Sunday, June 17, 2012

Blueberry Angel Muffins - Fat Free and Healthy

I spent so much creating this blog and feel terrible that I have not posted something in 6 months!  In my earlier post I mentioned that I left Seoul and am now living in Beijing.  I've also started working again which has been a major detterant in my baking adventures.  A lot of changes in the past 6 months, a major family move to a new country, finding a new home, start of a new job, kids starting school... all contributing to a total neglect of my blog.

Since I don't have as much time as before to bake, I have decided to share recipes that I have tried or fun ideas that I have come across. 

My little baking assistant
 I have found some time to bake on the weekends and when I saw fresh blueberries at the supermarket that were so reasonably priced compared to the ones in Korea, I bought a small box.  The first thing that came to mind was to try the Blueberry Angel Muffins  from The Perfect Finish by Bill Yosses and Melinda Clark.

Now I am a big fan of cupcakes but not so much of the muffin (I can never finish one!) but these are no ordinary muffins.  They have a lighter texture and crumb.  In fact they seem to be more like a steamed cake rather than a muffin, perhaps it is the lack of fat in the recipe.  Whatever it is, they are easy to devour and I can easily eat 3 and feel like having more.  They are a healthier alternative and the sweeter the blueberries, the faster they will disappear.

Blueberry Angel Muffins

Makes 12 Muffins
2/3 cups cake flour
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups blueberries
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 large egg whites(a little less than a cup)
Pinch of cream of tartar
1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus some for sprinkling
Grated zest of 1 lemon

Place muffin liners in 12 muffin tins or grease with baking spray. Heat the oven to 375F.
Sift the flour, confectioner’s sugar, and salt into a small bowl and set aside. In another bowl, toss the blueberries and vanilla.

Blueberries tossed with vanilla essence

In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until frothy. Add 1 tablespoon or granulated sugar and continue beating on medium until soft peaks form. Beat in the remaining granulated sugar and raise the speed to high. Beat until stiff peaks form. Once the stiff peaks are reached, remove the bowl from the mixer and immediately sprinkle the flour mixture and lemon zest on top.
Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form

Flour mixture spinkled onto the egg whites

Fold in gently with a rubber spatula. Fold in half of the blueberries. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups and sprinkle remaining blueberries and sugar on top (for some reason the sugar didn't caramalise as in the picture so I popped it under the grill briefly to achieve that slightly golden colour). Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the tops are lightly browned and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from tins and let cool for 15 minutes before eating.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My First Wedding Cake

So there I was about a year ago, the gung-ho excited home baker and amateur cake decorator happily volunteering to make my brother's wedding cake.  Perhaps I underestimated how much baking I would have to do in a very short span of time.  I could have also forgotten how hot it is to bake in 32C weather.  I blame it on being caught up on the excitement of my older brother getting hitched and the possibility of making my first wedding cake.

That aside, it was really enjoyable planning the cake.  My SIL (sister in-law) had some fabulous ideas for the theme (some of which I used for my daughter's 2nd birthday) of the wedding so that made my job very easy.  She also had some ideas for the type of cake she wanted and supplied me with lots of pictures to sketch some sample cake decorations for her.  The main colour for the wedding was Pink and she liked a cake scattered with daisy that she saw.

These are some sample of string garlands that I piped for her to choose from. It was done on an old ice cream container! : )
We settled on a 3 tier cake and I felt a 12" cake for the 1st tier would be a good size to feed about 150 people.  She wanted the daisies pink and the cake a white on white design so we tinted the cake pink so when you cut through the white fondant we'd see pink inside.  I suggested a butter cake to ensure it wouldn't sink under the fondant and I made it a strawberry cake to go with the pink colour.  We decided against any fruit between the layers because of the weather and went with a vanilla buttercream between the layers.  I didn't go crazy with the pink as I would worried it would be too much colouring but maybe I should have?  The colour was a light pink almost peachy colour due to the yellowness of the butter and egg yolk element.

The sketch for the cake with ideas for each tier.
While I was holidaying in Australia, I started the sketches and practiced a bit with royal icing as it had been months and months since I have used a piping bag and if anyone's piped with royal icing will know that you need to have strong hands to get the royal icing out smoothly.  My SIL chose a delicate and classic looking string garland for the 1st tier, a fondant ribbon with royal icing polka dots and picots on the top tier.  We kept it white on white to give the cake texture and the focal point were the gumpaste daisies.

I was going for fushia with the daisies using Wilton's gel paste Rose colour with a little bit of Burgundy but for some reason the daisies looked a little more red than fushia.  Sigh.  It became a case of if the flowers were seen under a white light, it was fushia but under yellow light it looked more red.  After they were put onto the cake they looked right at home though.

The ribbon in the 2nd tier had to be redone because it was too thin the first time around. It looked better the second time but I have to learn how to put it perfectly straight.  There were some parts of the ribbon that were wavy even though we had 2 pairs of eyes and hands placing it around the cake!   My sister was a big help with the decoration and became a pro at making the pearl borders as she was quicker and better at making them herself than with me helping.  After a few tries, she managed to get those borders nice, fat and round whereas mine had some slightly misshaped ones and they tended to break from the 'string'.  The borders do a lot to complete the cake and they are great for hiding untidy bottoms.  Hee hee.

Here's my sister the pro at making pearl borders.
To complete the home made cake was a cute figurine of the couple painstaking and lovingly created by my SIL's sister made from clay.  The level of detail was amazing!  She got the bride and groom's features spot on right down to the bride's cute cartoon eyes.

See those cute cartoony eyes?  Spot on!
Before I started on the cake though I spent 5 hours baking heart-shaped sugar cookies for the wedding favours.  This was the same day after I had gotten off a plane but my enthusiasm helped me forget my fatigue.  That was Day T-4.  On Day T-3 my SIL and I spent 8 hours covering the cookies with fondant, dusting it petal dust and stamping their names on it then packaging the cookies.  The fatigue started to set in...

Day T-2 saw me spend 9 hours baking 5 cakes.  It was sooooo hot.  It was over 30C outside and the oven was almost constantly going in the kitchen.  It was at this point that I said that I would be quite happy not baking for a few months after that!

Then on Day T-1 it was all about decorating.  I started late, sometime in mid-afternoon as I wanted to join my sis and mother for a mani pedi. : )  I am glad I did that, it seemed to re-energise me.  Even then I spent another 9 hours decorating into the wee hours.  My sister and brother were kind enough to stay up with me.

Adding the finishing touches to the border.
The royal icing piped garlands - I love how they turned out.
The completed cake.
It was a really good experience but I think it will be the last time I put my hand up to make a wedding cake for someone.  So much pressure!  I was so worried the cake would fall over on the way to the venue too!


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Disney Princess Cupcakes

So I have finally gotten around to uploading some photos of my last cake order in Korea.  I have since had requests for more orders but *sob* *sob* I have been unable to take any of them on.  Please see my previous post for some ideas for other places to buy some cupcakes off the counter.
It had to happen some time.  I have always loved Disney cartoons and had always wondered at the creative genius behind the marketing person who dreamed up marketing the Disney Princesses as a product by itself.  So when I got the request for Disney Princess inspired cupcakes... YAY!

I wasn't sure I'd do a good job making the Disney Princesses with gumpaste and figured they will look prettier if it was the actual figurines themselves and R who ordered these cupcakes for her daughter's 3rd birthday liked the Princess cupcakes I made a few months ago so requested for something like that.  We spun a lot of ideas and finally decided on a customised cake/dessert stand so we can put the smash cake on top, R had a good idea of standard sized cupcakes and mini ones to break up the symetry a bit and have the frosting in Disney Princess colours.

I got the idea for the cake stand from Cake Journal who has a good tutorial on how to make your own.  I had to get some of the material from Malaysia (the cake boards) as I could not find good thick round ones here.  I got cake dummies as base for the tiers.  These were made from styrofoam and you can buy them from Wilton Deco.  I managed to get wrapping paper that went well with the frosting colours too.

R chose Strawberry for half the mini cupcakes, Rose flavour for the standard cupcakes and Mud Chocolate for the cake and the other half of the mini cupcakes.  The designs for the cupcakes may have been simple but the colours made them so appealing!  I created a special design with 3 hearts on top of the cake so R could put 3 Disney Princess figurines on top whch would have completed the look but she didn't in the end as she was afraid she would ruin the cake.  ^_^   I heard the party was fabulous and the birthday girl had a great time.

The cake stand was customised to compliment the colours of the icing.  I got the idea to make a cake stand from Cake Journal.  I  decided against using a single coloured paper to make it a little more fun.  Look under Cake Journal's tutorials to learn how to make it, I can't add the link here as the site is temporarily down.

These are the mini strawberry cupcakes freshly frosted and topped with a sugarpaste flower.

Standard sized cupcakes with super pink frosting topped with a sugarpaste butterfly lovingly brushed with petal dust and sprinkled with sugar pearls.

These butterflies were quite easy to make with a plunger cutter.  Dusting it reminded me of art class when I was in school.

The finished cupcakes all packed and ready to go.

The cake stand with the top base missing as that would be assembled on site.
The finished product.  The Disney Princesses are to stand on top of the hearts on the smash cake.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Alternative Options for that Cupcake Fix

It’s been awfully quiet on my blog as I have been busy moving countries!  Yes, *sob sob* I have left Korea.  This happened 2 months ago and prior to that I was stressed out, sad and trying to get organized with the move. 

There are two more posts that I would like to add but the photos are in a hard drive in a container somewhere on its way to our next home (we are taking some time to travel and visit family before we settle in our next destination).  But here’s a sneak peak of the last cupcake order I made for a darling little girl.  It was in the Princess Barbie theme and the Mum (R) and I worked on some ideas to make it extra special.  To keep in theme with theme and colours, I made the cupcake stand from scratch as my other stands did not allow me to put the small smash cake on top.  Once I get settled I will get out some more pics and post how to make your own stand.

We were always only meant to be in Korea for a couple of years and we managed to stay 3 which was a bonus.  Don’t get me wrong, the first year was tough.  Trying to get oriented, attempting the language and figuring out the culture.  It was nice discovering where to get things in my neighborhood and of course having friends made our lives in Seoul so much more enjoyable. 

I had a chance to pursue cake decorating and create delectable bites for people who were willing to give an amateur a go and for that, I thank you all.  What happens now?  Who know.  After I get settled, I will look at seeing if anyone is interested in some cakes or cupcakes from ButterSugarCream!

I have had a few requests for cupcakes and cakes since I left so I am going to refer you to some alternative sources:

1) Life is Just a Cupof Cake – A cozy cupcakery with frosting made on site.  The owner herself has written a book on her journey to open the first cupcakery and has been blogged about a lot by foodies in Korea.  Their cupcakes are not too sweet and taste good.  I think their selling point is the wholesomeness of their cupcakes and they don’t try to Wow you with their frosting.  Their Blueberry and Cream Cheese cupcake is something to write home about but I have also eaten it when it seemed it had been baked 2 days before.  So I think you will just have to try your luck and hope it’s fresh when you go.  I don’t know if they do customized cupcakes, the assistants in the Itaewon branch do not speak much English.
****  KRW4,000 - KRW4,500 ea

2) Good Morning Cupcake – Think ice cream parlour but selling cupcakes.  That’s the impression I get from this cupcakery.  Their cupcakes have attractive colours and toppings so you definitely give them a second glance.  Standard sized cupcakes with a mountain of frosting and colourful toppings.  They have interesting flavours like Rocky Road, Green Tea (personally not a fan) and they carry Red Velvet too.  They have a shop in Sinsa-dong, Karuso-gil (it’s on a side street off Karuso-gil) and you can find them in the basement of Hyundai Department Store.
***   KRW4,000 – JRW4,500 ea

3) Lynn’s Cupcake – Located in Hannam-dong (well the one I know anyway), it’s opposite Guillame near the entrance to UN Village. It’s a sweet little store that stocks pretty cupcakes in pastel colours that you can take away in their special boxes.  I classify cupcakes in several sizes: Mini, Petite, Standard, Jumbo.  Most other shops have standard sized cupcakes but theirs are slightly smaller – Petite.  However, the price is the same so I find theirs not quite value for money.  Pretty though.
***    KRW3,500 – KRW4,000

For a few other choices, please read this article from The Korea Times

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Quest for the Perfect Brownie

I like brownies.  I think a lot of people do.  I have tried a few brownie recipes in the last few years but I have always been a little disappointed.  The results have always been the quite chewy and sweet... oh so sweet!  I think the recipes I have been trying is the American style brownie whereas what I am searching for is the kind that is more cake-like which were the ones my Aunt used to make when I was a kid.  Filled with walnuts and so satisfying!  Perhaps those are English brownies??

Anyway, I got it in my head today that I wanted to make brownies.  So it's 11.22pm and the brownies are in the oven.  I have raided my Hummingbird Bakery cookbook to test yet another recipe with the hopes for a dense but cakey brownie.  I also need to bring something to an Easter Picnic this weekend and I thought brownies might be nice.  I never bake something for someone without trying the recipe first so I had to get a move on.  Last year was cupcakes and I didn't want to be... predictable. ^_*

Another good friend of mine, B had gone on in the past about this delicious brownie that a neighbour of hers made which had white chocolate in it but that neighbour was quite good at evading the request for the recipe.  So I'm thinking, I'll do this for B.  I will bake AND eat some brownies until I can find a good recipe to give her.  Then she can recreate this genius in the bakegoods group and make her kids go crazy with a sugar rush!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Cupcakes Inspired by Marie Antoinette

In the last 2 months I have had 2 close friends who have left Seoul to start new lives.  One moved to another country in Asia and the other all the way to Europe.  I find that the older you get, the harder it is to make new long and lasting friendships.  So it was sad to see them go.  I am confident though that I will see them again even though it won't be quite the same as when we were living in the same city.

We threw a farewell party for Wani and as it was potluck I decided to bring dessert.  What a surprise! ; )  W has been very helpful in sampling new flavours and giving feedback.  I mean when you love baking, you've got to have an audience who is willing to be guinea pigs.  Also I find that whether it is cooking you enjoy or baking, you want to share with others.  So I've been lucky to have W who has been very obliging even when the result is a bit under par.

For her farewell, I decided to make Orange Almond cupcakes (recipe from Australian Women's Weekly) with Tangy Orange Buttercream.  The colours were inspired by the sweet yet extravagant styling from Marie Antoinette the movie with Kirsten Dunst.

I dropped 2 of the boxes when I got out of the car as I had to grab my daughter who tripped.  I was so upset but luckily the frosting was still quite hard as it had been in the fridge so only a few of the cupcakes were damaged.  A couple of flowers were missing part of their petal and a couple of the words were a little smudged.  The most important thing was they were enjoyed.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Cupcake Party for 5 Little Girls

 When my friend asked if I might be interested to conduct a cupcake making and decorating class for 5 little girls under the age of 5, I didn't have to think twice to say, "Yes".  How much fun would it be?  HEAPS.... right?  Mmmmm...  it was fun but it was hard work.

I want to break an egg too!
Preparation was simple, I baked some cupcakes in advance so they would have something to start decorating while they waited for the cupcakes 'they made' bake in the oven and cool down.  Prepare the buttercream, I used the American style buttercream which is more durable and slightly less messy, mix the colours, pack the baking tools, ingredients and bring the toppings!  

I show up early to setup and my friend's little girl, Erin who is 3 and her friend is already there waiting and as her Mum says, "They are SUPER EXCITED!"  Okaaaay.  My friend surveys my set up 10 minutes later as I cover her nice dining table with my tools and the small ones for small hands, and tells me I better have lots and lots of pink frosting!  I did have more pink frosting but she wasn't wrong when later I asked the girls what their favourite colours were, the two answers I got were Pink and Strawberry.  I had to make more pink frosting later.  I also gushed and ooohed over purple and yellow to try to get the excited about those other colours as well.

How much candy is on top of that cupcake?!
The girls were great, they helped me stir the butter and sugar, they each got a turn to crack eggs... and smash eggs, they folded in flour and then they got bored.  So we took a 10 minute break while I set up for the decorating part.  I brought different types of sprinkles, 100 thousands, little jelly gems, jelly beans, chocolate balls, rainbow chips and coloured sugar.  Let's just say the decorating part was the 'funnest' part for the kids.  They really piled up their cupcakes as you can see from their photos.  They wanted to eat one cupcake first and after their Mums said OK, they picked at their cupcakes.  5 minutes later, they still hadn't finished eating the candy and toppings they put on top of the frosting!  They must have been on such a sugar rush after.

A very pretty cupcake for you...

Look at the intense concentration - adorable.

Do you have enough Jelly Gems on yours?

All packed and ready to be taken home.  I had a fun time making those labels with my new Uchida Scalloped Egde Round hole puncher.  Someone on Amazon was very happy doing business with me. : )