Coconut and Lime Ombre Cake

Happy slightly belated New Year to you all! I can’t believe it is 2014, and January the 1st marked whiskitforabiscuit’s second birthday. Yay 🙂 The beginning of the year is always a bit of a baking whirlwind for me, because almost every member of my family has their birthday in January. So, here is the first of the birthday cakes:

CoconutLimeCake

I love the combination of coconut and lime. It’s really fresh and summery, which is nice when you’re in the middle of the horrible heatwave Melbourne is experience at the moment! The last thing you feel like doing is forcing down a piece of heavy mud cake down your pie hole, so this cake, I thought, was ideal.

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As you may have seen, I enjoy making layer cakes with different colours and gradients; it just makes it a bit more fun, especially when kids are around. I also decided, instead of covering and filling the cake in buttercream, I used a fresh and tangy lime curd to sandwich the layers, and whipped cream to cover the cake, with some coconut, too. Buttercream does not go down well in heat!

Layers

For the cake, I used my trust vanilla cake recipe I have used many times before (which is originally a cupcake recipe, but it works just as well for larger cakes), and just added a bunch of lime zest, lime juice and coconut. It’s so easy and it works perfectly every time, especially when adding different flavourings. I only had a couple of hours to make this cake, so the layers are not quite as even as I’d like them to be. Oh well, it still tasted pretty awesome!

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I hope you all had an amazing New Year, and that 2014 is everything you wish it to be! Happy Baking 🙂

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Aussie Beach Bum Cookies

Happy (belated) Australia Day! I hope all you Aussies had a great long weekend and celebrated with some snags on the barbie, a meat pie and a pav! If you are not an Aussie, you should definitely still celebrate with some snags on the barbie, a meat pie and a pav – or make some of these super cute and cheeky beach bum cookies to embrance your inner Australian! I saw these cookies on Pinterest a while ago, and just had to make them – they are too cute! They are really easy to make and decorate too.
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This recipe is once again from the fantastic Sweetapolita – they are basically the vanilla version of the Dark Chocolate Sugar Cookies with Gingerbread Buttercream that I made for Christmas. I halved the recipe, and I still had close to 50 cookies, so if you do not want that many, you could simply halve it again. You can put any flavour you like in the cookies as well. I was loyal to the recipe and kept the vanilla bean with a touch of lemon, but you could use any type of extract or oil really, such as Strawberry, Orange, or even Musk.
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Vanilla Sugar Cookies: (adapted from Sweetapolita – this post has a great tutorial on making sugar cookies, too!)
  • 1 cup butter – softened, not melted
  • 1 cup caster (white) sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 cups plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 cups (approx.) icing sugar mixture
  • Water
  • Cachous and sprinkles, to decorate
  • Colouring gels

Preheat the oven to 160c fan forced, 170c non fan forced. Line 4 oven trays with baking paper, and set aside. Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until pale and fluffy. Beat in the egg until well combined. Sift flour and salt in a separate bowl, and gradually stir, with a wooden spoon, into the butter and sugar mixture. Knead the dough on a floured surface until smooth – keep adding flour in very small amounts if dough is still sticky. Divide dough into two batches, wrap tightly in cling wrap, and refrigerate for 45 minutes. Once dough is chilled, roll it out with a rolling pin, between two sheets of baking paper, until the dough is just under 1cm thick. With a heart shaped cookie cutter, carefully cut the shapes from the dough and place on the baking paper. When you have a full tray, gently and quickly cut the bottoms of the hearts off with a sharp, non-cerated knife. You don’t want to use a cerated bread and butter knife because it’s not sharp enough, and will cut a rough edge, rather than a clean edge. The only thing I would do differently when I make these again, would be to get a larger cookie cutter and cut off more from the bottom of the heart, so that they look like bigger, rounder bums!! Bake cookies in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes – make sure you check at 10 minutes! TIP – Don’t wait until the cookies begin to go brown – once the edges a even a tiny bit brown, the biscuits will be that overcooked you could nearly break your teeth on them! Make sure all the cookies are still completely ‘blonde.’ Let the cookies cool completely on the trays or wire racks until completely cool – you don’t want the icing to melt off!

 Cookies

To make the icing, combine icing sugar mixture with a tiny amount of water to make a paste. You can make as many or as little colours as you like – three was enough for me. Add a little of the colouring gel and a small amount of vanilla and stir until combined. Place icing in a piping bag fitted with a realllllllly small round nozzle. If you don’t have one, never fear! You can use a snap lock bag and cut the corner off. Decorate the cookies by piping different shapes and colours of underwear! G-Strings are the easiest to do 😛 The icing dries really quickly, so decorate the cookies as you go.

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I can’t believe it is the end of January already, it seemed like only yesterday it was Christmas! Happy belated Australia Day, and I’ll see you in February 🙂 Also, check out my music player on the side of the page, I will putting up some of my favourite songs for you to listen to when you come and visit!

The Rainbow Cake

make a gif at gickr.com

Well, what can I say about this cake?! 7 layers of delicious vanilla bean cake and buttercream, it probably could of fed about 100 people, no joke. This mountain was made for my beautiful little sister’s 8th birthday, and it certainly got the reaction I was after! The gasp from my sister and her little friends (and the adults too!) was priceless, and it’s what makes the hours of slaving away in the kitchen well worth it! I hope you enjoy the gif too, it’s not the best, but I think this epic cake deserves it.

Whilst this cake took a long time to finish, it wasn’t very difficult at all. The cake is quite a basic vanilla butter cake, and the recipe I used was huge, and on it’s own made 4 and 1/2 layers. I must say, I am quite proud of this creation 🙂

Vanilla Butter Cake: (I made this quantity, which made 4 1/2 layers, and another half quantity, which finished the layers and also made 8 medium sized cupcakes too)

I found this recipe from my bible website, Taste.com.au. Even though I have posted the link, I am going to write out this recipe as well because I have a few notes and helpful hints that will make life a little easier.

  • 3 cups self-raising flour
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 2 cups caster (white, superfine) sugar
  • 300g butter, chopped, at room temperature
  • 1 ¼ cups milk
  • 6 eggs, at room temperature
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract (I used 2 tsp vanilla bean paste)
  • Food colouring gel – I used Wilton’s as they are very concentrated and achieve an amazingly bright colour. I buy mine from West’s.

Note: I know the recipe on Taste says to combine everything in the one bowl, then beat, but I found this quite difficult. My bowl was so full I was worried it would topple over, and it took me forever to get the little buttery lumps out. Here is my method:

Preheat the oven to 140C. Grease and line two 22cm springform tins with baking paper (obviously, if you only have 1 tin, it will take you a lot longer to make the cake. For this recipe, the more tins, the better! I had 2 and that worked perfectly. You can usually pick them up from Coles for under $10). Place butter and sugar in a large bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer, and cream until pale and fluffy. Add the vanilla and the eggs, one a time, beating well after each addition. Once combined add the flour and the milk, and mix with a wooden spoon until a smooth batter forms. Carefully weigh the batter into batches of 300g. Stir in the colouring gel until you achieve the desired shade, and pour into cake tin. Smooth mixture with the back of a spoon until mixture is evenly spread throughout the tin. Place in preheated oven, and bake for 30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave in tin for 10 minutes or until cooled. Remove from tin and wrap individual layers tightly, in cling wrap. Repeat process with 6 other layers. Until you have this…

If you are not icing the cake straight away, refrigerate them. I made my cakes 2 days in advance and it was perfect. Just make sure to remove cakes from fridge 1-2 hours before decorating.

Vanilla Bean Buttercream:

  • 700g salted butter, chopped, at room temperature
  • 3-4 cups icing sugar (I prefer to use icing sugar mixture, a plus is that you do not have to sift it)
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste/vanilla extract – NO imitation vanilla allowed!! It is full of chemicals and artifical flavours.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, or if you don’t have a stand mixer, a very large bowl, beat butter until pale and creamy, about 5-7 minutes. Gradually add the icing sugar and vanilla to taste (I used between 3-4 cups – I actually can’t remember the exact amount! Although you want it to be nice and sweet, you also still want that slightly salty hit that comes from the butter). Beat on high for about 8-10 minutes.

If you are not  icing the cake straight away, place buttercream into an airtight container, in the fridge. Buttercream keeps really well, up to 2 weeks in the fridge, and 6 months in the freezer. Just make sure that you take the buttercream out of the fridge or freezer the night before you ice the cake, so it can come down to room temperature. I had mine in the fridge, and the next morning it still needed 10 seconds in the microwave. TIP – when putting buttercream in microwave, do it in small bursts as you do not want it to become runny. You want it to be pliable, but still have its thickness and creamy texture.

Assembly:

Once cakes have come down to room temperature, you can start building. You will need a round-edged knife, and a small bowl of hot water to smooth the icing. Unfortunately, our round-edged knife is broken, so I had to use really small cheese knives! Place the bottom layer of cake on the stand, and top with about 2 tablespoons of buttercream. With the knife dipped in hot water, smooth out the icing until it covers the circumference of the cake, and is about 1-2cm thick. Repeat the process with the remaining 6 cakes.

To ice the outside, make sure you keep dipping the knife in hot water, to cover the whole cake with buttercream. For now, don’t worry about smoothing out the icing, you just want to get the cake covered first.

To clean up the icing, ensure the knife is dipped in the hot water regularly. Carefully smooth the icing with the round-edged knife.

As the cake was so colourful and intense in the middle, I wanted to keep the decoration on the outside to a minimum. I had bought these brightly coloured sprinkles from Baking Pleasures, and they had every colour I wanted to have in the layers, so I decided I would completely cover the top of the cake in these sprinkles, and leave the rest of the cake. I was pretty happy with how it looked.

There are many ways you could decorate a cake such as this. I love these gorgeous Rainbow Cakes from Sweetapolita and Whisk Kid.