Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Moving on and Banana Bread

And life goes on... Which is how it should be, shouldn't it?
Especially if you have children. (They aren't made with a pause button - major design flaw!).
People have asked me how my two are doing since my mother passed away. They absolutely adored her. But they're just fine - we were honest with them from the start. And they could see for themselves how the person that they loved was no longer there, from months before the end.
Children are resilient.
Or perhaps they're all just mini psychopaths with limited capacity for empathy!

So, one day this week my son reported that his favourite school lunch was banana bread. That really surprised me, because my daughter loves banana bread, and the two of them are chalk and cheese when it comes to food.
So, of course I rushed to make banana bread for school the next day. Only to be told, well, he doesn't actually eat it, but his friends love it so he likes to share it with them.


Anyway, here's the recipe. I used a bit of almond flour in it because I wanted to add nuts, but that child says he's allergic to nuts (in the same way that he's allergic to broccoli and homework...)
But you can substitute it with normal flour.

Banana Bread 
Recipe by Tea, Cake & Create 

Preheat the oven to 180'C
Grease and flour a loaf pan


180g sugar
120g butter
2 large eggs
3 ripe bananas, well mashed
60ml sour cream
160g cake flour
100g brown flour
40g almond flour **
1 tsp baking powder
1tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream together the butter and sugar.
Add the eggs, one at a time. Beat well, and scrape down the side of the bowl in between additions.
Beat in the mashed bananas, sour cream and vanilla.
Sift in the flours, salt and raising agents.
Mix well.
Pour into the prepared pan, and bake for approx. 1 hour or until a cake tester comes out clean.

** replace with normal flour if desired. 

Add chopped up pecan nuts, some blueberries, or even chic chips for a few delicious variations. 

Happy baking!


PS. Thank you to everyone who has sent messages of condolences - your words and wishes have truly warmed my heart. xxx  

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Tea and Sympathy: Scone Recipe

As some of you may know, the last few months have seen my mother slipping away from us as she  slowly lost her battle to cancer. I always thought that at least with cancer, you have time to say your good-byes. But as it turned out, we didn't. The illness abruptly claimed her consciousness months before it claimed her life last Sunday.

My sister and I spent most of that day sitting at my mother's bedside;  just taking a break to feed children and get some fresh air at lunchtime.
And I baked. I made scones. I haven't made them in a while, because I have no patience for rubbing in the butter.
But I was in a quiet space while I was doing it last Sunday, reflecting on how it had been my mother who had taught me how to make scones.
I hadn't done much baking with her, and when we did it was only in my early childhood.
I distinctly remember the sound of her wedding ring tapping against the side of a sieve as we made a chocolate cake together. Then the wedding ring was removed, and life got caught up in the struggles of single parenting. There wasn't the space to bake cakes anymore.

 But we were fortunate in that for the past few years, my mother lived on our property, and became my children's beloved "Dodo". Not pronouced like the ill-fated bird, but rather like gogo (the o makes an aw sound), the Zulu word for grandmother that my son couldn't pronouce. So he called her Dodo, and it stuck.

She was such an energetic, fun-loving grandmother.
Most of the photos we have of her are with the kids - usually doing crazy things.
And she baked scones with them too.
So, I'm going to choose to remember those times, and celebrate her life, rather than her passing.

Sunday Scones
Recipe by Tea, Cake & Create

Pre-heat the oven to 200'C
Grease a baking tray and dust with flour

320g flour
1 tbs baking powder
1 tbs caster sugar
pinch salt
60g butter, cut into small cubes
200ml milk
1 egg, lightly beaten

+ extra flour for dusting

Sift together the dry ingredients.
Gently rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Make a well in the centre and pour in the beaten egg and most of the milk. Mix to form a soft dough. Add more milk if necessary.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, dust the top with flour.
Roll out until approx. 4cm thick.
Cut into rounds.
Place on a baking tray and bake at 200'C for 10-12 minutes, or until just starting to turn golden brown.

Simple comforts.

We'll miss you Dodo.


Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Lunch Box Muffins

In my mind I call these "desperation muffins" 'cos they were born out of desperation on a Sunday evening (not my favourite time of the weekend) when I was thinking what can I put in my children's lunch boxes tomorrow?! (It doesn't help that my son and daughter like diametrically different snacks... sigh!)

We're not going to label them health muffins, because they contain both carbohydrates and fats. (Select whichever one is currently the most out-of-favour...)

But they've got enough good stuff in them that I'm more-than happy to put them in the kid's lunch boxes. And they're more-than happy to eat them. (Except on the days when they're not happy to eat anything... sigh!) 

Lunch Box Muffins
Recipe by Tea, Cake & Create

Pre-heat the oven to 180'C
Line a 12-hole muffin pan with cupcake cases.

Dry Ingredients

160g brown flour
60g brown sugar
60g oats
60g ground almonds
1 tsp baking soda
40g sunflower seeds
80g sultanas or raisins
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon or mixed spice

Wet Ingredients
60g butter, melted
60ml honey
60ml oil
250ml sour cream
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 grated apple

Sift the flour into a large bowl, then mix in the rest of the dry ingredients.
Make a well in the centre.
Pour in all the wet ingredients, including the apple. Mix well by hand.

Spoon the batter into the prepared cupcake cases and bake for 18-20minutes or until golden brown.

Tip 1: if you're using a 1/4 cup measure to get your 60ml  - measure the oil out first, then use the same measuring cup for the honey. The honey will pour out of the cup very easily because it's oiled!
Tip 2: Even though these are muffins, use cupcake cases - who wants to/ has the time to scrape baked muffin mixture out of the pan?!



Saturday, 3 September 2016

Monsters! (Monster Decorated Cookies)

Apparently, monster cookies are not these...

or these...

 If you're looking on Pinterest, or Google "Monster cookies" you'll discover that they (monster cookies) are peanut butter-oatmeal cookies, packed with chocolate chips and M&M's. Apologies if you know all this already. But they're not a South African thing. (Yet... They look and sound yummy, though - so let's start the trend, SAfrican bakers!)

So, these are monster decorated cookies. (Let's ignore the fact that the word cookie has all sorts of other connotations in South Africa, shall we?!)

Monster (decorated) cookies, are such fun to create.  You can basically take any cutter and turn it into  a monster, with a little imagination.

Can you match the cutter and the cookie?

And using combinations of cutters, gives you even more options.
 (I only did that for one cookie, though - using the russian doll and the caterpillar. Cutting out multiple combinations of multiple cookies for a class was just too daunting!)

Have a look at this post by Klickitat Street  to see some great ideas of how to use combinations of cutters. 

Such fun! And just look at how happy that pineapple was to be made into a cute monster!

Happy decorating!


Friday, 26 August 2016

Coffee and Chocolate Drip Cake

Coffee and chocolate.
There's really not much more one needs to say.

Ok, no - there's plenty to say on the subject.
If anyone ever suggested a detox program to me, the short answer would be no. The long answer: coffee and chocolate. I rest my case.
I'm no chocoholic. I could live without it. (But I wouldn't want to.)
Coffee, though, I'm a full-blown addict. And if you put the two together - happy place!

So, this cake is a homage to coffee and chocolate....

It's alternating layers of coffee cake and chocolate cake, sandwiched together with caramel and Nutella. It is covered with vanilla swiss meringue buttercream, drizzled with dark chocolate ganache and more caramel.

And then topped with the kinds of treats you could imagine indulging in while you enjoy your cappuccino. 

I used this recipe for the chocolate layers. And then for the coffee layers, well... I'm still working on that recipe. When I'm happy with it, I'll share it with you. Promise. (It's a coffee-promise; which is one that you just don't break!)  

Happy baking!


Chocolate Not-Quite-a-Pound Cake

You have this idea, don't you, that baking with your children is a wholesome kind of experience?
But the reality is a flour-flinging, egg-dripping, sugar-spilling mess, isn't it?    

I mean, I bake with my children all the time. I do. But I don't enjoy it. They love it, though, so I put on a grin and grit my teeth while I watch them scoop eggshell out of the batter with their fingers (did you wash your hands before you started?) and lick the spoon mid-stir (did you wash your... oh, never mind.) I can deal with all of that. (The powdery floor after a baking session is a little harder for me. I have an obsession a thing for clean floors.)  
And, anyway - it's quickly over. 
We have a little routine: they each get a bowl and spoon, and I line up the cupfuls of ingredients. 
No recipes, just basic ratios. 
Which is how I came up with this not-quite-a-pound-cake chocolate cake. It was my son's production (my daughter always does a pink cake... with sprinkles, icing and candles...). And it was really very good - a lovely fine crumb, moist, and dense enough for stacking in a tall cake. Just what I needed for his birthday cake. (I normally use a chocolate mud-cake recipe for that kind of thing, but this batter is so much easier.) 

Chocolate Not-Quite-a-Pound Cake Recipe
Recipe by Tea, Cake and Create

Pre-heat oven to 180'C
Grease and line 3 x 6inch round cake pans or 2x 8inch round cake pans
(I made two batches for this tall cake - 4 layers.)

320g cake flour, sifted
60g cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
400g caster sugar
4 XL eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
250ml sour cream
250ml vegetable oil (canola)
100ml boiling water

Sift together the flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder.

Using an electric mixer, beat together the sugar and eggs until pale and fluffy.
Mix in the vanilla extract, followed by the oil.

With the mixer on low speed, add a third of the dry ingredients, followed by half the sour cream.
Repeat;  end with the last third of the dry ingredients.

Pour in the water, and beat just until the batter consistency is uniform.
Divide evenly between the prepared cake pans.
Bake at 180'C for 35-40minutes or until a cake tester inserted comes out clean.
(Baking time also depends on how many tins you've divided your batter into.)

Allow to cool in the tin before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Happy baking!


Sunday, 21 August 2016

Working with Modelling Chocolate

A couple of years ago I was really reluctant to introduce modelling chocolate into my (cake decorating) life.
 I was just starting to get the hang of working with fondant, and making modelling chocolate sounded tricky. And fiddly. And like more work.
B-u-t I kept on hearing about how great it was to work with and knew that I'd have to capitulate and give it a try eventually.
And oh, boy am I glad that I did!
Now, I don't know how to work with plain fondant anymore. I have expectations based on the results that I get from a modelling chocolate/ fondant blend, that plain fondant just cannot match.
We don't have a great selection of good quality fondant icing available to us here in Durban. And that used to bug me. But it doesn't anymore. Because I've moved on, and the there's no looking back!

Everything on this birdhouse cake is a modelling chocolate / fondant blend. 

What do I like love about it?
It's ability to set fast and firm - like the roof of this birdhouse cake; placed flat on a cool surface, it firmed up in minutes but was still flexible enough to bend over the apex of the house.
The way it cuts - no snagging and feathering along the edges like fondant would.
It's versatility - paneling cakes (like the one above), modelling creatures, making delicate flowers, use in moulds; it does it all.
And then, of course there's it's taste.
 Chocolate does make everything better!

But, as you know - chocolate is not without its issues. So, let's look at one of those now:

In the process of making your modelling chocolate, you may land up with a crumbling mess.
Don't throw it away!

Here's how to rescue crumbling modelling chocolate:
Let it set for a few hours or overnight.
Then heat it briefly in the microwave to soften.
Knead it into a equal mass of fondant.

It may look like this ... !

Don't discard it!
Carry on kneading the crumbly modelling chocolate mess and the fondant together, mop up all the stray crumbs, and heat again briefly in the microwave.

Carry on kneading and it'll look like this - a perfect blend!

That transformation only took about 2 minutes to achieve. An extreme modelling chocolate make-over! How can you not love it?!

Happy decorating!