1

Black forest gateau

Black forest gateau inside

I’ll be the first to acknowledge that I’ve been a bit slack recently when it comes to blogging, but be assured that the baking certainly hasn’t suffered because I’ve been busy. Just the writing about it. So what better way to return to the blog than with a gateau…gateaux…gattoe…a black forest gateau to be precise. Is there any other kind?

Dictionary definitions of a gateau include a cake or pastry, especially a light one filled with custard, fruit, or nuts…an elaborate cake, usually layered with cream and richly decorated…a very rich, fancy cake, especially one with cream in it. I like to describe a gateau as a cake I want to put my face in.

With this recipe you’ll want to do just that. It has multiple layers of sponge, but not just any old sponge. This is the lightest sponge I have ever made. So light that it was actually quite difficult to cut in half because it was so delicate. Each layer of sponge is filled with double cream and cherries, then topped with chocolate and more cherries. It’s more time consuming than technical, but a pretty good way to spend your time I say.

Black forest gateau Mum bday 2013 (1)

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 75g butter plus extra for greasing
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 50g plain flour
  • 50g unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 5 eggs

For the filling and topping:

  • 75-90ml Kirsch (cherry liqueur) – I didn’t have any so I used raspberry liqueur instead (Chambord), but the gateau would work without it
  • 600ml double cream
  • 425g can black cherries, drained, pitted and chopped – fresh or frozen ones would work too

For the decoration:

  • 225g plain chocolate (70% cocoa)
  • cherries

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/350 degrees F/Gas 4. Grease and line two 20cm cake tins with baking paper.
  • Melt the butter over a low heat and leave to cool.
  • Beat the eggs and sugar with an electric whisk for about ten minutes, or until the mixture is thick and pale and leaves a trail when the beaters are lifted.
  • Sift together the flour and cocoa powder, then sift again into the whisked mixture. This helps make it really light. Fold in gently using a metal spoon.
  • Add the cooled, melted butter and fold in gently.
  • Divide the batter between the tins and make sure it’s level. Bake for 30 minutes until the sponges are springy to touch. Leave in the tin for 5 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool. Peel off the baking paper.
  • Cut each cake in half horizontally. This was the tricky bit! Then sprinkle each layer evenly with liqueur.
  • Whip the double cream until it holds soft peaks. Transfer two thirds of the cream to another bowl and stir in the chopped cherries.
  • Now you can start assembling the gateau. Place a layer of cake on a serving plate, spread one third of the filling on top, add another sponge and continue layering finishing with cake on the top. Use the remaining whipped cream to cover the top and sides of the cake. Decorate with chocolate curls and cherries.

How to make the chocolate curls…

  • Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water.
  • Spread the melted chocolate onto a baking sheet and put it in the fridge until it sets.
  • Using a sharp knife, scrape along the surface of the set chocolate to make thin curled shavings

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Claire

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2

The Beast

My brothers girlfriend Lorna likes chocolate. No scrap that, she LOVES chocolate. Its obsessional. Bordering on psychotic addiction. Admit it people, we can all relate. So with her birthday looming on the horizon I knew the time had come to create the most over the top, chocolatey disgustingness of a cake. This, I knew, would be fun. So after much beard scratching and even diagrams, I came up with this:

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It’s actually not as outrageous as I thought it would be. But still nuts none the less. Inside its a layer of white chocolate sponge sandwiched between two layers of red velvet. All smothered with cream cheese frosting. Edge lined with chocolate fingers. Top sprinkled with white and milk chocolate Buttons, Maltersers, mini Twirls and some kind of chocolate eggs things. Then I (artfully) shoved in a Toblerone, Fudge, Twix and Curly Wurly. All finished off with a shed load of pink, gold and purple glitter. Oh yes, and then the obligatory candles (not edible, sadly). Feel sick just reading this? You should.

This cake wasn’t particularly hard to do but it was time consuming. But I like that. If I dedicate myself to a day of baking, I’m happy. Dedication. It’s what you need.

The reaction to this cake? It went something like this:

Gasping/‘OMG’ing/Squealing/Hand clapping/Hop, skip, jumping/HUGE grin that didn’t waver for about four hours.

May I just say, this is not a child. Lorna is 30 years old people. THIRTY.

Best reaction I’ve ever had to a bake and totally made it all worthwhile.

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There isn’t much to say on how I made it really. I took the recipes from here:

http://www.nigella.com/recipes/view/red-velvet-cupcakes
http://www.nigella.com/recipes/view/white-chocolate-mud-cake-3436

The red velvet recipe is for cupcakes but also fits into two 20cm cake tins. The white choccy cake is for one deep 20cm cake tin but I split it into two shallow tins. I only used one in the end. It would have been just too tall.

I stacked the layers with buttercream in between and then covered firstly with a crumb coating, and then a thick layer of icing. It didn’t need to look even slightly perfect as it was going to be completely covered with chocolate.

Next thing was simply to go to town with the decorating. Firstly I covered the sides with the fingers. Which annoyingly were too short! So I stuck on the giant chocolate buttons. Then i arranged all the small chocolate pieces. Then simply shoved in the longer chocolate bars. Lastly I sprinkled on the icing. Oh yes and I dipped the ends of the bars in buttercream and then glitter, just for extra glitz.

And thus the Beast was created. And t’was a Beast that the people thought she’d be eating for the rest of time… even when dry… even when mouldy… even when crawling away on the tendrils of its remaining chocolate fingers. Yet lo, Lorna was good and true and she did turn all her efforts to defeating the Beast, and the Beast did fall. And the people did gather to rejoice… and make merry, yet Lorna could not, for she was in a diabetic coma.

The end.

Sasa

2

Malteser cupcakes

Malteser cupcakes

Cake with Maltesers! An exciting combination. I made these for a friend who loves Maltesers. And who doesn’t? Plus I kept a few back for me. For quality control purposes. Light malty sponge with Malteser flavoured butter icing, topped with whole and crushed Maltesers. Oh yeah. Here’s how to make them, along with a warning below for your consideration…

Ingredients for 12 cupcakes:

For the cake:

  • 110g butter
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 110g self-raising flour
  • 2 heaped tbsp Ovaltine (I couldn’t find any in my local shop so used Horlicks. It worked. Although I would like to try Ovaltine next time.)

For the butter icing:

  • 250g icing sugar
  • 125g butter
  • 75g Maltesers (for decoration and snacking)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

  • For the cake: Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 4/160C and place the cupcake cases into a cupcake tray or directly onto a baking tray.
  • Beat the butter and sugar together in a bowl until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, flour and Ovaltine and beat until smooth.
  • Spoon the cake mix into the paper cases and bake for 15 – 20  minutes or until a skewer comes out clean and the centres spring back when pressed lightly. (When baking cakes never open the door until the time stated in the recipe has been reached. Otherwise the cakes won’t rise properly and are likely to sink in the middle. Once the time has been reached you can check if they’re ready and pop them back in if not.)
  • Once cooked, leave to cool slightly in the tray then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • For the butter icing: Using a food processor or bashing with a rolling pin (while in a bag), crush the Maltesers into a fine dust and keep in a separate bowl for now. (See the warning below for the significance of this step coming first if using a food processor.)
  • Beat the butter and icing sugar together (adding the icing sugar a bit at a time) until the mixture is pale, light and fluffy.
  • Then add the vanilla extract and the Malteser dust and beat a bit more.
  • Decorate the cakes with the butter icing. I spread mine over these ones. After I had a piping fail.
  • Warning: Two pieces of advice – 1) If you decide to pipe the butter icing onto the cakes, the Malteser pieces must be small enough to pass through the piping nozzle. 2) If using a food processor to make the butter icing the Malteser pieces must be crushed before they are added to the butter and icing sugar mixture. Sounds obvious, right? No my friend. Beware. Maltesers are crafty and tempting. I had already beat in the Malteser dust and was ready to start decorating, but was overcome with greed and Malteser frenzy, and added more and more whole ones. I was using a food processor and the whole ones didn’t get crushed enough in amongst the butter icing, which was not detected until it was too late and there was already a jam in the piping bag. A jam in the piping bag is very bothersome so take heed of this warning!
  • Break up some more Maltesers using a knife, crumble the pieces over the cakes and top with a whole one. Ta-dah!

I found this recipe online here. Thank you Sunday Girl.

Claire

0

Cherry chocolate cupcakes

Yes a cupcake. They’re everywhere. I know. Taking over the world crumb by crumb. But there you go. That’s what is happening and who I am to stand in their way.

Choc cherry cupcakes

These ones are fluffy chocolate sponge covered with light vanilla buttercream and topped off with a cherry. I used golden icing sugar in this recipe, which gave the buttercream a slight caramel-like taste and an off-white colour (although the more I beat it the lighter it became), but if you don’t fancy that then ordinary icing sugar would be fine. Here’s how to bake them…

Ingredients:

Cake:

  • 100g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 75g self-raising flour
  • 25g cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs

Buttercream:

  • 80g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 250g golden icing sugar
  • 25ml semi-skimmed milk
  • A couple of drops of vanilla extract
  • Fresh cherries

How to bake them:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C/400 degrees F/gas mark 6 and place 12 large cupcake cases into a 12 hole cake tin
  • To make the cakes, cream together the butter and sugar
  • Beat in the eggs a bit at a time
  • Add the flour, cocoa and baking powder and fold it all in – the mixture should be well-blended and smooth
  • Spoon the mixture into the cases
  • Bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes until the cakes are well risen and spring back when pressed lightly
  • Once they’ve cooled slightly, take them out of the tin and let them cool completely on a wire rack
  • To make the buttercream, beat the butter, icing sugar and vanilla extract together adding the milk a bit at a time if the mixture is too dry
  • Beat until the mixture is light and fluffy
  • Once the cakes are completely cool decorate with the buttercream, whichever way you choose. I used a 9mm round nozzle for these ones
  • Top with a fresh cherry – I trimmed the tops of the stalks to make them all the same size

Next time, for extra cherry goodness, I might try chopping up some fresh cherries and adding them to the cake mixture before baking.

Claire

4

Chocolate hazelnut cake

I baked this because I really wanted to eat a chocolate cake. A pretty sound reason if you ask me. Light chocolate sponge topped off with layers of chocolate ganache with lots of hazelnuts throughout and sweet sticky hazelnuts on top. Mmmmmm. I shared it with people at work, so that I didn’t eat the whole thing. Because I could have. It went down pretty well if I do say so myself. It involved a slightly different to normal method of making a sponge, whisking egg whites until stiff (which always makes me sigh a little bit when I see that in a recipe), melting chocolate (but that’s always fun) and making ganache, but it is definitely worth it and this is what you’ll get…

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Here’s what you’ll need and how to do it (including a few little tips)…

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 70g whole hazelnuts
  • 175g dark chocolate (at least 70%), chopped
  • 175g butter, diced
  • 4 large eggs, yolks and whites separated
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 40g plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder

For the ganache:

  • 150ml cream
  • 225g dark chocolate (at least 70%), chopped
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Recipe said 1 tbsp cognac, but I didn’t have any so used brandy instead

For the topping:

  • 50g sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 100g roasted whole hazelnuts (I used pre-chopped ones)

How to bake it:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C/400 degrees F/Gas 6 and lightly grease the cake tin. The recipe said to use a 10″ cake tin, but I used an 8″ one (square shaped and loose bottomed… what a rebel).
  • Lightly toast the 70g of whole hazelnuts in a frying pan (no oil needed) until you can smell them and set aside to cool. Grind them down until finely ground (I didn’t have a snazzy food processor so used ones of those things called a knife, and chopped them).
  • To make the cake, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Remove the chocolate from the heat and stir in the butter.
  • Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla together until the mixture is very creamy. I used a hand-held electric whisk.
  • In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until they are stiff (egg whites are the divas of the baking world and will need to be mixed in a glass or stainless steel bowl not a plastic one. Never a plastic one for egg whites). Again, the electric whisk was handy here.
  • Mix together the flour, salt, hazelnuts you have just roasted and the baking powder.
  • Fold the melted chocolate into the egg yolk mixture, then add the flour mixture and beaten egg whites, and carefully fold them in.
  • Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 30 to 40 minutes (until a skewer comes out clean). Remove the cake from the oven and leave it to cool in the tin.
  • For the ganache, put the cream into a saucepan and bring it to the boil. Boil it for one minute then remove it from the heat.
  • Add the chopped chocolate and stir until it has melted. Stir in the butter and cognac/brandy and leave it to cool and thicken. Whisk the ganache lightly.
  • Once the cake is cool take it out of the tin and spread the ganache all over the top and the sides. (I improvised with my own cake decorating turntable – although it didn’t turn – and kept the cake on the bottom of the cake tin, having removed the sides of the tin, and balanced it on a largeish plastic container so that it was raised, which made it easier to spread the ganache around it. You’ll need to taste the ganache throughout this process, just to make sure it’s okay of course.)
  • For the topping, put the sugar in a pan and melt it over a low heat, without stirring. Add the butter and stir until it is a light brown colour. Add the hazelnuts, stir briefly and scatter all over the top of the cake. Leave to cool completely.
  • EAT IT! With cream or ice-cream for extra yumminess.

(recipe courtesy of Cake Decorating, issue number 25)

Claire

 

1

Strawberries and cream whoopie pies

Strawberry and cream whoopie pie

Whoopie for the whoopie pie! Had never made these before so thought I would give it a go for Father’s Day. They were quite easy to make (you may have gathered by now that I like to keep the baking simple). The trickiest bit was making sure that the pies were all the same size, or at least that there were pairs of pies that were the same size so that they could be sandwiched together. I would also add more whipped cream next time. Anywho, here’s how to bake these little yums…

Ingredients

  • 175g (6oz) unsalted butter, softened
  • 150g (5.5oz) soft light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 225g (8oz) self-raising flour
  • 75g (2.5oz) cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 150ml (8 fl oz) milk (I used semi-skimmed)
  • 2 tbsp Greek yoghurt or thick plain yoghurt
  • 150ml (5 fl oz) double cream, whipped
  • 250g (9oz) strawberries, thinly sliced

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F/Gas 4). Line several baking sheets with baking paper.
  • Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy (electric whisk time again). Beat in the egg and vanilla extract.
  • In a separate bowl sift together the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder. Mix the dry ingredients and the milk into the batter alternately, a spoonful at a time. Fold in the yoghurt.
  • Put heaped tablespoons of the batter onto the baking sheets, trying to put the same amount down each time so that they are the same size. Remember to leave a space between each one because they do spread. Have a small glass of warm water handy and then using the back of a teaspoon smooth over the surface of each pie.
  • Bake for 12 minutes until well risen. They should be springy to touch and a skewer will come out clean. Leave a few minutes then put them on a wire rack to cool.
  • Once cool, grab two pies and spread some whipped cream onto each half. Layer the thinly sliced strawberries onto one half and then sandwich together.
  • These don’t really store because of the fresh cream, so best eaten straight away. What a shame.

Claire x