Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Pecan Pie Cake with Butterscotch Cream Cheese Icing

I like winter.
Let me qualify that - I like winter in Durban. It doesn't last very long; but it gives you a chance to wear those expensive boots and coats you couldn't resist buying, despite your husbands advice against it. ("When does it get cold enough to wear those?"  See - it got cold enough. For 3 days.)

And it's perfect baking weather.
Especially for something sweet, rich and nutty like this cake.

It has several steps to it, but you can make both the pecan pie filling and butterscotch sauce in advance.
And it's worth it!



 Pecan Pie Cake with Butterscotch Cream Cheese Icing

Pecan Pie Filling
Recipe from Shugary Sweets

(Make in advance)

240g pecan nuts, chopped
200g brown sugar
120g golden syrup *
125ml fresh cream
60g butter
1tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt

*yes, grams - I find it easier to weigh the syrup directly into the saucepan, rather than pouring it into a measuring jug.  Sticky business!

Place the sugar, syrup, cream and butter together in a saucepan.
Heat on medium-high, stirring constantly until it boils.
Allow to boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
Stir in the nuts, salt and vanilla extract.
Cool. Refrigerate until required.
Spread the pecan pie filling between the cooled layers of the cake. Reserve some to spread over the top of the cake after it has been iced. (if the filling has been refrigerated, you may need to warm it slightly to make it easier to spread.) 



Buttermilk Vanilla Cake
Recipe adapted from Sweetapolita

Preheat the oven to 180'C
Grease and line 3x 8 inch round cake pans

360g cake flour
400g caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
4 large eggs + 2 egg yolks
220g butter, cut into cubes
300ml buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla extract


Sift all the dry ingredients (including the sugar) into the bowl of an electric mixer. Use the paddle attachment on low speed to mix the ingredients together.

Add the butter to the mixer, and beat on low speed until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Mix in 250ml of the buttermilk.
Increase to medium speed and beat for about 2 minutes, until light and fluffy.
While this is mixing, in another bowl, whisk the eggs, yolks and remainder of the buttermilk together.
Add this to the batter in 3 additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl in between.
Mix until just incorporated.

Divide the batter equally between the 3 cake pans. (You can use 2 cake pans, but your baking time will increase.)

Bake the 3 layers at 180'C for approximately 30min, or until a tester inserted comes out clean.
Leave the cake to cool in the pans for 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.


Butterscotch Cream Cheese Icing
Recipe by Tea, Cake and Create

Butterscotch Sauce
(make in advance)

85g butter
30ml brown sugar
40ml golden syrup
40ml cream
1tsp vanilla extract ( or 8-10 drops of Vanilla Girl vanilla)

Melt the butter, syrup and sugar together in a saucepan. Stir constantly until all the sugar granules have melted.
Add the cream and vanilla. Mix well.
Boil for 3 minutes.
Stir occasionally.
Cool. Refrigerate until required. 

Cream cheese icing
250g  (1 tub) cream cheese, chilled (Use a dense variety of cream cheese - like Woolworths, Philadelphia or Lancewood)
100g butter at room temp
60g icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
Butterscotch sauce (from recipe above) 
Beat together icing sugar and butter until smooth.
Add cream cheese and vanilla and beat until mixed.
Beat in the butterscotch. 
Ice the cake with the butterscotch cream cheese icing. 
Heat reserved pecan pie filling and pour over the top of the cake. 




Happy (winter) baking!

xxM


Thursday, 16 July 2015

Ruffled Heart Box Cake

It's the final week of school holidays, and we're all still alive! 
Although my daughter (5) did decide yesterday that she'd like to go and live with her aunt and "cuzzies". 
I went along with it until she selected her favourite DVD's and started taking piles of her clothes out the cupboard. I put my foot down when she wanted to borrow a suitcase to pack it all up in. 
I may regret the decision when she's 15...!  
(I don't take her attempt to jump ship personally - it's not a reflection on my deficiencies as a parent, just the attractive pull of a household of women and multiple TV's ... love is full of fickle favouritism when you're five!)

 So while I've been dealing with the perfidy of my progeny (and all the other activities holidays demand), it's been tricky to get much else done. So this is a reflection on an earlier project -  another mini-cakes class idea that I have in mind. A little simpler than the teddy bear and suitcase cake, but still a fun cake to make.  



It's a small 4 inch sponge cake, covered in a modelling chocolate / fondant blend.

The wood effect is created by hand with a dresden tool, and then 2 layers of paint are applied afterwards to give it a bit of dimension. The first is a mixture of chocolate brown gel and clear alcohol, and the second coat is ivory gel and clear alcohol.

Wooden box cake before painting...




Wooden box cake after painting...

                                                                                                        Dimension! 

Happy decorating!
xxM

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Jungle Animals - Modelling Chocolate

So, I must have been absent the day we learned about Asian lions. I mean, I know that we get African and Asian elephants, obviously. But non-African lions.... I really did not know that!
Those cartoon pictures and children's books where lions and tigers fraternize have always bugged me (just a bit) - but it turns out that they actually can cross paths, not just pages.

 I still couldn't bring myself to include a lion in the line-up for this class, though.
It's a Jungle Animals theme, and lion is still out on safari (where he belongs, in my book!).


Monkey,


 Tiger,
                                               

and Elephant - Asian ... you can tell, 'cause he's smiling.
(No, that's not a political commentary - it's a fact that Asian elephants are friendlier!)


All made with a modeling chocolate / fondant blend.
See here for the modelling chocolate recipe I use.

xxM

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Caramelised Cinnamon Seeds

These more-ish munchy seeds have recently become a must-have item in my pantry.
 They're a great addition to both savoury and sweet dishes - think yoghurt, salads, soups, roast vegetables...
They rarely get that far though, because they're also a great snack just on their own!

                            



I started out buying them, but realised that while R12,99 for 35g doesn't seem too expensive; per kilogram, it's three times the price of fillet (that's beef fillet)! 
So, that and the need to have them constantly available in my cupboard, spurred me on to figuring out how to make them instead.  That and because I'm such a bakey-makey person... 
As it turns they are so easy to make!  




Caramelised Cinnamon Seeds
Recipe by Tea, Cake and Create

60ml (1/4 cup) light brown sugar
150ml (2/3 cup) mixed seeds - sunflower seeds, sesame, pumpkin, chia, flaxseeds, etc
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 

Mix the sugar and seeds and cinnamon together, and heat in a heavy based saucepan on medium-high until the sugar has melted and just started to bubble. 
Remove from the heat, and stir to ensure that all the seeds are coated. 
Turn out onto baking parchment to cool. 


Once cooled and crunchy, store in an airtight container at room temperature.   



So easy; so tasty, and (ignoring the sugar) seeds are so good for you, right?! 

Enjoy!

xxM 

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Chocolate Parcels - "Parchants"

Let me introduce you to the humble Parchant.
Well, it's not so humble, and it's not a Parchant either.
That's just a name we made up for these delicious (and I mean dee-licious!) pastry parcels a few years ago. And it's stuck. I could pretend that it's a melding of the words parcel, chocolate and ... um something...


But it was just a bit of pseudo-French nonsense that I made up on the spur of the moment when a dinner guest wanted to know the name of the (seven!) delightful pastries he'd just scoffed.



They are super easy, and a real crowd pleaser. Great for dinner parties, book club dinners, Valentines, Easter, Christmas....
You get the idea!

Chocolate Parcels (AKA Parchants)

1 roll prepared puff pastry
Chocolate of your choice*
Icing sugar

* Try different flavours. Chocolate with nuts adds a lovely textural element to this desert.

If the pastry is frozen, thaw completely.
Roll out on a lightly floured surface (you want to thin it slightly)
Cut into squares, approx 10cm x10cm.

Place a couple of blocks of chocolate into the centre of each square.
Fold the edges of the pastry together and  pinch to secure. (It's puff pastry - it'll want to puff open. But you want to seal it well with a good pinch to stop that from happening).
Place the parcels onto a baking sheet.
At this stage you can leave them in the refrigerator until needed (even overnight is fine) covered with cling wrap.

Heat the oven to 200'C
Place the parcels into the oven, bake until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and dust with icing sugar.

Serve warm, while the chocolate is still oozing ...



Enjoy!

xxM

Friday, 26 June 2015

Suitcase and Teddy Cake

Yay! It's school holidays!
No morning rush; no school lunches to pack; no scramble to find socks/ jerseys/ PE tops 5 minutes
60 seconds before we leave home, and no homework to fight through!
But it does mean having to entertain the kids for the whole day; every day for three weeks....
I may just need to pack my bags and disappear on a mom-vacation at the end of that.



So, here's celebrating vacations! (Or the anticipation of them!). 

This is an idea I'm trying out for a future class. It was such a sweet little cake to make. 
It's a 4 inch vanilla sponge covered in ganache and decorated with modelling chocolate/ fondant.

What you might just be able to see in the picture, is the post-construction dusting on the sugar paste: light brown/ tan along the edges of the leatherwork, and dark brown in the creases.
If  I'd taken a before and after photo (*ahem... ahem*), you'd see what a big difference it makes.
And I feel like such a "grown-up" decorator when I dust or paint on cakes! (Big enough to be using make-up!)
Give it a try sometime, if you haven't already - dusting can create subtle shadows and accents, and can bring a fondant piece to life. Just like my morning make-up!




Happy holidays! (And if you're going away, safe travels - and remember to pack Teddy!)

xxM

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Up and Away Cookies

We decorated "Up and Away" Cookies for Fathers Day this year. I'm more comfortable with pretty and girly, though, so it took me a while to find my feet (or wings?!) with this theme.
 But in the end I really enjoyed it!




 Hot air balloons are especially fun to decorate! They have a structure to them - you know they've got a ballon and a basket, so they aren't an overwhelmingly blank canvas (Eeek! Where do I start?!).  But there are dozens of different ways to decorate the envelope; and geometric patterns, in particular, look great.


I'm not very good with symmetry and straight lines, however, so I always sketch the design on the cookie first.
I use a non-toxic graphite pencil for sketching. I know "non-toxic" is not the same as "edible", but we're not eating the actual pencil here, ok?!
(You can use an edible marker if you'd prefer. Just don't eat the marker - it's the ink that's edible, not the marker  ...).

You can find graphite pencils at CNA. They're called Bic Ecolutions.




(If you'd like to know how to create this deep shade of navy blue, read this post here.)



Happy decorating!

xxM