Monday, March 28, 2016

Easter Cupcakes

Spring is in the air! Not that you would know it here this weekend as we are being rained out of it!! Easter weekend has been a mixture of sunny spells and bucketing, window washing, rivers on every path style rain! Needless to say we have been hiding from it quite a bit, although we got drenched once!

None-the-less there is a sense of renewed life and new beginnings around the place as the country heats up and the flowers tentatively poke their heads out. Birds are singing in the trees and even between the downpours the sun shines brighter than before.

It has been a mixed week for me this week. I had a visit from a friend that moved away last year, which reminded me of things lost. I also had my final lecture in my doctorate; which feels like both an ending and a beginning. Finally we had Easter this weekend which is all about endings and beginnings. So everything seems distinctly meaningful, somehow.

In the presence of all these endings, it's not unusual to feel sad or perhaps at a loss as to what is coming next. I certainly feel excited about my future but there is an undeniable amount of uncertainty but I think that uncertainty can be a useful feeling to sit with, though daunting. I found myself processing these changes and struggling to write anything useful or insightful (not that my other blogs are always useful or insightful but still). So I thought I would show you the mini cupcake platter I prepared for my fellow doctoral candidates and show you how I put together the center piece.

The icing here is a swiss meringue buttercream to which I added 3-4 tablespoons of raspberry coulis for colour and flavour. All the surrounding roses are made using a star tip and a swirl but the central rose is a little more complicated. I assembled three cupcakes as shown below -

Then I used the rose piping technique demonstrated in this video from cakestyle -

I really like her rose piping technique but I prefer the narrower base as I feel it gives a more dramatic effect. This piping technique is relatively easy given a little practice and a moderately steady hand (I was shaking like crazy when I piped these - too much emotion/adrenaline/caffeine). As you can see I finished these roses off with a dusting of edible gold leave but that is totally optional. Another possibility would be to add an extra stripe of coulis to your piping bag and give more depth to your colour. So if you want to do this I would say to play around and have fun!

So that's it, and then all you have to do it protect your masterpiece from thieves but this is more difficult than you might imagine ;)

Monday, March 21, 2016

Irish Soda Bread

This past week was St Patrick's Day and you may have seen a few dozen Irish or green things around the interwebs. Recently I saw a couple of posts about 'Irish Soda Bread.' This interested me because I love soda bread but when I went to the sites what I saw were horrendous mockeries of my beloved bread and I could not stand for it. So this week I am bringing you my recipe for Irish Soda Bread.

This bread is so simple and I threw it together in 1 hour start to fully cooked bread! Of which 45-50 minutes the bread is in the oven so as long as you set a timer you can do what you want with this time! There are very few Irish things that I crave when living away from home (probably because we are somewhat limited in traditional foods). However we do have the best tea (Barry's), wonderful dinners (Stew, Bacon and Cabbage) and more than anything amazing soda bread!! So forgive me for getting irritated when one of the few simple things gets butchered but I guess I'm somewhat fussy. In actuality the bread you see above is a bit too tall so I'm not a total perfectionist! But if you follow my pictures here you will see how incredibly simple this delicious bread really is.


400g Wholemeal flour
200g White bread flour
1 tsp Salt
1 tbsp Baking Soda
500ml Milk (Any kind - dairy or nut - I used skimmed lactose free here)
1 tbsp lemon juice

1 -  Preheat oven to 180'C. Add the lemon juice to the milk and let sit while you whisk together your flours, salt and baking soda

2 - Slowly add the milk mixture into the flour in sections and stop when you have a thick dough. Note - This bread is free form, if you want to use a bread tin then just add all the milk and mix

The Milk in this picture was left over as I had reached the desired texture as shown
3 - Knead the dough a little bit (at most for 30 seconds to a minute) just to bring it together and get a smooth ball of dough

4 - Then (and I forgot to do this) roll it out just a tiny bit and cut a cross into the top

5 - Bake for 15 minutes and then cover in tin foil and finish baking for another 30-35 minutes or until it sounds hollow inside. Then allow to cool with a tea towel over it to soften the crust.

Then slice it up and enjoy with butter and jam or toasted with cheese or with soup or any which way you please!!!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Double chocolate protein brownie bites

This week I am updating an old granola bar recipe in order to make it higher protein as I got a request for a protein bar recipe including vita-fiber.

These are super simple and I threw them together in about 5-10 minutes.

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...