Category Archives: Cake

Crumpety Flapjacks

Pancakes, crêpes, crumpets, flapjacks, drop scones?! Let’s get a few things straight here…
Crêpes are the pancakes we mean when we say “flat as a pancake”. They are beautifully wafer thin and roll up with fillings such as cinnamon and sugar, maybe some syrup, and possibly a squeeze of lemon juice for added zing. They are beyond easy to whip up (but just as easy to ruin, so be careful).
Crumpets are those fat discs of batter that people with (hole phobia) would be afraid of. They are best enjoyed by melting butter onto them, maybe with a squeeze of syrup.
 crumpets
Flapjacks, are like the typical American pancake – but smaller. Americans stack the bigger ones high and have them with bacon and syrup, or you can have them stuffed with blueberries or chocolate chips. I accept people calling these pancakes as much as I accept when people still consider deep dish pizza (as opposed to thin base) to be “pizza”. Some people just prefer a thicker pancake, and we call them flapjacks. Then you get those random people from who knows where that talk about drop scones. I know this can be confusing, as these have no scones in them at all. We’ll pretend this makes sense, those individuals are gradually fading out of society, so we’ll just let them stay in their alternate reality until they are no longer around to confuse people.
Then we have those who just need to acknowledge their wrongness. Those who think that chewy oat squares, what we call “Crunchies” in South Africa, are “flapjacks”. I’m sorry, but how now??? Please can someone explain how this biscuit is the same as a pancake in any which way? I am willing to accept defeat if there is some logical explanation behind this madness.
At the end of the day, however, they are all absolutely, completely, resolutely delicious, and the possibilities for making them even more exciting are endless. So whichever is your favourite, keep on loving the batter, and let me know which it is in the comments below.

Crumpets

Ingredients

  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2ml baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • Approx. 125ml milk
  • 5ml melted butter

Method:

  1. Sift flour, salt and baking powder together
  2. Make a well in flour mixture with a wooden spoon, and add the egg
  3. Slowly work in enough milk to only wet the mixture. Tilt the bowl on its side and beat (slap) until there are no more lumps
  4. Melt the butter and add to the mixture
  5. Gradually add enough milk to form a pouring batter
  6. Heat pan to medium heat and spray with non-stick spray (or light coating of oil)
  7. Pour in spoonfuls at a time. When bubbles appear, turn over with a palette knife

Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel and Chocolate Ganache filling

I love having a family with good taste. It means I get to spoil them with experiments and I get to enjoy the benefits, both of actually putting together something delicious, and of enjoying it (I am still trying to figure out which one I enjoy more… thankfully it’s not important to figure out, otherwise I would be in a major quandary and dilemma and I would probably end up not doing either of them. I’m weird like that).

IMG_0791

I have a problem with reading, and I have lost my excuse since finishing University. While at school and while studying at University, I got a bit lazy to read. I absolutely love reading though, I always have, every since my Great Gran taught me how to read the children’s bible when I was 5! I got a Dictionary for my 6th birthday. Which I decided I would try and read when I was 11. Thankfully I didn’t get very far, that would have been a waste of time!

But that is my problem with reading: I feel that it is such a luxury past-time, that if I have something more “important” to be doing (such as assignments, studying, thesis, etc.), then how could I allow myself to indulge in reading? As a result I didn’t do my reading at Uni. Which isn’t to say that I got much of the other important stuff done in that time instead though, I would actually end up not doing either activity. So it really was a terrible excuse.

IMG_0819

Now, I can’t even use that excuse because I am no longer studying! I have free time which is actually free, and it is beautiful. You could say that the free time actually adds up to the endless holidays that students get. Or at least I can tell myself that so that I don’t feel so jealous about all their time to travel and explore…

The beautiful birthday girl

The beautiful birthday girl

I suppose what I do do instead of reading or studying now is bake. I am ok with that. Sometimes baking requires planning and organisation and grown up things like that, so for this cake for my cousin’s 18th, I had to make a practice version of the cake. You know, to make sure it worked out alright (nothing to do with sampling or ensuring that we had our own personal “leftovers”…

 practice cake
For the cake

Ingredients

  • 230g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 240g flour
  • 4 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 250ml milk
  • 125g butter
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla essence

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC. Prepare two round baking tins.
  2. Place eggs and sugar into a bowl and whisk on high until lighter in colour, thick and frothy
  3. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt together and fold into the egg mixture until all ingredients are just wet
  4. Melt down the butter into the milk in a pot on low heat. Add the vanilla essence once mixed together
  5. Add butter-milk mixture to the batter and stir until it reaches a smooth consistency. Mix carefully so as to not lose any of the air in the whipped eggs
  6. Divide batter equally between the two cake tins and place in the preheated oven. Leave to bake for 30 minutes
  7. Once done, remove from the oven and allow to cool before frosting.

Note: for this cake, I completely flattened off both tops using a bread knife. This was so the strawberries could sit safely

For the Salted Caramel

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup caster sugar
  • 100g butter (cubes)
  • 60ml cream

Method

  1. Place the sugar in a pot on a medium-high heat and allow it to melt. Do not stir. Shake the pot to mix the sugar and allow the top dry sugar to get to the heat under the molten sugar
  2. Once a golden colour is reached and all the sugar is dissolved, add the butter and stir until melted and mixed in
  3. Remove from heat and add the cream, stirring vigorously until all is incorporated
  4. Place in a bowl/container and allow to cool before using in this cake
For the Chocolate Ganache

Ingredients

  • 120g dark chocolate (I used Bournville)
  • 80ml cream (pouring or heavy cream)
  • 30g butter

Method 1:

  1. Melt the chocolate in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring regularly. Just before all the bits are melted, remove and keep stirring until the heat of the melted chocolate melts the remaining chocolate
  2. Add the butter and allow it to melt into the chocolate
  3. Mix in the cream until a smooth and consistent glossy chocolate mixture forms. Allow to cool slightly before use

Method 2: 

  1. Heat the cream on a stove top. Once simmering, remove from heat and pour over chocolate and butter. Ensure the chocolate has been chopped into small pieces so that it melts easier.

 

caramel ganache layer

For the Chocolate Buttercream frosting

Ingredients

  • 110g butter softened
  • 220g icing sugar
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • 40ml cream (or until desired texture is reached)

Method

  1. Cream the butter (electric whisk on low)
  2. Sift the icing sugar and cocoa powder together, and cream together with the butter
  3. Add the cream in small doses to help the mixture come together and continue to do so until desired consistency is reached
  4. Only frost cake once cake is coooled

Johannesburg Cake and Bake Show

Saturday was a day of treats – Urban Angel Food Market in the morning, Cake and Bake Show in the afternoon. Of course, I tried to balance this out with some exercise in the morning, but you can’t out-exercise 2 doughnuts, 4 cupcakes, a couple cookies, a scone and some chocolate truffles for lunch… But hey, we all deserve to let loose every now and then.

Mom and her cupcake

Of course, I only went for the educational aspect of the Cake and Bake Show. It had nothing at all to do with the possibility of free food, surely not! I would say the show was definitely value for money – a goodie bag upon entry, free spin-the-wheel competitions where you win more goodie bags, free samples from the different stalls, especially from the Bakels store…

Johan from the Bakels stand was particularly generous with their offerings...

Johan from the Bakels stand was particularly generous with their offerings…

Sasko was there showcasing their Quick Treats packet mixes, Clicks had a stall for their Love to Bake range, there was lumo baking chocolate, with a fantastic cake display featuring lurid but exciting lumo cake pops, and a stall for ready-made cake/cupcake decorations (sugar decor). Kenwood had a stand as well, but that just upset me… One day when I am rich!

My biggest lesson from the show: you can buy acetate at hardware stores (not baking shops, as I’d previously believed). Also, just because something looks delicious, doesn’t automatically mean it is. And beware of chocolate chip cookies who pretend to have big chocolate chips… They are liars who want to hurt your soul.

Food lately

Oh my word I can’t believe it’s been so long since I actually posted anything! I do have a ton of reasons (internet, laptop, camera, etc.) but excuses don’t mean anything at the end of the day: it didn’t get done, and now I need to fix that!

Just because I haven’t posted anything doesn’t mean that I haven’t been doing food stuff lately – that will never happen! As you can see above (and below), Easter happened, so of course food happened. I entered a competition  on Yuppiechef.com (#eastercakeoff), and had to bake their amazing Spiced Almond Hot Cross Bun Cake, and maybe I didn’t win the awesome Le Creuset hamper (*tear), but you can’t not be winning at life when you get to eat an amazing cake like this. Instead of toasting coconut flakes (which were impossible to find the day before Easter) (also I burnt the one bag of coconut flakes that I did have, but don’t tell anyone that!), I bought some really delicious cereal topping from Woolworths, which came with flaked almonds, coconut flakes, and white chocolate. Totally makes up for the burnt coconut (and because there is now some cereal topping left over…) #WinningAtEaster!

Easter = eggs (obviously). (Let’s see how much of this blog post I can write in parenthesis…) So quiche was the order of the day – you know, to be healthy and stuff, and I have finally found a super reliable shortcrust pastry recipe which I will share (in a really cool and special new way), sometime in the new future).

I’ve also recently decided that I should probably start being a bit healthier. I am in the Wellness and Health & Fitness industry so I should maybe start setting a better example. I had a week of jar salads. I got over it. And how can I not, when there are these amazing chocolate-chocolate éclairs in a recipe book just asking to be made!

So new week, I had to try be healthy again. I’ve gone the Herbalife route now. If you haven’t heard of it yet, you will certainly hear more about it from me in the future. It’s such an amazing product, and look at the delicious (and nutritious) smoothies you can make with it. Trust me, these tasted just like a chocolate-covered strawberry, just as they should!

I’ve also started working with a more regular income. Just because it is regular, doesn’t mean it is hugely lucrative, but it does mean that on pay day I get to go buy “other people” some treats from bakeries I’ve been meaning to try. These are from Chocola. J in Northcliff and they were heavenly, especially the crème brûlée cupcake, and the Bar-One cheescake…

  Vovo Telo always presents their food so well. I have an absolute favourite sandwich at their restaurant, but I decided to give this croissant a try for a change. That’s literally one of my most challenging things ever: saying no to the things you love to try something new, even if it is likely to be as delicious. Can’t I just have both?!?!?! I kept my consistency by having African Summer Tea from Toni Glass though. I am in love!

So that’s what’s been happening in my food world over the past month or so. I’ve made a couple loaves of bread, tried to be experimental with media, and also trying to figure out this whole work-life balance thing. It’s quite tough if you’re trying to make the things you are passionate about (the “life” side of the equation) part of your work… But we are getting there. And the rest of April is going to be an amazing adventure in preparation for May and the rest of the year. Second Term starts soon: New Term, New Me (again)!

Bean Republic, Corlett Drive

You know those places that every time you drive past, you think to yourself: “I really need to go there!” Bean Republic is one of those places. The facade out onto Corlett drive is all wooden, echoing the trend of coffee shops everywhere these days, with huge green signage beckoning you in. The colour scheme and decor are reminiscent of Cuba, but owner Edwin Ndlovu explained that his coffee is absolutely not “single origin”, but rather a collection of coffee, a big coffee Republic, where the best of the best coffee comes together to give you great coffee. Under the supervision of experienced and passionate Edwin himself of course.

There are quotes and satirical fictional headlines from newspapers all around the shop, so you really get the feel that you might be in some sort of republic after all

There are quotes and satirical fictional headlines from newspapers all around the shop, so you really get the feel that you might be in some sort of republic after all

After years in the industry, Ndlovu finally decided he needed to branch out on his own and do the job better than the people around him, because why should customers receive anything less? Bean Republic has been open since November 2012. Edwin Ndlovu Despite the vibey exterior and his catchy enthusiasm, however, the coffee was a bit disappointing. The flavour wasn’t full or significant, leaving a slight taste of dirty water, as weak coffee tends to do. The interior also felt like it left much to be desired, with a greasy countertop and peeling menus. Apart from that let down, the interior was also a fun mix match of furniture which Ndlovu has developed a collection of over the past 20 years, since he started working towards his dream. Downstairs is a room that looks like it probably bustles with less mainstream entertainment, which Ndlovu has big plans for this year. Some of which includes wine and traditional food menus, poetry readings and other performances. Bean Republic Downstairs They didn’t have any cake when I was there, but their cake menu looked amazing. Ever had Hummingbird cake? I feel like I might just go back there to give it a try. Edwin was in the process of creating some pasta recipes to populate the menu, to accompany the rump steak and other main menu options. Their breakfast menu is also really extensive with a good range of recently repopularised recipes like frittatas and solid classics like French toast, all for a highly competitive price. This is important because lately all restaurants are charging so much for the most important meal of the day! It’s definitely worth giving a chance, even if it’s just to have a chat with Edwin. He says,

“For coffee to survive, tea must die”

While I’m quite a fan of tea (though my love for coffee hasn’t died either), his message has political undertones, which I encourage you to find more about when you pay him a visit.

Achievement Unlocked – Level Macarons!

achievement

Macarons have been my biggest challenge to date. Generally I am quite satisfied with my ability to follow a recipe and get my expected result. With macarons, however, this was not the case.

Christmas Macarons

[Let me just clarify something quickly: macaroon vs. macaron. Think: coconut vs. almond flour.

Quick recipe for a macaroon: condensed milk and desiccated coconut, mixed in a ratio that lets you form little balls and place on a baking tray to bake at 180º until the edges start to brown and the biscuit is pretty firm]

My first attempt at macarons used a recipe from Dan Lepard‘s cookbook, Short and Sweet, which has proven delicious and basically perfect every time… until now. Then I tried Mary Berry and Great British Bake Off‘s chocolate macarons. I followed the instructions to a T, and they ended up burning anyway.

I figured it was time for a troubleshooting guide, when I stumbled upon this absolute gem. She even linked to her step by step guide to making macarons, which I tried after re-attempting Dan’s recipe using some of her advice. This was my result:

Her recipe was the first to start coming out right. But surely I didn’t have to follow all of her steps? Who has time to wait overnight for egg whites to mature? As it turns out, it is important, and it makes a substantial difference.

What also helped, was this guy. I absolutely love his work! His tutorials on macarons showed me that I might have been over-beating my eggs, and maybe I was “not overmixing” too carefully. Fully incorporated, people!

Red Christmas macarons

Eventually, I ended up with these bad boys, which I made for our Christmas party. Aren’t they beautiful! And added bonus was that they were gluten free, so everyone, even the fussies (though not the Banting folk), could enjoy dessert.

They were accompanied by vanilla cupcakes with green cream cheese frosting, and cute little marshmallow reindeer that my little cousin thoroughly enjoyed.

Marshmallow reindeer

Marshmallow reindeer

Vanilla cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

Vanilla cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

Macarons

Makes about 30 sandwiches

Ingredients

  • 3 egg whites
  • ¼ tsp creme of tartar
  • 210g powdered (icing) sugar
  • 125g ground almonds/almond meal/almond flour
  • 30g caster (granulated) sugar

Method

  1. Separate the egg whites. Leave overnight to mature in the fridge, and remove from fridge well ahead of time to allow to come to room temperature
  2. Sift the icing sugar and ground almonds together. Place this into a food processor and blend together until very fine and resembles a flour. Do this in stages, and make sure you’ve scraped down the sides of the food processor to break everything up. Also don’t go for so long that the mixture starts to heat up (we are making macarons, not over-sweetened almond butter)
  3. Sift the icing sugar-almond mix back into the bowl. If there are any remaining chunks of almond, remove them, they will make the mixture lumpy – DO NOT PUSH THEM THROUGH
  4. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites and creme of tartar until very soft peaks form – peaks should hold their shape for long. Add the granulated sugar here in two stages, beating until stiff peaks form (but not hard peaks – they should have some movement to them still). Colour your meringue mixture now, using powder or gel food colourings – don’t use liquid colouring
  5. Add one third of the almond mix and fold in gently. Once it has started to combine, add the second third, and repeat with the final third. Ensure mixture is of the same consistency and there are no dry patches
  6. Place mixture into a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle about 0.5-0.8cm in diameter. Pipe this onto a stencilled mat or template, taking care not to put too much mixture for each biscuit as they spread quite a bit. Tap the baking tray firmly onto your working surface to remove any air bubbles. If there are remaining bubbles on the surface, give these a pop with a tooth pick
  7. Leave to form a shell at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Just before that time is up, preheat oven to 160ºC
  8. Place baking tray in the oven, and bake for 10 minutes, then reduce temperature to 140ºC and continue to bake for another 5-7 minutes
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before sandwiching together with filling. I filled mine with canned caramel (boiled condensed milk trick) sprinkled with some salt (salted caramel), a coffee buttercream, and some leftover green cream cheese frosting from the cupcakes

My local – Urban Angel Café

It’s taken me ages to get this post out, purely because I love this little café so much that I would rather spend my time eating there than being tortured by the glorious memory of it. That’s before I even have to edit all the photos of their amazing food. Gosh no, it’s just too difficult. Urban Angel Café is my new favourite little hot spot, and it’s less than 3km from home!

Amazing range of breakfasts and café meals - quinoa with apple and salted caramel, french toast with banana and nut butters (homemade), and hugely delicious chicken prego burgers

Amazing range of breakfasts and café meals – quinoa with apple and salted caramel, french toast with banana and nut butters (homemade), and hugely delicious chicken prego burgers

So I’m writing this post in the comfort of their wafts of freshly baked bread, with an unhampered view of their mountain of fresh biscuits, sitting on the counter, whips of steam still practically floating above them.

This is my first draw once I walk in the door: every day they have something new and interesting on offer, from bagels and mince pies to protein bars and cheesecake brownies. Cookies and doughnuts and all sorts of different breads keep the meals special on each visit

This is my first draw once I walk in the door: every day they have something new and interesting on offer, from bagels and mince pies to protein bars and cheesecake brownies. Cookies and doughnuts and all sorts of different breads keep the meals special on each visit

What I absolutely love about this place, is their modern menu. And I don’t mean modern in a pretentious way, where owners are trying to sell the “next best thing”. I mean they genuinely care about producing meals that taste amazing and happen to have all these amazing new superfoods in them. You can go to Urban Angel café on pretty much any diet, and you will probably find something that suits you – and it’s guaranteed to be delicious.

The bagel bun is my go-to breakfast as a protein filled bun of fresh sour dough bread. Their meals are original with everyone's favourite toppings, like cream cheese! "Eggs done your way" is also one of the awesome things about the  cafe

The bagel bun is my go-to breakfast as a protein filled bun of fresh sour dough bread. Their meals are original with everyone’s favourite toppings, like cream cheese! “Eggs done your way” is also one of the awesome things about the café

And if you’re not on a diet, they have these incredible brownies that were recommended to me by everybody – friends and strangers alike – that I tried to resist for so long. I knew that if I gave in, it would be over for me. And it was… My advice: stay away from the brownies if you value your waistline.

Sweet and salty mocha with a swirl of caramel. Literally best drink ever!

Sweet and salty mocha with a swirl of caramel. Literally best drink ever!

For the most part, their creativity is pretty spot-on. My first experience of their food wasn’t that great though. I ordered a peanut butter espresso milkshake and was highly disappointed to find it was made with homemade nut butter, a combination of peanut and cashew. In the end it just tasted like very milky coffee with chunks of nuts. But hey, that’s what happens when you try to be too healthy, it doesn’t always work out. Pretty good otherwise!

Their meals are reasonably priced and really generous, full of healthy goodness! Grilled chicken with beautifully flavoured sides - their mash was some of the best I've ever had!

Their meals are reasonably priced and really generous, full of healthy goodness! Grilled chicken with beautifully flavoured sides – their mash was some of the best I’ve ever had!

Their service is great as well, always extremely friendly.

Urban Angel Café: Bakery, Café and Food Store can be found just behind the shopping centre in the office park (President Fouche Drive And Hawken Avenue, Randburg, Johannesburg). It’s a bit difficult to find, but I guess that way it can be a little piece of hidden gold until everyone learns about its magnificence.

Zucchini brownies? Not for me thanks!

Alternative title for this post: How to get kids to eat more vegetables. Or: How to mess with your friends who say they don’t eat vegetables. Or: A slightly healthier brownie recipe (but still includes sugar).

Not your typical background props for brownies

Not your typical background props for brownies

Zucchini was stalking me. It was like a green veggie monster lurking in every corner of my life saying “Eat me, eat me!” (In the creepiest veggie monster voice you can imitate). I was like, “ew, no! Vegetables!? Too much green! Too much health! Too much not chocolate!”

That peanut butter stripe... That melted dark chocolate... That richness that looks like it translates to goodness...

That peanut butter stripe… That melted dark chocolate… That richness that looks like it translates to goodness…

I figured though, since I had given in and made the carrot cupcakes, I would just have to give these babies a shot. Problem is, zucchini isn’t the same as it is overseas. We have mini zucchini, which I took an unfortunate while to realise is what we refer to as: baby marrow. I assume it’s the same thing???

I follow quite a lot of blogs, and there was a week where every single one of those blogs sent me some form of zucchini cake/brownie/muffin/savoury-thing recipe, and they all looked so amazing! But still… Vegetables… When I got this one from Yammie’s Gluten Freedom, I decided that that had to be the one. Her recipes are reliable, and her brownies have always come out tops in my books. Alas, my trust has been broken!!

Box of brownies

Just kidding, she will always be amazing, and these brownies aren’t half bad. The peanut butter topping definitely makes them worthwhile. My major complaint with this recipe is that they kind of taste like vegetables… Kind of a lot… We gave some to a friend though who refuses to eat veggies – we didn’t tell him – he actually said he enjoyed them, and that they had a nutty flavour. So the key to this recipe is: deception. Obviously, as the baker, this didn’t work so well for me, and all I could taste was green…

Zucchine, baby marrow, grown up marrow, courgette, by any other name does not belong in a brownie

Zucchini, baby marrow, grown up marrow, courgette, by any other name does not belong in a brownie

Zucchini brownies – made in SA

Ingredients

  • 2 cups finely grated baby marrows/courgettes/zucchini (I used the zester to grate mine superfine – I didn’t feel like having huge chunks of the stuff)
  • 1 C brown sugar
  • 1 ¹⁄³ cup applesauce (mine was a good jar of the stuff)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • ²⁄³ C oat flour/food-processed oats (ground down to a flour)
  • 1 C cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Additional: chocolate chips of whatever degree of healthiness suits your taste

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC, and line a 11×11″ baking tray/dish
  2. Mix the sugar, eggs, apple sauce, vanilla and baby marrows
  3. Mix the oat flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and soda, cinnamon and salt together
  4. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and mix well, ensuring there are no floury dry bits
  5. Pour mixture into prepared pan/dish
  6. Bake on the middle shelf for 1 hour
  7. Remove and leave to cool before frosting – I frosted mine with melted chocolate and a mix of melted chocolate and peanut butter

Alice in Wonderland Party – Red Velvet Queen of Hearts

The person that wrote Alice in Wonderland was definitely cooked off his rocker. But, some of the best things in life are just that: cooked! (Or “Mad”, if we want to go full-on Alice in Wonderland reference)

Mom’s “hat braai” had me wanting to do a real mad-hatter theme party. Actually, my mini steampunk hat made me want to do a Mad Hatter’s party. I couldn’t go straight “Hat”, though – can’t be copying my mother – so I went with the whimsical land of Alice, with all of it’s crazy tea-parties and glam of the Queen of Hearts.

It turned out quite well: everyone was dressed up, and the theme actually lent itself to great decorations. See my Pinterest board for inspiration.

Red Velvet Cupcakes 3

Following the carrot cupcakes of the other day, I needed to make that cream cheese frosting again. Emphasis there on the word needed. It really was that good. The red velvet cupcakes came out so cute as well! I may have left them out in the open for a bit long, however, so they weren’t as moist as they should have been. The flavour, though, was great, really does the iconic red velvet cupcake.

Red Velvet cupcakes

I have to admit that there is a disappointing amount of cocoa in the red velvet mixture. 1 Tbsp? What’s the point!? Either way, apart from some of the random ingredients (don’t be put off by the smell of the mixture or the consistency of some of the ingredients), these cupcakes are really easy to make (mix mix mix everything together!). Though you might not want to eat the cupcake batter, you will definitely want to dig into the finished product (some may argue that there isn’t even a point to making the cupcakes if you can’t enjoy the batter, but bear with me for that little red gem of joy). Again, I used this recipe from One Sweet Appetite, because her carrot cupcakes were so good, there was no doubt that the red velvet ones would speak to me on the same level.

Red Velvet cupcakes 2

Red Velvet Cupcakes – makes 24

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ C cake flour
  • 1 ½ C caster sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ C vegetable oil
  • 1 C buttermilk
  • 2 Tbsp red food colouring
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp vinegar (I used apple cider because that’s what we had, and it’s an acceptable vinegar substitute for most recipes, which is good to note)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC
  2. Prepare your cupcake tin (liners or greased)
  3. Sift all the dry ingredients into a large bowl
  4. Whisk all the wet ingredients together until well-combined
  5. Mix the wet ingredients in with the dry ingredients until the mixture is of even consistency. Note to self: do not lick the batter spoon
  6. Divide evenly, about ²⁄³ full
  7. Place in the oven on the middle shelf, for 15 minutes, or until the sounds of wet-baking have disappeared, and a skewer comes out the centre of the cupcake dry
  8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before frosting

 

Cream Cheese Frosting – enough to generously frost 24 cupcakes (and eat the leftovers)

Ingredients

  • 250g cream cheese
  • 5 tsp softened butter (not melted)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 ½ C icing (powdered/confectioner’s) sugar

Method

  1. Cream the butter and cream cheese together until soft (this makes it easier to mix the sugar in, instead of having the chunks of dairy flying around)
  2. Add the icing sugar and mix slightly before beating until well-combined and of a desired consistency (like whipped cream or a solid buttercream frosting)
  3. Pipe onto your cupcakes

Chocolate brownie “Hat” cake

Winter babies are the best. (And to me, there are only 2 seasons in the year: Summer, and Winter. Don’t worry if you’re a summer baby, though, it was winter somewhere). So lately there have been a lot of awesome birthdays, all starting with my mother dearest’s. We always have family braais (BBQs) to celebrate things, so this time we decided to spice it up a little by adding a theme: it was a hat braai. My mother is so creative (I am being sarcastic but also not… You will see why next week).

One of mom's friends went to the effort of making a personalised fun hat

One of mom’s friends went to the effort of making a personalised fun hat

This mother dearest of mine requested a hat cake for her birthday party. I was up for a challenge, but on Pinterest, all the hatness was made out of fondant, which I am really NOT a fan of. I decided to try find an alternative, but would settle for that sweetened playdough if I had to. I came across this recipe for marshmallow fondant. I love marshmallows. It was surely going to be a winner.

Alas, my marshmallow fondant did not hold together as it was supposed to, and I ended up having to scrap that idea, though the cake mountain was already cut and moulded, buttercream layer ready for its coating of neatness. It was too late to go the fondant route now, though, so I just drizzled my remaining milk chocolate ganache over the top of the buttercream frosting. The cake was also presented on a conveniently shaped (though subtle) plate, so the whole ‘hat’ effect was not entirely lost.

Happy birthday mumzicle

Happy birthday mumzicle!

The cake recipe I used was one that has “failed” in the past for me (the taste was amazing then too). It turned out a bit differently this time, a little less fluffy and moist, more like a decadent brownie (though less fudgy than a brownie). I am going to put this down to the altitude, because this is the second time my cake has come out slightly more dense than when I made it down in Grahamstown.

Chocolate brownie "almost-hat" cake. Dense and moist chocolate cake layered with milk chocolate ganache, with chocolate buttercream frosting, and milk chocolate ganache drizzle

Chocolate brownie “almost-hat” cake. Dense and moist chocolate cake layered with milk chocolate ganache, with chocolate buttercream frosting, and milk chocolate ganache drizzle

Chocolate brownie cake 

For the cake

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups cake flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 150g dark chocolate – melted (as usual I used my Bournville favourite)
  • 150g butter
  • 1½ tsp vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 200ml milk (as needed for mixing)
  • ¼ cup strong coffee (room temperature)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC
  2. Cream the butter and the sugar
  3. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder together
  4. Add the eggs to the butter-sugar mixture and mix until combined
  5. Mix in the dry ingredients. Once they are incorporated into the mixture, add the vanilla, melted dark chocolate and coffee
  6. Mix well. Use milk to loosen the batter until it is of semi-pourable consistency
  7. Divide into 3 pre-greased cake tins, and place on the middle shelf
  8. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean and the cake is springy to touch
  9. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before removing from the cake tin
  10. Assemble

 

For the Ganache

  • 150g milk chocolate
  • 60ml cream

Method

  1. Place the chocolate and cream in a heat proof bowl. Place this bowl on top of a pot of steaming/simmering water. This is called a bain-marie
  2. Melt the chocolate and cream together, stirring until smooth
  3. Allow to cool slightly before pouring between the cake layers, and especially before pouring on top of the buttercream frosting

 

For the Chocolate buttercream frosting 

  • 150g softened butter
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 30ml milk
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder

Method

  1. Cream the butter and add the icing sugar. Mix until well-combined, smooth and creamy
  2. Heat up the milk and add the cocoa powder. Mix until dissolved. Allow to cool before adding to the icing, as this will melt the butter
  3. Add the chocolate milk to the icing, and mix until well-combined and creamy
  4. Ice your cake