Monday, 28 April 2014

Baby shower cake - cute as a button

I'm going to be an aunt in a few weeks and this will be my first niece or nephew. I'm more than a little excited about this as apparently our own brood is complete (so says my husband anyway).

At 32 weeks, my sister in law had a baby shower and I made the cake! I came across this cake a few weeks before and instantly fell in love with it. Here's the original link

I never intended on following the recipe but as it turns out, the way I made it anyway is the same which I realised after I had made the cakes. The difference I did make though was that I made my cake peppermint flavoured and coloured the sponge green. I had originally intended on making an orange flavoured cake but when I went to buy my candy melts*, I could only get dark blue. I bought white to lighten the blue to baby blue but could only get mint flavoured white candy melts. So I changed the whole cake to mint flavoured and coloured the sponge to add to the mint effect as we eat with our eyes too!

*Candy melts - what are they? They're mainly a combination of sugars and vegetable fats. They look and react a bit like chocolate but they're very very sweet. They set quite quick once melted and are mainly used to make cake pops. This page is an interesting read about them
You can buy them in Hobbycraft, but I got mine from my local cake decorating supplier.

I've seen the button mould several times before and just love it. It's very cute! I got mine off eBay (gotta love eBay) and I know I'll use it again and again.

Making the buttons is time consuming depending how many you need but it's really easy. All you need to do is melt the candy melts in the microwave. I melted about 1/5th of the packet at a time as this was about the amount needed to fill the mould once. I just put them into my small Pyrex jug and blast on high for 30 seconds, stir, blast, stir, blast etc until they're melted. A rubber spatula is great here to pour them into a piping bag, snip the end off and squeeze into the mould. I guess you could fill the mould without a piping bag, but it would get everywhere! The candy melts melt to a thicker consistency than chocolate - top tip - if you want it runnier (it definitely needs to be runnier to make cake pops), then add in some vegetable oil little by little until you get a consistency you want.

To speed up the setting time, I popped into the freezer for about 6-7 minutes then they pop out easily and set. I repeated this 3 more times with blue and then 4 times for the pink to get enough buttons for the cake. I did have a few left over so I could have got away with filling the mould 3 times for each colour.

The cake assembly itself is easy as there's no fondant involved - yeeehaaaaaa :D
I made buttercream (I can't say how much I made as I made extra for some other cakes), but the original recipe says 3 cups worth. It's important you make the buttercream with at least 50% butter. I often make my buttercream with margarine, but here you definitely need butter for taste and also because it sets harder.

Place one of your larger cakes on your cake board and fill with your filling choice (I used buttercream but you could use ganache, jam or anything you like). Add the next cake and fill then add the final cake and top with buttercream. The whole cake then needs covering with buttercream. I did a thin layer as if I were crumb coating then I added more on top. I then placed three dowels in the cake to support the cake above 

Do the same for the smaller cakes (on a thin cake board) but you don't need to put buttercream on the top as it's being covered with ganache and place on top of the larger cake.

For the ganache, heat the cream then add the chocolate, leave a few minutes then stir until it's all combined and melted. As this makes a thick hard set ganache you need to get your timing right. You need it cool enough so it's not very very runny but warm enough so it's still pipeable. Leave it too long and it will be too stiff. When it's how you want it for piping, fill a piping bag and go crazy! Cover the top letting it drip down the sides, or force it down a bit if it's a bit thicker by this stage. Pipe between the two cakes and let it drip down again. You can add some to the cake board base as well if you want. Then add the buttons to the base, the middle and the top, arranging how you want. 

At this stage my cake was very wobbly and I was a bit worried but just pop it in the fridge and the ganache hardens to act like a glue between the two cakes and the butter in the buttercream sets too to harden and support the cake 

I love this cake, it's easy to make and very effective. And very very cute!

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Creme egg cake

Trying to decide what cake to make for Easter was really tricky this year. I just couldn't choose a design I liked. 

My SIL is lactose intolerant which normally rules out a lot of chocolate based cakes. Or so you'd think. Actually, being lactose free isn't that difficult at all these days. I always use margarine in cakes and Vitalite is dairy free as is cocoa powder. Happy days!

Since I refound my love for my Hummingbird Bakery cookbook, I decided to have a look through for inspiration and came across the Brooklyn Blackout Cake. There's a large quantity of milk in it but you can buy lacto free milk too. So I decided to bake a lacto free version of this cake and turn it into a creme egg cake. I made creme egg buns last year very similar to this but fancied a whole cake this year.

100g margarine (vitalite if dairy free)
260g caster sugar
2 eggs
45g cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
a pinch of salt
170g plain flour
160 ml whole milk (or lacto free milk if dairy free)

For the chocolate custard:
500g caster sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup
125g cocoa powder
200g cornflour
85g margarine (or vitalite if dairy free)

Mini creme eggs 

(I actually used only half of this custard recipe and it was enough to fill and cover the cakes in my opinion. I did make a mistake by not halving the amount of corn flour so it was very thick however I found it perfect for a filling and it was easy to spread and held it's weight).

You need 3 x 20cm cake tins, base-lined with greaseproof paper. Preheat oven to 180 / 160 fan

Beat the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well and scraping any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula after each addition.

Turn the mixer down down to slow speed and beat in the cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt until well mixed.

Add half the flour, then all the milk, and finish with the remaining flour.
Mix until everything is well combined.

Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tins and bake in the preheated oven for 20 mins. (The recipe says 25-30 minutes but that's too long in my oven).
Leave the cakes to cool slightly in the tins
before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely. They're a really light sticky sponge.

Chocolate custard based on how I made it: Halve the ingredients above and put the sugar, golden syrup, cocoa powder and 300ml of water into a large saucepan and bring to the boil over medium heat, whisking occasionally.

Mix all (not half) of the cornflour with 120ml of water, then whisk into the cocoa mixture in the saucepan.
Bring back to boil, whisking constantly.
Cook until very thick. Remove from the heat and stir in the margarine.
Pour the custard into a bowl, cover with clingfilm and chill until firm. If you're in a rush to make the cake, spread it out on a baking tray and cover with cling film. This way it'll cool quicker.

Make a buttercream using 140g vitalite and 280g icing sugar and colour half with orange (I use gel) colouring.

Put one cake on a cake stand and cover with some of the custard. Then add some of the two coloured buttercreams and spread around so it looks like the inside of a creme egg.

Place a second cake on top and spread more of the custard over it then more of the buttercreams.

Top with the last cake and spread the remaining custard over the top and sides then add the last of the buttercreams

Now the non dairy free part - top with mini creme eggs in any way you like 

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Happy Easter Everyone!

Today is Easter Sunday so it's time to bake a cake as it feels like forever since I've made a cake that's not been Victoria for decorating. No decorating today, just a yummy new cake to try instead. 

I was originally planning on making a simnel cake as I've never even tried it and I love fruit cake and marzipan. But no one in my family particularly liked the idea so I decided to just make an Easter themed cake instead.

But that's for tomorrow.......

Today's bake is purely because I've got some rhubarb to use. My mum grows it and it's got to the sweet stage. Seeing as she has loads she palmed some off on me. Last year I made rhubarb and custard cupcakes ( so this year I bring you rhubarb and custard cake.

Rhubarb & custard cake
400g fresh rhubarb (not inc the leaves)
50g caster sugar 

250g butter/ margarine
250g golden caster sugar
250g self raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
4 eggs
150g pot of ready made custard

You need to prepare the rhubarb in advance so it has time to cool. Wash the rhubarb and chop into finger sized pieces then sprinkle with the caster sugar and line in a tin. Bake at 200/180 fan for 15 minutes covered with foil then for a further 5 minutes uncovered. Drain and cool.

When you're ready to make the cake, grease and line a 23cm tin. Preheat oven to 180/160 fan.

No creaming butter and sugar here, just whack the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder, eggs and 3/4 of the custard into the mixing bowl and mix until combined.
Spoon 1/3 of the batter into the tin then dot with some of the rhubarb. Add another 1/3 of the batter and more rhubarb, then add the last of the batter, too with remaining rhubarb and dollop on the remaining custard.

Bake for 40 minutes until risen and golden then cover with foil and bake for a further 15 - 20 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the tin and dust with icing sugar for serving 

Most of the rhubarb has appeared to have settled at the bottom but I doubt it'll affect the taste!