Thursday, 14 September 2017

Vanilla Cake with Creamy Rose Water Icing

I'm going through an add-rose-water-to-everything phase.
 Ok, almost everything, I guess. Chocolate cupcakes are exempt; as are rusks, and coffee cheesecake, and carrot muffins... So, maybe not even close to everything I've baked recently.
 But a lot a few things, ok?!

Sometimes I call these treats "turkish-delight-flavoured", but essentially it's just a splash of rose water...

The impulse is partially to do with the flavour (it's the taste of spring!), but also because it's an excuse to fling some rose petals around for the photos - it's just so darn pretty decorating with rose petals 💕





This sponge cake is the recipe I use very often for cakes and cupcakes. Most recently in these pastel-coloured mini cakes... which actually were rose-water flavoured!



The icing is a blend of normal buttercream and cream cheese icing ... and rose water flavoured, of course.


Creamy Rose Water Icing:

250g butter, at room temperature
500g icing sugar, sifted
250g medium fat cream cheese, at room temperature
2-3tsps rose water (to taste)
Pink gel food colour


Beat the butter until smooth, light and creamy (This step takes a while, but is well worth it for the final texture of the icing).
Add the sifted icing sugar. Beat again until light and creamy.
Gently beat in the cream cheese, gel colour and rose water.


When you assemble the layers of sponge and icing, sprinkle some crushed pistachios on top of the icing for extra flavour and colour (and crunch!) or chop up squares of turkish delight and add those to the icing. Then we can truly call it turkish delight icing, right?!



Happy baking!

xxM


Monday, 11 September 2017

Gorjuss Doll Cake Toppers


You don't have to be a little girl to love Gorjuss dolls! 
In fact I think they're appreciated more by adults than children (who get a little unsettled by the lack of facial features!) 



I've been admiring Santoro's whimsical works of art for a while, and what a pleasure it's been to  reproduce them in cake form. 

Mine are made from a modelling chocolate / fondant blend, except for the legs, which needed to have the stockings painted on, so I added tylose/CMC paste into that mix. 

My ratios are a 1:1 ratio of modelling chocolate to fondant, and then if I add tylose/CMC paste, it'll be 1/4 of that weight... 
50g modelling chocolate + 50g fondant = 100g paste, then I'll add 25g tylose/CMC paste. 

And it has to be the paste - don't use tylose powder in a modelling chocolate blend; it isn't as effective as it is when added to pure fondant. 



Why do I add the tylose paste? It results in a quicker drying time and firmer finish, especially when working in heat and humidity. 
Just make sure, though, if you make your own tylose paste, that it is dry and not tacky. 
It's not going to help combat the challenges of humidity if your paste itself is too damp!  



The beauty of modelling these figurines is the simplicity of their faces. 
And yet they're still so full of character, aren't they?  


Happy decorating!

xxM 


Friday, 1 September 2017

Spring Themed Mini-Cakes

It's Spring Day!
That announcement should be followed by some sort of tra-la-la, shouldn't it?! Picture Julie Andrews singing on the foothills of the Alps...The hills are alive...
etc...

Yes, well...
The Alps are very very far away so we'll just celebrate with cake instead.  
       
I made this sponge cake in three different colours, planning on 3-layered mini cakes. But while that would have been visually appealing, they'd have been too much of a mouthful. And considering they were for real-life tea, not Instagram or Facebook-life tea,  I settled on two layers. 


I still need to try the three layered look sometime (for sharing on IG and FB, of course), but in the meantime...

To get the colours true, without yellow undertones coming through, I used an oil-based sponge recipe, and replaced whole eggs with egg whites only. 


Spring-Coloured Vanilla Sponge Cake

Ingredients:
200g egg whites (or 4 whole eggs if you're not colouring the batter) 
400g caster sugar
320g cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
250ml milk
100ml vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract 
Gel colours - pink, blue, purple

Method:
Set the oven temp to 175'C
Grease and line 3 x 8 inch round cake pans 

Mix the milk and oil together in a jug, and heat in microwave for 2 min on high. Set aside for 10-15 minutes.

Place the sugar, vanilla extract and eggs in a mixer, and beat on medium-high for 6 minutes, until pale and fluffy.

Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt together. 

Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the egg mix, then half the milk mix; gently blending in between.  
Repeat; ending with the dry ingredients. 
Mix until just combined. 

Divide the batter evenly between 3 bowls. Add colour to each bowl, stir until uniformly mixed.

Pour the batter into 3 x 8 inch cake pans and bake for 20 minutes, or until the sponge springs back when touched. 

Cool in the pans. 

When completely cool, use a scone cutter / round cookie cutter to cut out circles of cake (trim the tops flat, if necessary). 






Pipe swirls of icing on top of half of the rounds, and top with a different-coloured circle of cake. 





Pipe another rose swirl on top, and add some "leaves". 

The icing used here is swiss meringue buttercream flavoured with rose water, which pairs beautifully with this light sponge.  



Happy baking, and happy (Southern Hemisphere) Spring Day!

xxM

Friday, 25 August 2017

Unicorn Cookies: Pinwheels

When I scheduled these classes a few months ago, I was pretty sure that the craze would be dying down by now, but it seems I underestimated the magical power of unicorns!

I'm ready to move on though... Unicorn toppers, unicorn cupcakes, unicorn cakes and unicorn cookies - that's it. Ping, I'm done.

I have really enjoyed making them, though - it's always a pleasure decorating with pastels. And it also gave me the excuse to decorate pinwheel cookies, which I've been wanting to do for a while.
 Ok, so it's a bit of a stretch - unicorns, rainbows, pinwheels...
But aren't they lovely and whimsical, too?




Here's an approach to a pinwheel cookie:
Draw your crosses, shade the smaller triangles, then outline and flood those.
Once the smaller triangles have dried, outline and flood the larger ones.
(Find a recipe for royal icing and a description of consistencies here).


 I think we can happily retire our unicorns, now. Don't you? 



No, you're right - probably not!

Happy decorating! 

xxM 

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Unicorn Cookies: Gold Lustre

Ever have those days when you're just not in the zone; when your cookie decorating is anything but magical?! 

The day I made this set of unicorn cookies I had to navigate leaking icing bags, breaking biscuits, and an oven temperature that was accidentally bumped up 100'C.  
All that, and about a dozen interruptions. *Sigh!*






So, I wasn't exactly feeling the magic that day.

I had to do some cosmetic surgery on the unicorns the following day.  

But my mood improved considerably when, for the first time,  I tried using lustre dust mixed with coconut oil. What a brilliant sheen!
We don't have a wide selection of edible lustres available to us here, and generally the effect once a lustre dust is mixed with alcohol or water and painted onto royal icing isn't as smooth or as solid as I'd like.
The mixture with coconut oil, though, is beautiful


On the cookie in the picture, the top stripe is the lustre dust mixed with water; followed by vodka in the middle, and the bottom stripe is with coconut oil: a lovely solid sheen.  

So that's what I used on the unicorns horns and hooves - only one coat necessary.

One downside is that the coconut oil isn't a liquid at room temperature. 
You have to heat it to get it to liquify initially, then keep it in a little hot water bath to stop it solidifying one you've mixed in the lustre. 

And the coconut oil mixture doesn't sink into the icing the way the other two solutions do, so it rubs off a little.
If your cookies need to be packaged and shipped off, rather use another solvent. But if they're for a display platter, give the coconut oil mixture a try.

Because it's oil-based, it'll be an good mixture to use on modelling chocolate and modelling chocolate / fondant blends, too. 




Happy decorating!

xxM 


Friday, 18 August 2017

Mixed Berry Macarons


It's nearly time to pack up the macaron-making equipment now that warmer, wetter weather is on it's way. Because, trust me - if you haven't tried making macarons yet, the humid months are not the time to start! There are enough variables in macaron-making already. I choose to avoid the stress of doing it during climatological conditions that are outside of my control. Not that I have control issues, or anything...!

But, while we still can: let's go out with a berry blast...

These macarons are filled with a combination of white chocolate ganache and mixed berry jam.
 It's important to use a good quality jam or preserve, with lots of real fruit - you want to taste the tartness of the berries through the sweetness of the white chocolate.





Mixed Berry Macarons
Recipe by Tea, Cake & Create

Macarons

3 egg whites (100g-110g), at room temp. Aged for 2-3 days.
2 tbs (30ml) caster sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
200g icing sugar
125g ground almonds/ almond flour
A few drops of purple/pink gel colour


Prepare baking trays with parchment. Make sure that the parchment is flat and that the trays aren't warped.

Pulse the almond flour and icing sugar in a food processor until well mixed and finely ground.  Sift into a bowl. Discard the large granules which don't pass through the sieve.

Whisk the egg whites at low speed with an electric beater until frothy, then add the cream of tartar. 
Beat until soft peaks form, then add the caster sugar, slowly down the side of the bowl.  
Beat at high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold in the gel colour. 

Sift half the almond flour / icing sugar mix into the meringue and fold in.   
Then sift in the remaining almond flour and icing sugar. Once again discard any large granules.

Use a spatula and a figure-of-8 motion to gently fold the batter until it is loosened and falls in "ribbons" from the spatula.
(This is a tricky part - as you need to avoid both under-mixing, and over-mixing!)  

Transfer to an icing bag with the tip cut off or one fitted with a large plain round icing nozzle (not more than 1cm diameter).

Pipe small dots of batter beneath the corners of the baking parchment to keep it in place on the baking trays.

Pipe your macaron rounds - about 3-4cm diameter, about 2cm apart. Pull your piping tip to the side - this leaves a tiny tail, which will settle. 
Rap the trays twice on the counter to release air bubbles. 

Now, turn on your oven to 150'C

Leave the macarons to stand for approx. 30minutes until they form a "skin" - ie. when touched with a clean, dry finger they aren't sticky.

Bake at 150'C for 15-16 minutes.
Check that they're not browning as the end of the baking time approaches.

Leave to cool for 5 minutes, then remove the macaron shells from the trays. If they are undercooked, they will stick to the parchment. You can pop them back into the warm oven for a few more minutes just to dry out a little more.
(Macarons are best after being filled and left for 24hrs - the filling rehydrates them a bit.) 



White Chocolate Ganache

150g white chocolate, broken into small even sized pieces
50ml cream

Place the white chocolate and cream in a heatproof bowl over simmering water. (Don't let the bowl come in direct contact with the water).  
Stir occasionally until all the chocolate has melted.
Alternatively, microwave for 30second bursts, stirring in between - until the chocolate has melted, and the ganache is smooth.  

Allow the ganache to cool and firm up until it reaches a pipe-able consistency. 

Pipe a ring of ganache on a macaron shell. 





Add a spoonful of jam into the centre. Sandwich with a second macaron shell.  



Refrigerate the assembled macarons overnight. Allow to come to room temperature before serving. 





... and enjoy!

Happy baking!

xxM 


Sunday, 13 August 2017

Vertical Striped Sponge Cake

When I posted pictures of this cake on Facebook and Instagram , I called it a "simple cake".
It wasn't....




It's origin goes back a few weeks to when I was making some sheet cakes to use for mini's. 
They baked a lot thinner than what I wanted, so I cling-wrapped them, and put them in the freezer, for some use that I'd have to figure out later. 

Well, later came and I realised they were perfect to use for making a cake with vertical stripes. 

One of those things that seems easy enough until you try it. 😅



Style Sweet CA did a much better job of it than I, so here's a link to her blog post and tutorial




It drives me a little crazy that my stripes aren't all perfectly even and parallel. But I'm going to pass it off as a first attempt, and part of the learning curve.... which is a curve and not a straight line !

The cake itself is ganache-covered vanilla sponge using this recipe, filled with a turkish delight buttercream. More on that in a future post 😉  

Happy baking and creating!  

xxM