23.9.13

A Leaving Cake that Wasn't for Me!

I've had quite a few leaving cakes recently, but this time it wasn't for me! One of the women from my work left on Friday to take on a new marketing role, and whilst she wasn't the first to leave in the three and a half months I've been there, she was the closest to my age and we had some good times even in such a short stint! I have been wanting to make this cake for a while and I thought that she deserved something a little special so I used my last jar of marshmallow fluff (so sad, I need to get some more from Australia or the States!) and based my cake on this recipe from Brown Eyed Baker. It turned out pretty well even though it swelled to about twice the size of my cake tin size when I was baking the cakes! My flatmate helped me out with the icing because I was exhausted by that stage but it was very enjoyable and see the results for yourselves.



Snicker's Cake

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups plain flour
3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup Dutch-process (or other dark) cocoa powder
1T baking soda
1 1/2t baking powder
1 1/2t salt
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups strong black coffee
3/4 cup vegetable oil
4 1/2t vanilla extract


4T unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups marshmallow fluff
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1t vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups salted peanuts, roughly chopped


2 cups sugar
60g butter, softened and cut into pieces
1 cup cream, at room temperature
1T sea salt

115g butter, softened
115g cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup salted caramel sauce
2 cups icing sugar


Directions:

Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and line 3 20cm cake tins. In the bowl of an electric mixer (or large mixing bowl if you're using a hand mixer), sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix for 2 minutes on medium speed. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix for an additional 20 seconds (the batter will be very thin). Divide the batter evenly among prepared pans. Bake for 20 minutes and rotate the pans in the oven. Continue to bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cakes comes out almost clean (with a few moist crumbs), about 12 more minutes. Cool the cakes (in the pans) on wire racks for 20 minutes, then carefully turn them out onto cooling racks to cool completely.

Nougat Filling:
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar and evaporated milk, stirring until dissolved, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from heat and add the marshmallow fluff, peanut butter, and vanilla extract, stirring until completely smooth. Fold in the peanuts. Let the nougat mixture cool to room temperature before using it in the cake. You can do this leaving it at room temperature or you can pop it into the refrigerator to speed up the process. Be sure to give a stir occasionally as it cools otherwise it may get too hard and unusable.

Salted Caramel Sauce:
Add the sugar in an even layer over the bottom of a heavy saucepan, medium sized. Heat the sugar over medium-high heat, whisking it as it begins to melt. You'll see that the sugar will begin to form clumps, but that's okay. Just keep whisking and as it continues to cook, they will melt back down.Stop whisking once all of the sugar has melted, and swirl the pan occasionally while the sugar cooks. Continue cooking until the sugar has reached a deep amber color. It should look almost a reddish-brown, and have a slight toasted aroma. This is the point where caramel can go from perfect to burnt in a matter of seconds, so keep a close eye. If you are using a candy thermometer, cook the sugar until it reaches 180°C. As soon as the caramel reaches 180°C, add the butter all at once. Be careful, as the caramel will bubble up when the butter is added. Whisk the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted. Remove the pan from the heat and slowly pour the cream into the caramel. Again, be careful because the mixture will once again bubble up ferociously. Whisk until all of the cream has been incorporated and you have a smooth sauce. Add the sea salt and whisk to incorporate. Set the sauce aside to cool for 10 to 15 minutes and then pour into a glass jar or storage container and let cool to room temperature. You can refrigerate the sauce for up to 2 weeks. The leftovers are great on ice cream according to my flatmate!

Salted Caramel Frosting:

Beat together the butter and cream cheese on medium-high speed for 5 minutes (I like to use the whisk attachment, but it's not necessary). Pour in the salted caramel and beat until combined. Reduce the speed to medium-low and slowly add the icing sugar, a little at a time, until it has all been incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for an additional two to three minutes, until light and fluffy.

Cake Assembly:
If your cakes baked up uneven or have domed on top, level off the tops. Place one cake layer on a serving plate. Cover with half of the nougat filling and then spread a couple spoonfuls of the salted caramel sauce over top to evenly cover the nougat filling. Top with a second cake layer and cover with the remaining nougat filling and top with caramel sauce. Place the final cake layer on top face-down. Frost the cake with the salted caramel frosting, finishing it as smoothly as possible. Refrigerate the cake for at least 1 hour, until the frosting is set (or use the garage or another cold place in your house overnight, that's what we did!).

18.9.13

A Long Hiatus

I'm unsure how to start this post, as it has been a really long time. I do want to say sorry for not posting since April, but I think I really needed a break to try and do other things in my life, but don't worry, I have still been baking! I think I'm really just starting to get back into it now (which is great because exams are coming up!) but for a while I had so many other stressful things that it was difficult to fit this in as well. Just to give you a snapshot of what has happened: moved flats with my current flatmates and we now have an amazing brand new place just around the corner. I changed jobs from nannying and working at Compass (two jobs was really starting to become a pain!) and now I'm working for a commercial real estate company in the research department as well as still doing my studies. I've taken on more responsibility with AFS by becoming a pseudo committee member and ambassador for the Wellington region. I gave up umpiring for the year because I just couldn't commit to it and I didn't want to let people down and I'm considering whether I'll go back next year or not. Just general life stuff like turning 20 and no longer being a teenager, yay! So I have a few photos here, as well as heaps of new recipes, but the recipe that I want to share today is one that I have made many time but unfortunately they all seem to disappear from our place before I can get any decent pictures! So sorry for the not-so-good one, I'll keep trying to get a better one before they all get eaten by the boys!




I made this just before leaving Compass - S'Mores Cake!


Madeira Cake with lemon frosting made for my friend's workplace.

Today's recipe... Muffins! See the variation for these chocolate and oreo muffins below the recipe.


Bakery Style Muffins

Ingredients:
3 cups plain flour
1T baking powder
1/2t baking soda
1/2t salt
150g butter, softened
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1t vanilla essence
1 1/2 cups plain or vanilla yoghurt
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

1 cup any sort of frozen berries

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 200°C and either line two muffin tins with paper liners or grease them really well. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix well. With the mixer on a low speed, add the dry ingredients in around 3-5 batches, alternating with the yoghurt each time. Add the chocolate and the berries and mix through with a wooden spoon. Be careful not to overmix here, not only so the muffins aren't hard as a rock but also so that the berries don't colour the mixture too much. Scoop the batter into the lined muffin tins, making sure to fill them all the way to the top do that they dome like bakery muffins. Bake for 5 minutes in a 200°C oven, then reduce the temperature to 190°C and bake for a further 15 minutes or until browned on top and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 2 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. These muffins taste amazing, a testament to that fact is that 24 only last about 3 days in our 4 person flat! Yum!

Variation:
Use only 2 1/2 cups of flour and add 3/4 cup of cocoa powder, whisk it in with the dry ingredients at the beginning. Also substitute 1 cup of oreo crumbs for the frozen berries for an extra surprise!

These are the traditional muffins with this recipe but they look a little burnt because the oven in our old place burnt stuff all the time... They look much better made in our new oven in our new flat!



21.4.13

126 Mini Cupcakes

That's right, over two days I make 126 mini cupcakes. Well, it ended up being more like 200 with the dud and practice ones, but those don't count, right? I was asked to make 120 mini cupcakes for a 21st which seemed ok at the time, I mean, they're little, how hard is that? It ended up very very fiddly and while it wasn't difficult, it was definitely time consuming! The girl who's 21st it was wanted 6 different flavours, and they're all flavours (or similar variations) on recipes that I've already done. Except vanilla cupcakes. Weird ae, that I've never done vanilla? I think it has to do with my whole chocolate obsession... But the vanilla ones actually turned out really well! They ended up being vanilla funfetti cupcakes because the sprinkles were really cute. So I had 6 flavours and ended up making 21 of each flavour because it was a 21st, which I thought was a nice touch. :) Apparently they were very well received and although I was exhausted on Friday it was definitely fun and a new experience. So below is the recipe for the vanilla funfetti cupcakes, adapted from Sweetapolita and pictures of the vanilla cupcakes and all of the cupcakes together in a box as well.

Vanilla Funfetti!

Peanut Butter Chocolate, Chocolate Madness, Chocolate Bailey's, Vanilla Funfetti, Mojito and Strawberry Lemonade.

Vanilla Funfetti Cupcakes (Makes 24 large cupcakes, halve the recipe for 24-30 mini cupcakes)

Ingredients:
1 cup milk
4 egg whites, at room temperature
1 egg, whole, at room temperature
1T vanilla essence
3 cups plain flour, sifted
1 1/2 cups sugar
1T baking powder
3/4t salt
175g butter, softened but cool, and cut into cubes
1/2 cup sprinkles (optional)


375g butter, softened and cut into cubes
3 1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted
3T milk
1T vanilla essence or vanilla bean paste
Different types of sprinkles for decoration


Directions:
Preheat oven to 180°C. Prepare the muffin pans with your favourite baking liners and set aside. In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine and stir the egg whites, whole egg, 1/4 cup of milk and vanilla essence. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients, including the sugar, together on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the butter, and blend on low speed for about 30 seconds, then add remaining 3/4 cup of milk, and mix on low speed until just moistened. Increase to medium speed and mix for 1 1/2 minutes. The mixture should be light and fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl and begin to add the egg/milk mixture in 3 separate batches; beat on medium speed for 20 seconds after each addition. If you're making funfetti cupcakes, simply fold in the sprinkles, until just combined. Divide the batter into your prepared pans, no more than 2/3 full. Bake until a toothpick comes clean when inserted into the center of the cupcake, about 16-18 minutes. Be so careful to not over-bake. Let cool completely before icing.

Vanilla Frosting:
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 8 minutes on medium speed. Butter will become very pale & creamy. Add the remaining ingredients and mix on low speed for 1 minute, then increase to medium speed for 6 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy, and fluffy. This frosting is best used straight away.

18.4.13

A Norwegian Wedding Cake

When I was asked if I would accept this challenge, I was very unsure how it would turn out. From the photos, it looks like an almost impossible task! Kari is a friend of mum's from work and she asked mum if I would make her wedding cake. She was going to make it herself, but was talked out of it and probably quite luckily, I can't imagine how stressful that would be! So when she asked me, I said I would have a go and see how it went. Kari already had the rings on which you bake them, so that actually made it so much easier. Surprisingly, the cake wasn't actually as difficult as I thought. The dough was fairly easy to make (mostly because I was using mum's stand mixer I think, this would be very hard to do without one!), the most difficult part was actually trying to roll the rings all the same thickness. Then I am also really bad at, well, doing anything straight. As odd as it sounds I can't even walk in a straight line! So to make 37 rings go straight and not diagonal? Huge challenge. Luckily mum isn't as straight-challenged as I am, so it was her job to make sure that the cake was properly aligned! We ended up having two practices before making the actual cake, and I'm glad we did even though we had cake lying around for ages! Also word of warning, if you don't like the taste of marzipan (like me!) then this cake isn't for you. I don't mind it, but I'm not a fan. Luckily my flatmate, Luke, loves marzipan, so he was quite happy to eat all the spare pieces I had lying around! This cake looks amazing as a wedding cake because it's so tall and has the graduating rings, but it's not actually incredibly hard to make. So if you're looking for an impressive cake, like marzipan, and happen to have the Kransekake cake rings lying around, then go for it! I really enjoyed making it and apparently all the guests at the wedding and Kari and her new husband and family all loved it, so I think all in all it was a great success! This recipe is originally from Not Quite Nigella.



Kransekake (This is double the standard recipe, FYI to make a cake with 36 rings)

Ingredients:
1.1kg almond meal
1.1kg icing sugar
1/2 cup flour
8-10 egg whites
3t almond essence

3 egg whites
6 cups icing sugar
Lemon juice from 1 lemon

Directions:
You will have to do this in two parts, because unless you have an industrial mixer, it's not all going to fit! In the large bowl of an electric mixer add the almond meal and flour and sift in the icing sugar. Add 4 of the egg whites into the mix and mix with a paddle on low speed. Add a little 5th egg white until you reach a moist but rollable consistency. Cover your hands lightly in flour and if the dough still sticks to them add a little more flour. Cover with gladwrap so that it doesn't dry out. Repeat this sequence again and you'll have two sets of dough for the cake. Preheat oven to 200°C. Grease each Kransekake mold with oil and sift over with flour. Take a small amount of the dough and roll it out and place it in the molds, joining any joins straight away before it dries out. Don’t fill too much as it will expand a little. Cover the dough in the molds with gladwrap so that it doesn't dry out. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until it is a light golden shade. Cool in tin and if any are sticking together then quickly run a knife between them before they cool and harden. Remove from the tin once cooled. Sort rings into graduating shapes. Make royal icing by sifting the icing sugar in a bowl and whisking in the lemon juice and egg whites. Using a piping bag fitted with a small plain tube, place some royal icing on the bottom of the largest ring and stick it to the cake board. Then with the royal icing, draw patterns on the rings as seen above. Sandwich these together with more royal icing which sets like glue. Also a good idea is to put a circle of icing underneath each ring before sticking it to the next one because it makes the cake much sturdier. Enjoy your Norwegian cake!



7.4.13

Courtney's Love Affair With A Cookie

I'm sorry it's taken me so long to post again! I have actually still been baking, I've just been repeating some things, working on a big project and have been in general really busy! So I'm not sure if I've mentioned before about my new flat, but it's really awesome! I've really been enjoying living here and my flatmates are all really cool. :) Courtney is the other girl living here and she really likes baking as well. She loved this cookie recipe the first time I made it and she's made it twice since! She told me the other day that it was dangerous introducing her to that recipe... Haha. It was originally from Sally's Baking Addiction but I modified the recipe to match my peanut butter addiction. :)


Peanut Butter Chocolate Overload Cookies

Ingredients:
1 cup plain flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1t baking powder
1/4t salt
200g chocolate bits
2 large eggs
1t vanilla extract
75g butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup chocolate bits
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup white chocolate (optional)
 
Directions:
Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside. Melt the chocolate in the microwave for about 1 minute. Stir until a smooth consistency is reached. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs and vanilla. Set aside. With an electric or stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth and creamy – about 1 minute. Beat in the sugars, scraping down the sides every 10 seconds or so. The mixture will be grainy. Mix in the beaten egg/vanilla until incorporated. Add the chocolate in a steady stream and beat until combined. Melt the peanut butter for 30 seconds in the microwave and then add to the mixture. Add the dry ingredients on slow speed. Fold in the chocolate chips. Do not overmix at any point in this process. Chill dough for at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Scoop about 2T of dough and roll into a ball. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the cookies have just begun to set with the centre still appearing very soft. They will firm up as they cool. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for at least 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

25.2.13

Chocolate-gasm

I know, I know, inappropriate name much? But that's seriously the best way to describe these cupcakes. They are soooo good! I actually wasn't going to make them last week, I was too tired, too lazy etc etc. But I really wanted to eat some, so I thought I really did have to make some. I also thought my new flatmates might appreciate some and I was right, they went down a treat! If I were to do them again, I would probably inject the filling into the cupcakes after they were cooked, or half fill them, put the filling in the and put top up the batter. It would be more of a filling then and less of a kind of spread. But if you love chocolate like I do, then these cupcakes are for you! It's definitely an orgasm of chocolate in your mouth, so if that's what you're after, then make these straight away!


Chocolate-Gasm Cupcakes

Ingredients:
115g butter, softened and cut into cubes
50g dark chocolate bits
1/2 cup dutch-processed or other dark cocoa powder
3/4 cup plain flour
1/2t baking soda
3/4t baking powder
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1t vanilla extract
1/2t table salt
1/2 cup sour cream


75g milk chocolate
1/4 cup cream

375g chocolate bits
1 cup cream

Directions:
Preheat oven to 180°C. Line standard-size muffin pan with cupcake liners. Combine butter, chocolate, and cocoa in medium heatproof bowl. Set bowl over saucepan containing barely simmering water; heat mixture until butter and chocolate are melted and whisk until smooth and combined. (Alternately, you can microwave the mixture at a lower power, stirring every 30 seconds until completely melted. This is what I did.) Set aside to cool until just warm to the touch. Whisk eggs in second medium bowl to combine; add sugar, vanilla, and salt until fully incorporated. Add cooled chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Sift about one-third of the flour, baking powder and baking soda over chocolate mixture and whisk until combined; whisk in sour cream until combined, then sift remaining flour mixture over and whisk until batter is and thick. Divide the batter evenly among muffin pan cups. Either put the filling and put more batter on top or inject the filling into the baked cupcakes. Bake until skewer inserted into center of cupcakes comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Cool cupcakes in muffin pan on wire rack until cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes. Carefully lift each cupcake from muffin pan and set on wire rack. Cool to room temperature before icing, about 30 minutes.

Milk Chocolate Filling:
In a microwave safe bowl, combine milk chocolate and cream. Microwave for 30 seconds on low power then stir. Repeat if chocolate is not melted. Whisk until smooth. Chill in the refrigerator while you prepare cupcakes. Do not leave in fridge for more than 30 minutes.

Whipped Chocolate Ganache Frosting:
Place chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 2 minutes on low, or until the chocolate on the top just starts to melt. Then pour over the cream and heat for a further minute to warm the cream. Stir until the ganache is smooth. Leave to cool until it is a pourable consistency and then refrigerate for around half an hour, but don't let the ganache set. Then pour the ganache into the bowl of a stand mixer and whip the crap out of it until you can pipe it! :)



21.2.13

The Amy

Some of you might be wondering why this post is called "The Amy". But Amy, of course, will understand. I worked with Amy for around 6 months at my old job, but they've now sadly moved to Auckland! So I thought that I would make cupcakes to celebrate the last day Amy and I had together as well as the fact that it had been her birthday the week before. Then I remembered that Amy had recently decided to be vegan. Hm... It was a challenge but I thought I may as well give it a go! There seem to be an increasing number of vegans in the world, and vegan recipes were plentiful. I knew I'd have to buy some soy or rice milk, but heaps of recipes called for agave or other specialist vegan sugars/sweeteners or butter-type products. I found this recipe and thought it would work quite well. Amy loved them, she was so excited that she called her mum in the UK! I would advise chilling the frosting before using though, as it kind of melted a bit of my way to work. Luckily I took photos before I got to work! The reason behind the name to this post, is that Amy and I were joking about opening a cupcake shop and she asked if I would open a vegan one. I probably wouldn't have a whole vegan cupcake shop, but if this were ever in the distant future to happen, I said I would sell this cupcake and call it "The Amy". There you have it, Amy's Vegan Cupcakes. :)


Vegan Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cupcakes (The Amy)

Ingredients:

1 cup flour
1 cup vegan brown sugar (in New Zealand, all Chelsea products are vegan)
1/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted
3/4t baking soda
1/4t salt
1/3 cup chocolate soy milk
1/4 golden syrup
1/4 vegan margarine
1/2 cup applesauce


2 cups vegan icing sugar
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup rice milk
1t vanilla essence


Directions:

Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a standard muffin tin with cupcake liners. In a large mixing bowl, sift all the dry ingredients together. In a smaller mixing bowl, mix together the wet ingredients and pour them into the dry. Beat until combined. Spoon cupcake batter into liners until about 2/3 full. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let cool for about 20 minutes and then frost the cupcakes.

Peanut Butter Frosting:
Mix wet ingredients well with a hand beater and then slowly add in dry ingredients. Add more icing sugar or rice milk until desired creaminess is reached.