Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Mini Blue Ombre Cake with Sprinkles

Mini Blue Ombre Cake with Sprinkles
Just a short (and sweet!) post this week. I haven't been feeling super inspired to bake over the Easter break, and I had a few baking fails as well so that put me right off. But I did pull out one of my favourite cakes, the Ombré Cake with Sprinkles, because today is my good friend Tomred's birthday. You may remember him from the following birthday cakes: Mr. Gummy Bear Cake, Mr. Tim Tam Cake and Mr. Rolo Brownie Cake. Wow, he's gotten some pretty good cakes in the past.
Mini Blue Ombre Cake with Sprinkles
Unfortunately in my super lazy state this weekend (and with closed supermarkets), I had to make do with whatever I had in my pantry. So I decided to keep it simple and pretty, a 'naked' blue ombré cake with vanilla bean icing and lemon curd filling, topped with rainbow sprinkles (innards shot here). It's a spin on my most favourite Purple Ombré Sprinkles Cake. I made a smaller version this time, using my new favourite small 6 inch cake tins. They are seriously the best for layered cakes, I love the tall, skinny cakes I can make now. You can also use regular sized tins, you'll just end up with a shorter, wider cake like the original ombré cake. I was super nervous about making this a naked cake, because you can see EVERY single flaw and I am a messy baker who likes to cover my mistakes with loads of icing. I also had to make the difficult decision of trimming off all the edges of my cakes so you could really see the pretty blue gradient of colour in each of the layers, which made it a lot messier looking than I would have preferred. It's not perfect by any means, but it's not bad looking and more importantly it tasted great. I just love the great visual impact of the ombré and the sprinkles together. It's simple but really effective.
Mini Blue Ombre Cake with Sprinkles
Blue Ombré Cake with Sprinkles
(makes a tall 4-layer 15cm (6") cake or a shorter 4-layer 18cm (7") cake)
Note: if you want a tall 7" or 8" cake you can increase all ingredient amounts by 1.5 and adjust baking time
For the cake:
355g (about 2.5 cups) plain/all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt (if using unsalted butter, otherwise skip)
225ml (about 1 cup minus 1 tbsp) milk
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
350g (about 1 & 3/4 cups) sugar (granulated or caster)
225g (2 sticks) butter, softened
4 eggs
Blue food colour (I used Wilton royal blue icing gel colour)
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F) and grease four 15cm (6 inch) (or 18cm (7 inch), cake will be shorter) round cake tins. Line the base of the tins with baking paper. 
  2. Combine flour and baking powder in a medium bowl and set aside. Mix milk and vanilla together in a measuring jug.
  3. Using an electric mixer on low speed, beat sugar and butter in a large bowl until blended. Increase speed to high and beat well until very pale and creamy, at least 5 minutes. 
  4. Reduce speed to medium low, add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. 
  5. Alternately add flour mix and milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture (I did it by adding 1/4 of of the dry mixture followed by 1/3 of the wet mixture at a time). Beat until smooth, occasionally scraping bowl with a spatula. 
  6. Split mixture equally into four bowls (I did this by weighing my batter first). Gradually fold in a very small amount of colouring to the first bowl so it lightly tints it blue (if you add too much don't worry, just use that as one of the darker layers instead).
  7. Add slightly more colouring to the next bowl, and repeat with remaining bowls so that you end up with an even gradient of colour between them. Try your best not to over mix the batter but it is quite forgiving to being mixed a lot.
  8. Pour mixtures into prepared tins and bake until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean and the outside is golden, about 30-35 minutes (will vary depending on your cake tin size). Take cake not to overbake or cake will be dry. 
  9. Cool in tins for 15 minutes, then carefully turn out on to a wire rack to cool completely. Keep cakes chilled in fridge until you are ready to assemble. Can be stored in an airtight container overnight if you want to prep the cakes a day ahead.
For the icing:
225g (2 sticks) salted butter, softened
400g (about 2 & 2/3 cups) icing/confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or scraped seeds from 1 vanilla bean pod
  1. Place butter in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  2. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add sifted icing sugar and beat until smooth and pale. 
  3. Add vanilla and continue beating until light and fluffy.
  4. Place mixture in a large piping bag with a wide round tip
To assemble:
Optional: lemon curd (using this recipe)
  1. Trim the tops of each cake layer to ensure that they are level and equally sized. (I also decided to trim the edges of my cakes to expose the colour on the outside, but you can skip this step as it is quite messy and fiddly)
  2. Place the darkest layer on your cake stand or plate. Pipe a ring of icing just inside the edge of the cake and continue piping circles of icing inside this. I left a centre circle empty, about 5cm wide, to spoon lemon curd into the middle of each layer. 
  3. Smooth top of icing slightly with a small spatula, then sandwich the next darkest layer of cake on top. Repeat with remaining layers and icing.
  4. Using a spatula, spread a thick layer of icing over the top layer of cake. Smooth icing with spatula, then top with rainbow sprinkles. Decorate as you wish with bunting, candles etc.
  5. Keep cake chilled in fridge, remove 30 minutes before serving to allow it to come back to room temperature.
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Monday, April 14, 2014

Giant Chocolate Speckled Egg Cake

Giant Chocolate Speckled Egg Cake
IT'S A GIANT SPECKLED EGG! AND IT'S CAKE! Can I just say again how much I love Easter baking? It gives me an excuse to buy a ton of Easter eggs, and make crazy desserts with them. My house is Easter Egg City right now. I had to buy a huge bucket of speckled crispy M&Ms for these photos and now I get to eat them all muahahahahahahaha. I may have eaten a little too much sugar today.
Giant Chocolate Speckled Egg Cake
Isn't it glorious? I was 100% inspired by this amazing speckled egg cake on The Cake Blog that is so beautiful and perfect. I wanted to re-use the speckle technique but I tried it on an actual egg-shaped cake, based on this pin of a recipe from the 1950s that is AWESOME. My speckling technique is obviously nowhere near as good as the original cake, but it will have to do. Added bonus; the inside of the cake is chocolate cake with chocolate icing. It's only right that an Easter egg-shaped cake is filled with chocolate.
Giant Chocolate Speckled Egg Cake
I'm so glad that I didn't go with my original plan to create a whole, standing up 3D egg shaped cake. That thing would have been a total bitch to cover in icing. It was already fairly difficult to get this as smooth as I wanted, I spent a good hour or so smoothing out the top surface. The good thing is, you're covering the thing in speckles anyway so it hides most of the imperfections.
Giant Chocolate Speckled Egg Cake
The chocolate cake is the trusty Devil's Food Cake from David Lebovitz, I use it all the time and it's pretty much foolproof. The icing is just regular butter icing (with chocolate added to the middle layers), tinted with blue on the outside. I'm loving the pastel blue hue of the cake, it's so eye catching and what drew me to the original cake in the first place. I do realise that this cake has a LOT of icing, but it's worth it to get the full effect of the 3D egg-shape. The cake itself is really not very sweet because of all the cocoa powder, so it isn't overwhelmed by all the icing.
Giant Chocolate Speckled Egg Cake
I even brought back the helpful progress photos below so that it's slightly easier for you to see how I made it (and because it's too darn confusing to explain what I did). Okay so tips for getting this cake right: don't rush it, it takes time. Your cakes need to be COMPLETELY COOL or chilled before you start cutting into them or they will crumble and fall apart. Your icing needs to be stiff enough to hold everything together, or it will fall over when you stand your cake pieces on their side. You need to chill it again after you sandwich the chocolate icing between the layers, before you cut it into the egg shape. Don't be afraid to carve into your cake to get the right shape, I know it seems wasteful but if you want to get the egg shape right you will need to cut away the right amount from the edges of your cake. And make sure the cake is completely chilled hard before you cover it in blue icing. A small offset spatula, regularly run under hot water will make icing the outside a LOT easier. Oh and don't be dumb like me and buy the softest, finest-bristled brush to do your speckling with, it won't work. You need one with fairly stiff bristles so that it's easy to flick.
Giant Chocolate Speckled Egg Cake
Giant Chocolate Speckled Egg Cake
(cake recipe adapted from David Lebovitz's Devil's Food Cake)
For the chocolate cake:
9 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups (about 210g) cake flour (not self-raising, I just used plain flour and replaced 3 tbsp with cornflour/cornstarch)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp bicarb (baking) soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
115g (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature (I used salted butter and reduced the 1/2 tsp salt above to 1/4 tsp)
1 1/2 cups (about 300g) caster sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup whole or low-fat milk
  1. Butter and line the base of a two 8-inch (20cm) round cake tins and preheat oven to 180°C (350°F).
  2. Sift together the cocoa powder, flour, salt, bicarb soda, and baking powder in a bowl.
  3. Using an electric mixer with a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar about 5 minutes until smooth and creamy.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until fully incorporated.
  5. Mix together the water and milk. Stir half of the dry ingredients into the butter mixture, then add the milk mixture. 
  6. Finally stir in the other half of the dry ingredients until smooth. Split batter mixture between the two prepared tins. 
  7. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool in tin about 5 mins, then place on a wire rack and cool completely before icing (you can also chill your cakes overnight, this will make them easier to handle and carve).
Giant Chocolate Speckled Egg Cake
For the chocolate icing filling:
100g butter, removed from the fridge 30 minutes before starting
150g chocolate, melted (I used milk, you can also use semi-sweet or dark)
3 cups icing sugar (about 210g), sifted
1 tbsp milk
  1. Place butter in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  2. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add sifted icing sugar and beat until smooth and pale. 
  3. Add melted chocolate and milk and beat until smooth. (You can adjust the amount of milk you add to get the icing to the texture you want, you want it to be smooth but not runny) 
  4. Using a long serrated knife, level the top of your cakes so that they have a flat even surface. 
  5. Stack the cakes on top of each other and cut them in two, slightly off centre, about 1.5cm off the centre so that you have two smaller pieces and two larger pieces (see top left photo)
  6. Using an offset spatula, spread icing on the bottom of one of the larger pieces, then sandwich it with the second larger piece and stand it on its side in the middle of your cake stand or plate. Spread more icing on the base of the two smaller pieces and place each half on either side of the large pieces, so you have the two larger pieces in the middle and the two smaller pieces on the outside (see top right photo). If you have having issues with the pieces sliding or falling over then your icing and cake are not stiff enough so place both in the fridge to allow them to stiffen up a bit before continuing.
  7. Place cake in the fridge to chill until it hardens up, at least 1 hour, then use your knife to trim the outer edges to resemble an egg shape (it needs to be cut slightly narrower and lower on one end and wider and higher on the other end).
  8. Return to the fridge while you prepare the outer icing.
For the outer icing:
300g butter, removed from the fridge 30 minutes before starting
600g (about 4 cups) icing sugar, sifted
1 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Blue/teal food colouring (I used Wilton's gel icing colors)
To decorate: 3 tsp vanilla extract + 2 tsp cocoa powder (you can also add water if mixture is too thick), to speckle cake
  1. Place butter in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  2. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add sifted icing sugar and beat until smooth and pale.
  3. Carefully add colouring little by little until you reach your desired colour. 
  4. Use an offset spatula to crumb coat your cake with one layer of icing. Chill for half an hour.
  5. Cover entire cake with another layer of icing. Use an offset spatula that is regularly run under hot water to achieve a smoother finish for your egg-shaped cake. Chill again until ready to speckle.
  6. Mix vanilla and cocoa powder together in a small bowl. Cover your speckle area with lots of baking paper to protect it as speckles with go everywhere. Use a new/clean paintbrush with fairly stiff bristles and dip the tip into the mixture and practice flicking the bristles with your finger tips to create the speckle effect (more detailed instructions and photos here), before moving to the actual cake. 
  7. Keep cake chilled until ready to serve, and then remove from fridge 30 mins before serving to allow cake to soften slightly.
Giant Chocolate Speckled Egg Cake
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Monday, April 7, 2014

Hot Cross Bun Eclairs

Hot Cross Bun Eclairs
It surprises me how much I love Easter baking. It's a very close second behind Christmas as my favourite holiday to bake for. There's just so many fun ideas to play around with! For some reason I've never gotten into Halloween baking, but I'm all about the Easter bunnies and eggs and hot cross buns.
Hot Cross Bun Eclairs
So here's my latest creation that is likely to make traditional French pastry chefs curse me for messing with their lovely desserts. A hot cross bun flavoured eclair! A hot cross eclair. Looks like an eclair, tastes like a hot cross bun. It is quite delicious. And quite cute too.
Hot Cross Bun Eclairs
I flavoured the pastry cream with plenty of spices and mixed in a few sultanas, topped them with a cinnamon white chocolate glaze, white chocolate crosses and currants. I couldn't make up my mind between doing them as regular shaped eclairs or round profiteroles so they looked more like hot cross buns, so I did both! I think I still prefer the regular ones though. Anyway, this is a super impressive and light Easter dessert that will impress anyone. Don't be intimidated by the thought of making choux pastry, it's very straightforward as long as you make sure to bake your choux for long enough so they are completely dried out.
Hot Cross Bun Eclairs
Hot Cross Bun Eclairs
(choux pastry and pastry cream recipe adapted from this recipe)
For the hot cross bun pastry cream:
1 cup milk
4 tbsp cornflour/cornstarch
200g (about 1 cup) sugar (I used caster/superfine)
2 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
4 tbsp (60g) butter
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp mixed spice/allspice
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg or ground nutmeg
1.5 tsp pure vanilla extract
Optional: 1/2 cup sultanas/raisins
  1. Dissolve cornflour in 1/4 cup of milk in a medium bowl. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar in a large saucepan; bring to boil; remove from heat. 
  2. Beat the whole egg, then the yolks into the cornstarch mixture. Pour 1/3 of boiling milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs do not begin to cook. 
  3. Return the remaining milk to boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream into the saucepan, continuing whisking.
  4. Continue whisking (this is important – you do not want the eggs to solidify/cook) until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and beat in the butter, cinnamon, mixed spice, nutmeg and vanilla. Strain cream into a stainless steel/ceramic bowl, then fold in sultanas. 
  5. Press plastic wrap firmly against the surface. Chill immediately and until ready to use, at least two hours or overnight.
Hot Cross Bun Eclairs
For the choux pastry (makes about 18-20 eclairs):
3/4 cup (about 175 ml) water
6 tbsp (85 g) salted butter (or add 1/4 pinch salt if unsalted butter)
1 tbsp sugar
1 cup (about 140g) plain/all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
For egg wash (optional): 1 egg and pinch of salt
  1. Preheat oven to 220°C (425°F). Line two baking sheets with baking paper. 
  2. Combine water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally.
  3. At boil, remove from heat and sift in the flour, stirring to combine completely.
  4. Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.
  5. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and stir with a wooden spoon 1 minute to cool slightly. Add 1 egg. The batter will appear loose and shiny. As you stir, the batter will become dry-looking like lightly buttered mashed potatoes. It is at this point that you will add in the next egg. Repeat until you have incorporated all the eggs.
  6. Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip. Pipe choux about 2-3cm/1 inch apart on the baking sheets. For long eclairs, I piped them about 10cm long and 2.5 cm wide and for profiteroles I piped them about 3.5cm wide.
  7. Using a clean finger dipped in hot water, gently press down on any tips that have formed on the top of choux when piping. You want them to retain to be smoothly curved on top. Brush tops with egg wash if you wish (I totally forgot this step, oops).
  8. Bake the choux at 220°C (425°F) until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 15 minutes. Lower the temperature to 180°C (350°F) and continue baking until well-colored and dry, about 25 minutes more. (You may need to lower the temp 10 degrees or so if using fan-forced or if your choux are browning too much.) Note: It is very important that you ensure your choux are completely dried before removing them, if you remove them from the oven and they start to deflate or soften at all, return them straight to the oven as they are not dried out enough and will go soggy if filled. It will take longer than you think.
  9. Remove to a rack and cool. Can be stored in an airtight container overnight.
For the glaze:
120g good quality white chocolate
4 tbsp thickened or pure/heavy or whipping cream
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Toppings: 100g good quality white chocolate melted, currants
  1. Place pastry cream in a piping bag with a tip large enough to allow the sultanas through. 
  2. Slice horizontally into one side of each eclair, leaving the other side attached. 
  3. Pipe pastry cream into the hollow of each pastry and chill filled pastries while you prepare the glaze.
  4. In a small saucepan, heat chocolate, cinnamon and cream on low heat, stirring until smooth.  Allow to cool for a few minutes.
  5. Dip the top of each filled eclair into the melted mixture, allowing the excess to drip off. You can also smooth it with an offset spatula if needed. Place on a wire rack to set.
  6. Melt the additional white chocolate for the topping, place in a piping bag with a narrow tip. Pipe white crosses over the top of each eclair, then place currants over the top of each one. 
  7. Place eclairs in the fridge in an airtight container until ready to serve.
Hot Cross Bun Eclairs
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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Brown Butter Cake with Vanilla Bean Icing and Salted Caramel

Brown Butter Layer Cake with Vanilla Bean Icing & Salted Caramel
Last week was my blog's birthday and this week it's my husbands birthday! And even though the last week was nuts (I made my first wedding cake), I was determined to make him this cake. I had a dream about it. I'm not kidding. And when I dream about a dessert, it has to be made.
Brown Butter Layer Cake with Vanilla Bean Icing & Salted Caramel
He is not a sweet-tooth at all so most of my desserts are wasted on him, but he does love caramel. So I knew he was going to enjoy any cake so long as it was covered in masses of caramelly goodness. I'm all about the brown butter cake at the moment and this seemed like a good time to make it again. I kept the icing simple since there was enough going on with the cake and caramel, just regular butter icing with vanilla bean.
Brown Butter Layer Cake with Vanilla Bean Icing & Salted Caramel
Ooh yeah, look at that ooey, gooey mess. Usually caramel makes my teeth hurt, but salted caramel makes my heart sing. That might actually be my arteries complaining but whatever. I cannot stress how much I love this brown butter cake. It smells amazing, it tastes amazing and it's just crazy what a difference in flavour and aroma it makes when you heat that butter until it's golden brown.
Brown Butter Layer Cake with Vanilla Bean Icing & Salted Caramel
I made the most of the new skinny cake tins that I bought for the wedding cake, because I love me a tall, skinny cake. But the recipe should still work fine for a shorter, regular-sized cake. I made sure to make a thicker version of the salted caramel sauce I usually make, because I wanted the caramel to ooze enough to go down the sides of the cake but not run off the cake completely. It makes it a little messy to pour it on at first because it's so sticky and slow to pour, but it sets really nicely in the fridge. You might notice that he was a good husband and let his weirdo blogging wife cut into his birthday cake so that all of you get a pretty innards shot of the cake. Best husband.
Brown Butter Layer Cake with Vanilla Bean Icing & Salted Caramel
Brown Butter Cake with Vanilla Bean Icing and Salted Caramel
(makes a 4-layer 6"/15cm or a 3-layer 7"/18cm cake)
For the brown butter cake:
300g (2 & 2/3 sticks) butter (I used salted, add 1/4 tsp salt if using unsalted)
360g (approx 2 & 1/2 cups) plain/all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
240ml (about 1 cup) milk
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
330g (approx 1 & 1/2 cups) granulated sugar (I used caster/superfine) 
4 large eggs 
Prepare the brown butter ahead of time as you will need to chill it:
  1. Place butter in a small saucepan on low heat and stir until it melts completely.
  2. Continue cooking, stirring frequently until the milk solids turn brown and the butter smells nutty, about 5 minutes longer. Take care not to burn (it will continue to brown even after you remove it from the heat, so take it off early).
  3. Scrape the melted butter and browned bits into small bowl and chill until solidified (about half an hour in the freezer, an hour or so in the fridge). When ready to make cake, remove from the fridge long enough that the butter is soft enough to be beaten with an electric mixer.
For the cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F) and grease four 15cm (6 inch) or three 18cm (7 inch) round cake tins. Line the base of the tins with baking paper. 
  2. Combine flour and baking powder in a medium bowl and set aside. Mix milk and vanilla together in a measuring jug.
  3. Using an electric mixer on low speed, beat sugar and brown butter in a large bowl until blended. Increase speed to high and beat well until very pale and creamy, at least 5 minutes. 
  4. Reduce speed to medium low, add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. 
  5. Alternately add flour mix and milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture (I did it by adding 1/4 of of the dry mixture followed by 1/3 of the wet mixture at a time). Beat until smooth, occasionally scraping bowl with a spatula. 
  6. Pour equal amounts of mixture into prepared tins and bake until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean and the outside is golden, about 30-35 minutes (will vary depending on your cake tin size). Take cake not to overbake or cake will be dry. 
  7. Cool in tins for 15 minutes, then carefully turn out on to a wire rack to cool completely. Can be stored in an airtight container overnight if you want to prep the cakes a day ahead.
Brown Butter Layer Cake with Vanilla Bean Icing & Salted Caramel
For the salted caramel:
200g sugar (about 1 cup)
100g (7 tbsp) salted butter
1/3 cup thickened/heavy cream 
Additional sea salt flakes, to taste
  1. Place sugar in a heavy-based medium to large saucepan on medium heat and whisk until it stars to melt (it may clump together but this is okay), continue whisking until all the sugar melts down.
  2. Add a sugar thermometer to the pan and continue cooking without stirring, swirl the pan occasionally to stop the bottom from burning. 
  3. Heat until mixture turns dark golden in colour and the sugar thermometer reaches 180°C (350°F), then add all the butter at once. Take care as mixture will bubble up.
  4. Whisk until the butter is incorporated, then add cream (mixture will bubble up again) and whisk until smooth. Pour into a heatproof bowl. and allow to cool slightly. 
  5. When cool enough to taste, add extra salt to taste. Chill until ready to pour over cake (chilled mixture will be quite thick so you might want to bring it back to room temperature to make it easier to pour over the top of the cake).
For the icing: (note that this was just enough icing to cover a 4 layer 15cm cake, not sure if you will need more for a wider/shorter cake)
400g salted butter (add 1/4 tsp salt if using unsalted), softened
600g icing sugar (confectioner's sugar), sifted
1/3 cup milk
2 vanilla bean pods, seeds scraped (or 2 tsp vanilla bean paste)
  1. Place butter in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high.
  2. With the mixer on low, gradually add icing sugar and mix until incorporated. 
  3. Add vanilla bean seeds and milk and beat on high until very pale and fluffy.
  4. Place first layer of cake on your cake stand or plate. Spread a layer of icing over the top of the cake, using an offset spatula. Sandwich with another layer of cake and then repeat with remaining cake layers.
  5. Crumb coat cake and then chill cake for about 30 mins.
  6. Cover cake with the remaining icing and chill again for another hour before pouring salted caramel over the top of the cake. 
  7. Keep cake chilled in the fridge, remove 30 mins before serving to allow it to come back to room temperature.
Brown Butter Layer Cake with Vanilla Bean Icing & Salted Caramel
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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Raspberry Swirl Cupcakes for raspberri cupcakes' 5th Birthday!

Raspberry Swirl Cupcakes
Today raspberri cupcakes is 5 years old! Can you believe it? I can't. I'm pretty sure in blogging years that is a decently long time. I couldn't let an occasion like this go by without any acknowledgement, even though things are crazy in my part of the world at the moment. So of course, I made raspberry cupcakes for raspberri cupcakes. Swirly ones.
Raspberry Swirl Cupcakes
Aren't they pretty? I mixed some raspberry compote into the white chocolate icing, and also some raspberry puree into the white cupcake batter. Strangely enough the batter turned a sort of purple shade, which matched the paper liners. I thought it was appropriate since purple is my favourite.
Raspberry Swirl Cupcakes
The cakes on their own didn't taste as strong as I had hoped, so you might want to try mixing in whole raspberries if you want a bigger raspberry flavour in the cake. The icing was also a little salty for my liking, so I've switched it in the recipe below to use unsalted butter. But I loooove how the swirlyness turned out. So purdy. It helps that I invested in some nice big new piping bags so it was easy to fill it half with white and half with pink icing to achieve the perfect swirl.
Raspberry Swirl Cupcakes
It's so weird to think about how far this blog has come from its humble beginnings. I never would have imagined how many amazing experiences and wonderful friends I would get from starting this little website and I feel super lucky because of that. This blog has become part of my life and hopefully will continue to be part of my future. To those of you who read my blog, try my recipes, comment here or on facebook or instagram or write me messages or emails, thank you so much. You can't imagine how much it means to me. There have been so many times where I've had fleeting thoughts about whether it was worth the effort to keep going with the blog, and then I've gotten a sweet email or comment from a reader and it just reaffirms that it is always worth it.
Raspberry Swirl Cupcakes
So cupcakes for everyone! I wish I could send one out to each and every one of you but I can't, raspberries are 7 bucks a punnet and I would go broke. But I wish I could! Anyway I hope that I can keep doing what I'm doing, because it's been a blast. Happy 5th Birthday to my little blog!
Raspberry Swirl Cupcakes
Aaaaaannd GIF!
Raspberry Swirl Cupcakes
(makes about 20 cupcakes, cake adapted from i am baker's Perfect White Cake, icing from Cookies and Cups)
For the icing:
150g (about 1 punnet/5.5oz) raspberries (frozen or fresh), pureed and strained (about 1/2 cup strained puree)
Finely grated rind of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup sugar (50g)
340g (1.5 cups) butter (preferably unsalted, I used salted and found it too salty in this case)
255g (9oz/1.5 cups of chips) good quality white chocolate (min 30% cocoa solids, do NOT use baking chocolate), finely chopped
Optional: Fresh raspberries for decoration
  1. Prepare the icing ahead of time as it will need to be chilled before whipping.  Place butter and white chocolate in a large saucepan and melt over low heat, stirring regularly until smooth (the solids may separate but this is okay). 
  2. Remove from heat and cool for 10 minutes, then chill in the fridge until solid, about 3 hours. If you are impatient like me you can stick it in the freezer for about half an hour.
  3. Place raspberry puree, lemon rind and sugar in a small saucepan on medium/low heat and simmer until mixture has thickened and darkened slightly, about 10-15 minutes. 
  4. Remove from heat and cool for 10 minutes, then chill in the fridge for at least half an hour. (You can skip this step and replace this with 1/3 cup raspberry jam to save time) 
  5. Before you are ready to decorate your cupcakes, remove white chocolate mixture from fridge at least 30 mins ahead of time to allow it to soften slightly.
  6. Place white chocolate mixture in a large mixing bowl and beat on high with an electric mixer until very light and fluffy.
  7. Place 1/3 of the mixture in a separate bowl and fold in raspberry mixture or jam until combined.
  8. Prepare a large piping bag with a star tip, fill one side along the length of the bag with the raspberry icing and the other side with plain white icing and pipe over cupcakes in a spiral motion. (About 1 part pink to 2 parts white icing will work best)
  9. Optional: Top cupcake with fresh raspberry for decoration.
Raspberry Swirl Cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
150g (about 1 punnet/5.5oz) raspberries (frozen or fresh), pureed and strained (about 1/2 cup strained puree) 
295g (about 2 cups + 1 tbsp) plain flour
4 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)
2/3 cup milk at room temperature
6 large egg whites at room temperature
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
350g (1 3/4 cups) granulated sugar (I used caster)
4 tsp baking powder
170g (1 1/2 sticks butter), softened but still cool (I used salted, add 1 tsp salt if using unsalted)
Optional: 50g raspberries, chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Line two cupcake trays with cupcake papers.
  2. Triple sift flour and cornflour together in a medium bowl.
  3. Make sure milk and eggs are room temperature.
  4. Pour raspberry puree, milk, egg whites, and vanilla into a medium bowl and mix with a fork until blended.
  5. Mix flour mixture, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of electric mixer at slow speed. Add butter, cut into cubes and continue beating on low for about 1-2 minutes.
  6. Add all but 1/2 cup of milk mixture to flour mixture and beat at medium speed for 1 & 1/2 minutes. Add remaining 1/2 cup of milk mixture and beat for about 1 minute. Optional: fold in extra chopped raspberries at this point.
  7. Fill cupcake papers 3/4 full with batter (an ice cream scoop helps with this).
  8. Bake until toothpick/skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool in tin for 5 minutes, then carefully remove from tin and cool completely on a wire rack.
  9. Pipe icing mixture above, store iced cupcakes in fridge, removing 15 minutes before serving to allow icing to soften slightly. Icing will melt if left at room temperature for too long.
Raspberry Swirl Cupcakes

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Monday, March 17, 2014

Irish Cream Cheesecake

Irish Cream Cheesecake
Happy St. Patrick's Day! I made a dessert at the last minute for today, so apologies that this recipe is probably going up a little too late for anyone else to actually make this year. Unless you're a big fan of Baileys and you just want to make it any time of the year. I'm not actually too keen on the stuff, but I thought it would be nice to make this for my workmates who are celebrating today. A cheesecake for Irish Cream lovers, it has a strong kick to it that might not be to everyone's tastes.
Irish Cream Cheesecake
Sorry for the radio silence over the last couple of weeks, it's been a hard slog. Unfortunately things are going to be pretty nuts for the next few months, so weekly posts are becoming harder and harder. It's starting to drive me a little batty, I love baking up a storm and making a big mess in the kitchen and I start to get antsy if I haven't baked in a while.
Irish Cream Cheesecake
So this weekend I made this cheesecake! It's the chilled kind, so it was really quick to make. Well it would have been really quick to make if I had made it correctly the first time. I swear everything I've made in the last month I've had to redo at least once because of a dumb mistake I've made. It's not a good precedent, especially when I'm making my first wedding cake at the end of this month. Eek! I also got a little tipsy from tasting the mixture a lot, it definitely has a kick to it. I reduced the amount of Bailey's on my second attempt, and you could reduce it even more if you want a milder flavour.
Irish Cream Cheesecake
I went the an Oreo crust this time. I do love an Oreo crust. Any old biscuit crust would work great with this cheesecake, but I think the dark crumbs look nice with the fluffy, pale cheesecake mixture in.
Irish Cream Cheesecake
A word of warning; do NOT put green M&Ms on this cheesecake and then put it in the fridge overnight. It will turn into a lumpy green puddle of mess. It's not pretty. If you do want to decorate it as its seen in the photos, pop the M&Ms on at the last minute. Trust me.
Irish Cream Cheesecake
Baileys (Irish Cream) Cheesecake
(adapted from my Milo Cheesecake recipe)
For the crust:
1 packet (200g) Oreos (or other biscuit of your choice), including centres
50g (3.5 tbsp) butter, melted
  1. Grease and line the base of an 18cm (7inch) or 20cm (8 inch) springform cake tin with baking paper (I used 18, you may want to use an extra half packet of Oreos if using 20cm to ensure a good crust thickness). 
  2. Place biscuits in a food processor and blend until crushed to small crumbs, then add melted butter and blend until just combined.
  3. Press mixture in an even layer on the base of the prepared tin.

For the filling:
300ml (about 1 1/4 cups) thickened (heavy) cream
340g (12oz) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (100g) sugar (I used caster/superfine)
150ml Baileys or any other Irish Cream
3 & 1/2 tsp powdered gelatine
Optional: Green M&Ms to decorate right before serving (I needed two large bags to get enough green ones)
  1. Whip cream in a mixing bowl until it reaches soft peaks (take care not to overmix). Chill until ready to use.
  2. Place cream cheese in a separate large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high until smooth. Add sugar and beat until combined. 
  3. Place gelatine in a small separate bowl with 3 tbsp cold water to soften it.
  4. Place Baileys in a small saucepan on medium heat, add softened gelatin and whisk to combine. Continue whisking over heat until dissolved. Ensure there are no lumps.
  5. Add warm gelatine mixture to cream cheese and beat until smooth. 
  6. Fold in whipped cream until smooth and then pour mixture over crumb layer. 
  7. Chill for at least 3 hours or overnight. 
  8. To serve, run a thin-bladed knife under hot water and then carefully run around the edge of the pan to loosen it. Carefully remove from pan and serve, or store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to serve. 
  9. Optional: When ready to serve, decorate with green M&Ms (don't do this too early as M&Ms colour will bleed into cheesecake after a while)
Irish Cream Cheesecake
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Monday, March 3, 2014

Malted Milk Chocolate Brownies with Maltesers

Malted Milk Chocolate Brownies with Maltesers
It was the perfect weekend for baking this weekend (but not so much for photography). It was grey and dreary, it was wet and miserable. No better time to make your whole house smell like delicious, freshly baked brownies. And not just any regular brownie either, a chewy, malted milk chocolate brownie full of Maltesers (malted milk balls) to give it crunch.
Malted Milk Chocolate Brownies with Maltesers
Don't let their dimpled, scraggly appearance put you off. These brownies are the bees knees. The cat's pajamas. I went one step further and did a light sprinkling of Milo (chocolate malt) powder over the top before putting it in the oven, which created an extra chewy, chocolatey crust over the top. It's up to you if you want to do that, or sprinkle crushed Maltesers over the top. It seemed like opinions were divided when I floated the idea with those of you on Facebook and Instagram, so I'll leave it up to you!
Malted Milk Chocolate Brownies with Maltesers
Now you might think these seem over the top and super sugary, but keep in mind that I seriously reduced the amount of sugar from the original brownie recipe so it's really not too sweet at all. The original recipe is David Lebovitz's and is so amazing, it's now my go-to brownie recipe. (Link is below if you want it.)
Malted Milk Chocolate Brownies with Maltesers
I couldn't resist trying it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It was pretty awesome.
Malted Milk Chocolate Brownies with Maltesers
As with any brownie, the important thing is to ensure you don't overbake them. I usually take mine out of the oven quite early because I know that they'll keep cooking a little longer as they cool inside the pan. The hardest part is always the wait as they cool. They smell SO good and all you want to do is have a taste but you must resist! They will slice much better once they are cooled. Now go make them!
sbs
Edited to add: I'm very lucky to be featured in SBS Feast Magazine this month! They were lovely enough to include five of my recipes! Make sure to grab a copy of the April issue (pictured above), which is on stands today.
Malted Milk Chocolate Brownies with Maltesers
Malted Milk Brownies with Maltesers
85g (3oz / 6 tbsp) butter, cut into pieces (I used salted, add a pinch of salt if using unsalted)
225g (8oz) good quality milk chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup (50g) sugar
1/2 cup malted milk powder (or Horlicks/Milo/Ovaltine powder)
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup (35 g) all-purpose flour 
1 cup Maltesers/malted milk balls (about 100g)
Optional: extra Milo powder or malted milk powder to sprinkle on top, or crushed Maltesers
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F), I'd recommend lowering it to 170°C if using fan-forced. 
  2. Grease well and line the bottom and two long sides of a 20x30cm slice/brownie tin  or a 20cm square cake tin. Let the baking paper hang over the edges of two sides, it will make it easier to lift brownie out later. Grease the paper lightly as well.
  3. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter, then add the chocolate and stir over low heat until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Stir in the sugar and malted milk powder until combined (it may go grainy at this point, but this is okay). 
  4. Remove from the heat and stir in the eggs one at a time until smooth. 
  5. Add the flour and stir energetically for just a minute, until the batter loses its graininess, becomes smooth and glossy, and pulls away a bit from the sides of the saucepan. 
  6. Fold in Maltesers and scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and sprinkle a small amount of Milo powder over the top.
  7. Bake until the center feels almost set, about 27-30 minutes. Don’t overbake. 
  8. Let cool completely in the pan before lifting out the brownies using the baking paper overhang. Slice into 12 or 16 equal pieces. 
  9. Store in in airtight container, can be stored for 4 days or frozen for up to a month. 
Malted Milk Chocolate Brownies with Maltesers
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