Category Archives: cake

Halloween treats – no tricks allowed

Happy Sunday morning!?

Hopefully your day is going slightly less downhill than mine!

Husband has been in America on a “work” trip (they call them conferences – I’ve seen the pictures – there’s not a lot of working going on…), and gotten snowed in in the freak October Nor’easter.    I would like to say this is the first time such an occasion has presented itself, but he got snowed in in Switzerland just before Christmas last year (we had over a foot of snow over here – and I got to shovel the drive with a 2 year old – three times – and we have a long drive…), and delayed somewhere else also last year.  This is the man who drove to France in his 2-CV (her name is Florence ) during the volcanic ash cloud – for work.  Bless.

This has not stopped the Halloween baking, but has certainly meant that by the end of the day, I’m simply knackered, and dinner has been mostly simple, heat and eat.

We did, however, go all out for pancakes this morning:

It looks like a mix between a cat and a pig – covered in Stawberry spread and raisins (forgot to get grapes this weekend!)

I have to say it was nice having the recipe on hand in the blog from earlier!  No more googling with a desperate toddler who wants to do cooking!

The Halloween treats have been made in stages – given the limited attention span of a 3 year old, and the limited spare time of a mummy with no daddy to take the heat off (or anyone else for that matter).  So it started on Friday whilst the lady was at Kindergarten / nursery.  With the baking.  She doesn’t like to help with some of the baking because mummy is a control freak who doesn’t let her stir all over the counter.

We went for cupcakes (so she could help decorate), and some ogre finger cookies (for another post) – made in tandem, because it’s always best to multi-task, and I do have extra arms (comes with child birth, I think)…

Spooky (ish) Halloween cupcakes (makes 12)

For the cupcakes:

Based on The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook recipe:

  • 120 g plain flour (about 4 ounces)
  • 140 g caster sugar (about 5 ounces)
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 40 g unsalted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 120ml (about 4 ounces again) milk

1.  Melt butter completely in the microwave, leave to cool
2.  mix dry ingredients
3.  add egg to cooled butter and whisk
4.  make a well in the dry ingredients, then add the butter and egg until it looks like a dough

5.  Gradually mix in milk until a batter forms (this keeps the mix from getting lumpy – and I don’t think anyone likes lumpy cupcakes!)

6.  Pour into cupcake tin lined with cupcake cases (like these!!!)

7.  Bake at 170C / 340 F until the cupcakes are lightly browned and firm to the touch (about 20 -25 minutes – mine usually take the former)

8.  Decorate as desired

We did these:

I now need to go and entertain a very kind little girl who has very patiently waited for me to finish…

Severed smushed fingers later.  Promise.

Fingers crossed that our neighbour can take the little one to nursery tomorrow morning (else I will have all the Halloween treats at home, and no one to eat them – the pink cupcakes are for us), and that the airport is fully functioning in whatever part of the US the husband is currently located (we clearly do communication on a totally different level).

Have a great weekend!

g

A different kind of pumpkin pie

The Americans came, they saw and they had cake!  All was superb.

Whilst I know it was only by brother and sister-in-law visiting, they still came an awful long way to see me, (even if it was a stop over on the way to Switzerland –  I won’t hold that against them – yet), and that kind of effort deserves at least a similar cake effort.

As I noted earlier, my brother was mightily impressed when I did Beantown Baker’s Red Velvet Cheesecake cake (http://www.beantownbaker.com/2010/12/red-velvet-cheesecake-cake.html), so I wanted to recreate, but add a bit of a spin.  So out went the red velvet to make room for something more autumnal and Halloween-y!  (I love Halloween – more so since I’ve been over in the UK, as they just do it so poorly here – and it could just be sooooo good!).  In came Buttermilk spice cheesecake cake, with a Halloween twist – so here goes:

Buttermilk spice cheesecake cake – adapted from the Beantown Baker (http://www.beantownbaker.com/2010/12/red-velvet-cheesecake-cake.html)

Ingredients:

Cake:
2.5 c all purpose flour
1.5c sugar
1 tsp. baking soda / bicarb.
2Tbsp (or to taste) cinnamon
.5 Tbsp ground ginger
.25 Tbsp mace
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1.5 c vegetable oil
1 c buttermilk
Optional mix of yellow and red food colouring to turn the cake orange (or keep it the warm brown shade if preferred)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp white vinegar

Cheesecake:
575g cream cheese (I always use light, but not ultra light – adds more nutrition and I think the taste is nicer)
0.75 c sugar
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp coarse sea salt
2 eggs
0.5 c sour cream (again, I go for reduced fat here – it’s an indulgent cake, but why can’t it be indulgent and a bit more nutrient dense?)

Frosting:
– 500 g cream cheese (don’t go with light here, unless you want to up the butter content to compensate – you need the fat to make the frosting stiffer)
– 150g butter
– 900 g icing sugar (I’ll need to buy more before I can make my Christmas chocs this year :-()
– food colouring to tint – as desired

Madness:

Cake (make the cake first!):

– oven to 350 F / 170 C
– line two baking tins – I  use spring-form pans
– mix together dry ingredients in one bowl, wet in another (excluding food colouring)
– make a well in the dry ingredients and combine in wet stirring until smooth
– add food colouring to desired colour saturation
– divide batter evenly between the greased and lined cake tins (mine are non-stick – you may want to flour yours)
– bake 30 minutes, rotating half way through, until top feels firm and toothpick test is confirmed
– set to cool
– once cool, remove from tins and wash up tins
– once absolutely cool, wrap in clingfilm / plastic wrap and pop in freezer (this is not a one day bake!)

Cheesecake:
– oven to 160C/ 325F
– get a large roasting tin out which will fit the same pan in which the cake was made inside it
– line the cake tin, then wrap the outside in foil (you’re going to put it in a water bath, so wrap appropriately!)
– Beat cream cheese until it loosens, add sugar, lemon zest and juice, salt, eggs, and lastly, sour cream – beat until well combined)
– pour into prepared cake tin already sitting in roasting pan (or similar)
– pour boiling water in to roasting pan so that it comes to about halfway up cheesecake tin
– Bake 45-50 minutes, until the cheesecake looks set in the centre (it will still be wobbly, but not runny)
– Remove from water, and let cool for 20 minutes before running a knife around the sides of the tin, and releasing sides of springform pan
– let cool completely, then pop it in the fridge for a night’s sleep
– in the morning, or whenever you get a chance the next day, wrap in cling film and put in the freezer, base still attached

Assemble and decorate

– no earlier than the day before you’re ready to serve, get your cakes out of the freezer, remove wrap, and set on a wire rack to defrost
– although I didn’t do it this time, I would certainly go ahead and make your frosting at this point (start by mixing the butter and cream cheese together, then add sugar until the desired consistency is reached, then add colouring if using, adding sugar if it becomes too loose)
– when fully defrosted (important that they defrost all the way or your layers will get mushy when put together), take your cheesecake out of the freezer, unwrap, and start to defrost briefly (about 20-30 minutes)
– lay your bottom layer of cake on a plate, and apply a layer of frosting (didn’t do this, but should have done – would have been really visually fantastic!)
– prepare to detach cheesecake from base of tin – it should still be sufficiently firm to manage some manhandling at this point.
– if the cheesecake has defrosted just enough, you should be able to release it by simply turning it over, running a knife along the edge of the cake and tin base, placing it on top of the bottom layer cake, and pulling slightly – if this doesn’t work, wait a bit longer, or consider getting a hair dryer out to warm the base a bit
– once tin is removed and cheesecake is in place, peel of parchment/ greaseproof paper from base of cheesecake (which has now become the top), and top with another layer of frosting, then second cake
– frost and decorate!

<– there’s a view of the inside (pumpkin brains!) – I’m not genius at cake slicing…

Things I would have done differently:
– the frosting both under and on top of cheesecake – I only put it on top of the cheesecake
– my frosting was too runny – I should have gone full fat / more butter, although I got a smoother finish as I could use it as more of a glaze than a frosting
– put crushed nuts or chocolate sprinkles up the sides – would have looked great, but I am dealing with fussy eaters, and I don’t want to be the only one eating this cake (been there, done that)

Baking weekend – orange sponge

Sunday’s only just begun, and we’re roaring through the baking this weekend – partly so we have something sweet in the house, partly to keep Monks occupied, and partly in preparation of our visitors next week (they’re arriving on a Thursday – slightly awkward day of the week for prep reasons… but that’s okay!)

The one available to eat right now is a nice and simple orange sponge cake:

SIMPLE ORANGE SPONGE CAKE

The basics of a sponge cake are the simplest around – it’s kind of hard to go wrong – it’s all about equal proportions.

My 8-inch cake pan works best with a three egg cake, so that was my starting point.

The oven needs to be at 350 F or 170 C

Then I line the bottom of my cake tin with greaseproof paper (I still haven’t quite figured out what this translates to in the US, it’s not quite wax paper…)

Ingredients:

Cake

175g self-raising flour
175g sugar
175 g unsalted butter
3 eggs (which should weight about 175 g)
Dash of salt
zest of half a small orange
dash of orange extract

Jam of choice for filling

Orange frosting

juice of one orange
1 Tablespoon of orange extract
enough icing / powdered sugar to make it to the wanted consistency – I used around 250 g, but wanted a very stiff frosting

– warning note – I take shortcuts.  I am happy with the results.  If you don’t, well done.  But I do.

Moving swiftly along:

1.  Mix dry cake ingredients, then add wet and stir through (I even melt my butter in the microwave first…).  I add my zest to the flour and mix it in before adding the dry ingredients.  I like to think this helps it distribute better.

2.  Pour into lined cake tin and tap on counter to evenly distribute

3.  Bake for about 30 minutes, until top feels firm and toothpick tests clean.

Let cool.

If you’re more of a cake wizz than me, and you prefer shorter cakes, then slice this one in half horizontally, and proceed to filling – I don’t roll that way, so I just make two cakes – ie, do the whole thing again.

4.  Once the cakes are cool, decide how you’re going to sandwich them – I usually go bottom to bottom, and cool then top side down so I can see which one will be a better base.

5.  Plate your base cake, then spread with filling – I used apricot jam, because we had some on hand, but this would probably be amazing with orange curd – which of course, I did not have…

6. Layer cake 2 on top, then proceed to frosting!

7.  To make the frosting, I always start with my liquids first then add in the icing sugar at regular intervals until I get the frosting I want.  In this case, I started with about four heaping soup spoons of sugar, mixed that in, and repeated this about three or four times.  I wanted more of a frosting and less of a glaze.

8.  Ice and decorate (having a three year old in the house means we always have to decorate – regardless of how appropriate it may be – when we made snickerdoodles, and the decoration was simply rolling the cookie in the cinnamon sugar, there were tears because we didn’t have any pink – Bless).

My daughter had the first slice:

Apparently we have to save all the big slices for her, but mummy and daddy can have the little ones, but just the little ones, okay?

Not only does she help with the eating, she helped me make the whole thing 🙂