Monday, August 15, 2011

The addiction that is Biscotti making and why I can't handle it.

I recently posted an apology on my facebook to all my friends saying that I'm sorry for the last year when I became a complete flake or just ignored them, doing a masters and a full-time job isn't the easiest thing ever, and their are people that do all this while being a loving wife and mother, wtf? amazing! Anyway the point is that I think this blog deserves an apology also.
When I sat down to write new years resolutions this year there were actually two resolutions dedicated to this blog, including 'Update every week.'....................erm fail! Anyway the masters took more out of me than I expected and every other area of my life suffered, sorry. This last moonth of August is gonna be the worst because this is the countdown to the big thesis hand-in. I'm not even a hundred percent sure that I will manage to get it in on time but I'm gonna give it my all, which mean, no or very little baking =(

I had been trying to write a post about Biscotti for the last 2 weeks and somehow it hasn't quite happened. I was inspired to make Biscotti after seeing an episode of 'Extra Virgin,' where Gabriele Corcos makes them. Debi Mazar makes fun of him because she says that he has become obsessed with making them, to the point where she has found him in the middle of the night surrounded by flour and cookie dough. That sounded funny, but it's not funny.

Biscotti making addiction is no joke, it's a serious and debilitating condition where the baker has to make biscotti over and over again until they are happy and the biscotti look right. To my dismay I have succumbed to this harrowing condition. I thought I could make one batch and have fun but one turned into two turned into thinking about it day and night wondering if a pinch more or less of baking soda or a little more citrus zest or slightly less chopped nuts would make the difference. I'm not gonna lie, I spend a lot of time thinking about recipes and how I can improve them or tweak them to make something different but this Biscotti thing has become ridiculous. The problem I think lies in the delicate balance between how easy it is to make biscotti and how difficult it is to perfect them. It's actually difficult to tell at any stage whether or not this will be the time until they are completely done and even then the real test is a day later to see how the crunch and taste develops in the air-tight container, because it does, for better or worse it develops.............and now I sound like a crazy person.

Enough is enough, I will keep working on my thesis and hopefully find some time to make another batch of Biscotti that i consider good enough to post here but until then I'm dreaming of better days to come when I can bake and post every week without study to worry about.
Bye =)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A edible centrepiece, classy and cookie?

I saw an episode of DC cupcakes recently that inspired me to want to make a bouquet of cupcakes. So when my boyfriend's parents got me a really cute set of mini cupcake cases it seemed like the perfect opportunity. I think this would be a perfect center-piece for a fancy party or even a wedding when the host wants to be a bit quirky and classy as well. I don't like the idea of putting them in a pot however it feels a little too earthy. Therefore I have gone with a few real leaves and the little rose cupcakes on, well I would ideally use Styrofoam but I didn't have any so I used an orange with the bottom cut off to flatten it. The results were pretty nice and I hope you'll agree.

The cupcake recipe I originally went with had to be altered because when I put it into the mini cases it expanded too much and overflowed, despite the fact that I only filled it 1/2 way full. Therefore I went with a recipe I remember from when I was a child. It's really REALLY basic but then it worked and I used really good ingredients so that they would shine despite the simplicity of the recipe.

Mini-Cupcakes Vanilla with Chocolate Frosting

125g Self Raising Flour
1/8 tsp baking powder
80g caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
60ml whole milk
25g melted unsalted butter
1 lrg egg
1 1/2 tsp really good vanilla extract (as Nigella Lawson would say)


Best ever Chocolate frosting
with added chocolate.

The cupcakes are mixed together using the muffin method surprisingly. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Sieve together the dry ingredients, including the sugar. Whisk together the wet ingredients and then mix them together. Don't over mix, just mix them enough to incorporate everything. Spoon into the cases up to 2/3rd way full and then bake for 15 minutes or until the top starts to brown.
Let the cupcakes cool fully on a wire rack use this time to prepare the frosting. Then pipe it into rose shapes with a star nozzle starting in the center and then going around that in a smooth circular motion.

To assemble the center-piece I used real leaves and washed them thoroughly with soap and water. then I put tooth picks into the styrofoam(orange) and places the cupcakes around the leaves.
Here's some more pictures to get a good look at the overall effect. I would add more cupcakes if I had styrofoam  and maybe do the frosting in white also but I think it looks pretty elegant. Enjoy =)

So.........that went well......but I'm back with a bang!

At the start of the year I said that I would try to post more regularly and......yeah....that didn't happen =/ Finishing this doctorat...