Monday, 5 March 2012

Little Gems

Recipe One Hundred & Sixty Seven:  Page 256.

I wanted to make something with my little helper this weekend. As Isaac is only twenty months, his help would be limited. However, he really seems to enjoy watching me make cakes and he certainly loves eating them! When I saw the title of this recipe it put me in mind of the Iced Gem biscuits I used to enjoy as a child. If I was very lucky I would sometimes find a packet tucked into my school lunch box. They were also often found at birthday parties! They were a super sweet crunchy mouthful. Sadly the title of this recipe is a little misleading. I wouldn't be recreating the tiny biscuits from my youth; instead I would be making little cakes with icing and a sweetie on top!

When I woke in the morning it was so dark that I felt tempted to roll over and go back to sleep. I parted the curtains just enough to take a peek outside. Heavy rain was dancing on the road and tapping out a tune on the roofs of the cars. It really did look cold and bleak. I stayed cosy in bed for a few minutes longer, savouring the warmth of the duvet. Finally I poked out one foot and then the other. That was it! I was up; the worst part was over!!

The rain was still thundering down an hour or so later. It really was the perfect weather for baking! I was glad to turn the oven on and create some extra warmth. I retrieved my mixing bowl from a drawer and my electric whisk from the window sill. The butter was sitting on the worktop desperately trying to soften; I didn't think much of its chances! I grabbed the flour and sugar from the messy kitchen shelves and laid everything out next to my bowl and scales. All I needed was my little helper! I went into the living room to collect him. I think Neil was glad that his little helper was required elsewhere. Neil was trying very hard to store away the toys Isaac has by now out grown. As soon as a well chewed toy or a noisy little rattle was placed in the box, Isaac would swiftly pull it out again. Thankfully I knew of the perfect distraction! The word 'cake' grabbed Isaac's attention and he shot off into the kitchen at high speed.

The recipe for these Little Gems is pretty much the same as for fairy cakes; a really simple all in one sponge. All I needed to do was weigh all the ingredients into my mixing bowl. Isaac absolutely loved watching me crack the eggs into the bowl, it caused quite a bit of excitement. By the time all the ingredients were in the bowl Isaac could name each of them! He had a wooden spoon to use to give everything a little stir and then it was time to bring out the big guns and use my electric whisk. The butter was still not soft enough, so it took what seemed like forever for everything to combine. Eventually the mixture was smooth and thick and ready to go into some paper cases.

I laid out around sixty petits fours cases onto two baking trays. It seemed such a vast amount, but I suppose that each cake equals just one small mouthful! With a teaspoon, I put a tiny amount of mixture into each tiny case. This was quite a fiddly job, so not something you could easily do with a toddler! I didn't make as many as Mary suggests as I didn't have enough to go around all the cases. As the cakes were so small I imagined they would only need about ten minutes in the oven. In fact they required the full cooking time of twenty minutes. I felt a little forlorn when I took the trays of cakes from the oven. They had barely bothered to rise; they didn't look much different to when they had gone in! I gingerly plucked the hot cakes from the tray and placed them onto wire racks to cool.

As the cakes wouldn't take long to cool, Isaac and I cracked on with the icing. He appeared bemused by the plume of sugar dust that enveloped the kitchen as I sifted the icing sugar. I, on the other hand, muttered about the mess all over the worktop! A few squeezes of lemon juice and we mixed them together until we had a white glossy paste. Again, the part of spooning the icing onto each individual cake was a fiddly task which required a good deal of hand eye coordination. Isaac enjoyed watching the icing make its way onto each little cake. While he observed, I gave him a plain cake to enjoy. He loved it and it was a great size for little fingers; he could easily manage on his own. He happily helped me press some of the dolly mixture sweets into the icing before it set. One or two might have made their way to our mouths!

The little cakes were not exactly exciting in taste as they were fairly plain. The only problem was that, as they are so small, I found myself shovelling in one after the other – whoops!
Cake AND sweets. What's not to love?!

1 comment:

  1. awww how adorable little cupcakes, I wanna make them, they look less calorific lol xx