Monday, 14 May 2018

Letter Cake Cookie Cake

How gorgeous is this latest cake trend - "cookie cakes"?

It's one of those ideas that's so simple, yet so beautiful that you think - Why didn't I think of that?!

But I didn't! So I'll just follow the trend instead...




I made this one for my niece's birthday. It's not strictly a "cookie cake" because it's layers of cake - vanilla pound cake - not cookie. 
Same same, but different... 😉

One of the things I love about it is that you can make most of the elements in advance. Just add the fresh bits on the day of assembly. Winner!




 As an aside: I always prefer to work with cold cake; it's not as fragile and there's less crumb to deal with.
(Another reason to make the cake in advance!)
Once baked, let the cake cool down, then wrap it in a double layer of cling-wrap and freeze.

Cake doesn't take long to defrost, but I don't wait for that, anyway - preferring to slice it when it's semi-thawed.


If you are worried about the cake drying out, use a simple syrup to keep the sponge moist. Or select high-fat recipes, that freeze well.

For this particular cake, I was tried out a new pound cake recipe - this one from mycakeschool.com 

But you could use this delicious cream cheese pound cake recipe, or this hot milk vanilla sponge.

Use a plain round-tip icing nozzle, e.g. an Ateco 806, to pipe on your buttercream ...
try get your lines straighter than mine!




Place another layer of cake on top, and repeat piping rounds.
Decorate with meringue kisses, macarons, chocolates, berries, edible flowers, etc.




The possibilities are endless, and I can't wait to try another version ... a boy-themed one perhaps?

Happy baking!

xxM

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Gorjuss Inspired Woodlands Cookies

Yes, it was just last month that I said I was planning on keeping things sweet and simple in the cookie classes this year. And then I come along with this Gorjuss doll inspired "Walk in the Woods" cookie class....




Not so simple, perhaps - but oh, so sweet.
And an opportunity to decorate woodlands-themes again. My absolute favourite!





The first step in decorating the Gorjuss girls, was getting their image on the cookie. 
Two gorgeous Gorjuss stamps made that easy. 
Stamping on cookies is really simple, and I've covered the technique before - here
After the image is on the cookie, it's just a matter of staging which areas you fill with icing. 

I outlined an area with detail consistency royal icing using a small Ateco 00 piping tip, then flooded with 15 second icing using an Ateco 01 tip. 

It's important to let the icing set before flooding an adjacent area.





Another option, which is a little quicker, is to paint on the colour.   


                                     


Edible paint is made by mixing a little powdered colour with  clear alcohol or water. 
Here's a post I did recently on painting on cookies - http://teacakeandcreate.blogspot.co.za/2018/01/painted-tropical-leaf-cookies.html
The take home message from that post is that because your "canvas" tends to dissolve if it gets too wet, the trick with painting onto royal icing, is to avoid going over recently painted areas with more paint - too much moisture dissolves the icing. Rather allow coats to dry in between applications, or complete an area with one application of paint only. 
                          

It's so very satisfying to see these cookies come to life as you fill in the details.

Full kudos, of course, to Santoro, the creators of the Gorjuss range!




Happy decorating!  

xxM 

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Pumpkin and Carrot Muffins

What's better than carrot muffins? Try carrot and pumpkin muffins -yes,  yum!
I am a big fan of orange vegetables: pumpkin, butternut and orange sweet potato ❲not so much carrots, unless they're cooked or baked❳...
In fact, I ate butternut so regularly at one stage, that I turned a light shade of orange. 
Really. True story! 

That was back in the day when I was a little ...um... obsessive about what I ate. 

I'm a lot more balanced now. 
And a normal shade of peach. 




But don't let talk of carotenemia put you off these double-veg muffins! 
You don't really taste the carrots or the pumpkin; they add a lovely, subtle background flavour, and contribute a lot of moistness to the final product. 

I've included ground almonds in the recipe because these muffins are destined for school lunch-boxes, and I wanted to up their protein-content. You could replace it with normal cake flour, if you don't have almond flour.



Pumpkin and Carrot Muffins
Recipe by Tea, Cake & Create

Preheat the oven to 180'C
Prepare 2x 12 hole muffin trays with cupcake cases

Ingredients 
320g cake flour
50g almond flour / ground almonds
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp salt
50g pumpkin seeds

250g brown sugar
250ml canola oil
4 large eggs

250g finely grated carrots
150g mashed / pureed roast pumpkin


Sift together the dry ingredients ❲excl the sugar❳. Add in the pumpkin seeds.
In another bowl, whisk the sugar, eggs and oil together.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients, followed by the pumpkin and carrots. Mix until just combined.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin trays. Sprinkle the tops with a few extra pumpkin seeds, if desired.

Bake at 180'C for approx. 20min, or until the top of the muffin springs back when lightly pressed.

Remove from the muffin trays and cool on a wire rack.
Once cool, store in an airtight container.




I usually freeze half the batch, and thaw a couple at a time as needed for school lunches.

Happy baking!

xxM


Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Kitchen Tea Bouquet Cookies

I remember sketching wedding gowns as a child - they always had sweetheart necklines, huge puffy sleeves and flamboyant skirts ❲I was a child during the 80's; watching Princess Diana walk down the aisle when I was 6 made a lasting impression! ❳ 

There's still a little girl in me that loves designing wedding dresses, and wedding cakes too - but I'll  stick to making the cookie kind, thank you!



These cookies were part of a special kitchen tea class we did in March.
The colours were ivory, pink, dark green and taupe; with lots of roses - wet-on-wet ones, and also pre-made, dried royal icing roses ❲simple swirls, ribbon roses, and blooms piped with a petal tip❳.


The beauty of making dozens of little icing roses in advance, is that they can easily be added to any cookie and add a pretty extra dimension to your design. 






         Bouquet Cookie:
  • Flood the cookie with ivory royal icing
  • Decorate with wet-on-wet roses. These take a little bit of practice - but are quite forgiving in this cookie because they're part of the background. 
  • Pipe on some stems. 
  • Now leave the icing to set. 
  • Arrange a selection of dried royal icing roses onto your bouquet. 
  • When you are happy with the arrangement, pipe a dot of royal icing behind each and secure in place. 
  • Pipe on a few more stems, leaves, gypsophila dots, and the bow. 

And if you need a little help with your roses, three of my favourite cookie decorators can help you -  
  • View Sweetambs tutorial on wet-on-wet roses here
  • Sweet Sugarbelle's tutorial on simple swirl roses here;
  • The Bearfoot Baker's tutorial on piping royal icing roses here





Practice makes pretty 😊

Happy decorating!

xxM

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Easter Plaque Cookies

So these were the Easter cookies that didn't make it to the finals. 
Looking at them now, I'm not sure what I was so dis-satisfied with...

The colours were bothering me, I wanted something fresher. 
And the designs seemed too fussy. 



But my dissatisfaction probably had more to do with my headspace on the day that I was making them, than the cookies themselves.
I mean, just look at that bunny peeping over the edge of the cookie - he's totally huggable, isn't he⁈ And eminently edible.... 😋



Probably the biggest reason why they didn't cut it though, was because there was a fair amount of trimming involved in the cookie-baking process:
the mini egg cut out of the egg; the trimmed-off bottom of the large bunny face; and the plaque cookie ⦗bunny holding plaque, pic above, and lamb with plaque, pic below⦘.
For those I used a normal plaque cutter, and cut off one end using a small heart, to create that scalloped bottom.


Not so fussy, really, but just a little too much to take on as bulk-baking for busy classes. 


They weren't discarded, though  - instead of being class demo's these cookies went to school cake-sale, and all found loving homes 😉

Perhaps I'll give them a try again next year. What do you think?




I hope you've had a lovely Easter!

xxM


Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Easter Cookies - Little Lamb


I made a whole set of demo cookies for our Easter cookie classes using a completely different colour palette. Hated Felt dissatisfied with them; took to Instagram and got just the inspiration I needed from Genevieve, creator of Olly Polly Kids  and Motley

I really love the decor trend of simple monochrome colour schemes and minimalist looks. 
So, Gen's suggestion of yellow, pale pink, and mint was the springboard; add black and white, and I couldn't wait to get Easter-cookie-decorating... again!



It's different to what we've done before, but very much in keeping with my desire to keep things simple this year in the cookie classes. 
The colour scheme was conducive to lots of wet-on-wet patterns - including those sheep/clouds (inspired by ChuraCookie) and woolly little lamb. 


That effect is created by first piping on the face, letting that set; then flooding the body in white. 
 Before that icing dries completely, pipe on more flood-consistency white in little mounds - not too close together, because they will still want to merge, as flood-icing does. 
Once dry, it creates that lovely slightly puffy, woolly look. 

Here are a few more designs - 

Flowers; bunny cheeks and ears done wet-on-wet. 


My favourite pattern - some marbling with the black and mint:


 And "HOP"
... it's so much more forgiving writing on a cookie with thick wet-on-wet script if you have handwriting like mine!



Next post will feature the rejected cookies...

Happy decorating!

xxM 





Monday, 26 March 2018

Marshmallow Snail Cookies

You may have seen these adorable snail cookies cropping up on Pinterest and Instagram.
They have the prettiest swirls of icing or meringue on their backs.
Who wouldn't want to live in a meringue shell, I ask you?!

Except in late summer in Durban - those meringues would melt before midday!



I decided to make the shells out of marshmallow, instead.
The first batch of marshmallows I made using this corn syrup-free recipe -  which is gorgeously soft and gooey.
But because these cookies were being packaged and sent off to school, I opted for a slightly sturdier result, and used the recipe below.

A candy thermometer is required, unfortunately - it's not a recipe where you can guesstimate temperatures.




Marshmallow Swirls
Recipe adapted from Ina Garten

Prepare 2-3 large cookie trays with parchment paper or silicon baking sheets liberally dusted with the icing sugar/ corn flour mix.

Ingredients:

20g powdered gelatin
300g caster sugar
120ml + 120ml cold water
250ml liquid glucose (or corn syrup)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
Gel food colour
1/4 cup icing sugar + 1/4 cup corn flour - for dusting

Method:

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the gelatin with 120 ml cold water, and put aside.

Combine the sugar, liquid glucose, salt and remaining water in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until the sugar has all dissolved.
Raise the heat to medium-high and allow to boil undisturbed until the syrup reaches 114'C / 240'F on a candy thermometer.

Carefully pour the sugar mixture into the gelatin and beat with the whisk attachment on low speed.
Slowly increase the mixer speed.
Add the food colouring and vanilla extract. 
Continue to beat on high speed until the mixture cools down and becomes thick and fluffy.

Spoon the marshmallow into a piping bag prepared with a large closed star tip (e.g. an Ateco 852).
(It's a sticky job, and you don't want to try refill the piping bag, so make sure you use a bag large enough to hold all the marshmallow to begin with!)

Pipe swirls of marshmallow onto the prepared cookie trays. 

Allow the marshmallow to set overnight. 
Dust the tops with remaining icing sugar/ cornflour mixture to cover any surface stickiness. 

The rest of the cookies are very simple - Outlne and flood the snail body; allow to dry. 




 Draw or paint on the face. 
Use a little edible pink powder for the cheeks.  



Attach the marshmallow "shell"  to the cookie with royal icing. 





Cute little critters aren't they?

I'm not sure who first thought of a swirl-for-a-shell, but I was inspired by the cookies of @pryanichnaya_lavka, a very talented Russian artist - look her up on Instagram.


Happy decorating!

xxM