With the half term school holidays coming up I thought now was a good a time as any to share with you my latest budget baking find! Wilkinson’s have a really great baking section with all sorts of spatulas, mixing bowls, icing bags with a choice of nozzles and this fab box of cookie cutters all at really low, low prices.
I’m a big believer in letting kids make a mess in the kitchen and especially when baking. My two certainly do that. Actually they make a mess everywhere in the house, every day but that’s another story! We decided that it was time to make their favorite Vanilla Cookies.
This box of 24 cutters doesn’t contain the usual shapes and designs you’d expect to find. It’s got a dog, bird, santa, butterfly, horse, fish, music note, rabbit and cat- to mention just a few! I thought I should explain what shapes they are as it’s hard to tell from the photo above once Darcey got her hands on the royal icing and sprinkles!
Once baked you can see how there are imprints on some of the cookies so that you can follow the lines for icing details on them. I have to admit that some of these cookie cutters have quite narrow parts, like dogs tails and legs, which are pretty tricky for little hands to cut out cookies without loosing a limb, especially once the dough had been rolled out a few times and was no longer cold. The up side to this is that that’s where mum’s get to step in and have a play too!
To say Beau and Darcey went a little OTT with the decoration is an understatement, but they loved making the cookies and liked eating them even more!
Now it’s your turn. I have an extra set of these cookie cutters to giveaway. All you have to do it leave a comment over on the Cakes, Bakes and Cookies Facebook page as to why you should be the winner of these cutters and icing set. The winner will be chosen on Friday 12th October 2012. Good luck bakers.
I had a question/comment from a reader last week asking me what the conversions are for the Peggy Porschen Lemon Limoncello cake. She uses American cups to measure ingredients and as I am here in sunny England we use grams.
I’ve have attempted (unsuccessfully I might add) to use cup measurements in the past. Martha Stewart recipes always look so amazing so I had a go with some cups that I bought in Australia. Little did I know that American and Australian cup sizes are different, so I got off to a bad start right from the word go!
To find out the conversions I looked in all my best cook books. Not a single one had the conversions, so I went to Google. I can’t believe how many different amounts I came up with for the same measurements. They varied so much that I didn’t know where to start.
Masses of problems
From my searches I’ve worked out that different masses, ie, sugar, flour, butter, liquids etc all have different amounts, so you can’t just say that a cup of sugar is the same as a cup of flour. Measurements are done in volume not by weight.
OMG!!! That’s so confusing. I don’t know how you American’s do it? Anyway, I am putting a call out there to anyone who has a tried and tested list / website / mum’s measurements that we can share here on CakesBakesAndCookies.com, so my reader can make her Lemon Limoncello cake and I can start to make Martha Stewart recipes successfully.
Also, can you let me know exactly how you fill a cup? Do you overfill it with ingredients and then use the back of a knife to make it level, so you know that you’re getting the same amount each time- as you would with measuring spoons?
Please, please leave a comment if you can help. I’ll be sharing the results here as soon as I’ve tested them out!
Last week I had a big shaped cake to make for a friend who I hadn’t seen in ages. She had seen my posts on Cakes, Bakes and Cookies facebook pages and wanted me to make her son’s 6th birthday cake (more on that next week). Everything went wrong! I needed to make three individual cakes for the design and I ran out of loads of ingredients when the first cake flopped. It flopped BIG TIME! The 6″ cake was more pancake than Madeira cake! And that was just the first small cake.
After discovering that my back-up cupboard was bare. How did that happen? I took a third trip to the supermarket and got the vanilla essence I needed for the buttercream. I haven’t had to buy vanilla essence for ages as my mum bought me a catering size one 500ml! which as you can imagine lasted a lifetime and I was also given one of these bottles of Nielsen- Massey Vanilla extract at a press launch. Now that stuff is expensive but the taste makes it well worth while, so I kept it for special cakes.
So, back to Sainsburys I went and grabbed one of their small bottles of vanilla essence. I only needed a drop or two as it was just to add flavour to the buttercream filling, but those drops make all the difference. I bought Madagascan Vanilla Extract from their Taste the difference range.
“Aromatic vanilla extract produced using essential oils extracted from Madagascan vanilla pods”
….. it says on the bottle. It also says it has to be stored in the fridge once it’s opened. ‘Best before June 2013’- I don’t think that’s going to be a problem. It will probably be gone before October 2012!
I wasn’t expecting it to be any different to any other budget essence. I was wrong. It is delicious. So delicious that I thought I had to share it with you guys. I don’t like buttercream that much. In truth I tend to scrape it off of cakes and just eat the sponge but I know I am in the minority there. But the buttercream I made with this extract was the best ever! I couldn’t leave it alone. I wish they sold the extract in larger bottles. 38ml isn’t going to last very long with the amount of cakes and bakes I do.
I now can’t wait to test it out on some other bakes. Who knows what it will do to a cake or a cookie! Only time will tell…. in about an hour when the cake that’s in my oven is ready to taste. Watch this space. I’ll let you know how I get on.
I love Tala. It’s so Retro it reminds me of my childhood and baking with my mum. When I think of Tala I think of their metal cone shaped measuring jug as I have one which I use to hold all my cake decorating tools. It’s way too pretty to be used just as a jug!
They have so many more products than I first realised. So, when I was asked if I would like to give a test run on their cupcake tin I obviously jumped at the chance. The tin is really sturdy. It’s professional grade and you can really tell by the weight. You know it will last and last. It washes up really well too which is a big winner for me! No nooks and crannies to get crumbs stuck in. I hate that!
Tala have kindly given me permission to share with you their Strawberry fairy cake recipe which I used for the last school cake sale. I used gluten-free flour in mine so my little friend (well actually Evie is Darcey’s school friend but she gave me such a lovely unexpected hug at Darcey’s birthday party that I think that makes her my friend too now!) could have something nice to eat too. I couldn’t tell the difference between gluten-free and not gluten-free. They were, as you would expect deeelish!
Strawberry Fairy cakes recipe
250g butter-at room temperature
250 Caster sugar
4 small eggs
310g Self Raising Flour
120g butter – at room temperature
250g icing sugar
6 drops of strawberry flavouring
A little red colouring
A little strawberry jam
Cream the butter and sugar together then beat in the eggs and flour.
Spoon into cup cake cases and place in the bun tins.
Bake for 15-20 minutes at 190°C/375°F/gas mark 5. When they have cooled a little remove from the tins onto a cooling tray.
To decorate, make a strawberry butter icing by creaming together the butter, icing sugar, strawberry flavouring and colouring. I put jam into the icing too. I also made some just plain old buttercream ones as seen here (as I wasn’t sure about the gluten content in jam/food colouring etc)
When soft and well mixed, spoon into a piping bag. I used a smooth nozzle to get this effect but a star nozzle will work well too!
When the baking tin arrived I was really surprised to see the cake stand wrapped up too! I didn’t know that Tala did them. It’s so pretty that it came out for Darcey’s birthday party last week. It’s nice and sturdy so it will be making an appearance at Beau’s party in November too! Cute isn’t it?
Here they are boxed up and ready to go. I love the way cupcakes look in a box. All neat and tight and ready to be devoured!
These are seriously easy to make. Go on, give them a go!
I found this pastry mat on a recent trip to IKEA. I wasn’t looking for baking stuff. I was actually buying a mattress, but you know how it is in IKEA, you go in for a box of glasses and come out £100 lighter!
I’ve been meaning to replace my pastry mats for a while now. I have this annoying habit of cutting sugarpaste on them with a scalpel and not surprisingly I slice right through the mat!
This double sided mat is made of silicon and is really easy to clean and use. It has handy weight and temperature conversion chart on one side. It also comes with a cute heart shaped spatula which has a really thin, flat end- great for picking up small cake decorations. The heart shape can be used to press into cookies or icing to make a pattern. You can also use the shapes and numbers on each side to create more decorations by icing over them, leaving them to dry and popping them onto cakes or cupcakes.
So, yesterday I reviewed Peggy Porschen’s latest cake book and today I am happy to share with you an extract from the book for this yummy and oh so pretty cake. I just know you guys are going to love it!Thanks to the publishers Quadrille for giving me permission.
By the way I forgot to mention two things yesterday about the book that I really love.
No. 1 – The book is styled by my friend Vicky Sullivan who has styled all of Peggy’s books (I think?) She’s a stylist with amazing talent and a natural eye, expecially when it comes to cakes. She really captures the look and feel you want when you display a cake. It needs to look too good to cut and Vicky nails it every time!
No.2 – The book was photographed by Georgia Glynn Smith. I’ve never worked with Georgia but having seen her work in many, many books (and having been told that she’s reeeaaallly lovely by people who have worked with her) I really want to. I’m sure one day our paths will cross. You never know, maybe I’ll have a book of my own to shoot one day!
Anyway, on with the cake…
LEMON LIMONCELLO CAKE
THIS IS A VERY LOVELY CAKE – LIGHT, MOIST AND FULL OF FLAVOUR. A SCATTERING OF CUTE SUGAR DAISIES COMPLEMENTS THE REFRESHING PALE LEMON BUTTERCREAM ICING.
Makes one 15cm (6in) round cake, serving 8–12 slices
For the decoration
150g white sugar florist paste
Small amount of white vegetable fat
Green and yellow paste food colour
Small amount of royal icing
For the sponge
200g unsalted butter, softened
200g caster sugar
Pinch of salt
Finely grated zest of 2 unwaxed lemons
4 medium eggs
200g self-raising flour
For the sugar syrup
150ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
150g caster sugar
50ml Limoncello liqueur
For the buttercream filling
80g unsalted butter
80g icing sugar, sifted
Pinch of salt
40g Peggy’s Lemon Limoncello Jelly or any other good-quality lemon jelly or lemon
Basic baking kit
Three 15cm (6in) round sandwich tins
Cake leveller or large serrated knife
Flat disc to place on top of the turntable
(I (Peggy) use the loose base of a 30cm (12in) springform cake tin)
15cm (6in) round cake card
Metal side scraper
Make the simple daisies and leaves decoration at least one day ahead of assembling and serving. Bake the sponges one
day ahead of serving. Make the sugar syrup whilst baking the sponges. Prepare the filling and assemble and decorate the cake on the day of serving.
To make the decoration
Mix two thirds of the sugar florist paste with a small amount of white vegetable fat. Mix the remaining third with the green paste food colour to a pale green shade. Mix the royal icing with the yellow paste food colour to a pale lemon shade. Using a daisy plunge cutter, leaf cutter and veiner,
make approximately 12 simple sugar daisies and small leaves. Leave to set in a cool dry place.
Preheat the oven to 175°C/gas mark 4.Prepare the sandwich tins by greasing and lining them with greaseproof paper.
To make the sponge
Place the butter, sugar, salt and lemon zest into a mixing bowl and cream together until pale and fluffy. Beat the eggs lightly in another bowl and slowly add to the butter mixture while whisking quickly. If the mixture starts to separate or curdle, stop adding the egg and beat in 2–3 tablespoons of the flour. This will rebind the batter. Once all the egg has been added and combined with the butter mixture, sift in the flour and stir until the batter is just combined. This will ensure the sponges stay light and fluffy.
Divide the batter evenly between the sandwich tins. If you find it difficult to measure by eye, use your kitchen scales to weigh out the amount of sponge mixture for each tin.
Bake for 15–20 minutes, depending on your oven. If you are using deeper cake tins, the sponges will take longer to cook. The sponges are cooked when the sides are beginning to shrink away from the edges of the tins and the tops are golden brown and spring back to the touch. If in doubt, insert a clean knife or wooden skewer into the centre of each sponge; it should come out clean.
To make the sugar syrup
While the sponges are baking, prepare the sugar syrup for soaking. Place the lemon juice and caster sugar in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer until all the sugar crystals have dissolved. Set aside to cool down slightly and then add the Limoncello liqueur.
Once the sponges are baked, let them rest for about 10 minutes outside of the oven. Using a pastry brush, soak the tops of the sponges with syrup while they are still warm; this allows the syrup to be absorbed faster.
Once just warm, run a knife all the way round the sides of the tins, remove the sponges from the tins and leave to cool completely on a wire cooling rack. Once cool, wrap the sponges in cling film and then rest them overnight at room temperature. This will ensure that all the moisture is sealed in and the sponges firm up to the perfect texture for trimming and layering. When trimmed too soon after baking, the sponges tend to crumble and may even break into pieces.
To make the buttercream filling
Place the butter, icing sugar and salt into a mixing bowl and cream together until very pale and fluffy. Add the lemon jelly to the mixture and stir through until combined and smooth.
To assemble the cake
Trim and sandwich together the three sponge layers using one-third of the buttercream filling and the limoncello syrup for soaking. With the remaining buttercream filling, cover or mask the top and sides of the cake.
Arrange the sugar daisies and leaves around the circumference of the cake top andstick them down with a dab of buttercream.
Serve the cake at room temperature. This cake is best enjoyed within 3 days of baking, but it can last for up to 1 week
Decorations made from sugar can attract moisture and may collapse when exposed to humid conditions. Therefore, do not store the cake in the fridge once decorate if it is not being eaten on the same day.