Jaffa Cake Cupcakes

The other week, I introduced my international friend to the concept of Jaffa Cakes. Ironically, they asked the age old question: is a Jaffa Cake a biscuit or a cake? People have debated this a lot and I’m sure that there’s food-y people out there who can tell me, but I can tell you now the true answer: Who cares?! The more you debate about it, the more other people can eat while you talk about it!

Not to sound too British, but I do love a good biscuit (/cake), especially with a cup of tea! However, I have felt for a while that some snacks of this description should be incorporated into a pudding of some sort. This is the thought that created the idea, whilst food shopping, of Jaffa Cake cupcakes. They’re easy to make into cupcakes, because they’re essentially three elements: chocolate, orange curd and sponge. Even if you’re a beginner to baking, you’ll see that this isn’t a conversion that’s hard to create! And what better than a cake and a Jaffa Cake on top (that’s two puddings in one!!)

Jaffa Cake Cupcakes

Preparation time: 30-40 minutes
Baking time: 10-15 minutes
Makes 12 cupcakes

Ingredients
For the sponge:
110g (4oz) Butter
110g (4oz) Caster Sugar
2 eggs
110g (4oz) Self-raising Flour
1 tsp Vanilla Essence

Orange Marmalade (or see this recipe for 10-minute orange curd)

For the Icing:
130g Butter
500g Icing Sugar
170g Cocoa Powder
3-4 tbsp Milk
1/2 tsp Vanilla Essence

12 Jaffa Cakes for decoration

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Beat the butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl until the mixture is fluffy.
2. Add the eggs one at a time and beat into the mixture until combined.
3. Add the flour and vanilla essence and mix until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
4. Spoon the mixture and divide evenly into the cupcake cases. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the sponge is golden and springs back when pressure is applied to it.
5. When the cupcakes have baked, set them aside to cool.
6. To make the icing, soften the butter in the microwave, then beat together the icing sugar, cocoa powder and butter until combined. Add the vanilla essence. Add the milk a little at a time until the icing is a good texture.
7. Once the cupcakes have cooled, using a teaspoon, hollow out a small section from the top of the cupcake and fill with orange curd/ marmalade. Replace most of the sponge back on the top of the curd/ marmalade (as if you’re putting a lid over the orange). Repeat for all the cupcakes.
8. Cover the cupcakes with the chocolate icing.
9. Cut 12 Jaffa Cakes in half, and using two halves, create a butterfly effect by placing one half on each side of the cupcake.

Handy Hints
Icing texture– this matters more if you choose to pipe your icing onto the cakes. If you do, it needs to be firm enough that the mixture holds on a spoon (i.e. it doesn’t drip off the spoon), but not too stiff that it doesn’t mix easily.
Adding the orange– for more tips on this, see this recipe.
Adding the icing– Piping the icing gives a more neat effect (and possibly adds more icing), but this works just as well with a knife and using the back of a spoon to shape.

Jaffa cake cupcakes

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Dark Chocolate and Cherry Flapjacks

I’ve realised recently that I take baking for granted. Baking is such a normal occurrence in my house and I’ve been baking it since I was little (under strict supervision of course in the earlier years!). I never really thought anything of this until I talked to my flatmate, who is relatively new to baking. It seems perfectly normal to me to not have to look up how to bake a Victoria sponge cake and to know what it means when a recipe says something like ‘whisk to soft peaks’, but not everyone has this experience. This can make it difficult to know where to start with recipes, especially if you’re starting with no-one to guide you along the way, as my family have done. I’m really glad that my flatmate joins me when I’m baking, even if it turns out that it’s all been a scheme to get free food! I hope that, if he can overlook me being a bit bossy occasionally, he might learn some things about baking in order to be able to enjoy baking by himself. But for people who do want to try baking by themselves, and who don’t have a friend to guide them, it occurred to me that some recipes aren’t all that suited to beginners and that maybe more recipes about the simple stuff need to be out there. And so came the idea for this post.

I was talking about what to bake next for my blog with the aforementioned flatmate, and he asked me ‘what’s a really easy thing to bake for a beginner?’ My immediate thoughts were all things that I’ve written up recipes for at some point or other on this blog: brownies, cookies, cupcakes; but one thing in particular came to mind- flapjacks.

Flapjacks used to be something of a signature bake of mine and I’ve been baking them for a long time. They’re a nice easy bake that I used to make on my own before I built up the courage to bake things that were a little more complicated. Once you’ve got the hang of the simple base recipe, you can be creative in adding whatever extra flavours you like! This recipe adds two of my favourites: cherry and dark chocolate. If those flavours aren’t your cup of tea, simply swap them for something else (more advice on this in the Handy Hints section).

Dark Chocolate and Cherry Flapjacks

Baking time: 45 mins- 1 hour (Oven time 30-35 mins)

Ingredients
170g Butter
70g Soft Brown Sugar
2 tbsp Golden Syrup
340g Porridge Oats
100g Dark Chocolate
150g Glacé cherries

Bakes in a greaseproof paper-lined brownie tray

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 160C. Melt the butter in a pan, over a low heat. Stir in the sugar and golden syrup until combined. Take off the heat.
2. Add the oats and stir until the butter mixture coats the oats.
3. Chop up the chocolate and cherries into small chunks (I’d recommend cutting the cherries in half)
4. Stir in the chocolate and cherry chunks until evenly distributed.
5. Place in the lined baking tray and cook in the oven for 30-35 minutes until the oats are golden coloured.
6. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. The flapjacks will continue to bind together a bit after they’ve been removed from the oven, so don’t panic if they look really crumbly.
7. Cut into squares and serve!

Handy Hints
Ingredients Swap- If you don’t want to add chocolate to this mixture (why not?!) then use 225g of Butter instead. If you’re swapping dry ingredients, use the same quantity as the cherries. If the ingredient you’re adding isn’t as sweet, add a little more sugar to the mix.
Other flavours- the classic dry ingredient to add would be raisins, but I would recommend maybe white chocolate and cranberry or topping normal flapjacks with toffee, chocolate or caramel.
Baking- Make sure to press the mixture into the tin when you transfer it from the pan. This will help it to come together a bit better.

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Easy-Peasy Cheese Twists

Hello everyone and Happy Easter to you all! I hope you’re all making the most of the holidays, no matter how short they may be for those of you that have to work! This post is just a quick recipe, so I’ll keep the waffle to a minimum and try not to make this post too cheesy (pun intended, cringe-worthy though it is!).

The inspiration for this post came from the realisation the other day that my mum had, in a sudden burst of productivity, baked about three different types of pudding for the family. This meant that making another one seemed a bit pointless, especially since we’re going away tomorrow morning. In my desperation therefore, I looked to savoury food to be my recipe for this post. I’d love to say that after a thorough examination of my extensive repertoire of savoury bakes, I carefully selected this one but in reality this is one of the only savoury things I know how to bake. However, it is probably the easiest recipe ever and who doesn’t love a good pastry and cheese combo? This recipe is perfect for students as it’s incredibly fool-proof, it only contains three ingredients and it only takes around fifteen minutes. With all the deadlines and exams looming on the horizon, I thought a snack recipe would probably be well-received especially if, like me, you eat when you’re stressed/bored/procrastinating (exam time consists of me basically eating 24/7).

Cheese Twists

Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 12 minutes
Price: £1.84

Ingredients
320g Pack of Puff Pastry
Around 4 handfuls of grated cheese
Flour, to roll out the pastry on

Method
1. Roll the pastry into a ball shape and make a dint in the centre. Add half the cheese into this dint, fold some pastry over the top and knead the pastry gently to incorporate the cheese.
2. Roll out the pastry to around the thickness of a pound coin. If you can, try to roll it into a kind of (very) rough square shape, as this will make your life easier for Step 3.
3. Cut the pastry into strips to whatever length you desire your cheese straws to be. They need to be about 1cm wide to twist them.
4. Twist the pastry round three or four times (or less if you’ve made very short strips). Make sure the ends still lie flat, so the twists won’t just untwist when you let go. Lay out the twists on a greaseproof-paper-lined baking tray.
5. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top of the strips of pastry.
6. Bake at 220C (200C fan) for 12 minutes, or until the pastry is golden.

Handy Hints
Cheese- you could use any cheese for this recipe- i split my pastry in two and did half using cheddar cheese and half with a ‘Caramalised Onion and Rioja Cheddar’ cheese*, which is incredible.
Twisting- If your pastry strips are refusing to co-operate, press the bottom end of the strip down so it sticks a little bit to the surface, then pick the top half up gently and twist. Press the top end down gently when you’ve created the twists.
Cheese topping- As you may see from the pictures, some of the cheese on the top of my cheese and onion twists burnt. I think this is probably because I grated the cheese too finely, so next time I’d either put a different cheese on top or wouldn’t grate it so finely.
Other Additions- You could also add some herbs to the pastry mix when you fold in the cheese, as these I think would compliment each other nicely. Alternatively, you could add a bit of spice to give them a bit of a kick.

*This cheese is delicious and is made by the Cheshire Cheese Company, who make incredible cheeses with some really interesting flavours. You can check them out here– my favourties are the Jamaican Jerk, Smokey Tomato and Garlic and the one mentioned above (also, they just introduced a chilli, lime and tequila cheese!).

cheese twists (1)