Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Hummingbird cupcake recipe


Today is the first day of Summer here in the sunny land Down Under. Our family loves swimming in the local lake and waterhole near our home. Fresh , crisp salads become regular features at our meal table and our zesty homemade Kombucha refreshes the heat weary. The long days are filled with sunshine and laughter, playing and fun as the children have oh so many more hours to frolic outside in the summer sunshine. 

Did that sound positive enough? I am trying really hard to announce the arrival of Summer with a smile, even though I am already counting down the long, suffocating weeks until the weather starts to cool down. (Around 16 weeks!!) I know I sound ungrateful. I really do, and I apologise.....but I just 

DO. NOT. LIKE. HEAT! 

I am tempted right here to get all of this off my chest once and for all and write an essay on why I hate don't like Summer, but while it may make me feel a whole lot better, and be cheaper than therapy, I just don't think there are enough people like me out there who would nod in agreement. Not where I live anyway. I am surrounded by beach loving swimsuit wearing outdoorsy types who look at me like I have two heads when I timidly confess I would rather be inside at home or huddled around a fire on a freezing cold winter's day.

So, I will keep my chin up, put on a big smile and introduce this beautiful sunny season with my new Hummingbird cupcake recipe. It is a moist, flavoursome little package with mashed bananas, crushed pineapple, pecan nuts and coconut. Perfect for the man in your life who doesn't really like cupcakes. My dear, non sweet eating hubby loved these and said they were the best I'd ever made. I think he may have eaten a whole cupcake, which is saying something for him. The pineapple flowers do require a little patience, especially if you live in a humid climate like me. But they are worth it. They look fabulous and taste delicious too. 




Hummingbird Cupcake Recipe

Pre heat oven to 180 degrees C
Line two muffin trays with 18 papers

Ingredients

2 eggs lightly beaten
1 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
2 large bananas, mashed well
1/2 cup crushed pineapple, drained
1/2 cup warm water 

2 cups plain flour, sifted
1 3/4 cups castor sugar
1 teaspoon bi carb soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup chopped pecan nuts (or walnuts if you prefer)


Method

1. Whisk together eggs, then add oil,vanilla and sour cream.

2. Stir in banana and pineapple, mixing carefully until well combined. Add water. Stir well.

3. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, bi carb, baking powder and sugar.

4. Add pecan nuts and stir to combine.

5. Pour wet mix into dry mixture carefully. Lightly hand whisk together until well combined. 

6. Scoop into cupcake liners until each is about 2/3 full.

Bake in moderate oven for 18 minutes or until firm to touch. 
Cool and add cream cheese frosting. 


Cream cheese Frosting

1.Beat 125g softened butter until light and creamy, on med/high for about 3 minutes.

2. Add 125g cream cheese and continue to beat on med/high until light and creamy.

3. Turn beater onto low and add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. You may add 1 teaspoon of coconut extract as well if you like.

4. Slowly add about 3-4 cups icing mixture, adding dashes of cream as it gets thicker. Keep adding until you get your desired consistency. 
I always add Wilton Icing Whitener to my frosting to make it a pure white colour. Otherwise it will look a buttery colour. (Spotlight stores now sell this. Hooray!!)

5. Decorate cupcakes as desired, topping with shredded coconut and a pineapple flower if you wish. (I buy Organic shredded coconut from Woolies as it looks wayyy better than the other brands)



Pineapple Flowers

1. Buy at least 2 good looking pineapples. This allows for bruises or slices that don't turn out so well. 

2. Remove tops and skin and slice pineapple as thin as you can.

3. Mix together 2 tablespoon of castor sugar with 3 tablespoon of water. Simmer on stove until sugar is dissolved. 

4. Place pineapple slices on lined baking trays. Brush eat side of flowers with sugar syrup.

5. Place flowers in a low oven, about 100 degrees C for about 40 min. Check and then put them in for another half hour or so if the need it. You want to get them out when they are going brown on the tips. They will still be soft at this stage. 

6. Put foil over two muffin trays, dinting in each hole. Place flowers in each hole and shape as desired.Leave out on your kitchen bench until dry. 

7. If your weather is not too humid, they should dry nice and crisply in a flower shape.  I had difficulty getting mine dry and not flattening out and needed to put them back in the oven a couple of times. Watch this though, as they will burn easily. 

8. Use a bit of left over icing to stick the flowers to the coconut.

These look really impressive together and will be a hit if you take them along to your next summer barbie!! 











Enjoy! 

XXX






Monday, November 10, 2014

Friday, November 7, 2014

Mary Had a Little Lamb Party


Every year in October our beautiful Jacaranda trees bloom. Last spring I made a resolution to start a new family tradition by having an annual tea party under these spectacular trees. 
This birthday garden party was the inaugural celebration. 

In September our precious  little Mary turned five and I could not resist throwing her a vintage "Mary Had a Little Lamb" party. After extensive internet research, I discovered that there aren't a whole lot of parties out there in blog and Pinterest land with this particular nursery rhyme theme (but oh what fun I had looking!!). Not to be discouraged at all, as I had spent a lot of time thinking about the look I wanted to create and many of the details I wanted to incorporate. 


Starting from the table covering up, I wanted the overall  design to be very textural and woolly. I used a large fluffy woollen blanket (thanks for the loan Mum!) and this super gorgeous  ruffle throw from IKEA. 

Pastel pink and blue gingham checks (my all time favourite fabric) were chosen as the main colour scheme, complemented by soft lilac and white. I used a few different types of white wool to wrap around the milk bottles and on the fabric bunting. I had a vision to use mini white picket fences around the grass topped wooden risers for the cupcakes and larger fencing to frame the feature cake. While they proved difficult to source, I eventually found them online and thought they added to the display considerably.  My potted cottage garden flowers were perfect for supporting the flower cookie pops, adding delight to the little party guests as they discovered edible treats in unexpected places!

My talented daughter Alice made the birthday girl's beautiful costume. 

Hand made 'Thank you' bags were sewn in matching vintage fabric, with sherbet sweets inside. I also gave a vintage Little Golden Book to each guest. 

A small lolly buffet was enjoyed by little guests who had personalised mini tin buckets to collect their treats in. Sweet mini baskets were also given to guests with a lamb cookie in each. Chocolate covered Oreo biscuits, marshmallow pops, mango and white chocolate cupcakes,  number 5 sandwiches and sugar cookies were all on the menu.


One of my favourite elements of the party was the hanging door backdrop. I picked up this old wooden door from the garbage  tip recycle centre for $30.  I hand stitched Mary's name onto pretty vintage fabric panels with "..had a Little Lamb" on the last panel, putting a lovely vintage wooden  lamb underneath it. I made a paper bunting from an old 'Mary had  a Little Lamb' picture book to hang under the door. 


I was inspired by these gorgeous vintage printables from Kay and May's Etsy store, and will definitely use their designs for future projects. I used them to make cupcake toppers, cake topper, 'Thank you' tags and name tags for the party. 


This party was not without it's challenges as the hot spring winds gusted through  the yard all afternoon, and the heat played havoc with my fondant and gumpaste! I take my hat off to the professional party people who make their outdoor events look flawless!! I nearly lost the cake more than once and those hay bales were anything but stable for my drink dispensers!


All in all, I was very happy with my Little Lamb party. I really wanted the whole display to be very textural and have a cottage garden appeal to it. I would love to do another nursery rhyme theme one day. I absolutely loved creating this sweet little event for my darling girl, and her delightful response to the whole afternoon was heart warming. 

You may need a hot cup of tea as you look through these photos. I do apologise that it is a long post, but there are so many elements I want to share. I hope you like my "Mary Had a Little Lamb" party with a vintage twist. 


























































Enjoy!

XXX