Month: July 2015

Evie and Lois’ Go Ape birthday cake

Evie and Lois’ Go Ape birthday cakeGo Ape birthday cake

Have you ever had an idea in your head for a birthday cake and then it all went horribly wrong? Well that’s kind of what happened with this cake.

The Go Ape Birthday cake.

I’ve made cakes for Evie and Lois before. They’re at school with Darcey and Evie is the reason I have such a keen interest in gluten free baking. I wanted her to have a cake that was every bit as delish as any gluten filled one. As the girls were having a shared Go Ape birthday I wanted their cake to be fitting for a load of kids swinging from ropes in trees.

Beau came up with the original design. I was trying to work out how to have monkeys, trees and models of the girls as well as the cakes needing to be completely separate when she said “Just make two cakes and two trees” and there the idea was born.

The plan

Originally, I wanted to make ball like trees and bushes and have Evie hanging down from a branch on her cake and Lois doing a zip wire from a tree on hers. I dilly dallied as to how to actually do this. I made the trees first and left them to dry then a few days later I made the models of the girls. Then delivery day came.

Go Ape birthday cake Delivery day was a busy one. Not only did I need to finish the cake but it was also the girls school summer fayre – which I was helping at,  and my brother who lives in Oz was coming home for a holiday that night with his wife and three daughters and I was going to help pick them up from the airport. This is where my regrets of not following my normal cake rule of ‘don’t go to bed till the cake is completely finished even if that means staying up till 2am to do so’ kicked in.

Go Ape birthday cake I went to the school fayre and headed home with two hours left to assemble the girls in the trees and put the trees in the cake- then I could do the writing just before dropping the cake off on the way to the airport. As I walked through the front door my dad phoned. “Their plane is getting in early. We’re leaving in half an hour!” OMG! I just lost 90 minutes! And that’s when Lois legs fell off and Evie’s hands weren’t staying in the right position! Panic. Well nearly. I had to change tact. I decided to remake the models and have them literally in the trees – pulling a few ball leaves off the bigger trees to fit them in. I tried to position the arms so they looked really chilled out.

I delivered the cake just in time and then headed straight to the airport where I met my niece for the first time and got to hug my brother and his family for the first time in three years. With the cake delivered without anything else falling off I’d say it ended up a successful day after all!

5 lessons learnt making this Go Ape Birthday cake

  1. ALWAYS finish the cake the night before delivery even if that means staying up till stupid O’clock! Always!!!
  2. Make models a week before delivery date so they have plenty of time to dry and legs don’t fall off. When will I learn this lesson????
  3. You can be a bit brave with design. I loved the ball leaves and bold topiary style tree. They look really cartoony.
  4. Gluten free chocolate cake made with almonds is amazing and doesn’t have that grainy texture most GF cakes have.
  5. Planes will always land early when you’re not expecting it!

EmmaMT

xGo Ape birthday cake

Cherry Brownies recipe

Cherry Brownies recipeBrownie_cherry_&_chocolate_brownie

Right now, as I write this blog post it’s Christmas in my crazy media world. Anything and everything that’s to do with Christmas is being emailed my way. Baubles, gift guide ideas and of course things to make your Christmas dinner with. But when it comes to roasting trays turkey is furthest from my mind. For me it’s all about the brownie.

Roasting trays are perfect for brownies so when I caught sight of the hard anodised range from Stellar I knew I had to ‘have a play’. I requested the 32x22cm shallow roasting tray but there’s a whole range available including deep roasters, loose bottom tins, round cake tins, cupcake tins, loaf tins- you name it, it’s on the list.

What I like about this range is that they have a really great thermal conductivity for even heat distribution. This means that whether you have cookies on the tray in the front or back of the oven they’ll all come out the same- perfectly browned and even. I have another tray like this (who shall remain nameless but let’s just say it was really expensive!) and it warps every time it goes under the grill or when the oven gets too hot. This range is designed not to do this and so far – under my rigorous testing, it’s come out on top- and perfectly flat every time.

 

I make brownies in shallow roasters as they’re a stronger, more suitable tray than regular baking sheets. Apart from the fact that they usually come in a good brownie size, they’re thick and strong and give an nice even- gooey bake. These are also really non stick which is always a good thing!

Cherry Brownies recipe

  • 275g (1 cup of chips) dark chocolate
  • 280g unsalted butter (1 ½ sticks)
  • pinch of salt ( I use sea salt)
  • 450g (2 cups) caster sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract
  • 170g (1 cup) plain flour
  • 2-300g cherries -fresh (2 cups) is best but glacé (1 cup) works well too
  1. Line a 22x33cm (8 x 12″) roasting tray with silicon paper. I’ve been using the foil lined paper as it stays in place and makes delivering the brownies so much easier. Pre-heat your oven to 180ºC (Fan oven160ºC)
  2. Melt the chocolate over a bain marie then set aside to cool a little.
  3. If using fresh cherries remove the stones and cut into halves or quarters. Glacé cherries can be cut in half.
  4. In a separate bowl mix the sugar and butter then add the eggs slowly. Add the vanilla extract.
  5. Sieve the flour over the mixture and stir in until completely incorporated. Pour the melted chocolate over and combine with the salt.
  6.  Add the cherries to the cake mix and stir till completely covered. Pour the mix into the roasting tray and smooth into the corners with a table spoon. Cherry Brownie recipe with Stellar
  7. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the top looks like it’s about to crack. Brownies taste best when they are soft so be careful not to over bake them. If in doubt- take them out. A knife will come out almost completely clean, you want a bit of moisture/ cake mix on the end when they are done.
  8. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.
  9. To cut- dip a sharp knife into hot water then wipe with a piece of kitchen paper then clean after each slice. The knife will become very caked in chocolate as these are super moist brownies

Top tips with these cherry brownies

  • You can make these dairy free by choosing a Dairy free chocolate (Bournville was the only one I could find locally) and using a dairy free spread. I did substitute the butter weight for sunflower oil in one of my tests and they tasted great but we really a touch too gloopy and only lasted a day. The day after baking the edges were really hard so you’d need to eat them on the day of baking- which let’s face it isn’t normally a problem!
  • Fresh cherries taste WAAAYYYY better than glacé ones. I de-stonned mine then dried them with some kitchen paper before dusting them all over with flour to stop them sinking to the bottom. You can also add more ( I had 300g in mine).
  • If using glace cherries opt for Morello glacé cherries. They were divine and I did have to keep noshing on them to do a taste test!
  • The key is to not over bake brownies. The top should look almost like a sheet of sugar paper when they’re done. They will continue to bake once you take them out of the oven so err on the side of caution and if they look nearly done take them out.
  • You can leave out the salt but I was once told by the lovely Bex Smith that salt and chocolate are opposite combinations (like sugar and lemons) and brownies without salt just don’t taste right anymore!enjoy!

EmmaMT

x

Disclaimer: The 33 x 22cm Hard Anodised roasting tray in this post was sent to me by Stellar . (Thanks you guys – it give the perfect bake) All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

Book Review: How baking works … and what to do when it doesn’t by James Morton…and a giveaway!

Book Review: How baking works by James MortonBook Review: How to bake by James Morton

If I said “I have a book to review by James Morton” you might think who? But if I said “the sciency guy from the Great British Bake Off 2012”  you’d know instantly who I was talking about.

How Baking Works: …and what to do if it doesn’t  (Ebury press), is James’ second book (the first was Brilliant Bread) and it does exactly what it says on the tin – to the extent that I have been slowly reading “How baking works” cover to cover. I don’t think I’ve ever read a baking book like that before. I even wanted to take it on the train to read last week- but it’s a bit heavy and not to mention obsessive for that!

Book Review: How to bake by James Morton

The book starts off like most with a description of ingredients and techniques but the point of difference here is that James goes into the nitty gritty sciency background of what happens during baking, like when sugar and butter are combined (the sharp edges of the sugar cut through the molecules of the butter to create air pockets- in case you were wondering? That’s what gives your cake it’s rise). I find it all so interesting. I can’t remember all the tips so I’ve started writing myself a cheat sheet on my folded paper bookmark.

Book Review: How to bake by James Morton

Some of the facts are a bit too sciency for me and go straight over my head but what I really like about this book is that before every recipe James explains what you should and shouldn’t do for that type of baking. There are step by step pictures with explanations on what to look for and what to avoid in some tricky sections and let’s face it we can all do with a bit of that kind of help from time to time.

Book Review: How to bake by James Morton There are plenty of recipes in each section of the book including – Cake, Sponge, Brownie, Muffin, Torte, Biscuit, Short, Sweet, Choux pastry Merringue and Macarons. It makes me all hungry just thinking about it. Book Review: How to bake by James Morton As I read through the pages I want to bake everything! Crème Pt anyone? They talk about it on TGBBO all the time but I’ve never made it and I only now know how to and what the ingredients are?  I think it’s the way he talks when he writes. You feel like he’s sharing his best kept secrets with just you!

Book Review: How to bake by James Morton

How Baking Works: is available through this affiliate link on Amazon

So, how would you like to win a copy of How Baking Works: …and what to do if it doesn’t?

Those lovely people over at Ebury Press have given me a copy to giveaway. All you have to do is leave a comment below answering the following question AND enter via the rafflecopter site (just click below to be taken straight through to the competition) A winner will be randomly selected on 21st July. Good luck!

EmmaMT 

What baking question would you have asked James to answer?

 

Click on the link below to enter

a Rafflecopter giveaway

CakesBakesAndCookies.com Terms & Conditions

This giveaway will close at 12:00 on 21 July 2015. Leaving a blog post comment is a mandatory entry option. This prize is offered by Ebury Press. I am hosting it on behalf of Ebury press. Please note, I am not responsible for posting the prize out or providing it. Ebury or their representative will send out the prize, the winner must provide their name, address once contacted. The winner will be selected at random from all correct entries received by the Rafflecopter widget. The winner will be notified within 3 days of the closing date. The prize is one copy of the ‘How Baking works’ book, no cash alternatives are available. This giveaway is open only to residents in mainland UK (excluding Northern Ireland and Scottish Highlands and Islands) and entrants must be over 18.

Disclaimer: The book in this post was sent to me by Ebury Press  (Thanks you guys I can’t get enough of it) All thoughts and opinions and entirely my own.

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