Friday, 18 August 2017

Naked Rammstein Cake


I have to be honest, I wanted to call it "Naked Rammstein" ... But I didn't want to get in any trouble, so I thought it best just to add 'cake' in the title.  I made two sponges today, check down the bottom of this enrty for the second sponge details.  

Originally, this one was going to be covered in fondant or buttercream with the logo iced on top. But, alas, the recipient has far more simple tastes and wanted a plain sponge, and not so sweet, for their birthday.

I used one of my basic sponge mix per 8" layer, of which there were two and added some basic buttercream, very sparingly to sandwich them together with some strawberry jam (with not bits). Before they were sandwiched together, each sponge had a sprinkling of simple syrup with some vanilla extract added to it.

The top was dusted with plain icing sugar, my daughter cut a template of the Rammstein logo to sprinkle the icing sugar onto.

She was also going to bake it as it was her project, but she was busy out celebrating the birthday, so mother baked it.

Whilst I was baking, I'd seen my cousin earlier in the day and she asked me so nicely for a sponge cake, I killed two birds with one stone. Her request was for lashings of jam and buttercream.

This sponge had 1.5 basic sponge mix per layer with some basic buttercream, the sponge was sprinkled with some vanilla simple syrup.


I knew what happened was going to happen ... Too much filling, especially jam, will make this cake unstable, so I adorned it with a sparkly star wand for that extra bit of stability, especially during transport / delivery.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Chocolate Shoes


Yes, you read that correctly, shoes made from chocolate.  

I am far from a chocolatier, until today, the most amazing thing I'd made with chocolate was a mess (",)   So, my first lesson for today was how to temper chocolate. There are countless 'how-to' pages and YouTube videos that show you how to do this, so I won't give the details here.

I purchased a small perspex mould from eBay and used both dark chocolate and white chocolate. 


For the dark chocolate, I used two layers in the shoe with the white chocolate as a liner.


As these are my first ever pair and I had no idea what I was doing, I think I did an alright job! 


There were a few blemishes inside the first one, so I decided to paint a rim of gold around the both. 

They also needed a little something else ... a pair of dark chocolate bows, painted in gold and, before they dried they were given a generous dusting of gold lustre dust. Perfect!

I'm also considering filling them with luxury chocolates for that extra bit of indulgence, but I'm not sure yet.

I have plans for these so keep a look out for future blog entries that they will be used for.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Bread Pudding


Not to be confused with the Bread and Butter Pudding I made earlier this week. Just like that recipe, this was also known as the "Poor Man's Pudding" as this too uses leftover or stale bread and is very inexpensive.

You will need:

  • 500g of whatever bread you have available, or even a mix of, preferably stale but I will show you what to do if your bread is not stale.
  • 500ml of milk
  • 200g sultanas
  • 2 T-sp mixed spice or cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g melted butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 Tb-Sp brown sugar
How to:

Pre-heat the oven to gas #4 and grease an 8" square tin.

If your bread is not stale, leave out overnight to dry out. The dryer the bread the more milk is soaked up. I left mine on the drying rack.


Tear or cut up the bread into small chucks and place in a bowl


Warm up the milk, do not boil, and pour over the bread. Just above body temperature should be fine, but you don't have to do this, I just find it's soaked up quicker.

Pour this over the bread and leave to soak in for 15 minutes.

Add all the other ingredients and mix together. Mix with a spoon at first and then, I found this very effective, get your hand in there and squash it all together.


Once all mixed together, pour into the greased pan


Bake at the centre of the oven for 1 hr and 10 mins. Check after an hour as mine was perfect.

As soon as it comes out of the oven, sprinkle with sugar. 

Allow to cool and serve.

It tastes good with no sugar added due to the sweetness of the fruit.
You can also chose to add another type of natural or artificial sweetener


Saturday, 12 August 2017

Scones


I love scones so I decided to share mine with you. If you've never made any before, or don;t know how ... now's your chance!
I didn't have any clotted cream so I cheated and used whipped, with a generous dollop of raspberry conserve.  A nice, simple recipe that you should be eating within the hour, provided they've cooled down enough that is.

You will need:

  • 75g butter, chilled and cubed - plus extra for greasing tray
  • 350g self raising flour - plus extra for rolling out
  • 1.5 T-sp baking powder
  • 30g caster sugar
  • 75g sultanas (optional with variations below) *
  • 150ml approx, milk - plus extra for brushing top of scones
  • 2 large free range eggs, beaten
  • Clotted cream or whipped cream if you can't get anything else
  • Jam / conserve (jelly for our American cousins)
Options:
  • No fruit at all
  • Dried cranberries
  • Currants
  • Raisins 
How to:
  1. Pre-heat the oven to Gas #7 / 220C / 425F
  2. In a chilled mixing bowl, rub together the flour, butter and baking powder until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs
  3. Mix in the fruit and the sugar
  4. Add both the eggs and mix with a wooden spoon
  5. Add a little milk at a time until there are some 'breadcrumbs' left them mix with your hand until it binds into a ball. Do not add too much milk so the mix becomes too wet it should 'clean' the bowl (see below)
  6. Wrap in cling film or drape a tea towel over the bowl and allow to rest and chill in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes
  7. Once chilled, roll out to 2cm thick and, using a cutter or a glass, cut and place on the greased baking tray (see below)
  8. Bake at the centre of the oven for 15 minutes until golden brow
  9. Allow to cool (see below)
Step 5

Step 7

Step 9

Once cooled, cut in half and add a generous dollop of cream and another of jam. Whether you're and jam then cream or cream then jam person, the choice is ultimately yours

This link will also give you the "recipe" for a nice afternoon cream tea.

Enjoy

Monday, 7 August 2017

Bread & Butter Pudding


Once upon another century or more, this was known as "Poor Man's Pudding" because it was inexpensive, easy to prepare and made use of left over or stale bread.  A traditional British classic served with either custard, cream or evaporated or condensed milk.

This is the first time ever that I have made this, I have it on good authority from the person I made it for that this is a 'proper job' and much better than shop bought stuff - a taste of home! 

You will need:

  • A good size baking dish
  • 100g sugar, I used granulated sugar
  • 1 T-sp cinnamon or
    • Vanilla extract or paste
    • Nutmeg
  • Butter (or margarine) for greasing the dish and buttering the bread
  • 3 good handfuls of sultanas or 
    • Dried cranberries or
    • Prunes or
    • Dried apricots 
  • 2 free range eggs


How to:


  1. Pre-heat your oven to Gas #3 / 190 C - See conversion chart here
  2. Lightly grease the baking dish
  3. Mix cinnamon and sugar together (if using wet ingredients for flavour, add them to the milk)
  4. Butter the bread, the choice of leaving the crust on or cutting them off is a personal preference
  5. Layer the bread into the dish adding the sultanas (fruit) plus the sugar to each slice as you go.
  6. Mix egg and milk together
  7. Pour over the bread and leave soak for about 10 minutes (see tip below)
  8. Bake for 35 - 45mins, check after 35, if the milk and egg mixture is set and the top is brown, then it;s done.
Tip: It might look, in the beginning, that you've added too much milk mixture, but it's ok, it'll all soak up in the oven.




Once cooled, top with custard, cream, evaporated or condensed milk OR just enjoy it as it is.


Friday, 4 August 2017

Ivy and Flowers Cake


A jam and buttercream sponge with trailing ivy and carnations.  The how-to for the carnation cake topper can be found here.

As mentioned in my last blog entry, I've been having issues with humidity in my kitchen, which also affected this cake. The sides of the cake were looking very sad and unappealing. It was my intention to add a quilted design, but the fondant was unworkable after I'd left the cake an hour.

Again, thinking on my feet, I used a extruder to add a 'vine' all around the edges and then added some random ivy leaves. 



I'm rather happy with how it turned out.

Cat Cake


My niece is usually the one who instigates the cakes for her mother, and they seem to be growing with the same theme.  Last years was a wonderful patchwork owl. This year, my sister wanted a smaller cake, so my niece decided she's draw exactly what she wanted for her Mum this year.

I think I did a good job to!


The list of specifications, in addition to the sketch above, included:

Back fur, black ears with pink inside, blue eyes, black pupils with highlights and a darker pink nose.


A purple collar with 'Happy Birthday' on it


I even added a nice buckle detail at the back of the collar


A gold tag on the collar with 'Mam' written on it


And it must be Turkish delight flavour.

If you'd like to find out how to get the Turkish delight flavour, check out my Turkish delight cupcakes blog post. The sponge is also full of milk chocolate chips.

I've been having serious issues with humidity in my kitchen, which made my black fondant sweat and become very sticky, to the point of running off.

However, I make every effort to turn negatives into positives and donned a clean pair of food-grade gloves, placed my hands on the cake and gently released them.  This then pulled the fondant and left it with a rather interesting, almost 'fur-like' texture.

Having left the cake open overnight and in front of a fan, it hardened up just in time to box it up - just before my sister walked in when she's not allowed to see it yet. Her birthday isn't until tomorrow!

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Chocolate Cupcakes


I used 75% of my chocolate sponge recipe to make these deliciously looking and aromatic chocolate cupcakes.

For the buttercream, I used 1.5 of my recipe here, which manages to cover the 12.

The were all eventually given a generous dusting of gold glitter.

Half were topped of with some chocolate fondant flowers and some shop made chocolate sprinkles.


Then the other half was topped with milk chocolate drops, the ones you buy for things like chocolate chip cookies and sponges.  They are then given a generous topping of shavings from a bar of milk chocolate. I used a vegetable peeler.


I would suggest that, to make chocolate shaving like I have, that you chill then bar of chocolate then leave it to come up to room temperature before shaving.  As you turn the bar around to access the other edge, it will warm up in your hands and shave just perfectly.

Lemon Cupcakes #2


You may remember, back in June, I made these little wonders for the charity cupcake day I held. The were that popular that I was asked to make more.

I wanted to make them slightly different, so I added sweet fondant flowers to top some of them off.


And left some plain with a dash or glitter sparkle.

Rainbow Rose Cupcakes


There are times when only a simple sponge will do, so you make the extra effort to make the simple look spectacular!

The simple vanilla sponge for the 12 cupcakes is 75% of this mix and double the buttercream mix.

The buttercream mix was divided into three colours and simply piped on top.

You can triple colour any topping in one of two ways. You can either buy a coupler like this ...


... which requires three piping bags or, you can use four piping bags. Place your buttercream into the three bags, snip a little of the ends off and place them into a fourth piping bag which will have your nozzle attached. I would advise using the disposable bags for this method as they're thinner and easier to work with.

The good thing about using the second method is, you can use just two colours or, why stop there? Why not try four for that totally awesome finish. I've never tried more than four, but if you have, let me know how that worked.

Voila!

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Dairy Free / Vegan Friendly Cupcakes


This is an absolute first for me! I have never before baked anything Vegan or dairy free, I'd made gluten free, but never 100% dairy free.  

These cupcakes were for no one in particular, I simply wanted to see if I could do it and tick it of of my cakey bakey bucket list.  I've been asked for dairy free and vegan sponges and have always had to turn them down, so now's my chance. I'd only purchased sufficient margarine alternative for one full batch, I did this on purpose because I know me only too well. If i didn't like the end product, I'd do them all over again.

What I also did was put a call out for help on my Facebook pager asking for Vegan taste testers willing to complete and online survey (the comments will be copied below when they're all in), and I had quite a good response. So, instead of a full cake, I made 'bite size' taster pieces by way of cupcakes.

Instead of butter or margarine in both the sponge and the frosting I used a sunflower based, dairy free alternative. I'm not exactly sure if I like baking with this stuff just yet, I find it lacks a little ... substance, maybe.  If I've needed to bake a vibrant cake sponge, I've usually used Trex, which is also dairy free and suitable for Vegans. 
But I used this so I'm going to wait and see what the reviews from the taste testers say.

Now the eggs were something else, again I put a call out for help on my Facebook and a number of vegans, my daughter-in-law included, gave me quality information. I purchased an egg free product from my local health store.
This stuff was also not without it's problems. Don't forget, I've never baked Vegan before and my lack of experience is, indeed, showing!  

I found it lacked the volume, even though I added extra water, my cakes were exceptionally pale. Pale to the point actually, that I left them in a few moments more thinking they's brown nicely, and just caught them in time.

The volume, or lack of, is problematic for me, so I'm guessing I'm going to have to do some more research and have a little more practice. I also found they didn't rise as good as my vegetarian / usual cupcakes. I don't usually need an additional rising agent in my sponges or cupcakes, but experience has shown that this is a 'must have' with this eggless product.

So, whilst I can be very critical of my own work, before I start making changes, I need to have the feedback from my taste testers.

Meanwhile, here they are, in all their wonderful cupcakiness glory, individually packaged as they're going lots of places. They are without decoration or sprinkles as I didn't want to distract my tasters.


A note to my volunteer taste testers:
When you collected your cupcakes, you would have been given a link to an online survey, if you didn't receive it, please contact me. When completing the survey, please be as honest as possible and even make suggestions for changes if you wish.
Thank you so much

Below you will find directly copied feedback from the online survey from my taste testers

For my report and way forward for me, based on the taste tester survey

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