Thursday, 31 January 2013

Graffiti Cake..

Today I attempted to make a "Graffiti" Cake.  This idea was taken from Lorraine Pascale's: Home Cooking Made Easy.  It a simple sponge with an amazing coloured candy outside.  I tweaked her recipe slightly to make it my own.
Ingredients for sponge:
200g butter, soft.
200g soft light brown sugar.
1teaspoon of Vanilla extract.
5 free range eggs.
200g self raising flour.
Pink food dye.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.  Grease and line two 8 inch cake pans.  Next, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs and flour and whisk until combined.  Add your food dye until you get the desired colour - for me, the deeper the better!  I chose pink but you really can use any colour that takes your fancy!  Then divide the mixture into two pans and pop in the oven for around 25-30 minutes.

Lorraine's recipe uses buttercream but I used a swiss meringue icing as I prefer that!
Ingredients for icing:
2 medium eggs whites.
4 tablespoons of golden syrup.
100g caster sugar.
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar.
1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

Whisk all ingredients, bar vanilla extract, over a bain marie. You need to whisk until the icing becomes thick and glossy.  It will take around five minutes to take on that meringue like consistency!  Once the mixture is holding peaks, remove from the heat.  Add the vanilla and whisk until room temperature.  

To assemble the cake, put a blob of icing on your cake board and stick the first cake down.  Then smooth icing in a thin layer over the top.  Stick your second layer down. Then apply your crumb coat.  This is a thick layer that glues all the crumbs to your cake before applying your final layer of icing.  It basically stops any crumbs mixing with your icing and being visible on your finished cake! Then put your cake into the fridge for half an hour to set.  Then apply a final, thicker, neater, layer of icing.

Meanwhile... the exciting part begins!!!
Ingredients for the graffiti edging:
250g granulated sugar.
130mls water.
130mls golden syrup or liquid glucose (I used golden sugar!).
Food colouring (I used the same pink as the cake!)
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Put the sugar and water into a pan on a low heat to dissolve the sugar. Swirl, rather than stir the sugary water.  Once dissolved, bring to a boil.  Check on the sugar every five minutes. You do this by dipping a teaspoon into the sugar and then into a cup of water. After a minute or so, check the teaspoon. If the sugar on the spoon has disappeared, its not ready, so continue boiling.  It is ready when the sugar on the spoon it hard.  When it is, take the pan off the heat, add the food dye and vanilla.  Pour the sugar into a jug (be careful - hot sugar syrup on skin hurts!!!) Leave to cool for a minute and then pour, in bands, onto a prepared length of baking parchment, making circular shapes.
When the graffiti is firm, but pliable, peel off the parchment and wrap around the cake.  I had trouble getting it all off in one go so I broke it up and wrapped it round the cake in pieces - it still looked good and I could pick the best bits of the graffiti to go on the cake!   

This is a really fun cake, it is relatively easy but looks very impressive.  I think it's definitely worth a go!!

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Pink Rainbow Cake..

My eldest sister is getting married in the summer and she has asked me to bake something for the reception party. I have had countless ideas as to what to bake.  As I am a bridemaid, and the wedding being far away, I have had to rule out treats that will require baking on the wedding day, namely cupcakes (what she originally asked for) and go for bakes that I will be able to make the morning before!
So, after giving this quite some thought, I decided to try out a few ideas and then test them on her so she can decide which she likes best.

So today, I made a pink rainbow cake.  Rainbow cakes seem to be very popular at the moment, and, even though I love the multicoloured versions that are commonly seen, I think the pink rainbow is a little more "grown up" and suitable for a wedding.  It was great fun to make, however, it took in excess of three hours to bake.  I'm sure my second attempt (if this is picked) will be a bit quicker!

For the actual cake I made a basic vanilla sponge:
-Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
- Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Whilst mixing, add the egg whites a little at a time.
- Add the vanilla.
- Add the milk and flour in two equal parts, alternating between the dry and wet ingredients. 

By substituting whole eggs with egg whites, you get an overall paler batter meaning that when you add your food dye, the colour will be more vibrant. 

- Divide the batter into five equal parts ready for dying.
- The first layer should be left plain. 
- To the other bowls, add little by little more dye for each layer.
Don't be afraid to really pump up the colour for the last layer!
These can then go into your greased pans into a pre- heated oven at 180 celcius for approximately 15minutes. 

Once out of the oven, leave to cool whilst getting on with the Swiss meringue buttercream.  I decided to make this type of buttercream because I find conventional buttercream too rich, especially considering there are five layers to the cake! However, even though this buttercream had a lighter taste, it was still far too rich, and so I next time I plan to use American style meringue frosting, which cuts out the butter! I really think it is up to personal preference!

So... the big assembly.  First, whack a dollop of frosting onto your cake board. This allows your first layer of cake to stick and prevents any flying cake!! Decide whether you want to go from dark to pale or pale to dark and then place your first cake accordingly.  I went for dark to pale! In between each cake, apply a thin, even layer of frosting, so that the next layer has something to stick to. Once you have all your layers up, apply a crumb coat.  This is a think layer of your frosting around the whole cake to "glue" any crumbs and stop them from showing on your final cake. 
Once you have done this, put the cake in the fridge for around thirty minutes.  Then repeat the process.  This will be your final layer of frosting so it should be a little thicker and neater.  Use a palette knife and warm water to smooth the sides as you go.  Then decorate with sprinkles or glitter or even chocolate flowers, the possibilities are endless!! I chose strawberry sprinkles and white sugar pearls.   

Not bad, right?

 And the verdict? She really loved it!