Call Me Irresponsible Oreo Cupcakes

Perfectly acceptable on their own, with a glass of milk, dunked into a cup of cheery tea or crumbled into ice cream. The humble Oreo, an American institution in itself, is an edible smile – a sweet little lift and a treat to savour. And of course, is something that many a cook has experimented with to yield the Oreo-emblazoned delights enjoyed by many each and every day.

With an adventurous streak manifesting itself this week, I was persuaded to try something different with this disc of deliciousness. And so it came to being, that a new Oreo recipe was born in the Pinny Project kitchen – one that upon hearing, you immediately think: “Really?!”, but by the end think: “Really!”. No, really.

Ever wondered how your cupcake would turn out if you put a whole Oreo inside it? Now you can find out!

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Call Me Irresponsible Oreo Cupcakes

Cupcake ingredients:

6oz butter

6oz caster sugar

3 large eggs

6oz self-raising flour

Teaspoon of vanilla extract

12 Oreo cookies

Oreo buttercream topping:

125g butter

250g icing sugar

Tablespoon milk

An additional 6 Oreos, finely crushed

You will also need:

12 cupcake cases

A 12-hole muffin tin

Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees / 160 fan / gas 5.

Beat the butter and caster sugar until pale, light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one by one, adding a tablespoon of flour with each addition to avoid curdling. Then gently fold in the remaining flour and the vanilla extract.

Place a tablespoon of cupcake batter in the base of each case. Sit a whole Oreo cookie on top and fill the case to three-quarters full with the rest of the batter.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until the cupcakes are golden pale and springy to the touch. It’s worth noting that ovens vary and therefore so might your cooking time. Start by cooking for 15 minutes and then check at five-minute intervals until baked. The bottoms of the cases will feel soft and spongy but fear not – this is ok! Allow to cool thoroughly.

Meanwhile, to make the buttercream, beat the butter until soft and gradually add the icing sugar, mixing until both ingredients are incorporated. Add a tablespoon of milk to loosen and then add your crushed Oreos. Mix well.

When you’re ready to ice, slather on a good dollop of Oreo buttercream onto each cupcake and spread over the top – the more haphazard the better!

Now slice in half and marvel at the sight that beholds you. Then put the kettle on and take a big bite.

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Whip Up Wednesday

It’s midweek and the cogs of busy-ness are churning; the mechanical ticking of the hours passes by and suddenly you find yourself hungry and staring at the inside of the fridge for inspiration. Which is quite a good thing.

I always like to have one day a week where I have no agenda; I simply take stock of the larder, have a feel around the fridge and cook up whatever takes my fancy. Usually it’s Wednesdays – that day when you’re on the crest of a weekend countdown and the beginning of your week is a semi-distant memory.

A Whip Up Wednesday, as I like to call this midweek culinary experience, is a means of paving the way for the meals ahead – a dinner detox; a cleansing out of the ingredients you doubt you’ll use for the rest of the week but cannot bare to allow to go to waste.

This week, I pondered over a handful of potatoes and a lemon. On first glance, it seems insubstantial and mediocre. But actually, it was an eye opener. I roasted the potatoes, skin on, in olive oil, rosemary and thyme from the garden, along with hearty wedges of seasoned lemon. The result – a hot, citrus, delightfully crispy outcome that, when partnered with a smattering of chopped spinach and mayonnaise, was one of those suppers where you realise that all you need to make a decent dinner is a decent sense of adventure…and a just a touch of bravery.

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The Mother of all cakes

So it was Mother’s Day last weekend, which brought with it a delicious roast leg of pork – the kind that melts in your mouth yet crackles to a teeth-busting crisp – alongside roasted potatoes, tart red cabbage and celebratory spring greens.

The day also yielded a sweet and oh-so-satisfying Mother’s Day cake, complete with fondant sunflowers and a baby-pink buttercream coating. Delectably divine to tuck in to and a dream to make.

‘The Mother of All Cakes’

For the sponge, you will need:

  • 10oz butter
  • 10oz light brown muscovado sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 10oz
  • Tsp vanilla extract

For the buttercream, you will need:

  • 500g icing sugar
  • 250g soft butter
  • Tbsp milk
  • Red food colouring

For the fondant flowers:

  • Ready-to-roll fondant icing in white and red – about a golf ball-sized piece of each
  • Flower-shaped presses/cutters

You will also need a 23cm springform tin, greased and lined

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to Gas 5/180 degrees/160 fan.

To make the sponge, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, adding in a tablespoon of the flour after each addition. Gently fold in the remainder of the flour in a figure-of-eight motion using a metal spoon, until all the flour is combined. Add the vanilla extract and give it a final stir.

Place into the greased pan and bake on the middle shelf for approximately 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Ovens will vary, so I suggest you check at 30 minutes and then at subsequent 5 minute intervals. Once baked, allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Prepare the buttercream by beating the butter until fluffy. Gradually add the icing sugar and beat thoroughly throughout. If you’re using a Kitchen Aid or similar freestanding mixer, use the lowest setting when adding the icing sugar, otherwise your kitchen will be covered in a cloud of white!

Once all the sugar has been mixed in, add a tablespoon of milk to loosen and give it a good mix. Now add a drop of red food colouring and mix well to disperse – keep adding additional drops one at a time until you have the desired shade you’re after.

Ice the cake by spreading the buttercream in a thin layer over the top and sides, spreading it out evenly using a palette knife and avoiding any lumps and bumps. Set to one side. If you’ve any buttercream left over that you don’t intend to use straight away, pop it in an air-tight container in the freezer for up to three months!

Now roll out the white and red fondant icing separately to approximately the thickness of a 20p coin. Press the floral cutters down onto the icing firmly then transfer the cit-out flowers to a plate. It’s worth cutting out various sizes and stacking them on top of one another, sealing them together with a dab of water. To make the centre of the flowers, roll a little ball of icing and press on the top of the flowers, sealing with water. You can buy the cutters I used from Lakeland.

Sit the completed flowers on top of the buttercreamed cake in any pattern or design of your choice and you’re done!

Serve it with a smile to marvellous mums!

The Mother of all cakes

One-a-penny, two-a-penny Hot Cross Buns

Had a pre-Easter baking day: cinnamon-scented fun was promised…and it was delivered.

Hot Cross Buns – deliciously sticky on the outside, soft and fruity on the inside and a first-time bake for Pinny Girl.

On virgin territory with these edible Easter delights and treading oh-so blindly into the world of sweet bun-making, you can be forgiven for thinking that they seem tricky to make, but two batches later, I wondered what all the nervousness was about!

Very similar to bread-making, you begin by forming a yeasted mix of flour, butter, milk, spices and sugar, which is then complemented with the addition of peel and sultanas and finally bound together to form a supple dough that you knead until smooth. Once proved, shaped into buns and proved further, you’re ready to take make the cross, which in my view, is the most satisfying aspect of all!

I’ve often pondered for years as to how the cross is created – and it’s really so simple! You just mix flour and butter into breadcrumbs, add sugar and cold water and you’re away! A quick roll out and a few slices with the knife later and you have got little strips to lie across your buns-in-waiting.

In the oven, out again and covered in a sticky milky sugar glaze and you’ve a satisfying sweet treat in one hand and a freshly brewed cup of tea in the other. Now that’s how every Saturday should be spent!

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Saturday Supper

After bringing home some locally sourced chicken thighs from our nearby farm shop, it felt only right to treat them in the way they were intended: lavishly filled with flavour and shared with friends.

And so a casserole of chicken, mushroom and cider came to being, thanks to the River Cottage Everyday cookbook by the seasonal champion himself, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall – a master of all that is natured, nurtured and straight-down-the-line delicious.

A new addition to my bookshelf, but one that I’ve endeavoured to work my way through for the next seven days!

Sitting alongside a generous helping of the new season’s kale and a buttery, creamy mash, this dish has the power to warm not just the body but the soul – and when eaten in the company of close friends, it made it all the more delicious.

Tempting, isn’t it!

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Breaking the breakfast mould

Toast, fruit, yoghurt, pancakes, bacon ‘n’ egg – I do love the wealth of choice and flavour that breakfast time brings. During the last week, I’ve been experimenting with my daily start-up and have discovered some new ways to fuel my day ahead.

From rustling up Bircher-style muesli with stewed dried figs to Greek yoghurt, apple and honey, along with pancakes with blueberries and maple syrup – I’ve enjoyed every morning mouthful.

There’s something very satisfying about a home-made wake-up-call for the eyes and taste buds and recently, home-made granola has become a real hit in our house – it’s so easy to make, is filled with lots of wholesome ingredients that are good for you and best of all, can be customised to suit the tastes and textures that you like (as well as whatever you have in your larder).

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Here are my guidelines for a ‘d-i-y’ dish of granola, which goes wonderfully with milk, yoghurt and even as a crunchy topping for porridge. This is the basic recipe that goes down well in Pinny Girl’s kitchen. Like more fruit than nuts? Can’t stand coconut? Shirk at the thought of seeds? Then vary the proportions if you wish– simply use it as a guide and experiment with the flavours you like the most.

Pinny Girl’s Guideline Granola

200g oats

200g nuts (Pecans, almonds, macadamias, pistachios, hazelnuts, Brazils  – anything goes!)

100g seeds (Poppy, sunflower, pumpkin, golden linseed, you name it!)

75g shredded or desiccated coconut

75m honey (or maple syrup, if you fancy – even golden syrup if you feel like it!)

75m oil (sunflower, rapeseed, olive)

200g dried fruit (Figs, dates, sultanas, cranberries, mango, apple, apricot, ginger – go nuts!)

Mix the oats, nuts, seeds, coconut, honey and oil in a bowl until well combined. Place on a baking tray in a 180 degree oven (160 fan) and spread it out evenly. Pop it in the oven for around 25 mins, checking it every 6 or 7 mins and giving it a quick turnover to avoid burnt bits. Allow to cool, then mix in your dried fruits. Pop it in an airtight jar or tub and it will keep you going for a good week!

And if you don’t fancy it crunchy, just leave out the honey and oil, don’t bake it and it becomes museli instead! However you do it, I hope it gives you a happy start to your morning.