Gong Xi Fatt Cake

Among other things, Chinese New Year means that people come over and there needs to be food around. Lots of food. 

*takes a bow*

At some point, you or whoever else is ordering the the food will forget exactly how much food they ordered – this happens, it’s normal, and you shouldn’t panic. You definitely ordered enough food.

Despite this, you will still end up making an extra dessert. Extra dessert is always welcome. Especially when it’s the first year you have to give out angpau, and you need a little consolation in the form of cream cheese.

Cream cheese heals all wounds

Yes, that’s two pictures of the orange flower. I’m just a little bit proud of myself ūüôā (context: I’m the least artistic person on the planet)

I have omitted the process pictures, in which I dropped the baking tin on the cake. My baking tin is metal = heavy. This resulted in a really really big dent in the middle of the cake. Like I said, there is nothing that cream cheese icing can’t solve.

Vanilla Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Icing and Orange “Flower”

Vanilla Cake

Adapted from Hummingbird Cupcakes’ vanilla cupcake recipe, and quadrupled.¬†

I like this particular vanilla cake recipe a lot, because it’s one bowl with very few steps, and results in a really light and springy cake (and I don’t even like vanilla cake much, it’s boring!)

480g all purpose flour ‚Äď I have used gluten free with this recipe before
400g caster sugar
160g butter, softened
480ml milk
4 eggs
3 teasp vanilla essence
6 teasp baking powder
1 teasp of salt

Oven temperature: 170 degrees C
Yield: a two layer square monster, 9″

  1. In a food processor, pulse flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and butter until the mixture looks sandy. Or, you can use the rub-in method.
  2. Pour in half the milk, and beat until just combined.
  3. Drop in the milk, egg, and vanilla essence. Mix until just smooth, try not to overmix or it’ll be chewy.
  4. Split into two square tins. Fill only 1/2 to 1/3 full, this cake rises a lot!
  5. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until light golden brown, and sponge bounces back when touched. I’d start checking at 35 minutes for done-ness.

Cream Cheese Orange Icing

Adapted from BraveTart’s SMB though it isn’t really SMB anymore given that I used whole eggs. The yolk / white wastage makes me sad, so I only do SMB or Faux French if I have leftover egg parts.

I know it’s a pain, but weigh everything really well okay? Even the egg. I ended up creating an excel sheet to calculate weights based on the weight of the egg parts…super nerd with bad mental maths. Let me know if you want it.

300g whole eggs – this was 3 eggs for me
300g castor sugar
490g butter, softened + cubed
490g cream cheese, softened + cubed
1/2 teasp salt
Zest of 4 oranges – the ones used below for decor

  1. Beat eggs into sugar and salt, until the egg whips up.
  2. Heat over a water bath until it steams, approx 150 degrees C. I just look for steam, I don’t have a thermometer. Whisk continuously!
  3. Once it steams quite regularly, remove and beat until the mixture doubles in volume. Another test for this is to put some between your fingers, and see whether you can feel sugar crystals.
  4. Keep beating until it gets cool, otherwise stick it in the fridge for some time until it gets back to room temperature.
  5.  Once it hits room temperature, dump in the butter and whisk until smooth.
  6. Now you can add your flavourings – namely cream cheese and orange zest. Beat all of them in until smooth, but don’t over mix or the cream cheese will go runny.

Note: my icing didn’t hold well up in the heat after a while, so I might try adding some white chocolate next time to attempt to stabilise it a bit. Suggestions welcome.

Build the beast

About 4 mandarin oranges, peeled and segmented. Be careful not to break the sacs!

  1. Peel and set aside mandarin oranges, after breaking into segments. Leave them on a sheet of kitchen paper, so that all the juices get soaked up and the segments don’t drip all over your icing.
  2. Slather icing between, and on top of all sides of the two stacked cakes. Cool in the fridge in between coats if like me, your icing is a bit drippy.
  3. Arrange the oranges in a pretty flower pattern, and place this (piece by piece, unfortunately) on top of the cake.

The Prince of Battenberg

The Prince of Battenberg was a rather illustrious man. A lover, a singer, a fighter. He protected the Earth from dragons and giant spiders and aliens from outer space. Yes, he did, why do you think we can’t find any of these things nowadays?

How did he do it, you might ask?

Overdid it a little with the food colouring

Apart from his mighty constitution, he subsisted solely on Battenberg cake. And he had a shield with a battenberg design on it. When he was ready for battle, he would close his eyes and crouch behind his shield. The sign of the battenberg would then shoot out of his shield like a laser (think Captain Planet with only 2 colours), and it became a giant multicoloured light sabre. He was then able to yield it like a mega-sword.

As Battenberg cake was the source of his special powers, I thought it was prudent to learn to make one.

They don't need to be super even. Ready to roll This is how we crimp itIf you want the real story of the Prince of Battenberg, you can find it on Wikipedia here. I think mine is more interesting. Though even without his super batten-sabre, Prince Louis was apparently a pretty successful fellow.

Seriously, don’t let other websites fool you into thinking this cake is rocket science. If you can roll out pastry (like make cookie-cutter biscuits and apple pie) then you can totally do this. It’s a cut and paste job, and the marzipan is pretty easy to roll out with a rolling pin.

Psychedelic yet sophisticated

Battenberg Cake

Almond Cake

I used the almond sponge recipe off BBC (tweaked to suit what I had in the kitchen), though any almond sponge will do.
Note that the cake gets better after a few days as the flavours meld. I don’t like almond cake, but I have it on good authority.

140g self raising flour – or normal flour with an extra 2 teasp of baking powder
150g brown sugar
175g butter, softened
3 eggs
1/2 teasp vanilla extract
1/2 teasp almond extract

Red food colouring
Yellow food colouring
Baking paper

Oven temperature: 180 degrees C for around half an hour.
Yield: 1 20cm square cake tin, split into two for the 2 colours.

  1. Dump all the ingredients in a food processer and mix until smooth. Wasn’t that easy?
  2. Divide into 2 bowls. Colour one bowl pink and the other yellow. As you can see, I added a bit too much food colouring. This affects cooking time, if you add very little then check whether it’s done at about 25 minutes.
  3. Grease your baking tin. Cut 2 sheets of baking paper to the size of the tin. Fold them in such a way that you get 2 “pockets” for your batter in the cake tin. Make sure you score the corners with the back of a spoon, else your cake won’t have sharp edges and you’ll end up wasting *even more* cake. Fit these 2 pockets into the cake tin (see the picture above if you think I sound crazy).
  4. Pour each colour of cake mix into one of the pockets. Don’t worry, they won’t mix – the batter is pretty thick.
  5. Bake, and leave to cook thoroughly.

I like to build it build it

A pink bar cake – you just made these cakes, you clever fellow
A yellow bar cake
About 500g of marzipan
A few tablespoons of smooth apricot jam
Icing sugar

  1. Stack your bar cakes one on top of the other. Using a sharp knife, cut off the edges so they stack together nicely. Then, cut them in half and switch the top and bottom layers on one side so you get a chequerboard pattern of pink and yellow (see pics above if you’re confused).
  2. Heat up some jam in the microwave so it goes a bit runny. Use the runny jam to stick your 4 strips of cake together. You can be pretty generous with the jam.
  3. Powder a surface with a little icing sugar (I did this on a chopping board to minimise mess). Roll out your marzipan, to a size large enough such that you can wrap the 4 strips of cake in it. You don’t want the marzipan to thin or it won’t be able to hold the cake together.
  4. Paint runny jam all over the marzipan.
  5. Roll the cake into the marzipan, trying to keep the marzipan as tight as possible. Once the edges meet, trim the marzipan with a knife so it sits flush with the corner of the cake.
  6. Pinch all the way along the bottom two corners of the cake with your fingers, no one will see this because it’s at the bottom of the cake. Try not to be too violent though.
  7. Roll the cake back right-side up again. Slice off the two ends of the cake so it becomes a nice even cuboid, covered with marzipan on all sides except the ends.
  8. Decorate as you will, sir.

If you leave it to sit, the marzipan hardens and tightens up

Cake Addiction Centre: Patient “Gingerbread”

Welcome to the Cake Addiction Centre (CAC). My name is Lea and my weakness is gingerbread.

As you roam these halls you will see many victims of Cake Addiction. CAC takes care of them all – chocolate fudge, orange, berry, banana choc chip, double chocolate, peanut butter, red velvet, coconut cream, apple, custard, dark chocolate, coffee, pineapple upside down, even carrot cake addicts.

Chocolate cake takes a good many of our people. Good people. Our biggest threats are dark chocolate ganache, and cream cheese icing.

Gingerbread? No, gingerbread isn’t one of our most common addictions here at CAC. I may well be the only gingerbread inmate here at the moment. They usually allow us to conduct the guided tours because we are the most peaceful addicts. Some of them like to fight, especially those addicted to peanut butter or pineapple upside down cake.

What am I doing here, you might ask?

I ate a quarter of a sheet cake in one afternoon. Another sixth after dinner. And another quarter at breakfast the next day. After less than 24 hours, this is what was left of the cake. Suffice to say this cake did not see a second sunrise.

Oops..

I don’t have a picture of the whole cake. I could not control myself. I feel so ashamed.

Gingerbread

Adapted from the Be-Ro Flour Cookbook, 37th edition.¬†Spicy spicy gingerbread and gingerbread people are some of my favourite things about Christmas (apart from mince pies, and crab. Yes, crab). You know how I feel about chilli. Don’t say you haven’t been warned about the possible level of spiciness. I might try adding fresh ginger, if so I’ll update the recipe.

300g flour
6 teasp ginger powder
3 teasp mixed spice powder
1 teasp cinnamon
1 1/2 teasp bicarb of soda
75g brown sugar
150g margarine – softened
225g black treacle
75g golden syrup
190ml milk
3 eggs
75g raisins / sultanas / currents

Oven temperature: 150 degrees C, for 1 1/4 hours. This is 1.5x the original recipe because I like my gingerbread thick and moist, so you might even need a little longer in the oven.

  1. Sift flour, ginger, spice, cinnamon, bicarb of soda, and sugar together. Throw the raisins in here too.
  2. Whisk together the margarine, treacle, and golden syrup.
  3. Add the milk and whisk again.
  4. Beat the eggs into the liquids.
  5. Mix the liquids into the flour.
  6. Pour it into a square cake tin, and bake for around 1 1/4 hours.

Possible pairings: orange honey cream cheese icing (if you insist on icing – I’ll post this recipe in a bit). Totally not necessary, I’m a purist and would be very unlikely to ice my gingerbread.

To try next time:

  • Add a couple of tablespoons of fresh grated ginger
  • Perhaps a teaspoon of black pepper?

Oddities involving Orange, Cheese, and Raisins

So some people have already told me that this sounds like quite a strange cake. They even went as far as to say something to the effect of: “so if your cake sounds weird, can I always assume in future that the weird bits are things that you added?”

Why yes, you can in fact assume that it was me who created the odd flavour combination. This was originally a plain orange cake, with a chocolate sauce. The recipe’s original creator intended to be one of those wedding cake types that stacks 3 tiers high with white chocolate¬†cigarillos¬†stuck to the outside of it. I just threw whatever was in my fridge into it. Totally not expecting it to taste so good. This is the first cake I’ve ever made that was eaten in its¬†entirety¬†almost immediately. It has a nice crunchy crust and does absolutely not need any icing, being very satisfying all on its own. My favourite kind of cake.

I feel calm just looking at this

Be warned that it’s not mega-sweet, probably because of the orange rind in it. So you feel fresh and happy after eating, rather than sick from overindulgence. This means you can eat more. Again, I like it that way, so there.

It’s the sort of cake you eat in the afternoon, when it’s cold and raining outside, with a mug of steaming tea. You can look out the window in a state of contemplation while watching raindrops falling if you choose, but I think that’s boring and would rather read a book. If you like you can toast a slice and have it with a little butter, but you really don’t need to do that (in fact, I never do that with cake. I feel like it’s a waste of cake. But you could, if you wanted to). I realise that you can eat most cakes in the afternoon with a cup of tea, but you will feel the calmest after eating this one. It’s a soothing, peaceful, unpretentious kind of cake.

Moist crumb and a crunchy crust. What more could you want in cake and life?

It’s also a one bowl recipe, which I made pretty much entirely in a food processor / blender-type creature. Which meant that it took a grand total of about 15 minutes prep time (hence lack of process photos). Serious bonus points awarded.

Whole Orange Cake with Raisins and a Cheese Crust

Yeah so I’m not exactly sure where the original recipe was from, because I only have a photo of the single page in the cookbook showing the original recipe. It’s not my cookbook, and I have no idea who the author is. But….from what I understand, if you change more than 3 major ingredients, the recipe is basically yours. I changed 4 major ingredients and a bunch of proportions, and the method – I suppose that makes it my recipe?

115g butter – softened
115g light brown sugar
2 medium eggs
165g flour
1.5 teasp baking powder
1/2 cup of raisins
1/4 cup of hard cheese like cheddar or parmesan Рgrated using the small holes on the grater. You can use a bit less if you like, but I enjoy the burnt cheese crust
1 orange
2 cups water
2-3 tablesp milk (if needed)
A pinch of salt

Oven temperature: 170 degrees C

  1. Zest the orange. Take the naked orange and it it in the blender with about 2 cups of water. Whiz it a food processor until it is thick and pulpy, then strain the big bits out with a pasta colander (big holes!). Keep 1 cup of liquid aside for the cake. You can drink the other cup if you want, but I wouldn’t, it’s rather bitter.
  2. Chuck the butter in the food processor and whip it a little until it’s a bit creamy.
  3. Dump in the sugar, keep whipping until the mixture goes pale.
  4. Throw in the eggs and about a tablespoon of the flour to prevent curdling. Keep on mixing. Yes, still in the food processor.
  5. Pour everything into a bowl, and fold in the flour, baking powder, salt, raisins, zest, and the cup of “juice” you kept aside earlier into the batter.
  6. Check: is the batter loose enough that it plops off the side of a spoon easily when you pick it up and turn it upside down? If not, add some milk. Keep adding until you get to a slightly looser consistency. You need the batter to plop off the spoon easily back into the bowl. I added about 3 tablespoons of milk.
  7. Put everything into a baking tin, smooth out the batter and sprinkle the cheese on top. I baked for about 45 minutes, but used a shallow baking tin. If you use a loaf tin it might take a little longer because the cake would be thicker. I actually think it’d be even nicer in a loaf tin, because you get a better crust:slice ratio ūüôā

Fancy Cakes for Feeling Fancy

This is probably the fanciest cake I’ve made, and also the first sponge. So to say I was slightly worried about making sponge is a bit of an understatement.

What this means is that I have taken 50 or so photos. How this helps, I’m not entirely sure. Perhaps, if I take a photo of it, the cake will pose and not sink? And there will be no cake fail?

One of the best tasting batters I've had the pleasure of eating

The scariest part was when I whipped the egg whites and they got hard like meringue.

Yea not there yet I ate a bit too much batter, was sick the next day No I did NOT sit outside the oven door. I did NOT make extra cupcakes specifically for tasting purposes.

Close second was when I took the cake out of the oven and poked at it too much and a bit broke off. I guess that was entirely my fault. I used that piece as the bottom layer and covered it with ganache. If you leave your cake to cool long enough it doesn’t break.

Pre-melty ganache And this is smooth

Third was when I put the ganache in the freezer, and it somehow fell over by itself in there, and dripped down the inside of the freezer door. I later found out you aren’t supposed to put cooling ganache in the freezer anyway.

Finished ganache Chunky raspberry..did this at night cos I ran out timeI like raspberries Yes I licked my fingers

One good point: my dog didn’t steal any cake. My dog appears to like orange cake, I made an orange cake on another day and he whipped it off the table and ate it. Sigh, I think I need to be a bit more careful. Or get a higher table.

Look at those bubblessss

Orange Sponge Cake with White Chocolate Ganache and Raspberry Filling

This makes an 8 inch double layer cake, in case you were wondering. The recipe is originally for a tube pan.

Cake

Taken from Taste of Home, I was too scared to change anything. I find it hard when there are a few bowls of ingredients running at the same time, so here’s the recipe in the way I write them down for myself – by bowl ūüôā

Bowl 1
6 egg whites
3/4 teasp cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar

Bowl 2
6 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
orange zest from all the oranges used to make the juice – in this case, I used the zest of 2 oranges

Bowl 3
1 and 1/3 cups cake flour – I used normal flour, and for every cup replace 2 tablesp flour with 2 tablesp corn flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teasp salt

Oven temperature: 160 degrees C

Note that you can do some things concurrently – like for example, while the egg whites are warming to room temperature you can beat the yolks and sift the flour.

  1. Bowl 1:
    1. Drop in the egg whites and let them warm to room temperature.
    2. Add cream of tartar to egg whites, and beat them on medium until you get soft peaks.
    3. Beat in the sugar, one tablesp at a time. Keep going until it gets stiff, in my case I kept going until it looked a bit like meringue.
  2. Bowl 2:
    1. Beat egg yolks on high until they go pale and thick. The recipe says ‘lemon coloured’, but my eggs were the orangey type.
    2. Mix in the sugar.
    3. Mix in the orange juice and zest, beat well, for about 3 minutes.
  3. Bowl 3:
    1. Sift everything in Bowl 3 together, preferably twice.
  4. Add Bowl 3 to Bowl 2 (flour to egg yolks). Do it gradually, and mix well.
  5. Fold Bowl 1 (egg whites) into the rest of the batter, gently.
  6. Pour the batter into ungreased (!!) pans gently. Take the spatula and cut through it to get rid of big bubbles. I was scared and did this very gently.
  7. Bake for 45-55 minutes. Mine took only 45. Keep going until the cake springs back lightly when touched.
  8. Flip the pans upside down and leave them alone for an hour. Else you’ll break one of them, like me.
  9. After an hour, run a knife around the outside of the pan and flip out the cakes. Cool before assembling.

Ganache

I looked at Joe’s Pastry and Savoury Sweet Life. The amount is enough to fill the cake how I did, but if you want to cover everything you’ll need a bit more. I’m never making any other chocolate icing again!

200g white chocolate
200g whipping cream

  1. Chop the white chocolate into little bits
  2. Pour in the cream
  3. Stick it in the microwave for about 30 seconds.
  4. Remove and try to whisk (by hand). Did it go smooth? If not, repeat steps 3 and 4 until it whisks smooth and lump-free.
  5. Put it in the fridge for a bit until the texture becomes more like custard or pudding.
  6. Take your mixer and whisk on high until it starts to look like buttercream icing. It took me about 5 minutes. When it looks like icing, stop. You don’t want to overmix, apparently it gets weird.

Raspberry Filling

3/4 cup of frozen raspberries, or more if you like. I didn’t add sugar because I wanted the tart taste.

  1. Defrost on the countertop, and drain the extra liquid.
  2. Stick your mixer in it and turn it on high for about 20 seconds. It doesn’t even have to be a clean mixer….you can do this after you whip up the ganache.

Build it!

2 layers of cake
White chocolate ganache
Raspberry filling
Raw almond slivers

  1. Toast the almonds over a low flame, and let them cool.
  2. Order as follows:
    1. Cake.
    2. Whack on a layer of ganache, leave a lip on the outside so the raspberry won’t spill out.
    3. Pour on all the raspberry filling.
    4. Sprinkle almond slivers.
    5. Cake no2.
    6. Another layer of ganache.
    7. More sprinkled almond slivers!
  3. Step back and pat yourself on the back. Take a picture while in shock. Hey it’s a sponge!

Note: I also added a quick syrup of 50ml orange juice and 3 tablesp brown sugar, which I zapped in the microwave for 45 seconds and brushed on to the sponge. I didn’t use all of it, and it probably wasn’t necessary. I might also bake it with a tub of water in the oven next time to prevent it drying out.

Cake Fails: Strawberry Rainbow Cake

Let’s talk about cake fails. I spoke to a real proper professional chef over the weekend, and she said that cakes fail if you don’t talk to them. In all seriousness.

I believed her. I usually worry a lot about my cakes, given my history of cake fails during the pre-Happy Bellea era. Nowadays, I generally plead with my cakes before I put them in the oven.

“Please cake, please rise. Please taste good. If you do, I promise I’ll eat you quickly, and you won’t be left at the back of the fridge for months. Please.”

*Slam*

I’m glad to hear that this tactic is condoned by a real proper chef. Now I don’t feel like such a crazy person.

   

But well, in this instance, I didn’t talk to my cake. I’m sure that was the problem. Not the fact that I played fast and loose with the recipe, doubled the cooking time because of the soggy strawberries, or that the cicak bandit living in my kitchen walked all over the top tier. And then I made all the same mistakes a second time, because I’m rather stubborn when I think I’m right. I rather not serve people cake that Mr Cicak has walked all over.

In any case, I shall now recap the lessons I (painfully) learnt. Don’t laugh at me too much.

  1. If you need to double the time the cake is in the oven because it won’t set, something is wrong.
  2. Don’t try to add a very high proportion of (wet) strawberries to a cake unless the recipe specifically says you can. You will get mush. Cakes that can take that level of fruit are special cakes.
  3. Always use a food cover when cooling cakes.
  4. Food colouring covers a multitude of sins. At night, food colouring becomes the Pivotal Distractinator, and no one will notice how dry the cake is. Except you, and you can just quietly go cry in a corner by yourself, thinking about how chewy and weird the texture is.
  5. Don’t do funny experiments on other people’s birthday cakes, do it on your own. That’s fair.

I really don’t like dry cake. Dry cake is a trick. The cake looks nice, smells nice, and you bite into it and…ugh. It’s one step above that special type of chicken sold in some fast food restaurants, that smells absolutely amazing but tastes like oily plastic.

   

So you may have gathered that this was a rainbow cake, except I decided to colour the icing instead of the cake batter (because who has the time to make 6 separate cakes, really). I would do it again. Perhaps not with this icing, it isn’t my thing. Everyone else liked it but I think I prefer straight up butter icing at the end of the day. Maybe I’m a bit boring. Oh well.

Rainbow Cake – (relatively) Lazy version

I’ve left the Victoria Sponge recipe in, as it was actually very nice on its own. Don’t add the strawberries like I did, and stick to the cooking time. It’s nice and light even with gluten free flour. I’ll probably use it again for something else, without soggy strawberries. Also it’s a one-bowl cake, yay!

Victoria Sponge 

Taken from BBC Good Food, edited just a bit. I made 1.5 times this recipe to get the 5 tiers (2 normal, and 1 skinny).

100g white sugar
100g brown sugar
200g butter – at room temperature
4 medium eggs
200g self-raising flour (or regular flour + 1 teasp baking powder OR 1/4 teasp baking soda) – I used gluten free
1 teasp baking powder (or 1/4 teasp baking soda)
2 tablesp milk

Oven temperature: 170 degrees C in a fan oven / 190 degrees C otherwise

  1. Cream the butter and sugars.
  2. Dump everything else in, and beat well.
  3. Grease 2 baking tins and put it in the oven for 20 minutes until golden brown and cake springs back when you poke it. Don’t poke your finger in it too early, you’ll burn your finger.

Lemonade whipped Buttercream

Taken from Joy the Baker, originally from Organic and Chic. Originally rose flavoured, but I thought lemon was nicer. I used 1.5 times the recipe and it was enough for everything.

1 cup butter – room temperature
1 cup white sugar
1 cup milk
1/4 cup flour
1 tablesp vanilla extract
3 tablespoons lemonade cordial

  1. In a small pan, whisk the flour, vanilla extract, and 1/4 cup of milk until it isn’t lumpy anymore. Turn the heat up to medium, and then add the remaining milk, whisking. Keep cooking until the mixture hits a low boil.
  2. Lower the heat and keep stirring. The mixture will thicken slightly, changing from a milk to a cream/custard consistency.
  3. Once this happens, immediately take the pan off the heat but keep stirring. Whisk really hard to get it smooth, or else strain it with a sieve. Let it cool to room temperature (I stuck it in the freezer for 5 minutes, pan and all).
  4. While the milk mixture is cooling, cream the butter until it’s soft with a mixer.
  5. Add the sugar to the butter, and beat til light and fluffy. High speed is useful.
  6. Pour the milk mixture into the sugar mixture, and beat it until the icing gets fluffy.
  7. Add the lemon, then keep beating until it is all mixed in.
  8. If you like colours, you can split it up and colour it now.

I think I’m going to take a break from all this cake-ing for a while.

Cheating Milo Dinosaur Cake

Cheating Milo Dinosaur cake is really any chocolate cake, with a vanilla icing. Then pile it high with milo powder on top of the icing.

Don’t pile it up too high before taking a slice though.

The milo powder goes soggy, and that’s just a waste of good milo powder.

That’s better.

Cheating Milo Dinosaur Cake

Chocolate cake recipe: I used the chocolate cake recipe here, unchanged. I’ve also done this with gluten free flour, and it works well.

Icing recipe: I used Fluffy 7 Minute Frosting, from Epicurious. I didn’t like this frosting at all, it looked pretty but tasted like plastic to me. I don’t even know how that happened, using fresh ingredients and all. You live and learn, I guess. I’m not going to bother reproducing the recipe here, because I didn’t like it.

Build the Beast:

Chocolate cake
Vanilla icing
Milo powder

  1. Make the chocolate cake (yes, sounds easy doesn’t it, I’m not belittling you, promise). I got an 8 inch round cake, pictured, and 2 decent sized loaves out of the recipe.
  2. Make the icing. I’m going to use vanilla buttercream next time. Rssssppppptle to you too, fancy frostings.
  3. You can stack the cake, but since you are only putting milo on the top of it, I wouldn’t bother. The chocolate cake is moist enough and doesn’t need a filling to save it. Spread a generous layer of icing on top of the cake. It’s like a cake-float!
  4. Sprinkle some milo on the cake, so that everyone knows it’s a milo dinosaur cake.
  5. Cut a slice, and go on a rampage, throwing milo everywhere. That’s how you transform a little slice of raptor into T-rex material. If you want to pretend to be classy you could serve it with a little bowl of milo powder on the side, and a teaspoon. I don’t really see the point though, you’re better off just giving people the milo tin.
  6. Yum. Roar.

If you really don’t want to allow people access to your milo tin (I, for example, have a tendency to eat the powder straight out of the tin), you can spoon milo powder on top of the cake the last second before serving. Keep spooning it on until you get little mountains of dry milo powder across the cake. ¬†If you do this, you need to make sure your guests (victims?) eat the whole cake in one sitting, because the part of the milo which touches the icing will get soggy after a while, and the effect will be spoilt.

Also, rampaging is an important life lesson. Take note.

Sunny Orange Cake

As you may have gathered from my last post, I’m not exactly right on top of the world right now. Flu-ey, and just a bit overworked, and just a bit jetlagged, so overall I’ve been pretty grouchy for the past few days. Also whiny, evidently. But after writing yesterday’s Raita post, I decided I wanted cake.

I’m pretty stubborn, when I decide to do something I generally steamroll right ahead, knocking any other plans (or people, or ideas) to the wayside. ¬†Kinder people call it determined, but let’s be honest here, I’m just plain stubborn. Like a small, female, bull.

I haven’t made cake for what feels like ages.

Also, what could be a more cheerful cake than Sicilian orange cake with vanilla icing? It was one of those spontaneous things I just decided that I wanted when I typed the words “A slice of cake and a cup of tea”.

I made a plan: go into work, work like a crazy hamster on a spinning wheel, finish a whole day’s work by 3pm, and then leave to bake my cake. Yay for plans!

It almost worked, I got out by 4, and managed to bake the cakes but not ice them by dinnertime. I left them sitting in the fridge until the next day. It’s ok, apparently that makes them easier to ice, I read somewhere. And I got to eat orange cake crumbs. And the house smelled pretty strongly of orange (so I’m told, I can’t smell anything at the moment. Don’t worry I washed my hands before baking).

On an unrelated note, I had a very nice conversation with a shorthaired jack russel terrier outside the local corner shop after buying oranges and eggs. She was walking around in circles outside the shop by herself, so I leant over to talk to her. “Hello doggy, what’re you doing here by yourself?” I said. “You shouldn’t be out here by yourself. How did you manage to get here? What are you doing?” Quite loudly and in a normal speaking voice, I should add.

I was about to ask her whether she came to buy groceries, and how she was going to carry the bags home, when I realised the owner was right behind me. He probably thought I was a nutter. I kinda am. I scuttled away after that to make cake.

This is the most orangey and moist orange cake I’ve found so far. It’s perfectly nice without the icing, I just happened to want icing too. But, I can’t give you the icing recipe because it was given to me by the very nice person who runs Snowdrop Cupcakes in Manchester – sorry!*

Caking notes: I did a gluten free version, the normal version is more spongey and lighter in texture. It’s the same recipe, I just swapped out the flour for GF flour.

More caking notes: this time I thought it was a bit sweet, and I’ll be reducing the sugar to 200g next time. Also, make sure to use sunkist oranges, the cake tastes better with a sour orange. I might also try making an orange syrup next time to add before icing, to try and sour it up even more. I’ll let you know how that goes ūüôā

Sicilian Orange Cake with Vanilla Icing

Taken from Gourmand, a site which sadly doesn’t seem to be on the internet anymore. I traced the recipe back from there to Almost Bourdain, which has also stopped publishing. Luckily Google had a cached copy, I thought I’d lost a yummy recipe. You can live here now Mr Cake! All credits to the Almost Bourdain blogger, but I can’t seem to link them because the website is offline. Though I did change up the recipe a bit.

250g salted butter – bring it to room temperature so you can cream easily
220g caster sugar
4 medium eggs
1.5 tablesp finely grated orange zest – I measure the juice first, then take the entire orange’s worth of zest that produced that juice. So, if I used half an orange for the juice, I take the whole orange’s worth of zest. Not very scientific clearly.
250g self raising flour- I used gluten free all purpose flour and 1 teasp of baking soda, sifted
85ml freshly squeezed orange juice

Oven temperature: 170 degrees C
Makes an 8 inch cake. I made 1.5x, so had 2 smaller bar cakes. Line your tin with baking paper if using a round tin.

  1. Cream butter and sugar until very pale (4 to 5 minutes).
  2. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add a spoonful of flour with the last egg to prevent curdling.
  3. Mix in the orange zest.
  4. Throw in the rest of the flour at once, and mix well.
  5. Slowly mix in the orange juice.
  6. Bake 45-55 minutes in the oven, or until a skewer comes out clean. If it browns too fast, cover it with a bit of foil.

Edit: tried this with 200g raw sugar, still too sweet! I’ll reduce further and let you know how it goes.¬†

* If I know you, ask me.

The Chocolate Monster, aka Lea’s first multi-layer cake

Let me preface this post by stating that I really, really want cakes to like me. I really do. I enjoy attempting to make cake. The type of post I most enjoy looking at in other food blogs is cake. I do like cake. Most of all, I like to eat cakes. Nice, moist, chocolate, orange, creamy, fruity, coffee-filled, springy cakes. I get so inspired. But, my cakes usually aren’t.

More often than not I’ll have flops, sticky tops, burnt bits, chewy bits, blobs of bicarbonate, and let’s stop here before I embarrass myself too much.

Still, I try. I’m rather unrealistic in my optimism. Hence, any successful cake recipe that you find here on Happy Bellea, baked by me, is generally very forgiving (i.e., idiot proof).

I bravely volunteered to make a cake for my dad’s birthday, an excuse to try to unearth any secret cake-making abilities that might be hidden deep within me. I decided to make a double chocolate cake, the most famous chocolate layer cake on the internet, in fact – Gourmet’s double chocolate layer cake. Double chocolate cake is my favourite cake. Note that there is absolutely no hint of self-interestedness here.

I haven’t made a successful multi-storey cake before. Lets think about that for a moment.

.

Yes perhaps I was being a bit over-ambitious here. I usually just make bar cakes, or at most a single layer cake with a bit of icing slapped on the top. As I may have mentioned, I’m not someone who others consider as one who can cook. I’m a hobbyist and experimenter who likes to eat. Also a serial ingredient substituter, because of course, don’t you think milo would taste better than cocoa powder? Note: it doesn’t, your cake won’t set properly.

The moment depicted in the photo below is the point at which my brain started to say “oh scrambunctious findlewooshers*, Lea, you’ve bitten off more than you can chew here, you’ve never made a cake which was so big it covered the entire whisk head. Are you mad?”

It was a bit too late to halve the recipe and make a nice little small (manageable, not scary sized) cake. I was committed. Rise or fall, dome or sink, burn or neglect-to-set, I had to keep going. I figured that in a worst case scenario, I could mash the thing up and squish it into a bowl, and later pretend it was a special kind of pudding. Heated in the microwave with cream and ice cream. Whipping cream covers a whole host of evils.

It turned out better than I expected in the end, though any icing tips would be appreciated! The whole thing actually came out slightly slanted, but depending on the angle you look at it, you can’t tell. Of course, it tastes really nice (as the recipe promised). Moist and chocolately and deserving of its internet fame. I ate so much ganache that I felt sick afterwards (the recipe produces way more than needed. Or I might have done it wrong?)

Birthday boy’s conclusion: “So rich. Can die oh!”

Lea’s verdict: this is a very nice cake. Super sinful and indulgent. I truly recommend it to chocolate lovers, and I’ll still keep the recipe. But, I think if you eat this cake, you can’t eat anything for the rest of the day. I really like the taste of the cake itself and moistness of the layers. I also really like the richness of the ganache. But, I’m thinking that the two of these together are perhaps a bit too much (gasp! never thought I’d say that). I want to find a way to lighten up this cake so that it can actually be eaten as a dessert, rather than as a meal by itself. Any ideas?

My first thoughts are:

  • Try substituting the cocoa for milo again, and work on the stickiness
  • Use a different icing, perhaps a milk chocolate or vanilla butter cream – I’ve never made this before but the internet says it’s light and fluffy
  • Use butter instead of oil – apparently this makes a lighter cake? I’m not sure, I’ve never tried
  • Add an extra egg and beat harder?

I’m pretty clueless about these things.

The Chocolate Monster, otherwise known as the most famous chocolate cake on the internet, Double Chocolate Layer Cake

First seen on Love and Olive Oil, but originally from Gourmet/Epicurious. I probably made far too many changes, and that’s why my cakes sometimes fail. Oh well.

Cake
100g semi sweet chocolate – increased from 85g, because I like chocolate
1.5 cups strong coffee
2.5 cups white sugar – decreased from 3 cups, I like my cakes less sweet
2.5 cups plain flour
1.5 cups unsweetened cocoa
2 teasp baking soda
3/4 teasp baking powder
1.25 teasp salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup oil
1.5 cups shaken buttermilk – I used a cup and a half of milk and a tablespoon of white vinegar, left to sit for a while
3/4 teasp vanilla essence

Oven temperature: 150 degrees C

  1. Grease and line 2x 10 inch cake tins.
  2. Sift together dry ingredients: sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Make 1 1/2 cups of strong coffee (I used 3 tablespoons of nescafe gold), chop the chocolate, and mix the chocolate into the coffee.
  4. Beat the eggs until they go thick and a pale yellow colour. This takes a few minutes on high with a mixer.
  5. Add the liquids, mix it up – oil, buttermilk, coffee-chocolate mixture, vanilla essence.
  6. Add the flour mixture and beat until combined.
  7. Bake in the tins for 1 to 1 hour 10 minutes (mine took the full 1 hour 10 minutes).
  8. Cool before ganaching!

Chocolate Ganache – This really makes far too much ganache in my opinion, next time I’ll only make about half to 3/4 of the amount. But then again, its possible that I just don’t know how to ice a cake.
450g semi sweet chocolate
1 cup cream
2 tablesp sugar
2 tablesp butter (55g)

  1. Chop up the chocolate. I melted mine a bit too, using the defrost setting on the microwave.
  2. Heat the cream and sugar over low heat until the cream boils and the sugar is dissolved.
  3. Remove from heat, then mix in the chocolate and butter.
  4. Cool until sticky enough to ice the cake. I chucked the entire bowl in the freezer for a bit. Stir periodically.

* I am a polite person, these are things my brain says.

How Not to Bake

Sometimes, anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Other times only most of the things that can go wrong will, and you, to your surprise, end up with a rather presentable cupcake at the end of the day. Fortunately for team Bellea, this was one of the latter days. Of course, if it was one of the former, we might not tell you about it, because no one would want to read it. Except for me of course, because if I read about it on another blog then I’d know that all these so-called kitchen gods and goddesses scattered across the internet are mere mortals just like me.

This was a recipe that Bel had told me about quite a few times in the last week. It sounds amazing. It doesn’t disappoint. We think it’d be better with cream cheese peanut butter icing instead, but didn’t have enough $ in our wallets to cough up for a box of Philly today ($6 for a little pack! $6! Okay fine, we were just being cheap. But to scoff down the whole lot in one sitting…well I suppose we shouldn’t really be eating a whole block of Philly in one sitting anyway but that’s besides the point.)

So let’s look at the things that went wrong here, and then look at the final product and pretend that none of this ever happened:

  1. Batter on the wall
  2. Batter on the microwave
  3. Batter on the stove top
    … I think you’re getting the picture here. Lets just say I broke my high sided mixing bowl a few months ago*, and my hand whisk has a tempestuous relationship with my normal bowls.
  4. Ate too much batter with raw eggs (well.. I think this was worth it!)
  5. Put the oven on grill setting, realised 15 minutes later
  6. Ate too much icing (as above. You know my stance on these things now.)
  7. Bel had a peanut butter overdose and became comatose later in the evening
As you can see, this is quite a forgiving recipe.

There does need to be a disclaimer here. This is a very rich peanut buttery recipe, and only peanut butter heavyweights need attempt to eat a whole cupcake. Bel got sick the day afterwards with an unexplained illness, which may or may not have been due to mild peanut butter poisoning. You have been warned!

PB&J Cupcakes¬†(aka Peanut butter and JAM. If I had said “jelly”, I suspect my inner¬†ancestors¬†might stage a revolt. Same with chips and fries. You know which one is correct! You can’t call them fries when you can cook them in the oven too!)

Halved, borrowed from The Girl Who Ate Everything

Makes 6 massive cupcakes – my cupcake tin’s quite large!

Cupcakes

185 grams all-purpose flour
45 grams unsalted butter, at room temp
1/2 cup peanut butter – we used Skippy Supercrunch
130 grams brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tablesp vanilla extract
1/2 tablesp baking powder
1/2 teasp salt

Oven temperature: 180 degrees C. Don’t use grill by accident, it causes uneven baking.

  1. Cream butter, sugar, and peanut butter with an electric mixer on medium, until fluffy. Takes 3-5 minutes, or longer if you’re a masochist who decides to do this by hand
  2. Add eggs one by one, mixing between each. Then mix in the vanilla essence
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, salt and baking powder
  4. Add dry to wet, alternating with milk. Try not to spray it all over your kitchen like we did ūüôā
  5. Fill cupcake tin with liners, and fill these 2/3 full.
  6. Bake 15-18 minutes, test with a toothpick

Icing
1/2 cup peanut butter – again, we used Skippy Superchunk
1/2 cup  unsalted butter, at room temp
1 cup icing sugar
1 tablesp milk
1/2 tablesp vanilla extract

  1. Mix peanut butter, butter and vanilla until light and fluffy
  2. Add sugar and milk, beat until combined
  3. Set aside, you may need to cool it a bit if it’s a bit runny

Build the beast!
Cupcakes
Icing
Raspberry jam + a teaspoon

  1. Carefully cut a small hemisphere out of the cupcake. The bigger the hole, the more jam you can put in!
  2. Spoon in the jam
  3. Smother with icing
  4. Repeat until you can’t take it anymore and *accidentally* cut one of them in half, thereby necessitating that you eat it, because you can’t exactly serve it to anyone after that, can you?

* I tried to bake with it because I thought it was pyrex, and I didn’t want to do extra dishes. Turns out it wasn’t. Sometimes I do these clever things.