Saturday, 30 June 2012

AlphaBakes "V" Round up

Welcome to the AlphaBakes "V" Round up. Thank you to everyone who joined in this month, I know it was quite a difficult letter so I am doubly impressed by the number of entries received this month - a stagerring forty-one!  Initially it looked like vanilla and viennese were going to steal the show but there were some really creative and unusual V's. Be prepared to be astounded :)

First off the mark is Lucas from CoverVersionsTV with this Vanilla Creme Brutal. His video is well worth watching as are all his other videos.  This one features a guest baker Charlotte and there's some cool torching action too :)

Next is my co-host Caroline from Caroline Makes who has been on a roll this month for AlphaBakes! First entry from her is a Victoria Sponge Jubilee Crown Cake. She made it for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and also for her mum's birthday. I love the purple and silver combination - very regal!

It's Caroline again with Vegan chocolate brownies  which she made for her birthday party as one of her friends is vegan. I had the opportunity to taste these so I can tell you that they were delicious! Gooey and chocolatey - yum!

The first of many Viennese Whirl Cookies comes from Suelle who blogs at Mainly Baking - light, crumbly, melt in your mouth with a little glace cherry on top. I wish I could eat some of these now!

Welcome to Paula from sweethartscakesandbakes who accepted my invitation to join AlphaBakes this month. I saw this gorgeous cake and immediately wanted to share it with everyone. It's a vanilla sponge cake filled and frosted with vanilla buttercream, surrounded with white chocolate fingers and topped with red, white and blue M&Ms. Do visit and see what other goodies she made for the Jubillee celebrations!

Helen from Fuss Free Flavours baked us some delicious vegan balsamic strawberry muffins. She says they are perfect for using strawberries that are just past their prime.  A great double V entry here for vegan and balsamic vinegar.

Caroline's mum Jacqueline is next with these Vanilla Viennese Whirls.  Her mum thinks they don't look too good but I disagree as they look pretty fabulous to me! Love the little blob of jam in the middle :)

Next are my own entries. First a Jubilee Vanilla Sponge Cake which was supposed to be a checkerboard cake but I miscalculated the proportions so ended up with this. It's full of vanilla in the sponge and icing and the fresh fruits balance it out well.

These are my version of Viennese Whirls which were slightly overbaked but still tasted delicious. Very light, soft and buttery with a vanilla buttercream and strawberry jam filling.

Moving on to a more unusual V are these White Russian Cupcakes from PiggyBakes which contain Vodka and Kahlua. I love the piping on the cupcakes - aren't the pretty?

Back to Viennese fingers but with a slight twist. Cookbooksgalore has sent us some mocha viennese fingers with a coffee cream filling. Chocolate and coffee pairs well together so I can just imagine how delicious these are.  

Becks from Lilms Squirrel's 366 recipe challenge sent us these gorgeous cherry viennese whirls. She paired them with her favourite cherry jam which is a Polish brand called Mirabel. She also used a two tone piping inspired by Mary-Anne from the Great British Bake Off. How pretty do they look? :)

Denise over at Magnolia Verandah made these cute Viennese crescents to bring with them for friends they were visiting over the long bank holiday weekend. According to Denise, "the man said they were the best biscuits he had had for a long time!" and I'm not surprised as they look delicious!

Back to more traditional Viennese whirls from Laura of Laura Loves Cakes.  She also made some Viennese fingers dipped in chocolate.  They both look amazing and I'd happily eat these all day :)

Laura also made us a fantastic second entry in the form of these lime and vodka syrup Russian doll cakes. Yes they are real cakes!! I am amazed by the detailing here and I really admire her patience and creativity.  These were also made for her new baking challenge Calendar Cakes.

Another entry from me with a Valencia orange and lemon Victoria sponge cake. I love citrus in bakes and this was a light and refreshing cake.

Dom's mum baked us a lovely Victoria Plum Cake in under an hour for her bridge-playing girlfriends.  He's pretty sure there's a mini episode of Desperate Housewives going on with his mum in the role of Bree and her infamous baking! Dom from Belleau Kitchen describes the comforting smell of mum's baking which I'm sure a lot of us can associate with.

We're back to Vodka again with these White Russian Brownies from Credit Munched.  The inspiration was a work night out in Bloomsbury Lanes spent drinking White Russians.  She added in some white chocolate chip chunks which you can see in the picture below.

Gary from Exploits of a Food Nut baked us this delicious looking Vinegar Loaf.  The vinegar is used as a raising agent which is an old war time standard when eggs were sparse.  It is essentially a fruit loaf and you can't taste the vinegar at all.

Kate from What Kate Baked made a Vanilla and strawberry sponge for the England Team who were playing against Sweden and I'm sure helped the team win :)

My co-host Caroline from Caroline Makes is back with a savoury entry this time. Vol-au-vents with homemade puff pastry! I am really impressed that she made her own puff pastry which she demonstrates on her blog.  Apparently vol-au-vent in French  means something like "fly with the wind" to describe their light and airy nature. I could quite easily eat a whole plate of these!

Caroline from Cakes, Crumbs and Cooking baked a Vanilla Creme Fraiche Bundt Cake with a tub of creme fraiche that was earmarked for mushroom strogranoff but she didn't have any mushrooms. I'm so glad she didn't as this cake looks amazing especially with the glaze dripping down the side. She describes it as a rich, buttery moist cake perfect with a hot drink in the afternoon.

My mum sent in this Velvet Chocolate Torte which has a silky, velvety texture similar to ice cream.  It's made with chocolate and cream and keeps well in the freezer.  She also handmade the decorations from yellow marzipan - aren't they cute? :)

Next we have a Vanilla Chiffon Cake from Vivian Pang Kitchen. She used seeds from a vanilla bean which can be substituted with vanilla extract. I am impressed by the height of the cake and I can imagine that it was light and fluffy.

Caroline from Caroline Makes is back yet again with a Valrhona Chocolate Fondant. It's an expensive French chocolate which I've never tried but would love to.  She says these were a bit of a faff to make but absolutely worth the effort.  The recipe is from Galvin and this fondant is served at room temperature with a cold, liquid centre - perfect for summer!

From expensive to impressive, we have a coffee and chocolate celebration cake with whipped vanilla icing from Homemade by Fleur.  She used natural beetroot powder for the dark pink colour and India tree blue and red for the pale pink.  How pretty is the three-toned icing? I would love to have a go at this one day but I doubt it will turn out as perfect as Fleur's.  If you live near Kent or want to travel to her bake club, she will be demonstrating this technique on July 18th.

Caroline's sister Clare joined in the fun with this Vanilla Victoria Sponge with Mascarpone and Strawberries. Lucky Caroline got to taste some and she said it was amazing!

Have you ever heard of vetkoek? I hope I'm not the only one! Its a South African dish traditionally made with savoury minced beef.  Claire from Under the Blue Gum Tree has put her own twist on it with these cardamom scented vetkoek with a salted chocolate and coffee dipping sauce.  They are crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. I'm not sure I could stop at just one of these :)

More Viennese fingers sent in by Fiona from Let Them Eat Cake.  She managed a triple 'V' with these Viennese fingers with Victoria plum jam and vanilla filling. She wanted to make a Victoria Plum Tart  but they are not in season till September so she made these delectable goodies instead with victoria plum jam.

Another savoury entry this time from Mel of Sharky Oven Gloves who sent us this Angostura Venison cobbler.  The recipe is from the exotic meat cookbook which she found at her local library.  If you need a recipe for crocodile, camel or kangaroo then this is the book for you! She says the Angostura bitters pairs well with venison and adds an unexpected but delicious flavour to the meat which was very tasty.

Daisy from Never Too Sweet sent in a Vanilla Honey Baked Cheesecake. The recipe uses vanilla bean honey which is also drizzled on top before serving.  It has a delicious looking brown sugar, cinammon and almond topping.

Daisy also sent in a second entry entitlled 'Masterpiece - Zumbo's V8 cake'.  This cake is truly a masterpiece as it has more than 8 layers in it!!  Her friend Kirk who is a professional pastry chef made this for us and for her - lucky her as she got to taste it! I need more friends like these :)
 Adriano Zumbo is one of Australia's most well known pastry chef and contestants on Masterchef Australia struggled to put this cake together. Kirk's advice to home cooks who want to recreate this masterpiece at home is to be prepared to use loads of vanilla pods and wash loads of dishes! Anyone up for the job? :)

Continuing the Australian theme, Sue from Fold in the Flour found this recipe in an Australian Women's Weekly publication called 'Afternoon Tea'.  She made this gorgeous looking Vanilla Bean scones with strawberry cream filling. Looks like she needs to make multiple batches as we all want one or two to try!

How cute are these Vanilla Funfetti Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Frosting? Olivia from Liv a Little Bakery sent us these colourful cupcakes which have sprinkles baked in the cake! It's definitely going on my to bake list especially since I have a cupboard full of sprinkles to use!

Jen from Blue Kitchen Bakes made this gorgeous chocolate and vanilla marble loaf  using a Mary Berry recipe.  It's a light and moist cake and you can definitely see the marbling effect here. She also melted some white chocolate to make a swirly pattern on top.

I was surprised that we had not received any violet entries so I was really pleased when Kit from I-Lost in Austen sent us this Violette and Blueberry Ruffle Cake.  It's a cake dedicated to her sister who created her blog for her.  I can't believe it's her first layer ruffle cake as it looks so professional!

Vinegar has been quite popular this month. Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog made this Vinegar cake which is an eggless fruit cake from East Anglia. She says "watching the milk and vinegar mixture whoosh up when the bicarb was added was impressive".  She also added mesquite powder and maca powder to the cake both of which I had to look up.

Lorette from Les Recettes de Lorette also used vinegar in her chocolate cake and called it Vinegar Chocolate Crazy Cake! She made them in cute heart shapes and filled them with speculoos paste and raspberry jam!

From vinegar to Vimto, Sarah from Sarah Bakes made a Chocolate Vimto Cake which is a variant of a James Martin recipe for chocolate Cola Cake. She says you can really taste the Vimto and that it's much better than the original cola version.

Karen from Lavender and Lovage sent us the original cup cakes - Little Chocolate Chip Cakes with Vanilla Cream Froth.  She calls herself an old British Bun Baker and this recipe is based on an old, British recipe of baking cakes in small tea cupcakes hence the original cupcakes! I'm pleased we are still on speaking terms as I bake a lot of American goodies including cupcakes (of the American variety) :)

Last but not least is this Virtuous Red Velvet Cake from Sarah's Kitchen Diary. It's virtuous because Sarah used natural beetroot and raspberries to create the red colour. I think the colour is spot on and will consider this when making red velvet cakes in the future especially as it does not really affect the flavour of the cake. Plus you can definitely feel virtuous eating this cake with the added fruit and vegetable!

Make sure you check Caroline's blog tomorrow to find out the letter for July! Happy Baking! :)

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

The Picnic Game

Did you know that June 18th was International Picnic Day? Louise from Months of Edible Celebrations is hosting the Picnic Game which is based on a children's game where you say "I'm going on a picnic and I'm bringing A___" The next person recites the first line and adds in what they are going to bring for B and so on until you reach the end of the alphabet. For this virtual picnic, Louise asked bloggers to pick a letter and post their picnic contribution on their blog. I chose the letter M so I'm bringing Mini Meringue Kisses to the picnic!

I'm going on a picnic and I'm bringing....

A - Artichokes

B - Baked Beans

C - Cauliflower Tabbouleh

D - Dunkin' Donuts with maple syrup & honey frosting

E - Eggplant Casserole

F - Frosty Summer Salad with Cranberry, Pineapple and Beets

G - Mixed Green Salad with Goat Cheese and cooa nibs drizzled with a dark chocolate balsamic vinaigrette

H - Halibut and Salsa Verde

I - Iced Coffee Two Ways

J - Jubilee Sandwich

K - Key Lime and Ambarella Juice 

L - Limoncello Biscotti

M - Mini Meringue Kisses - Lemon Curd or Rose & strawberries  - click on the links for the recipe

Make sure you check out Months of Edible Celebrations on July 1st to see the full A-Z of goodies in the picnic basket!