July 1, 2010

Double Chocolate Hazelnut Brownies

It is so nice to be baking again. Not for a birthday, event, a request or commission. Just for myself to share with others.

I am quite proud of these brownies as they are the first recipe that I have had the guts to tamper with. Changing recipes for baked goods and puddings is like playing with fire. It is such an exact science. The smallest change in quantities or flavour can have a detrimental effect on the final outcome. I am extremely happy to announce that on this occasion my tampering  lead to a huge success!

What was also delightful about these little brownies was the good weather we were graced with on the day I went to photograph them. I took them to my family home in Edinburgh during a mini heat wave. It was blue skies and sunshine all round!  It is unbelievable how much easier it is to photograph food when you are outside in the sunshine. I now understand how all my fellow food bloggers who live in sunnier climes are able to achieve such outstanding results. Get the sun on your side and everything just works. It is effortless.

Above all what was such a fitting end to this baking event was that I got to dish ‘em out to my sister Rosie and her pals, Carmel and Jamie.  (Carmel is a dedicated follower of the blog and I love her for it!  I hope she is pleased as punch to be on here. Rosie has been an absolute hero this year. I couldn’t have graduated with out her!) I served the brownies up along side the loaf posted below. That combined with a healthy amount of Pimms and lemonade, chilling in the garden, and superb banter on a warm evening, made for a delightful trip to the Burg!

June 29, 2010

Pistachio, Sultana & Lemon Drizzle Loaf

My life for the last few weeks went something along the lines of this…Coursework finished, degree show built, degree done, city night, friends and family night, product design dinner, graduated, family dinner, degree show taken down, moved house, saw family, saw extended South African family, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Hospital, Glasgow, Sleep. To say it has been hectic would be an understatement! But with that little lot out-of-the-way I have FINALLY been able to get back to baking and blogging!

This little nutty summer loaf is perfect for wrapping up in brown paper and taking with you to the park for a spontaneous picnic. Crack open the lemonade and tuck in!

You will need:

150g self-raising flour, sifted

2 eggs, beaten

100g  unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes

150g  golden caster sugar

2 tbsp milk

2 lemons, finely grated zest of 1 and juice of both

50g sultanas

75g pistachios, roughly chopped

75g granulated sugar

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4. Grease a 900g loaf tin and line with baking parchment. (I had no idea how big a loaf tin that was, go with large and you will be fine). Beat the butter and caster sugar together until very pale and fluffy.

2. Mix in the eggs and flour. Add the milk and stir in the lemon zest, sultanas and 65g pistachios. Spoon into the tin; bake for 30–35 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.

3. Meanwhile, warm the lemon juice and granulated sugar in a pan until the sugar has melted, then set aside

4. When the cake is cooked and still hot, keep it in its tin and prick all over with a skewer, then pour over the lemon mixture. Allow to cool, remove from the tin and scatter with the remaining 10g chopped pistachios.

June 28, 2010

PD Plus 2010 – Glasgow School of Art Degree Show.

The degree show. The culmination of four long years studying of product design at Glasgow School of Art. An art school wide exhibition showcasing talent from across architecture, design and fine art courses. Product design  built our exhibition from scratch.  We scrimped, saved, fund-raised and blagged materials from all around Glasgow. Well… the exhibition just wouldn’t be complete unless there was cake!

For City night and friends and family night, I put on a spread of over 200 cupcakes, laid out printed recipe cards and had the blog (in all it’s glory) on display. It was a little bit of shameless plugging for my confection obsession, but I felt that zoemakescakes had to be included as it was such an integral part of my year and has indeed become such an important part of my life!

Obviously it wasn’t all about the cake. The design work of all my class mates and myself was laid bare for all to see. It was only up for a week but if you missed it you can have a look here on the pd plus website.


May 6, 2010


Cat Cake

Last week I was asked to make a cake. All it had to include was a ginger cat and that was that. No particular type, flavour or icing just a ginger kitty. The little guy above was the result. He is atop a two tier chocolate cake made with Green and Blacks cooks chocolate. Insider tip – G&B’s makes anything chocolatey taste a hundred times better.

I was so worried about this cake. It was the first cake I have made that wasn’t just for my friends or family. It was sent out to a birthday party that was held for a friend of a friend of a friend. It actually mattered what it tasted like and it had to turn out perfect. Speak to my flatmate, I was stressing! Thankfully, or, so I hear, it was delicious. What a relief!



May 6, 2010

Buttercream Queen

I have had a request for my traditional buttercream icing recipe as used on the above cupcake. Being the lovely person that I am, here is an entire post dedicated to it. I am aware that it does include an insane amount of icing sugar, but don’t be put off! It is extremely versatile as you can colour and flavour it until your little heart’s content. This recipe ices 12-15 large cupcakes, 60 mini cupcakes or a large sponge cake. Quality is the key to this recipe so don’t cheap out on the ingredients.

You will need:

110g unsalted butter, at room temperature

60ml semi-skimmed milk, at room temperature

1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract

500g of icing sugar, sifted

Few drops of food colouring (optional)

Method:

In a large mixing bowl beat the butter, milk, vanilla extract and half the icing sugar until smooth. Use an electric hand mixer to make life so much easier. Gradually add the remainder of the icing sugar and beat again until the buttercream is smooth and creamy.

If you want to colour your buttercream, always start with one drop of food colouring and beat thoroughly. This will be all you need to achieve a very pale pastel hue. Add carefully drop by drop, and beat after each addition to build up your desired shade. Feel free to swap vanilla for any other flavour of essence. A teaspoonful will be enough to provide great flavour.

May 6, 2010


Car boot and bake sale bonanza!

The last two weekends have been filled with mad day long baking sessions all in aid of fundraising for the Product Design degree show aka PDplus. To mark the end of our degree every department in the Art School exhibits their work during a week long exhibition between the 11th until the 18th of June. It is a chance for professionals to come round see how good we all are and snap us up to work for their companies – well, that’s the intention anyway! It is also a chance for our mum, dads, friends and family to see what we have been up to for the last four years. In Product Design we have to build the exhibition space from scratch so we are desperately trying to raise as much dinero as we can to pay for construction materials (timber, paint printing) basically everything we need to put a darn good show together.

The Happy Sellers

Being the baking fiend that I am, the first fundraising task that was set to me was to organise a bake sale. In total three of us spent 10 hours baking chocolate and vanilla cupcakes, banana loaf, Victoria sponge, cut out cookies, marshmallow top hats and rice crispy cakes! I couldn’t have done it without the help of Kirsty Sinclair (who’s kitchen was invaded) and Jen Stewart who I wouldn’t allow to go home until the last cake was iced at 11pm! We rocked up at the Glasgow University library and flogged our wares to stressed out pre and post exam students until the hospitality staff moved us on (apparently we were a threat to their business! The jokers!). If you didn’t catch us out side the library you missed out. Rachel Kerr and Megan Lambie were out and about around campus with cake-laden trays, while Christina Kinnear manned the stall with Kirsty and I. We even hit the art school in the afternoon to sell the remaining baked goods. Made a tidy £120 off the sale. Thank you to everybody who bought cake for a good cause!


mmm marshmallows!

Next on the fundraising agenda was the car boot sale. Keira Anderson and I were up at 6am on a Sunday (probably the earliest we have seen Glasgow with out being under the influence) and headed down to Royston to flog a carload of old tat.  Seeing as the cakes were such a hit at the bake sale I decided to take them to the boot sale as well. They were originally going to be a back up just in case we didn’t sell anything. But it turns out that people will truly by anything if it’s going cheap enough. The great Glasgow public were on form…mouthy and tight as ever! So it was a case of ‘know your market’ and the cakes went for the super cheap price of 50p each. I don’t know how many times I heard someone say “are they real?” or “Naww you never made them” but none the less we sold all 70 of the cupcakes much to my surprise. We also managed to shift over half of the stuff we took to the boot sale and, as all of it was donations from various people at the art school, we made 100% profit on everything we sold! Blooming hard work but worth it!

Our humble stall!

Nothing like selling cake off garden furniture!

A little footnote to the ladies mentioned in this blog. If you are not happy with the links I attached to your names please let me know. Bake Sale photography taken by Christina Kinnear.

April 16, 2010

Cupcakes for Christina

Of late my friends and I have been rather spoiled for baked goods. During the last two big birthday nights they have accompanied us to each celebration. Last week an amazing key lime pie made it out to the pub. I didn’t make it but my friend Kirsty did and it was sublime! (no pun intended).This week this little cupcake and his friends ventured to a cocktail bar. I baked them for my friend Christina. If you know Christina then you will be thinking that they were probably a wee bit too cutesy for her. Some sort of black (being the predominant colour of her wardrobe) design would have been more fitting. But you can’t put black on a cupcake it looks horrendous! So I went for Christina’s personal alternative to black and decorated them in pink. The hearts are hand made from royal icing and hundreds and thousands, the pink is buttercream flavoured with vanilla. This is my favourite cupcake recipe that hasn’t failed me yet (touch wood). It is super easy and very tasty -even the barman enjoyed one!

You will need:

110g unsalted butter, softened
225g golden caster sugar
2 large eggs
150g self raising flour
125g plain flour
120ml milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

1. Heat the oven to gas mark 4 and line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases.

2.In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and the sugar until well smooth.

3. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing into the mixture between additions.

4. Sift the flours into a separate, smaller, bowl.

5. Measure out the milk in a jug and then add the vanilla to this.

6. Add 1/3 of the flour to the large bowl.  Beat well until combined.

7. Add 1/3 of the milk and beat again.

8.Add another 1/3 of the flour, then another 1/3 of the milk, then the last of the flour and then the last of the milk, beating well between additions.

9. Spoon the mixture into the paper cases.  Fill about 2/3 full.

10. Bake for about 25 mins until golden brown and a skewer inserted comes out clean.

11. Remove from the oven and leave to cool inthe tin for 5-10 minutes.

12. Then turn out to cool completely on a wire rack.

13. Decorate as you choose.

Makes 12 large cupcakes.

April 11, 2010

Miss Dahl’s Victoria Sponge

The Glasgow sunshine that shone so beautifully today heralded the start of this years picnicking in the park. And what no better way to kick it off than with a raspberry and orange victoria sponge cake. I can’t lay claim to this recipe as it belongs to the rather fabulous Miss Sophie Dahl (or should I say Mrs Cullum?). Aired as part of her cookery programme Miss Dahl’s Delights. I couldn’t resist the fruity charm of this fancy. The thick orangey sponge layers are topped with thick butter cream then sandwiched with homemade raspberry jam that oozes out everywhere. Whilst the masses flocked to Kelvingrove park with their BBQs and cheeky bevs I rocked up with my cake…

Follow this link for the recipe. www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/database/orangeandraspberryvi_93622.shtml

Before you judge, no I didn’t eat it all by myself I shared it with my sister.

April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

I hope you all had a lovely day filled with roast dinners and plenty of chocolate!

March 31, 2010

Pimp My Shortbread

It’s the start of British summer time! Woopah! The clocks went forward on Sunday which should signal spring sunshine, lambs bouncing about the fields, daffodils shooting up everywhere and Easter (the perfect combo of chocolate, baby chickens and roast dinners). However… what did we get in Scotland?! A flipping met office weather warning and snowstorms!!

I wouldn’t normally be so cross about this because I truly LOVE snow. It’s just that Glasgow didn’t get any! It simply reverted back to its old soggy ways. Not to be too crude about it but at the moment it resembles a big wet piss! All this weather loathing inevitably prompted a comfort food bake sesh. Caramel Short Bread seemed the perfect fit for such a horrible cold rainy day as yesterday. On such days, I find all you want to do is get into a warm bed with a large mug of tea, some sort of baked goodness, your favourite novel and hide from the horrible weather outside.

Please read this recipe carefully! If (like me) you put all the butter in with the flour you will end up with the pimp-my-shortbread look achieved here. Tasty but difficult to fit in your mouth!

Ingredients

100g plain flour
150g lightly salted butter, cut into pieces
90g caster sugar
250g condensed milk
2tbsp golden syrup
100g Plain Chocolate

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4. Grease a large loaf tin (with a base measurement of about 20 x 10cm). Line the base and long sides with a strip of baking parchment. Put the flour and 75g of the butter in a food processor and blend until the mixture starts to resemble breadcrumbs. Add 40g of the caster sugar and blend to form a crumbly paste that starts to bind together. (Alternatively, rub the butter into the flour in a bowl and then mix in the sugar.)

2. Tip the mixture into the tin and use your fingers to press into an even, compact layer. Bake for 20-25 minutes until pale golden around the edges. Leave to cool in the tin.

3. Put the condensed milk, remaining butter, sugar and the syrup in a small, heavy-based saucepan and heat gently, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and simmer, stirring vigorously, for about 8-10 minutes, until the caramel has darkened to a fudge-like colour. Tip out of the pan over the shortbread base and smooth in an even layer. Leave to cool.

4. Break the chocolate into a heatproof bowl and melt, either in the microwave or over a pan of gently simmering water. Lift the caramel shortbread out onto a board and peel away the paper. Place on a wire rack and spoon the melted chocolate over the top. Leave to set, then cut into 16 triangles.

Makes 16

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