Category: Chocolate

Evie and Lois’ Go Ape birthday cake

Evie and Lois’ Go Ape birthday cakeGo Ape birthday cake

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

The Go Ape Birthday cake.

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

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

The plan

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

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

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

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

5 lessons learnt making this Go Ape Birthday cake

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

EmmaMT

xGo Ape birthday cake

Cherry Brownies recipe

Cherry Brownies recipeCherry Brownie recipe with Stellar

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

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

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

Cherry Brownie recipe with Stellar

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

Cherry Brownies recipe

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

Cherry Brownie recipe with StellarTop tips with these cherry brownies

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

EmmaMT

x

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

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

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

x

5 things I learnt making this 40th Birthday Rainbow cake

Emma B

This is my friend Emma. Have I mentioned that in my adult life I am surrounded by Emmas? This Emma is a mum from Beau’s year but in Darcey there are three of us Emma Mums. When I used to work at Woman and Home magazine there were 6 working in the office at one time – with freelancers! That’s where the EmmaMT comes from. How else do you distinguish between us all!

Anyway back to the cake! This is probably one of the biggest cakes I’ve made. I mean, I’ve stacked cakes before but for one cake this is the biggest. I learnt quite a few lessons making it too, so I thought I would share my top tips with you.

1. Bake one cake at a time

Rainbow cake

Making up one 8″ Madeira cake mix for a 10″ tin will give a really great depth to each layer. I also discovered that if I bake each cake with a sheet of silicon paper loosely placed over the top of the tin the cake comes out completely flat. And I mean completely! No raised, cracked, doming and no excess to cut off.

I’ve since covered all my Madeira cakes with silicon paper whilst baking and they have all come out nice and flat. This makes me very happy!

2. Use a cake ruler to get the sides straight

rainbow cake tips

Remember the side scraper I talked about last year? Well, that has become one of my most valuable tools. When it came to covering this cake in buttercream I did it in two stages so that I was sure it was straight. I used the side scraper on each 3/4 layers when I did the crumb coating but when it came to stacking all the cakes together the scraper wasn’t tall enough so, I used a pink cake ruler.

The cake ruler has one straight side and one serated (I must use that serated side for something one day!) It’s pretty sturdy for a piece of plastic and did a great job of making sure the whole cake was smooth and the sides were at a 90º angle. I simply added a thin layer of buttercream to the crumb coating then stood the ruler along the side of the cake and carefully scraped around the side and voila! One tall covered cake!

n.b. I had to remove a shelf in my fridge to get the cake in to chill the buttercream! 

3. You can have any colour cake 

Rainbow cake

I played around with getting the icing for this cake the right colour. Emma showed me her colour scheme and I had a drop of her nail varnish for the big night to match it to. That was a first! Teal is a pretty difficult color to match and I had nightmares that when I delivered the cake I was going to find that it was too dark/ too green/ or just plain wrong – but in the end it was perfect!  I mixed food colours in turquoise and mint green to get the end result.

When mixing up a strong shade like this it’s a good idea to colour your sugarpaste ahead. Not only will you know you’re happy with the colour, but if you colour the sugarpaste the day before you cover your cake it will be less sticky and more steadfast- or in other words your hands won’t go teal!

Another top tip is to make sure your sugarpaste is pretty thick when you roll it out so when you lift it over the cake any stretching will be hidden and won’t result in a tear. It also means that you’ll be able to smooth it really easily.

Rainbow cake

4. You can make really gold flowers

IMG_7679

These were the first gold flowers I had ever made and I was a little concerned that I wouldn’t be able to get such a shiny, lustre result. The way I did it was by colouring my white modeling paste in Autumn leaf food colouring paste. I then made the flowers and used a gold lustre powder mixed with a little rejeunvanator liquid and painted them all over. I also painted my fingers and most of my kitchen table! Once dry the roses were just as I wanted them. When wet they were a sticky mess that makes everything go gold! So you have been warned. Put the flowers somewhere where you can paint them and move them without actually having to touch them.

I left them to dry overnight.

5. Don’t overstack the cakes!

IMG_3178

I made these layers individually, colouring the cake mix before it went into the oven. Then I made sure that each layer was the same depth. The trouble is that cakes are quite heavy and sugarpaste is REALLY heavy so the cakes on the bottom levels became a little compacted. It didn’t effect the taste – just the look.

Next time I will add a thin board inbetween the middle layers with dowels to hold the weight of the top layers. That way they won’t get squished!

Rainbow cake

So that’s my top tips with this tall rainbow cake. If you have any tips then please leave me a comment below and let me know how you decorate cake. Every little tip makes the decorating so much more fun. and it’s great to share the knowledge, don’t you think?

EmmaMT

Chocolate Madeira Cake Recipe

Chocolate Madeira cake

 

I love Madeira cake. I mean REALLY love it. It’s part of my past. So when I was asked recently “How do you convert your Madeira cake recipe into a chocolate cake?” I thought it would be a great recipe to share with you all. I also still had the Morello Cherry and William Pear compote and Belgium chocolate ganache from Tesco’s to try out so they were a perfect fit!

Chocolate Madeira cake

This cake is really easy to make and is slightly firmer than my previous chocolate recipes, yet it’s still moist – making it a perfect foundation cake (as my mum would say). In other words it’s perfect for covering in sugarpaste for a celebration cake and the best thing is the fact that it doesn’t crumble like other chocolate cakes do. I do hate a crumbly cake, especially when you’re trying to get a crumb coating of buttercream on it!

Madeira cake recipe 

(Makes an 8″ cake – 1 ½” deep) 

75g butter at room temperature
75g margarine (Flora is best) at room temperature
 200g caster sugar
1 tea spoon vanilla essence
3 eggs (large) 
175 g plain flour
50g cocoa powder
 1 ½ teasp of baking powder
3 tbsp milk
 
  1. Line an 8″ cake tin with silicon paper and pre-heat your oven to 180ºC (160ºC fan).
  2. Blend the butter, margarine and sugar together until light and fluffy, then add the eggs slowly until they’re really well mixed in.
  3. In a separate bowl weigh out the flour, cocoa and baking powder. Mix them so that you have a light brown dry mixture. This will prevent you having any cocoa lumps in the mix. Sieve into the butter and sugar mix and blend.
  4. Add the vanilla essence and milk and mix well.
  5. Pour the cake mix into the tin and smooth with the back of a metal spoon.  Bake for 45 minutes in the centre of the oven. The cake is ready when you can smell that delicious chocolate cake aroma filling your kitchen. The cake will come away from the sides of the tin and a skewer will come out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake.
  6. Leave to cool on a wire rack Chocolate Madeira cake
  7. When completely cool cut into two halves and fill with compote/ buttercream /jam. I loved the Tesco’s compote. It would be great for making a black forest gateau.

    Chocolate Madeira Cake
    This compote is delish!
  8. Cover the top of the cake with a dusting of icing sugar or a really decadent chocolate ganache (if you want a ganache recipe you can find mine on this post)

Chocolate Madeira cake

 

I re-heated the Tesco ganache in a saucepan and poured it all over the cake till it just dribbled down. There was a little left over which Tim said could not be wasted! He scooped it up with a spoon.   I then placed the finished cake on the kitchen table to cool. Actually, it was to bribe the girls to do their homework before the Sunday evening witching hour! No homework. No cake!

It worked!

 Chocolate Madeira cake

Enjoy!

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