Monday, February 18, 2013

Mini cup cakes for a truly inspired Domestic Goddess!

Cup cakes have never been my thing. Well, cake in general is not really my thing, but cup cakes especially are sooooo time consuming to make, and gone in seconds. Last year a very dear family friend passed away and she just LOVED cup cakes. She was a larger than life character, bold and dynamic. When my aunt called to ask me if I would make some cup cakes for the wake I headed straight to The Baking Tin and bought the brightest food colourings, edible glitters and toppings I could find.

There are some family members who are gluten intolerant so I decided to do one normal and one gluten free cup cake. The gluten free cup cake was easy as I had that in the cupboard already, a Bob's Red Mills gluten free brownie mix. I just whipped it up and piped into the mini cup cake papers. 

The other cup cake I improvised on. I used my vanilla cake recipe and added ground hazelnuts to it. Once they were baked I cut little cones out the top of each cake and piped in some salted caramel. The brownies were moist enough and didn't need filling.   

I made a batch of butter cream icing, divided it up into bowls and whacked loads of food colouring into each one. Then the fun began with glitter and sprinkles and balls and hearts and flowers! 

I think Lee would have liked them. 

I am not a huge advocator of instant cake mixes but this mix was very worth while. While being gluten free it doesn't compromise on flavour or texture. It is super moist and chewy with a rich deep chocolaty taste. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Eat Out best local blogger awards!

It is with great pride that I get to share with you all, that my little blog has been nominated into a list of SA's best local food blogs, by the peeps at Eat Out. The other blogs I am sharing this honor with are pretty darned awesome, so I am truly flattered. 

It is a people's choice award so the public gets to vote who actually wins the award. So if you would like to cast your vote for me. Click through the icon below, scroll down to the bottom of the blogger list and follow the prompts. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

So what's all the fuss about?

For the last few years I keep seeing red velvet cakes all over, in bakeries, blogs and magazines. Looking at the recipe it doesn't sound like a particularly earth shattering arrangement of ingredients. In fact, aside from the cool red colour contrasted with white icing, I couldn't see what all the fuss was about. 

Then a client asked me to make her one for a special luncheon. I set about finding the best possible recipe and I think it turned out pretty well. It seemed to me that the secret to this cake, aside from the cool colour, was all in the icing. The cake itself is relatively neutral in taste but needs to be light and silky in texture. 

The best icing recipe I could find is a variation on a simple cream cheese icing. But it really does take it to a new level. Pure sin - but I feel if you're going to eat cake you may as well make it worth it.

So here goes!  

Red Velvet Cake
Serves 8 generous slices and up to 12 modest ones

250g cake flour, sifted three times
½ tsp of salt
30g of cocoa powder, sifted
1 cup (250 ml) of buttermilk
2 Tbsp of vegetable oil
2 Tbsp of liquid red food colouring (get a bright vivid red food colour)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
100g of butter, out the fridge for about 30 mins (cool but not soft)
250g of castor sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp of white wine vinegar
1 tsp of bicarbonate of soda

Cream Cheese Icing
250ml of cold heavy whipping cream (double cream)
250g cream cheese, room temperature
250g tub of Mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
200g of icing sugar, sifted

Pre-heat your oven to 175˚C and place the rack in the center of the oven. Butter a 23 - 25 cm round cake tin and line the bottom with wax paper. Set aside for later.

In a mixing bowl sift together the flour, salt and cocoa powder. In a measuring cup whisk the buttermilk, oil, red food coloring and vanilla and set aside.

In the bowl of your electric mixer or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until soft (about 1-2 minutes). Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl while mixing. 

With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture to the butter mixture. Add half the flour, then all the buttermilk, then the last of the flour combining in between. 

In a small cup combine the vinegar and bicarb. Allow the mixture to fizz and then quickly fold into the cake batter. Pour the batter into the cake tin and smooth the top with a spatula or the back of a spoon pushing it slightly up at the sides of the tin. Bake in the pre-heated oven for approximately 30 - 35 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Cool the cake in its tin on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Place a wire rack on top of the cake pan and invert, lifting off the pan. Remove the wax paper.
Once the cake has completely cooled, wrap in plastic and place the cake in the fridge for at least an hour or overnight.

To make the cream cheese icing, whip the cream until stiff. In a separate bowl whip together the cream cheese, mascarpone cheese, vanilla and icing sugar. Once well combined fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture. Refrigerate until ready for use.
When you are ready to assemble the cake, cut the cake in half, horizontally. I like to use the underside of the cake as my top surface as it has a flat and even top. You can trim the rounded part of the cake off to make a flatter bottom.

Spread the bottom cake layer with a thick layer of icing.  Cover with the top layer and continue to ice the whole cake, top and sides. Decorate the cake as you wish. I think raspberries and mint leaves finish it off beautifully.  

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Danish Hazelnut and Apple Cake

This post has been a long time coming. These pictures were taken in July 2012 in Norway and I have just simply not gotten round to posting about this fabulous recipe. I have in fact taught it to two different families in SA already and made it for the Spier Secret Supper but just haven't blogged about it yet. 

I stumbled across the pictures just now and got swept away in the heart stopping beauty of Norway again. What a magical place. And this recipe, even though it is Danish in origin is a rich and textured reminder of the flavors of Scandinavia.    

Apple cakes are hardly uncommon in South Africa, but this recipe is so totally different. Making the batter with ground hazelnuts changes the flavour in a way which just takes this simple cake to a whole new level. 

Danish hazelnut and apple cake
Makes one large cake

For the filling
700g of apples; peeled, cored and cut into slices
100ml of apple juice
50ml of apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp of vanilla essence
1 Tbsp of honey

For the cake batter
400g of hazelnuts
200g butter, at room temperature
375g of treacle sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites
100g of cake flour
¼ tsp of salt

Combine all the filling ingredients in a mixing bowl and allow them to stand until ready for use. Toss occasionally so that apples marinade well in the added flavourings.

Pre-heat your oven to 170˚C and place the rack in the middle of the oven.

Pulse the hazelnuts in the blender until they form a rough powder, not too fine. In a large mixing bowl add the hazelnuts, butter and sugar. Using a cake mixer, combine well. Add the eggs one at a time, blending until well combined before adding the next egg. Sift in the flour and salt and combine.

Pour the batter into a well greased and lined spring form cake tin (about 25cm in diameter). You could also use a quiche tin or pie dish (but then you should not line the tin). Arrange the apples over the batter and press the apples lightly so that they start to sink into the batter. Reserve any of the juices from the apples for later.

Bake the cake for about 60 minutes. If the cake starts to brown on the top too much, cover it with foil. The cake should be golden brown on top. As soon as the cake is ready, remove it from the oven and place it on a cooler rack. Drizzle with the remaining juice from the apples. Allow to cool before removing the cake from the spring form or quiche tin. If using a pie dish, you can serve the cake in the pie dish.

Serve with vanilla ice cream or softly whipped cream. 


There were so many apples on the tree we decorated the table with them too.  

Friday, February 1, 2013

My favorite soup of all time

When it is searing hot, like it is in Cape Town at the moment, soup is the last thing anyone feels like. For me however there are two exceptions; gazpacho naturally but also Tom Kha Gai which is my absolute favorite Thai soup of all time. 

It is a chicken and mushroom soup with a coconut milk broth base, flavored with lime juice and lemongrass. I add a few extra veggies, which are not part of the traditional recipe, to add crunch and colour.

This soup is so refreshing with its spicy zesty flavor that, in my opinion, it is a perfect summer starter soup, or even as a main course for a two course meal.   

Tom Kha Gai
Serves 4 - 6

1 x 400ml tin of coconut milk or cream
750ml of chicken stock
1 Tbsp of fresh ginger, grated
1 stalk of fresh lemongrass, split lengthways and bashed
3 fresh lime leaves (6 dried lime leaves)
1 - 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice (lemon juice can be substituted with caution)
1 - 2 Tbsp of fish sauce
1 tsp sugar (or to taste)
1 tsp chilli paste or 1 Tbsp of fresh chopped chilli (seeds removed)
500g chicken breast (skin and bone free), thinly sliced widthways
125g of thinly sliced mushrooms
½ a yellow or orange pepper, thinly sliced
100g of cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
Small bunch of fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
Small bunch of fresh coriander leaves, picked
In a medium pot over high heat, combine the coconut milk, stock, ginger, lemongrass, lime leaves, lime juice, fish sauce, sugar and chilli; bring to a simmer. Allow this to simmer for 5 – 10 minutes while you chop the chicken and veggies. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Strain the soup through a sieve. 

Add the chicken and mushrooms and simmer until the chicken is just cooked. Add the peppers and tomato and stir to heat through. Serve immediately into bowls. Garnish with the spring onion and coriander.