Month: September 2012

Twitter and the horse birthday cake

Horse birthday cake
Sometimes when I  look back at the cakes I’ve done, I can’t believe how many I’ve made. Today when I was looking through my cake pictures trying to decide which one to write about I found this horse cake I did for the Editor of Elle magazine.

I should back track a little first.  I first got into Twitter after a much needed lesson from the Web team at Woman and Home magazine! I sat directly behind the lovely web girls and would listen to them all day talking about who was saying what and I got hooked. I followed who they followed and one day, just as I was about to start planning my Christmas interior features – which was my craziest time, we saw that the editor of Elle magazine (the only non home interest title I subscribed to and completely love I might add) had put out a tweet asking where she could get a cake made for her daughter’s birthday in the shape of a horse. Now although I was getting quite confident at decorating and shaping a cake, a horse really would be a huge challenge. I mean the head would have to stand up and stick out without toppling over! And I had already said that I wouldn’t do anymore cakes till after the Christmas issue was finished.

 A friend, who is also a huge Elle magazine fan said “You can’t pass up an opportunity like this” and messaged the editor directly saying how I made cakes and to see my Flickr pics. The editor got in touch and the rest as they say is history. Lorraine Candy told me about her daughter’s love of the horse she rode at her riding lessons called Megastar and we arranged a date for delivery.

Around this time there were back to back episodes of ‘Ace of Cakes‘ on TV, which I was totally hooked on. One of the cakes they made had to be top heavy and to overcome the problem they used a combination of Rice Krispies and melted Mars bars. You simply mix the two together and they become a mouldable and edible shape. So I had my answer to the horse’s head problem. I only wish I had taken step photos of it to show you, but this was before I started blogging.

Once the head was shaped and had set hard in the fridge I covered it with brown sugarpaste icing and smoothed it all over. The cake was cut into a horses body shape and the head was  secured into position then the whole thing was covered in the tan coloured icing. Megastar is a Palomino so the cake would be a lovely light colour. I would have hated to make a black horse. People in general don’t like to eat a black cake!

The legs were shaped from solid sugarpaste and were secured to the body with a little royal icing. The mane and tail were also made of thin strips of sugarpaste.

For the cake board I decided to make it a green field, complete with pretty flowers so  Megastar looked like she was resting.

In all I was pretty pleased with this cake. I could imagine being very happy to have it as an eight year old girl. The horse looked friendly and was just the right size. When I delivered it I found out that Megastar belonged to Noel Gallagher! Which was just the icing on the cake! (sorry- I couldn’t help myself)

EmmaMT

Squires Kitchen ‘BAKE School’ magazine review

Have you seen this magazine on the shelves yet? I got my hands on the second issue this week and it’s really, really good. I don’t buy many baking magazines – if I started I don’t think I’d stop and what with all the interiors titles I buy for work I’d be drowning in piles and piles of paper!

Squires kitchen, for those of you who don’t know, is a baking shop/school/ haven. It’s based in Farnham in Surrey and has people coming from all over the world to learn how to master the art of decorating cakes and cookies, modelling, sugarcrafting and much, much more. Their baking ingredients and equipment are so readily available the chances are you already have a ton of it in your baking cupboard without even realising it. They have had a fantastic  Wedding magazine for a while but this new ‘Bake school’ is right up my street and so probably yours too.

So what’s in it?

Recipes to start with, and lots and lots of them. Most are by the Squires tutors but there’s also a few experts thrown in for good measure, Mary Berry, Edd Kimber and Carlos Lischetti to name but a few. There are also tons and tons of tips. Really simple things that make a difference to being a successful baker. How to line a cake tin, how to colour icing, how to pipe a cupcake, which nozzle give which effect etc

The features in this issue

Biscuits

There are loads of recipes as well as beautiful decorating ideas from stencilling and embossing to flooding and stained glass effects

Cupcakes

Recipes including very vanilla, triple chocolate and some basic how to’s on piping buttercream to more complex designs. I love the butterfly cupcakes with the iced cookies in them and the cupcakes that really look like roses. They’re incredible.

Cakes

Raspberry Victoria Sponge anyone? Or a pretty layered cake, like the one on the cover? Yes, please!  There are also some dairy free, wheat and gluten cakes as well.

Chocolate

Well what can I say. You will want to make all of these recipes from Mud cake to chocolate chilli cupcakes, Chocolate fondant puddings to chocolate and walnut brownies to name but a few.

Dessert

I love desserts. In fact I nearly love them more than cakes – but don’t tell anyone! This is one chapter that I have folded down the page corners on every page! Swiss Meringues that are so pretty, Eaton Mess Meringue cakes, Mango tart, yum, yum, yum!

Bread

I’ve only recently discovered the fun of baking bread. I have loved making pizza bases this week. They are so much better than shop bought ones. George Thomopoulos, Squires expert bread baker, shares his tried and tested recipes for brown malted loaf, bloomer and rolls and Focaccia – this is what I’m making next.

Also worth checking out ….

  • Susanna Righetto’s sugarcraft flowers. You could sell them in a florists shop they look so real.
  • The interview with Edd Kimber, winner of the first series of The Great British Bake off.
  • Plum chutney and a jam recipe to accompany other recipes.
  • In the kitchen with Carlos Lischetti – this man makes models from modelling clay that are incredible. They are so beautiful you could put them on a shelf as an ornament. They are the epitome of perfect.

Bake school is available from WHSMith, Sainsbury’s and selected newsagents for £5.99 or you can buy it directly from the Squires on line shop, but beware, you’ll come away with a lot more than you bargained for if you let yourself loose in the shop. It’s a treasure trove of baking goodies!

Do you buy baking magazines? Which ones are your favorites and why? I’d love to know what to look out for.

enjoy!

How to cover a cake in sugarpaste, and make it really smooth!

Last week I made this really big (and really heavy) wedding cake. I have been asked a few times now how I cover cakes with sugarpaste and get it looking so smooth, so,  I took some snaps as I went. My poor camera is now covered in icing sugar! I started with each cake covered in marzipan. It gives a really smooth base coat. (To cover a cake in marzipan you do the same proceedure as with the icing-  you just use jam or buttercream to attach it, not alchohol) I found out whilst making this cake that if you buy a 5kg box of sugarpaste you get 1kg free. It’s so much cheaper to buy in bulk! I buy from here by the way. Just look at the size of that sugarpaste! It’s massive and really heavy. I break off big chunks and knead them until soft and pliable, then add the next chunk of sugarpaste, till I have enough to cover the whole cake. I use spacers when rolling to make sure that the icing is level throughout. This was a 12″ Madeira cake so the sugarpaste needed to be rolled out to a really big circle. In order for the sugarpaste to stick to the marzipan you need to make it damp. For this use either cooled boiled water or brandy. You can guess which one I used! Well, it was a wedding cake! Use a damp pastry brush and cover the whole cake especially around the base.

 

If you are sugarpasting directly onto a cake  (ie with no marzipan) add a thin layer of buttercream to the top and side of the cake for the sugarpaste to stick to. The smoother you can get teh buttercream the better the sugarpaste will look.  Carefully lift the rolled  out sugarpaste over the cake. Support it from underneath as much as you can as it will stretch very easily- making it very thin in some areas. Use a cake smoother to gently force any trapped air bubbles out and smooth the top layer of the cake. I have this pink spirit leveller just for using with cakes. It’s an essential tool when stacking cakes, as if you get the bottom two tiers wonky it will throw the whole cake off. Most of the time you can keep using the smoother to get the level as good as perfect. Keep smoothing in a circular action and checking the flatness till it’s good. Once the top is nice and flat gently use the palm of your hand to smooth down the sides. Avoid creases at the bottom by holding the lower piece of sugarpaste out away from the cake while you smooth it gently towards the bottom with your other hand. (It’s impossible to take a photo of this action when you are home alone on a Tuesday afternoon!) Hope it makes sence. Once the whole cake is covered use the palm of your hand to smooth the edges of the icing securely onto the cake. There is always some excess to cut off. I use a pizza wheel to cut away the extra sugarpaste. Don’t lean the cutter in towards the bottom of the cake. Keep it at a right angle and leave about 2mm sticking out. Use a flat smoother to tuck in the excess 2mm of sugarpaste all the way around the cake.  Use the inside part of your palm- between your thumb and first finger, and smooth the top corner until it’s really soft and there are no bumps. The last action is to finish off with a cake smoother all over the top and around the sides till it’s perfectly smooth.

enjoy!

Apple and Honey cake recipe

This week it’s all about the apple and honey! It was Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year and we traditionally dip apple into honey to bring us a sweet year ahead. So I thought I’d give my favourite Honey cake a bit of a tweek and add some apples. The end result. In a word. Moorish!

Apple and Honey cake recipe

Ingredients

  • 90g plain flour
  • 100g Self Raising flour
  • 1 ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 4 eggs at room temperature and separated
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 110 ml honey
  • 110 ml sunflower oil
  • 50 ml Orange juice
  • 1-2 small eating apples, peeled, cored and cut into slices

How to make Apple and Honey cake

Heat your oven to 180C

Measure out and sieve the flours, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and nutmeg into a bowl.

In a separate bowl mix the egg yolks and sugar until well blended.

Keep the mixer going and add the honey and oil in steady streams. Mix well.

Add the dry ingredients and orange juice until completely combined.

In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks.

With a large metal spoon gently fold the egg whites into the cake mix.

Cut the apple into small chunks and drop them into the cake mix. They will sink to the bottom and make the cake very moist so don’t add more than one layer of apple.

Bake in the oven for 40-50 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.  The cake will puff up due to all the air in the egg whites, but don’t be surprised when it drops back down again as it cools.

Leave it to cool completely on a wire rack before turning it out onto a cake plate ready to devour!

How do you measure up? I need your help.

 “Help!!!”

I had a question/comment from a reader last week asking me what the conversions are for the Peggy Porschen Lemon Limoncello cake. She uses American cups to measure ingredients and as I am here in sunny England we use grams.

I’ve have attempted (unsuccessfully I might add) to use cup measurements in the past. Martha Stewart recipes always look so amazing so I had a go with some cups that I bought in Australia. Little did I know that American and Australian cup sizes are different, so I got off to a bad start right from the word go!

To find out the conversions I looked in all my best cook books. Not a single one had the conversions, so I went to Google. I can’t believe how many different amounts I came up with for the same measurements. They varied so much that I didn’t know where to start.

Masses of problems

From my searches I’ve worked out that different masses, ie, sugar, flour, butter, liquids etc all have different amounts, so you can’t just say that a cup of sugar is the same as a cup of flour. Measurements are done in volume not by weight.

OMG!!! That’s so confusing. I don’t know how you American’s do it? Anyway, I am putting a call out there to anyone who has a tried and tested list / website / mum’s measurements that we can share here on CakesBakesAndCookies.com, so my reader can make her Lemon Limoncello cake and I can start to make Martha Stewart recipes successfully.

Also, can you let me know exactly how you fill a cup? Do you overfill it with ingredients and then use the back of a knife to make it level, so you know that you’re getting the same amount each time-  as you would with measuring spoons?

Please, please  leave a comment if you can help. I’ll be sharing the results here as soon as I’ve tested them out!

Thanks so much.

EmmaMT

Cherry Clafoutis recipe.

I fell in love with Clafoutis a few months ago and vowed to create a recipe that matched the one I had in Norfolk. It’s a French dessert made with a custard (or batter mix to you and me) which is baked in a really hot oven until all puffed up.

There’s a lot of talk on-line about whether you should bake a traditional Clafoutis with fresh cherries that still have their stones in or whether the stones should be removed. I have tried it both ways and do think that it tastes better when the stones are left in. The cherries get so soft that they are easy to remove when you eat a slice.

It’s a really quick and easy dessert to make. Every recipe I tried said it is best served warm  straight from the oven. It does taste good then, but I had some the next day which I warmed through in the microwave for 20 seconds and it was even better.  Let me know what you think.

Cherry Clafoutis recipe

Clafoutis ingredients

50ml Kirsch

150g Fresh cherries (or tinned if they’re out of season)

300ml milk

55g caster sugar

3 eggs

1 tea spoon Vanilla essence

75g Plain flour

10g butter

icing sugar to dust

How to make Cherry Clafoutis

I used fresh cherries but you can use tinned ones or other fruits too. Soak the cherries overnight in the Kirsch. You can soak them for a couple of hours but the taste is so much better when they are really infused.

Pre-heat your oven to 180°C.  Mix the wet ingredients together then add the dry. Whisk it up so it’s light and fluffy. Add any Kirsch that hasn’t been absorbed into the cherries into the mix. You can blend the ingredients together in a food processor,  but I did it by hand. It only takes a couple of minutes and saves on the washing up.

Pop your empty pie dish in the oven for 10 minutes to warm it through then remove and add the butter. Coat the dish thoroughly with the melted butter. This stops the Clafoutis from sticking to the edges and adds to the flavour. The edges are my favorite bit. Pour in half the batter mixture and bake for 10 minutes. This is so that the cherries don’t sink to the bottom when being baked.

After 10 minutes remove the dish, add the cherries and the remaining batter. Put back into the oven and bake for a further 40 minutes. When it is done it will be all puffed up at the edges and lovely and brown.

Remove from the oven and sieve icing sugar all over the top. Slice up and serve warm with or without cream.  If you want to make this recipe even richer you can swap half the milk for double cream.

enjoy! 

p.s. I used the Madagascan vanilla extract and it was as I suspected. Deelish!

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