Sunday, 25 May 2014

Chocolate Hazelnut Tart

Trawling through Twitter last Sunday afternoon, I discovered it was World Baking Day. Of course, I couldn't let an opportunity to bake pass me by, so I got out my cookbooks and started searching for inspiration. I eventually decided upon a chocolate and hazelnut tart.

This recipe came from The Great British Bake Off: Everyday and caught my eye when I first got the book as a Christmas present last year. I was delighted that I finally got and opportunity to try it out.

Pastry is something that I'm not hugely confident with, but I am determined to overcome this. Apart from a few burnt edges which I trimmed off, this was actually pretty alright. It was really buttery crumbly, just the way I like.

The chocolate hazelnut ganache filling is so rich and a tiny sliver will give you your chocolate fix for the day. It tastes just like Ferrero Rocher. Yum!

Chocolate Hazelnut Tart

For the pastry:
200g plain flour 
Pinch of salt
80g icing sugar
100g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
4 medium egg yolks
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Put the flour, salt and icing sugar into a bowl and give it a quick whisk. Add the butter and rub together until the mixture looks like fine bread crumbs. Add the egg yolks and beat until just combined, then use your hands to mold the dough into a ball. Remove from the bowl and flatten into a disk before covering with clingfilm. Chill for 30 minutes. 

Lightly dust a work surface with flour, then roll out the pastry to a circle large enough to cover your tart tin. Press into the tin. Prick the base with a fork, then chill for a further 15 minutes.

Heat your oven to 180ºC. Bake the pastry case 'blind' by lining with a crumbled up piece of greaseproof paper and filling with baking beans. Place in the heated oven and bake for 12-15 minutes until the pastry is firm. Remove the baking beans, turn down the temperature to 160ºC and bake for a further 7-9 minutes. Remove from the oven and set the tin on a wire rack to cool. 

For the filling:
250g chopped roasted hazelnuts
400ml double cream
150g milk chocolate
150g dark chocolate
1/4 tsp sea salt

Heat the cream in a medium pan until steaming hot. Remove from the heat and stir in 50g of the hazelnuts. Cover and leave to infuse for at least 45 minutes (up to 2 hours if possible), stirring from time to time.

Break up the chocolate and put into a heatproof bowl. Gently reheat the cream/mixture until steaming hot and then pour through a sieve onto the chocolate. Stir until melted and smooth. Discard the nuts in the sieve. Add the remaining nuts and salt to the mixture and beat well for about a minute until the mixture is thick. 

Scrape the mixture into the pastry case, cover with clingfilm and chill for 20 minutes to firm up. Leave at room temperature for 20 minutes before serving. 

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Chocolate Flowerpot Cake

Thursday was mum's birthday and of course I couldn't let the occasion past without making a cake. The only problem was, I had about two hours over two days to make it happen so I would need to come up with a game plan. I decided to bake the cake the first day and then decorate it the second. Somehow, I managed to get it all done with about 30 minutes to spare.


The cake itself is a pretty simple one. I baked it in a giant cupcake tin (similar to this one) to help with the shape of the flowerpot which definitely helped with the timing issue, even if it wasn't quite as tall as I would have like. I then covered the cake in a thin layer of buttercream, before decorating with fondant, crushed up Oreos for soil and finally some buttercream grass to hide any messy edges.

Chocolate Cake
175g unsalted butter, softened
175g golden caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
3 tbsp golden syrup
40g ground almonds
175g self-raising flour
Pinch of salt
40g cocoa powder
2 tbsp water

Preheat the oven to 180ºC and line your cupcake tin. Place the butter and sugar in a bowl and beat until light and fluffy Gradually, add in the eggs. Stir in the golden syrup and ground almonds. Sift the flour, salt and cocoa powder in a separate bowl, before folding into the mixture. If needed, add in the water to make a dropping consistency. Spoon three quarters of the mixture into the base section of the cupcake tin. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and add the remaining mixture to the top part of the cupcake tin and bake for a further 15 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool on a wire rack. 

Chocolate Buttercream
2 tbsp hot water
2 tbsp cocoa powder
150g unsalted butter, softened
225g icing sugar

Blend the water and cocoa powder together to make a paste. Beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add in half the icing sugar and the cocoa powder paste an beat. Add in the remaining sugar and beat until smooth. 

You will also need
About 6-8 Oreos
Different coloured fondant
A little bit of extra buttercream

When the cake has cooled completely, sandwich the two sections together with some buttercream. Cover the whole cake in a thin layer of buttercream. Break up some oreos (just the biscuit part) and press into the top of the cake to create the soil. Cover the side of the cake in brown fondant to create the flowerpot. Then add whatever leaves and flowers you want, using either leftover buttercream or edible glue to secure. I used a little bit of yellow buttercream to create the centre of the flowers, but you could use extra fondant instead. I also wanted to cover up the rough edges at the bottom of the cake so piped on some grass. A ribbon would also do the trick.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Wizard of Oz Rainbow Cake

This week was my cousin's 30th birthday. Ever since I remember, she has been obsessed with the Wizard of Oz. So, of course it was the first thing I thought of when I was planning her cake.

When it came to the actual cake, there was only one option. It had to be a (somewhere over the) rainbow cake! This was my first ever seven layered rainbow cake. I wanted to keep the layers nice and thin, so used a five layer recipe and then divided it into seven colours. I then used a very thin layer of buttercream to cover the cake. I loved how it turned out.

For the decoration, I decided to give fondant another go. I know it is not my strong point, but practice makes perfect, right? Well I've a lot of practice to go, but some strategically placed yellow brick roads and poppy fields covered any holes and made this cake look pretty presentable.

But the most important part is, the birthday girl loved it! And she sent me this snap of when she cut it open. It looks pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.

(adapted from Raspberri Cupcakes)
355g plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
225ml milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
400g caster sugar
225g butter, softened
4 eggs
Food colouring

Preheat oven to 180ºC and grease and line your tins. I only had 2 round tins, so had to bake this in batches. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside. Mix milk and vanilla together in a measuring jug and set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in a large bowl until pale and creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mix and milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture (Add 1/4 of the dry mixture followed by 1/3 of the wet mixture at a time). Beat until smooth, occasionally scraping bowl with a spatula. Divide mixture evenly into 7 bowls and add a different colour of the rainbow to each bowl. Pour batter into prepared tins and bake each layer for about 10 minutes or until a skewer into the centre comes out clean. They're very thin layers so keep a careful eye on them. Cool on a wire rack. 

Vanilla Buttercream
150g unsalted butter, softened
225g icing sugar
2 tbsp hot water
1 tsp vanilla extract

Beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add in half the icing sugar, half the water and the vanilla. Beat until combined. Add in the remaining icing sugar and water (if needed). Beat until combined.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

1st Birthday Cake and Cupcakes

Another commissioned cake this week. Without sounding completely cheesy, it feels really great when someone asks me to make an cake for a special occasion of theirs, and I always jump at the opportunity. This week is another 1st birthday cake, for one of the girls in work's son. 

As usual, I went straight to Pinterst for ideas, and in the end we decided upon a giant number 1 covered in Smarties. I turned to my favourite chocolate cake recipe (previously seen here and here), printed off a giant number 1 template and set to work.

I loved working on this cake and even though sorting and placing the millions of Smarties was quite time consuming, I actually found it really relaxing. I finished off the cake board with the birthday boy's name in fondant letters.

I also whipped up my all-in-one chocolate cupcakes and topped them with chocolate buttercream and some mini smarties. I made three batches of the buttercream to cover the cake and all the cupcakes.

Chocolate Fudge Cake
(adapted from Donal Skehan)
350g self-raising flour
5 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
300g caster sugar
300ml vegetable oil
300ml semi-skimmed milk
4 large eggs, beaten
4 tbsp golden syrup

Preheat your oven to 180ºC and line two square baking tins. Sieve the flour, cocoa powder and bicarb into the biggest bowl you have. (Or if you're lazy, like me, put them into the bowl and give it a good whisk). Add in the sugar and mix well. In a jug, measure in the oil, milk, eggs, syrup and mix. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and gradually add in the wet ingredients until you have a smooth (and quite wet) mixture. Pour evenly between your baking tins and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool slightly, before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes
(Makes 12 cupcakes)
150g butter, softened
150g soft light brown sugar sugar
3 medium eggs, beaten
125g self-raising flour
25g cocoa powder 
1 tbsp milk

Preheat the oven to 180ºC and line the cupcake tin. Place all ingredients in a bowl and beat until smooth. Spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases, about two thirds full. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Chocolate Buttercream
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2tbsp boiling water
150g unsalted butter, softened
225g icing sugar

Blend the cocoa powder and water to a paste and leave to cool slightly. Beat the butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add in the icing sugar until well combined. Add in the cocoa powder paste and beat once more. Spoon mixture into a piping bag and pipe onto your cooled cupcakes.

When your cakes have cooled completely, trim the edges and place side by side. Using cocktail sticks, pin a paper template to the cake, and carefully cut around it. Spread a thin layer of buttercream on top and gently place on the Smarties.

When the cupcakes have cooled, pipe on the chocolate buttercream and sprinkle over some mini Smarties. 

Sunday, 27 April 2014


I'm the first to admit that these aren't the prettiest thing to bake, but they are pretty damn tasty. I get a craving for them every now and again and can whip them up in about 30 minutes. It's very easy to trick yourself into thinking they're a healthy snack (if you forget about the butter, sugar and golden syrup) and the whole tray is usually gone in a couple of days.

This recipe was given to me by my friend Susan, and it can be jazzed up whatever way you want. I kept them plain this time, but depending on the occasion or what's in the house, you can also add M&Ms, chocolate chips, raisins, desiccated coconut (or anything else that you have lying around) and top with chocolate.

225g unsalted butter, melted
115g caster sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
115g plain flour
300g jumbo oats
Pinch bicarbonate of soda

Line a baking tin with greaseproof paper and preheat the oven to 180ºC. Mix butter, sugar and golden syrup. Add in the flour, oats and bicarb and mix well. Stir in any extra fillings. Press into the baking tin and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown on top.