Sour Cream Chocolate Cake

Another Nigella masterpiece that makes me look like a domestic goddess. Chocolaty, sweet and delicious, what more could you want from a birthday cake?

 

200g plain flour

200g caster sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon bicarb soda

40g cocoa powder ( I use Dutch processed)

175g unsalted butter

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

150ml sour cream

 

Preheat oven to 180’C, butter and line two 20cm cake tins. Combine flour, baking powder, bicarb, cocoa, butter, eggs, vanilla and sour cream in a food processor or electric mixer and mix until you have a thick smooth batter. Divide batter between the 2 tins and bake until a skewer inserted comes out clean, this should take between 25 and 35 minutes. Remove the cakes, cool for 10 minutes in their tins, then turn out onto wire racks.

 

75g unsalted butter

175g chocolate ( I used half milk, half dark)

300g icing sugar

1 tablespoon glucose syrup

125ml sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Melt the butter and chocolate in the microwave or in a double boiler, cool a little and add the glucose syrup, followed by the sour cream and vanilla, when this is all combine sift in the icing sugar and whisk together. The icing would be thick, creamy and glossy. Using your serving plate, make a square out of 4 strips of baking paper and place one of the cakes on top. Spoon a third of the icing on top of the cake and spread over the surface of the cake. Sit the other cake on top and press down lightly to sandwich together. Spoon another third of the icing on top of the cake, and swirl. Spread the sides of the cake with the remaining icing  and leave for a minute until slightly set. Carefully remove paper strips to reveal the clean plate. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

 

I made this cake for Daniel’s middle brother Justin. I had promised him a cake and chocolate was the request. I looked through my piles of magazines, nothing struck me as worthy, but flicking through my Nigella book, I found it, the cake that would be perfect! 2 chocolate cake layers sandwiched with incredible chocolate icing then covered with more icing, Amazing! I am not normally a fan of chocolate cake, I love chocolate and anything made with chocolate but I am not a fan of things with a chocolate flavour, there has to be real chocolate. This icing does the trick, it combines a relatively basic chocolate cake with a light creamy real chocolate flavour and makes this an impressive cake.

I made this cake in Sydney and took all the things I needed with me, as Daniel hauled it in to the car he was asking if I needed it all, but if I was to create magic away from my own kitchen then I still needed my own things! The cake worked beautifully, it was easy enough to make, I needed Daniel’s help at one point to help combine the chocolate to the rest of the mix because I was making a mess but otherwise it was trouble free. The combination of chocolate and sour cream is a match made in heaven, I have known for a while it works beautifully with white chocolate but had never considered putting it with milk and dark chocolate but I think it will become one of my new favourite combinations!

There was nothing really tricky about this cake, anyone could make it if they had the patience. It does help to have 2 20cm pans but if you had to you could bake one cake and then the other, I just don’t know what would happen to the batter in that time. Nigella describes this cake as having an almost packet cake appeal, perfect to look at, perfect flavour, the recipe is called sour cream chocolate cake and also old fashioned chocolate cake and claims it is the only chocolate cake her daughter will eat. If it’s good enough for Nigella’s family then it is good enough for mine!

Enjoy this cake, guilt free, cut a slab, pull it apart, eat each layer or all mixed together but enjoy it what ever you do because the next chocolate cake you eat will disappoint after this one!

 

Love Sonia

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Banana Cake

What do you make for someone that love banana bread, that suits a small tin, and says it’s your birthday, lets eat cake? Banana cake! With cream cheese icing of course!

 

125g butter

330g sugar

280g very ripe banana, mashed

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

100ml buttermilk

225g SR flour

½ teaspoon bicarb soda

Preheat oven to 160’C. Grease sides and base of a 22cm round cake pan. Line with baking paper. Place butter, sugar, banana, vanilla and eggs in a food processor or bowl of mixer. Process/mix for 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl, add butter milk and combine. Sift flour and bicarb soda together in a large bowl. Add flour mixture to batter mixture and mix to combine. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

 

90g cream cheese, softened

45g butter, softened

210g icing sugar

1 ½ teaspoons lemon juice

Beat cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer until creamy. Add sifter icing sugar and beat until smooth. Add lemon juice and beat to combine. Spread icing over top and sides of cooled cake. Store in an airtight container in a cool place for up to 3 days.

 

I have very little to say about this cake, super simple to make. However I haven’t tasted it but I am assured it is beautiful. I made this in a 6 inch tin which my Grandma sent me down from up north, I had been unable to find one in little old Canberra and she found one in an even smaller country town. Needless to say it needed testing out and what better excuse than my lovely step-mum’s birthday. It is hard to divert from chocolate cakes for birthdays because everyone loves them, but knowing how much Debbie likes banana cake/bread made this an easy choice. I halved all the ingredients for the cake and cooked it for about 45 minutes in the 6 inch pan, it worked perfectly. I made the whole lot of icing which was a little too much but I would rather have too much than a gap in the side!

I decorated the cake with pink paw prints made from fondant. I rolled out the fondant and cut it with little circular cutters and left them to dry over night. The cake I also left out covered by a large bowl so that the icing could “dry”, hoping to avoid the kaleidoscope that was Daniel’s mum’s cake earlier this year. It worked! The paw prints pushed neatly into the icing and stayed put without leaking colour everywhere.

I am sorry for having no comments on flavour, texture, moistness but I hope this thank you makes up for it!

“THANK YOU so much for the yummy cake – it was delicious and that icing was to ‘die for’!  I brought the rest of it for morning tea and everyone here loved it! YUMMMMMM”

If you want to impress someone this much I suggest this banana cake, give it a go, maybe even for Father’s Day this weekend.

Love Sonia

 

Classic Caramel Slice

The classic “best-ever” caramel slice. This is the tried and tested Nestle version that everyone knows and loves. And I certainly love it!

1 cup plain flour

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup desiccated coconut

125g butter, melted

100g butter, extra

2 x 395g cans sweetened condensed milk

1/3 cup golden syrup

200g dark chocolate

1 tbsp vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 180’C. Lightly grease and line a 18cm x 28cm lamington pan and then line with baking paper. In a bowl combine flour, sugar and coconut, add melted butter and mix well. Press mixture firmly into prepared pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned. Cool. Place extra butter, sweetened condensed milk and syrup in a medium saucepan. Stir over low heat until smooth. Pour over base. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden. Cool. Combine chocolate and vegetable oil in a small saucepan and stir until melted and smooth. Pour over slice. Chill until set, cut into squares, makes between 16 and 25. Store in a container for up to a week in the fridge.

I love love love this slice. It isn’t as fancy or well flavoured as the salted caramel one I made a few weeks ago but its classic flavour and creamy filling have everything you are looking for in a caramel slice. The base is classic, simple and not too sweet or crumbly. I prefer to use eating chocolate for things like this rather than cooking chocolate because I eat the chocolate off the top of the slice before the rest but you can use cooking chocolate, it is cheaper. The only thing I would change about this recipe would to be cooking the caramel filling a little longer for a better caramel flavour.

This recipe says it makes 16 squares, I have said 25 but really it lasts a lot longer, it lasts about a week in our house, half went into work, 5 little squares went to my parents and the rest was eaten by Daniel and I in small pieces over the week, I think there is still a little bit left in the back of the fridge. It isn’t too sweet in small doses and the eating chocolate isn’t too bitter to enjoy every day until you finish it. You could cut the slice into smaller squares and use them as gifts, they would be lovely wrapped in cellophane or just in a nice small jar or box. I attempted to make a pattern in the top of the chocolate just after I poured it but unfortunately the glad wrap I used to cover it with before I put it in the fridge sank and stuck to the chocolate, ruining the pattern. It peeled off easily the next morning though.

If the salted caramel slice seemed to fancy and too hard, give this a go, then try the salted caramel one, you will be surprised at how easy such a delicious well loved slice can be.

Love Sonia

Cupcake Hamburgers

These are the cutest little cupcakes and I knew as soon as I saw them that I had to make them for Daniel’s birthday. They are a cheating cake but the effort involved in assembly makes up for the fact that you use packet cakes.

 

1 packet of vanilla cupcakes (Greens or Betty Crocker both work well)

1 packet brownie mix (I used Betty Crocker reduced fat brownies)

1 tub pre made vanilla icing ( I used Duncan Hines)

Red, green and yellow food colouring

Sesame seeds

Other ingredients you need to make the packet mixes

Bake cupcakes as per instructions and cool completely. Brush the tops with milk and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake brownies as per instructions, in a larger tray than recommended or use less of the mixture so the brownie “patties” aren’t too thick. Cool brownies. Cut the base out of a cupcake liner and use this to cut around the brownies in a circular shape to make patty. Cut in half through the middle if they are too thick. Remove cupcake liners from the cupcakes and cut in half using a serrated knife. Divide the icing between 3 small bowls, about half a cup each for red and yellow and more for the green. Mix in approximately 10 drops of each food colouring and stir, adjust colour to suit your preference. Spoon icing into zip lock bags and seal, snip off a small amount from the corner of the bag. Place brownie disk onto base of cupcake, pipe a thin wiggly line of yellow icing around the edge of the brownie, followed by the same with the red icing. Then with the green icing, pipe a thicker line around the edge of the brownie and then squiggle some over the top of the brownie to help the top part of the “bun” stick. Stick the top of the bun on very carefully and place on serving plate or into container being careful not to touch the “sauce”.  Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

I absolutely loved these cupcakes, I think they are just so cute and would be perfect for a themed party. Daniel loved them, so did our colleagues at work. The cute size and their relative likeness to a real hamburger makes them all the more fun and exciting to eat. They have the usual packet cake mix flavour and the brownie mixture was surprisingly good. There was a lot of brownie left over that I brought into work and it was demolished in a couple of days. It is really hard to get the red colour to be red, mine was more of a dark pink, I used about 10 drops of red food colouring but it wouldn’t take.

These cupcakes would be ideal to bake with kids, providing an adult did all the cutting. The icing is easiest to use in zip lock bags but if you had lots of piping bags with small tips that would work well too. The tops of the cupcakes become sticky after a few days because of the milk that is brushed on the top, this doesn’t affect the taste at all, just results in messy fingers, so eat within 2 days if you want to avoid this. I highly recommend making these if you get the chance, the original “recipe” came from thecakemistress.com and she made sugar cookie fries to go with it, which would be great for a kids party or even an adults 50’s diner themed party.

 

Love Sonia

Iced Sugar Cookies

A beautiful basic cookie with yummy fancy icing!

 

230g reduced salt butter (room temperature)

180 pure icing sugar

1 egg (room temperature)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tsp baking powder

400g plain flour

 

Preheat oven to 200’C. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add the egg and vanilla. Mix well until combined. Sift the flour and backing powder together then add to the mixing bowl gradually. Mix well until a dough forms. Roll your dough on a floured surface. Cut into shapes using a cookie cutter, Place cut cookies on to a baking tray covered with baking paper and bake for 7 minutes until cookies appear dry but not browned. Makes approximately 24 cookies. Store in an airtight container.

 

Royal Icing for Cookies

 

500g pure icing sugar

30g Pavlova Magic (meringue powder, comes in an egg from dessert section in supermarket)

90ml water

Flavouring

Colouring

 

Sift icing sugar and meringue powder into a bowl. Add water. Mix using a hand or stand mixer on high until icing reaches a stiff consistency, add flavouring about half way through. Depending on desired consistency, add a little bit of water at a time to make a runnier mix. Separate mix into smaller bowls and colour, rememebering that the colour may change the texture. Also reserve a small amount of stiffer icing in case you need it for outlining. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

 

I got this recipe from the facebook page for Latorta, a cake decorating store in Canberra. They do demonstrations twice a week, which I can’t get to because of work. Last week they did these amazing cookies and posted the pictures to facebook and I just had to try them out. The cookies are sweet, crumbly and very moreish. I found the dough really easy to work with, and I got 24 circles about 6mc in diameter and about 15 small hearts out of the remaining dough. I found cooking them without browning difficult in our oven but it has always been difficult to work with. I made up the full batch of royal icing and have used little bits at a time, a small amount tinted pink to practice with one the hearts and some bright blue  and plain white to cover the circle cookies with. I used the remaining to “paint” the cookies and I will kept the icing in the fridge for about a week after in case I got the icing bug.

 

Painting the cookies was incredibly hard, so hard I gave up after a few attempts and tried some other techniques. The painting is so pretty, it would be nice to make them for lots of different occasions, if only I had the skills to do it! I use gel colours for colouring the icing, it doesn’t change the texture too much. My favourite cookies ended up being the plain white ones with some stars and swirls and the blue and white stripes which I swirled with a tooth pick. I also made a name sake cookie with my blog name, but again my shaky hands don’t like to do pretty piping so it is a bit wobbly.

 

I would recommend making these to anyone who like fine crafts like cross stitch and sewing, it is the same kind of patience required with these cookies, so much so that Daniel decided to eat a plain cookie because the decorating was taking me too long. These cookies would be ideal for birthday parties and holiday celebrations or place cards at Christmas.

 

If you have the patience and the time, give these cookies a go. They really are very delicious once completed, and if you ask Daniel delicious plain as well.

 

My apologies for not posting for a couple of weeks, I have been on holidays and have a lot of blogging to catch up on, I hope to have it completed for you this week, stay tuned for glazed lemon biscuits, double layer sour cream chocolate cake and Daniel’s cheat birthday cake.

 

Love Sonia

Peanut Butter Brownies

Chocolate. Check. Peanut Butter. Check. Incredible, undoubtable flavour combination. Check. And before you read any further, my apologies for the lack of photos, some things don’t make it to photo stage they are just so tasty!

200g milk chocolate (I used half dark)

180g unsalted butter

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

3 eggs, room temperature, lightly whisked

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 ¼ cups plain flour

2/3 cup crunchy or smooth peanut butter

2/3 cup milk chocolate bits

Preheat the oven to 160’C. Grease and line a slice tin, I used a 20cm x 20cm cake tin and it worked well, you can use up to a 19 x 26cm. In a saucepan melt together chocolate and butter until smooth. Stir in brown sugar and remove from heat. Quickly stir through eggs and sift flour and cocoa powder over the top of the chocolate mix and stir to combine. Pour half the batter into the cake tin and top with half teaspoons of the peanut butter. Then pour over the remaining batter. Top with chocolate bits and bake for 3 minutes. Remove from oven and using a flat bladed knife swirl the peanut butter through the batter. Return to the oven and bake for a further 30-45 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Cool in the tin and then turn out onto a board and cut into 16-20 slices. Store in an airtight container.

I came across this recipe in a recipes+ magazine, it looked so easy and tasty I just had to give it a go. It was very easy to make and very easy to eat! I used crunchy peanut butter to add a bit of texture to the otherwise fairly smooth mixture. It took longer to cook than I had hoped but the texture of the final product was well worth the wait. It is fudgy and swirled with glossy peanut butter.

There was nothing really difficult about this, you just have to make sure that the eggs are room temperature when you put them into the hot chocolate mix so that they don’t shock into cooking, no one wants peanut butter scrambled eggs. I have altered the recipe a little bit to not put peanut butter on the top, peanut butter is really bitter when cooked so I left it all inside the batter so that it didn’t burn on the top. I also used half dark chocolate because I had less milk chocolate than I thought I did. It still turned out really well even with the substitutions.

For anyone that loves Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups, this is for you!

Love Sonia