cupcakes

Hope, Happiness and Hummingbirds…a visit to the Hummingbird Bakery

The black forest style cupcake by Yudhika Sujanani

The black forest style cupcake by Yudhika Sujanani

We grow up being mesmerized by fascinating creatures and when I was little, hummingbirds fascinated me the most. My mom once told me that this tiny little bird could even fly backwards. She described the way it would hover and draw out the nectar from flowers and it captured my attention forever. I have yet to see one but there is also another hummingbird that caught my attention while I was eating my way through London..The Hummingbird Bakery! I will come back to the bakery just now but first I want to share a few special messages that come from the mystical world of this bird. Ancient folk law has many myths about hummingbirds but mostly they remind us of how to live a happier life.

It’s called ‘the bird of the impossible’ – it can fly backwards which not only means that you can achieve the impossible, but it also symbolizes that we should re-visit our past but not dwell in it. While we fight to move forward in our lives, sometimes the answers can be found in our past. Take the lessons from the past, learn from the mistakes so you can move forward joyfully. Far too often we are encouraged to sweep things under the rug, box them and move on without processing it. We are pushed into believing that it is what we must do, but surely not what we should be doing? When the past remains unresolved, we carry the baggage forever, and forever is such a long time!

These tiny birds are able to fly thousands of kilometers during migration. They have the tiniest wings that make no aerodynamic sense at all! Take a closer look at your life and chose how you wish to spend your energy. We have limited resources and places and goals we wish to reach. Are we making the right choices or wasting our energy on things and people that don’t matter? From my own experiences, most of my energy was spent on fearing the unknown, worrying about issues and the worst of it is the people that seem to drain positivity out of your life. What will be, will be and the reality is that you will have to face it. The impending dread of dealing with a problem is far more agonizing than the problem itself. Take a beat, catch your breath and deal with the issue in your own time.

The hummingbird hovers over flowers for most of the day, tirelessly gathering up the nectar, but it never damages the plant. Sharing is not the issue, but we live in a society that takes until there is nothing left and too much damage is done. If you want something, do you need to harm the giver to get it? Do we take until there is nothing left? The greed that consumes us is what destroys our lives and the people around us. The hummingbird takes what it needs, not more! I have come across givers and takers, and things do swing in roundabouts…sometimes there are more givers, sometimes more takers but I changed so much about my life to ensure that although my circle is smaller, it is occupied by precious people. We experience joy in different ways and there is no right or wrong…so whether you are closing huge deals worth millions or collecting books for kids, it makes no difference. It’s your happiness! For many years one of my ways of experiencing joy is by sharing my generosity and love for food with my friends and family. I have learnt that not everyone values this gift. True generosity of spirit is my way of celebrating the successes and failures in my life.

Yudhika at Notting Hill's Hummingbird Bakery

Yudhika at Notting Hill’s Hummingbird Bakery

On a recent visit to London, I just had to stop in at the Hummingbird Bakery for a cupcake quick fix. I had first come across this amazing bakery while indulging in my penchant for recipe books. The first cook book was a collection of delicious, easy to make, home style cupcakes but it was the pictures that got my attention first. You see, I read my recipe books at bed time just as any person would read a novel. I pore over the pictures taking in every last bit of deliciousness. Most of the time, it’s this sort of food watching that leads to me raiding the refrigerator for midnight snacks. Life is full of little pleasures, isn’t it?

Yudhika at Notting Hill's Hummingbird Bakery

Yudhika at Notting Hill’s Hummingbird Bakery

What's in the box...Yudhika takes a  closer look!

What’s in the box…Yudhika takes a closer look!

I popped in at the store while visiting the Portobello Market in Notting Hill…yes, I had the whole Hugh Grant/Julia Roberts moment! Well, a short corny moment anyway. The store is tiny by South African standards…and the cupcakes delicious. I would be fibbing if I said I remembered how much the cupcakes cost, but a slice of cake is about 4 to 5 pounds….I was trying not to convert, it was way too depressing! I have been planning to write this blog for a while and thinking of a great cupcake recipe I can share with you….so here is my black forest cupcake recipe! There are a few steps to it but they are super delicious and worth the effort! A word on these…it’s my version – it is not authentic but being tired of commercial black forest cake with mass produced pie filling. This is a great way to use up strawberries that are over-ripe…remember the riper they are, the better the flavour. You can make up the jam or use a good quality store bought version to cut out a few steps.

The Hummingbird Bakery does not disappoint...Yudhika's visit to London

The Hummingbird Bakery does not disappoint…Yudhika’s visit to London

While I was in London, I was much like the hummingbird….hovering from one deliciously happy experience to the other…enjoying every moment…savouring every experience! Thanks to my lovelies that entertained me and spoilt me rotten! Before I launch into the recipe, I urge you to become the hummingbird…stay joyful, take all of life’s nectar with out hurting or destroying and most importantly to spend your time wisely with people that really matter! Wishing you all of life’s sweetness and joy!

Another London inspired cupcake by Yudhika

Another London inspired cupcake by Yudhika

Black Forest Style Cupcakes

Makes 16 – 18

Ingredients

100g soft butter
200g sugar
200g flour
50g cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
15ml baking powder
2 eggs
7ml vanilla essence
250ml full cream milk, at room temperature

The strawberry and cherry filling.....in an AMC pan.

The strawberry and cherry filling…..in an AMC pan.

For the filling:

300g strawberries, hulled and quartered
200g sugar
Juice of 1 lime
5ml vanilla paste
1 cinnamon stick
1 x 400g tinned black cherries, drained and chopped

45ml kirsch

250ml double thick cream
125ml single cream
15ml sugar
Drop of vanilla essence

20g chocolate, grated
Maraschino cherries, to garnish

Here’s how:

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.
Line a cupcake pan with cases.
Place the butter, sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer. Process the ingredients on a low speed until it resembles fine bread crumbs.
Combine the eggs, vanilla essence and milk – beat lightly and gradually pour this into the mixer.
Beat until the mixture is smooth and lump free – do not over mix the batter.
Scoop the mixture into the paper cases.
Bake for 18 – 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when the cakes are tested.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.

For the filling….this can be prepared a few hours in advance.

Leave the sliced strawberries in the refrigerator to dry out.
Place the strawberries in an 28cm AMC Chef’s Pan and add the sugar.
Stir well to coat the strawberries in the sugar – the sugar crystals start to turn pink.
Gently heat the pan, stirring from time time while the sugar melts.
Once the sugar melts, add the vanilla, cinnamon stick and lime juice.
When the mixture starts to boil, skim the surface to remove the foam.
Simmer the strawberries until they break down and the mixture thickens.
Add the chopped cherries, water and kirsch.
Simmer again until the cherries break down and thicken the jam like filling.
Pour the filling into a sterilized glass jar and leave to cool – this can be kept in the refrigerator and also used as a topping for crumpets etc.

For the cream…
Place the double thick cream and single cream into a mixing bowl, add the sugar and vanilla essence and whip until soft peaks form. Leave in the refrigerator until needed.

To assemble…
Use a paring knife to hollow out about 2 teaspoons of each cupcake, taking care not to cut through them.
Fill each cupcake with the strawberry and cherry filling.
Top the cupcakes with a scoop of cream and grate over a little dark chocolate.
Decorate with a maraschino cherry and enjoy!

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Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat…Where have you been?

Yudhika's Harrods Inspired Chocolate Fig Cupcakes

Yudhika’s Harrods Inspired Fig and Chocolate Cupcakes

Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat,

Where have you been?

I have been to London,

Not to visit the Queen!

My days have been full, my evenings fuller and life has just been crazy! I must apologize for not blogging in a while!  And from here on, ‘I solemnly swear to blog’!  Thanks and thanks again for the lovely messages and posts – and to those of you who said you missed the recipes, its just the inspiration needed to publish a new recipe!

So, the question everyone asks is, ‘Where have you been?’

Well here, there and everywhere!  But my latest highlight was an invitation to London!  I have been hankering after a break for ages.  I will be blogging some of the highlights of my trip as well as the recipes and dishes that made a memorable one!

Yudhika's adventure at Harrods

Yudhika’s adventure at Harrods

A trip to London would not be complete without a trip to Harrods.  I should write a story titled, ‘Lost in Harrods’…it is the most amazing shopping experience ever! And the entire 5th floor is dedicated to shoes…only shoes!  For those of you who know me, I have an ongoing love affair with shoes! I spent hours admiring the displays and feasting my eyes on the exquisite collection.

The chocolate truffle display at Harrods - how beautiful!

The chocolate truffle display at Harrods – how beautiful!

The Harrods Food Hall has the most amazing selection of food creations that I have experienced.  From designer cupcakes that cost around 6 pounds to triple layer cakes that cost more than a pretty penny. The best way to survive London is to never think about the exchange rate.  I did a quick little clip, take a look here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQxDaJXAKmM&list=UU-twiG9NWyVR9OH9F7gSbMg and here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHpKF5YgmaY&list=UU-twiG9NWyVR9OH9F7gSbMg

Yudhika visits Harrods: 75 pounds for a cake at Harrods!!!  WOW!

Yudhika visits Harrods: 75 pounds for a cake at Harrods!!! WOW!

I got home feeling inspired and whipped up a batch of these delicious cupcakes.  They are rather ‘Harrods Looking’ even if I say so myself.  I did pick up a foodie keepsake from the store, an Irish wood board which I am sure I will treasure for years.

I got back to Jozi feeling inspired and made up a batch of these to impress my kids!  They are delicious and more importantly come without a Harrods price tag!  This recipe is going to be featured in the Post Newspaper’s Easter Supplement that comes out on Wednesday this week so don’t forget to pick up your copy!

On to the recipe….here is my Harrod’s Inspired Fig and Chocolate Cupcake recipe.

Ingredients

Makes 12

100g cake flour

7,5ml baking powder

25g cocoa powder

120g sugar

50g butter, room temperature

120ml full cream milk

1 egg

5ml vanilla essence

The Frosting Ingredients

100g butter

200g sifted icing sugar

45g cocoa powder

230g cream cheese
 – I used Spar Cream Cheese

30ml full cream milk, optional

Fresh figs, to garnish

Fresh mint, to garnish

Here’s how:

Pre-heat the oven to 170°C.

Place the cake flour, baking powder, cocoa and sugar into a mixing bowl.

Add the butter and beat until the ingredients are combined – the mixture should look quite gritty.

Gradually add the milk and vanilla essence while beating continuously.

Add the lightly beaten eggs and beat again until the batter is smooth.

Spoon the mixture into cupcake cases and bake for about 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when the cakes are tested.

Remove the cakes from the tin and then leave on a wire rack to cook completely.

For the frosting:

Beat together icing sugar and butter until well combined.

Sift in the cocoa powder and continue beating.

Add the cream cheese and continue beating the ingredients until smooth and fluffy.

This should take 2 – 3 minutes – take care not to over work the frosting.

Add full cream milk if the frosting is too thick.

To finish:

Pipe the frosting over the cupcakes and top with a fresh fig.

Garnish with a mint sprig.

Adventures of Supermom….

IMG_4661

Tanvi, my 11-year-old daughter, is the best assistant I could ask for! She packs up my paperwork at the end of the day, makes roti, frosts cakes. She even works the credit card machine when Holi Cow is busy and can work the La Sam Marco coffee machine…not perfectly, but nearly!

Most of my friends and colleagues have met little Tanvi – she is a pleasure and when I am just in need of a few extra nimble fingers, she is only too pleased to help out. We spend lots of time together, and when we are not working, we are most likely at Hyde Park shopping centre or maybe Sandton City…fashion watching! We both love clothing….and often talk about what we like/don’t like about designs. Tanvi often accompanies me to wardrobe fittings with Vanya and Thando Mangaliso at Sun Goddess, or obsesses over the dresses from Arwen Swan! It was only quite recently that I realized that I created a fashion monster!

Tanvi was invited to her first ever grade 6 Spring Dance (a little early, in my opinion) and she, had her very own idea of what she wanted to wear! The first step was to google the weather report….I confess, I google almost everything! Cold fronts, prediction of snow and icy wind and Tanvi still insisted that she wanted me to make her a party dress! I just couldn’t refuse her request…I had to make the dress and it needed to be perfect, poofy and a tulle underskirt was not negotiable…I have Arwen Swan to thank for the high expectations!

It was going to be pretty challenging to do a frock for Spring when the weather had turned nasty but I was determined to give it a bash! I chose the fabric (couldn’t resist the cherries), sketched out a pattern (it took lots of time since I have never been to a sewing class), and proceeded to cut and tack the pieces in place. Hetal, my 14-year-old daughter, was intrigued by this design and hauled out the sewing machine only to find the presser foot missing! I was devastated and completely distraught! The search for the missing presser foot ended up as a Spring cleaning operation which left everyone feeling tired and rather frustrated!

Still, the presser foot was not to be found! After finally tracking down the Husqvarna dealer in Jozi, I was promised they would ring back….its over a week later….still nothing! I rushed off to Bernina at Cedar Square….I had the most amazing experience! Great staff and service and the new machine was delivered to me in a couple of hours! I opted for a pretty basic one but it works like a charm!

Yudhika Sujanani - Foot down on the new Bernina sewing machine

Yudhika Sujanani – Foot down on the new Bernina sewing machine

The fitting....smiles and happiness

The fitting….smiles and happiness

It was time to get stitching….and it was an incredibly fun experience for us girls! I had fashion tips and suggestions from both girls and I became the seamstress and designer while Tanvi and Hetal argued with me endlessly on the hemline! ‘Shorter Mom….Shorter!!!!’ I can see that the next few years are going to be pretty bleak….’Knees are not beautiful things’, I argued! Eventually, we just compromised!

Big hair...big dress....Tanvi Sujanani

Big hair…big dress….Tanvi Sujanani

Party girl...Tanvi Sujanani.....the apple doesn't fall far from the tree....

Party girl…Tanvi Sujanani…..the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree….


Tanvi looked like a princess in her dress! She insisted on wearing my Lanvin shoes…I was inconsolable…my little girl fitting into my shoes! I am just not emotionally ready to share my shoes or to let her grow up!

We dropped her at the dance, her little bag was searched at the entrance, and then she dashed off with her friends…I felt sad and suddenly lonely! And yes, I did get a few comments about buying a shotgun! No need for that…I, like most Indian mothers, am certain that I will be able to turn any household object into a weapon….just like my mom and grandmother did! A regular bedroom slipper was something to be feared and so was the wooden spoon or clothes hanger!

My trusted rolling-pin...

My trusted rolling pin…

Here are the cupcakes we baked for Spring….creating more special memories with my family! Even after treating myself to a few of these delicious cakes, I am still not ready to share my shoe collection!

Spring Cupcakes by Yudhika Sujanani

Spring Cupcakes by Yudhika Sujanani

Carrot Cupcakes

3 eggs
250g brown sugar
275ml sunflower oil
5ml vanilla essence
300g cake flour
5ml baking powder
5ml bicarbonate of soda
5ml ground cinnamon
Large pinch of salt
300g grated carrots

Preheat oven to 170 degrees celsius.
Line cupcake tins with paper cups.

Beat eggs in a mixer until light and fluffly – they should triple in volume.
Add brown sugar gradually and continue beating until the sugar dissolves and the mixture leaves a trail on the surface.
Add the sunflower oil and vanilla essence, then beat until combined.
Sift the dry ingredients into the egg mixture and fold.
The mixture should be thick and free from lumps.
Add the grated carrots and stir well.
Scoop the mixture into paper cups.
Bake for 20 – 22 minutes – I use a skewer to check the cupcakes.
Leave to cool.

Spring cupcakes...deliciously light carrot and cream cheese frosted cupcakes by Yudhika Sujanani

Spring cupcakes…deliciously light carrot and cream cheese frosted cupcakes by Yudhika Sujanani

Cream cheese frosting
120g soft butter
375ml icing sugar
230g plain cream cheese (I used Spar Cream Cheese)
5ml Vanilla paste or extract
Pecan nuts , to garnish
Fresh edible flowers, to garnish (I used lavender from the Holi Cow herb garden)

For the frosting:
Cream butter and gradually add the icing sugar until light in colour.
Add the cream cheese and continue beating.
Add vanilla essence.
Continue beating until smooth – do not over-beat as the frosting can split.

To complete:
Spread the frosting over the cool cupcakes, top with pecan nuts and garnish with edible flowers.

Tanvi’s Cake and Candy Bakes

Rose and Raspberry Cupcakes
Rose and Raspberry Cupcakes

Life is crazy in the Sujanani/L’Etang household…there is always something going on!  Yesterday was no different from any other busy day with my morning kicking off to a rocket start with a photo shoot for Sawubona magazine.  As the day rolls on, my to do list grows and so does my trouble.

Sawubona Photo Shoot with the Ndalo team

Sawubona Photo Shoot with the Ndalo team

I got to see some familiar faces from the Sawubona/Destiny team which is always such a treat.  Thanks heavens for Alexa – I am sure she could turn piggies into princesses!  The shoot was done in record time and I was doing a little happy dance when I realised that I completely forgot about Tanvi’s Cake and Candy sale.  Store bought cupcakes are a big no-no in my house – I quite like them but my kids are completely against it.  It’s apparently ‘their reputation’ on the line!

This is how cake and candy works around here…I have to think of a few ideas and then ‘pitch’ it to the kids…they will then consider the options and choose.  I waited impatiently for Tanvi to get home so the selection could begin…some of my suggested cupcake flavours were lilac lavender, oreo choc chip and then the rose and raspberry.  Baby pink cupcakes with a hint of rose topped with a raspberry won hands down!

While the cakes where in the oven , I decided to take some time off and unwind….I have posted some YouTube clips of what goes on with the kids – Its called Slumming with the Sujanani’s!  Indians have a lovely way of expressing things…It’s called ‘Eating my Brains’ – watch the videos and you will see why!  My ‘unwind’ did not happen and it left me feeling cranky all through the afternoon!

Almost ready for tasting!

Almost ready for tasting!

Rose and Raspberry Cupcakes!!!

Makes 36 cupcakes

Ingredients:

360g cake flour

300g sugar

25ml baking powder

2ml salt

125g soft butter

3 eggs

375ml full cream milk

5ml Kuhestan rose essence

Tanvi - The Cupcake Fairy!

Tanvi – The Cupcake Fairy!

For the Rose Icing

250g Spar Butter

500g Spar Icing Sugar

A few drops of rose essence

A drop of red food colouring

100ml fresh cream

Icing the cupcakes....

Icing the cupcakes….

Here’s how:

Place the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter into a mixing bowl (preferably a free standing one like KitchenAid or Kenwood works well) and use the paddle attachment to mix.

The ingredients should have a sandy consistency.

Lightly whisk the eggs and full cream milk and pour this into the flour/butter mix.

Add the rose essence and continue beating until the batter is smooth – do not over beat!

Tint the batter with food colouring and mix well while scraping the bottom of the bowl.

Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the mixture into cupcake liners.

Bake in a pre heated oven at 170 degrees celsius for 20 minutes.

Place the cakes on a wire rack and leave to cool.

To make the Rose Icing:

Beat the butter until light in colour and gradually add the sifted icing sugar.

Continue beating until the butter reaches a creamy consistency – this does take some time and you will begin to wonder if there is something wrong with the recipe.  Just keep going!

Add the rose essence, fresh cream and pink food colouring and beat until the icing reaches a spreading consistency.

Spread the icing over the cakes and garnish with  a fresh raspberry.