Chocolate Wedges

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I’ve been making these delights for over 20 years. The original recipe was given to my mother by a neighbour.  They are a huge hit with my family and friends and I have had many requests for the recipe so here it is!

Ingredients   Makes 30 pieces

For the base:

500g / 17 oz digestive biscuits

210g / 7.5 oz butter

6 tsp cocoa powder

3 1/2 tbsp. golden syrup

For the icing topping:

150g / 5.3 oz milk chocolate

2 tbsp. evaporated milk

2 tbsp. icing sugar

To garnish:

Nuts

Method:

1) Thickly grease a suitable tray/cake pan or flat pyrex dish.  I used a 15 inch round tray.  You can use two smaller trays if you do not have a big one.

2) Crush the digestives  leaving few larger crumbs for texture.

3) In a saucepan, melt the butter.  Add the cocoa and golden syrup and stir until smooth.  Take off the heat.  Add the digestives and mix until combined

4) Tightly press the digestive mixture into the tray using a clean spoon. The base should be about 0.8 to 1cm thick. Place in the fridge while you prepare the icing.

5) For the icing, place the chocolate and evaporated milk into a bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir until the chocolate has almost melted into the milk.  Add the icing sugar and mix until glossy.  Quickly spread this over the biscuit base.

6) While the chocolate is still wet, add chopped nuts to garnish. Set in fridge for one hour

7) Cut into wedges or rhombi. Then carefully remove from the pan with a suitable flat utensil.

Hints and Tips:

The wedges should be stored in the fridge

You can replace some of the butter with spread.  I generally don’t like using spreads but in this recipe I occasionally use a ratio of  5.5 oz of butter to 2 oz olive oil spread. Do not replace more than this as the wedges will become too soft.

For nut free versions, garnish with rice crispies, crushed cornflakes or leave plain.

For added crunch, replace 1/3 of the biscuits with finely crushed cornflakes.

If you want more intense chocolate flavor, add more cocoa powder to the base and replace half of the milk chocolate with plain/dark chocolate in the icing.

Enjoy!

Cake Toppers

Cakes have evolved over the last decade or two and with it so has the crown of the cake: the cake topper.

My first wedding cake had a traditional bride and groom topper.  It was something I bought although not cheaply! My first attempt to make one of these over a decade ago, left me with a not so slender bride model! The image of her will always remain in my mind with a cheeky smile on my face! This is the picture of my first ever wedding cake

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It actually was a beautiful cake and the topper suited it well. And it being my first one, I was well happy with it!

A few wedding cakes later, the bride/groom transformed into bouquets of flowers! Flowers look great on traditional designs as well as more contemporary cakes as they help to soften the overall look.

Fresh or Sugar paste flowers?

Sugar paste flowers are an art form.  They take many days to make. Hours of rolling, cutting, forming, sticking, drying to make a single bouquet.  And that’s after the hours of research into colours and types of flowers and how to make them so that they look as real as possible.  They are also incredibly delicate yet heavy.  These factors add more difficulty to the cake making task and hence the cost to the client can increase. The benefits of spending this time and the subsequent cost to the client are that they look fabulous, make your clients cake extra special because they will know and appreciate the effort that’s  been made to form these beauties especially for their cake on their big day. Sugar flowers also last for many years and so the bride can keep them as a keep sake.  If the couple choose to freeze the top tier for say their first wedding anniversary, they can place the original sugar paste bouquet on top.  What could be a nicer finishing touch :)

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Fresh flowers are unbeatable! Although they may not add as much artistic flare to the cake, they are the real thing so you can’t go wrong! Thus far, I have had the bouquets made by professional florists.  They can be very expensive! I usually do my research, print of an idea of what id like the bouquet to look like, coordinate with the florists on which flowers and the size of the bouquet.  This will involve at least two trips to the florist, one being a pick up on what can be a very busy delivery day.  Fresh flowers are only fresh the day they are cut but nothing can replicate natural flowers in beauty and fragrance.   Make sure if you do use fresh flowers that they have as little contact with the cake itself and that they are safe to be used as decoration on food items.

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Although I think flowers will remain the trend as a cake topper for a while yet, a new wave in popularity is the monogram topper. This is usually a motif made up of letters symbolic to the couple which is used to stamp their invitations and other wedding and personal items.  This unique monogram can be made into a cake topper using edible or inedible materials.  It adds elegance and edge to show stopping cake!

How we top our cakes is no longer something that comes second or as an end thought when we design cakes.  In some situations the cake is designed around the topper for example, around brides favourite flower or a very modern monogram.  The cake topper is often the most time consuming and expensive part of the cake but it also where most of the impact is.  It is the crown to your cake!

 

 

 

Rosette Cake

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I’ve always wanted to try making one of these because it looks stunning and seemed like fun to do.  I’ve put this is the home baking section as this is by no means professional standard.  It was me and my daughter having some fun on her last day of half term holidays.  I didn’t even have piping bags at home and so used ziplock bags, small ones at that, with a small cut made in one corner. I actually ran out of icing sugar and it was a hot day so the buttercream was slightly soft but hey, we had fun, it still looked stunning and it tasted delicious.

The cake is a 7 inch round madeira vanilla cake (bean of course!), baked in two pans and sandwiched with fresh whipped double cream (150 ml whipped to stiff peaks)

For the buttercream:

1 1/2 cup butter

6 cups icing sugar

I used dusky pink paste colour by colorflair and caramel extract to flavour

I didn’t have this much icing sugar so I used 1 cup butter, and made do with the sugar I had but if I were to make again I would go with the above amounts.

Method:

A good YouTube vid by someone else who seems like she’s made hundreds!

I used three intensities of the dusky pink: dark, medium and light. I made a little more of the dark for the crumb coat and a little more of the light for the top of the cake. I would say split in the following way:

Dark 2/5

Medium 1/5

Light 2/5

But you don’t have to be exact

I piped a row of dark pink rosettes along the bottom, then a row of medium and then the light and finished with piping rosettes on the top of the cake with the remaining light pink.

It was very very easy to do even though I didn’t have my usual items at hand. If you can pipe a swirl on a cupcake, definitely try this as your next challenge.  It’s very forgiving to mistakes so beginners have a go!

For next time..

1) Use a slightly stiffer buttercream, or a different type of buttercream (swiss/Italian)

2) Try this in fresh cream instead of butter cream or perhaps the sides fresh cream rossettes and the top in buttercream rossettes or the other way around.

 

 

 

 

Flax and Sesame Seed Breakfast Muffin

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These breakfast muffins are not for everyone.  I like them, my 7 year old loves them but my sister (my biggest fan after my daughter) told me I can keep my “sawdust muffins ‘cos she’s not going to eat “bird food!”   If you like muesli, seeds and other ‘bird food’ I would say give these a go and make up your own mind. I personally think they are the perfect muffin for those who are embarking on a more health conscious eating plan.  By this, I don’t only mean dieters but those who want to pack in as many nutrients they can into a single food item.

The great thing about muffins is that you can play with the ingredients. You can make them less healthy by changing the flours or adding chocolate chunks, more sugar or leaving out the seeds or oats. I did the opposite and pumped up the health value and they were still pretty good. This is the super charged muffin recipe.

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Ingredients (Makes 8)

100 g wholemeal flour

50 g plain flour

100 g rolled oats

3 tablespoons ground flax seed

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

70g brown sugar

4 tablespoons oil

8 teaspoons sesame seeds

60g raisins

1 large mashed banana

1 egg

200ml milk

Method

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Pre heat oven to 170 C

Line a cupcake tray with 8 muffin cases

Place the all the dry ingredients (except the sesame seeds) in a large mixing bowl.

Measure the milk in a measuring jug.  Add the egg, the oil and the mashed banana. Mix well.

Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and mix with an electric beater until well combined.

Use an icecream scoop to load up the cases. Top each muffin with a full teaspoon of sesame seeds.

Bake for thirty minutes.  Checking after 20 mins.

The muffins taste great warm but they may stick to the case. Once cooled the case will peel off. I have put the resistance to peel off straight away down to the low fat content in the recipe.

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Goes well with green tea :)