Tag Archives: small cakes

Recipe: Vegan Gingerbread Cupcakes with Spiced Apples

Wow, I’ve finally caught up with all the pre-programmed posts and here I am… in, it must be said, a rather less auspicious space than I would prefer to be at this time of year.

It’s been a difficult year for me.  I’ve lost a lot of people to cancer, several of them friends who were close to my age.  Our cat, Mayhem, went into acute kidney failure in May and had to be put to sleep.  I have been having ongoing problems with my wrists and now also my knees, which might be arthritis, and basically there is always some part of me that is hurting.  And work has been in the throes of a restructure which has been extremely stressful and is now reaching the pointy end.  It looks like I’m going to find out on the day of the Christmas party whether I still have a job, whether it is still with my scientists or somewhere totally different, and whether my workload is going to double in the new year.  (And also whether I win an Institute award, which is… an interesting combination.  I mean, it would be sort of hilarious if I won an award at the same time as I lost my job, but I think that’s a form of hilarity I could do without.)

So I’ve been kind of depressed.  Though the Employee Assistance Program chappie who came in to talk to us at work this week says it sounds to him less like I’m depressed and more like I’m having an entirely congruent reaction to a deeply shitty year.  (And then he suggested that maybe one reason I’ve had trouble writing recently is that the ‘voice’ I use for writing no longer reflects my reality, which… may be true.  On the other hand, does anyone really want to read recipes by someone who is alternating between depression and fury? Let’s find out!)

Anyway.  These are the kind of cupcakes I make for a work fundraiser when I am actually really fed up with everyone and everything and also wondering why men who grow moustaches for Movember can’t bake their own cupcakes if they want to do a morning tea fundraiser.  But since some of the men in question are my very own scientists who I want to support, and since I know full well that even if they did bake, they probably wouldn’t bake vegan cupcakes, and since I like my vegan colleagues and feel that they deserve morning tea, I pretty much have to bake vegan cupcakes.

But – and I want to be clear about this – I absolutely refuse to ice them.

Yes, that’s where my hard line is.  I will, apparently, bake cupcakes in my spare time and when I don’t have to even when I am feeling angry and miserable and let down, because my scientists are the ones fundraising and I still love them (none of this is their fault, after all, except the moustaches), and also because everyone knows that vegan cupcakes are pretty much at the bottom of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, so it would be unethical not to provide them. 

Icing, though?  Icing is way up at the top of that pyramid, in the land of faffing around and spending lots of time on things, and that is something I reserve for organisations who actually value me.

So instead of icing, these cakes are topped with sliced apples and Viennese Christmas Sugar, which tastes good, and also is a really fast way to make a cupcake look pretty without putting a lot of effort into it.

That’ll learn ’em.

Your shopping list

1/4 cup glacé ginger
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
4 tsp ginger )
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup molasses
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup soy yoghurt
zest of 1 lemon
2 apples
2-4 tablespoons Viennese Christmas Sugar (this is a really coarse-grained white sugar – sanding sugar, I think, in US terms – mixed with pieces of star anise, hibiscus, rosehips, nutmeg, coriander, cassia and probably a few more things.  You could make something similar with demerara sugar and whatever appeals to you in your spice cabinet) (also, this measurement is a complete guess, sorry.) Continue reading

Recipe: Vegan Sacher-cupcakes

Calling these cupcakes Sacher-cupcakes is probably an insult to Austrians everywhere and they will never let me go back to their country, let alone that hotel, but I do think it’s a fair description. 

Sachertorte is a light chocolate sponge covered with apricot jam and chocolate glaze.  These cakes are also light and chocolatey, filled with apricot jam and covered with chocolate ganache, and they are really delicious.  I’ve made this recipe quite a few times in the last year or two for work events, because it’s incredibly easy and fast to make, works with gluten-free flour mix if it needs to, and once you fill it with apricot jam and load it with ganache nobody will believe that it’s vegan.

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Recipe: Lavender Butterfly Cakes with Blackberry Jam and Whipped Ganache

These are really quite basic cupcakes with a little bit of lavender in them.  If you’ve ever made a plain butter cake, you probably used this recipe, but without the lavender.  The only slightly complex part is the whipped ganache, which is a bit fiddly, but actually very easy. Once you’ve made the ganache once, you’ll probably want to make it again, because it gives you a delicately flavoured cream that holds up much better than whipped cream if it needs to sit around for a few hours.

The only thing to remember is that you need to start the ganache at least 7 hours before you plan to serve the cupcakes.  Making it the day before is fine.

Also, I just love the flavour of lavender, but usually I make it either too strong or not strong enough.  For me, this whipped ganache is in the magical Goldilocks zone – noticeably lavender, without making you think about soap…

Your shopping list

75 white chocolate
125 + 160g cream, both chilled
3 blackberries, crushed
1 tsp dried culinary lavender + 2 tsp for the cake
12g liquid glucose (yes, I know, I know.  This recipe is usually made in a much larger batch.  This is about 1 1/2 teaspoons, I think.  Just think how much worse it would be if I’d only made a dozen cupcakes!)
250g butter, softened
300 g caster sugar
4 eggs
370 g self-raising flour
160 ml milk
500g blackberry jam

Now what will you do with it?

First, make the ganache.  Chop up the white chocolate and put it into a bowl.

Put 125g cream in a small saucepan with the blackberries and 1 tsp of lavender, and heat until boiling point.  Switch off the heat and leave for five minutes.

Pour the cream through a seive into another bowl.  Press the blackberries into the seive with the fork to make sure their juice comes through.  Return the cream to the saucepan.

Add the liquid glucose, which is, yes, a pain to use, but it does somehow make the ganache more stable.  What I recommend doing is rinsing a teaspoon and your hands in cold water, then using the teaspoon to scoop out the glucose and your finger to push it off into the cream – the cold water makes the glucose stick less.  And I’m sorry about the quantities.  This is the halved version of the recipe, and even with 24 cupcakes, you are going to have more than you need…

Bring the cream and glucose back to the boil, and pour the mixture over the white chocolate in the bowl.  Stir until the chocolate melts.  If you’ve made ganache before, you are probably worried about these ratios, because this is a very thin ganache and about to get thinner.  Don’t worry – think of this as whipped cream thickened with chocolate, and it will make more sense.

Stir in the rest of the chilled cream.  You might add a drop of purple colouring to the mixture to make it more inviting if you like, but this is optional.  Cover the ganache with clingwrap, which should be directly on the surface of the cream, and refrigerate for at least six hours or up to two days.

When you are ready to make the cupcakes, preheat your oven to 180°C, and line two twelve-hole muffin tins with paper cases.  (Or do this in two batches, one tin at a time.)

Grind the lavender in a mortar and pestle (you can grind it with some of the sugar if you find this easier) until it is somewhat broken down.

Put the lavender into a medium-sized mixing bowl with the butter and sugar, and cream together.  Add the eggs one at a time, then mix in the flour and milk, alternately.

Divide the mixture between the muffin tins, and put into the oven.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the cakes feel soft and springy when you poke at them gently.  You might want to swap the trays around at the 15 or 20 minute mark, depending on how they are doing.

Remove from their tins, and let cool on a rack.  Get out your ganache, and whip it as you would cream.  The ganache has a higher fat content than cream, though, so it will whip up much faster – don’t put on a stand mixer and wander off to hang out the washing or something, this is probably only going to take a couple of minutes.

Use a small knife to cut a conical circle (I’m sure that is terrible geometry, but the right words escape me) in the middle of each cake – basically, you want a nice, round, section of cake, slightly pointed in the middle, which you are going to cut in half to make the butterfly wings, so don’t eat it!

Place a small spoonful of blackberry jam in the centre of each hole, and pipe or spoon the lavender ganache over the top of it.

Gently place the two ‘wings’ into the cream, pushing slightly inward as you do, to help raise the cream.

Dust with icing sugar or little purple stars.

Feed to the people you love.

Variations

Well, there’s no reason this has to be a lavender cake, I suppose, but isn’t that rather a waste? You might make the cakes with raspberry jam and a little rosewater in the ganache (add half a teaspoon with the cold cream, then taste and see if you need a little more), in which case I’d keep the cakes plain vanilla, because it is far too easy to wind up with overly-perfumed rose cakes.

You could replace 50 grams of the flour with cocoa, and then fill the cakes with cherry jam and add kirsch to your ganache.  Apparently, I’ve decided that black forest is the variation I want for every cupcake I’m doing.  Or just go ultra-chocolate – I bet this would be amazing with dark chocolate whipped ganache and a caramel filling, or a raspberry one, or maybe you could add peppermint essence to your whipped chocolate ganache, and have a choc-mint cupcake.  At which point you should probably decorate it with shards of Peppermint Crisp, because that is the law.

In terms of dietary requirements, I don’t think you are going to be able to avoid dairy here, but if you have a good, basic vegan vanilla cupcake recipe you could certainly make this ensemble eggless.  It is obviously free of nuts.  It would work just fine with my gluten-free self-raising flour mix, and the result should also be low in fructose, though certainly not in lactose.

Recipe: Vegan Cheeseburger Cupcakes

This is the time of year when bloggers do their retrospectives, but I don’t feel like doing a blog retrospective for 2015.  For one thing, I did hardly any blogging, and barely kept up with reading other blogs.  For another, the end of 2015 was made absolutely horrible for us by the disappearance of our beloved cat, Mystery.  She slipped out on the evening of December 22nd, and has not been seen since.  We’ve letterboxed and doorknocked and rung vets and visited shelters, but to no avail, and at this stage, we hold out little hope.  It’s been a painful and distressing way to end an exhausting year, and it’s very hard to look ahead and come up with plans, resolutions, or even hopes for 2016 at this point – because right now we are all too aware that life is uncertain and cannot truly be planned for.

mysteryposter4

So no perspectives from me, just a remarkably silly recipe, inspired by Rosanna Pansino’s Nerdy Nummies Cookbook.  She has a very fun recipe for a cupcake that looks like a cheeseburger, with a brownie patty, coconut lettuce, and buttercream piped to resemble cheese, tomatoes.

It’s very cute, but it also looked terribly sweet.  Also, I was cooking in part for Steph, so I needed a vegan recipe, and frankly, I found the idea of a vegan cheeseburger cupcake absolutely hilarious and thus irresistible, so off I went.

To avoid the excessive use of buttercream, I decided it would be more fun to give the burger a fruity sort of theme. Mango fruit leather strips make an excellent (and truly revolting-looking) substitute for plastic cheese, jam makes a fine substitute for tomato sauce, and tinned plums replace the beetroot that is a necessity in any Aussie hamburger. Mint leaves made a delicious substitute for lettuce, and at that point, you’re done.

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Recipe: Passionfruit Cupcakes with Lemon Coconut Butter

I wasn’t going to bake anything for the Movember morning tea.  I mean, really – I’ve donated to all the Mo Bros on my floor, and surely, surely in the name of men’s health the boys can take a turn at baking?*

Well, it turns out that some of them can, but not enough for our purposes.  And when it comes down to it, faced with a conflict between ‘really, why should the women be baking for all the men’s health days *and* all the women’s health days too?’ and ‘but what if there isn’t enough food?’, well, there really can be only one answer in the land of Cate.

Besides, I bet none of the boys were going to bring anything that was vegan.  And I have friends who are vegan.  So there.

Anyway, having not intended to bake, I then certainly didn’t intend to post a recipe, largely because I really wasn’t in a cooking mood (yes, it’s true I baked a fruitcake today, and made a hot lunch, and made dinner for tonight *and* started dinner for tomorrow, but most of this was about the fact that our heating has been broken and baking keeps the house warm), and also because I didn’t plan to do anything fancy. Aside from using the passionfruit powder I ordered from TasteBom and have been looking for a use for.

Also, when I did start making these cupcakes, I swapped them around in the oven too early, so most of them sank in the middle. 

Also, the icing came out beige.  And when I went to fix it, it wound up mustard-coloured. Which probably is a masculine colour, at least.  Most of the ugly ones seem to be, if you believe the clothing shops.

And yet… the crumbs of cake that were stuck to the tin were *amazing*.  Properly tangy and full of passionfruit flavour.  And then, the ugly, ugly icing is rich and lemony and smooth with a coconut creaminess to it… and altogether, my ugly duckling cupcakes… taste like swans?  Only vegan.  And not kind of tough and unpleasant-tasting, which I gather swan meat is.  And that right there, folks, is why some people shouldn’t be licensed to use metaphors.  Especially the clichéd kind, though I don’t think anyone can claim it was still a cliché by the time I was done with it.  Unappetising, yes.  Cliché, no.

Have I put you off yet?  I hope not.  These really are delicious cupcakes.  And you can’t see how ugly they are once they are in your mouth…

(Even that came out sounding vaguely unappetising.  I think I’d better stop with the describing and just give you the recipe)

(Also, unsurprisingly, there are very few photos, and they aren’t that good – this is because I wasn’t documenting as I went, and the light in the kitchen is bad…)

photo 2

* I strongly suspect that the appeal of Movember has nothing to do with men’s health and everything to do with growing the most gross moustache one can.  And I say this as someone who is actually mildly in favour of facial hair.  But some of the shrubbery currently to be seen in our lab should really not be encouraged.

Your Shopping List

1 1/3 cups caster sugar
2/3 cup canola oil
400 ml (1 standard tin) light coconut milk
3 lemons
40 g freeze-dried passionfruit powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt

2 – 2 1/3 cups raw icing sugar

90 g virgin coconut oil, melted (you want the virgin stuff because it has a strong coconut taste – the refined version is too neutral here)

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Recipe: Steph’s Sticky Date Pudding Cupcakes with Caramel Sauce

This is a guest post from Steph, a friend of mine from work.  She brought a huge batch of these cupcakes (and more importantly, their sauce) in for her birthday a few weeks ago, and we devoured them in record time and begged for the recipe.  I haven’t yet made them myself (an oversight, clearly), mostly because you get a *lot* of cupcakes from this recipe (about three dozen), and I haven’t had the freezer space.  But I will, oh yes, I will…

Steph says: “Hope this reads well. I am so used to doing this recipe that I might have left out something very obvious. The caramel sauce looks scary, but once you have got the hang of caramelising sugar (be brave!!) it is such an easy recipe!! And so freakin’ good!!”

In passing, apologies for the distinct lack of blogging over the last few days.  I’ve been rather under the weather, and while I did cook a couple of things with the intention of blogging about them, they were both failures, and not even the sort of entertaining failures that make for good posts.  We will return you to our regularly scheduled food blogging in a day or two.

Your Shopping List

Cupcakes (makes about 36)
280g chopped dates
375ml hot water
¾ tsp bicarb soda
200g butter (at room temp)
280g caster sugar
1  tsp vanilla essence
3 eggs (at room temp)
280g Self raising flour
 
Caramel Sauce
350g caster sugar
350g caster sugar to caramelise
350g butter
600ml cream

NB – this quantity of sauce makes 1.5L which is huge and enough for several batches of cupcakes. You can always divide the mixture by one or two to make a smaller batch.  NB from Catherine – I say make it all!  You can never have too much caramel sauce on your pudding.  Or near your pudding.  Or over the ice-cream, with or without pudding.  Or you could just eat it with a spoon directly from the pot…

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