Tag Archives: buttercream

CRANBERRY & ORANGE VICTORIA SPONGE

Cranberry & orange Victoria sponge

A well made classic Victoria Sponge is a thing of beauty, although I have to confess that I do always have to have cream or buttercream in my filling (sorry Women’s Institute).
It’s all about the texture. It should be light and springy with a nice even crumb so be careful that you don’t over beat the batter. In a traditional Victoria Sponge you also rely solely on the quality of your ingredients for the flavour so I always use real butter rather than baking margarine and I always try to find fresh free-range eggs. I only ever use free-range anyway but if you can get locally reared ones then 9 times out of 10 they’ll be richer than anything you buy in the supermarkets. They’ll also give your sponge great colour.
I find that I get the best results when I let all of my ingredients get up to room temperature before I start.
American self-rising flour does seem to be a tiny bit different to U.K self-raising flour but this recipe should work fine with both.

Classic Victoria sponge

If you want to make the classic Victoria Sponge then just leave out the orange zest from the sponge, sandwich it together with good quality jam (usually strawberry or raspberry) and dust the top with a little sugar.

classic Victoria sponge

Ingredients
serves 10-12

Orange sponge
3 eggs
the weight of the eggs (inc shells) in butter, sugar and self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
2 tbsp milk
zest of 1 orange

Cranberry compote
70g ish cranberries (mine were frozen)
30g sugar
juice of 1 orange

Swiss meringue buttercream
1 egg white
50g sugar
70g butter (room temperature and cut into small pieces)
zest of 1 orange

Cranberry & orange Victoria sponge

Pre-heat your oven to 180°c and grease two sandwich tins. Place a disc of baking parchment in the base of each.
Weigh your eggs, in their shells so that you know how much flour, butter and sugar you’ll need.
Sift together the baking powder and flour a couple of times and set it aside. This will get plenty of air into it.
Using a hand or stand mixer beat together the butter and sugar until it is pale, thick and fluffy, this should take a minute or two.
Lightly beat each egg and mix them, one at a time, into the butter and sugar. Follow each addition with a spoonful of the flour and beat it well. Once you have added all of the eggs briefly beat in the orange zest. Sift the remaining flour into the batter in two batches and carefully fold it in.

Cranberry & orange Victoria sponge
Finally stir in the milk to loosen the mixture to a nice soft dropping consistency. Divide the cake batter evenly between the two prepared tins (I actually weigh mine) and level off the tops. Bake them in the centre of the oven for 25 minutes. Don’t be tempted to open the oven door during this time as you might cause them to sink in the middle. Once the time is up open the oven door and test that the sponges are cooked with a skewer. Give them another minute or two if it doesn’t come out clean. They should feel light and springy once they are cooked.
Put the cooked sponges on a wire rack and let them cool in the tins for five minutes then turn them out on the rack and carefully remove the greaseproof paper. Let them become completely cool before you fill them.

Cranberry & orange Victoria sponge
Make the compote by combining the sugar, cranberries and the juice of the orange in a small saucepan. Pop this over a moderate heat and let it gently bubble away for a few minutes. Mash the berries a bit to release their juice, but be careful as they tend to pop and you don’t want them to splatter you with hot juice. Once the juice is thick and syrupy you can leave the compote to cool and become a bit jammy.
Swiss Meringue buttercream is next on your to-do list. Put the egg white and sugar in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Gently whisk it to keep it moving whilst it heats, it needs to be quite warm and the sugar needs to have dissolved into the egg white. Just rub a little between your fingers to check the temperature and that it isn’t grainy. Remove the pan from the heat and then whisk the egg white until it is stiff (like meringue) and cool. An electric mixer makes this pretty quick and easy. Once it is cool you can slowly beat in the butter, one small piece at a time. If the mixture is too warm then the butter will simply melt so make sure it’s cool before you start. You can pop it in the fridge for a few minutes if you need to. Continue to whip the buttercream until it has emulsified and become smooth and creamy and then mix through the orange zest.

Cranberry & orange Victoria sponge
Decide which of your cakes is the least pretty and place it, upside-down, on a serving plate. Spread the cold cranberry compote onto it and the follow this with the orange Swiss meringue buttercream. I prefer to pipe this but to be honest it isn’t going to make a blind bit of difference to the way it tastes!
Carefully place on the top layer of cake and then sprinkle it with a little icing sugar as a finishing touch.

Cranberry & orange Victoria sponge

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MALTED MOCHA CUPCAKES

Malted mocha cupcakes

These yummy treats have a lovely rich, slightly sticky, moist sponge sitting underneath that swirl of thick, creamy, fluffy buttercream.
I’m a sucker for malt and chocolate together and the subtle background of coffee really brings them together nicely. Because the sponge is made with malt extract rather than powder, it has a lovely rich texture, a bit like a golden syrup sponge. It’s slightly more dense (but not heavy) and sticky than a classic cupcake sponge. In general, I’d say that these lovelies have a bit more going on than your average sponge and frosting affair…

Malted mocha cupcakes

Ingredients
makes about 8 big cupcakes or 6 large and 6 mini

Sponge
40g butter
90g sugar
50g malt extract
100g plain flour
15g cocoa powder
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1 egg
70ml milk
50ml of very, very strong coffee

Frosting
30g dark chocolate
140g unsalted butter
120g icing sugar
2 tbsp cream (or a splash of milk)
50g malt extract

melted white and dark chocolate and malteasers to decorate.

Malted mocha cupcakes

Pre-heat your oven to 190°c and line a cupcake tin with wrappers.
Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl and then beat in the malt extract. Sift in the flour, cocoa and baking powder and beat it together with an electric hand or stand mixer until it looks like breadcrumbs.
Lightly beat together the coffee, milk and egg in a separate bowl or jug and then add it in two or three batches, to the dry ingredients and beat it well until you have a nice smooth batter.
Divide this evenly between the wrappers and pop them in the oven for about 20 minutes. They should be well risen and feel springy to the touch once they are done. Leave them to cool on a wire rack.

Malted mocha cupcakes
To make the frosting melt the chocolate and then set it aside to cool. Beat together the butter, icing sugar and cream until it is nice and fluffy. Mix in the malt extract and then divide the buttercream into two batches. Stir the melted chocolate into one of these.
Carefully spoon the two buttercreams into a piping bag fitted with a large star tip, so that they are side by side and both flavours will be squeezed out of the nozzle at the same time. Pipe the frosting onto the cooled cakes in pretty swirl and then decorate each one with the crushed malteasers and a little drizzle of melted chocolate.

Malted mocha cupcakes

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EARL GREY and LEMON LAYER CAKE

Earl Grey and lemon layer cake

This month it has been Mr Colonial Cravings birthday! He’s really quite old now, so to soften the blow a little I decided to go all out and bake him a fancy cake that I knew he would love. He is an absolute tea addict so I was pretty sure that he would love a cake that was flavoured with tea of any kind. (For a birthday treat we actually went to the only tea plantation in the US. That man knows how to live it up, I tell you!)

He is also pretty particular about which kinds of tea should be served with milk and which should not so I played it safe and paired the Earl Grey in this with zingy lemon. I’ve said it before but Swiss meringue buttercream is SO superior to the usual ‘chuck all the ingredients in a bowl and beat it together’ type. It really is worth the extra effort when you’re baking for a special occasion. The results are so rich and creamy and I think that you get much better flavour from it than just an overwhelming sweetness. I think that it complements the delicate flavours of the tea perfectly.

If you want to make the Earl Grey influence a bit more subtle then just use one teabag, instead of two. It’s also worth bearing in mind that Swiss meringue buttercream does melt quite easily so you’ll need to keep the cake cool.

Earl Grey and lemon layer cake

Ingredients
serves 16(ish)

Sponge
1-2 Earl Grey tea bags, emptied out and the leaves ground up very finely
1 tbsp boiling water
120g butter, softened
350g sugar
350g flour
1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
pinch of salt
300ml milk
3 eggs

Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream
3 egg whites
150g sugar
200g butter (cut into small pieces)
juice and zest of 1 lemon

Earl Grey and lemon layer cake

To make the sponge you need to pre-heat your oven to 190°c and grease and line three standard size cake tins (I think mine are about 8-9″).
Use a pestle and mortar to grind up the tea so that you have a fairly fine powder and use 1 tbsp of freshly boiled water to make it into a paste. Leave this to cool.
Sift together the flour and baking powder and combine this with the salt and sugar ensuring that they are well mixed. Beat this dry blend into the softened butter until you have something that looks a bit like damp sand.
In a separate jug, whisk together the eggs and milk before incorporating the Earl Grey tea paste. Add half of this to the dry mixture and beat it together well. Add the remaining liquid and beat again to combine it all and leave you a fairly runny batter. Divide this evenly between the three prepared cake tins, level off the surfaces and pop them in the oven, all on the same shelf if your oven is big enough.
Bake the sponges for around 20 minutes, so that they are risen and golden brown, and if you poke them with a skewer or cake tester it comes out clean. Carefully turn the sponges out onto a wire rack and leave them to cool.

Earl Grey and lemon layer cake

Start on the Swiss meringue buttercream by putting the egg whites in a spotlessly clean bowl over a pan on gently simmering water. Add the sugar and use a hand whisk to whip them continuously whilst they heat up. They should become quite foamy and when they are ready to come off the heat, they will feel hot to the touch and the sugar should be totally dissolved.
Take the bowl off the pan of water and use an electric whisk to whip the meringue until it is thick and glossy. If by this stage the base of the bowl has dropped to room temperature(ish) then you can start to whisk in the butter, a couple of pieces at a time. Continue to whip the buttercream until you have incorporated all of the butter and it is thick, smooth and creamy. Whisk in the lemon juice, a splash at a time to check the flavour. Keep the zest for decoration.

Assemble the cake by covering the tops of all three sponges with the butter cream and then stacking them carefully on top of each other, making sure that the best looking one is on the top. Transfer any remaining butter cream to a piping bag and pipe little rosettes around the edge of the top layer. Sprinkle on the lemon zest for a final touch.

Earl Grey and lemon layer cake

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MATCHA COCONUT CUPCAKES

matcha coconut cupcake

I was looking back through some of my older recipes recently and came across my yummy green tea and lemon Swiss roll, https://colonialcravings.wordpress.com/2014/01/17/green-tea-and-lemon-swiss-roll/. I’ve been seeing matcha used in a lot of recipes of late so I though I might have another bash at baking with it.
I’ll be honest, I only really chose to pair coconut with the matcha because I had half a can of coconut milk sitting in my fridge left over from the previous nights laksa. I’m really pleased that I did though because the creamy coconut goes so well with the sweet, slightly earthy taste of the fluffy matcha sponge cake. They’re so pretty too, the pure white frosting looks great against the almost avocado coloured sponge.

matcha coconut cupcake

Ingredients
Makes 12 fairy cake size cupcakes or probably about 8 big ones

Matcha sponge
40g butter
100g sugar
120g plain flour
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1 egg
120ml coconut milk
pinch of salt
1 tsp matcha powder

Coconut frosting
2 tbsp coconut cream (you can also use the thickened part that rises to the top of canned coconut milk)
70g softened butter
135g icing sugar

toasted coconut flakes to decorate

matcha coconut cupcake

Preheat the oven to 190°c and line a cupcake tin with wrappers.
Sift together the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Add the sugar, salt and butter and beat it all together until it looks like bread crumbs.
Use a tablespoon of the coconut milk to make the matcha powder into a paste and set this aside for a moment. Whisk together the remaining coconut milk and the egg in a separate jug and then incorporate the paste into this. Make sure that it is really well blended.
Gradually beat this into the dry ingredients using an electric mixer and then continue to beat for a further minute or two.

matcha coconut cupcake
Divide the cake batter evenly between the cupcake wrappers and bake the cupcakes for about 20 minutes.
Once they are well risen, cooked through and lightly browned you can leave them to cool on a wire rack.

To make the coconut frosting simply beat together all of the ingredients until you have a thick fluffy frosting. Pipe or spread this on top of the cupcakes before finishing them with a sprinkle of toasted coconut shavings.

matcha coconut cupcake

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HAZELNUT NUTELLA CUPCAKES

Nutella cupcake

It’s my Birthday at the weekend, which of course means that there will be cake! Now I’m sure that if I asked nicely Mr Colonial Cravings would no doubt have a stab at making me a birthday cake but, judging by the turmoil that always greets me in the kitchen after he’s made pizza, it would not be worth the clean-up!
So instead of donning a pair of marigolds I’ve donned my apron and come up with these little beauties. Indulgent, creamy Nutella flavoured Swiss meringue buttercream smothering fluffy hazelnut sponge. Just wonderful. The cakes develop a lovely slighty crisp chewy crust and the Nutella buttercream is absolutely sublime. But you didn’t need me to tell you that.

Nutella cupcake
I know that making Swiss meringue buttercream takes a bit more effort than just beating together butter and icing sugar but I promise you it’s totally worth it. It’s also very forgiving so you shouldn’t feel daunted by it. The first time I tried this particular one my butter was a bit too soft when I added it so the buttercream ended up too runny to pipe. I just shoved it in the fridge for 15 minutes and then whipped it again and it was perfect.
If you’re feeling especially extravagant then you could even top them with Ferrero Rocher…just a suggestion.

Nutella cupcake

Ingredients
Makes 12

Sponge
40g butter
130g sugar
70g plain flour
1/2 tbsp baking powder
60g toasted hazelnuts, finely ground
pinch of salt
120ml milk
1 egg

Buttercream
2 egg whites
100g sugar
140g butter
3 tbsp Nutella
1 tbsp Frangelico (optional but it’ll really boost the hazelnut flavour)

Pre-heat the oven to 190°c and line a cupcake tin with pretty wrappers.
Put the butter, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl and then sift in the flour and baking powder. Beat this together so that it resembles breadcrumbs. Mix in the ground hazelnuts.
In a separate jug whisk together the egg and milk before gradually adding this to the dry mixture. Beat the batter for few minutes, so that it becomes quite fluffy. Divide this mixture evenly between the cupcake wrappers and bake the cupcakes for 18-20 minutes.
Once they are cooked and nicely browned leave them to cool on a wire rack whilst you make the frosting.

Nutella cupcake
Place the egg whites and sugar in a super-clean mixing bowl set over a pan of boiling water. Use a hand whisk and continually whip the meringue mixture as it heats. It needs to be quite warm and the sugar needs to have dissolved into the egg white. Just rub a little between your fingers to check the temperature and that it isn’t grainy. Remove the pan from the heat and then whisk the egg white until it is fluffy and cool (I switch to an electric whisk for this). Once you’re at this point you can slowly beat in the butter, one small piece at a time. Continue to whip the buttercream until it has emulsified and become smooth and creamy. Finally beat in the Nutella and Frangelico until is well blended. Resist the urge to eat it all now and transfer it to a piping bag, ready to decorate your cupcakes. Alternatively just use a pallet knife to appoint each cake with a generous splodge. Sprinkle with a few chopped hazelnuts or chocolate sprinkles…

Nutella cupcake

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LEXI’S LEBKUCHEN TORTE

lebkuchen torte

An embarrassingly long time ago my lovely friend Lexi (she who bakes the really good muffins) asked me if I could make Sachertorte on here. She told me that she’d never had it but thought that it sounded pretty delicious. I have also never had it. This means I don’t really feel qualified to make a convincing version of it. I’ve done a fair bit of research into it and I have largely found that no two recipes are the same. Some say use almonds, some say don’t. Some use two layers of apricot jam and others just one. It’s a minefield! Apparently there have even been legal battles over it.
I realise that I could make umpteen different versions of it and pick my favourite but (rather perversely, considering the nature of this blog) I hate to follow a recipe to the letter. My kitchen is very much a place for free-styling – I try to tell myself that it’s creativity but more often than not it’s laziness!

lebkuchen torte
So I have decided to make a cake specially for Lexi (yes, I know you live about 3500 miles away in Cheltenham but it’s the thought that counts…and I promise to make another one for you when I move back) She has acute Germanophilia so I have taken the liberty of giving this a lebkuchen twist (I bloomin’ love lebkuchen) and used gingerbread instead of chocolate sponge but I’ve kept the combination of apricot and rich chocolate glaze from her original sachertorte request.

lebkuchen torte

The sponge is just the recipe from my gingerbread latte cupcakes, baked in a couple of standard cake tins for 30-35 minutes. The only small addition I made was to add a splash of booze at the end of the mixing. I couldn’t help myself.

Swiss buttercream does require a bit more effort than normal frosting but it’s really quite a different beast. It has a much smoother, creamier texture and isn’t nearly as sickly. It’s more luxurious and sophisticated and worth the extra effort.

Ingredients
serves 12-16

1 quantity gingerbread sponge mixture (https://colonialcravings.wordpress.com/2014/12/15/gingerbread-latte-cupcakes/)

Jam layer
2tbsp jam
1 tbsp brandy/dark rum/whisky

Swiss buttercream
1 egg white
50g sugar
70g butter (room temperature and cut into small pieces)
3 tbsp apricot jam

Chocolate glaze
200g good quality dark chocolate
40g butter
2tbsp golden syrup
4 tbsp cream

lebkuchen torte

Bake the sponge in a couple of sandwich tins and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
For the jam layers simply warm the jam a little and mix it with the booze. Brush this onto both sides of the sponge that will touch the buttercream. Don’t feel obliged to use all of this mixture if you think that the jam layer will be too thick (I had about 1 tablespoon left over)
Now it’s time to get started on the Swiss buttercream. Put the egg white and sugar in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Gently whisk it together whilst it heats, it needs to be quite warm and the sugar needs to have dissolved into the egg white. Just rub a little between your fingers to check the temperature and that it isn’t grainy. Remove the pan from the heat and then whisk the egg white until it is stiff (like meringue) and cool. Once you’re at this point you can slowly beat in the butter, one small piece at a time. Continue to whip the buttercream until it has emulsified and become smooth and creamy. Mix in the apricot jam.
Spread the buttercream onto the base of the cake, going as close to the edges as you can without it squidging out when you place on the top layer.
Finally you need to glaze the whole thing. Melt together the chocolate and butter in a small pan, stirring constantly over a very low heat. Remove the pan from the heat and beat in the syrup and cream.
Leave the glaze to cool and thicken slightly for a few minutes. Place the assembled cake on a wire rack set over a large plate (to catch any drips.) Pour the glaze over the cake and spread it out with a palate knife so that it drips down the sides to cover them too. Try to make the top as smooth as possible. If the glaze becomes too thick to spread smoothly then simply re-warm it a little.
This will keep for several days in an airtight container.

lebkuchen torte

Tip: If you think that you might end up with a gap where the filling is then take a few tablespoons of the glaze and put them in the fridge to thicken to a ganache-type consistency. You can then use this to fill in any gaps before you pour on the final shiny top coat.

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GUINNESS CUPCAKES – with Irish cream frosting

guinness & chocolate cupcakes

I still can’t quite get on board with the St Patrick’s day festivities that occur on this side of the pond (so much green!) I think that I may have been scarred by my experiences back home in Cheltenham where it usually coincides with the biggest racing meet of the year. This generally means that most Cheltonians become hermits for the week rather than battle with the crowds and traffic in the town.
I do however like to have the excuse to make cupcakes, so here is my offering this year.
Don’t be put off making these if you aren’t the worlds biggest stout fan, you can’t really taste it. What it does do is add a real richness and depth to the chocolate sponge. It also makes them incredibly light and fluffy. At least I assume that it’s the Guinness because these are far lighter than any other sponge that I’ve made before and in case you couldn’t guess I’ve baked a lot of cake in my time! The butter-cream frosting is pretty much what you’d expect it to be, sweet, creamy and just a tiny bit boozy. Nothing wrong with that.

Ingredients
makes 18 ish (enough for everyone!)

80g butter (soft)
200g dark brown sugar
80g white sugar
200g flour
40g cocoa powder
1 tbsp baking powder
pinch of salt
180ml stout
60ml milk
2 eggs

Irish cream frosting
175g butter
400g icing sugar
100ml Irish cream liqueur (there’s no point being stingy is there?)

guinness & chocolate cupcakes

Pre-heat your oven to 190°c and line a cupcake tin with liners.
Beat together the sugars and butter in a large mixing bowl before sifting in the dry ingredients. Beat this again to ensure that everything is well combined. It will look very dry and a bit like bread crumbs at this point, don’t worry, it’s meant to look like that!
Whisk together the stout, milk and eggs in a jug and then add about 1/4 of it to the dry mixture and beat it in. Repeat this until all of the liquid has been incorporated and you have a smooth, well mixed batter.
Spoon the batter into the cupcake cases and bake for around 18 minutes. The little cakes should have risen and feel springy once they are done. They should also be wonderfully light. If you have to bake them in a couple of batches then keep any remaining batter cool in the fridge.
Remove them from the tin and leave the little sponges to cool on a wire rack whilst you whip up the butter-cream frosting.
Beat the butter until soft and creamy. Add in the icing sugar and the Irish cream. Stir a few times to prevent an icing sugar dust cloud forming and then beat with a hand-held electric mixture until light and fluffy. Pipe or spread this onto the cold cupcakes. Complete the cliché with green sprinkles if you like.

guinness & chocolate cupcakes

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