Team-GB-inspired Olympics cupcakes

Red, white and blue - Team-GB-inspired cupcakes

From what I’ve heard, the Olympics have started! As we don’t have a TV, we didn’t watch the opening ceremony live, and I haven’t got round to downloading it on iPlayer and watching it yet. This is the first time since we got rid of our TV that I kind of miss it, but given how much we’re saving on the licence fee, I’m not too bothered overall. We just don’t seem to get time to sit down and watch TV, except the odd DVD here and there. Although I didn’t watch the opening ceremony, I did feel like I was watching, because of all the tweeting and facebooking that was going on about it. To be honest, I’m a bit miffed about not getting tickets to anything I wanted to see in the Olympics, despite trying in the first and second round to get them. I would have loved to watch any of the swimming events, or anything going on in the aquatic centre, but I didn’t get any tickets in our (limited) price-range budget. It’s such a shame that I didn’t get to watch the one sport I really love when it was here, live in this country, not far from where we’re living, at the Olympics.

But I’ll stop whinging now. One day I’ll go and swim in the Olympic pool myself, just like I did in Sydney after the Olympics there. That will be a great day, one which I’m already looking forward to! Even though I’m perhaps not as involved in the Olympic atmosphere as I would like to be, that didn’t stop me getting in the mood for some Olympics-inspired baking. I had some (OK, lots of) Union Jack cupcake cases left over from the Jubilee celebrations in June, so thought it would be a good opportunity to use some more and get into the Olympic spirit by making some Team-GB-inspired red, white and blue cupcakes. Of course the cases are red, white and blue, but I also went for red and blue sponge (half of each in each cupcake), plus white icing and the three colours in hundreds and thousands. The red sponge came out red, but the blue wasn’t very strong (I’ve found this before with natural food colourings these days, particularly blue), so that bit of the sponge looks more like the usual creamy colour but a bit darker. Still, it’s a nice overall effect with half the sponge one colour and half another colour, even if it’s not amazingly blue like I intended. They taste lovely, which is the main thing. Tom and I sat eating an Olympics cupcake each yesterday evening, whilst Rebecca Adlington was winning bronze in the 400m freestyle in the Olympic pool (so I found out later on the internet). If you’d like to bake something to go with your Olympics watching, the recipe is below.

Half red, half 'blue' sponge (I really can't see any hint of blue in this picture, but the mixture did look blue before it was cooked, honest, even if not amazingly bright)

Ingredients

Blue sponge

  • 60g sugar
  • 60g margarine
  • 1 egg
  • 60g self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • blue food colouring
Red sponge
  • 60g sugar
  • 60g margarine
  • 1 egg
  • 60g self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • red food colouring
Icing
  • 3 heaped tsp icing sugar
  • a few drops of cold water

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC (fan), and place cupcake cases in muffin tins (I made 1 dozen cakes).
  2. Start with the blue sponge, as the colour is lighter than the red, so you can use the same bowl to mix the red in afterwards, because small bits of blue mixture won’t affect the colour of the red mixture, unlike the other way around.
  3. Cream the sugar and margarine in a bowl until smooth and fluffy.
  4. Add the egg and beat well until smooth.
  5. Add the flour, baking powder, vanilla essence and food colouring, and mix until well combined and the colour is evenly spread throughout the mixture. Use enough food colouring to make the mixture as bold as possible in colour.
  6. Put a heaped teaspoon of the mixture into each cake case, so that each case is about a third full.
  7. Follow the same method from 3. to 6. for the red mixture. When it’s ready, add a heaped teaspoon of the mixture into each cake case, so it sits on top of the blue mixture, and each case is about two thirds full.
  8. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes until golden (even though the top is red inside, I found that the crust on top was quite brown, so I could tell when it was cooked as usual).
  9. Let cool out of the muffin tins. Meanwhile make the icing. Mix the icing sugar with a few drops of water and stir until you have a thick paste. Only add a little water at a time – you can always add more but you can’t take it out once it’s in! (You could always add more icing sugar if you put too much water in, but then you could end up with too much icing.)
  10. Put a small blob of icing in the centre on top of each cake. It will probably start to run down to the edges on its own gradually, but if not then spread across the top with the back of a teaspoon.
  11. Sprinkle hundreds and thousands over the icing and carefully shake off any excess.
  12. Leave the icing to set, and then eat the cakes! Store in an airtight container – best eaten within a few days.
One Olympic ring.... of cakes 🙂

‘We love you Daddy’ mini heart-shaped cheese scones

So it’s the Saturday morning before Fathers’ Day, and I suddenly realise on an unrelated search through the fridge that we have 2 eggs that are at the day before their use-by date. This is probably because I’m doing less baking these days and I keep forgetting to do boiled eggs now that Andrew seems to be not so keen on scrambled but will eat boiled. Tom and I hate throwing away food, and very rarely do it – as we live so near the shops and do most of our shopping by foot or bike, we buy fresh stuff every few days and only as much as we need. So I was not going to let these eggs go to waste. I’m still not exactly back into baking like I was, but if it was bake or throw away food, I know which I’d rather do. As I’m generally feeling pretty good these days in the morning, I set about thinking up a recipe (or what turned out to be two) which would use the eggs up, and, to kill another proverbial bird whilst I was at it, bake something I knew Tom would particularly enjoy as a Fathers’ Day treat.

Given that Tom likes pretty much anything edible, I had quite a free rein on that front. The main factor in deciding on recipes was of course they had to have egg in. As my sweet tooth has yet to return from the pregnancy taste changes, I thought I’d give a savoury recipe a go. I flicked through some books to get inspiration, and the scones in good old Delia Smith grabbed my attention. I love a good cheese scone, so that was one egg decided on. For what I did with the other you’ll have to wait for another post.

Here’s the recipe that I used. It’s roughly based on Delia’s, but I always adapt recipes to suit our tastes and cupboard/fridge contents. I went for a ‘mini’ size so they would be easy for Andrew and also good as a snack. The heart-shape was supposed to be a sign for ‘We love you Daddy’ and we’d like to thank you for all you do.

Ingredients

  • 75g wholewheat flour
  • 75g self-raising flour
  • 25g margarine
  • 100g mature cheddar, grated
  • 1 egg
  • 3tbsp milk
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 2 pinches cumin seeds

Method

  1. Rub the margarine and flours together in a bowl using your fingers, until it looks like bread crumbs.
  2. Stir in the cayenne and cumin until evenly distributed.
  3. Mix in about 3/4 of the cheese until evenly distributed.
  4. Beat the egg and 2/3 of the milk in a cup, then add it to the other ingredients, and stir until it forms a stiff dough that you can roll into a ball. If it’s too dry, add a bit more milk.
  5. Flatten out the dough on a floured surface to about 1cm thick, and cut out scones using a biscuit cutter. I used a small heart-shaped one, to make the mini scones as a ‘we love you Daddy’ treat 🙂
  6. Place the scones on a lined baking tray.
  7. Brush them with the rest of the milk, then sprinkle with the rest of the cheese.
  8. Bake in the oven at 180ºC until golden brown.
  9. Let cool and eat as fresh as possible.

We had ours with tomato soup, which worked brilliantly. In fact Tom liked them so much he ate most of them in one go! Andrew and I just about got a look in. I hadn’t expected them to be that popular, even knowing his appetite. He said his excuse was that they’re best eaten on the day of baking. I said he didn’t need an excuse – they were his treat!