Monday, October 25, 2010

White Chocolate Bra Cakes

I want to share these with you because the taste of the actual cake batter and white chocolate ganache tastes divine.  I made these alongside the bra biscuits; but I do think people were more keen on these because of the moist and dense texture of these "white chocolate mud cakes" turned "bra cakes."  This batter will make 12 cupcakes.

125g butter chopped
100g white chocolate
1 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 egg, lightly whisked
3/4 cup plain flour
1/2 cup self raising flour
1 tsp vanilla bean paste

Ingredients for Ganache
260g white chocolate
1/2 cup thickened cream
+ colouring and desired decorations

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees and line a 12 cup capacity cupcake tray.  Combine the butter, chocolate, sugar and milk in a saucepan on medium heat.  Stir until the mixture is smooth; about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and transfer to a heatproof bowl; set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly.  Use ballon whisk to gently whisk in egg. Sift flours over chocolate mixture and gently whisk until just combined.  Stir in vanilla bean paste.  Pour mixture into prepared tray and bake for 30 minutes or until skewer comes out clean.  Turn onto a wire rack and set aside to cool completely; around 1 hour.  Meanwhile, make chocolate ganache by placing chocolate and cream in a saucepan.  Stir with metal spoon until mixture is smooth and place in fridge for 2 hours, or freezer for around 1 hour until ganache thickens and is spreadable rather than runny.   Add pink food colouring when appropriate ganache is thickened, and stir through.  Spread onto cupcakes and decorate as desired.

Batter can be made into mini "breast cancer" cupcakes

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Bra Biscuits for Breast Cancer Awareness

The 25th of October is the official day to host a Breast Cancer Awareness Breakfast.  I'm hosting a little morning tea among my friend's at school; and so I made these.  The recipe comes from none other than the fabulous Miss Nigella Lawson.  She calls them her "Butter Cut Out Biscuits" - but for my purposes I shall name these "Bra Biscuits."
Also, I want to dedicate this post to those women who have been affected by breast cancer.  Every day, 7 women die from breast cancer.  Through fundraising and creating awareness, we can all do our bit to reduce this terrible statistic.  All of us with baking and food blogs have great skills - I challenge you to somehow put them to use to raise awareness for breast cancer.

175g unsalted butter, soft
200g caster sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
400g plain flour, preferably Italian 00
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (fan-forced).  Cream the butter and sugar until pale and moving towards moussiness, then beat in eggs and vanilla.  In another bowl, combine flour, powder and salt.  Add dry ingredients to butter and eggs, and mix gently but surely.  If you think mixture is too sticky to be rolled out, add more flour, but do so sparingly as this makes the dough tougher.  Halve the dough, form into fat discs, wrap each in clingwrap and rest in fridge for at least 1 hour.  Sprinkle some flour on board, place 1 disc of dough on board (leave other in fridge) and roll out to about 1/2cm thickness.  Cut your desired shapes (I used a love heart) and place them a little apart on baking trays.  Bake for 8-12 minutes, by which time they will be lightly golden around the edges.  Cool on rack and continue with the rest of the dough.  When they're all fully cooled, you can get on with the icing. (Following recipe for Icing is not from Nigella Lawson)

Ingredients for Icing
2 cup icing sugar
2 egg whites
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
+ desired colour
+ desired decorations

Whisk together the icing sugar, egg and lemon. Apply to cookies before the icing sets.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Chocolate Fudge Cake

This recipe is based on a "Chocolate Fudge Cake" recipe which comes from the Baking Bible.  When we ate a test slice at room temperature the cake was delicious - light and soft with intensely silky icing.  The icing was a real winning point.  However, overnight in the fridge the icing really hardened and the cake seemed to firm up.  Of course if it came down to room temperature it would be fluffy again, but all this 'changing of texture due to temperature' is annoying and detracts from this cake's ability of winning the "best chocolate cake" title.


175g butter, softened
175g white sugar
3 eggs
3 tbsp golden syrup
45g ground almonds
175g self raising flour
80g best cocoa powder

Ingredients for Icing
225g plain chocolate, in pieces
55g dark brown sugar or muscovado sugar
225g butter, diced
5 tbsp evaporated milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (fan-forced) and grease and line two sandwich cake tins.  In a bowl, beat together the butter and sugar for the cake until light and fluffy.  Gradually beat in the eggs one at a time.  Stir in the golden syrup and ground almonds.  Sift in the flour and cocoa powder.  Add around 2 tbsp of water, or more if needed until droppping consistency.  Spoon mixture into tins and bake for 30 - 35 minutes.  Leave cakes in tin for 5 minutes, then turn onto wire racks to cool completely.  When they are cold, sandwich cakes together with icing.  To make icing, place chocolate, sugar, butter, evaporated milk, and vanilla in a saucepan.  Heat gently, stirring constantly, until melted.  Leave to cool and then transfer to fridge for an hour, until spreadable.  To make love heart, melt some chocolate and layer a chocolate heart pattern on some baking paper.  Make sure its thick enough that it won't break later.  Leave in freezer for 30 minutes to set.  Once cakes are iced, top the cake with love heart and outline with white fudge icing or icing pens.  (I iced my cake with still warm-ish icing, so it melted my chocolate heart into the cake).  Serve.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Comforting Chicken Pot Pie

I think this recipe is perfect for all of you experiencing Autumn at the moment! It's warm, comforting and hearty which is exactly the type of food I love to eat when the weather gets windy and cold. I got the idea to make it from my older sister when we were watching an episode of "Nigella Express." The pie looked so good; the way Nigella cracked the pastry into the gravy laden chicken and vegetable pot.  She made individual serves, but I decided to make two big pies (the recipe and appropriate quantities written below) for my family and some friends that were over at the time.  We served it with mushy peas and pumpkin which complimented the sweetness in the pie thanks to the splosh of marsala.  

9 rashers of lean bacon, cut into 1cm squares
1 onion, chopped
15 - 20 button mushrooms, cut into cubes
750g chicken breast, into bite size pieces
10 tbsp plain flour
2 tsp dried thyme
4 tbsp butter or margarine
4 cups hot [good quality] chicken stock
5 tbsp marsala
3 carrots, sliced
+ 3 sheets of puff pastry
+ mushy peas, to serve
+ mashed pumpkin, to serve

Set out two large pots suitable for the oven.  Remove the pastry from the freezer so that it will thaw in time.  Preheat the oven to around 200-210 degrees (fan-forced).  In a large fry pan, heat a tiny bit of oil and softened the onion.  Add the bacon and cook until cooked or crispy to your preference.  Add mushrooms and softened them in pan along with onion and bacon.  While your waiting for mushrooms to softened, toss the chicken, thyme and flour in a freezer bag so chicken is evenly coated.  When mushrooms are ready, melt butter in pan.  Add the chicken to the pan once the butter is melted through, and cook until chicken is coloured and cooked.  While chicken is cooking, I cooked my carrots in the microwave.  Pour in hot stock and marsala, stirring so that a sauce forms.  Add the now cooked carrots. Let bubble away for 5 minutes to 7 minutes.  Turn off frypan and evenly distribute this chicken filling into the pots.  Make a pastry rim for the two pots, wetting so that the pastry sticks.  The rim will need to be about 2cm thick and curled around the top of the pots.  Then cut two lids for each of the pots.  They will need to be larger than the circumfrence of the pot, and will need to be wet slightly so they stick to the pastry rim.  Press the rims/lid down with fingers or fork.  Add three fork prongs in the center of the pie.  Cook pies for around 30 - 40 minutes, rotating halfway through cooking time.  Pies are ready when the pastry is magnificently puffed up.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Nigella Lawson's Sour Cream Chocolate Cake

This is my 7th cake in the chocolate cake search and was recommended by some of you bloggers!  It comes from Nigella Lawson, so that in itself was promising.  She described that the sour cream provides a "wonderful mouth-filling smoothness".  She was right (like always) as the texture of the cake was velvety smooth and the icing was equally luxurious.  I actually declared that it was the best chocolate icing I've ever tasted.  This is a favourite cake and now one of the top contenders! The only thing that lets it down, it that the smooth texture hardens slightly in the fridge which you may see from the image.  I would therefore recommend serving it at room temperature.

200g plain flour
200g caster sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
200g soft unsalted butter
40g best cocoa
150mL sour cream
2 lge eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Ingredients for Icing
80g milk chocolate
80g dark chocolate
75g unsalted butter
125mL sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp golden syrup
300g icing sugar, seived
1/2 tsp hot water


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (fan-forced) and prepare 2 sandwich cake tins.  Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarb and salt in large bowl.  Using electric mixer, add butter.  In a measuring jug, whisk together cocoa, sour cream, eggs, and vanilla, then slowly add this mixture to flour ingredients in bowl; beating until thoroughly mixed.  Pour batter into tins and bake for 30 minutes; when they're ready cakes should be starting to shrink back from edge of tins.  Leave for 10 minutes in tins on racks, then turn out to cool.
To make icing, melt chocolate and butter.  Let cool a little, then stir in sour cream, vanilla and syrup.  Add icing sugar, and a little hot water, blending until smooth.  Place one cake on plate and ice the top; leaving a slight 1cm border.  Place the other cake on top and ice this too.  Then go around the sides of the cakes to ice.  There will be enough icing to generously ice the middle and top of the cakes; so don't be scant on one certain level.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Spring themed Croquembouche à la maison

This morning I woke up inspired by last night's course.  I kept thinking of beautiful ways to decorate the croquembouche - ribbons, butterflies, flowers, chocolate, royal icing; the list is endless. This one pictured here is my "Spring themed Croquembouche." Clearly other pastry artists have used this concept too which you can see here.

I was worried that I wouldn't be able to do it myself without expert chef advice but it actually came together better than yesterday! The only thing is cleaning the damn toffee caramel from the pots! Do you have any advice? And another annoying thing is that I can't resist popping a profiterole every time I walk by the kitchen!
Nevertheless, I think it's worth the clean up...and the possible jog.

Croquembouche Cooking Course!

As the final gift from my birthday which was in September, I recieved a cooking course for la Croquembouche! This is great because it has been a while since I last did a French recipe.  Croquembouche is a traditional French wedding cake in the shape of a cone, made from Profiteroles, filled with custard and coated with toffe and spun sugar.  There are many different versions and I do look forward to discovering various ways of decorating and profiterole fillings.  However, as Croquembouche translates to "crunch in the mouth" we stuck with the traditional crunchy toffee which contrasted beautifully with the velvety custard.  Here is my step by steps! It will take time to perfect croquembouche; but the results are truly impressive.

 Basic Choux Pastry Ingredients
200ml water
2g caster sugar
1g sea salt
100g unsalted butter
175g 00 [bakers] flour
4-5 eggs [approx 60-70g)

Method for Pastry
Place cold water, salt and sugar in a pot; bring to a gentle boil.  Meanwhile cut the butter into 1cm dice cubes and add to pot so butter just melts as water approaches gentle boil (should be around 98 degrees).  At that point add all of the sifted flour.  Mix immediately over low heat with wooden spoon.  Dough will come away from sides of pot and develop a gloss; cook in order to bind for about 2-3 minutes.  You will know roughly when it is glossy, bound and steam is coming off mixture.  Remove from heat, keep stirring for 2 minutes off the heat to let it cool slightly.  A trick to test if it's cool enough is to touch with your fingers and if they don't hurt/burn then it's fine.  This is important otherwise the eggs, which are now to be added, will simply scramble.  Add 1 of the eggs, and incoroporate thoroughly.  Then add another, and incorporate.  Keep going until all eggs are in and the mixture is not to dry or stiff.  A trick to testing if the choux pastry is going okay is to see if it slowly falls off the spoon when held up in the air over the bowl.  The paste should ultimately be a piping consistency ie. hold up on the tray.  Line a tray, pop the paste in a piping bag and start piping into cone shapes.  Use a 8-10mm straight nozzle in the piping bag and water to smooth any mishapen cones.  Bake at 190 degrees in moist oven until fully risen, 8 or so minutes.  When I say moist - spray your oven with some water from a bottle before poping the tray in.  Alternatively pop a small stainless steel bowl full of water at the bottom tray of your oven.  Now you need a dry oven to colour the pastry for another 6 minutes or until golden in colour then drop temperature to 140-150 degrees to dry out inside of pastry, another 10-15 minutes necessary baking time.  Remove and place on cooling rack.  This will make approx 40 profiteroles.

Filled Profiteroles

Ingredients for Crème Patissiere

350mL milk
half vanilla pod or 2g paste
3 egg yolks
80g caster sugar
40g plain flour

Place milk and vanilla in a pot on saucepan and bring up to gentle boil.  Mix together in a seperater bowl, the yolks, sugar and flour.  Whisk the now warm milk onto the yolk mixture in thirds.  Return to a clean pot and bring back to gentle boil mixing continuously with a wooden spoon.  Cook for approx 4 minutes or until thick, glossy and the floury taste diminishes.  The crème patissiere can now be used to fill the cool profiteroles.  Poke a hole in the profiteroles (not too large) with a knife or tip of scissor.  Place crème patissiere in a piping bag without either a thin nozzle or a piping bag with a small hole in it.  Fill them up so that the profiteroles are full, but wipe away excess crème otherwise when the toffee and crème touch the toffee will seize.

Ingredients for Sugar Toffee
200mL water
500g caster sugar
50g glucose (optional)


Place water, sugar and glucose into a pot and then onto stove and boil steadily - you will need to brush down insides of pot with a clean pastry brush and water to prevent crystalizing until it reaches 160c.  Use a sugar thermometer for confirmation of this.  Caramel will be golden incolour.  Use whilst hot/warm.  Wear rubbes gloves, and have a bowl of white water on hand and be very careful.

Assembly of Croquembouche
Proceed to build your tower into a cone shape freestyle or use a cone shaped mould (or even a party hat). Make the base by dipping them in chocolate or the sugar toffee and sticking it to a base around the cone mould or party hat.  Once the toffee/chocolate is set, dip the next profiterole and stick ontop to create the beginnings of a next layer.  Continue to layer using toffee or chocolate as the "glue" and profiteroles as the "bricks." Using a spoon before the caramel is completely set, you can touch lightly the caramel and move it so the sugar spins into decorative whisps.  If not, place two wooden spoons in your sink like a bridge and whip the caramel of them to make stringy thin pieces.  Alternatively again, whip a design on baking paper and pull it off the paper when set; adorn onto croquembouche tower.
Use maybe 3-4 profiteroles per person per portion, and this will dictate the size of your cake.  Croqeumbouche is made to be served and eaten up immediately - enjoy that crunch and the taste.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Chocolate Pound Cake

I was chatting to the lovely Kitchen Flavours with regards to cakes made on butter or oil.  We both decided that oil tends to result in a light texture which keeps better, but the classic taste and density of buttery cakes is really rather unbeatable.  So, for my next cake experiment I turned to the all time classic cake - the simple pound cake - with a chocolate variation.  This recipe comes from "500 cakes" which writes, "originally the cake was made with a pound each of butter, sugar, eggs and flour, hence its name." Whilst this cake was enjoyed, and its buttery crumb like texture was nice, I must say that it will not be taking the "best chocolate cake" title.

200g butter, at room temperature
320g caster sugar
6 large eggs
280g self-raising flour
4 generous tbsp of milk
1 tsp vanilla extact
5 tbsp best quality cocoa

Ingredients for Thin Layer of Icing
1 1/3 cup icing sugar
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp warm water
1/3 cup cocoa powder
+ icing sugar for sprinkling


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (fan-forced) and grease and line a round cake tin.  Beat together the butter and sugar until pale and creamy, then  beat in the eggs one at a time.  Sift the flour over the mixture, then fold in.  Stir in the milk and vanilla.  Spoon the cake batter into the prepared tin and smooth the top with back of spoon.  Bake for 1 hour or until risen and skewer inserted comes out clean (slight chocolate stain on skewer is fine).  Leave to cool in tin for few minutes, then transfer to wire rack.  To make icing, beat together all ingredients and thinly smooth over.  Dust lightly with icing sugar and serve.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Maderia Muffins

I recently acquired Nigella's cookbook "How to be a Domestic Goddess" and the first recipe I made from there was the Maderia Cake.  I was short on time, so decided to bake this simple but tasty recipe as muffins.  Nigella believes this is the sort of plain cake recipe you can't see the point of...until you start slicing and eating it.


240g softened unsalted butter
200g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
3 large eggs
210g self-raising flour
90g plain flour

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees (fan-forced) and prepare a 24 muffin tray.  Cream the butter and sugar, and add the lemon zest.  Add the eggs one at a time with a tablespoon of flour for each.  Then gently mix in the rest of the flour, and finally, the lemon juice.  Sprinkle with caster sugar (about 2 tbsp should do it) as it goes into the oven, and bake for 1 hour or until a cake-tester comes out clean.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake

It's a well known fact that buttermilk instantly makes baked goods fluffy and light.  So I thought my next chocolate cake recipe should contain buttermilk to see if it would create a winner cake.  It definitely resulted in a fantastic cake which was fluffy...yet still dense. My friend's at school annouced it a "fluffy chocolate enjoyment." This may also be because the cake batter was made on oil (rather than butter) which means the cake will dry out slower and therefore keep better.   I think it even beat the original cake I posted from my Grandmother. Despite the praise, it was decided amongst us 15 or so school girls that Nigella Lawson's cake or the Women's Weekly cake are still the top contestants in this competition.  

2 cups flour
2 cups caster sugar
3/4 cup quality cocoa
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 large eggs
1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Ingredients for Icing
1 1/2 cup icing sugar
2/3 cup quality cocoa
2 tbsp milk
2 tbsp butter, soft


Preheat the oven to 150 degrees (fan-forced) and line a large round baking tin (This batter made a huge cake, plus an additional 4 cupcakes for my family, so prepare yourself for a large batter mix!)  Place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl, but ensure to sift the flour and cocoa beforehand.  Mix at medium speed until the ingredients are blended and smooth.  Pour into tin and bake for 1 hour - 1 hour and 20 minutes.  Test with a skewer.  Allow to cool in pan completely before turning out to wire rack.  To make the icing, beat all the ingredients in a bowl until smooth.  Ice cake using flicking motions to achieve this 'cloud like' icing texture.  Top with chocolate freckles, or homemade chocolate moulds (as pictured).

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Chickpea Patties

Again, I digress from my "chocolate cake" search momentarily to present a very satisfying and healthy dish.  This comes from the magazine Recipes+ and is great for all you vegetarians out there! Pop it on some bread for a burger, or serve with a salad for an easy midweek meal.  To change this recipe up a bit, keep the rice and chickpea base and add in a varitey of vegetables to nutritionally bolster this recipe.  This will make 4 large patties. 

2 tsp vegetable oil
1 small brown onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 x 400g cans chickpeas, rinsed
1 cup booked long-grain brown rice (ie. cook about 1/3 cup brown rice to get this)
1/4 cup sundried tomato pesto
+ flour for dusting

Heat oil in a large frying pan over moderate heat.  Add onion; cook and stir for 5 minutes or until soft.  Add garlic; cook and stir for 1 minute or until fragrant.  Cool slightly.  Process onion mixture, chickpeas, rice and pesto until combined, scraping down side of bowl with a  spatula occassionally.  Shape mixture into 4 patties, about 10cm in diameter.  Lightly dust patties with flour.  Spray a large non-stick frying pan with oil.  Add patties; cook for 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden.  Serve as a burger pattie, or alongside a salad.

Nearly Flourless Chocolate Cake (or Brownie)

This recipe comes from "500 cakes" and appealed to me due to the low amount of flour.  Foodies often think that little flour in a cake means either a lovely light texture or a really dense texture.  This time it resulted in a very dense, rich texture. Whilst this chocolate 'cake' was delicious for what it was, it was more so a brownie than a cake.  If you enjoy brownies or even rich mud cakes then by all means this is a fantastic recipe, however, for the purpose of this chocolate cake search I'm sorry to report that I don't think this can even be considered in the running as a cake.

260g dark chocolate
170g butter, diced
200g caster sugar
3 large eggs
70g plain flour

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees (fan-forced) and line a round springform tin.  Break the chocolate pieces and put them in a heatproof bowl along with the butter.  Plcae the bowl over a pan of simmering water and heat gently until the chocolate and butter have melted.  Remove from the heat and leave to cool for 5 minutes.  Stir in the sugar, then beat in the eggs, one at a time.  Sift teh flour over the mixture, then fold in. Tip the mixture into the pan and bake for 55 minutes until firm on top with a little wobble in the centre.  The cake will firm as it cools.  Leave to cool in the tin. Carefully turn cake out onto a serving plate and serve in wedges with thick cream or ice with chocolate ganache (as pictured).

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake

The search finally progresses! I'm back at school now and it is the final term of Year 12 so things are heating up.  But on the upside, I have lots of friends to offer chocolate cake to seeing as my family and I aren't chocolate fanatics.  I brought this cake to school today which is why this cake sort of looks like child's play. Despite the lack of elaborate decoration, everyone said it was amazing.  The texture was moist, very dense and chocolatey.  This may well have what it takes to win.  So far it's between this one and the Women's Weekly cake.  If I were to liken this cake to anything it would be somewhat similar to a brownie simply because of the density.  This is Nigella Lawson's recipe so I'm betting that this will be the eventual winner.  She writes that "it is the essence of all that is desirable" in a chocolate cake.  She also says that it is so good it doesn't need icing, however, still provides a recipe.  And I do agree with her suggestion.

225g soft unsalted butter
375 dark muscovado sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g best dark chocolate, melted
200g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
250mL boiling water

Ingredients for Optional Icing
175g dark chocolate
75g milk chocolate
200mL double cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
+ smarties to decorate

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees (fan-forced) and grease and line a loaf tin.  Lining the tin is important.  Cream the butter and sugar with hand-held mixer, then add eggs and vanilla, beating well. Next, fold in the now slightly cooled melted chocolate, take care to blend well but being careful not to overbeat.  You want the ingredients combined: you don't want a light airy mass.  Then gently add the flour, to which you've added the bicarb, alternately spoon by spoon, with the boiling water until you have a smooth and fairly liquidy batter.  Pour into the lined loaf tin and bake for 30 minutes.  Turn the oven down to 170 degrees and continue to bake for further 15 minutes.  Cake will be slightly squidgy inside, so an inserted skewer won't come out completely clean.  Place loaf tin on a rack, and leave to completely cool before turning it out.  This cake improves the next day.  Don't worry if it sinks in middle: indeed, it will do so because it's such a dense cake. 

Method for Optional Icing
Break all the chocolate into pieces and heat with the cream and vanillain a saucepan until melted.  Whisk until it's a good consistency for icing, and spoon onto cake.  Smooth out and stud the cake with smarties.

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