Peppermint Tea Cupcakes

I have had my eye on these cupcakes for a really long time but I always end up drinking my supply peppermint tea and completely forgetting to bake anything!

This time I was determined to follow through and bought a whole new stash of teabags for the occasion. However, In true Diary of a Bake-A-Holic style I didn’t read the recipe until I wanted to start baking; I realised you have to let the teabags brew in water for 30 minutes and also in the milk used for icing. I took this as an excuse to have a tea-break (peppermint tea, of course) and got out my book to entertain me while I waited.

Two cups of tea and a few chapters later I was asked if I was actually going to bake; I looked up confused and realised an hour had already passed! Eek! I jumped up to get on with the baking.

The recipe follows the standard Hummingbird Bakery method, mix dry ingredients with butter; mix wet ingredients together; then whip it all up together until nice and smooth.

Peppermint Tea Cupcakes

This was distributed amongst 24 cupcake cases (I doubled the batch to take some to work the next day) and cooked in the oven for around 20minutes.  Once they were out to cool I started on the icing, which was again the same method of butter icing but with pre-brewed peppermint tea milk.

The icing smelt absolutely divine and I have to confess, I did end up ‘tasting’ it a few times before I even decorating the cupcakes! I finally managed to get the icing in a piping bag and used a ‘Wilton 2D’ nozzle to pipe a small rose in the centre of each cupcake.  They went into cupcake boxes and were shipped to work the next day.

I couldn’t actually wait till the next day to try them out so tried one out after dinner with a cup of … you guessed it, peppermint tea.

These cupcakes are quite sweet so may not be to everyone’s taste.  The sponge itself has a really subtle hint of peppermint and is delicious enough to have on its own.  The icing comes out quite sweet but you the delicate taste of peppermint still comes through.  These cupcakes are very addictive so be prepared to have more than one! They have become another favourite cupcake recipe by the Hummigbird Bakery; I can’t wait to try some out some other tea-based delights.

Peppermint Tea Cupcakes

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The 2-4-1: Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes

Need I say more? Even the name of these scrumptious little delights get my mouth watering, metaphorically … and a little literally!

I’ve made these cupcakes before and was more than happy to make them again; my excuse this time being that it had been a while since I’d taken anything to the office and my colleagues were suffering from baked-good-withdrawal-symptoms.  Ahem … any excuse to bake!

These cupcakes followed the pretty basic vanilla cupcake recipe; to be honest the hardest part of the challenge was not to eat all the strawberries before they could be used.  I tend to follow a one-for-you / one-for me strategy when it comes to strawberries and have resorted to buying twice the amount in the recipe just so there’s enough for everyone.

This time there was the challenge of not eating the cupcakes when I was chopping them up, and when I was distributing them among the cupcake cases. I’m a hopeless case!

Despite all these setbacks, I did manage to distribute the chopped up strawberries to all the cupcake cases and quickly filled the cases with batter  (up to 2/3rds full).  I figured this would stop me eating any more strawberries!

The cupcakes took around 25 minutes to bake – as my oven has randomly decided to take much more time to cook anything – and came out a light golden brown. Yum. The first cupcake went straight to my mum, as she didn’t want any cream-cheese frosting (wtf?!). The rest went onto a wire rack to cool down while I made my icing.

It is the icing/decoration that turns these strawberry cupcakes into cheesecake cupcakes.  I whipped up a batch of Hummingbird Bakery cream cheese frosting, and twirled it in the famous Hummingbird Bakery style.  Once this was done I crushed up a few digestive biscuits and sprinkled them on top of the icing.

The cupcakes were packed up and taken to work the next day – all 24 were gone by lunchtime!  Thankfully I did manage to get my hands on a cupcake to ‘taste test‘ before they all disappeared.

What can I say about this recipe? It’s literally a two-for-one situation: the strawberry cupcake on the bottom is tasty enough on it’s own, but add the ‘cheesecake’ part on top – what else could you want in life?

Banana and Honey Teabread

It was my colleagues last day yesterday (SOB!!) and I had promised her I’d make her a cake.  I originally planned to make a rocky road but after reading the ingredients list I decided it was a glorified lump of chocolate and refused to serve up a potential heart attack to my office.

I therefore opened up my trusty Baking Bible and found this recipe.  I was intrigued by the whole concept of a teabread – is it a bread you have with tea? Is it a loaf? What is it? My curiosity got the better of me and I got out all the ingredients ready to bake.  This time I even managed to grate the lemon myself (huge progress!).

The recipe is a bit different to what I’m used to, in the sense that you mix the flour with the butter and nutmeg first with your hands. Then came the eggs, mashed banana, sugar and a LOT of honey – yum!

This went into the prepared loaf tin and into the oven for about an hour and 25 minutes.  Here is where I messed up. Technically it wasn’t my fault; I put complete blame on my fan-assisted oven. I left an overlap of baking parchment on either side of the cake tin to make it easier to lift the cake out but when I put it in the oven, the fan must have blown one side over to cover the batter.  This meant that it stuck to the parchment and didn’t bake as well. I had to bake it for even longer and tried to peel away the parchment without taking half of the cake.

Once out, the smell was ridiculously tempting– so much so that I may have scraped bits of cake from the parchment paper to eat. I waited till the cake completely cooled before I heated up two more tablespoons of honey and drizzled it over the top.  I didn’t particularly like the idea of having big sugar lumps on top of the cake so I crushed mine before sprinkling.

Once in the office, the teabread didn’t last very long but I did manage to get a photo or two before it all disappeared. I had my customary taste test (the best job/excuse to eat cake ever) and decided that this is probably one of my favourite loaf cakes/tea cakes.

It is beautifully moist and sweet – but not your average ‘sugary sweet’ – the honey adds a texture and taste that is even better than ‘sugary sweet’.  The nutmeg gives a small kick that also works really well with the banana.

My lovely colleague, Grace, made some Hummingbird Bakery Brownies with cherries and almonds on top.  These were delicious and I devoured as many as possible before they disappeared.  If only I knew she was a baker I would have made her bake more!

A Carrot Cake … With Lots of Banana?

I’m an office feeder. Yes, I know it’s shameful.  I make lots of treats and I take them to work for everyone to eat; it’s gotten worse since my family decided to become healthy and reject my baking. However, I eat as much baked goods as everyone else so I could say I’m not as bad?!

Anyway, my colleague requested a carrot cake for his birthday and I just couldn’t say no. I’ve already tried my hand at the carrot cake from the Hummingbird Bakery recipe books, so I thought I’d give Mary Berry’s Baking Bible a go, as it’s on a great running streak.

So I prepared my cake tin the Mary Berry way, (lining it with greaseproof paper) and turned my oven on. To save time I bought chopped walnuts from the supermarket, I admit it’s ridiculously lazy but it was definitely worth it.

What confused me most in this recipe was the amount of banana used, there was actually more banana than carrot! I used the tiniest two carrots I could find and I still had to eat half of one; but I used 2 large bananas. I was starting to question Mary Berry’s methods but I kept going – I figured at worst it would be a nice twist on a carrot cake.

Once all the ingredients were grated, mashed and whisked I poured the batter into the prepared dish and cooked it for the recommended time.  The cake had risen beautifully when I took it out too cool. The smell managed to send my entire family into the kitchen, scavenging for a slither of cake.  I had to hit hands with the spatula and bribed them with berries and cream cheese icing to keep them away!

It was pretty late the time I had finished baking and preparing the icing and I was still waiting for the cake to cool completely.  My need for sleep increased drastically and I resorted to spreading the icing on a semi-warm cake and quickly put it in the fridge to stop the icing melting/dripping etc.  Now I know this is blasphemous in terms of baking but sleep comes first for me!

I woke in the morning to find that it didn’t run as much as I thought it would. I wacked on a few walnuts, and whisked it off to work, where it was demolished before I could take any proper photos – damn.

  The cake tasted great – which was insinuated by the speed at which it disappeared. I’m generally not the biggest fan of using oil in cakes as I can always taste it but version of the carrot cake managed to hide it well and the banana added a lovely moistness to the sponge.

All in all a great recipe, Mary Berry hits the nail on the head again. I promise I will not doubt her ever again!

The Super Breakfast Smoothie

I don’t do too well with cereals in the morning; I get bored very quickly and so full that I need a nap about ten minutes after.

So you can imagine that when I came across this concoction, I immediately fell in love. Unfortunately, I owe my brother for this one, so I’ll have to bake for him at some point to say thanks, but it’s still worth it.

I generally don’t use milk unless I’m baking, I’m a huge fan of oat milk (see picture below) or almond milk so tend to opt for either. The recipe works just as well with normal milk so swap it round if you prefer.

The smoothie is meant to be quite thick but again, dilute to taste. This is how I make mine…

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 medium sized banana
  • 2 large handfuls of any fruit you like (this time I used strawberries and pineapple)
  • 2 heaped tablespoons of rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 200ml of oat drink (or any type of milk you prefer)

RECIPE

  1. Peel and chop all the fruit and bung it in the blender.
  2. Add everything else and blend away.
  3. Add more milk to taste (if you like it thinner)
  4. Drink and enjoy.
I absolutely love this as a breakfast and have had it everyday for ages.  You can literally use any type of fruit (I’ve even used orange segments); it always tastes great and fills you up straight through to lunch time.

Better Than A Terry’s Chocolate Orange.

I flaked on going out with a friend the other week and promised I’d make it up to him. He decided it that I could make it up by baking something with chocolate and orange. This was when a little light bulb turned on in my head and I remembered a recipe in the Hummingbird Bakery book for Chocolate Orange cupcakes.

The surprising thing about this recipe, however, was that it also used vanilla essence … hmm. I have to admit I was a bit sceptical while making the cupcakes, I thought there would be too many different flavours going on.  But, as always, I put my trust in the Hummingbird Bakery and powered through.

The cupcakes were made in the standard Hummingbird way, mixing all the ‘wet’ ingredients e.g. butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla essence etc. with all the ‘dry’ ones.  Once everything was incorporated and the batter was smooth. I used smaller, UK sized cupcake cases and managed to get 24 cupcakes out of the batter.

 

After twenty minutes in the oven, out came some great smelling, and perfectly flat cupcakes.  I was so happy! It’s been ages since they’ve come out looking so nice.

I let them cool and made up the icing, which consisted of icing sugar, butter, cream cheese, orange zest and cocoa powder.  Now I’ve finally learnt that you can’t pipe icing with any bits in it, no matter how well you mix it. So I went for the typical Hummingbird Bakery swirl and put a few chocolate stars on each to decorate.

 

A box of these cupcakes went to work with me the next day, as I seriously doubted my friend could work his way through 24 of them.  I got to work at 9am with the intention not to try one, but I caved by 11am and had a cupcake with my tea, for taste testing reasons, of course.

Now I’ve never actually had a Terry’s Chocolate Orange, but the cupcakes taste exactly how I imagine them to be.  A colleague actually said they tasted better, and another described the cupcakes as ‘heaven’.  Well, you can’t get a compliment better than that!

Personally I really liked the taste and was pleasantly surprised that all the different flavours worked so well.  The vanilla essence actually helped to develop the orangey flavour.  The icing is beautifully smooth and unbelievably tasty.  Definitely one to bake again!

Strawberry Daiquiri Anyone? It’s edible!

It was my birthday recently and apparently there is a rule that all bakers have to bake their own cakes, although I’ve never heard of such a thing.

So I asked ‘what should I bake?’ and the vast majority said Strawberry Daiquiri cupcakes … hmm …  OK! After the great success with my mojito cupcakes last year (also during my birthday – does anyone see a pattern forming?), I was excited about trying these out.

I started by mixing the rum and some of the sugar and letting it reduce by about half; the strawberries were then chopped into small pieces and soaked in the rum for about 30 minutes. I thought I didn’t need anymore more strawberries so took a quick break to munch my way through the rest of the pack. Yum!

Once the strawberries were soaked long enough I started on the rest of the recipe; mixing together the ‘dry’ ingredients with the butter to create a crumb like mixture and whisking together the ‘wet’ ingredients.  These then get mixed together bit by bit.

I then drained the strawberries and put a few into each cupcake case.  The batter went on top they all went into the oven for about 15minutes.

Once out I drizzled the remaining rum reduction over each cupcake and left them to cool while I prepared the icing. This is when I read the ingredients for the frosting and realised I needed the strawberries I had recently eaten. Dammit! Time for a quick run to the nearest shop! My tip of the day therefore is:

Make sure you don’t need any spare ingredients before you start eating them!

With a new pack of strawberries in tow, I started making the icing by mixing the butter, icing sugar and lime zest.  4 teaspoons of rum reduction and 4 teaspoons of milk were then whisked in until it was soft and fluffy. I went for the traditional ‘Hummingbird Bakery Swirl’ with a few slices of strawberry on top. Et Voila! Alcoholic cupcakes that didn’t last 5 minutes in the office.

They were beautifully soft and creamy with a gentle kick of alcohol.  The strawberries also provided a nice difference in texture. I do, admittedly, prefer the mojito version; however I think this is due to my preference to the alcoholic beverage rather than my preference in cake.

Who Needs A Coffee When You Have an Espresso Cupcake

So the second set of cupcakes I baked for the ‘Volunteer Reading Help’ cake sale at work were the Espresso Cupcakes from the Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days book.

For the first time in a long time, I was smart enough to read the recipe a while before I started baking; so I knew that I needed to warm the milk first in order to dissolve the espresso powder and let it cool again.

A definite great start! The recipe then follows the standard Hummingbird route: mix all the ‘dry’ ingredients with the butter, then the ‘wet’ ingredients together, and finally whisk these in in two batches.

The batter was filled into cupcake cases and put into the oven for about 20 minutes. You can tell the cupcakes are ready when your kitchen starts smelling like a coffee shop!

 

While the cupcakes were cooling, I heated up some more milk and mixed in some espresso powder, ready to make the icing once it had cooled again – this time I was less patient and put the milk mixture in the fridge for 10 minutes.  The icing was made by mixing the butter and icing sugar and gradually adding the milk and whisking on high until smooth.

I used a Wilton 2D nozzle to create a whipped twirl effect on the cupcakes.  A while ago I was asked to make videos of how I ice cupcakes but I have either forgotten, not had the equipment or created rubbish videos.  For once, I managed to make a half decent video, which you can find here. Hopefully, it’ll give you a better idea on how I managed it.

For the final touch, I used small pieces of dark chocolate on top of the twirls.  The cupcakes were packed and sold the next day at the cake sale.  I actually bought one of these (as it just seems wrong to take one) and really enjoyed it.  I’m not the biggest fan of very strong coffee so was intrigued how these cupcakes would turn out and was pleasantly surprised.  The coffee flavour nicely offset the sweetness of the cupcake, the dark chocolate also giving it a nice kick.

The more of these coffee cakes I bake the more I like them. They are a great alternative to the really sweet options out there.

An apology

Dear Everyone,

Welcome to the new (and hopefully improved) Diary of a Bake-a-Holic.

I want to start with an apology.  I’ve not been the most frequent blogger for the last month or so.  As we all know, life has a funny way of catching up with us and throwing in new surprises along the way. I’ve recently had a change in career and job and have been juggling so many balls that an octopus would have trouble coping! The blog has therefore been one of the many things that I’ve regretfully had to put aside to be able to manage.

BUT – and yes it deserves capitals – I am back with a brand new mission! To bake anything and everything I can get my hands on. There won’t be a Hummingbird Bakery challenge, although the recipes left to complete will definitely be tested at some point. My new mission, as accepted by myself, is:

To attempt any recipe that is weird, wonderful or wacky; healthy or unhealthy; intriguing or intensely tasty-looking.  If I can find it, I will try it.

 

So please accept this little, incredibly cute, cakelet as an apology and prepare yourselves for…  CAKES!