22 March 2015

Baking With Spirit: Tequila Slammer Cupcakes


I recently brought a load of cupcakes into work. They hadn't turned out quite as planned - despite pouring a sh*tload of tequila into the batter (sorry, but that is the only appropriate way to describe it), I couldn't taste a thing. I needed friends' opinions too, in case my taste buds were dead or something. Turns out, somewhat to my relief, my friends couldn't taste the tequila either. This lead to a discussion on the best way to hide alcohol in a cake, followed by a bit of an impromptu brainstorm on boozy cake ideas.


When Tequila Slammer Cupcakes were suggested, I knew we had a winner. Not only would they be fun to create, but the cupcakes would be perfect for Baking With Spirit. In case you are not aware, Baking With Spirit no-longer runs in challenge form and now exists as two features: Baking With Spirit and Baking With Spirit: Spotlight. I'm excited about this feature, because it means I'm free to try out lots of ideas for baking that involves alcohol, and group these ideas together for you to enjoy.

The inception of these cupcakes can be credited to my good friend and colleague. She has been training me on gas chromatography, so we have been spending literally all day together for about two months in total. It's nice to have someone in your life who can spend nearly 40 hours a week with you and still find you funny and interesting, and vice versa. So Lizzie, these cupcakes are for you.


I ran into a debate with my flatmate over the correct citrus fruit to use in this recipe. I'm 100% sure it's salt, tequila, lime, but he is 100% sure that it's salt, tequila, lemon. After much debate, we agreed to disagree. Google didn't help us, as apparently in America a Tequila Slammer involves some kind of carbonated drink component. We don't do that in the UK, so if you want your carbonated drink component you'll have to eat your cupcake with a soft drink on the side.


These Tequila Slammer Cupcakes have only a hint of the flavour each component of their namesake. I used more sugar than normal in the cupcakes to try to counter the added salt flakes, which has been well achieved. If you want more defined flavours, you could try using only caster sugar instead of dark muscovado.

Makes 12
Ingredients
Cupcakes:
  • 150g Caster Sugar
  • 150g Dark Muscovado Sugar
  • 200g Butter
  • 3 Eggs
  • 200g Plain Flour
  • 2 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 2 Tsp Salt Flakes
  • 50mL Milk
  • 100mL Tequila
Icing:
  • 190g Icing Sugar
  • 230g Butter
  • 120g White Chocolate
  • 1 Small Lime
Recipe
  • Preheat the oven to 200C/180C and line a cupcake tin with cases.
  • Put the caster and dark muscovado sugars into a mixing bowl. Mash up any lumps in the sugar.
  • Add the butter and cream with the sugars until light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs, and beat until the mixture is smooth.
  • Stir in the salt flakes.
  • Sieve the flour and baking powder into the batter, then fold in until well combined.
  • Add enough milk to give a soft dropping consistency.
  • Divide the batter between the cupcake cases, then bake for 22 mins, or until a skewer comes out clean.
  • While the cupcakes are still warm, poke a few holes in each using a cocktail stick and brush with the tequila. Use as much as you dare, but be careful not to soak the cake.
  • Allow the cupcakes to cool before making the icing, as it is best used straight away.
  • Grate the rind from the lime and place to one side, to use for decoration.
  • Whisk the butter and icing sugar together for two minutes.
  • Melt the chocolate and allow it to cool slightly before whisking into the icing for another two minutes. At this point, the icing should hold its shape well. 
  • Using a sieve to catch any seeds, squeeze the juice from the lime into the icing.
  • Whisk for another minute. The icing should still hold its shape, but if not add 2 tbsp icing and whisk for another minute.
  • Pipe the icing as desired, then decorate with the lime rind and a sprinkle of salt.

15 March 2015

Baking With Spirit Spotlight: Orange Liqueur & Pistachio Cake


It's been a couple of weeks since I broke the news that I was dropping Baking With Spirit in its original form and splitting it into two new features. Baking With Spirit: Spotlight is designed to showcase other bloggers' boozy bakes and let me have a go at them. An unexpected, though perhaps it shouldn't have been, result is that I can work through my mammoth favourites folder full of alcoholic cakes to try.

This Orange Liqueur & Pistachio cake was originally posted by Ellen at Bake It With Booze. This is one of my favourite blogs for alcoholic baking inspiration, so it seems appropriate that I kickstart this feature with one of the cakes from Bake It With Booze archives.


Not only are they lovely people (and fellow scientists - yaay!), but Ellen and Jaqueline really know what they are doing when it comes to adding alcohol to their baking. I highly recommend that you take a gander over at their site, as there is just so much inspiration.

This Orange Liqueur & Pistachio Cake has been bookmarked for some time, and I'm glad that I finally adapted it. This cake is also known as Watergate Cake because a scandal involving Richard Nixon occurred at the same time as pistachio pudding was introduced by Jello. The cake made by Ellen actually includes this pistachio pudding mix, but we don't have that here in the UK so I had to make do with regular pistachios. The recipe also involves boxed cake mix, which would actually be more effort for me because I keep cake ingredients in my kitchen and would have to go out specially to buy the mix. The final change that I made was using Seven Minute Frosting (I also discovered this at Bake It With Booze) instead of a more traditional buttercream.


The cake has a fantastic crumb texture because of the pistachios used in the batter, and the Seven Minute Frosting keeps it light. The frosting is almost like Marshmallow Fluff in consistency. The orange flavour comes through subtly but clearly, and the orange liqueur even dyed the sponge a light shade of orange. I would recommend this cake to anyone; I think it would be great for afternoon tea. If you wanted to serve this to kids, you could use orange zest and juice instead of the liqueur.


I have given my adapted version of the recipe below, but if you can get your hands on pistachio pudding mix then I am sure the original would work just as well. You can find the Seven Minute Frosting recipe here; I used orange liqueur instead of Midori and used a green gel food colouring. My cake has been on the kitchen counter for about 24 hours and the frosting has held so far, so there is no need for refrigeration.

Ingredients

  • 200mL Olive Oil
  • 3 Eggs
  • 150mL Orange Liqueur (e.g. Cointreau)
  • 200g Plain Flour
  • 1 Tbsp Baking Powder
  • 200g Caster Sugar
  • 200g Pistachio Kernels
Recipe
  • Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan, and line two 8in cake tins with baking parchment.
  • In a jug, combine the olive oil, eggs and orange liqueur and stir well.
  • Sift the flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl, then fold in the caster sugar.
  • Finely chop/blend the pistachio kernels, then fold half into the flour mixture.
  • Make a well in the dry mixture, then pour in the oil mixture and fold in until well combined.
  • Divide the batter between the cake tins, then bake for 22 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
  • Allow the cakes to cool completely before decorating with the Seven Minute Frosting. When sandwiching the cakes together, sprinkle the remaining chopped pistachios over the first layer of frosting.


Disclaimer: No, I was not paid to promote Wonder Woman  in this feature; I just really like my mug-turned-vase.

4 March 2015

Baking With Spirit: Good News & Bad News


Baking With Spirit has been running since September 2012 - two and a half years - and I am so grateful to everyone who has taken part since its beginning. I have discovered some new blogs, made some friends and learned just how difficult it is to think of a brand new theme that can relate to booze in some way each month.


Despite this, running the challenge has always felt like an uphill battle, perhaps because the central theme doesn't appeal to everyone, and I've started to get tired of it.  I can't have complete creative freedom because I know that making the monthly theme too difficult will most likely result in a nose-dive in entries. The feeling of tired resignation as the deadline looms and a single entry has yet to be received is all too familiar. I am tired of all these things to the point that enough is enough.


It is with sadness and some apprehension that I have decided to conclude the Baking With Spirit challenge in its current form. Thank you to everyone who entered the challenge over the past two and a half years; you don't know what it meant to me. Thank you as well to Laura at I'd Much Rather Bake Than... and Craig at The Usual Saucepans for guest hosting the Party and Reinventing A Classic challenges.


But, wait! The depressing part of this post over, and now I have some exciting news for you.


I love the backbone of this challenge too much to let it die here, and instead I'm reinventing it. Baking With Spirit will live on, but in a different form. First, I'm going to start a regular feature called Baking With Spirit where I bake with alcohol on a monthly basis. This means I still get to use Baking With Spirit to highlight my all-too-frequent use of alcohol in my baking, and set these posts apart from my normal ones.


Second, I'm starting a sister feature called Baking With Spirit: Spotlight, where I highlight the alcoholic baking posts from my favourite sites around the web. This will also offer some blogger interaction, as I'll offer the chance to get in touch and submit your post for the feature. This will usually include a general discussion about the post (by which I mean one or two paragraphs), followed by my own attempt to recreate the recipe.


So, what do you think? Do you like this premise for a new version of Baking With Spirit? Is there anything you might like to see in either of these two proposed forms of the feature? Let me know in the comments below.


I decided to include some of my favourite entries from the past 2.5 years in this post. The round ups including these entries (in order of photo appearance) are: Acquired TastesGo Crazy; MidoriAlcohol For Parties; Coffee Liqueur; Reinventing A Classic; Rum.

2 March 2015

Oreo Cheesecake [No Bake]


I feel like this is a time of change. People in management are changing roles at work; spring is on its way; long-standing Radio 1 DJs are moving on (which is clearly deeply connected to changes in my day-to-day life). Another change you might note is a slight re-jig around Cake Of The Week.


First of all, I've given the site a new layout, on which I welcome your comments - good and bad. Next, I've made a resolution to spend more time promoting great posts on other blogs, especially those which influence my own baking and that I think my readers might also enjoy. I love how supportive food bloggers are of each other, and I want to do my part. Finally, as eluded in yesterday's round up, Baking With Spirit is getting a little shake up. More on that on Wednesday...

I'm pretty excited about all these things, and I hope you can get on board with what I do here. I generally try to welcome change as, in my experience, it tends to bring new opportunities with it, even if they are sometimes disguised as something bad. I'm hoping these new things on Cake Of The Week, in my life, and even on Radio 1 will not fail to keep my faith; change is good.


This Oreo Cheesecake is a creamy no-bake cheesecake with pieces of Oreo floating through it. I wanted a chocolatey base so I used Bourbon Biscuits, but if you're a purist you could use Oreos here too. This cheesecake turned out fantastically, but is quite rich so a small slice should suffice - this is made all the easier by making it in a loaf tin, as I did. Depth of flavour was created by adding an impulsive splash of Irish cream liqueur, but this is totally voluntary and is obviously not advisable if you'll be serving this to children.

Ingredients
  • 200g Bourbon Biscuits
  • 50g Butter
  • 200g Caster Sugar
  • 350g Philadelphia Cheese
  • 250mL Double Cream
  • 25 mL Irish Cream Liqueur
  • 1 Sachet Gelatine
  • 200g Oreos
Recipe
  • Line a loaf tin (or a springform tin) with cling film.
  • Blend the bourbon biscuits in a food processor, or put in a plastic bag, seal and crush with a rolling pin.
  • Melt the butter by putting in the microwave for 30 seconds and blend/stir it into the crushed biscuits.
  • Press the biscuit mixture into the base of the tin and place to one side.
  • In a mixing bowl, whisk the Philadelphia, double cream, caster sugar and Irish cream liqueur until thick.
  • Prepare the gelatine as per the manufacturer's instructions, then whisk into the cheesecake mixture.
  • Crush 3/4 of the Oreos and fold into the cheesecake mixture.
  • Pour the mixture over the biscuit mixture in the tin, then smooth the top.
  • Decorate with the remaining Oreo biscuits, then refrigerate until set (3-4 hours).
  • Carefully pull out of tin using cling film, peel off cling film and serve.

1 March 2015

Baking With Spirit: The Fun Round Up

What a short and sweet month February has turned out to be. I've been visiting friends in Newcastle, walked through actual forest in Sandringham and went to a Mexican fiesta in Luton. All this, and there have been two entries to add to my own for this month's fun theme.


Kat from The Baking Explorer entered this adorable Raspberry & Limoncello Tart. I love baking with Limoncello for its added citrus tang, and I bet it went very well with the raspberry.


I entered these flamingo-topped Pina Colada Cupcakes. I made them back in 2012 and decided they could do with another airing since I didn't have time to make anything from scratch.


Finally, check out this Black Forest Gateau from Siobhan at Tastyrecipesandotherstuff. A towering glory if kirsch, cherries, chocolate sponge and cream, this cake is a must-try.

Come back on Wednesday for some important news on the future of Baking With Spirit. I'm having a shake up around here...