Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Cheesecake Swirled Dark Chocolate Carrot Cake

Ever have one of those days where you can't decide between carrot cake, cheese cake or chocolate cake?
Well, why choose one when you can have them all?!


I made this "Cheesecake Swirled Dark Chocolate Carrot Cake" for the Lancewood Cake-off competition, and I want to thank everyone who went across and voted for it.
 It was one of those competitions, though, where you had to go campaigning for votes, which is so not me. (Clearly no political careers in my future!)
I do think, however, that if it had been up to taste, this cake would certainly have been up there with the winners πŸ˜‰


Unlike most of my current recipe posts, this one uses cup measures, because I took the "use Lancewood products " message to heart, and not only used the contents of the cream cheese tub, but the tub itself! 
Bonus points! ... or not πŸ™ˆ

SO, anyhoo - the tub is a substitute cup measure. 



Cheesecake Swirled Dark Chocolate Carrot Cake
Recipe by Tea, Cake and Create

Pre-heat the oven to 175'C
Grease a large Bundt cake pan

Ingredients:

Cheesecake swirl -
1 ½ tubs  medium fat plain cream cheese
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup caster sugar
1 large free range egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Dark Chocolate Carrot Cake -
2 cups cake flour
2 cups caster sugar
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup almond flour
½ cup coconut flour
1½ tsp baking powder
1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt

1 cup canola oil
½ cup buttermilk
2 large free range eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup finely grated carrot
zest from 1 orange  (optional)
½ cup boiling water



Method:
Cheesecake Swirl -

Place the cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer, and beat until soft. Add the remaining swirl ingredients and beat until smooth. Set aside.


Dark Chocolate Carrot Cake -

Using the tub as a cup measure, measure out and sift together the dry ingredients.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients.

Crack both eggs into the empty tub, put on the lid and shake - lightly beaten eggs!
Top up the tub containing the eggs with buttermilk.
Pour the eggs and buttermilk mix into the well in the centre of the dry ingredients.
Measure out a tubful of canola oil, and pour that into the well, followed by the vanilla extract and the tubful of grated carrots, and orange zest, if using.
Briefly mix the ingredients together before stirring in the boiling water. Mix well.

Spread half the chocolate carrot cake batter into the bottom of a large, greased Bundt pan.
Pour and spread the cheesecake swirl mixture over the cake batter; followed by the remaining cake batter.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 175'C fot 70-80 min. (This cake will take a while to bake because it is large and moist. Cover the top of the cake loosely with aluminium foil if it is browning too quickly). It is done when a wooden cocktail stick inserted into the cake comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs attached.
Once done, remove from the oven, and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before turning the cake out from the tin.

Sprinkle with icing sugar before serving.


Yes, it's a lot of ingredients and a bit of effort, but it isn't a difficult cake to make. 
And it certainly is worth it!

I'll be posting tips on a cupcake version soon. 

Happy baking!

xxM

Friday, 8 June 2018

Toadstool Fairy and Modelling Pastes


When I first started modelling fondant figurines, I remember being so proud of my creations, but looking back they weren't very good at all! I even made some dodgy tutorialsπŸ™ˆ
 (No, please - that is not a cue to go back and look up anything I posted before 2014!)

 Back then, I used a modelling paste made from adding tylose / CMC powder to fondant, which is a very quick and easy way to get a firmer paste (1 tsp powder kneaded into 250g fondant). 
While that works, it doesn't have the flexibility of the modelling chocolate /fondant blend which has become my preferred modelling medium. 

         


Modelling chocolate/ fondant blend - is a 1:1 ratio of fondant and modelling chocolate. 
 i.e. if I have 100g fondant, I'll add 100g modelling chocolate to that to make the blend. 

To create a firmer, drier paste (especially useful in high humidity months) I also add CMC / Tylose paste to the mix. It has to be the paste, not simply the powder because the powder when added to a modelling chocolate blend, doesn't seem to be as effective as it is when added to plain fondant. 

What amount of CMC paste do I add? About 25% of the weight of the blend. 
100g fondant and 100g modelling chocolate (200g together) will need about 50g tylose paste. But you can play around with those ratios depending on your requirements. 



I avoid having to separate eggs, wherever possible and always have meringue powder available for making royal icing. So this is my recipe for CMC /tylose paste using meringue powder (locally called Actiwhite) instead of fresh egg white. And it uses an electric mixer... because getting my hands sticky is also something I prefer to avoid!

 CMC  / Tylose Paste with Meringue Powder

80ml water
3 tbs meringue powder
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
2 tbs CMC powder
500g icing sugar + extra
1 tbs Holsum / Crisco (white vegetable fat)

Whisk the meringue powder in the water to form a paste.
Add in the cream of tartar and 2 cups of the icing sugar. Use the paddle attachment of your mixer to beat on low.
Add in the CMC powder and another 2 cups of icing sugar. Mix well.
You might want to change over to the dough hook at this stage, as the paste begins to firm up.
Mix well on low speed. If the paste is clumping, take out of the mixing bowl, and knead until it comes together.
The paste should not feel sticky and moist. If it does, knead more icing sugar into it.

You can halve the ingredients for a smaller batch of paste. Just be careful to measure out your water volume correctly - a little too much water, and you'll be struggling to reach a final dry paste consistency. I usually weigh the water for this recipe - 80ml water = 80g.  


Happy modelling!

xxM 


Thursday, 31 May 2018

Birdcage Cakes with Edible Lace

These vintage birdcage cakes have a lovely romantic feel, don't they?
One would make a beautiful top tier to a wedding cake.

Don't analysed that too deeply, though: caged birds might not be the most appropriate symbol to start a marriage ...?!
(Perhaps it's a good thing that wedding cake trends are moving away from fondant, towards buttercream and fresh flowers instead!)




So, while edible lace isn't quite as trendy as it was a year or two ago, it is still handy to have in your cake-artist arsenal. ( And a big bonus is that it can be made in advance and stored.)

I've tried a couple of the commercial lace mixtures, but have had great success with this homemade brew:

Home-Made Edible Lace Mix

125ml (1/2 cup) water
15ml (1 tbs) tylose / CMC powder
15ml (1 tbs) icing sugar
30ml (2 tbs) corn flour
2.5ml (1/2 tsp) meringue powder
5ml (1 tsp) liquid glucose
2.5ml (1/2 tsp) glycerine
Gel food colour - white or other
Corn flour or luster dust

Mix the water and CMC powder together. Use a handheld electric beater and beat on med-high speed until the mixture is clear. (It will be jelly-like).
Beat in the dry ingredients. When well mixed, add in the glucose, glycerine and a few drops of gel colour.
This is a thick mixture, the consistency of set custard!

Dust a lace mat lightly with cornstarch, or alternatively with lustre dust.

Use an off-set palette knife to spread the lace mixture onto the lace mat. Keep the mixture in the pattern, and scrape off any excess.


( I only needed the swags part of this lace design, so I blocked off the rest with masking tape, to save on wastage and to ensure a neat edge to the lace.)


Place in an oven for approx. 10 minutes at 70'C.
When non-sticky to touch, spread a second layer of lace mixture over the first.


Return to the oven for another 10 minutes.
Leave to cool before peeling carefully from the mat.
When the lace has been sufficiently "baked", it is easy to remove from the mat. If it is still sticky, place in the oven a little longer.
If it is too dry, it will crack as you remove it from the mat. In this case, either cover with a slightly damp cloth, or spread another layer of the lace mix over it, return to the oven again - but check regularly and remove before it over-dries again.

Depending on the design, if you gently lift swags and delicate areas from the mat first, it makes it easier to peel off the rest of the lace.


Apply to the cake with a little edible glue.



Store lace that isn't being used in plastic sleeves in a sealed container. 
Away from humidity, edible lace has a very long shelf life. 




Happy decorating!

xxM

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Wedding Cookies

Through absolutely no planning or foresight, I managed to coincide the scheduling of the Bride-to-Be Cookies Class with a royal wedding. Royal icing and royal wedding - splendid, what?! πŸ˜‰





I distinctly remember sitting around a TV  in the school hall the day Prince Charles and Lady Diana got married. It was pure magic for a 6 year old little girl! 
Then roll the clock forward a couple of decades, and I only managed to catch glimpses of the next big royal wedding (William and Kate) while looking after a small baby and a toddler. 
I had a little more time to watch this one now. 
Did you see any of it? What did you think? I enjoyed the simplicity of it.
(Although I'm sure it was 100 times more complex behind-the-scenes than your average wedding!) 



So, in the spirit of simplicity - here's two gowns for the price of one ...

       
Just cut and trim.
No expensive designer price tags!



See a recent post on how to make the bouquet cookie here:
http://teacakeandcreate.blogspot.co.za/2018/04/kitchen-tea-bouquet-cookies.html


Happy decorating!

xxM

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... πŸ˜‰

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