25 April 2013

Lime Cupcakes with Lime Buttercream Frosting (and, no, they're not supposed to be green)

Cupcakes are constantly being either revered or reviled in the media. As with anything deemed "trendy," the fall from those lofty heights to "so over" can be dizzyingly swift. So far, every time cupcakes have been declared dead, they've been revived.

Now the Wall Street Journal has chimed in with the dramatic headline "The Cupcake Bubble is Bursting." If I were planning to open a cupcake shop, I might pay attention to such reports. Since I'm not, I'm here to declare the cupcake alive and well, cool or not!

And it's springtime! So I'm celebrating the season with refreshing lime cupcakes with lime buttercream frosting. Of course, they might look more photogenic and "limey" with a little green food coloring, but as you probably already know, artificial food coloring is just one of the many things I'm "anti."  

These cupcakes are really fluffy and wonderful, if I do say so myself. And the only cupcakes I like more than citrus cupcakes are Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting. Do you like cupcakes?

Lime Cupcakes with Lime Buttercream Frosting

(Makes 12)

The Cupcakes

1 large egg
1 large egg white
1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces/118 ml) milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 dip-and-sweep cup (5 ounces/142 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (5.25 ounces/149 grams) sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons (2.5 ounces/71 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon lime juice

1 1/2 teaspoons grated lime zest

The Frosting

5 tablespoons (2.5 ounces/71 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups (8 ounces/227 grams) powdered sugar, unsifted
Pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon very finely grated lime zest

1 Preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4. Put 2½-inch paper bake cups in a standard muffin tin. In small bowl, lightly combine the eggs, a quarter of the milk, and the vanilla.

2 In large mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and mix on low speed for a minute to "sift." Add the softened butter and remaining milk. Mix on low speed until combined. With mixer on medium-high speed, beat for a minute and a half. Scrape the bowl.

3 Beat in the egg mixture in three batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition. Scrape the bowl and, with spatula, stir in lime juice and zest. (I do it by hand because zest tends to get tangled up in the beaters unless it's very finely grated.)

4 Using a 1/4-cup measure, fill the bake cups with a scant 1/4 cup of batter. Bake for about 20 to 24 minutes or until they are golden and test done with a toothpick.

5 Immediately remove from pans and cool on wire rack for an hour. They must be thoroughly cool before frosting.

6 In bowl of stand mixer, or with a hand mixer, cream the butter until smooth. With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat in the powdered sugar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the salt, vanilla extract and lime juice and beat on high speed until frosting is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Toward the end, beat in the finely grated lime zest. With a pastry bag fitted with a 2D or 1M tip, pipe frosting on cupcakes in a classic swirl.

Note: You might want to try my Velvety Vanilla Cupcakes - That Just Happen to Be Gluten-Free.

18 April 2013

Product Review - Tregothnan Tea - The Tea Grown in England

When I first heard of Tregothnan a few years ago, I wanted to go there immediately. Haven't made it there yet, but at last I've tried their tea--the only tea grown in England. Yes, England! Their story is a fascinating one, which you can read about at their website.

Tregothnan recently sent me three of their black tea blends for review: Afternoon, Earl Grey and Classic. If you've been reading Delightful Repast for any length of time, you know that whether I've purchased a product or it was given to me, I always tell my readers what I really think. 

The first Tregothnan tea I brewed was the Classic tea in their new loose leaf pyramids. Unlike standard teabags, the fabric pyramids allow plenty of room for the tea leaves to unfurl. I brewed the tea in a pot with 8 ounces of freshly boiled water per 3-gram pyramid. After 3 minutes I poured a cup to be tried plain. After another minute I poured another cup--a bit stronger to stand up to a splash of milk. 

The Classic tea is the English-grown tea blended with imported Assam to make a more tannic breakfast blend. The brewed tea has a good, rich color and a hearty flavour, making it a great morning cuppa. I added 2 teaspoons of milk (I always use 2%) to a teacup of the 4-minute brew and liked it even more. Then, just for fun, I stirred in 1/4 teaspoon sugar. Wonderful, but by no means necessary.

Photo courtesy of Tregothnan.com

Next up, the Earl Grey loose leaf tea. How much leaf tea to use is a matter of personal taste. I decided to go with 3 grams per 8-ounce cup of water. What that amounts to by measure rather than by weight is, in this case, about 2 (level measuring) teaspoons. 

Earl Grey, one of my favourite teas, can be very good or, more often, very bad. The characteristic bergamot is often overdone (one major brand tastes more like pine cleaner than tea!). Not the case here. The Tregothnan tea blended with imported Assam has just the right amount of bergamot. The 4-minute brew of this subtle blend was perfect. 

The Afternoon tea blends the Tregothnan tea with imported Darjeeling. Since I never add milk to Darjeeling, I didn't add any to my 4-minute brew of this lovely tea that has been referred to as a "delicately refreshing blend."

Maybe I'm having one of those rare days when I'm indecisive, but I can't choose a favourite among these three teas. I like them all!

11 April 2013

Ham and Egg Salad - When You Just Don't Want to Cook

Not that I really think I'm a "big-time" anything, but whenever we have takeout or something really simple for dinner, I say something like, "Yeah, the big-time professional foodie is really putting on a spread tonight." Of course, some of the salads I make are fancier than this one, with specific ingredients I went out to buy. Not this one.

This was simply a case of being too tired to cook and too tired to even run out for a few ingredients I would have liked to include. A case of using whatever was there (which wasn't much). I had some salad greens that needed to be used so I said, "Salad it is." Even though the salad greens were "pre-washed" and "ready-to-use," I washed them. I am -- understatement alert -- a bit of a germaphobe; so no matter how tired I am, I'm washing that lettuce. If I were on my deathbed, I'd wash that lettuce! 

There was a tiny piece of good, pastured ham; so I diced it and fried it in a little olive oil until the edges were crisp. Had some hard-cooked eggs, which you can tell from the photo I overcooked just a bit (slight grey ring around the yolk). Had just a couple sun-dried tomatoes, which was a good thing since there are no decent fresh tomatoes right now. There were a few cheeses to choose from, and I thought Cheddar would be good for this.

I didn't even have a shallot or a clove of garlic (and my herb garden is kaput just now), but still managed to concoct a dressing we loved. The sweet creaminess of the dressing was a nice counterpoint to the salty, crispy-edged ham. So here's the recipe, which isn't really a recipe. You might think I forgot to list the salt in the dressing, but I didn't. Do not add salt; there is plenty of salt in some of the ingredients.

If you don't have, or don't like, balsamic vinegar, or just want a slightly sharper, less sweet taste, use red wine vinegar instead. Really, just use whatever you want; but use real mayonnaise, not that popular "salad dressing" with the initials "MW." I couldn't bear that!

Ham and Egg Salad

(Serves however many you want to serve)

The Salad

Salad greens
2 ounces diced ham per person
1 or 2 hard-cooked eggs, sliced, per person
2 ounces Cheddar cheese per person
Whatever else you want to throw in

The Dressing 

1 tablespoon diced sun-dried tomatoes per person
1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar per person
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil per person
1 tablespoon mayonnaise per person
1 1/2 teaspoons ketchup per person
1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper per person
1/8 teaspoon dried tarragon per person

04 April 2013

Gluten-Free Muesli Morning Cake - and Bob's Red Mill Giveaway

You would "officially" classify this as a coffee cake. But since I rarely drink coffee and constantly drink tea, and a tea cake is something else entirely, I just call it a morning cake. A morning cake should be quick and easy and quiet. That just means I don't rev up the electric mixer for it. Shhhh. Just a wooden spoon. But you can use a mixer if you don't mind making a racket in the morning.

This one is a gluten-free recipe I developed at the request of the nice folks at Bob's Red Mill, whose products I've been using for decades. I'm on and off with the gluten-free thing myself, but I enjoy developing recipes for my gluten-free friends. I was invited to participate in a promotion/recipe contest by creating a recipe using their new Gluten Free Muesli. Follow us on Twitter @delightfulrepas and @Bobs_Red_Mill to follow the contest and vote for my recipe.

What I don't like about most coffee cakes is the insane amount of sugar and the total lack of nutritional value. One recipe I saw recently calls for a whopping 2 3/4 cups sugar and 1 1/3 cups brown sugar for a 13-by-9-inch cake. Mine is just an 8-by-8-inch. But still. It has just 1/4 cup sugar and 3/4 cup brown sugar. And nutrition? Well, I don't know the numbers (maybe Bob's Red Mill will do the math for me), but it's very nutritious. 

It's just about ready to come out of the oven. It smells sooooo good! Excuse me while I put the kettle on.

Muesli Morning Cake

(Makes 9 servings) 

The Cake 

1 cup Bob's Gluten Free Muesli
1 1/4 cups boiling water
1/2 cup Bob's gluten free sorghum flour
1/2 cup Bob's potato flour or cornstarch
1/3 cup Bob's tapioca flour 

3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon Bob's xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup Bob's unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract  

The Topping 

3/4 cup Bob's Gluten Free Muesli
1/4 cup Bob's unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup brown sugar 
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 tablespoon water

1 In small bowl, combine muesli and boiling water; let stand 20 minutes.

2 Spray 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In small bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and xanthan gum. Whisk in shredded coconut. 

3 In a small bowl, using your impeccably clean fingers, combine the topping ingredients; set aside.

4 In large bowl, cream butter; add sugars and beat at medium speed of electric mixer until light and fluffy (I did it by hand). Add eggs, vanilla, and cooled oatmeal mixture, beating until well blended.

5 Add flour mixture to creamed mixture, and beat for 2 minutes. Without gluten, you don't have to worry about overbeating. In fact, you need to beat it well to hydrate the gluten-free flours and aerate the batter. (I decided to use the electric mixer next time; I no longer have the "arm" for 2 minutes of beating!)

6 Pour batter into prepared 8-inch square baking dish. Crumble topping evenly over batter. Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for 20 minutes before serving right from the pan.

Bob's Red Mill Giveaway 

One winner will receive a case of Gluten Free Muesli from Bob's Red Mill. All US residents who leave a comment (one entry per person) on this post before 11:59 pm Eastern time Wednesday April 10 will be put into a random drawing. Winner will be announced here in the comments before noon Eastern time on Thursday April 11. If I don't hear back from the winner of the random drawing by 11:59 am Eastern time Sunday April 14, another drawing will be held and a new winner selected from the original entrants (those who commented before the giveaway deadline). 

Note: Please include a valid email address in the body of your comment. 

Disclosure: The product for this post and giveaway is being provided by Bob's Red Mill. All opinions shared are my own.
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