Friday, 18 April 2014

The Ultimate Chocolate Cake


When I remembered it was my boyfriends 23rd birthday coming up, I knew there was only one cake I was going to make him. He's never been a massive fan of icing (which  is difficult because I love working with buttercream!) but he absolutely loves anything to do with chocolate. And he loves the rich, dark chocolate. I had seen a recipe on BBC Good Food that I had been meaning to test out for ages, and I knew I had to use it. It turned out amazingly - so rich and moist, and the ganache just finished it off perfectly. I adapted the ganache recipe to my own recipe which is just a basic chocolate to cream ratio. I then adapted the cake into a 'truffle' cake, surrounded by a chocolate cage (my first try!) and topped it with truffles and white & dark chocolate ganache swirls. It was so intense, but definitely one of the best cakes I've made. If you want to have a go at making it, keep reading for a recipe and my instructions! :)

Recipe
  • 200g good quality dark chocolate, about 60% cocoa solids
  • 200g butter
  • 1 tsp instant coffee granules
  • 85g self-raising flour
  • 85g plain flour
  • ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 200g light muscovado sugar
  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 75ml buttermilk (5 tbsp)
  • grated chocolate or curls, to decorate
Ganache
  • 200g dark chocolate (or milk if you don't want it to be as rich).
  • 200ml double cream.

Firstly, prepare your cake tin and preheat your oven to 160 c (140 if you have a fan oven). Put the butter, chocolate and coffee granules mixed in with 125ml cold water into a microwavable bowl or a saucepan. Heat until melted. 





Next, mix all the dry ingredients into a bowl. Beat together eggs into a bowl or cup and stir in the buttermilk. Add both the buttermilk mixture and the chocolate mixture into the dry ingredients. Fold it in gently so you don't knock out the air. 






 Put this in the oven for 1 hour and 25-30 minutes. Although keep an eye on it, because mine took less than that. After its cooled, split it into two (unless you baked it in two tins). I got a bit too confident and tried to cut it into three, and the whole top cracked into pieces - as you can see! It's not a strong cake because it's so moist, but because you cover it with ganache it doesn't matter too much if it cracks/breaks. After it came out of the oven, I whipped up some double cream to go in the middle.



 To make the ganache, I heated up cream in a saucepan until it was just boiling. Have your chocolate ready in a separate bowl and pour the heated cream onto it. Leave it alone for a few minutes, and then begin to stir it together. It will look as though it's not coming together, but bare with it - as you can see from my photos it does start to look like ganache eventually! 







It makes quite a lucious thick ganache so I poured it straight on and spread it on, but you can pop it in the fridge for it to thicken if yours is a bit runny. 
 

This was my first time making a chocolate cage. They say to avoid white chocolate because its temperamental but mine worked just fine! My boyfriend chose the white cage.. dark may have been better :P 
To make the cage, measure out some greaseproof so it fits around your cake and make it the height you want it. Melt some chocolate -I used about 100g for my cage. Pop it into a piping bag and pipe any design you like. Now you have to watch it - you don't want it to set completely so it cracks but you want it to start setting so that it loses its shine but can still bend. Wrap it around the cake and make sure you get it into the right position - it will smear if you move it! Pop it into the fridge until it sets. 
 

 Voila! Decorate it however you like. I made truffles to go on the top. To do this, use any extra ganache (or make more) and let it set in the fridge. Roll it into balls of your desired size, and dip into cocoa, sprinkles or melted chocolate. I then swirled extra ganache on top -both dark and white chocolate. May be a chocolate overload to some but to us it was amazing!




Liddie x

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Millionaires Shortbread

Millionaires shortbread have always been one of my favourite treats. Gooey caramel sandwiched between thick chocolate and tasty shortbread, who could not love them? I'll admit that I have not tried and tested many millionaires shortbread recipes, but this recipe has never failed me and they taste amazing, like they are straight from a bakery. So I've never felt the need to try another! This recipe was originally by Nigella Lawson, it's so good and worth a try! 



Recipe


Shortbread
225 g. plain flour
75 g. caster sugar
175g. unsalted butter

Caramel 
200g unsalted butter
379g. can sweetened condensed milk
4 tablespoons golden syrup

Topping - 300 g. plain chocolate

Preheat the oven to 170 C. Mix the flour and sugar together and then rub in the butter (or use a stand mixer if you have one - those things are a god send for recipes like this!). The dough will come together and be quite crumbly, but don't worry, press it into a tin (I used an 8x8 square tin) and prick with a fork. Cook for 5 minutes and then turn the oven down to 150 C and cook for 30-40 minutes until a very pale golden brown. 




While the shortbread is cooking, you could make a start on the caramel. Melt the butter and then add the condensed milk and golden syrup. You can either do this in the microwave, keeping an eye on it and mixing every 30 seconds or so, or do it in the saucepan. Surprisingly (I usually prefer microwaves) I do this in a saucepan, because I find it easier to constantly stir it.  DO NOT leave it, I thought it would be a good idea to tidy a few bits up for about 10 seconds and when I came back I had burnt a bit of it! So be very careful. If you watch it you shouldn't go wrong. It takes about 10 minutes to thicken up and turn a lovely golden caramel colour, so when it gets to that stage take it off the heat and pour on to the shortbread. Leave this to cool until it sets. 



Once the caramel has set, melt the chocolate and pour it over, tilting the tin so it covers it nice and evenly. Leave to set completely and then cut into about 16 pieces. Enjoy!  



 

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Homemade Scones


I have never been fond of shop bought scones as they just never taste anything like homemade. Homemade scones are amazing, especially warm out the oven and covered with jam and a dollop of cream. You can't beat them! They're so easy to make, especially if you have a stand mixer as you don't even have to use your hands! This scone recipe was passed down to me from my mum, and they are the best scones I have ever tasted - a must try!

 
Recipe (Makes about 7-8 large scones)
1 pound Self Raising Flour + pinch of salt
4oz Margarine
2oz Caster Sugar (+4oz Raisins optional)
2 Eggs
Teaspoon of milk.
 
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees°C. Mix together the flour,sugar and salt and then rub in the margarine.
 


 
 
Whisk together the eggs and the milk and slowly add to the mixture, mixing whilst you pour.
 
 
It should now come together as a nice, smooth dough. The trick to a lovely, well risen scone is to roll it about an inch thick. You don't even have to roll it out seeing as you need it so thick, you could simply press it down to the desired thickness.
 
 
Cut out with a circle cutter of your desired size, and put onto a greased tray.
 
 
 
 Brushing the scone with some leftover egg/milk mixture before it goes into the oven helps the top to go nice and brown when cooked. Pop them in for about 20 minutes.
 
 
 And there you have it, beautiful homemade scones ready to enjoy straight from the oven. Spread on some jam and cream and enjoy! :)
 
 
 
Liddie x

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Easter Themed Rocky Road

I'm trying to get in some Easter baking this year after not making anything Easter themed last year. Creme eggs and mini eggs are some of my favourite treats so of course I'm going to try and shove them into everything I bake. Today I tried some mini egg rocky road and they turned out great, lovely taste and they set and hold their shape really well. I sort of made up the recipe myself by looking around at the basic measurements of rocky road - the great thing about them is you can swap and choose which ingredients you want. Plus they are so easy - you don't even have to turn your oven on. Have an experiment!

Recipe
200g milk, dark or half and half chocolate.
2 tbsp golden syrup
130g butter
80g mini marshmallows
100g bag of mini eggs
150g digestives
First, melt together the chocolate, butter and golden syrup. I did this in the microwave - just keep an eye on it and stir at each interval.





Put the digestives in a food bag and bash with a rolling pin. Make sure you've got a variety of sizes - crumbs as well as bigger chunks.

Add the marshmallows and half of the mini eggs.

Pour it into a tray and press in the other half of the mini eggs. Then put it in the fridge and let it set for 2-3 hours. It should be firm enough to cut and hold its shape when it comes out.

And there you have it, Easter themed rocky road! Mini eggs taste amazing in this, but you can change them for anything you think will go. Just try and keep the measurements about the same of whatever you swap them for. Enjoy!
Liddie x

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Mother's Day Cupcakes

I went to visit my parents this weekend and as I don't see them very often, I decided to make some early mother's day cupcakes to surprise my mum with. Mother's day isn't until the 30th March in the UK but I knew she'd appreciate a homemade present better than me buying her something!
 
 
 
Here are the designs I came up with. I did three with marshmallow fondant toppings and the other three with buttercream. I also made a little happy mothers day sign for one of the cupcakes, with a little bow at the bottom - I thought it was so cute!
 
 
I also used my rose petal nozzle to pipe this rose, and added a couple of fondant leaves. This nozzle has got to be my absolute favourite. It does take a lot longer to do than a simple swirl and so I wouldn't like to do a lot of them, but it's so much fun to do just one or two and they look so pretty. What do you think of the rose petal nozzle?
 
 
My mum is an artist and when I brought her the cupcakes, the first thing she did was to find a matching painting and take a picture of her cupcakes with the painting. How amazing is her art? She is very talented! Feel free to take a look at her page here if you like the look of her paintings. I absolutely loved making her these cupcakes and they are such a cute idea for a homemade present - I hope I might have given you inspiration for your own cupcakes! :D
 
 
 
Liddie x
 

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