Tag Archives: Frostings

Vanilla Bean & Nutella Cupcakes


There’s a photo of my parents on the magnetic board that’s propped on my desk. My dad’s got his hands in the air, mid clap, his mouth wide open, cheering. Mom’s got the biggest smile on, the kind that gives mega-watt a run for her money. This was taken at my sister’s wedding. I must’ve done something right, because that photo was taken right after I gave my bridesmaid speech.

Sitting right above that photo is a gingerbread plushie magnet, you know, the slightly loopy one from Shrek. It was a gift from a very proud boy who congratulated me on riding the roller coaster twice, and even managed to put my hands up in the air. I whined, and begged to turn around, but we all knew I wanted to ride on it. And conquer it twice I did!

Right at the bottom of the board is a piece of paper I’ve been diligently checking off the boxes on. See, I’m on a shopping ban (no shoes, bags, clothes & accessories) and every day I come home without a shopping bag, I get to tick off a box. I’ve got 2 more months on it and I’m still going strong. Let me tell you though, I’m not sure how creative I can get with my wardrobe much longer.

I feel like I need to add a photo of these cupcakes on the board. I’m rather proud of them, especially since vanilla cupcakes haven’t always been particularly cooperative. Sure I’ve had some luck with them, but it’s the one things I bake with trepidation each time. Will they leave the cake liners? Will they be soggy on the bottom? Will they taste like flour?

Buttery, dense but still tender, perfumed with vanilla with a dash of chocolate from the Nutella; they’re actually less scary than I thought they’d be!

And the frosting reminds me of the smoothest vanilla bean ice cream.

Eat and be happy that the weekend is upon us!

Vanilla & Nutella Cupcakes (adapted from the Butch Bakery Cookbook)

2 cups GF flour blend
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, room temp
12 tbsp Nutella, room temp

1) Preheat oven to 170°C. Line a a 12-hole cupcake tin with paper liners.

2) Mix flour, baking power, baking soda and salt together. Set aside.

3) In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add in the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add the flour mixture and the buttermilk alternately in 3 additions, starting and ending with the flour. Beat on high for 30 seconds.

4) Divide evenly between prepared cupcake tin and dollop one tablespoon of Nutella into each cupcake.Bake for 22 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool before frosting.

5) To frost, fill a piping bag fitted with a star tip with the vanilla bean buttercream, and pipe rosettes on top of each cupcake!

Vanilla Bean Buttercream

1 x Swiss Meringue Buttercream, without the white chocolate
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped. Use the pods for vanilla sugar

1) Beat the buttercream together with the vanilla seeds until mixed through. Use immediately.

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[You’re My Favourite] Carrot Cake

You know he’s a keeper when he sees a bakery and thinks of you.

or cake.

or unicorns.

But mostly, you know he’s a keeper when he always lets you have the first bite of dessert. It’s almost better than opening doors and pulling out chairs. And not noticing (or maybe he does, but decides to let you get away with it anyway) you always choose to start eating a cake from the sides because there’s always more frosting there.

Today’s one of those rare days I’m home alone. No one’s doing anything else while I bask in the fact that it’s only Saturday afternoon and already I feel productive. There isn’t anyone on the phone, no one doing the ironing. It’s just me, pigtails, Chrysanthemums in a vase, carrot cake in the oven the murmuring of the fan.

Wait, we were talking about boys. Actually, let’s narrow it down to one specific one. The one who knows movie lines better than I do, writes postcards and thank you notes and understands me even when I’m speaking faster than a train. He sounds better behaved than I do. I can never find my keys, always blast my music way too loud and write letters but never post them. Do you have any idea how many unposted letters I have found in my drawers and bags!? The good news is that so far all the letters to him have made it.

At least I bake. People tend to be more forgiving when you have something sweet to offer. It’s a good decoy. “Hi officer, was I speeding? Wait, here’s some carrot cake, it’s even got frosting!”[cue: innocent smile]

Let me know if it works.

Try it out with this cake recipe. If the line doesn’t work, it’s probably you, definitely not the cake. Or maybe he hates carrots.

Carrot Cake (adapted from Dean Brettschneider)

250g GF flour blend
10g baking soda
10g ground cinnamon
4 eggs
150g brown sugar
100g caster sugar
370ml canola oil (or vegetable oil)
5ml vanilla extract
200g carrots, shredded
135g crushed pineapple, well drained

1) Preheat oven to 150°C. Grease and line a 9-inch round baking tin with greaseproof paper.

2) In the bowl of a standing mixer, whisk the eggs and sugars together until light in color and double in volume. Add in the oil and whisk to emulsify.

3) Whisk in the flour in 2 additions until there are no floury streaks. Remove bowl from mixer and using a spatula, fold in the carrots and pineapple until you get an even mixture. Pour into prepared tin and bake for 2-2.5 hours.

4) Remove from oven to cool and frost. Keep refrigerated.

Cream Cheese Frosting

115g cream cheese, softened
65g unsalted butter, softened
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
200g icing sugar

1) Mix all together in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add more icing sugar for a sweeter frosting or more zest/juice for a tarter one. Note that frosting will be more viscous with extra lemon juice.

Tadah- Now you can bake a Get Out of Jail Free card!

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Pink Strawberry Cake with Vanilla Bean Buttercream

Last evening we celebrated our 46th National Day, Singapore’s birthday. For those who are unfamiliar, Singapore’s a little island city located past the tip of Malaysia. We’re not in China and we certainly don’t live in trees (someone asked me this!). I could tell you all the glorious things about Singapore but words aren’t enough to describe it all. Instead, here’s what I like to say…I wish I could HUG Singapore. Give it a big, tight bear hug. I even baked her a cake! It’s (almost) in our national colours; red and white. Plus it’s four layers tall, so grow Singapore, GROW!

National day is a big deal around here. There’s a spectacular parade which ends in a colourful bursting of fireworks. Everyone comes over because you can catch it from our window. It’s a thing we do. And we wear red and white too. It’s very festive and probably the only time I don’t mind wearing the same outfit as the next person. If you reaaalllyy wanted to join in, here’s my favourite National Day song. We have a new one every year, this was from awhile back but it still makes me tear. Watch it here.

Notice the much nicer photos for today’s post? Thanks to my cousin C who’s so handy with his camera, I get an extra pretty blog post today! Such are the perks of having multi-talented individuals as family.

And without further ado, here’s the stunner of a pink cake. The strawberry flavour is all natural, and I’m so pleased the frozen berries managed to impart such a true, true flavour permeating through the fuschia layers. Frozen berries are reliable for being tasty at any time of the year so I’m sticking to them.

Pink Strawberry Cake with Vanilla Bean Buttercream
1) Pink strawberry butter cake
2) Vanilla bean buttercream
3) Strawberry puree

Pink Strawberry Butter Cake (adapted from Sky High by Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne)
*I made a half recipe

1 3/4 cup GF flour blend
1/2 cup oat flour
1 cup sugar
2 3/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp strawberry puree (recipe below)
4 egg whites
1/3 cup milk

1) Preheat the oven to 170°C. Grease and line two 6-inch round baking tins with parchment.

2) In the bowl of a standmixer, cream the butter and sugar together. Meanwhile, mix the flours and baking powder in a medium bowl.

3) In another bowl, mix the egg whites and milk together.

4) Add the flour mix and strawberry puree into the creamed butter and mix well (it will look like strawberry icecream!). Add in the egg and milk mixture in 3 additions, mixing well before adding the next. Turn mixer up to medium high and beat for 30 seconds.

5) Divide mixture evenly into the prepared tins and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing from baking tin. Let cool completely.

6) To assemble, slice each cake into 2 even layers. Place one layer on the bottom of the plate andspread a layer of strawberry puree on it. Freeze for 10 minutes to allow the puree to set before spreading a layer of vanilla bean buttercream on it. Top with the next layer but this time, spread the vanilla bean buttercream directly on it, no need for strawberry puree. Repeat with the next layer, spreading strawberry puree, freezing and then vanilla buttercream. Top with the final layer and spread the remaining buttercream over the top and sides of the cake.

Strawberry Puree

3/4 pound frozen strawberries, thawed

1) Blend the berries and it’s juices until you reach a smooth puree. If it’s still semi cold, microwave it in bursts of 15 seconds until it reaches room temperature. Use 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp for the cake.

2) Place the remaining in a small saucepan and reduce over a medium flame, stirring constantly, until get a thickened puree. Remove from heat and let cool.This is for the cake layers.

Vanilla Bean Buttercream

4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
3 sticks butter, softened
Seeds from 1 vanilla pod

1) Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a standmixer or heat proof bowl set over a bain marie. Heat the mixture, whilst whisking gently, until you reach 55°C. Remove from heat immediately and whisk on high until you get a thick glossy meringue. (It’ll take about 5-8 minutes by machine and probably 10 by a hand held electric whisk).

2) Beat in the butter using a paddle attachment (I guess you’d continue with the hand held whisk if you’re taking that route) until buttercream comes together into a light but firm consistency. If it looks goopy, just keep whisking! Whisk in vanilla bean seeds. Set aside until ready to frost cake.

 

 

 

 

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Whimsy Peach Cupcakes

My dad can’t do many things like take me through my Science homework or endure hours of shopping. He’s often out of town, so chauffeuring us from classes was mom’s department. And, let’s not even get started on dressing advice; it goes a little like the lower the heels the better (seeing that I’m already a head taller than him). But my dad is a pretty cool dude.

I remember when I wanted to catch Christina Aguilera’s Dirrty Tour whilst we were holidaying in Brisbane. Don’t know what he did, but he scored 3 tickets to a sold out concert. Then there was teaching me to ride a bike and giving me boy advice. “I’ve been a boy once, I know what they’re like. Don’t be stupid’. Good stuff.

But my dad’s really my best salesperson. He’s always there, at any party, ready to sell my baking to anyone who’ll listen. He’ll eat anything I bake, usually at any time of the day. And you know what’s awesome? He’s usually happy about it. So though I’m like a bazillion miles away, here’s a whole tray of peach cupcakes, food for the soul, and it’s got fruit too!

On a side note, I was at Red Hook yesterday and picked up a very interesting potion. It’s by a little company called Royal Rose and it’s a Lavender and Lemon simple syrup. It smells floral and critusy, and totally fresh. I didn’t have vanilla extract on hand so I used this to flavour my cake instead and it managed to impart a light floral sweetness without being overly anything (not too lemony or lavender-y). I liked it, perhaps not something I’d resort to for a high impact lavender flavour, but it’s really just pretty.

Also, this will be my entry to Go Ahead Honey It’s Gluten Free! for the month of June. It’s all about dads this time around. I can’t wait to see what all the dads out there are being spoilt with this month!

Scented Vanilla Cupcakes (makes 24)

2 cups white rice flour
1/2 cup GF oat flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch flour
1/4 sweet rice flour
1 tablespoon + 2 tsp baking powder
3 tsp vanilla extract (or any other flavouring; I used a lavender-lemon syrup)
Pinch of salt
1 cup whole milk, room temperature
5 eggs, room temperature
2 sticks + 2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 3/4 cup caster sugar

1) Preheat oven to 175°C. Line 24 muffin tins with paper liners.

2) Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time.

3) Mix the flours, baking powder and salt together. Add the flavouring syrup to the milk.

4) Add in the flour and milk alternately, starting and ending with the flour. Beat on high for 30 seconds. Divide evenly into cupcake tins. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

5) Leave to cool for 10 minutes in tray before removing to cool completely.

Peach Buttercream

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3-4 cups icing sugar, sifted
2 tsp Lavender-Lemon syrup or any other flavouring of choice (I’d go for lemon or vanilla)
1 large, very ripe peach

1) Cut the peach up into segments and crush with your hands. Strain the juice from the peach. Also, set aside some of the flesh and the pink skin.

2) In a bowl, beat the butter and 3 cups of icing sugar together. Add in the Lavender-Lemon syrup and 2 tbsp of the peach juice. Beat well. If icing is too soft, keep adding the icing sugar, 1/4 cup at a time until the desired consistency.

3) Mix in the peach flesh and skin. This will impart some colour and bite. Frost cupcakes.

To Assemble

Place a heaping tablespoon of the frosting on each cupcake. Swirl with a palette knife and top with extra peaches if desired.

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Blueberry Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting and Crumble

Many things amaze me but some things never fail to keep amazing me. Take the punnet of blueberries I bought for example. First berry; hmmm, sweet. Second berry; wow, they are sweet. Third berry; omg, STILL SWEET! And so it goes on, until I decide that this is quite mind boggling seeing that I’ve visited a few countries and have never had a whole punnet of sweet, non-pucker-face-inducing berries before. I am in awe. Is it just me?

And then there are blackberries, raspberries… it’s almost weird having non-sour berries.In a good way though, obviously.

The last few days in NY have been sweltering, the kind of heat that makes you want to eat fro-yo for dinner and call it a day with some ice-cold water. Who knew I’d rekindle my love for air-conditioning only after a week of complaining that the weather was too cold and wet. Now, all I want to do is beg the folks at Starbucks to let me be the night security guard in exchange for air-conditioning. Think they’ll buy it? Just the other day I paid $16 bucks to spend a much needed 2 hours wandering the National History Museum, to look at the exhibits (and bask in their glorious air-conditioned climate). So much for natural history.

Another good excuse to crank on the AC; baking. Blueberry cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and crumble topping. I’m sure my aunt would see it as a good exchange for me using her AC. Better still, she has one in the kitchen, so EAT THAT kitchen in Singapore which has no air-conditioner. Alright, less typing, more eating. Get with it! :)

Blueberry Cupcakes (makes 12)

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup pure cane sugar
1 cup gluten free oat flour (from Bob’s Red Mill)
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp white rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
1/2 cup rice milk (or any other milk you prefer)
3/4 cup fresh blueberries, rinsed and dried on paper towels

1) Preheat oven to 170°C. Line a muffin tray with 12 paper liners.

2) Cream butter and sugar together. Mix the flours and baking powder together in a separate bowl.

3) Add the eggs in, one at a time, beating well to combine. Add in the flour and milk alternately and mix until completely homogeneous. Fold in the berries gently.

4) Divide batter evenly between the 12 cupcake liners. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean or with only a few crumbs. Let cool in tray for 10 minutes and remove from tray to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz cream cheese (240g)
3 oz butter (90g)
2 – 3 cups pure icing sugar
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1) In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together (I used a handheld mixer, arm power!)

2) Beat 2 cups of the icing sugar and the lemon juice. If you prefer a sweeter frosting, keep adding the icing sugar until you’re sugar happy. Let chill a little in the fridge before using.

Crumble

1/2 cup oat flour
1/4 cup white rice flour
2 tbsp tapioca flour
4-5 tbsp canola oil
1/3 cup pure cane sugar

1) Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl and add in the oil, one tablespoon at a time until you get a slightly wet but still crumbly mixture. Pour onto a tray lined with parchment. Bake in a 170°C oven for 12-15 minutes or until crunchy. Let cool before using.

To Assemble

1) Take one cool cupcake, top with a big tablespoon of cream cheese frosting, swirl with a palette knife and top with more berries and the crumble. Arrange on a plate and impress your guests’ socks off. :)

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Sour Cherry Cupcakes

In order to stop myself from eating a third cupcake, I am resorting to munching an apple along with a low fat hot chocolate drink. Pathetic I know.

You see, up until now, I am pretty sure I have never searched, researched and failed at a recipe so many times like I have at baking a gluten free vanilla cupcake. How everyone so gracefully succeeds at this basic cupcake is beyond me. Instead this is how the scene is. Quivering, worried, quite certain I’m about to fail…again.

I remember once, I was so desperate for a vanilla cupcake for my uncle’s 50th and all I had was batch after batch sadly finding home in the rubbish bin. Not ideal.And I might have some close to succeeding, but it felt more like me ‘settling’ rather than being overjoyed with finding the right one. So like finding the perfect boy, this was a mission not to be taken lightly. After yet another really crap attempt yesterday with Hummingbird Bakery’s vanilla cupcake recipe (which I should’ve guessed would’ve turned out wrong when it started to…split!), I woke up this morning armed with a mission. Magnolia Bakery vs Primrose Bakery. Two bakeries, one cupcake, one highly frantic baker.

Great.

It was a stupid test I thought, since I’ve actually baked from these two books and wasn’t successful thus far. But everyone’s favourite cupcake recipe couldn’t fail me…right? And I’ve been to Primrose…it was good…HOW BAD COULD IT BE?! (tension building, nerves going mad, and I was kinda hungry)

TURNED OUT SUPER ACTUALLY! :) Guess who won?

PRIMROSE!!!

Fluffy, super fluffy, none of that gummy business, and it grew up tall, rounded, really handsome and tanned. Perfect. (the cupcake, not the man)


Vanilla Cupcakes (adapted from Primrose Bakery)

110g unsalted butter, at room temperature
180g caster sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups minus 2 tbsp GF flour blend
1.5 tsp baking powder
120ml whole milk, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract

1) Preheat oven to 170°C. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with cupcake liners.

2) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

3) In another bowl, mix the flour and baking powder together. Add the flour into the egg mixture alternating with the milk and vanilla. Beat until mixed through and pour into the prepared tins.

4) Bake for 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Let cool in tin for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Sour Cherry Filling

1.5 cups frozen cherries, thawed
4 tbsp granulated sugar
2 heaping tsp cornstarch
3 tbsp water

1) In a medium saucepan, add the cherries and the sugar and simmer for 3-4 minutes.

2) Mix the cornstarch and the water into a slurry and slowly add it into the cherry mixture, swirling as you go. It will thicken up almost immediately into a jammy consistency. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Vanilla Buttercream

110g unsalted butter, at room temperature
2-4 tbsp milk, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
400-500g icing sugar, sifted

1) In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and 400g of the icing sugar on low until mixed through.

2) Add in 2 tbsp of milk and the vanilla. Mix to combine. If frosting is too liquid, add in the remaining icing sugar. If it’s too stiff, add in the remaining milk, 1 tbsp at a time.

3) Use immediately or keep in an airtight container in the fridge. To use, bring to room temperature.

To Assemble

1) Cut out a ‘cone’ shape from each of the cupcakes. Fill the hole with 3 cherries. Cover the ‘lid’ back on.

2) Pipe a swirl of buttercream over the cupcake and allow to set slightly before topping each cupcake with 1-2 cherries.

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Peanut Butter, Jelly and Chocolate Cupcakes

Easter’s coming, I think I should have a party. Then I have every reason to have rabbits, eggs and confetti all on one table; and no one can say anything.

And I’d bake, make a mess and have frosting on my elbows. And everyone knows you can’t lick your elbows no matter how much you twist yourself. Unless you have funny bones, then I suppose the rule doesn’t apple to you.

I think I’ll have an elbow licking competition. We’d all lose and no one could gloat about it. To comfort the sore prides that will be so badly wounded I’d feed my guests peanut butter and jelly cupcakes with chocolate drizzled over for good measure. The only problem is, my sister comes home this evening and jetlag is bound to kick in at around 4am. Don’t say I told you this but guess who likes a sweet snack at an ungodly hour?

I remember the first time she came home from boarding school. I heard a sound or two and roused from my deep slumber only to find her walking towards the door and closing it behind her. Odd. So I followed and found her rummaging through the fridge for something. So we sat at the table with ice cream, cookies, crackers and gummies and ate until she felt slightly sleepy. Giggled all the way upstairs at the crazy stunt we just pulled and fell back to sleep. And it’s been a tradition since then. My mom and my older sister know, but they don’t join in. Just us mad people here.

Peanut Butter, Jelly and Chocolate Cupcakes (makes 12)

Vanilla Cupcake (based on a traditional hot milk cake recipe)

2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup and 2 tbsp GF flour blend
1  1/8 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup and 2 tbsp milk
70g butter
1 tsp vanilla

1) Preheat oven to 170°C. Line 12 muffin holes with paper liners.

2) In a stand mixer, whisk the eggs and sugar until thick, fluffy and triple in volume.

3) Mix the flour and baking powder in a separate bowl.

4) In a medium saucepan, heat the milk and butter together until butter melts and milk starts to bubble slightly. Remove from heat. DO NOT ALLOW TO COOL.

5) Add the flour into the fluffy eggs and whisk until completely combined. Slow pour in the milk mixture with all the time with the whisk still on, but speed down to low.

6) Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. The cupcakes will shrink and sink slightly as they cool. Frost!

Peanut Butter Frosting

1/2 cup peanut butter (I used chunky)
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
40g butter, softened
2 tbsp heavy cream

1) In a bowl of a stand mixer, mix the peanut butter and butter together until smooth. Add in 3/4 cup of icing sugar and mix to combine. Blend in the heavy cream and beat on high until fluffy. If mixture if too soft, add in the remaining icing sugar. Use immediately or refrigerate.

To Assemble

1/3 cup jam (I used a sour cherry jam)
1/3 cup chocolate chips, melted and cooled slightly

1) Spread each cupcakes  with about 2 tbsp of frosting, be sure to fill in the sunken cavity. Top each cupcake with 1/2 tsp of jam and drizzle the melted chocolate over. Easy peasy lemon squeasy!

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