Sunday, 13 August 2017

Vertical Striped Sponge Cake

When I posted pictures of this cake on Facebook and Instagram , I called it a "simple cake".
It wasn't....




It's origin goes back a few weeks to when I was making some sheet cakes to use for mini's. 
They baked a lot thinner than what I wanted, so I cling-wrapped them, and put them in the freezer, for some use that I'd have to figure out later. 

Well, later came and I realised they were perfect to use for making a cake with vertical stripes. 

One of those things that seems easy enough until you try it. πŸ˜…



Style Sweet CA did a much better job of it than I, so here's a link to her blog post and tutorial




It drives me a little crazy that my stripes aren't all perfectly even and parallel. But I'm going to pass it off as a first attempt, and part of the learning curve.... which is a curve and not a straight line !

The cake itself is ganache-covered vanilla sponge using this recipe, filled with a turkish delight buttercream. More on that in a future post πŸ˜‰  

Happy baking and creating!  

xxM 





Monday, 7 August 2017

Pokemon Cake Pokeball Topper

I will admit to catching the odd Pokemon - purely for research purposes, of course!
It's hard to make a themed-cake if you know nothing about the subject, right?!

So, if you don't know much about Pokemon or the game, Pokemon Go...
 that's a Pokeball on top of the cake (essential for catching Pokemon) and that's Snorlax, my son's favourite, sleeping on top of the ball, with Pikachu on his back.
The night sky background is inspired by the game icon's background.
(Lots of research, I tell you!)




Jack had drawn a design of the cake that he wanted...



...which as you can see wasn't quite like the end product. But I included all the elements he'd requested - interpreting them in a way that worked for me. And he was very happy with the result. Thank goodness!



This is how I made the Pokeball topper:



  • Smear a thin layer of  Holsum / Crisco over the polystyrene ball. 
  • Drape and mould red paste over the ball  - using a modelling chocolate/ fondant blend really helps with pliability. Support the ball in a teacup. 
  • Use nylon string/ dental floss to mark off an indentation where you're going to trim. 
  • Allow the paste to firm up, then invert the ball in an appropriately sized bowl and repeat with the white paste.  
  • Make sure that the gap between the red and white paste is as even and neat as possible. Use a strip of paper cut to size as a template/ guide if necessary. 
  • Cut out a strip of black paste and secure it in the gap. 
  • Finish with circles of black and white paste. 





 I like to use Holsum as my "glue" when working with modelling chocolate/ fondant blends like this, because if you need to remove the paste and re-do or re-position, the Holsum kneads easily in and doesn't leave any residual tackiness/ bleeding of colours.
With the 2D appliquΓ© above, I used Holsum to initially place it and check positioning, then stuck it down securely with melted chocolate.  

I can't tell you how relieved I am to have successfully navigated through a Pokemon themed party! 
I am going to start priming Jack now with a theme I can get my head around a little easier for next year! 

Happy decorating!
xxM 

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Pokeball Cookies

This theme...
It would not be my first choice, I tell you. But a mother's gotta do what a mother's gotta do, right?!

So here I am, decorating Pokeballs.

They're actually not so bad. Just three colours! Yay!
But that they're round. And we all know the challenges I have with symmetry!





Anyway, here goes:

  • Royal icing in three colours and two consistencies. 
  • Use a template to help define areas. 
  • Outline with detail-consistency royal icing.
  • Flood with flooding-consistecy royal icing. 
  • Allow the white area and red area to set before piping in the black. 
  • The little white circle in the middle is done wet-on-wet onto the black icing (which I figured was the easiest way to make sure it was round!) 




If you've got an airbrush, add a little airbrushing with red to give the balls some depth.
See - not so bad!



Now I need to go decorate a Pokemon inspired cake. Give me strength!
πŸ˜‰

xxM

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Seed & Nut Rusks

One of the best parts of our recent trip to Mozambique? Sitting on the deck with coffee and rusks, watching the sun rise over the Indian Ocean. 
What a sublime way to start the day. 
On the drive back home, I asked my husband Did we appreciate that enough? 
Because having my tea and rusk this morning, while I packed school bags and yelled at  reminded the kids to brush their teeth, wasn't quite the same!



Whether is time in a game park, camping in the 'Berg, or a trip to the coast like we've just done; having rusks in the morning is so very South-African, isn't it? 
It's just what you need before going on a dawn game drive, or heading down to the beach for an early morning swim.





These are the rusks I made for the trip. They saw us through until the second last day.
When the coffee and rusks ran out, it was time to come home!



Seed & Nut Rusks
Recipe by Tea, Cake & Create

Preheat the oven to 180'C. Grease and line a large shallow baking tray with baking paper (eg. a 40 x 25cm cookie tray)

Ingredients:
250g cake flour
200g wholewheat flour
50g coconut flour
200g brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
50g rolled oats
100g sunflower seeds
100g mixed seeds (pumpkin, linseed, chia, sesame, etc)
100g raw almonds, roughly chopped
40g desiccated coconut
2 extra large eggs, lightly beaten
250ml canola oil
250ml buttermilk

Method:
Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
Make a well in the centre, and stir in the eggs, oil and buttermilk.
Mix until well combined.
Spread the dough into the prepared baking tray.
Bake for approximately 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
When cool, remove from the baking tray, slice lengthways into three long rectangles, then slice each rectangle into fingers, about 2cm wide.
Arrange these on cookies trays, slightly spread apart. Dry out in a warm oven  (3-4 hours at 70'C).
Remove from the oven once crisp.



Enjoy dunked in tea of coffee, preferably with your feet up in front of a great view!

xxM

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Pistachio and Turkish Delight White Truffle-Fudge Squares


These were the result of a last minute request to make something for a colleague who likes white chocolate. 
It had crossed my mind to make white chocolate truffles, but I was deterred by the time-consuming, ganache-setting, truffle-rolling, chocolate-dipping part of their production. (The entire process, in other words!)  
So, instead, I looked for an "easy white chocolate fudge recipe"  - those being the exact words I fed into Google.  
The one I found certainly appeared quick and easy. But not typical.
And the results were not typical of fudge either.  (For me, there's a certain amount of crunch and crumble in a square of standard fudge.)


These, though, while smooth, rich, creamy, and not too-sweet, have a softer texture that's quite like, well ... like eating squares of ganache.
Truffle-like, in other words. (No truffle-rolling, and chocolate-dipping required, though!)



So here we go...

Pistachio and Turkish Delight White Truffle-Fudge Squares.
Recipe adapted from Inspired by Michelle Cake Designs

Grease and line* a 20x20cm square baking pan.
*Make sure to use a sheet of baking paper that rises above the edge of the pan. This will make it easier to remove the "truffle-fudge" once it has set.
 
500g white chocolate
1 can condensed milk
30g butter, chopped into cubes
50g chopped pistachios
50g turkish delight, chopped into small pieces / mini cubes

Place the chocolate, condensed milk and butter in a microwave-proof bowl, and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Remove from the microwave and stir. Repeat until the chocolate has melted, and the mixture is smooth (don't over-heat).
Stir in the pistachios and pieces of turkish delight.

Pour into the prepared square pan. Refrigerate for approx. 3 hours until set.
Remove from the pan and cut into small squares (dip the knife in boiling water to make cutting easier).




Pistachio and turkish delight is just one suggestion. Try other nuts, citrus zest, chocolate chips, etc for other flavour options.

Happy baking!

xxM  


Saturday, 8 July 2017

Oreo Drip Cake

 So,  I thought I'd just quickly whip up a little something to celebrate World Chocolate Day yesterday...


That little something was a mug of hot chocolate. It was delicious.

This cake, on the other hand, took several hours to put together, and was made for a different reason entirely. And because there's not much more to say about my hot chocolate, I'll tell you about the cake instead.

Inspired by an image from Pinterest,  it's a choc-chip pound cake filled with cookies & cream icing, covered in white chocolate ganache, The drip is dark chocolate ganache, and the swirls on top are cream cheese icing  (I just put some plain icing aside when making the cookies & cream icing).




Because white chocolate is really beige chocolate, and I wanted to mirror the dark chocolate / white icing of the Oreos, I added Rolkem concentrated colour, Arctic Snow to the white chocolate ganache. It didn't change the taste significantly, but made it set really quickly. A little too quickly to work comfortably with.  (Ganache is tricky to smooth when it has set).
I was very happy with the end colour, though.  What do you think?





And no, I haven't posted a recipe for  the choc-chip pound cake yet.
Sadly, I couldn't take a slice of this cake to photograph before I handed it over to it's new home. (Strangely, they wanted it in tact...)
So, I'll just have to find an excuse to bake another one and post the recipe then...
Would you like to come over for tea?
πŸ˜‹

Happy baking!

xxM


Thursday, 29 June 2017

Cinnamon & Pecan Buns

I remember buying blocks of fresh yeast from the supermarket when I was a child. 
 They came as foil wrapped cubes, and were the only way you bought yeast back then. 
(Those were the days when you also left tokens outside your front door for the milkman - he'd swop them for bottles of fresh milk or orange juice. It sounds like something from another age, but seriously, I'm not that old! I also remember roller skating around the neighborhood back then - so, see... they'd invented the wheel already!)






Now, though, I buy sachets of instant yeast, let them expire in my pantry...then buy some more. 
And when I eventually do get around to making a yeast dough, I'm hooked again and remember why I love it so much! 
It's not just the delicious smell and taste; there's nothing quite like the slow process of proofing a yeast recipe to distance you from the too-fast tempo of the 21st century.  






So, this is one to make if you have a little time and patience.
(If you want one right now, you're going to have to make a trip to the local Cinnabon!)

Cinnamon and Pecan Buns
Recipe adapted from jocooks.com

Dough:
640g flour (all purpose or cake flour)
1 packet / 10g instant dry yeast (check the expiry date!)
120g caster sugar
1 tsp salt
80g butter softened
250ml warm milk (not too hot - that will kill the yeast)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Method:
Sift the dry ingredients into the bowl of a mixer. Attach a dough hook.
Add the butter, milk and eggs.
Use the dough hook to mix until a soft dough is formed.
Place the dough in a large greased bowl, cover with cling wrap or a damp towel and leave in a warm spot* to rise for an hour (It should double in size.)
*Use your oven: warm it to 50'C, then switch off the heat.

In the meantime make the filling:
Filling:
80g butter, softened
200g brown sugar
3 tbs ground cinnamon
120g finely chopped pecan nuts




Once the dough has doubled in size, roll it out into a large rectangle (mine covered a 50x40cm silicone mat); spread the butter (from the filling list) over the surface of the dough.
 Sprinkle the cinnamon, sugar and pecans evenly over the surface.
Working from a long edge, roll the dough up into a long sausage, then slice along the length into rounds.
Place them, spiral sides up, in a large greased baking pan.

Loosely cover with cling-wrap, and allow to double in size again in a warm spot for about 30minutes. 
During this time, preheat your oven to 180'C. 

Once the buns have risen again, bake for 15-20 minutes or until a light golden brown. 

Serve warm or cold. 




The biggest challenge is to resist having a second ... or third...


    
               .         

....and then there were none!

Happy baking!

xxM 










Trolls Toppers: Poppy and Branch

When I look at these two together I have to smile - not just because Trolls is such a cute movie, (the bits I've seen at least!) but because the pair of them remind me of my son and daughter ... chalk and cheese, I tell you. Poppy and Branch. 



Just look at her there: hand on hip, bright and cheery, irritating the berries off of her brother him!




I can be a bit of the introverted analytical type myself, at times. So I can identify with that humph!

Thank goodness for the Poppy's in our lives, though, right?  As maddening as all that joy and  sweetness can be (and so much singing!), they certainly make the world a brighter place (and even manage to cajole us Branch's out of our grumps at times!)



See a great Poppy tutorial here - courtesy of Crumb Avenue .

Happy decorating!
xxM

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Mermaid & Ocean Creatures Cookies

There's merit in being prepared, but it also has its downside, as I've discovered.



This is what happens when you prepare a little too far in advance, and land up making way more than needed for a class because you bake the cookies before you confirm final numbers!

You just have to decorate them yourself ....
 (these are probably  just a third of the extras 😩) 


... and  then sell them at bargain basement prices at school cake sale!

So, if you're planning a mermaid themed birthday party anytime soon, pop over to my kids' school on Thursday morning and pick up a few dozen of these ocean creature cookies at half the price they'd normally be sold for! 




And in case you can't get there, and want to reproduce them yourself:
SweetSugarBelle has a great tutorial on making mermaid tails and Sweetopia has a lovely post on making Seaside cookies (including a jellyfish.)

As for the rest, well... next time come join us for the class πŸ˜‰

Happy decorating!

xxM

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Chocolate Pancakes with Rum Poached Mandarins

We're not big celebrators of the minor holidays in this household. (My husband comes from a family that aren't big celebrators of any holidays, so I've had to re-educate him a little!)
When it comes to Mothers Day and Fathers Day, we're happy with just the cards and notes the kids bring home from school for us and a day spent together as a family.
 
But, I do like to bake (you may have noticed), so I'll take the excuse of a Fathers Day and try something new...

Here's my breakfast suggestion for Dad this year:
Chocolate pancakes with rum poached mandarins.
Yum!





Rum Poached Mandarins
Recipe by Tea, Cake & Create

6 mandarin oranges
30ml water
1 tbs brown sugar
1 tbs rum
1 cinnamon quill

Peel, then slice the mandarin oranges into rounds.
Place in a saucepan with the other ingredients and gently simmer for 5 minutes.
Remove  the orange segments, and continue simmering the liquid until it becomes a light syrup.




Chocolate Pancakes
Recipe from Food & Home Magazine

(Halve these quantities for a smaller batch of pancakes)

Sift together:
240g cake flour
30g cocoa powder
100g caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Whisk together: 
500ml buttermilk
1 tbs white grape vinegar
2 large eggs
80g melted butter
2tsp vanilla extract

Combine the  wet and dry ingredients and mix well.

Heat a lightly oiled non-stick pan on medium/high heat.
Pour or spoon in the batter (approx 1/4 cup per pancake).
Tilt the pan in a circular motion to evenly spread the batter.
Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side.

Serve warm with poached mandarins and a spoonful of double thick yoghurt.
Drizzle the syrup from the poached oranges over the yoghurt.



Or change it up and try these chocolate pancakes with strawberries and vanilla ice-cream as a great desert option.

Enjoy!

xxM

Monday, 12 June 2017

Emoji Cookies

πŸ˜³πŸ˜πŸ˜…

Emoji cookies are not as easy as they look!

I had this idea that they'd be simple. And quick.
But began to realise I was wrong when I went to make the colours - just yellow and black, right?
Wrong! ... I needed white. And red. And blue. Oh, and pink too!
I stopped there, although I was sorely tempted by then to add brown for a πŸ’©... which kind of summed up what I was thinking at that stage!


Then, of course, there's the fact that emojis are perfectly, computer-generatedly symmetrical.
And we all know the problems I have with symmetry.

So anyway...
Don't look too closely!


I started with the mouths, wanting them to be a little recessed in the yellow (only if they were the great big grins, little smiles went on top.) Let those dry; then flooded with yellow, and followed with the other features.

The trickiest things were the mouths.
And eyes.
It was all tricky - getting the spacing/ positioning right. And symmetry!

Next time I'll print out a template. But I was determined to keep it quick and simple, dammit!




It might have been simpler with a template...

Is there an emoji for tearing your hair out?!

Happy decorating 😁

xxM

Friday, 9 June 2017

Lemon & Poppy Seed Cut-Out Cookies

I can't count the number of times I've made this roll-out cookie dough (basic butter cookies) since I posted the recipe in 2013. Or how many thousands of cookies I've made with it for our classes.
Thousands!
There's nothing about it that I'd change. Add yes, change no.

It's the basis for this chocolate cookiethis spiced one, and a bunch of other subtle variations (whose creation depends on my mood and the theme we're decorating - like the spotty choc-chip cookies we had for our pet-themed Valentines class this year).

And now... here's a lemon and poppy seed version:





Lemon & Poppyseed Cut-Out Cookies**
Recipe by Tea, Cake & Create

250g butter, at room temp. 
300g caster sugar 
2 XL eggs 
620g cake flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract 
2 tbs poppy seeds 
zest of 1 medium lemon (use 2 if you want it extra zesty) 


Cream together the butter and sugar
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating on low speed. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl between additions. 
Add the vanilla extract, lemon zest and poppy seeds.  
Sift in the flour and salt. Mix until just clumping, (if the dough seems too crumbly add a dash of milk) then form into a ball by hand. Place in cling-wrap, and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. 

Roll-out and cut out cookies on a surface dusted with cornflour. (See here for some tips).

Bake at 180'C for 8-10 minutes until the edges are just starting to turn golden. 




(**What's in the name: Cut-out or roll-out cookie dough is ideal for - you guessed it! - rolling out and cutting out cookie shapes for decorating with royal icing. The cookies hold their shape well and bake flat. They may not be as melt-in-your-mouth as shortbread cookies, but they're an ideal canvas for decorating. And they're great tasting, too!)



If you like the combination of lemon and poppy seed, here's a cupcake recipe 
http://teacakeandcreate.blogspot.co.za/2013/08/lemon-and-poppy-seed-cupcakes-with.html

And here's a poppy seed kugelhopf:
http://teacakeandcreate.blogspot.co.za/2013/01/kugelhopf.html


Happy baking!

xxM


Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Clementine and Ginger Macarons

Winter might be a good time to cocoon, but it is also a great time to try macarons!
The drier weather here in KZN means that these fussy little confections are easier to make now than in the humid summer months. And macarons ARE easy... once you've figured out their foibles!

These ones are filled with ginger & clementine dark chocolate ganache.
It's a rich and zesty combination of flavours that pairs wonderfully with a cup of strong mocha java!




Macarons:

3 egg whites (100g-110g), at room temp. Aged for 2-3 days.
2 Tbs (30ml) caster sugar
200g icing sugar
125g finely ground almonds/ almond flour
A few drops of orange gel food colour

Prepare 2 large baking trays with parchment.
Make sure that the parchment is flat and that the trays aren't warped.

Put the almond flour and icing sugar into a food processor and pulse until well mixed and finely ground.
Sift into a bowl. Discard the large granules which don't pass through the sieve.

Whisk the egg whites at low speed with an electric beater until frothy, then add the caster sugar.
Beat until soft peaks form; mix in the gel colour.
Beat until the colour is mixed in and the meringue is thick and glossy.

Sift the almond flour / icing sugar mix into the meringue in two batches  - folding in between.
Once again discard any large granules of almond flour

Use a spatula  to gently fold the batter until it is loosened and falls in "ribbons" from the spatula. (It is worth watching a few YouTube videos to see the consistency you're aiming for).

Transfer  the mixture to an icing bag with the tip cut off or one fitted with a large plain round icing nozzle (not more than 1cm diameter).

Pipe small dots of batter beneath the corners of the baking parchment, to keep it in place on the baking tray.

Pipe your macaron rounds - about 3-4cm diameter, about 2cm apart. Pull your piping tip to the side - this leaves a tiny tail, which should settle. 
Rap the tray twice on the counter to release any hidden air bubbles. 

Leave the macarons to stand for 15-30minutes until they form a "skin" - ie. when touched with a clean, dry finger they aren't sticky.
Turn the oven on to pre-heat to 150'C during this time

Bake at 150'C for 15-20 minutes.
Check that they're not browning as the end of the baking time approaches.
Remove from the oven.

Leave to cool for 5 - 10minutes, then remove the shells from the trays. If the macarons are undercooked, they will stick to the parchment. You can pop them back into the warm oven for a few minutes just to dry out a little more.
(Macarons are best after being filled and left for 24hrs - the filling rehydrates them a bit.) 






Clementine & Ginger Ganache
Recipe by Tea, Cake & Create

160g dark chocolate, cut in small even sized pieces
80ml fresh cream
Zest of 2 small clementines
1tsp ground ginger.

Heat the chocolate and cream together in a double boiler or in a microwave on low/medium power.
Stir until the chocolate has completely melted and the mixture is smooth.
Mix in the ground ginger and clementine zest.
Allow the ganache to set at room temperature until it reaches a spreadable consistency.
Spoon or pipe onto a macaron shell; place another shell on top.

Refrigerate filled macarons overnight (the flavours are even better once matured).
Bring to room temperature before serving.




And after reading all of that, if you're not feeling up to the challenge of making macarons, at least try this ganache. It would be great as a tart filling; poured over a rich chocolate cake, or spooned into a glass of warm milk to make a decadent and zesty hot chocolate.

Enjoy!

xxM