Archives for the month of: February, 2011

It’s that time of year where cupids and hearts are everywhere you look… Valentines’ Day.  I have a love/hate relationship with Valentine’s Day.  I love the idea of it – all shiny, happy and lovey-dovey.  I’m a fan of red and heart shaped things too.  I hate it because my expectations are seldom met.  I do hope for a card or something, though (hint, hint).

Men feel that it’s just a gimmicky “Hallmark” holiday, but it didn’t start out that way.  According to Wikipedia (and they are never wrong…heh), “St Valentine’s Day, named after a Christian martyr, was established by Pope Gelasius I in 496 AD” and goes on to say “The first recorded association of Valentine’s Day with romantic love is in Parlement of Foules (1382) by Geoffrey Chaucer.”  So there you have it, fellas! It’s history.

To celebrate Valentine’s Day and my fondness for things red and heart shaped, I decided to make Valentine’s cupcakes.  I recently purchased a new cookbook and wanted to give it a spin.  I went for the American Vanilla Cupcake out of Red Velvet & Chocolate Heartache by Harry Eastwood of Cook Yourself Thin.  It’s only appropriate being that I’m American.

Instead of using butter as the fat in this recipe, she uses zucchini (or courgettes depending on where you live).  I love zucchini bread so I thought, hey… why not!

The cake batter didn’t seem to be much different from the usual cupcake batter.

After they came out of the oven, a little munchkin was instantly hovering wanting to try the latest creation.

The texture was really nice. Just like a cupcake that used butter.  The outside was a bit chewy, but I think the oven was a bit hot and I probably could have reduced the time slightly.  They reminded me a bit of angel food cake, and that is not a bad thing!  I will definitely be trying more recipes from Red Velvet & Chocolate Heartache. Boy, I could use a manicure…

**Since it’s all things hearts, here’s a photo of the cherry crumble in heart shaped baking dishes. We were able to enjoy them once the oven was fixed. YUM!**

Last Sunday was a bit of a mad one, but I did manage to fit in more baking. I really fancied some oatmeal raisin cookies and had a surplus of raisins and oats. It was meant to be.

I tried a recipe that received 5 stars from Allrecipes and decided to give it a go. The batter looked right and the ingredients were the ones I remembered, although I think I would use all butter rather than splitting it with butter flavored shortening next time.

I needed to get all of the cookies baked before dinner and then jumping on a late night conference call… (yeah, on a Sunday, I know! But duty calls or conference calls…)

Even though I wouldn’t use shortening next time, they tasted mighty fine.

I managed to finish baking them just in time and was able to enjoy a late night snack during the conference call to console myself for working on a Sunday night.

I invited some friends round to our house so that our kids could hang out together.  The boys are best mates at pre-school, but are now in different classrooms. Mini G  and his friend went upstairs to play with Lego® and cars while the adults got to hang out downstairs and enjoy grown up conversation with coffee, tea and cake.

A is wheat intolerant so I experimented with a new recipe for Flour Free Almond Sponge Cake out of Eric Lanlard’s Home Bake.  (This book is amazing and hasn’t steered me wrong yet!)

The secret ingredient for a flour-free cake is ground almonds.  Combining ingredients works a bit differently too from regular sponge cake.  Instead of creaming the butter and sugar, the recipe instructed mixing the eggs and sugar together and adding melted butter later.

On first attempt, I probably could have baked it at a lower temperature for a bit longer, but the results didn’t suffer from this.

I will definitely be adding this cake to my repertoire as it’s a cake anyone can enjoy.

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