Friday, 18 May 2012

How does your garden grow?

Today is a day for feasting and celebration!

There are several reasons for this. Firstly, I am having the day off in anticipation of jetting off on my holidays this weekend, hurrah!

But mostly, a very lovely lady has a birthday today. And as well as being the birthday girl, she has recently purchased her very first house. Since I'll be away for the housewarming, I thought the least I could do would be to make some kind of cosy-making contribution. And given that the garden's always the last thing on a long line of new home chores...

P's Praline Plant Pots
100% edible
Makes 6-8 'plant pot' cakes or 8-10 cupcakes

For the cakes:
100g caster sugar
40g light muscovado sugar
150g dairy-free margarine (I used vegan Vitalite)
2 eggs, beaten
100g self raising flour
40g cocoa powder
10g ground almonds
splash of hazelnut milk (any non-dairy milk will work though)

For the edible 'soil':
15g plain flour
15g light muscovado sugar
dessert spoon cocoa powder
15g dairy-free margarine
(or if you're feeling lazy you could crush up some Bourbon biscuits instead)

For the frosting:
50g dairy-free margarine
15g cocoa powder
35g icing sugar
splash of hazelnut milk

1. If making the edible soil from scratch, prepare that first. Mix together the dry ingredients, then rub in the fat until you achieve a crumble consistency. Spread the mixture out on a baking tray covered in baking parchment. (For a dairy version of the recipe, you can substitute the dairy-free margarine for ordinary chilled butter, in cubes, throw everything into a food processor and pulse. However, if you try that with a margarine you will get a paste instead of a crumble texture, so you'll need to rub the fat in by hand).

2. For the cakes, mix together the sugars, then cream together with the margarine until fully mixed and light in colour.

3. Gradually add in a little of the beaten egg, stirring well. Continue until you have added half the egg, then add half the flour and stir in well. Gradually stir in the remainder of the egg, then add the rest of the flour, cocoa, and almonds and stir until completely mixed. Stir in a splash of the milk at the end to loosen the mixture slightly.

4. Spoon the mixture into cupcake cases or silicone plant pot moulds. Bake the cakes and the 'soil' at 180 degrees celcius. Ordinary cupcakes will take 10-15 minutes, but the deeper 'plant pots' will take around 25 minutes. The soil will be ready in 10-15 minutes.

5. Allow to cool thoroughly on a cooling rack. Meanwhile, prepare the frosting. Stir together all of the ingredients except the milk until they are roughly mixed. Then use an electric whisk and beat well for around 5 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add in a splash of milk and beat for another minute or two.

6. Finishing: If you  have used silicone plant pot moulds, you can serve in them. If you prefer, to make a fully edible plant pot, remove the cakes from their moulds when cool, level off the top and cover the outside in a thin layer of terracotta-coloured sugarpaste. Make the rim of the pot by adding a thin stip of sugarpaste at the top edge. Make sure that this is higher than the top edge of the cake. Cut a well in the centre of each cake, fill with buttercream, then replace the cut-away piece of cake in the centre. Spread a thin layer of buttercream over the top of the cake to enable the 'soil' to stay in place. Sprinkle with the edible soil, and finish with sugarpaste flowers of vegetables. I made my carrot leaves using sprigs of coriander.

So, Miss T... let me take this opportunity to wish you Very Many Happy Returns of the Day:

Happy Birthday!
Happy New Home!
Happy New Garden!

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