Month: July 2014

The fastest Peach pie in the world (by cheating of course!)

Quick and easy Apricot pieIt’s been a crazy couple of weeks here at MT towers. I seem to have switched off the power to say no and have been in a mist of Christmas launches, photo shoots and celebration cakes. Six cakes in 5 weeks whilst working full time to be completely honest and I’m not exactly sure how I managed that? So it should come as no surprise (especially to anyone who knows me!) that I completely forgot that I had offered to host our family Friday night dinner last weekend! Not a problem I thought – as I got off the phone from Tim – who I also hadn’t told we had the family coming round and who had to remind me.  I’ll bung a tuna pasta bake in the oven and get some ready made puff pastry and some apples and whack a pie in the oven. No problemo!

So, after whizzing into London for a planning meeting I got off the train, sprinted around Sainsburys and got everything I needed – except the apples. apricots instead! Got to school by the skin of my teeth, collected daughters and nephew then let them play in the garden at home.  I thought as it was such a hot and sunny evening we would eat alfresco and have a tuna pasta salad and an Peach pie instead. The pie took literally 5 minutes to prepare and 30 to bake. So quick. So easy. And so tasty! I even had dinner made by the time it had finished baking.

Fast Apricot pie recipe

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Ingredients

  • 1 pack of ready rolled puff pasty ( I did say I cheated)
  • 2 tins of peaches in natural juice
  • ½ tsp Cinnamon – or more if you like it lots
  • 20g demerara sugar (any sugar will work but demerara looks fab)
  • 1 egg – whisked

How to make the pie

  1. Pre-heat your oven to the temperature on your puff pastry packaging. Mine said 180ºC (160ºC Fan oven). Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper
  2. Unwrap your puff pastry. I wanted to have two squares so I rolled it out a little longer. This stopped it from puffing up as much as it could have but that wasn’t a problem. I cut it in half with a pizza wheel.
  3. Drain the peaches so you don’t get a soggy bottom. Place them in a bowl and add the cinnamon and sugar (keeping a little sugar back to sprinkle on the top) mix with your hands. Cinnamon and apricot pie recipe
  4. Place the peaches on the centre of the sheet of pastry. Lay the second piece of pastry over the top and press down along the edges to seal it closed. Place your hands gently on the top and press the peaches into place so they aren’t all bunched up in the middle but are evenly spaced inside the puff pastry casing. Use a sharp knife to make slits to allow steam to escape.Apricot pie recipe
  5. Brush the whole pie with the egg wash then sprinkle the sugar over the top.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the pie is golden brown.
  7. Serve warm with ice cream while your sister photo bombs your shot and your family wait for you to take photos of your pie for your blog at the end of their family meal! Thanks family for being so patient… and testing my recipes!

    Little sis.x
    How long before my little sister asks me to take this pic down?

 EmmaMT

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The Black Forrest Gateau decorated cake

Best Black forrest gateaux Do you ever have one of those days when you just get a brainwave? A stroke of cake genius that you just can’t stop thinking about till you’ve baked it / tried it / tasted it? Well that’s what happened last month with the big birthdays in my family.

Tim was born on his mum’s birthday and this year it was a double whammy of BIG birthdays. Let’s just say that they are both staying 21 forever!

Tim’s mum invited us to go out for lunch to celebrate at The Bottlehouse which is an amazing pub with the most fantastic food. I made the cake – of course! Now I know I have mentioned that Tim’s favorite cake is black forrest gateau before but my dilemma was that Tim’s mum had requested a Whisky cake!  I decided to kind of mix them both up and make a very boozy Black forrest gateau in the same kind of way that I made the Whisky cake. That basically meant adding a ton of alcohol. That was my brainwave.

I used the recipe from this post and added more kirsch and cherry brandy at every chance I could. I thought this would put my girls off. Nope! I do believe I am going to have problems with Darcey when she’s a teenager! She loves the alcoholic cakes and she’s only 7!

The challengeRenshaw

It was about this time that I decided to enter the Renshaw birthday cake challenge. Perfect timing you might say. I don’t enter into competitions or challenges very often but when the challenge is something you’ve planned to do anyway you just think “Let’s go for it!”. T that and “fingers crossed!”.

I selected my Renshaw colours. Have you seen their website? I hadn’t before the challenge. I just bought my sugarpastes from the local cake decorating shop, but they do tons more colours and products than I was aware of. Thirty six colour to be precise.  Jade green or tropical coral anyone?

For this cake I used:

  • Duck egg blue for the cake board. I wanted something that would look good for boys and girls and duck egg blue looks so good with brown.
  • Chocolate brown This tastes really good. It’s probably the best tasting ready roll out there.
  • White for the cream topping
  • Poppy Red for the cherries, but I could have chosen Ruby red.

 

How to make the decorated Black Forrest Gateau cake

The cake recipe

  • 225g butter, at room temperature
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 160g  self-raising flour
  • 65g cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 1 tbsp kirsch
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan). Grease 2 x 8 inch round tins and line the base with baking paper. You can use two tins and cut the cake in half through the middle, or if you have enough tins bake four separate ones.
  2. Blend the butter and sugar together.
  3. Add in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and eggs and blend until smooth.
  4. Add the kirsch
  5. Divide the mix into the cake tins and smooth it flat.
  6. Bake for 20–25 minutes until the cakes start to come away from the sides.
  7. Leave them to cool for 5 minutes before turning them out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Make sure you remove the baking paper so the cake doesn’t ‘sweat’.

The filling recipe

  • 340g jar of morello cherry jam (any cherry jam will work)
  • 3 tbsp kirsch
  1. Place the jam in a saucepan on a low heat with the Kirsch until it melts. Set aside to cool then place between each cake layer.

The chocolate cherry ganache recipe

  • 50g butter
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 1 tbsp cherry brandy
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk to soften if neccesary
  1. Place the chocolate and butter in a saucepan over a low heat until they are completely melted. Stir continuously. Add the Cherry brandy then set aside to cool for a few minutes. 
  2. Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl then add the chocolate mix. Whisk until combined then add a little milk at a time. The ganache should look glossy. 
  3. Leave to cool for a few minutes before covering your cake completely with a crumb coat and then a thicker coat. Chill the cake in the fridge in between each layer of buttercream. 

The Black forrest Gateaux cake

Cover the cake in chocolate sugarpaste, smooth and remove the excess.

The cherries

To make the cherries: roll out some red sugarpaste between two spacers. This will give an even thickness so when you cut out circles with a cutter and then roll them into balls each cherry will be exactly the same size.

I wanted the cherries to be a darker shade on one side making them look more realistic. So I got my air brush gun out. This was it’s first outing and I have to say it was really, really easy to use and I pretty much got the desired effect straight away. It was good fun too. I’d been avoiding using it for ages as I didn’t know how it worked.  Now it’s all I want to do.

The Black forrest Gateaux cake

I sprayed the sides of each cherry with a mixture of red and a drop of black food dye until they looked darker and glossier. I then left them overnight to harden up and dry up. 

A few days earlier I made the cherry stems and stuck them in the dips in the cherries before the cherries dried.  Make the stems by rolling out some green and brown sugarpaste. Squidge them together and roll until the stem is the desired length. Add a tiny bit of brown at the tip and leave to dry.

Create swirls of cream with rolled out white sugarpaste. Don’t make the ‘cream’ too tall or it won’t look quite right. I used royal icing to ‘glue’ the cherries in place.

The Black forrest Gateaux cake

To make the cream topping I rolled out the white sugarpaste into a rough circle then used a circle cutter to create some dribbles. Smooth the edge of the cream with your fingers then place over the chocolate sugarpaste. If the cream needs securing brush the underside with a little water.

Add the cherries and swirls of cream and you’re done.

The Black forrest Gateaux cake

This cake turned out really well. It was really moist and rich – which Tim loved and I think his mum liked it too! Darcey definitely did! black forrest gateau

Happy Birthday gorgeous bloke. x

 

EmmaMT

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Ask the Expert: Lindy Smith

Lindy Smith - cake decorator extrordinaireLindy Smith is a world renowned cake decorator with a ton of books under her belt. And when I say a ton I mean A TON!! The latest Creative Colour for Cake Decorating  has won her the prestigious International Gourmand Cookbook Award.

I met Lindy at a press launch a few months back. She was doing a demonstration and the PR girl kept saying ‘Lindy has been doing this with the sugarpaste cutters’ and ‘Lindy has been doing that with the cookie shapers’ and I just stood there thinking – “that’s not THE Lindy Smith? Is it?” but it was and I couldn’t believe it. She was so down to earth – but then let’s face it all cakey people are pretty lovely (aren’t we?)

Me & Lindy

We chatted for a while and I told her about the cake Darcey requested for her 7th birthday party last year. Not one of mine, not a Darcey imaginative idea but one of Lindy’s. She wanted the whale from Lindy’s book Party animals . The girls love to pour over cake books whilst eating their morning cereal choosing what they want next year. Usually they change their minds on a daily basis but not this time. The whale was very cute and I was happy with the end result.

Whale cake

  So, never one to miss an opportunity I asked if I could interview Lindy for this here blog and she kindly said yes so here it is. Lindy  shares her passions and inspiration behind her beautiful cake designs with us.

How did you get into baking and cake decorating?

I have baked ever since I was old enough to hold a wooden spoon! I was lucky, both my mother and grandmother were keen bakers so learning to bake cakes was all part of growing up. As for cake decorating, I was inspired by my own wedding cake to take evening classes in cake decorating. I fell in love with the craft right from my very first lesson, which was how to make sugarpaste – no manufactured paste available then!! I have tried many crafts over the years but sugarcraft is the one that I love the most, it combines my love of baking, art and design and colour, what could be more perfect?

Who inspires you most in the cake decorating arena?

I have had the privilege of meeting many many talented sugarcrafters from around the globe from Brazil to Australia, Canada to Portugal.  These peoples work is amazing, but when it comes to inspiration for my own cakes I like to look to the world of art and design and beyond. I strive to be different and take influences from what I am drawn to, whether it’s a flower in my garden, a piece of wrought iron work or an elaborate wall paper.

What do you do for fun?

To de-stress and relax I like to spend time outside in my garden, cultivating colourful and scented flowers and tasty organic vegetables. My garden is where I forget all the trails and tribulations of everyday life and just concentrate on the job in hand whether its pricking out delicate seedlings or attacking an over grown bush with a pruning saw.

Lindy Smith Owl cake

owl cake detailWhere is your favourite place to go out for dinner?

Well, I recently moved house so I’m in the process of finding new places to eat out. But a place we discovered whilst house hunting and one we’ve been back to on numerous occasions for lunch is the Ludlow Kitchen. It serves amazingly tasty, local fresh food – fabulous

What kitchen gadget could you not live without and why?

My Kenwood mixer, my old one packed up at Christmas after 25 years service and I was totally lost without it!

What’s your favorite meal?

I like to eat a wide variety of food from grilled fish to marinated venison, food that is fresh and full of flavour. I love sampling new dishes and trying new flavour combinations. But actually what I miss most when I’m working away from home is beautifully cooked fresh vegetables!

What’s your favorite dessert?

I have two favourite desserts: the fabulous sticky toffee pudding served with a really good vanilla ice-cream and the gorgeously decedent baked but gooey chocolate fondant – what a treat!

Are you a Tea or coffee drinker?

Both! If I am out I will always try and find a good local coffee shop – a real treat for me is a superbly blended cappuccino, it’s an art! I’m quite experimental when it comes to tea, in my kitchen at any one time I will have between 6 and 10 varieties of loose leaf tea ranging from say a first flush darjeeling tea to jasmine silver tip china tea. 

How long did the book take to write?

This was quite an involved book so from conception to repro took 16 months. Although I created the cakes and wrote the text over an 8 month period

Were there any major disasters when working on the book?

 No major disasters per say but I did start afresh with the peacock cake. Originally I was using much stronger colours and larger cakes but the overall effect wasn’t elegant enough so I scaled down the cake sizes and brought a fresh look to the colours – I’m thrilled with the result

What is your favourite cake design in the book?

I am really pleased with how the peacock inspired cake turned out but my favourite has to be my carved owl cake, he has such character.

Tell us about the International Gourmand Cookbook Award for Best Pastry Sweets Book in the UK.

The Gourmand World Cookbook Awards were started in 1995 by founder and President Edouard Cointreau, whose family have owned vineyards since 1270 and are probably best known for Cointreau liqueur and the Frapin and Remy Martin cognac brands. The awards are seen by many to be the Oscars of the food industry, so I am really thrilled to have won the Pastry Sweets category for the UK, especially as its such a large category and cake decorating only constitutes a small part 

What’s next on the Lindy Smith to do list?

 I have a lot happening this year, but I’m currently working on my next book which is being launched at the Cake international exhibition at the NEC in November. I am also in the process of finalising images and text for a Lindy Smith 2015 calender which is being produced as a licensed product – my first foray into licensing, which is all very exciting.

Creative Colour for Cake Decorating, Lindy Smith (David & Charles) available from all good booksellers or online at www.stitchcraftcreate.co.uk

Lindy Smith peacock cake Lindy Smith Peacock cake EmmaMT

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My very first ‘Free Cake For Kids’ cake

I was really excited earlier this week to be able to make my very first ‘Free Cakes For Kids‘ birthday cake. I’ve been wanting to make one for ages but the requests have all come in when I was either shooting or away or had another cake on the go – and let’s face it one cake at a time is probably best when you work elsewhere full time!

The cake request came in and the details I were given were that the little girl likes pink, butterflies and would love a heart shaped cake. So I set to!

I covered the cake board in light pink icing then cut out a piece of paper that mimiced the shape of the board. I have a heart shaped tin but it isn’t a great shape so I used it anyway and cut a better heart shape out of it. I did toy with the idea of making a square and round cake and cutting the round in half to make a heart shape but whatever way I tried it it just wouldn’t work out. It was either too big or had too much waste. My old heart shaped tin was perfect in the end and only gave a few off cuts (much to Beau’s disgust!) I then gave it a crumb coating.

FCFK1Now, all I needed to do was a second coat of buttercream to get a really good smooth base and then cover it in sugarpaste. I made the hearts and butterfly decorations the day before I made the cake so they had time to firm up enough to be handled without breaking.

FCFK4Once the cake was smooth and I had positioned it on the cake board I stuck on the heart shapes around the outer edge with Royal Icing. I then added the mini hearts and butterflies to the hearts and voila!

FCFK5

How cool is this ribbon that the head of Free Cakes For Kids Bromley had made up to go around our cake boards? Gives them a really professional look don’t you think? FCFK Ribbon

I delivered the cake on Monday and the feedback has been great but I have to say that whenever I deliver a cake and there’s a big smile it just makes my day!

If you want to join ‘Free Cakes For Kids‘ check out the website for your closest branch – they’re everywhere now.

EmmaMT

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