Sunday, June 30, 2013

How to Cover a Heart Shaped Cake in Fondant

 Recently I've noticed heart shaped cake tins on the market--springform ones. You know, the ones with the clip at the side and the removable bottom, great for making cheesecakes and all those things you cant lift out of a regular pan without mangling the sides. Two of my friends recently got engaged and wanted heart shaped cakes for the engagement party. I thought it would be easy tracking down one of these tins, but it turns out the stores only stock them around Valentine's Day. I somehow still ended up finding one and thought I'd give it a try, though I was a little concerned about the springform side of things.  When you unclip the side to remove the bottom, the sides of the tin have to expand somewhat and I was worried that the tin couldnt possibly keep shape.
I was right--That dreaded burning smell half way through cooking the cakes informed me that the tin ended up leaking, dropping batter onto the oven floor and burning up that debris. So just a word of warming if you're planning on using a heart shaped springform tin. Check for gaps first, and slip a few layers of baking paper in the leaking areas before pouring your batter in.
I also thought I'd test store bought rolled fondant. I usually make my own, but sometimes its difficult to get the right consistency, so I opted for Orchards White Rolled icing. It comes in 500g packets and I used about 700g for each cake. The taste wasn't really the nicest, but I guess that's the advantage of making it from home, as you can flavour it as desired. I did find this fondant easy to use and roll and it didn't get sticky, even though I covered the cakes on a rainy old day. It was also a cool day, so I heated the fondant very briefly in the microwave (about 5-10 seconds on high) just to soften it so I could knead it more easily. I was quite pleased with how simple this icing was to manage and roll and it was really no problem.
I left the icing plain white, as was the request of the engaged couple. It turned out to be a simple and elegant engagement cake that I feel would be made by most, even if you have no prior experience. It was topped with real roses which made for an easy yet sophisticated finish, and tied with red ribbons to tuck away any unsightly edges.
Ah engagements! Brings back the day that my husband proposed to me. It's been almost 4 years now (and almost three babies later--we have been productive!) How did your man propose to you? Or did you go and pop the question to him? I'd love to hear!


1. Bake your cake. Once cooled, place it on the cake board and flatten off the top if it has mounded. Brush away any crumbs and unsightly bits. I turned my cake over so that it was bottom up, as it made for a much smoother surface.

2. Mix up a butter icing--start with 1 cup of icing sugar, 1 tbsp melted butter and 1 tsp vanilla essence. Add more icing sugar, or water, until it comes to a medium thickness, smooth icing. You don't want it to be runny, but you don't want it to be too thick that it pulls crumbs off the sides of the cake. Smooth it evenly over the surface of the cake with the flat of a butter knife. Use the icing to cover and fill any gaps and holes that may have formed when removing the cake from the tin.

3. Set the cake aside. Take the Rolled icing and kneed with your hands until it becomes smooth and pliable. You may want to microwave it very quickly (5-10 seconds on high) if it's a cold day and it has become hard. Lightly flour the rolling surface with a little icing sugar and roll to desired size and thickness. It's a good idea to lift and turn the fondant after every few rolls to get an even surface and good shape, and to make sure the fondant has not stuck to your rolling surface.

4. Once you have the correct size and desired thickness, lift the fondant and partially drape it onto the rolling pin for stability. Gently lay it over the butter icing-covered cake, removing the rolling pin as you go. The rolling pin helps to avoid any stretching of the fondant while laying it on your cake. With your hand gently smooth the top, then the bottom corner/ point of the cake first.

5. Continue to smooth the fondant over the cake with your hands. You can see in the above picture that although the fondant has been laid nice and flat over the cake, there are areas where the fondant bunches (see top right and left sides of the cake). To fix this unevenness and to prevent a bunched surface, just run your hand around the rest of the cake to smooth the fondant, then lift these problem areas away from the cake and then smooth downward to get rid of the bunching effect.

6. Now that the surface is smooth, ensure the bottom edges meet the board. If they are a little short, do not stress, as this un-neatness can be covered with a ribbon or pipped icing around the edges if need be. With a small, sharp and non-serrated knife, cut the excess icing from the board, about 1 cm from the cake. Don't cut too closely as you may be surprised to find the fondant floating at the edge. Neatly tuck this 1 cm of fondant towards the base of the cake, and cut away any further overhang if any exists.

7. Collect the residual fondant and roll it into a ball. Wrap it in cling wrap and run it over the whole surface of the cake to smooth it for a final time. Some people prefer to use a flat smoothing device especially made to perfect the surface, but this home made little ball of fondant works brilliantly too if you don't happen to have one.

8. Clean away any residual icing sugar, fondant or stickiness from the board with a damp cloth or tissue.  Measure the sides and cut a piece of ribbon that will fit around any messy edging if desired. I simply held the ribbon on the cake with a sewing pin (with a coloured ball head so it was visible enough not to be mistaken for cake) pressed into the top indentation of the cake.

9. If you don't feel you have the know how to decorate the cake further, fresh flowers are a great idea to finish off and jazz up a special occasion cake. This can be done before serving or presenting the cake, unless you want to play around with those green foam florist islands. This is a good option if you're topping the cake with flowers as I have done with the Savoiardi and Roses Engagement Cake. I wanted to cover the gap in the boards, so I just laid the fresh flowers in between the cakes when I arrived at the engagement party. They still looked fresh and healthy by the time the cake was cut, but if the weather is warm, you may not want to decorate the cake with fresh flowers until the cutting of the cake is not too far off.

Fondant flowers are easier than you may think to make! Utilize those scraps of fondant and follow this easy guide to making beautiful fondant roses. You may want to make any fondant decorations a few days ahead, as these will need to dry in advance before going on the cake.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Raspberry and White Chocolate Mousse

It's quite official that I can't see my toes when I look down.
The rotund, bulbous belly can no longer be mistaken as a sign of indulgence in my cooking though--if you've been following the blog, you will know that within the next five or so weeks, we're welcoming a new baby into the family. Cooking and baking and artistic creativity in the kitchen may be on the back burner for a while while I catch my breath and gather my feet. Nothing will ever take precedence over my babies---not even a great raspberry and white chocolate mousse.
It's a thick, creamy pink dessert swirled with cream and sweet, tangy raspberry sauce, a pile of berries and a grating of white chocolate. It's elegant and simple and fancy all at the same time and a perfect entertaining dessert that you can make ahead before a dinner party. Choose from small tumblers, bowls or ramekins to sophisticated champagne glasses to show off this delectable dessert that features the summer's first berries and cream. What a feast for the eyes and the taste buds!

RASPBERRY AND WHITE CHOCOLATE MOUSSE (Adapted from "More Please" by Valli Little)

500g raspberries, frozen or fresh
1 tbsp lime or lemon juice
2 tbsp sugar
1/3 cup boiling water
2 tsp gelatine powder
300ml cream
160g white chocolate

Puree the raspberries. With a spoon, push the puree through a fine sieve and discard the seeds. Set the sieved puree aside, reserving 1/3 of a cup for the sauce. To this 1/3 of a cup of puree, add the lemon juice and sugar. Stir to combine, then cover and refrigerate.
In a small bowl, place the hot water, and shower the gelatine evenly over the surface. Set aside for five minutes to soften and then stir to dissolve. Add this gelatine mixture to the the raspberry puree (not the raspberry sauce that you have refrigerated.) Stir to combine and set aside.
Place 1/3 cup of the cream in a microwave proof bowl with the white chocolate. Microwave on high, checking and stirring every 30 seconds until the chocolate has melted and the cream mixes in smoothly with the chocolate. Set this bowl aside to cool.
Whip the remaining cream into soft peaks. Fold the cooled chocolate mixture through, and then the puree. Divide among 4-6 glasses or serving bowls, cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight to set.
To serve, drizzle the raspberry sauce over each portion with a little cream. Garnish with extra raspberries and grated chocolate if desired.

Serves 4-6

The raspberries are pureed and then pushed through a sieve to separate the seeds and skin. Whipped cream is folded through the chocolate ganache mixture, and then a great portion of the raspberry puree is also folded through to form the mousse.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Choc Malt Tim Tam Ice Cream Bombe

A good husband has to get his wife her crave in the middle of the night at least once during a pregnancy. Not pickle and peanut butter sandwiches. Chips smothered in jam? What's the weirdest pregnancy craving you've ever heard of or had? Those hormones do some crazy things to you. As if it isn't bad enough getting up every hour to go to the loo, or having to getting teary over spilled milk, you occasionally have to wake up wanting some bizarre edible (or non edible) in the dead of night.
He's a good man. Better than life itself.
And who doesn't crave Tim Tams in the middle of the night--seriously?

"Mummy's made an ice cream bombe, and it's going to explode on your taste buds!"
"Nooo! That doesn't sound good..."

Here I am now feeling super sorry for all those of you who do not live in a place like Australia where Tim Tams can be found in every grocery store. You really are poor unfortunates and what ever do you do when you have a Tim Tam craving? Now that's a question I would like answered!

CHOC MALT TIM TAM ICE CREAM BOMBE (Adapted from Not Quite Nigella)

600ml cream
1/2 cup icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup Milo powder
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 packet Tim Tams
3/4 cup chocolate chips, melted

Place the cream, sifted icing sugar and vanilla essence into a large bowl. Whip until soft peaks form, then evenly divide the contents into two bowls. Set one bowl aside, and in the other add Milo and cocoa powder. Whip to thoroughly combine.
Take a mold such as a bowl that is approximately of 5 cup capacity. Smooth the chocolate mixture into the base and sides of the bowl to coat evenly. Spoon quarter of the vanilla mixture into the middle. Break up 3/4 of the Tim Tams and layer with the vanilla cream, a quarter of the mixture at a time. Cover the top with foil or cling wrap and place in the freezer for at least 4 hours or overnight. Reserve the remaining 1/4 of the Tim Tams for decorating the top of the bomb at a later stage.
To remove the bombe from the mold when frozen, prepare a large bowl with enough boiling water in it that it comes to the rim of the mold when submerged (be careful not to let the water come over the top of the rim and spoil the ice cream!) Let the mold sit in the hot water long enough to soften the edges slightly, then remove from the water. You may like to use a smooth knife to help ease the bomb up from the edges of the mold, before turning it upside down on the serving platter. Gently ease the bomb out. Smooth away any scrapes that may have occurred on the bombe's surface with a hot knife. Pour the melted chocolate over the top of the bombe and top with the remaining crushed Tim Tams. Return to the freezer or serve.

Serves approximately 6-8

NOTES: If you have an ice cream maker, before smoothing the chocolate cream into the mold, place it in the machine for a few minutes to churn and semi freeze. Then spread into the mold. This makes for a lovely moussy layer when cut. You can also do the same with the vanilla layer, giving the whole bombe a better end result texture.

The cream is whipped into soft peaks, then divided into two bowls. To make the malt flavoured ice cream, milo powder and cocoa is added and beaten, then smoothed into the ice cream mold. The vanilla mix is then layered with the broken tim tams to form the centre of the bomb.

After freezing, the mold is removed from the freezer and unwrapped. It is put into a bowl of hot water to soften the edged, then gently removed with the help of a knife, and turned out onto the serving platter. A smear of hot chocolate is poured onto the top before serving.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Cinnamon Pumpkin Pull Apart Bread

I'd like to think I'm a risk taker. But in reality, I'm probably not at all. I think using pumpkin puree in a sweet bread sounds risky, almost too risky for me. Here in Australia, pumpkin isn't used as a sweet--but I know that Americans are quite used to the idea of serving pumpkin pie as a dessert.
Pumpkin certainly does have that sweet element, but to me it's still a veggie and it would never cross my mind to use it in anything but a savory dish.
So I stepped right out of my comfort zone with this month's Secret Recipe Club reveal and made Cinnamon Pumpkin pull-apart bread with a delicious caramely glaze. It was amazing and I was ever so pleasantly surprised by how beautifully all the flavours came together and the lovely soft texture of the bread itself. It consists of soft folds of sweet bread paired together with cinnamon sugar, sweetened by the deliciously sticky glaze. (I think I made my glaze a little thick, and would probably thin it next time. I also mucked up the cutting and stacking of the dough process so mine doesn't look quite as pretty as it might have if I had paid more attention to the recipe. Still tasted great though...sometimes looks aren't everything he he--says the woman blogging in her pj's with hair all amess.)
The recipe was discovered on Mommy's Menu, and this wonderful blogger is a stay at home mummy of seven little people. Amid all the business every day life presents for us stay at home mums, she still manages to cook up and blog some pretty amazing affairs! Bravo! Lets hope I'm still blogging and cooking up amazing things when I have seven!



2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup milk
2 1/4 tsp dry yeast
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup sugar
pinch salt
2 1/2 cups plain flour
Extra flour for kneading and flouring surface


1 cup brown sugar
1 heaped tsp ground cinnamon
pinch ground ginger
pinch ground cloves
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tbsp butter, melted


2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
3/4 cup icing sugar

To make the bread, in a large bowl, combine the butter and the milk. Microwave until the butter has melted, then set aside to cool until just warm. Add the yeast and set aside for 10-15 minutes to proof. The mixture will begin to foam when ready.
Add the puree, sugar and salt and stir to combine. Gradually add the flour 1/2 a cup at a time, mixing until well incorporated. Knead the dough with your hands for 6 minutes, adding 1 tbsp of extra flour at a time if too sticky. The dough should end up just slightly tacky by the end of the kneading, and be smooth and elastic.
Lift the dough from the bowl and spray with a thin layer of cooking oil. Replace the dough and cover. Set aside in a warm place to rise for 60-90 minutes, or until doubled in size.
Meanwhile, to make the filling, place the brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg together in a bowl. Mix until well combined.
When the dough has risen to twice its original size, turn it out onto a floured surface and punch it down with your fist. Knead for 2 minutes, then roll out into a 20x12 inch rectangle. Brush the surface with the melted butter, then evenly sprinkle on the prepared sugar and spice filling.
Using a pizza cutter or smooth bladed knife, cut the dough into 36 squares (6 rows horizontally by 6 rows vertically)  Stack the squares of dough three high, so you end up with 12 stacks of 3. Stack the piles of dough vertically in a 9x 15 loaf tin. Cover the tin with a clean tea towel and set aside to rise for 30-40 minutes.
Meanwhile preheat the oven to 180C.
Once the dough has risen, bake for 30-40 minutes until a deep golden brown. Remove and cool for 10 minutes before turning out on a wire rack to finish cooling.
To make the glaze, place the butter, brown sugar and milk in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, then remove from heat. Stir in the vanilla and the icing sugar to form a paste, then pour over the cooled bread. Serve.

The first stages of the bread making: melted butter and warm milk with the yeast form a foamy substance when left to sit for a while. Addition of puree and flour make a soft dough.

More flour is added little by little to make the dough less sticky, and it forms a smooth ball. It is left to rise and then is turned out onto a floured surface, punched down and lightly kneaded before rolling out.

A slathering of butter then covers the dough and a mixture of sugar and spices is evenly spread on the surface. The dough is then cut into rectangles, stacked in the tin and left to rise. Then it is cooked, and drizzled with a glaze when cooled.