October

How thou hast deceiveth me with sunbeam
Smiles and a golden moment of youth
When thou shalt in turn strip bare of this dream
This whimsical facade masking a truth
So grey in grace as in crippling tears
Of thunder queens by kings’ charcoal clouds choked
Thy blustering temper invokes a fear
Whence darker days soon will smother with smoked
Quilts frenzied urbanscapes of trembling souls
None sweeter than mulch does your name to my
Taste buds delight, whilst pond’ring upon foul
Omens summoned to cast the world awry
O when will spring bound rejuvenation
Reap its distant blessing of salvation

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Gluten-Free Chocolate Orange Cupcakes


Ingredients (makes 11)

For the orange cupcakes

215g gluten-free plain flour • 133g caster sugar • 1.5tsp gluten-free baking powder • 1 pinch salt • 62.5g butter • 190ml orange juice • 62.5ml vegetable oil • 1/2tsp orange essence • 1 egg • 3 drops yellow food gel • 2 drops red food gel

For the orange frosting

150g butter • 300g icing sugar • 2tbsp orange juice • 2 drops orange essence • 2 drops yellow food gel • 1 drop red food gel •

To decorate

11tsp chocolate fudge ganache • 55 chocolate chips • 11 modelling chocolate hearts (plus gold edible dust)

To make the orange cupcakes…

  • Pre-heat the oven to 160ºC and line a baking tray with cupcake cases
  • Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl
  • Add the wet ingredients and mix well with a hand mixer
  • Use an ice cream scoop to transfer 2 scoops of the batter into each cupcake case
  • Bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes, then leave to cool whilst you prepare the frosting

To make the frosting…

  • Whisk the butter with a hand mixer for 5 minutes
  • Add the icing sugar in quarters and whisk until smooth
  • Add the orange essence, orange juice and food gels

To decorate…

  • Take use the tip of a wide round piping nozzle to take the core out of each cupcake
  • Fill the centre of each cupcake with ready-made chocolate fudge ganache
  • Pipe a double swirl of orange frosting on each cupcake with a star tipped nozzle
  • Put 5 chocolate chips in the space inside the frosting swirl
  • Roll out the modelling chocolate, cut out 11 hearts and brush gold edible dust on the hearts using a stencil
  • Place the hearts on the cupcakes, forming a roof over the frosting and chocolate chips

Swiss Meringue Macarons

For the macaron cookies (recipe makes 20):

150g ground almonds

150g icing sugar

55g egg whites (1st portion)

150g caster sugar

55g egg whites (2nd portion)

3 drops yellow food gel

For the Swiss meringue filling:

50g egg whites

62.5g caster sugar

225g butter

1tsp vanilla extract

1 drop yellow food gel

Preparation tips

  • Buy a candy thermometer
  • Leave the egg whites in the fridge over night to liquidise and let them reach room temperature before using them
  • Take out the butter hours before use so it’s extra soft

To make the macaron cookies…

  • Combine the icing sugar and ground almonds in a food processor, adding only half of each ingredient at a time, then transfer to a large mixing bowl
  • Add the 1st portion of egg whites, mix well and set aside with cling film covering the bowl
  • Heat the sugar and water in a small saucepan on a medium-high heat, using a candy thermometer to keep track of the temperature
  • When the syrup reaches 115ºC, whisk the 2nd portion of egg whites in a stand mixer on a high speed
  • When the syrup reaches 118ºC, pour it over the egg whites very slowly as they continue to whisk
  • After 3 minutes more of whisking, add the yellow food gel, and whisk for another 3 minutes
  • Fold one spatula of the meringue into the almond mixture, then add the rest of the meringue and mix thoroughly (use the spatula to go around the bowl and through the mixture)
  • When the batter falls off the spatula in a ribbon and disappears into the mixture after 10 seconds, it’s ready to pipe
  • Put the mixture into a piping bag with a round tip and pipe small circles onto a tray covered with baking paper (leave ample space between each cookie)
  • Tap the tray on the work surface twice on each side to eliminate air bubbles
  • Leave the cookies to develop a skin for 30 minutes (you’ll know they’re ready when they’re dry to the touch)
  • Heat the oven to 160ºC and bake the macaron cookies for 10-12 minutes, then leave to cool

To make the Swiss meringue filling…

  • Whisk together the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl over simmering water until the syrup is warm and the sugar is completely dissolved
  • Transfer the syrup to a stand mixer and whisk for 10 minutes, gradually increasing the speed from low to medium-high
  • Add the softened butter in small chunks, followed by the vanilla essence and yellow food gel, then whisk for another 5 minutes
  • Use a star tipped piping nozzle to pipe a swirl on the underside of one macaron cookie, then place another cookie on top to make a sandwich

Gluten-Free S’mores Cupcakes

fullsizeoutput_3b4aThese sweet and sticky cupcakes bring me back to the summer, when I made my first real s’mores with friends on camp. We had a bonfire night in the forest, the stars above us as we danced around the flames in the gathering dark. It may be approaching winter now, but with this new recipe, you’ll be able to savour your sweet summer memories all year round. Unfortunately, we don’t have graham crackers in the UK, so I’ve substituted the classic ingredient with digestive biscuits (much to my American friends’ disgust).

Ingredients (makes 22 cupcakes)

For the cake batter:

300g butter

300g caster sugar

300g gluten-free self-raising flour

5 eggs

2tsp vanilla essence

To decorate:

250g butter

425g icing sugar

75g cocoa powder

100g dark chocolate chips

1 pack mini marshmallows

4 gluten free digestive biscuits

edible glitter (optional)

fullsizeoutput_3b4bMethod

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C and line 2 baking trays with cupcake cases
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl
  3. Add the eggs, flour and vanilla essence and mix well
  4. Put one and a half ice cream scoopfuls of batter into each cupcake case and put in the oven for 18-20 minutes
  5. To make the chocolate frosting, cream the butter, icing sugar and cocoa powder together until smooth and fluffy (add 2tbsp water to loosen if necessary)
  6. Once the cupcakes have cooled, pipe the frosting in a double layered ring on each cupcake using a star tipped piping nozzle
  7. Melt the dark chocolate chips in the microwave at 20 second intervals, mixing in between, until smooth
  8. Pipe the melted chocolate (using a small piping bag or ziplock bag) on top of the frosting ring, gently guiding it down the sides so that it drips
  9. Top the cupcakes with mini marshmallows and crushed biscuits (and edible glitter, of course)

Salted Caramel Cupcakes

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Ingredients (makes 17 cupcakes)

For the cupcakes 

  • 225g plain flour
  • 115g caster sugar
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 1tsp spice mix
  • 1tsp ginger
  • 50g honey
  • 115g golden syrup
  • 50ml cooking oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 80ml orange juice

To decorate

  • 250g Sugar and Crumbs salted caramel icing sugar
  • 50g regular icing sugar
  • 150g butter
  • 2tbsp milk
  • 1 pack Renshaw dark brown, chocolate flavoured fondant
  • gold edible dust
  • edible glitter

Special equipment needed

  • Fondant decorating stencils
  • Paintbrush
  • Scone cutter
  • Star piping nozzle
  • Palette knife

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Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170ºC and line a baking tray with cupcake cases
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, caster sugar and spices
  3. Add the honey, golden syrup, cooking oil and eggs
  4. In a small bowl, stir the bicarbonate of soda into the orange juice (it will fizz), then add this to the main batter and beat well
  5. Fill the cupcake cases with 2 ice cream scoops of batter and put in the oven for 20 minutes (until they look golden brown and feel springy on top)
  6. Let the cupcakes cool on a rack while you prepare the frosting
  7. For the frosting, cream the butter until fluffy and gradually sift in the icing sugars
  8. Add 2tbsp milk to make the frosting light and smooth, and cream the ingredients with an electric mixer for several minutes for the best results
  9. Pipe the frosting in a ring on top of each cupcake, dragging the piping nozzle inwards to complete the circle
  10. On a clean and dry surface dusted with icing sugar, roll out the fondant to the thickness of a £1 coin and use a scone cutter to cut out 1 disc for each cupcake
  11. Line up your discs and cover them with a stencil, pressing it firmly into place on the fondant
  12. Paint the gold edible dust onto the discs, being careful not to move the stencil out of position
  13. Carefully lift the stencil off the discs and use a palette knife to place one on the centre of each cupcake
  14. Sprinkle some edible glitter on top of the cupcakes for an extra sparkle!

Captain Of The Night

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Love the Words competition:

  • Download the opening paragraphs of Dylan Thomas’ “Under Milk Wood” (click here), print them out and cut up the words
  • Re-arrange the words to create your own poem in either English or Welsh
  • Take a photo and share your poem on Twitter, using the hashtags #DylanDay and #LovetheWords
  • The competition is open to anyone aged 7-25 from anywhere in the world, and it closes on 5th May 2017 (for more information, see The Poetry Library website)

Raspberry & White Chocolate Cupcakes

img_0286Delicate and delectable, these cupcakes have an exquisite balance of sweet vanilla, fragrant raspberries, and a white chocolate surprise that will melt in the mouth. These cupcakes are easy to make… but even easier to finish eating… 

 

Ingredients:

For the batter…

200g caster sugar

200g self-raising flour

200g butter

4 eggs

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 box of frozen raspberries

100g white chocolate chips

To decorate…

500g icing sugar

250g butter

1tsp vanilla essence

2 drops raspberry extract (optional)

1 handful freeze-dried raspberries

Method:fullsizeoutput_301c

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180°C
  • Cream the butter and caster sugar together
  • Mix the eggs and vanilla essence together before adding to the sugar and butter
  • Sift the flour into the batter and combine well
  • Add a couple of raspberries to the bottom of each cupcake case
  • Spoon in the cupcake batter until the cupcake cases are 2/3 full
  • Add a generous sprinkle of white chocolate chips on top of the batter before putting in the oven for 20 minutes (take out when they’re a light golden brown colour)
  • To prepare the frosting, cream the icing sugar and butter together with vanilla essence (you can also add a couple of drops of raspberry essence but this is optional)
  • When the cupcakes have cooled, pipe the frosting in a swirl and finish with a sprinkle of freeze-dried raspberries (and edible glitter!)

Marble Monogram Cookies

In need of some sugar and spice? Treat yo’self to these aromatic gingerbread-esque cookies. They’re quick and easy to make, and are great as homemade, personalised gifts this winter. Will you save these as late-night snacks with a cup of tea, or gift them to a friend with pumpkin spice withdrawal symptoms?

Ingredients (makes about 20 discs):IMG_0353.JPG

  • 175g plain flour (plus extra to roll)
  • 50g butter
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 85g light brown soft sugar
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup or honey
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 egg
  • 2 colours of fondant
  • icing sugar to roll
  • gold piping gel
  • glitter to decorate

Method:IMG_0352.JPG

  • Pre-heat oven to 180°C 
  • Combine all the dry ingredients (flour, ginger, cinnamon, bicarbonate of soda and sugar) in a large mixing bowl
  • Add the wet ingredients (golden syrup or honey, vanilla essence and egg) to the mixture and combine well
  • Soften the butter in the microwave and use your finger tips to rub the butter into the mixture as best as you can – you’re aiming for a squishy crumb-like consistency
  • Use your hands to gather the crumbs in the mixing bowl and pack together to form a dough
  • Dust a surface and rolling pin with flour, then roll the dough out to the thickness of a £1 coin
  • Use a round cutter to cut out discs of the dough and place on a lined baking tray
  • Bake for 10 minutes and check, but they’ll likely need an extra 2 minutes (they should be golden brown in colour and shouldn’t be rock hard – they’ll harden as they cool)
  • Warm up the fondant in your hands to soften it – use 2 shades of the same colour
  • Roll the two colours into sausage shapes and twist them together before rolling them out (on a surface lightly dusted with icing sugar) to create a marble effect
  • Use the same cutter to cut out discs of the marble fondant
  • Make a simple icing to glue the fondant discs to the cookie discs (add a drop of water to some icing sugar) when the cookies have cooled
  • Use gold piping gel to monogram your cookies – if you have a fine nib you can probably do 2 initials on each cookie, but I could only fit 1 letter on each
  • Dust your monogram cookies with glitter (obviously)