Foolproof Basic Cupcake and Mini Cupcake Recipe!

I am going to be trying out lots of different cupcake ideas over the next couple of weeks – especially with Halloween and Christmas coming up! – so I thought it might be a good idea to give you a basic cupcake recipe.

This is my favourite!

I much prefer the taste of good-quality butter in cakes, but using Stork or something similar produces an undeniably light texture. To get the best of both worlds, I have replaced a spoonful of the flour with a spoonful of cornflour.

This makes the sponge wonderfully light and keeps that yummy buttery taste.

These quantities will yield approximately 12-14 standard sized cupcakes, and about 30 mini cupcakes.

What you’ll need:

150g softened butter

150g caster sugar

140g self-raising flour

1 tablespoon cornflour

1 teaspoon baking powder

3 eggs

2 teaspoons good-quality Vanilla extract

1 tablespoon milk

Equipment:

Standard or mini-sized cupcake cases

A standard cupcake tin or mini muffin tray

A large mixing bowl

A wooden spoon

An electric whisk, bowl whisk or handheld whisk

 

Step One:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius if you are making standard sized cupcakes, or 160 degrees Celsius if you are making mini cupcakes.

Line your cupcake tray with your paper cases.

Step Two:

Put all of the ingredients together in the mixing bowl.

Make sure that you hold the sieve up high when sifting in the flour, try to get lots of lovely air in!

Step Three:

Stir your ingredients together with a wooden spoon until well combined.

Now, using your electric or handheld whisk, give the mixture a very good whisk for 3-4 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy. The colour will turn lovely and pale – this is perfect!

Step Four:

Divide the mixture among your paper cases. Fill each case roughly 2/3rds of the way full.

Pop into your preheated oven.

If you are making standard cupcakes, bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 20-25 minutes.

If you are making mini cupcakes (as I am in the pictures) bake at 160 degrees Celsius for 18 minutes (I know this sounds exact but honestly it’s the perfect timing!)

Your cupcakes are done when they are nicely risen, and the surface feels just firm to the touch.

Do not be tempted to leave them in for an extra couple of minutes; if they brown, they will be dry.

Step Five:

Place on a wire rack to cool, and repeat until you have used all of your mixture.

 

Once you have baked all of your cupcakes and they are fully cooled, you can decorate them however you like!

(I’ll pop on a recipe for frosting tomorrow; it’s twenty past midnight and I am tired of baking and wish to sleep. Well…perhaps just a little bite first!)

See you tomorrow.

Love,

Jessy xxx

Do you have any questions you’d like answered? Ever wondered how to make a bed properly, how to cook easy bread from scratch, how to make the perfect cake, how to get tough stains out easily and quickly? My friends, I am rubbish at many things but due to a strange addiction to Mrs Beeton in my early teens and a very accomplished group of friends and family, I have access to a fairly sizeable amount of domestic knowledge. Test me – send me your domestic conundrums and we will see what we can do!

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Beautiful Pink Pillowy Raspberry Ripple Meringues

Right. I am really sorry I have not posted for a few days. There is, however, a reason for this.

I have spent the past few days conquering my own personal Everest, my Bête noir – these meringues.

As Alex’s mother will tell you, this is my fifth attempt at making these – I really wanted the recipe to be perfect, and it took quite a lot of whisking to get there! Inspired by Comptoir Gourmand’s beautiful meringues,  the recipe has finally been perfected and here I am, presenting it to you.

What you’ll need: (makes approximately 6 large meringues)

3 large fresh egg whites (OR three tablespoons of Two Chicks Liquid Free-Range Egg White. This excellent, pure egg white in a cardboard container can be bought from Waitrose, and it is fantastic when making large quantities of things such as meringues, as you don’t end up having to find ways to use up lots of egg yolks).

A pinch of salt

175 grams caster sugar

Natural red food colouring* (such as India Tree’s excellent Natural Food Colourants)

Edible Glitter (optional)

Equipment:

A whisk – preferably an electric one unless you have very big arm muscles

A large, clean bowl

A baking sheet, lined with silicon paper or greaseproof paper

 

Step One:

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees c. (If using an Aga, they will go into the warming oven.)

Break your egg whites into your mixing bowl, and add the pinch of salt. Whisk thoroughly until they have formed lovely stiff peaks – you ought to be able to turn the bowl upside down without the mixture falling out. As ever, when you think they are done, give them an extra minute!

When you are satisfied that they are stiff enough, whisk in the sugar, half at a time, and whisk until the mixture is very stiff and glossy.

Step Two:

Now, drop tablespoon-size blobs of the meringue onto your lined baking sheet, making sure that there is a few inches gap between each blob of meringue.

Once you have used up all your mixture, it’s time to swirl!

Step Three:

Take a toothpick or cocktail stick. Dip it lightly into the food colouring, and repeatedly poke holes into the meringue with your food-colouring-covered cocktail stick, refreshing each time.

It will look like this:

Now, once this is done, hold the meringue in place with a tablespoon and, using the cocktail stick, lightly and carefully swirl the food colouring into the meringue mixture, creating a gorgeous ripple effect.

Try to get the cocktail stick right into the meringue, so that the ripples run right through the body of it, and don’t just sit on the surface!

When you are happy with your shape and ripples, repeat with the next blog of meringue, until you have completed the whole tray.

Now, pop the tray into the oven, immediately turn it down to 140 degrees celsius (this is a trick I learned from Delia if not using an Aga, and is very good) and leave for exactly an hour, two hours if using the warming oven of an Aga.

Step Four:

If using an Aga, take them out after two hours. If using a normal oven, after an hour, turn the oven off but leave the meringues in there to cool for half an hour if you can; this will ensure that they dry out thoroughly, giving the best texture.

Remove from the baking sheet, ready to serve! I like to sprinkle a little edible glitter over mine because I think it looks gorgeous, but this is entirely up to you.

Step Five:

To serve, simply place the meringue in a bowl and serve with a handful of fresh raspberries and a dash of single cream. Just beautiful.

See you tomorrow.

Love,

Jessy xxx

Do you have any questions you’d like answered? Ever wondered how to make a bed properly, how to cook easy bread from scratch, how to make the perfect cake, how to get tough stains out easily and quickly? My friends, I am rubbish at many things but due to a strange addiction to Mrs Beeton in my early teens and a very accomplished group of friends and family, I have access to a fairly sizeable amount of domestic knowledge. Test me – send me your domestic conundrums and we will see what we can do!

*Note: I initially really wanted to make these with fresh raspberry swirls. I tried every variation I could, but every single version came out of the oven with brown swirls, from the naturally occurring sugars in the fruit, so I had to give up and use food colouring.

 

However, it really makes no different to the flavour, and as you can see, brown meringues are not quite so beautiful!

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Easy Homemade Sparkly Chocolate Truffles

A disaster of epic proportions has befallen me.

My oven has broken.

The timing was particularly crap (please excuse my French) because I was making meringues, and only discovered that the oven had died a horrible death when I tried to put them in.

Therefore, the next week or so will be all about no-cook recipes, cooking on the hob, and Autumn salads.

Today, however, called for something a little more along the lines of comfort food. Thus, I present to you these Homemade Sparkly Chocolate Truffles.

These little beauties are spectacularly easy to make, look utterly beautiful, and taste even better. They also do not require an oven. They would make a lovely gift wrapped up in ribbon!

This recipe makes about 25-30 chocolates.

What you’ll need:

200ml thick double cream

200g good quality chocolate of your choice, broken into chunks (I actually used 100g dark chocolate and 100g milk chocolate, both Green & Blacks. This, I find, gives a slightly sweeter result than using just dark chocolate, but of course it depends on your preference!)

80g light brown sugar

A little pot of edible glitter; I used gold here, but you could make these with white chocolate and use silver glitter to make little Christmassy ‘snowball’ truffles.

You can buy this from stores such as HobbyCraft, or online at Cake Craft World

Equipment:

A saucepan and wooden spoon

Greaseproof or silicon paper

A fridge

Step One:

The base of a chocolate truffle is the ganache. This is the easiest way I have found to make it, and it’s never gone wrong.

First, pour your cream into a saucepan, and add the sugar.

Heat gently, stirring constantly, until it just reaches simmering point. The reason you simmer it is because the heat breaks down the sugar and ensures a good, even distribution.

Simmer for about a minute very lightly, and then take off the heat to cool.

Step Two:

Break your chocolate into small pieces.

Once the cream and sugar mixture has cooled slightly (it just needs a minute off the heat) add your chocolate, giving it a good stir with a spoon until the chocolate has all melted and you are left with a lovely even mixture.

The reason you leave it to cool slightly before adding the chocolate is that the mixture will split if the cream is still at boiling point.

Step Three:

Once the mixture is thoroughly combined, you will be left with a gorgeous, glossy ganache. Scrape it into a bowl, cover it, and pop it into the fridge to cool – this will take a minimum of two hours, and ideally you’d leave it in there for up to about four.

Step Four:

Once your ganache has been chilled for at least two hours, take it out of the fridge.

Now comes the fun part!

Place a square of baking paper or silicon paper onto a plate.

In a small bowl or ramekin, mix up 1/3 cocoa powder and 2/3 edible glitter.

Cover your hands liberally with cocoa.

I warn you, this gets very messy!

Now, using a teaspoon, spoon out a piece of ganache and very lightly roll it into a rough ball shape with your hands. Do not try to work the ganache for more than a few seconds or it will melt and you will not be able to roll it!

Now, place it into the ramekin of glittery cocoa and roll it around with your finger very gently, ensuring the outside of the chocolate is well coated.

Then lightly pick it up and place it on the plate which you have covered in baking or silicon paper. Repeat this until you have used all of your mixture.

Pop into the fridge to harden a little more, and these will be ready to eat in fifteen minutes.

If you are giving them as a gift, you can pop them into a little box filled with tissue paper and wrap it in ribbon. If you intend to eat them all yourself, just put them into an airtight container and they will keep happily in the fridge for up to a couple of weeks or so.

Enjoy!

See you tomorrow.

Love,

Jessy xxx

Do you have any questions you’d like answered? Ever wondered how to make a bed properly, how to cook easy bread from scratch, how to make the perfect cake, how to get tough stains out easily and quickly? My friends, I am rubbish at many things but due to a strange addiction to Mrs Beeton in my early teens and a very accomplished group of friends and family, I have access to a fairly sizeable amount of domestic knowledge. Test me – send me your domestic conundrums and we will see what we can do!

 

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Healthy Autumn Comfort Food: Glorious Butternut Squash and Ginger Soup

I spent a lovely day with my mother on Wednesday, and she showed me what she had been growing.

It was utterly glorious; autumn was everywhere, in the crisp, cold air; in the fallen apples littering the floor mingling with the leaves…and in this simply beautiful butternut squash!

Being the best mummy in the world, she let me have it, and I ran back to London clutching it in my paws, trying to work out what best to do with it.

In the end, I decided on a classic, simple butternut squash soup. This recipe uses ginger and cumin for a touch of depth, and it fills the house with the most glorious aroma whilst it is cooking.

This delicious soup is easy, quick to make, and freezes beautifully. Just the thing on a cold autumnal evening; serve with a big hunk of good crusty bread!

What you’ll need:

A good knob of butter

One butternut squash (or two x 250g bags prepared cubed squash from any supermarket)

500ml good quality vegetable stock (If you don’t have any homemade stuff, I find Knorr Stock Pots really good)

One large onion, roughly chopped

1 clove garlic, roughly chopped

A few slices of ginger, finely chopped (or 1 teaspoon ground ginger)

1 teaspoon nutmeg

2 teaspoons ground cumin

Equipment:

A chopping board and sharp knife

A saucepan

A blender

 

Step One:

Melt a generous knob of butter in a pan under a low heat. Add your roughly chopped onion, garlic and ginger to the pan and let it gently cook down, stirring occasionally.

Step Two:

Whilst your onion, garlic and ginger are gently softening, cut the butternut squash in half. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon…

…and then cut into rough cubes.

Step Three:

By now, your onions, garlic and ginger ought to be beautifully softened, but not browned. Pop the butternut squash into the pan, and add the ground cumin and nutmeg. Enjoy that small, isn’t it glorious?

Step Four:

Now, pour in your vegetable stock , turn the heat up slightly, and pop the lid on your pan.

Now, go and have a glass of wine or something; let it simmer away gently for about half an hour, stirring occasionally, until the squash is softened. Take the lid off for the final ten minutes if you remember.

Step Five:

Put the mixture into the blender.

Blend until it is smooth, in batches if you need to. If you like, you can always skip this step and leave it chunky, but I find that blending it really brings out that amazing velvety-ness.

Step Six:

Pop it back in the saucepan, heat it gently, check the seasoning (I like lashings of black pepper with this soup) and serve.

Enjoy it on its own, or with a decadent knob of butter or Crème fraiche in the middle, with a lovely hunk of good bread. Bliss!

 See you on Monday. Have a glorious weekend!

Love,

Jessy xxx

Do you have any questions you’d like answered? Ever wondered how to make a bed properly, how to cook easy bread from scratch, how to make the perfect cake, how to get tough stains out easily and quickly? My friends, I am rubbish at many things but due to a strange addiction to Mrs Beeton in my early teens and a very accomplished group of friends and family, I have access to a fairly sizeable amount of domestic knowledge. Test me – send me your domestic conundrums and we will see what we can do!

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Heaven Is Shaped Like A Meringue

Well, hello! I am back from holiday, over the jetlag, and feeling like a happy bunny. Who knew London could enjoy such gorgeous weather in October? (And the last laugh is on me, because it was bucketing down with rain in Phuket. But, I digress.)

I had a whole lot of posts planned about some delicious local foods which we stumbled upon on our trip – but that will have to wait. Because I got distracted. By a display of meringues.

Good Lord, have you ever seen such beautiful, blousy things? I was waddling through the city this afternoon on the way back from lunch with my sister and Daddy, and as I passed Leadenhall Market my eye was caught by a horrendously inviting stall, selling an array of gorgeous pastries – and these little stunners!

Naturally I almost farted in excitement and ran over to the stall and bought myself one of these meringues. The rest of the stuff looked gorgeous, too, but I am afraid that I only really had eyes for these.

The lovely, patient French gentleman manning the stall explained that the stall is run by Comptoir Gourmand, a lovely patisserie on Whitecross Street, EC1.

And, ladies and gentlemen, if their meringues are anything to go by, I will be fasting for a week and visiting this little place tout de suite.

My modest £2.50 investment bought me a heavenly meringue practically the size of my own head (I chose a beautifully marbled vanilla and raspberry specimen, but there were other varieties too) and upon abandoning my other business and rushing home to give my purchase the attention it deserved, I can happily say that this was one of the most glorious members of the meringue family I have ever had the pleasure of consuming.

Each meringue is huge and would happily feed four normal-sized people, or one very greedy Jessy. Light as air, with a beautifully crisp outer shell and gently squidgy centre, just the right amount of sweetness and perfectly shot with raspberry, this was as good as they come.

Go, meringue lovers, and buy one of these (Kitty, I’ll post you one). They will enhance your life immeasurably.

(I’m sure their other stuff is very good, too).

See you tomorrow!

Love,

Jessy xxx

Comptoir Gourmand, 126 Whitecross Street, London EC1

Tel: 020 7490 2828

Leadenhall Market: http://www.leadenhallmarket.co.uk

 

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The Daily Home is on Holiday (Yippee!)

Hello, my darlings;

I am going on holiday tomorrow. Thus, I hope that you will understand if The Daily Home takes a short break. I will be back on the 2nd of October; until then I will be sampling the delights of South-East Asia. I promise to wear suncream.

I will do my utmost to post some delicious local recipes and things for you wherever possible; however, we will be on the boat for much of the time so internet access will be sporadic. At best.

If you need to get in touch, drop me an email at thedailyhome@hotmail.com and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Until October, my darlings, au revoir!

Lots of love,

Jessy xxx

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Guest Post: How To Make Mummy’s Elderberry Syrup

Homemade elderflower cordial is one of the loveliest, quintessentially British things around. It is utterly delicious served with everything from sparkling water for a yummy soft drink,  to champagne for a gorgeously refreshing cocktail.

Here, my mother kindly tells us how she makes her twist on this lovely classic: Elderberry Syrup.

This ingenious method really makes the most of the elderflowers and keeps for absolutely ages: hopefully it will inspire some of you to make your own!

‘I’m lucky enough to have a self-seeded elder tree in my garden (or maybe not so lucky – it’s in completely the wrong place and really annoys my neighbour!), but they can often be found in the hedgerows if you live in the country, or the farmers market if you don’t.

You’ll need to be quick, though; the berry season is about to finish!

I could have picked the flowers earlier this year to make delicious elderflower cordial, or even ‘champagne’, but I think elderberry syrup is even more delicious. Try it and see!

First, pick your berries. If they’re very high up in the tree (and the tree is yours) no problem – elders regenerate quickly so it’s a good idea to cut them down now anyway.

WARNING: From here on it it gets very messy: elderberry juice stains!!

Strip the berries (fiddly – some people recommend using a fork but I prefer to use my fingers, though they do get heavily stained), wash, place in a pan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil.

Boil it gently for about thirty minutes (don’t use an aluminium pan – it will ruin it!) You can include lemon peel, ginger, cloves etc at this stage if you wish – I had an old packet of mulled wine spices this year and that worked really well.

Strain off the juice. An ordinary small-bore sieve will do, but for maximum oomph (and fun!) either line the sieve with muslin or use a jelly strainer (I got the one in the photo for a song from Lakeland).

Squeeze the cloth as much as you like but don’t use a food processor as it will split the sour seeds inside the berries.

Then boil up the juice with sugar and lemon juice – I used about 1lb sugar and the juice of 1 lemon per pint of juice. Stir as it’s heating to dissolve the suger, then boil hard for ten minutes.

Leave to cool, then pour into sterilsed bottles to store – if you use pretty bottles it will make good Christmas presents!

Elderberry syrup should keep for ages if stored in a cool, dark place. It’s purported to be extremely good for coughs and all the other ills of winter – and it certainly lifts my spirits!

Try it drizzled over ice cream, or mixed into natural yoghurt (delicious on muesli). It tastes deep and dark and summery, and is bursting with Vitamin C.’

Thank you, mummy, for that awesome guest post!

See you tomorrow.

Love,

Jessy xxx

Do you have any questions you’d like answered? Ever wondered how to make a bed properly, how to cook easy bread from scratch, how to make the perfect cake, how to get tough stains out easily and quickly? My friends, I am rubbish at many things but due to a strange addiction to Mrs Beeton in my early teens and a very accomplished group of friends and family, I have access to a fairly sizeable amount of domestic knowledge. Test me – send me your domestic conundrums and we will see what we can do!

 

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