Gastronomically Terrific

February 26, 2015

Trinity Cake

Filed under: Cake, Easter — Tags: , , , , , — lawsonanna @ 10:59 am

Trinity cake with slice cut out from aboveI specifically hadn’t planned to bake much in the near future, knowing that soon there would be a new baby in the house. But this baby is taking their time, so I’ve found myself with a fair bit of spare time. So, on Pancake Day, I was hunting through a Hallelujah! Easter recipe book to remind myself of the amounts needed for pancake ingredients. As I flicked through the book, I realised that a lot of the recipes were pretty simple and used ingredients we already had lying around the house. So I figured it was a good book to use to make relatively easy, simple-to-find-ingredients-for-recipes until this late baby made an appearance.

The first thing I made was the Trinity Cake. I have made this before, but it was a couple of years ago. It’s actually a super-easy cake to make, but made a bit more complex by the fact that each layer is flavoured slightly differently. So there is a vanilla sponge layer, a chocolate sponge layer and a coffee sponge layer. Each layer is sandwiched together with buttercream, and then the top is simply dusted with icing sugar. The only time-consuming element is mixing together 3 different sponge cakes instead of one.

One thing worth mentioning is that the recipe suggests using three 7in round sandwich tins. I used three 6in square sandwich tins – simply because that’s the type of tin I had three of, and I couldn’t be bothered to cook each layer in the oven separately. It turns out that this was the right choice; there was only just enough mixture to cover the bottom of my 6in square tins. It turned out fine, but if you did want to use 7in tins you should probably make more mixture than the recipe suggests (which is 50g of each basic sponge ingredient plus one egg).

For a quick and easy weekend cake, it’s fine – but it’s not very exciting. The flavourings are pretty mellow (although I guess it would be easy to add extra coffee or chocolate for a stronger taste), and it is, when you think about it, just a basic sponge cake. I’m not sure it’s something I would choose to make for a special occasion like Easter though (unless you really are a novice baker).

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Hallelujah! Easter by Wendy Dyer, Honor Harris and Judith Merrell, pg. 56-57

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January 3, 2015

Yule log

43 Choc yule log CUOnce again, a recipe I have made before – last Christmas in fact. This time around, I made it because my family were visiting us this Christmas. This was the second chocolate log I made this year, and froze ready for the Christmas period.

The basic roulade mixture only contains 6 eggs, caster sugar and cocoa powder (this yule log is pure chocolate). The great thing about making the log this year was that for my birthday I had been bought a proper (9×12) swiss roll tin, meaning that the roulade came out the right size, and could be made the right shape. In the past I’ve used a square baking tin – which works, just not quite as well.

Both the filling and icing for this roulade are the same – which does at least make life easy. They’re basically just a chocolate icing mixture. I do think that the icing on my previous effort looked better, but this still wasn’t a bad attempt.

The thing that hasn’t changed since the last time I made this was how incredibly rich  and chocolately it is (which I have to admit, I had forgotten). We all ate some of this yule log for Christmas Day tea, and it prevented any of us being at all interested in trying in the Christmas Cake. Thankfully, Christmas Cake is fruit, so leaving it for a few days really didn’t matter!

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Nigella Christmas, pg. 191-193

December 23, 2014

Christmas stars fairy cakes

Filed under: Cake, Christmas — Tags: , , , — lawsonanna @ 10:22 pm

Christmas star cakes CUI’ve made these before, but not for a couple of years. The cakes themselves are easy to make – they’re just basic fairy cakes. I made them a little larger than normal this year (cupcake size instead of fairy cake size), simply because I wanted to use pretty cake cases, and it’s increasingly difficult to get fairy cake cases that aren’t just plain white.

The difficult part of these cakes is in the icing. Firstly, you cut out a cone shape from the inside of the cake (at the top) and add butter-cream. That’s not too bad – it’s a bit of a faff, but makes it taste pretty good. But then you make icing and spread that over the top of the cake (once you’ve replaced the cone). Then you roll stars out of fondant icing and place them on the top of the cake. Finally, you add sprinkles of some kind (the recipe suggests using dessicated coconut, which does look pretty good. But this year I used sugar sprinkles because I have loads, and in the past I’ve just used icing sugar).

I’m not sure I’ll bother making these much in the future. They taste nice, but they don’t look amazing for the amount of effort you put in. The stars also have a tendency of falling down, especially if you don’t eat them straight away. Only really worth the effort if you don’t have a lot else to do – which wasn’t really true this Christmas!

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Fairy Cakes by Joanna Farrow, pg. 28-29

December 10, 2014

Candy cane cupcakes

Filed under: Cake — Tags: , , , , , , , — lawsonanna @ 10:29 pm

Candy cane and eggnog cupcakesFollowing on quite closely from my last blog post about cherry cupcakes, this week I made two more varieties – candy cane cupcakes and eggnog cupcakes (more about those later…).

All of these recipes came from my Hummingbird Bakery cookbook, I have wanted to bake all of them for ages (the pictures make them looks pretty amazing), I was testing them all (partially) to see if they would be suitable Christmas presents, and they all follow the same basic recipe – although the frosting for each is rather different. Here, it’s the frosting that truly makes the cake.

Both the candy cane cupcakes and the eggnog cupcakes really are a basic muffin mixture – they don’t even have the added cherries of the added cupcakes. So for these two cakes, I made the actual fairy cakes together, and then made two varieties of frosting.

The frosting for the candy cane cupcakes is a striped pink and white frosting, liberally flavoured with peppermint essence, which you pipe onto the cakes. You get the two-tone effect by placing the pink and white butter-cream side by side in a piping bag before piping it onto the cake. You then finish off the whole thing by adding some translucent sugar (or, in my case, some edible silver glitter – because that’s what I had). In the past I’ve used spray glitter, but recently I’ve bought some sprinkle-on glitter because spray glitter tends to send icing sugar flying. It worked well, although it may be that the spray glitter would have been fine to use as it was being added to butter-cream, rather than a much more fragile coating of icing sugar.

The one thing to say about these cakes is that they are very minty. They taste like eating a tube of toothpaste. Which is great if you’re me and love the taste of mint, but less positive if you hate the stuff. Of course, there’s no reason why you couldn’t flavour the butter-cream with something you did like the taste of (lemon/ almond/ vanilla/ rum etc) – or just use less peppermint essence!

Oh, I was also rather pleased with how these looked when I made them!

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: The Humming Bakery Cake Days: Recipes to make every day special, Tarek Malouf and The Hummingbird Bakers, pg. 208-209

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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