Peppermint Squares

This post goes out to my brother, not only because this is one of his all-time favourite things to get from Cheshire Gap bakery, but also because he has a broken leg at the moment, so obviously deserves lots of cakes and chocolate!

These peppermint squares have a chocolate shortbread base, a fondant- type peppermint layer and a dark chocolate topping. They’re the perfect bake, partly because they only contain 7 ingredients and partly because they’re very simple, but very tasty! If you’re not so much of a mint fan, then this recipe can be easily adjusted to make chocolate orange squares, or maybe even cherry squares (because cherry and dark chocolate is amazing!), a bit like the Quality Street combinations. If you’re making these for a party, why not make some of each, with the addition of different food colouring so guests can tell them apart? Or maybe even without, making a chocolate squares roulette?!

This recipe was adjusted from a Waitrose recipe card (how middle class of me!), but I found that their recipe made the layers too thin, and that I needed to adjust the quantities of some of the ingredients. This recipe does include a lot of chilling time, so make sure you have plenty of time, or do something in the middle (some suggestions: wash up, dance around the kitchen, make tea, pretend to be Adele while singing, watch 2 episodes of Friends…)

Peppermint Squares

Cooking Time: 15-20 mins
Preparation Time: 15 mins
Cooling/ Chilling Time: 1 hour and a half or so (between stages)

Makes approx. 28 pieces

Ingredients

350g Butter
170g Light Brown Sugar
400g Plain Flour
4 tbsp Cocoa Powder
600g Icing Sugar
5-6 tbsp Water
1/2 tsp Peppermint Extract
400g Dark Chocolate
A small amount of butter (roughly 20g)

Baked in a 25 x 38cm brownie tin.

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and line the tin with greaseproof paper.
2. Mix together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the flour and cocoa powder until all the ingredients are fully combined.
3. Spread out in the tin, pressing down with the back of a spoon until the base is level and covers the whole tray. Bake in the oven for 15-20 mins until spongy, but only just set, then place to one side to cool.
4. To make the peppermint layer, beat together the icing sugar, 5-6 tbsp of water and peppermint extract until you have a mixture which is smooth and quite firm. It should resist when your stir it, and not be of easily pour-able consistency.
5. Spread the peppermint mixture over the shortbread base, spreading right to the edges of the tin and until level. Chill to firm (about an hour is ideal, but probably could be done in half an hour if needs be).
6. Break up the chocolate and heat in the microwave until melted. Melt the butter in a separate bowl in the microwave, then add to the chocolate and mix until fully combined. Once the peppermint layer has firmed, pour the chocolate over the filling, and spread until the chocolate covers all of the base layers. Chill for 30 mins or so before serving.

Handy Hints

Light Brown Sugar– Alternatively, use Caster Sugar and 1 tsp of Vanilla Essence.
Peppermint layer– You may need to adjust the amount of icing sugar in order to create the right consistency for this layer. If it’s too runny, add more icing sugar. If it’s too stiff, add a tiny bit more water. The balance will change more depending on the extract used, and if you use any colouring or not.
Base layer– When transferring this into the tin, it can be a bit of a pain to spread out to make it cover the whole tin. Use your (washed I hope!) hands to press down sections of the base, and grease the back of a metal spoon if using this to press the mix down.
Cooling time– Make sure you take the time to let things cool properly- if you add the middle layer while the base is too hot, it will make the icing runny, if you add the chocolate when the icing isn’t set, it will mix with the peppermint when you try to spread it.
Chocolate layer– Let this cool a little bit before pouring over the rest of the bake- if it’s too hot it will melt the middle layer!
peppermint-squares1

Peppermint Square (top), Orange Square (middle), Cherry Square (bottom). As you can see, my squares are not particularly even (Mary and Paul would be disappointed) and my icing is running out on the bottom layer, hence the comments about being patient with the cooling process!

White Chocolate Cheesecake

Hi everyone! I’m sorry for not posting for so long, but you’ll see why in this post, and my next two. Over the last two weeks I’ve had some baking requests from friends for various different birthdays! This post was the request to make a cheesecake for a friend’s boyfriend for his birthday. I was given the instructions to choose which cheesecake I wanted to make and honestly, I was feeling a bit of pressure to make the right choice. I mean cheesecakes are a very personal thing and making that decision on behalf of someone else is a big decision. In the end I plucked for one of my favourites which I figured no-one could hate- a white chocolate cheesecake. This cheesecake isn’t as cheap as some, as I’d been told that I would have the ingredients provided for me (free reign over ingredients wooo!) but it’s a great recipe for a winter-y bake too! It’s baked which means that you can eat it nice and warm for a winter bake or you have it cold with berries for a nice flavour.

The recipe is taken from the Divine chocolate cookbook (yeah I know I’m mentioning them again but this is the last time for a while I promise!). There’s a link to the cookbook in my older post here. I love this recipe because it’s white chocolate, but it’s not too sickly sweet like you’d imagine it might be- it has orange and lemon in it which nicely balances the flavour and makes it a bit more fruity, but still sweet like chocolate.

White Chocolate Cheesecake:
Preparation Time: 15-20 mins
Baking Time: 40 mins

Ingredients:
Base:
2 Tablespoons Cocoa powder
75g Butter
150g Digestive Biscuits
50g Caster Sugar
Filling:
200g White chocolate
3 Tablespoons warm water
600g Cream/ Soft cheese
75g Caster Sugar
Grated zest 1/2 an orange
Grated zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 eggs

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas 2
2. Make the base first: Mix the cocoa powder and the butter. Crush the biscuits into crumbs and stir the biscuit crumbs and the sugar into the cocoa and butter mix. When thoroughly combined and all the crumbs have been covered, press into the tin (I use a 23cm Sprinform tin for this recipe, greased and lined with greaseproof paper). Press down firmly until the base is 1-2cm up the sides of the tin. Put in the fridge until needed.
3. Break up the chocolate and melt with the warm water. Stir gently once melted and leave to cool until needed.
4. Add the cream cheese, sugar, orange zest, lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla essence and eggs into a bowl and mix with a hand mixer until the mixture is very smooth.
5. Once the mixture is fully combined, add the chocolate and mix again until fully combined and smooth.
6. Pour the mixture into the base, then bake for 40 minutes.
7. This bit sounds weird, but once the cheesecake is cooked (it should be firm and not wobble if you jiggle the tin), turn off the oven but don’t remove the cheesecake yet. Leave the cheesecake in the oven for an hour.
8. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely, then put in the fridge.

Handy Hints:
Melting the chocolate- Usually I do this in the microwave, but this doesn’t work with the water added in, as it just ruins the chocolate. I know it takes longer, but I’m afraid you do have to do this properly over a pan of boiling water!
Oranges and Lemons- Make sure that the fruit you use is unwaxed, as this makes for a very strange zest if it is!
Mixing- Don’t over-mix this, but do make sure that the mixture is smooth with no lumps of sugar or butter.

cheesecake sparkler

 

The easiest bake ever- Toffee Marshmallow Crispies

Before I start this post properly I just want to say I’m sorry this post is a little bit late- I moved back to uni a week ago today so I’ve been catching up with my flatmates sorting all my uni stuff out! It’s great to be back, despite the 9am start I had today, and it’s great to be blogging about student baking when I’m actually back at uni! I’m on campus again this year so the other night we decided to go and play pool in the bar and then have a film night so I suggested that we bake something to eat while we watch the film, because obviously snacking is an essential part of any film night. So, having just got back we needed something we could buy the ingredients for in the Spar on campus, which although has a good stock of general stuff doesn’t have that much for baking. I had the idea to bake something that I used to make when I was little, which is toffee marshmallow crispy cakes! They’re so easy to bake and only have 3 ingredients, so we decided to pop to Spar and see if we could find them. We did have to improvise a bit on ingredients (a big part of student baking if, like me, you’re not very good at planning ahead), so I’ll put in the recipe what you need to get, then explain what we used instead.

Since this recipe is so easy, and because I have flatmates whose phones have good cameras, I’ve decided to try a new kind of post to present my recipe. I took a picture of each key stage of the bake, so I’m going to put the pictures alongside the steps of the recipe as a kind of visual aid. Let me know if you like this method and if you think it works better then my usual posts; if you prefer just a written recipe with a picture of the finished bake at the end; or if you’re indifferent.

Toffee Marshmallow Crispies:
Preparation Time: 2 minutes
Baking Time: 5-10 minutes
Price: £3.20

Ingredients:
150g Marshmallows
150g Toffee Sweets
Rice Crispies
A bit of Butter or Oil
200g Chocolate for topping (optional)
Sweets for topping (optional)

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Method:
1. Unwrap all the toffee sweets and put in a pan with a little bit of butter or oil.

10588821_10152336616260423_1256786914_n2. Keep the pan on a moderate to high heat (I used number 4 on our hob, so not too hot but not simmering either) and wait for the toffees to melt to a thick liquid consistency. Then, add the marshmallows.

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3. Stir in the marshmallows and keep stirring until the toffees and marshmallows are all combined and melted.

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(the mixture should look, at this stage, should look more like the melted toffees on their own, and should have a stringy, sticky consistency:)

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4. Take the pan off the heat. Then, add as many rice crispies as you like, depending on whether you want more dry kind of slices, or more sticky toffee-like crispy cakes.

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5. Stir to combine the rice crispies and the toffee marshmallow mixture. You know you’ve got the right consistency when it’s hard work to stir the ingredients together! You’ll want to give up at this point but power through- they turn out nice in the end! When they’re all combined, spoon them into whatever container you have (I just used a brownie tin).

6. Leave to cool in the container. While cooling, melt the chocolate in the microwave. When cooled, spread the melted chocolate on the top as much as you can.

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7. If you’re using sweets to decorate (I cut up fudge sweets into little pieces as a topping), scatter them on the chocolate before it melts.

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8. Fridge for a bit, or cut up immediately and serve!

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Handy Hints:

Toffee sweets- We couldn’t find any toffees so we used Cadburys Eclairs. I think pure toffees work better but feel free to experiment a bit- as long as they’re sticky they’ll hold it together.
Stirring- The toffee and marshmallow mixture needs to be constantly stirred or it will stick to the bottom of the pan and be a nightmare to clean off!
Cooling- Don’t keep these in the fridge for too long or they will go really crunchy and are hard to eat!

How to win over your flatmates: The best cookie recipe!

Hello everyone! Now that I’m back from holiday I’ve been starting to gather up all my stuff to take back to uni, which got me thinking about freshers week. With my sister about to head to uni for her first year, and with different friends disappearing back week by week, I thought about the best way to make friends- biscuits! In my experience it’s hard to turn down an offer of a cookie and a cup of tea/hot chocolate/ coffee (or just the biscuit on it’s own). So, if you’re feeling a bit shy at uni, or wherever you are, what better way to tempt someone into being your friend! My favourite cookie recipe is from my Divine cookbook (see my brownies recipe), and they’re so easy to make as well as being amazingly chocolately! I especially love that they have whole pieces of chocolate instead of small chocolate chips, which breaks up the biscuit. Cookies are perfect for uni baking as they don’t need many ingredients and keep for a longer time than a lot of bakes. They’re even more perfect because the raw dough can be frozen, meaning you can have instant cookies on hand (see the ‘Handy Hints’ section at the bottom).

Recipe:
Preparation Time: 20/25 minutes
Baking Time: 12-15 minutes
Price: £2.86

Ingredients:

100g Dark Chocolate
125g Butter
100g Caster Sugar
100g Light Muscovado Sugar
1 Egg
220g Plain Flour
3 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda

(also 2-3 non-stick baking trays, ungreased)

Method:

1. Heat the oven to 180C/ 350F/ Gas 4.
2. Break up the chocolate into squares and put aside until needed.
3. Soften the butter by melting slightly, then add the sugars and mix with a hand whisk until soft and fluffy. Scrape down the sides then beat in the egg.
4. Add the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda and mix well until all the ingredients are incorporated.
5. Stir in the chocolate pieces.
6. Using a heaped tablespoon of mixture for each cookie, roll the mixture into balls and arrange on the baking trays. Flatten each with your fingers and space them well apart as they spread a fair bit in the oven.
7. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 12-15 minutes or until until firm. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes or so before transferring to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

Handy Hints:
Pecan pieces- The recipe actually says to add 100g Pecan pieces with the chocolate, but I never add these as I’m not a fan!
Cooling- Make sure you transfer the cookies from the trays to wire cooling racks, as if you don’t they’ll stick to the tray and become a nightmare to unstick!
Tins- If you don’t have enough tins to spread them all out, bake one tray, transfer to cool then bake the next tray’s worth on the used tray. Or, if you’re feeling a adventurous, why not bake one big cookie? Just put all the mixture on one tray- it’s great for an alternative to a birthday cake, and keeps longer too!
How many?- I find this recipe makes about 15 cookies, but it depends on how big you like your cookies to be! They do spread lots so don’t be afraid if they look really small!
Freezing- Cookie dough is perfect for baking as it can be frozen and kept for ages! Make extra cookies (or just the normal recipe) and freeze the raw dough between greaseproof paper. Then, when you have a hankering for cookies, bake as many as you like directly from frozen. All you need to change is to add a little bit more time to the baking time.

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What to take to uni (the cheap edition)

I realise this post may be a little late for some, but having a little sister who’s currently in the process of buying all the things she needs to take to uni, I thought I’d make a post to (hopefully) help any of you heading to uni soon! This list isn’t intended to be a list of things in general, but more specifically for baking purposes. I’m afraid I’ve ignored the things you’ll need for general cooking, but have included some tips and a list of things you may need if you want to bake at uni. Although this list is intended for students going to uni this year it may also be useful to any of you looking for cheap instruments that will help you to have a wide range of all the vital things you’ll need for baking. It’s also worth mentioning that you don’t need to panic if you don’t have all these things- this is just what I’ve found most useful to have- let me know if I’ve forgotten anything! I’ve tried to research this and find the best price for each item, but please comment and let me know if you’ve found anything cheaper, or if there are any special offers I’ve missed!

The List:

A Wooden Spoon (45p)- The cheapest one I found is in Sainsbury’s for 45p. It doesn’t need to be fancy to do the job, and you can use it to cook too.
A Spatula (60p)- Spatulas are great for getting those last pesky bits out of your mixing bowl (whether you want to add it to your mixture or eat it!). They aren’t necessary but I find them very useful. I recently bought a great one from Ikea for 60p which has a great pattern on it too (bonus!). http://www.ikea.com/gb/en/catalog/products/90225731/
A Mixing Bowl/Measuring Jug (35p)- In my house, we tend to use measuring jugs as mixing bowls. This may not be for everyone, but it does mean that you save on washing up and that you don’t have to buy both (so also save money!). If you do go for a measuring jug (mine was from Asda) then make sure that it’s wide enough to use a hand-held mixer in if you have one.
Measuring spoons (£1)- Again, these aren’t necessary if you know how many grams are in a teaspoon/ tablespoon, but are much quicker! The cheapest ones I’ve found are again from Asda, but I know you can get nice silicone ones on Amazon.
Scales (£4-6)- I have to confess that I got my kitchen scales as a present from my grandparents, so mine were slightly more expensive (£13.56 on Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Salter-Design-Electronic-Platform-Kitchen/dp/B000ZNM51O/ref=sr_1_1?s=kitchen-appliances&ie=UTF8&qid=undefined&sr=1-1&keywords=baking+scales), but Sainsbury’s have 1/3 off loads of kitchen stuff at the minute, so you can get really cheap scales from there if you’re fast and can get them while they’re still in stock!
Hand Whisk (£6.49)- An electric hand mixer is great to have at uni- it’s SO much easier then hand mixing stuff! I went to uni thinking I wouldn’t need one, and then ended up buying one within the first term. Mine is from Argos and was £5.99, but Sainsbury’s have a great one on offer at the moment for £6.49 which is way better then mine, so I might be tempted by that one!
Muffin/ Cupcake Tin (£5)- Obviously a necessity if you’ve baking muffins or cupcakes! The cheapest ones are in Sainsbury’s or Asda, so grab one next time you’re shopping!
Brownie Tin (£5.25)- This is the brownie tin I have from Ikea. I’d recommend having a deeper tin like this for making any kind of traybakes (like my brownies in the last post!) as they’re so useful- it’d be a good idea to get some greaseproof paper too for lining it. http://www.ikea.com/gb/en/catalog/products/00133043/
Springform Tin (£9)- This is a great buy for anyone who loves making cheesecakes! It’s definitely not something you desperately need, but maybe you could be sneaky and ask for it as a Christmas present? They’re so great to use, especially if, like me, you’re really, really bad at getting cakes out of tins. You just unfasten the clip and voila, cake! Mine is from Ikea (the same range as the brownie tin) and was £9.50, but Sainsbury’s have some on offer for £9 too so take your pick!
Cupcake/Muffin Cases– I haven’t put a price on these as it depends what type you buy. Paper cases and much cheaper, but you have to buy more every time you make more cupcakes! You can buy them from most supermarkets. An alternative is buying silicone cupcakes cases, which although are more expensive, you can use again and again, for as long as you can be bothered to wash them up! Asda have silicone cupcakes for £2 which are pretty cute I think: http://groceries.asda.com/asda-webstore/landing/home.shtml#/product/910001128621.
Cake in a mug Mug (£7.99)- see my ‘Cake in a mug’ post! Perfect for a quick cake, a great design by Lakeland! Also, they now have a ‘Pudding in a mug’ mug!
Hot Chocolate Sachets (4 for £1)- There’s nothing like a hot chocolate to warm you up on a cold autumn evening (especially if you’re up north for uni!), or to cheer you up when you feel alone or a little lost. Options hot chocolate is my favourite- they have loads of great flavours (my favourites are the coconut, cherry and orange flavours). For added joy add mini marshmallows.

I think that brings me to the end of my list of what I have at uni, and therefore what any student bakers may need, although undoubtedly I’ll think of more ideas later on that I should have written. I’d say overall the best places to shop for these are Sainsbury’s and Ikea, as they seem to have the cheapest prices between them. I hope this is helpful for any of you, first years, third years or just general bakers looking for a good deal! May all these items help you to create some amazing bakes in your time at uni!

 P.S. I just joined Bloglovin! Hopefully my blog should be connected by posting this on my blog- there’s a button at the side of my blog now to follow me if you’re a user of Bloglovin! <a href=”http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/12768711/?claim=tsuwgdzjer4″>Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a> 

The Best Brownies

Hi everyone! Before I start this post properly I’d just like to say a big well done to everyone who got their A level results and GCSE results in the past two weeks! My sister was among the terrified sixth formers waiting to desperately log on to UCAS to find out whether she’d got into uni or not, something I remember all too well! I’m very happy to say that she got great results and got into her first choice! I do want to quickly say to any of you reading who may not have got the results they were hoping for that it’s OK and that you’ll love whichever uni you end up going to when you get there! Don’t lose confidence, keep your head held high and don’t give up on your goals.

So, cheesy bit of this post over, the A-level commotion got me thinking about the first recipe I baked in my new flat, for my new flatmates at Lancaster uni, which was my favourite brownie recipe. Brownies are super easy to make and aren’t that expensive, and I happen to have what I believe to be the best brownie recipe I’ve ever found! I’m yet to meet anyone that doesn’t love these brownies, including my brother who’s quite selective about which puddings he likes (strange boy!). So, although this recipe has only been given to a select few (I like to call them ‘the chosen ones’) before, here I am publishing it for all of you. The thing I love most about these brownies is the fudgy centre and gooey quality to them- they’re quite rich which makes them good for sharing as they cut into slightly smaller pieces (if you want to share, no judging if you don’t!).

The Best Brownies:
The recipe for these brownies comes from a cookbook called ‘Divine: Heavenly chocolate recipes’ which is an amazing recipe book produced by Divine chocolate (a brilliant Fairtrade chocolate brand). I’m a big supporter of Fairtrade, so when I got this book I had high hopes, and it didn’t disappoint! There’s even some savoury chocolate recipes in there for you brave ones…
http://www.divinechocolate.com/uk/shop/chocolate-for-baking/heavenly-chocolate-recipes-heart

Baking time: 20 mins
Production time: 15/20 mins
Cost: £3.11

Ingredients:
200g Dark chocolate (unsurprisingly Divine’s dark chocolate is really good for this, but that’s not the chocolate I used to calculate the price- sorry!)
100g Butter, softened
250g Caster Sugar
4 Eggs
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Essence
60g Plain Flour
60g Cocoa Powder

This recipe fits into a 20.5 x 25.5cm baking tin, which needs to be greased and lined with greaseproof paper.

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
2. Melt the chocolate (it says in the recipe to do it over a bowl of water but I just melt it in the microwave). When it’s smooth and completely melted, put it on one side until needed.
3. Beat the butter and sugar until fluffy, then add the vanilla essence. At this point, it’ll look a bit runny- don’t panic!
4. Add the cooled melted chocolate and mix in thoroughly (this is the bit where it starts to look a bit more appetising). Add the flour and cocoa powder to the mixture and gently stir in.
5. When all the ingredients are completely combined, spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and spread the mixture evenly (using the back of a metal spoon seems to work best for that).
6. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. It should be firm to touch but still be a bit fudgy. If they’re done, they’ll have a thin chocolate-y crust on the top which is lighter then the middle. Take them out of the oven and leave to cool, as the chocolate will continue to cook a bit when you’ve taken them out of the oven.

Handy Hints:
Accompaniments- These go great with ice cream, or cream if you’re more into cream on its own. They’re great if you eat them slightly warm with ice cream (if they’re not fresh, stick them in the microwave for about 10 seconds).
After Eight Brownies- A great addition to these is to make minty brownies. You’ll need a box of After Eights as well as the normal recipe ingredients. All you need to do to make these is alter the bit where you put them in the tin. Instead of adding all the mixture to the tin, add half and smooth it down. Then line up the mints in lines on top of this layer of brownie and add the rest of the brownie mixture on top, making sure that you cover all the mints.
Chocolate chips- These taste great with some chocolate chips, I tend to add white chocolate ones, but make sure they’re cut into small pieces as these brownies are quite thin.
Portions- These cut into about 20/25 pieces.

I’m very sorry I don’t have a picture of these- the last time I made them they got eaten before I could snap a picture! Next time I make them I’ll add a picture to this page!

The Best Cupcake Recipe

Before I start this post I want to apologise for not posting this week- it’s all been a bit busy with packing, moving back home for summer and unpacking again! But now I’m at home, so will have plenty of time for baking and blogging recipes- yey! This does mean that some of the recipes appearing here may have more recipes included and may be more expensive as I can raid the cupboards in the kitchen, but I will still be adding up the cost of each recipe for you all. I will try and keep them simple and resist the temptation to get too carried away! That’s enough ramble though, so here’s my actual post:

Cupcakes are something that everyone can appreciate and range from very simple ones to very intricate complicated ones. Decorating cupcakes is one of my favourite baking things to do, but it does take time and effort so when I’m at uni all I ever do is shove some frosting on them (the student laziness strikes again). In this post I’m going to share with you the cupcake recipe, and in the next post I’m going to discuss and give recipes for different frostings, some more complicated than others. In my years of baking (that makes me sound about a million years old) I have tried so many different cupcake recipes, but the one I’m going to post today is the best one I’ve ever found, and possibly the best one ever. The recipe comes from the Hummingbird Bakery and is in all of their recipe books. I love it because I find a lot of cupcake recipes quite dry, but this one creates the perfect texture for me, and I’m yet to find a person who doesn’t like them! For those of you who haven’t heard of Hummingbird Bakery, research them. Now. They have the most amazing bakes ever, and they have a way of making every bake look amazingly tasty. Unfortunately they only have shops in London in the UK, which makes me very sad, but they do have a great blog and four great recipe books. This is beginning to sound a bit like I’m sponsored by them or something now, so I’m going to stop talking them up and get on with the recipe, but seriously check them out- this is their website :
https://hummingbirdbakery.com/
(and Hummingbird Bakery, if by some chance you’re reading this- a shop in Manchester would be amazing!)

The Recipe:
This recipe makes chocolate cupcakes.
Overall price to make: £1.88
Baking Time: 20-25 minutes
(I haven’t put a preparation time as it can take me between half an hour and an hour depending on how much singing/dancing round the kitchen I do, if I have an electric mixer, if I’m chatting to someone etc.)

Ingredients:
70g Unsalted Butter
170g Plain Flour
250g Caster Sugar
50g Cocoa Powder
1 tbsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
210ml Whole Milk* (see Helpful Hints)
2 Eggs

Method:
This recipe makes around 16 cupcakes.
1. Preheat the oven to 170 C (325 F or Gas Mark 3) and line the muffin tins with cases (I find it makes 16 cupcakes).
2. Soften the butter- I tend to just stick it in the microwave for about 5-10 seconds depending on how high power your microwave is.
3. Mix the butter, flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt together. You may want to add these and give it a little mix after you add each or you’ll find the dry ingredients just explode everywhere when you start to mix it and it all gets very messy! The ingredients that haven’t ended up on the kitchen counter, you or the floor should form a crumb-like consistency.
4. In a separate jug, mix together the eggs and milk with a fork.
5. Mixing slowly, pour half the eggs and milk mixture into the crumb mixture and stir until it’s all combined. Mix more quickly when it’s combined to form a smooth and thick batter-like mixture. When any lumps have gone (try squishing them a bit with your spoon or whisk), add the rest of the milk and egg mixture and mix until the mixture is combined and smooth.
6. Make sure that there isn’t any flour or other dry ingredients at the bottom of the mixture- a really floury cupcake is not what you want!
7. Spoon the batter into the cases- they should fill about 2/3 of the case.
8. Bake for 20-25 minutes in the oven, or until the sponge bounces back when you touch it (give it a poke and see if it springs back).
9. Leave to cool completely before frosting if you’re going to decorate them.

Helpful Hints
Baking Powder- This looks expensive for what it is but trust me it’s worth having- it keeps for ages and you can just store it until you need it, you never need much of it in each recipe.

Whole Milk- Most students won’t have whole milk just lying around in the fridge, however if you’re a tea or coffee fan you might have semi-skimmed milk in the fridge. Instead of whole milk you can use semi-skimmed milk and a little bit of butter, which is way easier and I can’t taste the difference! For this recipe, you’ll need about 1.5 tbsp of melted butter (just add it to the semi-skimmed milk). Overall, you need 2 tablespoons of melted butter to 1 cup (237g) of semi-skimmed milk to create a whole milk alternative.

Vanilla cupcakes- if you want to make vanilla cupcakes instead of chocolate ones, then swap the cocoa powder for more Plain Flour (210g) and add a teaspoon of Vanilla Extract. Otherwise, the recipe is the same.

If you want to decorate your cupcakes watch this space for next week’s post on frosting!

The finished product looks something like this (although these have frosting on):
Cinder Toffee Cupcakes