Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Beetle Drive

Unfortunately I have been unable to access this blog due to a small registering-my-email-address-incorrectly-type-error and meanwhile my little cooking experiments have been stacking up, including lavender cakes and honeycomb. However, in response to the last comment I feel I should post a picture of the cake which Liz incorrectly describes as a Mini. 

Any fool can see it is a Beetle. Made for mine and the twin’s 18th it was obviously made many moons ago and my icing looks decidedly shaky. I can’t help feeling it is rather like a combination of left over advertising brainstorming ideas for female car insurance and sanitary towels embodied in cake form. That said, digestives as wheels are always a winner and I was very young...

Saturday, 7 May 2011

You can't beat a pet giraffe

I recently ran a princess-and-monster painting competition in aid of the Alzheimer's Society to coincide with the Royal Wedding. I think you'll agree that the winning artist (6 years and 2 days) incorporated everything you'd want including a fantastic pet giraffe.

The picture reminded me of one of my very early cakes made for a cousin who is now grown-up and I even managed to find a photo.

Her favourite an animal was a giraffe. I decided the only way I could make one was to have it lying down.  The icing was butter icing with spots made from chocolate buttons. I remember being particularly proud of the chocolate-flake eye lashes and flake & smartie horns.

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Princess Meringues & Wrecks

I felt I had to make something to celebrate the royal wedding and I wanted to make something different. Why not make princesses in actual meringue wedding dresses I thought?

Well predictably they didn’t all go according to plan in fact some were so bad they deserved to be posted on the fabulous cake wreck website

What I tried to do was make a really stiff meringue mixture and pipe it into some meringue princesses with pink heads and hands. Although I cooked them at 90 oC some of them drooped and looked rather like drunken hunchbacked princesses - not the look I was after:

However a couple of them survived and I gave these chocolate hair (princesses now have dark hair naturally) and painted on eyes and lips. I even tried to rectify one of the drunk ones with a mini-egg head, and here they are:

and just so you can see how life-like they were here's a comparison!

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Choc Chip Cookies and Nest Cakes

This is my favourite choc chip cookie recipe and is very easy, perfect for Kids. You can vary it by adding some nuts instead of choc chips or combine the two. To make these cookies ‘eastery’ I put a mini egg on top of each dollop of mixture, not a total success as you can see some of these cracked.

Also included is a photo of some Easter cup cakes I made this week. They are iced to look (loosely) like nests complete with mini eggs, but here the piece de resistance(s) are the very kitsch wire chicks that I remembered from my childhood and couldn’t resist buying in a pound shop.

Choc Chip Cookies - makes 16-20
125g / 4oz Butter or Marg
50g / 2oz soft brown sugar or golden caster
1 egg beaten
150g / 5oz Self raising flour
175g / 6oz plain chocolate chopped or chocolate drops (I find that 100g of chocolate drops and 50g of nuts like hazel nuts is enough)

Heat the oven to 180oC and grease two baking sheets
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
Beat in the egg
Sift in the flour and mix
Add the chocolate chips and nuts if using
Put teaspoons of the mixture well spaced on the baking sheets and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden.
Carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool, they are a little fragile warm but will firm up as they cool.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Hen Night Cupcakes

As Easter approaches it seemed like a good time to post these cupcakes. As the title suggests I made them for a hen night but I think they also look quite Easter-y. These are for a reasonably sophisticated hen night – if I get any requests I can post what I make for a more rowdy hen night...

The cupcakes are made from a devil’s food cake recipe and hens are made from chocolate plastic. I shaped them to have very thin beaks and then dipped them in a little bit of white chocolate*. I also coloured a small amount of white chocolate red and then piped little combs and wattles (yup, that’s what the red bits are called). I put the hens here with smartie eggs but that’s because it wasn’t near Easter and I couldn’t find any mini eggs, but they would obviously be better.

Note the comb and wattles!

* when I am only melting a very little bit  of chocolate I do this in a metal measuring spoon (like these ones pictured) over boiling water, I have some spoons for measuring cups and ½ and ¼ cups which are just the right size for this.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Savoury Cake (Ham, Parmesan and Olive)

I had an unexpected day at home this week and so decided it was time to make a savoury cake having come across a recipe in a weekend paper.  I suspect this idea may have been around for a while if it has made it into a Sunday paper and has just past me by so far, but it was new to me. The recipe is by Hugh F-W. As I wasn’t terrible confident I made half the amount suggested and put it in a small loaf tin – it didn’t rise much. I also had to modify the recipe because I had black olives instead of green and no thyme.

The result? Not bad,  like a less dense savoury scone.  It is nicely flavoured  I think enhanced by the use of some baked Christmas ham which I had in the freezer.  Good with bit of salad for lunch.

The Recipe
Liquid ingredients
150ml olive oil
150ml milk
4 eggs lightly beaten

Dry Ingredients
250g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp paprika
1tsp fresh thyme
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
100g parmesan – grated
180g cooked ham chopped
130g green olives stoned and chopped.

1.       Heat oven to 200oc
2.       Grease a 1.5 litre loaf tin and line with paper
3.       Sift flour, baking powder and paprika. Add the remaining dry ingredients.
4.       Whisk the liquid ingredients together and combine with dry ingredients. Stir until just combined and put in the tin.
5.       Bake for 45-50 minutes until golden and a skewer comes out clean.
6.       Leave in the tin for 5 minutes then turn out to cool.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Chocolate Plastic and Roses

Chocolate plastic is just a more interesting (American) name for chocolate modelling icing. For my wedding cake I used ready-made ‘cocoform’ from Squires ( ) to make the roses. However it is possible to make your own using chocolate and glucose. I used to get the glucose from Boots but I discovered you can get it in a tube made by Silver Spoon from Sainsburys.

You can make it with white chocolate you and if you do this you can colour it (see right). Here is the recipe, you really need to make it the day before you want to use it, but as it is only made from chocolate and glucose you can keep it for ages in the fridge.

8 oz white (or milk) chocolate, finely chopped
¼ cup (4 tbsp) glucose

For Dark chocolate you need more glucose, about 5 tablespoons

1. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of boiling water. When it is fully melted add the glucose and stir the mixture will thicken and come away from the side of the bowl.
2. Then put the mixture in a re-sealable plastic bag and squash until it is a thin layer. Alternative wrap in cling film
3. Leave over night in the fridge or at a push put it in the freezer for an hour or so (but this isn’t so good).
4. Before use leave at room temperature for 30 minutes or blitz in the microwave for 10 sec or so. You will need to knead the mixture before you use it. I tend to knead little bits as I go. It does take a bit of kneading to get it smooth but when you have done this it will be like plasticine.

Below is a milk chocolate rose and leaf and here is a link to an American site which shows how to make more professional roses