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…

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Lemon Meringue Layer Cake with Macarons

This cake was tasty, very tasty indeed. I made this cake for my boyfriend’s birthday, as he loves all things lemon and meringue – you may remember from last year. I was really happy with the flavour of this cake and the lemon curd that filled it, and the macarons turned out quite well, too. I’ve been a bit lucky with macarons of late, lets hope it stays that way!
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I pictured the merinuge on the outside to look a little different. It wasn’t as glossy and high as I would have liked, but I think it was because I didn’t make enough sugar syrup. However, that’s a minor detail. The part I loved most about making this cake was blowtorching it! I love watching the meringue cook and change colour, I could stand there all day and blowtroch…or maybe I just love playing with flames?! I used my usual vanilla cupcake recipe and just added a bunch of lemon juice and zest and it worked a real treat! It was moist, lemony and buttery all at the same time – yum 😉 The lemon curd recipe I used was from the ever wonderful Zumbo, and it was unsurprisingly delicious and unlike many lemon curds, it remained thick and did not leak out the sides of the macarons like lemon curds often do! Winner 🙂
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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
  • 1/4 tsp colouring gel, yellow

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, over a low-medium heat, until the sugar completely dissolves (if it slightly burns my tongue, it’s done!). If you do not want to burn your tongue, Zumbo suggests investing in a candy thermometer and heating the syrup until it reaches 118 degrees C (244 degrees F). If the syrup becomes thick and powdery in appearance, you will need to start again. This is because the sugar has been heated too much, too quickly, and instead of dissolving, it has cooked.

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 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. 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. Tap the bottom of the trays on the kitchen bench and let them sit for about half an hour, or until mixture is dry to the touch. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 145c (135c fan forced).

Place in oven and bake for 16-20 minutes. Check macarons at 16 minutes, and to test if they are cooked, 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 -15 large macarons, and about 25 smaller macarons. 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. Macarons taste best when they are stored in the fridge, then brought down to room temperature to eat.

 Lemon Meringue Cake

Lemon Vanilla Cake: (adapted from Taste’s recipe)
  • 200g butter, chopped and softened
  • 1 3/4 cups caster sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 3/4 cups self-raising flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • zest and juice of 3 lemons
Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line a round baking tin with baking paper (I have two tins, so I baked two cakes then another one), and set aside. Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla until pale and creamy. One at a time, add the eggs and beat until just combined. Add the lemon juice and zest and stir to combine. Add the flour and milk in alternate batches, ensuring you start and finish with the adding the flour. Stir with a wooden spoon until combined. To ensure layers are even, weigh mixture and divide into three. I think, from memory, each layer weighed about 312g. Pour mixture into prepared tins and smooth the top with the back of a spoon. Place in oven for 15 – 20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. It should just be slightly golden. Let cakes cool in tins for approximately 15 minutes before removing and placing on a wire rack. When completely cooled, gently wrap cakes in glad wrap and if not using immediately, place in fridge until they are needed.
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Lemon Curd: (from Zumbarons: A Fantasy Land of Macarons p. 28)
  • 160g lightly beaten egg
  • 240g caster sugar
  •  Finely grated zest of 5 lemons
  • 160g fresh lemon juice (this amounted to be exactly 5 lemons for me)
  • 300g butter, chopped and softened
Put the egg and sugar in a saucepan and mix well. Stir in the lemon zest and juice. Heat over a low-medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture reaches 85c/185f (You can buy thermometers from homeware or discount stores). Strain the curd into a bowl, discarding the zest and any little bits of cooked egg (I had a few – it’s so easy to do!). Cool the mixture to 50c/133f. When the curd is at the right temperature, beat in the butter gradually until smooth and shiny. If not using straight away, refrigerate. If you are using immediately, allow to curd to cool until it becomes firm enough to pipe.
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 Italian Meringue: (italian meringue is made by making a sugar syrup and adding it to the egg whites to create an extremely thick and glossy mixture)
  • 6 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1/3 cup cold water
To make the sugar syrup, slowly heat the sugar and water in a saucepan on a low heat until sugar is dissolved. Turn the heat up to medium until mixture begins to bubble – some people heat their syrup to a certain temperature but I usually do it by touch, usually when the mixture is just too hot for my finger it is done! Begin beating the egg whites, and slowly stream the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl. Beat until mixture is thick and very glossy. NOTE – don’t make the meringue ahead of time otherwise it will become limp. Make it straight before you cover and blowtorch the cake.
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Assembly:
Place one layer of cake on a cake stand, and generously spread lemon curd on top. Place another layer of cake on top of the lemon curd, and once again cover it with lemon curd. Place the final layer of cake on top. and cover will lemon curd. There should be a couple of teaspoons left after the cake and macarons have been filled. With a round-edged knife, generously cover the cake completely with the meringue mixture, making flicks with the knife as you go to create an element of height and visual appeal 🙂 With a chef’s blowtorch, gently go over the meringue from about 10cm, depending on how brown you want the meringue to be. To completely blowtorch the cake took me about 10-15 minutes. If you are not serving the cake immediately, gently cover it with glad wrap and keep it in a cool dry place. Enjoy!
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Salted Butter Popcorn Macarons

Macs are back! This makes me very happy. Very happy indeed. As you would have seen earlier in the year, the last time I made macarons, it didn’t go so well. These still weren’t perfect, that’s for sure, but they do look like macarons, and they taste pretty amazeballs. And that’s all I really care about 🙂

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This mac flavour is from Zumbo’s Fantasy Land of Macarons (p. 57), and the recipe had intrigued me for a quite a while, but I was just a bit scared to give them a go. I’m very glad I did though, because they were definitely worth it. Surprising or not, they taste exactly like a big mouthful of butter popcorn, just with a few different textures. I am a massive fan of sweets with salt, so these were a major winner in my eyes! The only thing I think I would do differently next time, would be to blitz the popcorn a bit more, because I had some big chunky bits on my shells, so they didn’t look quite as dainty as Zumbo the Great’s.
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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
  • 1/4 tsp colouring gel, yellow

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, over a low-medium heat, until the sugar completely dissolves (if it slightly burns my tongue, it’s done!). If you do not want to burn your tongue, Zumbo suggests investing in a candy thermometer and heating the syrup until it reaches 118 degrees C (244 degrees F). If the syrup becomes thick and powdery in appearance, you will need to start again. This is because the sugar has been heated too much, too quickly, and instead of dissolving, it has cooked.

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 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. 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. Tap the bottom of the trays on the kitchen bench and let them sit for about half an hour, or until mixture is dry to the touch. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 145c (135c fan forced).

Making

Place in oven and bake for 16-20 minutes. Check macarons at 16 minutes, and to test if they are cooked, 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 -15 large macarons, and about 25 smaller macarons. 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. Macarons taste best when they are stored in the fridge, then brought down to room temperature to eat.

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Buttercream: (from Zumbarons: A Fantasy Land of Macarons, p.57.)
(I still made the full recipe, even though it could have filled double the shells I had. I am sure I will use it for something…maybe eating it from the bowl…maybe…)
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 38g water
  • 75g lightly beaten egg
  • 45g egg yolks
  • 200g butter, chopped and softened
  • Sea salt, to taste
You will need digital scales and a thermometer to make this buttercream. The thermometer I use is just an ordinary one used for coffee. You can find them at homeware or discount stores.
Beat the butter until pale and creamy, about 4 minutes. Put the egg and egg yolks together in a large bowl, and set aside. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water, and cook over a low-medium heat until sugar dissolves. Turn the heat up to medium, and cook mixture until it reaches 121c. Begin beating the eggs for a minute or so, and then very slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the egg mixture. Continue whisking the mixture until it is thick, and cooled to 50c. A teaspoon at a time, add the butter to the egg and sugar mixture, and mix well after each addition to ensure there is no lumps. Once all the butter has been incorporated, fold in the salt to taste. It should look a little something like this:
Buttercream
Assembly:
Cook the microwave popcorn according to instructions. Blitz approximately half of the popcorn in a food processor, until they look like small chunky crumbs. Place popcorn on a large plate or in a shallow bowl. Pair up macaron shells. Spoon buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle, and pipe 1/2 tsp onto shells, and sandwich with another. Melt 1 (if you want to brush 1 shell) or 2 tablespoons of butter (if you want to brush both shells) and completely brush the shell/s with the melted butter.
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Immediately place buttered shell/s into the popcorn and place on an oven tray with baking paper. Once you have completed all of the macarons, place in fridge to set overnight. This will help develop the flavour. After 24 hours or so, place macarons in airtight container if not serving immediately. Store in fridge, and bring down to room temperature to serve.
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Lemon Cheesecake Macaron Disasters

I failed. Miserably. It was my own fault, this had happened many times before! Note to self for future reference: NEVER make macarons on a humid day when the airconditioner is on. The only reason I am putting these messes up is because they tasted bloody awesome, thank goodness. In Zumbo’s latest recipe book, Zumbarons: A Fantasy Land of Macarons, he speaks about making macarons in humid weather, and how it is not recommended, so from now on, I will be taking the masters advice! The more humid the weather, the less likely the shells are to dry, and if the shells are not dry, they will not lift and create little feet, the essential feature of any decent macaron. So, here we have, great tasting, horribly looking cracked lemon cheesecake macaron disasters, aka Craparons.
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The filling, however, was a different story. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you will know that I love to eat all types of fillings on their own, and this lemon cheesecake goodness was certainly no exception! I used a simple mixture of cream cheese, lemon zest, icing sugar and vanilla bean paste and it was great, albeit slightly runny. I’ll blame that on the Melbourne heat also.
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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 Wilton’s colouring gel, yellow

Preheat oven to 160c (150c fan forced). Spray four oven trays with cooking oil spray baround 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, over a low-medium heat, until the sugar completely dissolves (if it slightly burns my tongue, it’s done!). If you do not want to burn your tongue, Zumbo suggests investing in a candy thermometer and heating the syrup until it reaches 118 degrees C (244 degrees F). If the syrup becomes thick and powdery in appearance, you will need to start again. This is because the sugar has been heated too much, too quickly, and instead of dissolving, it has cooked.

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 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. 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. Tap the bottom of the trays on the kitchen bench 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 5 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 -15 large macarons, and about 25 smaller macarons. 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. Macarons taste best when they are stored in the fridge, then brought down to room temperature to eat.

 Filling

Lemon Cheesecake Filling:

  •  250g block of cream cheese (I used Philadelphia), chopped
  • 1/2 cup icing (confectioner’s) sugar
  • Zest of 1 1/2 lemons
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
Place cream cheese in a small bowl, and beat for a minute or two until it has slightly softened. Gradually add the sugar, lemon zest and vanilla bean paste. Stir with a wooden spoon until well combined, but not too runny. I think it is best to make the filling in advance and refrigerate straight away, until ready to pipe. Another great thing about this filling is that there is no egg. However, if you wanted to make a baked lemon cheesecake, all you would need to do is add two eggs to mixture and bake away. Nifty 😉
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As much as I love my blogging, from now on, unfortunately I will be posting only every 2 weeks 😦 I have just started my Masters, and it is safe to say it will be sucking the majority of the life out of me for the next while! Stay tuned and see you in 2 weeks 🙂

Cupcake Madness!

The vast majority of my time in the past week has been spent making over 100 cupcakes, and a heck of a lot of buttercream! 100 may not seem like much, but when you have never done that many before, it is certainly a challenge. But lots of fun too!

I had to make three different flavours for a 21st order – chocolate, vanilla bean and red velvet. The chocolate ones had the yellow buttercream, the red velvet ones had the bright orange buttercream and the vanilla bean ones had the bright red buttercream, and all cakes were sprinkled with gold glitter.

I was really happy with how all the cakes turned out, and the colours of the buttercream were really effective. The vanilla bean with the red icing was my favourite to look at because it was so bright and the gold  glitter looked great on it.

I’m not going to write out the recipes for this one, but here are the links for the Red Velvet and the Chocolate cupcakes. I used a different recipe for the vanilla bean, and I will post that up when I make them again soon 🙂

TIP –   when you want to make bright red buttercream, you need to use soooooooooo much colouring gel to make it intense. If you are doubling or tripling the recipe, colour it in batches and then mix them because it is a lot easier to control the colour that way. I tripled my recipe, and needed a good 3 1/2 tubs of Wilton’s gel (Rojo red I think it was). I was really unhappy with mine at first, but weirdly enough overnight in the fridge it brightened from a crimson red to an intense red! This is what it was like first:

 

And after:

And these were just some circusy-themed ones I made for my sister and her friends 🙂