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Bakewell Tart

What is a Bakewell Tart you may ask?  Well, before I tell you, let me show you…

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See that right there.  That’s a Bakewell Tart.  Basically, it’s  a pastry party in your mouth.

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So, let’s talk about what makes this dessert so life-changing, and how I discovered it.

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For starters, I have been baking what’s called a Pear Frangipane Tart for a good 12 months or so now, as some of you may have seen on my Insta feed.  We first discovered it on the menu at one of our fave restaurants since life – Gemelli, where the atmosphere is always electric, and the pasta will transport you on the highway to carb euphoria.  But let’s get back to dessert .  A pear frangipane tart is a short crust pastry case, filled with frangipane which is made using almond flour and really is a delicious, velvety, almost custard like filling, slotted with poached pears, and glazed with a jam reduction.   It’s nothing short of insanely delicious, and always attracts fabulous commentary, and a request for seconds from those who I feed it to.  In case you didn’t notice, I’m a feeder…

That Pear Frangipane Tart was Tom’s favorite dessert, until 2 weeks ago.

Q: the Bakewell Tart!

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I’m going to cut a long story short.  Tom, who disagreed with my observation that he enjoys British style cuisine a fair amount of the time, ate the proverbial humble pie when I presented him with this tart.  (which just for the record, is a traditionally English confection).  I know, because I specifically researched “traditional English desserts” before I went ahead and baked it, and presented it to him, made with a heap of love, and a side of curiosity around my aforementioned theory.

I was happy he loved it, as I find his enjoyment of English fare quite endearing.  Furthermore, I love cooking British style food, and trying hearty new recipes for me lovah.

This is now officially his favorite dessert.

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In a nutshell, or for the case of this post, a pie shell… This tart is made in almost the same way as my pear frangipane tart.  The difference is, that once the pie crust is almost baked, I cool it down, layer it with a nice amount of good quality strawberry jam, fill it with the frangipane, bake it, and top it with toasted almond flakes, a drizzle of lemon sugar glaze, and dust with with snow sugar.  It’s quicker to make than the pear frangipane, and it’s just confection perfection!

Let’s say that again, it’s CONFECTION PERFECTION!

Just before I give you the recipe, rest assured, the pastry case is not that difficult to make, it gets easier every time you make it, and it’s totally worth all the effort and time!

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Bakewell Tart

Makes 1 round tart

Pastry Ingredients/equipment:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup caster (granulated) sugar

1/2 t salt

135g butter (cubed and very cold)

1 egg yolk

1/4 cup ice water (plus extra in case needed)

Tart tin

Butter to grease

Baking paper

Baking beads or 1 cup rice

Flat bottom glass filled with ice

Bowl of ice water

Filling Ingredients:

7T soft butter

3/4 cup caster (granulated sugar)

1 cup almond flour

1 1/2 t cornstarch

3T all purpose flour

1 whole egg

2 egg whites

2t vanilla extract

1t almond extract

1 cup of strawberry jam

Topping Ingredients:

1/4 cup powdered sugar

2T lemon juice

3/4 cup almond flakes

1T powdered sugar to dust

Method:

Pastry:

  1. Prepare a tart tin with a lose base by greasing it lightly with butter, then pop it into the freezer to get cold.
  2. Have all your pastry ingredients measured and ready, along with your food processor, a bowl of ice water, and a flat bottom drinking glass filled with ice.
  3. In the food processor, add the flour, sugar and salt, then pulse to combine well.
  4. Add the butter in small amounts, pulsing for a few seconds after each addition.  The consistency should start to resemble bread crumbs.
  5. Add the egg yolk and pule again a few times to combine.
  6. Now add the ice cold water in small amounts, pulsing a few times after each addition.  The consistency should start to come together and look quite chunky.  Test it by opening the food processor, and pressing some of the pastry together between your fingers.  It should be moist enough to hold it’s shape, but not so moist that it sticks to your fingers.  That is when you will know it’s ready.  If it’s too moist, add a little more flour and sugar and pulse again until you reach the desired texture.
  7. Tip the pastry into the chilled tart tin, and working quickly with clean hands, press it up the sides and into the base.  Keep cleaning your hands in the ice water then wiping them whilst you work.  Finally, using the ice filled glass, press the bottom of it into the base gently to get it smooth.  Also keep wiping it clean, then press it into and against the sides.  Smooth the edges, then pop the tin into the freezer for approximately 1 hour to chill.
  8. Just before the hour passes, pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C.
  9. Remove the tart from the freezer, poke a few holes into the base with a fork, and place the baking paper into the base.  Fill it with your baking beads or rice.
  10. Blind bake the pastry for approximately 30 minutes, until the edges start to turn golden brown.  Remove it and allow it to come to room temperature.

Filling:

  1. When the pastry base has cooled, pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C and begin on the filling.
  2. Firstly, fill the base with your jam, ensuring you get a good layer of coverage.
  3. Then, in a bowl fitted to an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar.
  4. Add the almond flour and combine.
  5. Add the egg and egg whites, vanilla and almond extract and mix further.
  6. Finally, sift in the flour and cornstarch, scrape down the sides of the bowl and combine.
  7. Carefully pour the filling into the pastry case, smoothing it gently over the jam layer.
  8. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, until the top of the cake is golden brown, and firm to the touch.
  9. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool on a wire rack for about 20 minutes, before removing the sides of the tin carefully.

Topping:

  1. Toast your almonds using the grill function in your oven, watching carefully so they do not burn.  Alternatively, my preferred method is to toast them in a pan over a low heat.  Allow them to cool.
  2. To make the glaze, mix the lemon juice and powdered sugar to form a smooth consistency.
  3. Top the tart with the toasted almonds, and then drizzle over the glaze.
  4. Finally dust the tart with powdered sugar, using a sieve.

This tart is best served warm, with a dollop of whipped cream and some fresh strawberries.   It keeps really well for a couple of days in a sealed container.  In fact, Tom says it tastes even better on day 2…  You be the judge.

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Until next time…

 

Light as a Cloud Angel Food Cake

This cake is so light and fluffy you just float away with every bite.

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And, it’s dairy free!

Sometimes I make it for Thomas during the week as an after dinner treat.  We are very health conscious in this home when it comes to putting good fuel into our bodies, but we also LOVE food, and we love treats.  Thomas has a sweet tooth which means I need to get creative with less indulgent but still delicious confections from time to time.

This cake is a great option to satisfy those cake lovers, but to keep it simple and lower on calories than a regular piece of butter sponge cake.

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Because it’s made with mostly whipped egg whites, it forms a delicious, crispy outer crust.  The inside is soft and light, it almost melts in your mouth.

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You can choose to dust it with powdered sugar or to keep it plain.  It’s lovely on it’s own, or served with some fresh fruit, a bit of jam, and or some whipped cream if you’re taking it up a level.

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And, it’s so quick and easy to make, it will take no more than 1 hour and you’re done.

Angel Food Cake

Makes one 6 inch round cake (using a bundt or chiffon cake pan)

Ingredients:

7 large egg whites

¾ cup all-purpose or cake flour

1 cup caster sugar

1t almond extract

2t vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

1/8t cream of tartar

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.  Grease and flour dust the cake pan.
  2. In a bowl fitted to an electric mixer, or using a handheld mixer, beat the egg whites until foamy.
  3. Add the cream of tartar, beat until soft peaks then add ½ cup of the sugar, almond extract and vanilla.  Continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
  4. Sift the flour, salt and the other half cup of sugar and whisk to mix.
  5. Fold the dry ingredients into the egg whites until combined.
  6. Pour the mixture into the tin, and cut through it with a knife to knock out any large air pockets.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes, until golden on the outside, and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  8. Dust with powdered sugar and enjoy plain, or with jam and whipped cream.

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Until next time…

A birthday party dessert table

I want to share this post because it’s special in so many ways.

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Not only did I get to spend a day baking again, something I haven’t done in ages, (because I have become very diligent about my food allergies, as well as my health and fitness routine), but I got to bake for one of the most treasured people in my life, my partners daughter Roxy.  Hence, the giant R.  This family I am a part of has filled my heart and my life in ways I could not even have dreamt of.

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Roxy trusted me entirely to throw a birthday brunch for her and about 20 of her friends, and being the complete control crazy, party organizing planner I am, I was embracing every aspect and completely in my element!

The theme was yellow with a hint of green, given it was a day-time event, and Roxy is just a true ray of sunshine in our lives, the color was completely appropriate for this happy occasion, and happy soul we were celebrating.

In terms of catering, we had a great variety of different cheeses, cold meats, fruit, accompaniments, jams, dips, crudites, snacks, lots of carbs, and of course, lots of bubbly!!

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Of course, my favorite part (in fact everyone’s), was the dessert table.  All home-baked, made up of chocolate chip sugar cookies, white chocolate rocky road loaded with goodies, and a three layer lemon curd cake, accompanied by lemon curd cupcakes.  We also had some sweets and treats on the side, and everyone got to take home a candy bag of goodies, as well as a box of baked faves.  Needless to say, there was a mere single cupcake, and a couple of slices of cake left for my guy to enjoy.

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I had such fun doing this event, especially because I got to put so much love into it.  Doing things yourself, IF you have the time, is always so much more rewarding, I highly recommend you try it if you get the opportunity.  Key is to be well organised and prepared in advance, and then to have a lot of fun with it!

Until next time…

Mini Marble Blender Cheesecakes

Easter is just around the corner, and…………………………………………………go chocolate!!!!

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If you’re hosting an Easter get together, these are the perfect, easy to make, delicious treat.

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And, they’re pretty too.  Who doesn’t love cheesecake?  And who doesn’t love the best of both, chocolate and vanilla? These little treats are also studded with dark chocolate chips, all the more, more!

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And the best news (aside from how delicious they are), is that you can make the entire batch in a food processor, little fuss, quick and easy, a big batch of 24 in under an hour.

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Mini Marble Blender Cheesecakes

(Makes 24)

Base:

200g Biscuits (I used Tennis Biscuits)

4T salted butter (melted)

2T Cocoa powder

Cheesecake:

750g medium fat cream cheese at room temp

1 cup caster (granulated) sugar

2 eggs

2T plain flour

1 cup sour cream

2 tsp vanilla essence

3T cocoa powder

¾ cup dark chocolate chips

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees C, and line cupcake trays with paper cups.
  2. In a food processor, whizz the biscuits until fine. Once finely crushed, add the melted butter and sifted cocoa powder, and mix until well combined.  If the mixture is too dry, add a little more melted butter.  Scoop the biscuit mixture into the cups and using the back of a tablespoon, press down so the base is compact.  Place the trays in the fridge for the bases to set.
  3. Clean out the food processor and move onto making the cheesecake mixture.
  4. Whizz the cream cheese until smooth.
  5. Add the eggs and combine, followed by the sugar.
  6. Add the sour cream and vanilla and blend, followed by the sifted flour.  Remember to scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure the ingredients are well incorporated.
  7. Scoop out half the mixture and set aside.
  8. Add the sifted cocoa powder to the remaining mixture and blend until incorporated.  Stir in the chocolate chips, and reserve a few to top.
  9. Remove the cupcake trays from the fridge.  Scoop half the vanilla and half the chocolate mixture into each cup, then using a fork, form swirls to give the marble effect.  Top with a couple of chocolate chips.
  10. Bake for approximately 20 to 25 minutes, until the centre is firm to the touch.
  11. Remove the cheesecakes from the oven and allow them to cool in the trays for about 10 minutes, before carefully transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.  They can be stored in the fridge, or at room temperature in an airtight container.

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Until next time…

Vanilla Cream Fruit Cupcakes

I don’t like to boast, but I was pretty proud of how these beauties turned out…

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My guy asked me to bake for some international business guests he had visiting, so I stuck with a classic, vanilla bean cupcakes with a creamy, buttery frosting, topped with fresh seasonal fruit.  Sometimes, the simple things in life are just the best!

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The cake mix is a winner, it’s one of my main “go to” recipes if I want a classic, fluffy and moist vanilla cupcake.

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And the frosting is dreamy.  I used quite a lot of fresh cream in it, and it was sweet and silky smooth, dotted with those little vanilla specks, and so delicious, one of the guests had to go back for a second almost immediately after finishing the first.

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So if you’re looking for an easy, quick, delicious crowd pleaser in a cupcake, these are for you. And, they’re pretty as a picture, so sure to impress on look and taste!  Note, they are best baked and served fresh, same day.

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Vanilla Cream Fruit Cupcakes

(makes 24 cupcakes)

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose or cake flour

3t baking powder

½t salt

1 ¼ cups salted butter (softened)

1 ¾ cups caster sugar (granulated)

6 large egg whites

3t vanilla paste

1 ¼ sour cream

½ cup whole milk

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C, and line cupcake trays with paper cups.
  2. In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt, whisk to mix well and set aside.
  3. In a bowl fitted to an electric mixer, beat the butter until glossy and light in colour (about 3 minutes).
  4. Add the sugar to the butter in small amounts, mixing well. Once all the sugar is added, beat on a high speed until the mixture turns pale and fluffy (about 6 minutes).
  5. Crack your egg whites into a bowl, then add to the butter mixture and incorporate on a low speed until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the vanilla, and mix further.
  6. Alternate adding the flour, milk and sour cream to the butter mixture in three parts, mixing on a low speed after each addition. Remember to scrape down the sides of the bowl and ensure all ingredients are combined.
  7. Scoop the mixture into the paper cups no more than 2/3 of the way full.
  8. Bake for approximately 15 minutes (ovens vary so watch when the top of the cupcakes begin to turn golden), testing the centre of a cupcake with a cake tester or toothpick to ensure it comes out clean.
  9. Remove the cupcakes from the oven and allow them to cool for 10 minutes, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Frosting Ingredients:

2 cups salted butter (softened)

4 cups powdered sugar

½ cup cream

3t vanilla paste

Method:

  1. In a bowl fitted to an electric mixer, beat the butter on a high speed until it turns pale (approximately 5 minutes).
  2. Sift the powdered sugar into a separate bowl. (This ensures a smoother consistency in the frosting).
  3. Add the powdered sugar, and the cream to the butter mixture in small amounts, combining after each addition.
  4. Frost the cupcakes using a piping bag and nozzle of your choice, and decorate with fresh berries.

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Until next time…

Champagne Cupcakes

Champagne and cupcakes, two of my favorite things in life.  Let’s combine them!

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These fluffy little cups of cake are so ideal for Valentines day, or any special occasion for something a bit novel, and they are delicious.

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They’re easy to make, best served fresh on the day, and you can actually taste the champagne in them, so the proof really is in the pudding!  I topped them with some silver shimmer powder for that extra bit of glam.

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If you’re someone who does not drink alcoholic beverages, simply substitute the champagne for a non-alcoholic sparkling wine.

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Champagne Cupcakes

Makes 24 Cupcakes

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose or cake flour

3t baking powder

½t salt

1 ¼ cups salted butter (softened)

2 cups caster sugar (granulated)

5 large egg whites

1t vanilla extract or paste

¼ cup buttermilk

1 cup champagne (I used a Brut champagne)

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C, and line cupcake trays with paper cups.
  2. In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt, whisk to mix well and set aside.
  3. In a bowl fitted to an electric mixer, beat the butter until light in colour (about 3 minutes).
  4. Add the sugar to the butter in small amounts, mixing well. Once all the sugar is added, beat on a high speed until the mixture turns pale and fluffy (about 6 minutes).
  5. Crack your egg whites into a bowl, then add to the butter mixture and combine well on a medium speed, ensuring you scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  6. Add the vanilla and buttermilk and combine on a low speed until the batter is smooth.
  7. Alternate adding the flour and champagne to the butter mixture in three parts, mixing on a low speed after each addition, again remembering to scrape down the sides.
  8. Scoop the mixture into the paper cups no more than 2/3 of the way full.
  9. Bake for approximately 15 minutes (ovens vary so watch when the top of the cupcakes begin to turn golden), testing the centre of a cupcake with a cake tester or toothpick to ensure it comes out clean.
  10. Remove the cupcakes from the oven and allow them to cool for 10 minutes, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Frosting Ingredients:

2 cups salted butter (softened)

250g good quality cream cheese

4 cups powdered sugar

2T champagne

1t vanilla extract

Method:

  1. In a bowl fitted to an electric mixer, beat the butter on a high speed until it turns pale (approximately 5 minutes).
  2. Add the cream cheese and beat for another minute until smooth.
  3. Sift the powdered sugar into a separate bowl, one cup at a time. (This ensures a smoother consistency in the frosting).
  4. Add the powdered sugar to the butter mixture in small amounts, combining after each addition.
  5. When adding the final cup of powdered sugar, add the champagne and vanilla with it and then combine.
  6. If the frosting is too soft, place in the fridge to cool for approximately 30 minutes, or until it begins to stiffen.
  7. Frost the cupcakes and decorate as desired.

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Until next time…

Chocolate Fudge Cake for Two

How romantic ??

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With V-day just around the corner, here’s the perfect treat for you and a loved one.

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What better to share on a day of romance, than a home-baked, chocolate fudge cake?

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This cake is every chocolate lovers dream, with it’s moist and slightly dense centre, and it’s rich, chocolaty, fudgy frosting, topped with some sweet little marshmallows, it’s just the best treat to dig into – day or night, or midnight for that matter.

All you need is love…

And two forks!

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Don’t expect leftovers…

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Chocolate Fudge Cake for Two

(makes 2, round 5″ cake tins”)

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups all purpose flour

1 ¼ t baking powder

½ t salt

½ cup salted butter (softened)

1 cup caster (granulated) sugar

2 whole eggs (room temperature)

½ cup sour cream

½ cup strong hot coffee

¼ cup cocoa powder

1t vanilla extract (or paste)

50g dark chocolate, chopped

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C, line baking tins with baking paper or parchment, and grease the sides with a thin film of butter.
  2. In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt, whisk to mix and set aside.
  3. In a bowl fitted to an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth (2 minutes). Add the sugar slowly whilst mixing the butter on a low speed.  Once the sugar is added, increase speed to high and mix for approximately 5 minutes until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time to the butter mixture and combine.
  5. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the sour cream, and combine until incorporated and smooth. (don’t overmix)
  6. Prepare the hot coffee.
  7. In a microwave safe bowl, or, in a heatproof bowl over a pot of boiling water, place the chocolate and just melt until smooth.
  8. Add the hot coffee to the melted chocolate, mixing well with a fork so no lumps are present. Then add the cocoa powder and vanilla and mix again.
  9. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the coffee mixture, to the butter mixture in two parts, starting with the dry ingredients, combining well after each addition. Again scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure all ingredients are combined, but don’t overmix the batter.
  10. Pour even amounts of batter between the tins, smooth the tops, then bake for approximately 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick or cake skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. (Note – ovens vary, so these baking times are a guideline, and according to the batter proportion vs cake tin size).
  11. Once baked, remove the cakes from the oven and allow them to cool on a wire rack for approximately 15 minutes, before carefully tipping out, and allowing them to cool completely.
  12. Once completely cooled, (and only if necessary), carefully slice the domed tops off with a sharp knife, or a cake wire cutter to ensure two, even layers.

Frosting Ingredients:

90g dark chocolate, chopped

¼ cup full cream

1 cup butter (softened)

3T cocoa powder (sifted)

5T powdered sugar (sifted)

1t vanilla essence

Method:

  1. In a pot over a medium heat, warm the cream until at boiling point.
  2. Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate, stirring until smooth.
  3. In a bowl fitted to an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth and glossy.
  4. Add the vanilla and combine.
  5. Add the cocoa powder to the butter mixture and combine.
  6. Add the chocolate mixture and combine again.
  7. Finally, add the powdered sugar, one tablespoon at a time, combining after each addition.
  8. Taste to test after each spoon to get sweetness to your liking.
  9. Once ready, frost the cake and decorate as desired.

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Until next time…

Valentines Day’s Red Velvet Cake

If you want to share love this V-Day, share cake!

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I’m a sucker for any kind of celebratory day, especially when I can display love for somebody I care about.  And how do I display love, you may be wondering?

Well, one of the obvious ways, is of course through cake.  And there are few people I know in this world, who don’t appreciate a home baked treat made with love, as a display of one’s affection.

What’s so wonderful about baking, is that you get to share your feelings through creating a delicious treat, and you also get to share the delicious treat when it’s ready, winning!

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Now, we all know that Red Velvet Cake was THEE thing a few years back, and whilst it’s kind of last season in some respects, it’s still one of my all time fave’s, because;

a.  it’s red and ideal for romance,

b.  it’s borderline a chocolate cake,

c.  it’s delicious,

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d.  it’s novel, whilst maintaining a certain class and elegance.

I mean, doesn’t this cake just say all things pretty in love?

How could anyone not but swoon if you presented them with this circle wonderfulness?

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So let’s just talk about this cake for a second.  The recipe seems like quite a few steps, but it’s really easy.  Just read through it and ensure you have everything laid out and ready before you begin.  I’ve been using this recipe for years, and it’s honestly just so worth it.

The cake itself is moist and delicious, not overly sweet, with a balanced, but evident chocolate flavour.  The frosting or glaze is also not overly sweet, so if you like, you can add a bit more powdered sugar to the glaze, or for a winter wonderland of love affect, dust the top of the cake in powdered sugar just before serving.  It looks super pretty like that, trust me because I’ve done it before and it’s gorgeous.  Otherwise, stick with the recipe as is.

Because I like my red velvet cake to taste like chocolate cake, I use 4T cocoa powder in the recipe, which gives it a richer, slightly browny red colour, but if you prefer a brighter colour red for the cake, then put less cocoa powder into the mixture.

They don’t call it red VELVET for nothing people:

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Red Velvet Cake for Valentines Day

(makes one round bundt cake, or 24 cupcakes, or 3 round 8″ cakes)

*Note – double the frosting recipe if making cupcakes or layered cakes

Cake Ingredients:

3 cups all purpose flour

1t baking powder

1 ¾ cups caster (granulated) sugar

1 ¼ cups salted butter (softened but not melted)

3 eggs, plus 1 egg white

4T cocoa powder (if you prefer a brighter red cake, use only 3T cocoa powder)

5T red food coloring (water based), or 2t concentrate red coloring gel

1 cup hot water

2t vanilla extract

½ cup buttermilk

½ t salt

1 ½ t baking sola

2t vinegar

Method:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees C, and either grease and flour dust your pan/s, or line cupcake trays with paper cups.
  2. Boil the kettle, then mix the hot water, food coloring and vanilla in a mug and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, sift together your flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt, whisk to mix well and then set aside.
  4. In a bowl fitted to an electric mixer, cream the butter on a medium speed until pale and smooth (about 3 minutes).
  5. With the mixer on a low speed, add the sugar to the butter slowly, then once all the sugar is added, beat the mixture on a high speed until pale and fluffy (about 6 minutes).
  6. Add the eggs, one at a time to the butter mixture, combining after each addition, followed by the egg white. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.
  7. Add the hot water mixture to the butter mixture slowly, then mix on a low speed until combined.
  8. Alternate adding the dry ingredients, and the buttermilk to the butter mixture in two parts, combining well on a low speed after each addition. Remember to scrape down the sides of the bowl again.
  9. In a small cup, combine the baking soda and vinegar and stir for a couple of seconds with a spoon (it will fizz), then add to the cake mixture and again combine on a low speed for about 5 seconds.
  10. Scoop the batter into the prepared tin/cups, and bake. If baking a bundt cake like me, you’ll need to bake it for approximately 40 minutes.  If baking cupcakes you’ll need to bake them for 15 to 20 minutes, and if making a layer cake, you’ll need to bake them for about 20 to 25 minutes.  Remember that fan assisted ovens generally bake faster so baking times vary according to ovens.  The times I have given you are a guideline.  You can use a toothpick or cake skewer to test the centre of the cake/cakes to check if it comes out clean, which indicates the cakes are done.
  11. Once ready, remove from the oven, and allow them to cool in the tin for about 15 minutes, before transferring from the tin to a wire rack to cool completely.

Frosting/Glaze Ingredients:

3/4 cup cream

125g good quality cream cheese

90g white chocolate (chopped)

1 cup powdered sugar (more if you like it sweeter)

Sugar decorations of your choice

Method:

  1. In a pot over a low heat, warm the cream, then add the cream cheese in small blocks, continuing to stir until it’s melted and incorporated with the cream.
  2. Switch the heat off, and add the white chocolate immediately, whisking until smooth.
  3. Pour the mixture through a sieve to get rid of any lumps.
  4. Allow the glaze to cool for about 20 minutes, before adding the powdered sugar through a sieve.
  5. Stir well to incorporate the sugar, and then, when smooth, using a spatula, spread it onto the cake or cupcakes
  6. Decorate as desired.

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Until next time…

Halloween Surprise Cupcakes

Halloween is one of my favorite “festivities” of the year.

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I love the build up when I start to see the decorations, costumes, all the bits and pieces in stores.  I love the colours, the way it marks the start of Fall in the States, with all the pictures of warm glowing candles, falling autumn leaves, and delicious and comforting pumpkin recipes.  I don’t love the scary aspects, so I go light on those, but I guess overall the abundance of hype around it (more so abroad), feeds my creative soul.

The truth is, I love a dress up, and Halloween is a great excuse to embrace that!

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Halloween is not a major festival here in South Africa, yet…

Over the years, and as we become more westernized and more exposed to global trends, it’s become more popular for kids to dress up and go trick or treating, and more people are becoming aware of the need to stock up on candy for 31 October, and some are embracing it in decorating their homes, and dressing up for the event, or throwing Halloween parties for friends.  I have noticed a lot more shops stocking Halloween everything, and making their store fronts pop with all sorts of exciting goods.

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So in an effort to embrace Halloween this year, I made these pumpkin cupcakes, filled with chocolate ganache surprise centre, and topped with sweet cream-cheese frosting.  And I combined the sprinkle mix myself to achieve that fun, orange and black halloween look.

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The flavours are warm, inviting, sweet and delicious, and the perfect excuse to embrace Halloween!

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Halloween Surprise Cupcakes

(makes 24 cupcakes)

Ingredients:

3 cups all purpose or cake flour

2t baking powder

1t baking soda

1t cinnamon

1t mixed/all spice

½t salt

1 ¼ cups salted butter (softened)

1 cup white granulated (caster) sugar

¾ cup brown sugar

2T canola oil

3 egg whites

2 whole eggs

1 cup pumpkin puree

1t vanilla extract

1 ¼ cups buttermilk

1t orange gel coloring

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, and line cupcake trays with paper cups.
  2. In a bowl fitted to an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Then add the white caster sugar in small amounts, mixing after each addition.
  3. Once all the sugar is added, whip on a high speed for five minutes, until the mixture is pale and fluffy.
  4. Add the brown sugar and mix until combined.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites, whole eggs, vanilla and oil, then add to the butter mixture and combine on a low speed until it comes together.
  6. Add the pumpkin puree and combine. Scape down the sides of the bowl and ensure all ingredients are incorporated, but be sure not to overmix.
  7. In a separate large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, mixed spice and salt, and whisk to mix.
  8. Add the flour mix, and the buttermilk to the butter mixture in three parts, mixing on a low speed after each addition.
  9. Finally add the orange color. Scrape down the sides, and give a final mix so all ingredients are incorporated.
  10. Scoop the batter into the cups 2/3 of the way full.
  11. Bake for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted comes out clean.
  12. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes, before transferring the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely before filling and frosing.

Ganache Ingredients:

1 cup cream

200g dark chocolate chips

Method:

  1. In a pot over a medium heat, warm the cream to just boiling.
  2. Place the chocolate chips into a bowl and pour the boiling cream over the chocolate. Allow to stand for a few seconds then mix with a fork until smooth and glossy.
  3. Allow the ganache to cool to room temperature to thicken for piping.

Frosting Ingredients:

250g salted butter

500g good quality cream cheese

3 cups powdered sugar (sifted)

1t vanilla paste

Method and assembly:

  1. In a bowl fitted to an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth and pale.
  2. Add the soft cream cheese to the butter mixture and mix until no lumps are present.
  3. Add small amounts of the sifted sugar, mixing after each addition.
  4. Add the vanilla and combine.
  5. Refrigerate the frosting for 20 minutes whilst piping the ganache into the centre.
  6. To pipe the ganache into the centre of the cupcakes, make a criss-cross X shape in the centre of each cupcake with a bread or palette knife.
  7. Use a small round nozzle fitted to a piping bag. Fill the bag with the ganache, and gently place the tip into the centre of the cupcakes, squeezing the ganache into the cupcakes and drawing out carefully.
  8. Frost with the cooled cream cheese frosting, and decorate as desired. (I used a large round tip nozzle fitted to a piping bag to achieve the frosting as shown in photos.

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Until next time…

Midnight Galaxy Dream Cake

It’s unlike me to bring out the bling, but I like an element of surprise.  You know, expect the unexpected…

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Two things happened.

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Firstly, I had this magical fantasy sprinkle mix I made a little while ago, and I was waiting in anticipation to bring it out and throw it onto a dark and dreamy chocolate cake.  And two, it was Kyle’s birthday.

The stars had aligned!

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The result, this magical Midnight Galaxy Dream Cake, (with matching cupcakes of course, because if you’re going to go O.T.T then do it properly).

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This cake fitted Kyle well.  He loves the world of make-believe, and he loves chocolate.

This cake is dark, rich dreamy chocolate layers.  It’s paired with a salted caramel filling in the centre of the cupcakes, and I used the salted caramel to layer inbetween the cake layers too.  The frosting is a dark, silky rich, salted chocolate ganache, enriched with butter, sugar and more cocoa powder.  It’s decadent, and perfect for a birthday spoil!

Not to mention the dramatic effect of the black on black, to achieve that midnight sky effect.

You’ll see in my notes below, I do reference the challenges with achieving a perfect black color, which I don’t feel I did, but I got as close as I possibly could without compromising the taste of the cake, and the frosting.

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Before I move onto the recipe, I want to credit one of my greatest inspirations, a baking rock star in my eyes;

Rosie the creator of @Sweetapolita.

She has not only run a beautiful, creative, and hugely successful baking blog for years, but she has also published her own bake book, and she has launched her own sprinkle shop.  If you want to see pure perfection in the art of cake making and decorating, go and check out her work.

I adapted her dark and dreamy double fudge cupcake recipe to make this midnight galaxy dream cake and cupcakes, and I was hugely inspired by her exquisite and exciting sprinkle range.  Whilst Rosie’s sprinkles are a bit too expensive for me to order and have shipped over to South Africa, because the shipping is sadly so expensive, I was able to draw on her idea of mixing sprinkles to achieve a vision of something I had in mind, and fulfill a creative idea.

Thanks Rosie for all the inspiration, and I wish you all the very best!

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Midnight Galaxy Dream Cake / Cupcakes

Makes 3 x 6” round cakes

OR

24 cupcakes

(cake recipe adapted from Sweetapolitas Dark & Dreamy Double Fudge Cupcakes)  

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour or cake flour

1 cup good quality cocoa powder

2t baking soda

1t baking powder

1t salt

1 1/3 cups granulated (caster) sugar

1 cup whole milk

½ cup strong coffee

6T canola or vegetable oil

2T vanilla essence

2 whole eggs

2t black gel food colouring (optional)

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees C, and line the bottom of your baking tins with parchment paper, and grease the sides. If making cupcakes, line the cupcake tins with paper cups.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar, then use a whisk to mix together.
  3. In a bowl fitted to an electric mixer, slowly beat the eggs until combined. Add the oil, vanilla and milk and combine on a low speed.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in two parts, mixing after each addition until combined.
  5. Add the hot coffee to the mixture, and combine. The mixture will be quite “runny”.
  6. Finally add the gel coloring, starting with half a teaspoon at a time until desired colour is achieved.
  7. Pour the batter evenly between the three cake tins. If making cupcakes, only fill the cups halfway.
  8. For the cakes, bake for +- 30 minutes, and then test centres with a toothpick or skewer to see if they come out clean. For cupcakes, bake for 12 to 14 minutes, testing centres with a toothpick or skewer to see if they come out clean.
  9. Remove the cakes/cupcakes from the oven and allow to cool in the tin on a wire rack for 15 minutes, before carefully transferring out of tins onto the wire rack to cool completely.

Salted Chocolate Ganache Frosting:

Ingredients:

1 cup cream

200g dark chocolate drops

1 cup salted butter (softened)

1 cup dark, good quality cocoa powder

2 ½ cups powdered sugar

2t vanilla extract

Black gel colouring (approx. 3t)

Pinch of course sea salt

Sprinkles of your choice to decorate

Method:

  1. In a pot over a medium heat, warm the cream until just boiling.
  2. Place the dark chocolate drops into a heat proof bowl. Pour the heated cream over the chocolate, and stir continuously until chocolate has melted, and cream and chocolate have combined.  Texture should be smooth and glossy.
  3. Allow the ganache to cool to room temperature.
  4. Once cooled, start on combining your frosting.
  5. In a bowl fitted to an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth and pale (about 4 minutes).
  6. In a large bowl, sift together cocoa powder, and powdered sugar.
  7. Add the cocoa powder and sugar mix to the butter in three parts, combining after each addition.
  8. Add the cooled ganache to the butter mixture, along with vanilla, and salt, and whip until smooth.
  9. Add the food coloring in small amounts, mixing well, until desired colour is achieved.

*Optional – Salted Caramel Centre:

Ingredients:

1 cup cream

1 cup granulated (caster) sugar

6T salted butter

Pinch of course sea salt

Method:

  1. In a pot over a medium heat, place the sugar and stir continuously. It will begin to form chunky crystals, and melt.  Keep stirring until it has melted completely and turned a copper colour.
  2. Remove from heat, and add butter in tablespoons, stirring in back over the heat after each addition (watch out for splattering).
  3. Once butter is incorporated, add the cream slowly (again watch for splattering), and then stir continuously over heat for one minute.
  4. Remove from heat, and transfer into a small jug immediately.
  5. Stir in salt, and allow to cool to room temperature, and thicken.

Assembly of Cake:

  1. Begin by placing your first cake layer onto a cake board, or cake stand.
  2. If you have made the salted caramel: Add a layer of salted caramel and spread evenly.
  3. Add a thick layer of chocolate ganache frosting over the salted caramel.
  4. Place the second cake layer on top, and repeat same.
  5. Place the final cake layer on top, and then frost the top and outside of the cake with chocolate ganache.
  6. Cool the cake in the fridge for 10 minutes to set the frosting a little, then repeat frosting the outside and the top with another layer of chocolate ganache frosting to achieve a smooth finish.
  7. Sprinkle the top of the cake with sprinkles.
  8. Using a large, round tip nozzle, pipe remaining frosting around the top, outside layer of the cake.
  9. To sprinkle the bottom and sides of the cake, place the cake carefully into a large baking tray. Gently press the sprinkles into the bottom of the cake (the tray will catch excess sprinkles).  To get to other areas, I simply take small amounts in my hand, and throw them at the sides of the cake (a little messy but worth it for the effect).

Assembly of Cupcakes:

  1. Using a knife, poke an X shape into the centre of each cupcake.
  2. If you have made the salted caramel: Fill a piping bag (nozzle optional) with salted caramel.  Place the nose of the bag into the centre of each cupcake, squeezing salted caramel into the centre of each.
  3. Using a piping bag with round nozzle attachment, pipe the chocolate ganache frosting onto cupcakes, then using the back of a teaspoon, smooth out the top with a small, swirl motion.
  4. Sprinkle as desired.

**Notes:

  1. Coloring frosting black is not as easy as I expected. I thought one teaspoon of gel paste would add an intense black darkness, but alas it did not, and I ended up using three teaspoons and still not achieving what I had hoped for.  I didn’t want to add anymore as it would alter the taste.  The cocoa powder available to me in store is dark, but it’s not black, so unless you have access to black cocoa powder, and you get the dark brown cocoa powder like I do, then you need to either opt for using black fondant icing as an alternative, or accept you may not achieve true black, but rather an “almost black” colour using my method.
  2. Be warned, when any dark coloring is used in cakes, you’re likely to have a scary looking mouth after eating the cake. It only lasts for a short while and a good swish of water will do the trick.  This simply adds to the fun and joy of cake eating anyway.
  3. I use a palette knife to frost my cake, which allows me to achieve a smoother finish, so it’s a good idea to get one if you enjoy making layer cakes.
  4. I gathered a few different sprinkles, and then combined them to achieve this sprinkle mix, as there isn’t a mix that exists like this in stores nearby to where I live.

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Until next time…

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Hi, I’m Genevieve


This is where I create.

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