15 August 2013
11 May 2013
But my daughter had other ideas. First, she wanted a Fibonacci birthday cake (thanks, but no thanks, Vi Hart). Apart from the fact that that kind of cake crosses dangerously from geek to nerd territory, 6 is not a Fibonacci number, really. Next, she suggested a Flower Fairies cake (no way was I going to be able to make those figures ...). Followed by a couple of other really impractical ideas. And then I slyly showed her the piggies ...
Me: OOOOHHHH look at those piggies they are SOOOOO cute!!!
Sugababe 2: Nope.
Me: C'mon, you're born in the year of the pig!
Sugababe 2: Nope!!!
Me: And I can, um, change it to like a CHARLOTTE'S WEB cake!! You like Charlotte's Web right??
Sugababe 2: But Wilbur was not in a chocolate bathtub!!!
Me: It's ok, I'll just add a spider! (More pestering on my part ensues ...."
Sugababe 2: (grudgingly) OKAAAY ....
I must admit I was kind of elated at having won her over to MY way. I could do the cake I liked and just plaster a spider web somewhere. Until ...
Husband: Have you read Charlotte's Web? Wilbur wasn't in a mud bathtub!
Me: Noo ... I haven't but but but ... I am SURE he was kind of like in the mud??
Husband: I'm just saying it's strange.
Me: (Whine) Are you saying it's not going to look nice???
Husband: You know, I'm just saying it's a cute cake but it's not a Charlotte's Web cake. And how ARE you going to suspend the spider web? On the side of the wooden bath? Isn't that going to look odd?
He got me of course. Over the next couple of days I conceded that I had to do a proper true-to-the-story Charlotte's Web cake. It really didn't help that, not only did Sugababe 2 want a spider web, she wanted it to say "Some Pig", like in the story.
I had some rough idea of how I was going to construct the farm - green coconut grass, a biscuit barn house, fondant carrots in a cocoa-powder garden patch, pretzel sticks for the wooden fencing, and a fondant Wilbur.
But the spider web really had me stumped. What could I use to make a spider web that could suspend from the barn house? I tried making a fondant spider web which literally fell apart once I held it up. Piped white chocolate would be too thick and might also not hold up well.
It was past midnight before the day of the party, the cake was all done up, all except the dreaded spider web. We went through options like tying a thread spider web, cutting a paper web, etc. Until it hit me that we could just draw in the spider web with a white marker on a transparent sheet to give the illusion of a hanging spider web.
So voila! With that, I completed one of my most challenging cakes to date. The result was a 4 layered dark chocolate cake (made with the perfect birthday cake recipe, which my husband was most pleased to see me return to after my brief affair with another chocolate cake recipe), with alternating chocolate ganache and strawberry cream filling, painstakingly decorated with sufficient details and accuracy such as to leave no room for doubt that this was supposed to be a Charlotte's Web cake and not just a piggy cake. And just in case anyone needed some help in coming to that conclusion, I also constructed a huge banner with the words "Charlotte's Web".
A Herculean baking effort for a little girl's birthday. But then again, she is not just any girl, but SOME GIRL, to be sure.
Happy birthday my very special 6 year old.
28 April 2013
My Sugahbabe 3 turns 2! She specifically requested for a yellow cake (as in a yellow-coloured cake - not a butter cake) with lollipops on top.
Frankly I was not too inspired by the little one's requests. I mean, YELLOW? And Lollies? For one, yellow is not a great colour for
cakes. Or clothes, or furniture. Or basically anything else for that matter. In my books at least. And then, lollipops? How cliched could you get for a kids' cake? Being the good mother that I was, I showed her lots of pictures of OTHER cakes which I though were more interesting, to cunningly steer her into choices that would perhaps be more exciting and challenging for me to execute. But nope, she would have none of it. Yellow it had to be. With swirly lollipops (she pointed to the picture on the iPad browser to make sure I got her point). The only change she made was to specify that it also had to have many other colours, like "green" and "pink", but it had to be a YELLOW cake. Great, now I had to do a gaudy, multi-coloured cake? Then again, what was a Mamma to do but deliver?
Four layers of chocolate cake interspersed with strawberry buttercream (inspired by Sweetapolita - such an awesome blog!) with outer layers frosted and piped with plain vanilla buttercream. My decision to use a RLB recipe for the chocolate cake was a departure from my usual preference for a chocolate buttermilk cake base. I have to say that the chocolate buttermilk cake is a superior cake in every way - in terms of flavour, crumb and moistness. I found RLB's cake too crumbly and not sufficiently moist and springy. On the other hand, what it has going for it is a good fudgey flavour and (what made me try it in the first place) the fact that it really is very easy to make. For those who are inclined to try RLB's recipe, I would just say that ensuring that the cake is thawed completely before serving makes a world of difference. If it is just the slightest bit cold, it tends to be very brittle, dry and crumbly. At room temperature the texture improves dramatically and if you don't mind buttercream that is a bit runny, microwaving it just a little bit improves it even more.
25 February 2013
Recipe for Rum and Date Cake with Caramel Sauce
(Donna Hay issue #62)
1 1/2 cups (210 grams) dates, chopped
1/2 cup (90 grams) prunes, chopped
1/2 cup (75 grams) raisins
3/4 cup (180 ml) boiling water
1/2 cup (125 ml) rum
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda, sifted
1 1/2 cups (225 grams) self-rising flour**, sifted
1 1/3 cups (235 grams) brown sugar
225 grams butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
100 grams butter
3/4 cup (135 grams) brown sugar
1/2 cup (175 grams) golden syrup***
1 cup (250 ml) single cream
1/4 cup (60 ml) rum
- Place the dates, prunes, raisins, boiling water, rum, and baking soda in the bowl of a food processor and leave for about 10 minutes. Process the mixture until smooth. Set aside.
- Place the flour and sugar in a bowl and mix to combine. To this add the butter, vanilla, eggs, and the date/rum mixture. Mix well to combine.
- Pour the batter into a well greased bundt pan (3.5 liter capacity) and bake in a pre-heated 160C (325F) oven for 55-60 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Allow to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- While your cake is baking you can make the caramel sauce. Place the butter, sugar, syrup, cream, and rum in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil and cook for 10-12 minutes, or until thickened.
- Allow both the cake and sauce to cool completely before pouring the sauce over the cake.