Month: January 2012

Moshie Monster Birthday Cake

Cakes gone by….Moshie Monster birthday cake

In my review of ‘Cakes gone by…’ I found the photo of this one lurking on my laptop.  I made it for my friends son last year (wow that was a year ago! Where did that go?)

All the kids at school are mad on Moshie Monsters. If you don’t know what Moshie Monsters are, they’re these cute critters on a website where kids create and name their own monster and go on missions. They all interact with each other. It’s all logic and puzzle solving and kind of learning. Beau loves it. There are stickers to collect and toys and everything.

Anyway, this was one of the first larger 3D character cakes that I made. Charlie’s mum gave me a print out of his monster, so I would get the colours and shape right (there are some very odd characters) This is Furi.

Stacking the cakesI made three round Madeira cakes and cut each one in half, filled it with buttercream and jam then sliced the sides off till it was the right shape. I then covered the outside with a thin layer of buttercream and cut out loads and loads and loads of triangles from sugarpaste. Each triangle was attached (to the buttercream) from the bottom up and it took ages, but it created the perfect feathery fur effect.

Moshie Monster cake - eyesI then made the eyes, mouth and cheeks. I dug out a little bit of cake where the mouth was so that it looked open when I applied the black icing. The hands and feet were made from sugarpaste as was the ‘FURI’ name. These were attached with royal icing.

The cake was a big hit and the young boys at the birthday party wouldn’t let my friend cut it up. How much of a compliment is that? Nine year old boys not wanting to ruin my cake. I was very touched.

enjoy!

Best for baking- Oxo Good grips Hand held mixer

Whiskful thinking.

The Oxo Hand held Whisk

When it comes to whisking food up what do you use? I usually use my Kitchenaid, my tiny whisk from the Nigella Lawson range or my hand held stick blender. Depending on what it is I am making, of course.  I don’t have a traditional whisk (the kind with a pair of removable beaters. I really should do something about that!)

Last week I was sent a press release for one of OXO Good Grips latest products.  A hand held mixer.  Now, I love to test anything baking related so I asked if I could have one to play with. It’s funny how a new toy gets you making things you haven’t made in ages! This week so far we’ve had pancakes, omelette and I have just whipped up a chocolate butter cream for a chocolate cake, just so I can have a go on this whisk. Thank goodness there’s no cream in the house or the healthy eating really would have gone out the window! (The cake wasn’t for us!)

Mixing chocolate

OXO

I have known about OXO Good grips for ages. I studied them (or at least their ethos) when I was at Uni doing Product Design. They’re very clever at designing comfortable to use items with great style. Everything has to be ergonomical and effortless.

So what’s so special about this whisk?

There are a lot of reasons for liking this whisk. Firstly it has a really soft non-slip handle which makes it  very comfortable to use. That’s obviously essential when you are likely to be whisking for a long while, like with meringues.

It's so easy to clean. Just press the button.
It's so easy to clean. Just press the button.

The whisking part of the mixer is removed at the push of a button.

Easy assembly
Just give the whisks a gentle tug to remove.

  The steel beaters are also removable and can be cleaned in the dishwasher after use. Just a gentle pull to the sides makes them pop out.

The elevating bar
See how the extra bar at the bottom prevents the whisks touching the bottom of the bowl? So clever!

It’s the ingenious bar which raises the beaters off the base of the bowl during the whisking that I think really makes this gadget a winner! 

Oxo Good Grips mixer

I’m not one for having a gadget just for the sake of it. Who has the space in their kitchen drawers apart from anything else? But I would definitely add this to my ‘must have’ list. Just because it’s so much fun!

enjoy!

Molly’s Christening cake

My first Christening cakes

I’ve been trying to be really organized this year (you know how those new year goals can be!) and I was sorting out all the photos on my PC. I realized how many cakes I made last year. It was a LOT! You don’t really realise how many you’ve done till you look back. So, I thought I would start sharing them with you.

Two Tier Christening cake

The first one

A few years ago, when I hadn’t ever really tried to stack a cake before, my mother in law’s best friend asked if I would make her grand-daughters Christening cake. Of course it was a pleasure, but it was also a little daunting. She was really sweet and just said

“I’d like a two tier cake with her name – Olivia Katherine, on it”

Great! I thought. This is my chance to stack a cake. Little did I realize that the name Katherine was going to be more of a challenge than the stacking.There are a lot of letters in her name so I had to think outside the box as it were! I decided to make the letters from sugar paste using cookie cutters two weeks before delivery so that they would have plenty of time to dry out. This enabled me to stand them up against the cake. IT also meant that the bottom tier had to be pretty big. I then made some flowers with flower press cutters and attached them to each letter.

In all stacking the cake wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be and the grandparents and family loved it. Even though Tim (my harshest critic) told me it was wonky!

Along came Molly

Molly's Christening cake

So….. a year and a half later along came Olivia Katherine’s little sister and I was again asked to make a two tier cake. This time I wasn’t so scared of the whole assembly thing. Molly’s cake was to be lilac with her name on. The rest was up to me (how cool is that for someone to trust you with your own designs for their cake?) I wanted it to be classy and pretty yet still young as it was for a christening.

The cake was Madeira and was stacked and covered in lilac icing. A week before I baked the cake I iced the cake board and made a huge bow from pink sugarpaste, then set them aside to dry.

I used my spacers to cut even lines from pink sugarpaste to form the ‘ribbon’ that went around each cake then positioned the bow at the front and made ties to hang down over the front.

Molly Christening cake

I finished it off with a scattering of pink blossom flowers and a few pearls dotted around the cake.

To make the ‘Molly’ I used tappits. These are so easy to use and look so neat and professional. All that was needed then was the real ribbon around the base of the cake board and it was time to deliver.

Molly Lilac Christening cake

The cake was a big success. Let’s hope I get asked to make baby number three a christening cake (if there is a number three!) I’d love to make a boys christening cake.

Enjoy!

You say banana bread, I say banana cake…..

I love banana bread!

Just one sliceBanana bread conjures up sentimental memories for me. When I was little, my grandad used to come over to our house every week for Friday night dinner. He had always been to Croydon market that morning and had always bought up loads and loads of individual bananas from the stall holders- just as they were packing up.  Now, I don’t know if he liked bananas or not but there were always tons at our house!

We could never eat them all before they went bad, so mum used to make banana cake practically every weekend. Thank goodness it freezes well! Looking back we never got tired of it!

This particular banana cake was made when my friends Wendy and Theoda were coming round for coffee back in October. Wendy was one of the recipients of my honey cakes so when we were arranging what day and time to meet up she kept slipping in not so subtle hints that I should make the honey cake again. The conversation went something like this …..

Me: Are you free on Wednesday?

Wendy: Yes, honey cake,  in the morning, honey cake.

ME: Okay shall we say 10 ish?

Wendy: Great, honey cake!?!

Wendy’s son, who isn’t keen on cake absolutely loved the honey cake I made for them, so I made them an extra one a week later and what with all the other honey cakes I made for Rosh Hashannah I was feeling a bit honey caked out! So I stood my ground and went with this old favorite.

Wendy was not disappointed! She added butter to her slice, which we never did as kids, I suppose that’s because we always thought of it as a banana cake rather than as a banana bread, but it really adds to the flavour.

The Ingredients

200g caster sugar

110g butter at room temperature

250g Plain flour

1 tsp of baking powder

2 eggs

75ml milk

250g ripe bananas (in their skins) around 3

75g dark chocolate

50g icing sugar

2tbsp water

How to make Banana bread

Pre-heat your oven to 180°C, fan 160°C, Gas mark 4. Line a loaf tin with baking paper. I use preformed liners available from Poundland as they are so much easier to fit.

Mash up the bananas so they are nice and squidgy. I strangely love doing this bit. The more ripe the bananas are the sweeter the bread will taste. This recipe is great for using up those blackening  ones no one wants to eat!

The ingredients

Weigh up all the ingredients ready for mixing

blending

Blend the butter and sugar together until really smooth, then add the eggs one at a time.

Add the flour

Add the baking powder to the flour then add them, one table spoon at a time to the mix. This will stop the mixture from curdling. Then the bananas can be added and mixed in well.

Add the milk

Add the milk slowly

pour into cake tin

Then pour the mix into your tin and bake in the centre of the oven for 45-55 minutes. When a skewer comes out dry it’s done.

Baked banana bread

The cake should rise gently in the centre. Pop it on a wire rack to cool completely.

Chocolate icing

To make the chocolate topping, melt the chocolate in a microwavable bowl. While it’s cooling a little  make the icing in a separate bowl then mix the two together. Before it sets use a spatula to spread the chocolate icing over the top of the cake and leave to set.

Banana Cake

You can also add a packet of chocolate chips to the cake mix for a really chocolatey cake.

Enjoy!

P.S. I got the images for this post ready last night. Then I went downstairs to watch ‘The Great Sport relief bake off ‘ and guess what they were making? Banana bread! What amazing timing. I have to say that I have never had a flop with banana bread and there was a lot of shouting at the TV last night. I can’t believe they all went so wrong when it’s so easy to make. Anyway you can see the catch up here!

Best for baking – JosephJoseph Baking gift set

Roll up! Roll up!

JosephJoseph baking kit 

I love JosephJoseph,and it’s not just because they have beautiful blue eyes! JosephJoseph are twins and I have met them a couple of times at press launches. They have such a passion for design that it’s infectious. Every one of their products is a “Why didn’t someone think of that before?” item.   I’ve been a fan of their clever products for a good few years now – probably because I studied Product Design at Uni and think they are great!

This baking set is really cool.  It was sent to me to test and I have to say I am impressed! It consists of an Adjustable rolling-pin, Elevate pastry brush, Elevate small spatula and a kitchen timer. The whole set is so usable whether for baking or cooking and I think it’s really great value at around £40 from Josephjoseph.com – considering what you get.

Here’s why…..

Adjustable rolling pin,

JosephJoseph Adjustable rolling pin rolling pin

This rolling pin was brought out a few years ago and I thought it was brilliant then, but it had a JospehJoseph logo on the centre which was recessed and left its mark on whatever you were rolling out. Now if you’re making cookies then it doesn’t matter, but I wanted to use it for icing which needed to be perfectly flat so it was just frustrating. So I gave my green one to my mum. She loves it! The newer version is completely flat ( no indented logo) so I can now roll out sugarpaste, dough and marzipan to my heart’s content!

Adjustable discs on the rolling pin

The main reason that this is such an amazing piece of baking kit is the way you can remove the discs at the ends to select the depth of thickness of what you are rolling out from 2mm, 6mm, 10mm. These sizes cover most of my needs! I also like having the measures on the pin so when you need to roll out icing to cover a cake or dough to fill a pie dish, you can see how much more you need to roll out.

You can pop the discs in the dishwasher but as with all wooden rolling pins you should just wipe them with a damp cloth. If you get it soaked the water gets in and can crack.

Elevate pastry brush,

JosephJoseph elevate pastry brush

I always use a silicone pastry brush when I am greasing a cake tin. They’re great for getting into every nook and cranny and are sooooo easy to clean. They also dry quicker than the old hairy bristle types.
This design has a really nifty handle which keeps the bristles lifted off the worktop surface when you put it down. It’s also larger than most brushes, which is great for glazing. It’s heat resistant up to 340°C, so you can even use it to baste a turkey. You can also pop it in the dishwasher.

Elevate small spatula

JosephJoseph elevate spatula

The spatula has the same type of  handle as the pastry brush (as the name would suggest!)  The spatula part is nice and soft so you can really scrape out all the cake mix from a bowl. I’m a big fan of silicone. It really is the easiest material to use and clean when baking.
It’s heat resistant to 340°C which means you can use it for cooking too. Once you’ve made scrambled or fried eggs with one of these you’ll never look back!

Kitchen timer

JosephJoseph kitchen timer

I never used to use kitchen timers that much, I just set the clock timer on the oven, but there have been a number of times when I have needed to set two timers to run at different times, say for different batches of cookies. Since receiving this kit I’ve used the timer non-stop. I don’t know how I lived without it before. I must say that I have also been giving my girls a “10 minute tidy timer” and as it’s pink (!!!!!) they actually love it!

So to sum up, I think each of the items in this set are great on their own, but as a set they are a brilliant bit of baking kit which I know I will be using for years to come!

Baking Gift Set

What do you think?

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