I used Molasses) and 1 whole egg.

2 1/2 cups flour, 1 tbsp ground ginger, 1 tsp mixed spice and 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda are combined and then added to the wet mixture. It should begin to resemble a dough by now, so get those kneading hands working on a floured surface and then wrap the dough in glad wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

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Preheat the oven to 180¬į and line two trays with baking paper. Here’s the fun part! Roll your dough between two sheets of baking paper until it’s around 7mm thick, or your preference. Now you get to use your fun Christmas cutters that you save all year and make these cute little shapes!

Place them onto the trays and bake for around 12 minutes… mine were more like 16, but our oven ain’t the best! Let these babies cool on a wire rack before you begin icing…

 

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Disclaimer: I avoided royal icing for a long time because I thought it was too hard, and to be honest didn’t even know how to make it. But it’s actually insanely simple and sooooo cool to make. You beat one egg white until it become gloriously bubbly, then add in 1 1/4 cups of pure icing sugar and finally 1 tsp of lemon juice. It should be wonderfully smooth and holding it’s own shape.

The most difficult part is actually icing these suckers. Using a piping bag with a small nozzle just go to town! I would lay one down on baking paper and hope for the best. Andrew was lucky enough to have my tester cookie, which basically a tree just completely covered in icing. Gotta start somewhere!

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It took me a while to get the hang of it, like anything – practice makes perfect. Ugh – I know, I want to punch myself in the face too.

HOWEVER, I do love trying out new recipes and adding something different to my repertoire. Plus, the brownie points from people at work can’t hurt. Note: always give cookies to the IT guys, they will be the ones you need favours from.

Enjoy your baking masterpieces or disasters, and remember if it has butter and sugar in it, it will taste good.

Hanbel.
x

 

 

Lest We Forget

25th April 2015

4:00 a.m.¬†– Hanbels’ alarm goes off.
4:20 a.m. – She is rugged up, half-awake and¬†riding¬†her bike to meet up with Andrew’s Aunty
5:00 a.m – They both meet up with 80,000 other Perthians at Kings Park for the 100 Year Commemorative Dawn Service, for ANZAC Day
IMG_49305:30 a.m. – After a decent ride in, they both find their bodies attempting to cool down. However, given that the sun still hasn’t risen this is absolute torture. They¬†chatter their teeth, shake uncontrollably and¬†pile on extra layers before realizing that is isn’t even half of what the Australian soldiers had to endure.

5:50 a.m. – The service begins, and has a profound effect on everyone in attendance.¬†Near-silence is maintained for almost an hour (who can blame the littlies for their outbursts!) as the sun rises and¬†“The Last Post” echoes over the crowd. Something stirs inside of them,¬†feeling so moved by hearing the bugle playing those familiar notes.

6:50 a.m. – Feeling elated, grateful and humbled (but still FREEZING) they take in the breathtaking views and slowly make their way back to their bikes.

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7:00 a.m. РTo un-thaw, they ride as quick as lightning (no exaggeration) on a hunt for coffee and stumble upon City Farm Café. The coffee was hot, the sun had begun shining and the conversation had ventured to travel and all the countries left to visit!

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8:00 a.m. – Hanbel returns home, and attempts to nap but instead gets busy baking ANZAC biscuits.

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With her house smelling of baked goods for the rest of the day, she is left with a smile on her face.
Not only because the biscuits turned out pretty well, but because she realises just how lucky she is that people her age went through hell 100 years ago so that she could lead this lovely, free life.

Lest We Forget.
Hanbel.
x