Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Chai Cheesecake

I go through phases of loving chai tea, and then... not so much.
Right now, though, I'm in a loving phase.
It might last a while because I've come out of a looong, chai-free spell.
 I gave it up during pregnancy. Nothing to do with the caffeine or exotic spices. No, it was the fragrance. It nauseated me. Anything perfumed did, including my own deodorised body. Tricky that. (Overshare??)
And olfactory memories are so intense that it took me a while to shake off those scent-triggers.
But, at last I'm cured (and plan to stay that way!)
So, let's celebrate with a particularly deliciously decadent chai share.

Chai Cheesecake
Recipe by Tea, Cake and Create

Grease a 20-24cm round springform pan
Tip - turn the base of the springform pan upside down before clipping in place - it makes removing the cheesecake easier.

300g butter biscuits , crushed
100g flaked almonds (plus extra for garnishing)
120g melted butter

Mix the ingredients together and press into the base of a round springform cake pan.
Cover with cling wrap and place in the freezer for 30min.

Preheat the oven to 150'C

320g white chocolate
500g (2x250g tubs) cream cheese at room temperature
250ml cream (for a lighter texture substitute with buttermilk)
100g caster sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
Chai spices

{Chai spices
2tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp ground ginger
1tsp ground cardamon      
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg}

Melt the chocolate. Stir in the chai spices and set aside to cool a little.

Beat the cream cheese and caster sugar together until smooth.
With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs 1 at a time; scrape down the bowl between additions.
Pour in the cream and vanilla.
Beat well.
Pour the cooled chocolate and chai spices into the mixture. Beat briefly.

Pour onto the chilled base.

Bake in a water bath* for approx.1 hour  at 150'C. Leave in the oven, with the door slightly ajar, to cool. (See comments below on how to know when a cheesecake is cooked).

* For the water bath, use a roasting pan at least 4-5 cm larger than the springform pan with enough boiling water in it to come a couple of centimetres up the side of the springform pan.

White chocolate ganache.

150g white chocolate
50ml cream (35-40%fat content)

Melt the cream and chocolate together in the microwave (in 30sec bursts, stirring in between) or in a double boiler.

Pour over the top of the cheesecake.
Sprinkle with flaked almonds.

Chill for 4 hours or overnight before serving.



Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Winter Wonderland Cookies

If you've been holding your breath waiting for a new recipe from me, you'd be a not-so-pretty shade of blue by now. Sorry! I have several in the pipeline, but they're either needing a recipe tweak or better photos. (Perfectionist, what me? Noooo!)

So, instead I'll just entertain you with some (pretty shade of blue) pictures from our last set of classes:

Winter Wonderland Cookies. 

The blue is a touch of turquoise gel-colour; and the lilac is a hint electric purple, and a smidgeon of violet gel-colour mixed into white royal icing.
Both colours mature quite dramatically - so mix the night before; leave them a shade lighter than what you want, and they should be perfect the next day.

The penguin was inspired by Glorious Treats. Follow the link to see a tutorial on how to pipe similar penguins.

The polar bear is inspired by SweetSugarBelle. If you follow that link, you'll see how Callye used a frog cookie cutter to create the bear's face. I didn't have one, or anything similar. So, I used an artist palette cookie cutter, and cut little V's out the side of the face with the tip of the snowflake cutter - which I was already using in this set of cookies. Convenient!

Final word - remember to colour your white icing white - really! To get that clean, crisp white add Bright White gel-colour to your royal icing. 

Time to go work on some recipes.  Anyone keen to taste-test? 
; )


Monday, 21 July 2014

Thing 1 and Thing 2

Back to school today! Yay!
My children don't share those sentiments, though. No, they are home-bodies (like their mom), and would rather be here (with me).
That, of course, makes me feel even more guilty that I'm relieved to have the mornings to myself again. But, I am!
This last week of holidays was particularly challenging. Between the two of them, they managed to crack my iPad screen, cut the cord for the computer mouse, and burn a hole in my table cloth (the latter was while they were under Gogo's supervision).
Yes, I'm relieved to have them back at school.

So, it's with that sentiment that I'm sharing these Thing 1 and Thing 2 cutouts I made for a friend recently. I love these characters, but boy-oh-boy,  they introduce a lot of chaos into the story.

Thing 1 and Thing 2 Cutouts

On the left is the image I printed out. 
I used that as a template to cut out the tylose paste Thing on the right. 
Left that to dry, 
then sketched the outline using a black edible marker. 

And coloured it in using edible markers. 
(You could paint it using a mixture of clear alcohol and gel colour, but the coloured-in look suits the Dr Suess theme.)

And repeated the process for Thing 2. 

"If Mother could see this, 
Oh, what would she say!"

Time to go tidy up. 

Happy creating!


Monday, 14 July 2014

Amy's Baby Shower Cake

I think this was the quickest I've ever ganache'd a cake.
I don't do late night baking/ caking sessions - I just get too tired and sloppy, then just have to fix all the boo-boos in the morning. So, I was working to a tight deadline with this cake (a gift for a friend's baby shower); squeezing it in between wrapping up classes with Dot Klerck and preparing for my own classes the next morning.
And it was one of the smoothest, un-fussiest ganaching experiences I've ever had. Clearly working under pressure is good for me. (But not too often, thank you very much!)

The great thing about making a cake like this, is that most of the time-consuming work can be done far in advance. The topper, roses and cake lace were all ready a week before the cake was due.

The roses were made out of fondant mixed with tylose powder, in shades of burgundy and soft pink.
                                                     The edible lace is Crystal Lace. 


The pram is a polystyrene semi-circle covered in fondant.
The hood is tylose paste secured over a wire frame. 

And the cake, well -  I'll tell you the saga of the cake itself another time ; )

Happy baking and caking!


Sunday, 13 July 2014

All Bran Florentines

I'm generally hesitant to enter competitions on Facebook. They're usually more of a popularity contest than anything else - enter, get your friends to vote; the person with the most "friends" wins.
My ego can't handle that!
 But when I saw that Kellogg's was running an All Bran recipe challenge, I immediately knew what my entry should be.
I'd made these a couple of years ago for the first time, substituting the cornflakes that the original recipe called for with All Bran Flakes. The results needed a bit more tweaking, but I was pretty confident that they were unique enough to be strong contenders for the crown ; )

They might not win any beauty pageants, but here are my recipe-challenge-winning All Bran Florentines : )

All Bran Florentines
Recipe by Tea, Cake and Create

Preheat the oven to 170'C
Line 2 baking trays with baking parchment.

60g sultanas
30g crystallised ginger, finely chopped
100g glacé cherries, chopped
100g slivered almonds
60g white chocolate chips
2 cups All Bran Flakes, slightly crushed
250ml sweetened condensed milk
2 tbs candied mixed peel
200g dark chocolate

Mix all the ingredients together, except the dark chocolate.
Place spoonfuls of the mixture on the baking sheets. (It's really sticky, but crumbly - don't worry! It'll come together in the end).  Leave a couple of centimetres between the mounds.
Bake at 170'C for 12-15minutes. Watch them carefully in the last few minutes - they go from crisping to crisped very quickly!

Remove from the oven and flatten with a fork. Allow to cool. (They'll set as they cool, and stop being so crumbly.)

When they are cool, melt the dark chocolate and spread it over the base of each cookie. Use any left over chocolate to streak over the top of the cookies.

It might not be the healthiest way to eat All Bran, but it certainly is one of the most delicious:
Chewy, fruity, chocolatey yumminess!



Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcake Toppers

If I were to write a summary of the first half of the year, it would be subtitled "Scrambling to Catch Up". Don't ask me what the title would be, I haven't got there yet ;)
I'm sure I'll be on top of things in the next six months. But for now: here I am playing catch up.

I actually took some pictures to make a photo tutorial while I was busy with the Strawberry Shortcake cupcakes a couple of weeks ago (just a couple, so maybe I'm not that far behind!)....

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcake Toppers:

You'll need:-
Modeling paste (fondant with tylose powder/ CMC added to it)

Edible markers / paint

Egg cutter
Hat cutter

Tylose glue

Roll out the flesh coloured paste; cut with the egg-shaped cutter. Turn the cutter around and cut off the top of the paste.
Leave to dry.

Roll out the pink paste; cut with the hat cutter (it doesn't need to be like the one pictured; any hat cutter the appropriate size will do).
Put a band of green on the hat.
Allow to dry.

Draw/ paint red "spots" on the hat.
Draw on the facial details.
Stick the face onto the hat.
Make twirls of red hair.
Stick in place.
Ignore the flower here - it's snuck in prematurely

Make a small green bow, add a flower and secure in place.
Allow the glue to dry before using the topper on your cupcake.

Miss Strawberry Shortcake:

Fruit, fun, Friendship : )


Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Dot Klerck's Singing in the Rain Class

When I first saw Dot Klerck's cake art, I was blown away! And I figured that I'd have to go down to Wellington to do a class with her. But between juggling young children and all the other things that keep me busy, I never got around to putting the plan into action.
So I was absolutely delighted to find out a few months ago that Dot was coming to Durban. And even better -I had the privilege of hosting her!
I had sleepless nights, though, before the start of the classes. I avoid sculpting cakes. Completely. And I'd also prefer not have to trim and torte or dowel them. Seriously.
So, I was way out of my comfort zone, but you know what - sometimes that's a good place to be! Dot is a really amazing teacher and we had such a fun group of cake-ladies here.
 I can't wait to do another course. Come back, Dot!

This is the Singing in the Rain cake that we did. Sweet, isn't she?
It's all Dot's design and structure, so I take can no credit for that. But I did assemble it - sculpting and all (I've got a fair bit of work to do on that skill!)
The dress and lamp are cake; the cake and support structures are covered in a modelling chocolate/ fondant mix.

You wouldn't believe how much planning and preparation goes into making a gravity defying cake - literally down to the last centimetre. A lot of time is spent at the drawing board before even touching the cake.

For all the details, you'll have to take one of Dot's classes ; )
But I am going to give you one little tidbit:-

Don't use caramel as a filler between layers of a cake you need to carve!
Caramel sticks to your carving knife and pulls the cake apart as you're trying to cut it.
What a mess!

I still can't claim to feel comfortable with it, but I'm already working on an idea for a gravity defying cake of my own.
Ok, now I've put it out there - I'd better follow through. Gulp! Give me a couple of months to plan it though, ok?!