19 November 2012

Birthday birthday birthday!!

For the past few years I've had a coffee and walnut cake as my birthday cake of choice, made by myself or my mother.  This year I fancied a change and was feeling exciting so I went for a red velvet.

I've made red velvet cupcakes from the Hummingbird bakery several times but I've never made a layer cake.  Being super fussy I knew I wanted to make a 7" cake because I like the way they look (don't ask), but the Hummingbird recipe makes a 3-layer 9" cake, larger than ideal.  I had a quick google of '7" red velvet cake' and came across Gino D'Acampo's recipe on the itv website here.  A little random, but it was delicious!

The cake came up such a vivid colour, it doesn't look like it should taste like chocolate! Traditionally, red velvet cake is iced with cream cheese frosting, but it freaks me out so I like to use white chocolate buttercream on mine.  Swiss merringue buttercream doesn't cope well in heat so I went for a delicious white chocolate buttercream I used to ice a ginger carrot cake with the recipe from Sweetapolita.

Most perplexing for me though was to have a bbq outdoors for dinner on my birthday and not have to wear a million scarves and sweaters to stay alive! 

Gino D'Acampo's Red Velvet Cake
120 g unsalted butter
300 g caster sugar
2 eggs
20 g cocoa powder
40 ml red food colouring
1 tsp vanilla extract
240 ml sour cream
300 g plain flour
pinch bicarb soda
pinch salt

1) Preheat the oven to 170 degrees and grease and line 2 x 7" cake pans.
2) Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
3) Add the eggs one and a time, beating well after each addition.
4) Beat in the food colouring and vanilla extract.
5) Fold in the sour cream.
6) Sift in the dry ingredients and fold through until well combined and the mixture is smooth.
7) Split the mixture between the 2 pans and bake for 35-40 minutes - mine took 40 minutes.

The recipe on the itv website is different to the procedure I followed, but to be honest, I couldn't be bothered to faff around making it how they suggested and I don't like whisking when the dry ingredients are added so I had a fiddle and made it my own way!

White Chocolate Buttercream - taken from Sweetapolita and makes enough to cover and ice a 10" layer cake
250 g unsalted butter
175 g white chocolate
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp almond extract
pinch of salt
750 g icing sugar

1) Cream the butter until it is soft.
2) Melt chocolate in the microwave and add to the butter, with extracts and beat through.
3) Sift in icing sugar and beat well to combine.

14 November 2012

Chocolate Summer Birthday Cake

Of all the things I’ve experienced in Australia, the fact that the seasons are backwards is what has confused and thrown me the most.  For (almost) 25 years November has been cold and dreary and suddenly I am upside down and its’ November and 30 degrees and its summer.  I’m not complaining though because strawberries are in season and they are delicious.

This means that delicious fruit can feature highly in baked goods; its’ been a long time since I baked anything so I took full advantage of a friends’ well-equipped kitchen and a recently-past birthday to take to the bowl and whip up (literally) a cake! It also gave me the perfect chance to use the sweetest plate I own; reading ‘eat cake’ across the middle the plate was given to me when I was in America in June and its’ travelled with me since!

My initial proposal of making a red-velvet cake based on the birthday boy’s sock-colour of choice; red, but this idea was shot down with the tactful phrase ‘Well, it wouldn’t be my first choice...’. 
Thus the ‘Chocolate Summer Birthday Cake’ was born.  Featuring two moist chocolate sponge rounds filled with whipped cream and strawberries and topped with chocolate-fudge icing and a craftily sliced strawberry, this cake combines the best things about summer.  Sunshine is available with prior planning.

Chocolate Cake
6 oz unsalted butter
6 oz caster sugar
3 eggs
6 oz self-raising flour minus 1 tbsp
1 tbsp cocoa powder
Glug of milk

1) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and grease and line 2 x 7” cake rounds.
2)  Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
 3) Beat in the eggs one at a time until each is well combined.
 4) Fold in the flour and cocoa powder.
5)  Spread evenly between the 2 rounds and bake for 20 minutes.

When the rounds are cool fill with whipped heavy cream and chopped strawberries to re-create my summer dream. 

Chocolate Fudge Icing (makes enough to ice and fill an 8" layer cake)
2 oz butter 
2 tbsp milk
2 tbsp cocoa powder
8 oz icing sugar

Sieve the cocoa powder and icing sugar together and beat well with the remaining ingredients.
*the icing should not run or set and is delicious*