Turning Two and Champagne

Birthdays, as grown ups (I can't use the word adult, I'm not good at adulting) should always be celebrated with champagne. And as this blogs second birthday coincided with a 50th at the office, a Champagne Cake seemed the way to go.

Given how unseasonably warm its been as well, a Raspberry, Cream and Champagne cake seemed like an even BETTER idea. I would have loved to have used real cream, but given the transport required to get it into the office, a champagne buttercream was the safest method to go with.

I found the sponge and raspberry curd recipes on an aussie blog, which made measurements easier, however I was a little uncertain about what to use as 'cake flour'. Given the lack of raising agents, I decided to go with self-raising. The sponge was still a little flatter than I would liked, but I can think of a few recipients that would enjoy a rebake.

I will admit this is a very 'girlie' cake, and wouldn't be out of place at a baby or bridal shower.

Raspberry and Champagne Celebration Cake adapted from Erin Made This

Ingredients

For the sponge layers

  • 6 eggs
  • 200g self raising flour
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 100g unsalted butter, melted

For the champagne syrup

  • 3/4 cup champagne
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar

For the raspberry curd

  • 500g frozen raspberries, thawed
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 egg yolks
  • pinch of salt
  • 60g unsalted butter

For the champagne buttercream

  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 330g icing (powdered) sugar
  • 100ml champagne syrup
  • drizzle of curd until it turns the pink colour you want

Method

For the sponge layers

Preheat your oven to 180C and you'll need to prepare two 20-22cm round cake tins, greasing and lining.

With your stand mixer (or a handheld if you're more patient then me) beat together the eggs and sugar until thick, pale and fluffy.

Fold through the flour and butter, then pour equally into the cake tins. Bake for 25-30mins or until cooked through. Rest in the tins for 10mins then turn out onto a cooling rack.

For the curd

Blend or blitz the raspberries in either your blender or food processor until smooth and then strain through a fine sieve.

Place in a saucepan with the sugar and lemon juice to simmer on a low heat.

In a seperate bowl whisk the eggs and the egg yolks in a small bowl, then use some of the warm raspberry mixture to temper the eggs by adding 1/4 cup or so to the eggs and whisking.

Add the egg mixture into the raspberry mix and return to the stove on a medium/low heat AND KEEP WHISKING while you add the butter.

Whisk whisk whisk until thickened, then allow to cool completely.

For the syrup

Place the sugar and champagne in a saucepan (this became tricky as I only had one appropriately sized saucepan).

Heat over a low heat until the mix reduces by a third.

Brush each cake layer with syrup.

For the buttercream

Using a mixer, beat the butter in a bowl for 3-4 minutes until pale and creamy. Add the icing sugar and the champagne syrup and continue to beat until smooth. Be patient, the smoother the consistency the better. Start drizzling in the curd to make it the kind of pink you like. You'll have a crazy amount of curd so don't worry about quantities.

Assembly!

Place layer one of your champagne brushed sponge on your cake stand/plate/whatever.

Spread a layer of buttercream over this and 1/3 (or more!) cup of the curd.

 

Place the next sponge layer and coat completely with the buttercream (or not if you like a naked cake).

I then decorated the top with crumbled up flake, sliced and hulled strawberries and I cheated and bought wafer flowers.

 

Whiskey is ALWAYS a good idea

So we’re fairly well settled into our new home now. I finally unpacked my ridiculous collection of shoes and tidied up under the stairs. When I get round to buying a spare bed and we consider having a housewarming party you’ll know that we’ve properly finished this moving in lark. We have found ourselves pretty busy every weekend since we’ve moved, but I did find time to remember some birthdays and produce a cake.

I’m a sucker for trying to match a flavour to a birthday so I probably spent way too much time searching for something interesting on Pinterest than I should have. It paid dividends though, as I found this Gingerbread Layer Cake with Whiskey Salted Caramel which was perfect for my Whiskey loving friend.

Given this was delivered to work on a Wednesday it meant very rapidly baking a cake during my lunch break (hello MasterChef style timed challenge) and then making caramel and buttercream once I’d finished work and before hubby got his dinner (sorry hubby).

This was definitely one of my more ‘rustic’ looking cakes, especially as I didn’t bother with evening up my layers (or actually turning the two cakes into four layers), but the feedback from happy birthday participants was positive, and I had the satisfaction of watching every last slice disappear.

The gingerbread layers speak a very Christmas-y language, but given June is *technically* winter here, I figure we can get away with it, and it made a lovely difference from the stock standard chocolate cake we normally see (and there is nothing wrong with stock standard chocolate cake). And after watching someone dip slices of apple into the Whiskey Caramel I’m wondering if caramel apples might be a good idea!!

 

Gingerbread Layer Cake with Salted Whiskey Caramel

From topwithcinnamon.com

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 225g unsalted butter
  • 110g treacle
  • 110g golden syrup
  • 225g soft dark brown sugar, not packed
  • 2 medium eggs (I used large because its what I had)
  • 300ml whole milk
  • 350g plain flour
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • 4 tsp ground ginger
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt

For the Salted Whiskey Caramel Sauce

  • 250g caster sugar
  • 300ml double cream
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 3 tsp whiskey
  • 1-2 tsp flaky sea salt

For the Whiskey Caramel Buttercream

  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 330g icing (powdered) sugar
  • 100ml salted whiskey caramel

 

Method

For the cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 170C. Prepare two 18cm round, deep cake tins by greasing and lining the base with parchment paper.
  2. Heat the butter, treacle and golden syrup in a large saucepan over a low heat until the butter has melted.
  3. Beat in the sugar and set aside to cool slightly.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs and milk together. Slowly beat into the butter and sugar mixture.
  5. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt into the saucepan and beat until just combined.
  6. Divide the batter evenly between the 2 prepared pans and bake for 30 – 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out with a few crumbs attached.
  7. Let cool for about 10 minutes and then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. While the cakes are cooling, prepare the icing and caramel sauce.

For the caramel sauce

  1. Heat the sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once the sugar starts to melt, swirl the sugar into the liquid areas of the pan without stirring.
  2. While the sugar is melting, gently warm the cream and butter in a separate pan until the butter has melted.
  3. After about, 10 minute, or once the sugar has completed melted and is a dark amber colour, remove the saucepan from the heat.
  4. Immediately whisk in the warm cream and butter mixture (be careful, as the hot caramel can splash up). If the sugar solidifies, return the pan to medium heat until the mixture is liquid again.
  5. Stir in the salt and whiskey.
  6. Pour the mixture through a sieve into a heatproof bowl to remove any remaining lumps of sugar and leave to cool.

For the buttercream

  1. Using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer, beat the butter in a bowl for 3 – 4 minutes until pale and creamy. Add the icing sugar and whiskey caramel sauce then continue to beat for another 2 -3 minutes until smooth.

 

Assembly

  1. Level the cakes by cutting off the domed tops (I like using a serrated knife for this) and split each layer in half so that you four layers in total.
  2. Spread the first layer with about 1/6 of the buttercream. Make a thicker layer of buttercream like a dam around the edges and spoon in about 2 tbsp of the slightly cooled caramel. Place the second layer and repeat the buttercream/caramel process. Repeat with the third layer and place fourth tier on top. Cover the entire cake with the remains of the buttercream. Chill for 30 minutes then pour over the caramel.

 

 

Lemons, Poppy Seeds and a Blowtorch

Yeah, I know what you're thinking. I'm a terrible person who doesn't look after their blog. Who can go four months without a peep and expect to just pick it up as if nothing happened. Someone who can miss Christmas, New Year, Australia Day, Valentines Day, I think St Patricks Day was in there, Easter even, and post nothing. Not a thing. The blog equivalent of radio silence.

Well, yeah. I did. But I also spent the past four months in a QLD summer which seems to be never ending even though we're getting to the halfway point of April. I didn't think you wanted to hear me complain about that endlessly for another year. Sure, I could have filled this up with endless ice creams, sorbets, 'no bake' cheesecakes but I didn't make them.

Instead I've spent the past few months watching my Saturdays disappear into house hunting, which in the heat we've had has not been fun. And trying (and failing) to squeeze in visits with my pregnant sister and my niece. Oh and navigating through a massive restructure at work, which given its where I spend 8 hours a day was fairly stressful.

But now we're kinda out the other end. While its still hot, the days are getting shorter so we have to start seeing temps below 30 soon. We bought a house, and while this negotiating/bank approval/packing bit is overwhelming there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel. A light which includes a new kitchen. A new kitchen with a gas cooktop. Be still my beating heart. Work restructure is finalised so I can stop thinking about it (still have a job? Check!). Just waiting on my sister to stop being pregnant and actually have the baby and all the tricky stuff is done. (HAHAHAHAHAHA done. Right.)

And maybe, because I can see the end, there was some baking. For Ali, who I adore. She snuck in a birthday without telling anyone (ha Facebook told us!) and we all selfishly worked from home the day of her birthday. So the very next work day I presented her with this. Three elements, two of which are Lemon which is her favourite, one of which I'd never ever done before. Its a Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake, with Lemon Curd filling and a Toasted Meringue Icing. I've now made it twice, the second time dotted with some Easter Eggs for Easter Sunday lunch with the inlaws.

I stood in my kitchen eating the offcuts of the cake with left over lemon curd wanting to cry I was so very proud of it. Its very sharp, so if you're on the fence with lemon its not for you. But if like Ali and I you think lemon is the greatest thing ever created, this cake will disappear with satisfying speed. The most timeconsuming part of the process was converting everything to metric, but, because when I can be bothered I'm pretty awesome, I've done it for you.

Lemon Meringue Cake, adapted from The Cake Blog

For the Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

Ingredients

  • 393.76 grams caster sugar
  • 272 grams plain flour
  • 45 grams custard powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons poppy seeds
  • 2 eggs
  • 245 grams or 236.5 mls buttermilk
  • 109 grams or 118.3 mls canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 177ml boiling water

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and flour 2 x 22cm cake pans (unlike the original recipe I didn't have 8″ ones). Set pans aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the sugar, custard powder, plain flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and poppy seeds.
  3. In a separate bowl, (I used my kitchenaid on a very low speed) mix together the eggs, buttermilk, oil, vanilla and lemon zest.
  4. Slowly add the dry ingredients a spoonful at a time (KEEP THE SPEED LOW!) stopping now and then to scrape the sides down.
  5. Once combined turn your mixer off. Add the boiling water and stir by hand to incorporate. Otherwise the mixer will spray it all over you, and your kitchen.
  6. Evenly distribute the batter between the prepared pans. Bake for about 25-28 mins. I checked mine at 25 mins. One was done, the other needed another 8 mins or so. Check check check, using a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake. Its ready when it comes out clean.
  7. Cool on a wire rack ro 10-15 mins and then remove from the pans.

For the Lemon Curd

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. I didn't worry about converting this one. In my mind the more lemon the better.
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 112.5 grams + 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 56.7 grams butter, diced

Method

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine lemon juice, zest, yolks and sugar.
  2. Stir over a medium heat until the mixture begins to thicken (this is around the 6-8 mins mark). You'll know you're ready when the curd coats the back of a spoon.
  3. Once this happens remove from heat and add the butter and stir to combine.
  4. Once its all mixed in and melted, strain the curd into a heat-safe container (I used a jar because I had one). Place a piece of plastic wrap over the curd, making sure its actually touching the top of the curd.
  5. Refrigerate until cool and thick.

For the Meringue Icing

Ingredients

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 150 grams granulated sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method

  1. Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl on your electric mixer. Whisk to combine.
  2. Fill a medium saucepan with a few inches of water and place over a medium heat. One the egg whites and sugar are combined, place the mixing bowl over the saucepan to create a double boiler.
  3. Whisk the egg mixture constantly until the sugar disolves and it is warm to the touch. Once warm, transfer the bowl back to the mixer.
  4. With the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on high until medium-stiff glossy peaks form.
  5. Add in the salt and vanilla and mix until combined.
  6. Use immediately.

Assembly

I trimmed my cakes to make sure I had a level top. Then I topped one layer with lemon curd, and put the second cake on top. Go to town with the meringue, the messier it is, the more awesome it looks after you've taken a blow torch to it. Move quickly and lightly. My husband did the blow torching for me, but I'm looking forward to having a go myself next time.

 

 

Birthday Marble Cake

It was my birthday on Monday. Another year older, and this year has been, well, a lot quieter than the last one in some ways. But aside from the fact that I’m at that point where you really don’t want to get any older, I’m kinda glad we’re getting to the end of 2015.

I’m spending the week before and after Christmas away from home, at my parents in Hervey Bay. And very much enjoying having a much bigger kitchen to play in, even if I am missing my Kitchenaid almost as much as I miss my husband who doesn’t arrive until VERY LATE Christmas Eve. He can’t be too late though, because he has my Christmas present!

This is the cake I made for my and my twin sisters birthday. I found the recipe through Pinterest, and like a lot of things you find in Pinterest, the recipe was deceiving. To my eye, things were in the wrong order, and the instructions were a bit vague and abstract. So I’m not sharing the actual recipe because I don’t want you to fall down the same rabbithole.

When I’ve had a chance (and Christmas week is NOT the time for experimentation) I’ll work out the kinks and post it.

In the meantime, its a Chocolate and Peanut Butter marble cake, with a Peanut Butter Ganache Icing and Chocolate Drizzle. Its probably one of my ugliest cakes. But, version 2 will be better, with the kinks firmly ironed out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

35 and counting.

Friday the 16th was hubbys birthday. And while last years Four Element Rum Cake will go down in history as the most appropriate cake ever made for him, it was perhaps not thought of so fondly by the parents of the young children we shared it with.

So this time, I took the rest of my audience into account, and made perhaps my most visually impressive cake of all time.

I found this recipe in the Woolworths free recipe magazine, and instead of making my own chocolate bark, I just bought up a bunch of chocolates and decorated like crazy.

Given the numbers I was catering for I also chose to make two two-tier cakes instead of one four-tier. Although if I did that again I'd make more of the nutella buttercream frosting.

This cake was dense, and the buttercream mellowed out the strong nutella flavour. So even a couple of 'non-nutella' people (who are they?) liked the cake.

The first one we ate with hubbys family (there was 11 of us, but one too little for cake), with a slice saved over for my sister….who shared it with her daughter who demanded 'more cakey mummy' between bites.

The second one we actually took camping with us for the weekend, and shared with a group of nine. Only made possible because one couple has the most amazing 4WD caravan with a proper fridge.

If you have something a bit special to celebrate….this is certainly a very very delicious chocolate way to do so.

 

Slab Tray Bake of Coffee Delicious

During one of my many days of sick leave, I gave my mum a call. Mum asked me some questions about this recipe in the latest Donna Hay magazine, and whether or not a recipe could be halved. Of course, once this recipe was brought to my attention……I had to make it too.

Trouble is, as I've said before, I'm a bit very greedy, so I made the full tray bake, but I will admit I cut it into 10 slices, and froze a bunch of them for later on.

The recipe is terribly simple, but when you look at the ingredients, like me, you should be a bit shocked. There is between the cake and the brown sugar filling a scary amount of sugar. It also uses a full 250g of butter, which just seems…..well, over the top.

When I made the cake, it was a on a super tight time frame, so it ended up cooling in a hot oven for something like two hours. I really don't recommend that, because it stuck to the bottom of my tray in the middle, and meant that a chunk of the middle (which thankfully you can't see in my photos) was stuck to the tray. After a lot of cussing and foot stomping (by me), hubby and I stood over the tray and ate the sticky bits.

This is really good warm, its also really good in your lunch box. I'm inclined to think it would be delicious with some warm custard as well!

 

Happy Birthday!

Today marks the 12 month mark since I made my first post on this blog. Granted, timings have been a little hit and miss but I'm pretty pleased with the fact that we're 12 months in and I'm still blogging.

I didn't take a lot of photos of this cake, and none of the preparation. It was hard. There was SO MUCH batter, and I didn't really think things through, for example, the cake batter? 7 bowls people. 7. Try doing that in a kitchen that's been turned upside down. Which mine had. Bench space is hard to find in the first place but with the upside-downidness….even harder.

I made a smaller cake than the recipe called for and then filled up my 12 mini Bundt pan, and then filled up my 6 friand tray. Sadly upon turning out I lost (deliciously) 1 friand and possibly all but three of the bundts. I'm scared to look (I did look, we have a container full of delicious crumbs).

The recipe is dense and delicious and all of the chocolate, which I think every first birthday calls for. I didn't have enough semi-sweet chocolate so I used a big mix of white, semi and dark chocolate. I don't care, it's still delicious.

A five egg batter is huge. HUGE. So make sure you save your biggest electric mixer bowl for that bit. I didn't and had to do some tricky switching around.

Because I had no candles, I had sparkles. If doubt, ALWAYS wear sparkles.

 

 

Whats Up Doc?

Everyone always underestimates carrot cake. Even me. I hadn't even TRIED it till last year.

Turns out its one of my girlfriends favourites, and when I read THIS recipe I realised I like EVERYTHING IN IT (although, walnuts are iffy….so I've swapped them out PERMANENTLY for pecans).

So, I made it, and one loaf went to hubbys work and was demolished, and one loaf went to my work and I've never seen anything disappear so quickly, or have something asked for by hungry colleagues so often. My sister didn't believe it had a vegetable in it. Best compliment ever.

When a few weeks ago we decided to get serious about hubby having a packed lunch I pulled out this recipe again, and he loved it. Last week at my parents place (we had a two week break, but being poor people saving for a house deposit that means holidays are free trips to the parents up north) I made it for my Dads lunch box. And converted two more people who didn't think much of carrot cake until this recipe of awesomeness. Hubby requested it be made again yesterday. Four bakes, three different ovens, and I still haven't gone wrong with it.

Please, stop being disinterested in carrot cake, at least for the sake of this particular recipe. Its worth the hype.

And just to prove things go wrong…..I exploded custard all over my microwave this evening and sulked for half an hour while hubby fixed it.

 

Dump and Run

Ever wanted something warm, delicious and super quick to eat after dinner? Thats a stupid question. Of course you do. Because I do, and the world would be a sad miserable place without dessert.

I ran into this idea trolling through pinterest. I've made it twice, once in the slow cooker and once in the oven. Both times it worked just fine.

So, what is this magic dessert I hear you say? Its apple dump cake, and its so easy its absurd.

Step 1 Get two tins of pink lady apple slices (or similar, I get mine at coles, my mum put me on to them, thanks mum!). Sprinkle them with cinnamon.

Step 2 Empty tins into either a) your slow cooker or b) a pie dish.

Step 3 Empty a yellow cake mix packet into a bowl. Mix it with some butter. How much butter is up to you, and the cake mix you bought. You want to make a crumb. You can add a sprinkle of cinnamon here too if you want.

Step 4 Put the crumb mix over the apples.

Step 5 Cook until crispy and golden. (If you're using a slow cooker, put paper towel over the top BEFORE you put the lid on so that the moisture doesn't drip onto the top).

Step 6 Serve with vanilla ice cream, or custard, or just eat with a spoon standing over your slow cooker.

 

Anniversaries, cake and strawberry ice cream

At the beginning of May, my hubby and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary. The lovely thing about having gotten married at a restaurant on top of a mountain, means we can revisit it each year. Assuming of course that The Summit at Mt Cootha doesn't close down anytime soon!

We had a lovely meal, in the best seats, and even had a view of some fireworks from Suncorp Stadium. We ordered an entree and main each, but, skipped dessert in favour for a slice of wedding cake frozen from last year.

I made some strawberry ice cream to add something extra, we weren't sure how well the cake would hold up after 12months. But after, it was just lovely, and we had it over a couple of nights, with ice cream, and chocolate sauce.

Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole milk, chilled
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups thickened cream, chilled
  • 1-2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries

Method

Put the strawberries in your food processor and blitz until, chunky but the kind of size you'd want as chunks in your ice cream. Set aside.

Using a whisk, or electric mixer, or similiar, whisk to combine the milk and sugar until the sugar is dissolved.

Stir in the cream and vanilla to taste, mix in the strawberries and pop into your ice cream maker.