My First Cake Request

These are the photos of the first cake I have made by request. A toblerone cheesecake, chocolate panels, chocolate tube filled with malteasers and chocolate piped numbers and musical notes. All in all a two day effort but very rewarding to make.

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Simple Chocolate Chip Cookies

For those days when you want something sweet and homemade but don’t have a lot of time. These little cookies do the trick!


60g unsalted butter (room temperature)

1/3 cup caster sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

80g chocolate chips (I use 50/50 milk and white)

¾ cup self raising flour

1 ½ – 2 tablespoons vegetable oil


Preheat the oven to 180’C. Combine the butter, sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl, you can use an electric mixer if you want, I just use a large spoon to cream it, less washing up. Once combined, light and fluffy add in flour and oil and mix until a dough forms, you may need a little extra oil or a little milk to make it fully combine. Mix through chocolate chips and roll into balls, I made 12, but you could get up to 20 small. Place on a tray lined with baking paper, 3cm apart and bake for 10 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool on tray and once cooled store in an airtight container.

This used to be my standby biscuit mixture, but since starting my blog I haven’t made them at all. Last night with the itch to bake but not a lot of time or energy I set about whipping up a batch of these. Teamed with some vanilla bean ice cream and smashed malteasers I made gorgeous ice cream sandwiches for dessert. They are simple and have a beautiful vanilla flavour, combined with a mix of white and milk chocolate chips they are just divine.

I have also made these with just milk, just dark, a mix of all three chocolates and some with nuts and fruit mixed in. If you are in a chocolate overload mood you can always replace a tablespoon or two of the flour with cocoa power to make a nice change. This recipe was originally for a basic biscuit topped with mini m&m’s for school lunchboxes, I have tried them with m&m’s but I prefer chocolate chips.

I do have to apologise for my lack of posting. Last week I made an Anzac biscuit tart with honey and lemon filling and it simply didn’t work out like it was meant to, it didn’t set and then after a day in the fridge the honey leached out and made the base soggy and it was basically just no good, so no point sharing with you. On the weekend I made a cake for an 18th birthday, which I will share the photos of in my next post, so its not that I haven’t been baking, just haven’t been baking things to share the recipes with you.

I hope you get a chance to bake these cookies, because they are a favourite of ours and when you realise how easy they are I am sure they will become a favourite at your house too.

Love Sonia xx


Chocolate Cake Pops

 

Cake. Check. Icing. Check. Chocolate. Check. Sprinkles. Check. This may be the perfect work birthday cake ever designed. No cutting, no plates, little left overs. Cake Pops, growing in popularity and I can see why!

 

1 bought cake, packet cake or basic home cooked cake around 400-500g

Pre-made frosting (like betty crocker tub) or ½ cup of chocolate ganache

500g chocolate melts

Coloured sprinkles to match your theme

Lolly pop sticks or straws

Once you have your cake (I baked a packet chocolate cake) as long as it is cool you are good to go. Crumble the cake into a large bowl until it forms fine crumbs. Stir in a tablespoon of frosting at a time, you will use about half a cup. Using your hands form into even size balls. Place balls on a tray and pop them into the freezer for 20 minutes. Remove from the freezer. In a large bowl melt half of the chocolate melts. Dip the stick or straw 1cm into the chocolate and insert into the cake ball. Place back into the freezer for 5 minutes until chocolate has hardened. Remove a few cake pops from the freezer and dip them into the melted chocolate, a spoon may be required to help smooth and coat them. Cover in desired sprinkles and put aside to set. A large piece of Styrofoam will help with this. Repeat with remaining pops, removing only a few from the freezer at a time so that the chocolate sets quickly. Store in a container lined with greaseproof paper. Store in the fridge if the temperature is over 20’.

I will admit that I struggled with these. That they were extremely time consuming and I can see why people pay a premium for them. Firstly this is possibly one of the most devastating desserts I have ever made. Bake a cake, let it cool, smash it to pieces and turn it into a bowl of crumbs, not my ideal Thursday night. It is the strangest feeling destroying something that you have just lovingly baked even if it is to make something even better out of. I struggled to get the straws to stay in, 3 ended up being dessert for Daniel and I as they made death jumps off the straws and deep into the melted chocolate. The other issue with this, is baking the cake the same night is not a good plan, as I found out at 11pm last night when I had started at 7.30pm.

I made these golf ball size, large than the traditional, but I had issues trying to get a smaller amount to stick together.  They aren’t as perfect or pretty as the ones you see in the magazines but they taste amazing and the crack of chocolate followed by the rich fudgey cake in the middle more than makes up for their looks. As I mentioned in my intro these are the perfect cake for a work birthday because not everyone has to eat at the same time, you don’t need a plate, just a well positioned hand and no one feels forced to have one (but they will have one, trust me).

Any kind of cake would be great for this, just use your favourite flavour and use a suitable frosting or cream cheese. You don’t have to add sprinkles, but they help to hide the unevenness (especially with mine). You could pipe lines or patterns with melted chocolate or decorate with icing flowers or something else to suit your theme. Even double dipping these with different colours would be really nice if you can deal with double the chocolate.

The main thing about these is that Rancell loved them as his birthday cake and they are still super fresh and moist today, must be the seal of chocolate. If you want a non traditional cake and can deal with destroying one cake to make lots of others I would say give this a crack.

Love Sonia x

 

Magnolia’s Vanilla Cupcakes

Light, fluffy, perfect amount of vanilla and oh so moreish. Topped with Donna Hay’s vanilla icing these are the perfect Sunday night cupcake.

1 ½ cups self raising flour

1 ¼ cups plain flour

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

2 cups caster sugar

4 large eggs at room temperature

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180’C. Place 24 cupcake papers in muffin trays. In a small bowl, sift the flours together and set aside. In a large bowl or bowl of an electric mixer cream the butter until smooth, gradually add the sugar and beat until fluffy. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in two batches, alternating with adding the vanilla and milk. With each addition beat until all ingredients are incorporated, taking care not to over mix. Using a rubber spatula scrape down the sides of the bowl and gently mix though to make sure all the ingredients are incorporated.

Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners filling half way. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until a skewer comes out of the centre clean. Remove from the oven and cool in the tins for 10 – 15 minutes then remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.

Whipped Vanilla Icing (Donna Hay)

250g butter, softened

2 cups icing sugar, sifted

2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 3-5 minutes until pale and creamy. Add the icing sugar, milk and vanilla and beat for a further 5 minutes or until light and creamy. You can add food colouring if you desire.

Feeling a longing to go back to the big apple and a desire to bake cupcakes I spent Saturday morning looking at New York cupcake bakeries on the internet came across hundreds of people who have tested or at least eaten these cupcakes. While we were in New York in 2010 we didn’t go to the Magnolia Bakery, it was one of those blizzardy days where we just kept walking. Wishing I stopped in now but at the time it didn’t seem worth it to line up out the door in a blizzard. These cupcakes certainly have a name for themselves and for all the right reasons.

After recovering from the dreaded cold that is working its way around our work I just didn’t feel up to baking (shock horror). Sunday night different storey, I couldn’t wait to get into it, after the endless wait for the butter to soften I finally got to baking. The batter itself is super easy. I made a half batch which made 12 cupcakes. I also used the caster sugar that I stored the halved vanilla pods in from the last vanilla cupcakes I made. It was beautifully fragranced with vanilla bean with a few seeds speckled through. Everything else is easy to halve. I halved the icing also and it made more than enough for the 12 cupcakes, I had to throw away the last bit because there is such a thing as too much icing on a cupcake.

Unlike the last vanilla cupcakes I made these are far more budget friendly and I had everything I needed in the fridge and pantry. My favourite kind of baking is reading a recipe and saying in my head, yep, yep, got it, yes I have all those things. I means no trips to the supermarket and it also means instant baking gratification. They hardest part about these cupcakes is again the waiting! Waiting for the butter to soften, waiting for them to cool so the icing doesn’t melt and then the next morning waiting for an acceptable cupcake eating hour because telling you co-workers that its morning tea at 8.30 doesn’t quite work.

There isn’t much more to say except make them. Enjoy them. A little handful of New York has never been so easily attainable!

Love Sonia

 

Orange Meringue Tarts

Sticky, crispy, orangey and topped with light meringue. Really what more could you want from a bite sized treat?

1 ¼ cups plain flour

2 tbs pure icing sugar

80g chilled butter, chopped

3 egg yolks

1 ½ tbs chilled water

1 tbs cornflour

22g caster sugar

185ml or ¾ cup strained fresh orange juice (approx 2 large oranges)

15g butter, extra

3 egg whites

Process the flour, icing sugar and butter in a food processor until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add 1 egg yolk (put the white in a bowl in the fridge for later) and the water. Pulse until dough just comes together (I needed about half a tbs extra water). Turn out onto a clean work surface. Shape into a 12cm log, wrap in glad wrap and place in the fridge for 1 hour to rest.

Cut the log into 1cm slices. Roll out between 2 pieces of baking paper until 3mm thick. Using a 7cm circle cutter (or a glass) cut a circle out of each slice. Grease a patty pan tin (1 ½ tbs capacity) and press the pastry into each hole. Cover with glad wrap and place in the fridge for a further 30 minutes to rest. Preheat oven to 200’C. Remove tray from fridge and prick each disc 4 times with a fork. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden. Set aside to cool.

Whisk the cornflour, 70g of the caster sugar and the remaining 2 egg yolks together in a small bowl. Bring the orange juice to the boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add to egg mixture, whisking constantly. Pour back into the saucepan and stir over a low heat until boiling. Stir in the extra butter. Transfer to a small bowl, cover the surface with glad wrap, set aside to cool.

Increase oven temperature to 220’C. Divide the orange curd among the pastry cases. Use an electric beater to beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the remaining caster sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until thick and glossy. Spoon into a piping bag with a 1cm nozzle fitted and pipe meringue over the curd. Bake for 3 or 4 minutes or until lightly golden. Set aside in the pan to cool. Makes 12.

Once I started these I thought I would never finish them. I made the pastry in the morning, put it in the fridge, went to the shops to buy oranges, cut and rolled the pastry, put it back in the fridge, watched some tv, baked the cases, started the curd, our stove took about 15 minutes to boil the juice, finished the curd, waited for it to cool, filled the cases, made the meringue, piped baked and cooled, all with 10 minutes to spare before we had to leave for Dad’s. What felt like a whole day could have been reduced to about 2-3 hours had I stayed at home doing it the whole time. The issue with this recipe is all the rest time, it is worth it for the pastry, to make sure it doesn’t shrink etc but it takes sooooo long! The curd wasn’t quite thick enough either, my fault? Maybe but I don’t think so, I think it needed an extra spoon of cornflour to help thicken it up a bit more. A paper towel placemat/bib is highly recommended for eating these.

Now for the good points; Beautiful meringue, piped right to the edges of the crisp pastry works a treat. Gorgeous orange flavour, it would be even better if you grow your own oranges or could get them from a farmers market or something. Just big enough to not feel like you are getting ripped off by a tiny dessert but small enough to only take a couple of bites to eat so you don’t end up with a curd covered chin. I used a star shaped nozzle on my piping bag (disposable multix) the recipe calls for a round one and then to use a knife to make peaks. I just used the star and piped in a spiral and it worked out fine, no need to use a knife. Dad loved them, I loved them and Daniel loved them, 3 out of 3 is pretty good in my books and will definitely go into the keep pile.

If you love pastry, love citrus and love meringue, give these baby size pies a go. And even though the pastry is a nightmare in length to make, please, please, please make it, don’t use pre bought cases. Use your favourite pastry recipe instead if you want but make it yourself, it is well worth it.

Love Sonia

 

Chocolate Crackles

The tried and tested chocolate crackle. Everyone knows them, almost everyone loves them. So easy, so nostalgic. In this case nest shaped to hold Easter eggs.

250g Copha

4 cups Rice Bubbles

1 cup desiccated coconut

3 tablespoons of cocoa powder

1 cup icing sugar

20 pack of Cadbury Hunting egss

Place cupcake papers on a tray. This mix makes about 24. Melt the copha in a glass bowl in the microwave until almost completely melted. Remove from microwave and stir until it has all melted. Add in rice bubbles and coconut then sift in icing sugar and cocoa powder. Stir thoroughly until all combined. Spoon carefully into cupcake papers as the copha will still be really hot. Take 1 Easter egg and press gently into the centre of the chocolate crackle mixture making an indent for the egg. Set aside to cool, you can put them in the fridge if it is a hot day. To fill the nest with little eggs, use something larger to put the indent into the mixture. Once set stand the hunting eggs in the centre of the nests.

A great little dessert for children or to top off an adult dessert like cake or cupcakes, just secure with melted chocolate or icing. You could also use them as table decorations for an Easter party. I intended to use mine to decorate a cake but then remembered that my Dad would probably appreciate something a little more fancy for dessert for Easter Sunday, more on that later. Since Saturday I have been eating these little nests without the eggs for dessert because Daniel doesn’t like them so I have 7 to eat myself.

Easy enough for a child to make, I remember making these with my mum when I was little. There is something purely innocent about these that makes you feel like a child while eating them. It might be the rice bubbles, a highly inappropriate breakfast cereal that makes for an amazing ingredient to add to baking. The crackly top and the hard set copha and chocolate at the bottom like the base of an ice cream cone, the best bit!

Maybe this coming weekend now that Easter is over you can whip up a few of these to ease yourself out of the chocolate coma I know most people have been in for the past week. I made a quarter batch, as you know I am a huge fan of making smaller amounts. It made 8 nests, which would be 6 normal crackles. The perfect way to ease off the chocolate before we head into a week of devouring batches of Anzac biscuits.

Love Sonia

Double Chocolate Freckle Biscuits

What more could you ask for at Easter? Double Chocolate with 100’s and 1000’s. Sounds perfect to me!

125g butter, softened

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 1/2 cups plain flour

1/4 cup self raising flour

1/4 cup cocoa powder

200g dark eating chocolate

85g 100’s & 1000’s

Beat butter, sugar and egg in a bowl with an electric mixer until combined. Stir in sifted dry ingredients, in two batches. Knead dough on floured surface until smooth. Roll out between two sheets of baking paper until 5mm thick. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 160’C Fanforced or 180’C normal oven. Line two oven trays with baking paper. Using cutters cut shapes from the dough and place onto the trays, they don’t spread so can be placed fairly close together. Bake small biscuits for 10 minutes and large ones for 12 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

Once completely cool, place chocolate in a bowl and melt until smooth. Fill another bowl with 100’s and 1000’s. Spread the tops of the biscuits with the chocolate and sprinkle or dip in 100’s and 1000’s. Set at room temperature. Store in an airtight container.

I have now made these three times, perfect all three times. Usually I use circles or stars for these but seeing as it is Easter I used bunny cutters and a dessert spoon to make egg shapes. I was surprised at how well a spoon works as a cookie cutter, but it is super easy and the perfect egg shape.

The mix is super easy to make and has a perfect flavour. Just sweet enough and just chocolatey enough that it doesn’t become too sweet when you add the melted chocolate and 100’s and 1000’s. You might need a second pair of hands to hold the paper when you are rolling out the dough because it is quite a dense thick dough. Otherwise I find these quite therapudic to work on alone. Mixing, rolling, cutting, baking and then carefully spreading the chocolate, then dipping and sprinkling with 100’s and 1000’s. It does take a while, and the first time I made these in 2010 I had my friend Adrie helping me because you do end up with a chocolate freckle hand by the end of it.  After finishing all the biscuits I did melt a little bit of white chocolate to draw on some whiskers and a nose on the bunnies. Not part of the recipe, just a cute touch at the end.

Daniel and his Mum both enjoyed these biscuits and I know I certainly do. The only issues I have with this recipe is that there is no way to halve it as I am a big fan of doing half batches and that is is double as time consuming as any other biscuits I have made. Definately one for a long weekend. I store these in the fridge just because it has been warm and the chocolate topping can melt and then all the biscuits get stuck together and you end up with chocolate up to your wrists trying to get just one biscuit. In the fridge they stay perfect and are quite nice cold.

Hopefully we will have some left for tomorrow, however I have started on an Easter dessert for dinner tomorrow night so you will see that next. Happy Easter everyone, I hope the Easter Bunny is kind to you and that you all have a lovely time with your family and friends.

Love Sonia x

Cake Decorating – Chapter 5

This week was the final class of Beginners Cake Decorating. Rather than writing lots this week I will give you more of a photo collection, followed by some photos of the cakes that were created by the other ladies in my class. Enjoy!

Chocolate Mud Cake attached to baking paper, attached to cake board with royal icing.Cake covered in fondant and the baking paper cut away.Ribbon attached with royal icing.Puppy attached with royal icing, flowers inserted into the fondant.Coloured filler flowers inserted.Finished Cake. I am really happy with how it turned out. The simple idea and colours combined really well to make this cute cake.

Georgie’s “Cupcake” cakeI hope you enjoyed looking at the process of my cake and the finished products of the other girls in my class. My next post will be Chocolate Freckle Easter Biscuits. Have a lovely Easter weekend everyone.

Love Sonia x

Orange and Blueberry Cake

The only way to describe my first attempt at this cake is disaster, failure and my reaction to the result a little outrageous. But on a second try I discovered that this is an incredible recipe!

2 cups self raising flour

1 1/3 cups caster sugar

Zest and juice of one orange

2 eggs

130g butter, melted

¾ cup milk

100g blueberries

 

Preheat oven to 180’C. Grease a 22cm loose bottom cake tin. In a large bowl sift flour and sugar together. Add in milk, eggs, juice, zest and butter. Mix until smooth. Pour into the cake tin and top with half the blueberries. Bake for 20 minutes and then sprinkle the remaining blueberries over the top and bake for another 20 minutes. Check with a skewer!!! Let cool in the tin for 10 minutes before removing from the tin and allowing the cake to cool completely on a wire rack.

To make muffins make the same batter, half fill muffin cups with batter and top with 4 or 5 blueberries. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool for 30 minutes and store in an airtight container.

I decided to give this recipe a go, looked tasty, fruity and easy enough for a week night. Everything started off okay until I repeatedly dropped the orange I was zesting into the flour and sugar mix making for a sticky gluggy orange. I then greased up the loose bottomed tin that my Gran so kindly sent me. Looking at the tin, it looked big enough until I poured the batter in and it was about .5cm from the top. Not enough room for rising. So upon consultation from Daniel I then greased a deeper pan and poured the batter into that pan. Topped with half the blueberries and put it into the oven. For 20 minutes as directed. At 20 minutes I added the other half of the blueberries and returned to the oven for another 20 minutes. The next part may or may not be my fault. The recipe did not state to check it with a skewer. It said it was prone to dropping in cold draughts so I figured it was also prone to dropping if touched. So I removed the cake from the oven. Sat it on the bench for 10 minutes as directed and then opened the spring form tin, beautiful, a nice spread of blueberries. So I lift it from the bottom and onto a wire rack when I see blueberries dropping out of the bottom of the cake. I put a knife into the middle and it is raw, completely raw. So I quickly scoop it all back onto the base of the tin and put it back in the oven for 5 minutes. Check with a skewer and it seems better, at this point I have a cake ring with a sunken mush in the middle. I remove it from the oven and let it cool again. I try to cut a slice because I was waiting for it to be done so I could have some for dessert. But it wasn’t to be, the inside was still liquid. The next part is funny in hindsight. Daniel turns the tv off and says he is going to get ready for bed. At this point it is about 10pm. I feed the fish and go to lift the cake into a cake box to deal with in the morning at which point something in my brain snaps. I throw myself on the floor like a small child and start bawling my eyes out. Daniel comes in from the bathroom and picks me up, telling me its ok and its only a cake. A cake that has now taken an hour and a half of my life. I slowly calm down and then my brain snaps again, I start hacking the cake to pieces with a palette knife, hard crusty bits, runny goopy bits and blueberries go everywhere. At this point I am certain that Daniel really does love me because anyone who didn’t would have run, far far away. Once my hacking fit was over, I scooped what I could find out of the middle and put the remaining hacked circle of cake into a container and went to bed.

The problem with all of this is that the cake that remained was delicious. And I wanted more. So on Saturday I decided to make half a batch and make it into muffins instead so I could control the cooking. They turned out perfectly and boy am I glad I gave them another go. I can highly recommend making this recipe as muffins or as a cake if you actually test instead of guessing the readiness. It is light, orangey, a bit like orange poppy seed without the poppy seeds and the blueberries make it an all-round amazing basic cake.

I think this would be best for a morning tea, maybe for this coming Easter weekend and is delicious by itself or you could use it as part of a dessert, served warm with ice cream. This recipe in the muffin form is definitely moving up the list to join the raspberry and white chocolate muffins as a favourite in our house. 

The next post will be my final cake from Cake Decorating for Beginners and then some Eastery things. Have a lovely 4 day week everyone.

Sonia xx

Cake Decorating – Chapter 4

 

Sorry to disappoint you all with a lack of posting last week. During our class last week we made decorations for our final cake that we are decorating this week and learnt how to cover a cake and attach it to a cake board. Unfortunately it is hard to take photos of learning. However this week you will get a cake to look at with all the pretty things we learnt. I spent my weekend making the decorations for the top of my cake and I have to say I have impressed myself and am looking forward to someone having a birthday I can make a cake for!

The only thing I have a picture of from last week.

Love Sonia xx