Sunday, February 24, 2013

Chocolate Orange Cake

One of my favourite treats when I was young was a Terry's Chocolate Orange which arrived on your birthday, and we loved the tap and unwrap process of smashing the sphere of chocolate off the nearest hard surface and hoping two sections would still be stuck together, as you could claim that as one piece.  I'm a big fan of chocolate and orange together so I decided that I needed to make a cake with soft chocolate sponge and a tangy orange icing.

Everybody needs a bit of cakey love now and then - it soothes the soul when you're troubled and makes the dullest day shine a little brighter.  This particular episode of cakey love was also inspired by a quantity of leftover Swiss Meringue Buttercream icing from my batch of Red Velvet Cupcakes.  As it freezes really well, I was going to store it for my nephew Ethan's next birthday cake, until I remembered he wanted white chocolate icing.  There was nothing else for it, I had to make some Chocolate Orange Cake.

Photo by Kerrie Walsh

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Adventures of Accident-Prone Aoife

As the Hubs would say on many an occasion, "accident prone" should be my middle name.  If there's a pothole, I'll fall into it (Lanzarote 2001, torn ligaments), if there's a dip in the path, I'll go flying (December 2011, more torn ligaments).  Basically, I should be just enveloped in bubble wrap and sent on my merry way... 

One place where I am extremely careful about safety though, is in my kitchen.  My even more accident prone Dad has cut himself with knives more times than I care to remember, resulting in the trusty first aid box being left permanently open, just in case.  I'm sure half of the housekeeping was spent on bandages and plasters!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Double Pear and Almond Cake

I've made a rod for my own back.  As you can tell from the blog, I bake the odd few cakes and biscuits and I like to share them with my work colleagues.  The Hubs brings some into his work too, so I am usually very popular of a Monday morning. Beady eyes follow my every movement when I walk through the door and over to my desk, and some people come over on the pretense of saying hello, but actually trying to see if I have any food with me.  Last Friday, I was even asked what I was going to make at the weekend for Monday.  Ah, give a girl a chance...

I had a basket of pears in the fruit bowl which I had forgotten to bring to work for breakfast, so it was fitting that they would end up in the office anyway, as part of a cake.  Almonds are the perfect match for pears and I was thinking about a Frangipane all morning but I wasn't in the humour to make pastry.  A bottle of Pear Liqueur in the drinks cabinet caught my eye and a plan was hatched.  This was going to be a grown-up cake but it can easily be adapted to suit a family by replacing the liqueur with milk.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Vinegar and Bicarbonate of Soda.  The perfect combination for cleaning the house and ridding clothes of unwanted marks. But in a cake?  You must be mad!  Actually no, because using these fizzy, foaming ingredients gives my Red Velvet Cupcakes a lovely acidic edge which works beautifully with my sweet Swiss Meringue Buttercream Icing.

These are the perfect sweet treat for your Valentine as they bake in just 15 minutes and the contrast between the cocoa rich red sponge and the delicate vanilla icing is very pretty indeed.  I've already delivered a batch to work, where most of them ended up being a very cheery breakfast because we don't have the willpower to wait until lunch.  Mammy in Law also had no willpower and couldn't wait until her birthday on Valentines Day (yes really, together with my Mum) to eat hers.  Some people have no stamina!

Photo by Kerrie Walsh

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

There's nothing worse than a shabby dry cupcake flooded with tooth-rottingly sweet icing trying to pass itself off as a fine example of cake.  And believe me, I have eaten some pretty horrendous cupcakes in my time - two of which were in very well known bakeries in New York.  They were so bad, we chucked them in the bin, which goes against my waste not, want not philosophy, and left a really bad taste in our mouths.

So, what do you do when faced with something pretty on the outside but mediocre within?  Well, you go and make a much nicer version yourself!.  This sweet but light Swiss Meringue Buttercream icing on top of my Red Velvet Cupcakes combines the best of glossy meringue and the richness of buttercream to create a really stable, delicious icing to grace any cupcake with elegance and grace.  Two things you need to bear in mind though : it takes ages to make, so clear your afternoon and use a food mixer unless you want biceps like a WWF contestant!

Photo by Kerrie Walsh

Friday, February 1, 2013

Fabulous Fridays at Bridge Bar and Bistro

Usually, work Christmas parties are tedious affairs.  You get all dressed up to spend more time with the people you look at all day, you eat some very mediocre food, drown the taste of it with as much booze as you can and generally begrudge the waste of an evening.  Yes, that's usually what happens.  Not for our work Christmas party last year - it was probably the best party I've been to in my working career.