Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Cupcake Hero Blueberry - Vote Now!

The voting has now begun over at Kitchen Koala, to determine whose cupcake will go into the "finals" throwdown!

My blueberry lime yoghurt cupcakes were soooo yummy:

(even two days later, when this photo was taken - note the Muffin stuffing her face with one in the background) - BUT, the competition is awesome too.

So I hereby invite you to take a moment to admire all the cupcakey goodness over at Kitchen Koala. And then, if you just happen to fancy voting for me, well that would be lovely too...

The polls close June 25th - so be quick if you want your vote to count!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Cupcake Hero June: Blueberry!

Yes ladies and gentlemen, Cupcake Hero is back! This month it has a guest host - and Dorothy over at Kitchen Koala has chosen blueberries as this month's theme.

Now I know as a general rule, fresh is best etc etc - but I have to say, I am in love with dried blueberries - see them here, posing shyly beside the diva-like limes (look at that lime on the right, the minx, trying to shove the other one out of the photo! Tsk!)

The thing about blueberries for me is - and don't hate me for this, Dorothy! - I find they are often sadly lacking in any real flavour. Maybe this has to do with where I live? Maybe we get inferior blueberries growing here...? I actually have blueberries growing in my own back yard, and whilst they are better than frozen ones, even they are kind of... wellll... a bit insipid...?
Having said that, I LOVE the look of blueberries. Fresh ones are like the supermodels of the fruit world, especially if you can get them with that gorgeous whitish bloom still on. And the funny thing is, if you can pin their flavour down, I do like it. I just don't feel like there's enough of it to go around - and that's why I love these dried ones. Bye-bye water, hellooooo flavour!
So I decided to team my dried blueberries with, for me, the blueberry's best friend - limes. (The fact that I picked 65 limes off my two trees last week and there are still at least twice that many on the branches had nothing to do with it - NOTHING, I tell you!!) I also decided to give them an extra tweak of acidity by adding yoghurt. Now, I've never made a cake with yoghurt in it before, so I played around with a couple of recipes, but found that my first batch came out quite heavy and sullen. Not happy. So I made some fairly major changes, and finally ended up with a recipe I am really happy with. The cupcakes are not light as a feather, but they are beautifully soft and cakey - and the flavour is great. The blueberries seem to have sent a little of their scent out into the surrounding cake, without actually bleeding out like frozen ones do. So you get a lovely subtle cake, and then a sudden burst of FLAVOUR whenever you bite into a berry.
Oh, and one other thing: in the frosting recipe, I have called for "Liquore al Mirtillo". We have a beautiful little bottle of this Italian liqueur in our liquor cabinet, and it just screamed to be used in this. It's essentially bilberry flavoured grappa (bilberries, I am assured by the great god Wikipedia, are much like blueberries but smaller & with stronger flavour). It's purple. It smells like blueberries. It tastes like extremely alcoholic blueberries. If, as is very likely, you don't happen to have any, I imagine any berry-flavoured liqueur would be pleasant, or even brandy would work, I think. If you don't fancy the alcohol, just leave it out and go for the purple option (see below).
Anyway, enough nattering. Without further ado, I would like to present:
Blueberry Lime Yoghurt Cupcakes!

240g butter
1 cup caster sugar
Zest of 2 or 3 limes, depending on their size
3 eggs, separated
3 Tbsp lime juice
185g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
70g dried blueberries
3/4 cup natural yoghurt
Modus Operandi
Cream butter, sugar & lime zest until pale & creamy. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating between each addition. Beat in lime juice. Add yoghurt and beat briefly, just until all combined. Sift the flour and baking powder together into the mixture, and add the blueberries. Stir until combined - the mixture will be quite stiff at this point. In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until they reach firm peaks, and fold these into the mixture, like so:
In they go...
Folding gently...
Spoon mixture into cupcake cases - you can fill a little higher than usual - maybe 3/4 full? I only filled mine around 2/3 full (and only half full in these pretty Robert Gordon cupcake cases, 'cause I think they're enormous), and the cakes turned out a little lower than I would have liked (purely a visual thing for me).
Bake at 175 degrees Celsius (350 F) for about 20 minutes, or until the tops are springy and just starting to go golden. Cool on wire racks BEFORE you try one. Really. When they first come out, the texture is kinda weird, but it sorts itself out once they're cool. Now they are all ready to eat, unless you fancy frosting, in which case:-
Cream 100g butter with 150g icing sugar until very pale and fluffy. Add 2-3 Tbsp milk, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, and 3 tsp Liquore al Mirtillo (or, you know, whatever booze you think would work - see notes above). Continue to beat until thoroughly combined, and pipe or spread onto cupcakes. Top with a dried blueberry, if desired (my daughter desired hers topped with three).
This photo also shows an alternative frosting for those who want to pack more blueberry flavour in - same frosting plus a spoonful of blueberry jam equals purple frosting. My husband and daughter both preferred this, however I quite liked the subtlety of the frosting with just the grappa.

And now for the innards shot:
This one didn't make it to the frosting stage - num! To be honest, I'd quite happily eat these as is, they are so packed full of blueberry goodness! They do look a bit naked this way though...
Anyway, I hope you enjoy these cupcakes if you do decide to try them out. And please do click on over to Kitchen Koala when June 22nd rolls around and voting starts - there's bound to be some awesome competition! I actually have another idea I'm toying with for this... but will I have the time & motivation to try it out? Hmm...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

My Biggest Morning Tea...

... to raise money for the Cancer Council!

The morning was a great success - everyone had fun, and we raised over $350 - not bad for a little party (just some family and friends)!

Anyway, I thought I would share photos of some of the goodies I made for the morning tea...

Lime sugar cookies (our lime trees are going berserk at the moment - anyone have ideas for using up masses of limes??)

Which is best - single daffodil, mini blossoms, or yellow outline?

Macarons in three flavours: the white ones are plain with coffee buttercream, the purple ones are plain with blackcurrant & white chocolate buttercream, and the pink ones are rose flavoured, with rose flavoured white chocolate buttercream and each topped with a sugared rose petal.

Cupcakes - chocolate mud with dark chocolate ganache and a piped royal icing daffodil.

Decorated sugar cubes, again with daffodils (the Cancer Council uses a daffodil as its symbol, hence my rather extensive use of it on the day). This is the first time I have decorated sugar cubes, but it won't be the last. Has major wow factor - everyone was blown away - and it's really very easy - result! :o)

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