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Mrs Cake has a new home

April 2, 2010

Hi! I know this has been pretty quiet for a long time – I’m not doing so much cake these days (though it’s still definitely a feature!) and thought it was time for a new home – and since I’ve recently moved city and am discovering a whole bunch of new places to get delicious food from and meeting a new group of people to ply with sugary baked goods I thought perhaps a new blog detailing my foodie adventures was in order – and so I’ve created The Culinary Explorations of Mrs Cake. Mrs Cake was a nickname my flatmates gave me because of the ridiculous quantities of cake I used to churn out – not that it was normally much of a problem for them to get through whatever I had to spare (although occasionally I could provide too much even for the stomachs of four male students!).

Anyway, it’d be great if you’d pay me a visit over at the new blog!

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The Great Bake-off – Cheesecake

June 4, 2009

dads-birthday-cheesecake

I decided it would be fun to host a baking challenge of my own – but in real life. The idea is that each month a theme will be chosen, then at the end of the month everyone bakes their item and brings it to a gathering, then everyone does lots of eating. :-) I figure that different people can host and the new theme and next host can be decided at the previous gathering.

For the inaugural Great Bake-off the theme is cheesecake. You can use any recipe you like, and introduce your own variations at will, so long as the item you make is cheesecake.

The gathering will be at my place at 7.30pm on the 28th of June – click here to visit the Facebook event. Obviously the physical nature of this event limits participants to Christchurch folk but I promise I’ll post photos afterwards so anyone who can’t make it can still drool. ;-)

If you are planning to come please either RSVP on Facebook or comment here to let me know.

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Sacha’s Box of Chocolates

May 17, 2009

chocolate box cake

My cousin Sacha is a confirmed chocoholic. With this in mind, when her mother asked if I could make Sacha a cake for her 20th birthday I knew the cake would have to contain a large amount of chocolate. But, I thought, is that enough? And then I remembered Bakerella’s amazing Valentines cake, and knew what had to be done.

Sacha's 20th birthday cake

The cake was, of course, chocolate cake, with chocolate ganache in between the layers and covering the cake. Then onto a fondant-covered board, a layer of fondant over the top to make the base of the box, and then a strip of the same around the sides. Probably a little thicker is better for the side stuff, if you try this at home.

Then I made cake balls (cake crumbs mixed with cream cheese) in various shapes and dipped them in chocolate to make the chocolates for the top of the cake.

Everyone seemed to enjoy the chocolatey goodness – my Dad did his best to get more than his share!

Happy Birthday Sacha! I hope you had a great birthday and enjoyed gobbling up the leftovers. :-)

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Gingerbread Noah’s Ark

May 6, 2009

noahs-ark

Okay, so this was ages ago, and I know some of you have already seen it, but I just realised I never posted it here, so here it is! The idea for a gingerbread Noah’s Ark was conceived many moons ago, while pondering what else could be made from gingerbread (some friends of ours made an incredible gingerbread castle a couple of years back. I do mean incredible). And then, we had a weekend free and it sounded like a good time. So, out with the mixer! I think it only took four batches of gingerbread. And four packets of smarties. And three packets of marshmallows. Hmm… A lot of sugar!

more-different-ark

We had various animals, including frogs, pigs, snakes, elephants, bunnies, cows, and butterflies. We also had Noah and his family – in this photo you can see Noah being nuzzled by a slightly disproportionate elephant. Noah’s wife was at the other end, and we put the other six family members inside the boat, sleeping. As you do.

evil-bunnies

Lastly, a close up of the evil pink-eyed bunnies. These are actually larger than the elephants, so scary indeed!

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Brandy Snap Ice-Cream

May 4, 2009

brandy-snap-ice-cream

As I mentioned in my last post, we’ve been experimenting with brandy snap ice-cream. This stems from a) the introduction of an ice-cream maker to our kitchen a few months ago and b) the discovery of a commercially produced gourmet brandy snap ice-cream (by the Gourmet Ice Cream Co), which, while utterly delicious comes in tiny 500ml containers and is far too expensive for the humble student budget.

We used a recipe from The Perfect Scoop, which Hamish gave me for Christmas and which we have already used quite a lot (11 recipes followed properly, including the toasted coconut ice-cream, which was so good we made three more batches to share with the 20 people at Hamish’s recent birthday). We figured for the brandy snap flavour we basically just needed a bit of golden syrup and ginger, so looked for a recipe with a liquid sugar component to convert. Our first attempt was from a maple walnut recipe, but (though it was tasty, don’t get me wrong!) there was 3/4 cup of golden syrup in it, which made it a little too sweet. So this time we used a recipe for panforte ice-cream. Panforte is an Italian cake with honey, spices, almonds and candied orange peel – so we used golden syrup instead of honey, ginger instead of the other spices suggested, and replaced almonds and orange peel with crushed brandy snaps. Voila!

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Brandy Snap Ice-cream
Ingredients

For the brandy snaps:
125g butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup golden syrup
1 cup flour
1 tsp ground ginger
For the ice-cream:
125ml full-fat milk
625ml cream
2/3 cup/130g sugar
2 tsp ground ginger
4 large egg yolks
3 Tbsp golden syrup

To make the brandy snaps:
Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius. Cream butter and sugar, add golden syrup, then mix in flour and ginger.

Drop mixture onto a greased tray. Use a tablespoon for each snap, and try to spread the mixture a little (but don’t make holes). Since they are going to be broken up and added to ice-cream it doesn’t matter too much, but you will only need about half the mixture for the ice-cream – so I recommend making the rest into baskets or discs to serve with your ice-cream.

Bake for about 8 minutes or until golden. To shape (if desired), cool until firm enough to move without breaking but still malleable. To make brandy snaps wrap around a handle or something else round; to make baskets drape over the base of a cup or mug.

To make ice-cream:
Warm the milk, 125ml of the cream, sugar and ginger in a medium saucepan. Pour the remaining cream into a large bowl, set a strainer/sieve over the top, and set aside. Whisk the egg yolks in another bowl. When the milk is warm, gradually pour over the yolks, whisking constantly (this is to gradually warm the yolks and prevent them going lumpy).

Pour theĀ  egg mixture back into the saucepan, and stir constantly over a medium heat, scraping the bottom as you go, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Strain the mixture into the cream, then warm the golden syrup and stir it in. Chill the mixture thoroughly (at least 4 hours, cheating makes sloppy ice-cream!) then churn in your ice-cream maker. Add broken brandy snap pieces (about 1 cup, give or take) right at the end of churning. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, put the ice-cream in the freezer in a bowl and stir vigorously with a fork every half hour until it starts to firm up. This won’t make quite as creamy an ice-cream but it will still taste delicious!

Supposedly, fresh ice-cream only lasts well for about a fortnight in the freezer – I’ve never actually had any around long enough to text this, though!

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Raspberry Semifreddo

May 3, 2009

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In December we bought an ice-cream maker, and for the last few months it has had regular use (just one of the things keeping me from blogging). At the moment we are experimenting with brandy snap ice-cream (I will post about that later), but in our forays into home-made frozen goods we stumbled across a semifreddo recipe in Taste magazine. It looked and sounded delicious, doesn’t use an ice-cream maker, and is even easier to make than most ice-creams.

Semifreddo means ‘semi-frozen’ and this creamy dessert is designed to be served partly thawed. I can attest to its utter deliciousness – a great special occasion dessert.

Amaretti are Italian almond biscuits and if your supermarket has a halfway decent biscuit section you should find them there (for New Zealanders, New World can provide these). They are definitely worthwhile – the crunch and sugary almond flavour goes perfectly, and they look lovely crumbled over the top. If you’re not keen on the alcohol, just omit it – raspberries are delicious enough on their own. :-)

Raspberry Semifreddo with Amaretti & Grand Marnier Raspberries (serves 8-10)

Ingredients
1 tsp sunflower oil (or another mild-tasting oil)
3/4 cup milk
100g honey
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
4 pieces orange peel (about 3m x 1cm), pith removed
4 egg yolks
500g raspberries, fresh or frozen
1 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
250ml cream, whipped
To serve
250g raspberries
2 Tbsp Grand Marnier
1/2 cup coarsely crushed amaretti
1/4 cup honey
icing sugar

Method
Lightly oil a 30cm x 12cm loaf tin, then line the tine with plastic wrap, ensuring all creases are smoothed out.

Heat the milk and honey with the vanilla bean and orange peel until just boiling. Remove from heat.

Using an electric mixer, whisk the egg yolks then slowly strain in the hot milk. Whisk until completely cool.

Combine raspberries with brown sugar.

Fold the whipped cream into the egg mixture, then fold through the raspberries. Pour the mixture into the tin and freeze overnight.

To serve
About 20 minutes before serving, unmold the semifreddo onto a platter, and put into the refrigerator. If you have trouble unmolding it, immerse the tin in hot water briefly. Combine the raspberries with the Grand Marnier and set aside.

To serve, sprinkle the raspberries and amaretti over the semifreddo, drizzle with honey, and dust with icing sugar, if desired. Use a hot knife to cut into slices.

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I am still alive – and a wedding cake with a difference

April 30, 2009

I know it has been a loooong time (four months!) since I’ve posted but these photos have been longing to be shared.

green-rose-topper

This couple wanted a three tier cake for their March wedding. They chose the decorations by combining a few ideas I threw their way, and gave me a fabric sample to match the ribbons to so the cake would fit their theme. And then there was the not insignificant matter of cake flavours. They chose mud cake, carrot cake, and… Lolly cake!

Lolly cake, for any non-Kiwi readers, is more like a slice, and is made from crushed malt biscuits, sweetened condensed milk, butter, and hard marshmallow candy, usually either fruit puffs or Eskimos (which have been in the news a bit lately). This mixture is usually rolled into a log, coated with coconut, and served in small slices. You can find a recipe here.

Initially the sweet-loving bride and groom requested the large tier be the lolly cake layer, but we decided that since the lolly cake is served in smaller slices having it as a smaller tier would make more sense. In the end, the bottom tier was chocolate mud cake with chocolate ganache icing, the middle tier lolly cake, and the top tier carrot cake with cream cheese icing.

Last but not least, if anyone else decides this is a good idea – ramp up the cake supports! Lolly cake is HEAVY and was threatening the bottom tier as we drove to the venue, as I usually transport stacked cakes already assembled. It was all okay in the end, but caused some amount of last-minute stress!

lolly-cake-wedding-cake

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