Sunday 24 March 2013

Easter Nest and Mini Egg Vanilla Cupcakes

A few weeks ago I saw the cutest picture on Pinterest, it was a cupcake with a gorgeous little frosted nest and mini eggs in the center, the perfect treat for Easter! I knew I HAD to try and create it, so I got my eBay on and ordered my Wilton grass/hair 233 piping nozzle. I had a very trusty co-Chefette in the form of Lisa and we baked these little babies for a work "Bake Off". Again, I used my favourite vanilla cupcake recipe from Rosie at Sweetapolita, so all recipe credits to her magical baking talents for these little babies!

 Classic Vanilla Cupcakes

(Recipe Credit: )

275grams or 2 ½ cups cake flour


100 grams corn flour
175 grams plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup full cream milk
2 large egg whites
1 whole egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
300grams caster sugar
115 grams butter

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and center the oven rack. Line 2 muffin/cupcake pans with your favourite standard-size cupcake liner, and put the first cupcake pan on a baking sheet. (You will place the second cupcake pan on the same sheet in the oven once the first tray is baked.)

2. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a medium-sized bowl. Whisk together the milk, eggs and vanilla extract in a medium bowl or large glass measuring cup.

3. In an electric mixer fitted with the whisk or paddle attachment (I used the whisk), cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until very pale and creamy, about 5 minutes.

4. With the mixer still on medium speed, alternate additions of the flour mixture and milk-egg mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture (3 dry additions, 2 wet), beating after each addition until incorporated. Continue mixing on medium speed for 2 minutes.

5. Divide batter evenly among your cupcake liners–about 2/3 full–and bake until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs only, about 16 minutes.

6. Carefully remove the cupcakes from the pan and let cool on wire racks. Repeat with second tray.

White Chocolate Frosting

227 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
175 grams white chocolate
½ vanilla bean, seeded and scraped
Pinch of salt
375 grams sifted icing sugar

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 3-4 minutes on medium speed (I use “4″ on my KitchenAid). Butter will become very pale & creamy.

2. Melt chocolate in microwave in a small heatproof bowl, or over a pot of simmering water on the stovetop, stirring often. Let cool.

3. Add melted chocolate to butter and beat until incorporated. Add vanilla bean and salt and mix on medium speed for 1 minute. Add sifted icing sugar, beating on low speed until just combined, increasing to medium speed until well combined. (I added some pink food colouring to mine and piped the frosting on top using the Wilton rose attachment)

(I added dark chocolate to a portion of the frosting to make the nest, and green food colouring to the rest to make the base)

Monday 18 March 2013

Italian Layered Continental Cake

If you're Italian or if you've been brought up around Italians, this kind of cake should be very familiar to you. To be honest, I actually hated this cake growing up, but it was one I had to cross off the list and make for myself, well it was actually for my Nonna. It was really yummy, moist and light and had the perfect balance of flavours. It's sponge, crema di pasticceria, vermouth, frosting, almonds, chocolate and strawberries, LOADS of yummy flavours going on. There are three main components to this cake and I highly recommend making the Crema di Pasticceria first, this wasn't a quick cake by any means, but it was a labor of love, and the whole family enjoyed it! Happy Baking!

Crema di Pasticceria

1/3 cup cornflour
1/3 cup of custard powder
1/4 cup caster sugar
2 cups milk
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or essence
300ml cream
1 egg yolk (beaten)
2 tbls of liquor (only if you like)

(150g of mixed dark/milk cooking chocolate for half the mixture to be chocolate flavoured)

1. Sift cornflour, custard powder, and caster sugar into a pot and stir to combine.

2. Gradually add milk and whisk until smooth and free from lumps.

3. Add vanilla bean and cream and continue whisking until combined.

4. Turn heat on. Whisk over a low heat until mixture begins to thicken and simmer.

5. Remove pot from heat and allow to cool slightly before adding the beaten egg yolk. Mix well.

6. Separate mixture evenly into two bowls.

7. Pour in melted chocolate into one of the bowls to make a chocolate version of the crema di pasticceria.

8. Cover bowls with cling film and refrigerate either over night or for several hours. Don't worry if mixture is slightly lumpy at this point.

9. Remove from fridge and place mixture into an electric mixing bowl and beat for a few minutes. This will remove any lumps from the cream and will make the mixture smooth and easy to pipe.

Chiffon Sponge Cake

1 ½ cups plain flour
½ cup corn flour
1 ½ cups caster sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ cup vegetable oil
7 eggs separated
¾ cup cold water
2 ½ teaspoons vanilla bean paste
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1. Preheat oven to 165°C, and grease and line your cake tin/s with baking paper.

2. Sift flour, sugar and baking powder into a large mixing bowl and make a well.

3. Add oil, egg yolks, water and vanilla to the well, fold mixture until smooth. Set aside.

4. In an electric mixer beat egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff.

5. Gradually add egg white mixture, to the other ingredients, carefully folding in with a spatula. (It is crucial to fold rather than mix to ensure the air is left in the cake batter.)

6. Pour mixture into cake tin/s and bake until a skewer comes back clean or when cake springs back. 

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

250 grams unsalted butter (room temperature)
120 grams caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste / vanilla extract
2 egg whites

1. Add caster sugar and egg whites to a heatproof bowl over simmering water.
2. Whisk until sugar has dissolved into the egg and the mixture has been warmed to an approximate temperature of 60C or 140F.
3. Transfer mixture to electric mixing bowl and fit with the whisk attachment and beat for around 3-4 minutes. The mixture should be bright white in colour and quite stiff.
4. Ensure the bowl has cooled down enough before proceeding. Divide the butter into 8 small blocks and ensure mixer is on medium speed.
5. Gradually add the butter, one block at a time, ensure each block has been thoroughly mixed through before adding the next.
6. NOTE, mixture will begin to look curdled and that is completely normal by around block number 5 of butter.
7. Once all the butter has been included, add the vanilla (or desired flavouring) and leave to mix for 4-6 minutes. The buttercream will gradually go from curdled and chunky, to glossy and smooth, just keep mixing!
8. Once complete add desired colourings and flavour.
9. SMB is a great frosting to pipe with and smooth and I used it in between the layers of the cake for a subtle creamy flavour.
(Please note SMB is best served at room temperature and not refrigerated)


Start by putting the first sponge down and generously brush or sprinkle the cake with vermouth. Layer with crema, then repeat with the rest of the cake and the crema. Then coat the cake in Swiss Meringue Buttercream and decorate as desired. As you can see I made some dark chocolate fans simply by sprinkling melted chocolate over some baking paper and leaving to set and I also used flaked almonds and strawberries to accentuate. 

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