Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Edinburgh Cake Ladies - Year of the Cake!

Another Edinburgh Cake Ladies event, another opportunity to guzzle cake! The theme for this event was Year of the Cake, one I heartily approve of. I decided to make a rather decadent cake, in a 'start as you mean to go on' sort of fashion - a light espresso chiffon sponge, filled with chocolate baileys mousse and covered in chocolate fudge icing. Witness my terrible piping skills! I have quite neat handwriting so working on my piping is definitely on the to-do list.

The event was, of course, cake-tastic.  After the 'Feel the Fear' extravaganza, there was a 'Back to Basics' night where we all just chatted over cake without having to actually bake something which was a really lovely experience.  This event was limited to 21 bakers, both old and new which was great - it was easier to catch up with folk, meet new people and have a good chat about baking.  It seemed like the other bakers had similar ideas about making this year of the cake the best cake ladies event yet - they were absolutely amazing! Here's some cake porn piccies of the night...

A line up of fabulous cakes - the excitement builds as everyone chooses what they want to try first!

A really unusual and inventive combo - Beetroot and Seed Cake.  As you'd expect, it was super moist with great textures from the seeds.  Lovely glace icing topped it off, adding some extra sweetness. 

Deliciously light Coconut Pavlova - I'm addicted to anything to do with meringue so this was one of my top picks.  The tangy curd was beautiful against the marscapone cream, and was a gorgeous combination with the coconut. 

Absolutely stunning Satsuma Cake, crowned with candied oranges.  Top cake stand choice too (I have the same one from Paperchase!).

Another inventive pick of parsnip and maple syrup cake. It was dense and moist and yummy!

Two of the most decadent cakes there - from Bakers Bunny, a Tipsy Trifle Trollop Cake (love the name!); and from Catherine a chocolate cake with salted caramel filling - such a beautiful combination.  I wish I'd gotten a better photo, particularly of the lovely filling.

Chiara's chocolate cake was topped with fresh strawberries which was so lovely to eat - just the thing to cut through all the sweetness and richness of the cakes!

Sadly, I didn't get good photos of some of my other favourite cakes - Victoria's Dead Apple Cake, Michelle's Raspberry Ripple Cake and Terri's Passion Fruit and Lemon Cake were all stand-outs. Alas, they all turned up late when I'd sat down with my cup of tea and put my camera away! 

Another highlight of the event was meeting Lynne McNicholl from It's Good 2 Give, a charity who raise money for young people with cancer and their families and who originally inspired the Edinburgh Cake Ladies to take off - it was good to read about the charity and the excellent work they do - very inspiring stuff. 

So anyway, onto my recipe. I must admit I was slightly worried about this cake - I'd decided to make a mousse filling at the last minute and was worried about it setting or turning into a gooey mess. I made sure the cake was refrigerated the whole day and it seemed to pay off - it cut beautifully. You could easily not make the mousse and just fill with the chocolate fudge icing. If you do make the mousse filling, you will have some additional chocolate icing which you can freeze and keep up to two months - just defrost at room temperature and give it a quick whizz again in the food processor. If you don't have a food processor, just use a handheld electric whisk (starting with beating the butter and icing sugar until very well mixed and then adding the chocolate then other liquids until smooth). It is so easy to make in a food processor and it makes it silky smooth in seconds, I'll definitely be making icing this way again. See how smooooooth it is?

Espresso Chiffon Cake
Makes an 8- or 9-inch triple-layer cake

Ingredients:60ml / 1/4 cup vegetable oil
6 eggs, separated
90ml / 6 tablespoons freshly brewed espresso, cooled to room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
150g / 1 1/3 cups cake flour
170g / 1 1/2 cups caster sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1.  Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Line the bottoms of three 8- or 9-inch round cake pans with rounds of parchment or waxed paper, but do not grease.
2.  In a medium bowl, combine the oil, egg yolks, espresso and vanilla; whisk lightly to blend. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, 1 cup of the sugar, the baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set the dry ingredients aside.
3.  In a large mixer bowl with an electric mixture, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar on medium-low speed until frothy. Raising the mixer speed to medium-high and gradually add the remaining half cup of sugar. Continue to beat until soft peaks form; do not whip until stiff or the cake will shirk excessively upon cooling.
4.  Add the espresso-egg yolk mixture to the dry ingredients and fold together just enough to combine. Add one-fourth of the beaten egg whites and fold them in to lighten the batter. Fold in the remainder of the whites just until no streaks remain. Divide the batter among the three prepared pans.
5. To assemble the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or serving plate. Soak the cake with 1/3 of the Espresso Syrup (below). Spread about half of the Chocolate Baileys Mousse Filling (below) of the evenly over the top of the layer. Repeat with the next layer, more syrup and more mousse. Finally, top with the third layer. Soak it with the remaining syrup and frost the tops and sides with the Instant Fudge Frosting (below).

Espresso Syrup
80ml / 1/3 cup hot, freshly brewed espresso
80ml /  1/3 cup sugar
80ml /  1/3 cup dark rum or whiskey
Method:  In a bowl, stir together the espresso and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Add the rum and let cool to room temperature.  If you don't want to use alcohol, you can swap it with water, perhaps flavoured with some vanilla extract.

Instant Fudge Frosting
Makes about 5 cups
200g / 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
500g / 4 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar (no need to sift)
340g / 12 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
90ml / 6 tablespoons whole milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Method:  Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse to incorporate, then process until the frosting is smooth. It really is that easy!

Chocolate Baileys Mousse Filling
(adapted from Pastry Pal)
1 teaspoon (3 grams) powdered gelatin
2 tablespoons water
50g / 1/4 cup whole milk
50g / 1/4 cup Baileys
175g / 6 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped
280g / 1 1/4 cup double cream
1. Rehydrate the gelatin (otherwise known as “bloom” the gelatin.) Sprinkle it evenly over a small bowl with the water. Leave for 5 minutes to drink up the water.
2. Heat up the milk and Baileys to a simmer in a small sauce pan. Once it reaches boiling point, turn off the heat and then scrape the gelatin blob into the hot milk. Swirl the pan around until it’s completely dissolved.
3. Pour the milk and gelatin mix over the finely chopped chocolate and let it rest for 2 minutes. The heat from the milk will melt down the chocolate. Whisk until smooth then set aside and let it cool to lukewarm. Don’t let it reach room temperature or the gelatin may start to set up.
4. Whilst waiting, with a clean whisk whip the cream to soft peaks. This texture is easiest to fold into the chocolate.
5. Scoop about a third of the whipped cream into the chocolate and fold in. Since the chocolate is kind of dense and heavy, this will help lighten it up. Add the rest of the whipped cream, and gently fold in.
6. Refrigerate for at least an hour, and keep refrigerated until needed.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Baking Sunday: Chocolate & Raspberry mini-cakes

I mentioned in my last blog post (the one about going mad for the mini-cakes) a pop-up afternoon tea I was holding with my lovely pal Michelle which we're calling Tealicious.  Our test run was last Sunday and we packed all our crazy baking skills into one solid weekend.  It was a lot of hard work but really worth it - we love afternoon teas and have sampled many so knew exactly what we wanted to do.  And if I do say so myself, it was awesome! You can see a few pictures from the event at our Facebook page but here's a wee taster of what we made:

Pictured are buttermilk scones, rhubarb and sugared mint friands, banoffee tarts, Porteugese custard tarts and mini chocolate and raspberry cakes. The chocolate cakes were made in a 12 hole mini-cake pan from Lakeland and they came out perfectly. I love the effect of having a miniature cake all to yourself and it's a really simple cake to make and assemble. 

The recipe is from Tea With Bea, a small but perfectly formed afternoon tea book by Bea Vo of Beas of Bloosmbury, who do splendid afternoon teas in that London. I've blogged before about her vegan chocolate cake however this devils food cake is my go-to chocolate cake recipe, as it has ingredients I pretty much always have in the cupboard and consistently turns out springy and well baked, not to mention delicious. It worked brilliantly in the mini-cake pans as the batter was thick enough not to have to worry about leaking through the loose bases. 

Assembling the mini-cakes is easy - simply cut each cake in half once cooled and pop four raspberry halves inside, inbetween dots of sweetened whipped cream. Top with the other half and then add a slather of chocolate ganache icing. I just used a simple ganache made of equal parts double cream and melted dark chocolate, I used 250g each for this recipe - heat the cream in a pan until just boiled, take off the heat and add the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate has melted and then allow to cool until it is a spreadable consistency (which will take at least an hour). Et voila! Admire, share or devour your mini treasures!

The Ultimate Devil's Food Cake
Makes 24 cupcakes/mini-cakes or 8" cake

120g natural cocoa powder (Note: This should not be Dutch-process.  I used Bournville cocoa powder)
250 ml boiling water
125ml milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
125g unsalted butter, softened
275g dark brown soft sugar
165g caster sugar
125 ml vegetable oil
4 eggs
280g plain flour
1 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1. Preheat the oven to 170 degree Celcius.  Line the bottom of your cake pan and grease, if using or lay out cupcake cases.
2. Put the cocoa powder in a bowl.  Add the boiling water and mix well.  Stir in the milk and vanilla extract and set aside.
3. Using an electric mixer or electric whisk, beat the butter and both sugars until the mixture is light in colour and fluffy in texture. Slowly pour in the oil in a steady stream and mix until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until thoroughly combined before adding the next.  Scrape down the side of the bowl and mix again.
3. In another small bowl, sift together the flour and bicarbonate of soda.
4. Add one third of th flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix until well incorporated.  Add half the cocoa/milk mixture and mix until just combined.  Repeat with another third of the flour mixture, then the rest of the cocoa/milk mixture.  Finally, add the last third of the flour mixture and mix until thoroughly combined.
5. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake pan or 24 cupcake cases.
6. Bake in the preheated oven for 18-23 minutes for cupcakes and 35-45 minutes for a cake.  A wooden skewer inserted in the middle should come out with almost no crumbs attached, and the middle of the cake, when pressed, should spring back slightly instead of sink.
7. Remove from the oven and let cool in the muffin trays or cake pan for 10 minutes.  If you've baked a cake, slide a table knife all around the edige to loosen it, then remove from the pan.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 1 hour.