Saturday, 30 November 2013

Microwave Mug Cake

Dish: Microwave Mug Cake

Difficulty: Easy

Utensils Used: Tablespoon, fork

Cock Ups: 2

Recipe Book: BBC Goodfood

Cooking: So, the Boyfriend is away at a friend's birthday party and for the second week running, The Walking Dead has failed to provide me with a Daryl Dixon fix. Needless to say, I was feeling in need of cake.

Being on my own and not inclined to make much of an effort, I decided to try a mug cake. I'd seen lots of recipes for them before and thought it sounded amazing. Plus, it was about time I got some use out of the oversize mug my sister bought me when I first got my job… four years ago now!

Mix 4tbsp of flour and sugar with 2tbsp of cocoa powder. Making a massive mess on the work surface and own hand optional.

Add one medium egg and combine as thoroughly as you can.

Add 3 tbsp of milk and vegetable oil and finish combining. I was a little freaked out about putting that much oil in a cake until I remembered it didn't have any butter in it...

Add nuts/chocolate chips/raisins. As I had none of the above, I added sultanas.

Microwave for 4-5 minutes on high, or until the cake has finished rising and is firm to touch. This would be easier to judge if I could actually see inside my microwave, instead of just my own reflection...

Washing up required: Not a lot by anyone's standards…

Result: The cake didn't overflow from the mug, and looked pretty good when levered out with a spoon.

Taste Test: Disappointing. I don't know if I microwaved it for too long, or what, but it was solid as a rock in places. And enormous. Way more than I could eat even if I hadn't needed a pickaxe to break it up. (Looking back at the recipe I do now see that it serves 2 - that didn't show up when I was looking at it on my phone… No, honestly!) I did get some custard out of the deal though, which was a bonus.

Overall Result: Really really easy and quick. I might try it again and cook for less time. And share with the Boyfriend, obviously.

Microwave Mug Cake

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Monstrous Mummies and Shattered Glass

Dish: Monstrous Mummies and Shattered Glass

Difficulty: Quite hard

Utensil's Used: Electric whisk, piping bags, rolling pin, candy thermometer

Cock Ups: 9, plus a bonus several days after the event (a new record?)

Recipe Book: Lily Vanilli in A Zombie Ate My Cupcake

Cooking: I was bought this book a long time ago, and figured it was time to crack it open for halloween. So, pairing up with Carole Heidi once again, we got set on what has been my most ambitious project yet.

I prepared my cupcakes before hand. They were meant to be chocolate, but… well, I didn't bother to measure the cocoa powder, so they were kind of just… off brown.

I did remember to put them in the fridge though, so they wouldn't melt the icing when we eventually got round to putting it on.

So the decorations for these required a few things I didn't have, and wasn't likely to use again. Fortunately, Carole - who's much more of a baker than me - was able to fill in a lot of the gaps. My mother provided a candy thermometer, and she was going to give me Cream of Tartar, until she realised it went out of date… nearly ten years ago. Oops. Disaster number 1.

The Candy Thermometer was good though.

Figuring that the sugar glass for the shattered glass recipe would take the longest, we started by lining a baking tray with tin foil. The recipe called for spray oil to line it. Carole left hers at home. Disaster 2. And then I dropped it on the floor (3).

Instead of oil, we decided to butter the tray.

Meanwhile I heated 500ml of water in a pan.

We measured out the sugar, all 785g. Well, not all. It was meant to be granulated, but I had an open 500g bag, so that wasn't going to work. (4) We topped it up with caster sugar which was slightly brown, tinting our glass when it was eventually set.

Then we added the 250ml of corn syrup. Which was actually 140ml, because that was the size of the bottle I had. (5)

The mix had to be heated to 150 degrees C. Before I had a Candy Thermometer, I was just going guess what temperature it was at. It's a good job I didn't, because it took a hell of a lot longer than I thought it would, even with the hob on full blast. I kept myself amused with the measurement labels (We were making Hard Crack, if you can't quite read the labels on the picture.)

This required constant stirring to stop it burning at the bottom of the pan.

So, while I was busy stirring, Carole got on to making the icing. She sieved (a Disaster Kitchen first, I didn't even know I had one!) 300g of icing sugar.

And whisked it together with 30g of butter (once she'd transferred everything into a slightly larger bowl 6). Despite it being in a larger bowl, whisking it up did create a plume of icing sugar that coated my kitchen like snow… (7) I was still cleaning it days later.

Once like breadcrumbs, she added 2tbsp of milk to the mixture and whisked it some more.

Meanwhile, the sugar glass finally got to it's Hard Crack temperature. I quickly and carefully (as per the recipe) poured it into the baking tray. Looks like urine. Yum!

I started off putting it on my windowsill, but we realised there was no way it would set in time for us to get to our restaurant for 8pm, so I covered it with a tea towel and left it outside in the cold to speed up the process.

Meanwhile, we got on to icing, which we fast learned was a fiddly job that made your hand ache like crazy.

But our mummies were starting to look like mummies.

I mixed up some red icing with red gel colouring for the eyes. Chocolate sprinkles made good pupils. Unfortunately, making the eyes was hampered by the fact that all my spoons were in the dishwasher - a dishwasher I swear I turned on, but came home to find complete with tab in the drawer, but not switched on. So, before I could spoon little balls of mixture into place, I had to do some impromptu washing up (8).

Meanwhile, we carefully tipped out the sugar glass and tried to peel off the tin foil. Which didn't go so well… (9)

With careful application of a rolling pin, we broke the glass up.

Which was very satisfying.

Shards were then selected to stick into the remaining cakes. For blood we used the jelly jam my mother made a few weeks ago from her home grown grapes.

Washing Up Required: Too much to even photograph.

Result: Not too bad, really.

The only problem was, the recipe said 'make a batch of cupcakes' and clearly Lily Vanilli's idea of a batch is much smaller than mine, for we had tonnes of sugar glass left over, and for the sugar glass to ft in my idea of a baking tray, it was layer so thick it almost destroyed the cupcakes. The shattered glass shards certainly weren't elegant and delicate like Lily's.

Taste Test: They were pretty tasty. The icing was very rich and the sugar glass had a nice toffee flavour, though it was far to thick and large to actually be eaten.

Overall Verdict: Really good fun, and satisfying to make. Next time I'll probably do quarter quantities of the sugar glass though...

Monstrous Mummies and Shattered Glass

A Final Disaster: I knew there was good reason I didn't write this up 'til now. Yesterday, I emptied the bin and was surprised to find a gloopy, oily mixture leaking out of the bag. It took me a while to figure out it was the melted sugar glass… Oops.