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Thursday, 30 June 2016

Strawberry, White Chocolate and Pistachio Tier Cake


This one is gonna be a bit of a quick post because even though I've finsihed college, I've found myself so busy these past two weeks and with the bulk of birthday season behind me now, I just had this one last cake to make...as requested by my friend Ellen.



She absolutely loves strawberries! And luckily with her birthday (18th may I add) in June, strawberries are at their best this time of year, juicy and sweet. This cake is also rather fitting with the fact that it's Wimbledon this week and so perfect to make if your having your own little tennis themed garden party at home. 



This cake is, as the title suggests, a two tier cake. It was intended to feed a lot of people but if you'd rather make it to suit a smaller crowd then pop on over to this recipe as it was this what I adapted from. 



Note: all the flowers which I decorated the cake with were fresh from my local florist, they were not edible but safe for aesthetic purposes to be placed on top, so please be careful if you are intending on using other flower varieties as I cannot guarantee that everything is safe to do this. If unsure it is best to seek advice from a florist. 

Strawberry,  White  Chocolate  and  Pistachio  Tier  Cake


Ingredients :

260g good-quality white chocolate
440g unsalted butter, softened
440g caster sugar
1 ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
7 large eggs, beaten
440g self-raising flour

For the buttercream:
300g good quality white chocolate
390g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1¾ tablespoon semi-skimmed milk
1 ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
440g icing sugar, sifted

4 tbsp apricot jam

To finish:
pink edible food colouring paste
1 large punnet of strawberries
selection of  flowers
shards of chocolate bark (see recipe below)
sprinkle of chopped pistachios
sprinkle of edible rose petals
sprinkle of freeze dried strawberries
 

Method

Preheat the oven to 170°C/ 325°F/ gas 3. Melt the chocolate over a pan of simmering water, stirring to make sure it doesn't burn and go grainy (this can happen very quickly if not watched). Leave to cool until needed.

Put the butter into a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually beat in the sugar, then add the vanilla and beat until the mixture is very light in colour and fluffy in texture scraping down the bowl from time to time. Gradually add the beaten eggs, beating well after each addition and adding a tablespoon of the weighed flour with the last portion of egg (to prevent curdling.) Sift in the rest of the flour and fold in using a large metal spoon. Add the cooled white chocolate and fold in until all the ingredients have been incorporated.

Distribute the cake mixture between two 8 inch cake tins and two 6 inch cake tins that have been greased and lined with parchment paper. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, the 6 inch cakes will take slightly less time so be sure to check that they are cooked until golden brown and just firm to touch and a skewer inserted comes out clean in the centre. You may need to place a foil covering over the 8 inch cakes in the last 5 minutes of baking time to prevent from browning too much. Then leave to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. 

Meanwhile, to make the buttercream melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water then leave to cool. In a large mixing bowl beat the butter, milk, vanilla and icing sugar until smooth - this can take several minutes with an electric hand mixer. Add the melted chocolate and beat again until thick and creamy. If it looks too runny to use just keep beating - this will thicken it and improve its consistency. 
Chop most of your strawberries into thin slices, leaving a few whole for decoration with the green stalk remaining. 


Once the cakes are completely cold, place the first 8 inch sponge on a plate or board that you can ice on, preferably a turning cake stand will make it easier. Spread enough buttercream onto the first sponge, then place a layer of  sliced strawberries on top.  Add another thin layer of buttercream to cover the strawberries so that the other sponge will stick to it. Lightly press down with the other 8 inch sponge.

Repeat the process with the 6 inch sponges, using the remaning sliced strawberries. 

Place the apricot jam into a small bowl and heat in a microwave until it starts to bubble. Immediately brush all over the two cakes with a pastry brush and then place them in the fridge for 5-10 minutes to set. This will prevent crumbs mixing with the buttercream. 

Coat the sides and top of both cakes with more buttercream, smoothing as you go with a pallette knife leaving some of the sponge showing through, this is known as a naked cake so you will only need a thin coating.

Place the 6 inch cake on top of the larger cake and then with a small pastry brush, get a small amount of pink food colouring paste and brush strokes of colour on the sides lightly until you've reached your desired look. 

To finish, place your fresh strawberries on top along with your chosen flowers. Stand pieces of the chocolate bark in the gaps to give added height. Sprinkle more chopped pistachios, edible rose petals and freeze dried strawberries over the edge of the cake and on your serving plate/stand. 



White chocolate,  Rose,  Strawberry  and  Pistachio  Bark


Ingredients:

300g white chocolate
large handful chopped pistachios
2 tbsp freeze dried strawberries
1 tbsp edible rose petals

Line a large baking tray with parchment paper or a Silpat. 

Firstly, to temper the chocolate -  break the chocolate into squares and set aside a small handful of the chocolate, place the rest into a heat-proof bowl and set over a 1-inch simmering pan of water (double-boiler). Stir occasionally until about two thirds have melted completely. Remove bowl from the heat making sure no water gets into contact with the bottom of the bowl. If the water touches the chocolate it will seize up. 

Stir in the rest of the reserved chocolate squares and it will drop the temperature. Once all has melted it is ready to use, however to be sure you can use a chocolate/sugar thermometer to test that it has reached between 82F-84F (28C-29C) which is the ideal temperature to work with. 

Using an offset spatula, quickly spread out chocolate into a thin and even layer. Immediately sprinkle on rose petals, pistachios and freeze dried strawberries evenly over the entire surface. Gently press toppings into the chocolate. Let chocolate bark set completely.

Transfer bark onto a large cutting board. Heat the blade of a sharp chef knife under running hot water, wipe off wet blade with a kitchen towel, and cut bark into desired shard shapes. Triangular looks best if  placed on top of a cake.  Store white chocolate bark in an airtight container, at room temperature, for up to 2 weeks. 


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Saturday, 18 June 2016

Pear and Chocolate Pudding Pots


At last. My exams are over! Woop woop! I can safely say au revoir to A Levels and bonjour to university. Well, in September that is. For now it's back to blogging, cake making for the many birthdays that are coming up, and having a good old rest. The Summer awaits!! 



To celebrate the fact that my A-levels are all done now I've made these cute little pear and chocolate pudding pots. I love how a whole pear sits perfectly inside these teacups and then a generous amount of gooey, rich chocolate cake envelops it. 



It's so satisfying to just stick your spoon in and eat it straight from the oven, hot , still soft and sticky in the middle. They're so quick and easy to make as well. I had these done in under 25 minutes, ready to eat. They don't really need anything else either to go alongside it, just simply pear and chocolate is a match made in heaven for me. 

You could go experimental with this and try out some different fruits to bake in the pots, I was nearly tempted by a punnet of cherries - another chocolate combination that works equally well, and a rather retro one at that. 



This recipe requires very little quantities of ingredients so it could easily be doubled and be an impressive dessert to feed a dinner party crowd. The cake batter could be make a little ahead of time and at the last minute be spooned into the teacups for baking. This isn't like souffle mixture where they have to be made, baked and eaten straight away. (Although these are best served warm.)


Pear  and  Chocolate  Pudding  Pots


Makes 4 pots (depending on size of cup)


Ingredients:

75g  butter
75g caster sugar
2 eggs
20g  cocoa
75g self-raising flour
¼ tsp baking powder
½ tsp ground cinnamon
4 small pears
2 tsp runny honey
icing sugar for dusting

Method


Preheat oven to Gas Mark 4, 180ºC, fan 160ºC.

Lightly grease four ramekins or ovenproof teacups. Beat together the butter and sugar until creamy and smooth. Beat in the eggs vigorously. Add the cocoa and mix again.

Fold in flour, baking powder and cinnamon. Divide the mixture between the four greased ramekins/teacups.

Cut the bottom base off each pear so that it is flat and stable. Press a pear into the middle of each ramekin filled with the chocolate batter and bake in the oven for 16-18 minutes. Serve drizzled with a little honey and a dusting of icing sugar. Best eaten warm on the day of making. 



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Monday, 13 June 2016

Instarecipe! Toffee Cake

I've been making loads of cakes recently, everyone's birthday appears to be at this time of year and I know what you're thinking - duh, surely this happens every year so you'd think I'd be used to it by now, but turns out no! It somehow always ends up creeping up on me and then all of sudden I'm whipping up cakes in a frenzy. Then to add to that I've got others panicking about their friends/family birthday and at last minute I've got cake orders coming out of my ears. (I've never quite got that metaphor but I'll go with it anyway!) While I bake my way through this cake marathon I try to keep things interesting and make something new (when allowed)....like this toffee cake. It makes an awesome birthday cake, or equally good at any old time with a cuppa of course. 

I can't believe how devilish and naughty looking this cake turned out to be! I mean come on... this defo has to be borderline food porn!! What's not to love about the cheeky dulce de leche dripping and oozing down the sides and crushed chocolate toffee pieces (aka Rolos) scattered over the top. It really is a treat though, not to be eaten in mass consumption shall I add?! Or is that just a given? 
Anyway here's my recipe for it, with the base cake recipe adapted from my cake bible ( that's Cupcakes from Primrose Bakery to you). 

Toffee  Cake

Makes an 8 inch two layer cake (or three layered if preferred)

Ingredients:

For the cake
220g unsalted butter, softened
240g light brown sugar
240g dark brown sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g self raising flour
240g plain flour
150ml dulce de leche, ready made ( I use Nestle Carnation Caramel)
100ml double cream

For the buttercream
150g unsalted butter
300g icing sugar
3 tbsp dulce de leche, ready made ( I use Nestle Carnation Caramel)
May need 1-2 tsp milk


For the topping
2-3 tbsp dulce de leche, ready made
handful of fudge/chocolate/toffee/caramel pieces, roughly chopped

Method

Preheat the oven to 160°C/350°F/ gas 4. Line and grease two, or three, 8 inch cake tins (depending on preference). 

In a large mixing bowl cream the butter and sugars together until pale in colour and smooth, this should be about 3-5 minutes with an electric mixer. Add in the eggs, one by one, mixing after each addition. Pour in the vanilla extract. 

Combine both flours in a separate bowl and add one third of this to the creamed mixture. Mix well until everything is combined. Next add the caramel sauce. Mix again. Add another third of the flour mix to the creamed mixture and stir. Add in the cream. Finally, stir before adding in the final third of the flour and beat everything well until just combined together. 

Evenly distribute the cake batter between the cake tins and level off the mixture. Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes until golden brown and springs back to touch. If using the three tins, the cakes will take less to cook so check them after 35 minutes. To check if they are cooked insert a skewer and it should come out clean. 

Remove the cakes from the oven and leave to cool in their tins for 10 minutes. Turn them out onto a wire rack and peel off the baking paper. 

To make the buttercream beat the butter, half the icing sugar and dulce de leche in a mixer and once smooth and creamy beat in the remaining icing sugar. You may need to beat in 1-2 tsp of milk if too thick to spread. 

Once the cakes are completely cool, ice the middle and top of the cake with buttercream generously. Spoon the dulce de leche for the topping into a disposable piping bag and cut a small hole. Pipe in lines over the cake to create a drizzle effect, this doesn't have to be neat and may drip down the sides. Sprinkle over chopped chocolate/caramel pieces to finish. This cake should be stored in an air tight container at room temperature. 

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