Month: August 2012

How to cover a cake in chocolate ganache

I made a really yummy chocolate and cherry cake last week and finally had a go at covering it with chocolate ganache. Up until now whenever I have made ganache it’s always been mixed in with buttercream for a cake filling or just as a really delicious layer of chocolatiness before a fresh cream filling but this time was different!
How to cover a cake in chocolate ganache
Chocolate ganache is basically dark chocolate mixed in with double cream and some butter. It’s rich and seriously best when licked straight from the mixing spoon…. I mean when added to a cake!
Anyway, here’s how I did it.

How to cover an 8″ cake in Chocolate ganache.


Buttercream Ingredients

  • 100g butter – at room temperature
  • 200g icing sugar
  • a drop of vanilla essence
  • 50g cocoa powder (add more if you want it really chocolatey)

 Chocolate Ganache ingredients

  • 75ml double cream
  • 125g Unsalted butter,
  • 250g plain chocolate  broken up into little pieces
How to cover a cake in chocolate ganache
Start off with your baked cake. Mix up your buttercream by adding the sieved icing sugar and cocoa powder to the butter and whisking till light and fluffy. Add the vanilla essence and whisk again. If it’s a little too stiff you can add a few drops of milk to loosen it up a bit.
How to cover a cake in chocolate ganache
Use a pallet knife to spread a thin layer of the buttercream over the top and sides of the cake. This will be your base layer so make it as flat as you can.
How to cover a cake in chocolate ganacheI use an icing smoother to get the sides nice and even. (This is a great way to discuise a bumpy cake!) If you drag the smoother along the edge of the cake whist resting on a flat surface you’ll get a nice 90° edge.)Pop the cake in the fridge to firm up the buttercream. This will take around 20 minutes.
How to cover a cake in chocolate ganache
While the cake is in the fridge make the ganache. You can melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water but I just heat up the double cream in a pan until just before it’s going to boil. Then take it off the heat and stir in the chopped up chocolate pieces until it’s all melted and combined. Add the butter till that’s melted and incorporated too and leave to cool a little.
How to cover a cake in chocolate ganache
Once the buttercreamed cake is firm remove it from the fridge and place it on a wire rack which is over some greaseproof paper.
How to cover a cake in chocolate ganache
Pour the ganache over the cake so that it fills up the whole top and flows over the sides. I found this strangely good fun. I always did love messy play! Use a spatula to create a soft ripple look if you want. This is my little trick which means that the top layer doesn’t need to be perfectly flat!
How to cover a cake in chocolate ganache
Leave the cake till the ganache stops dripping. I added the cherries at this stage so they would sit firmly on the cake as it had to travel in the car later that day.
 How to cover a cake in chocolate ganache
Leave the ganache to set. Weather dependant this can take between 30 – 60 minutes. It will firm up quite a bit, but will remain soft so don’t be tepmted to stick a finger on it to see if it’s done. You’ll ruin the look!
How to cover a cake in chocolate ganache
Once set carefully transfere it onto your cake plate.
I was pretty happy with how this turned out. It’s really fun.  I made double the amount of ganache – just in case I had to start again! But you can scoop up the overspilled ganache and keep it in an airtight container for a week in the fridge if you need to. When you are ready to use it again just warm it through slowly in a pan but make sure it doesn’t boil or burn.  I pretty much spooned my leftovers – with some small people’s help, straight into my mouth. I couldn’t leave it alone!


Ballerina birthday cake

Cakes gone by…Ballerina birthday cake

One of Beau’s good friends at school is a girl called Ella. When it was her 7th Birthday a few weeks after Beau’s we all got snowed in. Ella lives at the top of a dead end road at the top of a hill and there was no way of getting a car out onto the main road (which was an ice rink with all the ice) so when her mum told me she didn’t have a cake for her I jumped to the challenge.
The cake was needed for the next day so it needed to be really quick and simple to decorate but most importantly easy to carry in a food box, in a bag in, in the snow! (Ella lives a 15 minute walk from our house)

The cake

I decided to make a quick one bowl chocolate cake with a chocolate buttercream filling and covered it with pink icing. I cut out the ‘Ella’ with these great letter cutters I bought from Muji a few years ago and used a Karen Davies  mould to make the ballerina topper. Beau and Ella used to do to ballet together.
Karen Davies moulds are fantastic. The Moulds are all rubbery. You press marzipan or icing into them and they create flowers, heads, people, etc without any hassle.  I met Karen at The Squires Cake decorating show a few years ago and again at Cake International when I was with my mum this year.  Both times she was doing demonstrations on how to use her moulds to their best advantage. They are really simple to use and create fantastic results. I bought moulds on both occasions.
I made the ballerina for this cake with white marzipan that I had coloured with paprika food colour gel(that’s the best colour for a peachy skin tone) I then dusted the cheeks with pink lustre and painted the face on with gel food colourings. I always use alcohol to dilute and clean paint brushes when painting faces(and no, I’m not tempted to take a swig whilst doing it!).  I then continued to paint the different parts of the ballerina using food colours and lustres. I left her to dry and harden overnight then assembled her and the letters the next morning, attaching them with royal icing. I popped the cake in a big lock and lock box and walked her up to met Ella’s mum midway between our houses.


This is probably one of the quickest birthday cakes I have ever decorated. I think it works really well because it is so simple. It’s a case of less is more.
EmmaMTElla's Ballerina  cake
P.S.Have you noticed that it is also my Gravitas picture until I sort out some sort of logo?

Paul Hollywood’s white cob bread loaf recipe

This is what Paul’s White cob loaf looks like – Taken from the book ‘How to Bake’

So, as I said yesterday, bread is not my thing. So when I set about making this loaf for the first time I was a little apprehensive! But my worries were completely unfounded. ‘How to bake’ by Paul Hollywood is really easy to follow and I really loved getting my fingers into the dough and having a good knead (as you will see below). It’s strangely satisfying. So soft and spongy not like sugarpaste which is much harder to manipulate. I’m sure I’m developing better toned arms from kneading sugarpaste, but I digress!

Making bread is fun. Not quite as relaxing as baking cakes (well for me anyway) but it’s just as rewarding.

I have been lucky enough to get permission to feature a book extract from ‘How To Bake’ published by Bloomsbury Publishing so without further a do…. here’s the White cob recipe – words Paul Hollywood,  along with my action shots!

White cob loaf recipe 

MAKES 1 loaf / PREP 3 hours / BAKE 30 minutes


500g Strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting

10g salt

10g instant yeast

30g unsalted butter,softened

320ml cool water

Olive oil for kneading

How to make a white cob loaf

1. Tip the flour into a large mixing bowl.

With a little help from Beau

Add the salt to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other.

Add the butter and three-quarters of the water, and turn the mixture round with your fingers. Continue to add the remaining water, a little at a time, until you’ve picked up all the flour from the sides of the bowl. You may not need to add all the water, or you may need to add a little more – you want dough that is soft, but not soggy. Use the mixture to clean the inside of the bowl and keep going until the mixture forms a rough dough.

This is the fun bit!

2. Coat the work surface with a little olive oil, then tip the dough onto it and begin to knead. Keep kneading for 5–10 minutes. Work through the initial wet stage until the dough starts to form a soft, smooth skin. When your dough feels smooth and silky, put it into a lightly oiled large bowl. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise until at least doubled in size – at least 1 hour, but it’s fine to leave it for 2 or even 3 hours.

3. Line a baking tray with baking parchment or silicone paper.

4. Once risen, the dough should be bouncy and shiny. Scrape it out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. First shape into a ball by folding it inwards repeatedly until all the air is knocked out and the dough is smooth. Then form it into a round, smooth cob shape.

I couldn’t resist poking my fingers into it!

5. Put the dough on the baking tray and place in a clean plastic bag. Leave to prove for about 1 hour, until the dough is at least doubled in size and springs back quickly if you prod it lightly with your finger. Meanwhile, heat your oven to 230˚C and put a roasting tray in the bottom to heat up.

6. Dust the dough with some flour, then slash deeply with a knife. Fill the hot roasting tray in the oven with hot water: this will create steam and give your bread a lighter crust. Put your bread into the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until it is cooked through and sounds hollow when tapped on the base. Cool on a wire rack.

It takes serious will power not to eat the bread when it first comes out of the oven.

So, does it look right? I’m not sure. But I can tell you this. It tasted amazing! Beau and I had some toasted and that was even better than the warm slices we had once it had cooled down enough to handle it.

I will definitely be making bread again. It’s pretty straight forward and fun, you just need to have the time to come back a few times and do some kneading, but it’s definitely worth the effort.


Paul Hollywood’s How to Bake – book review

If there was ever a man to teach me how to bake its’s Paul Hollywood. I mean is it me or does he have the bluest eyes on TV? Now I know that I should start a book review with “This is what this book is all about” but really! You can’t get past them. Anyone who watched the ‘The Great British Bake off’  series (new series is starting tonight by the way!) will know what I ‘m talking about.  (There! Secret crush dealt with. Now onto the book)

How to Bake,

By Paul Hollywood

I have a confession to make. Before getting my hands on this book I had never made bread, or rolls, or buns or anything with yeast in it before! So, this is the perfect book for me! It has all those “I want to make bread recipes in it” and they are really simple to follow. Step pictures always help I find! Don’t you?

Paul says that baking bread is not difficult. “It’s all about mastering the techniques”  And it’s true! Check in tomorrow to see how my first loaf turned out.

So, What’s in the book

Every chapter has tons of techniques, ingredients, the tools you need as well as baking advice. Paul’s years of knowledge is evident throughout and his tone is really coaxing. He makes you feel like you can make any bread with ease.

The chapters

Getting started with bread

This is where you learn about what each ingredient does when baking bread. It’s the science bit that I always want to understand but no one usually includes in a baking book. You can see how to do all the different techniques from kneading and mixing to rising and knocking back the dough (great if you have had a stressy day!) There’s also a list of the basic tools that you’ll need – don’t worry, if your a keen baker you’ll have most of them already.

How to knead bread

Basic breads

Now the fun starts. There are so many great recipes here that you won’t know where to start. White cob, soda bread and Cholla loaf are the ones I am going to start off with.


Of course I had heard of sourdough, but I didn’t really know what it was. Now I do, I can’t wait to try it. It takes forever to make but is well worth the effort from the look of it. There are 15 sourdough recipes in this chapter! I think I’ll start with the basic sourdough and move on from there!

Croissants, Danish & Brioche

Now, I remember seeing the contestants on ‘Great British Bake off” making croissants and being astounded by how much butter was in them. I couldn’t believe how there was any dough at the end of all the kneading and not just a pile of butter!  I vowed to stay clear or become the size of an elephant. That lasted about 2 weeks till I was on a shoot. Croissants are the staple breakfast on any shoot!

This chapter is not for the dieters out there. Pain au chocolat, frangipane, Creme Patissiere, Apple brioche!!!!!! I can’t go on! Just know that there are 14 deeeeelicious recipes to choose from.

Biscuits, puddings & cakes

This chapter is bursting with thirty three fab recipes that I either haven’t seen for a while or have a Paul twist to them.  I was very excited to see Clafoutis there after my trip to Norfolk a few months ago. There’s also carrot and almonds cheese cake, raspberry and passionfruit muffins and spiced coffee and date cake as well as a few traditional bakes like Victoria sponge, scones and buttery shortbread biscuits. In short theres loads to choose from.

Clafoutis Monique

Tarts & Pies

I never make pastry in a food processor as my mum always taught me to use the warmth of your hands to blend the ingredients together. Paul says exactly the same thing. He gives loads of hints and advice throughout all the chapters. Each pastry recipe states where it’s best used- be it a tart, pie or a pasty. I’ve been wanting to make Lemon meringue pie for a while now and this one looks seriously good. Each level is nice and thick! There’s puff pastry, short crust pastry as well as ingredients for sausage rolls, Pithivier, Peacan and chocolate pie and Flamiche to name but a few!

Lemon Meringue pie

Directory page – self explanatory!

What I like about the book.

The colours and layout throughout the book are really good. They give baking bread a modern touch. I love the punchy oversized fonts used for each chapter. The step by step shots are also perfectly placed, just when you need to see how your dough should look or how to knead it- there’s a picture to show you.

There’s no getting away from the fact that some breads need a lot of time to prove, but my mouth was literally watering when I first looked through this book. I love bread and I love cheese so the thought of putting the two together is just too yummy to resist. So in short. I’m sold on bread. Although I’m more of an instant baking results sort of person, there are plenty of recipes where you can leave the dough overnight and pick up where you left it in the morning.

I can’t wait to get started. Can you?

Check out other reviews on Amazon by clicking on the picture link below or see See Paul in action here

P.S. Check out Paul Hollywood’s White Cob loaf recipe here.

The RG’s engagement cake

My brother is leaving me today :0(

He’s emigrating to Australia with his wife and two daughters and we are all going to miss them tons and tons and tons.

Whilst finishing off a little surprise photo album I was making them last night as a Bon Voyage gift, I came across the photos from their engagement party. It was back in 2007 which seems like a lifetime ago now!  Darcey had only just turned one, my sister was pregnant with Asher and I didn’t have a cake blog so I was at least a stone lighter! I had completely forgotten that I had made them an engagement cake.

The RG’s

My brother’s name is Robert and his wife is Roni and they both had the same initials when they met and Roni was still an RG when they got married. They call each other ‘RG’ so that was where the idea behind the cake came from.

The cake

I remember being really pleased with this cake. It must have been one of the first ones I ever did as I didn’t really start making cakes till Beau’s fourth birthday shortly after the engagement party.  I printed out large ‘R & G’ letters in paper to use as a pattern and layered up icing in pink and blue then placed the pattern on top before cutting out each letter with a sharp kitchen knife. I finished with a pink set for Roni and a Blue set for Robert. I think if I made this cake now I would have cut away the area where the letters overlap so that they sit more flat on the top of the cake. I would also know that if you get icing wet it will always look shiny unless you use a dry paintbrush and brush over some icing sugar till all the shininess disappears! I would also cover the cake board (or upturned tray in this instance!) with a strong colour icing.

Oh well, it’s good to see that I’ve improoved a little since 2007 and have learnt so much!


P.S. RG’s & S & L we miss you so much already and love you lots. XXXX °<>° XXXX


Best for Baking with Tala

I love Tala. It’s so Retro it reminds me of my childhood and baking with my mum. When I think of Tala I think of their metal cone shaped measuring jug as I have one which I use to hold all my cake decorating tools. It’s way too pretty to be used just as a jug!

They have so many more products than I first realised. So, when I was asked if I would like to give a test run on their cupcake tin I obviously jumped at the chance. The tin is really sturdy. It’s professional grade and you can really tell by the weight.  You know it will last and last. It washes up really well too which is a big winner for me! No nooks and crannies to get crumbs stuck in. I hate that!

Tala have kindly given me permission to share with you their Strawberry fairy cake recipe which I used for the last school cake sale. I used gluten-free flour in mine so my little friend (well actually Evie is Darcey’s school friend but she gave me such a lovely unexpected hug at Darcey’s birthday party that I think that makes her my friend too now!) could have something nice to eat too. I couldn’t tell the difference between gluten-free and not gluten-free. They were, as you would expect deeelish!

Strawberry Fairy cakes recipe 

(Makes 8-12)


  • 250g butter-at room temperature
  • 250 Caster sugar
  • 4 small eggs
  • 310g Self Raising Flour


  • 120g butter – at room temperature
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 6 drops of strawberry flavouring
  • A little red colouring
  • A little strawberry jam


Cream the butter and sugar together then beat in the eggs and flour.

Spoon into cup cake cases and place in the bun tins.

Bake for 15-20 minutes at 190°C/375°F/gas mark 5. When they have cooled a little remove from the tins onto a cooling tray.

To decorate, make a strawberry butter icing by creaming together the butter, icing sugar, strawberry flavouring and colouring. I put jam into the icing too. I also made some just plain old buttercream ones as seen here (as I wasn’t sure about the gluten content in jam/food colouring etc)

When soft and well mixed, spoon into a piping bag. I used a smooth nozzle to get this effect but a star nozzle will work well too! 

When the baking tin arrived I was really surprised to see the cake stand wrapped up too! I didn’t know that Tala did them. It’s so pretty that it came out for Darcey’s birthday party last week. It’s nice and sturdy so it will be making an appearance at Beau’s party in November too! Cute isn’t it?

Here they are boxed up and ready to go. I love the way cupcakes look in a box. All neat and tight and ready to be devoured!

These are seriously easy to make. Go on, give them a go!


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