The world of baking and food through the eyes of an American in London

Posts made in July, 2011

Harry Potter Butterbeer Cupcakes

Posted by on Jul 29, 2011 in Cupcakes | 11 comments

Harry Potter Butterbeer Cupcakes


Everyone on the planet has already made Harry Potter cupcakes in the few weeks before the last movie opened. I had these “butterbeer” cupcakes bookmarked when part one of the last movie was released but only got around to making them now!

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Lemon & Strawberry Fraisier

Posted by on Jul 27, 2011 in Cake, Fruit | 10 comments

Strawberry & Lemon Fraiser
Jana of Cherry Tea Cakes was our July Daring Bakers’ host and she challenges us to make Fresh Frasiers inspired by recipes written by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson in the beautiful cookbook Tartine.
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M&M Sugar Cookies

Posted by on Jul 25, 2011 in Cookies | 8 comments

M&M Sugar Cookies

Sugar cookies have never been on the top of my list when it comes to cookies but these definitely aren’t the kind that come around at Christmas and Easter in funny shapes.

M&M Sugar Cookies
These cookies are soft, buttery, melt in your mouth goodness. It also gave me a chance to use my precious mini M&M’s. Now that M&M world has opened up in London I can finally buy all the colors I want to make personalized or holiday cookies!
M&M Sugar Cookies

This is another recipe from Milk & Cookies. There’s not many photographs in the book but all the recipes have been fabulous.I halved the recipe this time since the full recipe made 4 dozen last time.
Sugar M&M Cookies
adapted from Milk & Cookies (makes 2 dozen)
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
6 ounces/170g unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup + 1/8 cup/124g caster sugar
1 egg yolk at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbs milk
1 cup M&M’s or mini M&M’s
1/4 cup sugar (for rolling)
1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 F/180 C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or use a non stick tray). In a small bowl combine the flour, salt, baking soda and cream of tartar.
M&M Sugar Cookies
2. In a large bowl cream the butter for a few minutes until creamy. Slowly add the sugar and beat for 2 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and beat until combined.
3. Add half of the flour and the milk until well blended. Add the rest of the flour but only slightly blend it.
M&M Sugar Cookies
4. Pour the M&M’s into the half blended mixture. 
M&M Sugar Cookies
5. Lightly flour a surface and gently knead together the rest of the flour and M&M’s. Don’t knead too much. 
M&M Sugar Cookies
6. Using a cookie scoop make a ball of dough and roll it in your hands to make it smooth.
M&M Sugar Cookies
7. Flatten it gently with your hand to make a puck.
M&M Sugar Cookies
8. Pour the 1/4 cup of sugar on a plate and roll the puck so it’s covered in sugar. 
M&M Sugar Cookies
9. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Place each puck 2 inches apart on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes until the edges are slightly brown. Leave for a few minutes before moving to a cooling rack.

They taste excellent straight from the oven!

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Strawberry & Basil Chiffon Cupcakes

Posted by on Jul 23, 2011 in Cupcakes, Fruit | 12 comments

Strawberry Basil Chiffon Cupcakes
If you read my blog often enough you’ll know I like to experiment with different flavor combinations. It’s very rare for me to make plain vanilla or chocolate cake. These cupcakes don’t have any butter but they’re lovely and spring like.
Strawberry Basil Chiffon Cupcakes
I made Lemon & Basil Chiffon cupcakes and topped them with Strawberry seven minute frosting. The basil flavor really comes through and tastes great. The lemon got a little lost but I think adding a tad more lemon juice or a drop of lemon extract will take care of this. 
Strawberry Basil Chiffon Cupcakes

I added a few tablespoons of strawberry jam to the frosting. I also added some strawberry flavor but this was a mistake and made it taste a too artificial. Stick to the jam or a natural strawberry extract if you can find one. 
Strawberry Basil Chiffon Cupcakes

These would also taste great with a lemon cream cheese frosting or if the cake was filled with lemon curd or strawberry jam. I got the cute wrappers from Paperchase a few months ago.

Lemon and Basil Cupcakes with Strawberry 7 Minute Frosting
adapted from Alton Brown via Life of a Cupcake and Martha Stewart (makes 18 cupcakes)


150g self raising flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
5 eggs, separated
170g sugar
1 cup water
1 bunch fresh basil
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Juice and zest of 1 lemon (plus extra lemon juice or natural lemon extract)
pinch cream of tartar

Strawberry 7 Minute Frosting
6 egg whites
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tbs sugar
2 tbs light corn syrup
4 tbs strawberry jam or natural strawberry extract
Pink food coloring (optional)

Strawberry Basil Chiffon Cupcakes 

1. Preheat oven to 325 F/160 F. Line cupcake tray with paper liners. In a small saucepan boil the 1 cup water with 5 or 6 basil leaves for a few minutes. Set aside to cool.

Strawberry Basil Chiffon Cupcakes

2. Finely chop about 5 basil leaves. I threw mine in my food processor. Set aside.

3. In a small bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

4. In a large bowl beat together the egg yolks and 142 grams of the sugar for 2 minutes until pale yellow.

5. Once the water with the basil leaves has cooled remove the leaves and pour 1/4 cup of the water into the egg yolk mixture.

6. Add the vegetable oil, chopped basil and lemon juice and zest to the egg yolk mixture and beat until combined.

Strawberry Basil Chiffon Cupcakes

7. Add the flour mixture to the egg yolk mixture and whisk by hand to combine.

8. Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in a glass bowl and whisk on high speed. Once it starts to become foamy. Slowly pour in the remaining 8 grams of sugar. Continue whisking until stiff peaks form.

Strawberry Basil Chiffon Cupcakes
9. Add one third of the egg whites to the batter and whisk until combined. Add the rest of the egg whiles and fold gently. Fill each case 2/3 full and bake for 30 minutes. Place a cooling rack.

Strawberry Basil Chiffon Cupcakes
10. Make the frosting. In a large glass bowl beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Slowly adding in 2 tablespoons of sugar when it starts to get foamy. (I only have a small glass bowl so transferred to a large plastic bowl after).
Strawberry Basil Chiffon Cupcakes
11. In a small saucepan combine together the water, sugar and corn syrup and heat until a candy thermometer reads 230 F/110 C.

Strawberry Basil Chiffon Cupcakes

12. Slowly pour the syrup into the egg whites and beat on medium high speed until the bottom of the bowl is no longer warm, about 7 minutes. Stir in the strawberry jam or extract and food coloring if desired.

13. Once the cupcakes are completely cool frost with the 7 Minute Frosting. Make sure to store these cupcakes tightly in a container. As there is no butter they will go stale more quickly.

This may seem like an odd flavor combo but lemon, basil and strawberry really go well together!

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Truvia Voyage of Discovery

Posted by on Jul 21, 2011 in Other | 9 comments

Today I went to the unveiling of the Truvia Voyage of Discovery on the rooftop of one of London’s most famous department stores, Selfridges.

My voyage began in the funky book covered lift to the roof!
I was promptly lead down a long dark hallway where I was asked if I was ready for some adventure. I was given two “crystals” which acted as my drink tokens for the afternoon. Yes, I was ready!
What to choose?
Iced Coffee Cocktail courtesy of The Experimental Cocktail Club
Shame it was so gray out the view from the roof was great
There is the boating lake! Green water to match the Stevia plant
The boat that took me on my voyage and it’s cricket bat like paddle. The umbrella is for going under the waterfall!
A nice looking man meets me halfway across the lake to give me a strawberry rolled in Truvia

A forest of Stevia plants as I go under the waterfall and around the bend in the lake. Truvia is derived from this plant. It’s a natural low calorie sweetener.

And a nice lady hands me another drink!
After my voyage I had a hot tea from The Rare Tea Company. It was served in a hollowed out gourd with a metal straw that filtered out any leftover pieces of gourd.
 A Raspberry & Whiskey Jelly. I don’t like whiskey but this was amazing!

A Blackberry & Champagne Jelly
One more beverage. I had a regular coffee made by Caravan Coffee
 I was given a sample jar of Truvia.

I whipped up a Truvia Lemon Drop when I got home from the booklet of cocktails that was in my goody bag
Truvia Lemon Drop
14g Truvia
90ml lemon juice
120ml vodka
Simply pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with some ice. Pour into a chilled glass and enjoy!
Bompas & Parr teamed up with Truvia to put on this event, which runs until Sunday. I must say that this was a brilliant PR idea and collaboration. All of the tickets are sold out but those that managed to snag some will not be disappointed!
I spend a lot of time in Selfridges food hall and I really enjoyed being on top of the roof for a change! I believe that Truvia will be on sale at Selfridges in the coming months. 
Thanks to Truvia for my ticket
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