On Wednesday I'm going on my much anticipated holiday/volunteering trip to Barcelona, Chateau Ventenac, Perpignan and Barcelona again. The quickest way to fly to the region the chateau is in from Newcastle is to go via Barcelona, so I figured I would make a holiday out of it - especially since the flights were significantly cheaper if I left two days before I was due to start volunteering. Then, whaddayaknow, I have to go back through Barcelona too from Perpignan, so my volunteering stint is sandwiched nicely by a few days in Spain either side.
I've never been to Spain before (unless you want to count the Santander ferry port, which I do not) and didn't learn the language in school so I've been brushing up on the basics - hello, goodbye, please, thank you and sorry. I learned pretty quickly when touring Europe two years ago that when you're walking around with a backpack, knowing the word 'sorry' in the national language becomes pretty invaluable. I've also read through my pocket-sized guide book and am ready to explore the city. I definitely want to see La Sagrada Familia, but I'm not sure what else to choose - there's just so much to do! If you have any tips, please let me know in the comments below.
Once I've finished volunteering at the chateau, I'm off to visit a friend who is on her year abroad in Perpignan and is kindly letting me visit her for Easter weekend. From her pictures, Perpignan looks gorgeous so I'm really looking forward to seeing it and having someone familiar with the area show me all the best places to go!
Since I'm going to be in a foreign country for the next few weeks, I thought it would be a good idea to make my entry for my monthly blogging challenge, Baking With Spirit, before I went. I had heard that this month's challenge beverage, Baileys (or a cheap knock off), goes really well with cream cheese so I traded the butter in the Chocolate Cloud Icing used in the Chocolate Aubergine Cake (but invented by Sweetapolita) for mascarpone. Unfortunately, possibly due to the icing sugar, the cream cheese flavour was lost, so next time I would either use philadelphia or just leave the butter in.
Either way, these cupcakes taste divine and the raspberries really cut through the sweet flavour of the cake and icing, which is perfect when your sweet tooth has been dulled by using Swiss meringue buttercream instead of icing sugar-based icing in the majority of baking. I do love this icing though, and the Baileys flavour comes through really well and compliments the raspberries nicely. Cupcakes are apparently the thing to serve at a dinner party these days, and these would fit in pretty well.
For the cakes:
- 200g Butter
- 200g Plain Flour
- 200g Caster Sugar
- 2 Eggs
- 2 Tsp Baking Powder
- 150g Raspberries
- 2 Tsp Vanilla Essence
- 20mL Milk
For the Bailey's Cloud Icing:
- 100g Icing Sugar
- 230g Mascarpone
- 125g Milk Chocolate
- 25mL Baileys (Or Equivalent)
- Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan and line a cupcake tin with cupcake cases.
- Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs one at a time until smooth.
- Sift the flour and baking powder into the batter and fold in until well combined. Stir in the vanilla essence and enough milk to give the cakes a soft dropping consistency.
- Pour the raspberries into the batter and smoosh them up a bit with the spoon before folding them into the batter.
- Divide the batter between the cupcake cases and bake for 22mins, or until a skewer comes out clean.
- Leave the cakes to cool completely.
- To make the Bailey's Cloud Icing, sift the icing sugar into a mixing bowl and beat in the mascarpone using an electric whisk until well combined, then whisk for a further minute.
- Melt the chocolate in a saucepan, allow to cool slightly and then whisk into the icing sugar mixture, beating for an additional 2 minutes after it has been fully combined.
- Pour in the Bailey's and whisk for another 2 minutes.
- Once the cakes have cooled completely, pipe the icing onto the cakes and decorate as desired.
Don't fret - I might be going abroad for 3 weeks but I will still be bringing you regular posts. I can't promise that they will all involve baking, though - you may just be treated to/taunted with tales of the sweets I find in Spain and France.
If you are feeling inspired and want to enter this month's Baking With Spirit, you've still got just over two weeks to do so, so get baking!