Thursday, 7 March 2013

Becs Bakes: Secret ingredient scones and maple and pecan cupcakes

Every so often, I have a massive urge to bake. The urge often comes on a Sunday afternoon when I can think of nothing I'd like to do more than get down my cake-y recipe books, leaf through the pages, find something that takes my fancy and spend a few hours getting the kitchen into a state where you can only just see the floor from all the flour that I've managed to sprinkle over it.

I find baking relaxing - a bit like cooking, concentrating hard on a recipe is a real release from thinking about other stuff. My Mum's a good baker (and also a bit of an experimenter too - her couscous cake is something that only Mrs Cropley from the Vicar of Dibley would be likely to dream up) so quite a lot of my childhood was spent making cakes and biscuits with her. My favourite bit was always sifting the flour and licking the bowl. I'm 25 now and not much has changed.

Anyway, this Sunday the baking urge hit me so I whiled away a few hours knee deep in buttercream icing and kneading dough.

First up I used ingredients that we already had in the cupboard to make scones. Quite often I find that homemade scones can be a bit disappointing - either they are too crumbly and dry, or they're flat as a pancake, or they rise well but leave a horrible baking soda aftertaste. A few years ago I discovered a recipe from BBC Good Food that has revolutionised my scone making activity. Just look at these bad-boys:

Delicious, moist, light and towering high. The secret? Use warm milk and a little dash of lemon juice. The lemon juice sours the milk slightly, which means it tastes a bit like buttermilk and gives a boost to the rising agents in the self-raising powder and baking powder. Sorted.

Want to know the recipe? You can find it here.

Whilst the scones were cooling I decided to try my hand at something a bit different. After visiting the Sunshine Bakery on Thursday all I could think about was cupcakes. We had maple syrup and pecans in the cupboard (left over from Mexicanna) and I wanted to combine them into something that'd beat the Sunshine Bakery's mango and banana cake for deliciousness.

After a bit of digging around, I pulled out The Primrose Bakery Book that Ash's mum kindly got me a few Christmases ago and found a recipe for maple and pecan cupcakes that looked delicious.

I adapted the recipe slightly as we were low on self-raising flour and I only had 160ml maple syrup. Instead of the maple syrup buttercream suggested, I topped with a light vanilla buttercream instead.

The Primrose Bakery's Maple and Pecan Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream 

For the cupcakes (makes 10 regular cupcakes or 8 muffin sized ones)

Preheat the oven to 180c/gas mark 4/fan oven 160c. Line a 12-hole muffin tray with 10 muffin cases. Using an electric mixer, cream 115g unsalted butter with 50g of soft brown sugar until pale and smooth. Add 160ml of maple syrup and beat well. Add two eggs, one at a time, mixing slowly after each addition. 

Using a spoon , fold 100g of self-raising flour and 15g of plain flour, along with a sprinkle of baking powder into the batter and beat well. Fold in 60g of roughly chopped pecan nuts.

Spoon the mixture evenly into the muffin cases, filling each case about two-thirds fill. Bake in the centre of the oven for 25 minutes, until risen and golden and they pass the clean skewer test. Leave the cupcakes to cool for 10 minutes in their tin, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

For the caramelised pecans

Whilst the cakes are cooling, gradually heat 60g of golden caster sugar in a heavy saucepan until the sugar has melted. Spread 20 pecan nut halves onto baking powder, then pour the melted sugar over the nuts, covering them completely. Wait for the caramel to cool and harden, then break into 20 pieces (half a pecan per piece).

Ice the cupcakes with the vanilla buttercream below and top with a caramelised pecan. 

For the vanilla buttercream icing

Using an electic hand mixer, beat 78g of butter with 45ml of milk, 175g of icing sugar and 3/4tsp of vanilla extract until smooth. Gradually add another 175g of icing sugar to produce a buttercream that's smooth and creamy.

The Primrose Bakery Book's recipes never fail to delight, and this one was no exception. In fact, I'd even go so far to say that they were the best cakes I'd made in a long while - Ash certainly seemed to think so after eating cake number three anyway. 

I took the scones and the maple and pecan cupcakes into work to treat my colleagues to a spot of afternoon tea on Monday - I can't think of a better way to start a week!

1 comment:

  1. Brilliant! I shall be printing these and putting them in the beautiful recipe file I got for Christmas. Thank you for the inspiration - I've got a while to wait til more GBBO so this will do the trick!