Tag: Cake

My Swan Lake Cake

Remember…hmm about a year ago when I bought the re-issue of the classic Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday  Cake Book?  And I swore black, blind and blue that this year for my birthday I would make the classic swimming pool cake? Well that didn’t happen.  Because I made something better!  I made a Swan Lake Cake!

Swan Lake CakeOk, technically a pink flamingo cake but in my mind a Swan Lake cake because….I’m going to the ballet!  For my birthday the Fussiest Eater in the World bought me…us…tickets to Swan Lake! It’s being performed by the Russian National Theatre Ballet and I can’t wait.  Mind you, I have to because it’s not until November.  Meantime, I guess I can eat cake!

Swan Lake Cake2Ok. so, let’s get down to it.  This should have looked like this:

Pool Party Cake
Pool Party Cake

Not to diss the AWW but I like my version better.  It’s brighter, less busy, a little more uncluttered.  And it’s pink flamingo’s on a lake of bright blue jelly (jello for my American friends)!!!  When there are so many artificial colours in the one place, you need to keep it pretty simple!

Swan Lake Cake3So, now to the assembly.  I used a box butter cake mix.  You could buy a ready-made cake.  It’s going to have a big hole cut in the middle of it so no need to be too precious here. 

Swan Lake Cake5The next step is to ice the cake inside and out.  Icing on the inside will prevent the cake from going soggy once you add the jelly /jello.  Here I am about half way through that process.  I used the icing that came with the cake mix and it was just enough although I had to spread it pretty thin in some places. 

Swan Lake Cake6 I used Blue Heaven flavoured jelly.  Which as anyone outside of Australia will know is a totally made up nonsense flavour.  And anyone in Australia will be hard pressed to tell you what Blue Heaven actually tastes like.  EXTENSIVE research on my behalf (ie a google search) would have me tell you that Blue Heaven is a combination of raspberry and vanilla. Which does sound quite heavenly. I have no idea why it’s blue. 

It does make a pretty lake though! 

Swan Lake Cake8

Swan Lake Cake10

I really wanted to keep the jelly whole so I would have  a lovely smooth surface on my lake.  Impossible!  Anyway, I went down to our local lake today and it was neither flat (nor quiet).  I had never really noticed how LOUD the lake is on a windy day!  And not just because Oscar goes crazy when he sees his version of Swan Lake!

Oscar and The SwansOnce your jelly sets, rake thought it with a fork and then move it into your cake lake. 

Decorate as you will – a Swan Lake Cake, a swimming pool cake, a sea monster cake!  Whatever floats your boat….you could even float your boat on the lake!  I bought my flamingo candles at a gift shop but you could use toys or sweets.  The only limit here is your imagination.

Oh and a little tip for eating.  Jelly and cake is great!  Jelly and cake and a little dollop of whipped cream? 

Trifle-icious!

Swan Lake Cake9.jpgHere’s the original recipe from the AWW:

Swimming Pool Cake Recipe

Here’s a little bit of what I’ll be seeing come November. 

Have a fabulous week!

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Torta Mimosa

Happy International Women’s Day!

Today we are celebrating with an Italian treat called a Torta Mimosa.  In Italy, men give the women they love a sprig of mimosa on International Women’s Day (March 8th).  In Australia, it is autumn and we will not have mimosa (what we call wattle) for another six or so months so swapped in some gorgeous lilies instead. 

The Torta Mimosa is also traditionally served on International Women’s Day in Italy. Or as the Italians would say, Festa Della Donna – it sounds so much more glamorous when you say it like that doesn’t it?

Torta Mimosa2The Torta Mimosa, as the name suggests is meant to look like a sprig of mimosa.  I’m not entirely sure that it does but damn it tastes good!

Torta Mimosa

It’s a sponge cake, filled with creme pâtissière (and I added some lemon curd), then covered with small squares of sponge to create the mimosa look.

It’s light, fresh and a lovely way to celebrate all the wonderful,amazing women in your life!

Torta Mimosa4

I am so very lucky to have a many inspirational women in my life – from family, friends, work mates, the tasty reads crew, friends from the gym, to the people who I have met through doing this blog.  I feel privileged to know such a number of smart, witty, sassy, strong women, each of whom help to make my life, and the lives of all around them better and brighter.

Torta Mimosa3

Oh boy…this recipe is not hard to make but there are lots of parts.

  • I made Margaret Fulton’s sponge cake from The Great Australian Cookbook.  Twice. 
  • I used the creme pâtissière from The Joy Of Cooking
  • And I also used some bought lemon curd in the layers to add some tanginess.

Here is a link to a very similar recipe on Epicurious:

Torta Mimosa

Torta Mimosa5To all you wonderful women, I wish you a very happy International Women’s Day! 

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A Peacock Cake & The Gala At Yala Part 1

It was recently the fussiest eater in the world’s birthday and I made him a peacock cake!

Peacock Cake1
Isn’t it adorable?  Even if I do say so myself!  And for the non-bakers out there it is all assembly, no baking involved, unless of course you want to bake the cake yourself.

But more about our little peacock friend later. The peacock was a special symbol for us as it reminded us of the time we spent at The Yala National Park when we were in Sri Lanka earlier this year...OMG…last year! 

The National Park at Yala is a huge tract of land at the Southern tip of Sri Lanka that is home to a myriad of wild life.  It is situated in leopard country and whilst we did two Safaris hoping to see one of these magnificent creatures, we were unlucky both times….or were we?  Whilst we did not spot a leopard (pun intended) we saw so many other wild animals, living in their natural habitat that I felt utterly privileged to have been there.

Here was Mr Peacock:

Yala - Peacock2There were monkeys galore:

Yala - MonkeySloth Bears:

Yala - Sloth BearSome jackals playing:

Yala - Jackals PlayingA crocodile, most definitely not playing:

Yala - CrocodileAnd a huge amount of elephants – my favourite part was when we saw two older female elephants and a cub walk down to a pond to have a bath and a drink:

Yala - Mummy and Baby Elephants BathingThen the baby decided to have a little roll in the water:

Baby Elephant SwimmingAfterwards, they came right up to us, crossing just behind the jeep we were in.

Yala - Mummy and Baby Elephants BathingThen there was this little one who decided to head off on his own:

Yala - Baby Elephant BathingThe closest we got to the elusive leopard was these tracks:

Yala - Leopard Prints

On a more sombre note, there is also a monument to the people who lost their life at Yala in the Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004. 

Yala - MonumentI could go on about Yala all day and have thousands more photos of all the animals and all the birds but we have a Peacock Cake to talk about!

The recipe comes direct from the Women’s Weekly Cheat’s Cakes 2. The idea behind these books is that you can buy a cake and then just decorate it instead of having to factor in baking as well. Obviously the cover caught my eye but there are many more treasures to trove in these pages!

Women's Weekly Cheat's Cake 2

Hmm…I don’t think I did too bad a job!

Peacock Cake2I made the cake for the peacock’s body because there was a random box of cake mix in my pantry. But you could totally use a bought cake.  The Women’s Weekly provides a template for the body.  I copied it onto a sheet of paper, enlarging it a bit as it was really quite small and I wanted to use up as much of my cake as possible.

Peacock Cake2One of advantage of cutting around a template is that if a bit of cake “falls” off as you are cutting around it doesn’t really matter and you can have a little taste test as you work.  You can call it being greedy if you must.  I prefer Quality Assurance.

I used the tip of an ice cream cone for my peacock’s beak.  A black jube, topped by a piece of white jelly bean topped by the end piece of a black jelly bean made his eye, with a swoop of licorice creating his cat’s eye.

Peacock Cake Peacock

And you will need something to fortify you because threading all those lollies onto the skewers takes a long time.

Peacock Cake Tail FeathersIf making the Peacock Cake for a children’s party you can place more tail feathers in a glass by the side of the cake if you need too.  Just be sure to remove the lollies from the skewers before handing them out.  

Here’s the recipe for the Peacock Cake, straight from the book.  I had to deviate from some of the sweets suggested because I could not find them – use what you have and let your creative juices flow!!!

Peacock Cake RecipeThis is so fun and colourful and would be a great party cake for a child of any age.  If you want to make it and would like a copy of the template, let me know. 

Peacock Cake3

 Have a wonderful week.  I hope it’s full of pomp and pageantry.  For me, today is the return to work after the Christmas break which is going to be tough!  Back to the dreaded alarm and early mornings.  On the upside, tonight I am seeing one of my food heroes, Nigella Lawson, live in conversation at the Melbourne Town Hall – it should be A-MAZING!

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The Dishiest Dish – Fruit and Nut Gingerbread Loaf

What a week!  Some weeks are diamonds and this week everything I  made turned out really well and there was not much to choose between them.  So I thought I would talk to you about them all.

Fruit and Nut Gingerbread Loaf3

First up there was a mash up of this recipe from Donna at A Cookbook Collection which is a super blog that I read all the time:

https://acookbookcollection.wordpress.com/2015/10/21/roasted-grapes-with-feta-and-walnuts/

And Niki Sengit’s entry for Goat Cheese and Walnut from The Flavour Thesaurus where she says:

“Paneer is a white tablet of feta as smooth as a bar of Ivory Soap and usually scattered with crisp walnuts.  It’s generally accompanied by sabzi, a thicket of fresh herbs, to offset it’s richness.  There will be plenty of mint, plus tarragon and dill, bulbous scallions and, nestled somewhere in among the sprigs and leaves, little radishes like baby robins in their next”

This OMG, I want to eat it right NOW delight is on the menu at a restaurant called Patogh on the Edgeware Road in London.  And next time I’m there?  I’m there!

Not being there, I made my own and I threw in a heap of roasted grapes à la Donna too!  And it was so good!  I love being able to nibble food from a platter and this recipe will feature on my Friday night grazing platter all grape season!

 

Roasted Grapes with Feta & Sabzi

For a delicious main meal I made some Crab and Corn Fritters from this recipe from Australian Gourmet Traveller. 

Corn and Crab Fritters

For a sweet treat I made a toasted marshmallow pavlova which was A-MAZING – even if I do say so myself. I am working on this for a future post.  In case that one turns to crap, here is the prototype which I am very happy with.

Toasted Marshmallow Pavlova

Also in the sweet realm but at the opposite end of the spectrum was a fruit and nut gingerbread loaf with lemon icing.  The pavlova was light as air and so pretty.  The gingerbread loaf was not nearly so pretty but wow! It was kind of like a line backer against the pavlova’s ballerina, in the best possible way.  So full of flavour.  And quite right for the time of year!  Also, like a good wine, this baby just gets better with age. And it lasts.  It kept for about a week in the fridge. It probably would have kept for longer, we just ate it all. 

Fruit and Nut Gingerbread Loaf

This week, I am looking forward to cooking

Light, Lunch, Starter or Salad: Italian Stuffed Deli Loaf

The Main Event: Chicken, Mushroom and Walnut Cannelloni from Katie Quinn Davies for the Cookbook Guru

Sweet Dreams: Honey Pots

In Other News I Have Been

Shopping

Another bit of a cookbook binge – I bought the next two Tasty Reads book club books.  And as my Christmas present to myself, the new Nigella:

Books Collage2

Reading

I gave up on The Reckoning.  Life’s too short for a book you don’t enjoy.  I have started the December t book club selection,  The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks.  Personally, I would not have chosen to read this in a billion years – the fictional lives of Biblical characters not being high on my list of interests but I am finding myself increasingly drawn into this story.  Which is exactly why I joined the book club – to widen my reading horizons. 

I also gave up on The Last Werewolf.  I am now listening to Time and Time Again by Ben Elton on audio which so far (1 disc in) has been great.  And I do love a bit o’ time travelling!   Only problem with this is that I keep thinking it is called Time After Time and I have had that Cyndi Lauper song in my head for DAYS!!!!

I have also joined two Good Reads challenges in an attempt to reduce my huge pile of books to be read shelves.  I am not going to tell you how many books are on these shelves because I don’t want any one judging my book hoarding tendencies.  Just think of a number.  And double it.  And my TBR is still probably bigger.  Hmm….maybe I should give a prize to anyone who guesses the number.  Anyone want a copy of The Reckoning?

Anyhoo, I am doing the Seasonal Reading Challenge and The Mount so if anyone wants to join in, please say hello to me over there!

Books Collage3

Watching

Along with time travelling I am also very fond of a conspiracy theory and I happened to catch the last half  of Room 237 on the telly the other night.  It blew my mind!  How I have missed this up to now I do not know   A film about all the hidden meanings in a film I love?  This is so in my wheelhouse.  I loved it!!!  I’m watching it again this weekend. From the start.  Possibly several times.

"Proof" The Moon Landing Was Faked By Stanley Kubrick

Danny’s jumper is one of the many clues hidden in The Shining that point to Stanley Kubrick having staged the moon landings.  For the rest and many more theories about the movie, watch Room 237.  It’s awesome!

For something else that is nutty in all the right ways, try this Fruit and Nut Gingerbread Loaf

Fruit and Nut Gingerbread Loaf

Fruit and Nut Gingerbread Loaf

This recipe was adapted from this recipe: http://www.deliciousmagazine.co.uk/recipes/sticky-apple-and-gingerbread-pecan-loaf-cake/

Ingredients

  • 150g salted butter plus extra to grease
  • 150g brown sugar
  • 150g golden syrup
  • 200ml milk
  • 250g plain flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 75g pecans roughly chopped (plus more whole to garnish)
  • 50g crystalised ginger, roughly chopped (plus more to garnish)
  • 2 green apples, peeled, cored, cut into a 1 cm dice
  • 50g sultanas
  • 50g dried apricots, chopped
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 250g icing sugar

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 180C. Grease and line a 1.5L loaf pan with baking paper.
  • Place the butter, golden syrup and brown sugar into a small saucepan and stir until the sugar has melted and the mixture is smooth and has thickened slightly.
  • Stir in the milk.
  • Set aside to cool.
  • Sift the flour, cinnamon, ground ginger and baking powder into a bowl.
  • Make a well into the centre and pour in the cooled milk mixture.
  • Stir with a wooden spoon until well combined, then fold in the apples, ginger, pecans, sultanas and apricots.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
  • Cool for 5 minutes in the pan then turn out onto a wire rack.
  • Mix the lemon juice and icing sugar. The mixture should be a thick liquid.
  • Once the cake is completely cooled, pour the lemon icing over the top.
  • Top with reserved pecans and ginger.
  • Enjoy!
http://www.retrofoodformoderntimes.com/2015/12/09/dishiest-dish-fruit-nut-gingerbread-loaf/

Normally,  right about here, I ask you to share what you have been cooking.  This week, I want to know your answers to the questions posed on the front of Time After Time Time and Time Again:

“If you had one chance to change history

Where would you go?

What would you do?

Who would you kill?

I can’t wait to hear what you come back with!

Have a great week!

 

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Rosemary and Blood Orange Cake

What Katie Ate by Katie Quinn Davies is the featured book on the Cookbook Guru this  month.  I made Katie’s Rosemary and Blood Orange Cake.  It turned out pretty well, despite some massive hesitations on my part. 

Blood Orange and Rosemary Cake2If you are not familiar with Katie Quinn Davies, Ladyredspecs of Please Pass The Recipe wrote a great post on her background and work here

One of the issues she mentions with the recipe she tried, a carrot cake that was definitely on my list to make,  is a certain vagueness Katie has around specific quantities of some ingredients.  This made me chuckle because only a few days before I’d had a very intense (and hilarious) discussion on just that point and it involved rosemary, one of the key ingredients in this cake.

Rosemary and Blood Orange Cake1I mentioned I was thinking of making this cake to the work girls.  One of them visibly paled.  “Go easy on the rosemary” she said. She then told us this awful story of how she had made a rosemary panna cotta for a dinner party and it turned out terribly.

“People were gagging, ” she told us.  “The rosemary was soooo strong”.

We asked how much she put in.  “Four sprigs” she said.  There was then one of those talks which only happens when you really don’t want to go back to work.  How big is a sprig? She thought it was the size of the stick you get in the pack from the supermarket.  I think it is something about the size of your little finger.  One of the girls thought it was about the size of the tip of your little finger.  The internet was not really helpful. So we never really got an answer.  She used four sprigs of rosemary in her gag inducing dish. 

Rosemary and Blood Orange Cake3I got home and checked Katie’s recipe.  It called for three sprigs.

So what to do?  It was less than the panna cotta’s four sprigs and my idea of a sprig was smaller than my friend’s.  But all of a sudden three sprigs seemed like a lot.  Rosemary is a strong flavour.  I really didn’t want people gagging over my cake. 

Aarrggghhhhhh!!!!!

In the end I gave in to fear and used two sprigs.  And, as one of my friends commented “You can’t even taste the rosemary”.  You could taste it could but it was faint.  I should have trusted Katie, I think three sprigs would have been about right. And a more exact measure of rosemary would have been ideal!

The Rosemary and Blood Orange cake looked lovely.  However, my version was quite bland.  This was more than likely my fault for being a coward with the rosemary; it certainly would have been a bit more interesting if that flavour had been stronger.  

Rosemary and Blood Orange Cake2

It was a shame because the orange flavour was pleasant and the structure of the cake was great – the crumb was good, it was moist on the inside and golden on the outside.  It just needed a little something…possibly another sprig of rosemary for it to level up from being a decent, if ordinary cake to something spectacular. 

The cake keeps really well but the rosemary kind of works against it – after a few days it is hard to tell if those little green flecks are rosemary or teeny specks of mould. 

Rosemary and Blood Orange Cake4I would like to say I would try this cake again but currently my spreadsheet of cakes to make contains 500+ recipes.  So, let’s say I bake a cake every week, which I don’t and this goes to the back of the queue, that would mean baking it again in about ten years.

Actually, that seems about right.  Let’s catch up in 2025 for an update on this!

Katie’s recipe, and her stunning photo of this cake can be found here.

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