Rhubarb and raspberry friands with lime buttercream

FriandsEasterOooh, the first of the forced rhubarb – what a joy to be able to cook with this gorgeous vegetable. We’re all rather spoilt in being able to get year-round fruits, but I do still think it’s a real seasonal treat when rhubarb starts appearing to buy. My own rhubarb is starting to sprout in its container in my garden too – so, all in all, the appearance of rhubarb is a real herald of spring for me.

My husband has a habit of nicking rhubarb and eating it raw, dipped in a bit of sugar. He’s the only person I know who does this and I have to hide the stalks from him if I want to use all that I have. I cooked up more rhubarb than I needed for this recipe and have saved the rest to add to ice creams, on porridge/granola etc, so you can just pinch the part of the recipe for that.

Tea Time TreatsI decided to link this recipe to the lastest (March 2016) Tea Time Treats linky party hosted by The Hedgecombers and Lavender and Lovage. I’ve occasionally joined in before with enjoyable link-up – but it’s been a long while. Maybe this’ll remind in future to join in more 🙂

Notes

Makes about 10 friands

If you don’t have friand moulds, you can make these in muffin cases

Equipment

  • Large bowl
  • Wide base saucepan
  • Wooden spoon
  • Baking tray, lined with baking parchment
  • Piping bag and star nozzle (for meringues)
  • Piping bag and slanted petal nozzle or rose nozzle (for buttercream roses)
  • Friand moulds or muffin cases and bun tin
  • Wire cooling rack

Ingredients – meringue kisses

  • Eggs – 3, whites only
  • Caster sugar – 175g
  • Vanilla extract – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Pink/red food colouring
  • A selection of sprinkles

Ingredients – rhubarb

  • Rhubarb stalks, trimmed into 3cm pieces (about 240g in total)
  • Pomegranate or cherry juice – 50ml

Ingredients – friands

  • Eggs, medium – 3
  • Ground almonds – 40g
  • Plain flour – 100g
  • Caster sugar – 140g
  • Unsalted butter, softened (but not runny) – 140g
  • Baking powder – 1 1/2 teaspoons
  • Vanilla extract – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Salt – a pinch
  • Flaked almonds – a handful (about 40g)
  • Fresh raspberries – a handful (about 60g)
  • (Cooked rhubarb – from this recipe)

Ingredients – buttercream

  • Unsalted butter – 100g
  • Icing sugar – about 200g (you will need to adjust this according to the moisture level of your butter and how much milk and lime juice you add – you may need a little more or a little less)
  • Milk – a little just to loosen the buttercream; this will be 20- 30ml or thereabouts
  • Lime juice – to taste but roughly 1 teaspoon
  • Yellow/primrose food colouring

Ingredients – additional decorations

  • Mini meringue kisses – from this recipe
  • Lemon balm leaves
  • Mini eggs

Method – meringue kisses (prepare in advance)

  1. Heat the oven to 90C fan/100C conventional
  2. Line a large baking tray with baking parchment (or two smaller trays)
  3. Separate the whites of three eggs (reserve the yolks for custard etc)
  4. Whisk to firm peaks
  5. Whisk in the caster sugar in batches (don’t tip it all in at once)
  6. Add in the vanilla extract and food colouring and whisk until combined evenly
  7. Using a piping bag with a star nozzle, pipe small meringues (each about 2cm in diameter) across the baking sheet
  8. Gently cover the tiny meringues with the sprinkles
  9. Bake for 50 minutes
  10. Take out and leave to cool
  11. These will store in an airtight container for a good few weeks

Method – preparing the rhubarb

  1. Using a large base saucepan (it needs to be large so that the rhubarb cooks evenly), place the rhubarb in the bottom and cover with the fruit juice
  2. Simmer over a low heat for about 6-7 minutes until the rhubarb begins to soften on the outside
  3. Remove from the heat and set aside

Method – buttercream

  1. Beat the butter and icing sugar together and add a little milk to ensure a smooth consistency
  2. Mix in the lime juice to taste and the food colouring (you’re aiming for a nice primrose colour)
  3. Leave to one side, covered until the cakes are cooled

Method – cakes

  1. Turn the oven on to 180C fan / 200 conventional
  2. Grease and flour the friand moulds or place the muffin cases in the bun tin, ready for use
  3. Sprinkle the flaked almonds into the bottom of each friand. If you are using muffin cases, reserve these for the top of the sponge (see later note)
  4. Mix the sponge as an all-in-one method: that is, put the eggs, sugar, flour, ground almonds, butter, vanilla extract and baking powder in a bowl and mix until smooth
  5. Chop up about 100g/ half a cupful of the cooked rhubarb into 1cm pieces and add to the sponge mix
  6. Add in the fresh raspberries, crushing them slightly between your fingers so that they spread out and bleed a little into the sponge mix
  7. Gently swirl the rhubarb and raspberries into the mix, making sure you have an even spread but don’t over mix. You want to still have discernible blobs of fruit
  8. Spoon the mix into the moulds/cases
  9. If you are using muffin cases sprinkle the flaked almonds on the top of the sponge mix on every cake
  10. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes until they are light brown and spring back when pressed
  11. Leave to cool a little in the moulds and then turn out on to a wire rack to cool thoroughly. If you are baking in muffin cases, move the cases to the wire rack to cool

Method – decorating

  1. Fill a piping bag fitted with a slanted petal nozzle or  a standard rose nozzle with the buttercream
  2. Pipe a rose on to the top of each cake
  3. Use a little of the buttercream to fix the meringue kisses and mini eggs to the top of the cakes
  4. Take one or two lemon balm leaves and push their stem into the base of the piped roses

Easterfriands2

Saturn peach fairy cakes with passion fruit buttercream

Saturn peach and passionfruit buttercream cupcakes

I was intrigued. I bought. I baked.

I’d never bought or tasted white saturn or ‘doughnut’ peaches before, but this year they were impossible to ignore as they’re everywhere. They looked so quirky on the market stall that I just had to try. I found them slightly sweeter than a typical peach and a little more ‘perfumy’ –  if you know what I mean. Easier to eat too, because of their shape.

So, ever seduced by something new and shiny, I bought a large punnet. After scoffing a couple I realised that, although these are nice enough, I’d probably prefer to eat an un-furry nectarine. I thought I’d incorporate the rest into a bake and they taste really nice in this.

Notes
  • Makes 24 small fairy cakes or about 16 cupcakes
Equipment
  • Muffin tins
  • Cupcake/fairy cake cases
  • Piping bag and large star nozzle
  • Bowls
  • Whisk/mixer
Ingredients – cakes
  • Plain flour – 250g
  • Unsalted butter – 125g
  • Eggs, medium – 2
  • Caster sugar – 180g
  • Vanilla extract – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Saturn peaches – 3 (or use 2 normal peach as these are larger)
  • Milk – 80ml
  • Baking powder – 1 1/2 teaspoons
Method
  1. Put the oven on to 160C fan 170C conventional
  2. Ready the muffin tins with the cases
  3. Cream the sugar and butter then mix in all the other ingredients except the peaches
  4. Chop up two of the peaches into fine dice (about 3mm or 1/8″ cubes). You are keeping one peach back for decoration later
  5. Stir the peaches gently through the cake mix
  6. Spoon into the cases
  7. Put in the oven for about 20 mins – test with a cocktail stick to se if they’re done (done if the stick comes back out clean)
  8. Leave to cool
Ingredients – buttercream
  • Icing sugar – 250g
  • Unsalted butter – 120g
  • Passion fruits – 3 (only two will get mixed in, the third will be drizzled on top)
Method – buttercream
  1. Cut open two of the passion fruits and scrape out the flesh and seeds into a large bowl
  2. Measure out the icing sugar and the butter into the same bowl and mix with a spoon gently
  3. Once mixed, you can then whisk the buttercream until light and fluffy for about 4-5 minutes
  4. Spoon into the piping bag and pie rosettes on to the top of the cooled cakes
  5. Cut slices off the remaining peach and halve. Use these the decorate the cakes by pushing into the buttercream
  6. Open the last passion fruit and scrape out the seeds and flesh and drizzle this over all of the cupcakes

Shark infested coconut cupcakes

a8351-sharky

Well, apparently it’s just been national cupcake week (or should that be fairy cake week as it’s the UK?) Not sure if this has been going on for some time, but I only spotted it in my local supermarché when I realised they were trying to flog more cupcake cases and fondant icing than normal. [Update: I’ve just found out via a certain search engine that it’s the baby of an industry mag called British Baker, is in it’s sixth year and has amateur and professional competitions see here].

This post is more about the construction than the recipe. I dispensed with my usual Hummingbird Bakery recipe and used Roger Pizey’s vanilla cupcake recipe from his ‘Worlds Best Cakes’ books for this one. They were glorious and I’ll definitely be using this recipe again. However, it matters little which recipe you pick as as all I’m doing is explaining how I made the decorations.

Ingredients

  • For the ‘hard’ modelling: royal icing/sugar paste/flower paste/Mexican paste or even marzipan – whatever is your choice for modelling – about enough to equal the size of two golf balls
  • For the cream frosting: buttercream/cream cheese frosting/meringue buttercream  – enough for 12 cupcakes. Divide this into two bowls, keep one plain and mix in blue food colouring into the other for the sea
  • 40g / 1/2 cup dessicated coconut
  • Food colouring – black, blue (plus yellow if you also want to make some starfish as I’ve done in the photo)

Equipment

  • Piping bag
  • Oval or mini chiboust-shaped nozzle, medium sized – about 4mm – (a plain circular one will suffice)

Method

  1. Spread the dessicated coconut over a baking tray and pop in a pre-heated oven (about 160C) for a few minutes – or alternatively you can toast them in a dry frying pan over a low heat. Which ever method you choose keep a close eye on the coconut as it will change from just done to burnt within seconds. You’re looking for just a light caramel colour.
  2. Set the toasted coconut aside until it’s completely cool (while this is cooling, you can make the buttercream).
  3. Halve the buttercream into two bowls. Leave one bowl plain and mix blue food colouring into the second bowl.
  4. Building up the buttercream fto allow the coconut sand to stick
    Building up the buttercream for the ‘sand’ layer

    Spread the plain buttercream over half of the top of each cupcake, but don’t do it in a straight line – curve it a little (so that the butter cream looks like a half moon on the top).

  5. Sprinkle the cooled, toasted coconut over the buttercream on all of the cupcakes – here’s your beach! Shake off the excess.
  6. Take the icing you’ve reserved for modelling (eg flower paste) and divide it into two if you want both shark fins and starfish. Colour one half yellow and the other black (do the lighter yellow first as this won’t affect the black icing – but you’ll have problems if you do black first). Alternatively if you only want shark fins, just use black throughout all the paste.
  7. Divide the paste by the number of cupcakes you have. If you made 12 cupcakes and are only making shark fins, that means 12 equally sized balls of paste. If you’re doing both fins and starfish, then you’ll need 6 of yellow and 6 of black, for example.
  8. Mould the black paste pieces into a triangle first and then tease it into a fin shape. For extra effect, snip a small notch out of the concave side.
  9. To make the starfish, the easiest way (but maybe not so neat way) is to roll it into a long string and snip off equal sized lengths, putting five together to form the starfish. Alternatively start with a pentagon shape and tease out the legs from each of the five corners. For extra effect on the starfish, press the finished shapes lightly over a sieve to give a bumpy, starfish skin effect.
  10. Set aside both shark fins and starfish.
  11. Spoon the blue buttercream into a piping bag with an oval or circular nozzle. using the crescent shape of the sand as a guide, pipe a line across the cupcake next to the ‘beach’. Try and make it a little wavier if possible, so you get a slight snaking pattern. You should end up with a wave effect.
  12. Then pipe another line next to the first and so on, until you have covered all of the top of the cupcake that didn’t already have the coconut sand on it. Repeat on all cakes.
  13. Place the shark fins and starfish in place.