Saturday, 22 October 2011

Chocolate Rose Cake

I've not been able to bake a lot over the past couple of weeks as I've been working away a lot. I've really been missing my kitchen, especially as it's National Baking Week, so a friends birthday party was a great excuse to get back!

She's a total chocoholic so I decided to make a marble cake with chocolate icing.

For the marble cake I made 10oz of batter in total, 6oz of chocolate and 6oz of vanilla and put white chocolate chunks in the vanilla and dark chocolate chunks in the chocolate. I also added a little soured cream to ensure the sponge was lovely and moist. I baked it in two 8" cake tins. I'm so pleased with my new Kitchen Aid and the texture of the batter really is better.

For the icing I made a basic butter cream and added plenty of melted dark chocolate and another spoonful of soured cream. I sandwiched about 4 tablespoons between the two layers and then smoothed a crumb layer over the whole cake (a thin layer of icing to keep any crumbs in) and then used the palette knife to put plenty of icing around the sides. For the top I used a star nozzle to pipe circles (as though I was topping a cupcake) to resemble roses. I did the ones around the outside first, using a small blob of icing to fill in the gaps and then finished with one in the centre. Finally I sprinkled a little gold glitter all over the top and pressed chocolate shavings all over the sides.

The cake looked especially lovely when the candles were lit as they made the glitter look even more sparkly!

Chocolate Rose Cake

For the cake:
8.5oz self raising flour (I always use supreme sponge flour)
1.5oz cocoa powder
10oz margarine or unsalted butter
10oz caster sugar (I always use unrefined golden caster sugar)
5 eggs
2tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla paste
2 tablespoons of soured cream
100g white chocolate chunks
100g dark chocolate chunks

For the icing:
250g unsalted butter
350g icing sugar
200g melted dark chocolate
1 tbsp of soured cream

1. Preheat the oven to 170C

2. Start by making the vanilla sponge (that way you don't need to wash the bowl in between mixtures).

3. Cream 4oz of butter with 4oz of caster sugar until very light and fluffy. Add 2 eggs and beat them in

4. Add 4oz flour, the vanilla paste, 1 tbsp of sourced cream and just under 1 tsp of baking powder. Fold in the white chocolate chips

5. Place one blob of mixture in the centre of each cake tin and then four blobs around leaving a gap between each for some chocolate mixture.

6. In the same bowl cream 6oz butter with 6oz caster sugar until fluffy. Add the 3 remaining eggs one at a time.

7. Add 4.5oz of flour, 1.5oz cocoa powder, just over 1 tsp baking powder and 1 tbsp of soured cream and mix well. Fold in the dark chocolate chunks

8. Blob the chocolate batter between the vanilla and smooth the top as much as you can without mixing the batters together too much

9. Bake for 35-45mins until a skewer comes out clean.

10. While the cake cooks make the icing. Start by beating the butter until smooth and the gradually add the icing sugar. Finally stir in the soured cream and slightly cooled melted chocolate.

11. Once totally cool ice the cake as detailed above.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Random Bakes of Kindness 3: Cake and Cookies

I've been promising to take some baked goodies into work for ages so decided a Random Bake of Kindness was in order. I had the oven on anyway so it was easy to make a little extra.

I started by making some Millies Style Double Chocolate Chip cookies. They are always a crowd pleaser and very quick and easy to make. I forgot to take any photos but it is the same recipe as my very first post and there are photos there if anyone wants to take a look. The full recipe is below but basically you cream the butter and sugars together, add an egg and then add flour, cocoa powder, salt and chocolate chips. I always chop a bar of chocolate up as I prefer chunks to the small drops. I also tend to use white as I like the contrasting colour, but any chocolate works or even nuts, raisins or chunks of toffee. Bake them in an oven pre-heated to 180C for 7 mins before cooling on a wire rack. Don't be tempted to cook them for any longer if you want the lively chewy middle. Even if you don't think they're done I promise they will firm up! Once cool either serve as they are or drizzle with a little melted chocolate.

I also wanted to take a cake, but wanted to try a new recipe. Here in the UK there is definitely an autumnal feeling in the air. The nights are drawing in, the weather is getting colder and the leaves are falling from the trees. This time of year always makes me think of spices and warming flavours so it is the perfect time to try a recipe I've fancied making for a while. It's a Spiced Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting and is adapted from the Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days recipe book and also used some of the many apples I have waiting to be used.

The full recipe is below but you start by cooking the grated apple, sugar, spices and apple juice in a pan. While it cools a little cream the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time followed by half of the dry ingredients the soured cream and the rest of the dry ingredients. Finally mix in the apple mixture and the walnuts. Put the mixture into two 8'' tins. Make sure they are lined and greased especially well as I found the cakes very sticky once baked. Bake for about 30 mins until a skewer pushed into the middle comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. I found the cakes to be very sticky and crumbly so handle them carefully.

In the meantime make the icing. Put the egg whites and sugar in a heat proof bowl (make sure the bowl is scrupulously clean and no yolk sneaks in otherwise the whites will not whip) and place over a pan of water, taking care that the bowl doesn't touch the water. Whisk on a high speed for about 8 mins until the mixture forms stiff peaks and allow to cool for about an hour.

Once everything is cool sandwich the two cakes with approximately 4 tablespoons of icing and use the rest to cover the top and sides of the cake.

It was a really unusual cake and everyone was very complimentary. Especially about the icing which was very yummy!

Millies Style Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

125g butter, softened
100g light brown soft sugar
125g caster sugar
1 egg lightly beaten
175g self raising flour
50g cocoa
1/2 tsp salt
200g choc chips

preheat oven to 180
cream butter & sugars, then add egg
sift in flour, cocoa & salt, then choc chips
roll into walnut sizd balls or cut slices
place on ungreased paper
bake for 7 minutes for doughy cookies or 10 for golden edges
take out of oven & leave for 1 min before transferring to wire rack.

Spiced Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Icing

For the cake:
140g (5oz) unsalted butter or margarine
50g grated granny smith apple (around 1 apple)
60ml (2floz) apple juice
250g (9oz) soft light brown sugar
1tsp cinnamon
1/4tsp ground nutmeg
1/4tsp ground ginger
2 large eggs
230g (8oz) plain flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp salt
60ml (2 floz) soured cream
150g (5oz) walnuts chopped

For the icing:
3 large egg whites
125g (4 1/2 oz) soft dark brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 170C (325F, gas mark 3) and line and grease two 8'' cake tins

1. Melt 20g of the butter with the grated apple, the apple juice, spices and 75 g of the sugar until the liquid has reduced by about three-quarters
2. Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add one egg at a time
3. Stir in half of the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt
4. Stir in all of the soured cream
5. Stir in the remainder of the dry ingredients
6. Stir in the apple mixture and pecans
7. Divide between the two tins and cook for about 30 mins until a skewer pushed into the centre comes out clean and then cool on a wire rack before icing
8. Make the icing by mixing the egg whites with the sugar in a heat proof bowl (ensure the bowl is scrupulously clean and no egg yolk gets in otherwise the eggs will not whip).
9. Place the bowl over a pan of water but make sure that the bowl doesnt touch the water. Whisk on a high speed for 6-8 minutes until it forms stiff peaks. Set aside to cool for about an hour.
10. Once cool place about 4 tbsp of icing onto one cake and then sandwich the other on top. Use the remainder of the icing to cover the top and sides of the cake.

Adapted from the Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Brown Sugar Cookies

Last night I visited some friends and as I was staying the night wanted to take something for them. I decided to make some cookies but not to follow a recipe and have a bit of a play.

I love dark brown muscavado sugar so wanted to try and get the flavour through in my cookies. Unfortunately I'm not really sure on what quantities I used as I just added a bit of this and a bit of that until the texture looked right.

I started by creaming some butter and dark brown muscavado sugar until it was very light and fluffy. I'd say it was about 150g of each. I then added an egg and some self raising flour until it formed a dough consistency (in retrospect half ground almonds would have been a good addition). I put blobs of mixture about the size of golf balls on a greased and lined baking tray and didn't flatten then very much. Just adding a whole almond to the centre of each. I baked them at 160C for about 10 mins until they were slightly golden but still soft in the middle.

They made a very crumbly melt in the mouth cookie and the brown sugar taste really did come through. Next time I might add a pinch of salt to the mixture to bring out the flavour more and a sprinkle of sugar to the top of each before baking.

Everyone seemed to enjoy them including their 9 month old (who kept trying to steal mine, at least they don't have any supermarket nasties in!)

Monday, 3 October 2011

Autumn Blooms

I know I normally write about food but today it's flowers for a change!

My lovely friend Jen bought me a bunch of flowers for my birthday. They are full of berries and autumnal colours and look wonderful on my dining room table!

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Tiramisu Cake

This morning I went for brunch at Bills Produce Store in Covent Garden with a large group of friends. As it was such a lovely day afterward we went to sit in the park to enjoy the sun. I made a cake for us to have a slice with a takeaway coffee.

I started by a basic vanilla sponge sliced into three layers. I brushed each layer with plenty of strong, sweet coffee and a good dusting of cocoa powered. For the frosting I used a recipe I got from the course I went to in Italy mentioned in my soup post (recipe below) and put it between the layers and all over the top and sides of the cake.

I dusted the top with a little cocoa powder, icing sugar and gold glitter.

Mascarpone Frosting
1. Separate the egg white and egg yolk from one egg
2. Whisk the egg white into stiff peaks
3. Whisk the egg yolk with 2tbsps of sugar
4. Stir in 250g mascarpone
5. Whip 250ml double cream
6. Fold the double cream and ye egg whites into the mascarpone mixture

Bridesmaids cupcakes

One of my best friends in getting married next May and organised a get together this weekend for her bridesmaids (plus one of the flower girls) to go with her to the wedding fair at Earls Court and various other wedding planning things.

On Saturday evening she planned a girly night and I took some cupcakes over. In keeping with the girly theme I decided to go all floral and pink with a touch of glitter! I used some lovely floral cases and displayed them on a floral card base. The cupcake is a vanilla sponge but I followed the advice in Oliver Peyton's British Baking book and weighed the eggs (with the shells on) and used the same volume of flour, butter and sugar. I used two medium eggs so this was 39g eggs, butter, self raising flour and sugar and I added 1/4 tsp baking powder and vanilla paste. It wasn't a bother weighing the eggs and I do think it resulted in a slightly better texture. I would like to try it when I'm next making a Victoria sponge.

Once baked and cooled I cut a small hole from each and filled with a hulled strawberry and topped with a mixture of pink and white vanilla buttercream and a touch of glitter. For pictures of the strawberry in the centre please see my previous blog post 'cupcake heaven'.