Tag Archives: Cake

Classics with a twist: Chocolate Hazelnut cake

25 Aug

I have always been a person who has experimented with personal style. Not always very successfully but I have tried. I remember when much younger I went through a phase of refusing to wear matching socks. We are not talking laziness about finding two matching socks, because heaven knows my socks were always paired rolled and in the appropriate drawer…thanks Mutti. No I carefully matched, mismatching socks to my outfit. I assume this came from some American TV show and I adopted it in an attempt to be different and cool. I clearly failed to understand that cool in child world means fitting in.

As I went through my early teen years I adopted a more refined grunge look. Accessories formed a large part of this particular look. Long layered skirts and dresses with asymmetric hats and doc martens. Of course puberty put an end too this experimentation. It is truly disappointing to realise that floating hippie dresses don’t mix well with boobs and bums 😦 However in all of this experimenting I continue to claim I had a tendency towards trying to add a classic component to any current fashion trend. I now understand that no matter how much I marvel at some girl’s ability to look positively gorgeous in rolled up boyfriend jeans with high heels and a imitation Chanel jacket. I will simply look like a deranged escapee from the Salvation Army store. So I stick with classics with a twist of colour or pattern.

Chocolate hazelnut cake

This cake to me is the perfect mix of a classic rejigged. ‘How passe!’ you exclaim flourless chocolate cake..it has all been done before. Yes indeed it has…. and this version may not be entirely cutting edge, but it is a classic flourless cake with the twist of hazelnut meal. In the same way that mismatched socks represented my attempt at being fashion forward in my youth, I will happily have my current tastes defined by this cake. Classic, decadent and a little boozy and so is the cake 😉

Chocolate and Hazelnut cake

Serves 8

adapted from Donna Hay recipe for Chocolate and Pecan cake featured in Issue 69 Donna Hay Magazine

  • 350 gms dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
  • 150 gms unsalted butter cubed
  • 6 eggs seperated
  • 2 tablespoons brandy
  • 1 2/3 cups of hazelnut meal
  • 1 tsp of vanilla paste
  • 1 cup if brown sugar
  • cocoa for dusting

1. Preheat an oven to 160 degrees. Line and grease a 22 cm spring formed tin

2. Break the chocolate into a bowl with the butter and place into a microwave on 80% power at 40 second intervals until melted.

3. Beat egg yolks vanilla and 1/2 cup of sugar for 1 minute and then add brandy, chocolate/butter mix and the hazelnut meal mixing until it is all combined. Put this chocolate hazelnut mixture aside

4. Beat the egg whites in a seperate bowl adding the remaining sugar one tablespoon at a time.

5. Add 1 half of the beaten egg whites to the chocolate hazelnut mix beating in with a wooden spoon to loosen the chocolate mixture and then fold in  the second half of the beaten egg whites.

6. Pour the stiff mixture into the tin and then bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes 10 1 hour and 25 minutes or until the top is crisp the sides have come away for the edge. there will still be a slight wobbly in the middle  when you shake the pan.

7. Allow the cake to cool in the time before removing. (i did not do this and ended up with a crack in my cake. What can i say i am impatient)

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8. Serve with berries and cream

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The Perils of Sharing: Dried Blueberry, banana and coconut loaf

25 Jun

I am a sharer…. Ok I am often an over sharer 🙂 I think this compulsion comes from a desire to make people feel comfortable in my company and I really hate awkwardness. My sharing usually comes in the form of verbal diarrhoea, if I could force group hugs on people I would, instead I talk. I make self-deprecating jokes and even on occasions do a little comedy sketch, however my tendency to share doesn’t always connect. This disconnection occurred quite recently when meeting someone new at work. I was asked how I felt having my office so close to the Director, did I have to be really careful to be quiet and look efficient? I pointed out to my colleague that given I had no ‘inside’ voice being quiet was never going to happen. I went on to explain how the director is so focused on his work that I can tap dance right past his room and he would never even know. I then proceeded to do a little tap number complete with jazz hands…….. I was met with a completely blank face and I realised that my attempt at humour and warmth was clearly not translating well. My response, keep on talking at the person in a friendly upbeat tone until they capitulate. I am still waiting… 😦

Sharing morning tea

Sharing morning tea

Surprisingly sharing translates even worse with people I have just met in random public places. Recently I was standing next to a middle aged man at the bus stop when it was pouring with rain. He did not have an umbrella and I saw the rain literally stream down his face and down the back of his suit. In what I thought was an act of kindness and maybe even chivalry, I simply without saying anything moved my umbrella over a little so that he could get some protection from the rain. He looked at me peculiarly and I just smiled back at him and said you looked like you were getting a little wet. He didn’t respond but just shuffled a bit. We stood for a while longer cramped amongst other people waiting for the bus, not saying anything (serious self control for a person who abhors a silence) when a bus finally arrived and people started moving slowly towards the entrance of the bus. The stranger and I started to move with the crowd, I did my best in the jostling to try and continue to share the protection of my umbrella. He looked at the umbrella and at me as if I was clearly deranged and wielding the umbrella with a sinister purpose, maybe to steal his wallet or a lock of his thinning hair, finally he turned around and said’ I don’t want your umbrella’ and got himself lost in throngs of people before boarding the bus and continuously looking over his shoulder as if I might spring out and molest him with my spotted umbrella and charitable attitude.

This cake will encourage all to enjoy your generous spirit and even forgive you the occasional impromptu tap dance. I made a few modifications because of what I had in the cupboard and fridge. The cake was deliciously moist and had a host of complimentary flavours that made it a great mid morning snack with a cup of tea.

Are you a sharer? Would you have offered your to share your umbrella?

Dried Blueberry, banana and coconut loaf

8- 10 slices

adapted from Coconut and Cherry Banana Bread from Kitchen by Nigella Lawson

  • 110 gms unsalted butter
  • 15 gms of crème fraiche
  • 4 small ripe bananas
  • 150 gms caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 175 gms plain flour
  • 2 tsp of baking powder
  • ½ bi carb soda
  • 80 gms of dried blueberries
  • 80 gms of shredded coconut

1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees. Butter and line a loaf tin

2. Process or mash the bananas and crème fraiche together.

Banana and creme fraiche

Banana and creme fraiche

3. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Allow the butter to cool a while and then add the sugar.

4. Once the sugar is combined and dissolved in the butter, it should be a thick  mixture, add the mashed bananas and eggs.

5. Fold in the flour, baking powder, bicarb and coconut.

6. Finally lightly fold in the dried blueberries.

7. Spoon into the loaf tin. It will be a very thick.

8. Bake in the oven for 40-50 mins until skewer comes out clean and the cake has come away from the sides of the tin.

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Cake Castle: Strawberry and Lemon Yoghurt Cake

25 Sep

King Kong: ‘Wow did you make this?’

Me: ‘Yes of course’

A Castle of cake

King Kong peers into the cake box again ‘Wow how did you make it into that shape, that’s amazing’

Me…stifled laughter ‘Its called a cake tin’ 🙂

I love how baking a cake in a bundt pan, in fact baking in general can make you appear like an alchemist of flour and butter, even if it is not the most difficult of recipes.

Strawberries are in abundant supply at the moment and this seemed like a great way to showcase them. This cake is a lovely moist cake and I received more than the usual number of compliments even days after, so I am guessing this cake is not merely for cake lovers.

What is your favourite way to showcase strawberries?

Strawberry and Lemon Yoghurt Cake

adapted from Strawberry Yoghurt Cake

Serves 12

  • 225 gms of unsalted butter
  • 2 cups of caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • zest of half a lemon
  • 2 1/2 cups of plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp of baking soda and
  • 1/2 tsp of bicarb soda
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 200 gms of natural greek yoghurt
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • 250 gms of strawberries

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees
2. Grease and flour a bundt tin thoroughly.
3. Beat together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy.
4. Add the lemon juice and zest and then add the eggs one at a time waiting between eggs until combined
5. Alternate adding the flour and yoghurt in 3 parts, then add in the milk at the end and mix to combine
6. Bake the cake in the oven for approximately 1 hour or until the cake is springy to the touch and the skewer comes out clean
7. Allow the cake to cool in the tine for 10-15 mins and then remove carefully on to a rack to cook

Fathers Day Chocolate Guinness Cake with Bourbon Caramel Frosting

3 Sep

My Dad used to play basketball before we were born. We have pictures of him on the basketball court, in his tiny basketball shorts circa 1975. My Dad is also an absolute wind up merchant and stirrer. When we were kids Dad had the usual stories about walking 10 miles in the snow every day to school, a distance that seemed to increase by a mile every time he told the story, but he also had some special stories. One of his favourites was the story about when he used to play for the Boston Celtics. My brother loved the story about how Dad used to shoot hoops with Larry Bird. In a child’s head the details of the story were unimportant. In fact it seemed completely plausible after all we knew he played basketball we had seen the photos. Mum used to tell us how he was called ‘legs 11’ because that was his number and he used to live in another country. As far as we were concerned he was the font of basketball knowledge and a sporting genius.

One day we were playing at Rachel’s house and my brother proudly told her father how his Dad used to play for the Boston Celtics. Rachel’s father scoffed let out a chuckle and told my brother he didn’t think that was true. The amused expression on his face told me that clearly there was some adult knowledge here I wasn’t privy too and so instead of supporting my brothers proud boast, I kept quiet. My brother being younger and less perceptive insisted it was true and that Dad had played with Larry Bird. This claim was met with absolute laughter and by then I started hissing at my brother to stop talking. Once again his lack of perception intervened in his reasoning abilities and he continued to argue passionately with Rachel’s father, retorting the ultimate in all argument clinchers ‘he did too!’

This Father’s Day I tried to combine my Dad’s favourite flavours into one special cake to celebrate a man who could tell his children absolute whoppers straight faced and unflinchingly 🙂 The cake recipe I used suggests using a bundt pan, I however opted for a two layered cake. I paired it with the caramel bourbon frosting which was extremely yummy, even for someone like me who isn’t a great fan of caramel. The Bourbon cuts right through any sickly sweetness and makes the cake decidedly grown up. If you are concerned that the cake will taste like Guinness, don’t be. It simply adds depth and character.

Did your father tell you outlandish stories about his past lives?

Chocolate Guinness Cake with Bourbon Caramel Frosting

Adapted from  Smitten Kitchen and Creative Culinary

Serves 8 – 10

Cake

  • 1 cup of Guinness
  • 250 gms of unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup of cocoa powder
  • 2 cups of Plain Flour
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • ½ tsp if bi carb of soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup of sour cream
  • Pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius

2. Grease 2 20cm cake tins with butter and line the bases

3. Combine flour, sugar, baking powders and salt in a large bowl and put aside

4. Place butter and guiness in a pan and allow the butter to melt, then add cocoa powder and whisk to combine

5. Allow the chocolate mix to cool

6. Beat eggs and sour cream together and then slowly add the slightly cooled chocolate Guinness mixture. Add the flour mixture and continue to beat until combined

7. Pour half the batter into each tin and then bake in the oven for 20 – 25 mins or until skewer comes out clean and the top of the cake is springy to the touch

9. Allow cake to cool completely before icing

Caramel Bourbon Frosting

  • 1 cup of caster sugar
  • 2 cups of icing sugar
  • ¼ cup of water
  • 8 tbsp of butter
  • ½ cup of cream
  • 1-2 tbsp of milk
  • 3 tbsp of bourbon
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract

1. Whisk the bourbon into the cream and set aside

2. Combine the caster sugar and water in a saucepan and place of medium heat. Bring to the boil shaking the pan occasionally, I find it better that you don’t stir or whisk it.

3. Once the mixture turns a caramel amber colour and then take of the heat.

4. Add 6 tbsp of butter. Be careful the butter will cause the mixture to bubble and froth. Whisk in the butter until it is melted.

5. Once the butter has melted, slowly pour the cream mixture into the caramel mixture. Once again the mixture will bubble considerably. Place the mixture on a low heat again and then mix until completely combined.

6. Put caramel in a fridge until it is cool and firmer

7. Once the caramel is cooled cream together the 2 tbsp of butter and caramel.

8. Add the icing sugar one cup at a time, alternating with 1 tbsp of milk and continue to beat until smooth.

9. Place the frosting in the fridge until it is firm enough to easily spread on the cake.

10. Place one of the cakes domed side down on the serving plate. Top with some of the frosting and then sandwich the other cake on top. Use more of the frosting to spread on the tops and the sides of the cake.

Sunshine on a Plate: Orange, Almond and Honey Syrup Cake

15 Aug

Sunshine is something occurring in a patchy fashion in Sydney at the moment and even when it does occur, the weather is still so cold that you require a few layers to brave it. Despite my love for accessorising with hats and scarves, I find the whole experience of winter depressing. Citrus reminds me of sunshine and warmth and although I tend towards lemons, my favourite of all citrus I decided to make a cake with orange. The cake was very buttery, moist and slightly aromatic.

I stumbled upon a Lemon and Honey Syrup cake recipe in the BBC Good Food Magazine Australia and flagged it for later baking. That was months ago. I played with the original recipe slightly because I wanted a denser cake redolent with spices.  With juice and rind added, the cake was filled with orange flavour and just a hint or aromatics. When you pierce the cake to see if it’s cooked you may be concerned because the skewer will have a small amount of sticky batter on it, not much, but this cake won’t pass the clean skewer test. In addition the cake seemed to have quite a few small bubbles or popped bubbles at the top. Once again this is not at all an issue given that it the cake will later have syrup poured on it. This cake keeps extremely well in a tin. 4 days later it was still moist and sticky

The cake was too good!

The first night Miss Wallflower and I had 2 warm slices of cake after dinner, it was so moreish. The following day we also had two slices although spread out during the day so as not to appear gluttonous, we are ladies with bird like appetites after all 😉 The copious cake consumption accounts for the lack of cake left in this photo.we had really hoed in and I was lucky to get a photo at all!

Are you controlled when there is cake in the house?

 Orange, Almond and Honey Syrup Cake

Serves 8

Adapted from Australian BBC Good Food Magazine August 2011

  • 1 1/2 cups of plain flour
  • 1/2 cup of almond meal
  • 1 1/2 cup of caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp of baking powder
  • 2 tbsp of grated orange rind
  • 1/2 tbsp of Orange Juice
  • 1 cup of greek style natural yoghurt
  • 250 gms of unsalted butter, chopped small and very soft
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 heaped tsp of ground cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg

Syrup

  • 1/2 cup of honey
  • 1 tbsp Grated orange rind
  • 1 tbsp of orange juice.

1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees and grease and line a loose bottomed round cake tin

2. Sift flours into a large bowl and add sugar, baking powder, spices and orange rind

3. In a seperate bowls stir together the eggs and yoghurt

4. Add the butter and 1/2 tbsp of orange juice to the flours and stir with a large spoon until starting to combine then add the egg and yoghurt mixture. Mix until well combined. There may still be some slightly unmixed portions of butter. As long as they are small and infrequent don’t worry about them.

5. Pour batter into a tin and bake for 50 mins to 1 hour or until set and the top of the cake is firm to the touch.

6. Take the cake out of the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 20 mins. While still warm but cool enough to touch the pan remove the cake  from the pan leaving the base of the pan on the bottom of the cake. Place the cake on a cooling rack.

7. You can now make the syrup

8. Heat 1/2 cup of honey with juice and rind in a pot until starting to thicken.

9. Skewer the cake all over and then pour over the syrup slowly while both the syrup and the cake are still warm.

10. Serve cake warm or cold.

A Slice of Dense Citrus heaven

Birthdays! Pink Velvet Cake with Mascarpone frosting.

21 Jan

It was my birthday on Thursday and this year I decided to embrace it. I do have a tendency to suffer from Birthday blues. About a week before and a week afterwards I am….. well lets say difficult. I typically try and pretend my birthday is not happening, but then mourn the lack of birthday phone calls and presents as a reflection on my unloveableness, plunging me deeper into self indulgent despair. Last year was particularly bad when my own mother didn’t even call me for my birthday, she just sent an email. 😦

I wasn’t always like this. There was a time that I loved birthdays. As a child I was fortunate to have my birthday fall not only in the school holidays but in summer. I got dressed up in a new dress, friends were there to keep me occupied and Mutti organised food and party games. The turning point came on my 10th birthday. A short time before my actual birthday occurred, some inane smiling mother of a friend, gleefully exclaimed. ‘How exciting you are turning ten. That is double digits, you will never be a single digit again’. From that moment on I saw birthdays as a reminder of the relentless march of time, a force over which I had no control. Some would say I was a dramatic child, I like to call it sensitive 😉

These birthday blues have meant that I have always just ignored birthdays, no grand parties, no fancy dinners, just a studied attempt at surviving another birthday and the accompanying reflections on another year gone. Birthdays for me have always been the most disappointing when in a relationship. I have always thought that this person who is supposed to care about you, would not let your birthday pass without making a fuss. I was wrong. Nearly every partner has been ‘too busy’ to buy me anything or book a restaurant for my birthday, or If they do actually book something, like they promised, they organise something on the day and give me 1 hour’s notice. So on my birthday I am either inwardly sulking or frazzled and snippy.

Why am I telling you all this. Well this year I decided, NO!  I am not working on my birthday. NO! I am not going without birthday cake and NO! I am not waiting for someone else to instigate birthday celebrations. So I took the day off and went to the day spa for a few hours, but not before whipping up my very own birthday cake.

This just looked so pretty in the Woman’s Weekly magazine and I love mascarpone frosting. I made a few changes as I always do. The cake is unbelievably moist. It does make assembly a bit of a challenge and really needs to be kept refrigerated to stop it from becoming impossible to cut. Everyone loved it and the colour is just so girly and festive!

Do you celebrate birthdays?

Pink Velvet Birthday Cake

Adapted from a recipe by Fran Abdallaoui from Womens Weekly

  • 125 gms softened unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • ½ cups of caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups of plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons of cornflour
  • 2 tablespoons coca powder
  • 1 cup of buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp rose pink food colouring
  • 1 tsp of white vinegar
  • 1 tsp of bi carb
  • 100 gms of raspberry jam

Mascarpone frosting

  • 250 gms cream cheese
  • 1 cup of icing sugar
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 250 gms of mascarpone cheese
  • 1 cup of thickened cream

White Chocolate Bark

  • 200 gms block of white chocolate

1. Line and grease two 22 cm round cake tins

2. Sift together flours cocoa

3. Combine buttermilk and food colouring in bowl

Fabulous colour

4. Beat butter, vanilla extract and sugar with eggs until light and fluffy.

5. Fold flour and cocoa mix into butter mix with pink coloured buttermilk in two alternating batches.

6. In a small bowl combine vinegar and bi carb soda until it fizzes and then fold into the cake mixture

7. Divide mixture between two baking tins

8. Put into oven on 180 degrees for 25 mins or until skewer comes out clean

9. Allow cakes to cool in tin for a few minutes before turning out on to rack and allowing to fully cool

10. Wrap in plastic and place into freezer for at least 30 mins. This will make the cake much easier to cut

11. While the cake is cooling make the frosting

12. Beat cream cheese mascarpone and vanilla extract together until smooth and then add cream and sifted icing sugar continuing to beat until smooth. Place in fridge.

13. Melt the chocolate in a bowl in the microwave. Place one sheet of baking paper on a surface and spread the melted chocolate out across the paper until smooth and a thin layer. Top with another sheet of baking paper and roll into a tube before placing in the fridge to cool

14. Cut the cake into two horizontally to get two layers.

15. Place one layer down on a plate or serving stand and spread with some raspberry jam

16. Spread the frosting on another layer and place the jam and frosting together in a sandwich. Repeat with remaining layers.

Before icing

17. Top the cake with half of the remaining frosting and spread across the top and down the sides use the remaining frosting to spread and smooth the sides

18. Unroll the white chocolate tube allowing to crack and crumble.

19. Press shards of chocolate on the side of the cake and place in the fridge to let frosting get firmer before serving.

20. Slice and serve to friends and family!

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