Tuesday, 6 May 2014

A dove in flames...

This weekend I made a cake for a confirmation. The brief being two words. Chocolate. And Fudge. I decided the themes of the cake should be a dove and some flames.
I'll start with the cake...
You will need:  
400 grams plain flour 
250 grams golden caster sugar 
100 grams light brown muscovado sugar 
50 grams best-quality cocoa powder 
2 teaspoons baking powder 
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda 
½ teaspoon salt 
3 large eggs 
142 ml sour cream 
1 tablespoon vanilla extract 
175 grams unsalted butter (melted and cooled) 
125 ml vegetable oil 
300 ml cold water

 Begin by preheating the oven to 180 degrees and line two 8 inch cake tins. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. In another bowl, combine the eggs, sour cream, vanilla and vegetable oil. In ANOTHER bowl, whisk the butter and oil until blended and then beat in the water. Then incorporate the dry ingredients followed by the egg mixture. Once everything is combined, pour the mixture into the cake tins and bake for approximately 50 minutes.

For the chocolate fudge icing, you will need: 
175 grams dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids) 
250 grams unsalted butter (softened) 
275 grams icing sugar (sifted) 
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

 To make this yummy icing, melt the chocolate on a bain marie. In another bowl beat the butter until soft and creamy - it will be paler in colour. Add the icing sugar a little at a time in order to prevent a icing cloud. Once all is combined, add the now slightly cooled chocolate and the vanilla and continue beating until all is mix and you will have one gorgeous tasting icing. 

Once the cakes have cooled and the icing is made, assemble your cake. I have discussed how to do this in previous posts! 

To make the dove, I chose a dove template, and laid greaseproof paper over the top. I then melted some milk chocolate and poured it into a food bag. I snipped of a small corner which made a makeshift piping bag. I was then able to trace the template of the dove with the milk chocolate. Leave that to dry whilst you melt the white chocolate and make another makeshift piping bag. Once the outline is cooled, fill the dove with melted white chocolate. Leave to cool and when ready, place on top of the cake.

To make the flames, you need:
250g granulated sugar.
130mls water.
130mls golden syrup or liquid glucose.

Food colouring (I used red, yellow and orange)
1 teaspoon of orange extract.

Prepare some more greaseproof paper onto the worktop. Put the sugar and water into a pan on a low heat to dissolve the sugar. Swirl, rather than stir the sugary water.  Once dissolved, bring to a boil.  Check on the sugar every five minutes. You do this by dipping a teaspoon into the sugar and then into a cup of water. After a minute or so, check the teaspoon. If the sugar on the spoon has disappeared, its not ready, so continue boiling.  It is ready when the sugar on the spoon it hard.  When it is, take the pan off the heat, add the orange extract, followed three different food dyes in separate sections of the sugar mixture. Pour the sugar mixture onto the greaseproof paper. The colours will blend to create a flame effect. Allow to set and then you can break the sugar into shards to look like flames. 
Place around the chocolate cake.

The sugar flames with the chocolate fudge make a delicious chocolate orange taste... a bit like a cake version of a terry's chocolate orange... yum!!


Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Let your lighter side out! Maltesers chocolate cake!!

This three layered moist chocolate sponge, smothered and sandwiched together with a light, airy malt chocolate frosting, might possibly be the best chocolate cake I've ever made.  It was for my Boyfriend's Dad's birthday and he was delighted! The making of this cake would have been relatively simple, had it not been for the roasting sun which threatened to melt my frosting and send my cake slipping all over the kitchen! Let's just say this cake spent a lot of time in the fridge!

Firstly, the chocolate sponge!
330g plain flour
600g caster sugar
135g cocoa powder (I always use Green and Blacks)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 eggs
360mls buttermilk
360mls of strong coffee
180mls vegetable oil
1 1/2 tablespoons of vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180 degrees and prepare and line three eight inch cake tins.
Combine and sieve all the dry ingredients in your mixer.
In a separate bowl, combine your wet ingredients and beat lightly with a fork.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until combined.
Divide into the three pans and cook on the middle shelf of your oven.
The cakes will take approximately thirty minutes, depending on the ferocity of your oven!
Once done, take out of oven and place on racks to cool.

Whilst the cakes are cooling, you can make the frosting!
455g butter
500g icing sugar
75g malted hot drink powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
 250g dark chocolate
120mls double cream
(I didn't say this cake was easy on the calories!!)

In a stand mixer, combine butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy. This will take around 5 minutes. Add the malt powder, vanilla and salt and continue to mix until well combined. Now add melted chocolate and continue mixing. Once completely combined, add the double cream and whip.

Now for the assembly:
Place the first cake layer on your cake board and spread an even layer of chocolate frosting on top.  Sprinkle some crushed up maltesers on top and then add the second layer of cake sponge. Repeat the process for the next layer.  Then crumb coat the whole cake in the frosting and refridgerate for at least half an hour.  Then add a second, thicker layer over the top of the crumb coat.  Once the sides are smooth, I used an offset spatula to impress a spiral into the frosting. Top with a malteser andit's re`dy for the tasting!

Thursday, 27 June 2013

How to...

Been wondering how to frost a cupcake? Well, I thought I'd make a little video going through one technique of frosting a cupcake.  There are many ways, but this technique is simple, easy and effective!! It also reminds me of a Mr. Whippy Ice cream!!

I hope this helps, enjoy!

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Mango Berry Swirl!!

These cupcakes are straight out of a LOLA cupcake book.  They were deliciously fruity and topped with a frosting that was light and smooth but not too rich or sweet, unlike traditional buttercream!

I'll start with the cupcakes:

125g self-raising flour
125g ground almonds
1 teaspoon baking powder
75g butter
grated zest of half a lemon
2 eggs
70g creme fraiche
100g finely chopped mango

Before you do anything, preheat your oven to 180 degrees and line a 12 hole muffin tin with cupcake cases. Combine the flour, baking powder and ground almonds in a bowl. In a separate bowl, or stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the lemon zest and eggs one at a time, beating well following each addition. Once incorporated, beat in the flour and creme fraiche. Fold in the chopped mango and divide the batter between the cupcake cases.  Pop in the oven for twenty to twenty five minutes, until well risen and golden brown on top.
Whilst the cupcakes are cooling, you can begin the frosting:

110g blueberries
90g raspberries
100g strawberries
200g caster sugar
600g mascarpone

Put the berries and caster sugar into a heavy bottom saucepan and bring to a simmer over a medium heat.  Let the mix simmer until thick, it will take about twenty minutes.  Once thick, take of the heat and allow to cool.
Once cool, blitz in a food processor and sieve to remove pips.  This can then be mixed into the mascarpone and left to refrigerate for about thirty minutes, until firm.  Then pipe onto the cooled cupcakes and top with leftover berries. 

These cupcakes make a great summery treat ready for picnics in the park, bbqs in the garden, or wherever the sun may take you!!

Monday, 20 May 2013

Peppa Pig!

Apologies for my quietness over this last month.  When I first started this blog, I intended to post once a week, however, this last month has been filled with particularly crazy shifts which meant that blogging has had to take a back seat! However, I'm back, and I'm back with a bang! This month, I was set a seemingly simple task of baking cakes for a little girl's Peppa Pig themed fourth birthday party.  Simple enough right? Wrong! The order was for one birthday cake, forty cake pops, and forty cupcakes. As soon as I read the words forty, twice, I knew I was going to need to plan this down to the last second.  My problem was that I wanted every thing to be as fresh as possible. I knew I could bake the cake pops a couple of days in advance because the cake would be insulated by the chocolate, so I set about making these two days before the party.

Pig Cake Pops:
These are relatively simple to make but they take a steady hand.  Start off with a regular cake ball that has been rolled and put on a stick.  If you're unsure how to get to this point, read my post: Cake POPs! I then, took two tic tacs, dipped them half way into melted chocolate and stuck them half-way into the tops of the cake pops, forming ears.  They were then left to set.  Once set I coated the cake pops in pink candy melts, just the same as you would an ordinary cake pop.  Whilst the chocolate was still wet I stuck a pink M&M onto the front, this was my "snout".  I drew two dots onto the M&Ms with an edible marker to form nostrils.  Once all forty cake pops were coated and had M&Ms stuck to them, I left them to dry overnight.  The next morning, using a tooth pick and some gel food dye, I painted two dots on the cake pops to form eyes.  And hey presto! I had my forty cake pops!!

The next day, I tackled the big birthday cake!  
Peppa Pig Birthday Cake:
I had pre prepared my fondant Peppa Pig family a week in advance, to allow the fondant to harden. If you don't have the time to prepare a week before, you can use sugar paste, which sets hard very quickly.  The disadvantage is that it is quite a lot more expensive than fondant!
The Peppa Pig family all have pretty much the same structure, with different colour clothes and a few little details to set them apart. So once I had mastered Peppa, the rest were pretty easy to form!
I am aware that if I go into how to make Peppa from fondant, this post will be ridiculously long, so if you want details on how to make her, then you can email or comment me and I will go through it with you!
So, I started off my morning, baking a simple three layered vanilla sponge, sandwich with vanilla buttercream... yummy!! I covered the cake in blue fondant and stuck on white fondant clouds to make the sky. To make the hill, I rolled out green fondant in, wait for it, a hill shape and stuck it onto the front of the cake. Then all that is left to do is to stick on some fondant flowers and place your Peppa Pig family onto the top of the cake.

I left the cupcakes until the morning of the party so that they would be fresh and moist and yummy!! The order was for twenty vanilla cupcakes, and twenty chocolate cupcakes. I have blogged about vanilla cupcakes plenty of times so I will just tell you how to make chocolate cupcakes.
for twenty-four cupcakes.
190g plain flour
300g caster sugar
60g cocoa powder
1 1/2 tspn baking powder
1 1/2 tspn bicarbonate of soda
1 1/2 tspn corn flour
160mls buttermilk
180mls coffee
90mls vegetable oil
2 eggs
3 tspn vanilla extract

The recipe is really simple! Just combine all the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients and whisk for two minutes.  Whack in the oven for fifteen minutes and you'll have your chocolate cupcakes!!

Now for the frosting.
You need 4 large egg whites, 8 tablespoons golden syrup, 200g caster sugar, half a teaspoon cream of tartar.  Whisk the mixture, over a bain marie, until the mixture hold stiff peaks.  It will take around five minutes.  Once done, take off the heat, add two teaspoons vanilla extract and continue to mix until the frosting is at room temperature. I added a tiny bit of pink gel food dye to give me a piggy colour!!

To make the pig faces, I first piped a dome of frosting onto the cupcake. For the snout, I used half a pink marshmallow and placed it in the centre of the cupcake and then I used small white chocolate buttons with stuck on chocolate drops, for the eyes and stuck them into the frosting on an angle.

 It was a long three days, with a night shift in between, and so this project was a bit of a labour of love! I so pleased with the results and I hope the little girl enjoyed the treats too!!

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Check Mate!!

 It was my Nephew's 10th birthday. I had been asked to bake him a cake, and I knew it had to be something special! I had seen a few chess board cakes on the internet and thought I'd give it a try!
(Warning: this cake took me fourteen hours.  Do not attempt if you want a quick bake!!)  For the first time since embarking on my baking journey, I threw a baking induced wobbly!  I made a few measuring errors that, if I were to do it again, I would need to either buy a bigger cake tin, or smaller chess square moulds! But anyway... let me start off right at the beginning (I've heard its a very good place to start)!
First of all, you need some chess piece and square moulds. I got mine on Amazon and they weren't overly expensive.  This is where choosing the size of your squares is important.  A standard chess board is eight squares by eight squares.  I had a twelve inch cake tin.  The squares I ordered were an inch and three quarters. Now, for all you mathematicians out there you will quickly find that that does not calculate! And so, I had to build a wall of chocolate to balance the outer chocolate squares that did not fit on the cake.

It would be a good idea to begin making the chocolate chess pieces and squares a few days before you need them.  I started the night before and I could have done with starting at least one day before this!

Once you have baked your cake, using your favourite chocolate recipe, you will be ready to decorate.  For my chocolate recipe, see this cake, and double the recipe to fit the twelve inch cake tin.

Now is the time to channel your inner brick layer.  The chocolate squares are your bricks, your chocolate frosting is your cement.  First of all, start at the left hand corner of the cake and lay a white square down. Then begin to build your checkerboard alternating between black and white.  Once you have made your checkerboard you can either pipe a fancy boarder around the edge, or you can continue your checkerboard pattern round the edges of the cake, which add stability to the chess board, (chocolate is surprisingly heavy)!

Once set, its time to lay your pieces down, and get playing! Enjoy!!!

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Some like it hot...

This week, I got challenged with making a chilli chocolate cake from my Sister's Fiance's birthday!  It was quite a challenge to find a recipe I liked and trusted for this special occasion! It was my first "commission" so it was as exciting for me as it was for my Sister!

After struggling for a few days to find a recipe for a chilli chocolate cake, I decided to take a standard chocolate cake, and then make a chilli chocolate ganache to go with it!

The chocolate cake I chose to make was from a blog called Sweetapolita.  It is an incredibly dense and moist cake, with frosting which reminded me more of chocolate mouse rather than a chocolate frosting!  This cake has quite a few processes, uses lots of pots and pans, and take quite a few hours to make.  So if you love baking, and have half a day on your hands, this recipe is definitely for you! If you aren't particularly keen on baking, or like to make quick bakes, don't choose this one! However, I can't imagine someone who doesn't like baking, would be reading this!!
So here's how I did it:

For the cake:
145g Dark Chocolate (I used Lindt)
260g Butter
315g Plain Flour
24g Cocoa Powder (I used Green and Blacks)
2 tspn Bicarbonate of Soda
1 tspn Baking Powder
4 Eggs
1/2 tspn Salt
200g Caster Sugar
220g Light Brown Sugar
1 1/2 tspn Vanilla
475ml Sour Cream

Preheat your oven to 180 celcius and prepare four 8 inch cake tins.
Melt the chocolate and butter together in a bain marie until smooth and glossy, and bring to room temperature. Meanwhile, sift together the flour, cocoa, rising agents, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar and eggs until light and fluffy, it takes about five minutes (2).  Once light and fluffy, slowly add the cooled chocolatey-buttery mixture and whisk until incorporated.  Then its time to add the dry ingredients and sour cream. You should add the wet and dry ingredients in three parts alternately, starting and ending with the dry ingredients (3).  This makes for a well mixed cake batter. Then spoon into the four cake pans and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, depending on your oven.  Once baked, take out of the tins and leave to completely cool.

Meanwhile, you can make the chilli chocolate frosting! This is like no frosting you will have ever tasted! If you have read my other posts you will see that I'm not a huge fan of buttercream frosting, however this is completely different, it's light, it's moussey, it's like nothing of this earth.  However, like the rest of this cake, its pretty lengthy, but its oh so worth it!!

200g Caster Sugar
47g Plain Flour
36g Cocoa
360mls Whole Milk
115g Chilli Chocolate
2tspn Chilli Flakes
1 tbspn Vanilla
680g Butter

You start off by whisking together the cocoa, flour, sugar and milk, in a saucepan, over a medium heat. It will take about 5 minutes to become thick and glossy. Once this has happened, take it off the heat whisk in the chocolate, vanilla and chilli flakes and then allow to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, take the butter and whisk in a stand mixer, until lighter in colour and aerated. Then, slowly incorporate the chcolate mixture into the butter and leave to whisk for another five minutes.  
Remember, you can always add more chilli flakes, but you cannot take them out, so be careful!

Now assemble the cake and crumb coat.  For an explanation please see my first ever blog post: Pink Rainbow Cake.  Once crumb coated, refrigerate for half an hour to firm up the frosting.  Now for the fun bit! Load up the rest of the icing into a piping bag, with a round piping tip.  Pipe a line of circles up the length of the cake (1), take a small offset spatula and position in the middle of the circle, and drag the frosting across the cake (2). Repeat the process and all around the cake.  For the top, use the same method, but pipe the circles in circles (how many times can I say circles in a paragraph?) around the top of the cake (3). 

Top with a happy birthday cake topper and a fondant chilli and hey presto! A chocolate chilli birthday cake!!