What a cupcake likes…

cupcakes_1ladybird cupcakecupcakes_2

I don’t aspire to literary greatness or wittiness, which posed a bit of a problem when I had to come up with the wording to put on the attendance certificates for the cupcake workshop (item no. 7 on my 30 for 30 list). My friend Emily put together the prose and Emma did the printing of the posters. I came up with this ditty at 3am on the morning of the cupcake workshop, inspired by Edward Monkton. Do you fancy posting a poetic response?

cupcake day slateworkshop attendance certificate

Said the cupake to [insert your name],

“I like it when you help me grow taller

and pipe a no. ’99 whippy on me,

and clothe me in rich,

buttercream yumminess.



Thank you for making me beautiful.”


I promise to post more photos, write up another entry on the workshop itself and a cupcake recipe soon. But right now I am still exhausted from Sunday night’s 6 hour cupcake baking marathon. Any guesses what time I went to bed? More on that later.

25th Feb – cupcake recipe added!

10th Mar – workshop added.

Chocolate Chilli Brownies

It has almost been a year since I started this blog and I began it with a poem.  Coincidentally, I’m celebrating it’s first anniversary with another one.

I put up a twitter post asking people to guess the mystery ingredient in one of my brownies.   They came back with chestnuts, courgettes, chillis… all great ideas… but incorrect.   (it was maltesers).  The chilli suggestion, however, reminded me of the time I experimented with brownies by adding in chillies.  My friend Jen ate one.  This was her reaction.

Jen spits it out. Eugh!

“What did you put in this one?”

Chilli Brownies.

chocolate_and_chilli

Zingy Lemon and Ginger Cheesecake

lemon and ginger cheesecake 1

So, when you hold
the hemisphere
of a cut lemon
above your plate,
you spill
a universe of gold,
a yellow goblet
of miracles,

Pablo Neruda – Ode to the Lemon

I love lemons. My friends will testify to my love affair with lemons. ‘A yellow goblet of miracles’ beautifully describes my imaginations of what I could create with them. I particularly love that zing that lemons add when I use it in baking.

My timing of trying out this recipe was a bit silly really. It was three days before the removal men were coming. My two tubs of soft cheese in my fridge were almost at their expiry date, the sun was out and I needed an excuse to do something other than pack boxes! This lemon and ginger cheesecake seemed like the perfect summer dessert.

the inspiration for lemon and ginger cheesecake

I’ve since made two versions of this cheesecake. Version One lacked the lemony zing. It may appeal to the finer palette; I love robust flavours. So, I cheated the second time and added lemon curd to the mixture, which brought out the lemon and complemented the ginger perfectly.

Lemon and Ginger Cheesecake adapted from the Good Food Channel

Ingredients and Method

Ideally use a 25cm springform cake tin and double wrap the outside of it with foil. This is to protect the cheesecake when baking it in a water-bath. I didn’t have a big enough cake tin at the time of baking the cheesecakes. Instead, I made a 20cm and 10 mini cheesecakes. Very cute!

Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4/350F

lemon and ginger mini cheesecakes

…For the biscuit base

225g digestive biscuits (or if you really like ginger, then substitute it all or partly with ginger biscuits)
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tbsp caster sugar
75g unsalted butter, melted

  1. Pulse the biscuits in a food processor until they resemble fine crumbs, or bash them up in a bag with a rolling pin. Whichever method suits your mood.
  2. Add the ground ginger, caster sugar and the melted butter and mix it all up. I’ve already reduced the amount of butter from the recipe so that there is enough butter for the biscuit base to stick together.
  3. Transfer the biscuit mixture to the cake tin and press it down firmly. If you would also like to make mini ones too, then use a tablespoon of biscuit mixture per cupcake case. I discovered that my mini-tart shaper is perfect for pressing down the biscuit base.

…For the filling
570g cream cheese
100g caster sugar
1 tbsp cornflour
4 large eggs, beaten
grated zest of 3 unwaxed lemons
380ml sour cream
2 tbsp lemon curd, beaten so that it’s a little bit runny, optional but highly recommendable

  1. Beat the cream cheese and the caster sugar together until smooth in a big bowl.
  2. Mix in the cornflour.
  3. Slowly mix the eggs into the mixture, one at a time, so that they are thoroughly mixed in. Don’t worry that the mixture always looks a wee bit peculiar at this stage.
  4. Pour in the sour cream and add the lemon zest. Gently mix them into the mixture.
  5. Lemony zing lovers could also add the lemon curd into the mixture at this stage. I put blobs of it on top of the mixture once I had poured the filling into the cake tin. Then I worried that the lemon curd would burn in the oven if it was left on top, so I took a metal chopstick and mixed the lemon curd into the mixture. I’ve since thought about putting 3/4 filling in, putting in a layer of lemon curd, then topping it with cheesecake filling. Essentially you can do whatever you like with it, and I’d really love to hear what worked for you.
  6. For the mini cheesecake fans – I used 2 teaspoons of the filling for each case.
  7. Pop it into the oven for about 45 minutes. I think that I baked the mini cheesecakes for 20 minutes. Bake until the middle of the cheesecake is just set. I test it by gently resting my finger on it and the cheesecake is ready when there is no (or barely any) mixture sticking to it.

Top Tip! Cheescakes are best when baked in a moist oven. To achieve this, you can bake the cheesecake in a water-bath by placing the cake tin in a roasting tin and filling the roasting tin with enough hot water so that it reaches about half way up the cake tin. Alternatively you can place a small oven-proof bowl full of hot water on the bottom level of the oven. I’ve used both methods and haven’t noticed any difference to the texture of the cheesecakes. But perhaps a more experienced cheesecake baker could enlighten me?

…Meanwhile, start the topping
250ml sour cream
2 tbsp caster sugar
80g stem ginger, drained and finely chopped
grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon mixed with 1/2 tbsp of sugar

  1. Mix the sour cream and the caster sugar together.
  2. Take the cheesecake out of the oven when it’s ready and pour the topping on, arrange the stem ginger on top. The mini cheesecakes appreciate a thin layer of sour cream topping.
  3. Pop it back in the oven for another 10 minutes, so that the sour cream topping can set.
  4. When it comes out, immediately run a knife round the edge of the cheesecake. This will help stop the cheesecake from cracking. Also, helpful for when taking the cheesecake out of the tin when serving it up.
  5. Let the cheesecake cool down for about an hour before popping it into the fridge overnight.
  6. Sprinkle the sugary lemon zest on top before serving.

Verdict – The combination of lemony zingyness with gingery warmth produces lots of ‘Mmmmms’. It does take some effort but it is a really simple summery dessert to make that is a crowd-pleaser. I’m pleased to say that my friend’s children ate some and then asked for seconds. Winner! The cheesecake is best eaten a day or two after it is made so that it stays soft. But I always seem to make too much cheesecake in one go, so I’d appreciate any tips on freezing it.

A Courgettini’s Career Ambitions

On Friday I was inspired by the garden and Edward Monkton to write something about this season of plentiful courgettes and the recipes that I’ve been trying out. This is the first piece of poetry that I’ve attempted to write in 8 years and somehow it’s making it’s way onto my blog as the first entry. Perhaps, it’s a good thing. This way, I’ll be far more relaxed about what I’m posting…

A Courgettini’s Career Ambitions

One courgette says to a marrow,
“Tomorrow
When I grow up, there’ll be no end
To the flavours I can be.
Pick – Sweet or Savoury.
Dress me up as a
Nutty courgette loaf
And I’ll impress.
Let famous Flora matchmake me
In a cake, with lime curd.
Tad controversial, I’ve heard.
Chop me, slice me, grate me,
Chutney me, pizza me, stirfry me,
Deep fry my bright, yellow flowers stuffed with cheese.
Or, I can always be a French ratatouille.”

Marrow replies, “Skinny Zucchini,
Do you feel sorry for me?
If, perhaps, and very likely so,
In a season of plentiful marrow,
Your ambitions are not realized,
Take care of your insides.
It does look like I’ve been woefully forgotten, neglected.
My friends got picked. I’ve been rejected.
And I got lazy, fat and bloated.
Indeed, in private I cried tears of frustration.
(Did you see my pitiful expression?)
Listen. Skinny Zucchini –
They say that inside me
When the knife cuts deeply, cleanly,
I will flaunt succulent, white flesh.
Imagine. Me. Baked, stuffed with rice, lamb, mint.
Matured marrow. Mmmm…. Meaty.
Sunny seeds have replaced my tears.
Fruitful and reproducing.
Listen. Cracking noises. Teeth
Eat, bite into my big seeds.”

Courgette and Marrow.
Zucchini and Squash.
You could confuse one for the other.
Pick us when its right.

Ps. But there is one more neglected – courgette leaves
Don’t forget to steam them please!”