Gastronomically Terrific

July 13, 2014

Baby in a pram party cake

Filed under: Cake — Tags: , , , , , — lawsonanna @ 7:15 pm

Whole pram CULast Christmas, my mum bought me Debbie Brown’s “50 Easy Party Cakes”, which I had seen on display and decided might be a good book if I ever wanted to decorate a fancy cake.

Well, I decided this weekend was my chance. We had a group of friends we don’t see very often visiting for a barbeque, and one family had just had a baby boy. So I figured a “Baby in a pram” cake was a good choice – and it didn’t look too difficult to do.

The actual cake wasn’t that hard to make – the toughest part was ensuring it was cooked all the way through as it was so much bigger than a normal cake I would make; and bowl shaped, which is also a bit different to normal. The real challenge came with decorating the cake – as I knew it would.

The hardest parts were, unfortunately, the first things I needed to do. That wBaby face and teddy face in pram CUas covering the cake board with a thin layer of sugar paste, and covering the cake with sugar paste to create the pram. The cake board worked out OK, but there were quite a lot more bumps in the pram than I would have liked. However, I think I did a better job of the other parts. I made a pillow, a teddy bear face, a baby’s face, a blanket and a hood to the top of the pram. The baby’s face took two attempts but worked out OK. I was especially proud of the teddy bear! I then added a liquorice stick and wheels for the wheels and handle of the pram. Finally, hubby and I stuck small circles of icing on to the pram, which we used to cover up the worst of the cracks and bumps.

Overall, I was fairly proud of the cake – most people made positive comments, and almost everybody had a slice and finished it. Which I hope means they enjoyed it and weren’t just being polite about it! I don’t think it was bad for a first effort and would attempt something similar again – when I have time. I took one evening to bake the cake, one to cut it up and sort the buttercream out, and another 2 hours on the final evening to actually decorate the cake. I knew that would be the case so it was fine, but this isn’t something I would be willing to attempt when feeling stretched for time!

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Debbie Brown’s 50 Easy Party Cakes, pg. 64-5



July 12, 2014

Star-topped mince pies with homemade mincemeat

Filed under: Christmas, Sweets — Tags: , , , , — lawsonanna @ 7:09 pm

Mince pie one standingAnother odd Christmas bake for June, there were two reasons I chose to make these. Firstly, we were going on holiday with my family for a few days, and I knew there would be, and had been, loads of cake for them to eat (my dad had just retired and there had been a lot of cake on offer). So I wanted to make something that I knew they wouldn’t have eaten much of recently. I figured mince pies were a pretty good bet for June!

Secondly, I did want to do a test run of these before Christmas because I would like to make my own mince pies (I don’t normally). And not just my own mince pies, but my own mince meat as well.

I’m pleased to say, these turned out really well. The mincemeat was really easy to make, and smelt amazing. I wasn’t able to buy cranberries (it was June, after all), but the recipe worked just as well with grated cooking apple. Although I would use cranberries if I could, just because I prefer them. The pastry for the pies took a while to make, but it was worth doing. The recipe suggests you make bite size mince pies, and this did seem to work really well. It does take longer because you have to cut out more pastry pieces, and you could probably easily make standard size mince pies, but I liked the appeal of mini mince pies that you could eat in one go.

The one thing I will say about the recipe is that, as often seems to be the case with Nigella recipes, the amounts are vastly off. I made one third of the mince meat mixture and it made enough (just) for 36 small mince pies – according to the recipe it should only have been enough for about 15-20. Equally, I made half the amount of pastry mixture and it also (luckily) made enough for 36 pies; the recipe states that the full amount of mixture should make 36 mince pies. I was lucky that the amounts matched up; at least I will know for next time!

Regardless of the terrible amount judgments, this is a great recipe and worked out really well. I’d definitely be making these again – probably actually for Christmas next time though!

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Nigella Christmas, pgs. 186-189

July 11, 2014

Christmas rocky road

Mince pie and rocky road

Rocky road with mince pies – the mince pie post comes later…

I made these before, a couple of Christmases ago when we hosted Christmas at our house. They turned out pretty well then, so I thought I’d give them another try. I was looking for something to make for our wedding anniversary, but we had eaten a lot of cake recently, so I wanted a more biscuit-based treat that we could enjoy steadily over a week or so. Small chunks of rocky road seemed to fit the bill.

Frustratingly, these didn’t turn out as well this time around as they had done when I made them previously. For starters, I didn’t cut bash up the amaretti biscuits small enough, so there were large chunks (too large) in the final mixture. This also meant that there were large sections of rocky road that were just melted chocolate, as the other parts of the mixture weren’t small enough so that everything mixed in together. Fine if you like chocolate and then biscuit, but less good if you’re going for a mixture of the two. I also used cake tins that were far too big. I split the mixture in two because my vegetarian husband doesn’t eat marshmallows, and I love them. However, one of the two cake tins I used would have been enough for the entire mixture. As a result, the rocky road was far too thin.

Finally, the glitter I have is in a spray can. I would probably advise anybody buying edible glitter to buy it in a pot, not a spray can, as I sprayed the glitter over the rocky road after sprinkling it with icing sugar. This mostly had the effect of causing all the icing sugar to disappear off the rocky road, and only leave glimpses of edible glitter. If I don’t buy a pot of glitter before I do these again, I’ll make sure I spray the rocky road before adding the icing sugar.

Overall, these tasted fine and I would make them again – but that’s mostly because I know where I went wrong, and also know that I can make them far better than I did on this attempt!

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Nigella Christmas, pg. 28-9

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