Archives for posts with tag: Chocolate cake

Wow, summer is going by very quickly so far! In the midst of wedding season, and as I am preparing to make a cross-channel wedding cake, I thought I would share some pictures of cakes that I have made to date for dear friends to celebrate their amazing weddings.

According to Wikipedia, one of the first traditions relating to wedding cakes began in Ancient Rome where bread was broken over the bride’s head to bring good fortune to the couple. In medieval England, cakes were stacked as high as possible for the bride and groom to kiss over, if they successfully kissed over the stack they were guaranteed a prosperous life together.

It is such an honour to be part of a good friend’s wedding by making their wedding cake, and following a drunken conversation at a hen do I received a call the next day from Kiren, one of my best friends, just to check that I was still OK to make her wedding cake. Hours of practice and many carrot cakes later, there we had it. Sufficient wedding cake for 300 people at her and Raj’s beautiful, colourful and joyous wedding.

Cutting cake

At the bride’s request, I made everything as carrot cake, including three lots of two-tired cakes with cream cheese frosting and a pile of rose-topped cupcakes. I had some ornate sugarcraft flowers and a lovely plaque and personalised cake knife to commemorate the day.

Cakes

I also made lots of back up cakes for the caterers to cut up, but after an all-day eating extravaganza there was so still much cake left!

There was so much cake left after all the delicious food, that the bride wandered amongst her guests encouraging them to eat more!

Beautiful bride enjoying her cake!

I was so excited when some other great friends Vic and Ro wanted me to make their wedding cake for their summer garden party – themed wedding. They are such creative, fun people themselves that I knew their wedding would be great fun – and it was!

 

Happy couple

They wanted a relaxed, colourful feel which is why we used fresh flowers for the cake decorations. I knew that I was on to a good thing when, the morning before the wedding, I went to a florist in Thame, Buckinghamshire to collect the flowers that I had planned to use on the cakes, and there was a collection of flowers waiting there for Mary Berry! Talk about a good baking omen!

Coconut ice and biscuits BrowniesChocolate cake Love is sweet

I really enjoyed making the different cakes, including chocolate orange and Victoria sponge, as well as the other treats such as coconut ice, chocolate brownies and jammy dodger biscuits.

There was a slight issue in the 30 degrees heatwave that came from nowhere, but still we managed to keep the flowers looking fresh by not assembling the cakes until just before the meal. Luckily Vic’s mum who was hosting the wedding in her wonderful garden had a huge kitchen. I did have to demand that the caterers moved their 80+ creme brulees out of my cake fridge in order to store the cream-cheese frosted carrot cake centre piece, but all’s well that ends well, right?!

Carrot cake
I think my favourite decoration though was the miniature teaset that I stumbled upon whilst browsing eBay for teapot necklaces. It was too sweet not to use and I thought the perfect decoration for such a classic cake as Victoria sponge.
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Right, I’d best get back to finishing off the icing of my Dutch cousin Niek’s wedding cake ahead of his marriage to the lovely Ismay. I’m excited about hearing them say Ja (“I do!) and celebrating Dutch style!

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I have been experimenting with a few things in the last few weeks, but work had caught up with me and I haven’t made a chance to sit down and write about my efforts. I have also been busy mourning the end of the only TV show I religiously watch, the Great British Bake Off. Content with the finalists and the winner, I have been inspired to try a few different recipes, so I guess there is a happy ending after all.

I can summarise my rises and falls (#GBBO puns) of recent escapades with the following statements:

– Don’t try to adapt a Mary Berry cake recipe – she is official Queen of Cakes for a reason
– Successful Pierre Herme macarons require patience, precision AND a sugar thermometer (now on the Christmas list)
– Lemon curd really IS easy to make
– Despite my first ever attempt at brioche being a success, I am still scared of baking bread

good crumb structure

Whilst my chocolate cake for my friend Vic’s birthday turned out alright, I did fail on an adapted version of Mary Berry’s  spiced orange cake. Pulverised lemon in a cake does NOT taste nice.

Chocolate cake

However I would say that I have perfected my white chocolate icing recipe. I made another chocolate birthday cake, another Mary Berry recipe and added fresh raspberries and white chocolate chips to the batter. I have already had a re-order for next year so that must be good feedback!

Another choc cake

In a somewhat less successful episode, I couldn’t even bring myself to take a photo of my failed macarons. What have previously been such beautiful treats were reduced to burned splodges after trying to rush through the 36 steps of making  macaron shells, according to the master Mr Herme. I will try again, hopefully once in possession of a sugar thermometer, and will report back on progress. Passion will prevail over precision!

Inspired by my friend Sally’s delicious macarons (which were never a failure), and in anticipation of warm, fresh brioche, I had a go at making some lemon curd. I also had a lot of egg yolks and lemons to use up after the above failures. I followed Delia’s lemon curd recipe and as usual, her words of wisdom are right on the mark. Zingy lemon curd with just the right tinge of sweetness was ready to be slathered on to brioche.

Lemon curd

Moving on to the main subject of this post, Bronya’s brioches.  Bronya is Jess’s mum (see “a bit of savoury on the side” for cooking adventures with Jess).  As teenagers, she was picking Jess and I up in the early hours of the morning after a night out and bringing us tea and toast in bed the next day. As adults, she is sharing her delicious bread recipes with us.

This recipe makes makes one large loaf, which can be shaped to make it easy to share. It has a crisp, sugary coating and soft, fluffy, buttery middle. Yum!

Brioche

I was so proud of my loaf, no soggy bottom (GBBO reference) and it tasted delicious.

nice bottom

Just a little forward planning is required as you need to assemble the dough the night before baking it.

Before proving

 

Look at how the little beaut rose after a few hours of proving…

after proving

Bronya’s recipe is below, unadulterated and with full credit to her. Delicious served warm with lemon curd or another spread of your choice.

Crispy sugary topped brioche

Ingredients

500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
7g salt
50g caster sugar
10g instant yeast
140ml warm full-fat milk  I have used skimmed, it works
5 medium eggs
250g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing

Method

1. Put the flour into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the salt and sugar to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other. Add the milk and eggs and mix on a slow speed for 2 minutes, then on a medium speed for a further 6–8 minutes, until you have a soft, glossy, elastic dough. Add the softened butter and continue to mix for a further 4–5 minutes, scraping down the bowl periodically to ensure that the butter is thoroughly incorporated. The dough should be very soft.

2. Tip the dough into a plastic bowl, cover and chill overnight or for at least 7 hours, until it is firm and you are able to shape it.

3. Grease a 25cm round deep cake tin.

4. Take your brioche dough from the fridge and tip it onto a lightly floured surface and fold it in on itself a few times to knock out the air. Divide it into 9 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth ball by placing it into a cage formed by your hand and the table and moving your hand around in a circular motion, rotating the ball rapidly. Put 8 balls of dough around the outside of the tin and the final one in the middle.

5. Cover with a clean plastic bag and leave to prove for 2–3 hours, or until the dough has risen to just above the rim of the tin.

6. Heat your oven to 190 c

7. When the brioche is proved, bake for 20–30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Bear in mind that the sugar and butter in the dough will make it take on colour before it is actually fully baked. Remove the brioche from the tin and cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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