Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Norwegian Bløtkake

This weekend is my mum's birthday. We're going away to Barry Island for the weekend as we're literally obsessed with Gavin and Stacey so do expect a lot of touristy and shameless photos next week!

Anyway, for work she always makes this traditional Norwegian cream cake 'bløtkake' which basically translates as 'moist cake' and is made up of fatless sponge, fruit, jam, juice (from tinned fruit), cream and marzipan. I know, I hear you screaming now, marzipan is almost its own food group in Norway. They love it, you get marzipan shaped pigs at Christmas and chocolate covered sticks of it at Easter...and, well, all year round really they just love the stuff. I, to be honest have never been that keen but apparently it works really well with this cake as it really lifts it, and it's rolled super thin - not like how we roll fondant here.

It's a layered cake starting with the juice soaked sponge, jam, cream, fruit/nuts and some add custard too. You will find these cakes in every shop, at every birthday...and to be honest anywhere they serve food! My nan could eat this all day long so we always bring her some from her favourite bakery when visiting.

I hadn't made one before myself so I thought I would get in on the action, and it would make a great post for AlphaBakes with marzipan being a perfect choice for the letter M! I know a lot of people are using marzipan but I can promise that no one will have entered one of these bad boys.

This is baking challenge made by The More than Occasional Baker and Caroline Makes. This month Caroline Makes is hosting the challenge and I can't wait to submit this family recipe!

Unfortunately I won't get a slice of this magnificent beast as I don't think it will survive long at my mum's work...but it looks glorious so I'm happy!

And as ALWAYS, there are a lot of pictures so be's an obsession.

26 cm diameter tin
6 eggs
150 g sugar
180 g flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tin canned fruit (we used pineapple)
1/2 jam (any, we used strawberry)
700ml double cream
1 bag chopped waltnuts 
1 punnet of strawberries (or any other fruit you may like)
1 block of marzipan

Beat eggs and sugar into submission until thick, light and fluffy.
Measure out flour and and baking powder.
Then fold gently into the egg mixture with a spatula.
Grease a baking tin and sprinkle with flour, I would recommend lining the bottom as well.
Pour into cake batter and place on the middle shelf in the oven. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN.

Bake in preheated oven 170C/150C fan
Cooking time is about 40 minutes but we did about 45 - 50.  
The cake is cooked when it is no longer 'singing', I have only just become aware of this term...


When the cake is cool cut it into three layers. We wanted this cake to be huge so we made an extra cake for thicker layers (because we're greedy).  Whip the cream into stiff peaks.

Moisten each layer by sprinkling spoons of juice, then spread over the jam in a thin layer. Whack a good layer of cream on and spread right to the edge.

 Now you can add some fruit or nuts or both. We chose sliced strawberries and chopped walnuts. Repeat another layer, you can alternate what fillings you put in each layer.

Add the top layer of sponge and add another layer or jam and cream. For the marzipan to stick to the sides you'll need to dirty ice the cake with - wait for it more cream! Nom nom.

This is where you can get more creative with making patterns with sliced fruit, some prefer to add sweets to the top or some even cover the whole cake in marzipan which does look really nice.

But as we're not a marzipan eating nation here we thought cream would be better :D We filled the top with more sliced strawberries and crushed walnuts and finished the whole thing off with some piped cream in true Norwegian style.

It's now sitting safely in the fridge until tomorrow...must not eat mum's cake.....must not eat it.....


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Monday, 26 March 2012

Baking Buys - Summer Is On The Way!

I haven't done a Baking Buys post in ages, and I'm sure I have loads of new bits to show you but I can't honestly remember so here are my most recent ones. I got a bit trigger happy with the camera...

My mum was in Norway recently to visit my nan so I was able to send a little shopping list with her, couldn't go too nuts though as she only had hand luggage but luckily I got the most important bits :D. Most people use vanilla extract from a bottle in baking but I don't think I have for years, In Norway you use vanilla sugar, but not as we know it here. It looks like icing sugar and is quite strong so a little goes a long way. So when you see me including it in my recipes it's mainly for my Norwegian readers as vanilla extract just isn't really used there. Don't use the vanilla sugar you sometimes get here (in Waitrose for instance) as it's actually just flavoured sugar so won't be strong enough to replace extract.

I also want to mention this gingerbread cutter. My nan there knows how much I love baking and has always set me up with important baking stuff or let me raid her endless cookbooks, and even now she saves all the recipe leaflets that comes with her magazines for me. So I thought it was really nice she sent her vintage gingerbread cutter over for me. Me and my mum have been looking for one for ourselves for years with no luck so I can't wait for a reason to use it soon - I'll find one!

When I can't get to Norway I order some from the Norwegian Seaman's Church in London - who are a great stockist for when we need a Norwegian food fix when the cupboards are bare! Another great item I asked for is pearl sugar. I've never seen it here so it's luxury for me. It's mainly used for sprinkling on top of bakes that go in the oven - the sugar doesn't melt away like normal sugar as the crystals are bigger, a bit like the biscuits you always get at Christmas. I use it a lot in my Kringle recipes - which reminds me, I must make one for Easter! I went through boxes of this stuff when making practice kringle for The Great British Bake Off audition, worth its weight in gold!

As I mentioned before Easter is around the corner (yay!), next to Christmas it is my favourite time of the year, days get longer, the air gets warmer and nearly everything comes in yellow. Not to mention the extreme amounts of chocolate that enters our house. And this year I am determined to make my own Easter eggs, I even picked up these moulds from Poundland! Amazing! One giant egg and a tray of smaller ones, perfect for a hunt...I may be a grown up but I shall still rummage around the house for chocolate eggs....oh yes I will...

This weekend has felt like the first weekend I have been able to enjoy the sun. On Saturday I went for a brief day visit to my family (pictures with niece and little brother below) in Southampton which was lovely. And on Sunday I spent the day with my mum in the Garden Centre drooling over the Easter bits including these cardboard eggs that everyone uses as Easter eggs in Norway and fill with chocolate. I also had another repeat red velvet cake pop order to make for the now newlywed couple I made the wedding cake pops for. I've forgotten how it feels to bake when the sun is beaming in so I just had to take pictures as it's normally pitch black when I get around the baking after work.

Could sunshine now be a new theme for summer? It was so glorious I even put my stand mixer away in favour of my lilac mixing bowl and my scary brown hand mixer as it just 'felt' sunnier when the bowl was lilac...also I really need to buy some proper tins and stop baking in my biscuit barrels! Pin It Now!

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Manchester United Giant Cupcake

I've been meaning to put up this post all week, so here it finally is! This cake was actually part of the wedding order I had for last weekend but felt it needed its own post.

While the cake pops were for the wedding, this cake was actually a present for the usher in the wedding which I thought was very sweet. The theme for this one was Manchester United, I've done a couple of football cakes but not a giant cupcake so it was a good challenge.

I always make a stencil when doing these jobs it makes it so much easier and the proportions much more realistic. I'm tempted to try to pipe it next time with royal icing has anyone else done this?
I left the cut out fondant for a couple of nights to dry out and then piped on the lettering when I actually positioned it on the cake, I always find piping lettering scary even though it always worked out fine - madness.

So keeping the top buttercream light I coloured the bottom with an absurd amount of Christmas Red colouring paste, in fact I had to emergency order some more from eBay the day before as I used so much! And I'm sure you can see how I finished it off like most of my giant cupcakes...with a bow! I do worry when using a ribbon for boys cakes but as there's loads of ribbons in football, on the cups etc I'm sure it's fine.

I like doing giant cupcakes that are a bit different from the norm and as this was my first football team one I think it turned out really well...I wonder what my next giant cupcake will turn out to be I've had some great ones this year so far :D Pin It Now!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Pink and Chocolate 30th Birthday Cake

It has certainly been all about cake in the last two weeks and I have to say I'm knackered! I've had many nights of broken sleep waking up with crazy lazy panic thoughts about the cakes - anyone else? Although I have absolutely loved all of my recent creations so it was all worth it in the end. I started with my pink and white cake pops, Manchester United giant cupcake (blog post coming soon) and this week I had my friend's 30th birthday - a great reason to make a nice fancy cake and try out some new techniques, as if I need an excuse!

It's been ages since I've done a big proper cake so I couldn't wait to get stuck in. The cake itself is a two tiered vanilla and chocolate sponge cake with chocolate buttercream. She loves chocolate so it was the only choice really.

I 'became' Peggy Porschen (or at least I told myself I was!) and decided to keep the chocolate theme but make it a bit more girly (surprise surprise my favourite theme! :D) with using pink fondant icing. The bottom tier is pink with chocolate brown circles, decorated with an italic 'L' for Lisa and polka dot royal icing decoration around the edge.

I have to be honest and say the top tier nearly didn't make it (it nearly went in the bin!), I for some reason just couldn't get the icing to sit on it nicely without any folds - it was driving me mental! I then had the crafty idea of doing the 'suitcase' look to cover up the fold and give it some cute detail. I made up some 'leather' fondant straps and gave them seams with a cocktail stick, luckily they matched up perfectly to cover the bits I didn't like.  I'm quite obsessed with piping detail at the moment so couldn't resist adding some cute royal icing designs in-between the fondant straps.

I wasn't really sure what to do on the top, I didn't really feel like a cake topper would look right but then I had the genius idea of adding her favourite chocolates...Ferrero Rocher! I did initially want to pile them up like in the advert but it looked a bit silly so I thought just to dot a few around symmetrically, and do some more polka dot piping in a circle around the top of the straps to frame the chocolates.

As you all know by now I love adding bows to cakes. I've always used real ones but this time I thought I'd have a go at making a fondant bow which I've never done before. I let them dry for two/three evenings (honestly I can't remember which I think I might be slightly hysterical from all the baking) and it worked brilliantly which I really didn't think it would. I ran some more fondant around the end of the first tier at the bottom and stuck the bow on the front with two extra ribbon pieces running down the front. I'm not so sure I could do this ribbon too much on a giant cupcake, but on bigger cakes I think I'll be doing this a lot now! I would suggest making a few bows, I did, as I've heard horror stories about them collapsing!

The cake went down really well she loved it which is all that matters :D I got some really nice comments about it too, I seem to turn up every couple of weeks with a cake for someone's birthday so they're getting quite used to it now, so expect many more in the future!

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Saturday, 17 March 2012

Red Velvet Wedding Cake Pops

While the sun hasn't exactly been shining this week you can't deny that Spring is finally here, our garden's full of tulips and daffodils and the wedding season seems to have kicked in, everyone's getting hitched at the moment which to me, only means one thing...cake!
(by the way, there's going to be a lot of photos, sorry!)

I love how weddings are no longer a normal iced fruit cake with flowers, they're cupcakes, sweet tables, croquembouches and even cake pops! The worst thing you could do according to most people I've spoken to is to give them a slab of fruit cake...present them with a cupcake or cake pop however, it's exciting and you have an individual treat just for you. The last wedding I did cakes for was a tower and table full of cupcakes and I loved that idea, so when I was asked to make some cake pops I immediately accepted the challenge!

The actual cake for weddings at the moment seems to be red velvet, which I have to say is a favourite of mine so I was stupidly happy when this order for 50 red velvet cake pops came in. The theme was pink, white and girly, which seems to be my most popular theme of late.

They had requested pink and white cake pops with piping detail, half pink with white piping and half white with pink piping. I made the biggest red velvet cake I had ever had in my own, while a lot of people don't like the next part, I absolutely love smashing up the cake and turning it to crumbs! I was having a stressful day so smash up a cake was a great release, also you have to smash it up to make the cake pops so it had to be done anyway... :D

It seems most people use Candy Melts for cake pops, I never have. I find the normal cake covering chocolate works just as well, I always get white chocolate so I can colour it easily. So after I had mixed the cake crumbs with buttercream and rolled them into balls and chilled, I dipped them in chocolate (half coloured with pink food colouring) and left them to cool. I made my own cooling stand by poking holes through some polystyrene for the cake pops to sit in. Free and effective! I used another big piece for the actual display stand as I didn't have one. I wrapped in pearly wedding paper and patterned cellophane and tied it all up with a cute pink bow. I will soon be asking my brother to make me a proper one as he's good at all that stuff.

For the piping I used royal icing, again some coloured with pink and I have to say it took me hours!! I even took on the famous piping claw hand that I've heard so much about and saw on Choccywoccydoodah. I did a few different designs, swirls, hearts, bow and polka dots. I wrapped each one individually with a little cellophane treat bag and silver tie which I bought in a pack from eBay, love that place they get all of my money!

I think they came out seriously cute and perfect for a wedding, I had to fight my family off from eating them so I hope they enjoy them!

P.s, do you like how I transported them? Never driven so carefully in my life - need a 'Cake On Board' sign!

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Saturday, 10 March 2012

Rose Swirl Buttercream Birthday Cake

Another birthday! I love making birthday cakes, this one was for (stay with me) my Sister-in-law's brother's girlfriend's birthday! I've actually been wanting to do a fully buttercreamed cake for a long time but wasn't sure if I was going to until the last minute.

This gave me an excuse to use my expandable tin again, I will not let my boredom of lining what feels like a million sides of the tin ruin it! Also I baked and decorated it in the same night and my giant cupcakes take forever to cool, these cool far quicker - also I just fancied doing something a bit different.

I decided to keep it fairly simple and do the same piping style all in the same colour, I know I keep saying it but I really need to stop my so obsessive with the Wilton 1M nozzle....but I love it so much! I thought you just can't go wrong with baby pink icing either can you, it will always look pretty especially when teamed with the rose swirl pattern...though I did worry it looks a bit like a brain? Anyone else?

I wanted to keep it fairly simple but still cute so I decided to make a little cake topper with glass and pearl beads, I really want to try make those that have all the shapes on the end, are they made from gum paste? With the cake topper in mind I thought I'd keep with the pink and silver colour scheme.

Getting the Dr.Oetker silver spray out again I cut out some fondant butterflies and of course matched them up with some old school silver balls, I still love that some people have never eaten brother included...madness! How has anyone had a homemade birthday cake without any of these on????

The sponge itself is vanilla, which again I think looks lovely with the mounds of pink buttercream encased around it, last time I found the layers were a little thin so I added an extra cake mix to the tin and that really beefed it up...I also completely underestimated how much buttercream it would need and it swallowed up 6 batches! Madness! Worth it though :D

She loved the cake and the amount of buttercream seemed to make everyone happy, even two random children outside their flat that saw my carry it to the door screamed 'CAKE!', ran over and who I honestly and seriously thought were thinking of stealing it...I feared for my cake's life...luckily it escaped unharmed! Pin It Now!
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