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Multicultural Inspiration from... the world of baking!
I received a phone call from my dad last week. Doesn't sound very exciting, I know. But it was a very important phone call. Life changing, actually. After 25 years, I finally got to hear the four words that every child so desperately wants to hear from their parents. Those four words that we don't think we ever will hear, because if there's one thing surer than the world turning, it's that kids disappoint their parents. Lots. I'm certainly no exception. From the time I quit ballet to take up taekwondo ("how terrible unladylike"), to the time I brought the Aussie boyfriend home to the Italian family ("can't you just find a nice Italian boy, like your cousin?") to the time they found out about my first tattoo ("oh my God, you've ruined yor body!"), I've often felt like a bit of a let-down to mum and dad. But then dad called me to tell me he read my food blog, and to tell me "I'm proud of you."
"Really?!" I whisper, in disbelief. "Why?!" I perch myself on my bar stool, absent mindedly swirling the glass of wine I've just poured, and settle in for a good chat with dad. He's proud of me for finally following my dream to write (I wanted to be a writer when I was younger - I also wanted to be an astronaut, a jewellery thief and a finger painter, but the writing dream actually stuck!), even if it's just for fun and there mightn't be too many people reading it initially. Even through all of the disappointments, dad has always believed in me (mum too, but I'll save her for another post!), always had faith that I'd do great things, and always known I'd follow my heart to what I want. I've always been close to my dad; one of my favourite things to do on my rare days off work is to drop into dad's work for lunch (note to self - make more time to have lunch with dad!) or catch a movie and a bucket of popcorn together. I'm very much my father's daughter, a fact which is never more apparent than dessert time.
After that chat with dad, I decided I needed to make him something sweet to thank him for supporting me. Dad is a massive sweet tooth; his love for chocolate is perhaps rivalled only by mine. And despite mum's best efforts to make dessert healthy when we have family dinner by serving lots of fresh fruit, dad and I always manage to get our hands on a jar of Nutella or some melted chocolate to dip it in. With that in mind, I flick through a few of my cupcake books, looking for a strawberry cupcake recipe (we looooove strawberries!). My chosen recipe is for some Strawberry and Cream cupcakes from the Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery cook book (with a few of my own changes). I initially thought of topping them with a Nutella icing, but then determine to try something a little more special - I want to fill the centre of the cupcake with a Nutella filling!
Time to give it a whirl...
- 225g caster sugar
- 210g self-raising flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 25g cornflour
- 150g strawberries, hulled and crushed
- 225g butter, softened
- 4 large eggs at room temperature
First up, preheat the oven to 160°C, and line 2 trays of muffin pans with cupcake cases - the recipe claims to make 12 cupcakes, however I found this recipe actually made 24 standard sized ones, and 12 minis! To make this recipe a little more impressive, I decide to finally use the shiney new Kitchen Aid I received from my grandparents last year (another disappointment to dad was the fact that he learnt to use mum's Kitchen Aid to make ice cream before I used mine to make cupcakes - sorry dad!). Yes, I know, disgraceful for letting such a magnificent piece of equipment sit unused for so long, but again, another story for another post!
I throw into the bowl the butter and sugar, and cream until light and fluffy. At this point, the Kitchen Bug realises that without the hand beater, there will be no butter flying out of the bowl, and is terribly unimpressed.
Then, beat in the eggs one by one. At this stage, I also decide to add in a tablespoon of vanilla extract. In goes the rest of the ingredients, beating them together well. The mixture should be beautifully light and fluffy.
Then, carefully spoon some mixture into the cupcake cases - fill them to approximately half-way, then place a teaspoon of Nutella on top of them.
Next, place a little more mixture on top of the Nutella, and pop them in the oven for 15 - 18 minutes, or until cooked through.
Once they're out of the oven, let them sit for 5 minutes before removing them from the pan and eating them.
Wow... they are sooooo soft and light and fluffy (thankyou, Kitchen Aid!!!), and the flavour of the strawberry and vanilla is intoxicating! Unfortunately, after eating 4 cupcakes to find a "perfect" one to take a picture of, it becomes clear that the gooey Nutella centre hasn't quite gone to plan...
The Nutella has sunk to the bottom of the cupcake... which is actually delicious! Not exactly what I imagined, but darn good all the same! The Kitchen Bug certainly had no complaints.
So, what did dad think? "Wow Jess, they're really good!" Ahhh, success! With dad happily full of cupcakes and my sense of pride slightly inflated, I go back to the cook books to seek out my next culinary venture.
Oh, and those other disappointments? I won an Australian gold medal in taekwondo, the Aussie boy is Sous-Jeff, my now wonderful husband and partner in crime-and-food of six and a half years, and I now have another four tattoos in my collection (sorry mum and dad!). :)