This is a beautiful cake for afternoon tea and pairs delicious pink grapefruit and rosemary. The cake has a slight tartness to it which works in a delightful way with the grapefruit syrup and sweet icing. A wonderful cake to share with family and friends.Read More
As the summer approaches, this is a beautiful cake to enjoy in the sunshine. A vanilla cake soaked with a homemade lilac syrup and topped with strawberries and mascarpone cream, it's both fresh and light and absolutely delicious!Read More
I'm so excited to have finally made a cake from Tessa Huff's Layered. I've been seeing my favourite bloggers making Tessa's different cakes to celebrate the launch of her book and am happy that I finally got to taste one for myself. And it's divine! This semi-naked London Fog Cake is a beautiful chocolate cake covered and filled with Earl Grey Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Super yummy!Read More
I have a lot of cookery books. And when I say a lot, I mean a lot. They are currently all balanced in precarious piles over our guest room floor. I'm in the planning stages of a little office space (and am unbelievably excited about it) but that's a small while away so for the moment we're sticking with the tottering book piles! But not long ago I was dismantling one of these piles to get to a book (always at the bottom, right?) and started reading an old Fiona Cairn's book, Bake & Decorate.
I love her preface where she talks about empowering all sorts of different people to try their hand at baking and creating lots of memories and aromas of cake making throughout our homes. It's so true (at least for me). My boys are finally taking an interest in cooking and baking and I'd love for them to start building a love for this in their childhoods.
So when thumbing through this wonderful baking book, I found a recipe for Pistachio and Orange Blossom Cake. I absolutely LOVE pistachio and the idea of pairing this with lovely fresh springtime orange blossom was too tempting.
This is a simple looking cake. It doesn't have layers so is presented as an un-split cake with a layer of mascarpone cream on the top. It doesn't pretend to be something it's not and would look perfectly in place on a tea table or with a cup of coffee one morning. However what it does do is pack a punch with its flavours. In the cake we have pistachio, almond, orange zest and orange blossom; whilst in the topping we have mascarpone, orange zest, vanilla and orange blossom. And if that's not enough, there is a delicious syrup made from orange juice, sugar and orange blossom that soaks the cake. So you can see - it's definitely not lacking in taste!
The first part of making this cake is roasting the pistachios - and then blitzing them to a powder. The butter, sugar and orange zest are creamed in a standing mixer whilst the dry ingredients are sieved into a separate bowl. When the butter and sugar are fully creamed, the eggs are added one at a time - if it starts to curdle, then a tablespoon of the flour mixture should be added. Then the pistachios and almonds are folded in with the dry ingredients and finally the orange blossom water. Simple.
Whilst the cake is baking in the oven, the syrup is made. This is a simple combination of freshly squeezed orange juice, sugar and orange blossom water in a saucepan, brought to a rolling boil. It needs to simmer until you have around 60ml of liquid (this is 4 tablespoons to give you an idea of how much you need). It takes around 10-15 minutes but you need to keep an eye on it as there's a tipping point when it becomes a sticky marmalade!
Once the cake's out of the oven, then the cake should be pricked all over and soaked with the orange syrup - and allowed to cool in its tin. When it's ready to come out and completely cooled down, then it can be frosted. The topping is made from the mascarpone, orange zest, vanilla, orange flower water and sugar and can be hand-whipped in a bowl. Then spread on top of the cake with a palette knife.
So I love the texture of the cake. The nuts are delicious and the mix of pistachios and almonds are really stunning in this cake whilst at the same time being very moist. With the topping being made of mascarpone, it feels a lot lighter than traditional buttercream - more like the texture of whipped cream which is so yummy. There is a light green hue to the inside of the cake itself (from the pistachio) which I love contrasted with the flecks of orange in the frosting. I thought the flavours might be a little grown-up for my boys, but after three helpings, I think I can be assured it's a popular choice :)
This is a lovely light cake and would be perfect for afternoon tea or a coffee morning. It definitely heralds in the start of springtime and sunnier days 🌞
Pistachio and Orange Blossom Cake
from Fiona Cairn's Bake & Decorate
- 175G UNSALTED BUTTER, SOFTENED
- 100G SHELLED UNSALTED PISTACHIOS
- 70G SELF-RAISING FLOUR
- 1 TSP BICARBONATE OF SODA
- PINCH OF SALT
- 200G GOLDEN CASTER SUGAR
- ZEST OF 1 ORANGE
- 4 EGGS, LIGHTLY BEATEN
- 70G GROUND ALMONDS
- 2 TSP ORANGE BLOSSOM WATER
- JUICE OF 1 ORANGE
- 45G GOLDEN CASTER SUGAR
- 1 TBSP ORANGE BLOSSOM WATER
- 250G MASCARPONE
- ZEST OF 1 ORANGE
- 1/2 TSP VANILLA EXTRACT
- 1 TBSP ORANGE BLOSSOM WATER
- 30G GOLDEN CASTER SUGAR
- Preheat the oven to 170 degrees (fan)
- To make the Cake, grease and line a 7 inch cake tin (if you don't have this size, you can use a different sized tin by adjusting the cooking time)
- Spread the pistachios in an even layer on a baking tray and place in the oven for around 5 minutes - they can burn quite easily so give the tray a little shake half-way through cooking and keep watching them
- Let them cool down and then blitz in a food processor until finely ground
- Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl
- Place the butter, sugar and orange zest in the bowl of a standing mixer and beat for 5 minutes until smooth and creamy
- Add the eggs little by little, beating after each addition - if the mixture starts to curdle, add a tablespoon of the flour mixture
- Then fold in the pistachios and almonds, flour mixture and finally the orange blossom water
- Place in the baking tin and smooth over the surface
- Bake for around 40 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted in the middle comes out clean
- Whilst the cake is baking, make the Orange Syrup
- Place the orange juice, sugar and orange blossom water in a saucepan and bring to a rolling boil
- Simmer for around 10-15 minutes until there is 60ml liquid remaining in the pan
- When the cake is out of the oven, immediately prick it all over with a toothpick and then pour the syrup evenly across the surface
- Allow the cake to cool completely in its tin
- When it's cool, turn it out onto a plate and make the Frosting
- Place the mascarpone, orange zest, vanilla, orange blossom water and sugar in a bowl and beat until smooth
- Spread this on the top of the cake with a palette knife
- Adorn with flowers or serve just as it is :)
So let's talk about beetroot.
I have never liked the stuff. Never cooked it before. To me, it tastes so earthy it's just not a flavour that I enjoy. But -- I have always been kind of curious about baking it into a cake.
We had friends over for lunch at the weekend and I thought it would be fun to bake a cake for the grown-ups and children and see if the kiddies could spot a vegetable disguised as a sweet treat. Ha! They didn't :)
So the cake is a flourless chocolate cake made with hazelnuts making it a great gluten-free bake and my starting point for this was a recipe from the Australian Women's Weekly's Love To Bake. They adorn it with vanilla yoghurt and candied beetroot (the candied variety seemed one step too far in my beetroot journey!) As it's a solid cake (it doesn't rise to great heights), I decided to bathe mine in chocolate ganache, add some height with chocolate garnishes and give it a light shower of freeze-dried strawberries. The cake itself is very simple to make but requires a little prep and is best made the day before you're planning to serve it.
So the day before, the beetroot needs to be cooked for around 45 minutes until it's tender and then liquidised to a beautiful purple puree (see, I can compliment the beetroot for its look!) Then the chocolate and butter are melted together whilst you whisk the eggs, sugar, vanilla, ground hazelnuts and cocoa together in a separate bowl. Add them together with the beetroot puree and pour them into your baking tin. This needs to be covered with foil to be baked for around an hour. Once it's ready, it's then refrigerated overnight - or for at least three hours if you're making it the day it's to be served. I refrigerated mine in its baking tin covered with clingfilm.
Also, the night before, I made the chocolate garnishes so they would have time to set out of the fridge. I swirled circles on greaseproof papers and left them to dry.
When you're ready to prepare your cake for serving, remove it from the fridge, take it from its tin and release the greaseproof paper. I found my cake had shrunk away from the sides a little. This is all fine and it's going to be a relatively flat cake. I made my chocolate ganache as a 1:1 ratio of chocolate to cream which is a thick ganache - if you want it runnier with smaller drips, then you can use 1:2 chocolate to cream. When the ganache is ready, pour it over the surface of the cake allowing it to drip down the sides. Place your chocolate garnishes upright on the cake, holding them in place until they set a little and stand firm. Then sprinkle your freeze-dried strawberries across the top.
The beetroot gives a lovely moistness. The hazelnuts are a tasty addition in place of the flour, where I've usually used almonds in my gluten-free cakes. You definitely can't taste the beetroot in it but that's probably because it contains quite a lot of dark chocolate (which is never a bad thing in my book!)
I wouldn't say that I'm a beetroot convert. But whereas I can't eat it in a salad, I can definitely eat it disguised in a cake. That's progress. And the boys loved it too.
I think we'll be making this one again :)
Flourless Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache and Freeze-Dried Strawberries
Flourless Chocolate Cake
adapted from the Australian Women's Weekly Love To Bake
- 250G BEETROOT
- 290G DARK CHOCOLATE
- 150G BUTTER
- 5 EGGS
- 3/4 TSP VANILLA
- 180G LIGHT BROWN SUGAR
- 85G GROUND HAZELNUTS (I bought whole hazelnuts and ground them in a blender)
- 3/4 TSP COCOA POWDER
- Cook the beetroot in a small pan for 45 minutes or until tender
- Grease and line a 7 inch cake tin
- When the beetroot in tender, drain and puree in a blender until smooth
- Melt the dark chocolate and butter in a saucepan over a medium heat until melted and smooth
- Whisk the eggs, vanilla, brown sugar, hazelnuts and cocoa powder in a separate bowl
- Add the chocolate mixture and beetroot and whisk to combine
- Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and cover with baking foil
- Bake the cake for around 1 hour until cooked around the edge with a slight wobble in the middle (I tested mine with a skewer that came out clean)
- When you remove it from the oven, lift up the edge of the foil to let the steam escape
- Allow to cool and then cover with clingfilm and refrigerate overnight
Chocolate Garnishes & Freeze-Dried Starwberries
- 100G DARK CHOCOLATE
- 1 TUBE OF FREEZE-DRIED STRAWBERRIES
- Melt the chocolate in the microwave until almost melted
- Remove from the microwave and stir the chocolate until completely melted and smooth
- You can either use a squeezy bottle or a teaspoon but you want to drizzle patterns on a sheet of greaseproof paper
- Allow the cool at room temperature (not in the fridge)
- My freeze-dried strawberries were little pieces and I want to create some powder too so I blitzed them in a blender to get a mix of powder and slightly larger pieces
- Place aside
- 100G DARK CHOCOLATE
- 100G DOUBLE CREAM
- Chop up the chocolate into smaller pieces and place it in a heatproof bowl
- Heat the cream in a saucepan until a few bubbles start to appear
- Pour the warmed cream over the chocolate and leave for a couple of minutes
- Mix together slowly until smooth
- Remove your cake from the fridge and place in the plate you will serve it on
- Pour the ganache over the top of your cake
- Carefully position your chocolate garnishes upright and hold them for 30 seconds until they stand firm
- Scatter the freeze-dried strawberries over the top
- Serve with cream :)
It started with an image of a scrummy gingerbread cake from The Boy Who Bakes on Instagram. And the fact that it's Gingerbread Month on BBC Good Food. Although I've often made Gingerbread Biscuits, I've never made a Gingerbread Cake before. So I set about to find an authentic recipe with a truly gingerbready (is that even a word?) cake - and I think I've found the one.
I played around with an old recipe from the Crabapple Bakery that was originally intended to make Gingerbread Cupcakes. I wanted to make a Stem Ginger Bundt Cake. I've had my share of challenges removing cakes from Bundt tins in the past and scoured the web for help - stay tuned for the top tips I've gathered!
So this cake is a lovely traditional gingerbread and the wonderful ginger taste comes from both stem ginger and ground ginger. Although I'm not a fan of stem ginger, the small pieces throughout give a slight crunch and lovely pop of ginger when you take a bite. The cake itself is light in texture, although it does have a slight squidginess which is ever so delicious.
So before we make the cake, let's talk Bundt Tins. Ever had a bundt cake that just wouldn't release from its tin after baking? Or perhaps it broke apart when coming out of its tin? I have. So here are my tips that I now use. First I grease the tin with butter, wiping all over the surfaces with a good coating of room temperature butter. Then I get a pastry brush and make sure that all the little cracks and crevices are well coated too. Once the tin is very well buttered, I dust the whole tin with flour. I read somewhere that you shouldn't pour your batter into the tin in one go, but fill it with cupfuls so I did that here. And a final tip that I found on Crafty Baking was that when the cake is ready to come out of the oven, soak a towel with steaming water in the sink and place the cake (tin side touching the cloth) for 10 seconds, before turning out immediately onto a cooling rack. And it works!
Now on to the cake. The batter is made in a large saucepan where we start by melting the butter, dark muscovado sugar and treacle until the butter has melted and sugar dissolved but the mixture shouldn't boil. Once they're melted together, leave to cool for 5 minutes and then add in succession (stirring well between each addition) the milk, eggs, chopped stem ginger and sifted flour mixture, taking care not to over-mix and toughen the batter. Then pour this into the tin until it's three-quarters full and bake.
When I had a finished cake turned out and cooling on the rack, I warmed a quarter cup of maple syrup and brushed that all over the outside and then dusted the cake with icing sugar. It wasn't intended to look Christmassy but it does look like a light sprinkling of snow has passed overhead. And I have to confess that after spending the last few weeks practicing my son's Christmas choir songs for his school carol service, it's already beginning to look a lot like Christmas!
This makes a really lovely, light cake and/or dessert (I'm thinking of trying it with a little ice cream later!) with fresh pops of ginger throughout.
Personally I think it's all worth it for the smell alone when it's baking in the oven - but if you love ginger, then this is sure to be a hit :)
Stem Ginger Bundt Cake (adapted from Crabapple Bakery's Ginger Lovers' Cupcakes)
- 300G UNSALTED BUTTER
- 200G DARK MUSCOVADO SUGAR
- 160G TREACLE
- 240ML SEMI-SKIMMED MILK
- 3 EGGS, BEATEN
- 1 PIECE OF STEM GINGER, CHOPPED INTO TINY PIECES
- 400G SELF-RAISING FLOUR
- 1½ TBSP GROUND GINGER
- ¼ TSP SALT
- Grease with butter and flour your bundt tin
- Preheat the oven to 150 degrees
- In a large saucepan, gently heat the butter, sugar and treacle until the butter is melted and the sugar dissolved but don't let it boil
- Once the mixture is melted and well-mixed, remove from the heat and leave to one side for 5 mins
- Sieve the flour, ginger and salt into a separate bowl
- Add the milk to the saucepan and stir until well-mixed
- Then add the eggs one at a time, ensuring that all the egg is combined well with the mixture
- Stir through the stemmed ginger
- Add the flour mixture 1 cup at a time, ensuring that the flour is well incorporated and the mixture smooth but taking care not to over-mix it
- Transfer the batter to the bundt tin one cup at a time
- Bake for around 40 mins until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean
- Just before the cake is due out of the oven, soak a tea towel with steaming hot water in the sink and place the tin on top of it (tin side touching the towel) for 10 seconds
- Then turn out the cake immediately onto a cooling rack
- Leave to cool for 10 mins and then heat a quarter cup of maple syrup for 20 seconds in the microwave
- Lightly brush the outside of the cake with the syrup
- Sieve icing sugar over the top of the cake and serve on a pretty platter (Christmas look optional!!)
The sun is shining. I mean, really shining. Summer is here just as the school holidays are about to descend upon us for the next nine weeks. It's been a crazy month where I took on a little too much, really testing my limits. I learned a lot but it's been a pretty exhausting time and I have a few weeks now to kick back and enjoy some time with my best boys. I've been cooking and baking and my patient family haven't even had a taste of most of my creations. So today is all about a sociable cake just for us!Read More
Magic cake. Magic. Cake. What doesn't appeal about this? They had me at the word magic, let alone cake. There are many recipes for this, most of them very similar and it has been across the internet for some time now. I've had it stored up in the back of mind for an occasion when I needed a little magic in my week.
The magic about this cake is that from a single batter, you get three distinct layers. The bottom of a firmer layer of custard, the middle a softer (and more wobbly) custard and the top is sponge. You could also call this cake Magic Custard Cake if you prefer but I kind of like the anonymity of leaving out the word custard until you're actually tucking into a slice. Of the many recipes that I could try for this, I decided to work with the one from Cinnamon and Toast and it's very straightforward.
There a few key stages to making this cake a success. The eggs need to be at room temperature. You will need to separate them and will whip the whites to soft peak before adding them. You will need to gently warm the milk so that the butter doesn't start to solidify again when you add it. Folding the soft peak egg whites into what is a liquid batter isn't the easiest but once mixed in, the batter is ready for the cake tin. It also takes 50 mins to an hour to bake in the oven and needs to be cooled completely before attempting to remove it from the tin (I mean, imagine trying to remove a cake with an unset custard middle from the tin and the oozy centre). But if you stick with the instructions below it really does work and you get the most delightful custard cake.
Being custard, it makes a lovely dessert (my boys absolutely adored it) but it would also be lovely for afternoon tea. It's a very light cake and has a fantastic taste of vanilla throughout the custard. A bit like the egg custards I used to eat as a child, minus the pastry.
I will definitely be making this again. I can see it becoming a firm favourite in our house, especially with our boys who are obsessed with custard anyway.
So go on - try it. Bring a little magic into your house :)
- 4 LARGE EGGS, SEPARATED AT ROOM TEMPERATURE
- 150G SUGAR
- 110G BUTTER AT ROOM TEMPERATURE
- 95G PLAIN FLOUR
- 470ML LUKEWARM MILK
- 1 TSP VANILLA EXTRACT
- ICING SUGAR FOR DUSTING
- Preheat oven to 160 degrees (fan)
- Lightly grease an 8 x 8 inch square cake pan and line with parchment paper (you can use other cake pans but as the batter is liquid, springform tins are not advisable!)
- Warm milk in microwave and set aside
- Beat together the egg yolks and sugar in a mixing bowl until creamy and pale yellow
- Add butter and mix for approximately 2 minutes on high speed
- Add the flour and mix until fully incorporated
- Turn the speed down on the mixer to low and slowly add the milk and vanilla
- In a separate bowl, mix the egg whites until soft peaks are formed
- Gently fold in egg whites, ⅓ at a time. The batter is liquid and it's tricky to incorporate the egg whites but continue to stir them through until they're mixed in
- Pour into the cake pan.
- Bake for 50-60 minutes or until top is lightly golden and firm to the touch (when you remove it from the oven, it may sink a little, but that's okay)
- Let cool completely before removing it from the cake tin
- Dust with icing sugar before serving
Every cake I make challenges me in a new way. I sometimes needs to remind myself that I'm pretty new to celebration cakes (and making them for other people) and could maybe be a bit easier on myself. But the internet now is rich with amazing cakes and creations which inspire me, but make me want to create something equally magnificent.
This week I had the opportunity of making a Rugby World Cup Cake for a 7 year old where the brief included a replica rugby ball and having the logos of all the teams from the World Cup 2015 featured in the design. I found Cake Toppers who specialise in making edible cake toppers from your supplied images which worked very well for the logos. I produced an A3 sheet of logos and then cut down the images by hand to feature them on the cake and board. The rugby ball was made from rice crispy treats (rice crispies, butter and marshmallows mixed together and moulded into shape), then covered in fondant and decorated by hand with a mixture of cut-out letters, edible pens and coloured fondant. I was really happy with the result. The base board was the largest one that I could find which was 20 inches so it was a big board and a big cake!
The other cake I made was a Survival themed cake for a shared party of three boys. They wanted a tiered cake with a model tank on top and their names on dog tags. I'll come on to talk about the challenges with making camouflage fondant (!) but this had a hand-painted bottom tier and an airbrushed top tier - and I'm still completely in love with my Dinky Doodle airbrush and the finish that airbrushing gives a cake. The tank was made from rice crispy treats covered with fondant and then airbrushed. I found some cute letter stamps in Hobbycraft and I thought the font would work really well for this so it's always worth checking out other departments as you can find lots of little treasures, often with a lower price tag than anything connected with baking fetches these days.
So as well as every cake challenging me, it's always a first time for something. This week was first time I've made two celebration cakes in one week.
So what's it taught me?
Well, for one thing planning is key. The more you can get done earlier on in the week, the better for when you come to make the cake. I was extremely thankful that I made the rice crispy models (rugby ball and tank) ahead of time and finished the rugby ball before even starting on making the cakes themselves.
If you try something and it doesn't work, keep persevering until you get it right. Camouflage fondant seemed so straightforward in principle (and I even found a great pin on Pinterest for how to make it) but it didn't work (twice) and when I sat looking at the bottom tier at 10pm the night before pick-up, it was clear that it spectacularly DIDN'T work. Time to rip off the fondant, re-frost the cake, set it, re-cover it and then paint the camouflage design by hand. I was so happy that I made the call! The image below shows the first way I tried to make this (pre-rolling) and the second one was my hand-painted finish.
And finally, I see cake makers often working through the night and think to myself that I couldn't do that - I love my sleep too much. But the truth is that if you're going to take on multiple cakes that need delivering on the same day, sometimes you're going to have to work through the night to get them done. I actually found my groove dancing around the kitchen at 1am, 2am, 3am finishing details (although late night decorating is clearly not good when your manage to airbrush your kitchen green as well as your cakes and stain your children's feet green the next morning when they come down to breakfast!)
I have a few weeks coming up where I need to produce two cakes so this has been a great induction into the process. It's taught me how much can be achieved and a little more about the process that goes into making multiple cakes. I know some cake artists can produce four or five cakes a week - you amaze me, people!
Hope you've all had a wonderful weekend - whether enjoying your own birthday parties or just the sunshine :)
So we've barely been back at school and it's the half term break already. This week, we've escaped to the countryside to spend our time running around country houses and communing with nature. And it's been lovely to be out of the big city, surrounded by beautiful gardens laden with flowers and baby animals everywhere we turn. Even as I'm sat writing this, I'm watching two wild rabbits chasing each other across the lawn outside. We're about six weeks aways from the optimum time to visit my parents when their vegetable and fruit garden is rich for the picking and the boys hide out in the fruit patches, their mouths stained with berry juice as they eat more than they bring back for us.
The one fruit that is ready for us on this visit is the rhubarb. We especially love rhubarb with crumble. But I love it with apple and vanilla sponge piled up with rhubarb and then a buttery crumble topping in one delicious cake, our Apple & Rhubarb Crumble Cake.
The most time consuming part of making this cake is the chopping of rhubarb and apple and I like to cut them into very small pieces. I always chop these first, then make the crumble topping and set them aside as I make the cake. To get two cups of rhubarb, I used four long sticks of rhubarb which seems a lot compared to the one apple, but the ratios work. The sponge is very light and is piled high with the rhubarb which condenses down to become lovely and soft during cooking. Our rhubarb was a little sharp but seemed to work underneath the sugary crumble topping.
This is a lovely cake for afternoon tea with friends or we had it as dessert after dinner (the boys with a healthy dollop of custard on top!) It's lovely warm from the oven but keeps well for a few days.
This is a great way to enjoy your rhubarb and a little different from the usual stewed rhubarb or rhubarb crumble. I do love a good crumble and for me, this is home baking at its best :)
Apple & Rhubarb Crumble Cake
- 100G SELF-RAISING FLOUR
- 75G SOFT BROWN SUGAR
- 1 TSP CINNAMON
- PINCH OF SALT
- 75G BUTTER
- 100G BUTTER
- 100G SOFT BROWN SUGAR
- 2 EGGS
- 2 TSP VANILLA ESSENCE
- 175G SELF-RAISING FLOUR
- 2 TBSP MILK
- 1 GRANNY SMITH APPLE
- 2 CUPS CHOPPED RHUBARB (AROUND 4 STICKS)
- 50G FINELY CHOPPED WALNUTS
- Start by putting all the crumble ingredients in a bowl and rub the mixture with your fingertips until a fine crumble has formed and set this aside
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (fan)
- Grease and line a 8 inch cake tin
- Chop the rhubarb into small pieces and set aside
- Peel and chop the apple into small pieces and finely chop the walnuts and set these aside
- Cream the butter and sugar
- Beat in the eggs and vanilla
- Sift in the flour
- Fold in the apple and milk
- Spoon the batter into the prepared cale tin
- Sprinkle the rhubarb and walnuts over the top
- Scatter the crumble over the top
- Bake this for around 45 mins to an hour (the cake should be golden and the cake pulling away from the edges and I also test the cake centre with a skewer to ensure it's cooked)
- Enjoy as it is - or as my boys love, with a big dollop of custard!
I love minions! I mean, who doesn't love the little yellow bundles of fun and they're such a happy choice for a children's birthday cake. I had a request for a small (!) birthday cake this week and I promise, I promise, it did start out small! It was for a joint birthday with 3 other boys so they didn't need a huge cake and so I thought hmmm, a 7 inch cake would be perfect. Not too big, not too small. But then I had to make two times the 7 inch cake to get the height and when it was buttercreamed and covered in fondant, it was pretty large. Um, over 2½ kg fondant on this one. And that's a 12 inch board. Maybe not quite as small as I had originally planned!
I'm playing with the best way to cover cakes at the moment and have been experimenting with airbrushing them (starting off with my Darth Vader cake last week). The reason for this is that you're then only covering a light external layer with food colouring and not right the way through the fondant itself as these vibrant colours (like the black of Darth Vader and the yellow of the Minion) need a lot of additional colour to get the richness. Although after I'd knocked over my bottle of yellow airbrush paint for the second time, I was cursing my choice - although this was then tempered by the therapeutic airbrushing so all was well in the end.
The cake itself is vanilla cake with raspberry jam and butter cream and contains two 7 inch cakes stacked with a board half-way through. The base board was covered with fondant, then impressed with a woodgrain effect and handpainted with airbrush paint (I find the Culpitt brand works well for this), finished off with some washi tape.
I really love this cake. But then it's hard not to love a minion :)
Well, four weeks has flown by and it's back to school with a bump for the boys (and me!) We had a fun last day yesterday and treated ourselves to seeing Home, even enjoying the entire cinema to ourselves :) The boys thought this was fantastic (the film and having the whole screening for just us!) Then back home in the afternoon to make an end of holiday treat for the boys.
The recipe for this Butterscotch Cake comes from Treatology by Wilton and I was directed to it by the fantastic Man Bakes Cake. This is an American recipe and uses shortening in the buttercream (I use Trex here in the UK). This is the first time I've used shortening in a buttercream like this and having tasted it, I have to say that I'm a full-butter buttercream kind of girl. The cake itself is light and moist; the buttercream with chocolate chips and butterscotch is tasty (as mentioned, in my humble opinion would be improved by 100% butter | 0% shortening); but the winner of this recipe for me is the delicious butterscotch ganache which is added to the buttercream to give it a butterscotch flavour and then the pure ganache is drizzled over the top. This part is definitely a keeper!
Next time I make this, I think a chocolate cake would be pretty tasty with full-butter butterscotch buttercream (what a mouthful!) and then the butterscotch ganache over the top. Or even transformed into cupcakes would be super tasty too with a drizzle of the butterscotch ganache over the top. Yum!
I didn't manage to get many photos of the this before the boys dived in with a large slice each - although it was for them to celebrate the end of a fab holiday so who can blame them?!
Butterscotch Cake (from Treatology by Wilton)
- 340G PLAIN FLOUR
- 2 TSPS BAKING POWDER
- 1 TSP SALT
- 170G BUTTER
- 160G DARK BROWN SUGAR
- 3 EGGS
- 2 TSPS VANILLA EXTRACT
- 240 ML MILK
Butterscotch Icing and Ganache
- 300G BUTTERSCOTCH CHIPS
- 120ML DOUBLE CREAM
- ¼ TSP SALT
- 230G BUTTER
- 115G SHORTENING (I USED TREX)
- 375G SIFTED ICING SUGAR
- 50G CHOCOLATE CHIPS
- Preheat the oven to 160 degrees
- Lightly grease 3 baking tins - the recipe calls for a Wilton 6 inch Cake Pan Set but I used 3 7-inch cake tins
- In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt
- In a separate bowl, beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. If the mixture looks like it's curdling a little, add a tablespoon of the flour mixture
- Add the vanilla and mix well
- Add one third of the flour mixture and mix until just combined and then add half of the milk
- Repeat ending with the final flour addition and mix until just combined - don't over mix otherwise this will toughen the mixture
- Divide evenly amongst the tins and bake for 20 minutes until a skewer comes out clean
- For the ganache, combine the butterscotch chips, cream and salt. Then microwave for 1 minute and stir. Continue to microwave in 30 second bursts (this stage took me a further 2 minutes). I then stirred the mixture until it was almost melted but there were still traces of unmelted butterscotch chips so I kept heating it at 15 second bursts until the butterscotch was smooth.
- Put the butterscotch to one side and allow to cool
- In a separate bowl, beat the butter and shortening and then add one third of the icing sugar on medium until well mixed. Continue until all the icing sugar is incorporated.
- Add 2/3 of the cooled butterscotch and beat until well combined
- Remove around 2 cups of the butterscotch buttercream and put to one side
- Add the chocolate chips to the original bowl of buttercream
- Then level the cakes if necessary and prepare to assemble
- Put one of the cakes on a plate and then add half of the chocolate chip buttercream spreading it to the edge of the cake.
- Top with the second cake, the remaining chocolate chip buttercream and the final cake.
- Then use the remaining non-chocolate chip buttercream to cover the top and sides of the cake and refrigerate until the icing is set
- When completely chilled, take the remaining butterscotch and blast it in the microwave for 10-15 seconds and then drizzle over the top of the cake
- Optional: I took some of the leftover non-chocolate chip buttercream and piped a few swirls on top and then scattered some chocolate coated popping candy on the top
We've been lucky enough to have a couple of planned roadtrips and lots of daytrips across this school holiday. Last week, we were down in Dorset enjoying the sea air and sunshine and on a visit to Weymouth, we stopped off at a little cafe which my Dad proclaimed served the best Dorset Apple Cake ever! I tasted a little and it reminded me of a German Apple Cake that my mum used to make when I was little. So this week, when our next roadtrip included a visit to mum and dad's house, I found myself digging through her old recipe collection - you know, the lovely kind of handwritten and typed recipe cards shared by friends some twenty or thirty years ago. There are a number of old favourites which re-surfaced (and which may make an appearance on the blog at some time!) and it was an enjoyable trip down memory lane.
So after a fun day out running around castle ruins, this afternoon saw the recreation of the childhood favourite, the German Apple Cake. I had a look on the internet and there are a number of variations for apple cakes, some including nuts, some missing out the cinnamon, some with apple inside and some on top. Our version is a simple sponge covered with butter, cinnamon and sugar, layered with sliced apple and then topped with more butter, cinnamon and sugar. It's a light cake which is great for afternoon tea or covered with dollops of custard (my boys' favourite) for pudding. I've never made it before, but it was definitely the same as my mum used to make.
The boys loved it.
I think we may have found another childhood favourite for them too :)
German Apple Cake
- 170G SELF-RAISING FLOUR
- 1 TSP BAKING POWDER
- 85G CASTER SUGAR
- 30G BUTTER (MELTED)
- 1 EGG (BEATEN)
- 140ML MILK
Cake Topping Ingredients
- 340G COOKING APPLES (I USED BRAMLEY APPLES)
- 30G BUTTER (MELTED)
- 1 TSP CINNAMON
- 85G SUGAR
- Prepare and slice the apples, putting them into a bowl of cold water
- Turn on the oven to 170 degrees
- Grease and line a round baking tin
- Firstly, to make the cake, put the flour, baking powder and sugar into a bowl and mix to combine
- Melt the butter and add to the beaten egg and milk
- Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and then put pour into the prepared tin
- Melt the remaining 30g butter and brush half of this over the cake mix in the tin
- Mix the cinnamon and sugar together and sprinkle half of this over the cake mix
- Drain the apples and pat them dry. Then place them in overlapping rows on the cake mix
- Brush with the remaining butter and then sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon | sugar mixture
- Bake in the oven for 35 minutes (test with a skewer to ensure it come out clean)
- Leave in the tin for 5 minutes to cool down (or longer if desired) and then move to a serving plate
- Excellent with custard or just naked!