New for this year was a bake-off, following in the steps of The Great British Bake-Off show from TV. Of course I signed up, well knowing that I would be in Brussels the day before and would have a tough week work-wise in general. There were four categories - tray bake, cake, cup cakes and cookies/biscuits. I opted for cup cakes, having acquired that bug last year.
I had several ideas for a design and shared with Lundulph, who said no to most of them as being "not technically cup cakes". Bah! OK, so one of the ideas was to use ice cream cones instead of the traditional paper cups. But I was toying with the idea to use meringe as topping or maybe marshmallow fluff. I even bought red cocktail cherries so as to complete the illusion of a real ice cream cone.
My plan was also to use some of the Viennese nougat I brought back from my last trip to Sweden. Viennese nougat is also known as German nougat or gianduja and is a solid form from which Nutella evolved. So I googled around for recipes and found one that seemed good.
12 - 18, depending on size
150 g unsalted butter at room temperature
2.5 dl caster sugar
2 medium eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp cocoa powder
2.5 dl plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 dl créme fraîche
75 g Viennese nougat finely diced
200 g Viennese nougat for decoration
sprinkles of choice
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C. Line a muffin tray with paper cases, alternatively place double paper cases on a flat baking sheet.
- Whip together the soft butter with the caster sugar until fluffy in a large bowl.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla extract and incorporate well in between.
- In a separate bowl, sift together cocoa powder, flour and baking powder and mix well. Then sift into the cake mixture, a little at a time and whisk to incorporate. Finally whisk in the créme fraîche and the diced nougat.
- Pour into the cups, filling to about two-thirds, then bake until ready. This can be between 15 - 30 minutes, depending on the oven, test with a toothpick. Muffins are ready when the toothpick comes out clean.
- Take out of the oven and let cool, they will sink back a bit as they do so.
- For decoration, melt the 200 g nougat over a bain marie and spread over the cooled down muffins, then add sprinkles.
I prepared and filled 12 muffin cases and still had quite a lot of the mixture left, so I thought I'd try to make some ice cream cones as well, as a proof of concept. I did this on the Wednesday and was planning to decorate them this morning and take to the Village Fete.
Sadly this was not to be - the air traffic control systems in Munich decided to pack it in yesterday afternoon, resulting in a number of delays and cancellations across Europe and so I spent most of the late afternoon and evening at Brussels Airport. Hot tip - if you don't have a connecting flight, you can get checked in to the following flight at the regular check-in desk, rather than stand in line for 2 h at the customer service desk, which is what I ended up doing and in high heel shoes too.
The last flight was delayed by over an hour too and I didn't get home until 23:55, having gotten up at 4:00 in the morning. Thus I was not in any condition to do fancy decorations of muffins this morning. Besides, I wanted to do a meringue topping, but today it seems the skies had opened up and it looked like the whole house was going through a car wash, looking out of the window. This means massively high levels of humidity, no way meringues would be possible.
Fine, then marshmallow fluff. But oh, no! My whisk is in the dishwasher which is midway through a cycle. This wouldn't finish on time and there is no way I would whisk manually. Thus I decided to skip the bake-off. But I did decorate with melted nougat and used daim sprinkles on top. Lundulph approved.
The ice cream cones on the other hand were just that - a proof of concept. I didn't bake them enough and they remained raw inside and collapsed badly back to the innards of the cones when they cooled down. Also unbaked - the mixture didn't taste at all nice. But my concerns about the cones soaking up moisture from the cake mixture were unfounded, I even let them stand for about 20 minutes before baking, no problems at all. But I'll need to experiment to get the right duration of the baking.
I'll take a proper day off today and get my strength back. Luckily I won't be going to Brussels again until October and I have more baking to do next week for Lundulph's last Swedish lesson - he's supposed to bring some typical Swedish sweet treat into class.
As for using meringue and marshmallow fluff as topping, I'll have to try it out another time.