Tagged with Cake

Australian Red Cross Big Cake Bake August 2012

Want to bake the world a better place? It’s something I try to do. That’s what the Australian Red Cross is asking this August. The Big Cake Bake is aiming to raise funds for the Australian Red Cross to help those in need locally and overseas. Just sign up, bake a cake or two and share them with your friends, family or co-workers. Your Big Cake Bake host kit will include a donation box so everyone who samples your delicious baked goods can give generously to the cause. The official date of the Big Cake Bake is August 27, 2012 however you can hold your event at anytime in August.

Go to the Big Cake Bake site to get more information. Register now to receive your host kit and get planning your event.

Here are some of my favourite cakes to help you get baking!

Can you help bake the world a better place? $150 will help give vulnerable young families around Australia basic support and skills so that they can provide their kids with the best start in life.
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Home Food & Wine Weekend 4-6 May 2012

On a bit of a whim this morning, I headed over to the Home, Food and Wine Weekend at Sydney’s Entertainment Quarter. ACP Magazines is hosting free demonstrations, lectures and workshops based on themes like cooking, decorating and gardening.

Each audience member received and rather cute canvas tote which included a current edition of an ACP magazine.

The first session I attended was hosted by Deborah Bibby, editor of Real Living magazine. Deborah and her co-hosts showcased the current Royal Albert fine bone china range and demonstrated how to use the range in a budget-friendly afternoon tea setting. Each audience member at the Royal Albert showcase received a 30cm New Country Roses cushion. Quite a nice freebie! After the session, attendees sipped tea, nibbled on biscuits and purchased Royal Albert items with a 30% discount. I won’t be re-creating the serving suggestions demonstrated (most involved glueing china to glasses to create cake stands and bending cutlery to create place card holders); however, I am thinking an afternoon tea is in my future. Floral, polka dots and pastels, oh my!

 A freebie from Royal Albert.

Next up was a cake-baking session. Pamela Clark is the food director for The Australian Women’s Weekly Test Kitchen and has over 100 cookbooks to her name. I think most Australian homes have at least one AWW cookbook on their shelves. I’ve still got my mum’s collection and have added a few of my own. Pamela and her assistant Charlotte demonstrated how to bake the perfect sponge cake. I took notes in this session and can’t wait to try them out. I’ll share Pamela’s tips in a future post. They include using your hand to mix the batter. Not sure if I’ll try that one at home kids.

Pamela and Charlotte making the perfect sponge cake with fluffy frosting.
Sponge cake made with Queen food colouring

Paris Cutler of Planet Cake hosted a Q&A session and shared her love of cake decorating. Paris has built quite the cake empire. Cake store, cake decorating school, cake books – she even has a cake TV show! Paris told stories of cakes being made too large to fit through doorways, a melting wedding cake that was patched up with toilet paper and Celine Dion singing her a song after she made the singer’s 40th birthday cake.

Paris Cutler from Planet Cake.

The Home, Food & Wine Weekend continues tomorrow, May 6. Head to the website to enter some pretty cool giveaways.

 

 

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Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Cake

This recipe is my new favourite chocolate cake recipe. Chocolate cake with mousse-like chocolate frosting and dark chocolate ganache drizzled on top. I think I’ll tweak the recipe a little further but it’s pretty darn good just the way it is.

Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Cake
Recipe adapted from Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented, By Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito.

Ingredients

For the classic chocolate cake

3/4 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
2/3 cup sour cream
2  2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1  ½ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch cubes, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tbs vanilla extract

For the chocolate frosting

180 grams dark chocolate, chopped
180 grams milk chocolate, chopped
1  ½ cups heavy cream
2 tbs light corn syrup or golden syrup
1  ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, soft but cool, chopped into 1 inch pieces

For the chocolate glaze

180 grams good quality (60-72%) dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
3/4 cups unsalted butter, softened and cut into 1/2 inch pieces

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter three 8 inch round cake pans, line them with parchment paper, and butter the parchment. Dust the parchment with flour and knock out excess flour.

In medium bowl, mix the cocoa powder and sour cream with 1 ¼ cups hot water and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together and set aside.

Using a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes – the mixture will appear to string or ribbon throughout the bowl. Add the sugars and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 more minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing about 10 to 15 seconds after each addition until the egg is incorporated into the mixture. Then turn the mixer to low, add the vanilla, and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again for 30 seconds.

Beginning with the dry ingredients, add the dry mixture and the cocoa mixture to the mixer bowl in three alternating parts, ending with the dry. Divide the batter among the prepared pans. Use an offset spatula to level the batter. Bake the cakes for 35-40 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and cool for 30 to 45 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto the rack and let them cool completely. Remove the parchment.

Make the chocolate frosting

Place the chopped chocolate and milk chocolate in the bowl of am electric mixer. In a small saucepan bring cream and syrup to the boil, remove from heat and immediately pour over the chocolate. Let stand for 2-3 minutes. Slowly whisk the chocolate mixture until completely smooth. Let mixture cool to room temperature.

With the electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on medium speed, gradually add the butter and mix until well combined and smooth. Chill frosting for a few minutes until it can hold its shape.

To assemble the cake

Place one cake layer on a serving platter. Trim the top to create a flat surface, and evenly spread about 1 1/4 cups frosting on top. Add the next layer, trim and frost it, then add the third layer. Spread a very thin layer of frosting over the sides and top of the cake and put it in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to firm up. (This is known as the crumb coating and will help you keep loose cake crumbs under control when you frost the outside of the cake.) Spread the sides and top of the cake with the remaining frosting. Refrigerate it for 15 minutes to firm it up.

Make the chocolate glaze

Place the butter and chocolate in the top of a double boiler. Using a rubber spatula, stir the mixture until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir the glaze to release excess heat. Cool until it is still pourable but not hot to the touch. Otherwise you may melt your frosting right off your cake. Drizzle glaze over the cake. Refrigerate the cake about 15 minutes to set the glaze before serving.

Glaze the cake

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place your cake on a wire rack over the baking sheet. Slowly pour about 3/4 of a cup of the glaze over the cake. Use a small offset spatula to smooth it out to the edges. Place the cake in the refrigerator for 5 minutes to set the glaze. Remove from the refrigerator and slowly pour the rest of the glaze over the cake. It should run down the sides in thick streams. You should be able to control the size and length of the streams by the pour. Feel free to experiment, and have no fear in playing around. This is the fun part, and there is no right or wrong way. Chill the entire cake for approximately 20 minutes, or until glaze is set, then transfer to a cake plate. Serve at room temperature.

The cake can be stored, covered in a cake dome or cake saver, at room temperature for up to 3 days

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Girls’ Night In 2011

My sixth annual Girls Night In was actually an afternoon in this year. The idea is to stay in and donate the money you would have spent on a night out towards the fight against women’s cancers. It’s a cause close to my heart and I’m lucky to have family and friends so willing to contribute. And, of course, it’s a good excuse to get together and have fun! In the past, we’ve had dinner and played a game like Taboo or poker. This year, it was an afternoon of pink treats baked by me and shared between the eight of us.

Two of my guests are gluten-intolerant so I provided a selection of gluten-free treats as part of the spread. My aim with any gluten-free baking is to make something that everyone can enjoy, rather than a poor alternative to desserts with gluten. Sometimes I modify a recipe I have and other times I bake a treat that does not require flour of any kind. It’s easy to modify many recipes by using gluten-free flour mix instead of wheat flour. I’ve had good results with most recipes, especially the Hawaiian carrot cake I made back in July. This pink cake is from the same recipe I used for the rainbow cake in June; however, this time I used gluten-free flour mix and made three layers instead of six. Each layer baked for about 30 minutes. I had no real issues with the gluten-free flour; the taste and texture of the cake were comparable to one with gluten. To assemble the cake, I made a big batch of pink-tinted buttercream frosting. The cake held together well when sliced; popping it in the fridge for just a short while can help the frosting “set” and make it easier to cut.

The other gluten-free treat I baked was pink macarons. Most macaron recipes are gluten-free, as they call for almond meal, icing/confectioner’s sugar and egg whites, so I didn’t have to modify the recipe at all to make it gluten-free friendly. (Check your icing sugar is gluten-free, as the manufacturer may have blended it with something other than corn or tapioca starch.) I tried unsuccessfully to make macarons once before but I’m pleased to say this time went smoothly. Some leftover swiss meringue buttercream between the biscuits was the finishing touch. These were the most popular sweets on the table, I should have made twice as many to keep up with the demand!

The recipe for the chocolate cupcakes was the German chocolate cake recipe from the Baked Explorations cookbook. I used milk chocolate instead of dark and baked 36 cupcakes for about 25 minutes. This is definitely my favourite chocolate cake recipe to date, so expect to see it some more in Katie’s Kitchen. The frosting is swiss meringue buttercream piped on with an open-star tip. Remember to serve the buttercream at room temperature. Sweetapolita has some great tips to help you make this light and fluffy frosting.

My mission every October is to find the special edition pink-and-white M&Ms in stores. Last year I missed out, so this time I started looking early in the month. They are now sold exclusively in IGA stores in Australia, so that makes them a little hard to come across. I called five IGA stores before I found some in stock. Of course, I then raced over and bought a fairly restrained amount of four bags. Thirty cents from each packet goes to the McGrath Foundation. I just love colour-themed M&Ms in general! (I’ve already stocked up on the red and green Christmas packs.)

At the supermarket, I also picked up some tasty berry yoghurt coated rice cakes, as they are gluten-free and most importantly pink. Fresh strawberries, musk sticks, cheese, dip and crackers rounded out the afternoon’s snacks. Each guest went home with a goody bag of chocolates and a mini bottle of body lotion or body wash in sugary-sweet scents. As a result of the afternoon, the Cancer Council will receive a nice-sized donation from my family and me. Thank you to my grandmother, aunties and cousins for their generosity again this year.

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Chocolate Cake with Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting

My fascination with layer cakes continues, this time it’s a chocolate cake. I made this cake for no other reason than just to make a cake. With all the sewing and crochet projects I have going on, sometimes it’s nice to start something and finish it a few hours later.

This is the second time I’ve made Swiss meringue buttercream frosting and I’m happy to report all went well. After I added half the butter (the amount of butter in this recipe is crazy, try not to think about it for too long) to the egg white and sugar mixture, I popped the whole bowl in the fridge for a few minutes. I was worried the mixture was too soupy and I’d read cooling the mixture would help this. It worked like a charm! I added the rest of the butter and let the KitchenAid mix away. It was only afterwards that I realised I was supposed to change the whisk attachment to the paddle. It looks like no harm done though; the frosting was fluffy and dense and easy to spread. I couldn’t decide whether to colour the icing but after reading about people having trouble mixing Wilton gel food colouring and Swiss meringue buttercream, I decided against it. I quite like the dark cake against the white frosting. I think the next cake I make will be pink, a pink layer cake. Perhaps gluten free. Wish me luck with that one!

Rich and Dark Chocolate Cake recipe by Sweetapolita here
Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting recipe by Whisk Kid here (I used nine egg whites and had enough for the whole cake)
Rug from Urban Outfitters (yes they ship to Australia!)
And just for laughs: I can’t think of chocolate cake without thinking of  Bill Cosby
Cake plate from Freedom

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Burnt Sugar Bundt Cake with Caramel Rum Frosting

Cakes with long names sound impressive, however bundt cakes remind me of school fetes and bake sales. There is something old-fashioned about them. To me, they say homemade cake. According to Wikipedia, bundt cakes took off in the ’60s. I bought a 24cm bundt pan to make this recipe – actually it’s a “fluted pan”since bundt appears to be a registered trademark. The burnt sugar bundt cake looks like a grown up, sophisticated version of what I usually expect bundt cakes to be.

I attempted this cake twice today. The first time around, I didn’t burn my sugar for long enough. I can’t remember being disappointed I didn’t burn something before! The cake and the frosting both require a burnt sugar solution which is made of sugar, cream, coconut milk and lemon juice. Half of the mixture goes into the cake batter and half into the frosting. The first batch of burnt sugar I made was golden and brown, but for a dense-coloured and extra flavourful cake, the burnt sugar needs to be quite dark and rich in colour. Stir the sugar in a pan over medium heat until it’s the colour of molasses, and then keep stirring and heating it some more. Remove the saucepan from the heat and slowly add the cream while you keep stirring. Adding the cream too quickly will result in lumps of hard sugar. You can dissolve the lumps over heat on the stove but it seems best to avoid them if you can. Below are samples from the burnt sugar mixtures I made, the one on the right wasn’t heated long enough to make a dark-coloured cake.

The frosting came together easily in my food processor. I added a little extra icing sugar to thicken it, and omitted 1 tablespoon of rum. Next time I’ll use vanilla extract instead – I don’t care for the rum flavour. The sugar shards were easy to make with some melted sugar and water over high heat but mine were quite sticky to handle when arranging them on the cake.

Official taste-tester hubby seemed pleasantly surprised by the caramel flavour of the cake, he remarked it wasn’t sickly sweet like some caramel-flavoured desserts. Find the recipe here on Amy Atlas’s blog. It comes from Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented.

Happy Father’s Day Dad!

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Hawaiian Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

The week of hubby’s birthday continued today with another cake and another celebration. I used Sweetapolita’s cake recipe and also her cream cheese frosting recipe. The only change I made to the cake was I used gluten-free flour. Honestly, no one would have had any idea it was gluten-free if I’d not mentioned it. Carrot cake seems to handle gluten-free flour well in taste and texture – I’ve made gluten-free carrot cupcakes once before with a different recipe. I baked the cake in two round pans, then sliced each cake in half horizontally. I assembled the cake with three layers and we taste-tested the remaining layer, just to be sure it was edible of course.  The Hawaiian in the title refers to the pineapple in the cake. Having just come back from a week in Hawaii (when can we go again?) it seems as though if you stick pineapple on anything, bam, it’s Hawaiian! With this cold Sydney weather I’ll take a slice of Hawaii any chance I get.

And yes, I’m in to layer cakes at the moment. I’m learning more about baking and decorating with each cake I make and really liking the look of layers of frosting sandwiched between soft, sweet cake.

Happy birthday hubby! Also to cousin Ros who shares your birthday, and to cousin Joel who turned 10 on the 4th of July.

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Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Happy 40th birthday hubby! I hope all of your birthday wishes come true, just like your wish for yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Yellow cake recipe.

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Rainbow Cake

I did it! And with no major disasters, upsets, re-dos or tears. Thank goodness. I’ve been looking for an excuse to attempt a rainbow cake for a while. My nanna’s 78th birthday was the perfect occasion – mainly because she loves anything and everything I make. I used Whisk Kid‘s recipe and instructions; go to her blog to watch her make the cake on the Martha Stewart show. I baked the cakes yesterday afternoon and made the first batch of icing last night. Then, I stacked the layers and did a crumb coating of icing and let the cake sit overnight.  Most recipes suggest only gel colouring will do for this cake; however, I used liquid food colour and the results look vivid enough to me. I have ordered a full set of gel colours from Little Betsy Baker’s stocktake, sale so I will use them for my next rainbow cake. The only container big enough to hold the cake and stand was my cupcake courier, with the trays removed.

This morning, I made the second batch of icing and finished the cake. (The recipe specifies the quantities for each batch). The icing is Swiss meringue buttercream. This is the first time I’ve made it. It is a combination of sugar, egg whites, butter and vanilla. The recipe wasn’t too tricky and the first batch was perfect. There was enough to spread generous amounts between each cake layer and for the crumb coating. Batch number two was smaller and enough to cover the cake. This batch was a little problematic and I was afraid it wasn’t going to turn out properly, as the mixture took a while to come together in the mixer. Eventually, though, the icing turned out fine as the trusty Kitchenaid did her stuff. I would not have been able to make the icing without it. The second batch of icing has more of a yellow colour than the first. I’m not sure why yet. I’ll definitely make this type of icing again. I need to invest in some decorating tools and a larger cake plate but I managed with what I had.

And yes, Nanna loved it.

Click here for the recipe, instructions and video from Whisk Kid

Click here to see another awesome rainbow cake from Sweetapolita

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Muddy Chocolate Orange Cake

In less than ten days I’ll be a real grown up 30 years old. And every birthday needs a cake, well at least one. I might try for multiple cakes this years since it’s the big three-oh, and heck, why not? I got it into my head that I might want a jaffa-flavoured mudcake for one of my celebrations. It seems a little odd to bake your own birthday cake(s) so I won’t be doing that. But I can bake non-birthday jaffa-flavoured cakes right? And that I did.

I took Donna Hay’s muddy chocolate cake recipe and added the juice and rind of one orange. I might add a little more of each next time, for some extra jaffa flavour. The cake was a hit and I may or may not have had four pieces over the past three days.

More jaffa goodness here.
And here.
More here.

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