Friday, November 21, 2008

I joined Iron Cupcake Challenge!

This is my first Iron Cupcake event. I Stumbled on its web page recently and it looked like fun so I joined. This month's ingredient is cranberry. Im a big fan of them and have made my own cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving for ages. We dont find them here so I have had to limit my use to dried cranberries. For this challenge, I decided to make a cupcake inspired by a recipe that looked interesting in Better Homes and Garden's Complete Book of Baking on page 131. I got this book several years ago and its a reliable source of nice recipes.
I tweaked that recipe to suit my taste today and I think it turned out quite well.
I also had some beautiful local organic honey I wanted to use so I was excited when I found this recipe that could showcase the cranberries and the honey. It is a light as air genoise cake with chewy bits of cranberry and crunchy bits of walnuts perfumed by the orange and sweetened with aromatic honey. So yummy!
I topped it with an orange buttercream icing and sprinkled more cranberries and walnuts on top.

I call this Cran-Orange Honey-Nut Cupcake with Orange Honey Buttercream

3 egg yolks
3/4 cups flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon finely shredded orange peel
3 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/4 cup finely chopped dried cranberries

1. Place egg yolks in an electric mixer bowl(I used my Kitchen Aid) and whisk until they turn lemon yellow and thick and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

2. In a small bowl, mix together the flour, 2 T. sugar, and salt. Set aside.

3. Add orange juice to the egg yolks and beat on low speed until mixed together. Gradually add the 1/3 c. sugar and beat on medium speed, about 5 minutes, until the sugar is almost dissolved. In four parts, add the flour mixture to the yolk mixture until it is just incorporated. Stir in the orange peel.

4. With a clean whisk, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually add the honey, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form.

5. Add 1 cup of the egg whites into the yolk mixture to lighten it. Then gently fold the yolk mixture into the whites until no streaks are visible.

6. Spoon the mixture into your cupcake papers(about 24). Bake the cupcakes at 325F for about 35-40 minutes.

7. Remove from oven and let cupcakes cool on a rack to room temperature.

8. Meanwhile make your buttercream frosting. Place 1/2 cup of butter in a mixing bowl and cream until smooth. Gradually add 3 cups of sifted powdered sugar and mixed. Add 2 tablespoons of honey and blend until smooth. Add 2 teaspoons finely shredded orange peel. If icing isnt smooth enough, add enough orange juice until it reaches spreading consistency.

9. Spread cooled cupcakes with icing and sprinkle with more walnuts and cranberries.

I also bake this recipe in an ungreased angel food pan. If you do that, bake for about 50 minutes and be sure to invert it to cool and then gently pull it away from the sides of the pan.

I hope you try this and enjoy it!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Just Picked!

I have been trying to decide on the direction I want to go with this blog. While I want to use this forum to document the various birthday and celebration cakes I make for my clients, I also want to highlight recipes made with the huge variety of locally produced foodstuffs from ground nuts(peanuts) and cashews to tropical fruits like mangoes and papayas and coconuts! I am really excited to show you the picking of some fruits from the trees in our compound and the ways I use them in yummy recipes.

I guess Im getting a clearer vision of where Im going now so let the fun begin!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

My first post!

I've been wanting to start a blog for a long time. I have enjoyed reading other blogs about baking and I finally decided that its time for mine! I hope you will enjoy following my baking adventures.

I guess it all started about 20 years ago here in the small West African country where I live with my husband and 3 kids. I didn't have any kids back then! I had never really done much baking but I was willing to try out some recipes since there weren't any bakeries here that had nice cakes to buy. I was used to buying birthday cakes growing up in the USA, but when I moved over here I had no choice but to make my own.

It seems that no one here had eaten delicious American cakes! One of the first cakes that I remember making was a chocolate roll cake with 7 minute frosting. That icing made a real sensation in town! It was as though people couldn't get enough of it and the demand began. I had made that cake for a nice lady's birthday and she then said her friend who had a casino(!) would like to have one every week. So I started supplying that to her. Then the word spread that an American lady was making nice cakes and I started getting orders from others. I never advertised but the word of mouth reached alot of people and I started to become busy. This business was still a type of hobby as I was working full time in the government hospital in the capital and at one point my income from cakes was far exceeding my salary in the hospital!

Making a long story short, supplying supermarkets, restaurants, and coffee shops with cakes over the years and countless birthday parties have kept me busy! I left the hospital after my second child was born and have been too busy baking to go back to it!:-)