Category: dessert

How do you measure up? I need your help.

 “Help!!!”

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!

Thanks so much.

EmmaMT

Cakes Espanol!

We’ve just returned from a relaxing holiday in Mallorca. It was lovely to be just the four of us as we haven’t been away without friends or family for years. It was absolutely boiling and we returned to a freezing, wet London, but I have to say I was really happy to be home.

This was the first time that we had gone all-inclusive and I have to say that the food was pretty good. Tim and I set out with really good intentions. ‘We won’t drink too much, we won’t stuff our faces at every meal and we will be walking all over the place and be in the pool loads so we could make it quite a healthy break.’

That lasted 2 days!

You see the problem was that there were so many amazing desserts on offer (yes there was fresh fruit, but that just isn’t enough for me!) and when you consider that I eat continuously all day everyday at home I was getting pretty ratty. We worked it out that I wasn’t eating enough. No snacking between meals really isn’t for me! So, I went to check out the snacks on offer and there were these really cute, individually wrapped cakes and biscuits (I really wish I had taken a snap of them to show you) There were mini donuts – which Beau loved, swiss roll type cakes with the bottom dipped in chocolate which Darcey loved and made a lot of mess with in all that heat and then the pièce de résistance, puff pastry layered square cakes which were literally dripping in syrup. They were like Baklava.  I just couldn’t leave them alone! I have to say that Tim was really good and resisted all of them. He knows that once you start you can’t stop so he just didn’t start. Such will power!

So at every lunch and dinner there was a whole host of choices on offer -jelly, mouse, ice cream, dried fruit and then the cakes. Each meal had two cakes. We tried them all! Some we recognised, some we didn’t. The cream fillings were like that fake cream you get in cheap cakes and it was a bit sweet for us but the layers of sponges were incredibly light (and pink!)

One dessert that I couldn’t leave alone was the rice pudding. It was really deeelish. Lots of people were saying that they couldn’t face cold rice pudding but I loved it. It had cinnamon on the top and I had to limit myself to just one small spoonful each time. The apple pie was a bit too much pie and too little apple for me, but where they really excelled was the pastries.

The Mallorcan delicacy of the Ensaïmada de Mallorca. It tastes like a combination of croissant and brioche, but lighter. It’s baked in a large circle and then it cut up into pieces. You can have it plain, with a creme filling which was like a custard, chocolate filling or an almond centre. They all tasted great – every last one!

So now we are back and it’s nearly time to go back to school. I think a new fitness regime is in order…… or maybe just some more baking Mallorcan style!

enjoy! 

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!

The RG’s engagement cake

My brother is leaving me today :0(

He’s emigrating to Australia with his wife and two daughters and we are all going to miss them tons and tons and tons.

Whilst finishing off a little surprise photo album I was making them last night as a Bon Voyage gift, I came across the photos from their engagement party. It was back in 2007 which seems like a lifetime ago now!  Darcey had only just turned one, my sister was pregnant with Asher and I didn’t have a cake blog so I was at least a stone lighter! I had completely forgotten that I had made them an engagement cake.

The RG’s

My brother’s name is Robert and his wife is Roni and they both had the same initials when they met and Roni was still an RG when they got married. They call each other ‘RG’ so that was where the idea behind the cake came from.

The cake

I remember being really pleased with this cake. It must have been one of the first ones I ever did as I didn’t really start making cakes till Beau’s fourth birthday shortly after the engagement party.  I printed out large ‘R & G’ letters in paper to use as a pattern and layered up icing in pink and blue then placed the pattern on top before cutting out each letter with a sharp kitchen knife. I finished with a pink set for Roni and a Blue set for Robert. I think if I made this cake now I would have cut away the area where the letters overlap so that they sit more flat on the top of the cake. I would also know that if you get icing wet it will always look shiny unless you use a dry paintbrush and brush over some icing sugar till all the shininess disappears! I would also cover the cake board (or upturned tray in this instance!) with a strong colour icing.

Oh well, it’s good to see that I’ve improoved a little since 2007 and have learnt so much!

EmmaMT

P.S. RG’s & S & L we miss you so much already and love you lots. XXXX °<>° XXXX

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The Easy One Bowl Chocolate Cake

One bowl chocolate cake

This is a cake I made to take around to my mother-in-law’s for her birthday back in June. We were all invited for a family afternoon tea at her house. She always makes the most amazing Cherry Amours (I must get the recipe from her some time!) and she had also made scones too, so taking my chocolate cake on top of all that sugar may have been a step too far!

I’m Tim’s biggest nightmare!

I’m not very good at time management. In fact I’m hopeless. I’m late for everything and as Tim always says I have “add ons”, meaning that when we plan to do anything I always want to add on something. When I decided to make this cake I only had an hour and half to bake/decorate the cake, shower & dress and get Darcey ready to go to her friends party, wrap the present and get her to write the card! One serious ‘add on’! I originally wanted to make a cheesecake but Tim had to stop me. I really couldn’t do that in the time and chill it!

Chocolate cake in a hurry.

Needless to say this is the perfect recipe to bash out a quick cake when you’re in a hurry. As the title suggests, all the ingredients are put in the bowl at the same time, mixed up, popped in a tin (or for real speed a silicon pan- no lining or oiling necessary!) and throw it in the oven. Twenty five minutes later it’s done!

One Bowl Chocolate cake Ingredients

125g butter – at room temperature

125g caster sugar

125g self raising flour

2 eggs – at room temperature

4 tbsp cocoa powder

1 teasp baking powder

1 tbsp milk

1 tea sp vanilla extract

Raspberries to decorate

Buttercream

250g butter – at room temperature

450g icing sugar

2 drops of vanilla essence

2 tbsp cocoa powder. (I like my buttercream to be very chocolatey, so if you want a more subtle taste – or your cake is for kids, use just 1 tbsp of cocoa powder, then taste test the buttercream and add more as desired.

How to make the one bowl chocolate cake

Heat your oven to 180°C (160°C fan) and line and oil two 8″ sandwich tins.

Place all the wet ingredients in a mixing bowl. Sieve all the dry ingredients into the bowl then mix until well blended. Avoid over mixing.

Pour the mixture into the cake tins and bake for 25-30 minutes. This is a really light cake so you will see that it’s done by the edges shrinking away from the sides of the tin or a finger print bounces back instantly when touched.

While the cake is baking make the buttercream. Start by sieving the sugar and cocoa powder together. Add the butter and vanilla essence and mix well. If the mixture is too stiff add one small splash of milk at a time and keep mixing until it is just right.

Once baked, remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes before turning it out of the tin and placing it on a cooling rack to cool completely.

Add the buttercream to the centre of the cake then using a large pallet knife cover the outside top and sides. Use an upwards motion to cover it easily. Finish off with fresh raspberries.

This cake went down pretty well but then again so did Nanny Ali’s scones and cherry amours!

enjoy!

p.s. I am aware that there have been a lot of chocolate recipes on here lately! Anyone would think that I like chocolate!!!!!!

A Rainbow cake for Dahlia (a.k.a. the tallest cake I’ve ever made!)

Rainbow cakeAs I write this post (now last Saturday night) I have absolutely no internet connection. Nothing! Nada! Zip! Not a squat! And it’s not just my router that’s not working at home, my mobile is kerput too! So I have been web free for 5days. It’s at times like this that you realise how much you use the web, sit on facebook and miss your cake blog. Luckily, I have had plenty to keep me busy and away from my Mac.

Firstly I have made two life size snowmen for a Christmas press launch. They took hours and hours of paper mache, painting, covering in wadding and then covering in fake snow! Needless to say that when I got to the part of the week where I got to do baking I was happy!

The Rainbow cake

This cake was my birthday present for a very special little girl. She’s the daughter of my good friend Theoda and she’s too scrumptious for words! Theoda and I worked together on Woman and Home magazine and we shared one too many cupcakes, so I know how much she likes cake! She is also one of my biggest supporters of everything I do. ( Love you Fou!)

Theoda, Peter and the birthday girl. X

Anyway, when Theoda asked if I would make Dahlia’s 1st birthday cake I was honored. I mean I really wanted to make it but sometimes you have to wait to be asked – so that you don’t step on anyone’s toes. Theoda knew exactly what she wanted… Dahlia's on the Rainbow cake It had to have Dahlia’s on the top- obviously as that’s her daughters name. I made these with small circle cutters and then squidged each piece into place with my finger, adding more and more petals in a circle, layering up as I went. I wished that I had seen the flowers from Theoda’s garden (below) as I would have created this style flower instead. How beautiful are these? You can see why Dahlia was given such a beautiful name. Dahlias

A few years ago I made a mini wedding cake inspired by a Mich Turner cake with a bow on the front, which Theoda really liked, I recreated that on the front of the cake with ‘modern’ swags. At each swag was a button, holding it in place.Sugarpaste buttons and swags

As you can see the cake board was a strong pink colour and was dotted with more buttons made from sugarpaste and it was finished off with a cute spot ribbon. Jane Means ribbons are my favorite. They’re the best around and she has such a great selection.Buttons on cake

The pièce de résistance came when Theoda cut the first slice. Inside the tall cake were six layers of Madeira cake, each layer in a darker pink colour than the one below it. There was tons of buttercream inside, to keep it straight and in between each layer. It looked great when cut and whats more each slice could feed a small army. The cake was huge!

Pink Rainbow cake

Things I learnt making this cake…

  1. Don’t add the food colouring to the cake mix and keep stirring it as you colour each layer. By the time you get to the strongest colour you’ll have bashed all the air out of the mix (which is what makes it rise) and it will end up being a heavy biscuit of a cake. Instead mix up all the ingredients apart from the flour and separate it into bowls for each layer. Then colour each bowl. Fold in the flour and bake straight away. That way you can see the exact colour difference in each cake and they will all rise and be light and fluffy and delicious.
  2. I did a crumb coating on this cake and used a cake ruler to ensure the sides were as straight and level as I could get them. I then did a top coat of buttercream and again leveled the sides and top with the straight edge. Pop the cake in the fridge in between each buttercream covering so it sets and is easier to handle.
  3. When covering a cake this tall keep your rolled out icing thicker than usual so it has enough give. I left mine at around 1cm thick. Take your time when covering the cake. Smooth the top first, then gently manipulate the sides, working your way down with your hands and then with a smoother. If you start to get a crease at the bottom gently lift the sugarpaste away from the bottom of the cake and smooth it down from the top again. If you do end up with creases use ribbon, flowers or button decorations to hide them. No one will ever know!
  4. I didn’t put a thin cake board in between the cake layers because I made this cake out of Madeira sponge which is a pretty ‘strong’ cake. If I had done more layers, or had used a softer more crumbly sponge I would have popped one under the middle layer with cake supports in the cakes underneath. This will stop the cake from sinking into itself or toppling over.
  5. Make the decorations a week in advance so that they set hard and can be handled. The bow was quite heavy once dry and was attached to the cake with royal icing. It had to be held in place for a minute or so till it was stuck.

EmmaMT

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