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    Haunted Portrait cupcake

                                        haunted portrait cupcake

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    I love zombies as much as the next person but when I have reached my flesh eating critter weekly limit, I like an old school movie with a haunted portrait or you're haunted by the portrait. 

    Hichcocks 'Rebecca' 

    Otto Premingers 'Laura'

    Oh, oh, oh and I love, Oscar Wilde so 'The Picture of Dorian Gray' 

    Momentarily lost my camera this week (ok a longish 27 hour panic), but "yay" I found it for the cupcake shot and "awww" didn't have it for the tutorial, ummm but I have a few dodgy badly lit phone photos... a quarter of a "yay" at least for that! Today's haunted portrait themed cupcake starts with the frame. 

    I don't use moulds much but I do like these small frame moulds. The moulds were lightly dusted with cornflour, fondant (or modelling paste) is pressed in. I put mine in the freezer for a few minutes for fast release from mould. 

    Once dry the frame was painted with copper and gold food paints, when that's dry a little black petal dust was used to bring out the details and add a vintage feel. 

    Head shaped.

    The hair is made from a base piece of fondant then spirals I made on a toothpick are attached with a dampened paint brush. 

    I started by fitting base of dress into the frame, before adding bodice, arms and head. 

    And this is about when the panic of not being able to find my camera really set in and I stopped taking pics.

    The rest is joining the bits and bobs together and colouring with petal dusts and food marker. 

    I could contemplate now whether I should make a new years resolution now about "better tutorials", but for now I might just go with.... 


    Something quick and easy for Halloween treats and mix up some Chocolate Peanut Butter Spiders


    The Monkey's Paw cupcake

                                                             'The Monkey's Paw' cupcake

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    "The first man had his three wishes, yes," was the reply. "I don't know what the first two were, but the third was for death. That's how I got the paw."                          W. W. Jacobs 'The Monkey's Paw'

    The Monkey's Paw: Ahhh haaaa my step son Dan and I love this tale, a supernatural/horror story by W. W. Jacobs first published in England in 1902. 

    In the short story, three wishes are granted to the owner of the monkey's paw, but the wishes come with an enormous price for interfering with fate

    And proving yet again I've watched too many episodes of 'The Simpsons'...'Treehouse of Horror 2' season three, episode seven. 'The Monkeys Paw' :)

    The Monkey's Paw itself is described in the short story as "it's just an ordinary little paw, dried to a mummy."

    Ok, lets make a little mummified paw.

    I went with 50% fondant / 50% white modelling chocolate... I used "orange" just so the demo photos are clearer, that or I was thinking of Bart's shirt.  You could use 100% dark modellling chocolate and do away with colours. 

    Started with a ball

    Squished the ball on one side and roughly sliced my monkey "fingers" into the rounded opposite side. 

    Shaped my paw into what I thought I mummified monkeys paw would look like. I mainly used the toothpick to apply the details. 

    The wrist was trimmed at this stage and I added a jagged cuff cut from rolled 50/50 mixture. 

    After the paws were dry, I used a black food pen to mark out features then dusted with a little nutkin brown petal dust and finished with dogwood brown petal dust.  If you used 100% dark modelling chocolate, a brush of cocoa and drinking chocolate will add interest without have to add colourings.  

    Thread a toothpick into the palms of the paws and attach to your fondant or frosted cupcakes. 

    Happy Baking :) 

    You might also be interested in making a 'Catrina' for Day of the Dead.  


    Cake Masters Magazine …. Woooo Hoooo! 

    cake masters magazine october 2015 

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    Wooooo hoooo!!!! I'm in the UK's Cake Masters magazine this month!  I'm a tad, ok a lot EXCITED!! Love this magazine and it's a honour having a spot between the pages...  *page 39 to be exact*on new stands today in the UK also available in iTunes. Print copy in Australia in a few weeks.  :) 

    I've got more Halloween coming up this month, here is "The Tell Tale Heart" cupcake in case you missed it. 

    And "dirt" your going to have to have some two ingredient chocolate soil for your graveyards.

    Happy baking and cake making :) 


    Spider Egg Tins

                                 chocolate "spider eggs" in tins

    A quick and fun "craft" idea for Halloween but also great for any of your gothic themed dinners. Not in a gothic dinner party time of life? children will like designing labels and filling the tins.  

    Give these chocolate filled spider tins out as favours, use them for place setting markers or passed around after dinner with coffee. 

    You need small metal tins with lids (craft stores). 

    A bag of rubber spiders or cockroaches if you want cockroach eggs instead (toy shops, craft shops etc). 

    Crispearls are used extensively in patisserie and chocolate work to add "crunch". 

    Small rounded candy or chocolates.  I used dark Callebaut crispearls, tiny, shiny pearls of dark chocolate with a crunchy toasted cereal centre but any small lolly or candy would do. Cocoa shelled popping candy would also work. 

    Make labels for your tins in whatever program you have from Word to Photoshop. Using clipart from the internet or your files. Print your labels on sticker paper or on plain office paper.  If you used plain office paper cut out your labels and adhere to your tins with non toxic glue.  Oh, don't forget to personalise the labels, print friends names, greetings etc.

    Use tissue paper in contrasting or matching colour to line the bottom of the tins, fill with chocolates/lollies of choice. Top with a single layer of tissue, put your spider on top of that and close the lid.  

    Happy crafting :) 


    The Tell-Tale Heart Cupcake

                                          The Tell-Tale Heart Cupcake

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    "Villains!" I shrieked, "dissemble no more! I admit the deed! --tear up the planks! here, here! --It is the beating of his hideous heart!" Edgar Allan Poe

    I absolutely love 'The Tell-Tale Heart' the gothic story written in 1843 by Edgar Allan Poe!

    My step son said today it reminds him of 'The Simpsons', yes it is a much referenced tale in pop culture.

    Of course you will need fondant "floor boards" for your tell tale heart cupcakes. 

    White fondant was tinted with ivory colour gel, rolled thinly and cut into strips.  Using a toothpick and modelling tool mark out "wood grain", "nail holes" and "joins". Allow to dry.  

    With a small soft brush lightly apply brown shades of petal dust to highlight the grain. Your aiming to only highlight the grain with the darker colours so remove excess brown dust on a piece of paper towel before applying. Top with a dusting of cream or yellow petal dust. 

    When making hearts; mine are small so I've just used 50/50 white modelling chocolate and fondant. If making larger hearts consider using a lolly, chocolate, RKT or cake pop mixture inside the heart.  

    The mixture is coloured red with cake gel colour (I used no taste red for bulk of the heart and a little red red for veins). Make a heart shape, make sure you add the aorta and other arteries to the top and few veins for texture.  Allow to dry. Dust lightly with brown petal dust.  

    Assemble your cakes, I used frosted cakes with cookie crumb topping. Attach your heart to your cake with a single toothpick, lean or attach boards with frosting.

    Using cake decorating gel (coloured red if clear) and a small paint brush paint a thin coat of "blood goo" on to your hearts. The brown petal dust you used earlier will blend/smudge giving you a "meaty" look to your heart. 

    Happy baking or gothic Halloween making :) 

    In the mood for more Poe cupcake raven tutorial.  


    Woody's Black and White Brownies Rose's Alpha Bakers

    Woody's Black and White Brownies (with a touch of green) 'The Baking Bible'

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    Stuart's Brownie Review Stuart's video brownie review Flickr. 

    Little Stuart is eight years old and has autism, each week he asks me "is it chocolate yet?" This week it is chocolate!! Woody's Black and White Brownies. 

    Stuart wanted to take the brownies to school tomorrow, so the we had to veto the bourbon in the ganache topping and no nuts (nut free school).  This caused an hour or three problem as Stuart kept repeating "the recipe says bourbon" but we settled on mint largely due to Stuart loving 'Peppermint crisp' chocolate bars. :)

    peppermint crisp bar a popular chocolate bar in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa... often used in desserts. 

    Chocolate and butter were melted in a double boiler and scraped into the mixing bowl of the stand mixer.

    Cocoa and sugar were added and mixed until incorporated.

    Eggs and vanilla were beaten in, the mixture became thick and glossy.

    Cream cheese was added and beaten until small bits remained and the mixture was spread evenly in the lined baking pan. I added a handful of choc chips, well just to surprise Stuart really. 

    Hmm, I wondered at this stage were you supposed to be seeing the little bits of cream cheese?

    Brownies were baked until the batter was set one inch from the edge.

    Next was making the white chocolate custard base that would be a compontent of the white chocolate buttercream. I used small callettes so I didn't have to cut chocolate into pieces.

    I had never made a custard from melted white chocolate and butter until this recipe, interesting technique. 

    White chocolate and butter are melted over a double boiler.

    Whisked eggs are added and cooked until slightly thickened (you have custard), it's then strained and cooled.

    white chocolate custard ready to be cooled

    Butter is whipped until creamy, custard gradually mixed in. Beaten to stiff peaks form and covered and popped away for a couple of hours. 

    Frosting is them rebeaten briefly and vanilla added.

    Time to spread frosting on cooled brownie base. 

    Next up "dark chocolate ganache glaze", cream and chocolate are melted together (there is bourbon in this bit if you are using) and ganache is spread on frosting. I sprinkled the crushed peppermint crisp chocolate bars on top at this stage. 

    The brownies are back to fridge now to chill at least one hour before unmoulding and slicing.

    Straight from the fridge the texture is like this. The brownies are much easier to slice. Once returned to room temperature the white chocolate frosting is extremely soft and will squelch out as you bite. I'd like a firmer white layer more in line with denseness that is "a brownie". The brownie base is great, fudgy without being cloying. You can still see the little pieces of cream cheese, not sure what that is about but hey "it's good'.  

    Stuart studying his brownie, he absoloutely loved them... as did his Dad.

    How it works... now I've joined the fabulous existing alpha bakers, once a week I will post about what I have baked from Rose Levy Beranbaum's 'The Baking Bible'. This won't include the recipe due to copyright and publisher restrictions however, I will be posting how it went and photos of making/baking the gorgeous baked goods.

    Would I bake again? All the elements yes, but not together. Great tasting brownie. Great tasting white chocolate custard frosting. Just not the two together.  

    Would I change anything? Yes, I would make the brownie base alone and top with ganache. Maybe incorporate the cream cheese fully because it's not visually appealing.

    The Baking Bible available from Amazon and all discerning book retailers. 

    You might also be interested in chocolate twirly swirly decorations 


    Tiesen Sinamon (Welsh cinnamon cake) cupcakes

    Tiesen Sinamon (Welsh cinnamon cake) cupcakes

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    Ahhh ha ha, I love this metal Welsh dragon my step son Daniel gave me from his recent travels to Wales. 

    Wales; with a dragon on their flag, it's the birth place of my Uncle John, home of Dr. Who and according to fairy expert Janet Bord (is too such a person!!) the little folk abound in Wales.   Welsh flag

    Tiesen Sinamon is traditionally a round cinnamon cake topped with raspberry or apricot jam and spread with meringue. The cake is returned to the oven to brown the meringue. Here favourite my little one bowl cake recipe is spiced with cinnamon, filled with raspberry jam and topped with fluffy meringue (7 minute type) frosting before torching.  

    Tiesen Sinamon (Welsh cinnamon cake) cupcakes ... the one bowl method used here results in cake similar to the original Tiesen Sinamon texture. By all means substitute your go to buttercake cupcake recipe and add cinnamon if desired.  

    Preheat oven to 180C/350F 

    Line two 12 cup trays with paper liners (the small patty/fairy cake size... this a UK size, old Australia size and smaller than US cupcake)


    125g butter (4.4oz) softened

    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    2/3 cup (150g) castor sugar (superfine)

    3 eggs  room temperature

    1 1/2  cups (225g) self-raising flour

    1 1/2 tsp cinnamon 

    1/4 cup milk (60ml) room temperature


    In your mixer bowl with flat beater blade attached, beat butter, extract, sugar, eggs, sifted flour, cinnamon together & milk on low speed with an electric mixer until ingredients are just combined. Increase speed to medium & beat for 3 minutes until smooth and pale in colour.

    Drop spoonfuls of mixture into the paper liners. Bake about 20 minutes. Allow to cool in tins for 5 minutes removing to a wire rack to cool.

    Fluffy Frosting
    Makes 3 cups
    • 1 cup white sugar (granulated)
    • 4 large egg whites

    1. In the heat-proof bowl of an electric mixer, combine sugar and egg whites. Place the bowl over a pot of gently simmering water, and whisk until the mixture feels warm to the touch and the sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes.
    2. Return the bowl to the mixer stand. With the whisk attachment, whip on high 
    3. until cooled, about 8 minutes. Use immediately.

    *If the weather is humid, you may need to beat the frosting for an additional minute in each step to stiffen it.

    Use a good store bought raspberry jam or make your own.... Raspberry Jam recipe Traditionally raspberry jam is "loose" (wetter) than say ummm "apricot". If you prefer a firm set jam use pectin sugar as per instructions. 

    To Serve

    Cut a small hole in to the top of each cooled cake. Fill the cavities with about one teaspoon of raspberry jam, top with a blob of meringue frosting (use a star piping tip if you prefer a less rustic looking cupcake) torch with a kitchen blow torch.  

    Happy Baking :) 

    You might also be interested in Raspberry and Orange Gluten Free Friands


    Perfect Peach Galette Rose's Alpha Bakers

    Splat 2 |splat| informal noun

      a sound of something soft and wet or heavy striking a surface: the 'perfect peach galette' from the 'The Baking Bible' made a huge splat as it hit the bench.

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    Splat!!!  So went the 'Perfect Peach Galette', with it's fresh peach topping and 'Perfect Flaky and Tender Cream Cheese Pie Crust'.

    I had the storage container ready for when the galette was cooled and lifted up the cooling rack to feel the bottom of the galette. Why I lifted the rack so high and so quickly I don't know, but there was "height and momentum" involved now.

    The galette flew off the cooling rack and hit the edge of the storage container on the way down.

    It flipped.

    It broke.

    It went splat!!!!  

    So I scraped up some filling and plonked it on a tiny piece of still intact pastry... ta-da... and that's today's photo.  

    It all started well enough I guess, it's still winter here so purchased imported peaches, American peaches to be exact *mental note to go plant a tree for carbon neutral ness!   

    The peaches were put into a pot of boiling water (off the stove top) for one minute. I did some extra peaches in case I needed them.  

    nude peach

    Skins slipped straight off once the peaches were placed in a colander and cold water was run over them.

    Peaches were then sliced, popped in a large bowl with sugar, salt and lemon juice to macerate. See all that juice? It was time to drain the peach slices of that juice. I got two thirds of cup of juice. 

    juice was put into microwave safe jug

    Butter is added to the juice and the mixture is microwaved (option is there to do it on stove top), until the juice mixture has been reduced to about one third of a cup.

    reduced juice mixture

    Reduced juice mix is spreadable... oh my, this tastes absolutely like the "essence of summer" or more accurately the "essence of peaches". 

    The peachy concentrate was added back to the peaches slices with cornflour, almond extract and gently tossed together. 

    all mixed and ready to be put aside so I can start the pastry

    Here comes bad idea two but it doesn't include a "splat!!", I thought since we did this exact same pastry a few weeks ago for 'ElderBlueberry Pie (with not blueberries)'....  I'd use the same photos/text. Yep, then I forgot to take the shaping part at the end but I can redeem myself with pie apple coming up in a few weeks... fresh photos and shaping for that post :) 

    For now here is the repeat of making the 'Perfect Flaky and Tender Cream Cheese Pie Crust'...

    Unsalted butter is cubed and then frozen. You can make by hand or with the food processor, I went with the latter.  The recipe is a rough puff pastry with a cream cheese/butter combo (rather than all butter or shortening/butter or lard/butter combination). 

    Your frozen chilled flour, salt and baking powder mixture is removed from the freezer and process it briefly the with cream cheese.

    The frozen butter then goes in for a whizz, cream and vinegar are added and the mix is processed until the butter is the size of small peas. 

    It still looks like crumbs, with visible small bits of butter... you are only using the food processor to cut in the fats/liquid. Remove mixture from the food processor in it's crumb form and pressed together, before wrapping and chilling.

    Time to roll... the mottled look showing the tiny pieces of cold butter. I rolled mine between two lightly floured pieces of plastic wrap. Envelope folded, rerolled, chilling happening too! 

    Ok I was supposed to have used a pizza tray but mine has holes in bottom and I thought it wasn't going to suitable. Instead I put a round of rolled pastry on a silpat, put the prepared fruit filling on base and folded edges over leaving exposed fruit in the center. Sprinkled sugar on dampened edges and baked. 

    No serving suggestions or opinions on end product today... but umm the pastry was nice, light and super flaky... I could tell from the distance the flakes travelled over the kitchen. Looking forward to the next bake where I won't be lifting any cooling racks!! 

    Happy Baking :) 

    How it works... now I've joined the fabulous existing alpha bakers, once a month I will post about what I have baked from Rose Levy Beranbaum's 'The Baking Bible'. This won't include the recipe due to copyright and publisher restrictions however, I will be posting how it went and photos of making/baking the gorgeous baked goods.

    The Baking Bible available from Amazon and all discerning book retailers. 

    You might also be interested in Salt and Pepper Squid recipe.


    Beer Bread 'The Bread Bible' Alpha Bakers

    Hmm, I need more experience "building a burger" but the home-baked beer bread buns make up for it! 

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    Today is the monthly post for 'The Bread Bible' by Rose Levy Beranbaum and it's 'Beer Bread'. Porter or Stout give this bread a wonderful rounded flavour, a slight bitterness in the after taste and a somewhat more pronounced beer flavour around the crust. Yet, it's never over powering and will appeal to beer drinkers and non beer drinkers alike.  

    It's an adult bread and oh my it must be the best bread to serve for your BBQ entertaining. Delicious served with equally strong flavours, think well seasoned barbecued burgers, flat spiced mushrooms, bitey cheese, roasted capsicum dip and the like.  

    Sheeesh, you don't need a McDonalds build your own burger now, black beer burger buns all round!!! 

    I got a touch "tired" this week so a few less photos, but I've included the a YouTube video of Rose actually making the beer bread (6 minute 40 second mark) plus a few photos/serving suggestions of mine below. 


    This was a quick loaf to make with no starter required and about 2 -2/12 hours rising time. Yeast, malt, sugar, most of the bread flour and some wholemeal flour were combined, black beer was added then salt.

    I used a beer another alpha baker recommended, 'Coopers best extra stout' from an Australian brewery...., thanks Catherine from the blog plylliscaroline the stout was perfect. 

    I was using my stand mixer so 7 minutes of kneading and there it was, just as Rose described "putty-coloured dough". 

    The dough came easily from the mixers dough hook.

    The dough went away (well actually I put it away) to rise. After rising the dough was shaped, I divided my dough in half, made one half sized boule and four buns. Off it goes for another rise. You can slash the tops now with your favourite design, Rose has several with instructions in 'The Bread Bible'. Then off to bake. 

    Easy to shape this dough, ready for it's second rise. 

    Awww, the robust flavour of the beer bread reminds me of mum, bless her heart she loved a high tea on one hand but always partook in the opportunity to share a ploughman's lunch. I think she found it amusing that the traditional ploughman's lunch offended my sensibilities (no cutlery, rip apart bread and cheese and suck down a pickled onion!! wash it down with beer) and Mum did love a pickled onion! 

    Ploughman's lunch, perfect for casual get together. The pronounced flavouring of the beer bread pairs perfectly with aged bitey cheddar, apple and pickled onions of course. 

    You could skip a few steps, serve ploughmans cheese with your beer bread and a slice of apple. See how I used the word "slice". Ploughman's lunch is not an ancient British tradition, but rather a measure from the cheese board in the UK post rationing to promote the sale of cheese. So "forks", "knives" and perhaps even "little napkins" were around!!! 

    I prefer the vegan way with organically torn fresh beer bread topped with hummus and spiced marinated pine nuts.  

    Would I bake again? Yes, loved it.

    Would I change anything? No

    How it works... now I've joined the fabulous existing alpha bakers, once a month I will post about what I have baked from Rose Levy Beranbaum's 'The Bread Bible'. This won't include the recipe due to copyright and publisher restrictions however, I will be posting how it went and photos of making/baking the gorgeous baked goods.

    The Bread Bible  available from Amazon and all discerning book retailers. 

    You might also be interested in making: Fondant masquerade mask cupcake picks


    100 percent Whole Wheat Walnut Loaf Rose's Alpha Bakers

    100% Whole Wheat Walnut Loaf 'The Baking Bible'

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    Brrrr, baby it's cold outside! It's been hailing off and on all day and rumours of snow in a nearby suburb in the hills, I say "rumoured" because we do all get excited about even one flake of snow. 

    Walnut bread toasted (grilled) aged cheddar cheese sandwiches and pumpkin soup with a hint of orange, the perfect starter to ward off winter chills. 

    100% Whole Wheat (in Australia we say wholemeal) Walnut Bread is a fabulously flavoured versatile bread, lets get started.... 

    I started by making the dough starter (sponge), wholemeal flour, water, honey and yeast are combined. To make a vegan bread swap the honey out for golden syrup.   

    The mixture is whisked to incorporate air, it will resemble a thin batter. 

    Time to make the dough now with more wholemeal flour, *gluten flour and instant yeast are sprinkled over the sponge starter forming a blanket of flour. 

    An hour later and there is bubbles bubbling up through the flour. 

    Ok better toast and break up the walnuts now, 166 grams to be exact are toasted in the oven and the then the skins are removed. 

    Shhh, I cheated and used a photo of removing walnut skin from the Stilton Cheesecake story.

    With the dough hook fitted on my mixer, dough is mixed and then rested for 20 minutes. Back to mixing now with the addition of walnut oil, salt and toasted walnut pieces before going off to rise.

    The first rise. 

    The second rise. 

    After turning out the risen dough the dough is "dimpled" using your fingertips to get rid of air bubbles. The dough is shaped and put into prepared tin (I used four small tins instead of one large) and then off to rise for the last time before baking. 

    Over half way through last rise, almost time to go into the pre heated oven. 

    Baked, cooled and it's time to eat!!  

    It's not the "prettiest" bread but boy served fresh with blue cheese and pear and it's a wonderful combination of flavours. Plus it's easy to slice thinly, like what I used in the aged cheddar cheese toasted sandwiches paired with the pumpkin soup today.

    Oh, oh, oh mini loaves would make the best hostess gift, wrap the centre of the loaf with brown or baking paper, tie with kitchen string, throw in a chunk of blue or a bottle of red for a unique and welcome hostess gift.

    This bread is also great for vegetarians/vegans, high in protein, low GI and perfect to serve with your favourite veggie stew.  

    Also great "baker's treat"... toasted crusts of walnut loaf with French fine cut marmalade. 

    Happy Baking :) 

    *Gluten flour: we used gluten flour to promote rise and texture in today's bread. The gluten is in the whole wheat flour but the wheat germ is blocking the release so you use added gluten, a protein composite from wheat and related grains. This gives you not only extra "lift" in rising it also provides the characteristic "chew" we associate with bread. It's why you add various gums to gluten free bread trying to recreate the chew gluten provides.  Gluten flour is also used extensively in vegan and vegetarian cuisine to create seitan and in asian cooking for dishes such as like "mock duck". 

    Would I bake again? Yes, loved it for "something different to serve" factor.. plus tasted great. 

    Would I change anything?  I loved it as is, I would continue to bake smaller sized loaves. I'd like to try halving the walnut weight and adding either dried apricots or dried muscatel grapes for a fruit/nut loaf. 

     How it works... now I've joined the fabulous existing alpha bakers, once a month I will post about what I have baked from Rose Levy Beranbaum's 'The Baking Bible'. This won't include the recipe due to copyright and publisher restrictions however, I will be posting how it went and photos of making/baking the gorgeous baked goods.

    The Baking Bible available from Amazon and all discerning book retailers. 

    You might also be interested in Amore Frangelico Truffles, rich in mascarpone and chocolate!