Friday, 23 December 2016

Christmas Jars

Christmas time mistletoe and wine means it is jar time!
(And now you've got that song stuck in your head, right?!)

I love jars! I grab them whenever I find cute and interesting ones to use in my pantry.
But now that it's Christmas, it's time to find cute and interesting things to fill the jars with.

If you want to bake treats for jars, there are plenty of things that you can make.
But sometimes you're all baked out, and just need something simpler... so let the recipient do the baking!

This is a chocolate-cake-in-a-jar.
It's the dry ingredients of this recipe, but I've used brown sugar instead of white sugar for visual effect.
Layer it in a 1 litre jar with the cocoa powder at the bottom, followed by half the sugar, then half the flour with the salt and rising agents**. Repeat with another layer of sugar, then flour.
 (**Don't forget the baking powder and baking soda!).
 This jar is actually a little smaller than 1 litre, and the ingredients fit snugly.  So if you have extra space beneath the lid, pack in some chocolate chips or chopped nuts (or both) and add that to your ingredients card.


The ingredients card reads:

Chocolate Cake
Preheat the oven to 180'C
Grease and line 2 x 18cm round cake pans
 or  line 2x 12-hole muffin pans with cupcake cases

Cake-in-a-jar contents
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup oil
1 cup buttermilk or sour cream 
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup hot black coffee or boiling water

Sift the jar contents into a mixing bowl;
Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well with a whisk.
Pour into your prepared tins.

Bake at 180'C until a skewer inserted comes out
 with a few moist crumbs attached –
approx 30 minutes if you've used cake pans,
20 minutes if you've made cupcakes
Remove from the oven.

Allow to cool before removing from the cake pans.

Another idea that I love is this one (courtesy of Pinterest) -  a jar full of "reindeer noses"!

Use Cadbury Whispers or Woolworths Chuckles mixed in with a few red jawbreakers. So cute!

However, if you do want to bake for your jars, visit the Index of Recipes and Tutorials have a look under the Brownies, Bars and Squares; or the Cookies recipes.  There are plenty of ideas there.

Happy jar-filling!


Monday, 19 December 2016

Marbled Raspberry Bundt Cake

You know what I love about bundt cakes? Well, let me tell you:
 They can be so simple, yet so impressive. And they go a long way. 
Just the kind of thing you need to feed the extended family that have descended on you for the Christmas holidays... 

This is how simple we're going to keep it:

We're using my not-quite-a-pound-cake chocolate cake recipe; some frozen raspberries, and some icing sugar for dusting.  
And you'll need a bundt pan. (This cake was made in a silicone rosette pan from Clicks). 
That's it. 


Marbled Raspberry Bundt Cake 
Recipe by Tea, Cake & Create 

Pre-heat oven to 180'C
Grease a large bundt cake pan


40g cocoa powder 
60ml boiling water
320g cake flour, sifted
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)
100g frozen raspberries ( a mix of pieces and whole raspberries are ideal)

Mix the cocoa powder in the boiling water; set aside. 

Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl. 

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.
End with the last third of the dry ingredients. 

Divide the batter in two equal portions (approximately equal is fine!) 
Stir the cocoa mixture into one of the portions of batter.  
Fold half the frozen raspberries into the other portion of batter. 
Lay the rest of the raspberries into the base of the greased bundt pan. Pour the vanilla / raspberry portion of the batter in next, followed by the chocolate portion. 
No need to swirl the two portions together - they'll expand into each other and create the marbled effect. 

Bake at 180'C for approx. 70 -80 minutes or until a cake tester inserted comes out clean.
(If the outside of the cake is browning too fast, cover with foil and continue to bake at a slightly lower temperature; extend the baking time as necessary). 

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

Dust with icing sugar before serving. 

Even your mother-in-law is going to be impressed!

Happy baking!


Sunday, 11 December 2016

Christmas Cake Topper

Well, that wraps up Tea, Cake & Create Christmas classes for 2016. (Wish I could say the same for my Christmas gift wrapping!)
And I did get around to using some green - even if it was very much in the background!

Christmas Teddy (and his Southern hemisphere friend) are made out of a modelling chocolate / fondant blend , but because it has been so damp and misty around here lately, I also added some CMC paste to the mix for the bear.

The ratio I use is 1:1 modelling chocolate to fondant.
And if I'm adding CMC paste (the paste, not the powder), I'll add approximately 1/4 of the weight of the modelling choc/ fondant blend.
So, if the blend weighs 100g (50g modelling choc + 50g fondant), the CMC paste added to that would be 25g (a quarter of the 100g).

The cake dummy is covered with a strip of red modelling chocolate / fondant blend around the sides, and a free-hand cut apron of white fondant to create the dripping icing effect.

It's such an easy way to cover a cake with fondant, especially if you've not worked with fondant much - no complicated draping and smoothing required. 

Remember if it's a fruit cake that you're covering, you need to have a layer of marzipan between the cake and the fondant to prevent the fruit acids discolouring the fondant. 

Here's some tips from BBC Good Food on covering fruit cakes:

And here's the fruit cake recipe I like to use for Christmas cakes:

Happy baking!


Monday, 5 December 2016

Christmas Cookies 2016

Last year there were some grumbles, (no names mentioned, ahem....Tara...!) about the lack of red in the Christmas cookie palette. I'd used a deep coral pink instead, but apparently that wasn't good enough ;o)

So this year there is red!
But no green.

About 4 years ago I did so many Christmas cookie classes that I couldn't bear to look at the combination of red, white and green afterwards.  I'll get over it eventually, I'm sure. (I do want to travel to Italy sometime, after all!).

Reindeer plaque inspired by Dolce Custom Cookies 
But for 2016, the colours are the same as I used for Christmas cupcakes 2 years ago. (That's how I'm measuring time, now ... in terms of class themes!)

 It feels a little odd making all these snowy creations in southern hemisphere's mid-summer, but it's a colour palette I love working with!

Snowman's scarf cookie inspired by SemiSweet Cookies 

Do you want to see a couple of work-in-progress shots? Heres the snow globe taking shape...

Flooding the background, but leaving a gap for the snowman and filling him in later, gives the cookie an interesting dimension, I think.  Just right for a snow globe... 

You'll find a post on reds here ... (and it just happens to be the last Christmas cookies I made with thattraditional trio of colours!) 

Happy Christmas decorating!