Archive | December, 2010

Yuletastic!

24 Dec

Today, I made a couple of yule logs for friends so I thought I would put up a couple of piccies on this lovely Christmas Eve.  Quite a simple arrangement and finish but there were a few mildly stressful moments ensuring that the chocolate buttercream didn’t taint the white sugarpaste base as I put it all together.

Swiss roll/roulade recipes are usually fat free so typically not as long lasting as other sponges.  I wanted to make sure that the yule log was good for Christmas day and maybe also for leftovers afterwards.  So, over the past few weeks, I’ve tried three recipes for the yule sponge – two with flour (one made with real chocolate, one made with cocoa) and one flourless.  It’s a hard job but someone has to do it!  

I definitely preferred the flourless one so this is what I plumped for and would recommend.  The others seemed a little dry, whereas the flourless stayed soft and moist for a couple of days after making.  The recipe is in Delia’s Christmas book, with a very similar one in Nigella’s Christmas book.  I basically followed Nigella’s recipe (but Delia’s instructions as I found them more straightforward).  One thing to note is that Nigella’s includes vanilla extract whereas Delia doesn’t.  I chose to include it as I think it takes the bitter edge off cocoa rich dishes which is maybe better for for the whole family.  That said, Little Tester consumed the pilot run of it without vanilla, and without buttercream too.

I should give a mention to Nigella’s buttercream recipe which uses a half/half mix of butter and icing sugar to which a load of cooled melted chocolate is whisked in.  It is absolutely delicious but devilish.  Lots of bowl licking today – I am not sure I am up to eating any more chocolate over Christmas.  However, knowing me things might change when the Celebrations come out.

I hope the families enjoy their yule logs on Christmas Day and I wish you a very Merry Christmas.

Christmas Tree Cake

22 Dec

A 6″ fruitcake with a simple but suitably sparkly Christmas tree design on top.

Starbust Christmas Cake

21 Dec

This is a gluten free Christmas cake.  I used my regular recipe but substituted Doves Farm gluten free flour for plain flour, so I am looking forward to getting feedback from the recipient as to the taste and texture.  It is covered in apricot jam, marzipan and sugarpaste.  I kept it colour-free so as to keep total control of the ingredients in this special cake.  Instead, I completed the decoration by the addition of stars and wire-work.  This was the first time I’d had a go at using wires and it was great fun, really adding some wow factor.  The starburst is central to the cake but you could reposition the ‘pick’ containing it when you start cutting the cake, to continue enjoying the overall effect.

Moo! Cow Birthday Cake

14 Dec

I thought I would take a break from Christmas cakes and show you a birthday cake that I’ve done recently.  Rest assured there are more Christmas cakes coming, but this post is dedicated to anyone who has a birthday in the Christmas period!  Lucas’ birthday was at the beginning of the month, which I guess isn’t too bad as once that is over you can treat it at the start of Christmas.  For those who have birthdays later in the month it must feel a bit like their celebrations are clashing with Christmas.  Well, maybe.  Jesus didn’t complain did he.

This one was for a special little boy’s first birthday.  It is a bit different from the character cakes or pastel-coloured-baby type-themed birthday cakes which are quite popular for first birthdays.  I like how the colours are so striking.  Newborns are supposed to find black and white visually stimulating but I think contrasting colours are great for older babies too.  The birthday boy really likes his two cow toys so this cake was a homage to that.  I was really pleased when he made a grab for it – that was a good enough reaction for me from a toddler!  It is an 8 3/4″ vanilla madeira sponge with rich vanilla buttercream and covered in sugarpaste.  

Everybody all together now – Moooooooooooo!  And Many Happy Returns Lucas.

Sprout Cupcakes – all I want for Christmas?

12 Dec

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When I saw the recipe for Brussel Sprout cupcakes on the I Heart Cupcakes Blog I couldn’t resist giving it a try.  I absolutely love a well cooked sprout and they are a must-have for my Christmas dinner.  So, the idea of sprouts in a cake really appealed, especially at this festive time of year.  I wasn’t quite sure how they would turn out but I had to try it and I really wanted to see what my taste testing guinea pigs thought of it.  The thought of a blind taste test was just too tempting!

Of course, it isn’t entirely novel to include vegetables in a cake.  Carrot cake is probably the most popular example (though I do maintain that courgette is the new carrot).  However, green leaf vegetables are definitely a bit more out of the box.  The recipe is based on flavours and textures that you would typically find in a carrot cake – walnuts, cinnamon, coconut, dried fruit – and indeed it also includes grated carrots.  That said, the sprout is definitely there.  The smell whilst cooking was, shall we say, “sprouty”.  I tried one without frosting (if they were grim I wasn’t going to waste the frosting).  I could detect the sprout but it didn’t make for an unpleasant cake.  It was good to go, but the frosting recipe is absolutely gorgeous and really set the cupcakes off.  It tastes like I imagine cinnamon cheesecake would taste.  Yummy yummy yummy.  

Anyway, off I went with my trusty Lock’n’Lock tub laden with sprout cupcakes to my friend’s house for the evening.  I didn’t tell them what flavour the cupcakes were.  They liked them and continued to eat them as they guessed…courgette…parsnip…cabbage…and, finally, sprouts.  There was shock from one as she claimed she didn’t like sprouts, and she was kind of mortified this one had got past her.  She felt like she couldn’t say that she didn’t like sprouts anymore, commenting that her mum would be pleased.  What an endorsement!

All in all, I am not sure I would rush to make them again, but they were really great fun and quite tasty.  A different kind of Christmas cake.

 

Christmas Cakes – Part Two

7 Dec

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Another Christmas Cake for you!  This 6″ cake is covered in marzipan and white sugarpaste with white and red snowflakes and little silver balls.

Again, this is quite a simple design and really only requires the purchase of the plunger cutter to make the snowflakes.  You do have to be careful with them though because they are very fragile.    

What other colour combinations do you think would work well with this design?  I think changing the colour the cake is covered with would work well.  Maybe a sky blue with white snowflakes…

Christmas Cakes – Part One

5 Dec

Over the past few weeks I have been making and decorating Christmas cakes for people.  Here is the first one I did this year…

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This is the easiest way of decorating a Christmas cake because you cannot bodge it up!  It is simply plastered with royal icing and you peak it up using a fork or knife to create a snowy effect.  You can adorn (sorry, I watched Nigella this week) with simple shop bought decorations, as I have here, though I did cut out the holly leaves and make the berries myself.  I also sprinkled the cake in white glitter for a bit of snowy sparkle.  Simples.