Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Valentines Puppy Plaque

There's only one day left until the 14th Feb! Have you got anything special planned? Or are you just going to pretend it's not happening? 😉

Now, I know I say this every year ... Valentines isn't something we celebrate. 
B-u-u-ut celebrate does not equal decorate
So, there have been Valentines-themed edibles exiting my kitchen for the past couple of weeks already.     

Last year we did "Puppy Love" for the Valentines cookie class. That was one of my favourite V-Day themes to date. (It has now been eclipsed by this year's "Stuck on You" theme).

I so enjoyed that theme and those colours, that when I saw a clay plaque similar to this, I knew I had to re-create if in fondant.
(Or rather fondant and modelling chocolate - my standard blend).
It's so very quick and easy to do, that if you're only deciding now to make a cake for your special people for tomorrow, a decoration like this will take hardly any time to put together.

I used a little rubber stamp set to print on the "i / you".
If you don't have letter stamps, you could paint it on, or write it on using an edible marker.

Place onto the top or side* of a cake, or make a smaller version to use as a cupcake topper.

(*For heavy details going onto the side of a cake that's been covered in fondant, I use melted chocolate to secure it in place.)

Happy Valentines Day and happy decorating!


Monday, 5 February 2018

"Stuck on You" Valentines Cactus Cookies

The very first class I offered was Valentines Cookies.
Those days I had mounds of enthusiasm and not much skill, or experience.
We used three colours (red, white and pink), and decorated heart-shaped cookies. Heart-shaped cookies only.
Visionary stuff! 🙈

We've progressed a little since then.
And become a little more imaginative with the theme!

This year it's "Stuck on You"  - cacti being so on-trend. And oh-so-huggable!

I love all the various wet-on-wet techniques one can play with in this theme:

Like this one, with just a bit of feathering on wet-on-wet stripes

and this one, even simpler - just stripes.

That's the easy part.
The tricky bit, and always my biggest challenge, is writing script on a cookie. And it's a must for this particular theme.

If you don't have a projector to make your life easier, then print out the fonts that you'll be using and use a transfer method to get the script onto a dried flooded background.
Here's one way: http://www.sugaredproductions.com/blog/transferring-an-image-without-a-projector/
and here:

 Or throw caution to the wind and copy them free-hand  (which is still a step up from just winging it!). I write the script on lightly with a graphite pencil first, then go over that with icing.

 If you're looking for a great selection of fonts, try www.dafont.com,  or download an app like Font Gallery on your tablet or phone.

There you go... Looking sharp!


Monday, 29 January 2018

Zucchini and Cheese Muffins

I'm going to tell you something now that I hope you take to heart:
Just because they're muffins does not mean that you don't use cupcake cases.
I'm telling you this for your own sake. Who wants to be scouring out muffin trays on a Monday morning, right?!
If you've got a silicone muffin tray, I'll let you off the hook - but otherwise, use cupcake cases, ok?

So, now that's settled ...

As I said when I posted this picture on Instagram, these are great for school lunch boxes. My son (the fussy eater) loves them, and flattens a batch in no time.

You can sprinkle a little grated cheese on top before baking, but the fussy-eater peels that off and discards it, so I don't bother with that step anymore!

Zucchini and Cheese Muffins
Recipe adapted from 
"The One & Only Cupcakes & Muffins Cookbook" (New Holland Press) 

Preheat the oven to 180'C
Line a muffin tray with 10 cupcake cases

220 g cake flour
1tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
100g finely grated courgettes / zucchini
100g greater cheddar cheese (+ extra for sprinkling - optional)
180ml buttermilk
60ml canola oil
1 XL egg

Place the grated zucchini and cheddar into a large mixing bowl.
Sift in the flour, salt and raising agents. Mix well.

In a jug, measure out and whisk together the buttermilk, oil and egg.

Make a well in the centre of the ingredients in the mixing bowl.
Pour in the wet ingredients.
Mix gently until just combined.

Spoon the batter into the prepared cupcake cases. (Now's the time to sprinkle over that extra cheese if you'e doing it).

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from the oven; serve while warm, or allow to cool before packing in lunch boxes.

Change things up by adding some finely chopped crispy bacon, sundried tomatoes, fresh parsley, etc.
Let me know what you try and how that turns out.

Happy baking.


Thursday, 25 January 2018

Painted Tropical Leaf Cookies

 I hadn't intended to write a post about these painted tropical leaf cookies ( I thought), but then I found a photo I'd taken in the course of making them. So I must have intended, after all ...! 

Only one photo *sigh* 
I scrolled back and forth through the camera roll, but still ... only one. 🙈

These are seriously simple, though. So a written explanation will easily suffice: 

The lonely photo

  • Flood cookies with dusky pink royal icing. Allow to dry completely. 
  • I airbrushed a pearl sheen on top; you could dry brush on luster dust, or just omit this step.
  • Mix powder food colouring with a very small quantity of clear alcohol, or water. 
  • Prepare 2 shades of green - one dark, and one light.  
  • Look up "tropical leaf template" on Pinterest for ideas 
  • Use a graphite pencil (non-toxic) to outline the tropical leaves on the cookie 
  • Paint over the outline with a fine paintbrush using the darker green. 
  • Allow to dry, then paint in the rest of the colour, using a combination of the dark and light greens. 
  • 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. 
... dissolving canvases - a horror only sugar-artists would understand!

Happy decorating!


Sunday, 21 January 2018

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

From now on, this is my Friday cake. Why? Because - full disclosure - that punnet of courgettes in my fridge is unlikely to be used for anything else over the weekend. 
So then we get to enjoy this tea-time treat guilt free. Cake and greens simultaneously sorted! Excellent! 

The courgettes / zucchini don't add flavour to this cake, only moisture - and a bunch of vitamins!

Try it served with a dash of cream; a scoop of ice-cream, or drizzled with ganache as I've done here.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake
Recipe adapted from Allrecipes.com

Preheat the oven to 180'C
Grease a Bundt cake pan


320g cake flour
320g caster sugar
60g unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp mixed spice
4 XL eggs
250ml vegetable oil
350g finely grated zucchini
80g finely chopped pecan nuts or walnuts

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, salt,  baking powder and baking soda, cinnamon and sugar.
In a jug, lightly whisk the eggs and oil together. Mix this into the grated zucchini.
Fold the wet ingredients and nuts into the sifted dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.
Bour the batter into the prepared Bundt pan.
Bake at 180'C for 35-40minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean / with just a few crumbs attached.
Remove from the oven.
Cool for 10 minutes in the pan before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Dark Chocolate Ganache 
120g dark (semi-sweet chocolate)
60ml cream 

Heat both ingredients together in a double boiler, or in 30 second bursts in the microwave, stirring in between, until the chocolate has melted. 
Stir until smooth. 

Allow to cool, then pour over the cake. 

If you like the idea of baking with veggies, this is a recipe for a dark chocolate carrot cake (one of my very first blog entries - please excuse the photo!)  http://teacakeandcreate.blogspot.co.za/2012/08/dark-chocolate-carrot-cake.html

And from last year, a delicious spiced zucchini cake:

Happy baking!


Sunday, 14 January 2018

Mini Donut Pops

Now you really don't need to 'pop these, but you have to admit - sweet treats on a stick have a certain appeal, don't they?
Not to mention the appeal of avoiding sticky fingers.
(Or - no judgement here - is licking the sticky remnants of donut off your fingers one of the best parts for you??)

Well, anyway... these donuts actually aren't sticky. They're covered in chocolate, real chocolate, not a chocolate glaze.
Not because I have anything against sticky glaze-covered donuts, but simply because you'll be melting chocolate for the popsicle sticks anyway.
(Well...that's one reason, but I won't elaborate on the chocolate misadventure that resulted in these particular creations, now. Remind me another time, ok?)

So... chocolate covered mini donut pops...

Mini Donuts
Recipe from sallysbakingaddiction.com

Grease a 12-cup mini donut pan.
Preheat the oven to 180'C

125g cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
65g caster sugar
60ml milk
60ml buttermilk
30g butter, melted
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Sift together the dry ingredients.
Whisk the milk, buttermilk, butter, vanilla and egg together.
Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients; pour the wet ingredients in, and mix until just combined. Don't over-mix.

Pour the batter into a ziploc bag; snip off one corner, and pipe into the donut pan (this way is much easier than trying to spoon it in!).
Don't over-fill the pan, because you'll lose the donut hole (they'll still be delicious though!)

I found this recipe makes a little more than my mini-donut pan can take; I just keep the extra batter aside for a few more donuts in a second round of baking - I only have one donut pan!

Bake at 180'C for 8-10 minutes, or until the donuts are lightly browned.

Remove from the oven and cool in the pan before turning out.

To decorate:

Melt 200g of dark or milk chocolate.

Dip popsicle sticks in melted chocolate then gently push into the donut. Allow the chocolate to harden.

Pipe more melted chocolate onto the donuts; top with sprinkles before the chocolate sets.

If you want to use a glaze instead of chocolate, visit sallysbakingaddiction.com to see the original recipe.



Monday, 1 January 2018

New Year's Hazelnut Panna Cotta with Nutella Ganache

Happy New Year!
The last time I saw the clock tick over into a new year was probably back in 2007. 
By 2008, while I might have been awake at midnight, it would have been with reluctance and a small, cranky baby in arms. 
Fast forward 10 years and I found myself being kept awake again by a child, but this time it was because my daughter was determined (determined, I tell you!) to see the new year in. 
I was ready to call it a day (night) by 10pm, but I couldn't let a 7 year-old hold out longer than me! 
And in the end, it was actually very special celebrating the beginning of 2018 with her. 
Special memories. Much more precious than sleep.
(But no doubt, I'll be in bed by 8pm tonight!)

And now,  raising a glass to all that's sweet - here's my last dessert of 2017 and my first post of 2018.

It's a little late for this year's celebrations, but bear it in mind for a special dinner or as an easy make-ahead-of-time dessert.

Hazelnut Panna Cotta with Nutella Ganache

You'll need 4-6 small glasses (4 white wine glasses, or 6 sherry glasses) 

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 tsp vanilla extract
300g double cream or full cream hazelnut yoghurt**
**you can substitute with plain yoghurt; add hazelnut extract/ flavouring and a few finely chopped roasted hazelnuts

Soak the gelatine in cold water for 5 minutes.

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

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.
Stir gently until well combined.

Divide the mixture evenly between the glasses; pour carefully to avoid spilling on the sides of the glass.
Refrigerate to set. 

Nutella Ganache

180ml Nutella  
3tbs heavy cream/ whipping cream (35% fat content) 

Heat the cream (do not boil)  
Mix warm cream into Nutella and stir until the mixture is smooth. 
Spoon this over the panna cotta once the panna cotta has set. 

Refrigerate again until ready to serve. 
Sprinkle with gold sugar crystals for a little bling. 

Wishing you a sweet and successful 2018!