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

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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?

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.

Raspberry Cupcakes Recipe

I first made raspberry cupcakes last year, with a basic vanilla cupcake recipe and fresh raspberries juiced into a fondant icing. This was, if I recall, my first attempt at dipping cupcakes using a pouring fondant, or dipping fondant. The fresh raspberry juice gave a beautiful taste and colour to the icing, and turned out to be surprisingly easy. Once your icing is at the right consistency, pour into a bowl and dip the cupcakes in, a little further than you would think to cover the entire top.

Not too shabby! A fresh raspberry on top with fondant flower and leaf – both made with a cutter.

Although they were good, all the raspberry taste came from the frosting. Baking fresh raspberries into cupcakes isn’t so successful – they loose their beautiful colour, the taste isn’t as good and  baked fruit can make small cupcakes very soggy. So the last raspberry cupcakes I made I used freeze dried raspberries.

Freeze dried berries and fruits are amazing to bake with – it keeps its colour and the taste is very intense. I topped the cupcakes with butter cream icing, to which I added a good handful of freeze dried raspberries that had be ground to a rough powder with a mortar and pestle. Then I piped them to look (kinda) like raspberries.

The ones behind were lavender with a butter cream. I halved the cake mix and instead of adding the broken up rasberries, I added some food grade lavender, and some lavender syrup. The frosting was half the plain butter cream, again substituting the raspberry for lavender.

Here’s the recipe:

Raspberry Victoria Sponge Cupcakes

A raspberry twist on the classic Victoria sponge, which also makes great cupcakes.


Serves: 6 in cake or 12 cupcakes Preparation time: 15 mins Cooking time: 15 to 20 mins


Ingredients

115g/4 oz butter
115g/4 oz caster sugar
115g/4 oz self raising flour
2 eggs, beaten and at room temperature
1-2 tablespoons tepid water
splash of good vanilla extract
generous handful (or two) of very roughly ground/chopped freeze dried raspberries


Method

1. Preheat oven to 180F/350C and prepare 2 x 6 inch sandwich tins, with baking parchment or 12 -15 cupcake cases.
2. Cream the butter and sugar well, until pale and fluffy.
3. Add beaten egg, a little at a time, and if mixture threatens to curdle, add a little of the flour (1-2 tablespoons), and 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 mixture between tins, or half fill cupcake cases.
6. Bake sandwich tins for 20 mins, cupcakes for 15-18 until well risen and a skewer comes away clean.
7. When cool, decorate with raspberry butter cream frosting, and try the cake with fresh raspberries and cream in the middle.

Best Ever Carrot Cake – Recipe

This is a very good carrot cake that is suitable also for cupcakes. The frosting on the cupcakes is cream cheese frosting (yummy) and the carrots were made from fondant. I think it was summer when I made these, in the pics they look a little melty.

The cake is so good that one of my friends left this comment when I posted on facebook:

“ARGH! MORE! MORE! MORE! Give meeeeeeeeeeeeee moooooooooooorrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeee! I can’t get enough in my mouth at once! Keeeeeeeeep away, or I’ll chase you with my sticky fingers ‘cos it’s all miiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnneeeeee! (carroty grrrrrrrrrrrrr! )”

This carrot cake calls for three 9 inch sandwich tins, but can also be made in one larger cake tin, and cut in half to add icing in between layers. However, baking this in one tin will dramatically increase the cooking time. Test with skewer after 55 mins


Serves: 10 Cooking time: 30 mins Difficulty: Easy – for beginners Dietary guidance: v


Ingredients

2 1/2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bircab soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
350 grams butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound carrots (approx 8-10 large medium carrots) peeled and grated (or use the left over flesh from making carrot juice – this makes a finer textured cake)
2 cups chopped pecans
cream cheese icing (see seperate recipe)


Method

1. preheat oven to 180. line and butter three 9 inch round cake pans, dust with flour, tap out excess.
2. whisk ogether flour, baking powder, soda, cinnamon, salt, ginger, and nutmeg.
3. beat butter and sugars togetheron medium speed until plae and fluffy. add egs – one at a time – beating well after each. beat together three mins.
4. add vanilla carrots and water. beat well until combined.
5. reduce speed to low and add flour, then 1 cup of the pecans.
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.
7. let cool in pans on wire rack – then turn out and let cool completely
8. place one cake on platter and top with 1 cup cream cheese icing. repeat with second laer. add third and final layer and cover with rest of icing. press remeining 1 cup chopped pacans into sides.
9. refrigerate 1 hour before serving

First forays into fondant

About three years ago I started playing with fondant icing. The results? Some ok looking cakes, but certainly room for improvement.

The first was a cake for a friends fairy birthday party. I can’t even remember what type of cake is under all of that – I think chocolate. The base was simple, butter cream frosting. – the tower was a lot more difficult. Layers of cake held together with butter cream – I seem to recall using a lot if wooden skewers for structural integrity.

Here is the cake part way through.

Despite the skewers, the tower looks wobbly. Again, store bought wafer leaves, and store bought fondant flowers (this was before I had discovered moulds).

The completed cake:

A lot of fun, but quite time consuming.

My second attempt at fondant was for another friend’s birthday. At the time he had a van.

Love the skewers. Anyway, this one was an easier shape for sure.

The finished product:

Looks like my piping needs some work!

Royal Wedding

For the Royal wedding we got an extra day off. Nice. What to do? Bake some cakes and have afternoon tea. Strangely there wasn’t any tea, just lots of Pims.

Cakes were chocolate cupcakes, with a strawberry butter cream icing. The flowers were fondant, pressed using a mould. Leaves were store-bought wafer.

They were served with sandwiches: egg and cress, ham and mustard, coronation chicken.

Chocolate on chocolate

One of the first event cakes I baked, going back a while, for a colleagues’ birthday. Not sure of the recipe used, but I promise to post the most amazingly moist chocolate cake recipe ever very, very soon.

Star Wars chocolate cake (Darth is actually a chess piece that went with the Star Wars chess set gift).