Custard Cream Cupcakes

You can't go wrong with custard creams, they really are king of the biscuits in my eyes. Whilst much research has been done on the ultimate dunker, I'll challenge purists and say that these guys are better than a ginger nut. They may not have the sculptural dignity, but they do offer the perfect flavour balance to a brew with the added cream bonus in a bid to hold some shape.

Maybe I'm biased, but they truly are my favourite.

When hearing all about my friend's new bakery business and all the cupcakes she's making I was inspired to get into the kitchen and make my own...for myself! Cupcakes are the divas of the cake business, only best on the day of baking, but there's something to be said by having your own personal little frosted cake...or three (no one's counting)!

Vanilla sponge packed with crushed custard creams and topped with custard flavour buttercream. In order to have unlocked ultimate cupcake achievement levels, I'd have loved to have made some fresh custard to fill the centres with. But alas, I was hungry and the kitchen is too hot from last week's heat wave (my jar of coconut oil still hasn't set yet). I'm saving my efforts for the Great British Bake Off starting up next month and attempt to bake along again each week.

C U S T A R D   C R E A M   C U P C A K E S
(Recipe adapted from Primrose Bakery's Everyday, makes 12-16 cupcakes)

150g self raising flour
115g plain flour
10g custard powder
120ml semi-skimmed milk, room temperature
1tsp vanilla extract
110g unsalted butter, softened
225g golden caster sugar
2 large eggs
100g custard cream biscuits, crushed

Custard buttercream:

200g unsalted butter, softened
280g icing sugar, sifted
4tbsp custard powder, sifted
few drops of milk if needed to help combine
custard creams to decorate

  • Heat the oven to 180 degrees and line a cupcake tray with cupcake cases.
  • Pour the milk and vanilla extract into a jug and mix together. In a bowl, add the flours and custard powder.
  • Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Continue to mix on a slow speed whilst adding each egg, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • Whilst continuing to mix, pour in the third of the flour until combined and alternate between the mix and the rest of the flour mix. Add in the crushed custard creams and gently fold together with a spatula.
  • Spoon the batter evenly between each cupcake case, filling up to two thirds full.
  • bake for 15-18 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave to fool fully on a wire cooling rack before frosting.
  • To make the frosting, beat the butter on a medium speed to ensure soft before gently and slowly adding in the icing sugar and custard powder. Continue to beat on a low speed at first, then medium until well combined.
  • Load the butter cream into a piping bag, pipe a swirl onto the top of each cupcake and top with two halves of custard creams.

Dark Chocolate and Tahini Cookies

Public service announcement: these are the best cookies in the land. Well, that I've made. I've often struggled with getting the absolute perfect consistency, chewy on the inside and crisp on the outside. Often my cookies are more like cakies as my boss has named them.

I've stowed a secondary batch of dough in the freezer, although its pretty tempting to dig it out for a mid week treat. The tahini is a perfect match for gooey chocolate chunks, but peanut butter can be substituted if you prefer. I'd imagine that white chocolate will also work just as well too.

D A R K   C H O C O L A T E   A N D   T A H I N I   C O O K I E S
(Recipe adapted from BBC, makes a dozen)

50g salted butter, softened
125g dark brown muscovado sugar
125g golden caster sugar
80g tahini paste
1 egg, beaten
200g self raising flour
2tbsp cocoa powder
200g dark chocolate chunks or chips

  • Heat the oven to 180 degrees and line two cookie sheets with baking paper.
  • Beat together the butter and sugar on a medium speed until light and fluffy. 
  • Add the eggs and the tahini and continue to beat on a low speed until combined.
  • Tip in the dry ingredients and continue to beat, again until combined and the mixture forms a cookie dough. 
  • Use an ice cream scoop or two spoons to scoop each cookie into shape. Place each cookie evenly spaced on the prepared trays, with half an inch gap between each.
  • Bake for 6-8 minutes until soft in the middle, they will firm up on the outside as they cool.
  • Place on a wire cooling rack to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Flourless Salted Chocolate Pretzel Cake

I feel like pretty much everything I bake is chocolate, even besides the brownies. When flicking through my cookery books I was looking for the ultimate chocolate cake, something super dense and fudgey for a dessert. The difference with flourless chocolate cakes, is just that, they're dense and incredibly moreish. Essentially all the great bits of a brownie but in cake form.

This cake is a little different to those I've made before. Usually a sugar syrup is used in recipes to help keep a cake moist, but in a flourless cake I don't really understand why that would be a problem like this recipe calls for. Anyone know? Sugar aside, this cake is baked in two stages. The first half is baked until just firm, cooled and the remaining batter poured over the top for a second bake. The result gives a crisp base and a dense fudgey topping with a shiny, slightly flaky topping.

F L O U R L E S S   S A L T E D   C H O C O L A T E   P R E T Z E L   C A K E
(Recipe adapted from The Cook and Baker, serves 10)

240g salted butter, chopped
360g dark chocolate, chopped 
pinch of sea salt
285g soft light brown sugar
5 eggs, separated
handful of crushed pretzels, for dusting
  • Heat the oven to 180 degrees and grease and line the base and sides of a 9 inch springform tin.
  • Melt the butter and dark chocolate in a medium pan over a low heat. Once fully melted take off the heat and stir through a generous pinch of sea salt. 
  • In a small pan, melt the sugar in 60ml of water and bring to a gently boil. Pour the syrup over the chocolate mixture and beat in the egg yolks.
  • Whisk the egg whites on a medium speed until stiff peaks.
  • Fold the egg whites into the chocolate gently until combined.
  • Pour half of the batter into the tin and bake for 30 minutes, until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool fully.
  • Pour over the remaining batter and bake for 25 minutes.
  • Leave to cool completely once more before removing from the tin and scatter the crushed pretzels over the top to decorate. 

Coconut and Blueberry Gluten Free Cake

I've always been curious about coconut oil, and just how good it is to bake with. Many prefer it to regular fats for its nutritional values but just what difference does it make to the taste? We've all heard by now about melting points and that coconut oil pretty much trumps the rest with one of the highest. But in baking, this means cakes will have a lightness you won't be able to achieve with butter. Just substitute it one on one with your regular quantity of fat and gently melt in a pan or microwave before adding it to your ingredients. Admittedly, the coconut flavour isn't suited to all recipes but you can always use half butter and half coconut oil to limit the fat in any recipe.

And something I've not heard too much about, coconut flour (unless I've been living in a shell). I tend to swap any flour with ground almonds as a gluten free alternative if needed. I love the moistness and flavour it gives, particularly in brownies. But I'm not a fan of regular gluten free alternatives like rice flour. I just can't get the substitute quantities right, and to be frank, the taste is just not right. My research tells me that as coconut flour is so absorbent you need much less flour as it will soak up all your liquid ingredients. You'll also need more eggs to help bind everything together.

Essentially, coconut flour is low in carbohydrates and non-inflammatory unlike other grain free options so is much easier to digest. Although it would seem that substituting quantities is difficult, its definitely worthwhile for the added healthy fats it includes and as its high in fibre.

And so, here it is, a tried and tested recipe that introduced me into the world of coconut flour. This cake is almost virtuous so I'm just going to help myself to another slice...

Holland and Barrett online is my new favourite place for baking supplies! I didn't know how many coconut ingredients existed.

C O C O N U T   A N D   B L U E B E R R Y   G L U T E N   F R E E   C A K E
(Serves 6-8)

4 eggs
125g soft light brown sugar
100g coconut oil, melted
50g coconut flour
1tsp gluten free baking powder
50g desiccated coconut
200g fresh blueberries
220g cream cheese
120g icing sugar
zest of 2 lemons

  • Heat the oven to 180 degrees and grease and line the base and sides of three 6 inch sandwich tins (or one 7 inch deep round tin).
  • Whisk together the eggs and sugar on a medium speed until light, fluffy and doubled in size.
  • Continue to mix on a low speed and slowly pour in the coconut oil.
  • Add in the coconut flour, baking powder and coconut and gently fold together with a spatula.
  • Add the blueberries and mix until just combined.
  • Pour into the prepared tray, smooth a knife over the top to level and bake for 30 minutes. After this point, turn the heat down to 150 degrees for another 25 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  • Remove from the heat and leave to cool in the tray for 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool fully.
  • To make the icing, beat together the cream cheese, icing sugar and all but a spoon of the zest until smooth and creamy.
  • Sandwich the cakes between layers of frosting and sprinkle the remaining lemon zest on top for decoration.

Thanks to the team at Holland and Barrett for sending over some coconut goodies to inspire this post.