Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Chocolate Cupcakes

Making cupcakes is a terrifically entertaining process. Before I start making them, I gather all the ingredients, measure them and place in separate bowls. I put cupcake liners into cases and preheat the oven. But when I finish making them, there's an absolute mess in the kitchen. Always. I can't keep it tidy till the end!

However, the best part of making cupcakes is frosting. I mean piping the frosting. (I think this time it came out better than before!) 

Even though I usually like to try to make things lighter and healthier, for example, reducing butter/sugar or substituting it with something else, sometimes you just cannot resist making something as sinful as these chocolate cupcakes. I followed a simple recipe from Joy of bBaking. I've made these many times before and they always come out the same - moist, rich and super yummy. (Except when my neighbour asked me to bake her these cupcakes and I forgot the baking powder....) For the frosting I used a simple cocoa buttercream. It doesn't contain chocolate but it's still very delicious. The only thing you have to do is to beat it as long as you can! 

Chocolate Cupcakes:

50 g/1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
240 ml/1 cup boiling hot water
175 g/1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
113 grams/1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
200 grams/1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1) Preheat oven to 190C. Line 16 muffin cups with paper liners.

2) In a small bowl stir until smooth the boiling hot water and the cocoa powder. Let cool to room temperature. 

3) In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

4) Then in the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat only until incorporated. Then add the cooled cocoa mixture and stir until smooth.

5) Fill each muffin cup two-thirds full with batter and bake for about 16-20 minutes or until risen, springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Once the cupcakes have completely cooled, frost with icing.


250g powdered sugar
113g butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-4 tbsp milk
2 1/2 tbsp dark unsweetened cocoa powder

1) Combine powdered sugar with butter and beat with your electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add vanilla extract and beat until incorporated. Add milk and cocoa powder. Depending on the consistency you wish to achieve, feel free to increase/decrease the amount of milk.

2) Frost the cupcakes and serve!

Cupcake recipe from Joy of Baking

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Mushroom Patties in Pita

Mushroom Patties

400g mushrooms, finely chopped
1 small green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp curcuma
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
50g flour
3 tbsp breadcrumbs
Olive oil, for frying

Pita bread
Tomato sauce

1) Heat olive oil in a large saucepan. Add onion and bell pepper and saute until softened, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and mushrooms. Cover, reduce the heat and let simmer until the mushrooms begin to release liquid. Add curcuma, dried basil, dried oregano, smoked paprika, salt and parsley. Uncover, increase the heat to medium-high and leave to simmer until the all the liquid is absorbed. Stir occasionally.

2) Remove from heat and let cool 10 minutes. Add eggs, flour and breadcrumbs.

3) Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add a tablespoon of mixture and flatten a little. Fry until golden brown on both sides. 

4) Cut pita in half. Stuff with lettuce, sliced tomato and cucumber. Put one or two patties (depending on size)  inside and top with pasta sauce. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Cinnamon Coffee Cake Muffins

Perfect, large, moist, buttery cinnamony muffins. Really, these coffee cake muffins are much better than a coffee cake. They taste almost the same but isn't it lovely to have a coffee cake in a small muffin shape? These also have a yummy cinnamon swirl inside and the tops sprinkled with sugar are slightly crunchy. This recipe is a keeper, I'm sure I'm going to make them lots of times in the future. And they also keep very well. At least two days. You see, I can't tell how long they keep moist because they didn't last three days. I believe you won't have this problem either. They will disappear quite soon.

Cinnamon Coffee Cake Muffins

120g softened butter
200g sugar
2 large eggs
240g sour cream
265g flour  
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp butter (for greasing muffin cups)
2 tsp cinnamon (for the topping)
100g sugar (for the topping) 

1) Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease the muffin tin with butter.

2) In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, sour cream and beat to combine. Add the flour, baking powder and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed until well blended.

3) Divide the batter among the muffin cups only filling them halfway. In a separate small bowl, mix the cinnamon and sugar for the topping. Sprinkle the batter with about half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place the remaining batter on top of the sugar-cinnamon mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture. 

4) Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out with a few moist crumbs. Don't overbake. Let cool 15 minutes and serve.

Recipe by collecting memories

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Lemon Cupcakes

Cupcakes are probably the most exquisite dessert. There are thousands of ways of decorating them. A tall frosting and small sugar details can make it a really impressive dessert. I wish I was a professional in this but when you look at these lemon cupcakes it doesn't seem to be true. In fact, I haven't had much practise in decorating cupcakes. I used to bake muffins with large cracks on tops mostly so I hope this attempt for a beginner could be excusable.

Speaking about their taste, I think the appearance becomes less important.

I've been using this cupcake recipe for many years and I never thought of looking for another one. The cupcakes are perfectly moist and fluffy, with a right amount of sugar and lemon. For the frosting I made a simple lemon buttercream. This is the easiest method I know and you can never go wrong with it. It's foolproof because you can always add more milk if you see that the frosting is too stiff or add more powdered sugar if it's too runny. But! One very important condition - the butter must be at room temperature. Otherwise you'll not get a smooth frosting.

My next baking experiment is tiramisu cupcakes. There will be a frosting too so I hope I'll do better next time. It's all about practise!

110g unsalted butter (room temperature)
190g/1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
120ml/1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
225g/1 cup sugar
2 large eggs

1) Preheat oven to 175C.  Line 12 cupcake tins with cupcake liners.

2) In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.  In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice.

3) With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  With a mixer on low speed, add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk mixture.

4) Divide evenly among muffin cups.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a cupcake comes out clean, 20-25 minutes.  Cool completely on a wire rack.

110g butter, softened
4 tbsp lemon juice
5-6 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch salt
375-400g powdered sugar

1) In a medium bowl, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add a pinch of salt. Start adding powdered sugar. When you mix in about 375g of sugar, add 4 tablespoons of lemon juice and 5 tablespoons of milk. Depending on the consistency you wish to achieve, add more/less powdered sugar/milk. Finally, add the vanilla extract. 

2) Pipe the frosting onto cupcakes.

*The recipe makes more than enough frosting for 12 cupcakes. If you don't like a tall frosting, reduce the ingredients by half or if you like me prefer insanely tall frosting, go ahead and make it all. There's never too much frosting.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Baked Cabbage

Cabbage has never been my favourite veggie. I guess that's just because I've never tried making anything with it. All I've tried was a raw cabbage in a salad, pickled cabbage or a filling in an empanada...
So when I bought a cabbage a few days ago I didn't want to make the same - too boring. I had to think of something more impressive. Hmmm..What about... baking a cabbage? Seasoned with spices, roasted in butter and baked in a sour cream sauce. Sounds good. The smell while I was roasting it was great and I knew it was going to taste great, too. It was nicely browned, fragrant and reminded me of roasted brussels sprouts. 

And then I took it out of the oven. Wait a moment. Am I eating a cabbage? A cabbage??? Can a CABBAGE taste SO good? Noo way. Try this recipe, especially if you don't like cabbage.

Baked Cabbage
1 head cabbage
3/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp cumin seeds
pinch sesame seeds
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp salt
8 tbsp vegetable stock
5 tbsp sour cream
1/2 tbsp butter

1) Cut the cabbage into 8 equal wedges. Place in a salted boiling water and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from water, pour on some cold tap water and leave to drain.

2) In a large saucepan, melt 1 tbsp of butter. Place the cabbage on one side and roast until little browned on both sides. Add cumin, paprika, salt and 4 tablespoons of vegetable stock. Cover and saute for about 15 minutes on medium-low heat.

3) Preheat your oven to 220C.

4) Pour the remaining vegetable stock into a large oval baking dish so all the bottom is coated. Place cabbage wedges and spread sour cream on top. Sprinkle some butter on top. Bake for 10 - 15 minutes or until tops are golden brown.

Recipe by collecting memories

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Currant Cake

This is one of the easiest cakes I know and therefore I do make it very often. It doesn't contain much butter because I just wanted to make it a little bit healthier and not to blame myself for eating four slices at once. This might be good with other berries too but the amount of sugar should be decreased then. Hope this will become your another favorite easy-yummy-summer-cake.

Currant Cake

175g flour
1 tsp baking powder
pich salt
1 tsp vanilla sugar
200g sugar
40g butter, melted
2 eggs
80ml milk
2 cups red and black currants
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp flour

1) In a small bowl, beat together eggs, milk and butter.

2) In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, sugar, vanilla sugar and salt.

3) Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Spread the mixture into a lightly greased cake tin.

4) Coat the currants with 1 tablespoon of flour. Sprinkle them on top of the batter and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sugar.

5) Bake in a 180C preheated oven for 40-45 minutes.

Recipe by collecting memories

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Spinach & Ricotta Lasagna

I love experimenting. But what I love most is when these experiments turn out great. Just like this green lasagna. When I cut the first slice I was amazed by the bright green colour. What surprised me even more, was the perfect texture. It was so easy to slice it nicely and take it out of the baking pan without leaving it in the room temperature after baking to set. But actually when I saw that green colour, I was a little bit scared - I was afraid there was too much spinach! And this is how the story began. My mother brought a few large bags of spinach from her own garden. So that meant I had to think of something delicious to make to use up these spinach. I searched for a recipe, browsed the tried ones until I found lasagna noodles in my cupboard and came up with idea of making green lasagna.

And that was a very good idea.

The taste was amazing! There wasn't too much spinach. The layers were creamy and so so good. I took too many photos again.. But at least you can see how this lasagna looks from every angle.

Spinach & Ricotta Lasagna

14 no-boil lasagna noodles
4 packed cups chopped spinach (about 300g)*
2 tbsp oil
1 onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 white bell pepper, chopped
60g parmesan cheese
100g mozzarella cheese
2 eggs
400g ricotta cheese
2 cups pasta sauce
1/3 tsp salt
pinch ground pepper

*I packed the cups with already chopped spinach very tightly. It might be more than 300g - this is just an approximate measurement. I think it will be ok if you add a little more or less of them.

1) Heat oil in a pan and add onions and bell pepper. Saute until softened and lightly golden. Add garlic and saute a little more. Turn off the heat and let cool a bit.

2) In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add ricotta, spinach, half of parmesan and half of mozzarella cheese. Add salt and pepper. When the onion/bell pepper mixture has cooled, add it to the spinach mixture. Mix everything until combined.

3) Preheat oven to 180C and prepare a 23x23 square baking dish.

4) Pour 1 cup of pasta sauce onto the bottom of your baking dish and coat it evenly. Place lasagna noodles on top. Spread some spinach mixture on top of them. Repeat these steps 3 times (except for the pasta sauce). Finally, spread the remaining pasta sauce onto the noodles and sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for additional 15-20 minutes. Let sit for about 15 minutes before serving.

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