On to the plate

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


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ANZAC Day 2014

Lots of people have made the most of having Easter Monday being the same week as ANZAC Day (Friday) and have taken the 3 days off to give them a 10 day break. That’s smart thinking. We’ll just wait out the 9 weeks we’ve got left before a 6 week trip over the other side of the world. We’re ok with going back to work for 3 days.

Untitled

ANZAC Day cake

I try to do something ahead of time for an upcoming holiday or special event, so I made use of the extra time at home to make my cake for ANZAC Day. I baked the cake on Friday and froze it overnight. I wasn’t sure the cake would turn out because I botched the recipe (it was another variation of a box mix) adding a packet of instant pudding that I didn’t need, and doubling the water (the recipe was actually for 2 cake boxes and I only needed one, so I needed to halve everything but kept the water at the original volume). That cake took 65 minutes to bake and I still wasn’t sure, but I had enough of getting up and down to the sound of the oven buzzer every 5 or so minutes.

As it happens, the cake has a lovely flavour and it has the right sort of texture I would expect.

Gumpaste poppies made using Bakels Red fondant with tylose.

Gumpaste poppies made using Bakels Red fondant with tylose.

I started the poppies on Saturday late afternoon. I figured I’d make enough for 3 poppies expecting some breakages but I should still get one good one from it. After dinner on Saturday I ganached the cake. Round cakes are such a breeze to ganache by comparison to square cakes.

Closer look at the handpainting at the front of the cake.

Closer look at the handpainting at the front of the cake.

I got up early on Sunday to cover the cake and cake board. I knew I needed the fondant to dry out 24 hours before hand painting. But I got impatient and decided to airbrush the board and cake just after lunch time. I didn’t have a problem with doing either. The cake board had more airbrushing because the fondant I used was a mix of autumn gold and white which gave this really cool marbled effect. I didn’t think the colour of fondant I used would matter given I was going to airbrush it. But the yellower fondant meant that the green I thought I was going for, ended up a more avocado colour.  I never expected the colour of the cake to blend seemlessly into the cake board so I wasn’t phased. Just calked that one up to experience and know for future that while it wont matter what colour I use, I need to compensate for it when I make up the colour.

This was the first time I’d used the airbrush on fondant. Mr Fussy was assisting. He was holding up a long sheet of paper towel behind the cake to catch any overspray. I took the lightly lightly approach. It’s better to have less colour because you can continue to build, but it turned out pretty well. I also had to hold a round piece of parchment (for lining a cake tin) on the top to lessen the chance of spray ending up on the top of the cake. All in all I think we did just fine. If anything I should have had more of the side with green, I thought I had until I started to hand paint the poppies and realised how much blue I had.

This is the first poppy. I hadn't realised just how many times you'd need to wind the black thread. This was a bit sparse.

This is the first poppy. I hadn’t realised just how many times you’d need to wind the black thread. This was a bit sparse.

Sunday afternoon, after packing up all the airbrush stuff (always so much stuff!) I got around to making the poppies. I dusted them (which is something I really don’t enjoy) and then made them up. Those things are tricky to make. The thread wanted to get caught in the florist tape and I was finding it difficult to get the tape up to the very top of the wire. But it turned out fine and I didn’t have any breakages. I even went so far as to steam the flowers. I went the whole hog aka completing the job. The new steamer I bought from Nicholas Lodge is the business. It’s very fierce. Heaps of steam. Which is a lot better than waving the flower over a pathetic excuse for a steaming jug. Still, it’s probably a good endorsement for a jug, you’re unlikely to get a steam burn.

I was doing well for time and everything so far was working as I had planned. That just left the flowers to hand paint today. I spent a little bit of time looking at images for fields of poppies. That had been what I wanted to do. I didn’t really know how to start things. Do I build up the green field and then add in the flowers. When should I paint the stems? I had no idea, and I feel like the painting process was a big clumsy. I think I should have begun with building more green.

Because I’m not an artist I had a few practice runs with using a pencil and paper to get the “flow” of drawing a poppy. I had a few variations, and I knew that if mine weren’t an exact replica it wouldn’t matter. No one would know what I was basing my poppies off.

I struggled a bit with the shading, and I had to keep reminding myself that as I drew and filled in with colour not to be put off with how things were shaping up. I was far from finished and it would start to come together as I added more detail. And on the whole I was happy with how the flowers were finished. Of course there’s some I don’t think are as well drawn and others that are my favourite.

This is one of my favourite handpainted poppies.

This is one of my favourite handpainted poppies.

Lastly I had to figure out how to place the poppies. I had spent some time thinking about it. Initially I was thinking 3 in a row, same height. But then I decided that might be a bit too ridged. So I added some stronger florist wire to two of the flowers to both strengthen and give more height so that I could stagger their height. Thankfully they still fit into the little straws I had (I think they’re for making cake pops).

I always knew I would set the cake to the back of the cake board, and I had measured the space I had to place the ANZAC sign/plaque. On Thursday I’d found a font that I thought was similar to the NZ Army font and I printed that out. I then used the tissue paper transfer method to get the writing onto the “plaque” I fashioned from a rectangle and heart cutter. And again because I have no patience, I did the transfer last night immediately after having rolled the fondant. A little of it pressed the fondant but not enough to distort the shape. I also used one of my colour shapers to tidy up the ragged bits from the cutters. It worked nicely.

So there we have it. This year’s ANZAC Day cake.

For those of us not enjoying the long long weekend, there’ll be cake at work tomorrow.

And now for an overload of photos, because I wanted to capture ALL of the handpainting, including the “back” of the cake which has the field of poppies, which Mr Fussy was really keen on, but I felt like it would mess up the clean look, even if it wasn’t truly a field look.

The beginning of the field.

The beginning of the field.

The end of the field. There's a lot of work trying to blend greens and add in the out of focus poppies.

The end of the field. There’s a lot of work trying to blend greens and add in the out of focus poppies.

The full view of the back of the cake - the field

The full view of the back of the cake – the field

Handpainting 3

Handpainting 4

handpainting 5

If there was one thing I could change, it would have been a nice piece of ribbon to go around the cake board. Despite having some lovely ribbons, nothing was suitable. The shiny silver irks me a bit. I couldn’t be bothered heading to the shops and have instead enjoyed a lazy afternoon catching up on some TV programmes, you know, spending quality time with Mr Fussy 😉

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Another year, another cake

Happy Anniversary

A public display of affection

Better late than never, right?

This post is dedicated to the cake I made and decorated for our Wedding Anniversary. It was mid March, a little over a week ago. Not too late, surely.

I made a White Chocolate Citrus Mudcake. I used this recipe, and it was my first time making this cake. I’m not really one to leave a recipe alone. I barely made a change. I added some Mandarin rind and then put mandrin sugar syrup between all the layers when it came time to decorate the cake. I’d also frozen the cake having made it some weeks ahead of time. I was a bit skeptical about how easy/difficult it would be to torte given the drama I had with David’s birthday cake, a  Chocolate mudcake. It turned out to be reasonably straight forward by comparison.

I used a different Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe. This time I whipped the butter before making the meringue. I was curious whether it would help reduce the yellow colour you will get when using so much butter. I even went as far as to add a dab of Sugarflair Violet to the creamed butter. Did it make any difference? Not to me. I stared so hard but I really couldn’t see a difference.  I also added a dab more when it came time to mix the whipped butter into the meringue. Nope, still couldn’t detect any lightening of the frosting.

The SMBC was very nice. It was really light. Since I’ve never made this particular SMBC before I can’t say if the recipe is like that made as instructed, or it became lighter because I whipped the butter prior. I added Cointreau to try and get an orange flavour. I added about 3 tablespoons but couldn’t taste anything. I’m starting to think I’m getting old. Can’t see a change, can’t taste a change. It’s a slippery slope I’m on 😉 Anyway it worried me that adding so much liquid might make the SMBC go sloppy. So I gave up on adding further liquor.

As is normal for white mudcakes I bake, the cake itself looked a little dense and wet after having added the sugar syrup. Maybe I was a bit heavy handed.

Pink and blue to match the front design

Pink and blue to match the front design

I had decided a couple of weeks before our wedding anniversary how I wanted to decorate the cake. I had seen a technique of a Facebook page a I like and I planned to use that technique in a slightly different manner.  This link takes you to the photos I’d seen.

I didn’t know how the technique was achieved so I just ploughed on and did what I expected to be the most logical way to go about this. I didn’t even crumb coat the cake. I only realised that after I’d applied the buttercream. I’d sort of crumb coated the cake from the excess filling from between the layers. And I ordered the colours incorrectly. And if I hadn’t said anything the chances of anyone looking thinking it was wrong would be slim (I hope).

Beneath the cake card is the layer of purple, you can just see it sneaking out.

Beneath the cake card is the layer of purple, you can just see it sneaking out.

After having left the cake overnight in the fridge with the final buttercream layer, the next morning I took the cake out and immediately carved out a cavity for where I would add the different colours. I wanted a sort of blend from blue into purple into pink. It sort of worked.

While I had a really nice smooth finish on the cake prior to carving bits out and then having to smooth the new colours in, with using the scraper to smooth the colours I ended up marking the cake. I’ve become a little less picky. Ok, I pick, I see, it irks me a bit, but it’s just a cake, it’s only for me, it’s mostly an excuse to try new techniques. It’s all practice, and I enjoy the process – most of the time.

I pulled out several pokey type implements I wasn’t sure which would make the best job of carving words.There’s lots wrong here. The sloped Y, not putting the words so they were evenly spaced top and sides. And then the little “extra” message almost hidden, should have started under the main “I love you” wording. This is a little insight into Mr Fussy and my playfulness. We don’t argue. I don’t know if that’s abnormal, but we don’t. What we do, is playfully insist to the other that we love the other “the most”. So for us, saying I love you is not the end of the subject, it’s always followed by “the most”. You may be able to see that, if you squint and cock your head.

The most

Our quirky little “add on”

With the cake pretty much decorated, I decided I had time to make a fantasy flower. I’m not good with fantasy flowers. And I ended up making the layers too thin. It wasn’t a gumpaste rose, it was meant to be whimsical, and it was hard to get it to ruffle being such large pieces of gumpaste. I’ll know for next time! I put the flower into the hot water cupboard to help it to dry quicker, and it worked nicely. The flower was dry enough to dust within 24 hours. Dusting is not something I do well with. I try to hard I think. And I don’t like blending colours and I like things perfect and not too abstract. So my dusting was really hit and miss on this. I had a pinkish purple and a bluish purple and tried to evenly apply it. I had good intentions. We’ll leave it at that.

Fantasy Flower

My very fine fantasy flower. It was too thin and lacked some oomph.

Mum had popped around during the morning while I was dusting the flower and then trying to apply the flower. Overnight I had been thinking about whether the flower would stay put given the angle and position I was aiming for. I had thought about using a toothpick, but completely forgot that when I was trying to get it to stay put. Mum suggested the toothpick and I almost slapped myself for not having remembered that from the previous night.

Mum suggested I stick the toothpick into the fondant to get thehole ready and then stick the toothpick into the back of the flower and then just feed it into the pre-made hole. Worked a charm and that flower was no longer slipping on the buttercream.

toothpick

You can make out the glob of fondant. I tried hard to get the rainbow sanding sugar to hide the white, but it wasn’t quite enough.

As far as taste, it was quite lovely. Not at all sweet thanks to the citrus. And as per usual, we had far too much cake. We only wanted to have a slice. The rest of the top layers went with Mr Fussy to work and was dolled out. The bottom section was palmed off to Natalie for her crew to eat. By all accounts everyone enjoyed the cake.

Next cake will be made for Easter. This past weekend I spent time making and decorating cookies. I’ll try to do better this week and get that post up on the blog on Sunday.

Slice of cake anyone?

Slice of cake anyone?

 


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Practice run–a fondant covered cake

I’m loving the Craftsy Classes I’m enrolled in and I wanted to have a go at putting some of the new techniques into practice.

I only ever cover a cake in fondant once a year, at Christmas. It’s an 8” square cake and round cakes covered in fondant scare me.

But I’ve been watching a few videos, and I bought “The Mat” while in Australia (the massive one) and the Mini Mat from CakeStuff the other week (I see it’s sold out, at least that size). I felt ready to tackle a round cake.

Here’s what it looked like when completed. Stick around if you want the blow by blow breakdown of how I got there.

Boom

Just about everything I did here is something new.

  • Cake recipe
  • Levelling/flattening the cakes
  • Butter emulsion
  • Ganache filling
  • Reusing previously frozen Swiss Meringue Buttercream (SMBC)
  • Levelling the top of the cake, properly
  • Buttercream beneath fondant
  • Covering a round cake
  • Wax Paper Transfer Method (WPTM)
  • Explosion

“Decoration idea”

  • I used tools I’ve not used before:
  • The Mat
  • Fondant smoothers
  • Sugar Flower Glue
  • Pastry Brush

And not everything went smoothly. Not by a long shot. There are so many lessons to be learnt. But that’s what a practice is all about. Making mistakes and finding ways to avoid them for next time, and ways to hide them for this time.

We start with a cake batter I’ve never used before. It was thick, not like the cake batters I’ve been baking the last 6 or so months. This was the type that doesn’t smooth down in the pan without some help.

Cake batter

I’m still “off” the idea of using a baking spray and then lightly flouring the sides and bottom of the cake pans. There’s nothing more here than baking paper. And I had no problem with the cakes sticking to the pans, or the paper, despite the almost 1 cm gap I had around the side of one pan.

I have spent some time reading Jessica’s blog. I have signed up for (and paid and watched) her Craftsy class and many of the techniques here come from her class or blog.

Jessica had mentioned that she’s never had to level a cake. Had to believe. So I read her post about the method she uses and gave it a crack.

Flattening the dome

As you can see the cake is domed. I used two sheets of paper towel and just dampened them. Then I used the lid of a Sistema container to then gently push he dome down, and when I had the dome down I went around the edges of the cake to try and flatted it all over the top. It mostly worked, but the top was still higher than the sides.  And later the cake had sunk a little, so I wonder how much I really needed to press to flatten the domes. Despite the top still being higher than the rounded sides I went with it.

I figured the ganache would fill in the sides and with the ganache and buttercream both being the same colour (depth varies) I wouldn’t curse too much about seeing a different colour as a “dam”. The ganache had been the original one I used for Riley’s Angry Birds cake, and then thought better of. This one was 72% chocolate, a bit too bitter for kids. I added to the ganache some Orange extract. This stuff smells so intense, but just like orange juice. There’s no artificial smell to it.

Flavourings

I used a 1/2 teaspoon of the Orange extract and the Butter Emulsion to the Vanilla Cake recipe as well. I was going for a lovely Jaffa flavour, one of my favourites.

Our inside freezer is jammed with frozen frostings, citrus juice of every variety, and zest, royal icing, pastry dough and fillings and ganache as well. I removed the chocolate SMBC I had in there from when I made the Double Chocolate Layer Cake for our new neighbours, on Friday morning. The ganache I removed Saturday morning, knowing I was likely going to warm it through enough to be able to whisk.

Ganache filling

I ended up flip flopping between warming it too much, putting it in the fridge to set up a little, finding it again too set and rewarming it. I did this several times and the last I set the timer on the oven for 5 minutes and grabbed it from the fridge after that. I then let it sit on the bench to soften just a little and began playing with fondant and my new patchwork butterfly cutters. I noticed that the ganache was ready and had to put everything aside to make sure I worked with it before it began to set again. You can see how much ganache I had to use to get the sides straight and disguise the slope from the top of the cake down to the sides. And I wasn’t happy with the level of the top. Out came my little spirit level. Its first use.

I was able to immediately cover the cake in SMBC.  The SMBC beat up so nice. I was thrilled.

buttercream layer

But covering the cake was a real pain. Every time I used the bench scraper to get the sides even I’d end up seeing ganache poking through. I didn’t know how I could have so little of the SMBC on the sides for that to happen. I fussed and fluffed about and gave up after having spent way too long. I put it in the fridge and resigned myself to having to do a 2nd layer of SMBC, which hopefully would go on much better with a first coat.

It did. There’s a fine line between getting the sides all nice and straight and dealing with the little bit that raises above the side of the cake that still has to be dealt with. And all that time getting the top nice and flat was pretty much ruined with the SMBC. I couldn’t put the spirit level on it because the frosting was too soft. That was probably my problem. I should have put it in the fridge for a few minutes. The house was too hot. In the end I was reasonably happy with the cake. And I remembered to put the bench scraper into a bowl of hot water and use it around the sides and top of the cake to be very sure it was all smooth. That’s why you can see such a difference between that glossy SMBC in the bowl and the finish on the cake.

That frosting was so good. Even Mr Fussy who’s been recovering ALL WEEK from a gastro bug came out to swipe a little bit more. But not nearly as much as I’d been snacking on. I had it bad!

It had been my intention to cover the cake in fondant Saturday evening. But with the house so warm and the buttercream threatening to smoosh within 10 minutes of being out of the fridge, I decided I’d tackle it first thing, before the fire went on.

My worry was the cake being too cold to put fondant on, and ending up with bulges because the buttercream at room temperature would end up expelling a little air.

Fondant layers

While laying in bed this morning I decided I would tackle an Explosion design. Clearly it was a very last minute decision because I had nothing to explode out of the cake. Since decorating the cake I’ve found a few picture tutorials of other methods. When I explain the BIG mistake I have here, you’ll understand why next time I’ll be using a circle the size of the explosion only, and not the entire cake top.

As you can see I had black and red.  Good Canterbury colours! I had a circle of both the same size as the cake. Between the black and red is a smaller circle of baking paper. I’ll explain what I did, then follow up with what I should have done.

After placing the red circle on the black, covered with baking paper, I rolled out the white fondant, using my new Mini Mat. It took quite a bit of work. The centre is a bit thicker and I was having a hard job pushing it out. When I had my 32cm “round” it was time to hold my breath and see if the fondant would drape nicely over the cake without dragging and tearing and God forbid, ending up with elephant skin. You can see a YouTube of how The Mat works, here.

The Mat worked as it should, but of course I went arse about face (now that I relook at the beginning of the video) and it might have gone much better had I reviewed the video again.

Getting the slits in the fondant wasn’t too difficult. I had a second piece of baking paper cut into a circle which I’d drawn lines (in pencil) as guides to where I was to cut. And I knew to cut from the outside in to reduce and drag from the knife.

Fondant flourishes

Getting the first slit up was the hardest. It was hard not to misshapen the burst.

So here’s what went wrong, and a BIG boo-boo.

As I placed the fondant over the top of the cake, unbeknown to me, the red moved and shifted and was now about 1cm down the side of the cake, on one side. Crap! There’s a couple of things I could do here differently next time. Moisten the edges of the black with water or sugar glue and then stick the red on top and press lightly to adhere. Actually I would also do a little more to adhere the black to the top of the cake also, but I think it was mostly stuck in place. I’d had to go around the red and black with my craft knife to shave over the little bits that were over hanging, and I’d had to press some of the black where it didn’t quite meet the edge of the cake, I think that helped fix it in place.

Or, I’d cut smaller circles, just the width of the star burst, which would mean I had a bulge in the top of the cake, but this would be hidden once the bursts had been turned out. On looking at the pictures above I think I like the bursts laying on the cake. But then by the time you have something exploding from the cake it might look better.

I took a long piece of Gladwrap and scrunched it up into a long thread and then gently lift the bursts up and placed the Gladwrap underneath to give it something to rest on and allow it to set a bit. I had to moisten the red and fix it to the white on a couple. It’s a mucky job and it doesn’t look very neatly done. The white fondant is thicker (it’s the centre which I was having trouble rolling out) and the red is a bit thinner, so the red has some drying and it tore at the ends. So no nice sharp peaks to it. From this distance it looks decent though Winking smile

Top view

I had also only just managed to cut through the black on cut. Getting the baking paper out was really simple though. That’s the bit I expected to spend time fussing over.

Before making the burst, I used the fondant smoothers to get a nice smooth top and sides (and hiding the bulge from the red) I spent a bit of time trying to see how I could get a more crisp top edge. I wanted it to look 90 degrees. I tried the method I’d seen but it just wasn’t to be. I need to revisit those videos to see if I’ve forgotten something in the technique. One technique is to flip the cake upside down and use the smoothers or a bit of acetate to push the fondant to the bottom (which is the top). But I was too scared to do that. Plus I don’t have anything solid enough that would have held the cake perfectly flat to flip it.

Anyway, the other boo-boos. Somehow I ended up with a bit of buttercream on the side of the cake. And there was an unhappy tear in the very bottom because I didn’t lay the fondant over the top of the cake straight, so I had to actually try and coerce the fondant a bit to reach the bottom.  So tears, buttercream, slipped fondant. I pretty much had it all going on.

I hadn’t really settled on an idea for decorating the cake. I had some left over grey from the Angry Bird blackbird and thought I’d use that with the black and the red. I needed something that was pretty random because I had odd spots where I needed to cover mistakes.

I decided to use Jessica’s Waxed Paper Transfer Method (WPTM) to do an edge for the cake. I wish I’d seen the video last weekend before doing Dad’s cake, it would have been a lot easier!

Back view

(the back view) I measured the waxed paper around the cake and cut the piece. I used cellotape to hold the paper to the bench, used some Kremelta on the very edge where I was going to lay the fondant. Rolled out a long sausage of fondant and then rolled it. Then using a ruler and my craft knife I cut a straight edge and moved the fondant to sit over the bottom edge of the waxed paper. Then I used one of my new edging cutter thingees butted up to the edge of the ruler (which was placed over the fondant at a particular distance from the bottom) and pressed it down and along the length of the fondant. Then I put a little smear of Kremelta along the base of the cake and held the waxed paper to line up the bottom edge of it to the bottom of the cake, then pressed gently to adhere the fondant to the cake. The start and end overlapped each other as I hoped it would. I then cut though the overlap, got rid of the one side of excess fondant, then peeled the other side back a bit to carefully remove the other sides excess fondant. Then pressed the sides back against the cake where they met perfectly. And the design also was  perfect match. Woo hoo! The only thing with this cutter tool is that the front has a nice soft bevelled sort of cut to it, where you don’t get that at the back. And it’s the back that is facing out on the cake. Still it’s OK, in fact I’m warming to the idea and don’t mind it at all.

Explosion Cake

So there I was placing the spots randomly (purposefully hiding little indiscretions) and I ended up getting too much sugar glue on the back of a big red spot and before I knew it I had a sticky hand pressing the grey inner circle into the side of the cake and at the same time putting red sticky stuff all over it. I also managed to get a black sticky spot as well, that’s hidden by one of the smaller spots. Just as well I had ways to cover up some of the mistakes.

All that’s left is to slice the cake and decide is the taste and texture completes the whole thing.

And I couldn’t help saying that this was a better design for a male than the cake I made for Dad. But fondant. It’s still scary stuff Winking smile


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Perfect Party Cake for Dad’s 70th Birthday

I made Dad a birthday cake using a recipe I’ve used before. I made this Dorie Greenspan Perfect Party Cake with the New Zealand/Waitangi Day Cake this February.

Since then my cake decorating skills have improved a little. I’m not ready to gloat yet, but if you were to compare the two cakes you’ll see that I’m making progress in the right direction.

Fondant message

This is what the finished cake looked like, but that came after me trying to use a fondant flower I’d made on the Saturday night, the first that I was actually pleased with. I really wanted to use it. But it made Dad’s cake too pretty. So let’s get that photo over with. And an apology if I flick between the two looks. It’s just at the different times I took photos.

Unused flower

I hadn’t totally settled on what I would make for Dad’s cake during our stay in Melbourne, but on the flight home, on the back of a sick bag, the design took place.

For the cake I knew it couldn’t be chocolate. Dad is not a fan of chocolate baked goods. He loves fruit cake, but I knew Ruth would probably make him a fruit cake. And when I think of fruit cake I think of almond and white fondant and then it starts to become a Christmas cake.

Then the idea came to me to use the Perfect Party Cake recipe again. But I’d fill the layers with Raspberry filling. Dad loves his raspberries.

I also knew the cake would be 8” in size. Since I was having my sister and her family over for an afternoon tea along with Dad and Ruth, I needed a cake that would comfortably serve 10 people.

Birthday Celebration Cake

The Friday night before the afternoon tea I made the raspberry filling. I used the same filling recipe as per the Double Chocolate Layer Cake. I wasn’t really sure it would stretch to 2 layers of filling. I had originally been thinking 3 layers. On Saturday I made Lemon Curd and changed plan to torting the 3 cakes and having 5 layers where I’d alternate between layers of Lemon Curd and Raspberry Filling, and using slightly less filling between the layers.

near perfect layers

I torted the 3 cake layers following the tip that I got from the Craftsy free video, Modern Buttercream. Joshua John Russell instructed to tuck your elbow tight into your side and not move it while you cut around the side of the cake, cutting slightly deeper each turn until you finally reach the middle and have cut through the entire cake. I think I did not too bad really.

Then to each layer I piped a little dam of frosting using the Wilton 12 tip, and then filled the layer with either the raspberry filling or lemon curd.

Fillings

One of the other tips I picked up was using a simple sugar syrup. I’ve used this before on layered cakes. Its use is to keep the layers moist since they can dry out when you’ve got lots of layers due to the amount of time the cake is out, with cut sides, and also the fridge can dry a cake out as well. I saw that Joshua had his syrup in a squeeze bottle. That seemed like a brilliant idea, and he certainly made it look sensible. I suspect he’s been using this method for a long time and is used to the angle at which he points it at the cake before squeezing. I on the other hand ended up with the syrup squirting beyond the cake where I was trying to start at the edge. In the  got the hang of it.

6 layers

In my planning of the cake (on the plane) I had assumed the cake would be 10cm in height. And I knew when I had the cakes cooled and measured the height that it wasn’t going to be close to it (another reason I went for 6 layers, using filling to bolster the height). The change in height meant my original design would need to change. I was going for 4 layers of fondant stripes. The plan was for graduating depths of colour creating a sort of ombre effect, as well as larger to smaller strips of fondant as we went bottom to top of the cake, with a gap equal to the size of the fondant before starting with the next colour/strip.

Ready for decorations

There was one other thing I forgot to do using another tip in the video. I should have put the pastry scraper into a pot that contained boiled water, let the heat penetrate the scraper, dry off the scraper and then scrape the side and top of the cake to help smooth everything out nicely. It was smooth but there were some imperfections which you could see. The heat from the scraper should have smoothed it out a bit.

I was expecting to use some of the texture sheets I bought from Bake Boss in Melbourne for the strips but decided at the last minute to use one of the fondant strip cutters (also purchased from Bake Boss, but available here in NZ). That was on the bottom layer. I pulled out a little fondant wheel I bought on eBay for the middle layer (1cm) but it was useless at actually cutting through the fondant. And it’s not like the fondant was hard, it’s just the edge wouldn’t cut nicely. In the end the middle layer is cut using a pasta cutter I have.

Fondant strips

The top layer I did use one of the texture sheets. This actually a fish scale. It wasn’t too bad trying to join the pattern but not dead easy, and I could spot where the sheet started and finished and the next began.

I had measured the circumference of the cake and knew I’d end up having to make two stripes for each because a single long strip would be too difficult to hold and try to place with the weight of the rest.

I used another tip I had come across and that was to roll the strip so that in my hand I had a coil and then I uncoiled it as I pressed it against the side of the cake.

I also used a Wilton tool that marks the cake. This gave me my guide as to where I’d be placing each strip. Unfortunately the Guide is in inches and I needed the impressions around the cake at 4 and 7cm. With not having the correct position I then had to decide where the strip would lay, would the guide be in the middle of the strip, or just above the bottom, or just below the top. You can imagine that this got a bit fiddly to get the strip even all the way around.

I had cut out a 7 and 0 from the fondant cutter set I bought, but the size was too insignificant for the cake.

I used my new craft cutter (like a scalpel) to hand cut out the numbers. The 0 was more or less an O which I then squished a little to elongate it, but the size was still a little bigger than the 7. And I placed them too close to the edge of the cake.

first slice

Don’t expect that when you cut into a cake that’s got strips of fondant (or some other type of strip) that they will stay put as you cut through it. We nudged them back into place for the photo, but I can tell you categorically they will drag down from where you’d carefully placed them.

And one last note, I had wanted to have a white frosted cake, but with so much butter in the doctored Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe I downloaded from the Craftsy video, I just couldn’t get white, despite putting some Bright White food gel in it.

The colour palette I was using called for blue (100) with equal parts of yellow (40) and black. (40) I have kept hold of this colour guide.

I needed more blue, more than twice the amount of yellow of the butter, and then some black. I didn’t add any yellow obviously, that came from the butter.

I was thrilled that the colour I got was so close to the lightest coloured fondant strip. While it’s not what I had envisaged, it was still a pretty decent cake. And I can say that I’m happy with all the new techniques and tips I’ve picked up over the months and that I made a cake that looked good, but best of all, it tasted so SO good.

We ended up with 4 slices left, sadly Mr Fussy came down with an awful gastro bug which has seen him off work all week. He couldn’t eat anything Sunday, but he had a mouthful of one of the slices left over, on Tuesday. The cake still  had that beautiful fresh flavour. The Lemon Curd offsetting the sweetness of the cake and frosting.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream – slightly adapted from Joshua

Ingredients

  • 10 egg whites (I used 30gm egg albumen and 300ml warm water)
  • 280gm castor sugar
  • 843gm Butter or Kremelta (or a mix of the two as I did) – room temperature, chopped into 1 Tbls pieces
  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbls vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Bring a small pot of water to the boil. The pot needs to be suitable for sitting a bowl on top, where the bowl does not touch the water.
  • Turn the heat down to keep the water at a steady simmer.
  • Place the egg whites (or the egg albumen and warm water), sugar and salt into a heat proof bowl. Place the bowl over the pot of water.
  • Use a whisk to keep the egg white and sugar moving. You don’t want to leave it sitting or you’ll end up cooking scrambled egg.
  • From time to time put your finger into the mixture to check if the sugar has dissolved. As soon as it’s fully dissolved take the bowl off the simmering water.
  • Using a mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg white/sugar mix until you reach stiff peaks. At this time the bowl should have come back to room temperature.
  • Begin to add the butter, the meringue mixture will deflate a bit as you add more and more butter. You can keep adding butter before the previous has been added.
  • As you add more butter the colour of the meringue will change and it may begin to look curdled. Keep mixing, it will come together. You will probably hear the sound of your mixer change as the texture of the buttercream changes. I didn’t add all of the butter/kremelta before the texture changed to buttercream. Don’t be alarmed if you don’t need all the butter. In fact I ended up with over 200gm unused. The temperature of your kitchen, and the amount of kremelta used (if used) will have an impact on how much butter is needed to reach the right consistency for buttercream.
  • If you’re wanting to colour the buttercream now is when you should add the gel.
  • Add in the icing sugar and vanilla essence and mix on slow until the icing sugar has been fully incorporated.
  • Continue to whisk until light and fluffy.
  • If you’re not using the buttercream straight away, cover the buttercream and either leave it on the bench (for a day) or in the fridge. If you leave it in the fridge you’ll need to bring the buttercream back to room temperature.
  • Put the buttercream back in the mixer using the paddle attachment and beat it until you reach a soft fluffy texture.

I really recommend watching Joshua’s free Craftsy video so you can see how to make this buttercream. It’s great if you’re a visual person. Joshua’s recipe, which you can download uses 8 egg whites, and less icing sugar. I preferred a slightly sweeter frosting. The extra icing sugar also changes the consistency a bit too, it’s not quite so slippery, but it’s still silky.

I had too much buttercream than was needed, I think even if I had filled the cake with the buttercream I’d still end up with a little too much, but I didn’t want to risk have too little, especially since I had coloured it.

The remainder buttercream is in the freezer and will last 3 months.

If you’re using frozen buttercream, bring it back to room temperature before mixing.

Perfect Party Cake

The one thing that makes me screw up my nose when I look at the cake is the frosting that was used to create a dam. It would have been wonderful not to have seen this bit of buttercream in the side of the cake.

It’s still a great cake, and I would make it again, without a doubt.


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Double trouble and welcome to the neighbourhood

It’s been a long time coming, making a recipe from Deb’s blog Smitten Kitchen. But I got there. This is the Double Chocolate Layer Cake.

Here’s the first double. Cake and cupcakes

Welcome neighbours

Chocolate or Berry

And while we’re at it, Chocolate or Berry?

The recipe is for 2, 10” cakes. I really wanted to make Mr Fussy some Raspberry filled cupcakes, and I thought it would be nice to bake a cake for the new neighbours that moved in last Friday. However we didn’t have enough Raspberries, but we had heaps of bags of frozen mixed berries. So mixed berries it was.

Anyway, after reading over 200 comments on this one post on Deb’s blog I was settled on making a 6” layered cake and using the rest of the batter to make cupcakes. So cupcakes for us, cake for them.

There were a lot of people commenting on making the cakes in 9” pans and having the batter pouring over the top. Deb (and another blogger who made the recipe) said that there’s very little rise when baking. So here’s my 6” cakes, in a 3” deep pan. The batter uncooked measured 3cm, and here’s the cupcakes before and after.

3cm to this

Rising to the occassion

With all due respect, this recipe does have more than adequate rise to it. So be warned if you’re making this recipe and trying to cram the mixture from a 10” cake into a 9” cake pan.

The original plan was to bake a two layered cake for Darren and Teresa (I think I have the names right), but when the cakes came out I knew it was going to be rediculous making a layered cake with these two. Change of plan. Split each cake and make two layered cakes. There’s the second double.

Once the cakes had cooled I wrapped them in Gladwarp and put them in the freezer while I got cracking with the Berry filling, and then moved onto the Swiss Meringue Butter Cream.

The details

Funny thing making the SMBC. Or not. After last week’s 2nd ever time making this and finding the bowl was so hot that it took an extraordinary amount of time to cool the mixer bowl before beginning to add the butter, I used a different bowl to heat the egg whites and sugar thinking this might alleviate some of the heat by then transferring the mixture to the KitchenAid bowl when it was time.

Nope, as soon as I transferred the mixture it immediately heated the KA bowl and I was again grabbing a towel and dousing it in cold water and wrapping it around the KA bowl. In the end it still took a really long time so I did as Carol mentioned on the Facebook page, and I put the bowl into a sink filled with cold water. I did this when the meringue was really thick and glossy and I was ready to swap from the whipping attachment to the usual mixing paddle. And this was about 20 minutes into mixing the meringue.

French tip

I thought it was time for a slightly different view of the cake to keep you from nodding off while I blabber on about the SMBC experience.

Anyway after the bowl was cooled off I began to add the butter which was cool but not cold out of the fridge. First I didn’t have unsalted butter. I didn’t think it would make a huge difference. I just wouldn’t add the salt with the vanilla to the recipe. Hah! It’s amazing just how much salt there is in normal butter because it was really obvious. But not a nasty “oh I’ve ruined it” surprise. I actually liked it. Even though SMBC isn’t as sweet as normal frosting it’s still sweet. Let’s face it, there’s a lot of sugar still in the recipe, it’s just white sugar, not icing sugar.

I had the wet towel draped over the top of the KA because the motor was till hot and my head very close to the bowl looking to see that each chunk of butter had been fully mixed in before adding the next few cubes. While I was watching, and anticipating adding another two batches of butter (85gm left I might add) I noticed the mixture changing. I actually thought it was about to curdle.

Double everything

By the way, these photos are all of the cake I gave the neighbours, but I promise I made two. You’ll see.

The SMBC wasn’t curdling at all, it was just at the right stage for turning glossy and velvety. Which meant there was no need to add anymore butter. Right? Well I stopped anyway.

The SMBC weighed 1353gm, I made the same quantities as last weekend. 10 cups of SMBC. That’s 9 egg whites. That’s a lot of yolks that I’m still trying to decide what to do with. I’m looking to buy Egg Albumen. I’ve found a couple of options on TradeMe. They’re for weightlifters, but it’s just dried egg whites. What do you think? I hate wasting all those egg yolks. And I can use the dried egg whites for Royal Icing too. I’m not fond of the Wilton Meringue Powder. The CK brand was nicer.

I measured the 353gm into a bowl and added a few dessert spoons of the mixed berry filling to it, and a little bit of Electric Pink Americolor gel to it. I probably didn’t need it. I actually didn’t see any change in the colour. So pretty much all the colour is from the berries.

The remaining 1kg of SMBC I added Whittaker’s Ghana chocolate (70%), I can’t remember how much because I had some that I’d melted last weekend and didn’t use, and then a further 6 pieces. It wasn’t as dark as I was going for but I was too lazy to melt and cool some more before mixing it in.

double trouble

Told you I made two Smile

I got a little distracted when I was torting the cake and while trimming the top I didn’t see that some of the side had broken off. That made the top of the cake the bottom layer to ensure the two little bits that broke off weren’t going to collapse from the side and give me all manner of grief when covering it with SMBC.

At least I didn’t have to make a decision about which cake was being given away. If you want to make a good first impression, give away the best. I guess the fact I turned up there still rubbing meringue off my face and with my yellow croc gardening shoes didn’t really help with a good first impression. Perhaps they overlooked that for the cake.

Anyway, what’s left to talk about?  Ahh yes, the photo up above with the cupcakes and the double coloured frosting.

I decided that if it was good enough to use Gladwrap for RI to then make it easier to put into a piping bag, then it was probably good enough for SMBC, but I went one step further and decided to bundle the Chocolate and Berry into the same bag. It mostly worked out well. Except the house was so hot that the frosting was softening to the point it was becoming difficult to pipe with.

And if you’re wondering about how to make a hole in a cupcake for filling, the apple corer works nicely. Except these cupcakes (and cake) are super moist and squishy that you’ll end up clogging up the end of the corer making it a little untidy. But you can always put the cupcakes in the fridge for 30 minutes. I’m sure that would help, in the same way putting the cakes into the freezer before torting helps.

Mum had wondered if the Strawberry huller would work. It does. But it doesn’t make quite as neat a job as the apple corer. I suspect more homes have an apple corer than a strawberry huller anyway. Though I wouldn’t be without my strawberry huller.

Mixing it up

I’m utterly hopeless with the French tip. I can manage this piping but I can’t not pipe a uniformed round. I tried. I scraped the SMBC off and re-piped it. The fact the SMBC was too soft didn’t do me any favours either. I popped that back in the fridge and waited (impatiently) until it had cooled some before having another go at piping.

Chocolate berry layered cake

Lord knows what we’re going to do with another 5 slices of cake and 18 cupcakes. I have to confess that when I make cakes or cupcakes I tend to snack a little as I work. That’s another reason I’m enjoying making cookies. There’s nothing to nibble on. The trimmings from the top of the cakes, the centres I extracted for the berry filling, all gone, as well as sharing one undecorated cupcake with Mr Fussy to “test” the texture to confirm it was just as Deb and most of her 200+ commenters said.

To recap: the recipe I made as written by Deb with the following changes. Instead of 1 1/2 cups of coffee I had 20ml of Bushells Coffee and Chicory Essence and added boiling water to make 1 1/2 cups of liquid. I used  85gm of Whittaker’s Ghana chocolate (70% cocoa). I used mixed berries instead of Raspberries for the filling. The batter weighed 2247gm. I put 600gm into each of the x 6” baking tins and got 19 cupcakes. The cakes still took 60 minutes to bake. The cupcakes 21 minutes.

The recipe from Rosie made 1353gm of SMBC. It was sufficient to crumb coat and frost both 6” layered cakes and frost 18 cupcakes. I have quite a bit of the chocolate left and enough of the mixed berry to frost a couple more cupcakes. All left over frosting is in the freezer.

Double delight

I quite like only having the berry filling between the layers. It didn’t ooze out and it’s difficult to detect , but it’s there. It’s quite subtle but served with the left over berry filling it ramps up all those lovely fresh berry flavours.


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An afternoon tea for Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day to all Mums who come across this blog.

We had an afternoon tea with my Mum, my older Sister (mother of 3), and my MIL.

I also want to recognise those, who like me, would have loved to be a Mum but life just didn’t work out as planned. I hope everyone had an enjoyable day spending time with those they love, or remembering their Mums who meant so much to them.

Afternoon tea

I made a cake. And despite lots of time spent making the cake, it was disappointing. Baking isn’t all about what something looks like, though that’s extremely important to me. But it has to taste great too. Ok it tasted great, but it wasn’t enjoyable to eat (for me).

This blog is a recording of new recipes I’ve tried, the things I’ve learned and the tentative steps I’ve taken to embrace something new.

There’s a lot of lessons learnt over the last two weekends. This cake has been on the go for 2 weekends. And it’s been a bit of a mission.

For Mums

You see this cake is a 5 layer cake. I had only planned on it being 3 layers but the finished height (7cm) was out of proportion against a 9” cake, so I added more layers. You see it’s a Neapolitan Cake. More layers meant if it fell on the floor you wouldn’t know which way was up Winking smile That could have it’s advantages. No it never fell on the floor.

Neapolitan Cake

That slice is on a dinner plate. The finished cake stood over 14cm in height. So I went from one extreme to another. The cake, with just over 1/4 of it cut, weighed a little over 4kg. Yep it was big and heavy. And while we’re on the topic of heavy, the cake layers were disappointingly dense.

I wanted to keep the moisture in the cake layers and since I was baking them last weekend, I double wrapped the cakes in Gladwrap and put them in the freezer. I wrapped them when they were still warm. That’s what I’d read to do, but on thinking, that was a different type of cake, that was for a Genoise cake. I guess not all cakes do well frozen while still warm.

Strawberry cake

Last weekend I’d made one of each, Chocolate, Strawberry and Vanilla cake. When the Strawberry cake baked up I had a suspicion that the cake had lost it’s colour. I didn’t quite make the cake as directed. It used a 1/2 packet of Strawberry Jelly. I used Freeze-dried Strawberry powder. I cut into the frozen cake during the week and Mr Fussy described the colour as grey. He wasn’t wrong. I knew I’d have to re-make the cakes.

I still didn’t use the Strawberry Jelly, I doubled the freeze-dried strawberry powder (the first cake only had a hint of strawberry flavour) and added the strawberry puree that was in the original recipe. And for good measure I added a drop (maybe two) of Soft Pink Americolor food gel. The colour above is how I hoped it would turn out when baked. But it turned out more a Raspberry colour.

It’s not all bad, but for me the really big thing I can’t look past is how dense the cakes are. They’re not light and fluffy, but they tasted good, the frosting was wonderful and I enjoyed assembling the cake – mostly. I like the final look anyway.

Assemblying the cakes

I started assembling last night after dinner. Nothing like leaving it almost to the last minute. I had the two strawberry layers in the fridge from Friday night and I pulled the Devil’s Food cake and Vanilla layers out of the freezer during the morning.

The Swiss Meringue Buttercream took around 40 minutes to make but it really is great frosting. And I’d make it again. It’s satiny smooth.

SMBC almost there

I thought this was it (it was the 2nd time I’d made it but I don’t remember anything of my first experience). But as I was dividing up the frosting ready for chocolate and strawberry I saw a few lumps of butter still. So I put the vanilla frosting (7 cups of 10) back in to whip a bit longer and then it became this lovely velvety smooth frosting.

smooth as silk

I followed Rosie’s instructions from her blog Sweetapolita.

As for assembling the cake I turned 2 cups of the Swiss Meringue Buttercream (SMBC) into chocolate frosting having added 96gm melted but cooled Whittaker’s 70% chocolate. I used 1 cup of frosting and added 4 teaspoons of strawberry puree for the strawberry and left the rest as is for the Vanilla layer, crumb coat and final layer. Of the frosting left for the final decoration I coloured 2 parts and left 1 part as is. Of the two parts I coloured it with soft pink gel in two different depths. One is slightly deeper but for all that I left the colouring subtle, the top half of the side of the cake is almost a blush apricot rather than a pink.

Frosting

I always put down waxed paper between the doily that’s sitting on the cake board, and the cake. In the past I’ve had no real difficulty pulling the waxed paper out, a little hesitation at the start but then it all goes off without a hitch. But this cake is really heavy. Do you think it was happy about me tugging at the paper for which it was firmly resting on? Not at all. So along with some of the paper came some of the cake. I gave up and had to cut around the edge of the cake as best I could. Which of course made it fun trying to cut a slice and pretend there wasn’t a little bit of paper caught up in it.

Here’s my round up of the things to improve on:

  • Don’t freeze the cakes until they are fully cool
  • Remember freeze-dried strawberry powder will lose colour while baking
  • Sometimes less is more. 3 layers of cake would have been fine
  • All the cake layers (5) made last week pulled away from the side of the tin during cooling resulting in different sizes
  • SMBC sets like the butter used in it. You need to pull the cake out a good 3 hours before serving for the cake to come back to room temperature and the frosting to be that smooth melt in your mouth texture it was when you whipped it up
  • Cakes served still chilled don’t help with the dense texture.

The things that went according to plan

  • The SMBC exceeded my expectations
  • The decorating went more smoothly than I expected from my wobbly cake turntable – probably helped by a 5kg+ cake weighing it down
  • The Bake-easy cake strips. I didn’t have to trim any of the cakes.

I’m happy with how the cake looked, but not how it felt. I’m really annoyed with myself. I spent a lot of time baking these cakes that I wanted the end result to be well worth the effort.

My BIL called the cakes doughy. My BIL isn’t about being subtle, he’s a Policeman, he says things like he sees them, he’s all about facts. He was right of course. It’s not his fault for stating the obvious. I’m just kicking myself for making such a silly mistake.

5 layers of cake

The light in the lounge was all weird today. But I wont complain about the light. For an Autumn day it was just lovely.

Family and good company is more important than a cake. I know everyone appreciated the time and effort I put in. I just wish it was more enjoyable to eat. Even the size of it was intimidating. It was so large that most of us took a small slice and found someone to share it with. Still it’s nice to share things with others.

That slice to the right is what I wanted. Natalie made my favourite Apricot slice. And I’ve been left with a few slices. Yum!

Here ends the saga of the mother of all cakes.

 

Because I made a hash of the cakes I don’t think it’s fair to share the recipes until I’ve got them done correctly, I don’t want this cake to be a reflection on the people who have successfully made these cakes and showcased them with such class. Or maybe I don’t want you to look at how beautiful their cakes were and compare to mine. Yeah that’s probably closer to the truth Winking smile


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Strawberry Vanilla Cupcakes

Apologies for having three posts in a row on cupcakes. I’ve baked and cooked other things in between, even made ice cream, but haven’t gotten around to editing photos and writing them up …. yet.

Cupcake1

While grocery shopping we picked up some strawberries. It’s a bit soon for the really fragrant sweet strawberries but they still look good. I grabbed an extra punnet so I could make Strawberry cupcakes.

Strawbs

I’ve finally managed to get one of those Strawberry hullers. Mum had mentioned one she had found to be perfect for getting the whole thing out, and you can see how well it works (you can buy them from Stevens). I’d been given one many years ago but it did nothing but pull at the greenery and even then it usually broke it all off, so I gave up on it. But this one is a keeper. Mr Fussy isn’t yet a convert, he chops the tops off for the strawberries he adds to his fruit salads for work.

Let me say it now, the strawberries need to be chopped up a lot more than I’m showing. While I chopped them a bit finer than the photo, they still needed more chopping. Much of the fruit sunk to the bottom, but it was like eating sweet stewed bits of strawberry and reminded me of those Strawberry Rhubarb pies I make. I must make one of those again soon.

Stewed (2)

I adapted the Vanilla Bean Cupcake recipe a smidge (again). Obviously there’s the inclusion of Strawberries. The batter was still very much enjoyable by the spoonful. It seems I’ve picked up a nasty habit.

Cupcake3

I found a few items at Briscoes on Friday. Wouldn’t you know it, they had a sale. If you’re not from New Zealand you wont understand my sarcasm. Mr Fussy calls the little glass dish a bug catcher. The cat has been giving it the beady eye all night too wondering what is inside and whether it’s likely to move.

Anyway, the reason for yet another cupcake recipe was more so I could have another chance to practice my icing.

I’m quite keen to get a rose swirl piped. I did give it a shot in my Ginger and spice cupcake recipe but it didn’t work. So I bought a 2D Wilton tip thinking that might make a difference. But having watched some of Lydia’s tutorials I think it’s more the speed at which I’m pulling the icing tip around the cupcake.

Anyway, I think I’m slowly getting there. It’s one of those things that I need to practice some more. So I guess that means more cupcakes.

Cupcake4

Strawberry Vanilla Cupcakes

Adapted from the recipe The Ultimate Vanilla Cupcake by Cupcake Project

Ingredients

  • 1 cup vanilla sugar
  • 175 gm all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 57 gm unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup Greek style yoghurt 
  • 1/4 cup canola oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon pure (not imitation) vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup blue top milk

1 cup of finely chopped strawberries

Instructions

  • Heat oven to 175 C.
  • In a medium-sized mixing bowl mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Add the sugar and mix until well combined.
  • Add butter and mix on medium-low speed for three minutes.  Because there is so little butter, you’ll end up with a very fine crumb texture.
  • In a small mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, yoghurt, oil, and vanilla extract until smooth.
  • Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined.
  • Slowly add milk and mix on low speed until just combined.  The batter will be quite liquidy. 
  • Fill cupcake liners just over 1/2 full.
  • Bake for 14 minutes and then test to see if they are done. They are done when a toothpick comes out without wet batter stuck to it.  
  • When the cupcakes are done, remove them immediately from the tins and leave them on a cooling rack to cool.

 

This time I decided to use a Swiss Meringue Buttercream (SMB) for the icing. In the past I’ve made a Buttercream icing with icing sugar and butter.  SMB is quite different and it takes a lot longer and it’s a bit fiddlier.  Most people who have commented on various posts discussing SMB claim that it’s worth the extra effort. The taste is in my opinion a lot sweeter, but it does seem more silky.

When all is said and done I haven’t found quite the right icing, but I’m undeterred and will continue to try different recipes.

 

I wont go into the recipe that I used, but I followed along to Sweetapolita’s tutorial and it worked just fine. It didn’t curdle (small prayer went up) and it piped well enough, though it was reluctant to sweep to an end. To end the Rose swirl you continue to pull the icing but not push more icing out. The SMB just sort of broke when I stopped pushing more icing out.

icing

Once the SMB was ready I then halved the amount and coloured one half. I did my best to put dollops of the plain on one side of the piping bag and on the other side the coloured icing. It sort of worked. But I ran out of icing well before I had iced all the cupcakes I baked.  I’d taken the recipe which called for 10 egg whites and whittled it all down to 2 egg whites (I adjusted all proportions to 1/5th).

I should have ended up with 2 cups of icing which I thought would be sufficient for the 22 cupcakes the recipe made (I only filled the liners 1/2 to make sure they didn’t creep above the liner/silicone cup). I really don’t think I got 2 cups of icing so make your adjustments as you see fit.

Cupcake2