Tag Archives: cake

Valentine’s cake and stargazing

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Valentine’s Day sped by in a blur this year. Remember last year’s fanfare? Well, this year was quieter but still fun, and I used the celebration to work on two more of my goals: #22 (bake another cake) and #30 (visit a planetarium).

We went to the Johannesburg Planetarium for their Valentine’s Day show. It was really funny being in a crowd of about 150 couples! The show was cute, and one could opt to screen a personal message in the stars. This is what I wrote for my man:

Ninja

You are strong, handsome, godly, funny, loving and an incredible husband. No matter what happens in life, always look up!

With love, respect and stars in my eyes,

Zest

All together now: “Awwww!” 🙂

As I mentioned, I also managed to bake the fourth of five cakes on my 22nd goal: a fresh raspberry cake. The recipe for this treat (and all the credit!) for the cake can be found here: http://bakingbites.com/2013/06/fresh-raspberry-cake/. (The only thing I changed was using 1 t lemon juice instead of 1 t lemon zest.) Here are my pics to whet your appetite:

Fresh raspberry cake

Fresh raspberry cake

The batter only fills part of the tin

The batter only fills part of the tin

Then you dot in the raspberries

Sprinkle the cake with sugar

Sprinkle the cake with sugar

And bake till it's lovely golden colour

And bake till it’s lovely golden colour

I can’t imagine this cake with any berries other than these tart red delights, but of course you could try other berries if you wanted to. Next time I make this I might experiment with using less sugar, as a whole cup seemed like a huge portion, but otherwise this was fantastic and gobbled up by all those I shared it with. (FYI: I did notice that it’s probably best eaten fresh, as the longer you keep it the softer the berries will become.)

Thank you, Baking Bites, for sharing this recipe with us! The sweetest side of baking is in the sharing 🙂

Rat-themed cupcakes

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It’s a rainy grey day in my corner of the world today – and as you know, this weather always draws me into the kitchen to make sweet treats (boy it’s a good thing I don’t live in the UK or I’d become a real roly poly!). I baked ratty cupcakes today, and tried out a new marshmallow frosting technique for fun.

Rat-themed cupcakes

Rat-themed cupcakes

The cupcake recipe is the same one I used for my husband’s ninja-themed party. This isn’t the first time I’ve tried a rat or mouse theme with baking, but it’s the first time I’ve used cute mini Marie biscuits for ears 🙂 The eyes are noses are just silver and red dragees. I would have loved to have added whiskers too; maybe next time…

The marshmallow icing was sticky messy fun 😀 It’s a quick alternative to normal icing with confectioner’s sugar – if you happen to have marshmallows on hand, of course.

Making marshmallow frosting

Making marshmallow frosting

It’s as simple as taking the cupcakes out of the oven about two minutes before they’re done baking. Place a marshmallow on top of each warm cupcake and pop them all back in the oven.

Marshmallow frosted cupcakes

Marshmallow frosted cupcakes

Hardly a minute later, as you see the marshmallows sliding and melting, take them out again and smooth the sticky sweets over the surface of the cupcakes. Then pop them back in one last time for a minute longer so they melt completely. Take them out again, decorate and cool as usual.

Cute rat cupcakes

Cute rat cupcakes

The marshmallow icing is very sticky to work with but I was pleasantly surprised to find that it’s not too sweet if you only use one ‘mallow per cupcake.

So, did I share my ratty cupcakes with my ratties?

What do you think? 😉

Lime, sour cream & coconut cake

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For National Women’s Day this past week I baked my third ever cake, thanks to the delicious recipe from Kate Bracks, winner of MasterChef Australia Season 3.

Cake batter

Cake batter

And wow, all I can say to you is: Bake. This. Cake!

Lime juice and zest

Lime juice and zest

The recipe is easy and the ingredients not too pricey; the method is also interesting because of the hot syrup you pour over at the end. I was intrigued by the use of sour cream, but it works a treat, and this cake really is as moist as Kate promises.

Lime, sour cream and coconut cake (thanks to Kate Bracks)

Kate also suggests eating this cake with fresh cream and blueberries, but when I shared this cake with my best friend and later with my parents, none of us remembered the berries and cream. We were too busy enjoying the cake exactly as it is!

This recipe is definitely a keeper, and was a tasty way to work on one of my goals 🙂

Resisting temptation

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Temptation

Six days left of the 21-day sugar detox, and I’m quite proud of my progress. I’ve managed to avoid sweet and carby temptations for over two weeks now – though it’s not so easy when they get handed to me on a platter!

The cute vanilla and white-chocolate cupcake pictured above is from a work colleague’s birthday tea. My friend and I who are doing the 21DSD each took a cupcake… not to eat but to freeze at home, in readiness for this coming Sunday when the detox ends.

Shew. I haven’t been so close to sugar in weeks. I held it close and inhaled the sweet creamy scent…

But since I’m so close to the end I didn’t want to spoil my good streak. So I snapped a pic and hastily stashed away the cupcake in the freezer.

A marvel of self-control.

:mrgreen:

Seriously though, this detox hasn’t been as hardcore as I expected it to be. In fact, once it’s over I think there are quite a few lessons I can take away and principles I want to adopt on a more permanent basis.

For example, I’ve discovered that I really don’t need sweetener in my tea. With the possible exception of some rather earthy herbal infusions, most of my teas are palatable enough without honey.

I’ve also realised that although carbs do have a place in my normal diet, I can happily reduce the amounts I eat and still feel full. So I can enjoy a warm bowl of oats on a winter’s morning – but it doesn’t have to be a big bowl, or every morning, or sweetened overly much.

I’ve learnt that there are many other fine flavours to be enjoyed other than just ‘level-10 sickly sweet’! So I’ve started looking at sweet treats with new eyes now. I feel drawn to flavourful, healthier, freshly baked, homemade treats rather than store-bought ones packed full of unnecessary extras.

I’ve been surprised at my resistance to my old cravings. I think the beauty of the 21-day sugar detox is that by telling your brain that ‘it’s just a detox, not a diet’, somehow your body relaxes and doesn’t feel so deprived anymore 🙂

On the downside, though, I would be happy not to see meat for the next month. Cutting out carbs has made me increase my protein portions, which isn’t so appealing to someone who was never much of a carnivore in the first place. Hmmm… methinks that once this detox is done, I should give that month of vegetarianism another shot…

The Super Sweet Blogging Award

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Ahh 🙂 The Sunshine Scrapbook was just honoured with two more blog award nominations!

Thanks to Steve at Around the World with Blade for picking me for the Versatile Blogger award. I really appreciate the nomination, although I’ve received this award before so I hope you don’t mind if I don’t do the whole thing again 🙂 But check out Steve’s blog for amazing travel stories!

And many thanks to Jane at Talk Kindess To Me for nominating me for the Super Sweet Blogging Award 🙂 It means a lot! For thoughtful spiritual encouragement, Talk Kindness To Me is one of my favourite places to turn.

super-sweet-blogging-award

So here are the Super Sweet rules:

  1. Thank your nominator – Thanks so much Jane! :mrgreen:
  2. Answer the 5 Super Sweet questions – See below
  3. Include the Super Sweet logo in this post – Above and on my wall
  4. Nominate other bloggers for this award – See below
  5. Notify my nominees on their blogs – Will do 🙂

Super Sweet questions:

  • Cookies or cake? – Cookies, I think. They keep for longer, they’re easier to bake, they come in more variations, and they look smaller so you can fool yourself into thinking you can safely have a few more 😀
  • Chocolate or vanilla? – Vanilla should be my middle name…
  • Favourite sweet treat? – Warm pancakes (crepes) filled with crunchy sugar that cracks between my teeth, spicy cinnamon that teases my tongue and fresh lemon juice that turns the cinnamon sugar into a zesty, sticky syrup. Oh, wow. I could eat pancakes every day of my life!
  • When do you crave sweets? – Wayyyyy too often. I think I eat something sweet every day, even if it’s a healthy sweet treat such as fresh or dried fruit. And I always crave unhealthy sweet treats in cold weather.
  • Sweet nickname? – Ninja has called me his little sugarbird because of my sweet tooth 🙂

Super Sweet nominations:

I decided to go with blogs that are mainly foodie-related:

  1. http://thehungryartist.wordpress.com/
  2. http://feedingyourappetite.wordpress.com/
  3. http://thehealthyflavor.com/
  4. http://gercakes.wordpress.com/
  5. http://hannahbakesit.wordpress.com/

Have a beautiful day!

Zest

A moonlit tea party and manly romance

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When last did you do something out of the ordinary, just for fun?

Prep for our moonlit tea party

Last night Ninja and I enjoyed a moonlit tea party outside. It was a spontaneous suggestion from my man when he saw how beautifully clear the night skies were. It wasn’t a freezing evening either – just chilly enough to warrant wrapping up snugly. But autumn evenings are possibly the nicest time to be outside, because they’re not as cold as winter and there are also no mosquitos as in summer.

So I boiled up our rooibos tea and sliced up some custard cake, and we spent about half an hour enjoying each other’s company in the clear, quiet night.

I suppose this might not seem like such an unusual thing to those of you who have gardens of your own, but since we have no access to our landlord’s yard, we had to sit out on the pavement. That immediately made it an unusual spot for tea 😛

It was one of those memorable ‘live in the moment’ times for me. I consciously focused on my cold fingers clasping the warm mug, and the sounds of distant traffic and night birds, and the sweet comfort of the custard cake. It was also special to chat with Ninja under the stars, because years ago we shared a similar moonlit conversation as friends, a few weeks before we began dating.

Reflecting on that moonlit tea party today, I can glean another lesson from it: the marital lesson of saying ‘Yes, let’s!’ more often than saying ‘No, but…’. Part of the excitement that comes with dating is the spontaneity of experiencing new things together. But I think over time many wives (including myself) can get into the habit of saying no to their husbands’ spontaneous suggestions.

We ladies may look at our to-do lists and focus so intently on our responsibilities that we can’t see room for fun anymore. No wonder some men stop making suggestions when they receive repeated excuses. Or perhaps you say yes and then proceed to take over like it was your idea (oops… I’ve done that too!).

But in doing so we may be missing out on the one thing we actually want: romance! I’m willing to bet that men are more romantic than popular culture gives them credit for; it’s just that they’re not romantic in the same way as women. While we’re daydreaming about candlelit dinners and bunches of roses, we may have missed half a dozen romantic suggestions from our men.

The thing is, for men romance is primarily about companionship. Yes, physical intimacy plays an important part, but that’s only half the picture. Chances are your man just wants to experience fun things with you. He wants a companion to share both new experiences and old hobbies. He doesn’t always want to wait on you hand and foot (as in your idea of romance). To him, romance may be as easy as having you contentedly by his side 🙂

I know that I want to become more of a ‘Yes, let’s!’ wife.

What about you, ladies? And guys, am I on to something here?

Custard cake with cashews, currants and banana

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What do you get when you combine quiet hours on a cold Sunday afternoon with an experimental, sweet-toothed housewife and the bare month-end essentials in the cupboards? A recipe for an unusually yummy cake, of course!

Yesterday I ticked off another cake for my Goal #22 of baking five different cakes. Since I had no eggs in the house I used the egg-free, dairy-free custard cake recipe I’ve posted about before, but dressed it up with a number of delicious tweaks.

The idea came to me when I thought about some of the fruits, nuts and spices that I enjoy adding when I make a bowl of custard for dessert. If those ingredients taste great with custard dessert, why not add them to custard cake?

To the dry ingredients I added 1 teaspoon mixed spice. To the wet ingredients I added 1 small mashed banana. Then when the mix was combined, I folded in 1/4 C cashews (chipped and toasted) and 1/4 C currants. Those amounts were arbitrary, based on all I had left of the ingredients. But they turned out to be just right 🙂

Cashews and currants about to be stirred into the mix

Cashews and currants about to be stirred into the mix

The recipe made enough for one small square pan.

Cake mix in the pan

Cake mix in the pan

The first time I tried the custard cake recipe I sprinkled white sugar to make a crispy crust. This time I went half-half with white sugar and brown treacle sugar.

White sugar and treacle sugar toppings

White sugar and treacle sugar toppings

The cake looked and smelled great when it came out of the oven. I didn’t wait long to taste it!

Custard cake with cashews, currants and banana

Custard cake with cashews, currants and banana

The results were even better than expected: a moist, slightly dense cake with a pleasant dash of fruitiness. I was also excited to discover that the treacle sugar had added a surprise element… it had melted and trickled down into the cake, so that some slices contained a warm and sticky molasses centre. Nom nom nom nom! :mrgreen:

Treacle sugar surprise

Treacle sugar surprise

Well, I knew I loved it, but would it pass the hubby taste test? At first Ninja looked dubious about the currants (he loathes cooked fruit), but soon he was asking for a large second slice 😀 Success!

Proof that eggless cakes can be awesome too

Proof that eggless cakes can be awesome too

Paired with a steaming cup of rooibos tea on a chilly autumn night, this cake made a splendid after-dinner treat.

We all know it’s risky to experiment with baking… many recipes will flop if you mess around with their ingredients too much. But never let that stop you from adding new flavours to your old favourites – you’d be amazed at what a couple of arb additions can do 🙂

Light chocolate cake

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Despite my sweet tooth, I’m not actually a big fan of chocolate. Or of cake.

That is, except for my mom’s decadent chocolate cake with coffee icing.

Our wedding cake, baked by my mom

As you can see, she baked these for our wedding. (I’ll have to explain about the wheat ears another time…!)

I always start to crave this cake when the weather turns cold as it has this past week, and baking 5 cakes is Goal #22 on my list. So I decided to start off my first cake with our family’s favourite recipe.

I would have followed my mom’s recipe exactly if I’d had all the ingredients, but as it turned out my ‘lite’ version was delicious in its own right.

 

So here’s her recipe first:

Ingredients for chocolate cake

¼ C cocoa

1 C boiling water

4 large eggs, separated

1½ C brown sugar, firmly pressed into cup

½ C oil

1 t vanilla essence

250 g flour

1 T baking powder

2 ml salt

Method for chocolate cake

  1. Grease and line two cake tins.
  2. Mix cocoa and water. Leave to cool.
  3. In processor, beat egg yolks until light. Gradually add sugar.
  4. Add cocoa, oil and vanilla essence.
  5. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt and gradually add to mix.
  6. Beat egg whites until fluffy. Blend in with a metal spoon.
  7. Bake at 180 °C for ±35 min or until a knife inserted comes out clean.
  8. Cool completely before icing with coffee icing.

 

Ingredients for coffee icing

75 g butter, softened

250 g icing sugar, sifted

1 egg, separated

1 T cocoa

2 T strong coffee

½ t vanilla essence

Method for coffee icing

  1. Blend butter and icing sugar.
  2. Dissolve cocoa in coffee. Add vanilla.
  3. Add egg yolk to butter and icing sugar.
  4. Add cocoa mix.
  5. Stiffly beat egg white and fold into mix.
  6. Ice cooled cake and decorate as desired.

 

This makes for a rich and dreamy cake that’s perfectly complemented by the unforgettable flavour of the coffee icing.

Even so, I’m glad I risked making my version with the limited ingredients I had, because it made for a light and fluffy, not-too-sweet cake that I’d happily make again. Here’s my revised list of ingredients:

Ingredients for light chocolate cake

1/8 C cocoa (I halved the cocoa because I’m not such a chocoholic)

1 C boiling water

3 large eggs, separated (I only had 3 eggs)

1 C brown sugar, firmly pressed into cup (I only had 1 C brown sugar)

½ C oil

1 t vanilla essence

250 g flour

1 T baking powder

2 ml salt

 

For the icing recipe I had to exclude the cocoa, coffee and egg. Anyway, I made one small square cake and a few cupcakes with the mix. Next time I think I’ll skip the cupcakes and make a bigger cake.

Freshly baked cake filling the kitchen with a choc aroma

Freshly baked cake filling the kitchen with a choc aroma

I was itching to use my new cake-icing set…

Cake-icing set

Cake-icing set

…but since it was late and I was tired, I ended up turning my first cake into something of a cakewreck! (Plus the pictures are all blurry hand-held night shots, sorry guys.)

First cake(wreck)!

First cake(wreck)!

How not to decorate a cake: write ‘Yum’ on top in suspicious brown goo…! 😀 Haha, it really cracks me up! 😛

At least the cupcakes looked a bit more presentable:

Butter icing

Butter icing

The icing was fun to work with, even though butter icing always seems a bit rich to me. I usually pick/smear/scoop off the butter icing on other people’s cakes as it is (am I the only one?). So I didn’t overdo it this time around.

Anyway, the flavour of the cake was spot on. Even Ninja enjoyed it, since it wasn’t sickly sweet or so chocolatey that it resulted in headaches.

‘Yum’ indeed

And the whole experiment reminded me not to take myself so seriously in the kitchen, because baking is supposed to be fun.

Of course we all want our goodies to look lovely, but sometimes it’s much better to play around, doodle icing all over and lick the batter from the bowl 😉

Minnie Mouse party and cake decorations

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One of my friends enlisted my help for her daughters’ Minnie Mouse-themed birthday party this weekend. She made the cake and cupcakes, and I made the decor. It was only my second time working with fondant icing since the ninja cupcakes, and the first time I’d tried to decorate a whole cake with fondant. All in all, I’m pleased to say the results weren’t a total cake wreck! Plus, since my friend made all the goodies herself, I didn’t even have to break my March goal of no baking 😉

Minnie Mouse cupcake toppers

Minnie Mouse cupcake toppers

The main theme colours were pink and red, but I used a variety of colours and designs (as usual, since production-line kinda creativity isn’t really my style).

More Minnie Mouse cupcake toppers

More Minnie Mouse cupcake toppers

We had one large cake for the eldest birthday girl, a large cupcake for the little sister, and a number of normal cupcakes for the guests. My favourite part of the decor was definitely making the Minnie Mouse face for the large cake.

Minnie Mouse cake decoration

Minnie Mouse cake decoration

My methods may be those of a serious novice, but they worked. I got the template for the face here, printed it out on normal paper and ‘traced’ around it with a knife on the rolled-out white fondant. Then I cut out each section of the paper template and traced it onto the black, pink and red fondant. I added the finishing touches with edible ink.

When it came to covering the cake in icing, we decided on white and red with a pink strip, and black around the sides:

Cake under construction

The youngest daughter’s cupcake looked like this in the end:

Minnie Mouse mini cake

OK, I know it’s pretty plain, but to be fair… she’s only just turned one. I don’t think she would have appreciated anything more artistic: all she wanted was something to squelch in her hand and shove in her mouth 😉

As for the other cupcakes, we frosted them with pink butter icing and stuck a bow on each one.

Cupcakes: bright, beautiful, sweet AND fluffy!

Here are some pics from the final results on the day of the party…

Cake pops

Cake pops

I think these cake pops should count towards my Goal #42 – Eat 5 things I’ve never tried before. They were chocolatey and chewy and yummy. I also think we should have had a lighter hand when sprinkling on those dragees… they crunched so loudly when people bit into them that it sounded like horses munching on dry corncobs! Ow.

Minnie Mouse party

Minnie Mouse party

It was a scorching hot day, so unfortunately the poor fondant bows started to sag and melt…

Bye bye bows…

But the big cake made it to the end:

Minnie Mouse cake

Don’t you just love baking for birthday parties? 😀

Custard cake with no eggs, no butter, no milk

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Yesterday I found (and adapted) another great recipe from the internet, because I was searching for something to bake that didn’t require eggs. When I came across this recipe for too-good-to-be-true cupcakes, I had to give it a go. I’d never baked with custard powder before, but the results were delicious (no pics, I’m afraid … the cake didn’t last long enough!). The original recipe is for cupcakes, but I first tried it out as a full cake.

 

1 1/2 C self-raising flour

1/3 C custard powder

1/2 t salt

1/2 C castor sugar

1 C water

1/3 C oil

1 T lemon juice

1 1/2 t vanilla essence

 

1. Sift dry ingredients.

2. In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients.

3. Combine all and beat (preferably with an electric beater) until smooth.

4. Pour into muffin tins or cake tin.

5. Bake at 180 °C for 25 minutes (cupcakes) or 40–50 min (full cake), until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

 

Notes

1. Grease the cake tin, line it with wax paper, and grease it again to make sure your cake doesn’t come apart when you remove the wax paper.

2. I sprinkled large-granuled white sugar on top of the cake just before baking. This turned into a crispy, sweet crust, and removed the need for 1 full cup of sugar in the recipe and for icing afterward.

3. This cake mix doesn’t brown in the oven, so you’ll need to test it with a skewer to determine when it’s baked through.

4. This was my first foray into egg-free, dairy-free baking – but it definitely won’t be the last!