Monday, 28 January 2013

Clandestine Cake Club: 'Over The Rainbow' Cake

The theme for this month’s Clandestine Cake Club was ‘Musical Celebrations’. I have to admit this baffled me for a while, so I waited till other people submitted their ideas to figure out what it meant! Turns out it meant songs, bands, singers or musicals. I chose the song ‘Over the Rainbow’ from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ for the theme of my cake after reading a list of 100 greatest musicals on IMDB.

I bought myself a lovely bundt pan from ebay. I have never made a bundt before, and I was quite worried about it sticking to the tin so I greased it up really well with butter and sprinkled it with flour.

I decided to do a simple vanilla sponge to contrast the brightness of my decoration. I mixed together 125g butter and 180g caster sugar in my electric mixer.

I added two beaten eggs and 1 tsp Pinner Vanilla paste.

I recently got sent this vanilla paste by Pinner Vanilla. It’s a syrup with vanilla seeds in it and it’s a lot stronger and better quality than your standard vanilla extract. Also it gives that fab vanilla seed effect, which I love the look of! I do think it’s worthwhile spending a bit more money on a proper vanilla paste, especially if vanilla is the main flavour of your recipe. I am looking forward to using this in future recipes!

I then added 180g self raising flour and 150g soured cream, and popped the mixture into my thoroughly greased bundt tin.

I baked it on 175C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 30 minutes. This was possibly a tad too long, but to be fair it’s hard to tell when your cake is upside down! I thought it looked pretty good without any decoration, I will definitely be making another more simple bundt cake with this tin.

To get the rainbow arch shape, I chopped off the bottom of the cake, about two thirds down. This also gave me a good opportunity to taste the sponge, and it was very delicious and vanillery!

I started making icing and piping it on for all the colours of the rainbow. I guessed the measurements, and used about 60g butter and 120g icing sugar for the red and orange, then around 40g butter and 80g icing sugar for the other colours. I also added a dollop of cream cheese to each colour. Be warned - this is very time consuming! Weigh, mix, pipe and wash x 6 = a long time. I was quite tired afterwards. I did three colours and then took a break and went back to it later.

I used Sugarflair colours to achieve the bright results of my rainbow. These food colourings are the best. They are strong, you only need a little bit, and they don't affect your icing's flavour or consistency. I used Christmas Red, Melon (Yellow), Tangerine/Apricot (Orange), Mint Green, Ice Blue and Grape Violet (Purple). I got mine off ebay as they were pretty cheap and the seller was offering a good deal.

The icing was finally done! I also used some blue cut-offs from my piping bags to create a blue sky behind my rainbow. A blue cake board would look a lot better, but this was a last minute decision!

For the 'clouds' I whipped up a pot of cream and dollopped it at the end of the rainbow cake, then dotted mini white marshmallows all over.

And the cake was done! I was very pleased with the final result!

And off to cake club I went...

Stacey & Emily's Chocolate & Orange 'Simba's Pride Cake', delicious and moist, one of my favourites!

Hayley's 'Carrot & Wonderwal-nut Cake'. Sadly I don't like carrots or walnuts, but Stacey tried some and said it was the best carrot cake she'd ever had.

Steph's 'Sweet Like Chocolate' cake, this was a chocolate overload - in a good way!

 Elly's 'Beatles Strawberry Fields Cake', sadly I didn't try any of this either, but it looks great!

Emily's 'Coconut & Lime Cake'. I love this song and I loved this cake!

Emma's 'Happy Birthday Custard Celebration Cake' - it was Emma our host's birthday this month!

Lynette's 'Austrain Apple Sounds Of Music Cake', I think the nun decorations on this and the bow look fab!

Vicki's 'I Can Sing A Rainbow Cake'. This looked stunning and tasted really good too, I definitely understood the hard work that went into this cake!

Beth's 'Yellow Brick Road Cake', using Caramac for the yellow brick road - genius!!

Diane's 'The Bell's Of St. Clements' Cake', brilliant presentation and delicious orange flavour.

Another successful, fun and delicious Clandestine Cake Club! Also some very exciting news...a woman walking past asked me to make two of the rainbow cake for her daughter's birthday. I am so excited about it! I never thought cake club would lead to anything like that!

Friday, 25 January 2013

Clootie Dumpling

Today is Robert Burn's birthday, also known as Burn's Night. It is traditional in Scotland on this night to have a supper to celebrate his work and life. I therefore decided to make a traditional Scottish pudding to eat - the clootie dumpling. I remembered James on GBBO made a version of the clootie dumpling, and so I did some research into the traditional recipe and method. It turns out you have to steam it for 3-4 hours. I knew I did not have the time or the patience for that! So I found a recipe where you can steam it in a microwave for only a few minutes.

I gathered together the 'special equipment' needed - a microwave roasting bag, a piece of muslin cloth or cotton approx 15" square, and some string for this recipe.

I weighed out 170g self raising flour, and sifted it into a mixing bowl along with 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1/2 tsp mixed spice, 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda and 1/4 tsp cream of tartar.

I then added 57g soft brown sugar, 85g shredded suet, 170g dried mixed fruit, 1 1/2 tbsp treacle, half an apple grated and peeled, one egg beaten, and a splash of milk.

 I mixed it all together and it didn't take very long at all to form a dough.

 I soaked my piece of muslin cloth in boiling water, then laid it out and put a liberal sprinkle of flour of it.

I made the clootie dough into a ball and wrapped it in the muslin cloth. I then placed it inside a microwave roasting bag along with 120ml of cold water and tied it loosely.

I microwaved it on high for 7 minutes and 30 seconds. The flour covering the muslin was meant to form a 'skin' over the dumpling, as you can see from the above photo, I only got half a skin! However the skin looked a bit ugly, so I was sort of glad!

I then put it in an oven dish and put it in the oven for 10 minutes on the lowest heat, which for my oven was 50C. This is to dry it out. I put it on a plate (ugly skin side down!) and added my homemade Scottish flag!

When I cut into the dumpling it looked really dry, however it tasted quite nice! Plus my Scottish housemate liked it - surely the ultimate seal of approval?!

I enjoyed a wedge of my clootie dumpling with ice cream, and it was chewy in texture. Steaming gives bagels a chewiness, so the steaming process of this obviously does the same to the clootie. The taste was really good, very similar to a fruit loaf. Give this a try for a true Scottish feel to Burns Night!

Monday, 21 January 2013

Rosemary & Garlic Bread

I haven't made bread in a while and as I was going for dinner at my friend's new flat I decided to make a tasty bread to take along! I won a year's supply of garlic a few months ago so I am always looking for ways to use it, and as this bread uses a whole bulb, I was immediately attracted to it!

I started by mixing 300ml warm water, one sachet of dried yeast, 2 tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp caster sugar in a bowl until the yeast dissolved.

In a bowl I measured out 500g strong white bread flour and poured the yeast mixture in bit by bit. I used my hands to form a dough with it, then kneaded it on a floured service until smooth. I oiled the ball of dough with my hands and then put it into a floured bowl.

I covered the bowl with cling film and left it for an hour to rise. During this time I also roasted the bulb of garlic by drizzling it with olive oil, wrapping it in foil and cooking for an hour. The first 40 minutes I had the oven on 150C/300F/Gas Mark 2 as I popped out and didn't want it to burn, and then I turned it up to 175C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for the remaining 20 minutes. This timing will depend on the size of the bulb so check on it.

 I rolled out the dough and put it on an oiled baking tray, then I pricked it all over with a fork.

For the rosemary and garlic butter I mixed together 175g softened margarine (I used flora light, but you can use butter or any other margarine), the garlic from the roasted bulb, a few sprinkles of salt, and several sprinkles of dried rosemary. You can also use fresh rosemary if you like, and the quantities are entirely up to you depending on taste! You can also add black pepper if you like it.

Using a palette knife I spread the butter all over the bread. I then covered it in cling film and a tea towel and left if for 30 minutes.

I baked the bread on 230C/450F/Gas Mark 8 for about 15-20 minutes until it was lovely and golden brown. The kitchen smelt amazing by this time too!

I left it to cool and took it to my friend's place that evening. This bread will feed 6 to 8 people. It was so tasty and went great with our meal of chicken and cous cous. I cut it into squares to serve it - sorry there aren't more photos, it was gobbled up quickly! If you want to change the flavours it would be so easy to do, just mix whatever flavour you want the bread to be into the butter. Let me know if you create any other delicious flavour mixes as I will definitely be making this again!

Recipe adapted from BBC Food here.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

New Logo

Just a quick little post to introduce my new logo! The Baking Explorer has been brought to life with ginger hair (icing) just like me! Ste from Eudemonics helped me bring it to life and I am so pleased with the results. What do you think?