A Cake Decorating Masterclass with Cake Boss Buddy Valastro

Buddy Valastro, AKA Cake Boss, is an awesomely talented New Jersey Baker who has become a household name in the US, and across the world. Having watched his show a lot, I have also attempted to make his amazing Red Velvet Cake recipe in the past, and have blogged about it. This blog post led to me receiving an invite to meet the man himself! I couldn’t believe it! After much excitement I agreed and made all the arrangements to head to London for the evening.

Last Monday was The Night! I headed to L’atelier Des Chefs in London for a Masterclass in Cake Decorating and to meet the amazing Buddy. I was excited, nervous, awestruck… but you know what, I had so much fun, and he was LOVELY!

The man himself arrived!

The man himself arrived!

He was such a lovely, genuine guy and seemed genuinely happy to meet us all! There was a real mixture of people there from die-hard fans, to journalists, digital media marketing peeps and a few of us bloggers (including the lovely Lucy from Capture by Lucy, and it was great to meet her!). There may have been more variety than that even, there was quite a few people there and I didn’t get to speak to everyone!

After meeting Buddy and his UK ambassador Juliet Sear we headed in to the kitchen where Buddy gave a demonstration of some of his techniques, giving us decorating tips and showcasing his range of products which you can buy (more on that later). He was also answering a lot of questions, on a whole variety of subjects including the balance of personal/private life with filming a reality TV show – to why he does what he does. He was very lovely and genuine and took it all with real aplomb. He said that for him it is all about family – he wants people to bake as a family and show people that anyone can do it. And you know what, I believed him.

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Then it was our turn to have a go at decorating cakes. The hard bit of baking, trimming and shaping the cakes had been done in advance so all we had to do was decorate, but it was for a competition judged by Buddy! Yipes! Right off I made a mess of my fondant so he helped me sort it out and we had a lovely piccy together and a brief chat, though I was a bit awestruck to ask any serious questions not related to cake decorating – sorry everyone!

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The lovely Lucy from Capture by Lucy

I got the fondant on the cake with the help of his handy smoother tool… (ok so it’s not THAT smooth, but better than I’ve ever managed before!)

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But then didn’t really know what to do, and instead of forming a plan, I decided to just have some fun and try out some different techniques, some of which I managed better than others!! My drop lines were not particularly effective as they kept falling off the cake. Think I need some more practice there!!

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I was having lots of fun then I looked round and realised some people were actually taking it pretty seriously…. and their cakes looked fab! Oops! So I panicked and stuck a layer of fondant over my messy creation in a last ditch attempt to make it a bit more appealing? (Not sure it worked??!)

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Then it was judging time and there was so many fab cakes to choose from (not including mine – though shhh I don’t think mine was the absolute worst – but it was down there with them!) and he chose a lovely cake with a bow decorated by Kirsten at The Little Wedding Helper.

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The evening was over and I got my pinny signed by the man himself, and a couple more snaps to remember the evening!

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As we were leaving we got an awesome goody bag with a Cake Boss DVD, Baking Tips book, a Cake decorating kit, a book by his UK ambassador Juliet Sear and some fondant icing! Great stuff!

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Some of his products were fab, I am very excited to try out the kit we got as a freebie and have popped a couple of others onto my birthday wishlist! :)

If you would like to buy any of the Cake Boss range I am sure there are a lot of places you can buy them but I have found them on Very.co.uk

If you would like to see Buddy in action you can catch him on TLC as follows:

The current series of Bakery Boss is on Fridays at 9pm right now

Cake Boss is on Fridays at 9pm from June

Next Great Baker is on Fridays at 9pm from September

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I’ve been invited to meet Buddy Valastro!

If you are wondering “Who is Buddy Valastro?” He is an oh so cool New Jersey Baker who is the star of a very popular show, “Cake Boss” on TLC. He is famous for making some seriously incredible cakes. Cakes that are the size of cars. Cakes that are so intricate and detailed that they look like works of art. He is basically incredible, and very funny. He also has two other shows – “Next Great Baker” a competition show to find the next great baker,which is a lot of fun, and “Bakery Boss” which I have to admit I haven’t seen yet but looks to be a little like Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares…. but in Bakeries, which sounds like it would be very good fun!

And I have been invited to meet him! Moi? Little old me? I have blogged about his amazing Red Velvet Cake recipe before (which is incredible) and somehow, that blog post has led to an invite to a press event! Me and approx. 14 journalists are attending an exclusive cake decorating Masterclass in London. I can’t believe my luck! My initial response to the invite was a LOT of nervous giggling and it took me a few hours to get my head around it! Heck I’m not sure I do have my head around it! But I am definitely excited!!

My version of Buddy's Red Velvet Cake

My version of Buddy’s Red Velvet Cake

Hubby was very excited for me and is happy to look after Monkey while I trot off to London for the evening where I will be attending L’atelier des Chefs for said Masterclass and ‘chat’ with Buddy Valastro!  They are even going to pay for my train ticket to London! I’m dead excited (have I mentioned that?) but also really nervous! I love baking and I love his cakes, but he and his staff are INCREDIBLE and create some serious masterpieces. Have a look here for some of their recent cakes.

After a bit of trial and error I have managed to succeed in baking his Red Velvet Cake but this is a cake decorating masterclass, and, well, look at Monkey’s 1st Birthday Cake! Decorator Extraodinaire I most certainly am not! So the masterclass will be great and hopefully I will pick up some tips, but I also hope I don’t completely embarrass myself either!

Decorator Extraordinaire? Ummm .... No

Decorator Extraordinaire? Ummm …. No

Not to mention the fact that the other attendees are journalists, I am just a mummy blogger who likes baking, I have a feeling I will feel ever so slightly like a fish out of water! I will have to put a lot of effort into faking some confidence I think! I just can’t believe that I have been picked to attend a press event with a celebrity. Little old blogging me! Crazy, but awesome :)

I am hopefully going to get a chance to chat with Buddy (eek!) so I need to come up with some questions for him. Are any of you fans of Buddy or Cake Boss? Any burning questions you’d love to ask him? I can’t promise I’ll be able to get answers to any of them but I will give it a good try!

To see Buddy for yourself you catch him on TLC as follows

The current series of Bakery Boss is on every Friday at 9pm 

Cake Boss is on Fridays at 9pm from June

Next Great Baker is on Fridays at 9pm from September

 

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Mini Creme Egg Brownies – Success at Last!

I may have mentioned once or twice the challenges I have faced with making chocolate brownies with mini creme eggs. I have seen recipes for them with a big creme egg halved and sat on top of the brownie, and my friend even has a recipe for those that works. Apparently though that is too easy for me.

Is this possible??

For ages I have been seeing pictures of gorgeous brownies where they have cut through a mini creme egg and the fondant is there giving this lovely image. Here’s a picture I found on google.

NOTE: THIS IS NOT COOKED OR TAKEN BY ME :)

I have now tried 4 times to get  a result similar to this. I winged it first, then I followed a couple of different recipes. No matter what happened though, even when the brownie itself was sill raw, the fondant melted and all we were left with was empty shells! I was starting to think that it is actually impossible and that the images were somehow faked (I’m sure they aren’t, this was just the depth of my despair with my baking).

And then, finally, we have something resembling success.

It’s still a bit hit and miss, there are some empty shells, some nearly empty shells, but (hooray) there are some with fondant in! Wahooo!!

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So here is my recipe for some, not so perfect, but ever so tasty Mini Creme Egg Brownies. Before I go any further, step 1 – the trick, it would seem, is to put your mini creme eggs IN THE FREEZER. Ours have been in the freezer for a couple of days. I have tried them in the fridge and at room temperature, and personally, only way I have got them to remotely work, was by freezing them first!

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I’m melting…

Ingredients
2oz Plain Chocolate (I use Bournville)
4oz Milk Chocolate
2 x 89g Bags Mini Creme Eggs – FROZEN
8oz Caster Sugar
2 large eggs
4oz Butter
2oz Plain Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt

Preheat the oven to 180°C

Line the base of a well greased oblong tin  with greaseproof paper, allowing the paper to come up 2 inches above the rim of the tin.

Melt the butter and chocolate together in a heatproof bowl over simmering water on a low heat.

Meanwhile, whisk the eggs and sugar together until light and fluffy.

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Once the chocolate and butter have melted, add to the egg/sugar and mix.

Add the flour, salt and baking powder, and mix gently but thoroughly.

Spread the mixture evenly in the tin. Bake for 15 minutes.

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While the brownie is in the oven, take the mini creme eggs out of the freezer and unwrap (they are actually easier to unwrap when cold I find). Monkey had been ‘helping’ me bake and at this point I realised, he was COVERED in chocolate!

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After 15 minutes is up, take the brownie out of the oven and quickly place the eggs into the brownie, evenly, or hodge podge, depending on what you prefer!

Bake for a further 13 minutes. Check the brownie is cooked by inserting a sharp knife or cocktail stick into the brownie, if it comes out clear then it is cooked! Times can vary according to ovens so it is worth checking!!

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Leave in the tin for 10 minutes to cool, then I left it to cool on a cooling tray for a little longer and then popped the whole thing in the fridge for a bit. Not sure if that helped set the fondant again but who knows!

When it has thoroughly cooled cut and see whether the fondant has evaporated! Hopefully yours will be better than mine. One of the problems with the whole slicing into the egg is that actually the top of the egg caves in when you slice through it as it is quite brittle once it has been melted. So I really don’t know how the other recipes I have seen have managed to have these whole eggs sliced perfectly with the fondant in the exact condition as it would have been….. but then, I am no master baker!!

Give these a try though, they are very very yummy even if they aren’t 100% how I wanted them to turn out!!

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I’m always on the lookout for improvements, so may try and do them in a slightly smaller tin next time, so they are deeper… and may change the timings slightly so the creme eggs are literally int here for 10 mins. I am happy with these taste wise though and I’m not really sure I have the energy to try them again for a while, so I thought I would share the recipe with you now :)

Have you tried Creme Egg Brownies yet?

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Word of the Week? Trying

The word that best sums up this week is

 

trying

I think this word is perfect for this week as there is more than one meaning.

Starting with the positives, I have been trying out new things this week, starting with my website redesign and then my new linky the Creative Challenge which went live on Wednesday (and is still open if anyone has been creative this week and fancies joining in?)

Monkey has also been trying more with his speech, yep at 21 months we have no words, I know it’s within the normal range but I really want him to talk. And he’s getting closer, I really believe it. I say something and sometimes he tries to say it back. Onion = Oeeeaaa, Garlic = Garya, Zip =Zzzzz. Just a few examples and I know he’s not there yet, but he is trying, which means the world to me.

On to the not so positive side…

I’ve also been trying to find the perfect recipe to make creme egg brownies. This has been a very trying experience as I keep failing! Seriously, how hard can it be? First off I tried to wing it, big mistake, you can read more about that here if you like. The next time though, I followed a recipe and if anything, they turned out worse and we actually threw most of them away!

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Not only did they look appalling but they didn’t taste good either, really greasy, there was just way too much butter in them. Such a  waste of good chocolate, butter, sugar etc.  The worst of it was that I attempted to bake these as a way of cheering me and Monkey up on a very trying day where we were both grumpy. Eating all the chocolate and butter and sugar definitely cheered him up, but it certainly did not improve my mood that day!!

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It’s my own fault as I wanted to be clever and have mini creme eggs that were within the brownie mixture, rather than full size creme eggs that are kind of sat on top of the brownie. I don’t like to be beaten though so I will be trying again soon. Hopefully I will get it right one day!!

Another trying experience this week was our attempt to cut Monkey’s hair. This is not a fun experience, in fact it is downright stressful. He hates it and cries and squirms and shakes his head about so it’s basically impossible for it to end up looking ok. I know we could take him to the hairdressers, but honestly if we can’t get him to sit still long enough (even with the help of daddy, his fave tv shows, scrummy treats to eat) how the heck would we do it at the hairdressers?

Anyway, this is as good as we could get it.

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It looks ridiculous! And I managed to scrape the side of his face with the scissors :( scare me so much!

So yes this week has been partly about trying new things, but it has also been very trying!

What word sums up your week?

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All about Cake – from a Novice Baker! #TheThemeGame

The Theme for The Theme Game this week is Cake! This has got to be my favourite theme so far, by miles!

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Early days of baking

As you may have seen on my blog before I do enjoy a bit of baking since I have become a SAHM, but this wasn’t always the case, and I rarely get it right first time! I had never even baked a cake before I met my hubby 31/2 years ago! I love cooking and am quite slapdash whereas there is a science to baking which scared me, and I still don’t understand. You can’t just throw in a bit of this or that like you do with cooking as it can make it go horribly wrong!

I am definitely a recipe follower rather than  a recipe writer but even then I can get it massively wrong!  Hubby is a much better baker than I am and he taught me the basics.The first time we baked together, it didn’t go very well as what I thought was a tub of sugar turned out to be salt, so we had a very salty cake batter! Thankfully we tasted it before we cooked it so we could start again and we ended up with quite a nice cake in the end.

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I got bitten by the baking bug after that and have spent the last couple of years trying things out. We spent a lot of time baking in the run up to our wedding as we didn’t have a traditional cake. We asked our mums to bake our favourite cakes and then we made (with the help of one of our lovely friends) lots of cupcakes and the top tier. It was all very bright coloured and imperfect but we loved it. There was so much cake!

I’ve enjoyed expanding my repertoire and trying out new things and I’ve definitely learnt that if it goes wrong the first time, learn from it and try try again! As you can see with our fave Chocolate Cake recipe and the Red Velvet cake, it’s taken more than one go to perfect the method. Other times, like with the Angel Food Cake, I fluke it and it goes well first time!

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Doing it wrong! D’oh!

Today is a great example of where I was over-confident and then messed it up royally! I decided to make some Cadburys Creme Egg Brownies. I’ve found some great recipes online – but I decided, in all my wisdom, that instead of following one of these tried and tested recipes, I would wing it a bit and use our existing fudge brownie recipe and then just chuck in some creme eggs. It didn’t get off to the best start when I didn’t even follow that recipe correctly! I was supposed to melt the butter and chocolate together, but I just melted the choc and then had to fish the butter out of all the flour etc and then melt it. Definitely an oops moment!

Then, well it just didn’t work! The creme eggs melted completely so that the gooey centre just infused the whole brownie. It was still very tasty but pretty chewy and you got these lovely egg shells randomly throughout. Not what I intended but hey ho, I’ll know better next time. Note that I am all mellow and calm about this – well I’m sure hubby would testify to my stomping around the kitchen grumbling and berating myself for being so stupid. I can be quite hard on myself sometimes in the moment but usually get more rational when I’ve calmed down a bit!

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So, if you think that you can’t bake as you’re hopeless in the kitchen, you really should give it a go because if I can do it then anyone can!

Here’s a very simple recipe to get you started, but even if it doesn’t g0 too well, never mind, try, try again and think about all the cake you get to eat while you try and perfect it. (I actually have to limit my baking these days or I will put all the weight I have lost back on!)

4oz Self Raising Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
4oz Soft Margarine (we use Stork)
4oz Caster Sugar
2 Large Eggs
2-3 drops Vanilla Essence

Preheat the oven to Gas 3 or 170C

Put all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk with an electric whisk until light and creamy.

You can either use this to make fairy cakes or a sponge cake. Bake for 25-30 minutes (depending on your oven). It should be golden and if you press gently in the middle of the cake it should bounce back.

Oila!

Do you bake? Or do you prefer eating cakes? Have you had as many baking fails as me?

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Baking with a toddler – messy but brilliant! – 19 months

For quite a while now I have been thinking about doing some baking or cooking with Monkey but honestly have been too scared by the thought of him being in the kitchen around sharp knives, hot ovens, you get the idea. I may have mentioned once or twice that Monkey is a Fussy Eater, and in my extensive reading about ways to help with that I have read that getting them involved in the kitchen is a good way to go. For example, Supernanny’s Little Chef Technique, but, at risk of repeating myself, knives, hot ovens… aaaagh.

WP_20140115_15_50_45_ProThen one day I was getting dinner ready and he was so unhappy at me being in the kitchen that I let him come in with me. He played on the floor to start with with some cake tins and spoons, then he got interested in the sweet potato I was peeling, so I sat him on the step stool so he could see the worktop and he helped me put the chopped sweet potato into the steamer and the peelings in the bin. Simple things of course but it gave me confidence to try baking or something.

One afternoon after a short nap, I decided to go for it, put his lovely pinny on, and we made a very simple Victoria sponge cake. Unfortunately I am a bit of a control freak and didn’t want him to ruin the cake – no matter how much I told myself it didn’t matter how it turned out, I just couldn’t do it! So he helped me grease the tins etc. then I set him up with a mini bowl and all the ingredients (apart from the raw eggs) and he absolutely loved it.

 

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I let him stir the ingredients for the cake too and he loved licking the spoon and bowl once the cake was in the oven.

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He had so much fun and then helped me with the washing up.

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He’s been dying to do it again and keeps pulling the step stool up to the worktop. It went so well the first time that I thought we should do it again, this time with some yummy biscuits. I’d made them once before and you can see the recipe here.

Again I’m afraid I got a bit freaked when he was grabbing the ingredients as I measured them in so again he got a little bowl of his own, which he loved so I don’t feel too guilty about it! He helped me stir it all up though and again he loved eating the mixture off the spoon.

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The greatest thing about this baking experience was how much he enjoyed it!

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He carried on playing way after the cookies were in the oven. I love these pics as he looks like a proper little chef!

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He was still playing at the worktop once the cookies were baked and I had washed everything up and even cleaned up around him!He had a brief play at the sink then wanted to get back to ‘his’ square of worktop where he was then happy playing with bowls and spoons… and then had a hilarious moment where he realised he could see his reflection in the food processor. So cute as he was pulling lots of funny faces! haha

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It was so much fun and I think the first time ever that we have spent an hour and half on an activity! So I have now overcome my fear of having him in the kitchen (not completely of course, a healthy dose of fear for his safety is permanent I think) and am looking forward to making lots more things with him in the future. Whether it helps his fussy eating, only time will tell.

Oh and the baking resulted in this yummy cake

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And these yummy biscuits

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Do you like baking with your toddler?  What do you like to bake with them?

Ethans Escapades

 

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Mary Berry’s Angel Food Cake with Lemon Curd and Passionfruit drizzle

I love Baking and like to try something new. Sometimes I bake to beat boredom, other times there seems to be so much going on that I have to find time to bake! This was one of those times.

I saw this recipe on Bake Off last year and have wanted to make one ever since but I haven’t have the right tin. For Christmas, my lovely mother in law bought me the tin! Wahoo! So I have been dying to make it ever since. Here is how it went!

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Recipe
Cake Ingredients
125g Plain Flour
300g Caster Sugar
10 Large Egg Whites, at room temperature
Finely grated zest of 2 large unwaxed lemons
1 tbsp Lemon Juice
1 tsp Cream of Tartar
1/2 tsp salt

Method
1 – Heat the oven to 170C/Gas 3 and put the oven shelf in the bottom third of the oven

2 – Sift the flour and 100g of the caster sugar into a bowl and set aside. 4

3- Separate the eggs, put the whites into a very large bowl (keep the yolks in a smaller bowl for later) and whisk with an electric mixer on high speed for 1 minute until frothy.

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4- Add the lemon zest (careful not to zest your thumb too like I did, ouch!) and juice, cream of tarter and salt and continue whisking for 2-3 minutes until soft peaks will form when the whisk is lifted. I think this is how they should look:

5 – Whisking on high speed, add the remaining 200g caster sugar a tbsp at a time and whisk until the whites form firm but not stiff peaks.

6 – Sprinkle a 1/3 of the flour mixture over the whites and gently fold in with a large metal or plastic spoon until combined (I can’t remember why but you shouldn’t use a wooden spoon to fold egg whites, I think it takes the air out). Repeat with the remaining flour mixture, in 2-3 batches, folding gently to keep as much air in as possible.

7 – Transfer the mixture to an un-greased 25cm Angel Food cake Pan with Legs, then gently run a knife through the centre of the mix to dislodge any large pockets of air.

8 – Bake in the oven for 45 -50 mins, I baked mine for 45 minutes and it was definitely done, maybe even a couple of minutes over. It is done when a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

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 9 – Remove the pan from the oven and immediately turn upside down (hence the    legs), Leave to cool for at least 1 hour.

10- Run a palette knife around the inner and outer edges of the pan to loosen it from the pan, then invert the pan onto a plate and use the palette knife to loosen the cake from the base of                                                                                 the tin. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack.

 

WP_20140118_14_06_07_ProLemon Curd Ingredients

10 large egg yolks
400g Caster Sugar
Finely grated zest of 2 large unwaxed lemons
Juice of 4 large lemons – about 200ml (I don’t have a posh juicer and the juice I squeezed out of my 4 lemons was about 150ml, so I used a bit of Jif lemon to top it up)
175g unsalted butter, cubed

 

Method
1 – Mix together the egg yolks, sugar, lemon zest and juice in a large pan.

2 – Cook gently over a low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon (make sure to stir the sides and base thoroughly) for 5-7 minutes until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon.

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3 – Remove from the heat and stir in the butter until melted and smooth.

4 – Strain the lemon curd through a sieve into a large jug (it suddenly starts to resemble lemon curd at this point!)

5- Mary Berry’s recipe says that you should fill two 350g sterilised Jars with curd and seal with a lid. Then use the rest of the curd for the topping. I only seemed to have enough for one 300g jar and there was nearly 200g left which I used for the topping. I’m not sure if we heated it for too long or if I didn’t have enough lemon juice, but there was nowhere near enough for two 350g jars plus some for the topping!

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6 – So fill jars with as much lemon curd as you have and then leave some (the recipe is very vague but I kept about 200g and it seemed to work well and taste yummy) in the jug for the topping. Cover this with clingfilm and leave to cool.

Topping Ingredients
300ml whipping cream, well chilled
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 passionfruits

Method

1 – Whip the cream with vanilla extract until it will form soft peaks.

2 – Spoon the cream over the cold cake and smooth down with a palette knife.

3 – Cut the passionfruits in half and scoop out the seeds and pulp. Stir into the reserved cooled lemon curd and drizzle over the angel food cake before serving.

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It’s not exactly the simplest bake in the world and I certainly didn’t do it perfectly (when I was tipping the mixture into the tin I kept finding pockets of flour and sugar – not quite as well folded as I thought!) but it turned out pretty well actually! It tastes yummy and very light though it’s an interesting texture because of the egg whites.

The sauce is a lovely combination of sharp and sweet and it goes very nicely with the delicate flavour of the cake but I actually think the cake would be nice without such a strong topping too.

I am particularly surprised with how well the lemon curd turned out – it has now set and is exactly how I think of Lemon Curd! Feels really nice to have made it – makes me want to make jams and all sorts now haha – maybe one day!

Happy Baking!

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Christmas Baking has begun! Nigella’s White Chocolate and Cranberry Cookies

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Baking is a big part of Christmas don’t you think? It’s a good opportunity to indulge in some of your favourite sweet treats, and a good excuse to make them for others. That’s one of the things I love most about baking, watching others enjoy something I made. Not sure what that says about me! I know some people have whole baking days and I would love to, but with Monkey around there’s no way to do that at the moment, and he’s not quite at an age to help me bake, so this year baking is confined to his nap times.

We are baking a couple of our faves this Christmas, the Red Velvet, and the Chocolate Roulade, some chocolate brownie (recipe to follow), and we are also trying a new recipe! I know there is a lot about Nigella in the media at the moment and I am not going to weigh in on that minefield! Whatever went on in her home and marriage, there is no denying she is one heck of a cook and has some great recipes. This is no exception.

WP_20131221_13_57_16_ProIngredients
150g Plain Flour
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
75g Rolled Oats
125g Soft Butter
75g Dark Brown Sugar
100g Caster Sugar
1 Egg
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
75g Dried Cranberries
50g Pecans (The recipe says roughly chopped but we whizzed in a processor to get them as small as possible! :))
150g White Chocolate Chips

Method

Preheat oven to 180C and line two big baking sheets with baking parchment (makes approx. 30 cookies)

Measure the Flour, Baking Powder, Salt and Oats into a bowl

In another bowl, beat together the Butter and both types of Sugar until creamy, then beat in the Egg and Vanilla Extract

Beat in the Flour, Baking Powder, Salt and Oats mixture, then fold in the Cranberries, Pecans and Chocolate Chips.

Roll tablespoons of dough into balls with your hands and place them on the prepared trays. Squish the dough balls down with a fork.

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Cook for 13-15 minutes. When ready the cookies will be tinged a pale gold. They will still be soft so leave to cool on the sheet for about 5 minutes. Then move to a wire rack to cool fully.

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Note We had a debate over how big a table spoon sized ball should be and hubby went for a very literal size, and they came out a little smaller than we imagined, and didn’t quite look how they looked in the piccy in Nigella’s book. We only cooked them for 13 minutes, rather than the suggested 15 minutes and they turned out lovely. I was initially worried they were a little overdone, but they taste absolutely fine! We ended up with 36 I think, so could have made them slightly bigger!

The other good thing with Nigella’s recipes is that she gives tips about freezing them! She says these can be frozen for about 3 months, which is very handy as we are planning to take these to my brother in law’s house on boxing day. So they have been baked and are now in the freezer ready to get out the night before… fingers crossed we remember!

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WP_20131223_15_01_19_ProI just made the yummy roulade too, and tomorrow will be making the Red Velvet, amongst  a whole load of other Christmas Preparations! I am finally getting into the spirit of it all, can’t believe it is Christmas Eve Eve already! How are your Christmas preparations coming along?

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

Beating Boredom with Baking Blog 3 – Paul Hollywood’s Chocolate and Peppermint Roulade

I haven’t written a baking  blog for a while as I have been on a bit of a diet. I have done pretty well with the diet, but I have really missed the baking. I just find it really therapeutic. Even on days when I am shattered and can’t be bothers, following the recipe is so soothing and then taking it out of the oven, decorating, ah the feeling of satisfaction is amazing.

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A few weeks ago I caught an episode of Paul Hollywood’s Pies and Puds during Monkey’s nap and just thought that this Roulade sounded delish, so here is the recipe:

Ingredients

  • 125g/4½oz dark chocolate ( I Used Bourneville – 39% Cocoa Solids :))
  • 4 free-range eggs, separated
  • 125g/4½oz caster sugar, plus extra for dusting
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder, sifted (I use Green and Blacks)

For the filling

  • 325g/11½oz icing sugar, sifted ( I didn’t sift and it seemed fine :))
  • 100g/3½oz butter, softened
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 3-4 drops peppermint flavour oil (I used about 4 drops of just peppermint flavouring as I couldn’t get oil, and it was very yummy)
  • 2 tbsp dark chocolate chips

Preparation method

  1. Line a 24x35cm/9½x14in Swiss roll tin with greaseproof paper and preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
  2. Melt the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.
  3. Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar in a bowl. Add the cocoa powder, stir to combine until the mixture has thickened, is pale and increased in volume.
  4. Whisk the egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff.
  5. Pour the melted chocolate into the egg yolk and sugar mixture. Stir until the chocolate is fully incorporated.
  6. Gently fold in the egg whites.
  7. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin. Tilt the tin so that the mixture spreads into the corners.
  8. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until firm and springy to touch.
  9. Once cooked, turn the roulade out onto a piece of greaseproof paper dusted with caster sugar.
  10. Gently remove the lining paper and cover with a damp tea towel. Leave to cool completely.
  11. For the filling, gradually add the icing sugar to the softened butter. Beat until all the icing sugar is incorporated. Add the edible peppermint oil to the milk, and then stir into the buttercream.
  12. Spread the filling onto the cooled roulade, leaving a 1.5cm/¾in gap at each edge. Sprinkle over the chocolate chips.
  13. Using the greaseproof paper to help you, roll up the roulade from one of the short ends. Don’t worry if it cracks a little. Transfer onto a serving plate Tip – From watching Paul on the telly, at the top end, fold the edge down completely about 2 cm in, so that it breaks. This makes rolling the rest much easier apparently!

I have never whisked egg whites before, never made meringues or anything so was a bit wary of how this would go, but actually it went pretty well! I’d watched enough of  the Great British Bake Off this year and had seen them whisking eggs, and gently folding it into cake mixtures to know roughly what to do and what not to do. I.e. Be gentle with the folding so you don’t lose any of the air you have just whisked in!

We don’t have a Swiss Roll tin either but I measured one our big baking trays and it was nearly the right depth for a swiss roll tin (2cm) so decided to try it and see if it worked, and it seemed just the right depth actually, which is good as it means we don’t have to buy a new tin.

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I had one big fail, which was that I stupidly bought chocolate drops instead of chocolate chips. Chocolate drops are basically chocolate buttons so are far too big and intense hits of chocolate.

 

 

 

But on the whole it went really well! Hubby and Monkey love it, and my lovely Mother In Law, who is a brilliant baker said that it was possibly the nicest thing she had ever tasted – really high praise! My good friend and neighbour also said it was yummy and looked like a bought one :).  When I first saw it on TV I thought it would make a lovely Yule Log and after the success of this one I will definitely make it for Christmas! Though next time I will try it with chocolate chips or small shards of chocolate, though honestly I think it tastes lovely even without the addition of the dark chocolate in the cream!

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Beating Boredom with Baking Blog 2 – Buddy Valastro’s Red Velvet Cake

If anyone has ever watched Cake Boss, or The Next Great Baker, then you will know who Buddy Valstro is, and what Red Velvet cake is. He is an amazing and hugely successful baker from New Jersey who runs a family baking business. One of his most popular cakes is his red velvet cake. Here in the UK it is not a well known cake at all. Most people have never even heard of a Red Velvet cake, let alone tried one so whenever they have mentioned it on the show I have been a little intrigued to say the least.

A couple of months ago at a restaurant hubby and I tried our first ever slice of red velvet cake, and Oh My God it tasted amazing! Right then and there we vowed that we would try and make it at home. But you know how it is, life gets busy. I had looked up a few recipes online and it seemed a little complicated so it got put on the back burner. I hadn’t watched any of his programmes for ages, but caught an episode recently and thought ooooh, red velvet, hmmmm and decided to give it a try.

I found quite a few different versions of the recipe online but thought my best bet was probably to go with the recipe of Buddy Valastro himself, which I found here.

One slight problem is that his measurements are all in American measures, cups, which leaves me a little blank. So with a little help from hubby and this handy conversion site, I converted the ingredients into more familiar measurements, which are as follows:

Ingredients

315g Plain Flour
25g Cocoa Powder (I use Green & Blacks)
½ tsp Salt
115g Unsalted Butter
300g Normal Sugar
2 Large Eggs
Strong red food colouring (more on this later)
1 tsp Vanilla extract
240ml buttermilk
2 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp Bicarbonate Soda

It is worth mentioning a couple of things at this point.

1 – The food colouring, the first time I used a tube of Dr Oetker red gel food colouring, as it was what we had and I had seen it recommended on a few websites, but honestly the cake was more of a chocolate brown than red. The second time I used 1/2 a pot of gel food colouring which I got at my local Hobbycraft shop. The brand is Wilton and it is called icing colouring. Much better result though like I say I did use half a pot of it and it is strong stuff! I don’t think that normal liquid food colouring that we have in the UK is strong enough to make the cake red after baking it.

2 – The recipe calls for distilled white vinegar, but I couldn’t find that so bought white wine vinegar which works fine

3 – Buddy’s recipe uses baking soda, which is an American term, I used Baking Powder the first time, without really thinking, and the cake turned out way too dense! So I used Bicarbonate soda the second time and it was light and fluffy, so definitely use Bicarbonate soda.

Method

Preheat the oven to 170°. Grease 2 sandwich tins, ours are 8″ I think and they worked fine. Line the bottom of the tins with greaseproof paper.

Sift the flour, cocoa and salt into a bowl.
In a larger bowl, using a hand mixer, beat the butter at a low temperature until creamy.
Add Sugar and blend on a medium speed until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each.
Add the food colouring and vanilla .

On a low speed, beat in the flour mixture in thirds, alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mix. So 1/3 flour, 1/2 buttermilk, 1/3 flour, 1/2 buttermilk, 1/3 flour. Mixing well in between each.

In a small bowl, stir together the vinegar and bicarbonate soda. Stir into batter.
Divide the batter between the tins and spread evenly.

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. The recipe says 25-30 mins, it took nearer to 40 mins in my oven, though I would check it at around 25 mins.

Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edges and turn onto racks. Remove the paper and flip cakes.

Here are the pictures of my cakes, the first one, with the baking powder, just didn’t rise and was really dense. It was also much browner. The second time with the bicarb and better food colouring, it rose much better and was a much better colour.

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Now for the yummy Cream Cheese Frosting

450g Full Fat Cream Cheese
115g Unsalted Butter
400g Icing Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
Pinch of salt

Beat the cream cheese and butter at a medium speed until smooth. 
Add Sugar, vanilla and Salt. Stir the icing sugar in a bit before beating, to avoid sugar clouds, then beat on a low speed to start, and then a medium0high speed until the mixture is fluffy.

Once the cakes have completely cooled, cut each layer in half using a serrated knife. (Buddy’s recipe mentioned freezing them but I didn’t have room in our freezer so didn’t do that). Use the frosting between each layer. Roughly frost cake all over once, then put it in the fridge for 20 minutes, before continuing frosting with another layer. I’m not that good with the frosting but this definitely helped! Use some of the crumbs from the tins as decoration et oila!

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The first cake I made still tasted fine  but the second one was muuuch better. Hubby says it’s his favourite cake in the whole world, and Monkey loves it too. It is really sweet though so you don’t need big slices of it.

Yummy Red Velvet Cake

Yummy Red Velvet Cake

Maybe if you did Freeze it as Buddy’s recipe suggests, you may get less crumbs in the frosting layers? I have no idea though may be worth a try. Happy baking!

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