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Thursday, 26 June 2014

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes (Student Demonstration)

As some of you may be aware in my spare time (real life) I am a secondary school ICT teacher.  A few weeks ago was 'Focus on Food' week and one of the cookery teachers, who knew about this blog, asked me if I would like to demonstrate to her Year 10 class.  At the time I thought about it for a few minutes and said yes.  As the weeks went by and the cookery deadline approached I started to stress slightly about the whole process.  As a teacher I am totally used to having 30 students in front of me and having to demonstrate, question and discuss a range of ICT related topics, but this time I would not be discussing my comfort zone of ICT, instead I would be discussing baking!  Scary stuff!

Now I will admit that sometimes, at home as I bake, I will play out as if I was on TV.  Almost talking to myself to reassure as I try out new recipes and ideas.  Thinking about that one day when I may have my own TV show and be as super popular as Nigella, Nigel, Delia or Ina.  But this is only ever in front of the pretend audience in my head, not a real group of young cooks, and this was in a different kitchen, with a different oven and unfamiliar equipment.  None of this helped with my nerves.

I thought really hard about what I wanted to bake.  It was always my intention to show the students something different.  I didn't want to make a simple cake as I am know they would have done it before.  I didn't want to make basic frosting, because I know they would have done it before.  So I thought carefully and decided to show them the 'reverse creaming method' of cake making and an 'Italian Meringue   Buttercream'.  Two techniques that I had a good feeling would be new to them.

Italian Meringue is something I have made many times before and I was not worried about demonstrating that.  The reverse method however was totally new to me.  I played around with a number of recipes I found online and none seemed to work as I hoped.  It got to the point where the day before the demonstration I still hadn't cracked the perfect recipe and the stress was starting to kick in.  I will admit now that first time I made the recipe (the one that worked) was the day I demonstrated it to the students.  I just went for it and hoped for the best!   It worked (or no one complained anyway)

For those that do not know the reverse creaming method is a very different way of making a sponge mix.  You start by combining the flours and butter to make breadcrumbs.  The purpose of this is to protect the gluten in the flour from the liquid you add later.  Doing this means you can mix without worrying about over doing it.  The cake mixture result is slightly denser than a normal sponge and the crumb is a lot more crumblier -  see image.  

My inspiration came from a simple 'Mr Whippy' ice cream.  I would bake a vanilla sponge inside a ice cream cone and top with smooth vanilla butter cream, top with a flake and sprinkles, syrup if you must.  The students liked them so I consider it a success.  I was able to bake the cakes and discuss various baking techniques and ingredients, while taking the odd question from the students - see men can multitask!  

Each cone would be filled with a little chocolate spread, topped with a scope of vanilla mixture and after baking, frosted tall with a smooth 'Mr Whippy' style buttercream.  

Sorry to say but I do not have my normal array of images as I show off this recipe.  I have made the frosting before in other posts so please check them out if you need to see the technique.  

The cones come in packs of 21, but they are cheap and sealed in foil, so you can make 25 isn with the batter mix and don't have to worry about waste.

So, this was the most scariest thing I have ever done in a long time.  Baking LIVE in front of a group of young cooks, in a strange kitchen, with a recipe I hadn't tested before.  Afterwards it felt great and I was so pleased that I managed to see it through.  

Give the recipe a go and let me know what you think...

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes
Makes around 25

For the cakes
21 mini ice cream cones (Sainsbury's sell them)
1 small jar chocolate spread (nutella)
400g fine plain flour (00 is best)
400g caster sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
250 ml whole milk (room temp)
230g unsalted butter, softened and cubed
1/2 tsp salt
4 large eggs, room temp
1/2 tbsp vanilla bean paste
30g cornflour 

For the frosting
375g unsalted butter, room temp
250g sugar
4 large egg whites, room temp
1 tbsp vanilla bean paste

mini flakes to top and sprinkles

Preheat the oven to 180C. 

Place a sheet of foil over a muffin tin.  Use a knife to make slits in the foil for each cone. Carefully place the cones into 2 cupcake tins. Place a teaspoon of chocolate spread in the bottom of each cone.

In a mixing bowl (or mixer, which is better) place the flour, cornflour, sugar, baking powder and salt. 

Mix on slow and add chunks of butter. Allow to mix until you have a breadcrumby mixture.

Add the eggs, one at a time, mix until fully blended. The mixture will loosen as you add each egg.

Gradually add the milk, then vanilla paste. 

Beat for a minute to fully incorporate.

Use an ice cream scoop and depending on the size of the scoop add 1/2 or a full scoop to each cone.Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. 

Check to see if done by inserting a toothpick in to the centre of the cake (not too far or you will hit chocolate) and if nothing sticks when you remove it they are done. If necessary bake for another minute and check again.

Remove to cool while you make the frosting.

Make the frosting...
Place the sugar in a small pan, add in 160ml cold water. 

Bring to the boil over a high heat and using a jam thermometer leave to boil until it reaches 115C, then… 

Place egg whites in a mixer (must use a mixer) and start whisking on medium.When the sugar mixture reaches 121C turn off the heat, turn the mixer to full speed and very carefully pour the hot sugar mixture on to the egg whites as they whisk. Pour down the side of the bowl to avoid the whisk.

Whisk on HIGH speed for 10 minutes while it cools to room temp, feel the bowl sides, warmish is ok but not hot.

Then, while still on high add cubes of the butter, give a few seconds for each bit to whisk in. Expect the frosting to sink into the bowl and loose its lightness. If it seems to curdle, keep whisking, it will come together perfectly. 

When all the butter is added, whisk in the vanilla bean paste. 

Transfer to a large piping bag fitted with a star nozzle.Pipe tall twists of frosting on top of the cooled cakes, start in the centre and work around then build up to a peak. 

Add a chocolate flake, sauce and then decorate with toppings of your choice.