How To Make This Fabulous Melting Ice Cream Cake

You know the lovely long summer holiday you’ve been looking forward to for ages?  Well, don’t look now, but it’s all over!  Is it just me, or does it feel like that flew by quicker than you can say “flip-flops”?  But, fear not… school starting doesn’t mean the summer has gone!  I’ve got the perfect bake for a lovely hot January… a fab, funky Melting Ice Cream Cake with a surprisingly speckled inside! I baked this for a friend’s little girl – adapting the recipe & instructions from a similar cake on Pinterest.

YOU WILL NEED

EQUIPMENT

An electric mixer, 3 disposable foil trays (or equal sized baking tins if you have them) two piping bags, an icing scraper (or similar tool) and a long wooden / bamboo skewer

 INGREDIENTS

For the cake:

  • 350g self-raising flour
  • 3tsp baking powder
  • 350g soft unsalted butter
  • 350g caster sugar
  • 6 large free range eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Up to 65ml milk – any kind
  • 120g Icing-based sprinkles of your choice (normal sugar-based sprinkles like vermicelli or 100’s & 1000’s will melt away during the baking process, but icing-based ones retain their shape & colour)

For the frosting:

  • 200g butter, VERY soft but not melted
  • 250g medium fat cream cheese
  • +- 800g icing sugar, sifted
  • 1tbsp lemon juice
  • Purple gel colour

For the “melting ice cream” pink ganache:

  • 200g white cooking chocolate (large blocks, chopped up, work better than chocolate chips)
  • 85ml cream
  • Pink powder colour
  • Sprinkles to decorate

For the ice cream cone:

  • One sugar cone
  • 1 cup Rice Krispies

METHOD

Preheat oven to gas mark 4/170ºC/360 ºF

Prepare your disposable foil tins by spraying with Spray & Cook and cutting a circle of baking paper for each one

 

Instructions for the cake:

  • Cream your butter and sugar until combined, light and fluffy.
  • Add eggs one at a time.
  • In a separate bowl, mix baking powder & flour, then add little by little and mix well (with the mixer now on slow).
  • Add vanilla extract.
  • If your batter is a little thick as mine was, add up to 65ml of milk – adding a tablespoon at a time and stopping when you get to a consistency that you’re happy with.
  • Add your chosen sprinkles to the batter and mix well.
  • Using a spatula, divide your batter equally between the disposable tins. Use the back of a spoon to smooth down each cake – this will help them to bake flat.
  • Pop them into the oven and keep a close eye on them – you don’t want them to get browned. Take them out as soon as a skewer to the centre comes out clean (25-30 min depending on your oven).
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
  • Once cool, level the tops of all 3 layers, reserving the scraps for later use.

Instructions for the frosting:

  • Mix the butter and cream cheese
  • Add icing sugar gradually and mix well
  • Add lemon juice
  • Refrigerate to firm if necessary, or add up to 60ml hot water if too firm
  • Remove ⅔ of the white frosting from the mixing bowl and transfer to a separate bowl – cover with a damp towel to prevent the frosting from drying out.
  • Tint the remaining frosting, with the purple gel food colour, using a few drops at a time.
  • Transfer the purple frosting to a piping bag with a 12mm round tip. (If, like me, you don’t have the widest selection of piping tips, just using the coupler on its own works equally well! You could even just snip the tip off a disposable piping bag.)
  • Fill the second frosting bag with white frosting.

To assemble:

Use the remaining white frosting to sandwich the cake layers (I prefer to assemble my cakes directly on to a flat cake plate) and cover the entire cake in a thin crumb coat. You will have a little frosting left over and this should be reserved for later use.

After the crumb coat has been applied, use the piping bags with white and purple frostings to apply alternating lines of frosting around the sides of the cake, making them as even as possible. Using a cake turntable is recommended here, as it makes the job much easier.

 

Place your icing scraper vertically to the side of the frosted cake and carefully scrape away some of the frosting in a single motion until stripes are revealed. You may need to make several passes before the frosting is completely even – wipe excess frosting away from the scraper after each go. Set the cake aside while you prepare the ganache. (*See note below)

 

Instructions for the ganache:

  • Heat the cream until it’s about to boil, then add the chopped chocolate.
  • Allow to stand for 2 minutes, then stir until the chocolate has fully melted into the cream.
  • Whisk until smooth and glossy. When you start to stir it, you think it won’t come together, but it will.
  • Add pink powder colour, little by little, until the desired hue is achieved.
  • Allow to cool slightly to a pourable consistency.
  • Using a spoon, drizzle some of the ganache onto the centre of the cake, then gently push the pooled ganache over the edges of the cake to create a drip effect. Reserve the unused ganache.

 

Instructions for the ice cream cone:

  • Crumble the reserved cake scraps into a bowl and add 2 tablespoons of the remaining buttercream.
  • Mix until thoroughly combined and firm enough to pack into a ball. Roll the ball as smooth as possible, then set aside.
  • In another bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of icing with the Rice Krispies. Pack this mixture into the sugar cone and insert the bamboo skewer into the centre.
  • Thread the ball onto the skewer and press it on to the top of the sugar cone.
  • Use a spoon to cover the ball with the leftover pink ganache. If the ganache is too firm, reheat at 10-second intervals in the microwave until smooth and pourable. Allow the excess ganache to drip back into the bowl.
  • Turn the ice cream pop upside down and insert it into the cake at a slight angle.
  • Pour more ganache over the ball portion, if needed.
  • Cover the ice cream ball and pink ganache with sprinkles.

*The Pinterest post called for refrigerating the cake at this stage, which I did, but I found it made the smooth application of the ganache more difficult as it tended to set too quickly.  It was, therefore, difficult to spread/smooth it, so I wouldn’t recommend it. Luckily I had my little blowtorch handy so I could heat & blend some of the messier bits!

Happy baking!

 

 

Wholesome and Scrumptious Veggie Summer Salad

Every January, Joey and I give up something. It started as a detox plan 13 years ago, initially only with alcohol, and has slowly grown into an elaborate restart to the year. So on top of being dry every January, we also give up things that we feel may not serve us as well as they used to. Some things stick and become a life-long habit (like sugar), and others are temporary (like coffee). Some make us realize how precious our time spent together is (like TV) and others remind us to be present and empathetic (it’s not only tactile things that we give up!). So this Jan, we’ve added red and white meat to our list of omissions. We still eat fish and eggs but will forgo meat until Feb. That does put a bit of a strain on my cooking abilities so I am spending more time finding ideas than actually cooking! This veggie summer salad is a version of a lunch dish that I used to buy from a little healthfood take-away when we lived in Hong Kong.

This is an amazingly balanced and filling meal and the combinations of flavours are just stunning. The sesame seeds add a bit of crunch and the dressing has a lovely tanginess that balances the sweet veggies. You can of course also use it as a side dish with a braai 😉

Wholesome and Scrumptious Veggie Summer Salad (serves 6)

summer veggie salad

You will need:

  • 2 cups of cooked and cooled brown rice
  • 1 cup of cooked and cooled brown lentils*
  • Coconut or olive oil to fry
  • 1x Red Pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • 1x Yellow Pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • 1x Large Aubergine, cubed
  • 1x Red Onion, finely chopped
  • 1x tsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1 handful fresh Coriander (Cilantro), finely chopped.
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Juice and rind of 1 lemon
  • Toasted sesame seeds
  • 1x cup double cream yoghurt

Use dried lentils, soaked overnight if you can. But if you don’t have time, then tinned lentils will work just as well!

Method:

Heat the oil in a frying pan or wok and fry the garlic for a couple of minutes. Then add the rest of the veggies and fry until the aubergine is soft – but not squishy. This will take about 7 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Mix the rice and lentils in a large bowl and mix in the cold veggies. Scoop it out into a large serving dish.

Toast the sesame seeds in a pan without and oil. Once they turn a lovely golden colour, remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Sprinkle the salad with the sesame seeds and half of the lemon rind. Then squeeze over half a lemon and finish with the chopped coriander.

summer veggie salad

To make the dressing:

Put the yoghurt in a small bowl, squeeze the other half of the lemon over it and sprinkle with the rest of the lemon rind.

Serve each helping with a dollop of the dressing.

summer veggie salad

Enjoy!

 

 

Meringue Santa Hats & Christmas Tree Cupcakes

I love Christmas.  Like LOVE Christmas.  And I’m definitely a “more is more” kind of girl when it comes to Christmas decorations.  My tree often goes up mid-November and has, once, delighted my home and heart with its twinkly lights until February.  Only once though… I usually force myself to do away with the magic and sparkle a bit earlier.  Albeit reluctantly, I must add.  I’ve been looking forward to this Christmas for another reason – to try these gorgeous little Meringue Santa Hats.  My sister-in-law found the recipe a few months ago while clearing out old magazines. Around the time I was making these, I had to bake a chocolate cake and some chocolate cupcakes for my sister to spoil her work colleagues with, and so it happened that these cute little Christmas tree Cupcakes came to be.  I’m including the recipe for them too, in case you fancy trying them as well!

meringue santa hats

MERINGUE SANTA HATS

YOU WILL NEED:

Equipment: An electric mixer with a whisk attachment, two piping bags – one with a large star nozzle (I use disposable ones)

Ingredients

  • 4 large egg whites
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • Red gel food colour
  • 200g white cooking chocolate, broken up in to blocks
  • 1½ cups finely shredded coconut

METHOD

Heat oven to 105°C and line 2 large baking sheets with baking paper.

  • Beat the egg whites and salt on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Add the cream of tartar, then increase the speed to high and gradually add the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, waiting 4 to 5 seconds between additions
  • Once all the sugar has been added, continue beating until the meringue forms stiff glossy peaks
  • Transfer 1 cup of the white meringue mixture to a small piping bag with a small round tip and set aside (I simply snipped the tip off a disposable bag at approximately 5mm wide.)
  • With the mixer running, add the food colour to the remaining meringue and tint to desired colour.

meringue santa hats

meringue santa hats

  • Transfer the red mixture to a piping bag with a large star tip. Pipe Santa hats onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them 1cm apart.

meringue santa hats

  • Using the reserved plain meringue, top each peak with a blob (for the cotton ball).
  • Bake the meringues until no longer tacky but still soft, 60 to 65 minutes.
  • Allow to cool completely on the sheet.
  • Once cool, melt the white chocolate in the microwave.

meringue santa hats

  • Dip the cotton ball in white chocolate, then cover in coconut.

meringue santa hats

meringue santa hats

  • Immediately after, dip the bottom ½cm of each Santa hat into the melted chocolate. Scrape off any excess, then coat in the coconut as well. Transfer back to the parchment-lined baking sheets and allow to set.

 

CHOCOLATE CAKE / CUPCAKES

As mentioned in the Chocolate Almond Cake recipe, I have a good, flop-free chocolate sponge cake which I often make.  It works as a tray bake or a layer cake or, when made up 1½ times as I did in this instance (quantities in brackets), it makes 12 cupcakes as well as a good sized layer cake.

meringue santa hats

YOU WILL NEED:

Equipment: An electric mixer, two 20cm cake tins (I like using loose base ones), a cupcake tin and cupcake cases, an ice cream scoop for measuring cupcake mixture into cases, a piping bag

 Ingredients for the cake:

  • 3 cups cake flour (4½ cups)
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder (6 tsp)
  • 2 cups sugar (3 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (1½ tsp)
  • 80 ml cocoa (120ml)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cups boiled water (3 cups)
  • 1 cup oil (1½ cups)
  • 50ml vinegar (75ml)
  • 10ml vanilla (15ml)

Ingredients for the frosting:

  • 400g very soft butter
  • 800g icing sugar
  • 80ml cocoa powder
  • Green gel colour
  • Sprinkles

METHOD

For the cake:

Preheat your oven to 180ºC and prepare baking tins (spray generously with Spray & Cook, line bottoms with baking paper and place cupcake cases in the cupcake tray).

  • Sift and mix all the dry ingredients together.
  • In a separate bowl, combine all the wet ingredients.
  • Combine wet and dry ingredients and mix well.
  • Scoop a level spoonful of mixture into each cupcake case and bake for 12-15 minutes.
  • While cupcakes are baking, divide the remaining mixture between the 2 cake tins.
  • Once cupcakes are done, bake the large cakes for 30-35 min until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

For the frosting:

  • Combine the butter and icing sugar.
  • Scoop out approximately 1 cup of frosting and colour green with the gel colour. Set aside.
  • Add cocoa powder to remaining frosting and mix well.
  • Once cakes are completely cooled, layer the cake rounds – separating them with chocolate frosting. Frost the top and sides of cakes as desired.
  • Scoop the green frosting into the piping bag and pipe a little cone-shaped Christmas tree onto each cupcake.
  • Decorate your tree as desired – I used a little star sprinkle for the top of each tree and 100’s and 1000’s as baubles.

Merry Christmas!

 

Peppermint crisp tartlets with homemade milk tart ice cream

We hosted our annual Thanksgiving lunch at the Bruwery recently, and this year, we wanted to have a South African theme. Our country is going through more turmoil than most years, and we needed to remember what it was that made our country great and to give thanks for that.

The starter was a West Coast-inspired snoek and sweet potato deconstructed Nicoise – a pretentious mouthful when you say it, but amazingly simple and delicious in the end. Click here for that post.

peppermint crisp

For the desert, we wanted to do something decadent but über traditional and came up with peppermint crisp tartlets with milk tart ice cream. My very talented bestie, Donna, made the ice cream – click here for the recipe!

And here is my peppermint crisp tart recipe. It’s really easy to make but brace yourself – it’s super rich!

Peppermint Crisp Tart (makes 1 large tart or 12 small tartlets)

You will need:

  • A packet Tennis biscuits
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 500ml Cream
  • 1 tin Caramel Treat
  • 3 slabs Peppermint Crisp (I used the bigger ones, just for added crunch!)

Method:

peppermint crisp

Step 1: Prepare the cake tin or moulds. You can make this in one large springform cake tin or make individual tartlets. For individual ones, line a baking tray with baking paper (make sure the tray can fit into your fridge!). Next, create the moulds with strips of acetate held together with a piece of sticky tape and place them on the tray.

Step 2: Place the Tennis biscuits in a food processor and blitz until they are fine. Then add the melted butter. Press the crumbs into the prepared springform cake tin or moulds and refrigerate.

Step 3: Place the caramel into a large mixing bowl and use a spoon to soften. Then whip the cream with an electric beater until stiff peaks form. Fold the cream into the caramel.

Step 4: Crush 2 of the chocolate slabs and mix into the cream mixture.

Step 5: Spoon the mixture over the biscuit crust and refrigerate until set. I have successfully had mine in the fridge for more than a day, so you can make this in advance.

Step 6: When you are ready to serve, garnish each tartlet with broken pieces of peppermint crisp. Plate and then carefully remove the acetate by pulling it up.

Serve with home-made milk tart ice cream, fresh berries, and a sprinkle of cinnamon and mint. Enjoy!

Snoek & Patat Nicoise-ish Starter

At our recent Thanksgiving lunch, we wanted to have a South African menu, just so that we can be thankful for our amazing country again. We planned our courses by region, and when the idea for a fish starter came up, the thought of a West Coast-inspired Nicoise salad really got me excited! Traditionally, a Nicoise is made with salad leaves, tuna, tomato, hard-boiled egg, potatoes and green beans. It is carefully arranged on a plate and dressed with shallots, mustard, thyme and olive oil. This beautiful little creation takes those ingredients and gives them a few twists – Weskus style!

Snoek & Patat Nicoise Starter (Serves 10 as a starter or 4 as a main course)

Ingredients For The Sweet Potato Rosti:

  • 4 large sweet potatoes (patat)
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2ml fine cumin
  • Oil for frying

 

For The Fish (if you cant find snoek, you can use any firm fish like angel or yellowtail)

  • Snoek cutlets (10 small portions for starters or 4 medium portions for mains)
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup apricot jam
  • Sal & pepper to taste
  • Slices of lemon to serve

 

For the rest of the dish

  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, shelled
  • cherry tomatoes, grilled and splashed with olive oil and balsamic (2-3 per serving)
  • 2-3 green beans per serving, lightly steamed. Add a tablespoon of butter and splash of lemon juice to the pot while it’s still hot)

 

To Make The Sweet Potato Rosti:

Coarsely grate the sweet potatoes. Put them in a dishcloth and try to press out as much of the moisture as possible.

Step 1: Add the 2 eggs and cumin and mix. Season to taste.

Step 2: Heat about 1cm of oil in a frying pan.

Step 3: Once the oil is hot, shallow fry spoonfuls of the sweet potato mixture, pressing them down to make a flat cake.

Step 4: Fry both sides until crisp and golden, carefully flipping them over to prevent them from becoming too dark.

Step 5: When they’re cooked, place them on some kitchen towel to drain.

*You can easily make the rosti ahead of time and quickly reheat in the oven before serving.

 

To Make The Fish:

Step 1: Melt the butter and stir in the apricot jam.

Step 2: If you are so inclined, braai the snoek on an open fire, liberally basting with butter and apricot jam as you go.  Alternatively, grill the fish in the oven while regularly basting with the sauce.

 

snoek & patat

 

To Serve:

Step 1: As soon as the fish is ready, quickly reheat the rosti under the grill.

Step 2: Place 2 of the rosti on a plate with a piece of fish on top.

Step 3: Finish with the green beans, a quarter of egg, the roasted cherry tomatoes and a slice of lemon.

 

I’m not a saucy kind of girl, but if you feel it’s missing, put some salad dressing on the table and let your guests help themselves.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

can you make a soufflé in a convection microwave oven?

I consider myself to be more of a traditional oven-with-gas-hob kind of girl. So when LG recently gave me a Neochef® Microwave Oven with Smart Inverter Technology to try out, I am not ashamed to admit that I was highly skeptical and a little bit intimidated. I remember a microwave cooking course that I attended with my sisters in the 90’s, and even then I was not terribly impressed with the results. But technology is making strides and not being one to shy away from a challenge; I decided to attempt that most intricate and fail-prone of French dishes: the soufflé. Certainly, you’d be able to make anything in a convection microwave if you can create a soft, cloudy, cheesy soufflé. So, hold on to your aprons ladies, you’re in for a surprise!

I chose Faith Durand’s authentic French recipe via Kitchn, with a few slight variations (recipe below).

At first, I was a terribly worried when after 10 minutes I couldn’t see that anything was happening. But these little bowls of loveliness rose to the occasion, and at about 19 minutes they were golden and delicious.

Suffice it to say; I am super impressed with my Neochef! And a firm pat on the back for my own culinary ability as well – I conquered my fear of making a soufflé!

The Neochef has proven it can bake, but this baby can do so much more. It makes yogurt, defrost, has a Healthy Fry feature, and an awesome Easyclean Coating inside that helps to keep things safe and hygienic.

On top of all its features, this is a beautiful appliance as well.

How to Make a Soft and Delicious Cheesy Soufflé

You will Need:

  • 4 Large Egg White
  • 3 Large Yolks
  • 1/2 Cup of Grated Cheese (I used Emmenthaler and Gruyere, but as she says, any one or a combination of cheeses will do)
  • 6 Tablespoons of Flour
  • 3.5 Tablespoons of Butter
  • 1.5 Cups of Milk
  • Salt, Pepper, Nutmeg & Cayenne Pepper
  • Butter or Spray & Cook for the souffle dish
  • Extra Parmesan for to coat the dish

Method:

souffle

Step 1: Grease the souffle dish or ramekins and sprinkle with a little bit of extra Parmesan.

Step 2: Make a Bechamel sauce: melt the butter in a saucepan. Remove from the heat and add the flour, stirring constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Add a little bit of milk while stirring. Put back on the stove and keep adding milk, while constantly stirring with a whisk. The sauce will thicken quickly after a few minutes. Keep whisking until it has the consistency of porridge and then remove from the heat.

Step 3: Spoon the bechamél sauce into a mixing bowl and allow to cool for a few minutes.

souffle

Step 4: Once the sauce is cool enough to the touch, stir the egg yolks into the sauce.

Step 5: Next, stir in the cheese. Add salt, pepper, nutmeg and Cayenne pepper to taste.

Step 6: Place the egg whites in a clean mixing bowl and beat until they form stiff peaks.

Step 7: Add one spoonful of the egg whites into the bechamel-mixture, mixing thoroughly.

Step 8: Now carefully fold the rest of the egg whites into the mixtures. This is where the secret to a great souffle lies: the egg whites are holding all the air, so you have to make sure that you mix them with the rest of the ingredients without losing that air.

Step 9: Carefully spoon the mixture into the prepared soufflé dish or ramekins. The batter should fill the dish about halfway.

Step 10: And this is where the Neochef comes in: you will notice that I didn’t start this recipe with an instruction to heat the oven. The heat in a convection microwave is instant, so once you’re ready to start baking your soufflé, put it in and switch it on – it’s super efficient!

The recipe says “broil for 3 minutes”, which refers to the top grill element. After that, without opening the door, change the setting to convection with a temperature of 200°C and bake for 20 minutes or until a testing pin comes out clean.

A soufflé has to be eaten immediately so make sure that everything is ready for supper. Serve with a side salad.

I hope that I have inspired you to try and make a soufflé at home. It’s a delicious light meal and looks fantastic too. And if you can make it in an LG Neochef®, all the better!

souffle

This post and the Neochef® was sponsored by LG.

Deeply Delicious and Utterly Easy Chocolate Almond Cake

A friend recently made this deliciously rich chocolate cake when we went over for dinner and a few rounds of Mexican Trains*. Come dessert time, I decided as soon as I bit into this chocolatey deliciousness that it had to be my next bake for the blog.  Even though I’ve got a good, flop-free chocolate sponge cake which I often make, the addition of almonds and coffee along with the decadent chocolate frosting puts this one in another league!

CHOCOLATE ALMOND CAKE

YOU WILL NEED:

Equipment: Mixer, spatula, food processor or equivalent to blitz the almonds, 25cm cake tin

Ingredients for the cake:

  • 225g dark chocolate
  • Small hot espresso or 4 tsp good instant coffee in 3 tbsp boiling water (I went for the instant option)
  • 200g butter
  • 80g flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp good quality cocoa
  • 5 eggs
  • 225g castor sugar
  • 125g whole almonds, blitzed in the food processor to make ground almonds

Ingredients for the frosting:

  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 3 tbsp butter

Chocolate Almond Cake

METHOD:

Preheat your oven to 180ºC, Gas Mark 4.

Prepare your cake tin by generously spraying with Spray & Cook and lining the bottom with baking paper.

For The Chocolate cake:

CHOCOLATE ALMOND CAKE

  • Melt the chocolate in a double boiler (or place a glass bowl over small saucepan of water).
  • Once it starts to melt, add the hot espresso.
  • Cut the butter into blocks and add to the chocolate coffee mixture. RESIST THE TEMPTATION TO STIR!
  • Sift flour, baking powder and cocoa together.
  • Separate the eggs, dropping whites only into the bowl of a standing mixer.
  • Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks, then quickly but gently fold in the sugar with a large metal spoon. *
  • Remove the chocolate from the heat and stir to dissolve the last of the butter.
  • Beat the egg yolks in a little bowl, and add to the chocolate butter mixture.
  • Gently fold this mixture into the sweet egg whites. You are folding to keep the air in the cake.
  • Finally, fold in the sifted flour and cocoa, followed by the ground almonds.
  • Once the flour mixture and almonds are just combined, plop the mixture into your cake tin, scraping everything from the bowl with your spatula.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean, with no streaks of batter. A few moist crumbs are OK! **

 

Chocolate frosting:

CHOCOLATE ALMOND CAKE

  • Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler and stir together to make smooth, melted chocolate. Pour over the completely cooled cake. ***

Cook’s notes:

* Mexican Trains is a double twelve or double fifteen Domino game that I can absolutely recommend – it’s great fun for the whole family!

** The reason for using a metal spoon is that the edge cuts through the mixture, so it doesn’t deflate.  If you fold ingredients in batches, using a cutting action and turning the mixture in on itself, rather than stirring, you avoid the risk of losing too much volume.

*** I found, when making this the first time in a smaller (23cm) tin, that my cake needed much longer to cook.  A larger tin, which allows the heat to penetrate the batter more, will bake in a shorter time.

**** The chocolate frosting is almost pure melted chocolate, so it does set quite firm and tends to crack a bit when cut.  If you’re OCD like me, and the cracking bothers you, I reckon a chocolate ganache will work really well with this recipe too.  An easy ganache I’ve made before uses 200g chocolate & 85ml cream: heat the cream until it’s about to boil, then add the chocolate.  Let it stand for 2 minutes, then stir until the chocolate has fully melted into the cream. Whisk until smooth and glossy. When you start to stir it, you think it won’t come together, but it will. Allow to cool to a pourable / spreadable consistency, then spread over your cooled cake!

 

 

 

When life hands you lemons, make lemon drizzle cake!

A recent abundance of lemons on the tree in my back garden prompted me to find a recipe in which I could use them.  Luckily, I didn’t have to look far!  A friend gave me The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook a few years ago and their Lemon & Poppyseed cake was the 1st (and actually only!) recipe that I tried. So when life handed me lemons, I decided to make lemon drizzle cake! This cake has been a tremendous hit with everyone who’s tasted it.  So far, it’s been requested by my mom-in-law, my children (no surprise there to be honest, it’s cake afterall!) and even a colleague of my husband’s. Twice! You know what they say: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

lemon drizzle cake

Lemon Drizzle Cake

YOU WILL NEED:

Equipment: Mixer, spatula, whisk, 24cm Ring mould

Ingredients for the cake:

  • 85g unsalted butter
  • 245g caster sugar
  • Grated zest of 1½ lemons
  • 15g poppy seeds
  • 165ml whole milk
  • 235g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 egg whites

Ingredients for the Lemon Syrup:

  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 100ml water

Ingredients for the Lemon Glaze:

  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 250g icing sugar
  • Pretty sprinkles if desired!

lemon drizzle cake

METHOD:

Instructions for the cake:

  • Preheat your oven to 170ºC, Gas Mark 3.
  • Prepare your ring mould by generously spraying with Spray & Cook.
  • Cream together the butter, caster sugar, poppy seeds and lemon zest in a large bowl.
  • Slowly add the milk in stages and beat until all the ingredients are incorporated (don’t worry if the mixture looks slightly split at this stage).
  • In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.
  • Add this to the butter mixture in 3 stages, beating well after each addition.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.
    Using a metal spoon, gently fold this into the cake mixture until well mixed, but don’t overmix or you’ll lose all the fluffiness!
  • Pour into mould and bake for about 30 minutes until the sponge is golden and bounces back when gently pressed.

lemon drizzle cake

Instructions for the Lemon Syrup:

  • Whilst the cake is baking, make the lemon syrup by mixing the lemon zest and juice, sugar and water in a saucepan and gently boiling it until it has reduced by half and has thin syrup consistency. Do be mindful not to let this boil for too long… I have ended up with a very sticky toffee-ish mess once!
  • When the hot cake comes out of the oven, pour the lemon syrup all over the top whilst it is still in the ring mould.  This makes the cake wonderfully moist.  Leave to cool in tin for 10 minutes, then turn out on to your plate of choice to cool completely.

lemon drizzle cake

Instructions for the Lemon Glaze:

  • Mix the lemon juice and icing sugar until smooth and glossy. It should be thick but pourable – add a little water or more icing sugar to thin or thicken as necessary.
  • Once the cake has cooled, spoon over the glaze and let it run down the sides of the cake.

lemon drizzle cake

lemon drizzle cake

The official recipe states “Sprinkle with a few poppy seeds” at this point, but I always opt for prettier sprinkles like the pearls and silver balls seen in the photos.  And glitter.  Almost always glitter!

lemon drizzle cake

That’s it… all that remains is for you to serve yourself a slice of lemony deliciousness.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Have your Rainbow Mandala Cake this Heritage Day and Eat It!

Every year we celebrate Heritage Day with a braai. In fact, National Braai Day, as its known, is a true South African way of saying that we should put our differences aside and eat together. I am not much of braaier myself – I leave that to my husband. But recently when my sister Anélle made this incredible rainbow mandala cake I thought, what a better way to celebrate our rich South African heritage than with this gorgeous and intricately decorated deliciousness? We are the Rainbow Nation after all! So after you’ve had your braai – and the compulsory nap that follows – have some coffee and rainbow cake and be proud to be a Saffer. To read more about this very talented baker and maker, click here!

rainbow mandala cake

Heritage Day Rainbow Mandala Cake

Prep time: 60 mins

Cook time: 15 – 20 mins

rainbow mandala cake

YOU WILL NEED:

Equipment: Mixer, spatula, disposable foil tins, disposable piping bags

For the cake you will need:

  • 350g self-raising flour
  • 3tsp baking powder
  • 350g soft unsalted butter
  • 350g caster sugar
  • 6 large free range eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • up to 40ml milk – any kind

For the frosting you will need:

  • 300g butter, VERY soft but not melted
  • 250g medium fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • +- 800g icing sugar, sifted
  • 1tbsp lemon juice

Method:

Preheat oven to gas mark 4/170ºC/360 ºF

Prepare your disposable tin foil tins by spraying with Spray & Cook and cutting a circle of baking paper for each one

 Instructions for the cake:

rainbow mandala cake

  • Cream your butter and sugar until combined and light and fluffy – a couple of minutes of beating on high speed in a stand mixer.
  • Add eggs one at a time
  • In a separate bowl, mix baking powder & flour, then add little by little and mix well (with the mixer now on slow)
  • Add vanilla extract.
  • If your mix is a little thick as mine was, add up to 65ml of milk – adding a tablespoon at a time and stopping when you get to a consistency that you’re happy with.
  • Divide your mix into 6 bowls (including your original bowl) to do your colours. Add only a few drops of gel at a time and mix well.
  • Use a spatula to scoop all of the batter into a disposable tin. Use the back of a spoon to smooth down each cake – this will help them to bake flat.
  • Pop them into the oven and keep a close eye on them – you don’t want them to get browned. Take them out as soon as a skewer to the center came out clean (15-20 min depending on your oven)
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before stacking.

 Instructions for the frosting:

  1. Mix the butter and cream cheese
  2. Add icing sugar gradually and mix well
  3. Add lemon juice
  4. Refrigerate to firm if necessary, or add up to 60ml hot water if too firm

 To assemble:

rainbow mandala cake

  1. Put your first layer onto the center of the plate, and then frost and put on the next layer.
  2. Continue stacking the cake, taking care to position the layers as evenly as possible, so that the sides of the cake are as straight as they can be.
  3. Apply a crumb coat of frosting to the cake, filling any gaps between layers. The colours of the cake will be very apparent, but don’t worry! Chill the assembled cake for 20min.
  4. Apply a second coat of frosting. Chill for 20min.
  5. Apply a third coat of frosting. Chill until set.
  6. Divide remaining icing into bowls, one for each colour piping icing required.
  7. Colour icing by using only a drop of gel at a time. Scoop into disposable piping bags, then pipe away to your heart’s content!

A bit about mandalas

rainbow mandala cake

A mandala is a symbol that represents the universe in all its complexity and beauty. Start with a center point and then visually divide the cake into 4 quarters. Work your way around and make sure that you do exactly the same thing in each quarter. It’s very therapeutic! There is no right or wrong way and every mandala will be completely unique – just go with it! Here are some mandala images via Shutterstock to get you in the mood!

rainbow mandala cake

rainbow mandala cake

rainbow mandala cake

Happy Heritage Day!

 

Winter Warmers: traditional and tangy vinegar pudding

The days for warm puddings are getting fewer but my yearning for weekends spent in front of the fireplace has not yet been satisfied. While I am clinging on to winter, I find myself searching for traditional comfort food more and more. It was on one of these recipe-hunting adventures that I found this traditional dessert in my trusty old Kook & Geniet (Cook & Enjoy). It is filled with amazing old-school South African recipes and reminds me of Sunday lunch at my gran’s house.  As my neighbour pointed out when I told her of my intention to make this for our lunch on Woman’s Day, the term “vinegar pudding” is really a contradiction in terms. But this delicious, warming pudding is filled with sweet and tangy goodness that will make you want to lick out the bowl.

For the sauce, you will need:

  • 500ml water
  • 500ml sugar
  • 125ml vinegar (plain white spirit vinegar is fine)

For the pudding, you will need:

  • 25ml butter
  • 125ml sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 375ml cake flour
  • 10ml fine ginger (I didn’t have ginger, so I substituted with cinnamon which was great!)
  • pinch of salt
  • 5ml bicarb
  • 2.5ml nutmeg
  • 30ml apricot  jam or honey

Method:

  • First, make the sauce: Cook the water, vinegar, and sugar together in a small saucepan until all the sugar had dissolved. Leave to cool, and then pour into a greased oven dish.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  • Beat the butter and sugar together, and then add the eggs.
  • Sift together the dry ingredients, and add to the butter mixture.
  • Add the jam or honey and stir well.
  • Spoon the thick dough into the dish with the sauce – no need to mix anything!
  • Bake for 30 – 40, until the pudding is beautifully brown on top.

When you dish it up, drizzle with a spoon full of the sauce. Serve with a hearty dollop of warm custard or whipped cream and enjoy.

Happy baking!

The pretty bowls were a gift from my sister – aren’t they just lovely!! x

 

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