Cherry Ripe Layer Cake

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year, and managed to relax over the holiday season. I can’t believe the best time of the year is over already, it always goes too quickly! Usually, for me, January is a busy month for cakes, with most of my families’ birthdays. This year, however, almost my whole family were sick, and celebrations kept getting put off! So, this beauty of a cake was made for three peoples’ birthday, and delicious it was. Excuse the crappy photos, my awesome proper camera broke, and my the photos from my phone just aren’t the same 😦

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This cake is quite similar to this one I made about the same time last year, with red wine ganache. However, I omitted the red wine this year, and added toasted coconut flakes and cherry ripe bars.

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Chocolate Mud Cake Layers: (recipe by Janelle Bloom)

Makes 4 x 23cm layers

400g butter
200g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup good quality cocoa
2 tbs good quality drinking chocolate or instant coffee powder, or 1 tbs of each if you want
1 tsp vanilla bean paste/natural extract
2 cups caster (white) sugar
6 eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour, sifted
Approximately 500g fresh cherries, stones removed and halved
Approximately 30 fresh cherries, with stems (I used a 695g bag altogether, and it was just enough)

Preheat oven to 160c. Line 23cm springform cake tins with baking paper. I had two tins, therefore had to repeat the process.

In a medium saucepan, combine butter, chocolate, water, cocoa, drinking chocolate and/or coffee powder and vanilla. Cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly, until melted and smooth. Remove from heat, and set aside for 10 minutes or until lukewarm.

In the meantime, beat eggs and sugar together in a stand mixer, on medium speed, until pale and creamy. Stream the chocolate mixture down the side of the stand mixer to incorporate into egg mixture. Beat until well combined. Stop the mixer, and add the flour. Beat again until well combined and smooth.

Weigh mixture into four even portions (I did this with digitial scales), to ensure even layers. Pour mixture into prepared tins. Bake for 25 minutes in preheated oven, or until a skewer is inserted, and comes out clean. Repeat process, depending on how many cake tins you have.

Cool cakes for 15-20 minutes in tins, and transfer to a wire rack. If not using immediately, wrap tightly with cling film once cakes are completely cool, and refrigerate. Bring down to room temperature to assemble and eat.

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Dark chocolate ganache: (you will need to make the ganache the day before serving the cake)

· 300g good quality dark chocolate, chopped, or choc bits
· 300ml thickened cream

In a medium saucepan, combine the chocolate and cream, and place over a low-medium heat, constantly stirring until melted. Place in a large bowl and let cool at room temperature. When ganache has cooled, cover with cling wrap and leave overnight at room temperature.

Assembly:

· Toasted coconut flakes or dessicated coconut
· 900g cherries, pitted and halved
· 100g whole cherries

Place one layer of mud cake on the stand/base. Place ganache in a piping bag fitted with a large round nozzle. Pipe one small dob of ganache in the middle of the cake, and place halves of cherries around it. Repeat the process with ganache around the other side of the cherries, and repeat again. Sprinkle with coconut. The end result should look like this:

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Repeat the process three times, until you reach the top layer. You can really decorate the top layer however you want. I used the ganache for the middle of the top layer, and as you can, sprinkled coconut around the edges. I stuck the whole cherries in with the ganache, to ensure they weren’t going to fall off. I sliced the cherry ripes into sharp triangles, to look effective on the cake.

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Enjoy, and happy baking! X

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Wedding Cakes, Sesame Street and more!

Well, I did say it could be a while. However, I am back, and back with lots of photos of cake! The last month has been absolutely flat out with cakes for me, and it doesn’t look like I’ll be slowing down any time soon! Which is not a bad thing, it is nice to busy making cake, than busy writing essays! Anyway, lets get to the important stuff – this cake below was made for a very special family wedding in late November, and I was super happy with how they turned out:

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The top cake was a 4” vanilla bean layer cake, filled with lemon curd. All of the cupcakes were a nice simple vanilla bean, with fondant flowers to match the bride’s beautiful dress. I love making vanilla bean cake, because it’s so simple, but has such a lovely flavour (providing you use good quality paste or beans). I am definitely a chocolate girl at heart, but vanilla bean brings a nice change and is so underrated.

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I used the trusty vanilla bean cupcake recipe by Taste.com, which I have been using for years, for both cakes. The recipe is so versatile – the result is always great with cupcakes, and small and large layer cakes.

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These cupcakes below have to be the most fun I have ever had making cakes! I was a little nervous to make these because I have never done anything like it before, but I was very happy with the results! As you probably know from my previous work, I am not a fan of fondant at all, but I had to make a slight exception for these cuties 🙂

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It was only the second time I have attempted bright red buttercream, because the first time, it was a nightmare! Red is such a difficult colour to get right, because you have to use sooooo much colour for it to be deep enough. However, if you add too much gel to the buttercream, it splits due to the amount of liquid = disaster. It took me two times to get it right, and the trick for me was to start with a deep pink, and then add the red to deepen the colour. If anyone has any tips for red buttercream – please let me know!! 🙂

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Below are some other Birthday and Christmas cupcake orders I have been lucky enough to make 🙂

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Happy Christmas baking to you all, stay tuned for a delicious festive dessert soon! x

P.S. For more regular photos and updates, follow me on Instagram – @whiskitforabiscuit

 

Cappuccino Naked Layer Cake with Chocolate Ganache

These naked cakes seem to be on trend at the moment! I really enjoyed making this cake, and I really like the combination of the rustic buttercream around the cake, and the rosettes and pool of chocolate ganache on top. This cake was made for my Mum’s birthday, as she loves coffee and chocolate. So, this flavour was a no-brainer!

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 I used the trusted vanilla cupcake recipe for this cake, as it converts quite well into a round cake, too. I tried to get a good quality coffee flavour into the buttercream by using real espresso shots, and this worked really well. I also used dark chocolate ganache in the middle of the layers as well as on the top. It was a nice addition and it cut through the creaminess of the buttercream, and really, who doesn’t love ganache?!

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 Vanilla Cakes:

  • 200g butter, chopped and softened
  • 1 1/2 cups caster (white) sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste/natural extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 3/4 cups self-raising flour
  • 1 cup milk

Line two 22cm round springform cake tins with baking paper. Preheat oven to 180c. Beat butter, sugar and  vanilla bean paste until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, until each is well combined. Add the flour and milk gradually, in alternating batches. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine after each addition. Ensure you begin and finish with flour. Divide mixture evenly between the two prepared cake tins. Bake in preheated oven for approximately 30-40 minutes, or until a skewer is inserted and comes out clean. I had a bit of a problem with my cakes taking a while to cook in the middle, and one of them sunk quite a bit after I had taken it out of the oven. If you find this starting to happen in the few minutes after you have taken the cake/s out, place them back in, and lower the oven temperature if the edges of the cake are cooked. You don’t want dry edges and a  raw middle. Yuk! Once cakes have cooked, leave them to cool completely in tins. Release gently from tins once cool. If you are not assembling the cakes immediately, wrap them tightly in cling wrap and place in the fridge until ready to assemble. I prefer to assemble cakes cold, especially this one, because you will need to carve the tops. Always bring cake down to room temperature to serve and eat. 🙂

Dark Chocolate Ganache:

  •  250g good quality chocolate chips, or dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/3 cup thickened cream

Combine chocolate and cream together in a medium saucepan, and cook over a low-medium heat, stirring, until melted and smooth. Pour into a heatproof bowl, and leave until set. If you are not using ganache on the same day, refrigerate, and slightly warm in the microwave to use.

Espresso Buttercream:

  • 400g butter, chopped and softened (I prefer to use salted butter when making buttercream)
  • 3 1/2 cups icing sugar mixture
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste/natural extract
  • 30ml espresso coffee (try to use real espresso if you can. If it is not possible, use a good instant coffee powder with 30ml boiling water

Beat butter and vanilla until pale and creamy. Gradually add the sugar and coffee and beat until well combined. With the sugar and coffee, you don’t have to stick to these quantities if they are not to your taste. Taste as you go and add what you are happy with.

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Assembly:

Place one vanilla cake on the stand or board which you will present on. Using a serrated bread knife, gently cut the top of the cake, horizontally, until you have created an even top. Using a palette knife or a spatula, generously spread approximately 2/3 cup of buttercream over the top of the first cake. Then, using a tablespoon, spoon approximately 2-3 tablespoons of dark chocolate ganache on top of the buttercream and push out toward the edges of the cake, taking care not to mix the two – you want the ganache on top of the buttercream. Place the second cake on top of the first, and again, gently cut across it to create an even top, and spread with the buttercream only. After this, using your palette knife or spatula again, gently coat the outside of the cake with buttercream, taking care to gently scrape the edges, creating a smooth, naked cake appearance. Then, place approximately 2 1/2 cups of buttercream into a large piping bag fitted with a large, star nozzle. Pipe rosettes or swirls around the edges of the cake, and lightly dust with cocoa powder. Spoon 1/2 cup of dark chocolate ganache into the middle of the cake, and gently spread out to the rosettes if you need to. As mentioned earlier, always bring cake down to room temperature to eat. Serve, and enjoy!

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Happy Baking!

Chocolate Mudcake Layers, with Red Wine Ganache, Fresh Cherries and Hazelnut Praline

Happy New Year to you! I am back with a bang – with this bee-yoo-tiful chocolate mud cake with all the bells and whistles! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year, and enjoyed the break with your loved ones. I know I certainly did, and am feeling refreshed and ready to attack 2015 head on!

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I must say, I am super proud of this cake. I knew exactly what I wanted it to look like, and I had all the flavours imagined in my mind. It turned out perfectly, and it was really delicious, if I say so myself. This cake was inspired by the fantastically awesome Katherine Sabbath. If you don’t know who she is, pretty please check out her Instagram – you will be amazed!
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The thing I loved most about this cake, apart from how it looked, was the combination of the dark chocolate red wine ganache, and the fresh cherries. The richness of the chocolate and the red wine together, with the hit of the juicy fresh cherries, full of flavour, was downright damned delicious. The cherries here in Australia at the moment are so yummy, and so cheap! Yay for Summer! If only it lasted all year long.
Chocolate Mud Cake Layers: (recipe by Janelle Bloom)
Makes 4 x 23cm layers
  • 400g butter
  • 200g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup good quality cocoa
  • 2 tbs good quality drinking chocolate or instant coffee powder, or 1 tbs of each if you want
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste/natural extract
  • 2 cups caster (white) sugar
  • 6 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups self-raising flour, sifted
  • Approximately 500g fresh cherries, stones removed and halved
  • Approximately 30 fresh cherries, with stems (I used a 695g bag altogether, and it was just enough)

Preheat oven to 160c. Line 23cm springform cake tins with baking paper. I had two tins, therefore had to repeat the process.

In a medium saucepan, combine butter, chocolate, water, cocoa, drinking chocolate and/or coffee powder and vanilla. Cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly, until melted and smooth. Remove from heat, and set aside for 10 minutes or until lukewarm.

In the meantime, beat eggs and sugar together in a stand mixer, on medium speed, until pale and creamy. Stream the chocolate mixture down the side of the stand mixer to incorporate into egg mixture. Beat until well combined. Stop the mixer, and add the flour. Beat again until well combined and smooth.

Weigh mixture into four even portions (I did this with digitial scales), to ensure even layers. Pour mixture into prepared tins. Bake for 25 minutes in preheated oven, or until a skewer is inserted, and comes out clean. Repeat process, depending on how many cake tins you have.

Cool cakes for 15-20 minutes in tins, and transfer to a wire rack. If not using immediately, wrap tightly with cling film once cakes are completely cool, and refrigerate. Bring down to room temperature to assemble and eat.

Dark Chocolate and Red Wine Ganache:

  • 500g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
  • 2/3 cup thickened cream
  • 1/2 cup red wine, I used Shiraz

Place chocolate and cream in a medium saucepan, and cook, over a medium heat, stirring, until melted and smooth. Remove from heat, and slowly add red wine. Stir until well combined and mixture is thick (wine will hang at the top of the mixture, but keep stirring, as it may take a couple of minutes for it to be mixed in properly). Pour ganache into a heatproof bowl, cover in cling film, and refrigerate. If using ganache that day, you will need to wait until it is set to use it. It may be a good idea to make the ganache first. If using the next day, you will need to slightly warm ganache in the microwave, for 10 seconds only.

FYI – for best results, beat your ganache in the stand mixer before piping, especially if it has been in the fridge overnight and has been warmed in the microwave. It will make the ganache nice and fluffy, and will be much easier to pipe.

Hazelnut Praline:

  • 1 cup caster (white) sugar
  • 3 tbs water
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped

Line an oven tray with non-stick baking paper. Arrange hazelnuts neatly on the tray. Place sugar and water in a medium saucepan, and cook, on a low-medium heat, until sugar has completely dissolved. Then, turn heat up to high, and cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar mixture turns a deep golden colour. Pour sugar mixture over the hazelnuts, and leave to set and cool, which will take approximately 30 minutes. If not using praline immediately, break into pieces and store in an air-tight container, in the freezer. This will prevent the praline from becoming sticky.

 

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Assembly:

Spoon mixed ganache into a piping bag with a wide, round nozzle. Place one mud cake on a stand, board or plate. Pipe one round of ganache in the centre of the cake. Place cherries, cut side down, around ganache. Repeat process around the cherries with the ganache, and repeat again. It should go: ganache, cherries, ganache, cherries, ganache (see photo below). Repeat with the second and third layers of mud cake. For the final layer, the top of the cake, do the exact same thing with the ganache, but instead, place the whole cherries on this layer. In addition, place whole cherries on top of the ganache rounds on the edge, just to give the cake a bit more height. Trim the ends of the cherry stems if they are brown, with a pair of kitchen scissors. Arrange praline as desired. ENJOY! 🙂

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This cake was made for my Dad and Nanna’s birthdays, and to see their faces light up when they saw this cake was wonderful, and then again when they tasted it. It really was a labour of love. I hope I get the opportunity to make this special cake again soon.

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Until next time…x

Follow @whiskitforabiscuit on Instagram here.

White Chocolate and Maple Macadamia Baked Cheesecake with Candied Bacon

Happy Birthday to me! I decided to make myself a cake resembling a pizza/cheese and bacon roll this year. Although, it was not my first intention, I’m quite happy with how it looks, it’s a little rustic, not the prettiest, but it tastes good 😉 I was very excited about this cake, as it was something I had in my mind for a while, and I thought, what better occasion to make it than my own birthday! I am a very big fan of baked cheesecakes, and I have made a few in my time, but the only thing that puts me off baking them more often is that they are time consuming, and soooo expensive. Especially when you put a big packet of macadamias in it, and real maple syrup, which costs a small fortune on its own. Nonetheless, it was very delicious.

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I have used this recipe before to make a raspberry and white chocolate cheesecake, and it’s really great. You can play around with flavours, too, which is always good. Aside from the cheesecake itself, I kind of made the other bits up in my head, which is a sure fire sign of a great recipe!

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Baked Cheesecake: (adapted from Taste.com.au)

  • Melted butter, to grease tin
  • 250g plain, sweet biscuits (I used Arnott’s plain Teddy Bears)
  • 100g hazelnut meal
  • 150g butter, melted
  • 3 x 250g cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup caster (white) sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste/vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 250g block good quality white chocolate, chopped
  • 250g macadamias, quartered
  • 1/4 cup real maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup real maple syrup
  • 1 cup streaky bacon, chopped into rough 1cm pieces

Grease 22cm springform baking tin with butter. Use a food processor to crush biscuits until they resemble fine crumbs. Add the hazelnut meal and melted butter and process until all well combined. Place mixture into prepared tin, and spread evenly. You can use a straight sided glass to evenly spread the base mixture evenly around tin. Cover with cling wrap and place in refrigerator for 30 minutes. If you are not using base straight away, just make sure you take it out 30-40 minutes prior to baking.

Preheat oven to 160c. Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla together until well combined and smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until each is well incorporated. Using a wooden spoon, gently stir in the white chocolate, macadamias and 1/4 cup maple syrup. Pour mixture into prepared tin, and bake for 1 hour, or until just set in the centre. For me, 1 hour was perfect, but you can wobble the tin a little to test if the cake is cooked throughout. For 2 hours, leave the cheesecake in the oven, with the door ajar. I just a wooden spoon to keep the door open. This will prevent the top of the cheesecake from cracking.

Place bacon and 1/3 cup maple syrup in a bowl together and mix until well coated. Spread evenly on an oven tray lined with non-stick baking paper, and bake for approximately 20 minutes on 180c, or until bacon is crispy and sticky. Let bacon cool on tray, then spread across the top of the cheesecake. If not serving the cheesecake straight away, ensure it is stored in the rerigerator, and brought down to room temperature to eat. If the cake is still cold, it is a nightmare to cut – I made this mistake!

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One of my favourite parts of this cake was the candied bacon. People often balk at the idea, but it really works well and the maple/bacon combination is becoming quite popular. You can see the recipe for my Maple Bacon Macarons here, which I posted a couple of years ago. They are just as yummy! Happy Baking 🙂

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Lamington Cake with Balsamic Strawberry Jam

Happy Australia Day to all you Aussies! I hope everyone is having a relaxing long weekend 🙂 As a country, Australia does not really have a defined cuisine of its own. I guess it has something to do with being derived from Britain, and not really having a whole lot of history of our own. However, there is one sweet that we do claim do be our own (aside from the humble Pav, of course!). It is the delicious Lamington. If you do not know what a Lamington is, you are missing out, big time! They are slices of sponge-y cake, filled with jam, and covered in chocolate icing and coconut. Yum! I had actually never made a Lamington before, so I wasn’t sure how it would go, but I decided on a cake version for my Mum’s birthday, and I must say, it was delicious, and a big hit.

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I was going to use the recipe from the ‘BAKE’ book, from the Australian’s Women’s Weekly (AWW are the go-to’s for great recipes for many Aussies), for normal Lamington’s. However, I just had to look on my favourite site, Taste, of course, to see if they may have had a recipe for a cake. Luckily, I found the perfect one with great reviews, so I went with that, with a few of my own additions. I guess I could be more sure of the measurements this way, instead of having to adapt a slice into a cake. Anyhoo, the recipe was great – easy to follow and not ridiculously time consuming, either. Winner 🙂

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Lamington Cake: (recipe from Taste.com)

  • Cooking oil spray, to grease
  • 1/2 cup self-raising flour
  • 1/4 cup plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 1/4 cup cornflour
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup caster (white) sugar
  • 2 cups coconut
  • 250ml thickened cream
  • 1/3 cup icing (confectioner’s) sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste/natural extract

Preheat your oven to 180c/356f. Grease two 20cm round springform baking tins with cooking oil spray, and line with non-stick baking paper. Set aside.

Sift all three flours into one bowl. In a separate bowl, beat all of the eggs, and the sugar, for approximately ten minutes, or until the mixture is thick, pale and creamy. Then, sift half of the flour mixture into egg mixture, and  gently fold it in with a metal spoon until well combined. Repeat with the remaining flour. Make sure the flour is all combined as it can be difficult to see in a large bowl – the flour will just sink to the bottom. And remember to be gentle as you don’t want to knock too much air out of the sponge.

Divide the mixture evenly into the 2 prepared tins. Smooth the surfaces with a metal spoon to ensure the mixture is even. Bake for 12-15 minutes (mine took 14, but ensure you check at 12). Insert a skewer to ensure cake is cooked – the skewer will come out clean. Leave in tins to cool, then place on a wire rack.

Chocolate Icing:

  • 2 cups icing (confectioner’s) sugar
  • 1/3 cup good quality cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup water

Sift the icing sugar and cocoa into a bowl together, and add the water. Mix well until combined and smooth. Pour the icing into a large, shallow dish. Pour the coconut out onto a large baking tray.

Place one side of the sponge cake into the icing, cover the sides, then dip the other side of the sponge in the icing. Cover in coconut and place on a large cake stand. Repeat with remaining sponge cake, except place this one on a plate or another baking tray. I found this process super messy and it took me a while, but I got there in the end!

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Balsamic Strawberry Jam:

  • 1 medium punnet of strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste/natural extract
  • 1 cup caster (white) sugar
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Splash of water

Place strawberries and water (I literally used a splash, just to moisten the strawberries) in a medium sized saucepan. Cook on a medium heat until the berries begin to soften (about 2 minutes). Add the vanilla and sugar, and cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes, or until strawberries have broken down. Add balsamic vinegar, and continue cooking on low until mixture becomes a sticky, jam like consistency. Pour into a bowl, and leave to cool. If you are not using the jam on the day of making it, cover with cling wrap and place it in the fridge. I made my jam two days beforehand.

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Assembly:

Whip up 250ml thickened cream, with 1/3 cup icing (confectioner’s) sugar, and 1 tsp of vanilla bean paste/natural extract. With one sponge cake already on the cake stand, cover with whipped cream, ensuring you spread the cream right to the edges of the cake (if you want to decorate it like my cake, leave a little bit of cream behind to pipe on top). Then, spread over the strawberry jam – although this time don’t spread it right to the edges, leave about 1cm. Place the other sponge on top of the cream and jam. Decorate as desired 🙂 EAT!

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HAPPY AUSTRALIA DAY! (check out my past Australia Day posts here.)

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A Wonderful Wizard of Oz Party!

Last Sunday, it was my little sister’s wonderful Wizard of Oz party. Well, it was more of a production actually, as our house was temporarily taken over by Oz paraphernalia and resembled quite the tornado. It was a lot of fun, and the amount of work my parents put into making the place look like it was straight out of the movie set was astronomical. As was the amount of time I spent in the kitchen! I made so many little bits and pieces I thought I would dedicate a whole blog post to it 🙂

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My ‘Emerald City Macarons’ – Redskin flavoured, with edible gold glitter. This flavour was SO delicious!

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‘Yellow Bricks’ – aka Salted Caramel Rice Bubble Slice

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Unfortunately, I did not make these. I had never tried a cake pop before, I have heard they are very difficult to make. These ones not only look amazing, but tasted it, too. Inside were gooey, chocolatey, fudgey balls of cake. YUM!

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Rainbow lemonade for the kiddies 🙂

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The cake I made – Somewhere Over The Rainbow Layer Cake, with Yellow Brick Buttercream and a Macaron Emerald City.

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This was the same recipe I used to create last year’s Rainbow Cake. It’s not at all difficult, it just takes a lot of time. The end result is well worth it, though. Especially when kids are involved!

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Follow the Yellow Brick Road…