Sunday, 2 December 2012

Drunk Barbie- pink champagne and strawberry cake

Its been a while! I have been baking but not blogging, trying to get back into it. This cake was for my friend Jen, she was having a champagne party for her birthday so I knew I had to get champagne in there somewhere. I found it pretty hard to find a champagne cake recipe that wasn't American, so had to convert from cups etc which is a bit annoying, luckily I got some lovely russian doll measuring cups from my friend Lyndsey for my birthday so this will not be a problem in the future!

This was the basic recipe I used, I doubled this as I wanted Barbie to have an extra puffy skirt.

Ingredients2 cups (240 g) cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
4 egg whites
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1⅓ cup (267 g) sugar
1⅓ cup pink champagne
red or pink food coloring

I bought the pinkest cava possible which will usually coincidentally be the cheapest, got to drink the rest of the bottle which is always a bonus. I found some american style sprinkles and so baked them into the sponge too to add a little extra tackiness, you need the long waxy american style ones as otherwise they just melt away into nothing! The barbie was really cheap (though doesnt she have amazing hair?), I pulled her legs off so now there are a pair of barbie legs floating around out kitchen which is a bit creepy...
Pre amputation, I made her bodice by sticking sugar pearls straight onto some royal icing.
I made a strawberry buttercream by folding in some really nice strawberry jam into a basic buttercream, I then layered the cakes up with that and some fresh strawberries. I also soaked the sponge in a bit more Cava as the booziness had pretty much baked out of the sponge- this is never a good thing!

Do you like her little hair net? Pre-shaping, the dress is a bit too 80's

Dress shaped and a little more princessy
I coloured and rolled out some fondant to cover her dress, I used a pizza cutter to trim the fondant into a circle and cut a little strip out to fit it round her body.
Actually covering the whole cake with the barbie in situ was quite hard, I had rolled the fondant really thin as I hate when its really thick-not nice to eat. Being so thin it did start to tear a bit and I struggled to get a clean finish around the barbie. This is the reason I never want to be paid to make cakes, I am not too bothered about little things like cracks in the icing but if I was paid it would really stress me out! I'll be sticking to my usual fee of a bottle of wine/some drinks.

My flatmate Rosie helped me cover her dress in pearls and butterflies

Amazing ponytail, jealous
 And that was it! I don't have any photos of the interior as I wasn't around when it was cut, but I believe the birthday girl enjoyed it.
Happy birthday Jen!

Soph x

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Double chocolate Sweetie cake!

Took the cake on a trip to the yard to get a daylight view

My friend from work Ross had a birthday this week, he had asked me months ago to make him a birthday cake so I had been thinking about what to make for him. He has a very sweet tooth and is perhaps the biggest kid I know so I dreamt up this mega sweet chocolate cake.

I used a new chocolate cake recipe that used oil instead of butter, I was a bit dubious but it actually turned out quite nice, very fudgy and dense but perhaps a little synthetic tasting. It would definitely be a good recipe if you needed a cake to keep for a few days, however that wasn't the case here (in fact im not sure that it lasted more than one day with Ross...)



I made a simple chocolate ganache with some dark chocolate, and then I made a white chocolate buttercream, using a simple butter cream base but then whipping in some white chocolate ganache (just white chocolate and double cream, all very healthy)

The decoration was mega simple, I just went and spent a small fortune on sweets, raided my baking cupboard for a few things I had already and piled them all on! I added a ribbon to give a bit more of a birthday cake feel.

I also covered the sweets in some sprinkles and edible glitter...not tacky at all. But Ross seemed to like it and ate several slices in one sitting...

Happy Birthday Ross!

Soph x

Monday, 13 August 2012

Candied orange and lemon cake

This cake was for a 40th birthday, I didn't get a chance to photograph much of it as I had some friends staying the weekend I made it, but it was defintely one of my favourite cakes that I have made.

I made my own lemon curd a few days before the cake was due, I used Nigel Slaters recipe, he is my go-to guy, not only do I just love reading the way he writes about food, his recipes are pretty fail safe and uncomplicated, he always says he is a cook not a chef and I think that comes through in his recipes. You can get the recipe for lemon curd here...

I also candied some lemons and oranges in advance, I sliced them as thinly as I could without slicing myself (I can be pretty careless, I have had a few kitchen incidents before...) blanched them in hot water for about 10 mins to soften the rind, and then made up a sugar syrup. I used a 2 parts sugar to one part water mixture, brought it to the boil, added the fruit and simmered for about 1 hour. This smelt absolutely amazing, zesty and kind of christmassy.

Once they were done I lifted each slice from the syrup and left to dry a little on some baking parchment, they remain really sticky and to be honest aren't very nice to eat (pretty much impossible really) but they look pretty.

I sieved out the remaining sugar syrup as I was left with an intensely zesty syrup, think I am going to make a sorbet with it!

For the cake I used the following recipe...

350g/12oz butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
350g/12oz caster sugar
4 oranges zest only, plus juice of 2 oranges
3 large pieces candied lemon peel , finely chopped
6 free-range eggs
3 tsp baking powder
300g/10½oz self-raising flour
50g/2oz cornflour

Using a basic creaming butter and sugar, adding eggs, and then the dry ingredients. The addition of cornflour made the cake really moist, which also meant it was a bit delicate as you will see...

I whipped some cream, folded in some of the lemon curd and then sandwhiched the layers of orange cake with the lemon curd and lemon cream. This made the largest cake I have ever made as it wouldnt even fit under my cake dome, I also had to carry it into the centre of chorlton to get to the party I was going to and it got extremely squished! I'm glad I had a picture of it to show the birthday boy as it looked a bit of a sorry state when he first saw it, but he was really pleased with it and it tasted pretty nice (if I do say so myself) so all was well.

Soph x

Chocolate cassis gardening cake

I had totally lost the momentum of actually posting on here, but here I am! Quite surprised to see that I have still been getting a lot of hits despite my absense. I have actually been baking quite a lot, but I have also been so busy recently that I have rarely photographed nevermind had time to blog.

It was my Dads birthday a few weeks ago and I went home to Northern Ireland for it. I have never actually made my dad a cake so I thought this would be a good opportunity. My dad has a big allotment type thing in his garden so I decided to do a garden themed cake. One bonus of being at home was that I could collect the eggs for the cake from the chickens in the garden, although this ended up really freaking me out as one of the eggs was still really warm when I picked it up...a bit graphic.
The kind egg donor also came to check that I was putting it to good use...

Thanks Chickey
My dad has a real sweet tooth so I went for my favourite chocolate cake recipe (nigellas devils food cake recipe), but added a little twist in that I baked some Creme de Cassis (blackcurrant liqueur) into the mixture, and then also soaked some into the sponge once it was baked. I mascerated some raspberries in the cassis for some extra fruitness to the liquid, and then I put the raspberries into the middle of the cake along with some fresh raspberries.

I made a really rich chocolate ganache, it is a really simple mix of dark chocolate, butter, muscavado sugar and warm water, it makes the richest glossiest frosting which went so well with the boozy raspberries.

I wanted the decoration to be really good, but had a bit of difficulty. I have loads of gel colours at my home in Manchester, however had to rely on supermarket foodcolours for this cake and they really are a bit rubbish, they make the icing so sticky and make it very hard to mould anything with. Also I really don't like the colours, they look extremely artificial and kind of ruin the effect. However I persevered! Making all the vegetables was very fiddly but I spent a nice morning doing this with my sister Kathryn so it was actually quite fun. 

I wanted to make a soil/compost base to "plant" the vegetables on and so smashed up some oreo cookies and it turned out quite realistic. I piped green "grass" again with a substandard supermarket piping nozzle, I wasn't too happy with this, wrong colour and too big a nozzle (you can actually get nozzles specifically for piping grass) but it did the job at least.

And so here is the finished article! Its not exactly the classiest of cakes but my dad loved it, we had it brought out at the restaurant we went to and he was very surprised. It tasted pretty nice too!

Happy Garfield!

Soph x