Baking Challenge – Sponsored by Pyrex
They don’t really know what they got themselves into. Pyrex dropped a bunch of non-stick receptacles on my doorstep while I was in Barcelona recently. I got back and realized that they would probably want me to write about using them. But all I feel like cooking at the moment is paella, and I don’t think their pie-tin is quite up to sitting on my hotplate and having burnt rice scraped over it at 200 degrees.
So, wracking my brain (which hath inthedentally developed a parthicularly thexy Thpanish lithp, whilst retaining absolutely no Spanish language whatsoever), I considered my options.
Firstly, I could take this seriously, and continue to develop some delicious baked items with a leaning towards gluten free, as I always have.
Not in the mood.
Secondly, I could make a series of Spanish cakes and pies. It might kill this paella fetish once and for all.
But that would require research, and I’d much rather salsa. And eat salsa. Besides, this is Pyrex Arabia, not Pyrex Iberia.
Lastly, I could take inspiration from my ten year old son, and set myself some challenges.
This has some merit. I’ve recently banned Lion (the 10-year-old) from using the iPad 24 hours a day. In his boredom, he and his friends have started setting themselves bizzare trials, usually with a kitchen focus. They may include things like eating a whole teaspoon of powdered cinnamon without drinking or coughing. Or my particular favourite, the “smoothie challenge”, where a friend will place nine various items of incompatability in three brackets, and the competitor must choose one from each pile to mix. If he drinks, he wins. Marshmallows, fruit leather and ginger ale has been the best so far….
Why? Because I hate cleaning up. And I hate wasting time. And I hate buying cupcake mixes from the store because you still need to get out the electric mixer, a big bowl, a sieve, and you probably still have to buy a whole heap of stuff like canola oil and eggs. By the time you get your fluffy little morsels, you wonder why on earth you didn’t just make them from scratch in the first place.
This is much better.
- 3/4 cup sunflower oil
- 1/2 cup cream
- 1 banana that you are about to throw out because it is nearly black (optional)
- 1/2 cup caster sugar
- 1/4 cup maple syrup (optional, but good for flavour)
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- pinch salt
- 2 cups self raising flour
- Preheat oven to 170ºC
- Put all ingredients except the flour in the blender and whip on the high speed for 2 minutes
- put the flour in one cup at a time, and pop it on a lower speed (if you can), pulsing or tipping to a slight angle as the blender begins to struggle.
- Pour into cupcake papers to 3/4 full (in your fabulous Pyrex non-stick 6.5cm cupcake tin) and cook for 20 minutes or until they spring back slightly when poked.
- Makes 18 small cupcakes. Try and keep them small because you don’t want a large weight on an item that hasn’t got a lot of air in it.
- The cupcakes may rise quickly and split – this is because they haven’t had all that air whipped into them with a hand mixer. But don’t freak out. they will come back together as they cool, and you can always cover up the split up with icing.
- I used a very simple frosting of 1 cup icing powder with 2 tbsp boiling water, simply stirred and drizzled, then sprinkled the cakes with cinnamon powder (much better than eating it straight off the teaspoon.)
- These cakes are quite sweet. You could easily skip the maple syrup or halve the sugar.
- You could forget the banana – I just had one in the fruit bowl that was starting to look like it might walk away on its own. Maybe try another flavour like cocoa (1tbsp powder) or peanut butter (2 tbsp)
- To make them healthier, you could use yoghurt instead of cream. You could also use a different flour, e.g. a wholemeal flour (don’t forget a rising agent if it’s not self-raising), but I’d get out a big bowl and whip it through with a whisk (good for your muscles) after blending all the initial ingredients, as the fibers in a wholemeal flour are likely to gunk up your blender blades.
- You could add chocolate chips with a spoon before you pour into the cupcake moulds. Or blueberries. Or marshmallows.
- This also makes a fab pancake mix. Halve the sugar and skip the maple syrup in the mix and add it on top when they are cooked instead.