Autumn Cupcakes

During October 2013 I did a fair bit of experimentation with cupcake flavours, creating three new recipes with which I was happy.  I’m happy to verify that relaxed bliss can be achieved by taking any of the following Autumnal creations, adding hot chocolate, a snuggly blanket and a black & white afternoon matinee.

Cherry Bakewell CupcakesCherry Bakewell cupcakes: almond sponge cake, centrally filled with morello cherry flavour buttercream, covered with lemon laced fondant and topped with a cherry.  All boxed up ready to go to Mum and Big Sis.

Banoffee grows upGrown up banoffee cupcakes: roasted banana sponge topped with a puddle of dulce de leche (which is just a posh name for caramel made using a boiled tin of condensed milk), dark chocolate buttercream and a banana chip.  These were incredibly good.

Spiced Toffee AppleSpiced toffee apple cupcakes: fresh apple pieces set between two layers of gently spiced vanilla sponge cake (cinnamon and cloves).  Topped with a cloud of vanilla buttercream, drizzled with dulce de leche and sprinkled with toasted nuts and cinnamon spiced dried apple pieces.

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Chocoholic’s Dream Cake

Box of chocolatesIf life is like a box of chocolates, this cake represents the kind of life I’d like to have!

Dark chocolate and white chocolate cake layers, with salted caramel frosting. Covered in chocolate fondant, decorated with chocolates and modelling chocolate.

This cake involved several firsts for me…first time using modelling chocolate (expensive but fabulously malleable and easy to use), the first time tempering chocolate, the first time using chocolate transfers and the first time I covered something other than a straightforward, flat cake.

chocolate lidThe lid was made using a lined, loose bottomed cake tin as a mould.  The sheets transfer was laid onto the bottom of the tin before the orange chocolate was poured on top.  There was then an interminable wait for it to completely solidify before the heart stopping moment of removal.  I was worried it would crack but luck was on my side and the whole thing came out very easily, albeit with some scratches on the transfer design.

Chocolate selectionCovering the cake was really difficult, not least because I didn’t have quite enough fondant and therefore had to roll it too thinly.  I think it turned out not too bad in the end though.

The discs on the sides of the box were made by pouring a thin layer of melted chilli chocolate onto a transfer sheet, then cutting out the shapes with metal cutters just before it had set (too soon and it runs back together, too late and it cracks).  The box is filled with a selection of Hotel Chocolat chocolates, ‘cos we all adore Hotel Chocolat, don’t we?

lifting the lidThe bow, ribbon and trim around the base of the box were made with orange flavour modelling chocolate.  I subsequently realised that I could have rolled this a LOT thinner, and it would still have held its shape…as it’s costly stuff, that’s a good thing to have learned!

Clearly, to enjoy this cake you would need to like chocolate.  A lot.  Fortunately, the friend it was made for really, really does, although it took some time before she and her family could bring themselves to break it all up.  It’s a CAKE guys…its whole raison d’être is to be eaten!

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(Some of) The Cakes of 2011-2012

During the early years of gluten free baking experimentation I was frequently curtailed by lack of funding.  By choosing to go to university I’d cut our household income in half, and it seemed a bit like taking the piss to spend too large a proportion of the tiny amount left over on cake ingredients.  For cakes that might not even work out that well.

I was also curtailed by time.  I set myself the target of a First, and I’m proud to say I earned it.  However, that involved sacrificing just about everything else in my life in order to study.  When I signed up it was 22 years since I’d last been in the education system…I had to work for those marks!  So, that meant that most of the baking done during the study years was within the confines of the summer break.

All of this meant that progress was a bit stop/start but whenever I could I was being brave and getting stuck in – trying out new things, learning and improving techniques.

Black Forest GateauGetting chocolate cake right was high on the list of priorities.  This Black Forest Gateau was for Barn’s 2011 birthday.  Given that my husband’s such a fan of the 70s (I know!  Bizarre or what?!), I decided to do a 70s style menu…prawn cocktail, steak ‘n’ chips plus the gateau.

There’s some whacking great bubble holes in that beast, but I was really getting there with the general flavour and texture.

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Where have you come from?

While there will undoubtedly be ramblings about many things within this blog, primarily I want it to serve as a record of my progress with regard to cake making and party planning.  With that in mind, for this and the next however many posts, I’m going to go back to when it all began…

(…cue ‘back in time’ music…the picture goes wavy, then sharpens up again…)

We find ourselves in 2011 in my kitchen…

Having adopted a gluten free diet earlier in the year (and finally become free of pain when eating) I was becoming increasingly fed up with the extortionately priced, flavourless and heavy cakes available to buy.  I’d researched a lot and tried out several not-wildly-successful recipes but had not yet been able to satisfy the household cake cravings.  It seemed to me that the most obvious solution would be to create my own recipes.

This chocolate orange cake was the very first effort:

GF Chocolate Orange Cake

The sponge was too crumbly and the texture was too dense, however, it was good enough to encourage me onwards with my experimentation.

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