Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Last week on my last day before my one-week holiday, my boss asked me what I was going to do during my vacation. "I'm going to turn twenty-nine", I answered. "So you're going to bake cake?!", he said, smiling. And I answered that I was going to do that anyway, but, of course, my birthday is always the perfect occasion to have myself a little cake festival, as I like to call it. I had a few friends over yesterday to celebrate and I made sure they were going to get enough sweets. Next to cream cheese brownies (no birthday party without cream cheese brownies), a plum and an apricot cake, I made these peanut butter cupcakes which were also a big hit. A sweet and salty treat for the addict ;-)

(slightly adapted from: Home Sweet Home by Tarek Malouf and the Hummingbird Bakery)

Makes about 12-16 cupcakes

For the sponge:
70g soft butter
210g plain flour
250g sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
210ml whole milk
2 large eggs
40g crunchy peanut butter

For the frosting:
500g icing sugar
160g soft butter
50ml whole milk
30g crunchy peanut butter

For the decoration:
salted peanuts

Preheat the oven to 170°C and line a muffin tray with paper cases.

In a bowl mix butter, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt with an electric hand mixer until they form a crumb-like consistency. In a jug, mix milk an eggs. With the mixer on low speed, gradually pour half of the liquid into the crumb mixture and mix thoroughly until combined. Raise the speed to medium and beat until the batter is smooth and thick, with no lumps. Scrape down the sides of the bowl from time to time. Once all lumps are gone, turn the speed back down and gradually pour in the remaining liquid, continuing to mix until the batter is smooth and combined. Add the peanut butter and mix through, making sure it is evenly mixed through the batter.

Spoon the batter into your paper cases, filling them two-thirds full. I usually use my ice-cream scoop for this. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until the sponge bounces back when lightly touched. Leave to cool slightly before removing from the tin and placing on a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

In a bowl, mix icing sugar and butter together on low speed until combined and there are no large lumps in the butter. Gradually pour in the milk whole mixing on low speed. When all the liquid is incorporated, turn the mixer up to high speed and beat the frosting until light and fluffy. Add the peanut butter and mix well until the frosting is even and smooth.

Spoon generous amount of the frosting onto each cupcake, then gently smooth over with a palette knife, making a swirl at the top if you wish. Top each cupcake with chopped salted peanuts.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Brownies with Chocolate-coated Raisins

Ok guys, let's talk brownies again! The adorable Yvette van Boven had the idea of adding chocolate-coated raisins to a classic brownie batter. A master stroke! The result are wonderfully sticky, chocolaty, sweet, sweet, sweet melt-in-your mouth brownies... Seriously, if you ask me, these here can even take on my beloved cream cheese brownies. Another secret weapon for your brownie repertoire.

(from the beautiful "Home Made" by Yvette van Boven)

150g butter and some for greasing the tin
200g dark chocolate
2 eggs
150g sugar
1 sachet vanilla sugar or a tablespoon vanilla extract
200g flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 pinch of salt
200g chocolate-coated raisins

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Line a 18x23cm baking tin with baking parchment or grease well with butter.

Melt butter and chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat. When melted, take away from the heat and let cool a little. In a bowl, beat sugar, vanilla and eggs with an electric hand mixer until pale and fluffy. Add the chocolate-butter-mixture und and mix until well combined. Sift in flour, baking powder and salt. Mix well. In the end, add the chocolate-coated raisins.

Pour your batter into the prepared tin and bake for about 25 minutes. If you insert a wooden skewer, there should not be any batter sticking to it. Let cool, then cut into squares.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A Simple Summer Nectarine Cake with Saffron

I took a short summer break from baking and spent the past few weekends at my mum's. Most of the time, I just relaxed in her beautiful garden. My brother now lives only three houses away and we spent the evenings barbecuing either at mum's or at my brother's. Wolfgang kept complaining about the lack of cake, though. Well, at certain temperatures, even I don't want to get near the oven anymore. But, now that those mild late summer days are about to come, it's time to make use of all the wonderful fruit this season brings along. This is a recipe from one of my new baking books and since I like to experiment with spices, I've adapted it slightly and added some saffron. The sweet and slightly sour nectarines go very well with a hint of saffron which gives the cake a fuller, warm flavor.

(slightly adapted from "Love, Bake, Nourish" by Amber Rose)

175g butter, softened
150g plain flour or white spelt flour
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
170g dark honey
3 tablespoons milk
100g ground almonds
1 sachet of saffron
400g very ripe nectarines, stoned and cut into 2cm pieces
icing sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 160°C and grease and flour a 24cm diameter springform pan.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with an electric hand mixer until pale and fluffy. Add 2-3 tablespoons flour and beat in the eggs, one at a time. Continue to beat until you have a light, fluffy mixture (if it looks as if it's curdling, add another tablespoon of flour). Fold in the rest of the flour, the baking powder, the saffron, honey, milk and ground almonds and mix well. Gently fold in the nectarine pieces.

Scrape the batter into the cake tin, level the top with the back of a spoon or a palette knife and bake in the oven for about 1 - 1 1/4 hour or until the center springs back to the touch. Make sure the top of your cake does not burn. Cover with aluminium foil if necessary.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for at least 10 minutes before carefully turning out onto a wire rack to finish cooling. Dust with icing sugar before serving.

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