Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Chocolate Fudge Cake

One of my work colleagues asked me to make a cake for her and her family. Her kids love chocolate so I made Nigella's chocolate fudge cake with chocolate fudge icing. This cake is so rich and chocolatey, I almost couldn't give it away.

(adapted from Nigella Lawson)
400g plain flour
250g golden caster sugar
100g light brown muscovado sugar
50g cocoa powder
tsp baking powder
tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt
large eggs
142ml sour cream
tbsp vanilla extract
175g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
125ml sunflower oil
300ml cold water

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Butter and line the bottom of two cake tins. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugars, cocoa, baking powder, bicarb and salt. In another bowl whisk together the eggs, sour cream and vanilla until blended. Beat together the melted butter and oil until just blended, then beat in the water. Add the dry ingredients all at once and mix together on a slow speed. Add the egg mixture, and mix again until everything is blended and then pour into the prepared tins. Bake the cakes for 50-55 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool the cakes in their tins on a wire rack for 15 minutes, and then turn the cakes out onto the rack to cool completely.

Chocoate Fudge Icing
175g dark chocolate (70%)
250g unsalted butter, softened
275g icing sugar, sifted
tbsp vanilla extract

Melt the chocolate in the microwave for approximately 2-3 minutes on medium. In another bowl beat the butter until it's soft and creamy and then add the sieved icing sugar and beat again until everything's light and fluffy. Then gently add the vanilla and chocolate and mix together until everything is glossy and smooth. 

Sandwich the middle of the cake with about a quarter of the icing, and then ice the top and sides. Decorate with grated white chocolate.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Cake Pops

Exactly one year ago today, my friend had a little baby girl. About two months later I went to visit her and get some new baby cuddles. I bought the gift and, of course, made some cupcakes. But this time I did something different: I used fondant for the first time! I made some little baby faces and put them on half of the cupcakes. 

Looking back, it's crazy how much has changed in a year. But one thing that hasn't changed is my love/ obsession with baking. To celebrate her 1st birthday, I decided to try something else new: my new cake pop mould. I've made cake pops a few times before but they were pretty time consuming so I invested in a mould.

As it was my first time using the mould, I decided to play it safe and follow the recipe on the packet. The recipe said flour. I assumed this meant plain flour and even though I thought this was a little strange, I went with it. They didn't rise at all so I tried again with self-raising flour, and even threw in a little baking powder. They still didn't rise as much as I would have liked, but I went with it.

I let them cool for just over an hour, before sticking in the sticks with a bit of melted white chocolate and chilling in the fridge for 2 hours. I always had trouble with how to store cake pops while they're setting, so a little while ago I bought a polystyrene ball which works great.

When they were completely chilled, and the sticks were solid, I melted some more white chocolate and dipped each pop into the chocolate. I left a few plain and covered the rest with sprinkles. This can be tricky as you have to let the chocolate set a little bit before rolling in the sprinkles, but not so much that they won't stick. It's a timing thing and can take a bit of practice

I added fondant letters to five of the cake pops. These were all done free hand. My next investment will definitely be letter cutters. I used an upside down cupcake box and poked some holes in it to present the cake pops in. I'm really happy with how these turned out and can't wait to try out some new recipes in my cake pop mould.

4oz self-raising flour
4oz butter, softened
4oz caster sugar
3 eggs
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180ºC and flour cake pop mould. Beat all ingredients together until smooth. Fill one half of the mould with the batter and pop the other half on top, making sure it's secure. Put it on a baking tray and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Take off the top of the mould and leave to cool.

You will also need:
300g white chocolate
Cake pop sticks

Leave cake pops to cool for at least 30 minutes. Dip cake pop stick into 50g melted white chocolate and place approximately 1.5 cm into cake pop. Repeat with all cake pops. Cool cake pops for at least two hours. Melt the remaining chocolate and, one by one, dip each cake pop into the chocolate. Turn the cake pop as the chocolate sets. When it is just set, roll it in the sprinkles. Repeat until all cake pops are finished.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Rainbow Cake

I love this cake. If someone was to ask me to show them only one cake that I made, it would always be this one. There's just something about it that's so me. It's deceptively simple. It has that wow factor that people want in a cake, but it can be whipped up in no time.

I went with a vanilla sponge with vanilla buttercream for this one and kept the layers pretty thin as I wanted to make sure I included all the colours. I love using chocolate for decoration. It's great at hiding all the mistakes and tastes amazing.

225g butter, softened
225g caster sugar
4 medium eggs, beaten
225g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp semi-skimmed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp glycerine
Food coloring

Preheat the oven to 180ºC and line four baking tins. Whisk the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Whisk in the egg gradually, adding a teaspoon of flour with each addition. Add the remaining flour and baking powder into the bowl, then gradually whisk in the milk, vanilla extract and glycerine. Split mixture into four bowls and add a different colour to each. Pour the mixtures into the baking tins and bake for approximately 10-15 minutes, keeping an eye on them as they are very thin. Cool on a wire rack

Vanilla Buttercream
300g unsalted butter, softened
459g icing sugar
4 tbsp hot water
2 tsp vanilla extract

Beat the butter until light and fluffy, then beat in the icing sugar and hot water in two batches. Add the vanilla extract.

You will also need:

To assemble, stack the cake filling each layer with buttercream. Cover the whole cake in buttercream and stick KitKats around the outside. Pour M&Ms on top and tie with a ribbon. 

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Lemon Drizzle Cake

It was a friend's birthday at the weekend and, of course, she was going to get a cake. I was insanely busy over the weekend so needed something quick to make. I turned to my trusty Lemon Drizzle Cake. I have never had more compliments for a cake than with this one. It is an absolute crowd pleaser every time.

(adapted from The Londoner)
3 large eggs
170g self-raising flour
170g caster sugar
170g unsalted butter, softened
Zest of 2 lemons
1 tsp baking powder

Lemon Drizzle
Juice of 2 lemons
110g icing sugar

Preheat oven to 180ºC and line a loaf tin. Put cake ingredients in a bowl and beat until smooth. Pour into cake tin and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. While the cake is baking, mix together the lemon juice and icing sugar to make the drizzle. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, stab your cake all over with the skewer and pour over the lemon drizzle. Leave to cool in the tin.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Nutella Brownies

Last night I got a craving. I needed chocolate. Of course, trying to be healthy, there was no chocolate in the house. I had some cocoa powder so thought I'd make some brownies. Then checked the recipe and realised they needed real chocolate. Searching the presses again I came across a jar of the almighty Nutella. My favourite food item. The best thing ever invented. So, I looked to a dear friend for help: Google. I found a recipe for Nutella brownies and set to work.

These brownies were really simple to make and made my kitchen smell amazing. The recipe said let them cool for 2 hours, but I couldn't do. After 30 minutes I had already devoured three squares. They were light and fluffy, with just the right amount of chewiness that a brownie should have. They were rich and delicious but didn't really taste of Nutella, which I was quite disappointed with. I'm not sure if I'd make them again, mainly because I don't know if they're worth the cup of Nutella. But if ever I need to settle a chocolate craving again, I'll know to turn to good old Nutella.

(adapted from Ricardo Cuisine)
2 eggs
1 cup Nutella
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 170ºC and line a baking tin. Beat the eggs, Nutella, brown sugar and vanilla until smooth. Add the flour, salt and melted butter. Pour into the baking tin and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin before cutting into squares.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Giant Pink Cupcake

This cake was one of the first proper cakes I ever made. I made it for a friend's birthday. She loves everything pink, so of course I made her a pink cake! I used a cupcake baking tin (similar to this one) to make the shape and used chocolate fingers to make a cupcake case, tied it up with a pink ribbon, stolen from my mother, and served it on a very pretty paper plate.

225g butter, softened
225g caster sugar
4 medium eggs, beaten
225g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp semi-skimmed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp glycerine
Pink food colouring

Preheat the oven to 180ºC and line the baking tin. Whisk the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Whisk in the egg gradually, adding a teaspoon of flour with each addition. Add the remaining flour and baking powder into the bowl, then gradually whisk in the milk, vanilla extract, glycerine and food colouring. Pour three quarters of the mixture into the base of the cupcake and bake for approximately 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and pour the remaining mixture into the other half of the cupcake tin and bake for a further 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Meringue Icing
(adapted from Hulett's Sugar)
300g caster sugar 
2 egg whites 
80ml cold water 
1/2 tsp cream of tartar 
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pink food colouring

Combine all ingredients, except vanilla, on top of a double boiler. Beat until well mixed. Beat constantly until frosting forms a stiff peak. Work through occasionally with a spoon or spatula. Remove from heat, add the vanilla extract and pink food colouring and beat well. 

You will also need:
1 packet milk chocolate fingers
1 packet white chocolate fingers
Pink shimmer sprinkles
Pink ribbon

To assemble the cake, I first stacked the two pieces of the cupcakes, using a little bit of the meringue icing as glue. Then I piped the meringue icing on top, keeping a little bit to use as glue for the fingers around the outside.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Chocolate Train Cake

Last week I made a Pigs in Mud cake for my friend who was leaving work. I also made a cake for her adorable 2 year old son. Like most 2 year old boys I know, he loves trains. I spent hours looking for a how-to guide online, when my mum suggested I looked in one of her old cookbooks. And that's exactly where I found this one. It was simple and easy to follow, unlike all the new fancy books out there now. It also used things that everyone would have around the house. The cylindrical part of the train was made from a tin can (I used mangos). Seriously, how clever!? I never would've thought of that! 

I loved how the cake turned out. It was my first time making a shaped cake, so it was all trial and error and there are a lot of things I'd do differently next time. I also know that I need to work on my piping skills. Straighter lines would've given it a must cleaner finish. But, all that was forgotten when I got sent a photo of my friend's son with his cake. The huge smile on his face is the reason I love baking! Apparently, he wouldn't let her cut it and kept on asking to play with it on the floor. How cute!!

250g butter
250g caster sugar
4 eggs
250g self-raising flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp hot water

Preheat the oven to 160ºC and line a square cake tin and a clean tin can. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Blend the cocoa powder and hot water. Cool slightly and beat into the mixture. Beat in the eggs one at a time, adding a tablespoon of the flour with the second egg. Fold in the remaining flour. Turn the mixture into the prepared tins and bake for 20 minutes for the cake tin and 20-30 minutes for the can. Turn onto a wire rack to cool.

Chocolate Buttercream
125g unsalted butter
250g icing sugar, sifted
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp boiling water
1 tbsp milk

Beat the butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the icing sugar. Blend the cocoa powder and water. Cool, then add to the mixture with the milk (if need).

30g unsalted butter
60g icing sugar, sifted
1/2 tbsp milk
Yellow food colouring

Beat the butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the icing sugar. Add the food colouring and milk (if needed).

You will also need:
Candy eyes
Liquorice Allsorts

Cut the square cake in half and lay one piece on a cake board to form the bace. Cut two thirds from the remaining third and place upright, cut side down, at one end of the base. Take the remaining third and place upright, cut side down, on the board beside the other two pieces. Cover all the pieces, and the round cake, with chocolate buttercream. Place the round cake on the base. Neaten the icing. Position 3 Oreo halves on each side for wheels. Using Liquorice Allsorts, make the windows, buffers and funnels. Using the yellow icing, pipe along the edges of the train. Add candy eyes and a smile.