It’s been such a long time since I posted anything new here. The end of the school term was hectic, I had four full sized cakes to complete and then a trip to Brighton – phew!!
Before we get to the recipe for this incredibly decadent, richly dark and spectacularly indulgent hot chocolate, here is one of the cakes that had to be made before the holidays:
No, I don’t have an incredibly unsteady hand, nor did it rain – I have deliberately blurred surnames!! This was a three tier rich chocolate fudge cake in a ‘choccywoccydoodah’ style, for a friend’s daughter’s prom. It was a LOT of fun to make but I certainly need to practice getting those perfectly smooth, well structured edges… lol. I used Mich Turner’s recipe for the chocolate fudge cakes (from ‘Spectacular Cakes’), stacked them and then ran dark chocolate down them so that they completely layered the whole structure. I then ran milk chocolate over the top, finishing off with handmade roses, flowers and fans using modeling chocolate and oodles of glitter.
Having now been to Brighton and spent hours drooling over the perfect creations in the Choccywoccydoodah window, I can safely say that they are as perfect in real-life as they are on the show.
Here are one or two photographs…
Pride weekend had just finished and Choccywoccy’s theme had been ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ from Wizard of Oz… it was spectacular.
Sadly, after an amazing four days in Brighton, mooching around the North Laines and Kensington Gardens, immersing ourselves in the alternative, the gothic, the hippy, the handmade and the spooky, coming home felt like quite the drag. Especially as it has rained since! Depressed? Maybe. Inspired? Definitely! Scouring stalls with the homemade and the kookily curious certainly took me back to my days of working in a particular alternative market in Birmingham and definitely made me rethink selling that sewing machine of mine. In fact, I’ve dug it back out and dusted it off. Not only does baking soothe the soul, but creating a perfectly couture Victorian corset does too. I’ve done it. Maybe I’ll post some pics soon… But anyway, I digress, although I feel another Moo blog, lurking in the shadows….
In the meantime, what could be more comforting than a delicious glass of homemade hot chocolate whilst the creative mind wanders…?
Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Banana Hot Chocolate (makes 1 tall glass)
25g of chopped dark chocolate
1 tsp of smooth peanut butter
3/4 of YOUR SIZED glass, full of milk (I used soy milk as I don’t drink dairy milk – only because I hate the taste!)
Sprinkling of grated chocolate to top, quick grating of nutmeg
1) Measure out your milk – you need about 3/4 of the glass you are going to use. In a saucepan, warm it through.
2) In a blender place your chopped chocolate, peanut butter and banana.
3) Pour the hot milk over the ingredients in the blender – swirl it around and over the chocolate.
4) Blend for one full minute until creamy and frothy.
5) Pour into a glass and top with squirty cream, gratings of chocolate/nutmeg or whatever you fancy!
WARNING: THIS IS DECADENT, THICK, DELICIOUSLY COMFORTING. DO NOT SHARE!
I’m away now, to search the internet for some yummy fabrics. Look out for another blog coming soon – no name yet, but it’ll encompass all of the other crafty things we do and make…
Had a whale of a time doing this one!!! The cascade of glittery roses…. it’s a form of therapy making them.
This post is just for show – no recipes here today!
Then I was asked to do a Tinkerbell cake. I’ve never made figures before, so this was a challenge!! Hahahaha – she looked more like some manga-style weirdo than Tinkerbell, but still, I learnt a lot and the friend laughed along… :)
OMG – I LOVED making her even though she looks a little deformed!! I’m definitely going to buy a dolls head mould though – faces are so hard to make…
If anyone has any good links to making faces using fondant/flower paste please link them here!
This cake is one of courage – heart and soul. The legends surrounding bananas all have one common theme – that somewhere, somehow, the banana plant came from a heart.
There is the legend of Corazon from the Philippines, who was killed by soldier invading the country. Corazon, who was full of heart, was caught helping families to escape by the invaders and was dragged away to their captain. The captain wanted to keep her as his bride but she refused and was killed, her body flung into the street. Corazon was buried by her parents and eventually, where she was buried, a plant grew. The plant bore a heart shaped fruit. The word ‘Banana’ is translated roughly as ‘her heart’.
Another legend surrounds Raya and the spirit world. Her spirit guide, Sag-in, confessed to falling in love with her and they married and had a child. Eventually, Sag-in had to return to the spirit world and as he did, he left a bleeding heart on the ground. The banana plant grew from the bleeding heart and Raya watched it night and day until it bore fruit. When she peeled one to eat it, she is said to have heard her husband telling her that his heart would be her food and the plant her shelter. “I will stand by you and watch you forever,” he told her.
Dark chocolate has always been known for it’s health benefits… and a little bit of what you fancy does you good, right? Not only does it contain plenty of antioxidents, cacoa seeds have been used by tribal people to counteract snake bites, disease and infection.
Chocolate’s magical properties often involve love and seduction. Remember the old Milk Tray advert?! Need I say more?! Interestingly, one of chocolate’s main ingredients is phenylethylamine or PEA for short. This is otherwise known as the ‘love chemical’.
Now, with all this love, heart and courage around, who’s up for some cake?
Inspired by the Banana Cake in ‘Eat Me!’ by Cookie Girl…
Banana and Deeply Dark Chocolate Cake (6″ cake)
125g butter (lightly salted)
125g caster sugar
125g self raising flour
2 tbsp natural yoghurt
1 capful of vanilla extract
1 ripe, mashed banana
100g dark chocolate chips/chopped chocolate
* Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C, grease and line a 6″ cake tin.
* Mash the banana in a bowl. Add the vanilla extract and yoghurt and mix well.
* Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
* Beat in the eggs, one by one, gradually. Beat well – the more air the better!
* Beat in the banana/yoghurt/vanilla mix.
* Fold in the flour.
* Fold in the chocolate.
* Pour the batter into the tin and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Fill the cake with freshly whipped cream and sliced bananas.
This one’s just for show!
Thanks to Gill at work for trusting me to make this and to the other Jill for the book which has inspired me to keep baking… :) I’m sad we don’t get to talk cake much these days.
Anyway, this cake was for a little two year old. It is a vanilla bean cake, with a bright pink strawberry flavoured heart running all the way through (so that when you cut it, you get the heart in every slice!) It’s been my favourite cake to make so far… such fun making the little figures.
OOoooh, that’s a bit close up!!
Anyway, more recipes coming soon! x
Who doesn’t love Cherry Bakewells? Aren’t they just so cheeky? I imagine they were exactly what Alice ate when she saw those tiny delights with ‘Eat Me’ written on them.
Give in to temptation… go on…
Chocolate would have been so obvious.
You’ve always prided yourself on being slightly avant garde… I bet you’re wondering how moist that almond centre would be if you bit into it, the crumbly pastry flickering down your chin. Take another look at those cherries. Go on. I dare you. They’re winking at you…
Do I need to say any more?
The recipe is very slightly adapted from Harry Eastwood’s ‘Red Velvet Chocolate Heartache’.
It is quite simply delicious. And fat free. It needs to be eaten straight away with a cup of tea – the lack of fat means it will dry out quickly compared to a sponge made with butter.
Cherry, Almond and Swede Cake
(4.5 inch tin)
110g (3/4 cup) glace cherries
80g (1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp) caster sugar
90g (2/3 cup) grated swede (Harry Eastwood uses potato – this is delicious too)
45g (just over 1/3 cup) self-raising flour
45g (just over 1/3 cup) ground almonds
1/2 tsp (scant) almond extract
a little grated lemon zest
Flaked almonds to decorate (toasted)
Icing sugar + water (to drizzle)
Jam (to fill)
* Grease and line two 4.5 inch tins (12 cm).
* Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C / 350F / gas 4.
* Chop all of the cherries in half and dust lightly with flour.
* Whisk the eggs and the sugar in a separate bowl for 5 minutes until pale and at least doubled in volume.
* Beat in the grated swede, then fold in the flour, almonds, almond extract and lemon zest.
* Pour the batter into the two tins evenly.
* Gently place the cherries into the batter – don’t press down too much. Bake the cakes for around 20-25 mins or until an oven thermometer reads around 92-95 degrees and the cake is coming away from the sides.
* Once baked, leave the cakes to cool. To prevent them from sinking, invert your tins!
* When cool, split the cakes and fill with jam. (I chose NOT to split these cakes – I just filled the two halves). A home made cherry jam is ideal! Layer the cakes and drizzle with a simple icing sugar/water drizzle. sprinkle with almonds.
Here’s the second cake in ‘Vegetable Month’. I think this little Missy should be showcased in every home, she’s so beautiful.
She’s very easy on the eye – a real English Rose. She’s soft and pale – no sunshine for her! She stands pertly, holding a fluttery white parasol, with dainty white daisies dotted around the top. Her pale complexion is never compromised – porcelain, creamy skin with perfectly pink cheeks. It’s probably tennis she’s watching, whilst nibbling on strawberries and cream as the bewitching scent of lavender dances across the perfectly manicured lawn. This young lady wears no make-up – there’s no need. Just a dusting of powder, flowers in her hair and she’s ready.
Inspiration…finding your niche…
I have recently talked about my quest to find cakes that incorporate natural ingredients that have purpose – cakes that are based upon vegetables or fruits. They may have healing properties – who knows? After all, if you’re feeling down, a piece of cake always perks you up, right? Why not incorporate some magic – some sweet, peppery parsnip to encourage that fire in your belly? Or some earthy butternut squash to plant your feet firmly back on the ground? This is my aim.
Replacing the fats with vegetables and using the ‘whisked method’ means that adding vegetables to cake is easy-peasy. Just ensure that you whisk your eggs and sugar so hard, it’s dizzy. Five minutes, minimum! Then, whisk in the vegetables (experiment!), add your flavourings and fold in the flour – et voila! Anything is possible…
I have adapted a Harry Eastwood recipe here and, as I love her style of adding personas to cakes (and the actual cakes!), I have emulated her style of writing. I love it and have no shame in emulating her – in doing so, I hope to develop a style of my own. Those in the writing industry always state how much you can learn by emulating your favourite writers – eventually, along will come a beautiful prose of your own. It works – I have a completed children’s book that is just waiting to be published!
Lemon, Lavender and Parsnip Cake (4.5 inch cake tins x 2)
This is a recipe for ONE cake tin – you will need to make two lots of this batter
85g grated parsnip
51g clear honey
1 large, free range egg
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp crushed culinary lavender sprigs
52g self-raising flour
* Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/350 degrees F/gas 4
* Grease and line your cake tin.
* Grate the parsnip.
* In a bowl, whisk the honey and eggs for two minutes – it needs lots of air incorporated into it.
* Add the lemon zest, flour, and lavender and fold in gently.
* Fold in the parsnip.
* Pour the batter into your tin and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the cake is pulling away from the sides of the tin, is springy to the touch and reaches a temperature of 97 degrees C on a baking thermometer.
* When out of the oven, turn the tin upside down on a cooling rack for 5 minutes. This helps to stop the cake sinking back. Then, remove the cake and leave to cool. Bake the next cake.
* When both cakes are cool, fill with lemon curd and cream cheese icing. Dust with icing sugar.
To make your own lemon curd try this:
Curly Girl Kitchen – Grapefruit Curd (substitute lemons for grapefruit)
I DO love Curly Girl!!
To make the above cake gluten free, you could use almond flour or Gluten Free flour.
Ruby Red. Whisper her name.
She’s pouty, artificial and preened to within an inch of her life, yet oozes charm. She’s dressed immaculately in a fitted, tailored suit with patent killer heels. She probably owns a multi-million pound company and could stand her ground in the Dragon’s Den. At night, Ruby Red steps out into the hot city streets, flicks on her lipstick, lets down her auburn hair and dances the Tango with fire in her belly. Later, she sips red wine, ordering only French food…
Sounds dangerous, doesn’t she?
She is – eating three of her in one sitting is not unheard of! However, this beauty has a secret…
Ruby Red is perfectly healthy.
She dances so fiercely because she is full of potassium, magnesium and iron. Drenched in vitamins A, B6 and C, Ruby can dance all night – power and stamina are her tools. High concentrations of nitrate oxide means that no matter how long and how hard she dances, she’ll never tire – her blood pressure stays low and she never fatigues.
Ruby Red Velvet is made with beetroot.
The recipe has been adapted in a quest to make it slightly healthier and to maximise the beetroot benefits. Try them – you’ll never look back!
Recipe adapted from: http://allrecipes.co.uk/recipe/13540/red-velvet-beetroot-cake.aspx
Ruby Red Velvet Cakes (8″ x 12″ baking tray)
100g (1/3 cup PLUS 1 good tbsp) unsalted butter
280g (1 cup PLUS 1/3 cup) caster sugar
2 large eggs
100g (2/3 cup) grated fresh beetroot
1/4 tsp extra red food colouring
325g (3 cups) self-raising flour
30g (1/4 cup) cocoa powder
250ml (1 cup) buttermilk (use 1 tsp lemon juice to every 250ml of milk to make a substitute)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp white wine vinegar
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:
100g (1/2 cup) butter
175g (3/4 cup) full fat cream cheese
225g (2 and 1/4 cups) icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
* Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C / Gas 6 / 356 F
* Grease and line your baking tray.
* Sift the flour, cocoa and sugar together. Whisk these dry ingredients together to incorporate air.
* Whisk in butter until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.
* Add the eggs gradually, beating until just incorporated.
* Beat in the buttermilk until pale and creamy (about 2 mins)
* Grate the beetroot into the mixture finely.
* Stir the food colouring into the mixture until evenly combined.
* In a separate small bowl, mix together the bicarbonate of soda and the vinegar until it fizzes, then add it immediately to the batter.
* Pour the batter into a greased, lined tin.
* Bake for 30 – 40 minutes, until it is coming away from the tin, springs back to the touch, a skewer inserted comes out clean or it reaches over 96 degrees C / 205 F on a baking thermometer.
* Turn onto a baking rack to cool completely.
* When cold, cut ’rounds’ from the cake using a circle cutter. Cut them to the size you prefer. Place in a container to keep fresh.
* Make up your cream cheese frosting whilst the cake cools.
* Beat the butter until soft and pale. Add the cream cheese and beat this in. Add the icing sugar and beat until it is the consistency you prefer. If you enjoy a stiffer icing, add extra icing sugar.
* When you are ready to serve, take the cakes from the container. Slice a cake in half and pipe in a good swirl of frosting. Place the other half on top. Then pipe another swirl of frosting on the top, piling on a selection of fresh berries to finish. Sprinkle with edible glitter for a decadent touch!
Well, I think it’s time to say goodbye to Ginger Month. It’s March and I’m now thinking about planting vegetables, ready for the spring. We have asparagus root (a valentine’s gift), courgettes, narcissus and a variety of herbs.
I’m looking forward to planting the asparagus because it’s something I’ve never grown, so I’m keen to see how well it will work in a garden-by-the-sea. Also, asparagus is lush AND it makes your wee smell, which is funny! Hmmm, juvenile? Yes. Weirdly entertaining? Yes!
Anyway, I digress.
With the arrival of springy March, Ginger Month comes to an end. Sadly.
I’ve taken to drinking a large cup of hot water with a nice slice of ginger seeped into it in the morning and, I have to say, it’s very much my favourite drink at the moment. Hot and deliciously spicy but very comforting.
The little ginger sponges I made were for a weekend of fun and frolics with our cousins from Leeds – here they are again:
It was disappointing when G said she didn’t like ginger. But VERY satisfying when she liked the cakes! Thanks G…. XX
Anyway, here’s the recipe… sadly, I can’t give you exact tin sizes, but use as many as you need, filling 3/4 full OR make cupcakes, filling as many cases as you need 3/4 full.
Mini Ginger and Chamomile Sponge Sandwich Cakes
3 eggs (You will need to weigh them in their shells. Mine weighed 180g)
Exactly the same amount of butter, caster sugar and self-raising flour. (If you only have all-purpose/plain flour, add 1 teaspoon of baking powder [5g] per 100g of flour. Apologies US friends – I think that equates to 1 tsp baking powder for just over 3/4 cup of flour).
120g peeled and finely grated fresh ginger.
2 chamomile tea bags, emptied into a cup.
25 ml milk, warmed, with 1 chamomile teabag added to it and left to steep.
* Grease and line a large rectangular cake tin. (I used a tray bake tin and filled it 3/4 full) or line a cupcake tin with liners.
* Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C (340 degrees F).
* Weigh out your ingredients. (Remember, it is the weight of the eggs in their shells you will base your recipe on). So, if you have eggs that weigh 180g, you will need equivalent weights of butter, sugar and flour.
* High sift your flour into a clean bowl, twice!
* Quickly beat together your eggs in a cup.
* In your free-standing mixer, or using an electric hand whisk, beat your butter until pale and fluffy.
* Add your sugar and beat. Beat it some more. Beat the living daylights out of it!
* Beat in the ginger and loose chamomile.
* Add the fragrant chamomile milk to the eggs and beat in a cup with a fork.
* Gradually add your this mixture to the butter and sugar, a little at a time. Beat, beat, scrape down, beat, beat and beat. If your mixture curdles, you are being darn impatient! This part takes time, but is vital to a light sponge. Set aside 10 minutes for this part.
* When your mixture is ‘together’ and isn’t curdling, high sift your flour into the bowl and, by hand, fold it in.
* Spoon the mixture into your cake tin or cupcake cases.
* Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until light golden brown (15-20 mins for cupcakes). The top should spring back to the touch and the edges should be pulling away from the sides of the tin.
* Leave to cool for 10 minutes, then turn onto a cooling rack.
* Use a cutting ring to cut out rounds of cake. When cool, slice these rounds into two. Make a buttercream (Italian Meringue is nice… and sandwich two round together, adding a swirl of buttercream to the top. (You could use whipped fresh cream if you prefer…)
* Decorate with a slice of ginger and some gold dragees.
I have been deviating from baking just a little recently and have been exploring other creative avenues… breaking a cup helped. :)
Just thought it might be a nice share for all those of us who accidentally break little baking items/tea cups and plates regularly! Accident prone….
It is listed on ebay as ‘vintage style, shabby chic mirror’.