Ready to bake some cupcakes with me? Hi everyone this is Jillian with some pretty cupcakes for you to make on Delicious Bites for August. Although I bake regularly, I’m not much of a cake decorator so I turned to the internet for some inspiration. I found lots of pretty images and decided to decorate my cupcakes with petal decorations made from coloured marshmallows. The base is a classic vanilla butter cake recipe and I decided to include some plain flour in the mix to prevent the cakes from peaking too much.The icing is my all time favourite cream cheese icing (frosting) which I whipped for 5 minutes until it was very light and fluffy. I refrigerated the icing for about 20 minutes until it was firm enough to pipe.
I topped each cake with a rosette of the icing then decorated the cakes with a chocolate button and 4 marshmallow petals. The petals are easily made by snipping a marshmallow horizontally and like magic, the marshmallow forms the shape of a petal. You can let your imagination run wild while decorating the cupcakes. I tried out a few designs and combinations using different coloured marshmallows and different coloured chocolate buttons but decided I liked a single colour petal topped with the same coloured chocolate button grouped together en masse. Here’s the recipe and instructions for you.
PETAL CUPCAKES (makes 12)
3/4 cup self raising flour
1/4 cup plain flour
100 gm (3 1/2 oz) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup caster (superfine) sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
CREAM CHEESE ICING
30 gm (1 oz) unsalted butter, softened
60 gm (2 oz) cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sifted icing sugar
1 tablespoons milk
24 coloured marshmallows
Coloured chocolate buttons or Smarties
Line a 12 hole muffin tray with cupcake liners. Preheat a conventional oven to 180C/350F. Sift the self raising flour and the plain flour together into a small bowl and set to one side. In a large bowl cream the butter, caster sugar and vanilla extract until light and creamy. Gradually mix in the beaten egg, adding a tablespoon or so of flour if the mixture starts to curdle. Add the remaining flour and sufficient milk to form a soft cake batter. Spoon tablespoons of the cake batter into the cupcake liners. Bake the cupcakes at 180C/350F for 20-30 minutes or until the cupcakes are golden and cooked when tested with a fine skewer. Allow the cupcakes to cool a little before removing to a wire cake rack. When completely cool decorate or store undecorated in an airtight container. To make the icing, cream the butter, cream cheese and the vanilla extract together in a small bowl until the mixture becomes light and fluffy. Mix in the icing sugar and sufficient milk to make a soft icing. Whip for 5 minutes until the icing becomes very pale and refrigerate until the mixture is firm enough to pipe.
To decorate, pipe a swirl of cream cheese icing over the top of one of the cupcakes. Cut 2 marshmallows in half horizontally. Pinch the ends to make petals. Place a chocolate button in the centre of the icing, then arrange 4 of the marshmallow petals on top. Put the cupcake to one side and decorate the remaining cupcakes. Set the cupcakes to one side to set before serving.
Today is my final Delicious Bites column for decor8. I’ve been contributing to decor8 for 5 years now, initially contributing with photos to Holly’s blog posts (since 2009) then with my own column shooting shops for the Shopgirl Visits (May 2012 – December 2012) before turning to writing about my great love, food, in February 2013 and wrapping up the column here today. So after all these years on decor8 I will miss you all. I’ll still be baking and photographing for my own blog though, so please drop by to see what I’m up to. Wishing you all the best, Jillian.
(images/text: Jillian Leifboff)
Are you ready for a delicious Strawberry Pavlova recipe? You’ll want to Pin and make this one! Hi there, it’s Jillian here with this month’s Delicious Bites column. I’ve just spent 5 weeks in Europe and I was there for the start of the berry season. I just love berries and I can’t tell you how many punnets of strawberries and raspberries I consumed while I was away. So with berries on my mind I decided to make a Strawberry Pavlova. Australia claims the Pavlova but our close friends and neighbours from New Zealand also claim it as their own. Whoever invented it was pretty clever because the combination of a crisp meringue shell, fluffy marshmallow interior topped with lashings of cream and fruit is a winner. I’ve seen many pictures of desserts claiming to be Pavlova but I’m pretty hard line when it comes to the definition. A Pavlova must be tall and it must have a marshmallow interior and if not, then it’s not a Pavlova.
Do you have one of those old fashioned common sense cookbooks on your bookshelf that you turn to time and time again? Well I have a few and one of those is Maureen’s Simpson’s Australian Cuisine. I can’t claim this Pavlova recipe as my own, because it comes straight from the pages of this well used book, but I’ve changed the method a little. As long as you follow the recipe, it’s actually pretty easy to make but you need to allow plenty of time to make the meringue base and time to let it cool. The base can be made well ahead of time and stored in an airtight container. Once it’s decorated, the Pavlova loses its crunch quite quickly, so don’t decorate it too far in advance.
Don’t worry if the top cracks while it bakes– it’s amazing what a dollop of cream can disguise. Generously top with berries. You really need something tart with a Pavlova to counteract the sugar in the meringue. Raspberries, blackberries or blueberries work well or as my brother prefers, simply drizzled with passion fruit pulp. Once decorated, stand back and bask in the glory as every-one admires your creation. Here’s the recipe for you.
INGREDIENTS: 4 eggwhites / Pinch of salt / 1 heaped cup (230g) caster sugar / 1 teaspoon white vinegar / 1 20 ml tablespoon cornflour / 1 teaspoon vanilla extract / 1¼ cups (300ml) thickened cream, whipped /1 punnet strawberries, washed and dried / Optional – icing sugar
METHOD: Preheat the oven (conventional) to 180°C/350°F. Line a flat baking tray with baking paper and using a 18cm (7 inch) cake tin as your guide, mark out a circle on the paper. Flip the paper over and use this as your template. In a large clean dry bowl, beat eggwhites with the pinch of salt until stiff. Add the caster sugar gradually, one heaped tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the vinegar, cornflour and vanilla extract. Pile or pipe the meringue mixture onto the baking tray, keeping within the marked circle. Smooth the top so it resembles a flat cake. It needs to be at least 5-6 cm (2-3 inches) high. Place the Pavlova in the oven and immediately reduce the oven temperature to 130°C/275°F and bake for 1¼ – 1½ hours or until the Pavlova is dry and very lightly coloured. Turn the oven off and allow the Pavlova to cool completely in the switched off oven. When cool, remove the baking paper from the Pavlova and store in an airtight container. Just before serving, top the Pavlova with the lightly whipped cream and berries and lightly dust with icing sugar if desired.
This recipe serves six. If you’re serving a crowd you could make 2 separate Pavlovas or one really large one as this is an easy recipe to upscale. For each egg white, you need ¼ cup caster sugar, 1 teaspoon of cornflour and ¼ teaspoon each of vanilla extract and vinegar. If you’re making a larger Pavlova, make an 8 or 9 inch template and extend the cooking time by 15 – 30 minutes. I hope you enjoy the recipe.
See you all again next month with another Delicious Bites recipe. – Jillian
(text/styling/photography: jillian leiboff)
Would you like to try some Ricotta Pancakes with Passionfruit Syrup? Hello, everyone, its Jillian with another Delicious Bites column for decor8. Normally I write from Sydney but this month I’m writing from Europe, currently Paris, where I’m on vacation. I’ve been eating a pastry a day, purely as research for Delicious Bites of course (wink).
Do you like pancakes? Yes, of course you do! I’ve always loved pancakes yet I don’t make them that often. Blueberry pancakes are my favourite closely followed by ricotta pancakes. Ricotta cheese is one of my all time favourite ingredients. I use it all the time as a spread and in some of my favourite pasta dishes. I’ve even tried making ricotta at home just to see if I could. I mainly use ricotta in savoury dishes but this time I’m using it as the main ingredient in these light and fluffy pancakes.
This pancake recipe was inspired by Aussie cook and restaurateur, Bill Granger. I have one of Bill’s cookbooks at home and the recipes are easy to follow and taste great. Bill is famous for his ricotta hotcakes with honey comb butter and this is my take on his classic dish. Instead of honeycomb butter, I topped the hotcakes with labne and sliced banana then drizzled over some passionfruit syrup. If passionfruit are hard to source, honey or maple syrup would work well or any other of your favourite pancake toppings. These pancakes are at their best when freshly made. They still taste great when reheated but they do lose their fluffiness. Here’s the recipe for you.
Ricotta hotcakes with passionfruit syrup
(Makes 15 hotcakes)
1 cup self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
Two 20 ml tbs caster sugar
1 tsp grated lemon rind
4 eggs, separated
250 g (8 oz) ricotta cheese
1 cup milk or buttermilk
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl. Stir in the sugar and lemon rind. Gently mix in the egg yolks, the ricotta cheese and the milk. In a large clean dry bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites through the batter. Grease a small non stick pan and place over a medium heat. When the pan is hot, spoon in a few tablespoons of the mixture just enough to cover the pan. When bubbles form on the surface and the undersurface is golden brown, it’s time to flip the hotcake over and cook the other side. I like to lightly grease the pan in between each hotcake, to prevent them sticking. Once cooked, keep the pancakes warm.
½ cup sugar
¼ cup water
¼ cup lemon juice
2 passionfruit, pulped
In a small saucepan combine the sugar, water and the juice. Bring to the boil and lower the heat. Simmer the mixture for a few minutes. Gently stir in the passionfruit pulp and simmer for a further minute. Remove from the heat. Serve hot or cold. If the syrup gets too thick as it cools, just dilute it with a little hot water.
I really hope you get the chance to make these as they are just delicious. See you all again next month with another Delicious Bites post, – Jillian.
(text/images by jillian leiboff)
Would you like to try a yummy Zucchini Lime and Pecan Cake Recipe? Hi everyone, it’s Jillian here with another Delicious Bites recipe for you this month. This time last year, I asked Holly’s readers for some recipe suggestions. A reader, Gillian, suggested a recipe for a courgette and lime sponge cake and I went to work in my kitchen.
I love cakes made with vegetables and nuts, so I made a zucchini, lime and pecan cake, photographed it and took it into work to be evaluated by my test audience. They loved the cake but when the time came to post the recipe, I’d mislaid it. I made my way back into the kitchen to create the recipe which I adapted from the carrot and almond cake recipe from ‘Marcella’s Kitchen’ by Marcella Hazan. I scribbled the recipe onto the back of an envelope and stuck it to my fridge for safekeeping.
The addition of the zucchini makes this a lovely moist and nutty cake. Please don’t skip drying out the grated zucchini on kitchen paper or a tea towel before adding it to the batter. I did that the first time I made the cake and the batter was very runny. There’s no fat in the actual cake recipe but I couldn’t help myself when it came to the icing.
I just love cream cheese icing/frosting and adding zingy lime to the mix only makes it better, in my opinion. In the first version of the cake I topped it with some lime glace icing, so if you’d like a lower fat version of the cake that also works really well. For decoration I added some toffee pecans which I found on this lovely Australian food blog, The Food Department. Here’s the recipe for you – Zucchini Lime and Pecan Cake – makes one 8 inch cake…
275 g (9 oz) zucchini/courgette, grated and dried on kitchen paper
5 eggs, separated
250 g (8 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
2 limes, rind grated
250 g (8 oz) ground toasted pecans
100 g (3 1/2 oz) sponge finger crumbs or dried breadcrumbs
1 tsp baking powder
1 20 ml tbs lime juice
45 g (1 1/2 oz) unsalted butter
90 g (3 oz) cream cheese
1 tsp grated lime rind
1 1/2 cups sifted icing (confectioners) sugar
1- 2 tsp lime juice
1/2 cup sugar
30 mls (2 tbs) water
12-18 toasted pecans
Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F (conventional oven). Line the base and sides of an 8 inch round tin with baking paper. In a large bowl whisk the egg yolks, sugar and rind until light and fluffy and trebled in volume. Mix the ground pecans, the sponge finger crumbs and baking powder together in a bowl. Gently fold into the egg yolk mixture along with the lime juice and the grated zucchini. In a clean dry bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the whites through the zucchini mixture. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for 50 – 60 minutes in the centre of the oven or until the cake is well risen and tests cooked when tested with a skewer. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool completely before icing. The cake will sink a little as it cools.
Cream together the unsalted butter, cream cheese and grated rind until light and fluffy. Add the icing sugar and sufficient lime juice to form a soft icing. Beat for about 3 minutes.
This makes sufficient icing to ice the top of an 8 inch cake.
In a small saucepan combine the sugar and water and bring the mixture to the boil. Boil steadily until the toffee turns a golden brown. Take the toffee off the heat and using a skewer coat each pecan with the toffee. Allow to cool on baking paper. Coarsely chop the pecans and use to decorate the cake with a little extra grated lime rind.
I hope you like the recipe. I’ll be back again next month with another Delicious Bites post. Bye for now, Jillian
(text/images: jillian leiboff)