When Chele announced that this month we were to make something suitable for the We Should Cocoa first birthday party, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I’d been eyeing up Pam Corbin’s Chocolate Cake recipe since I first acquired her excellent book Cakes (no 8 in the River Cottage Handbook series). I was intrigued by her use of drinking chocolate powder in the recipe.
Once again, another birthday has passed me by and in the age old tradition, it was time to make cakes for work. Keen to use more of the apricot curd, I thought I’d make a Victoria Sandwich similar to the lime curd one I made a couple of months ago. With one of my colleagues being vegan, I needed to make something a bit different too and that will follow in a later post.
This is what I did:
- Creamed 225g unsalted butter with 225g cardamom sugar until pale & fluffy.
- Beat in 3 duck eggs one by one.
- Sifted in 200g flour (50g wholemeal & 150g white), 25g cocoa, 1 rounded tsp baking powder and a pinch of bicarb of soda.
- Stirred in 1 heaped tbsp home made Creme Fraiche (I usually use yogurt).
- Spooned into two 22cm sandwich moulds and baked for 25 minutes at 180C until risen and firm to the touch.
- Left to cool for 10 minutes then turned out onto wire racks to cool completely.
- Stacked together with a piece of greaseproof paper between and placed a tin over the top for the night.
- In the morning, unstacked the cakes, only to find that part of one of them had stuck to the paper – oh well holes in the top of the cake it was to be!
- In the morning, creamed 50g of unsalted butter with 100g icing sugar until very light and fluffy.
- Beat in 3 heaped tbsp of apricot curd.
- Spread this over one of the cakes and put the other on top.
- Dusted with icing sugar.
Having just made apricot curd, I was keen to start using it in some baking. With a week of annual leave, it seemed like a good time to have some friends over for tea. At about the same time, I had also been sent a cupcake stand to review. So, apricot curd cupcakes it just had to be. Along with these I made some goats cheese and orach muffins based on a Rachel Demuth recipe from Green Seasons and some cinnamon and chocolate buns (recipe to follow). After spending some time mulling over how I was going to use the apricot curd in cupcakes, I eventually decided to base it on the raspberry and white chocolate ones I made for the first We Should Cocoa; these were a great success. Having recently fallen in love with cardamom sugar, the brainchild of Vanessa Kimbell, I substituted that for the vanilla sugar.
This is what I did:
- Melted 125g unsalted butter with 50g white chocolate in a large bowl over a pan of hot water.
- Stirred in 150g cardamom sugar.
- Beat in 2 duck eggs.
- Sifted in 180g flour (80g wholemeal, 80g white, 20g coconut) and 1 tsp baking powder.
- Stirred in 70g 0% fat Greek yogurt and 50 ml water.
- Spooned roughly half the batter into 12 cupcake cases.
- Placed a tsp of apricot curd on top of the batter the spooned in the remaining batter.
- Baked for 22 minutes at 180C.
- Turned onto a rack to cool.
- Stirred 4 tbsp of apricot curd into 125g of mascarpone and mixed until fully incorporated.
- Spread over the cooled cupcake cases and decorated with orange stars.
As luck would have it, the weather was set to be fair, so I took the opportunity to have a tea party down at the field. Our plot is looking really good at the moment, with the vegetable beds full and flowers blooming everywhere. Chairs were kindly brought along by friends as well as cups and a flask of tea. With 13 of us, aptly a bakers dozen, we had just enough chairs and just enough food. What with good weather and good company, I can’t think of a better way to spend time with friends.
Although this could very easily be an entry for this month’s We Should Cocoa, I have something else in mind for that.
I was really pleased with the cupcake stand, supplied by Find Me A Gift. It’s a four tier steel stand which takes up to 23 cupcakes or muffins. The stand can take any sized cupcake and you could dispense with one of the middle layers if you had fewer items to display. Twenty three seemed like a good number as this is two standard bakes of twelve cupcakes, which leaves one left over to be …. errr…. tested beforehand! The cakes all sat well on the stand where they had sunken holders. The only one I was concerned about was the very top one which relied on balance alone. Even though there was a fair breeze outside, not a single cake was blown off – not even the top one. I thought it made for a good display and showed off my cupcakes well. One step nearer to my pop up tea room!
Another post which isn’t a chocolate one – yet! It will be used for a future chocolate recipe though. Apricots are the ingredient chosen by Chele for this month’s We Should Cocoa. Don’t you just love the colour of apricots? I certainly do. When I saw a recipe for Apricot Curd over at Home Baked, it seemed like a useful thing to have to hand. Not that I have yet decided what I’m going to make – several ideas are still circulating in my mind. I used a slightly different method to Hannah as I’d heard whisking the lemon juice into the eggs helped to “cook” the eggs, so wanted to do that bit first. I also used a little less sugar as I don’t like things too sweet and the sugar I used was cardamom sugar – an idea I got from hearing about Vanessa Kimbell’s book Prepped.
This is what I did:
- Simmered 4 large stoned and chopped apricots (225g) in a splash of water for about 10 minutes until soft.
- Grated the zest from an organic lemon and squeezed out the juice.
- Whisked this together with 2 duck eggs in a bowl large enough to sit on a pan of simmering water.
- Placed the bowl on the pan and whisked in 200g cardamom sugar.
- Added the apricots and continued to whisk.
- Whisked occasionally until the mixture was thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
- Strained through a sieve (there were a few hard threads in the apricots which would have given an unpleasant texture).
- Poured into 3 small sterilised jars.