Rainbow Unicorn Cake

Not just a unicorn rainbow cake, but a sparkly rainbow unicorn cake! This cake was made to celebrate a birthday and was made from yummy chocolate fudge cake, and filled with strawberries and cream. The frosting was a cream cheese frosting and the decorations made from fondant.

Finished rainbow unicorn cake

The chocolate fudge cake recipe is one I use often, and can be found here – it will open in a new window. This time I made it I substituted the sour cream/creme fraiche for low fat Greek style yogurt. The cakes turned out really well – so well that I will be using this substitute every time I make it. I made two square cakes in 11 inch x 11 inch square cake tins. The linked recipe will be enough for one of these, so double it if you have two cake tins. I don’t so I made it twice. This is how they came out:

square chocolate fudge cakes

I made a pattern for the unicorn head from paper, which I drew freehand until I was happy with the shape. Here’s what that looked like:

unicron head template

I was originally going to make its ears out of cake – but they ended up as fondant – which I think looks better anyway. I (carefully) cut out sections of cake to the pattern. I should have made the template smaller, or the cakes bigger – but I ended up with four pieces of unicorn head, like this:

unicorn template headunicorn template head 2unicorn head in four pieces

OK. So the cake is kinda starting to look like a unicorn. Next time I will make a smaller cake, and try to make it just out of two pieces. Next I cut each piece in half, and added sliced strawberries and whipped cream. I think this kind of filling makes a dense chocolate fudge cake nice and fresh.

unicorn head cut in halfunicorn head filled with strawberries and creamunicorn head filled complete

Once the filling was in place I crumbed the whole cake. You can’t see in the picture above, but I laid down four thin strips of baking paper down each side of the cake board. This will catch any crumbs and drips, and can be easily slid from under the cake at the end for a nice, clean finish. I crumbed the cake really well, and I used the leftover whipped cream.

unicorn head crumbed

Then I frosted him with cream cheese frosting. You can find the recipe here and it will open in a new window.   The eye I made from white and blue fondant, and I sprayed an ice cream cone with edible silver spray. Then I began to cut strips of rolled colored fondant and stuck them on from the base over the unicorn cake for the mane.

unicorn cake with cream cheese frosting and hornunicorn cake with fondant mane

You can see I measured out seven even spaces with toothpicks so I know how much of each color to add. And then I moulded the ears out of white and pink fondant.

unicorn cake ears

I stuck the ears into the cake with toothpicks. I used an edible pearl glitter spray over the frosting, and then some more edible glitter was sprinkled all over the cake.

unicorn rainbow cake nearly finished

You can see the unicorn is a little bit sparkly in the photos – much better in real life.  To add the finishing touches I made some dark grey piping icing and added the mouth, nose and piped the lines around his eyes. Glitter rainbow unicorn cake – complete!

glitter rainbow unicorn cake

Faberge Egg Easter Cakes

With Easter approaching I wanted to try some Faberge inspired egg cakes. I recently purchased a silicone cupcake sheets that bakes round cupcakes! I thought this would be prefect for egg shaped cakes. As I was going to cover these in coloured fondant, I thought a denser cake texture would be ideal. So I settled on a good old fashioned pound cake recipe that I had used before. I think they turned out pretty well.

Faberge egg easter cakes

Faberge easter egg cake detail

yellow faberge egg cake

blue faberge egg cake

pink faberge egg cake

I won’t lie – this was a difficult job, and because I am an amateur, the decorating took quite some time. But first thing first, the recipe I used for the pound cake:

These were baked in a round cupcake silicon mold which produced 6 little rounded cupcakes. I baked the rest in a loaf tin for the middle sections to elongate the egg shapes. You can use the recipe below for a 7 1/2 cup capacity loaf tin.


Serves: 8 Cooking time: 30 mins (approx. keep an eye on them) Difficulty: Easy – for beginners Dietary guidance: v


Ingredients

1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
230 grams butter (two sticks)
1 1/3 cup sugar
3 large eggs
3 large egg  yolks
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons of water


Method

1. Preheat oven to 160. Line a loaf tin with baking parchment, and lightly butter or oil the 6 cupcake round baking sheet.
2. Beat the butter (soft, but still cool), at medium-high speed for about 15 seconds. Sprinkle the sugar in slowly while the mixer is on. Beat the mixture until fluffy and almost white – approx. 5 minutes, scraping down the sides from time to time.
3. Lightly whisk together the eggs, yolks, vanilla and water in a pouring jug, or measuring cup. With the mixer still running, add the egg mixture slowly, in a thin stream, then beat in the salt.
4. Sift 1/2 cup of the flour over the batter and gently fold in. Repeat twice more until the flour is combined.
6. Scrape better into prepared tins and bake rotating tins half way through, until golden brown and a skewer comes away clean – approx 30 mins. If making one loaf from this recipe, baking time is 70 – 80 minutes.

Now comes the assembly and the decorating fun! First, I cut out three discs from the cake baked in the tin loaf, to be topped and tailed with butter frosting and the rounded cupcakes to create the egg shapes. Here’s what all that looked like:

round cupcakes for faberge egg cakes

middle section of faberge egg cakes

egg shaped faberge cakes

OK. So now that they are egg shaped, I crumbed them with more butter frosting and put them in the fridge while I thought about the decorations, and prepared the colored fondant.

crumberd faberge easter egg cakes

As you can see I used a fair bit of frosting in an attempt to even out the shape. Next time I make these I will use an egg shaped mold for a more even finish! Once they were cold from the fridge, and the fondant had been colored (I use gel colors – much easier to knead in) they needed to be jammed so that the fondant has something to stick to. I zapped some black cherry jam in the microwave and covered the cakes.

jammed faberge egg cake

With the colored fondant rolled out (not too thin) I clumsily covered the little eggy cakes. Then I worked them and rolled them gently so that they were as smooth as I could get them. See here:

covering the pink faberge egg cake

pink covered faberge egg cake

Phew! Now comes the piping. I made some gold piping frosting with a little yellow gel dye and some edible gold powder. I also collected lots of soft pearls (I don’t like the hard ones – too difficult to eat) and started decorating.

pink faberge egg being decorated

I followed exactly the same procedure for the blue and yellow Faberge egg cakes. I think the yellow lily of the valley cake turned out the best. This was done by cutting out green fondant leaves, piping the gold stems and then creating the little lilies from small white fondant balls with a little soft white pearl.

yellow faberge easter egg cake being decorated

To finish them I made little crowns out of the fondant and sprayed them gold with edible gold spray. By this time I was pretty exhausted – the whole process for the decorating took about three hours. But in the end it was worth it. One cake should feed two people. I served them up with cream – the pound cake was beautiful, light, but with good structure for this kind of decorating. I think they would look amazing on an Easter buffet table!

close up of faberge easter egg cakes

Pashka – Russian Easter Cheese Cake

The thought of Easter has given me a renewed desire to bake! But for me, Easter dessert means Pashka – a dense, creamy, sweet, Russian cheesecake. Here’s one from a previous year:

pashka 2009

The traditional shape of the Pashka is a sort of pyramid. The X B stands for Христосъ Воскресe, which means “Christ is risen” in Russian. The little jewels you can see through the cheese are dried cherries, blackberries and currants. I love serving this with fresh berries – they compliment the creamy joy very, very well! This is also one of the easiest desserts you can make.

There is a little preparation though. You need to drain the moisture out of the cheese – I find the easiest way is to hang it in muslin, over a bowl to catch the drips. Elastic bands over kitchen cupboard door knobs seems to work. See here:

hanging cheese for pashka

You will also need a flowerpot to use as a mold. I use plastic and sterilize it in the dishwasher. You then need more muslin, doubled over to line the flowerpot. Don’t worry – you can wash the muslin and re-use.

Here’s the recipe:

Easter Pashka


Serves: 12 – 16 Cooking time: 30 mins + 2 overnights Difficulty: Easy – for beginners Dietary guidance: v


Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds of cream cheese
1 1/2 pounds of ricotta cheese
1/2 pound of butter
1 cup of chopped dried fruits. Get the best you can afford – I like cherries, blueberries, cranberries.
1/2 cup currants
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 cup of heavy cream
4 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla pod (or equivalent extract)

Garnish: currants, fresh berries, almonds or other nuts.


Method

1. Drain the cheese of as much moisture as you can by hanging it in muslin overnight. Also prepare the mold by lining a sterile flowerpot with a few layers of muslin.
2. Beat the butter with the cheese thoroughly until smooth.
3. In a saucepan, heat the cream just until bubble appear then set aside.
4. Beat egg yolks and sugar together until thick.
5. While still beating, add the cream in a continuous stream, and then return the mixture to the pan.
6. Stir constantly until this become a custard like thickness.
7. Take off the heat and stir in the dried fruits, currants and vanilla seeds from the vanilla pod.
8. Combine the cheese and the custard mixures gently.
9. Pour into the mold.
10. Fold over the muslin onto the top of the cheese mix, and place a plate on the top of the flowerpot. You will need a bowl or plate to stand the flowerpot into – to catch any remaining moisture that comes out. You then will want to add weight to press down onto the cheesecake – I use tinned tomatoes.
11. Chill in the fridge overnight. To serve, turn out on plate and decorate with berries. Serve with cream!

I love a big Easter, and an Easter table with the Pashka and a big bowl of colored hard boiled eggs.

easter kitchen table crop

hard boiled easter eggs

paskha russian easter cheese cake 1

Thomas the Tank Engine Cake

Creating a Thomas the Tank Engine cake for a young friend’s birthday party was my latest cake challenge. Fortunately, I found a lot of help on the internet, and it seems that Thomas the Tank Engine birthday cakes are a popular choice for the young man about town. I used a chocolate fudge cake recipe with vanilla butter cream frosting. Here’s how it turned out:

So here’s how Thomas was made. The cake is the chocolate fudge cake that I use for, well, pretty much everything – and the recipe is here. I used one and a half times the recipe, baking two square cakes in 11×11 inch tins. There is a fair bit of carving involved with Thomas, and a layer of crumbing frosting is essential. This layer is to prevent lots of crumbs spoiling the fondant finishing. You can see the evolution of the shape of the cake in the photos below – two square cakes, cut in half and sandwiched together with layers of yummy vanilla butter cream frosting.

Luckily you can see I had a Thomas toy to model for me! Carving the rounded front end is really the only slightly difficult part, as you can see the rest of the carving are just straight cuts. Here’s how the front turned out, and how Thomas looks after being crumbed.

After this was done, things got serious. I has coloured the fondant I was using already with gel colourings, but the nerves kicked in, so I went browsing for some online assistance. I found this amazing Thomas the Tank Engine cake tutorial (why, oh why didn’t I do this before carving) which outlines both how to construct the cake, and how to make Thomas’ face. Thanks to Wendy for this and you can find her tutorial here. The tutorial is particularly good on how to make the face, and a good tip too to freeze the cake to make it easier to carve, something I didn’t do. Gradually I built up the layers of fondant, and slowly the whole thing started to look right.

I think he looks a bit creepy with no face, so I put the face on next and finished with all the red and yellow bits. You might notice that he isn’t quite anatomically correct, but enough so that I could live with it.

OK – an aside – I am in the process of ordering some cake modelling tools, so I promise in future that some of those sloppy joins will disappear! But I am certainly getting better with the fondant. Perhaps I could have taken a little more care with the carving – he certainly has a lean, maybe he’s just taking a sharp corner?

Musical Happy Birthday Cake

For my opera-singing, music -teaching friend I wanted to make a cake with the score of “happy birthday” as the main decoration. As this was going to be black on white, I decided on a chocolate mud cake frosted with white chocolate ganache. Some of you might remember the chocolate mud cake recipe from the cake decorated with little chocolate filled fondant pigs, lying about in chocolate ganache mud. If y0u don’t remember it here’s the link. The musical birthday cake tasted amazing and here how it looked:

To decorate, the first thing I had to do for the music birthday cake was to find the score for happy birthday, made easy by a google image search. I decided to pipe the notes flat onto a long piece of rolled fondant cut to size. WARNING: on a cake this size, one strip of fondant to place around the cake is not a good idea. If I do this cake again, or something similar I will do two strips and join them. Anyway, after a lot of nerves here’s a picture of the finished decoration – the score of “happy birthday” :

Not being particularly musical, I was pleased that the professional musicians who were at the party recognised it straight away.  Here’s the recipe for the lovely fudge-y chocolate, moistest ever chocolate mud cake.

Chocolate Mud Cake

It’s moist. So, so moist. And choclatey. The recipe makes two 10-11 inch cakes.


Serves: 16-20 Preparation time: 15 mins Cooking time: 30-35


Ingredients

230g butter (room temperature)
230g caster sugar
230g light brown sugar
8 medium eggs (room temperature)
340g self-raising flour
100g cocoa powder
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
generous pinch of salt
10 tablespoons creme fraiche (or sour cream)
2 teaspoons good vanilla extract


Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C or 350F and prepare two 10 or 11 inch cake tins with baking parchment.
2. Sift dry ingredients together.
3. Cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
4. Gradually beat in the eggs. If it looks like curdling add two tablespoons from the flour mixture.
5. Fold in the flour mixture, and creme fraiche, alternating between the two -starting and ending with the flour.
6. Divide evenly between tins and gently encourage the mix to the sides.
7. Bake for 30-35 mins, until they smell ready and a skewer comes out clean.
8. Let cool 5 mins in tins, then turn on to a wire rack to cool.

It looks like Pizza Cake

Quite some time ago a take-away food loving friend had a birthday, so naturally I made a pizza cake. He likes cake too, so that was all to the better. I wanted something naturally good tasting as well – which it was – fresh strawberries and cream sandwiched between two large, flat Victoria sponge layers. All the decorations are fruity – made from various fruit leathers, exept the marshmallow mushrooms.   Strawberry jam and white chocolate shavings make up the tomato sauce and cheese!

Here’s how it turned out:

First – the decoration procedures, then the recipe! After baking the two, large flat sponges, I simply sliced fresh strawberries and whipped some cream to sandwich the two cakes together. Here’s a shot of the inside of the cake:

The decorations on top of the cake were marshmallow mushrooms, strawberry fruit leather pepperoni slices, fruit leather olives, green fruit leather peppers. Here’s a shot of the pizza topping decorations:

To construct the decorations, I hit up the local health food store, and supermarket and bought a wide variety of fruit leathers. Most were already flat, and some I rolled out even flatter. I cut out the pepperoni with a cookie cutter, and cut out the olives with a frosting piping nozzle – which worked for the hole in the olive as well. For the mushrooms I sliced marshmallows and cut shapes that vaguely resembled sliced mushrooms – then I brushed them with a little cocoa powder to turn them brown(ish). The peppers were made from long slices of green fruit leather, and shaped into pepper slices – you can see the joins in the picture above – the beauty of fruit leather is that it will stick to itself reasonably well – certainly well enough to hold its shape for a few hours on top of a cake.

Once all the decorations were made, I topped the top cake layer with strawberry jam, and grated white chocolate over this for the cheese. Then I added the decorations, and finished the lot with a little more grated white chocolate. Then I used a brulee torch to melt and brown some of the chocolate for the final touch!

It looked so authentic that it was hard to eat. My eyes said savory – my mouth said sweet!

Here’s the cake recipe I used:

Victoria Sponge Cake

 This version of the classic Victoria sponge also makes great cupcakes. The amount here can be easily halved to fill 2 x 6 inch sandwich tins.


Serves: 10-12. Preparation time: 15 mins Cooking time: 25 – 30 mins Difficulty: Easy – for beginners Dietary guidance: v


Ingredients

230g/8 oz butter
230g/8 oz caster sugar
230g/8 oz self raising flour
4 eggs, beaten and at room temperature
2-4 tablespoons tepid water
generous splash of good vanilla extract


Method

1. Preheat oven to 180F/350C and prepare 2 x 10 or 11 inch sandwich tins with baking parchment.
2. Cream the butter and sugar very well, until pale and fluffy.
3. Add the beaten egg, a little at a time, and if mixture threatens to curdle, add a little of the flour (1-2 tablespoons), then add the vanilla.
4. Fold in the remaining flour, and add enough of the water so that the mix is of a slow dropping consistency.
5. Divide the mixture evenly between tins.
6. Bake sandwich tins for 25-30 mins, until well risen and a skewer comes away clean.
7. When cool, decorate.

Mother’s Day Apple Pie

Today is mother’s day in the UK and my mother requested apple pie to celebrate. I have a very good, tried and true recipe based on the  Martha Stewart recipe for mile high apple pie. If you don’t have time to make the pastry from scratch (although the recipe for pate brisee is very easy – only hot weather will scupper this) store bought shortcrust is a fine substitution. Bramley apples are my favorite to use, or Granny Smiths come a close second, but you do need to use a sharp, crisp cooking apple.

So, first things first here’s the recipe for the pastry:

Pate Brisee

Ingredients

  • 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 US sticks = 12oz = 340g) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup ice water

Method

1. Place flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade; process until combined. Add the butter pieces; process until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. If you dont have a food processor – this can be done with hands.
2. Add the ice water in a slow, steady stream through the feed tube with the machine running, just until dough holds together. Do not process more than 30 seconds. Test by squeezing dough; if it is still crumbly, add a bit more water.
3. Turn the dough out onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Divide the dough in two pieces with one piece slightly larger than the other. Grasping the ends of the plastic wrap with your hands, press dough into a flat circle with your fists. This makes rolling easier than if the pastry is chilled as a ball. Wrap the dough in the plastic and chill for at least an hour.

Easy! Like I said, the only way that this pastry recipe can be awkward, is if its a very hot day. In this case, don’t mix with your hands, definitely use the food processor and try to handle it as little as possible. Also, the time the pastry spends in the fridge can be lengthened.

Now, for the apple filling – recipe here:

Mile High Apple Pie

Serves: 6-8 Cooking time: 45-55 mins Dietary guidance: v


Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 5 1/2 pounds firm tart apples pref. Bramley or Granny Smith.
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • Deep dish pate brisee (see seperate recipe)

Method

1. Preheat oven to 230 degrees (yes, very hot). On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the smaller piece of pate brisee into a 15-inch round about 1/8-inch thick, dusting surface with flour to prevent sticking, as needed. Brush off excess flour. Roll dough around rolling pin, and place over a deep-dish 9-inch pie plate. Line plate with dough, pressing it into the corners. Trim dough to within 1 inch of the pie plate. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate.
2. Roll out remaining piece of dough into an 18-inch round. Transfer round to a baking sheet; cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate.
3. Peel and core apples, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Place slices in a large bowl; sprinkle with lemon juice to prevent discoloration. In a small bowl, combine flour, sugar, and cinnamon; toss with apple slices.
4. Remove remaining dough from refrigerator; place apple mixture into prepared pie plate, mounding it in a tall pile. Dot filling with butter. Place dough round over the apples. Tuck edge of top dough between edge of bottom dough and rim of pan. Using your fingers, gently press both layers of dough along the edge to seal, and crimp as desired.
5. Using a paring knife, cut several vents in top of dough to allow steam to escape. In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolk with 2 tablespoons water to make a glaze. Brush surface with egg glaze; sprinkle with sugar. Place on a baking sheet, this will catch any juices that may overflow during baking. Bake until crust is golden, about 15 minutes.
6. Reduce oven temperature to 180 degrees and continue baking until crust is golden brown and juices are bubbling, 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool before serving.

Here’s what the inside of the pie will look like – you can be neat or messy when stacking the apples, it all comes down to the time you have and how high you want your pie. If you want to go as high as you can, it does help to place the slices more neatly.

Yum! I like it still warm with vanilla ice-cream. Enjoy!

Firework cupcakes for Bonfire night

So. My latest challenge was to bake some cupcakes for a lovely friend’s party on Guy Fawkes night. I was toying between bonfire cupcakes and firework cupcakes and I wanted something to incorporate spun sugar or toffee decorations. I also wanted something cheeky and surprising inside the cupcakes. The conclusion I came to was chocolate fudge cupcakes, with salted dulche de leche in the middle, chocolate butter cream frosting and sugar firework decorations.
This is how the trial batch came out:

chocolate firework cupcakes with dulche de leche

The chocolate cupcake is the same recipe for the chocolate fudge cake last post, recipe here. Dulche de leche allegedly originated in Argentina in the early 1800’s, and is basically sweetened condensed milk, boiled down to a lovely thick caramel. I had always done this by piercing the tin of condensed milk, putting it in a pan of water and waiting hours and hours and hours until it was done. Recently, I found a Hairy Bikers’ recipe that cuts this time right down. Open the tin, pour into a shallow baking tray, cover with foil, put this into a larger tray of water (a bain marie) and into the oven at 220 degrees (centigrade), for one to two hours. When its thick and toffee coloured, whisk it together and its done. I love the unexpected zing of salt in the caramel – so I whisk some in when its cool – use good sea salt, I prefer Maldons.

The spun sugar decorations were tricky. There is a very good tutorial by cooking4chumps here. Basically, take 140ml water, pour over 140g sugar in a pan, add some liquid glucose and heat. Make sure every single little molecule of sugar is dissolved in the water before it comes to the boil, or you risk crystallisation. Make sure everything you use is extremely clean (or you risk crystallisation). You want to bring it up to 160C – check with a candy thermometer. Do not let it get over 160 – or guess what – you risk crystallisation. A couple of drops of cold water can help to stop it continuing to heat up. Then I simply took a spoon and made “firework shapes” on a piece of baking paper, and waited for them to cool. Some I sprinkled with glitter sugar sprinkles.

Once the cakes were baked and cool, I piped in the dulche de leche (or you can core them with a teaspoon and put a teaspoon of the caramel in the hole before putting the cake core back on top). Then I piped them with the butter cream frosting and carefully put the sugar fireworks on top.

A couple of weeks later when I had to make them for real, I decided that I wanted to use pop rocks as well to give them even more of a zing. But pop rocks don’t pop if they have been wet at all – to use in cooking you have to coat them in melted chocolate first. I put some chocolate covered pop rocks under the dulche de leche in the cupcakes, and instead of butter cream I used a whipped ganache frosting. The sugar decorations didn’t turn out as well as the test batch (typical) nor did they travel as well as I’d have liked, but they sure did taste good!

Chocolate Mud Cake Recipe

A few weeks ago a lovely friend of mine had a birthday. Hmmmm…. what to bring to the party?

chocolate mud cake

I know! A super-moist chocolate mud cake. Complete with chocolate fondant covered pigs, whipped chocolate ganache frosting and chocolate sand! I had seen a chocolate cake with pig decorations before – and with the use of google images found some amazing cakes to base this one on. (Thanks fellow cake makers!) I think it turned out quite well. Here’s how I did it.

To make the whipped chocolate ganache: break up 300g of dark chocolate into a heatproof bowl. Meanwhile, heat 300ml of double cream to a simmer point. Then pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Wait for a while and then stir until the chocolate is melted completely. Then whisk on a medium speed until its fluffy enough for ya.

To make the chocolate sand I bought the driest and crumbly-est chocolate cookies I could find (mine were chocolate chip – you can see the chips in the photo) broke them up and put them in a food processor for a quick blitz until they transformed into chocolate sand. Magic!

Now, the pigs. I love the look of sugar craft decorations on cakes – there is some amazing work out there – but I don’t always want to eat these amazing creations. That’s just too much sugar paste or fondant, and to me it can ruin the taste of the cake. So these little piggies contain a surprise. A Lindt chocolate ball of joy in the centre. I just colored some ready made sugar fondant pink, rolled it out and cut out circles to wrap the chocolates in. Pinch the edges together and then roll them around in your palms for a bit and they smooth down quite nicely. Ears are little triangles, noses just a blob, and tails tiny little snakes rolled between your fingertips. Two small black frosting eyes – and done.

The cake is sandwiched with more whipped chocolate ganache. It tasted pretty darned good, and the surprise chocloate pigs stole the show.

Here’s the recipe for the cake:

Chocolate Mud Cake

It’s moist. So, so moist. And choclatey. The recipe makes two 10-11 inch cakes.


Serves: 16-20 Preparation time: 15 mins Cooking time: 30-35


Ingredients

230g butter (room temperature)
230g caster sugar
230g light brown sugar
8 medium eggs (room temperature)
340g self-raising flour
100g cocoa powder
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
generous pinch of salt
10 tablespoons creme fraiche (or sour cream)
2 teaspoons good vanilla extract


Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C or 350F and prepare two 10 or 11 inch cake tins with baking parchment.
2. Sift dry ingredients together.
3. Cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
4. Gradually beat in the eggs. If it looks like curdling add two tablespoons from the flour mixture.
5. Fold in the flour mixture, and creme fraiche, alternating between the two -starting and ending with the flour.
6. Divide evenly between tins and gently encourage the mix to the sides.
7. Bake for 30-35 mins, until they smell ready and a skewer comes out clean.
8. Let cool 5 mins in tins, then turn on to a wire rack to cool.

Fabulous Focaccia Recipe

While this is not technically cake, it was sooooo good that I just had to share the recipe. There’s nothing like fresh bread straight out of the oven. Inspired by the BBC’s Great British Bake Off Masterclass this was the first time I had attempted Focaccia. Turned out well!

So here’s the recipe:

This is an amazingly wet dough so don’t get scared - here’s a link to a useful demonstration on kneading with oil by Paul Hollywood. However, your dough will be much wetter than the one in the video.


Serves: 4 Preparation time: 2+ hours Cooking time: 30 mins – 1 hour


Ingredients

500g/1lb 2oz strong white bread flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 x 7g sachets dried easy blend yeast
2 tbsp olive oil
400ml/14fl oz cold water
good olive oil, for drizzling
sea salt


Method

1. Place the flour, salt, yeast, olive oil and 300ml of the water into a large bowl. Gently stir form a dough.
2. Knead the dough in the bowl for five minutes, gradually adding the remaining water. It will get very wet. Don’t panic, this is correct.
3. Stretch the dough by hand in the bowl, tuck the sides into the centre, turning the bowl. Knead this way for five minutes.
4. Tip the dough onto an oiled work surface and continue kneading for five more minutes. Return the dough to the bowl, cover and leave to rise until doubled in size.
5.Line a large baking tray with baking paper. Your tray will need a little height in the sides to it, don’t use a completely flat one.
6. Take the dough and tip it onto the baking sheet, firmly encouraging it to the corners.
7. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F.
7. Wait. Until the dough proves – which will be about an hour. Here’s a picture. You can see all those lovely air bubbles from the yeast doing its thing, which gives the Focaccia its distinctive texture.

focaccia proving
8. Make finger marks in the dough, top with salt, rosemary, sun-dried tomatoes, slivers of garlic etc. Douse liberally with olive oil.
9. Bake for about 35 – 45 mins until done. Drizzle with more olive oil and serve while still warm.