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 ūüôā

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 ¬ľ 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 Рwhen 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.

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Daisy Macaron Pops

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mummies out there! To help celebrate, I made these super delish Daisy Macaron Pops – sweet, edible flowers filled with lemon curd and raspberry and white chocolate ganache sound pretty exciting to me! I was a little worried about making these, but they turned out a lot better than expected. And I just thought¬†making them ‘pops’ added a bit of novelty.¬†As I had to make two batches, the first one had to sit and wait whilst I made the second one, and it did thicken up a little in the process. As a result, most of the last batch I baked cracked a bit. But that’s okay. They tasted awesome, even though some of the petals looked a bit more like nipples. That’s okay.

The choice of fillings, I must say, were oh so tasty. Lemon curd is one of my faves and when made well, is always a winner. The lemon daisies tasted sooooooooo amazing the next day. And of course, white choc and raspberry is a classic combination. I could have happily spent the rest of the night just staring into space and drinking the ganache out of the bowl. What a lovely mental image ūüôā

Macarons: (obviously I made two separate batches for this recipe. TIP – when you are making more than one batch of macarons, don’t ever double the recipe. Measure out the ingredients on their own and make the batches separately. When you have made the first batch, simply give it a good stir every few minutes to stop it from thickening and becoming dry).

This recipe is Adriano Zumbo’s, and was published a couple of years ago in the Herald Sun. You will definitely need kitchen scales to make macarons.

  • 135g almond meal
  • 135g icing sugar
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 45g egg whites
  • 50g egg whites
  • 40g water
  • 1/2 tsp Wilton’s lemon yellow food colouring gel
  • 1/2 tsp Wilton’s terracotta pink food colouring gel
  • 1 packet of Wilton’s large lollipop sticks, for Aussies these can be found at The General Trader, or Wheel and Barrow. For others, or Aussies who like to shop online, you can buy them online from Wilton’s website

Preheat oven to 170c (160c fan forced). Spray four oven trays with cooking oil spray around the edges, and line with baking paper and set aside. Place almond meal and icing sugar in a large bowl, and sift together 3 times. Set aside, along with the 45g egg whites. Put 50g egg whites in a separate bowl. Heat caster sugar and water in a small saucepan until it is hot and syrupy (if it slightly burns my tongue, it’s done!). If white, thick, powdery bubbles begin to form around the edges, start again!

Begin beating the 50g egg whites with one hand, and with the other, stream the hot sugar syrup down the side of the bowl to create an italian meringue. Beat until peaks form, the meringue should be thick and very glossy. If you want to add flavouring/colouring, now’s your moment. So add the colouring now. Just lightly beat them into the meringue. Pour meringue into the almond meal, icing sugar and 45g egg whites mixture and mix roughly to combine.

When combined, fold mixture together (one single stroke) until there are no air bubbles left. Make a spread across the top of the mixture, and it should disappear in about 20 seconds. Set aside and make the second batch (repeat process from the start). Spoon the two mixtures into separate piping bags. On both of the piping bags, I used very small round nozzles, like these. You will need to buy a piping set for the finer nozzles, as the Multix ones only contain the wide round nozzle. I bought my piping set from Baking Pleasures. The reason why I used finer nozzles is because I¬†thought it would give me more control over the mixture, as it can be quite oozy and messy.¬†What ended up working best for me was using the¬†wide round nozzle to pipe the rounds, and the finer nozzle for the petals. This worked really well and the mixture did not drip much at all. Once you’ve filled the piping¬†bags,¬†lock the bag by spinning the top around 4 times. Pipe 3-4cm rounds on the oven trays prepared earlier, then carefully pipe seven small and even petals around the circle. Gently tap the bottom of the trays and let them sit for about half an hour, or until mixture is dry to the touch.

Place in oven and bake for 7 minutes. Turn tray around in the oven and bake for another 8 minutes. To test, pull a macaron off the baking paper. If it is stuck, keep cooking and checking regularly. Cool on trays for 5 minutes, then peel off and place on a wire rack. The mixture should make about 30-35 daisies. Macarons keep really well (about 5 days in the fridge) and some say that the longer they are refrigerated, the more the flavour is likely to develop.

Fillings:

Lemon – for the lemon curd combine 2 eggs, 2 egg yolks, and 3/4 cup caster (white) sugar in a saucepan and whisk until smooth. Over a low heat, add 80g chilled butter, and the zest and juice of 2 lemons. Whisk until thickened. Strain through a sieve and refrigerate until firm. Using a piping bag with a round nozzle, pipe 3/4 tsp of lemon curd onto one half of a macaron daisy and place a lollipop stick in the middle, and sandwhich with another.

Raspberry and White Chocolate¬†– to make the white chocolate ganache, combine 115g of white chocolate, 1/2 cup of thickened cream and 1/2 tsp of vanilla paste (optional) in a small saucepan. Stir continuously over a low heat until mixture has melted. Pour into a bowl/small container and leave at room temperature. To make the raspberry coulis, combine 1 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen) and 3/4 cup caster sugar, and 3/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Stir over a low heat until raspberries have disintegrated. Strain through a sieve to get rid of the seeds. A teaspoon at a time, carefully spoon the coulis into the white chocolate ganache. You can put as much or as little in as you like. I used all of my coulis. When I tasted it, I got the hit of white chocolate at the start, and then a slight raspberry tang. Refrigerate until firm. When ready to use, spoon ganache into a piping bag with a round nozzle, and pipe 3/4 tsp onto a macaron half and place the lollipop stick in the middle,¬†and sandwich with another. Then take pretty pictures of them in¬†real flowerpots ūüėõ

Happy Mother’s Day! X

 

Orange and Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

These cute little cupcakes were requested from my boyfriend for his birthday, as he loves lemon curd and this awesome orange cake – so why not combine the two and add some delish toasted meringue? Yum!

I made this orange cake in a large ring pan with some toffee syrup for Easter last month, and it was a really lovely dessert. Plus, it is so easy to make – just throw everything in the food processor and off you go! Definitely one to keep in the repertoire.

I used this great recipe from Taste.com for the orange cake. Obviously I did not make the toffee syrup this time around (however, it is great if you’re making one big cake!), and as these were cupcakes I simply spooned 1 1/2 tsp of mixture into each cupcake case, and baked for 15 minutes on 160c, fan forced. After they have been cooked, let cakes cool in the¬†tins for 5 minutes, then place on wire rack to cool completely. This mixture made 26 medium sized cupcakes,¬†but if you wanted more or less, it’s¬†fairly easy to double or half.¬†To toast the meringue tops, you will need a chef’s blowtorch. You can buy them for about AU$25-30 at most homeware stores.

Lemon Curd: (also from Taste.com)

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup (165g) caster sugar
  • 1/3 cup (80g) chilled, chopped butter

In a small saucepan, whisk eggs, yolks and sugar until smooth. Place the saucepan over a low heat. Add the butter, juice and zest and whisk until thickened. Strain through a sieve, let curd cool, then refrigerate.

Italian Meringue:

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 cup caster cugar
  • 50g water

Have egg whites ready in the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a bowl with the hand mixer ready to go. Over a low-medium heat, combine sugar and water in a saucepan to make a sugar syrup. Stir until sugar is dissolved and mixture is very hot. If thick, white bubbles begin to form, start again. Begin beating egg whites, and slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl to create an italian meringue. Beat until stiff peaks form, and the mernigue is thick and glossy. Fill a piping bag fitted with a round or star nozzle – I used a star nozzle but the meringue was not thick enough to take the shape, but they still looked nice enough ūüôā (TIP – don’t make the meringue until you are ready to pipe it. If it is sitting for over 5 minutes, it will begin to deflate and will lose its glossiness).

Assembly:

When the cupcakes have cooled, gently hollow out a small circle at the top, about 3-4 cm deep. Fill the holes with lemon curd. Gently pipe a swirl of meringue on the top of each cupcake. Once you have completed the topping, gently wave the blowtorch over the meringue – leave about 10cm, otherwise it will burn. You only want to¬†lightly toast the meringue ūüôā Store cupcakes in airtight containers,¬†but do not refrigerate, otherwise they will lose their fluffiness. They will keep for 4-5 days. You can definitely freeze the cupcakes with the lemon curd inside, although only top with the meringue when you are ready to serve.

Citrus and meringue is a classic combination that always works beautifully. You could mix up this version with a lemon cake and lime or orange curd, or even a blood orange cake and curd. The possibilities are endless!

Enjoy! X

Hot Cross Macs with a Spiced Buttercream and Candied Orange Peel

Happy Easter everyone! I seriously cannot believe it is this time of the year already. It only seems like yesterday that Easter Eggs were going on sale at the end of December! I have been wanting to create a Hot Cross Bun inspired macaron for a while¬†now, but have not had the time…so here we finally are! I do love a good Hot Cross Bun, however I am pretty partial to the Choc Chip ones that everybody seems to sell these days, too¬†ūüėõ I was really happy with how these babies turned out, the flavour of the spices¬†isn’t too intense, and the candied peel adds a traditional hot cross bun element and a fruity kick!

Macarons:

This recipe is Adriano Zumbo’s, and was published a couple of years ago in the Herald Sun. You will definitely need kitchen scales to make macarons.

  • 135g almond meal
  • 135g icing sugar
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 45g egg whites
  • 50g egg whites
  • 40g water
  • 1/2 tsp good quality cocoa

Preheat oven to 170c (160c fan forced). Spray four oven trays with cooking oil spray around the edges, and line with baking paper and set aside. Place almond meal and icing sugar in a large bowl, and sift together 3 times. Set aside, along with the 45g egg whites. Put 50g egg whites in a separate bowl. Heat caster sugar and water in a small saucepan until it is hot and syrupy (if it slightly burns my tongue, it’s done!). If white, thick, powdery bubbles begin to form around the edges, start again!

Begin beating the 50g egg whites with one hand, and with the other, stream the hot sugar syrup down the side of the bowl to create an italian meringue. Beat until stiff peaks form, the meringue should be thick and very glossy. If you want to add flavouring/colouring, now’s your moment. So add the cocoa now. Just lightly beat them into the meringue. Pour meringue into the almond meal, icing sugar and 45g egg whites mixture and mix roughly to combine. When combined, fold mixture together (one single stroke) until there are no air bubbles left. Make a spread across the top of the mixture, and it should disappear in about 20 seconds. Spoon mixture into a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle. (If you don’t have a piping bag set, most supermarkets sell plastic ones, they are Multix brand, in an orange box and contain 5 piping bags with a few different nozzles, plus they’re only about $3. You should be able to find them in the baking aisle). Lock the bag by spinning the top around 4 times. Pipe 3-4cm rounds on the oven trays prepared earlier. Gently tap the bottom of the trays and let them sit for about half an hour, or until mixture is dry to the touch.

Place in oven and bake for 8 minutes. Turn tray around in the oven and bake for another 7 minutes. To test, pull a macaron off the baking paper. If it is stuck, keep cooking and checking regularly. Cool on trays for 5 minutes, then peel off and place on a wire rack. The mixture should make about 12 large macarons, and about 25 smaller macarons.

Candied Orange Peel: 

  • 1 orange, peeled, then cut into small 1cm thick batons
  • 1/2 cup caster (white) sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • Extra cold water

Cover orange peel in a small saucepan with plenty of cold water. Bring to the boil and cook for 5 minutes, then drain well. Repeat this process. Once peel has been drained for the second time, place again in saucepan, with the water and the sugar. Cook over a low heat until the sugar dissolves. Turn up the heat and bring to the boil, and cook, sitrring occasionally for 5 minutes, or until the peel is tender and translucent. Transfer peel to a wire rack with a fork, and cool completely.

Spiced Buttercream:

  • 175g salted butter,¬†softened, not melted
  • 2 cups soft icing sugar mixture
  • 1 1/2 tsp Mixed Spice (you may want more, so just taste as you go!)
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp¬†Ground Ginger

Beat butter until pale and creamy (2-4 minutes). Gradually add the icing sugar and spices, you can¬†add the sugar¬†to taste as well if you like. Sometimes I don’t add the whole 2 cups of sugar. Buttercream should be slightly brown from the spices, and if you follow my quantities, it will be fairly subtle.

Icing for the crosses:

  • 1/4 cup icing sugar mixture
  • 2 tsp water

Combine sugar and water until a thick paste is formed. Spoon in a small snap lock bag, and cut off a tiny part of one of the bottom corners. Gently pipe 2 straight lines to form a cross on top of one macaron shell of each biscuit.

Assembly:

Pair up matching macaron shell combinations. Spoon buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle. Gently pipe half a teaspoon of buttercream onto a shell, and top with one or two pieces of candied orange peel.

Pipe another half teaspoon on top of the peel, and sandwhich with another shell.

These are seiruously yummy, and a great alternative if you find hot cross buns too intense in flavour, which many can be. Enjoy, and Happy Easter!

Red Velvet Giant Cupcake

For ages I had wanted to try making one of these giant cupcakes, they just look so good! I am also a huge fan of red velvet cake with cream cheese icing – best flavour combo and the deep red colour of the cake is gorgeous, too. It was Mum’s birthday (I’m running out of brithdays!), so I thought why not give it a go – and I’m sooooo glad I did – it tasted amazing! I know the decorating isn’t quite perfect, the icing was a bit runnier than I would have liked but I got to use my cute little red roses with made a nice touch ūüôā

I wasn’t sure at first because I could only seem to find a good red velvet cupcake recipe, and I was a bit freaked out about the measurements as the giant cupcake pan is so big! BUT I finally found a fellow blogger who had done this before – thank god! When I poured the mixture into the tins, I was a little worried that it wouldn’t be enough because the bottom of the top cake was a lot smaller than the top of the bottom cake…but it was ok, once it was iced it looked damn scrumptious.

¬†I also¬†dragged out my Nanna’s stand mixer that she hadn’t used in decades (yes, I’ve always handmixed/whisked my delights). Talk about life being made easier, I¬†now understand people’s undying love of the KitchenAid. WOW!¬†I love this photo of the instruction booklet – so 50’s (I’ll keep my feminist views at bay!)

Red Velvet Giant Cupcake: (adapted from FoodBuzz)

  • 8 tbs butter, softened – not melted
  • 1 1/2 cups caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tbs good quality cocoa
  • 4 tbs red food colouring (or 1 tsp Wilton’s colouring gel)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 1/4 cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tsp white vinegar

Preheat oven to 180c (170c fan forced). Grease and flour tins – don’t use too much flour like I did otherwise you’ll end up with cooked white blotches on the outside of¬† the cake ūüė¶ In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, or in a large mixing bowl, combine butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time and whisk well to combine. You may need to scrape down the bowl of the stand mixer. In another bowl, combine the cocoa, vanilla and red food colouring (if you are using liquid colouring it may turn to paste, but if using gel it will be powdery – either way it is fine). Slowly add the cocoa mixture to the cake batter and mix until well combined and until all of the cake batter is coloured. Turn the mixer to low and¬†slowly add half of the buttermilk. Add half of the flour and salt and until combined. Scrape down the bowl and repeat the process with the buttermilk and flour. Beat until smooth. Add baking soda and white vinegar, and beat for a few more minutes. Pour mixture into prepared tins and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. The top of my cake took less time than the bottom, but it didn’t dry out at all. Let cakes cool in the tin for 20 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Icing:

  • 250g block cream cheese
  • 2/3 cup butter, softened – not melted
  • 2 cups icing sugar mixture
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Beat together the cream cheese and butter, until cream. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually add the icing sugar.

To assemble cake, spread a thick layer of icing on the top of the bottom cake. Sandwich top cake over the bottom one and gently press down. To ice, use a round edged knife. For the outside of the bottom cake, I just melted a bit of chocolate and spread it with a round edged knife. It hid all my white blotches nicely!