Monday, 28 May 2012

Midnight Garden Cake.






       Back at the beginning of May, I decided to enter Karen's Tea Time Treats blog challenge as this month's challenge was 'Flowers'. The main reason was that I wanted to practice making lots and lots of sugarcraft flowers. Fast forward to the closing date and here is the final production, The Midnight Garden Cake, with its one sugarcraft flower lol. Oh the floral extravaganza that was going to adorn my dream creation! To be fair, I did make two flowers, but one, my first, was just seeing if I could make an Osteospermum 'Whirlygig'....

Sugarcraft Osteospermum!

Real Osteospermum.


.... and it didn't come off too badly :) But it wasn't for this cake.
        Originally I was going to have more different coloured flowers round the edge, daytime sky (Mix the blue too dark did we? - ed.) and a cloud top that would be adorned with pure white 'flowers in heaven' type thing. This is why I don't bother making plans normally. So, that was my first attempt at a rose on the top. It wasn't bad, just have to work on getting it more 'delicate' instead of a hefty lump of a rose. 
        The cake contained a few other firsts that I wanted to do. This is the first time I've rolled out an icing covering using a pack of the ol' white Regalice. The second attempt was more relaxing after dusting the work surface with a bit more cornflour thus making it not stick like the frustrating arse first one! So finally I got it off the surface on a rolling pin, onto the cake and averagely smooth and tidy. Hooray! 


       There isn't a recipe for this as I used the chocolate celebration cake recipe Here, saving a bit of the buttercream to mix with green gel colour for the grass.

So I made this purely to try new things and also to enter this months #TeaTimeTreats being run by Karen over at Lavender and Lovage. and after having a month to do something, I'm now doing blog first draft with 11 mins left to enter! and I will finish the post tomorrow....goodnight :)



....and suddenly it's June 3rd! lol Anyway, a bit more info on the cake. After getting the rolled icing on, I used some blue blossom tint mixed up with some Rejuvenating solution to make the paint, and started doing the sky on the sides. I was going for a smoother covering of colour, but with the way the icing soaks up the paint I ended up with the brush-strokey look, which I kind of grew to like. Another case of practice will make perfect, or at least better. I did the paint on the top a day later which didn't work as well because where the icing had dried a bit, it got a sugary dust on it and this went into little lumps with the paint and also gummed up the end of the brush. I think it would probably have been ok if I'd buffed off the top a bit first. 
     Next I mixed up some green paint and drew on the flower stems, rolled out some white icing for the flowers and cut them out then pressed straight onto the side of the cake. Then piped some green buttercream through a grass/hair nozzle for the grass around the base of the cake.
     Then, the next day, I made the clouds using the marshmallow frosting mix that Ros used for her amazing Hi Hat Marshmallow Cupcakes. I did wonder how much the recipe would make, and it was, er, quite a lot lol About 20 times too much for my few clouds, and there's only so much marshmallow frosting you can eat straight out of the bowl lol I think I also either over whisked or left the frosting too long before I piped it as it didn't pipe as smoothly as I was hoping and so ended up with quite angular clouds instead of the smooth fluffy ones I was looking for, but they worked ok.
    Next I took some white flowerpaste and mixed in some yellow gel colour. This was for the 'moon' rose (I'm really hoping at least a few of you realised the rose was representing the moon! :D ), the stars and the side flower centres. There's plenty of rose tutorials on t'web out there for you to see. It is quite simple, even for me and especially making my big lummox of a rose. I pressed out the petals inside one of those clear flexi plastic A4 paper folders. Then I rolled out some thin and cut out the stars, then rolled little balls and pressed into the centres of the flowers. 
       And hey presto! Midnight Garden cake! :)










Some tunes for the garden.....starting with the flippin brilliant Miranda Sex Garden - Peep Show





Chill with The Orb - Little Fluffy Clouds





The Creepshow - The Garden




I like a bit of the Levellers now and again and went to their brilliant Beautiful Days Festival in Devon last year. I don't really rate this from them, but it's cakey linked :D The Levellers - In This Garden




LOVE! This one though. The Levellers - 15 Years




Any excuse for some Manics - Small Black Flowers That Grow In The Sky




Ok, 2 more. First, All About Eve - Flowers in our Hair




and finally, The other good track from The Killers - Mr Brightside. Brandon Flowers innit ;)




Stay dark and floral people.



Friday, 18 May 2012

Chocolate Macarons.



             Well, here it is, finally, my first attempt at Macarons. I don't think I've ever eaten one of these let alone baked them. Oh, I've seen what they are supposed to look like, with their perfect little 'feet', perfectly squeezed filling, and and entire care bear rainbow of colours! But to start with, I just wanted to go for some choccy ones. Partly because I wanted to do something for this months 'We Should Cocoa' blog challenge, who's special ingredient this month is 'almonds'. I had a look at a few recipes and in the end went for this fairly straightforward one for French Chocolate Macarons with Chocolate Ganache Filling by Jill Santopietro. I've changed cups for g/ml here, so if you want cup measurements go with the linky :) 
              I didn't have any problems with the process and the 26 Macarons were split between 28 baked on a silicone macaron mat sprayed with a bit of cake release spray and then wiped with kitchen towel to remove any excess, and 24 on baking paper lined trays. Both methods worked fine, with the silicone ones coming out just that little bit more uniform. Just make sure you let them cool totally before trying to shift them after baking.

So, for my first taste of a Macaron? Pretty bloomin nice! Love the mix of the crunchy outer, the airy centres that turn to a gorgeous, tasty goo as you chew, and then the lush, smooth, dark chocolate ganache caresses your tongue as you......god! Anyway, I'll stop there. 

These little fellas are entered in May's We Should Cocoa, A blog challenge based on, can you guess? YES! That's right! Chocolate!  run in turn by Chocolette, Chele, and this month, by Laura. So do have a good looky around their drool-inducing blogs :)



Ingredients:
  • 280g Icing sugar.
  • 80g Ground almonds
  • 3 TBSP cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 Large free range egg whites at room temp.
  • 1/4 tsp Cream of tartar powder.
  • 3 TBSP Granulated sugar.
  • 125ml Double cream.
  • 120g Dark chocolate, about 50-60% cocoa.
  • 20g Unsalted butter at room temp.
Preparation:
  • Prep baking trays with baking paper, or silicone macaron mats. You will need room for about 50. I got 12 on a 7" x 11" tray area. 
  • Put the Icing sugar, almonds, cocoa and salt into a food processor fitted with a blade attachment, and blitz for a couple of minutes. Give it a stir round with a fork to mix in any bits that might have sat away from the blades and blitz for another minute.
  • Sift about 90% of the blitzed mix into a bowl. Put any bits left in the sieve back in with the last 10% in the food processor and blitz again. Sift this into the bowl and chuck the last small amount of un-siftable bits. (I only had about a teaspoon left, but if you have a finer sieve than me and you have loads left either blitz it again or just chuck it all in the bowl as it is :) )
  • Put the egg whites into a bowl and whisk until frothy.
  • Add the cream of tartar powder and whisk on med-high speed until they turn white and start to fluff up.
  • Add the sugar a tablespoon at a time while whisking.
  • Stop whisking when the whites hold a peak when you take the whisk out.
  • Fold in the dry mix a third at a time with a spatula.
  • Keep mixing it all in until it's completely combined and the mix is uniform.
  • Put the mix into a piping bag then cut the end off where it's about 1cm across flat, and pipe the mix out onto the trays, remembering that the mix will settle and spread. You'll soon see how they settle if you leave one or two for a minute and then you can gauge the rest.
  • Bang the trays on the work surface to release any trapped air bubbles then leave for about 45mins so that the surface of the macarons dries out and forms a skin.
  • Before the 45 mins is up, preheat the oven to 170c.
  • In my oven I just baked one layer of trays at a time, no higher than on the middle rack. 
  • Bake for 7mins, and then turn the tray(s) around and bake for another 7 mins.
  • Take out and leave to cool on a cooling rack in the trays.
  • While they're cooling....
  • Pour the cream into a small saucepan and, whilst stirring to avoid a skin forming, heat until it just starts to boil. 
  • Take off of the heat and add the broken up chocolate.
  • Stir slowly until melted and mixed in with the cream.
  • Add the butter and stir slowly until melted and mixed in.
  • Allow to cool. Then put in the fridge to cool more for about 20-30 mins, until it holds it's shape, but can still be piped.
  • When fully cooled, loosen the macs from the trays/silicone mat.
  • Put the ganache into a piping bag, cut a small hole in the end, and pipe the mix out onto half the macaron bases.
  • Pick similar sized macs if you baked freeform on a tray, and sandwich together. You'll soon get used to how to handle them during this bit :) and this is also why you don't want the choc ganache too firm, and then, if you can manage this next bit without eating any (I didn't) Chill for 24hrs. 
  • Eat! Then eat another one! Then eat another one by dunking it in the double cream you have left over!   Then eat healthy stuff for a little bit...then eat another one! :)









Tunes!!!!!

Kicking off with the classic.... Paul MACartney! - Live and Let Die!




The classic Fleetwood MAC! - Go Your Own Way!




..and the classic, heheh, well, it's a classic bit of dark trance to me :) Scott MAC - Damager 02  BOUNCE! BOUNCE! BOUNCE!!!





...and just for the hell of it, one of the two good songs from The Killers - When You Were Young.





Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Raspberry and Vanilla Castle Cake.




Here's a little thing I knocked up for a Clandestine Cake Club meet that had a Medieval theme. It tastes lush and looks pretty much like a castle, and that's about as good as I get :D The sort of thing you can make for a young child's birthday cake. You don't want to get them started on mega-awesome cakes too early because they just want something better the next year and unless you're an uber talented cake artist it's going to cost you thousands over their life time! So keep them basic as long as you can with a nice little castle cake.
          "No you can't have a life size cake version of *insert current favourite hideous pop sensation boy/girl*! You're having a Castle Cake that some random guy made on his blog and you're going to like it! Now get back up that chimney!"
          It got given a buttercream covering because I still haven't got round to covering a cake with that rolled out icing stuff, and I sure as hell wasn't going to start on an awkward shaped cake like this! The cake's pretty much straight forward to make, well, I made it, the only out of the ordinary things you'll need is up to three 8" square cake tins, a ruler, a palette knife, and some black edible paint or gel food colour :)


Ingredients:
  • 300g Caster sugar
  • 300g Unsalted butter, room temp
  • 5 Free range eggs
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 300g Self raising flour
  • 2 tsp Baking powder
  • 3 TBSP Milk
Filling, covering and decoration:
  • 300g Unsalted butter, softened
  • 600g Icing sugar, sifted.
  • 2 TBSP Milk
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 200g Raspberry jam.
  • 100g Thin white chocolate bar, room temp or just above. 

Preparation:
  • Preheat oven to 180c
  • Grease or spray and line up to three 8" square baking tins.
  • Weigh your mixing bowl.
  • In a bowl, mix together the sugar and butter until creamed.
  • Keep mixing and add 1 egg at a time.
  • Add the Vanilla Extract.
  • Sift the the flour and baking powder, add to the bowl and mix.
  • Add the milk and mix.
  • The batter should be runny enough to spread a thin layer in each tin, if it looks too thick add a touch more milk.
  • Weigh the bowl again to work out how much total batter there is then spread a third of the batter evenly into each square tin, pushing it out to the sides. I had 2 tins and so had to bake 2, then 1.
  • Bake for about 25 mins, or until lightly browned, just starting to come away from the tin sides, and a knife/cocktail stick comes out of the centre clean.
  • Leave to cool in the tin for 10 mins then tip out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
  • Whilst the sponges are cooling...
  • Mix together the butter, milk, icing sugar and vanilla extract for the buttercream, add either more milk or more sugar if necessary. You can either put the buttercream in a piping bag, or just use it straight from the bowl or a plate. A plate is easiest when scooping up a bit at a time with a palette knife for the outer covering.
  • Cut back the slight domes of the sponges so that they are a bit flatter.
  • Take 2 of the cooled sponges and cut out about a 4" square from the centres. Cut these squares into quarters.
  • You now have 1 solid sponge, 2 with the centres cut out, and 8 small squares for the corner towers.
  • Spread a tin layer of jam on the solid sponge, then a layer of buttercream.
  • Place a hole'd centre sponge on top then repeat the jam and buttercream on this.
  • Place the next hole'd sponge on top and repeat the jam and buttercream in the corners, but just buttercream in between the corners.
  • Use 2 little sponge squares in each corner sandwiched with jam and buttercream.
  • Cover the rest of the bare sponge with buttercream.
  • Chill in the fridge for a while until the buttercream has a solid surface but is still soft underneath. It is then easier to smooth with a palette knife. (I didn't do this bit, you can tell lol)
  • Chop the white choc into little rectangles and place around the top of the castle. This helps protect the castle from attack and protects your troops, oh yes. I used a bar of Lindt white choc as it was the thinest so it looked to scale-ish on the cake and was easier to cut neatly.
  • Place the cake in the fridge until well chilled.
  • Make a little door out of brown/chocolate flowerpaste if you want :)
  • Now, I had the single choice of one paint brush and black food colour gel to do my very artistic and detailed brick work on the castle. If you cover the cake with rolled icing and have a selection of brushes and food paints, you could do a pretty special job on the brickwork. You can also get those plastic moulds that you press into the icing to look like stone or brickwork. 
  • Make or buy little flags and stick in the tops of the towers.
  • Ta-da!!!! Castle cake!
  • Attack, conquer, eat :)
















Castles Castles Castles! The soothing tones of Crystal Castles - Baptism




Throw the cake as high as you can and you get Ian van Dahl - Castles in the Sky.




Castles need stone! Stone Roses - I am the Resurrection (live)




Castles need rock! Party rock! Love this literal vid - LMFAO - Party Rock Anthem -Literal MSPaint.




Any excuse for some mad muppetry - I'm Elmo and I know it! 




And what ya gonna attack a castle with, why Breeders - Cannonball of course!



Loved these guys 'Safe sex, Designer drugs...' 90s album! aparently they changed their name to Deckard to hide from me :( The awesome Baby Chaos - Hello Victim.




Another! Another!!! :D Baby Chaos - Golden Tooth.




These are the sort of tunes you want blasting out when attacking a castle! Courtesy of Kasabian - Club foot.




...and Fire.




....aaaaand finally, just going to add this. The fantastic Nneka - Heartbeat. A tune that's been reworked by Chase n Status, and is currently being sampled in the C & S produced RIP by Rita Ora (Some saying without being credited)





Stay Stoney people!