Malibu and Coke cupcakes

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My housemate B has a nostalgic attachment the coconutty sweetness of Malibu & Coke, which reminds her of nights out in our college bar at university.  Although she doesn’t really drink it much anymore, we have some in the house and when I was looking at what to back next I spotted a bottle.

Malibu is a coconut flavoured white rum made in Barbados.  It’s not the only coconut rum on the market, Wray & Nephew do Koko Kanu, a Jamaican rum which is a bit stronger alcohol wise, and there are most likely others too.

I had some cola syrup from when I made the Hummingbird Bakery cola cupcakes, so I figured I’d have a bash at using this in order to keep the liquid content down.  It’s the kind of stuff used in those soda makers and I picked some up in Lakeland.  If you can’t or don’t want to get hold of some try some regular cola and try boiling it down so it’s more concentrated.

Because the cola syrup and the Malibu is quite sugary I reduced down the amount of sugar in the actual cake, which didn’t affect the texture but did make sure that the cake wasn’t too sickly.  The cake was a little dense, so next time I’ll make sure to add some baking soda.  My housemates B and S thought the cakes tasted exactly like the drink, so I’m considering the recipe a success!

 Malibu & Coke cupcakes

100g Caster sugar
150g Butter
3 Eggs
75ml Cola syrup
75ml Malibu / coconut rum
150g Self raising flour
175g Icing sugar
75g Butter
Malibu and cola syrup to taste

Cream in the butter and sugar, then add the eggs one-by-one making sure they’re fully combined before adding the next.  Mix in the cola syrup and Malibu and sift in the flour.  Put the mixture into cupcake cases, filling to about two thirds, and bake for about 20mins until they pass the toothpick test (pierce one of the cakes with a toothpick, if it comes out clean they’re done).  Leave to cool and then make up the icing; cream in the butter and sugar.  Add the malice and cola small amounts at a time until you get the flavour you want.

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Strawberry Daiquiri cupcakes

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After making the Hummingbird Bakery mini-strawberry Daiquiri cakes and not being overly impressed with them I wanted to have a go at making my own recipe.

I don’t mean to mock the Hummingbird recipe as people certainly enjoyed them, but I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed by the idea of just having the strawberry pieces nestled in the bottom of the cake rather than being part of it.  A Strawberry Daiquiri cocktail involves muddling the strawberries into the drink along with the rum and lime so I wanted to put the strawberries in the cake.  And although the cocktail uses white rum, popular advice was that to get the flavour in the cake it might be worth using a darker, navy rum in the cake itself.

Strawberries infusing in white rum

I tried using fruit as a fat replacement previously and wasn’t convinced, but I did think infusing the fruit with rum might be a good way to get the flavours combined.  What is worth noting is that white rum (I used Bacardi) infused with strawberry is delicious!  Next time I’d use less of the strawberry and more navy to get more of the rum flavour across, but either way these cakes were pretty good!

Strawberry Daiquiri cupcakes

150g Caster sugar
20g Molasses sugar
170g Butter
3 Eggs
1 lime – zest and juice
100g Strawberries which has been soaked in white rum at least for 24 hours
50ml Navy rum
50ml Strawberry rum (from soaking the strawberries)
220g Self raising flour
1tsp Baking powder

Combine the two types of sugar and then cream in with the butter.  Add the eggs one by one, combining fully.  Zest the lime and then squeeze in the juice, giving it a good stir.  Drain the strawberries, keeping the liquid, and blitz in a blender until they’re a puree.  Stir into the mixture and add the rum.  Sieve in the flour and baking powder and transfer the mixture into cupcake cases about two thirds full.  Bake for the usual amount of time, using the toothpick test (it really is good) and then leave to cool.  Make up a buttercream icing using lime juice and the strawberry rum for extra flavour.

I upped the butter and sugar in this batch as the previous attempt had a texture which was a tad rubbery.  The flavours were certainly more balanced, but I would’ve liked more of the rum taste; I think adding more navy rum and less strawberry rum might be the way forward.  Oddly too, these cakes really seemed to improve after they were left for a few days…I know, I was surprised they lasted that long too!

Infusing sugar in the hope of gin cake

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After some success with the whisky and rum cakes I wanted to try another spirit cake.  Gin is my favourite spirit (with lemonade, ginger beer, Ting or in cocktails form, but I’m yet to develop a taste for tonic), so it only seemed natural to try this one next.  Big problem though; gin cake wasn’t going to be as easy at merely wacking in a load of it into the cake, owing to the whole gin being a base spirit flavoured with botanicals issue. So the next best thing seemed to be to figure out how to get the most popular of gin botanicals into the cake, starting with the star of the show, juniper.

And this is how I happened upon the idea of sugar infusion.  I’ve seen people use vanilla sugar before, but I wondered whether the same could be done with gin’s botanicals.  I found an article on StyleAtHome.com where Heidi Noble talked about infusing sugar with cardamom.  So I figured I’d give this a go…

The top box is the cardamom, corriander seeds and juniper ground down and mixed in with the sugar and the bottom box is the juniper and cardamom bruised (bashed?) slightly and left in with the sugar to be sieved out later.  I’m leaving them for a few weeks, giving them a good shake daily and we’ll see how it works!

Triple ginger, spice and rum cake

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I wanted to try and find another rum cake recipe as I wasn’t particularly happy with the previous one’s need for rum extract, so I thought I’d go down a sort of Dark and Stormy route and try a rum and ginger cake.

I plumped for the triple ginger and spice cake from BBC Good Food website.  Having made a few cakes now I’m gaining a little more confidence in messing around with recipes, so I amended this one a little to add in some rum and change the sugar to get a more rum flavour.

Triple Ginger, Spice and Rum Cake

Ingredients
250g butter
250g dark brown muscovado sugar I used Billington’s Molasses Sugar
250g black treacle
150ml milk
150ml rum (I used Mount Gay)
2 eggs
100ml glacé ginger from a jar, finely chopped
375g plain flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp allspice
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2tsp ground cinnamon (I added this as an extra)

Method: Combine the butter, treacle and sugar into a pan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved, then stir in the milk and rum.  The mixture needs to be cool to the touch and if this is the case then add in the eggs (if not leave a little longer).  Chop the ginger and add the rest of the dry ingredients to a bowl, then add the wet mixture to make a batter.  Bake for an 1 hour being careful not to open the oven as the cake will sink.  Leave to cool.

Ginger spice and rum cakeAs far as ginger cakes go this was was really yummy.  It was very moist and left in an air-tight container lasted several days and was still good to eat.  The rum certainly added to the flavour, but with the treacle and three types of ginger it was lost a little.  The original recipe calls for some icing, but I didn’t bother as the cake is rich, moist and sticky enough without adding more sugar.  Actually it would be really nice warm with some ice cream, cream or custard.

Getting hold of glace ginger was a little tricky though.  I tried a few supermarkets and in the end the only place I found it was Sainsburys.  I’m not sure I’d necessarily go to the hassle and might just use stem ginger as it was difficult to chop and left chunks in the cake.

This was definitely a good ginger cake and one to make again, but to get the rum flavour it needs some work – or accepting it as just a delicious ginger cake!

It’s not just me…

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I’d worry that my housemates, colleagues and friends are getting bored of me talking about alcoholic cake, except there are two reasons which make me think not.  The first is the amount of times I’ve been asked if the tote bag I’m carrying has cake it in (most likely yes) and then there’s this:

This is a cider cake my friend Andrew presented to me on a night out.  The picture really doesn’t do it justice, but the one over at his blog is MUCH better.  Andrew studied food and nutrition at university and works in something food-science related, so he’s the person I bore most with my baking questions (the bartenders at work get the alcohol questions).  Check out his blog for more food recipes, including the cider cake recipe.

Thankfully he can’t be too bored with being asked lots of cake related questions as he told me I shouldn’t be having all the fun and presented me with his own half cut cake.  It was delicious too…I can’t wait to try baking it myself!

Using fruit puree as a fat replacement, does it work?

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I think it’s safe to say creating healthy snacks was never part of this project, so the fact I’ve spend a slightly ridiculous amount of time reading about reducing fat might come as a surprise.  But I vaguely remember reading that fruit purees can be replaced in cake.  I figured if this were the case it might be a way to improve the Strawberry Daiquiri cupcakes I made a while back.

Some of the websites I read disagreed about the effectiveness of substituting fat.  Some suggested it was entirely fine, but a good chunk (like this one) seemed to suggest that completely replacing the fat produces a doughy cake.  From what I’ve read the fat acts as a shortening, coating the protein molecules in the flour and preventing it from making long strings of gluten.  The shortened gluten is what gives the cake its light-fluffiness and the long strands of gluten is what gives bread its doughiness.  So removing all the fat, even with a replacement, is likely to result in a doughier cake, which isn’t great.  At least that’s what I understand from the reading, I could be wrong!

Now, to see if there’s a good strawberry cake recipe knocking around…

Whisky Cake using Chivas Regal 12 year old Scotch Whisky

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I’m lucky enough to work for a group of bars that have regular training and will let me sit in on it.  So nearly a week after I’d sat in on some whiskey training, my mum turned up with a bottle of Chivas Regal 12 year old Scotch Whisky and I figured that really it only made sense to try some whisky cake.

I had a quick look round the interwebs and couldn’t find a recipe that wasn’t a fruit-filled Christmas-style cake.  So I figured I’d use the base of the rum cake recipe and have a bit of a play around to come up with my own recipe.

Chivas Regal Whisky Cake

Ingredients
175g Caster sugar
175g Butter
3 Eggs
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
75ml Whisky (I used the Chivas Regal 12 year old Scotch whisky)
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
30ml freshly brewed coffee (I used Ethiopian Mocha coffee)
185g Self raising flour
Icing
75g Butter
175g Icing sugar
25ml Whisky
1/4 teaspoon of orange liqueur

Method
Pre-heat the oven to 180c
Cream in the butter and sugar
Add the eggs one by one, making sure they’re combined
Add the cinnamon, whisky, vanilla extract and coffee
Sieve in the flour and fold in
Bake for about 45mins-1hr, then leave to cool.
The icing is a basic buttercream; cream in all the ingredients and ice the cake once it has cooled fully.

I really liked this cake – and so did the guys at work (one of them even professed it good enough to sell).  The coffee and cinnamon really complimented the whisky and helped bring out the flavour.  The icing was a little wetter than I intended, but the whisky and orange flavour (inspired by an Old Fashioned cocktail) really worked.

The sprinkles are actually little gingerbread men and whilst I was more than happy with this cake I might be tempted to add 1/4tsp of ground ginger to the cake in future.

Mount Gay Rum Cake

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I stumbled across a recipe for rum cake on the Baking Bar website for Sailor Jerry Rum Cake.  Now Sailor Jerry is fine and all, but if you’ve got access to bartenders who work in a bar with over 50 rums it seems only right to call one of them and see if they’d recommend something else to put in cake.  Which is how I ended up with Mount Gay rum.

Mount Gay Rum Cake

Ingredients
175g Caster sugar
185g Self raising flour
175g Butter
3 Eggs
1tsp Rum extract (optional)
1/2tsp Vanilla extract
2tbsp Rum (I used Mount Gay rum)
Rum Glaze
244g Caster sugar
150ml Water
1tsp Butter
1tsp Vanilla extract
3tbsp Rum

The first time I made this cake I omitted the rum extract because I had no idea where to get it.  Turns out you can get little bottles of the stuff in the baking isle of most supermarkets.  Who knew?

The recipe itself was pretty simple – cream in the butter and sugar, add the eggs one by one, stir in the vanilla extract, rum and rum extract and then fold in the flour.  Bake for 35-55 mins on 180c.  The glaze is made by heating the water and sugar until the sugar has melted, then adding the rest of the ingredients and boiling for another 10mins, keeping a close eye on it.  After being left to cool for 20mins, spoon it over the cake.  Ice with your choice, chocolate works well.

Rum Cake with glaze

So the first cake was really really nice, only the rum flavour was barely recognisable (and I’m sure the only people who said they could taste it was because I’d told them what it was supposed to be).  But as a basic cake recipe it’s really good and something I intend to use for the base of more cakes.  The syrup was delicious but made enough for two cakes; I left the half of it overnight and it did seem to separate out a bit, but with some digging I managed to reheat it.  I iced it with some shop-bought chocolate icing, although I was going to make a ganache but I never got round to it.

I made the cake again the next day and added in the rum extract and it made a huge difference to the flavour – much better.  Although this disappointed me a little as I’d have liked to get the rum flavour with something a little more natural.  Something to work on methinks!

Hummingbird Bakery Strawberry Daiquiri Mini-Cupcakes

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EDIT: I’ve since tried making my own recipe which is a little more inspired by how an actual Strawberry Daiquiri cocktail is made and tastes. Read it here.

The first of the Half Cut Cakes was from The Hummingbird Bakery’s Cake Days book given to me by my good friend Anni.  Sadly because this was a receipe I made before the project existed I forgot to take photos (edit: found a picture on my phone).

Hummingbird Bakery Strawberry Daiquiri Mini-Cupcakes

Ingredients 
100ml white rum
170g caster sugar
150g strawberries
40g unsalted butter
120g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg
120ml whole milk
1/2 tsp vanilla essence

This recipe involves making a sort of white rum (I used Bacardi as we had some in the house) syrup and then soaking chunks of strawberries in it.  These then sit in the base of cupcake case and the cake batter is piled on top.  They’re glazed with the rum reduction and then iced with a buttercream which uses butter, icing sugar, milk and some lime zest.

These cakes were moister than the ones I usually make, probably because they involved a lot more liquid than I’m used to.  Although the flavour was nice I’d say they were more inspired by a Strawberry Daiquiri than tasted like one as boiling the rum and sugar seemed to lose a lot of the flavour and the strawberries weren’t muddled into the rest of the ingredients like they would’ve been in the drink.

Whilst they tasted nice and everyone liked the little strawberry surprise in the bottom of the cupcake, I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed by them.  Plus left to the next day they seemed to get soggy, which I wasn’t overly keen about.

I’m wondering whether it’s possible to get the rum and strawberries into the cake itself with a little lime juice/zest to give it a bit more of an authentic Strawberry Daiquiri flavour.

Hello world!

Welcome.  This is my new blog chronicling my project into making alcoholic cakes and hopefully along the way learning more about alcohol, cake, baking and how they all combine together!

I work in marketing for two rather awesome venues – one pub, one cocktail bar – and my new year’s resolution was to try and learn more about the wonderful world of alcohol and its complexities.  So I’m reading, asking questions and attending training, where possible.  But me being me, I need a way to put the theory into practice, and rather than do something sensible like learn the art of cocktail making, I figured I’d combine this burgeoning knowledge with cake. Henceforth Half-Cut Cakes was born!