Saturday, 23 August 2014

Raspberry Cake with Caramel Icing

So this is my 'goodbye' celebration cake - a celebration of closing one chapter and beginning a new one! What am I talking about? Well I no longer work in the Midlands, no more going back and forth continuously, I have moved back down South and I'm super excited about everything!

For my final visit to the office I figured it's only right I keep up with my 'cake status' there and bring in one final cake. Raspberry and caramel - well, the aim for this cake was the BBC Good Food ombre cake, however, I dropped the bulk of the cake leaving me with one layer that I could work with! But do not worry, my housemate and I made sure we ate all the three layers that didn't manage to make it into the cake for the final journey to work!

Now because this was a leaving cake/birthday cake/celebration cake, it just had to have cake sparklers on, lots and lots of raspberries and sprinkles, after-all, this is a happy occasion!

So the cake - you can't beat a raspberry cake can you really? So divine; it's fruity, sweet, moist and it just like a hug, a warming-cake-hug. Coupled with the caramel for sweet and sticky touch, this cake is indulgent and oh so naughty, but when you're celebrating, what else should a cake be but indulgent and naughty right?

This recipe is adapted from BBC Good Food - and you'll notice mine is not nearly the height or colour, but as I mentioned, I split my cake into two separate cakes having dropped some of the layers! So mine is a one layer cake, so I've adapted my recipe so it'll give you 2 layers which you can sandwich upon one another nicely, and if you want a four layer cake like the beautiful large picture on the BBC Good Food website, then simply double up on the ingredients stated here.

Raspberry Cake with Caramel Icing 

Raspberry Cake

200g unsalted butter, at room temp
200g self-raising flour
200g soft brown sugar
100g raspberries
3 medium eggs *If you're doubling up you can use 5 large eggs (egg size conversion)
1tbsp milk
1tsp vanilla

1. Preheat the oven to 160C/140C fan/320F/gas mark 3/ and the grease and line two 7-inch cake tins -  or one if you prefer to save on washing up and simply split the cake into two layer layers
2. In a mixer on a medium-high speed, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy
3. Once the butter and sugar are light and fluffy, begin to add the eggs, adding the next egg only when the previous has been fully beaten and incorporated into the mix
4. Once the eggs have been mixed, add the flour, the milk and the vanilla, and mix on a low speed until incorporated
5. Stop mixing and then gently fold in the raspberries, being careful to not be too heavy-handed so they raspberries hold their shape as much as possible
6. Then pour the batter into the cake tins and then bake for about 25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Once they're done, remove from the oven, allow to cool in the tins for about 20 minutes before you turn them out onto a wire rack

Caramel Icing

300g cream cheese - ideally use Philadelphia cheese as it retains it's thickness the best over most alternatives
600g icing sugar - add more/less for the consistency you want
100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tbsp caramel, or to taste - I had some of my own left over, but you can use some carnation canned caramel and then fill the cake layers with that like the BBC Good Food recipe does, however I prefer using just the cream cheese icing so it isn't overly sweet.

1. In a large bowl put all of the ingredients in and beat with an electric whisk until smooth - don't beat for too long as it may become runny. I always add more icing as I go to 'thicken' it all up to the consistency I want and need, so bear that mind if it's not looking the way you want it too, all trail and error!


Then simply assemble the cake! I always apply a crumb coat first to make sure all the nasty crumby bits aren't incorporated into the final icing - so take a look at the link if you're not familiar with the technique - it'll revolutionise you're cake icing from now on!

I attempted the "ombre", however, given the height of my cake, it's barely noticeable, but if you want to do that, split the icing into two bowls, and colour one with a little pink colouring and the other with a dash of orange. Then when icing, apply the orange to the top first, by putting some on the top and just smoothly working it around the top half of the cake and half way down the sides. Then take your pink icing and cover the bottom of the cake, once you've got that around the bottom nicely, take your pallette knife and swipe along the contact of the colours, making sure to nicely blend it all in together. For some visuals to help you out, check this video at Taste.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Dobos Torte

 So, summer is finally here in the UK, and that means being a busy bee! I've been all over the place the last month, back and forth between the Midlands and London and not much time for baking and I've been a little slack on blogging front, with lots and lots to catch up with and lots to explaining to do! But in short, I'm moving back to the South! Quite an exciting time but I'll get onto that in the many blog posts I've got to catch up on!

So I'm a huge fan of researching and baking cakes from across the global, taking a traditional bake and regional flavours and trying them out for myself. So following my Lithuania Tinginys, also known as a chocolate salame to the Italians or a chocolate fridge cake to us Brit's, my newest search takes me to Hungary, with a striking seven layer cake, the Dobos Torte.

So a little history lesson for you here, because I love food history! The Dobos Torte was invented by a man who goes by the name Jozsef C. Dobos, whose dessert took the pastry world by storm when it was first introduced at the National General Exhibition of Budapest in 1885. Now this dessert was unlike anything of the time, it's elegance, it's extravagance, yet it's simplicity saw the Dobos Torte become a European treasure, a pièce de résistance!

For 20 years after the dessert first took the sweet hearts of Europeans, Dobos was the only confectioner in Europe who could give the continent the dessert they craved so deeply. It was only through retirement Dobos parted with his recipe, having himself been the sole creator of the cake; Dobos travelled from city to city across Europe introducing the dessert and even developed a special shipping container for the cake! 

So what exactly was it that the continent just loved so much? Well this cake was different to all others at that time, popular during this era were flaming cakes, but what Dobos created in practice is a very simple cake, composed of five layers of sponge cake, chocolate buttercream and topped with caramel. One of the big secrets was the buttercream. Then, cakes were typically filled with cooked pastry cream or whipped cream, and so Dobos, having discovered the buttercream technique in France, decided to 'revolutionise' cake fillings!

This cake does take a good bit of love and effort, but, it is so worth it! It is light, it is rich, it is silky, it is simply just an absolute delight, and most of all, it truly is a show-stopper! All of those layers, wrapped up in a buttery and chocolatey filling, topped with the gorgeously sweet and warming caramel, it truly is the cake that will make jaws drop and have people coming back for more, making that time and effort crafting your cake masterpiece, completely worth it!

Dobos Torte
To make this I followed the great and informative instructions provided by Joe Pastry, and I highly recommend if you're going to give this a go you certainly check out the photographed step-by-step guide which you can link to here  - I found it a brilliant guide to work alongside with!

The Cake Layers
450 grams (2 cups / 1 pound) icing sugar, sifted
115 grams (1/2 cup /4 ounces) plain flour, sifted
1 tbsp lemon juice
7 egg whites
10 egg yolks
(The buttercream also calls for yolks and not whites, but don't go wasting these! They are suitable for freezing and I froze them and used them later for meringues, for which, I have a delicious raspberry meringue recipe if you need some inspiration)

The Buttercream
300 grams unsalted butter
300 grams dark chocolate
4 egg yolks
1 1/2 vanilla extract
5 tbsp icing sugar 
(You may have some leftover - it'll keep well in the fridge for a week or you can freeze it for use later)

The Caramel
150 grams caster sugar

You may want to melt the chocolate first to let it cool down (steps 10 onward)

2. Preheat the oven to 230C/210C fan/gas 8/450F. Now you'll want to prepare the baking sheets - I took one of my cake tins (9-inch) to use as a template. Using the cake tin or any circular object in the size you desire and draw out 9 circles on some baking paper and cut these out leaving just a little space around the circle so that you can peal the baking paper away from the cake easily. Dust these with some icing sugar, shaking off any excess, this will help when you come to peeling. 

2. Beat the egg yolks with an electric mixer on a high speed for a few minutes - 3-4 or so - until they become a pale yellow colour. I'd suggest you use one of the largest bowls you have as when you come to stage 5, things get fluffy and potentially messy, so you'll need as much bowl space as you can get.

3. Reduce the speed of the mixer once you've got pale egg yolks and begin gradually adding the icing sugar. Once all added, crank up the mixer speed and mix for about 5 minutes, so you have a very very thick texture. Scrape the sides of  bowl to make sure everything is well mixed.

4. Reduce the speed again and now start adding the flour, and once added, crank up the speed again to fully combine everything, and then add in the lemon juice. Now at this point, you will be alarmed, this is a thick sticky mess, but keep going, the egg whites will loosen everything back up again. Trust me. 

5. Now on that note, the egg whites; whisk these in another bowl until they reach the stiff peak stage. When you've got that, start spooning a few heaped teaspoons of the whites into the sticky thick yolk mixture to loosen it all up a bit, which will require some serious elbow grease, but trust me the mixture does all of a sudden become loose and fabulous again. Once everything starts loosening up, fold in the rest of the whites.

6. On a baking sheet, place down some foil, dust with some icing sugar and take one of those circle baking paper sheets and place it in the middle.  You'll spoonful some of the batter onto the sheet and then using a spatula spread it out - it is totally up to you how thick you want your layers, mine are quite thin and I spooned on about 4 heaped tablespoons up my purple circular line. Don't worry about being perfectly circular as you can use the template you used at the beginning to trim these to perfect circles later on. Do bear in mind to not go too. thin as you want to be able to handle these, peal them off and not lose their texture and taste when they're covered in that gorgeous silky buttercream.

7. Once you've got the batter on the baking sheet, pop in the oven for roughly 6-8 minutes - remember to bear in mind the thickness you're going for here, but what you want to achieve is a golden brown cake layer. Once done, remove from the oven, then slide and invert the layer onto a cooling rack and then carefully peel of the baking paper and then invert again onto an icing sugar dusted cooling rack or surface.

8. Now prepare the next layer following step 6 again. Out of this batch I made 9 - my first was too thin and it broke but the rest were all fine, leaving me with 7 layers and one to be coated in caramel. 

9. Once all of your layers are baked and ready, take your original circle template and use this to trim the layers into circular layers that are identical to one another. 

10. Start with the melting the chocolate as this will need sometime to cool down, do this by melting the chocolate either over simmering water in a heatproof bowl or in the microwave in short bursts to ensure you don't burn the chocolate. Allow the chocolate to cool but do not let it re-firm you still want to have some 'looseness' to it.

11. Once the chocolate has had some time to cool down, make a start on the buttercream by creaming the butter on a high speed in an bowl using an electric mixer. Once the butter is light and pale then add the vanilla and egg yolks and beat well until well combine. Then add in the cooled down melted chocolate and icing sugar and beat until its all combined - what you will have a silky, glossy and beautifully light chocolate buttercream.

12. To assemble the cake take a little of the buttercream and place it on your plate or cake stand - consider this a 'glue' for the first layer. The place one of the layers down and then cover in a layer of buttercream, then cover with another cake layer, more buttercream...and you get the jist. Leave one of the layers for the caramel if you're going to do the caramel wedge decoration, if not, use it up. Then just make sure you over the whole cake using your palette knife and smooth it all over.

13. Lay the final cake layer in a surface which has been covered with baking paper or the like to protect the surface from the hot caramel. I recommend again you have a look at Joe Pastry's blog post on how to go about the caramel, the pictures make it far less daunting.

14. To make the caramel place the sugar in a dry pan or frying pan and heat over a high heat to dissolve the sugar - refrain from stirring the sugar and instead gently tilt the pan to move the sugar around. The sugar needs to completely dissolve and turn a medium amber colour - when making this I went to a dark amber and it was a nightmare to work with, so much so, I got some splash back and burnt my chest somehow, so a medium amber will do just fine and make life easier when cutting and pouring over the final cake layer.

15. Once the caramel is medium amber, remove from the heat and pour the caramel over the cake layer quickly - you don't want to take to long and let it start solidify, I found that out the hard way! Allow the caramel to harden for a few seconds and then take a large knife and cut the layer in wedges - like the picture below, however I cut it before putting the caramel on as a test and I prefer the method of cutting afterward. Then assemble as you like, I went for a star looking shape so I could use the rest of the buttercream too, but do as you please, I quite like the fan approach, very elegant!  

As a note, if you do get a sticky and hard caramel from going to a darker amber, don't worry, mine was, at first it's very hard but after having a day to soak into the sponge it softened up and was no longer a tooth breaking hard caramel but incredibly tasty!

So there you have it; a delicious Dobos Torte. Yes it looks daunting from the offset, but I can genuinely assure you, it really is not that bad, it's just a series of simple repetitive tasks and what you get in the end is a stunning show-stopping cake with the most delightful texture and it is bound to get people talking!


Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

Who doesn't love ice cream right? I most certainly do! And now it's that time of the year again, where the sun is shining (well, shining here and there in tiny bursts, I am in Britain after all, and we all know how up and down the British summer time can be!), but keeping positive, the sun is shining, sandals are out, skirts are on, it's Pimm's O'Clock again - my favourite times of the day I might add - and it's time to eat ice cream instead of lunch. Yes, I do that.

I remember going crazy at the sound of the ice cream van, rushing to the front door, essentially scraping at the door waiting for mum to let me out and so I could dash off to attend to my ice cream needs. Ice Cream just is one of those things that, as a child, has you in awe, the Mr.Whippy Ice Creams, the mind blowing raspberry ripple pots you'd get during school lunches, the epic choc ice, the best of all worlds Neapolitan ice creams, and the wildly beloved strawberry split! 

So many brilliant memories from some so simple, I remember me and all my mates in the flats I lived in as a child munching away in the corridors together on our favourite ice creams, talking about all the important things kids talk about, what we should do with Barbie's hair today, what ride's I planned to go on during the next visit to Southend-on-Sea, discussing tactics for corridor cricket and how we'll beat those older kids, the epic two tone ice creams you could get from the seaside and wondering how they did it; you know, pressing childhood issues.

So I decided, it is summer, and being summer I should bake something that fills us with that summer joy, and then it came to mind. Cake is my favourite thing now as a young woman, but as a child I would do anything for ice cream. So, it was obvious, cakes that look like ice cream. The.Way.Forward. 

I made these up in Midlands and brought them down to London, now, as a warning, if you go on the tube with delicious looking cakes, you will be the centre of the world and you're head will grow very large with "big ego" syndrome. It was quite humbling actually having so many people stop me and tell me these looked incredible, and I gave one to a homeless man, and got chatting to a couple of guys coming home from the football and also gave them some too (Mum and Rich didn't need 24 cupcakes really, and sharing is caring right?). Really the nicest part of it was the surprise on peoples faces when I just said, "why don't you have one?" - If you're a Londoner you'll know that the tube is not often a hot spot for conversation and nice gestures, but you know what, I'd totally get on the tube again with cakes and happily hand them out, that feeling of engagement with people over something as lovely as food is a feeling I genuinely live for, its the best, and honestly, I still believe everyday that food has the power for social greatness and change, it truly is one of the most basic and beautiful ways of communicating across the world.

These were so fun to make! I highly recommend giving these a go, they're so so simple, it is literally just getting an ice cream come and putting your cake batter in the cone, nothing more to it, very simple, yet very effective! Such a fun little project for young ones, or if you like me, just yourself and some mates, get the sprinkles out, the chocolate and strawberry sauce, the flakes, the cherries and just work your ice cream magic! An odd little bit in me had a feeling of "the other side" the ice cream van person always got to do the fun stuff and I would just scoff away, now I get to decorate as I please and scoff it all up! Perfect.

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

Cone Cupcakes
I made 20 cone cupcakes, and split the batch into two to make some chocolate and vanilla 

250g unsalted butter
250g caster sugar
250g self-raising powder
2 large eggs
4 tbsp milk
1tsp vanilla
20g cocoa powder (for the chocolate ones if you want to make them, if not, crack on with vanilla!)
12 Wafer Cone Cornets (I used Askey's which come in a pack of 21 - the recipe will fill 21, I just broke one of my cones whilst piping them)
1. Preheat the oven to 190C / 170C fan / gas mark 5 / 375F and place the ice creams cone into a muffin tin, one in each hole - I did this in two batches of 10
2. Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until you get a light and fluffy mix
3. Add the eggs one by one, and mix until just combined
4. On a low speed gradually add the flour and milk - I did this by adding 1 tbsp of milk and then roughly a quarter of the flour a time
5. If you're just making vanilla cones, then whisk in the vanilla now. If you're going for both with the chocolate too, then split the mixture into two bowls placing vanilla into one and cocoa powder into the other and mixing until nicely combined
6. Divide the batter into the cones - an easy way to do this and to end up having no air in your cones is to pipe the mixture into the cornets, its the easy and tidy way that will ensure you won't get any air pockets
7. Bake for 20-25 minutes until risen and golden - once done leave to cool for a few minutes (roughly 5 or so) and then transfer the cones to a wire rack

Vanilla Buttercream 
Should make enough for 20 cones - any left over you can freeze and use at a later date

600g Icing Sugar
250g Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
4tbsp Milk or Cream - use more if the mix is too "stiff" - I always add more or less milk to get the right consistency and "loosen" my buttercream if I need to
2 tsp Vanilla

1. Place the unsalted butter into a bowl and mix with an electric mixture on a medium speed, to achieve a lighter, creamed, butter - do this for roughly 3 minutes or so, the longer you mix your buttercream the whiter you'll be able to make it
2. Add the icing sugar, bit by bit, and  - I quartered the icing sugar roughly - after each batch has been incorporated, add the next, and mix on a high speed setting - this will help get a lighter and white icing! Add a splash of the milk only using a tablespoon a time to 'loosen' the buttercream as you need
3. Add the vanilla and combine until well combined
4. Place the buttercream into a piping bag with a star large star nozzle and start piping! For a great tutorial on how to perfect your cupcake swirl check out MyCupcakeAddiction on YouTube and you'll be a pro in no time!

Ready for Decoration!

Then just make sure you have plenty of goodies to decorate your Ice Creams up with, sprinkles, cherries, flakes and chocolate sauces! Get creative, these are brilliant to have them ready as a base and have other decorate them too! Perfect for a party!

Tuck in and watch everybodies face glow with joy at these fun treats!