Monday, 9 October 2017

Chewy Sunflower & Sesame Seed Bars

I do 99% of the grocery shopping in our home.  So I can only blame myself if I run out of a baking supplies.
Every now and then I'll remark to my husband how amazing it is that when we run low on something it'll just miraculously re-appear on the pantry shelves... joking but with a little barb attached!
Ha ha, clever witty me ... until it doesn't miraculously re-appear. And it comes as such a shock... How can I not have any of that item?! Oops!

So, I ran out of oats. I've been making a lot of these rusks lately, and that's where they've gone.
There was only half a cup left, and I needed a whole cupful for the granola bar recipe I was trying.



It sounded like a very versatile recipe, though, so I just upped the amount of seeds, and made these very more-ish sunflower and sesame bars instead:





Chewy Sunflower & Sesame Seed Bars (No -bake!) 
Recipe adapted from bowlofdelicious.com

Line a small square baking pan, 16x16cm or 18x18cm, with parchment paper.
(Make a cross of paper - two sheets at as in the photo, leaving the sides long, extending above the sides of the pan to make lifting out easier).

Ingredients:
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup honey
1 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup oats (traditional rolled oats, not instant oats)
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup flaked almonds
2 tbs chia seeds (optional)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Method:
Melt the honey and coconut oil together in a saucepan over medium heat.
When the mixture begins to bubble, turn down the heat and stir in the other ingredients.
Cook on low for 2 minutes. Stirring frequently.

Remove from the stove and spread and flatten the mixture into the prepared baking pan.

NB: Take time to really compress and compact it into the pan - fold down the parchment on top of the mixture, and use your hands, or the flat base of a glass, or another square pan to pre-e-e-ss it in.

Place in the refrigerator and allow to cool completely (4 hours, or overnight).
Remove from the pan, and cut into bars.

Store in the fridge.
The bars can get a little sticky if left at room temperature, so wrap in cling-wrap if they're going to be added to a lunchbox.




Have a look at the original recipe and suggested variations here. 

Enjoy!

xxM

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Funfetti Cake with Rainbow Buttercream

Are all things rainbow still trending? Well, sure!
So how about a funfetti cake with rainbow icing? 

                       


This is a great alternative to a rainbow layer cake, and it's a cake walk to make. πŸ˜‰ 
Like most things baking / decorating, it's all in the prep work... 




For the funfetti cake, I used this recipe (again!) and added a cupful of cake confetti.  
(Depending on how large your cake pans are, and how tall you want the cake, you may need to double the recipe.)



For the rainbow icing, make a batch of your favourite buttercream (recipe here) or swiss meringue buttercream (recipe here). Make a double batch for a large cake.
Divide it into 5 bowls, and add gel food colours.
I generally use the electric colours (electric blue, pink, etc) because they have a cool undertone, and don't accentuate the butter's inherent yellow.



Put the icing into 5 disposable icing bags with the tips cut off, and pipe concentric rings of the different colours between each layer of sponge. 


If you have any icing leftover, tie the ends of the bags off with rubber bands and freeze until you have use for it.  (Now, isn't that a good tip?!)



I covered the outside of the cake in plain buttercream, with a pink drip, because I wanted the rainbow effect to be a surprise-inside. Such a sweet surprise πŸ˜‹



Happy baking! 

xxM 

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Blueberry and Lemon Yoghurt Panna Cotta

Before I'd made panna cotta, I used to wonder why it was so frequently chosen as a dessert by Top Chef contestants.
Then I made it and discovered: it's easy, delicious and impressive... what better competition entry could you think of?
(Well, personally,  if I was on Top Chef or Master Chef, I'd go with this chocolate tart; paired with coconut sorbet, perhaps...
But I digress! And I certainly don't plan on adding Master Chef stress to my list of things to tackle!)

So, back to panna cotta... πŸ˜‰

This recipe is from Lorraine Pascale, Saturday Kitchen.  
Part of it's attraction, though, is that it's a Friday kitchen activity - you can make panna cotta the day before your dinner party. How convenient!


You'll make 2 batches of panna cotta for this dessert - one for the blueberry layer, and one for the lemon layer. But it's so straight forward that that really isn't a problem.
Alternatively, use the base recipe in any way you choose, and get creative with the flavour additions.


Blueberry and Lemon Layered Yoghurt Panna Cotta 
Recipe adapted from Lorraine Pascale, Saturday Kitchen 

Prepare 6-8 small glasses/ jars on a tray that will fit easily into the fridge.

Ingredients:
3 gelatine sheets
Cold water - enough to cover the sheets of gelatine
100ml cream (double/ whipping cream - 35% fat content)
100ml full cream milk
100g caster sugar
1/2 vanilla pod - seeds only
300g double thick Greek yoghurt (you can substitute with medium or low fat yoghurt)

100g blueberries - pureed
  or
zest of 2 lemons (for the second batch)

Method:
Soak the gelatine in cold water for 5 minutes.

While it is soaking, place the cream, milk, sugar and vanilla seeds in a small saucepan.
Heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has all dissolved.

Mix the pureed blueberries into the yogurt.

Once the gelatine is soft, lift the sheets from the bowl and squeeze out the excess water.
Stir softened gelatine into the warmed milk / cream mixture until it has dissolved.
Leave to cool for 15 minutes, then pour this into the yoghurt/ blueberry mixture.
Stir gently until well combined.

Divide the mixture evenly between the glasses / jars; pour carefully to avoid spilling on the sides of the glass.
(If you want a completely smooth panna cotta, pour the mixture through a strainer/ sieve.)

Refridgerate.



Once the blueberry panna cotta has started to set, continue with the second layer - repeat the process above but replace blueberries with lemon zest.

Carefully pour the lemon panna cotta into the glasses, on top of the set blueberry layer.

Chill for a few hours, or overnight.
Top with a blueberry, lemon blossom or curl of lemon zest before serving.



These will keep for a few days in the fridge - if you can resist them that long!

Happy dessert-making!

xxM

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Vanilla Cake with Creamy Rose Water Icing

I'm going through an add-rose-water-to-everything phase.
 Ok, almost everything, I guess. Chocolate cupcakes are exempt; as are rusks, and coffee cheesecake, and carrot muffins... So, maybe not even close to everything I've baked recently.
 But a lot a few things, ok?!

Sometimes I call these treats "turkish-delight-flavoured", but essentially it's just a splash of rose water...

The impulse is partially to do with the flavour (it's the taste of spring!), but also because it's an excuse to fling some rose petals around for the photos - it's just so darn pretty decorating with rose petals πŸ’•





This sponge cake is the recipe I use very often for cakes and cupcakes. Most recently in these pastel-coloured mini cakes... which actually were rose-water flavoured!



The icing is a blend of normal buttercream and cream cheese icing ... and rose water flavoured, of course.


Creamy Rose Water Icing:

250g butter, at room temperature
500g icing sugar, sifted
250g medium fat cream cheese, at room temperature
2-3tsps rose water (to taste)
Pink gel food colour


Beat the butter until smooth, light and creamy (This step takes a while, but is well worth it for the final texture of the icing).
Add the sifted icing sugar. Beat again until light and creamy.
Gently beat in the cream cheese, gel colour and rose water.


When you assemble the layers of sponge and icing, sprinkle some crushed pistachios on top of the icing for extra flavour and colour (and crunch!) or chop up squares of turkish delight and add those to the icing. Then we can truly call it turkish delight icing, right?!



Happy baking!

xxM


Monday, 11 September 2017

Gorjuss Doll Cake Toppers


You don't have to be a little girl to love Gorjuss dolls! 
In fact I think they're appreciated more by adults than children (who get a little unsettled by the lack of facial features!) 



I've been admiring Santoro's whimsical works of art for a while, and what a pleasure it's been to  reproduce them in cake form. 

Mine are made from a modelling chocolate / fondant blend, except for the legs, which needed to have the stockings painted on, so I added tylose/CMC paste into that mix. 

My ratios are a 1:1 ratio of modelling chocolate to fondant, and then if I add tylose/CMC paste, it'll be 1/4 of that weight... 
50g modelling chocolate + 50g fondant = 100g paste, then I'll add 25g tylose/CMC paste. 

And it has to be the paste - don't use tylose powder in a modelling chocolate blend; it isn't as effective as it is when added to pure fondant. 



Why do I add the tylose paste? It results in a quicker drying time and firmer finish, especially when working in heat and humidity. 
Just make sure, though, if you make your own tylose paste, that it is dry and not tacky. 
It's not going to help combat the challenges of humidity if your paste itself is too damp!  



The beauty of modelling these figurines is the simplicity of their faces. 
And yet they're still so full of character, aren't they?  


Happy decorating!

xxM 


Friday, 1 September 2017

Spring Themed Mini-Cakes

It's Spring Day!
That announcement should be followed by some sort of tra-la-la, shouldn't it?! Picture Julie Andrews singing on the foothills of the Alps...The hills are alive...
etc...

Yes, well...
The Alps are very very far away so we'll just celebrate with cake instead.  
       
I made this sponge cake in three different colours, planning on 3-layered mini cakes. But while that would have been visually appealing, they'd have been too much of a mouthful. And considering they were for real-life tea, not Instagram or Facebook-life tea,  I settled on two layers. 


I still need to try the three layered look sometime (for sharing on IG and FB, of course), but in the meantime...

To get the colours true, without yellow undertones coming through, I used an oil-based sponge recipe, and replaced whole eggs with egg whites only. 


Spring-Coloured Vanilla Sponge Cake

Ingredients:
200g egg whites (or 4 whole eggs if you're not colouring the batter) 
400g caster sugar
320g cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
250ml milk
100ml vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract 
Gel colours - pink, blue, purple

Method:
Set the oven temp to 175'C
Grease and line 3 x 8 inch round cake pans 

Mix the milk and oil together in a jug, and heat in microwave for 2 min on high. Set aside for 10-15 minutes.

Place the sugar, vanilla extract and eggs in a mixer, and beat on medium-high for 6 minutes, until pale and fluffy.

Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt together. 

Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the egg mix, then half the milk mix; gently blending in between.  
Repeat; ending with the dry ingredients. 
Mix until just combined. 

Divide the batter evenly between 3 bowls. Add colour to each bowl, stir until uniformly mixed.

Pour the batter into 3 x 8 inch cake pans and bake for 20 minutes, or until the sponge springs back when touched. 

Cool in the pans. 

When completely cool, use a scone cutter / round cookie cutter to cut out circles of cake (trim the tops flat, if necessary). 






Pipe swirls of icing on top of half of the rounds, and top with a different-coloured circle of cake. 





Pipe another rose swirl on top, and add some "leaves". 

The icing used here is swiss meringue buttercream flavoured with rose water, which pairs beautifully with this light sponge.  



Happy baking, and happy (Southern Hemisphere) Spring Day!

xxM

Friday, 25 August 2017

Unicorn Cookies: Pinwheels

When I scheduled these classes a few months ago, I was pretty sure that the craze would be dying down by now, but it seems I underestimated the magical power of unicorns!

I'm ready to move on though... Unicorn toppers, unicorn cupcakes, unicorn cakes and unicorn cookies - that's it. Ping, I'm done.

I have really enjoyed making them, though - it's always a pleasure decorating with pastels. And it also gave me the excuse to decorate pinwheel cookies, which I've been wanting to do for a while.
 Ok, so it's a bit of a stretch - unicorns, rainbows, pinwheels...
But aren't they lovely and whimsical, too?




Here's an approach to a pinwheel cookie:
Draw your crosses, shade the smaller triangles, then outline and flood those.
Once the smaller triangles have dried, outline and flood the larger ones.
(Find a recipe for royal icing and a description of consistencies here).


 I think we can happily retire our unicorns, now. Don't you? 



No, you're right - probably not!

Happy decorating! 

xxM 

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Unicorn Cookies: Gold Lustre

Ever have those days when you're just not in the zone; when your cookie decorating is anything but magical?! 

The day I made this set of unicorn cookies I had to navigate leaking icing bags, breaking biscuits, and an oven temperature that was accidentally bumped up 100'C.  
All that, and about a dozen interruptions. *Sigh!*






So, I wasn't exactly feeling the magic that day.

I had to do some cosmetic surgery on the unicorns the following day.  

But my mood improved considerably when, for the first time,  I tried using lustre dust mixed with coconut oil. What a brilliant sheen!
We don't have a wide selection of edible lustres available to us here, and generally the effect once a lustre dust is mixed with alcohol or water and painted onto royal icing isn't as smooth or as solid as I'd like.
The mixture with coconut oil, though, is beautiful


On the cookie in the picture, the top stripe is the lustre dust mixed with water; followed by vodka in the middle, and the bottom stripe is with coconut oil: a lovely solid sheen.  

So that's what I used on the unicorns horns and hooves - only one coat necessary.

One downside is that the coconut oil isn't a liquid at room temperature. 
You have to heat it to get it to liquify initially, then keep it in a little hot water bath to stop it solidifying one you've mixed in the lustre. 

And the coconut oil mixture doesn't sink into the icing the way the other two solutions do, so it rubs off a little.
If your cookies need to be packaged and shipped off, rather use another solvent. But if they're for a display platter, give the coconut oil mixture a try.

Because it's oil-based, it'll be an good mixture to use on modelling chocolate and modelling chocolate / fondant blends, too. 




Happy decorating!

xxM 


Friday, 18 August 2017

Mixed Berry Macarons


It's nearly time to pack up the macaron-making equipment now that warmer, wetter weather is on it's way. Because, trust me - if you haven't tried making macarons yet, the humid months are not the time to start! There are enough variables in macaron-making already. I choose to avoid the stress of doing it during climatological conditions that are outside of my control. Not that I have control issues, or anything...!

But, while we still can: let's go out with a berry blast...

These macarons are filled with a combination of white chocolate ganache and mixed berry jam.
 It's important to use a good quality jam or preserve, with lots of real fruit - you want to taste the tartness of the berries through the sweetness of the white chocolate.





Mixed Berry Macarons
Recipe by Tea, Cake & Create

Macarons

3 egg whites (100g-110g), at room temp. Aged for 2-3 days.
2 tbs (30ml) caster sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
200g icing sugar
125g ground almonds/ almond flour
A few drops of purple/pink gel colour


Prepare baking trays with parchment. Make sure that the parchment is flat and that the trays aren't warped.

Pulse the almond flour and icing sugar in a food processor until well mixed and finely ground.  Sift into a bowl. Discard the large granules which don't pass through the sieve.

Whisk the egg whites at low speed with an electric beater until frothy, then add the cream of tartar. 
Beat until soft peaks form, then add the caster sugar, slowly down the side of the bowl.  
Beat at high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold in the gel colour. 

Sift half the almond flour / icing sugar mix into the meringue and fold in.   
Then sift in the remaining almond flour and icing sugar. Once again discard any large granules.

Use a spatula and a figure-of-8 motion to gently fold the batter until it is loosened and falls in "ribbons" from the spatula.
(This is a tricky part - as you need to avoid both under-mixing, and over-mixing!)  

Transfer to an icing bag with the tip cut off or one fitted with a large plain round icing nozzle (not more than 1cm diameter).

Pipe small dots of batter beneath the corners of the baking parchment to keep it in place on the baking trays.

Pipe your macaron rounds - about 3-4cm diameter, about 2cm apart. Pull your piping tip to the side - this leaves a tiny tail, which will settle. 
Rap the trays twice on the counter to release air bubbles. 

Now, turn on your oven to 150'C

Leave the macarons to stand for approx. 30minutes until they form a "skin" - ie. when touched with a clean, dry finger they aren't sticky.

Bake at 150'C for 15-16 minutes.
Check that they're not browning as the end of the baking time approaches.

Leave to cool for 5 minutes, then remove the macaron shells from the trays. If they are undercooked, they will stick to the parchment. You can pop them back into the warm oven for a few more minutes just to dry out a little more.
(Macarons are best after being filled and left for 24hrs - the filling rehydrates them a bit.) 



White Chocolate Ganache

150g white chocolate, broken into small even sized pieces
50ml cream

Place the white chocolate and cream in a heatproof bowl over simmering water. (Don't let the bowl come in direct contact with the water).  
Stir occasionally until all the chocolate has melted.
Alternatively, microwave for 30second bursts, stirring in between - until the chocolate has melted, and the ganache is smooth.  

Allow the ganache to cool and firm up until it reaches a pipe-able consistency. 

Pipe a ring of ganache on a macaron shell. 





Add a spoonful of jam into the centre. Sandwich with a second macaron shell.  



Refrigerate the assembled macarons overnight. Allow to come to room temperature before serving. 





... and enjoy!

Happy baking!

xxM 


Sunday, 13 August 2017

Vertical Striped Sponge Cake

When I posted pictures of this cake on Facebook and Instagram , I called it a "simple cake".
It wasn't....




It's origin goes back a few weeks to when I was making some sheet cakes to use for mini's. 
They baked a lot thinner than what I wanted, so I cling-wrapped them, and put them in the freezer, for some use that I'd have to figure out later. 

Well, later came and I realised they were perfect to use for making a cake with vertical stripes. 

One of those things that seems easy enough until you try it. πŸ˜…



Style Sweet CA did a much better job of it than I, so here's a link to her blog post and tutorial




It drives me a little crazy that my stripes aren't all perfectly even and parallel. But I'm going to pass it off as a first attempt, and part of the learning curve.... which is a curve and not a straight line !

The cake itself is ganache-covered vanilla sponge using this recipe, filled with a turkish delight buttercream. More on that in a future post πŸ˜‰  

Happy baking and creating!  

xxM 





Monday, 7 August 2017

Pokemon Cake Pokeball Topper

I will admit to catching the odd Pokemon - purely for research purposes, of course!
It's hard to make a themed-cake if you know nothing about the subject, right?!

So, if you don't know much about Pokemon or the game, Pokemon Go...
 that's a Pokeball on top of the cake (essential for catching Pokemon) and that's Snorlax, my son's favourite, sleeping on top of the ball, with Pikachu on his back.
The night sky background is inspired by the game icon's background.
(Lots of research, I tell you!)




Jack had drawn a design of the cake that he wanted...



...which as you can see wasn't quite like the end product. But I included all the elements he'd requested - interpreting them in a way that worked for me. And he was very happy with the result. Thank goodness!



This is how I made the Pokeball topper:



  • Smear a thin layer of  Holsum / Crisco over the polystyrene ball. 
  • Drape and mould red paste over the ball  - using a modelling chocolate/ fondant blend really helps with pliability. Support the ball in a teacup. 
  • Use nylon string/ dental floss to mark off an indentation where you're going to trim. 
  • Allow the paste to firm up, then invert the ball in an appropriately sized bowl and repeat with the white paste.  
  • Make sure that the gap between the red and white paste is as even and neat as possible. Use a strip of paper cut to size as a template/ guide if necessary. 
  • Cut out a strip of black paste and secure it in the gap. 
  • Finish with circles of black and white paste. 





 I like to use Holsum as my "glue" when working with modelling chocolate/ fondant blends like this, because if you need to remove the paste and re-do or re-position, the Holsum kneads easily in and doesn't leave any residual tackiness/ bleeding of colours.
With the 2D appliquΓ© above, I used Holsum to initially place it and check positioning, then stuck it down securely with melted chocolate.  

I can't tell you how relieved I am to have successfully navigated through a Pokemon themed party! 
I am going to start priming Jack now with a theme I can get my head around a little easier for next year! 

Happy decorating!
xxM 

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Pokeball Cookies

This theme...
It would not be my first choice, I tell you. But a mother's gotta do what a mother's gotta do, right?!

So here I am, decorating Pokeballs.

They're actually not so bad. Just three colours! Yay!
But that they're round. And we all know the challenges I have with symmetry!





Anyway, here goes:

  • Royal icing in three colours and two consistencies. 
  • Use a template to help define areas. 
  • Outline with detail-consistency royal icing.
  • Flood with flooding-consistecy royal icing. 
  • Allow the white area and red area to set before piping in the black. 
  • The little white circle in the middle is done wet-on-wet onto the black icing (which I figured was the easiest way to make sure it was round!) 




If you've got an airbrush, add a little airbrushing with red to give the balls some depth.
See - not so bad!



Now I need to go decorate a Pokemon inspired cake. Give me strength!
πŸ˜‰

xxM

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Seed & Nut Rusks

One of the best parts of our recent trip to Mozambique? Sitting on the deck with coffee and rusks, watching the sun rise over the Indian Ocean. 
What a sublime way to start the day. 
On the drive back home, I asked my husband Did we appreciate that enough? 
Because having my tea and rusk this morning, while I packed school bags and yelled at  reminded the kids to brush their teeth, wasn't quite the same!



Whether is time in a game park, camping in the 'Berg, or a trip to the coast like we've just done; having rusks in the morning is so very South-African, isn't it? 
It's just what you need before going on a dawn game drive, or heading down to the beach for an early morning swim.





These are the rusks I made for the trip. They saw us through until the second last day.
When the coffee and rusks ran out, it was time to come home!



Seed & Nut Rusks
Recipe by Tea, Cake & Create

Preheat the oven to 180'C. Grease and line a large shallow baking tray with baking paper (eg. a 40 x 25cm cookie tray)

Ingredients:
250g cake flour
200g wholewheat flour
50g coconut flour
200g brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
50g rolled oats
100g sunflower seeds
100g mixed seeds (pumpkin, linseed, chia, sesame, etc)
100g raw almonds, roughly chopped
40g desiccated coconut
2 extra large eggs, lightly beaten
250ml canola oil
250ml buttermilk

Method:
Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
Make a well in the centre, and stir in the eggs, oil and buttermilk.
Mix until well combined.
Spread the dough into the prepared baking tray.
Bake for approximately 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
When cool, remove from the baking tray, slice lengthways into three long rectangles, then slice each rectangle into fingers, about 2cm wide.
Arrange these on cookies trays, slightly spread apart. Dry out in a warm oven  (3-4 hours at 70'C).
Remove from the oven once crisp.



Enjoy dunked in tea of coffee, preferably with your feet up in front of a great view!

xxM