Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Calendar Cakes July Roundup

I'm a little bit excited as this is my first Calendar Cakes round up...and what a great one to start...the theme for July was the Olympics and it seems the whole nation has now been gripped by Olympic fever.
So diving straight in with the entries, if you'll excuse the pun:

Our first entry this month came from Becky at Mint Custard with her aptly named Andy Murray Mint Slice which has a gorgeous mint fondant filling. Unfortunately, Andy has already been knocked out of the doubles but he could console himself with a slice of this. He is however going strong in the singles having just beaten Stanislas Wawrinka.
Next up a fabulous entry from my co-host Rachel from Dolly Bakes, she recreated the Olympic Stadium in cake. Renowned for her amazing bundts, this one is no exception!
If you've never visited Liv a little Bakery you're missing out on some fantastic treats. These patriotic flag cookies are perfect for supporting Team GB. I've got my flag all ready for my visit to the Olympics next week.
I love this next entry, penguins are cute at the best of times but here they're taking part in Olympic sports. This cake is by Lucy at Vanilla Frost and was designed for a birthday boy who loves penguins. My favourite are the penguins running/waddling around the track!
Next up we have Caroline of Caroline Makes showing some support for Team Russia with these lovely White Russian Cupcakes. Caroline gave these a bit of a kick by using creme de cacao liqueur and a chocolate liqueur that she bought in Rome. These were made for Caroline's birthday party hence the cocktail cupcakes. The party had a shoe theme so these cakes were finished off with cute little pink shoes cut out of Mexican modelling paste.
Becky from Mint Custard was really quick off the mark this month with not one but two entries. These Olympic torch cupcakes are her second. The cones are painted gold and I love the multi-tonal icing which really captures the essence of the Olympic flame. All we need now is David Beckham to carry them!
The award for most enthusiastic supporter of the Olympics definitely goes to the next entrant. Kate from What Kate Baked, Kate has been baking Olympic treats right up to the start of the Olympics and she was also a cloud wrangler in the opening ceremony no less, taking unpaid leave to do so. If you'd like to know a little more about cloud wrangling, you can read all about it here. Kate's entry was this lovely Chocolate and Pisatchio logo cake.
The next entry is my contribution, between myself and co-host Rachel we seem to be attempting to recreate the Olympic park in cake. I created a velodrome coffee cake, complete with cyclists.
Dawn from Mummy's Little Peeps created thse cute little medal cupcakes. They're vanilla cakes with vanilla buttercream finished off with red, white, blue and gold stars and an edible gold medal. Let's hope this bodes well for Team GB and they'll be many gold medals to come.
The next entry is fab, not only is the recipe an Australian classic but the decoration is also supporting Team Australia. Lady Lunchalot produced these Green and Gold Lamingtons with marbled green and gold batters. Then instead of the traditional chocolate coating, these were coated in lime and lemon jelly before being rolled in coconut. This is an inspired recipe and very inventive.
And now for something a little bit different from That Facepainter. A fab Olympic cake drawn with facepaints!!
Caroline Makes has also been busy this month with a second entry. She created this Black Forrest Roulade to support Team Germany. This was made with a Slimming World recipe no less, so it's not only tasty but also healthier...perfect for athletes in training!
These cupcakes from Susie at Fold in the Flour sound delicious, they're choc chip and orange, a great flavour combintation. The frosting is orange coloured and flavoured and to give it that extra flame effect the cupcakes were sprinkled with red glitter.
Our first Olympic ring entry was from Catherine Haslam @cathaslam. She made these lovely cupcakes with each one having a different colour ring. Altogether they look really effective.
Hopefully these muffins from Janice at Farmersgirl Kitchen will herald a gold rush for Team GB. These muffins deserve a medal themselves. The Elizabeth Shaw chocolates are the perfect option for the medals and they're also fabulously patriotic with the little Union Jacks which incidentally are homemade too!
Angela at Garden, Tea, Cakes and Me executed her Olympic cake perfectly. This is a vanilla sponge topped with buttercream and sugarpaste and finished off with fabulous Olympic rings.
Baker extrodinaire Ros from the More than Occasional Baker produced these super cute Olympic Ring Mini Cake Doughnuts. They were made in a mini doughnut pan and Ros actually made 80 of these...that's a lot of doughnuts but perfect if like me you'll turn into a couch potato during the Olympics!!  I love the different colour icings for each Olympic ring too.
This is the second entry from Angela at Garden, Tea, Cakes and Me.This Olympic Torch Tower came about after trying a new sponge recipe which yielded slightly disappointing results. Part of the sponge went into a triffle and the rest produced this fab tower. Circles of sponge were cut out and stacked with buttercream and jam, then the whole thing was finished off with red, white and blue sprinkles and an Olympic torch which was actually made using an ice-cream paste mould!
Nicola at Lazy Cupcakes made these patriotic cupcakes for an Olympic themed party. They're vanilla cupcakes in Union Jack cases on a Union Jack Stand. Go Team GB!
To finish we have these lovely British Cherry and British Strawberry Cupcakes from Maggie at Kitchen Delights. They're delicious chocolate cakes topped with luscious strawberries and cherries sprayed gold. Another tasty treat to support Team GB.
Thanks to everyone who entered Calendar Cakes this month, all the entries were amazing and it's lovely to see so many people getting behind the Olympics. This is a mouth-watering array and I'd love to try each and every one of them!! :-)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Watermelon Cupcakes

These Watermelon Cupcakes are my belated entry into this month's AlphaBakes challenge. The letter of the month was 'W' and my initial thoughts were white chocolate, whiskey or walnuts...I did consider a walnut whip. However, for 'W' watermelon sprang to mind, not a standard baking ingredient but I had it in my mind that I definitely wanted to use it.
So I googled Watermelon Cupcakes, most of the recipes that came up simply looked like watermelon rather than tasting like it but then I came across a recipe from www.bakingdom.com which used watermelon flavouring, perfect! The cases are super cute too, the perfect green for watermelon. I purchased the cases, the watermelon flavouring which comes in 1 teaspoon drams and the black pearl seeds from the Cake Decorating Company.
These cupcakes go the whole hog, watermelon flavoured cake and buttercream, along with green cases and black pearls as seeds. The finished product was very tasty but also very sweet. There was definitely a taste of watermelon...it tasted a little like watermelon hubba bubba. If you'd like to try the recipe you can find it at Bakingdom.
AlphaBakes is hosted by Caroline at Caroline Makes and Ros at The More than Occasional Baker. If you want to join in the next letter will be announced on the 1st August.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Johnnie Walker Whiskey Bottle Cake

It's been a quiet few weeks on the blogging front but I've finally made it to my holidays and as if by magic the sun has even started shining. Now I've got a bit more time on my hands I've got a little list of recipes to work through!!!

This Johnnie Walker whiskey bottle cake was first on the list. Made for a 36th birthday with the recipient obviously being a fan of this type of whiskey.
The production of the cake went fairly well. I started by cutting out a card template of a bottle, there are three layers of cake and the shape was cut out of a large cake slab. It's a lemon cake with lemon sugar syrup, lemon buttercream and lemon curd...it was nice and zingy!

The cake was covered in teddy bear brown sugarpaste and to give it a glassy finish, it is painted with confectioners glaze which gives it the shiny effect. The biggest problem with this cake was the pesky black board covering. If anyone has ever used black sugarpaste you'll know what I mean...you end up with black everywhere. Normally when I make cakes I cover the board around the cake once it's in place but I ended up getting black on my whiskey bottle and it wasn't behaving, so I had to resort to covering the board completely before placing the bottle on top. The only problem with this, was rough edges around the bottle, so unfortunately I had to add a ribbon around the bottle which normally wouldn't be there but it doesn't look too bad.
The bottle labels are great, they're printed with edible ink onto rice paper. They can easily be attached by brushing a little water on the back. Edible images are not cheap, about £10 per A4 sheet but they give a great finish and the effect is a lot easier than attempting to pipe the labels!! You can just make out that the label has a little bit of personalisation, the black label whiskey is normally 12 years aged but this special bottle was 36 years aged! The finishing touch was the message on the board which was made with Tappits which were then stuck on with a little edible glue.
Upon completion the cake was appreciated and the sun even shined on the birthday BBQ!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Olympic Velodrome Cake

There are only 10 days left until the opening ceremony of the Olympics and I for one am EXCITED! Often called the Greatest Show on Earth, this is once in a lifetime opportunity to watch an amazing sporting spectacle.

I love a bit of cycling and I shall avidly watching events in the velodrome, so this cake seemed to be a perfect bake. It's actually a coffee cake made in a 10 inch Savarin/ring mould with coffee icing on top and some cute little resin cyclists. It was a light cake with only a hint of coffee.
As well as being suitable for the Olympics, this would also be a great cake for any cycling fans out there who are celebrating a birthday. It was simple to make and the resulting cake is quite fun!
The cyclists are available from a variety of online cake stores. Although this cake is best suited to cycling, the principle could also be used for athletics by adding little resine athletes instead...and maybe even some green or orange icing to represent the running track!

I did have one little mishap when making this, it's my second cake in the last week to spill out of the tin, so having just cleaned the oven after the White Chocolate and Cherry Loaf cake incident, it's oven cleaning round two. The velodrome in the recipe picture did appear to be a lot deeper but nonetheless, it turned out ok and was quite tasty!
The theme for Calendar Cakes this month could only be the Olympics, so this is my first entry. For more details of how to enter click here. My co-host for Calendar Cakes is Rachel from Dolly Bakes and Rachel's entry this month is a Olympic stadium bundt cake, so it seems between the two of us we're attempting to recreate the whole of the Olympic park in cake!

450g unsalted butter
450g caster sugar
8 eggs
4-5 tbsp strong espresso coffee
450g flour

Coffee icing

300g icing sugar
3 tbsp strong black coffee

White icing

50g icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 180c/160c fan/gas 4. Grease a 10 inch/24cm savarin tin and line the bottom. I used Wilton Cake Release and didn't line the bottom and the cake came out perfectly.

Cream together the butter and sugar until it's pale and fluffy, ensure the butter is softened to start. Then one by one beat in the eggs. Make up the espresso coffee but ensure it is sufficiently cooled before adding to the mixture. Finally, sift and fold in the flour. Spoon into the tin and bake for around 40-45 minutes. It's probably worth checking after 30 minutes and then if it's browning too much, loosely cover in foil. The cake should be cooled in the tin before gently easing out onto a plate or serving board.

To create the velodrome effect, you should make small marks around the top of the cake about 2cm in from the outside edge, then make more marks about 3cm down the inside, from the inside edge. Gently cut on an angle between the two to give the sloping velodrome effect.

To make the coffee icing mix the coffee and icing sugar together. It should be a fairly thick consistency but you should be able to drizzle it over the cake. The icing should cover the whole of the inside circle and there should be a few drizzles down the outside of the cake. Finally, make up the white icing with water and spoon into a piping bag. When the coffee icing is dry, pipe three circles around the inside of the cake to represent the lanes. The finishing touch is the addition of the cyclist!
* Adapted from the BBC Food website

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

White Chocolate and Cherry Loaf

The tea time treats theme this month is 'Cake Stall Cakes and Bakes'. So here's my contribution to the cause...a White Chocolate and Cherry Loaf cake.

This was an interesting cake...I'm not sure whether I used the wrong size loaf tin but there was an awful lot of cake mixture and when I put it in the tin it was full to the brim before I'd even started baking. The recipe called for a 1kg tin...I thought I used a 2lb tin which roughly equates but when I put the cake in the oven it overflowed!
In the end the cake still worked out...although some oven cleaning was required afterwards. It was edible but it was a little claggy and not perfect! I did however enjoy the fresh cherries in the cake. The frosting is melted white chocolate and mascarpone, finished with white chocolate curls on top.

It seems that fruit is destined to sink in cakes, I did the whole dust in flour thing before mixing the cherries in but still most of them ended up at the bottom. Fortunately as some of the cherries were sprinkled on top just as the cake went in the oven, they actually stayed fairly near the surface. Does anyone have any ingenius ways of preventing fruit sinking?
Tea Time Treats is hosted by Karen over and Lavender and Lovage and Kate at What Kate Baked. Karen is hosting this month and there are always loads of fabulous entries, so check out the round up at the end of July...or better still join in!
I'm also entering this cake into Simple and in Season as cherries are the perfect summer fruit. This month it is hosted by Fleur from Homemade by Fleur with the regular host being Fabulicious Food.

225g butter
225 golden caster sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
225g self-raising flour
375g fresh cherries, pitted
175g white chocolate chopped

White Chocolate Frosting

100g white chocolate
140g half-fat mascarpone
White chocolate curls

Preheat the oven to 180c/160c fan/gas 4. Line a 1kg (2.2lb) loaf tin with baking parchment. The paper should come up higher than the sides.

Cream together the butter and sugar until it's pale and fluffy. Then add the eggs a little at a time so they don't curdle. Next add the vanilla extract before sifting in the flour, folding it in until the mixutre is smooth.

Ensure all cherries are pitted and then dust them in flour, this should help them not to sink in the cake! Add half of the cherries and half of the chocolate and gently stir into the mix. Spoon into the prepared tin before scattering the remaining chocolate and cherries on the top. Bake fro 1hr 10 - 1hr 15 mins until a skewer comes out clean. Upon removing it from the oven, leave to cool for a few minutes and then turn the cake out onto a wire rack to cool completel

To make the frosting, bring the mascarpone to room temperature. In the meantime melt the white chocolate over a pan of water. When melted stir in 1 tbsp of the mascarpone, then beat the remainder in. Don't overbeat otherwise the frosting will go grainy. Spread over the top of the cake and finish with curls of white chocolate.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

How about Painting on your Cakes...

Fed up of fiddling with flowerpaste or wrestling with piping bags? The solution...painting your designs directly onto your iced cake!
I recently attended my first class at Pretty Witty Cakes in East Sussex, it was a cake painting class taught by Natasha Collins. You may well have visited her blog Amelie's House and seen her amazing work. She's very talented and paints the most amazing cakes. She also runs Nevie-Pie Cakes where you can buy one of her works of art.

It was a really interesting day as I haven't really painted on cakes much, although I did give it a go a few weeks ago with my Russian Doll Cakes. However, the Russian dolls were more a case of filling in blocks of colour and didn't really require much artistic talent.
On the day of the class Natasha took us through step by step, showing us how to create our flowery cakes. We mainly concentrated on painting dog roses and daisies. To make up the 'paint' is quite simple, it's just boiled water and paste colouring, we used sugarflair colours which are really the best available. Previously when I've mixed up colours I've used alcohol dipping solution which also works well.

The secret to creating effective designs is to add depth by using lighter and darker shades. The good news is, you can also erase mistakes by adding water to the area with your brush.

We started the day by painting some cupcake toppers, which were little circles of paste dried overnight leaving them ready to paint on the next day. These were for practise before we moved onto our big dummy cake. The first thing was to mark out the rough area where our flowers would go in order to make sure they were properly spaced.

To start with painting can be a little frustrating and we were all rather critical of our work but when you step back and look at the finished article as a whole it really does look effective. I didn't quite master the depth of colour but it wasn't a bad start.

Natasha uses a variety of sources for her inspiration, however one of which was a book called The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady which you can on amazon for £2.49 or you can buy it used for 1p plus postage! I may well order a copy so I can get practising my painting skills.

As I mentioned this was my first time at Pretty Witty Cakes, the classes are run by Suzi and they're hosted in her home in the 'Pretty Witty Workshop'. Everyone was very friendly and welcoming and there's even a little shop...I can never resist a few sneaky purchases! I think in the future I'd definitely consider another of the Pretty Witty courses...there are plenty to choose from.
I learnt a lot on the day and will find an opportunity in the future to use my new found skills. I would say that it obviously does help if you're artistic, which I'm not particularly, but either way you'll come away with a cake to be proud of!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Raspberry Loaf Cakes

I thought I'd sneak in a wee Friday bonus bake this week as I realised that my last two posts were sans recipes.
I was looking for something quick to make earlier in the week and I happened to have raspberries in the fridge and some mini loaf cases in the cupboard, the loaf cases have been there quite a while and everytime I've opened the cupboard door for the last six months I've thought 'I really must use those'. So by happy coincidence I cam across this recipe for mini raspberry loaf cakes, it's by Rose Prince who writes a weekly baking column for the Telegraph.
These were so easy to whip up and they looked so cute in their mini loaf cases and to quote Rose 'with the Jubilee bunting put away, their artisanal plainness comes as something of a relief' which I think is so true...they're rather plainer than my usual bake but this is the perfect recipe to make again and again.

The finished article was lovely and moist and the baked raspberries add a lovely soft sweetness. The top of the cakes when baked was also ever so slightly crisp which I like! If you'd like to make some mini loaves you can buy the moulds at Lakeland and they even sell them in Sainsburys now...just goes to show how much baking has taken off in the last couple of years!

3 medium eggs
The weight of the eggs in:
Caster sugar
Unsalted butter
Plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla essence
300g raspberries

This may seem like a slightly strange recipe, so if you like quantities then an average egg weighs 50g so we're talking roughly 150g caster sugar, 150g unsalted and 150g plain flour, hopefully that work!

The recipe also specifies 300g of raspberries which is slightly perplexing considering the recipe yields 6 mini loaves, each with 3 raspberries in, so by my reckoning that should be 18 raspberries...nowhere near 300g!

To make, preheat the oven to 160c/140c gan/gas 2 1/2. Rose suggests using 8cm x 4cm x 4cm loaf cases however I only had 10cm ones and these seemed to work just as well. I imagine in the suggested size this recipe might make 7-8 loaves.

All you need to do to make them is cream the butter and the sugar together and then add the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each one. Then mix in the vanilla and sift the flour and baking powder in too. This should produce quite a thick cake mix. Spoon the mixture into the loaf cases and smooth, finally press three raspberries into each one and bake for 35-40 minutes. They will taste great at any time but warm straight out of the oven is delicious! :-)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Bitesize Bake Swap Goodies

To celebrate the recent release of new book Sweet Bitesize Bakes by Sarah Trivuncic from Maison Cupcake, BakeMe.com hosted a 'Bitesize Bake Swap' with bakers and bloggers signing up to be partnered with a random bake swap buddy.
Once the closing date arrived, I received an email telling me my partner was Laura from How to Cook Goodfood which considering it's random pairings was somewhat of a coincidence as I already follow Laura's blog as well as on twitter. If you haven't already visited her blog, check it out as she produces some wonderful food, as well as hosting the One Ingredient monthly challenge!
And here's what I received in the post, lovely chewy, crispy, gooey 'Toffee Malteser Bites'. They came beautifully packaged in spotty red wrapping paper and with a lovely handmade label and handmade card.
The ingredients for these were chocolate eclairs, cream, rice krispies, marshmallows, golden syrup, maltesers...sounds like a heavenly combination!! I'm also pleased to report that they arrived in one piece. I had a red card through my door to go and pick them up from the sorting office but fortunately I was off to pick up my Olympic tickets too...so a double whammy...two things worth the effort to queue for!!
In return I sent Laura some iced butterfly cookies. I used a variety of different pastel colours and then packaged them up in individual little bags. To try and ensure they arrived in one piece I packed the box with popcorn as suggested by someone online. It appeared to work and they did arrive in one piece. I did however send them first class on Tuesday morning and was hoping they would arrive on Wednesday...instead they arrived on Saturday so there is a chance that they were past their best....but at least they arrived!
If you want a brief rundown on how to decorate royal iced cookies I've outlined the basic technique in a previous post for Love Heart Cookies. You can also check out some of the other Bake Swapping on the BakeMe.com website.