I started to get paranoid when ever I turned on my computer. There were three emails in one week. Each offering me the services of a personal trainer. I looked around. *Gulp* Who reported me to the fitness police? Or was it that obvious that I was in need of a personal trainer? It was true that when people meet me they say things like "Oh you like dessert don't you? I can tell from your blog" (although there was a small mercy in that they didn't add "I can tell from the way that you look").
I refused the advances of the personal trainers politely. I didn't need _that _relationship yet. I used the excuse that I didn't have time and I travel too much to be able to commit to it. But really I just didn't want to be yelled at for being lazy and eating too much cake and rich food. And I also knew that even if I got one of those nice and kind trainers (if they even exist) then I just wouldn't take them seriously unless they were yelling at me and frightening the croissants out of me! To make matters worse there has been a little update on the treadmill situation. You may perhaps remember that a while back I got myself a treadmill in an effort to stave off the consumption of goodies like cupcakes and pastries. Well it is now broken.
I know, don't look at me that way. I didn't kill it on purpose.
If I am to be totally honest I didn't exactly kill it from overuse. One day I turned it on and suddenly it no longer worked. A part of me was happy that I got the reprieve from an afternoon's workout on it but another part of me worried about refusing the P.T.s given that I was now treadmill-less.
I also worried about some items that I was about to bake. Cupcakes. Not just cupcakes but cupcakes covered in icing and then topped with a sugar cookie. It's a good thing that I have skinny and active Mr NQN to do my fitness for me by proxy. Do you like how I just manoeuvred my way out of exercise? I'm sneaky that way ;)
I love the recent revival we've had of babushka dolls, cups, cookies and cupcakes. When it came to babushka decorating ideas I turned to Linda from Bubble and Sweet who has a book coming out in December 2011 called "Sweets on a Stick". I was so touched when she contacted me to let me know that I was one of five non family members that she had put into her acknowledgements - isn't she lovely? Linda had a tutorial on how to decorate babushka cookies and it was clear and easy and I simply adapted it to my own equipment. I was so happy with the way that they turned out as I wanted the cookies to sit on top of the rounded bottom of the cupcake which was meant to simulate the rounded shape of a babushka doll.
The cake itself has a poppyseed and blackberry filling which is made light, moist and sweet by the use of sour cream and a swirl of icing on the top. The cookies are wedged into the cupcake with the icing holding it up and each babushka is decorated with unique sugar decorations. I haven't quite solved the PT or treadmill dilemma. I think I shall take advantage of the recent trend for babushkas and their hourglass shape as a sign that I perhaps I have another few weeks of relaxation...
So tell me Dear Reader, do you have a personal trainer or go to the gym? And are you feeling any pressure now that Spring has sprung (at least in the Southern Hemisphere)?
Click to enlarge
Oh and in some other wonderful news, there was a lovely article written about me and the blog on the Detroit News website. The journalist Kate Lawson is a NQN reader and wrote about bacon jam and the blog's four year anniversary!
Blackberry and poppyseed cupcake -makes between 12-16 cupcakes depending on size
- 1 tablespoon poppyseeds
- 1/4 cup milk, warmed
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 2 1/3 cup plain all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 cup caster or superfine sugar
- 125g/4ozs butter, melted
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup blackberries, thawed and slightly crushed (with approximately 2 tablespoons juice)
Step 1 - Place poppyseeds in the warmed milk and leave for 15 minutes to soften. Preheat oven to 180C/350F and line a tray with liners Meanwhile mix the flour, baking powder and sugar in a bowl. In a jug mix the steeped poppyseeds, milk, sour cream, butter, blackberries and eggs and whisk together. Then add these wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Scoop into the prepared liners and bake for 25-30 minutes until a skewer inserted inside comes out clean. Allow to cool.
For babushka cookies
- 85 g/3ozs butter, softened
- 140g/5ozs white caster superfine sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 180g/6ozs all-purpose flour
- 2-3 colours of ready to roll fondant plus a skin tone shade (I find colourful fondant colours look quite fetching for this)
- Babushka cookie cutter or stencil
- small round cookie cutter
- small heart cookies butter
- edible decorations and writing pens (I used a range including some from Queen brand)
- cornflour to help roll fondant
- red and black edible pan (I use Kopycake pens from Little Betsy Baker)
- small paintbrush and a little water
The curve of the cupcake fits into the curve of the babushka
Step 1 - In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Stir in the flour. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).
Step 2 - Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). If the dough has been left in the fridge for over an hour or overnight allow some time for it to become rollable by setting it on the bench to take the chill off it. Roll out dough between two sheets of greaseproof paper 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick (I wanted these slightly thicker so they could stand up). Cut into shapes with a babushka shaped cookie cutter or a stencil printed out with a sharp paring knife. It's up to you whether you want the curve at the bottom or a straight line at the bottom-I did both to see how they would go and having it straight at the bottom does give the cookie more security in the cupcake if you are transporting it. Place cookies 1 inch apart on baking parchment lined sheets. Bake for 5 to 8 minutes in preheated oven until golden blonde. Cool completely.
Step 3 - Sprinkle a little cornflour on a clean surface and get your tools ready. Line a tray with parchment paper-you will put your final fondant pieces on this. Roll out the lightest colour first (I find red stains a lot so I always roll red fondant last). The paler colour will probably be the face shade. Cut out small circle and put aside on the parchment lined tray. Then roll out the colours and cut out the babushka shape. Cut out a circle in the centre where you will slot in the face circle. Gently lift and place on the lined tray. With the circle that has been cut out, you can make the hair by placing the heart upside down and cutting as shown. I used different hair colour and just mixed and matched them.
Step 4 - Brush a little water onto the fondant and adhere it to the cookie by pressing gently but firmly. Then using water adhere the decorations to the cookies. I used some snowflakes and hearts and drew some dots using a Queen white chocolate icing pen. Also draw the eyes and lips using the edible pen.
I wanted this to look like petticoats or a skirt. I know, I did miss the mark :P
Step 5 - When the cookies are done you will ice the cupcakes and use the icing to secure the cookies in place. I made the bottom of my babushka's curved but if you didn't and make them straight just cut out a little rectangle to fit the cookie out the cupcake to slot it in (it's a bit more secure doing it that way if you are transporting it). Once you've iced the cupcakes place the cookie on top of the cupcake.