On to the plate

Experimenting with flavours, colours and style of food served at our place


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Another birthday, but bucking the traditions somewhat

It was my MIL’s birthday on Friday and for birthdays on that side of the family, the tradition is to have KFC and Christmas Pudding. I kid you not!

Mr Fussy and I have run away the last few years for our birthdays, and I can tell you we’ve not missed that birthday meal one little bit. I was a bit shocked that my MIL decided against KFC this year too. But first we’ll start at the beginning which involved Waffles for breakfast using a recipe I’ve previously posted, and Caramel Sauce. I’ve also posted that too. Waffles aren’t necessarily “special” in our house, they don’t require some occasion to be made, but they’re not made every weekend either. Having Caramel Sauce on them for breakfast, is a little decadent and that did make them just a bit special. Just one note on the caramel sauce, I used the full measure of Fleur de sel salt. It really is a bit more salty than I’ve previously had, but I think that’s because the salt doesn’t dissolve and it seems to settle at the bottom of the spoon or jar, so you’re left with the last mouthful giving a full blast of salt.

Waffles with Caramel Sauce

Given that it’s still winter (but it’s on the way out) the berries were Sujon frozen berries. I drained the juice into a pot, added a few teaspoons of sugar and after it came to the boil added a bit of cornflour which I’d mixed together with a spoonful of the boiling juice. I let boil again for a few more minutes. It made a nice little sauce. Two sauces, now that’s getting a bit carried away.

I wont come as a surprise to you that I was pretty much over eating (and over-eating) at the end of afternoon tea.

During Thursday night I torted and crumb coated the cake. I used the White Almond Sour Cream (WASC) cake with lemon extract. And I used the left over Swiss Meringue Buttercream( SMBC) from Dad’s 70th cake. I realised that SMBC wasn’t quite the same as it had been pre-frozen. It almost looked like it was weeping some liquid. And I realised that despite adding a bit more icing sugar, it would be too soft to take the weight of fondant.

Friday night I made a buttercream out of Butter, Crisco and icing sugar, and I made it quite stiff. Funny thing is, I could take a teaspoon of the frosting and then roll it between my hands and make a sausage from it. And believe you me, I used it like that. With the stiffness of the normal buttercream, and the slippery SMBC, I was having a really hard job getting a good coverage. The buttercream kept pulling away from the cake as I was smoothing it. I kept at it and in the end just had to give up. I used paper towels to try and even things out and smooth as much as I could. But it wasn’t a flash job and I expected the fondant to show up every one of those uneven surfaces. I also expected the fondant to bulge, that the SMBC would burst through the buttercream and have its wicked way causing all my fears to be realised. But that actually didn’t happen.  There’s a lesson to be learnt here. The SMBC I made is perfect for use the day it’s made, but not suitable for freezing and re-using.

Covering the birthday cake

You can see how the teal SMBC has come through the outer layer frosting. I did end up with a few air pockets around the side (and one I missed from the top) but managed to press them out. The scissors were made with a silicone mould and took a really long time to get the gumpaste/fondant to fit and sit right given I had to basically cut out the finger holes before putting the mould into the fridge. I think each one (there’s only 5) took around 10 minutes each. I had coloured the gumpaste/fondant lilac. I had read purple fades and sure enough, these are now grey, a really non-descript colour anyway.

I managed to find a way to make some gumpaste Tulip flowers in secret. Not easy when your MIL lives with you and is always around when you’re home.  Unfortunately you can’t see the really nice dusting of white sparkle and the yellow and green powder around the base of each flower and up the centre of each petal (the yellow).

TulipsBut I got there, having to hide them away in a wardrobe out of sight. In fact, when I was making the Mexican paste patchwork scissors I had Mr Fussy on guard duty to tell me when my MIL was returning from church and then I hurriedly moved the lot into our bedroom and then had to wait until the coast was clear again to finish them off. It was tiring being all covert.

Patchwork scissor cutter

I made the cookies last weekend and put them into the freezer. I then used a silver dusting powder with vodka to paint the blades. I made sure the dust was non-toxic and food safe. But I forgot to check the petal dusts I used for the coloured handles. The magenta ones are NOT suitable for eating. The petal dusts were awful to use with Vodka. The dust clumped and wouldn’t brush on easily. The magenta on the other hand was really nice to use. I guess what makes it easy to apply is what makes it unsuitable for eating. I iced the cookies Friday night too (make caramel, ice and cover the cake, make waffle batter and ice and decorate the cookies – it was midnight before I got to bed). I thought it would be nice to pipe the royal icing to mimic the scalloped edge of the cookie. Yes it would be nice, if I could do it. I was busy getting my phone to take a photo of how badly I was doing when I dropped the phone onto the cookie ruining the royal icing. See that yellow cookies?  That’s fondant. I scraped the royal icing off (the next morning when I had a brainwave of how I might be able to recover my faux pa) and then cut out fondant using the same shaped cutter, just one size smaller. Then I added the white dots in the ugly scallops I’d piped. The cookie bottom left, well the disposable bag actually slipped right off the coupler. I decided that was the last sign I needed to pack up and call it a night. Not my best work. But I learnt some valuable lessons, and no one pointed and laughed – thankfully Smile

I woke on Saturday far too soon for someone who didn’t get to sleep until after midnight. I slipped out of bed to the kitchen to see how bad the cake looked, fully expecting the fondant to have bulged due to the soft SMBC. But it hadn’t. Win!

After everyone had left me to it in the kitchen I put in the plastic dowel so that I could then feed the wires from the Tulips into the cake.

Attaching the flower arrangement

This is called a floating arrangement. The stems are fake. They are a plastic tubing. I melted a Wilton Candy Melt to put over the cut end to make it less obvious what it was. I should have used royal icing or softened fondant but that was too much trouble for the time I had available. The ribbon is covering up the join from where the flowers and leaves are then attached to the fake stems.

We skipped lunch, really who needed it knowing afternoon tea was coming. I spent a little bit of time knocking up the Rosemary Flatbread and then it was time to lay it all out for afternoon tea.

Afternoon tea

After the cake was cut Mr Fussy was asking why I wasn’t taking a photo. See, everyone now knows that all food must be photographed. I was reluctant, it gets a little embarrassing, but I took his question as permission. So here’s the cake, and the only reason I’m really showing the photo is to show how much the buttercream and fondant are a perfect match. See I did something right, and I wasn’t even trying Open-mouthed smile

A slice of birthday cake

I was a bit disappointed in the flavour of the cake. I had flavoured it with lemon extract. I knew it didn’t have that flavour when I torted the cake and took a nibble of the discarded top. I flavoured the buttercream and I could taste that. Without the buttercream it would have been a pretty bland cake. So I’m not sure I’ll make this my vanilla cake of choice. Back to the drawing board.

And as if we’d not had enough sweetness in the day, dessert for dinner was not Christmas Pudding (which we do have in our pantry – bought after Christmas when they’re on special, with the sole purpose of having for birthdays), but a variation, a fruit mince tart. My MIL requested Silverside for dinner since it’s something my BIL doesn’t often get, and she knew he’d enjoy it. Anyway the point of mentioning this is the crockpot was in use with the piece of silverside, so I was without the usual warming method for a Christmas pudding, hence the fruit mince tart.

This side of the family don’t have any warm pudding without custard. Oh my, as if my belly wasn’t already full, custard as well? No thank you! I put a spoonful of whipped cream on mine. Yeah I know, hardly doing without the extra empty calories Winking smile

Fruit Mince Tart

I’ve now used the last portion of the pastry I made for the Lemon Meringue Tart. I should have made fruit mince tart in a smaller flan dish to give a little more thickness to the pastry since I emptied 3 pottles of Tasti Fruit Mince into this shell. And as you’d expect, once I cut into the tart the filling oozed out.

Boy, what a huge day eating non-stop. Well it felt like non-stop. There’s been left over tart for pudding tonight. At first I vowed not to have any, then as I was rejuvenating the custard I decided I’d finish off the last of the prunes and have custard with it, which progressed to me nibbling at the pastry since the tart was directly in front of me. I have no restraint when it comes to desserts. None at all.

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Rosemary Flatbread–dead easy, give it a go

I was talking to someone at work the other day, their wife is vegetarian and gluten intolerant and he was looking for suggestions of where to eat out. I made a comment about there being nothing to live for. I like my meat and bread, well, yes, I couldn’t live without bread, or pasta!

This flatbread is so very easy to make. I found the recipe from one blog many many months ago. They adapted the recipe from a recipe on Smitten Kitchen and it’s that webpage I’ve had open on my smartphone for almost the same amount of time. I almost grew tired of seeing that webpage. There had been a couple of occasions that I was going to make it, but things happened and the flatbread did not.

Preparing for baking

It was my MIL birthday on Friday and I had planned an afternoon tea for her for Saturday. I was really busy Friday night getting all the last bits done, after all there’s only 90 minutes a week that my MIL is not in the house with us. I didn’t have a lot of time to do things without her being up and about. So making this flatbread Saturday afternoon was the ticket for something quick and easy, full of flavour and served with bright colourful dips and spreads. And it’s a winner with Mr Fussy. He kept going back for more and more.

There’s only a few ingredients, just a tiny bit of mixing and then a quick roll and into the oven it goes. The bread is ready in a jiffy, and as I said, it tastes great. I used my expensive Fleur de sel. Gotta use it sometime, nothing to be gained having it taking up space in the pantry Smile

Baked flatbread

I cut the bread up into 8 wedges and then served it with some chunky dips and a capsicum, tomato and chilli dip. There was a bit of heat in that, but then I notice such things since I’m not that fond of spicy/hot food.

Rosemary Flatbread

I think I might makes more next weekend when we get together with Dad for a bit of afternoon tea for Father’s Day. I know someone in this house who will be first in line for some more.


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My first batch of Marshmallow Fondant (MMF)

For many months now I’ve been curious about homemade Marshmallow Fondant. I’d read a number of blogs where the blogger had made their own. Most of them claiming how simple, if not a bit messy, it was. And they all raved about the improvement in flavour.

I wonder what they use that they don’t like the flavour. For me it’s always been Bakels. I don’t much care for the flavour of Satin Ice and I’ve only ever really used Bakels and don’t have any trouble using it (other than my lack of practice).

The other thing I’d read often is how much cheaper it is to make it than it is to buy. Which leads me to two related questions:

  • Is it dear to buy ready-made fondant
  • Is it really cheap to by the ingredients

You can buy Bakels white and almond fondant (750gm) at Countdown. And that’s the way I usually buy it. Except for black and red. In those cases I’ll buy it pre-made because you need a lot of gel to achieve a real red and black and by that stage the fondant is too sloppy.

What I’d read, and watching Liz’s YouTube on making MMF, is the mini marshmallows are the way to go.

I don’t know where others shop, but I can barely find just a bag of white marshmallows let alone find them in a mini size. I’ve only ever (until recently) found minis in a range of pastel colours, mixed in a bag, or the usual pink and white marshmallows by Pascals.

When we were in Melbourne I went to a shop Mum had suggested might stock white marshmallows. I went to Adi (I hope I remember the name right) and bought about 8 bags of Pascal White Marshmallows.

Then when we were in Nelson, because we had lots of time to potter, I went to The Warehouse, a place I’d ready about on CakeStuff’s Facebook page as stocking bags of white marshmallows. And we came home with a large bag, but it was anything but cheap. I think the bag was a little over $11.

American style

I’m sure it’s not escaped your notice that these are NOT mini marshmallows. They are MASSIVE. I also bought a big tub of Crisco. Until recently I’d not seen Crisco on NZ shelves and had no idea of what it really looked like. I assumed it was very similar to Kremelta, the “shortening” I’ve used in the past making buttercreams. Only when I began my hand at sugarflowers, and found Cake & Art sold small pottles of Crisco did I begin to realise how different the two were.

Kremelta vs Crisco

You can’t really tell from the photo above, Kremelta is a more solid shortening and when it’s cooler, it is firmer. When it’s warmer then it can be soft, but it has a sort of oiliness to it, a solid oiliness. Crisco on the other hand has a much more creamy consistency. So far I haven’t noticed any change it it’s texture between the house being cooler or warmer. I use Crisco to condition gumpaste and I basically pat my finger tip onto the Crisco and use just a tiny bit and it’s always felt the same to me.

Anyway, the Crisco is not in the MMF, but is needed to lubricate the KitchenAid bowl and dough hook, and later your hands when you begin to knead the last of the icing sugar in.

The process

I think you get a feel for how sticky the melted marshmallows will become looking at that 3rd photo above. The cooler the marshmallow, the firmer it gets.

Despite having bigger than Texas sized marshmallows, it only took 2 minutes to fully melt them, though I had to mix a lot after the 2nd minute, and the marshmallows began to cool a bit (which is how I know it gets a little thicker) which meant I heated the melted marshmallows just a little more before mixing in the food gel colours I was using.

In the end I didn’t get the colour I was aiming for. Mixing colours is a little intimidating, but I am getting better at it. Mixing colours with no natural light makes the whole process a little more hit and miss. I had to take the fondant out side the next morning to really know what colour it ended up.

I was making this fondant for Cel’s morning tea, or whatever it ends up being. She’s having a baby girl and I wanted either a green or blue toned fondant, but not grass green or sky blue. A different type of hue.

You can almost see what the colour was from the melted marshmallows in the 4th photo above.

What I did was put some icing sugar in the bottom of the bowl and then poured in the coloured, and flavoured (I used orange extract) melted marshmallows before tipping the last of the icing sugar on top. The weight of the icing sugar caused the marshmallow to puff up the side of the bowl.

Kneading MMF

I also assumed the icing sugar would tone down the colour but in my experience (ha!, like making it once qualifies me as experienced Winking smile) the depth of colour didn’t change. I ended up with a mint green. I would have preferred it to have a bit more blue, but that’s where I chicken out with dabbling with adding a bit more or this, or change colour completely to try and correct the colour. I might give it a go when it’s daylight but not at night under the kitchen lights.

Kneading the remaining icing sugar took no time, or effort, at all. And I didn’t find it was too sticky, but I did use some Crisco on my hands. The bowl and dough hook weren’t so easy to clean, but a good soak and it all came good in no time.

The flavour is interesting. I might have just a bit too much extract in there. I really didn’t know how much to add and I added 2 teaspoons. Next time I’ll add just one and give it the taste test before adding extra. While I wonder if the flavour is too much, I think it could also be the complete surprise of the taste. I’ve only known fondant to have one taste and this is quite different. Mr Fussy didn’t have any trouble picking what it was, but he never said it was too intense.

MMF read to rest

And here we are all finished. Coming back to the cost. The MMF tips the scales a little over 1.3kg. Bakels white fondant from the supermarket is 750gm and a little over $6 now. To be pre-coloured fondant you have to buy Satin Ice or Bakels. Satin Ice, for 1kg is $19.95 from Spotlight and Divine Cakes and Bakels for 750gm is $10.50 (plus postage). I guess I don’t really consider the cost of icing sugar since I always have it. Given I got the colour I wanted (well close enough), and used 2/3 of the bag of marshmallows, I have changed my tune about how expensive it is. In the long run I don’t think it is so expensive and I liked the idea of getting a colour I wanted without having to knead gel into white.

I’ve yet to use it, so I’m not sure how it is to work with. I could practice with it but I don’t have anything I want to make on a whim, in fact I’m rather enjoying this Sunday afternoon not baking or being in the kitchen. Don’t get me wrong, I love to bake, but having a day where I’m not busy trying to take photos with adequate light, having to jockey ingredients around on the bench for a better composed shot (I know, there’s nothing artistic about my photography but there’s a bit more to dumping ingredients on the bench and just pressing the button) is like a breath of fresh air. So I’m not jumping up to make some cupcakes where I could cut out rounds of fondant to just see how it rolls, moulds and covers. Nothing like leaving it to the actual day I need it to find these things out. No pressure Winking smile

 

Anyway the MMF really is very simple to make and it takes only a few minutes once you get going. The KitchenAid takes all the pain out of kneading in the majority of the icing sugar.

 

I used Rose’s post from her blog, Rose Bakes.


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Lewis Road Creamery Butter–and a quiche

In my fridge I have about 5 blocks of unsalted Lewis Road Creamery butter, and one lightly salted. I bought that by accident, not paying attention to the label.

Despite having quite a bit of the butter, and having had it for some months now (some of the blocks) I’ve been put off trying it. It’s quite expensive.

I seem to have a thing for wanting the best quality ingredients and then becoming intimidated using them.

Ok, so the butter was secondary to making the quiche.

During the week I received a Pintrest notification saying someone had re-pinned a quiche recipe I’d pinned. I’d quite forgotten about it. But it seemed like a good plan for a weekend meal.

This morning I got to thinking about the pastry. I don’t know why. Anyway, I went looking on Pastry Chef Online’s website (I subscribe) to see if there had been a quiche recipe posted. Well there was, of sorts.

My idea for dinner became the pastry and “eggy custard” part from Jenni’s blog, and the filling inspiration from food day dreaming’s blog.

Filling ingredients

The pastry came together really quickly. I was worried through because the pinching and squishing of the butter was almost too easy, and I almost didn’t really need any water at all to achieve the texture/consistency that I was looking for. I never had any flaky flour crumbs. Everything was incorporated before considering adding the water. I wish I’d taken a photo at that stage, but I thought I might have done something wrong and wouldn’t be posting the recipe.

I checked and re-checked the measurement of the ingredients. Yes, I had the right amount of flour, yes I used the right amount of butter. But there were no dry bits of flour to be seen. The crumbs were crumbs, some larger than others, but not one dry speck to be seen.

I had visions of the pastry actually melting into a messy pool of butter within the first 2 minutes of being in the oven.

I did things a little different in the method, and I say that because the link for the eggy custard also had instructions on how to prepare and bake the pastry to the link on the pastry. It was a little confusing to say the least.

  • I rolled the dough between two sheets of baking paper into a disc the size I needed for my flan dish.
  • I put the pastry into the freezer for around 10 minutes.
  • Next I peeled off the paper from one side and placed the pastry over the top of the tin, then removed the other piece of baking paper.
  • After about 2 minutes I began to ease the pastry by coaxing the sides that were overhanging the tin, up, to prepare it for slipping down the side of the tin.
  • After the pastry was in the tin and pushed down the sides to get a nice 90deg angle at the base, I put the tin into the fridge for around 20 minutes.
  • I think because there was so much butter (well it seemed a lot when I couldn’t see any specks of flour) the pastry went quite firm again.
  • I used the very tip of a sharp vegetable knife to pierce the base of the pastry and then used the scrunched up – and laid flat – piece of baking paper (one of the pieces used to roll the pastry out) to line the tin and put in my baking balls.
  • I left the pastry in the oven for 20 minutes before lifting the baking paper and balls out of the shell.
  • Lastly I brushed the base and sides of the shell with an egg wash.
  • The pastry went back in for another 10 minutes.

Pastry

As for the eggy custard. My pots aren’t designed to scald anything so what I ended up with was scrambled eggs forming on the bottom of the pot. Mr Fussy helped out while I strained the rest of the liquid, which I then blended in two batches as Jenni’s recipe says.

I poured half the liquid into the shell, spread the filling ingredients, and then poured as much as would fit over the filling. I didn’t use all of the eggy custard filling, perhaps only 2/3 of it.

It took the best part of 70 minutes to bake.

Filling the shell

Because I started the quiche closer to 5pm everyone was milling about waiting. The News had been and gone and still no food had been dished up. I was feeling a bit bad. Then the quiche was meant to rest. And it was meant to rest for a long time. Time we didn’t have.

I suggested everyone start in reverse order and eat the dessert, the Devil’s Dream Cake that I made yesterday. No takers. So traditional this lot Winking smile  I’d love it if someone suggested dessert first.

Now back to the butter. Oh my goodness. The pastry shell was so incredibly tasty. I don’t really know how to describe it. I’ve never had the butter on its own to know what it tastes like, but I do know the pastry tasted like the best pastry I’ve ever made, and I don’t think it was the method in which it was made. Other than it was a lovely tender flaky pastry. Yum yum.

Baked and cooling

I guess I’ll be using the other blocks of butter pretty soon. I don’t think I’m quite there with replacing every day butter with it though. It is pricey, and I think it deserves to be left for special occasions. Having said that, I really need to try it in a recipe I’ve made before so I can tell, properly, how much of a flavour difference it makes.

And the Creamery in the name, yep, the butter was definitely very creamy. I only needed 226gm of the 250gm block. Mr Fussy has the rest covering about a 1” square of his bread. He loves his butter, and he has it thick!

Now about the quiche, I added a bit more mozzarella than was called for (but my tart tin was larger than 20cm) and it was a little on the rubbery side to cut. So don’t do that. I wished I’d added another cheese, it was a bit bland and I’m sure a tasty cheese would have just given it enough lift. I quite enjoyed the hint of nutmeg in the filling. None of the other flavours really came through though. Sun dried tomatos would have been a better addition, and perhaps it really needed a bit more basil too.

The pastry is definitely worth making again. Just need to switch up the filling ingredients. Bacon, that’s what it needed, a bit of bacon. Mr Fussy would be so happy to know I was typing that. He wasn’t quite sure what to do with a vegetarian meal.

dinner is served


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Back to Sugar Cookies–a new recipe to try

For several weeks now I’ve been itching to get back to making sugar cookies for decorating with Royal Icing.  I’m half way there. I got to bake more cookies. I’m planning to decorate them next Sunday.

Although this recipe says you don’t have to chill the dough, the way my weekend worked out, I ended up making the dough on Friday night, but not baking the cookies until Saturday. So the dough was chilled.

The recipe can be found on LilaLoa’s website for The Vanilla Variation. I’m also going to try out the Chocolate cookie too.

Cookies

One of our Project Managers at work will be taking Maternity Leave the first week of September. I’m getting organised now because I’ve got a few things to do between now and then. The oval scalloped cookies for for my Mother In Law’s birthday which is this coming Friday, so I’ll be out with the Royal Icing sometime this weekend. In amongst decorating the birthday cake, which I baked today and is now in my sister’s freezer. I went with the WASC recipe I posted last week.

All of the cutters used here we new. I’m really looking forward to decorating the baby carriages. I say that now. I’m certain they will be fiddly, after all there’s wheels to pipe and I don’t have a steady hand.

Lemon flavoured

I flavoured the dough with both vanilla extract and lemon extract. I’m going through one of my lemon phases and can’t get enough of it. I know the dough looks sort of crumbly there, and I only used the 4 cups of flour because I knew the dough would chill over night. This is actually what was left in the bottom of the mixing bowl, where all the bits of loose flour gets stuck at the very bottom.

Cookie dough

This was the disc I made from the dough from the top half of the mixing bowl. Even the last disc came together with nothing more than just gathering it all together and forming it in a disc. This was a really easy dough to work with. My first disc (the one immediately above) is slightly smaller than the second disc.

No spreading

This is another cookie dough recipe that says it doesn’t spread. I want to see how it works out without the chilling. I cut the shapes and popped the dough back into the fridge and then when it had chilled again I then extracted the shapes from the rolled dough and baked them. But I can confirm the dough does not spread. It puffed up but didn’t spread. I baked the biscuits for 7 minutes all up, 5 minutes before rotating the tray. I had hoped to have similar sized biscuits on the same tray but it didn’t quite work out that way. The gap in the top right corner is deliberate. That’s the hot spot in my oven. Which is well and good until I rotate the tray. The cookies just started to get a nice brown tinge around the edges at 7 minutes.

Scallops

You can see how the scalloped cookies have kept the nice shape. They’ve not distorted at all during baking.

I was itching to know what the cookies tasted like. I counted up all the cookies I made looking for a set with an odd number. Nope, I must have kept tally what I was cutting and none had an odd number.  What I did have is one little butterfly. A little butterfly. Mr Fussy and I sampled that. These cookies are crunchy. They don’t feel like they’ll break your teeth crunchy but they’re a bit harder than I like. There’s another Vanilla recipe on the site that uses brown sugar, that will keep the cookies a little softer. I’ll give them a crack too.

All this and more

I got all these cookies and had probably a little less than 1/2 the cookie dough left. I’ve put it in the freezer, so I guess I’ve still got some slightly harder-than-I’d-like cookies to bake yet.


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Long time coming–Devil’s Dream Cake

I’ve waited so long to make this cake that the Valrhona chocolate feves have past their best by date. I might have been a little intimated using such an expensive chocolate. So much so it seemed sensible to wait until it wasn’t quite at its peak.

Since we’ve waited so long, let’s just get straight into a photo shall we?

Devils Dream Cake

This is Mr Fussy’s dessert of choice when we go to Strawberry Fare. We’ve not been at all this year which is odd, except that we keep running away from Christchurch to spend our birthdays with just each other’s company. We went to Queenstown for Mr Fussy’s birthday, and Nelson for mine.

You can find the recipe on Strawberry Fare’s website. I took a screen shot of it just in case they decided one day to remove it from their website.

My cake doesn’t look quite the same as theirs. It’s a lot higher for one, and there’s a double layer of ganache. Which was mostly to hide the fact the ganache I first made separated and as it cooled in the fridge it of course left lovely little pools of fat. So being the master of disguise I made another ganache and poured that over the top.

Slice of DDC

I also don’t decorate a plate to any restaurants standards either. But I tried. I might have been better to have not :-/

First of all I wanted to make the raspberry filling using Sujon raspberries. We bought them back from Nelson with us.

Raspberry layers

I had some trouble making it cover the first chocolate layer. I might have been a little conservative. Going back to why I wanted Sujon brand frozen raspberries, they are much more plump, and usually whole. And that really makes no difference at all when you boil them down. I realise it really made no difference when you think of it, but it mattered to me.

Chocolates

And here’s a photo of my expensive chocolate that I allowed to go beyond the best by date. I used Cadbury melts and buttons for the balance of the chocolate needed for the dessert. Up until now I’ve been a big fan of Whittaker’s. I’ve used Cadbury just recently for something else, I can’t even remember. I hadn’t realised they made a 70% block of chocolate. What I’ve noticed is that it’s much more smooth when melted down, and I like that. Even the melts and buttons have real cocoa butter in them. I’m going to give it a try (the 70% stuff) for a ganache and see how that compares to Whittaker’s.

I digress.

I’ve never made a sponge before. The notes on the recipe are a bit sparse for something I’ve never done before so I used intuition and made a mistake (which was just a mistake, not my intuition) but the sponge turned out just fine. And was high enough that I was able to get 3 layers out, which of course means there’s another Devil’s Dream Cake in Mr Fussy’s future.

Making the sponge

My mistake was to add the yolks before having added the sugar. I seemed to have skipped that sentence when reading the instructions while I was making it.

My sponge started to smell like it was burning, which in hindsight I think was the pan grease I used to grease the sides of the pan rather than line it with baking paper.

The mousse, where that expensive chocolate is used, is no more than just a mousse so I’m not sure why I was getting myself all wound up about using it.

Mousse

The recipe says to add the melted chocolate when the cream begins to thicken. At the point where you can just see the cream starting to pucker as you move the beaters through it is the point I added the chocolate. Then I folded the remaining chocolate with the spatula. Though the white mousse was taking too long to thicken to the same texture as the milk/dark chocolate so I got the beaters out to speed it up a bit. Then it started to set in the pan as I was spreading it. Probably because the pan had already been in the fridge and much cooler than it was than when I added the milk/dark chocolate mousse.

This really was quite a simple dessert to make. It just takes a bit of time. There’s the waiting while each layer of mousse sets up a bit before spreading the next.

And because I like to have all my ingredients measured out before I begin, I was well ahead and ready before the cake had been in the fridge for more than a few minutes.

According to Mr Fussy the Devil’s Dream Cake served at Strawberry Fare rests on a more biscuit base. I’m not really surprised to learn this is not the exact same. And I can alter the recipe to make a more biscuit base. Actually can you imagine it done with a brownie. Yum!

This is Mr Fussy’s one and only dessert he orders, and my very first sampling of it, because I also have my one and only dessert I order (hey Strawberry Fare, if ever you want to share the Caramel Hazelnut Torte recipe ……..) I did enjoy it, but since I’m not a raspberry fan I wouldn’t usually gravitate to this. A pleasant dessert but I’ll keep going back for the torte when visiting Strawberry Fare.

I just checked the website and the desserts are now $16.80. I’d say that’s a fair price given the quality of the ingredients in the recipe, and of course the skill and service you get when eating out.

Especially for Mr Fussy


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WASC–two very different birthday cakes

Sometimes I’m a little baffled by all the attention certain recipes receive. This recipe is a White Almond Sour Cream Cake batter. There’s a lot of discussion about WASC on CakeCentral. People are trying to replicate a box mix cake with a “from scratch” recipe. Anyway, I stumbled across this recipe and thought, why not?

You can find the recipe on this blog.

I used my new favourite site that takes the size of the original cake pan and the ingredients and then converts the ingredients to the quantities needed for a different cake tin.

The original recipe is for a two layer 8” cake tin. And what do you know? A 4” round and 6” square takes the same amount of batter. The 6” square tin being 70% of the original recipe. Easy peasy. I made the recipe and then weighed the batter and then divided it 70/30.

cake batter

I also added Strawberry flavour by Lorann. I used the whole tiny bottle. I used frosting icing that I’d had in the freezer. It was vanilla bean which I added strawberry freeze dried powder.

Baked cakes

I had the 6” cake in first and put the 4” in when there was 15 minutes remaining. Thankfully the timer went off just as the 4” was about to spill over and I had just enough time to throw a baking tray underneath to catch the small spillage.

Risen

Usually I make two separate layers but this time I decided to use the 3” high tins and put the full mixture in. It worked out fine. I only had one “top” to trim. And I’m pretty happy torting a cake now so I wasn’t bothered about slicing through the middle of each cake and getting a straight cut. The 4” cake rose more, even with a little spillage. Both of them went in at 42mm deep batter.

Ready to decorate

I made the cakes on Thursday evening and put them in the fridge double wrapped in Gladwrap. Friday evening I took the frosting I’d had in the freezer, and then thawed, and added the strawberry powder and more icing sugar to make it stiffer. I didn’t want the frosting softening enough that it bulged the fondant. Been there, done that. I also melted more 70% chocolate to add to the frosting I had left from our wedding anniversary cake to combat the extra icing sugar I was adding.

Saturday I had no idea how I would decorate the cakes. In fact I didn’t even know what I was going to do at all with the 6” square cake. I knew the 4” round cake was being decorated for Louise’s birthday.

I used Bakel’s pink fondant with white fondant for my birthday cake and it was still quite bright. I took a small bit of that toned down fondant and added more white fondant. A much better shade.

During the week I played around with the gumpaste and made some multi layered daisies. I’m not sure if they’re daisies anymore or closer to gerberas. I decided one of those would be on the top, and then on Thursday I made a new batch of gumpaste and to test it out I made some more daisies, just single ones. I figured that these could go around the cake.

Sharp Edger

You might know that I’ve been a little obsessed about sharp edges. While a 4” cake is a doddle to flip and do the upside down method, I still went ahead and tested out the new Edger tool I ordered from Australia. It’s designed by a British couple and so far I’ve not been able to source them in NZ. However ….. there must be a knack to using this because I gouged out the fondant, as you can see. So I flipped the cake upside down and carried on trying to fix the edge but I couldn’t push the fondant down to the gouged out bit to make it all better. Oops.

Butterflies and flowers

I made up some yellow Royal Icing so that I could pipe the centres of some “filler” gumpaste flowers I made late (try 11pm!) Friday night, so I went all out and piped the little daisies I’d cut out. They look much better with centres.

Here’s a view of all sides of the cake since I went pretty random on the groupings of flowers.

All views

I was pretty pleased with the final look of Louise’s birthday cake. The butterfly I had wanted to attach broke on me. It was a patchwork cutter butterfly and a much more delicate looking one than what I ended up with.

Louise loved the cake. Today is Louise’s actual birthday, Happy Birthday!

for Louise

That left me with the 6” square cake which I didn’t have a clue about. On the Saturday morning when I was awake (after just 5 hours sleep) I looked at my calendar application and saw that it was Alastair’s birthday the same day as Louise’s. And I knew it was a significant number. But I was at a loss how to decorate a cake for a bloke. And being ex-Army, but despite wearing a pink salmon shirt with a white vest, I needed to make the decorating fairly generic. Alastair goes to the gym and I had this wild idea that I could use modelling chocolate to make a barbell. That sounded all well and good, but how on earth would I make the bar straight, suspended.

Mr Fussy had dutifully bagged up all the extra strips of modelling chocolate I used with Cameron’s 21st cake so the plan was to use some of that to make the barbell and the numbering.

Before I committed myself to decorating the cake I sent a quick text Saturday evening to Alastair asking if he’d be at work on Monday. He’s one of the Account Managers (and brought me back the liquid egg whites during a trip to clients in Wellington) so not necessarily working from the office.  Yes came back the text (as well as an offer to help me then and there). I had to pretend whatever it was I needed him for on Monday could wait until Monday. So I got cracking. Until I stopped to contemplate how I’d get the bar to hold straight.

Fondant on the square cake

Brain wave. I had florist wire. Surely that would work. At this point I’d kneaded the modelling chocolate until it had gone a little greasy and it was starting to crumble. Although I had managed to figure out how to get it perfectly smooth and even thickness by rolling it under my fondant roller. It took a lot of patience to get the chocolate to hold around the piece of florist wire I’d threaded through the middle. Also trying to find the right sized circles for the weights was causing me a delay. I used my smallest circle cutter from the set, the large and small nozzles from the piping tips but I needed another one. The end of the funnel worked.

And this is what I ended up with.

for Alastair

Ahh yes. The lettering. I’m not very good with the patchwork cutters. In fact I suck. Lindy had shown me how to use the butterfly cutter while I was out there for the Peony Rose lesson on Saturday and then showed me again when I popped out again on the Sunday to discuss the consistency of the gumpastes I had made. I decided to give the alphabet cutters another chance. It was painstaking work. I’d made up some Mexican Paste on Saturday night and was hoping it would be the answer to my problems. It worked better on some letters than others. As and Ss were the hardest. Could Alastair have a few more As in it?

Having satisfied myself that I could string together the letters I was then stuck with how to fix them to the cake. I haven’t seen or read anywhere what others do. And the letters are so flimsy that I didn’t want to handle them any more than necessary. I pretty much threw them on the cake by sliding them off the paper to avoid touching them. I resorted to piping gel. I’d never used it before but had ordered it in for Cameron’s cake, thinking I would use it to attach the black sugar pearls (which I didn’t use in the end). You might be able to see that the gel leaves a shiney trail where I brushed it to the cake and then slid the letters over the top. Keeping the letters evenly spaced and straight was yet another thing I hadn’t thought about until now. I looked around the kitchen and couldn’t figure out what to use. In the end I used the ruler that was pretty much right under my nose.

Barbell

There are 31 of us on our floor and I figured if Alastair decided to share the cake amongst his work collegues the cake would need to be cut into 36 (6 x 6). And Alastair did decided to share the cake. But he chickened out at cutting it up, despite being a chef in the army.  I had the honour (as I so often do at work). I was pleased to get a slice, albeit small. I got to taste the cake, to check the texture and figure out whether I was right to worry it may not be that fresh now. Thursday to Monday are a few days!

2013-08-12 10.05.20

The cake still felt fresh and it held the strawberry flavour. Alastair was very appreciative. I got a hug and the title of “work wife”.

The recipe is a keeper.