Monday, 27 September 2010

Daring Bakers Challenge September 2010: Decorated Sugar Cookies

Ta-Daaa! My completed DB Challenge - Decorated Sugar Cookies!

Now this is what I call a challenge, certainly for someone who's never played with decorating cookies before. I was blown away by all the amazing creative art that can be done with coloured royal icing and cookies.
The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.

Unfortunately it became quite late when I started baking the cookies, so I don't have photos of the whole process.

Mandy wanted us to really get our creative juices flowing this month and decorate amazing cookies with the theme of September. September is the month of two of my friends' birthdays so what better than to give these little beauties as gifts. They came out very pretty and dainty and will look adorable once wrapped up in a box with a ribbon.

I made Lemon sugar cookies (my favourite!) and the top is made with white fondant circle cut-outs stuck on with royal icing and some were outlined with the royal icing too (who knew outlining would be so hard?!) and then made some ribbon roses and embossing. I really enjoyed making them and I'm sure my fellow Daring Bakers will agree when I say that it really was a great challenge! I will definately be making these again as gifts.

Thank you very much Mandy for hosting such a fabulous challenge!

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

I would like to start off with a big thank you to my absolutely super-lovely husband, Mr WWW, for the gorgeous cake stand. It was given as a gift on our wedding anniversary (a week ago) and I have been using it constantly since. Thank you babe!

I started thinking "I need a pretty cake to go on my pretty cake stand" and so I made this chocolate cake with vanilla cream cheese frosting which turned out so beautiful [blush]. I've been having a hard time finding a 'go-to' recipe for cream cheese frosting which has a good balance between the sweet and the tang and is also easily adaptable for other flavours. I had a big problem with this frosting, as soon as I would add the sugar, the whole thing would become a soupy mess :( I did everything by the book - not softened, no overbeating but still no luck. However my good friends over at the Daring Kitchen gave me brilliant advice. And it's worked! Yay!!! Oh, and it is sooo quick and easy to make - can it get any better?!

Cream cheese frosting is quite often seen with carrot cupcakes and red velvet cupcakes but lately I've seen alot of bakeries frosting their cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. Perhaps the tooth-achingly sweet traditional buttercream is becoming too sweet for people??!! I also like frosting my cupcakes with frostings other than the normal butter-sugar American buttercream. This recipe had just the right amount of icing sugar which gave it a spreadable, thick consistency and didn't gloop once. I'm just so excited now about all the flavours I can try with it. Most cream cheese frostings starting with beating the butter and cream cheese together but this one asks you to beat the sugar and butter together just like a normal buttercream and then add the cream cheese. Give it a go, it's a sure winner!

Unfortunately, I don't have any pics of the inside of the cake as I quite smartly gave the cake to my sis-in-law (rather on her hips than mine - lol!)

One final note - I've just designed my logo which should be at the top right-hand side of this page. I'm quite happy with it but would always love to hear all your opinions.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Rose Bundt Cakes

I heart my new rose bundt pan!

My lovely lovely rose bundt cakes - the produce of my very latest bundt pan. I don't know why I do it to myself, I actually have more cake tins now than I have space to store it in! Only one thing for it..... I need a bigger kitchen [sigh!]. I bought the cake tin with full intentions of using it the very same day and at the very least, the next day. But a week later, it was still shiny new sitting on the counter unused. I don't know why I do that, but I'm sure you all have done it at some part of your baking lives. Whether it's a cookbook, cake tin or another baking item - you buy it with so much excitement but don't utilise it as planned until a while later!

I like my frosted layer cakes - filled and frosted with buttercream or ganache and made to look all pretty and picture perfect. But bundt cakes are different, you can't actually compare. They are beautiful as they are with a snowfall dusting of icing sugar. With bundt cakes, it's getting the flavours right that's important. All your flavour combinations will stand out then on show and you can really show off with them! Love it!  I decided on an orange poppyseed cake rather than the traditional coffee flavour. The flavours were gorgeous, we had ours with a pot of tea while the rose bundts were still slightly warm - scrummy! Seriously tho, bundt cakes are perfect for guests or friends coming over for a cup of tea/coffee.
I did run into a slight problem though, I found that the cakes would stick to tin in the small crevices. I used the butter-flour mixed together and brushed onto the pan but that wasn't exactly successful. I tried the spray and then flouring which was ok but the best way was to butter it really really well and flour it and then butter up ANY bit of it that hadn't been greased. It seemed to work after that. Have I mentioned that I love my rose bundt pan??!!

The flavour of the cake was gorgeous, the cake was dense and moist and tangy - perfect!

Here's the recipe I used:

Orange Poppy Seed Cake

3 cup plain flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup butter (softened)
3 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
6 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
3 tbsp orange zest
1 tbsp orange juice
1/8 cup poppy seeds

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees/ 160 Celsius/ Gas mark 3.
  • Sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  • In another bowl cream sugar, butter and vanilla.
  • Add eggs to butter mixture one at a time, beating well after each.
  • Mix dry ingredients with wet ingredients.
  • Add buttermilk, orange zest, orange juice and poppy seeds and mix well.
  • Pour into a greased and floured bundt pan, then tap the pan to break any air bubbles (unlike myself 'cos I forgot!)
  • Bake for 35 minutes, possibly longer (until the crust is deep golden brown and the cake pulls away from the pan)

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Orange Madeleines

(That's my mum's fine china tea set I got out veeeeery carefully from her cabinet)

It all started when I was watching Food Network, I don't have the foggiest on whose cooking programme it showed the madeleines. I just knew I really wanted some...
Fast forward one week later, my sister-in-law bakes a batch of madeleines that smell absolutely divine! [breathe in deeply, trying to smell fresh madeleines, and breathe out]
And that's not it, I go shopping a few days later and I spot a 12-hole madeleine mould. Was it a sign?? All these things were a huuuge coincidence and I knew I couldn't leave the mould behind, poor thing could've been waiting for me all this time... So I bought it and cleared my conscience :-)

I began traipsing through my cookbooks and the internet looking for an ideal madeleine recipe. I love reading blogs and comments, they help me so much - before i start I know the tips and tricks to help me on that recipe. I finally chose David Lebovitz's Lemon Glazed Madeleine recipe but altered the lemon for orange and passed on the glaze. I prefer mine with a good dusting of icing.

You can find the recipe I used here.

They were so pretty and yes, they did have humps!!! Next time I will add poppy seeds to go with the lemon or orange - mmmmm..... I love my new mould and want to try out new combinations. Have you guys got any suggestions I could try out, would love to hear them!!

Steering away from madeleines now but certainly not away from food - I just want to mention this lovely Italian-themed market I went to a few weeks ago. We kinda stumbled upon it while we went to do some shopping and if I had known then I definately would've gotten there earlier. Nonetheless, the baked goods they had there looked amazing, from biscottis to cannolis, mini choc-nut tarts and loadsa pastries. As you can imagine, I LOVED IT!!!

I particularly loved the cannolis, the cappuccino filling and one with mint and also the cups pictured above. Don't really know the proper name for these tarts but they were really scrummy! The cannolis looked just like the ones Buddy made on his programme 'Cake Boss'!

Ciao! xx