Archive for October, 2009

Layered Chocolate Almond Cake with Fondant Letters

Chocolate?  Good!!  Almonds?  Good!!  So why not put them together in a single cake?

This is my “go to” cake (although not in multiple layers).  When I don’t have much time to put together a cake, I usually end up doing this one.  I started covering the cake with almonds during my early attempts at baking and decorating.  I was not happy with the way I frosted my chocolate cake and in desperation, tried to find whatever I could in the pantry for something to hide my mediocre frosting skills.  I found some almonds in the pantry… and, voila!  My go-to cake was born.

As it so happens, this  is the favorite cake of one of the most charming ladies I have the pleasure of working with and her name is — you guessed it right, Suha!  We were planning a surprise party for her in the office and with the number of invitees coming, I realised that one layer was not enough.  I could have gone with making several single layer cakes but I also wanted to do fondant letters which would look good on a tall cake (either a single layer 4-inch high cake or a tiered cake).  I decided to go with a tiered cake.

The cake is your normal chocolate cake, covered in Nigella Lawson’s chocolate frosting and decorated with sliced almonds.  I added buttercream bead borders in ivory around the edges for a finished look.

The letters are made of fondant (with Gum-Tex) with a sprinkling of pearlised sugars attached by brushing the face of the letters with piping gel.


October 26, 2009 at 8:39 pm 2 comments

Baby Shower Teddy Bear

It is not my intention to own all kinds of novelty pans.  I don’t see the sense in having a single purpose pan so I generally use the traditional pans.  In the past, I only had one novelty pan which I use often enough not just for cakes but also for gelatin.

I was asked to make a cake for my officemate’s baby shower and I wanted to do a baby or a bear cake.  I initially thought of shaping a baby or a bear myself (that sounded weird) from a rectangular pan but was not really in the mood for that.

I ended up getting a Wilton Teddy Bear pan which I can use as a bear, a baby (be sure to remove the ears though!), Count Dracula or a mummy for Halloween, Santa for Christmas and other humanoid types of beings.  I ended up doing this — a teddy bear in a diaper on a blanket made of fondant.  For the ruffles around the blanket, I added a bit of Gum-Tex to the fondant.

Just a note — When cutting the cake, best to start serving from the lower portion of the cake to the upper portion.  It just gets morbid cutting the cake from the top and having a headless bear midway.  Alternatively, you can cut from one side to the other.

My officemate is vegan so I had to look for an egg-free or egg-less recipe and found an “Egg-Free Dairy-Free and Nut-Free” recipe from the web. I did a taste test a few days before the baby shower to get feedback on the cupcake and all 8 of my “taste testers” liked it. It was very moist and they could not even tell that it had no egg.

Quick Bits:  Fondant with Gum-Tex

Gum-Tex makes the fondant stretchable and pliable and makes it harden faster/quicker.

Quick Bits:  Baby Showers

I can’t seem to find a definitive origin of baby showers.  Early history and various civilizations seem to have records of celebration of birth with family and friends showering the baby with gifts which are mostly hand made.  What seemed consistent though is that before World War II, baby showers were mainly attended by women and held after the baby is born.  After the war, it became more of a unisex event and held on average a month before birth.  Gifts could be for the expectant mom but usually for the baby which can be in the form of clothing and accessories, gold ornaments or silver utensils.  Baby showers differ from country to country and between social strata.  The bottom line is that baby showers are a celebration of life and an event where the joy and happiness of expectancy is celebrated.

October 17, 2009 at 12:50 pm Leave a comment

Strawberry Pavlova

I was at a party three years ago (I didn’t bake then) and tasted this wonderful strawberry pavlova that an Australian couple brought.  At that time, never in my mind did I imagine that I could end up making the dessert myself.  Never say never!

The pavlova I made is quite different from the traditional pavlova in the sense that (1) it is layered and bigger than usual (2) I used baking pans to make the meringue (3) I also used brown sugar in making the meringue.  Nowadays you can buy the meringue for the pavlova from the supermarket so I thought I’d create something different from what is normally store bought.  I found the recipe in the internet and just went ahead and tried it.

Quick Bits:  The Pavlova

The pavlova is a meringue based dessert named in honor of the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova.  Depending on who you ask, it is supposed to have originated from either Australia or New Zealand when the ballerina visited those countries in the 1920s.

October 17, 2009 at 12:49 pm 1 comment

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