Sophie from RumourPR recently sent me some baking goodies to try out from Tala. I was really happy to get them. I have quite a few Tala items in my baking cupboard already, and from my experience, I have always felt that their products are reasonably priced, easy to use, and typically pretty good quality!
Tala is a home cooking brand that has been a part of kitchens nationwide since 1899, well known and loved for it's innovative baking, icing tools and gadgets. One of my favourite tools which I use frequently is their retro cooks measure and I just adore their icing bag set. They stand for quality. I do hope you'll take the time to watch the short film above as it's really quite interesting and informative.
The first item I was sent was their Twelve cup Bun Tray, or muffin tin as it is called in North America. Measuring 35cm X 26.5cm X 3 cm, it is of a pretty standard size, and just perfect for baking buns, fairy cakes, muffins and Yorkshire puddings. It is of a pretty hefty weight as well. It's not flimsy at all, which means that anything baked in it will bake pretty evenly, and there won't be hot spots. It has a double layered non-stick coating and is oven proof to 240*C/464*F. It's also fridge, freezer and dishwasher safe. It usually retails at most quality cook shops for around £10.00, although you can sometimes find it at a cheaper price.
The other item was their 3 Tier Card Cupcake Stand. These Card Cupcake Stands are becoming very popular these days. Not only are they quite easy to store, but they are lightweight, very easily put together and normally wipe clean with a damp cloth without too much trouble. I like this Tala one because it is not too *frou*frou*, if you know what I mean. I like it's simplicity, both in colour and style. I found it very easy to clean up after use and of course, it's super easy to store, which is a real plus from my way of thinking. This retails at a very reasonable £6.99, making it very affordable and perfect for small get-together's etc. You might think that being made of card, it would be flimsy, but it's really very sturdy. I do recommend putting it together in the exact spot that you want to serve the cupcakes from . . . as it is a bit cumbersome to move. Also I put my cupcakes on evenly working with two at a time, placed directly across from each other. If you do it any other way, the flat surfaces have a tendancy to tilt. All in all though, I was very pleased with it's performance.
Did you also know that Tala has a wonderful new website?? www.talacooking.com is a wonderful site which is totally interactive, along with a discussion community where you can add photos and recipes. I quite like it!!
In trying out the bun tin I decided to bake these lovely Praline Topped Coffee and Pecan Cupcakes. It's a little bit of a fiddly recipe, meaning only that there are a lot of different parts to it, but if you take each part on it's own, and spread it out over a day, they really aren't that difficult at all.
The cake batter is stogged full of toasted chopped pecan nuts, and flavoured with a coffee syrup you make yourself. It just gives a subtle hint of coffee flavour . . . the real special touch comes when you pour more of the coffee syrup over the hot cakes when they come out of the oven. It soaks into the baked cake, making them moist and very flavourful.
They baked up beautifully in the Tala bun tin. I was well impressed with it's performance. The cakes baked evenly and were done in the exact time recommended in the recipe. I liked this tin much better than my other ones that I have. It also cleaned up really well with no difficulty!
Topping them is a deliciously tangy and buttery Creme Fraiche buttercream icing. Oh, my but it is some good.
But the real piece de resistance is that delectable pecan praline that you make, crush and sprinkle over the top, which makes these very special cupcakes indeed. It's very easy to make really, just so long as you keep an eye on it and don't overcook it . . . and spreading it out is super easy if you use two forks to pull it apart.
All in all these are fabulous cupcakes from top to bottom. I highly recommend. (Adapted from a recipe out of the book Weekend Baking by Sarah Randall)
*Praline Topped Coffee and Pecan Cupcakes*
Makes 12 large cupcakes
Best made and eaten on the day, but the unfrosted cupcakes freeze very well, if you want to bake a batch and then just decorate and eat as needed.
For the coffee syrup:
3 TBS instant coffee granules
6 TBS boiling water
2 TBS caster sugar
For the cakes:
175g of butter, softened (3/4 cup)
175g of caster sugar (9/10 of a cup)
3 large free range eggs
175g of self raising flour (a generous 1 1/2 cups)
50 chopped toasted pecan nuts (1/2 cup)
For the Praline:
100g of caster sugar (generous half cup)
50g of chopped toasted pecan nuts (1/2 cup)
For the frosting:
200g of icing sugar, sifted (a generous 1 1/2 cups)
2 TBS creme Fraiche
150g of unsalted butter, softened (2/3 cup)
Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4. Line a muffin tin with medium to large holes with paper liners. Set aside.
Line a baking sheet (for the praline) with some baking paper. Set aside.
To make the coffee syrup, whisk all of the ingredients together until the sugar is melted. Set aside to cool.
Cream the butter and sugar for the cakes together until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Sift in the flour, drizzle with 3 TBS of the coffee syrup and then whisk together for a few minutes. Fold in the pecans. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes, until risen and lightly golden. (The tops should spring back when lightly touched.) Remove from the oven. Prick the tops of the hot cupcakes with a fork and then spoon over the remaining coffee syrup allowing it to soak in. Remove the cakes to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the praline. Tip the sugar into a medium sized frying pan. Cook gently over low heat, without stirring, until the sugar is melted. Increase the heat slightly and let the sugar simmer until it turns a deep golden caramel colour. (This literally only takes a few minutes, so be on your guard.) Remove from the heat immediately. Stir in the toasted chopped pecans. Stir quickly and pour out onto the lined baking sheet. Spread out thin using two forks. Allow to cool completely until set. Bash with the end of a rolling pin to break it up.
To make the frosting, sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Tip in the creme fraiche and the butter. Beat together until smooth.
Spread a portion of the frosting on top of each cold cupcake and sprinkle with a little bit of the crushed pecan praline. Serve on the day. Delicious!
Many thanks to Tala Bakeware and Sophie for affording me this fabulous (and delicious) opportunity.