Category: Cake recipe

How to make a Lego Birthday cake

Beau is really into Lego. I mean REALLY into it. It’s all she want’s to do first thing in the morning. We bought her Olivia’s House for her birthday a couple of weeks ago and she has been dressed and ready for school by 7am every morning so she can play with it until it’s time to leave.

She’s always liked the regular ‘old school’ stuff that Tim used to play with when he was kid, but since the prettyLEGO Friends  girly Lego came out she has a new-found love. What was a collection of red, white, brown and black bricks has now been added to with pinks, lilacs, purples and oranges. So much more femme.  She creates houses, hotels, beds, kitchens. You name it for a house and she has probably fashioned it out of Lego. So for her 9th birthday it was no brainer what she wanted her cake to be.

The Lego cake

I decided that as there weren’t too many friends coming along to her cinema trip birthday celebration I would do what I did with her cake last year and make individual cakes for all the guests. One large purple Lego brick was for Beau and each friend had their own smaller (but still decent size) mini cake to take home.

How to make a Lego cake

The Cake Board

For this cake I decided the best way to set it out was to have one large rectangular drum board (16″x 14 “) for all the small thin boards (4″x4″) to sit on. I only iced the top half of the board so that the smaller ones would sit perfectly alongside each other without moving around too much.

To get the Lego look on the cake boards I tried out a few techniques but the one I had the most success with was using the top of a Lego base board to imprint divits into the sugarpaste. Ideally I would have liked to have had those little Lego dots sticking out on the top but the sugarpaste just wouldn’t come out of the board evenly and it just looked messy. So I used the reverse look. No-one seemed to mind- not even Beau.

Once the icing was rolled out and adhered to the board with a damp sponge I placed the largest Lego base board I could get my hands on and pressed it into the sugarpaste. (I should mention here that I did give it a really good clean first. You know how mucky kids can be!) I measured 8” from the non-sugarpasted side and cut a straight line across, removing any excess before leaving it to dry out.

For the smaller boards I used the same method only I placed the cake board under the sugarpaste and smoothed it with my hands. The excess was only removed after the Lego imprints were made as the sugarpaste tends to squidge out at the sides as you press or roller the divits in. 

To shape a Lego cake

I started off with two square cakes, which were leveled and sliced into even rectangles. 

When shaping chocolate cake it can be a bit of a nightmare. My recipe is so fresh that it just crumbles as you touch it. I often try to leave a chocolate cake over night before I shape it or add buttercream to avoid the crumb nightmare that usually ensues!

But I made this cake in the morning and had to decorate it in the evening. To combat the crumbling effect I placed the shaped cakes in the fridge for around 15-20 minutes to let them firm up a little.

I made sure that the chocolate buttercream was softer than usual by adding a little extra milk. This makes it easier to apply to the cakes with a pallette knife. I didn’t worry too much about making it neat. I just covered each cake and popped it in the fridge to firm up.

In hindsight I wish I had placed a layer of buttercream in a middle layer but I have a sneaking suspicion that the cakes really would have ended up as mush! 

Once they have been chilled cover each cake with sugarpaste. Smooth each side and make each corner as square as possible. Remove the excess and set to one side. 

To make the tops of the bricks I used my circle plungers and ‘stuck’ each one down with a touch of Royal icing.

Each Brick was positioned onto it’s baseboard with some Royal icing. Some facing front, some to one side to add a little interest. 

Names were added to each cake.

I then positioned the mini boards onto the large one, again using royal icing to hold them in place.

At the very last minute I decided that the cake needed something else so I made a Lego Beau. She loved it and she is sitting on our kitchen window sill right now.

After we sang happy birthday each cake was individually wrapped up and given with the goodie bags.

I like doing these individual cakes for birthday parties. It feels extra special for everyone to have their very own cake. Don’t you think?

EmmaMT

My rainbow birthday cake

Last week was my birthday and in true Emma tradition I got so crazy busy with work and kids and other stuff that I was  running out of time to make the ‘Dr Pepper drink can’ shaped cake that I’d dream of making for my party? (I’m addicted to the stuff – but that cake will have to wait till next year!) So, what did I do? In a word (or two)  I kept it simple!

I decided that as time wasn’t on my side I would just make a really tall Madeira cake with different coloured rainbow layers inside. It was inspired by Dahlias 1st  birthday cake. When each cake came out of the oven it looked just like the one before! The outside had browned and I had no idea what the colours were going to look like on the inside. I just hoped that they would be pretty different. As it turned out they were, but, when you’re adding the food colouring you never know!Once I had stacked the cake and given it a layer of buttercream I covered it with the pale blue sugarpaste and added dots all over it with a few ’40’s’ for good measure. I got these circle cutters at the Bake show earlier in the year and I can’t stop using them. They’re great for jazzing up a plain cake in a jiffy and are so easy and fun to use.

The cake sat on the food table all night until the “Happy birthday” chorus began.  When I cut into it there was such a great reaction from the crowd. It really made me smile! Gasps of “Look at the colours/layers/size!” came from my friends.  Well, I couldn’t have the cake completely plain, now could I? Thank goodness the colours worked and actually turned out much prettier than I expected!

The slices were so tall that each piece had to be cut in half. And guess who didn’t even get a crumb? Yep me! It’s a good thing that my Mum made me a cake for my family celebration meal the following night. I had plenty of that cake and as I’ve said before. My Mum’s Madeira cake really is the best in the world, but mine looks pretty good too!

So, who knows what’s in store for the year ahead? As they say life begins at 40, so watch this space!

EmmaMT

‘JERUSALEM’ by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sam Tamimi book review

Have you ever been to Jerusalem? It’s an amazing city full of diversity and amazing sights, scenes, sounds and smells. Being Jewish I’ve been a few times and even though it’s the original ‘old city’ it always seems different each time I go. I have really, really fond memories of Jerusalem from when I went there with my family for the first time when I was 15 to when I was traveling with Tim during our gap year. When I first picked up this book all those memories came flooding back.Flicking through the pages has made me desperate to go back…. very soon!

The authors of this book are Yotam Ottolenghi who is from Jewish West side of Jerusalem and Sami Tamimi who’s from the Muslim West. They grew up there as kids and didn’t meet until years later in London when they set up the Ottolenghi deli (and there’s also a restaurant now) The cultural influence of this great city has such an impact on their recipes that this book is literally bursting with flavor.

I love the city shots

As well as all the great recipes here there are tons of atmospheric photos of markets and food sellers. Piles and piles of fresh fruits and vegetable. I love the shot of the hand written sign above a Falafel shop that reads in English and Arabic ‘I HAVE GOOD FALAFEL’  I mean say it like it is or what? It’s touches like this that make this book so beautiful. There’s tons of who, what, where and why for each section and mentions of both Jewish and Muslim traditions. I love that. The fact that these recipes and food combinations have been handed down over generations, carried on through families.

So what will you find inside this book?

In a word. EVERYTHING. If you’re vegetarian then it’s a must. If you’re a meat lover, then it’s a must. In fact if you like flavor then this book is a must!

Introduction: 

Jerusalem food, The passion in the air, The recipes, A comment about ownership & history

VEGETABLES 

Roasted sweet potatoes & fresh figs

At home Tim and I make what we call Israeli salad. It’s basically tomatoes, cucumber and onion all chopped up into very small cubes, drenched in olive oil, with a touch of salt and pepper all mixed up. It’s amazingly simple and totally delicious. If you take this kind of simplistic ‘throw it all together’ approach that’s what you get in this chapter, but so much more sophisticated. It’s all about knowing what to put together and boy do these guys do it well! Roasted sweet potato and fresh figs, Broad bean Kuku, even the simple mixed bean salad made my mouth water.

This is one big, jam packed section that I would eat from every evening. It’s also worth mentioning the Latkes. Who can resist a Latke?

PULSES & GRAINS

My family went to Israel for our first holiday abroad when my brother had his bar mitzvah. One of the big memories from the holiday (apart from my brother going down to breakfast first thing in the morning and then again for second breakfast when everyone else got up) was that every street corner had a falafel stand on it. I had falafel at practically every stand! I got completely addicted to them. Why am I telling you this? Well, guess what the first recipe in this chapter is? Yep. Falafel!

Whether it’s chicpeas, rice, pasta or couscous there’ s plenty of choice in this chapter. The thing about this book is that it has an amazing array of herbs and spices to flavor the most basic of foods. The Basmati & wild rice with chickpeas, currants & herbs looks amazing. The hummus…. don’t get me started on the hummus, and couscous with tomato and onion are so easy to make. Some I could eat as a snack (ie devour when no one is looking) but I am sure they are meant to be shared!

SOUPS

Watercress & chickpea soup with rose water & ras hanout

I love the soup chapter as it’s got so many unusual flavors. Who else could come up with  burnt aubergine & mograbieh soup? (Mograbieh is a type of large couscous by the way) there’s a meatball soup, pistachio soup and a seafood and fennel soup (slightly not Kosher but Tim loved the look of this) but the best soup has to be the proper Clear Chicken soup with knaidlach (aka Jewish Penicillin) Knaidlach are like dumplings and when we were little we nick named them knaidlebums and the name has stuck ever since. This soup is very easy to make and really does make you feel better when you are ill. I swear by it!

STUFFED

No, not a sign that you have eaten too much food from this book and need to loosen your belt buckle, this is all about stuffed foods and literally anything goes. I didn’t know you could stuff a carrot! I thought it was all about cabbage leaves! Not in this book. How does Lamb-stuffed quince with pomegranate & coriander grab you? Or how about stuffed onions, stuffed Romano peppers or stuffed potatoes?

MEAT

There are lots of easy recipes here that you can pop in the oven and leave to enhance. Roasted chicken with clementines and arak is on my to do list (especially for our next dinner party!) If you like chicken then there’s definitely something here for you. The meatball and Kofta b’siniyah look mouthwateringly good as does the lamb shwarma.

FISH

We eat a lot of fish in our house and as I’m no cook (Tim’s the cook. I can bake!) so it’s really good to get some fresh flavour ideas on our regular favs. Pan fried sea bream with harissa & rose, cod cakes in tomato sauce, Marinated sweet and sour fish, I could go on and on.

SAVORY PASTRIES

Red pepper & baked egg galette

I’m addicted to eggs. There I said it. I love them and could eat them every day (in fact I nearly do) so when I saw this red pepper & baked egg galette I knew it was love at first sight. I mean what’s not to love? puff pastry+ peppers +topped with a perfect egg! This chapter is all about the mouthwatering flavour of herb pies and Burekas. Nom, nom, nom!

SWEETS & DESSERTS

Mutabbaq

The first page in this chapter opens with Sweet filo cigars with all the sweet honey just oozing out, then moves swiftly onto sweet cheese. I love savory and sweet together and the Mutabbaq looks so mouthwatering. There’s also recipes for cakes, rice pudding, crumble, spice cookies (which I have the recipe for and will be sharing with you tomorrow) as well as yeasted cakes.

Chocolate Krantz Cake

CONDIMENTS

It’s really good to be given so many great condiment recipes. I’ve always wanted to add tahini sauce to my falafel and now I can. There are also yoghurt with cucumber recipes as well as countless picked options.

So in all, I love this book. It seems so perfect for this time of year when it’s cold and windy outside and you want a warm and full flavour dish to keep you toasty and satisfied on the inside.

It would definitely make great Christmas/Channuka present. Smiles all round I think.

You can buy it on Amazon.com by clicking on the link here-  Jerusalem– or on book image below

EmmaMT

Squires Kitchen ‘BAKE School’ magazine review

Have you seen this magazine on the shelves yet? I got my hands on the second issue this week and it’s really, really good. I don’t buy many baking magazines – if I started I don’t think I’d stop and what with all the interiors titles I buy for work I’d be drowning in piles and piles of paper!

Squires kitchen, for those of you who don’t know, is a baking shop/school/ haven. It’s based in Farnham in Surrey and has people coming from all over the world to learn how to master the art of decorating cakes and cookies, modelling, sugarcrafting and much, much more. Their baking ingredients and equipment are so readily available the chances are you already have a ton of it in your baking cupboard without even realising it. They have had a fantastic  Wedding magazine for a while but this new ‘Bake school’ is right up my street and so probably yours too.

So what’s in it?

Recipes to start with, and lots and lots of them. Most are by the Squires tutors but there’s also a few experts thrown in for good measure, Mary Berry, Edd Kimber and Carlos Lischetti to name but a few. There are also tons and tons of tips. Really simple things that make a difference to being a successful baker. How to line a cake tin, how to colour icing, how to pipe a cupcake, which nozzle give which effect etc

The features in this issue

Biscuits

There are loads of recipes as well as beautiful decorating ideas from stencilling and embossing to flooding and stained glass effects

Cupcakes

Recipes including very vanilla, triple chocolate and some basic how to’s on piping buttercream to more complex designs. I love the butterfly cupcakes with the iced cookies in them and the cupcakes that really look like roses. They’re incredible.

Cakes

Raspberry Victoria Sponge anyone? Or a pretty layered cake, like the one on the cover? Yes, please!  There are also some dairy free, wheat and gluten cakes as well.

Chocolate

Well what can I say. You will want to make all of these recipes from Mud cake to chocolate chilli cupcakes, Chocolate fondant puddings to chocolate and walnut brownies to name but a few.

Dessert

I love desserts. In fact I nearly love them more than cakes – but don’t tell anyone! This is one chapter that I have folded down the page corners on every page! Swiss Meringues that are so pretty, Eaton Mess Meringue cakes, Mango tart, yum, yum, yum!

Bread

I’ve only recently discovered the fun of baking bread. I have loved making pizza bases this week. They are so much better than shop bought ones. George Thomopoulos, Squires expert bread baker, shares his tried and tested recipes for brown malted loaf, bloomer and rolls and Focaccia – this is what I’m making next.

Also worth checking out ….

  • Susanna Righetto’s sugarcraft flowers. You could sell them in a florists shop they look so real.
  • The interview with Edd Kimber, winner of the first series of The Great British Bake off.
  • Plum chutney and a jam recipe to accompany other recipes.
  • In the kitchen with Carlos Lischetti – this man makes models from modelling clay that are incredible. They are so beautiful you could put them on a shelf as an ornament. They are the epitome of perfect.

Bake school is available from WHSMith, Sainsbury’s and selected newsagents for £5.99 or you can buy it directly from the Squires on line shop, but beware, you’ll come away with a lot more than you bargained for if you let yourself loose in the shop. It’s a treasure trove of baking goodies!

Do you buy baking magazines? Which ones are your favorites and why? I’d love to know what to look out for.

enjoy!

Cherry Clafoutis recipe.

I fell in love with Clafoutis a few months ago and vowed to create a recipe that matched the one I had in Norfolk. It’s a French dessert made with a custard (or batter mix to you and me) which is baked in a really hot oven until all puffed up.

There’s a lot of talk on-line about whether you should bake a traditional Clafoutis with fresh cherries that still have their stones in or whether the stones should be removed. I have tried it both ways and do think that it tastes better when the stones are left in. The cherries get so soft that they are easy to remove when you eat a slice.

It’s a really quick and easy dessert to make. Every recipe I tried said it is best served warm  straight from the oven. It does taste good then, but I had some the next day which I warmed through in the microwave for 20 seconds and it was even better.  Let me know what you think.

Cherry Clafoutis recipe

Clafoutis ingredients

50ml Kirsch

150g Fresh cherries (or tinned if they’re out of season)

300ml milk

55g caster sugar

3 eggs

1 tea spoon Vanilla essence

75g Plain flour

10g butter

icing sugar to dust

How to make Cherry Clafoutis

I used fresh cherries but you can use tinned ones or other fruits too. Soak the cherries overnight in the Kirsch. You can soak them for a couple of hours but the taste is so much better when they are really infused.

Pre-heat your oven to 180°C.  Mix the wet ingredients together then add the dry. Whisk it up so it’s light and fluffy. Add any Kirsch that hasn’t been absorbed into the cherries into the mix. You can blend the ingredients together in a food processor,  but I did it by hand. It only takes a couple of minutes and saves on the washing up.

Pop your empty pie dish in the oven for 10 minutes to warm it through then remove and add the butter. Coat the dish thoroughly with the melted butter. This stops the Clafoutis from sticking to the edges and adds to the flavour. The edges are my favorite bit. Pour in half the batter mixture and bake for 10 minutes. This is so that the cherries don’t sink to the bottom when being baked.

After 10 minutes remove the dish, add the cherries and the remaining batter. Put back into the oven and bake for a further 40 minutes. When it is done it will be all puffed up at the edges and lovely and brown.

Remove from the oven and sieve icing sugar all over the top. Slice up and serve warm with or without cream.  If you want to make this recipe even richer you can swap half the milk for double cream.

enjoy! 

p.s. I used the Madagascan vanilla extract and it was as I suspected. Deelish!

How to cover a cake in chocolate ganache

I made a really yummy chocolate and cherry cake last week and finally had a go at covering it with chocolate ganache. Up until now whenever I have made ganache it’s always been mixed in with buttercream for a cake filling or just as a really delicious layer of chocolatiness before a fresh cream filling but this time was different!
How to cover a cake in chocolate ganache
Chocolate ganache is basically dark chocolate mixed in with double cream and some butter. It’s rich and seriously best when licked straight from the mixing spoon…. I mean when added to a cake!
Anyway, here’s how I did it.

How to cover an 8″ cake in Chocolate ganache.

Ingredients

Buttercream Ingredients

  • 100g butter – at room temperature
  • 200g icing sugar
  • a drop of vanilla essence
  • 50g cocoa powder (add more if you want it really chocolatey)

 Chocolate Ganache ingredients

  • 75ml double cream
  • 125g Unsalted butter,
  • 250g plain chocolate  broken up into little pieces
How to cover a cake in chocolate ganache
Start off with your baked cake. Mix up your buttercream by adding the sieved icing sugar and cocoa powder to the butter and whisking till light and fluffy. Add the vanilla essence and whisk again. If it’s a little too stiff you can add a few drops of milk to loosen it up a bit.
How to cover a cake in chocolate ganache
Use a pallet knife to spread a thin layer of the buttercream over the top and sides of the cake. This will be your base layer so make it as flat as you can.
How to cover a cake in chocolate ganacheI use an icing smoother to get the sides nice and even. (This is a great way to discuise a bumpy cake!) If you drag the smoother along the edge of the cake whist resting on a flat surface you’ll get a nice 90° edge.)Pop the cake in the fridge to firm up the buttercream. This will take around 20 minutes.
How to cover a cake in chocolate ganache
While the cake is in the fridge make the ganache. You can melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water but I just heat up the double cream in a pan until just before it’s going to boil. Then take it off the heat and stir in the chopped up chocolate pieces until it’s all melted and combined. Add the butter till that’s melted and incorporated too and leave to cool a little.
How to cover a cake in chocolate ganache
Once the buttercreamed cake is firm remove it from the fridge and place it on a wire rack which is over some greaseproof paper.
How to cover a cake in chocolate ganache
Pour the ganache over the cake so that it fills up the whole top and flows over the sides. I found this strangely good fun. I always did love messy play! Use a spatula to create a soft ripple look if you want. This is my little trick which means that the top layer doesn’t need to be perfectly flat!
How to cover a cake in chocolate ganache
Leave the cake till the ganache stops dripping. I added the cherries at this stage so they would sit firmly on the cake as it had to travel in the car later that day.
 How to cover a cake in chocolate ganache
Leave the ganache to set. Weather dependant this can take between 30 – 60 minutes. It will firm up quite a bit, but will remain soft so don’t be tepmted to stick a finger on it to see if it’s done. You’ll ruin the look!
How to cover a cake in chocolate ganache
Once set carefully transfere it onto your cake plate.
I was pretty happy with how this turned out. It’s really fun.  I made double the amount of ganache – just in case I had to start again! But you can scoop up the overspilled ganache and keep it in an airtight container for a week in the fridge if you need to. When you are ready to use it again just warm it through slowly in a pan but make sure it doesn’t boil or burn.  I pretty much spooned my leftovers – with some small people’s help, straight into my mouth. I couldn’t leave it alone!

enjoy!

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