Being a busy mum, I have bugger all time to do anything else these days, like blogging for instance… But I can still pretend I can bake dessert (which is still quite mumsy really).
You can do wonders with just puff pastry, caramel (premade stuff in a jar or can) and bananas – well, you can do one wonderful thing: Banoffee Tart.
Cut, slice, spread, assemble and bake at something like 210° C for 20 minutes… I can’t remember but they should be puffy and crisp, and delicious. A sprinkling of cinnamon and/or chocolate before baking makes it look and taste a little fancy.
Here you kiddies – now mummy needs a drink.
Oh the dramas with this wedding cake!
I was asked to make a simple elegant cake, with a bunch of flowers on top. Sounded like fun – I was looking for an excuse to practice making sugar flowers so was quite excited.
The cake was three tiers: the bottom was a 12 inch chocolate cake, and the 10 inch and 8 inch tiers were a very delicious fruit cake speckled with dark chocolate bits.
First drama: Burnt fruit cakes
The last time I made fruit cake was for my own wedding. From that I learnt that the ‘classic bake’ function on our previous oven is a very handy thing. It means that only the bottom element is turned on and when baking for 3 hours it helps prevent the tops from burning. Our new oven doesn’t have this function so alas the tops needed a bit of ‘levelling’. Tasted fine in the end though.
Second drama: Broken bouquet
After hours of labourious intricacies, the hubby accidentally knocked over my completed sugar bouquet, smashing half of the flowers. Luckily I had enough time, and experience by then, to whip up the replacements without too much bother. Luckily for him he was helping me roll fondant and it was indeed an accident. (My husband tells me that I have to mention that “In hindsight I should’ve put them in a better place and not teetering on the edge of the bench”. Who’s writing this post huh!? :D )
Third drama: Squished cake
Well bad things seem to come in threes. During transportation to the venue, a friend’s hands moulded into the sides of the top tier while he held it in the car. We got there and the round cake looked more like an hour glass. NooOoooOO – why now!?! Not now!!! I kept my cool, which is surprising for a pregnant lady, and luckily (yes, luck was the saving grace for this cake) the icing was thick and soft enough to mould back into shape. It wasn’t perfect but it at least it was round (mostly) again!
Plenty of lessons learnt from my first commissioned cake and it was worth it all in the end to see how happy the bride was.
You can view the gallery of my cakes on the Cakes page.
Want cake and want it fast and easy? Try this chocolate sponge roll recipe that is off the Swiss roll tin I’ve got. It takes hardly any time to prepare, only 8 minutes to cook, a few to cool down, and then spread it with jam if you’re really lazy, or spend a couple minutes whipping some cream. I filled this one with Morello cherries, and cherry liquer whipped cream, then dusted it with icing sugar.
Rolling it can be a little tricky – sometimes I get a great roll, sometimes it cracks and flattens, but it still tastes great!
Oh, and a word of warning – don’t leave it on the coffee table where your dog can reach it. I came back to one once that had the cream from one end licked clean out of the roll as far as Fez could reach!
Chocolate Sponge Roll
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 Tbsp cocoa
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 Tbsp boiling water
- Whipped cream sweetened with icing sugar, and jam for filling. Use whatever you like – could be buttercream too or just jam or just whipped cream, or add in some tinned fruit.
- Preheat oven to 230°C.
- Line a sponge roll tin with baking paper. I have an expandable tin, and usually the dimensions are about 24cmx25cm for this recipe, but you can vary this a little.
- Beat eggs and sugar until thick and creamy (about 4 minutes with an electric beater).
- Sift flour, cocoa and baking powder onto egg mixture.
- Fold dry ingredients in carefully with a spatula or wooden spoon.
- Add boiling water and mix again.
- Spread mixture into sponge roll tin and even out with a spatula.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes until cooked.
- Cool completely before filling.
Once cooled, I turn the cake out onto a clean tea towel so the top is lying on the tea towel, and remove the baking paper.
Then I spread the filling evenly onto the cake, leaving a couple of centimeters at the top edge for the filling to spread during rolling.
I use the tea towel to lift and roll up the cake, like sushi. I pick up the tea towel from the side closest to me and lift the cake up with it, and slowly roll the cake onto itself (while holding the tea towel as well as using your fingers to roll). I continue to lift using the tea towel to support the cake, and roll little by little until the cake is completely rolled up.
Dust with icing sugar to make it look pretty. If the ends are looking a bit dry, you can slice those off before serving to guests.
A friend asked me to make some wedding favours for her – either cupcakes or cookies. Cupcakes would have been great but we had to fly from Wellington to Auckland, and then they’d have to get transported via ferry to the venue on Waiheke Island. Auckland is also notorious for its humid summers so I ruled out making frosted cupcakes pretty quickly. So cookies it was.
The original plan was to make gingerbread ones because I know the gingerbread recipe I have is delicious. However, we experienced a bit of humidity ourselves here in Wellington and my trial cookies turned into cake. They became so soft that they fell apart if you tried to pick them up! So we went for a simple sugar cookie by Alton Brown which proved hardier and still yummy.
After several test runs of different icing colours and patterns, the final product was a heart flooded with light pink icing, and piped with blue and dark pink criss crossing. I have to say the hardest thing about all this was the piping. I almost gave myself carpal tunnel syndrome again from the hours of piping to achieve the stripes – my hands ached and started tingling that night.
But it was worth it. They looked really nice on the tables and tasted pretty good too.
I asked the husband what cake he wanted for his birthday, and we went through the usual “Ummm, I dunno… uhhh”. (It’s kind of like trying to get him to choose baby names, or make any decisions that require creative thought actually. He says that’s my forté.) He’s a geek, so we thought about doing a robot, ipad, motherboard, and other various typical geek things. He had bought me some Ninjabread men cutters because he wanted them at the party, and I said if he wasn’t going to choose something then I’d make a harpooned whale with ninjas doing scientific research on it.
He must’ve had an epiphany or something, and said “Ooh! I know what we could have – you know that furry monster thing on the motivational poster about God killing kittens whenever someone masturbates?” – ok, maybe not an epiphany but he decided that’s what he wanted (because of the Internet meme association, not because of the fate of kittens). We’re talking about Domo-kun (we weren’t geeky enough and had to Google for that).
He also wanted a red velvet cake and ended up baking the cake himself (yay) and I decorated. Things worked out really well because the cross section of the cake looked as if we had given Domo an autopsy.
And the cake was delicious. I hadn’t tried red velvet before, only heard about it, usually in the form of cupcakes. We tried the Waldorf Astoria Red Velvet recipe – it’s a perfect density for decorating and the bonus is that it tastes good and isn’t dry (and pretty easy to make).
Will definitely make red velvet cake again – just got to remember to get lots of red food colouring each time!
Two of my friends had a joint birthday celebration of Cocktails, Cupcakes and Canapes – three fabulous things that I would normally indulge in but being pregnant I could really only enjoy two of those things. I was asked to make some cupcakes for the occasion, which I was more than happy to do because I love making cupcakes – and I also got to eat these ones.
I made three flavours which I was told were all delicious. I was too full by the time I had any, and could only handle a taste of the chocolate ones (I blame the bump taking up all of my valuable food space).
The first was Chocolate Cherry with chocolate fudge cream spiked with cherry liquer, and sprinkled with real chocolate hail. I would normally make them as Black Forest cupcakes with fresh cream but it was a bit too hot to do that in advance.
Then there was a Lemon Vanilla with a lemon buttercream and fruit jube on top. The little lemon wedges were candy I bought from the UK – so yummy and perfect as decoration.
Last was Lime and Coconut – though I completely forgot to put lime juice in it (just used zest), whoops! These were topped with Malibu buttercream, toasted coconut and a giant marshmallow
The girls froze the leftovers and I’ve been told they defrotsed fine. I made myself some chocolate cupcakes yesterday and having them cold from the fridge today was not bad at all. Good to know I can keep iced cupcakes for when I have a random cupcake craving!
And what a grumpy little Miss she was! She would not let other people hold her, and would cry if mum or dad wasn’t there. That made it very difficult to get party things sorted. The grandparents were supposed to be there to take her off our hands while we prepared, but they got a little sidetracked with sight-seeing and went on a cruise around the harbour, not returning until after 1 (the party began at 12 and they also thought it wasn’t until later in the afternoon).
For some reason Abby’s been extremely clingy these last few days, and will cry at things that normally don’t bother her (like leaving her to play). I’m guessing her chest infection, combined with teething and the large number of people around have something to do with it.
Anyway, at least mum got the party she wanted for her baby and caught up with people she hadn’t seen for ages (I didn’t spend as much time as I wanted with everyone, so apologies).
Abby enjoyed her presents, and loved the cheerios and chippies. The cake was yummy, even Abby got to have some.
Thankfully the weather was summery enough for people to be outside – even too hot for most of the day, but the main point is that it didn’t rain. Abby wore a cute gingham dress that grandpa picked out while in Sydney.
Lots of work, but lots of fun. Maybe next year she’ll be a bit more social! And I’ll be able to drink!!
I was asked to make a cake that could be raffled off for the Greenacres School gala. I wanted something whimsical and not too boyish or too girly and it had to appeal to school kids, or at least kids at heart. I chose Alice in Wonderland – oh the options!
In the end I decided I wanted a cake shaped like the Mad Hatter’s hat, with a tea party happening on top. This is the result:
This beast is made of three 8 inch chocolate cakes split into six layers to make the hat, then a smaller madeira cake to make the table and pedestal, also layered. I used lemon buttercream as the filling because it’s easy and delicious.
It’s hard to tell from the pictures but it’s quite a large cake, and damn heavy! Should feed around 60 I say, depending on how big you like your slices.
Our good camera is being fixed which annoys me because I couldn’t take proper photos showing the details. The flash on our backup seems to bring out some of the shine and smaller details, but ruins the colour.
The hat has stitching details around it, some fan patterns pressed into it, and painted with golden lustre for a shine. The ribbon’s also got some pink lustre on it but it’s quite subtle.
I created some pastillage mushrooms, teacups and miniature roses to decorate the table tier. I still hate working with pastillage in that it dries so quickly and cracks. The mushrooms were easy but the others were hard. My teacups ended up looking rustic, but hey, anything goes in Wonderland!
I tried quite a few things on this cake, including piping patterns with royal icing. That was fun, but I really need more practice with piping on vertical surfaces – the numbers on the hat ticket were a bit squiggly as I didn’t know how to keep my hands stable at that angle.
Anyway, it was great practice for Abby’s first birthday cake – something that I haven’t decided on yet and the party’s next week!!
By the way, the gala’s on tomorrow Saturday 20 November 2011, 11am to 2pm at the Greenacres School at 60 Raroa Terrace, Tawa. If you’re in Wellington, drop on by. You can buy raffle tickets to win this cake there :D