Tuesday, 29 April 2008

TWD - Ricotta and Polenta Tart

Sorry no tart from me this week due to more cake orders than is humanely possible! The rest of the gang and their offerings can be found at Tuesdays With Dorie.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Daring Baker's Challenge - Cheesecake Pops

Yes, I have joined yet another baking group! This time it is the turn of the Daring Bakers - a blog set up by Lis of La Mia Cucina and Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice. We (Now I count myself as a Daring Baker!) are a group of 800+ bakers from all over the world who in secret bake from exactly the same recipe over the course of a month. On a certain day (which for April 08 happens to be today) we all post about our experiences.

The mission for this month was cheesecake pops chosen by Elle from Feeding my Enthusiasm. And what a great choice it was...The recipe can also be found on her site

The basic principle of cheesecake pops are that they are a bite sized morsel of loveliness aka cheesecake dipped into chocolate - at which point the imagination can run riot - We were encouraged to think of multitudes of options for dipping the chocolate covered cheesecake into - i.e. nuts, sprinkes, sugar, biscuits crumbs. I went for strawberry flavoured chocolate that has been crying out to be used up.

The instructions for the cheesecake were simple enough and it came together just as expected - It id take slightly longer to cook than the 35 minutes we wer told but nothing major - and the taste...? Gorgeous! I defy anyone not to eat spoon after spoon of the yummy cheesecake mixture which might explain why I don't think I had quite as many pops as I should.

I left the cheesecake mix overnight to harden and got my husband to roll it into balls the next day - I then left the balls in the freezer for 5 days. My balls don't seem to have been as hard as other bakers seemed to be judging from their blogs and it was quite difficult to keep the sticks in (I had cheated though and used straws instead of lollipop sticks as I am trying to economize).

I didn't dip the whole pop into chocolate as the strawberry chocolate can be quite sickly - I still have to admit I prefer the cheesecake without the chocolate.

The Scores and the verdict:

The cheesecake 9 out of 10.
With the chocolate 9 out of 10.

The cheesecake 9 out of 10 (it would be 10 but how could I score something that fattening a perfect 10?)
With the chocolate 7 out of 10

Altogether a very successful stab at my first Daring Baker's challenge - I'll definately be back for next month!

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Corporate Cake

One of this week's orders - A cake to celebrate a local business moving premises into the Town Centre. The organisation is a Housing Organisation helping people into their own homes. The 2 figures are supposed to signify a couple who are happy to be getting their own house (well, I could see if even if other people may think they are just 2 people sitting on top of a cake!) The photo is not that great as it makes the logo look lobsided - I had to paint the little icon on the board which was really hard as the icing was still soft.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

TWD - Bill's Big Carrot Cake v's Hel's little carrot cakes!

I will have to do this really really quickly - it is 1 1/2 hours past Tuesday and I am sooo tired but will not admit defeat! Another Tuesday, another recipe...and what a recipe it is.
This week's offering was Bill's Big Carrot Cake which is quite timely as I have a 4 tier carrt wedding cake next week and was not quite convinced about the recipe I was using...I have now been converted to Dorie's. I had never heard of putting nuts other than walnuts into carrot cake (I used pecans) or pineapple (didn't have a distinct taste but I'm sure it added something to the overall loveliness)

This recipe is gorgeous - I halved it because the last thing my house needs right now is more cake hanging around but did what other bloggers have suggested and made the full quota of frosting (also yum and very easy to make)

I had help this week in the form of my youngest sister who I am trying to turn into an apprentice (I am so like Alan Sugar!) - This was her first 'bake' and she had a moment of overwhelming pride (her words not mine!)

We made 16 frupcakes (inbetween a fairy cake and a cupcake) and they were mighty delicious!

Husband - Mmmm lovely.

Mum (yes, yet another family member getting in on the act!) - Nice cakes - the frosting is really nice!

Moi - Dorie is queen!

And last but not least...our guest baker, Rachel - 'Oh I am so proud' - 'OMG they are gorgeous'


Ease of making - 10 out of 10
Ingredients used - easy to find, quite a few but not too many 9 out of 10
Taste - 10 out of 10

Amanda from Slow like honey chose this recipe and the recipe can be found on her blog (or in Dorie's book!) - Have a go!

Next week is Polenta and Ricotta Cake - I will give my apologies now as my workload next week will definitely not allow for extra baking and secondly I don't like polenta or ricotta!

And that was me doing a really quick post!... hx

Friday, 18 April 2008

Doggy Birthday

I have decided I love doing cakes for little girls - probably because I have 2 of my own - I especially like it when the parents choose a particular theme that is special to the child as it makes the cake so much more personal.
This design was modelled on little Lilias' favourite teddy from M&S - in 'real' life this teddy is different shades of brown but to make the cake more girly I was asked to make the doggy in pink.
The overall design of the cake was to be simple and no fuss as so many people are going for, therefore why just a ribbon round the base of the cake.

Monday, 14 April 2008

Cornelli Wedding Cake

This must be a record for me! 3 posts in one day...I'm like a bus! This was one of the reasons that last week's Tuesdays with Dorie post was so late. I have never done Cornelli work before and was a teeny bit anxious as the bride was so lovely I really wanted to do a good job for her. Once I got started I was really pleased how I went - I used a Number 2 tube which gave me good control but my hand really hurt after a while. I made the bride and groom's bodies out of geletain paste which sets really hard so they can stand up and the rest was made out of marzipan or flowerpaste.

All in all... a cake I'm quite pleased with! Wow!

TWD - Plastic Marshmallows

Whaaaa-whoooo! I'm early! Its not even Tuesday and I'm posting..but who knows what may happen tomorrow if I don't do it now!

Marshmallows were the pick this week from the Tuesdays with Dorie group - This week's choice was from Judy of Judy's Gross Eats. I have to admit I never thought marshmallows could be something you made - I thought they were magically prepared in a Willy Wonka Type Factory and had no idea what went into them (They are mainly meringue!)

What a strange experience this has been - Not very difficult to make (I liked the fact we have had to use our thermometer twice on the run..I have only had it in my cupboard for 2 years so its about time it had an airing!)

I split my mixture into 2 and probably didn't make my marshmallows deep enough as a result - I went with the traditional vanilla for one batch and the other half had a raspberry coulis in it. The raspberry one was much nicer than the vanilla.

The verdict:

Me...Looked really strange but tasted better than I thought they would (the raspberry ones) - I couldn't stomach the vanilla ones - They looked like a big gooey mess and stuck to the pan - even the bits that did come out looked horrendous.

Auntie Janet (Yes, she was a guinea-pig again!) - Not great - taste better than they look but still reminded her of latex.

Husband - An element of suprise when he tasted them but it said it all when he was clearing up and asked me if I wanted to keep my slop!

The Scores:

Making them and Ingredients ...7 out of 10 (I used normal Golden Syrup and cornflour which I considered to be the UK equivalent of Corn Syrup and Corn Starch)

How did they look - 2 out of 10

Would I make them again?...Probably not but thanks Judy (and Dorie) for the opportunity. The recipe if I haven't managed to put you off completely is on Judy's Blog!
Roll on next week, its Carrot Cake!

TWD - The most extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart

Well its better late than never - again! Many Apologies for being soooo slow but it was worth it in the end!
This weeks choice for the Tuesdays with Dorie baking group was chosen by Mary from Starting from scratch.
Again, not a natural choice for me but I'm always up for a challenge. Like a lot of my fellow bakers, I am not a lemon fan...until now!
My post is very late but I actually made this recipe at the end of last week over the space of 2 days (I wish I had taken more notice of the waiting time for the lemon cream to set and the pastry to freeze).

What I learnt this week...The sweet pastry is very delish but did not look like traditional pastry - I know it was supposed to be crumbly but mine was ridiculous! Still tasted yummy though!
The lemon cream did exactly what it was supposed to do and has converted me to lemons for ever!
This recipe was quite a big one - I can't see why it would not easily half.

Mum (my whole family seems to be getting in on the act) - Very nice but not wow.
Husband - yeh very nice (I'm sure he said that last week too!)
Me - I love it! Can't see myself making this every week but could be good if going somewhere for a meal that you have to provide the dessert/pudding/afters (depending on where in the world you are reading from!)

Ease of making: 7/10 - Not difficult but a bit time consuming and a lot of waiting around
Taste: 8/10
Would I make it again? Yes!

The recipe can be found on Mary's blog at Starting from Scratch.

Next week...Marshmallows (eek!)

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

The most unusual First Holy Communion Cake?

Its that time of year again...First Holy Communions. I have to admit that last year I did get a tiny bit tired of doing book shaped cakes with a child praying but they were all very pretty. The first Communion cake for this year though has to be one of my most unusual requests - 4 of the main figures from High School Musical (Gabriella, Troy, Sharpey and Ryan) all on top of the cake. The creative-ness (real word?) in me will not allow them just to be sat directly on top of the icing so it had to be a sofa made out of polystyrene - Currys are going to get very suspicious soon, the amount of times I keep going in asking for spare polystyrene.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

TWD - A revelation!

Well, Tuesday has come around again awfully quickly! This week's Tuesdays With Dorie assignment was the very easy Gooey Chocolate Cakes. The recipe this week was chosen by Leigh of Lemon Tarlet. Many Thanks for an easy recipe this week during the mother of all cake weeks...More to come in future post.

The recipe didn't use too many products and it was nice to bake a recipe that didn't leave me thinking we were going to eat cake ALL week (not that that would be such a bad thing!). We were asked to use bittersweet chocolate (which I presume is Dark Chocolate over here? I have to admit I was too bone idle to find out as I had a bag of pelletts from Thorntons designed for use in chocolate fountains that I wanted to try - I think they worked just fine and it saved having to break up a load of choc)

The book didn't have a picture so I had to guess what size muffin tin Dorie was talking about - We have so many different varieties here in the UK - I went with bigger than a fairy cake but smaller than a Starbucks Muffin - I managed to fill 11 of the tins which in hindsight should have meant cooking them for a lot less than 13 minutes.

So what were the thoughts...? I luckily had a few willing helpers to taste test so I didn't have to eat all the cakes on my own...

Auntie Janet...Very nice but not that gooey.

Dearest Husband...Yeh...nice! (Man of few words! - Sometimes!) But he had 2 portions so I think he really enjoyed them!

Youngest Sister Rachel...Mmmmm - I think she liked them!

Me? - Yep, a really nice recipe - Perhaps not as gooey as they could have been, easy to make but...AND THIS IS THE REVELATION!!!!...I don't think I like Chocolate Cake!!!! I have been thinking this for a while now but not wanting to admit it as it sounds really wierd but I would much rather have other cakes than chocolate. Having said that I could tell that if you were a chocolate cake fan this would be a fab recipe for you.

Would I make again? - Yes probable to see if I could get them more gooey - I also would love to try a choc orange version or better still Baileys version...Hmmn I wonder if there is any of that Thornton's chocolate left?

Score for this week?...
Ease of Baking...9 out of 10
Ingredients needed...9 out of 10
Taste (and Gooeyness!)...8 out of 10

Here is the Recipe...
*Gooey Chocolate Cake *
Makes 6

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon salt
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate,
4 ounces coarsely chopped,
1 ounce very finely chopped
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
6 tablespoons of sugar

Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. butter (or spray – it’s easier) 6 cups of a regular-size muffin pan, preferably a disposable aluminum foil pan, dust the insides with flour and tap out the excess. Put the muffin pan on a baking sheet.

Sift the flour, cocoa and salt together.

Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water, put the coarsely chopped chocolate and the butter in the bowl and stir occasionally over the simmering water just until they are melted – you don’t want them to get so hot that the butter separates. Remove the bowl from the pan of water.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and yolk until homogenous. Add the sugar and whisk until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add the dry ingredients and, still using the whisk, stir (don’t beat) them into the eggs. Little by little, and using a light hand, stir in the melted chocolate and butter. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups and sprinkle the finely chopped chocolate over the batter.

Bake the cakes for 13 minutes. Transfer them, still on the baking sheet, to a rack to cool for 3 minutes. (There is no way to test that these cakes are properly baked, because the inside remains liquid.)

Line a cutting board with a silicone baking mat or parchment or wax paper, and, after the 3-minute rest, unmold the cakes onto the board. Use a wide metal spatula to lift the cakes onto dessert plates.

Next week...The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart..(or may be Orange!_