Friday, 23 May 2008

Magnolia's Vanilla Cupcakes

Elsa had been part of the Girl Scouts Movement ever since we first moved to Holland, nearly three years ago. As a girl scout mom, I found myself reluctantly roped into doing things like selling cookies, ferrying screaming girls to various outings, etc....

As the year comes to a close, the Girls Scout, as a tradition, will celebrate and acknowledge the various people who had throughout the year volunteered their time and sanity. And it is also the occasions where the girls will receives their badges for work done through the year.

For the after-the-ceremony snack, I decided to give those kids a sugar boost -- cuppies topped with sugar-encrusted buttercream.... I wonder what mischiefs I've created, giving those kids such high-octane dessert just before bedtime.........

Magnolia's Vanilla Cupcakes
Recipe courtesy Allysa Torey, More From Magnolia: Recipes from the World-Famous Bakery and Allysa Torey's Home Kitchen

1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/4 cups flour
8 oz butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180 C.

In a small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside.

In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth.

Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over beat.
Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

Vanilla Buttercream

8 oz butter, softened
6 to 8 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar. If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly. (Use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set if chilled.) Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Vanilla Sponge Cake

For the after show party, I decided to bake a cake to the casts and crews of Mulan, in appreciation for all their hard work and diligence for the past 3 months. Well done!! 

Vanilla Sponge Cake
Recipe by Delia Smith
6 oz self-raising flour
1 rounded teaspoon baking powder
3 large eggs at room temperature
6 oz very soft butter
6 oz golden caster sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Pre-heat the oven to 170°C.

Take a very large mixing bowl, put the flour and baking powder in a sieve and sift it into the bowl, holding the sieve high to give it a good airing as it goes down.

Now all you do is simply add all the other cake ingredients to the bowl and, provided the butter is really soft, just go in with an electric hand whisk and whisk everything together until you have a smooth, well-combined mixture, which will take about 1 minute. What you will now end up with is a mixture that drops off a spoon when you give it a tap on the side of the bowl. If it seems a little too stiff, add a little water and mix again.

Now divide the mixture between the 2 tins, level it out and place the tins on the centre shelf of the oven. The cakes will take 30-35 minutes to cook, but don't open the oven door until 30 minutes have elapsed. To test whether the cakes are cooked or not, touch the centre of each lightly with a finger: if it leaves no impression and the sponges spring back, they are ready.

Next, remove them from the oven, then wait about 5 minutes before turning them out on to a wire cooling rack. Carefully peel off the base papers. Now leave the sponges to get completely cold, then add the filling.

For the filling, I'm using fresh strawberries cooked in some sugar until softened.

Wilton's Buttercream Icing

1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon Clear Vanilla Extract
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (approx. 1 lb.)
2 tablespoons milk

In large bowl, cream shortening and butter with electric mixer. Add vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use. For best results, keep icing bowl in refrigerator when not in use. Refrigerated in an airtight container, this icing can be stored 2 weeks. Rewhip before using.

For thin (spreading) consistency icing, add 2 tablespoons light corn syrup, water or milk.

For Pure White Icing (stiff consistency), omit butter; substitute an additional 1/2 cup shortening for butter and 1/2 teaspoon No-Color Butter Flavor. Add up to 4 tablespoons light corn syrup, water or milk to thin for icing cakes.



Saturday, 17 May 2008