Category: Cakes

FAQ: How to measure the volume of a cake tin?

FAQ: How to measure the volume of a cake tin?How to measure the volume of a cake tin

How do I measure the volume of a cake tin?

This is one of those questions I get asked a lot…. or rather “How much ingredients do I need for my teddy bear / football shirt/ sphere size cake tin?” (please enter any obscure measurement or shape tin in here!) and I reply with the same answer each time…

“If you can measure the volume of water your cake tin can hold I can work it out for you”

 

The volume of a cake tin.

I use a formula that is calculated from the volume of a recipe and then I calculate up or down from there. The original cake is my base line. Mine is a 6″ Madeira cake for which the cake tin holds 1200ml of water. Once I know what the volume of the odd shaped tin is I can calculate the ingredients. I learnt how to do this from Ruth Clemens on The Pink Whisk. It’s very number-y. You can see how I learnt to do this on this post or check out Ruth’s post here. It took me a while to work it out – especially when the calculation said 1 ½ eggs. I mean how do you get half an egg? (Actually I know the answer to that. You weigh it and use half!)

I’ve been asked so many times that I thought I better show you how I measure the volume of a cake tin.How to measure the volume of a cake tin

  1. The first step is to line your tin if it has a loose bottom. I use bin bags – the ones with no holes in!
  2. Then I add 1 litre at a time till I am 1-2cm from the top of the cake tin.
  3. Write it down or do a tally chart as you go so you don’t loose count. When in doubt go less water than more. I have found that less cake mix results in a taller, lighter cake.
  4. Tip out the water and check the volume against this chart below.
  5. If you need the steps on how to make the madeira cake have a look at this post which goes through it step by step. 

Madeira cake chart - April 2015

It’s that simple.

EmmaMT

How to make an Xbox cake

How to make an Xbox cake

How to make an easy XBOX CAKE

This is an Xbox cake I made for Free Cakes For Kids. I always love getting asked to make cakes for the charity because it gives me such a warm and fuzzy feeling inside but this one was a bit of a concern. “Why?” I hear you ask. It’s just a black box. All kids love an XBox. It’s just a small cake. It shouldn’t be a problem for you oh cake obsessed Emma. Oh no, that wasn’t the problem. The problem was that we don’t have one and I know absolutely nothing about them and when you google Xbox a ton of images appear and having no experience whatsoever meant that I literally didn’t know where to start. The request was for an Xbox cake for a 10 year old boy who loved the FIFA football game.

Stumped!

Then Tim said “Just make the box with a controller. Don’t make it too difficult” after I was trying to work out how to get a FIFA game incorporated. And as always, he was right (just don’t tell him okay!) So that’s what I did and I have to say it was a really lovely cake to make. Pretty straight forward, simple design, black sugarpaste with grooves cut into it. And although I don’t like to make black cakes – especially for kids, the mum was overwhelmed by it when she saw it. I don’t know what she was expecting but she was so thrilled with it. I totally welled up when I saw her response (to be honest I’m welling up now just thinking about it) I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Giving something as simple as a cake to someone is the best feeling in the world. It says I care and I don’t even know you. I urge you to find your local group and give it a try.

How to make an XBox cake

XBOX CAKE

I baked a rectangular cake and as it was so small I didn’t cut it in half to fill it with buttercream. I did a test and it turns out that plain old Madeira cake is just as yummy with just butter cream and sugarpaste on the outside.

The cake was covered with a crumb coat and then a second outer coating of buttercream making sure that the edges were as smooth and flat as possible.

XBOX CAKE

The cake was then covered in black sugar paste. When using black paste it’s really important to make sure every surface is as clean as possible. Every little grain of icing sugar will look like massive spot on your cake. It’s difficult to do as the black sugarpaste is the stickiest of all the colours.

XBOX CAKE

Smooth the sugarpaste till it’s nice and flat and remove the excess, then use side scrapers to get nice ‘pointed’ corners. I’m still working on this technique. It doesn’t really matter if they aren’t super sharp but the sharper the better. The way to do this is to hold one scraper flat on the top of the cake so it’s overhanging the cake and smooth from the side with the other scraper. The scrapers should meet at the edge. This gives the sharp edge. I’m getting there….slowly. Practice, practice, practice!

XBOX CAKE

I then made a template to fit on my cake so I could mark where the grooves needed to go. You can download/print my template here. Enlarge or reduce it to fit your cake. XBOX CAKE

To make the marks I use a pin which has been sterilised in alcohol. Just pierce the paper into the sugarpaste.

XBOX CAKE

I did the marks slowly – one at a time rather than all in one go. I was worried the paper would move or it wouldn’t look right. I had more control this way.

I used a thin palette knife to create the groove lines.

XBOX CAKE

The lines weren’t as straight as I hoped but once they were all done I think I got away with it. Next time I’ll mark each line and create grooves between them.

XBOX CAKE

Then came the tricky part. I cut out the circle in the centre )that’s the hard bit- working out where the centre is!) I made sure I went right through the sugarpaste so that when I removed the cutter I could just stick the pallette knife in the centre and lever it out. It works every time!

XBOX CAKE 7

Use the same size circle cutter to cut out a green circle and place it in the hole using a little buttercream to ‘stick it down’. Try to roll out the green sugarpaste to the same thickness as the black so the top of the cake is flat.

I covered the cake board in the same green a week before and left it to harden so there wouldn’t be any finger prints in it. The cake was secured onto the board with a little royal icing.

XBOX CAKE

To make the controller I used the paper template and cut out a block of black sugarpaste then curved and shaped  it.

XBOX CAKE

I used tiny circle plunger cutters to make the buttons and controllers and made them stick by dampening the underneath of them with cooled boiled water. I used the same technique to add buttons to the front of the box. I also made big dents/holes in the front using a bulbous cone tool.

XBOX CAKE

To finish a black length of sugarpaste which had been rolled into a string was added to the box and controller and the writing was added.

In all a really fun cake to make.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Bye for now

EmmaMT

Book review: The Painted cake by Natasha Collins

The Painted cake by Natasha CollinsNatasha Collins

If you’re anything like me you love a new cake book. There’s something very appealing about finding a new technique, tip, recipe or design to add to your repertoire and The Painted Cake by Natasha Collins (above)is bursting full of great ideas.The painted cake

Natasha Collins was an illustrator and turned her talents from paint and paper to sugarpaste and cakes. She has a beautiful style or ‘hand’ as she puts it and transforms the plainest of cakes into something really unique. The owner of the ever popular Nevie-Pie Cakes she has written this book as if she’s talking to a friend who has no idea where to start ; and let’s face it not many of us would know where to start when painting a cake!

What’s in the book?

Your kit

This book is just beautifully illustrated (as you would expect) and the equipment page is no different. Just look at this page!The painted cake

You don’t actually need a whole load of new equipment to start painting cakes. In fact Natasha recommends only three sizes of brush to start with. She also uses water not alcohol to use for watering down her paints. I was surprised by this but when you think of the amount of cakes she must do it makes financial sense. Water allows the paint to be used in a slightly different way. Alcohol dries much faster- too fast for some painting techniques.

Design and painting techniques

I love these pages. They’re like an art lesson and they make the whole experience look like so much fun. Natasha shows how she plans her designs, marking out the initial flower and then how she layers up the colours. There are tips on mixing tones, how to add high lights and low lights and when to leave an area unpainted.

There are really good detailed guides on how to paint flowers so even the novice can get a beautiful cake first time round. The troubleshooting pages are also very informative you can even remove paint from a cake if you know how!The painted cake

Recipes

No cake decorating book is complete without a load of yummy recipes and as Natasha says “There’s no point in spending hours (or days) perfecting a design if it’s not worth eating”. The recipes included in the book are sponge cake, fruit cake, cookies and gingerbread cookies. I have to say that this is the only part of the book that is let down by the layout. The recipes are a bit scrunched up and whereas normally ingredients and their weights are listed clearly one under another here they are in one long paragraph – which I find a bit hard to read when baking. Still it wouldn’t put me off the book.

Preparing your canvas

This is all about layering up your cakes with buttercream and jam and covering them in sugarpaste. How to get smooth finishes and how to place sugar paste on cupcakes ready to paint.

Painting projects

There are five levels of difficulty to the cake and cookie designs in this book, but even the easiest one gives you scope to add your own twist on it. Each design is clearly shown in small achievable steps and this is what makes this book so good. Whether you’re an avid painter or haven’t touched a paintbrush since your school days you’ll be able to do any one of these projects by following the steps. The projects include painting actual cakes, painting pieces of sugarpaste to stick on top or on the side, there’s butterflies made to look colourful and like they’re flying, chick cupcakes, cookies for every occasion and so much more- thirty projects in total!The painted cake

Templates

You’ve guessed it! There’s no guess work here to get- just copy these for ease of use.

 

Why this book’s a winner

Once I knew I was getting this book I couldn’t wait!  I was really excited about it. So excited that when I had a cake to do I painted it. (I’ll share that with you soon) before the book was even delivered!. Painting again was really good fun and felt quicker to design than traditional decorating methods but I would do that cake differently now I’ve read this book. I’ve picked up so many better practices.

The preparation and painting techniques are so clear that I really want to make a cake with flowers on it now. Natasha’s roses are so beautiful and in a style all of her own – the way a Cath Kidston rose is recognisable. I feel I have learnt a lot from this book. It is truly inspirational.

If I had to choose a favorite project I would say that I love the woodland cake with it’s separate painted elements. Great for getting kids involved. The bunting cake is really cute and would be a quick and easy cake to make.  I also really love the numbers painted onto sugarpaste ready to stand up as a cake topper. So clever!

The whole book is beautiful whether that’s in the illustrations, photography or the little details like forks full of yummy cake. There are loads of pieces of painted sugarpaste just creeping onto the page. Such a nice touch.

The painted cake

 The Painted Cake by Natasha Collins, published by Murdoch books available on Amazon

So how about you? Do you fancy painting your next cake? Have you ever painted a cake? I’d love to see. Why not post your painted cakes over on the CakesBakesAndCookies Facebook page and share the painted love?

Happy baking

EmmaMT x

 

The painted cake

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by Murdoch books. (Thanks you guys)  All thoughts and opinions are my own and are honest and true.

 

FAQ: Do you have a 10″ Madeira cake recipe?

FAQ: Do you have a 10″ Madeira cake recipe?Madeira_cake_recipe

Yes I do, but boy do people seem to be having problems with it! It got to the point where I was starting to think there was something wrong with it. Readers were having cakes with soggy middles and deep dark crusts on the outside. There were massive domes and sunken middles. I was perplexed! So, I decided to double check the recipe. It came out perfectly. So here’s a post dedicated to exactly what I do to make my 10″ Madeira cake a success  – literally step by step.

Double check the size of your tin.

The first thing I did was measure the volume of water my 10″ cake could take. Previously I found it could hold 4000ml but I decided to try it with a little less – 3700ml. The reason for this is that when I make a larger cake the more mix in the tin the heavier the cake is. When I use a little less mix the cake seems to rise more. This was the case with this cake. Just removing 300ml of cake ingredients to this cake made all the difference.

Line and wrap your cake tin and chill it out!

I have always lined my cake tins using silicon paper and vegetable oil – to make it stick to the sides. Oil gives the cake a much softer finish. I know some people like a crust and if that’s the case keep using butter to grease your tins.

Once lined I wrap the cake tin with a strip of silicon paper tied with natural string. You can read more about this here. As you can see from the top photo, I use the same paper over and over and it still works well.

A new trick I recently read about was to chill the cake tin once it is lined. This further stops the outside of the cake from baking too quickly. I left mine in the fridge for 30 minutes before I filled it with cake mix and baked it.

10" Madeira cake recipeThe 10″ Madeira cake recipe

  • 235g butter at room temperature
  • 235g margarine at room temperature
  • 620g caster sugar
  • 3 tsp vanilla essence
  • 9 eggs large eggs at room temperature
  • 700g plain flour sieved
  • 5 tsp baking powder
  • 150ml hot water

Sugar syrup

  • 100ml water
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

How to make the 10″ Madeira cake.

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180ºC (Fan oven160ºC) It’s really important to get the oven to the right temperature. The rising domes are usually caused by the oven being too hot. Sunken cakes are from when the oven temperature is too low – or the oven door is opened too early. My oven fluctuates (especially with cakes that are in the oven for a long time like this one!) so I tend to let it drop a little to 175ºC to allow for the differences during the bake. I still get a dome but I don’t mind. It means I can see how well the cake is baked and get to eat a bit too. Who doesn’t love off cuts? The biggest problems with baking this cake seem to come from using a fan oven. It just doesn’t bake as well. I tested the recipe out using my fan and the cake tasted completely different and was really heavy. My mum who has a gas oven always has the lightest, fluffiest Madeira cake known to man – I am very jealous! So if oyu can use a non fan oven do. If you can use gas – even better. One last word on temperatures is to invest in an Oven Thermometer . I trust mine way more than I trust the dial on my oven – which has lied to me from day one!
  2. Start teh cake mix by creaming the butter and margarine together. Make sure they are seamlessly blended before adding the sugar. Beat till it’s pale and fluffy. This will take at least 3-4 minutes. The whiter it looks the fluffier it is which makes a lighter cake. 
  3. Very slowly add the eggs – a spoonful at a time. The slower you add the eggs the less chance there is of the mixture curdling. I have found that I have a much better mix if I use my very fast hand held whisk rather than my beloved Kitchenaid stand mixer. The hand held is much faster and whips it all up into a frenzy catching every last bit of cake mix whereas the stand mixer gets most of it most of the time. There’s no comparison. If the mixture does start curdling (separating and looking a bit yuck) add a spoonful of flour during mixing to stop it.
  4. Add the vanilla essence and mix again till it’s well incorporated.
  5. When it comes to adding the dry ingredients I tend to sieve the flour and baking powder into a separate bowl and have the hot water ready. Add the flour and water in three goes. This produces the fluffiest and most moist cake rather than adding all the flour then all the water. Fold them in gently and slowly. Fold until the flour is just incorporated. The less mixing and folding the more air bubbles you’ll have to make a light and fluffy cake. 
  6. Pour the mixture into the cake tin. Using the back of a spoon spread the mix throughout the tin pushing it up the sides of the tin slightly leaving a well in the middle. I leave quite a deep well and still get a dome so be brave.
  7. I have been loosely covering my cakes as soon as they go into the oven with a piece of silicon paper with a hole in the middle. If I think the paper is going to touch the cake as it rises I grease it first. The hole is to allow the steam to escape. The paper keeps the cake more flat on top. I tend to remove the paper for the last 30 minutes so it can brown up.
  8. Bake for two hours in the centre of your oven. If you have the choice place your cake on a wire rack in the oven rather than a tray. A tray will stop the heat from circulating. I remove all the unused racks from the oven when I bake. Don’t be tempted to open the oven door for the first 30 minutes. It will make the cake sink.
  9. To test if your cake is fully baked insert a skewer into the centre of the cake – always the centre as this is the last area to bake. If it comes out clean without any cake mix residue it’s ready. If there is some moist mix on the end you need to pop it back in for a few minutes more. You can also press lightly on the top of the cake with a finger. If the cake bounces back instantly you know it’s done. If it takes more than 2-3 seconds then you know it needs more.

    When a cake bakes the outer edge bakes first (as it’s against the hot metal cake tin.) For this reason when the middle of your cake is baked the sides will shrink away from the cake tin. This is another good indicator that the cake is baked.

10" Madeira cake recipeThe sugar syrup

  1. To make the sugar syrup heat the water and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved. Let it simmer for 2-3 minutes then add the flavour and leave to cool. I make my sugar syrup as soon as the cake goes into the oven then I leave it .
  2. Once your cake is removed from the oven let it sit for 5-10 minutes then use a pastry brush to brush the sugar syrup over the entire cake. You only need to cover each area of the cake once and avoid soaking the cake or you will end up with a big soggy mess not a nice moist cake. Make sure you get the edges of the cake covered as they tend to dry out the most. Some people worry that the cake will be overly sweet by adding the sugar syrup but it actually seals the cake and stops it from baking once it’s out of the oven. Don’t feel you need to use the whole amount. You will have some left over.
  3. Leave the cake to cool for a further 10-20 minutes before turning your cake out onto a rack to cool completely.

Madeira cake slice - recipe

I made this cake and decided not to cover it or cut it in half and fill with butter cream. One of my favorite ways to enjoy Madeira cake is by the slice with a lovely dollop of raspberry jam. I cut this one in half and froze one side while we ate the rest. This is a pretty big cake so it was a good test of how long it tasted good for. I always advise to have eaten a cake that has been decorated (and therefore sealed) within a week of baking. This cake sat on a plate in my kitchen loosely covered with a piece of silver foil for 10 days – slowly getting smaller and smaller. On the 10th day it was getting a bit stale but right up till then a spread of jam and it was great with a cup of tea!

Why Sugar syrup works

Another benefit to adding sugar syrup to a cake – which I hadn’t realised before is that it gives the cake crust a lovely sweet flavoured crunch. Not a hard crunch – just a gentle one. I actually looked forward to eating that part as much as I did the soft sponge. Nice surprise!

I think a lovely thin slice is perfect. Beau does not! After asking if she could have a slice this is what she cut and filled for herself! I could have made four servings from that giant slice. And before you ask- yes she ate the lot! Growing girl! Beau's big slice!!!

I hope this helps with some of your Madeira cake queries.

Happy baking

EmmaMT

x

Darcey’s Easter nests

Darcey’s Easter Nests

Easter nests - CAkesBakesAndCookies.com

Last week Darcey came home from Cubs having made these really cute Easter Nests. They take literally 10 minutes to make, twenty minutes to harden up and just seconds to devour.

My mini chef

She’s becoming a bit of a whiz in the Kitchen of late. A few weekends ago she asked if she could make lunch for everyone. I said yes – thinking that a round of sandwiches were on their way and told her that I would be down to the kitchen in five minutes. By the time I arrived she had already boiled water ready for noodles and had made her favorite “red sauce” (Sweet and Sour – made by mixing tomato puree and soy sauce in heated up honey). I need to get to that kitchen a lot quicker!

So, when she asked on the first day of the Easter holidays if she could make some more Easter nests I knew what was coming.

Mum, where’s that glass bowl” was the first question by which time the white chocolate had already been broken into tiny pieces – I’m sure a few were missing! She loves cooking and baking and is really confident in the kitchen. I’m just glad that when she now want’s to make me a cup of mint tea she uses the kettle and not the hot tap for water! EAster Nest

Easter Nests

The main keys to baking with kids is to let them have fun. Let them make a mess and most importantly in my case- let go of perfectionism. I just let her go for it. I think she had fun. Just look at that super cheesy grin. Happiness personified!

Ingredients

Makes 6 nests

  • 125g white /milk/dark chocolate broken up into small pieces- the choice is yours
  • 2 shredded wheat
  • mini eggs – ours were from M&S

EAster Nest

  1. Break the chocolate into small pieces and place in a heat proof bowl over a  saucepan of simmering water until completely melted.
  2. In another bowl crunch and crush the shredded wheat into small twig like pieces.
  3. Pour the chocolate over the shredded wheat and stir until the Shredded wheat is completely covered.
  4. Spoon the mixture into paper cupcake cases. We placed ours in a cupcake baking tin so they would keep their shape. Make a well in the middle.
  5. Position the mini eggs in the centre and leave to harden for twenty minutes.
  6. Munch through them. Nom, Nom, Nommmmm!

Darcey wanted white chocolate nests; as that’s her favorite, but really anything goes. I think using Shredded Wheat is ingenious. Not only do they look more twiggy but they taste great. Move over cornflake cakes. You have officially been replaced!

EAster Nest

All that’s left to say is I hope you have a fantastic Easter with tons of chocolate and masses of family fun time.

Bye for now

EmmaMT

x

FAQ: How to use Sugar Syrup on Cakes?

FAQ: How to use Sugar Syrup on Cakes?

Sugar_syrup

Ahhh Sugar Syrup. My new and most amazing discovery! It’s the small things that seem to make the biggest difference in my baking. I hadn’t even heard of sugar syrup until I went to the Peggy Porschen sugar roses class last year. I mean I had heard of it but I just thought it was something people added to give a cake more taste – like with lemon cakes and the like, but no. I was wrong.

What sugar syrup does

One of the ladies at the sugar roses class had also been to one of the Peggy Porschen cake baking classes and she mentioned how sugar syrup had completely changed her cakes. They’re now super moist. The trick – as she told me, is to brush sugar syrup directly onto a warm cake once it comes out of the oven. This basically stops the cake from continuing to bake in it’s very hot tin once it’s removed from the oven – preventing it from drying out. The added water keeps the cake super moist.

So armed with this information I gave it a go and do you know what? It’s worked on every single cake I’ve made so far! Madeira cake, chocolate cake, Victoria sponge cake and even cupcakes – actually especially cupcakes!

The Ingredients

I’ve tried out a few different recipes but the general rule of thumb is to use the same amount in grams of sugar as millilitres in water then add a dash of flavour. The following quantity is suitable for an 8″ cake. You will have some left over though. Don’t be tempted to use it all.

  • 100g sugar – granulated/ caster/ golden – anything goes
  • 100ml water
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence / lemon juice / almond/ orange essence
  1. In a saucepan heat the water and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved. Let it simmer for 2-3 minutes then add the flavour and leave to cool. I make my sugar syrup when the cake goes into the oven.
  2. Once your cake is removed from the oven let it sit for 5 minutes then use a pastry brush to brush the sugar syrup over the entire cake. You only need to cover each area of the cake once and avoid soaking the cake or you will end up with a big soggy mess not a nice moist cake. Make sure you get the edges of the cake covered as they tend to dry out the most.
  3. Leave for a further 10 minutes before turning your cake out onto a rack to cool completely.

Top tip: I use a bristle brush as it is easier to control the sugar syrup than with a silicon one. It also stops you adding too much in one go.

SUGAR SYRUP recipe

Another sugar syrup tip.

Another time I saw sugar syrup being used was at the Squires Kitchen cake show. During her workshop Helen Mansey brushed her cake (which was baked the day before) with sugar syrup when she was stacking the layers. She added a light coating of syrup to the top of each cake using a pastry brush in exactly the same way as described above before she covered each cake layer with chocolate ganache. I’ve never seen that done before but she said that it keeps the cake moist as she bakes a cake on a Monday and decorates it ready for delivery on Friday/Saturday. She said the cake would still be okay to eat a week after the wedding. I’m not sure cake would last that long in my house but it’s good to know.

So, do you use sugar syrup? What flavours do you use? I’d love to know. Just leave a comment below and share your tried and tested recipes with the whole baking gang.

EmmaMT

x


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