Thick Cream Cheese Frosting

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Cream cheese frosting is my favourite kind of frosting. It has a lovely creamy flavour that isn’t as sweet and sickly as buttercream in my opinion. But the cream cheese frosting recipes I have used before can sometimes be lumpy when the butter isn’t mixed in fully or it just becomes too runny. This recipe does not have those issues!

I don’t hide the fact I don’t like buttercream. It’s very sweet and to me just tastes like butter. People are now used to me baking cakes and cupcakes and taking them into work for everyone to enjoy without me actually eating any myself although they found it suspicious at first. You could ask why I don’t just frost all my cupcakes with cream cheese frosting but there is a very simple answer. I would eat them. If I use buttercream I get to bake which is what I love, but I also know I won’t eat the end product which is always a good thing in my constant struggle to eat better.

As I mentioned in my Funfetti Cake post, I was making a cake for a friend who also isn’t a fan of buttercream. I knew she loved the cream cheese frosting that I used on my carrot cupcakes but I knew there was no chance that would be thick enough to cover a whole cake. It tastes delicious but sometimes it is a little too runny which is why I always frost them with a large round nozzle because I’m worried any other frosting style won’t hold it’s shape. I was talking to someone on Twitter who recommended this recipe to me featured on Kerry Cook’s blog (www.kerrycooks.com). As soon as I saw Kerry had frosted a rainbow cake using her cream cheese frosting recipe, I knew this would be the perfect recipe.

This recipe does take slightly longer than other cream cheese recipes because you have to squeeze the cream cheese through muslin, but the end result is worth it. It’s the extra stage of squeezing the excess liquid from the cream cheese that makes it so thick. I can’t see that I will be going back to my old recipe!

250g cream cheese
100g unsalted butter

400-600g icing sugar

  1. Firstly you need to drain the cream cheese to get rid of as much excess water as you can. I recommend pouring the excess liquid that settles on the top down the sink. Then scoop the cream cheese into a square of muslin and gather the cloth up and twist. Holding it over a bowl or the sink, squeeze so the liquid starts dripping out. I managed to get roughly 2 tablespoons of excess liquid out of mine. Be careful to not get carried away and squeeze too hard though or else you’ll get small pieces of cheese coming through the muslin

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  1. Put the muslin ball on some kitchen paper to let it dry further
  2. In a heatproof bowl, melt the butter in the microwave for 10-15 seconds. You want it to be incredibly soft but not completely melted. It should still be partially solid

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  1. Whisk the butter until it is completely liquid and smooth

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  1. Unwrap the cream cheese from the muslin and add it into the butter mixture. Whisk until completely combined

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  1. Using a wooden spoon, begin adding the icing sugar. Sieve roughly 150g of icing sugar into the butter mixture at a time. Keep adding icing sugar until you have a thick consistency – I used 500g until the frosting was thick enough to not fall off the spoon. At first it might look a little lumpy, but keep going and you will have the most amazing thick cream frosting

The frosting was perfect for my funfetti cake and my friend really liked it. She said it was the best cake she had ever had which is high praise indeed! Although I know lots of people love buttercream, if I had it my way I would frost all cakes with this cream cheese frosting. It really is delicious and I am glad Kerry shared such a fantastic recipe on her blog.

I’d love to hear whether you are a buttercream or cream cheese frosting fan; please leave me a comment with your favourite.

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Please check out the original thick cream cheese frosting recipe on Kerry Cook’s blog http://kerrycooks.com/foolproof-thick-cream-cheese-frosting-recipe/.

Valentine’s Cupcakes

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What better to receive on Valentine’s Day than a lovely cupcake with a red heart inside? I saw these when I was looking for ideas for Valentine’s cupcakes on Pinterest. I really love Pinterest because it is such a quick and easy way of looking and storing recipes/ideas/things you like. I use it to pin recipes that I have made and want to share and also recipes that other people have made and I want to try. I am awful at finding a recipe I want to make but then forgetting which blog or website I found it on and then I have no way of finding it again. Pinterest gives me a place to keep them all together. Its not just for recipes, I have pins for house ideas for example too.

These cupcakes were initially pinned by Lauren Conrad – not someone I would usually look to for baking ideas to be honest, but I really liked the idea. She did include a recipe on her website (www.laurenconrad.com) but I always prefer to use my usual vanilla cupcake recipe. Plus I have no idea what ‘cake flour’ is even after googling!

The cupcakes are definitely something different and a little bit special. It is great to see people’s faces when they bite into them and realise there is a heart inside. I practised the cupcakes a few weeks ago because I wanted to make sure they came out ok before I took on orders. They were a little bit of a faff at first – trying to make sure the red cake heart stayed standing when I was adding the rest of the cake mix worried me because it looked a little messy. I think this was because my cake batter looked thicker than the one used in the original recipe which is why mine didn’t maybe look as neat. When they came out of the oven though I needn’t have worried because they looked lovely. As i went on I got the hang of it and became quicker.

These would obviously be a lovely gift for Valentine’s Day but I think anyone would be chuffed to receive these at any time of year.

For the red cake
75g margarine
75g caster sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
75g self raising flour
Red food colouring

  1. Preheat oven to 170ºC and line a 20x20cm square tin with baking parchment
  2. Beat the margarine and sugar together until pale and fluffy
  3. Add the egg and vanilla extract and slowly mix again and then add the flour and mix until combined
  4. Add enough food colouring to make the batter a bright red colour
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for approximately 14 minutes. It doesn’t matter if the cake is slightly under baked as it is going to be baked again
  6. Allow the cake to cool slightly

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  1. While you are waiting for the red cake to cool, make the plain cake batter. The recipe for this is here http://www.curlyscooking.co.uk/?p=37
  2. Once the red cake has cooled, cut out hearts using a small heart shaped cutter

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  1. Line a cupcake tin with cases and fill each case approximately ¼ full with the plain cake batter
  2. Place one red heart that you have cut out standing up in each cupcake case

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  1. Add more of the plain cake batter to each cupcake case so that it is roughly ¾ full – don’t panic if this doesn’t completely cover the red heart

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  1. Bake in the oven for 14 minutes or until a cocktail stick comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool completely before decorating

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You want to get a nice bright red colour so it really stands out so don’t be afraid of using quite a bit of colouring. I use Wilton gel colours which give a great colour but you do need to use quite a bit. I recommend adding a little bit each time because you can always add more but you can’t remove any!

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I wanted to keep the decoration quite elegant and simple so I decided to use a large star tipped nozzle (Wilton 1M) to create a rose effect. I did this by starting in the centre of the cupcake and piping in a circular motion until I reached the edge of the cupcake. As you reach the edge if you release pressure from your piping bag and then quickly move the bag away you should get a nice clean finish. I then rolled out some red fondant icing and cut our a mini heart to add a bit of colour and to hide the end of the buttercream. The buttercream recipe I used is the same one I used in the vanilla cupcake recipe (http://www.curlyscooking.co.uk/?p=37).

I have been pleasantly surprised with how many orders I have received for these. I’m good at coming up with ideas without actually realising how long it will take me to bake it all! I thought I would get a couple of orders, but ended up making 60 cupcakes. I definitely didn’t help myself by choosing these cupcakes as it isn’t the quickest recipe because you have to make the red cake for the hearts first. Although they took a while, I am glad I made these cupcakes because of how great they look when you bite into them.

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With a lot of help from my Mum, we handmade each cupcake box. I am so happy with how these looked because I think a nice looking box really adds to the whole look of the cupcakes. They did take us hours so I’m not sure how much longer I will be able to make them; especially as my Mum did a lot of the initial cutting while I was at work. We did have a nice time chatting away while we made them (I also got a lesson in how to use scissors…) but I think there’s only so much time Mum can cope with me for!

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Bacon Jam

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Bacon. Jam. A sweet delicious bacon-y jam. Yes it is as amazing as it sounds. I’m sure everyone will agree that bacon makes everything better… well apart from vegetarians but even they can appreciate the glory of bacon.

I’m not completely sure where  I first heard about bacon jam, I think it must have been something I stumbled across when I was browsing the internet for tasty sounding recipes. But as soon as I did see it I knew it was something I wanted to make! From what I can tell, a food truck in America called Skillet came up with the genius idea of bacon jam as a condiment for their burgers. Although they haven’t shared their recipe, a few people have tried to work out what the ingredients might be. I looked at quite a few before decided on one by Leite’s Culinaria. They all featured very similar ingredients but I wasn’t keen on adding hot sauce because I didn’t want a spicy bacon jam, so settled on this one. The original recipe can be found at http://leitesculinaria.com/82690/recipes-bacon-jam.html.

As you can imagine, the house smelled amazing as I was cooking! It isn’t the quickest recipe because it needs to simmer away to reduce and become deliciously sticky. But its perfect to make on a lazy Sunday afternoon when you don’t want to leave the house anyway!

These quantities make enough for me to fill three 280ml jars so it doesn’t produce a huge yield. The bacon jam then needs to be kept in the fridge for up to four weeks. It can be eaten with whatever you fancy adding a bit of bacon-y goodness to but I decided to add it to one of my handmade burgers. If you’re using it from the fridge you will just need to heat it up in a pan over a low heat for five minutes or so until it has warmed through and gone slightly darker. It goes perfectly on a burger because it adds the bacon flavour but also a rich sweetness.

680g smoked bacon, cut into a large dice
2 medium onions, diced
3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

¾ cup strongly brewed coffee
½ cup cider vinegar
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
¼ cup maple syrup

  1.  Add the bacon to a large pan over a medium heat. Stir occasionally until the fat has rendered down and the bacon has become a light brown colour. This should take roughly 20 minutes

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  1. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate lined with kitchen towel to allow it to drain
  2. If there is any fat left in the pan, drain off all but one tablespoon. Add the onions and garlic to the pan and cook until the onions are translucent. This should take around 6 minutes. Make sure the heat isn’t too high or else the colours will brown instead

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  1. Add the coffee, cider vinegar, brown sugar and maple syrup and bring to the boil. Scrape the bottom of the pan to make sure you get all of the browned bits that have stuck. Add the bacon back to the pan and stir

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  1. Reduce the heat so that it is barely simmering and cook uncovered for 1 – 1½ hours or until the liquid has almost completely evaporates and turns syrupy

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  1. Let the jam cool slightly before pulsing in a food processor until it is coarsely chopped. Spoon the bacon jam into sterilised jars and keep in the fridge for up to four weeks.
  2. Rewarm the jam by gently heating it in a pan on a low heat

I didn’t take a photo of the bacon jam after it had been pulsed because to be honest it didn’t look too appealing! It went paler and almost cloudy? So if yours looks a but like that, don’t worry it hasn’t gone wrong! I also have the most ridiculously tiny food processor which isn’t even a food processor its one of those mini choppers. This meant I had to pulse mine in batches but it still worked just as well.

Bacon jam goes perfectly on my homemade burgers, the recipe is here http://www.curlyscooking.co.uk/?p=1340.

Domesticated Momster

Funfetti Cake

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A really fun-looking and moist cake. Perfect for anyone, but especially children.

I was asked to make a birthday cake by my friend for her two nieces. She said she was looking for a cake similar to a Victoria sponge and that she didn’t want buttercream because like me, she isn’t a massive fan of it. At first I was thinking of ways to make a Victoria sponge cake more exciting and appealing for little girls, but then I remembered seeing funfetti cakes on American blogs and thinking they looked great. Funfetti cakes are a moist sponge cake with sprinkles in the batter that create a lovely colourful cake. I showed Hollie and she said it was perfect, so that was the cake sorted now for the frosting!

I asked my Twitter followers for frosting ideas and they came up with some fantastic suggestions. Someone suggested cream cheese frosting which I knew Hollie would love because she is a little bit obsessed with my carrot cupcakes which have cream cheese frosting. My only concern was that cream cheese frosting can be a little sloppy (I tried thinking of a better word but sloppy fits!) which really isn’t something you want when you’re trying to frost a whole cake. Someone pointed me towards a fantastic blog which made the most delicious and thick cream cheese frosting which was perfect!

There are lots of different recipes for funfetti cakes on American blogs. When I was looking at some, one thing I found was just how many blogs were trying to encourage people to ‘ditch the box mix’. Now I know people here in the UK might reach for box mixes if they’re baking with children as a shortcut, but I really don’t think we must use box mixes as much as Americans because I don’t remember seeing that many in the supermarkets. To be honest, making a cake like this is so simple  and the taste will be so much better I can’t see why anyone would ever want to use a cake mix.

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The recipe I decided to use is from one of my favourite American blogs – Sally’s Baking Addiction. She is a self confessed sprinkle addict who even had sprinkles on her wedding cake. So in my opinion there was no one better to provide a funfetti cake recipe. Before making a funfetti cake, I didn’t realise there was a difference between the types of sprinkles! The long thin strips we used to call hundreds and thousands growing up are generally referred to as sprinkles. Then you have the small coloured balls which are called nonpareils which I tend to use more, especially for decorating, because I prefer how they look. This recipe requires sprinkles as the nonpareils bleed their colour.

Sally’s blog is great because the measurements come in both cups and grams. Although I don’t mind using cup measurements, I always prefer to use grams because I feel that way I am more accurate. Another thing I liked about her recipe was that she gave tips on how to adapt the mix to make different cakes. The recipe on her blog was for one cake, but I was looking for a layer cake. Following her tips, I doubled the recipe which made enough batter for two 8 inch had some  left over to make a few cupcakes.
The recipe below is the quantity to make the layer cake with a few cupcakes. 

For the cake
420g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
230g unsalted butter, melted
300g granulated sugar
100g light brown sugar
2 large eggs
120g greek yogurt
360ml milk 
1 tbsp vanilla extract
180g sprinkles (not nonpareils)

  1.  Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Line two 8 inch loose bottomed cake tins
  2. Mix together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt
  3. In another microwave safe bowl, melt the butter in the microwave. When the butter is melted, whisk in both sugars until there are no lumps left

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  1. Whisk the eggs, yogurt, milk and vanilla extract into the butter and sugar mix
  2. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until smooth
  3. Gently stir in the sprinkles being careful not to overmix because the sprinkles will bleed their colour

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  1. Pour the mix into the two prepared cake tins so that the batter comes half way up the sides of the tin. Put any remaining batter into cupcake cases

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  1. Bake in the oven for 33-37 minutes (mine took 35 minutes – the cupcakes took 17 minutes). After 20 mins, cover the cakes loosely with foil to stop the cake becoming too brown. The cake is done when a cocktail stick comes out clean
  2. Allow to cool completely before adding the frosting

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Usually when I bake a cake for an order I don’t get to try the finished cake. With this recipe because there was enough batter left for a few cupcakes, I was able to have a taste. The cake was deliciously moist and had I loved the little flecks of colour throughout. I really loved this cake so I can see definitely becoming a regular go-to recipe! It was lovely to hear from Hollie that this cake was the most amazing cake she has ever had and she wishes she had ordered a three layered cake because she only got one slice. She has also told me everyday since that she can’t stop thinking about the cake. Now if that isn’t a happy customer I don’t know what is!

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