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

IMG_1287

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 http://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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Whisky cake recipe – perfect for Father’s Day

Whiskey cakeFather’s day whisky cake

This is a cake I made for AchicaLiving.com to celebrate Father’s day. My dad likes a drop of Whiskey and I thought it was a pretty manly way to make a cake – if you follow my meaning.

When I make a cake for Achica I have to make it ahead of time. It’s a planned post -usually weeks before it goes live, so I decided to soak the fruit and make the cake a few days later, but three days turned into three weeks and the fruits which were soaking in the whiskey were seriously alcoholic by that time! When I finally got around to baking the cake my in laws were popping round for a cuppa so they were my gineau pigs. They loved it. I cut a massive slice for my dad and took it round all wrapped up. I set it down on the table and said “Here’s a slice of whiskey cake for you” and his eyes literally lit up. So when we celebrated his birthday last week it was a no brainer what cake I was going to make!

Whiskey cake Rocks!Whiskey Cake

Ingredients

  • 200g dried apricots (cut into small pieces) 
  • 125g raising
  • zest and juice of one lemon
  • 150ml whisky
  • 175g butter at room temperature
  • 175g brown sugar (sieved)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3 egg whites
  • 50ml whisky
  • 200g self raising flour 
  • ½ tsp baking powder

For the topping(chocolate topping as seen on the AchicaLiving post)

  • 50g butter
  • 100g milk chocolate
  • 1 tbsp whisky
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk 
  1. For the best tasting cake place the fruits in an airtight container with the whisky and lemon zest and juice and leave to infuse for 48-72 hours. You can leave it for longer to give the fruits a stronger flavour.
  2. To make the cake, oil (with sunflower oil) and line an 8” cake tin with greaseproof paper. Preheat your oven to 180ºC (Fan oven160ºC).
  3. Mix the butter and sugar in a bowl then add the yolks one at a time. Incorporate the whisky. 
  4. Sieve the flour and baking powder into the mix and combine well. 
  5. In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites till they form stiff peaks then fold them in till completely incorporated.
  6. Finally add the boozy fruits making sure to get every drop of whiskey out of the container and all the fruit is coated in cake mix. 
  7. Pour into your cake tin and level with the back of a spoon. Bake for 45-50 minutes until the top is golden brown and the sides have come away from the tin. 
  8. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for ten minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. 

To make the frosting.

  1. Once the cake is completely cold place the chocolate and butter in a saucepan over a low heat until they are completely melted. Stir continuously. Add the whisky 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. 

EmmaMT

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The No-bake Vanilla Chocolate cheesecake recipe

VANILLA CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE

I came up with this cheesecake recipe after I was asked to make some Cheesecake for the Jewish festival of Shavout with the Synagogue’s Sunday school. A lot of the kids are really little so I wanted to make it as simple as possible. These chocolate ones (above) were my test run and after Beau and Darcey didn’t like the chocolate layer I decided to leave it out when I did the kiddie in plastic cups version at the synagogue. They would have turned out ok if I hadn’t completely forgotten to include the icing sugar. I was just about to put the kids cheesecakes in the fridge to set when I saw the bowl of ready prepared-  sieved sugar just waiting to be added to the mix! It was too late to do anything about it! Well 4-5 year olds don’t really need more sugar in their diets do they?

So, I made these ones in pretty etched tumbler glasses and as the cake is so rich I felt that they  were probably twice the size they needed to be. As a result I ate way too much cheesecake last week! I couldn’t open up the fridge without helping myself to a spoonful! I think chocolate cheesecake is one of my all time favorite cakes. EVER!

enjoy!

The no bake Vanilla chocolate cheesecake recipe

(makes 8-10 individual servings or one 9″ cake)

  • 200g chocolate digestive biscuits
  • 100g butter
  • 1kg full fat cream cheese
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 400ml double cream
  • 150g dark chocolateVANILLA CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE
  1. Melt the chocolate in a bain marie then set to one side to cool a little.
  2. Place the biscuits in a sandwich bag then crush them into fine crumbs. Use a rolling pin to get every single bit.
  3. In a saucepan melt the butter then remove from the heat and add the crushed biscuits. Mix until all the biscuits are completely coated.
  4. Place a large spoonful of the biscuit mix in each glass container or spread out on a 9″ loose bottomed cake tin. Press down with the back of a spoon and place in the fridge to chill for 10 minutes or more.
  5. In a separate bowl whisk the double cream until it is stiff then add the rest of the ingredients and blend well.
  6. Split the ingredients into two bowls and add the cooled melted chocolate to one  and mix until completely combined.
  7. Place the vanilla cheesecake mix into one piping bag and the chocolate cheesecake mix into another.
  8. Pipe a layer of chocolate mix over the biscuit base then top with a vanilla mix. Continue till you use up all the mixes or you have eaten it all straight from the piping bag (or is that just me?)
  9. Pop in the fridge to firm up for at least an hour. You can make this cheesecake a day ahead.CHEESECAKEEmmaMT

The Classic Victoria Sandwich – made healthier


The Classic Victoria Sandwich – Made Healthier 

(Guest post by Amelie Cartwright)

Victoria Sponge
Most bakers have a recipe of some sort that they will always come back to, and it’s something that they will always have no trouble preparing for birthday parties or other special occasions. Be it a simple vanilla cupcake recipe or their grandmother’s chocolate chip cookie recipe, every baker needs to have a go-to recipe. 

If you’ve yet to find yours and are searching for a recipe that’s both simple to make, but still elegant and versatile, then this recipe for a classic Victoria sponge might be just what you’re looking for. It’s a rather easy cake to make and assemble – a simple stack of two sponge cakes filled with any filling and frosting of your choice. The classic Victoria sandwich has become something of a staple of British bakeries, and Blair Smethurst, Quality and Innovation Development Chef for M&S, has even released a short video tutorial for baking lemon Victoria sponges. You can see it here ( EmmaMT here!- I love what Blair does with the lemon glaze)

This recipe, however, adds a twist to the classic Victoria sponge by making it much healthier. The original recipes are overflowing with sugar and fat, but some simple substitutions can cut half of the fat out of the finished product without sacrificing its taste. 

Ingredients 
· 2 tbsp of rapeseed oil, plus some extra for greasing 
· 175g of self-raising flour 
· 1 ½ tsp of baking powder 
· 140g of golden caster sugar 
· 25g of ground almonds 
· 2 large eggs 
· 175g of natural yoghurt 
· 2-3 drops of vanilla extract 
· 25g of melted butter 
· 4 tbsp of your favourite fruit conserve or jam 
· Icing sugar, for decorating 

Preheat your oven to 180 deg C, and lightly grease two 18cm sandwich cake tins and line the bottoms with parchment paper. 

In a large mixing bowl, tip the flour, baking powder, caster sugar, and ground almonds together and mix well and form into a mound. Make a well in the centre. 

Beat the eggs in a bowl and stir in the yoghurt and the vanilla. Pour this mixture, as well as the oil and melted butter, into the well in the mound of dry ingredients. Stir briefly together until the mixture is well-combined. 

Divide the mixture evenly among the two baking tins and level the tops. Bake both cakes together for 20 minutes, until they’ve risen and started to come away slightly from the sides of the baking tins. 

Remove the cakes from the oven, and use a round-bladed knife to loosen the sides from the tin. After a brief cooling period, turn them out and peel off the parchment paper. Allow them to sit on a wire rack, and leave them to cool completely. 

Assembling the cake is also a breeze: simply put one of the cakes on a serving plate, and use your favourite jam or conserve. Frugal Feeding has some great ideas for homemade jams, which could really take your Victoria sponge to the next level. Pile on the other cake to finish your sandwich, and dust with icing sugar! 

Victoria Sponge recipe

Thanks to my lovely friend Amelie Cartwright for writing this guest post. It’s made me very hungry! EmmaMT

Pear and almond pudding – dairy free and delicious!

Pear and almond pudding

Last week we had Friday night dinner at my mum’s house and as she was making meat I wanted a dairy free pudding to take with. Have you seen the pears that are in season at the moment? I don’t normally reach for pears when I want a fruit snack but Tim sliced some up after dinner a few nights ago and they were so good I now can’t leave them alone!

So that made it really easy to choose what I wanted to bake for pudding. I made this pear and almond cake. It’s quick and easy to make but as I did it when we’d just got back from school the kids where a little tired and hyper (not a good combination) and as we had my nephew home too I wasn’t properly concentrating when I was doing the baking. Sometimes when things go a bit wrong you discover a whole new technique. I forgot to only use some of the oil and sugar to coat the pears and used the whole lot. I had to scrape it all off and re layer the pears, but the up side is that there was a lot more sugar on them than I originally intended there to be, but the outcome was amazing! So, it just goes to show you can mess up to a good end!

Pear and almond cake

Pear and Almond pudding

Ingredients

  • 4 pears
  • 125ml sunflower oil
  • 180g brown sugar
  • 2 eggs- beaten
  • 130g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp Almond essence or extract
  1. Line an 8″ baking tin with greaseproof paper and pre heat your oven to 180ºC (Fan oven160ºC)
  2. Cut the pears in half and remove the stalks and cores. Place them face down in the baking tin.
  3. Mix the oil and sugar together in a bowl and take a quarter of the mix and brush it over the pears. It will be quite thick and bumpy – don’t worry. Set to one side.
  4.  In another bowl mix all the other ingredients. Add the remainder of the sugar and oil mix then pour the whole mix over the pears.
  5. Bake in the middle of the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the pudding is golden brown on the top. A skewer inserted into the middle will come out clean.
  6. Leave to cool on a wire rack until ready to upturn onto a plate to serve.
  7. Tastes best warm served with some dairy free soya ice cream.

Enjoy!

EmmaMT

 

 

Joint 70th Birthday Bunting cake

70th Birthday cake This is a cake I made just this week- Monday to be precise. It was for my lovely friend Issy’s parent’s joint 70th surprise birthday party.

The original plan was to have a two tier Madeira cake but on the last day of term she told me that her daughters were talking about chocolate cake and we switched it as I hadn’t baked the cake yet. So, it became a top tier of chocolate Madeira cake and a bottom tier of regular Madeira cake, both with chocolate buttercream.

To personalise the cake Issy told me what her parent’s passions were and we came up with having models of her parents sitting on top of the cake – Mum knitting and Dad playing the banjo. As they were having a tea party I added bunting around the cake in sugarpaste and I made some paper bunting using skewers for the posts to go on top of the cake that said “Happy 70th Birthday”.
70th Birthday cakeI tried something new with the models this time – I made them in plenty of time to allow them to dry! I must have mentioned before that I made a wedding cake a few years ago and the groom’s leg fell off during the 30 mile delivery journey. Well, I didn’t want any disasters with this one even though it was just going around the corner. So I planned.

I always make my models on a Polystyrene Cake Dummy. They’re the right shape and can withstand a lot of things being poked in them like skewers and cocktail sticks. As you can see I started with the legs. I positioned them so they are sitting with enough bum on the dummy that they won’t fall off the cake. I then use edible glue to stick the feet on the bottom of the legs. I strategically place cocktail sticks in the dummy so that I can rest the feet on one stick and support with the others. I did the same for Mum, only she was wearing a skirt. They only needed to be left over night before I could add the rest of the body without feet falling off.

I also made the heads with noses and eyes on one day then lay them on my Foam Pad  to dry out. (A word about the foam pad – I’ve always used a bit of kitchen paper on a chopping board to dry models and flowers in the past but these pads mean that air can circulate and everything dries so much faster. I kind of love these foam pads!)  I apply a light dusting of pink powder lustre for a rosy cheek then I don’t paint any of the face until the next day when the sugarpaste has hardened up a little.

70th Birthday cake detailsWhen it came to Mum’s neck I wanted to hide the join line so I picked out all the tiny, little white dots from a packet of tiny hundreds and thousands and made her a necklace. When I say tiny I mean TINY! Dad already had a collar so he was sorted.

I made the banjo a day ahead too and coloured the ends of two cut down cocktail sticks with silver edible food colouring. Once dry the knitting needles were pushed through mum’s hands. A drop of grey royal icing on the ends made them look more like real needles. The knitting falling over her lap was a strip of sugarpaste which I textured with a piece of kitchen paper laid on top then rolled over so it leaves an imprint.70th Birthday cake bunting

I tried my hand at icing a line of royal icing along the whole of the side and then in two stages but it kept breaking – I need more royal icing practice I think. So instead I used a little royal icing to stick each triangle onto the cake then added a little line between each one.

Once the cake and icing were complete, Mum and Dad were positioned on top and the bunting was all in place I was done! I was really happy with the colours of the cake. I wanted it to be pretty tea party shades for a spring party. Shame the rain just kept on coming down on the day but it looked like the birthday boy and girl had a great time anyway.

Issy's Mum and Dad

EmmaMT

Chocolate cupcakes recipe

Chocolate cupcake recipe - cherries on top

I wanted to make some cupcakes to take to a friends party last Saturday night and after a quick search (in that little box up on the top on the right hand side of the page)  I discovered that I have hardly posted any cupcake recipes here on CakesBakesAndCookies.com in the last three years! How strange is that? I mean I’ve made loads but they just never made it onto the blog.

I’ve always said that I’m not much of a cupcake sort of person. When I worked at Woman & Home and we got cupcakes sent in from PR’s I used to give the buttercream topping part to my deputy and she used to give me her cake (well kind of anyway) but what I mean is that I don’t like to gorge on a load of buttercream. So, when I make cupcakes that I am going to be eating and not giving away I tend to make the ones above with my new best ganache recipe. They’re more of a chocolate cup than a trad cupcake.

The cake part of the recipe is one I’ve been using for years but the ganache is from a blogger I met at Blogcamp a few weeks ago. I was looking for a gluten free cake recipe for a cake I am making in a few weeks time and the Free from Fairy told me about her great chocolate cake recipe but it was the ganache that is THE BEST I have ever tasted. It stays soft and firm all at the same time! (Thanks Vicki)

These cupcakes were – as Tim puts it – “a bit extra”. I am a bit extra but I have decided that I actually quite like being a bit extra and so when most people would probably just take a bottle of wine or two to a party we take a bottle of wine, a bottle of Shloer (so I look like I’m drinking wine!) and a dozen cupcakes. And whether they were extra or not they all disappeared pretty quickly!

Chocolate cupcake recipe

Chocolate cupcake recipe

(Makes 12-18)

The cakes

  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 175g butter at room temperature
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence
  • 175g self raising flour
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp milk

The chocolate ganache recipe

  • 100g chocolate
  • 50g butter
  • 100g sieved icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • Cherries to decorate
  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180ºC (160º Fan oven) and fill a cupcake tray with paper cases.
  2. To make the cakes start by melting the chocolate in a saucepan with the butter over a low heat. Stir continuously. Set aside to cool a little.
  3. Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl and add the sugar and vanilla essence then whisk again to incorporate as much air into the mix as possible – this keeps the cakes light and fluffy. Add in the melted chocolate and butter and blend thoroughly.
  4. Add all the dry ingredients and fold in. Add the milk and combine.
  5. Fill the cupcake cases till they are half full. I like the ganache to sit on top of the whole cake so I make quite shallow cakes. If you want a deeper, bigger cake fill up the cases so they are ¾ full.
  6. Bake in the centre of your oven for 15 minutes or until the cake bounces back straight away when you press a finger lightly onto it. Avoid over baking as that’s what makes them dry.
  7. Place on a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.

To make the ganache

  1. Melt the chocolate and butter in a saucepan. Again stir continuously and don’t let it burn.
  2. Pour the mixture onto the sieved icing sugar and whisk with a hand held whisk. Always start off slowly unless you want your kitchen to resemble a snowstorm!
  3. Add the milk to give a really smooth finish. If you want a softer ganache add a little more milk.
  4. Place in a piping bag and pipe over the cooled cupcakes. The mixture can be quite runny and will settle once left for a minute or two.
  5. Place a cherry on the top of each cake to finish and enjoy!

cupcakes - chocolate

EmmaMT

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