Saturday, May 5, 2012

Jelly Beans Cake!

I always think of new ways of decorating cakes. Each time I go to a traditional sweet shop I get inspired by the colors and shapes.
Jasmine and Luke love Jelly beans and usually get this big jar of Kirkland's, with lots of colors and flavours. I recently heard that Luke's 21st birthday was coming soon... my chance to make a Jelly Bean cake....yeeeeha!.
Madeira cake filled with vanilla buttercream, covered with fondant and lots of Jelly Beans.

Colors were fantastic, the flavour has improved greatly since the first time I tried them.
I had to cut them in half to stick them properly to the cake, and it worked just fine...

Then I made a necklace for the birthday "boy" :-)

~ Happy Beansday! ~

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Chocolate cake and marzipan roses.

I came across some interesting silicone moulds on Ebay, in the listing said they were for fimo clay and also "food safe"..... hmmm!!!!! "ooooooh rrrrrreally????" I thought to myself and a sudden smile shone on my face... I got a castle mould and then I saw a very pretty rose one... lots of ideas came flashing through my mind so I got it....oh have to listen to your inner self! hehe.

I cleaned the mould with warm soapy water, grabbed a pack of marzipan, some food coloring and started tried the moould first with a little piece of marzipan.....ooh la la mon chéri!

Isn't this gorgeous?

Ideal to decorate cakes, cupcakes, to give away to friends....I just loved it loved it loved it!...

I wanted to try a recipe from my super-duper guide book "Cakes to Inspire and Desire" by Lindy Smith. So I tried the chocolate cake recipe using a 6 inch cake tin...

What do you think?...

Let's have a piece now...shall we?

Hmmm!!!! the smell of chocolate was incredible....

Absolutely delicious!

Oops! sorry....all gone! :-)

Monday, February 6, 2012

My son's birthday and a very special cake

Last year, right before my son's birthday, I was feeling poorly so I had no energy to spend decorating a cake... I did manage to bake one though, but the decoration was far from what I wanted. This time it was different so I carefully planned ahead... yay!.

Ever since my son watched the Queens Birthday parade in 2010, he has been obsessed with marching and has learned all the movements, posture and even commands!, I bought a costume that he wore out, and I saw he was still interested, I bought a better costume and he absolutely loves it (see him on picture to the above)....

So his cake had to be related to his passion :-)

For the first time, I have taken pictures of all (nearly all) the steps I have gone through. I hope you find it helpful and please don't hesitate to contact me if you want to know something in particular that I haven't covered here.
I'm not a professional decorating cakes, this is merely a hobby that I really enjoy.
Working with fondant is tricky, it takes quite a lot of practise and patience! especially when covering cakes.

I baked 2 madeira cakes using a 7 inch tin. This is a firm sponge that lasts 2 weeks. Ideally you take 1 week to decorate it and then there's a week to eat it.

Recipe for a 7inch/18cm round madeira cake:
Recipe taken from the book "Cakes to inspire and desire" by Lindy Smith (my only guide!)

-225 gr unsalter butter
-225 gr caster (superfine) sugar
-225 gr self raising flour
-125 gr plain flour
-4 large eggs

1. Pre heat the oven to 160C
2. Grease and line the cake tin with baking paper (bottom and sides)
3. Cream the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl, until light, fluffy and pale. Sift the flours together in a separate bowl.
4. Beat the eggs into the creamed mixture, one at a time, following each with a spoonful of flour, to prevent the mixture curdling.
5. Sift the remaining flour into the creamed mixture and fold in carefully with a large metal spoon. Add the flavouring, if using ( I added some vanilla extract).
6. Transfer to the lined tin and bake for 1 hour or 1hour and 1/4. (Mine was ready in an hour)
when the cake is ready it will be well risen, firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre will come out clean.
7. Leave the cake to cool in the tin then, leaving the lining paper on, wrap the cake in foil or place in an airtight container for at least 12 hours before cutting, to allow the cake to settle.

The sponge is firm enough to stand the weight of the fondant decoration, its moist and yummy!.

After baking the cakes, I covered the cake board with fondant.

I really like the Dr.Oatker Regal-Ice.
I used red food color (gel), I rolled it and placed it on top of the board.
To stick the fondant to the board, you can spread a thin layer of buttercream on the board first, or a thin layer of jam (this is what I did).
Before the fondant dried, I used a small cookie cutter to decorate the border, it looks really nice!.

The fondant on the board has to be dried before you place the cake on top, so leave it overnight in a dry and cool place.

As I'm always afraid of dry cakes, I add a bit of syrup to the sponge before spreading the filling. Add a tablespoon of sugar and 2 tablespoons (or a bt more) of water to a small sauce pan over medium heat, wait untill the sugar has dissolved completely, remove from the heat and let it cool.

Carefully remove the parchment paper from the cake. Level the top with a serrated knife.
Cut the cake in 3 layers. Place a thinner cake board, an inch smaller than the cake diameter (aprox) over a flat board covered with cling film, spread a bit of buttercream over the board and place the first cake layer over it. Using a straw make several holes in the sponge, then add a bit of the sugar syrup to the cake layer using a spoon.

For the filling I used buttercream. After you've added the syrup, spread some buttercream over, followed by another cake layer, poke with the straw, add some syrup, spread the buttercream and cover with the last layer.

Using a metal spatula, cover the top and sides of the cake with buttercream. To smooth the buttercream on the cake, put the spatula under hot running water, then pass it again over the cake, top and sides (a turnable table is very useful for this, I use an Ikea wooden turnable plate).

The idea is to make the buttercream as even as possible to avoid bumps under the fondant.
Unfortunately I couldn't take pics when I was rolling the fondant to cover the cake. I used 2 packages of the Dr. Oatker Regal-Ice, I kneaded it first. Add some "Trex" (vegetable fat) to the surface where you are going to roll the fondant, so it doesn't stick, add some Trex to the rolling pin as well and to the palm of your hands. Roll, lift gently, roll again untill you have reached the right size for your cake.
To make sure the fondant will cover the whole cake, measure the hight of the cake (x2), the diameter and add it up. For example, if the hight of the cake is 3 inches (x2) = 6 inches, diameter is 7, so 6+7= 13 inches. I would add a couple of inches just to make sure everything is ok!, so lets make it 15.
The rolled fondant should be at least 15 inches in all directions, when you've achieved this, gently lift the fondant and place it on top of the cake, gently press on top and lift the sides carefully to avoid craks, pass your hand around it then use a cake smoother to go around the top and sides, making sure there are no big creases.
After you're happy with the result, cut the excess with a sharp knife.

Take the second cake, cut the layers and using a big round cookie cutter, cut 3 circles, to create the second tier. Follow the same steps. Leave both cakes overnight as the fondant has to be dried before you assemble the cake and before any decorations.

Spread some buttercream to the centre of the cake board (red one with the stars).Use a metal spatula to help you lifting the cake and carefully place the first tier on top.
Gently mark the diameter of the second tier on the first one using a little sharp knife.
From that border go 1 inch toward the centre and make 4 marks (making a square), you'll place the dwells there. They are necessary to make 2 tier cakes as they give support to the second cake, otherwise they sink like the Titanic....and we don't want that, do we?.

You'll need now 4 wooden dwells. I bought a long one at B&Q, 5mm thick and cut one piece first, of 3,5 inches high, sharpen one end and push it gently through one of the marks, this is just to check the length of the dwell, the idea is to see it level with the cake surface. You may need to cut a bit more. Take it out carefully and use it to mark the other wooden dwells you'll use, so they have the same length.

After you have cleaned them, proceed to put the wooden dwells in the cake.

When all the dwells are in place, spread a bit of buttercream and carefully place the second tier on top.
Now to have fun decorating the cake!... as I said before, I already knew what I wanted to do, made a few drawings and took some measurements to place every bit into place.

You can see on picture #1 and #2 the joint between two stripes of fondant....what you can do....(that I unfortunately forgot!) is, damp one of your fingers and gently rub it where the joint is, the fondant gets softer so you can easily make that line disappear.
On pic #3 you can see I added the red triangles and before they dried, I used the same cookie cutter I used for the cake board, and pressed it to leave a star shape.

To stick the decorations to the cake, I make my own edible glue using "Tylo powder". If you don't have it, you can use vanilla extract instead.
To do the stripes on the second tier cake, I used a "sugarpaste gun", check it out here. It is a lot of fun to use it!. Compare prices before you buy one.

Here you can see the stripes:

I wanted to paint the stars with gold luster, but it didn't work the way I thought, so then, using white sugarpaste, I cut out some star shapes and stuck them over it.

With the same sugar paste, I modelled a little soldier and a small base to place the candle.
My original design didn't include the name letters, I added them at the end. Its good to plan your cake but you'll see along the way, that you can make some modifications and that's ok.

My son loved the cake!!!

I hope this "tutorial" was clear enough as it is the first time I make one!
Thanks for visiting :-)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Peach and Apricot Crumble Cake

Its been a rainy day and as I always say: "Rainy day = Baking day". I already had something in mind... that crumble cake I have made a few times this year. The recipe is from a BBC Good Food magazine. I have modified it a bit and I have to say, this is the best crumble cake I have made so why don't you try it?....believe won't be disappointed!.

-200 gr butter, softened
-225 gr golden caster sugar
-225 gr self-raising flour
-1 tsp baking powder
-3 eggs, beaten
-2 tbsp milk
-150 gr pot vanilla yogurt
-220 gr apricots from a tin (drained)
-200 gr peach slices from a tin (drained)

For the crumble
-30 gr butter
-5 heaped tbsp self-raising flour
-4 tbsp demerara sugar
-1tsp ground cinnamon
-A handful of walnut pieces (optional)
-A handful of chocolate chips (optional)

1. Line an oblong traybake tin (21 x 30 cms) with baking paper and heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Beat the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder, eggs and milk together until creamy. Spoon into the tin, level the top, then bake for 25 minutes until almost set.

2.Meanwhile, get the yogurt and fruit at the ready and make the crumble by rubbing all the ingredients together, except the walnuts and chocolate chips.

3. When cake has baked for 25 minutes, whip it out of the oven. Working quickly, spoon over the yogurt, scatter over the fruit, then top with the crumble. Sprinkle the walnuts and choc chips on top. Return to oven for 15-20 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.

Serve warm as pudding, or cooled and cut into squares with tea.
This cake will keep int he fridge for a couple of days.

Variation: You can certainly use nearly any fruit, I have tried it with peach and pears and I'd love to try it with raspberries and blueberries in Summer.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Snowman Biscuits... and Merry Christmas!!

This year passed in a blink!... and it seems to me that each year is passing even faster than the previous one...isn't that crazy?. In the last days I have said to myself: "I'm not going to do anything today, I'll just relax" but it doesn't really work!, there's always something and there I am again, jumping here and there...
We moved to a beautiful town last December. It was the sort of change I was really looking forward to. Miraculously we sold our previous house in 4 weeks and in the meantime we found the perfect one for us, well located, already empty, in great condition and next to our son's school. It was all meant to be!. I feel so happy here!.
Change didn't stop there, I began to study clinical hypnosis in September and I LOVE IT!. A great new window has been opened for me and I feel very grateful for that.

But let's go to the biscuits now...

I wasn't sure if I would have the time to do Christmas biscuits this year, too much going on! But I managed to find a bit of time and here they are!.

I had very little time to decorate them, but lots of fun!.
The recipe as follows:

For the biscuits:

-5 cups all-purpose flour
-2 teaspoons ground ginger
-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-1 teaspoon ground cloves
-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-zest of one orange (optional)
-1 cup (250gr) unsalted butter, softened
-1 cup sugar
-1 large egg
-1 cup molasses (chancaca in Chile)

1. Whisk together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda, salt, and orange zest (if you're using it) in a medium bowl.

2. Cream together the butter and sugar with your mixer until light and fluffy. Add the egg and molasses and mix until well blended.

3. With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until the two are thoroughly blended.

4. Turn dough onto a work surface and divide into three equal portions. Form each one into a rough disk. Now you're ready to roll, chill, and cut out cookie shapes.

5. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C)

6. After you've rolled and cut the dough and the cookies are on parchment-lined cookie sheets , bake them on the middle rack of your oven for 12-16 minutes or until the cookies start to turn a deeper brown around the edges.

7. Cool the cookies completely before decorating.

*This recipe was taken from the book "Cookie Craft"*

I'm very sorry to say I don't have a tutorial for the decoration!!! I promise to give you one the next time.

Wishing you all a very
Let's count our blessings and be thankful for all of them.

"Deep at the center of my being there is an infinite well of gratitude. I now allow this gratitude to fill my heart, my body, my mind, my consciousness, my very being. This gratitude radiates out from me in all directions, touching everything in my world, and returns to me as more to be grateful for. The more gratitude I feel, the more I am aware that the supply is endless."
(Louise L. Hay)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Raw chocolate treats! - Superfood

Have you ever heard the term 'Raw Chocolate' before? you're maybe more familiar with the word 'Cacao'.

David Wolfe
, in his excellent book 'Superfoods' puts Cacao (raw chocolate) in second place in the list of the top 10 superfoods. But please don't think that with this he means the chocolate bar you get from the no no....this actually refers to the main and most important of its ingredients: CACAO.

"All chocolate is made from cacao beans (Also known as cocoa beans). Cacao is chocolate. All the antioxidant value, mineral benefits, neurotransmitter rejuvenating properties, and overall health-giving qualities of chocolate are found in original cacao. Chocolate consists of just one ingredient - no sugar, no dairy, no chemicals required - that one ingredient is cacao."

And because I love chocolate, as much as you do out there, I became very interested in this particular part of the book.

Amazing to read that Cacao is the best natural source of the following nutrients:
-Vitamin C
-Omega-6 Fatty Acids
-Phenylethylamine (PEA)
-Methylxanthines: Caffeine and Theobromine
No wonder why is also called -since the 18th century- "the food of the gods"!.

I was very surprised (and happy!) when Indigo Herbs (where I bought the Lucuma powder) contacted me to offer to send me a "Raw chocolate kit" to give it a try, experiment and then let them know what I thought about it. It took me a second to say DEAL!. This happened immediately after I read David Wolfe's book....isn't that the sweetest coincidence?.

A few days later I received this in the post:

Without even opening the packet, I could smell the chocolate....ooooh my!, the contents?:

Raw Agave Nectar, Raw Cocoa Butter, Raw Cacao Powder, Vanilla and a leaflet with the instructions.
Because it was the very first time I had in my hands the wonderful opportunity to make my very own chocolate, instead of using all the ingredients at once (this wonderful kit contains enough to prepare 750gr!), I decided to use 100gr to begin with.

I honestly felt like Willy Wonka!.

Temperature is really important....and as Michael, from Indigo Herbs, told me, you don't really need a fancy thermometer (although, if you have it, great!), simply put some water in a pan and as soon as it reaches the boiling point, remove it from the heat. Wait 5 minutes, use a heat proof bowl and place it over the water. Put the Cacao butter in the bowl (make sure no water comes in) and wait until in melts completely.

Once you see that the butter has completely melted, add the vanilla. Mix it well with the butter.
After that, add the cacao powder, one spoonful, stir gently and blend well, then another one until you've added all the cocoa powder you want to use.

Once the cocoa powder has blended completely with the butter and vanilla (pic above), add the raw agave nectar whilst still stirring gently.

Then stir and stir until you get a nice creamy consistency, like the picture bellow. Then with a spoon fill your chocolate moulds, you can also use ice cube trays (the silicon ones) or little petite four cases.

Because I knew the raw chocolate is bitter than the one you usually get in the shops, I added a little ball of marzipan to go inside my treats... (I love marzipan).

After that, put the tray in the freezer until they set and are firm enough to pop them out and enjoy them!.

I have to say....the flavour is intense and sensational... you feel 'chocolate satisfied' quicker than with the commercial type of chocolate. Knowing you're getting the very best of the cacao beans, all the goodness that ancient civilizations also enjoyed in many ways, makes you feel even better.

My 3 year old tried one of these treats and was soon asking me for more!!!....brilliant!!.

I still have more raw ingredients to give it another go so keep an eye on my blog.
My suggestion? definitely give yourself the pleasure of making your own, proper chocolate... your life won't be the same!

If you want to get a 'Raw Chocolate Kit' for yourself or as a present for someone else, go to Indigo Herbs of Glastonbury online. Excellent service and quality.
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