Thursday, May 30, 2013

Calendar Cakes Round Up - May

The good bakers of the blogosphere have truly excelled themselves this month with a delectable array of goodies for you to drool over. The theme for Calendar Cakes in May was to bake outside of your comfort zone. This was in celebration of World Baking Day on Sunday 19th May when bakers were encouraged to Bake Brave! Check out the fabulous results in this month's round up:
Our first entry was from Laura at baking in pyjamas. I absolutely love this Funfetti Cake with Seven Minute Icing, the cake is so pretty and the icing is to die for. Laura followed recipes from the Magnolia Bakery cookbook and added in the funfetti to the cake recipe. If you haven't visited already check out Laura's blog for some lovely bakes!
The next cake was a very popular choice from the World Baking Day list of 100 bakes. This was at level 91, with 100 being the most difficult, and it was brilliantly executed over at the Cupcakery. This is a Chocolate Brownie, Meringue Cake with Raspberry Cream and the original recipe is by Miranda Gore-Brown who was a contestant on the Great British Bake Off.
Next we have a Strawberry Chocolate Cake from Adventures with Cake, who really went to town on this one. This is certainly Baking Brave as this cake is at level 99 out of 100 and if you check out the Adventures with Cake blog then you'll see that it was a labour of love with many processes, for example you can just see the stripped sponge on the outside. I'm sure you'll agree this a great bake!
A seasonal cake next with a Rhubarb and Custard Cake from Linzi at Lancashire Food. Linzi used rhubarb from her garden and a recipe from Morrisons. The cake also contains custard powder. Rhubarb and custard is one of my favourite combinations and this cake looks delicious!
Here's Chocolate Brownie, Meringue and Raspberry Cream Cake take 2. I also decided to make this for World Baking Day as it just looks so tempting. This is level 91 out of 100, I initially thought I'd go straight for 100 but this cake looked so much nicer and the taste testers certainly concurred! You can see the results here.
One blogger who's certainly been baking up a storm outside of her comfort zone this month is Caroline from Caroline Makes. This is entry number one which is a Rocky Horror Show inspired cake. It was lovingly made as a birthday cake for her sister and is a two tier chocolate cake made with a recipe from the Hummingbird Bakery...I'm sure Caroline's sister was thrilled with the result.
Next we have a twist on bake number 83 which is hideaway heart cupcakes, these are from Mummy Makes Cakes. The original plan was to make level 87, strawberries pies but a lack of strawberries made this rather difficult! :-) For this recipe a vanilla cake batter was used for the main cake and then a chocolate batter for the hearts. This was inventive baking from this blogger as she attempted a new way of creating the hearts in the middle by freezing the batter in heart shaped moulds instead of baking the hearts first and although it didn't quite work out as she wanted, as mentioned in her blog post, this is what World Baking Day was all about...trying out new things and being brave! :-)
And now on to Chocolate Brownie, Meringue Cake with Raspberry Cream take 3 from the Wayfaring Baker. Elle also had an initial thought to dive straight in at the level 100 bake but then settled on this beauty as if you've seen bake 100 you'll know quite how large it is...enough to feed at least 20 people!
Calendar Cakes co-host Rachel from Dolly Bakes created one of her signature Bundt cakes...this one being a Spiced Apple and Sultana Bundt Cake with Maple Glaze. This was made for a cake club meeting and uses giant sultanas...this is a mammoth bake which is certainly ambitious and is perfectly executed.
Elizabeth from Elizabeth's Kitchen always comes up with great recipe ideas and this Vegan Lemon Drizzle Cake with Coconut Cream and Blueberry Sauce is no exception. This is baking outside the comfort zone as Elizabeth likes to try different recipes and although she's not a vegan she thought she'd give this a go. It was previously made for a dinner party and went down a treat. Also check out her blog if you want to learn a new method for making coconut cream!
This next one is a new one on's Renuka's Malva Pudding. It was made by Hélène from I Cook with Butter and came in at number 63 in the list of 100. Hélène like me was a little confused by the World Baking Day ranking system as the level of difficulty seems to jump about a bit and the recipes don't always seem to get progressively harder. Nonetheless this pudding looks really tasty and Hélène reports that the sauce tastes a little like salted caramel which must be a good thing! :-)
For her second entry Caroline from Caroline Makes challenged herself to make a Gateau Frasier which she accomplished with aplomb. This was certainly baking brave as this cake was previously made on the Great British Bake Off with varying degrees of success! The finished product looks lovely and Caroline rates it as one of the most technically difficult things she's made.
A beautiful cake next from Lottie at Lottie's World of Cakes and Bakes. It's a White Chocolate, Blueberry and Lemon Layer Cake and takes it's inspiration from the Peggy Porschen Boutique Baking book. Lottie describes the cake as follows 'This cake is a white chocolate and lemon sponge, filled with a blueberry and lemon curd (homemade!), coated in a whipped white chocolate and blueberry buttercream and decorated with fresh blueberries and a dusting of icing sugar'. I can only imagine this tastes as delicious as it looks. To create the beautiful bird pattern on the top Lottie used a looks gorgeous!
The fabulous cakes just keep coming with this Choc Mango Mousse Cake from Nicole Bremner. If you check out the recipe for this cake it contains lots of interesting ingredients, such as silken tofu and agar flakes, which are certainly outside of my comfort zone! The resultant cake with it's striking orange colour and chocolate collar is a real treat for the eyes as well as the taste buds, although Nicole concluded that mango and chocolate was not her favourite flavour combination!
Kate from Cakes and Bakes by Kate chose to make a Treacle Tart for World Baking Day, this was certainly ambitious and was ranked at 71 on the list but looking at the processes involved I think it should have really been rated higher. Kate did a great job of this perennial favourite...treacle tart is always a winner. She made one large tart and several mini tarts and this was her first attempt at making pastry...well done Kate! :-)
This Mango and Chocolate Cake from Choclette at Chocolate Log Blog was certainly Baking Brave as she created this cake herself! The finished product turned out really well with a mango cake filled with chocolate which sounds delicious, and there are also cardamom and coconut flavours included. Choclette is also a World Baking Day ambassador and her recipe for Violet and Rose White Chocolate Fairy Cakes is in the line up of 100 recipes at number 16.
Lucy from supergolden bakes produced these amazingly pretty Very Vanilla Mini Cakes. These cakes are so dainty and would be perfect for afternoon tea. Interestingly they were actually baked in a tin can, I love this idea and may well have to give it a go soon! :-)
Last but not least we have this truly spectacular Rose, Lemon, Vanilla and Fruit Cake from the Carry On Cake Company. It's a real showstopper and would be a superb centrepiece to any celebration.
Thank you so much to all our entrants this month, all the bakes have been particularly impressive and I've really enjoyed reading about them and drooling over the pictures. Everyone certainly excelled themselves and well and truly Baked Brave!

To find out the theme for Calendar Cakes in June, hop on over to Dolly Bakes on the 1st June where you'll find all the information.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Chocolate & Coconut Bounty Cupcakes

I seem to have gone a bit crazy making cupcakes recently, I think it's since I purchased the new Hummingbird Bakery book, Home Sweet Home where you can find lots of different delicious recipes. I was talking to someone the other day who suggested making every single recipe from one cookery book as on average people usually make about 3 or 4 per book. I think the Hummingbird Bakery book could be a good one for carrying out this challenge as all the recipes look great!
I made these cupcakes specifically for a charity bake sale, along with some vanilla cupcakes and the Cherry Bakewell muffins that I made a few weeks ago. To make them, I made a chocolate batter using Green and Blacks Cocoa Powder. Once made the cases were filled to about two-thirds full and then about a third of a small Bounty bar was gently pushed down into each case as you can see above. The mixture covered the Bounty and the cakes were then put in to bake.
To finish the cakes I made a buttercream icing which also contained coconut milk. There is a technique to applying the icing to the cake with a palette knife to give it a professional swirl but I have to say, I have definitely not mastered the technique. However, the icing was lovely and creamy and it doesn't really matter if you don't master the swirl as the final touch was to sprinkle each cake with desiccated coconut, so you can't really see it anyway. Lastly, another third of a mini Bounty bar was added on top.
Not everyone is a fan of Bounty bars but for anyone who does like them or anyone who is a fan of chocolate and coconut, then these cupcakes are a real treat with the Bounty baked inside and the gorgeous creamy icing on top. They were well received at our cake sale and along with the other lovely ladies who baked we managed to raise 357 pounds for a local Women's Aid Shelter.
If you want to give these a go yourself, you can find the recipe in the Home Sweet Home recipe book, or alternatively, just push a piece of Bounty into your favourite chocolate cupcake batter before you bake it and then make a regular buttercream, adding some coconut milk, before finishing with desiccated coconut and a bit of Bounty on top.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Chocolate Brownie Meringue Cake for World Baking Day

Today is World Baking Day...last year it was 'Caking', this year it is Baking Brave. If you check out the World Baking Day website, you'll find 100 different recipe increasing in difficulty from 1 to 100. All you have to do is choose your level and then get baking!
My initial thought was to go straight to recipe 100 but then decided that it was probably actually better to pick something that I'd really enjoy baking and that other people would enjoy eating, so I plumped for level 91 which falls into the category of 'I bake, therefore I am!'. The recipe in question is a Chocolate Brownie Meringue Cake from World Baking Day Ambassador Miranda Gore-Brown who you may remember was a finalist on the Great British Bake Off. I chose this recipe as what's not to love about chocolate brownie, meringue, hazelnuts, raspberries and lashings of cream!
I'm not really a brownie aficionado but this was a really simple recipe to follow, it contains chocolate, icing sugar, margarine, eggs and flour. The brownie base was baked for 8 minutes before taking it out of the oven half cooked, at which point the hazelnut meringue was spread on top and it was then baked for a further 25 minutes.
Once the brownie and meringue was cooled the two halves were removed from their tins. In order to do this, a knife had to be run around the tin but this did give me a slightly scruffy finish. The final touch was to whip up some cream, icing sugar and raspberries to give the lovely pink layer in the middle.
I'm a bit of a baking perfectionist but I think for this one it is impossible to get a really smart finish, however the slightly dishevelled appearance is part of the charm of this cake I think! Cutting it neatly is also a bit of a challenge.
This is a lovely recipe which everyone will enjoy, it might be particular nice if you have friends with kids coming over for Sunday lunch for example. If you'd like to give it a whirl you can find Miranda's recipe here.

I'm entering this cake into this month's Calendar Cakes challenge as the theme this month is Baking Brave. So if you've baked anything for World Baking Day you can enter it here. We're also after any bakes that you have made in the month of May that are out of your comfort zone or particularly challenging and bear in mind that everyone's level of challenge is different, so whatever your own personal triumph, you're welcome to enter it into Calendar Cakes.
Calendar Cakes is hosted on alternate months here at Laura Loves Cakes and over at Dolly Bakes. You can find out the theme on the first of each month :-)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Vintage Bird Cage Cake

It's been one of my cake decorating ambitions to make a bird cage cake...and now I have! Last Sunday I attended a course at The Cake Parlour in Wimbledon Park (yes I know...another one...I think I'm addicted to courses!). The Cake Parlour is owned and run by Zoe Clark who makes the most beautiful cakes, Zoe has also released a range of cake decorating books.
This cake started life as a 12 inch slab of vanilla sponge. In order to create the shape we cut out three 6 inch rounds from the slab. To create the rounded top, an upturned cake baked in a hemisphere tin was added. Each layer has buttercream and jam in between and the whole think was then crumb coated before being covered in sugar paste.
All the bars were rolled by hand and stuck on, as were the swirls at the bottom. To create the bird an outline of royal icing was piped on acetate and was then flood filled, I'm sure you'll agree that the bird really brings it all together.
The pink flowers are rolled roses and the white blossoms were made using a cutter. To give them a bit more depth they were then dusted with a pink colour. Finally, to tie everything in we piped small green leaves around the flowers.

I love the finished effect and as usual was very loathe to cut into it but in the end the lure of cake to eat won out! :-)

I really enjoyed my course at The Cake Parlour and if you've got a minute or two to spare, I'd definitely recommend checking out Zoe's cakes.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Cherry Bakewell Muffins

If you're looking for a tasty muffin recipe then you can call off the search here. I was rather taken with these little muffins...when they came out of the oven they looked alright and I thought they'd be ok but actually they were really quite tasty! The taste testers if you're a fan of the Mr Kipling cherry bakewells, I'm sure you'd love these.
The texture of the muffins is spot on and they're lovely and moist too as the recipe includes 175ml Greek yogurt. The flavour comes from 100g of ground almonds and also from the almond extract. I used Neilsen-Massey's Pure Almond Extract which is very good, they also manufacture lemon, chocolate, orange and coffee extracts.
The distinctive cherry flavour of the Bakewell comes from a teaspoon of cherry jam that is baked into the centre of each muffin.
When it came to the cases, these red and white spotty cases from Culpitt were the perfect addition to the theme. I would definitely recommend Culpitt cases as they come in vibrant colours but most importantly they're greaseproof and therefore retain their colour after they have been in the oven.
On the whole, I don't tend to bake the same thing twice but I may have to give these another whirl next weekend for a charity bake sale as they were so tasty!


150g golden caster sugar
1 egg
125g melted butter
175ml Greek yogurt
1 tsp almond extract (Nielsen-Massey recommended)
200g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
100g ground almonds
10 tsp cherry jam
150g icing sugar
Flaked almonds
5 glace cherries

Preheat the oven to 180c/160c fan/gas 4 and prepare your muffin tin with 10 muffin cases. These muffins are easy to make, have two bowls at the ready, one for the wet ingredients and one for the dry ingredients.

Mix the sugar, butter, egg, almond extract and yogurt in a bowl using an electric whisk. Sift the flour and baking powder into a separate bowl and then add the ground almonds. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix quickly, it doesn't matter if there are some lumps as apparently this helps to give muffins their texture. Spoon half the mixture into the bottom of the muffin cases, then add a teaspoon of cherry jam to each one. Finally, finish by dividing the remaining mixture between the cases to cover the jam.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, they should be golden and risen. Once the muffins are cool, make up the icing to a smooth but thick consistency and then spoon over the top of the muffins. Finish with half a glace cherry and sprinkle over some flaked almonds.

* Original recipe from BBC GoodFood

Monday, May 6, 2013

3D Dinosaur Cookies

I've been looking forward to making these 3D dinosaur cookies for a little while now and with a long weekend upon us, it seemed like the perfect opportunity. I bought the cutters from Folly Home, I made the stegosaurus and the T-Rex but you can also get a brachiosaurus and a triceratops!
These do take a little bit of time to make but the end result is worth the effort. They would also make a lovely gift for a little boy!
Each set comes with several different cutters, you need to make each of the cookies and then when they're cool you can fit them all together to make your 3D dinosaur. I used this basic biscuit dough from the BBC as I couldn't find my usual recipe. The cookies tasted great but they were quite fragile so it is important to be really careful not to break any of the pieces. Another tip is to ensure that the little slots on each cookie are suitably opened before baking, if they're too close when they go in then the slots will be too narrow to fit the cookies together. To avoid the cookies spreading too much when baking I put them in the freezer (already cut out) for 5-10 minutes on the baking tray to firm up the butter.
One top tip I would recommend is using a cookie spatula. By using the spatula you can easily pick up your cookies without altering the shape, as sometimes the cookies can become misshapen. Also after using a cookie cutter, you may end up with some slightly rough edges, to give a neater finish, pick up the cookie and gently pat down these edges or run your finger around the edge...but be careful not to change the shape again.
You can leave the cookies undecorated but I like the idea of lots of different coloured dinosaurs, so I decorated them using royal icing and the flood filling technique. If you want to know more about how to do this, I previously briefly outlined the process when I made Love Heart Cookies. Once the royal icing on these dinosaurs had set over night, I secured the legs on with a little more icing.
I'm entering these 3D dinosaur cookies into this month's Tea Time Treats challenge which is hosted alternately by Kate from at What Kate Baked and Karen at Lavender and Lovage, this month it's Karen's turn. The theme for May is Biscuits and Cookies.