October 29, 2014

The Perfect Chocolate Mud Cake - dense, moist and delicious

After attending the Melbourne Cake Bake and Sweets Show and sampling some truly life-changing chocolate mud cake, I was determined to find the perfect recipe I could make myself.  I'm glad to say that I think I've found it!

This cake is beautifully chocolatey, dense and decadent, is moist all the way throughout and keeps very well.  Topped off with some ganache, it is even more delicious.

Recipe adapted from: Family Circle via Through My Kitchen Window
Ingredients (large 23cm round cake or brownie-tin-sized sheet cake)
2 tbsp instant coffee granules
185mL hot water
250g butter
250g dark chocolate
550g caster sugar
300g flour
2 tsp baking powder
60g cocoa powder
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
4 eggs
2 tbsp vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
125mL milk

1. Preheat the oven to 140 - 150C (280 - 300F).  Grease and line a 23cm round cake tin with baking paper, ensuring that the baking paper extends above the top of the tin.  Alternatively, you can use multiple cake tins if you're making a layer cake, or brownie tins if you're making a sheet cake.  I have used the full amount of this recipe in two square brownie tins which worked really well!

Greasing the tin before lining it will make the baking paper stick to the tin and cooperate for you
2. Dissolve the coffee granules in the hot water.

3. Melt the butter and chocolate together in the microwave until all parts are melted.  Add the sugar and coffee, stir until combined.  Set aside to cool.

4. In your mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and bicarb soda.  Make sure to sift the cocoa for a lump-free batter!

5. Add the eggs, oil and milk to the flour mixture and mix until combined.  I used the paddle on my Kitchenaid for this part.  You should end up with a pretty thick batter after this step.

6. Add half the chocolate mixture to the batter and mix until smooth and combined.

7. Add the remaining chocolate mixture to the batter and mix until completely smooth.  The batter should be of a pouring consistency.

8. Pour the batter into the lined baking tin/s you are using, and bake in the preheated oven for about 1 3/4 hours.  Depending on the thickness of your cake, this can be a shorter time - but will most likely be over 1 hour.  Make sure that you check using a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake.  It should come out with some crumbs on it - you want this mud cake to be very moist inside!

9. Let the cake cool in the tin.  Once cool, take it out of the tin and remove all the baking paper lining.

10. Using a serrated knife, level the cake to your satisfaction.
The first time I made this cake, I made half a batch of the recipe and baked it in a 20cm round tin for about 1 1/4 hours - it turned out beautifully but a bit sunken in the middle, so there were lots of off-cuts.  (I'm not complaining!)

11. Serve the cake as desired.  I recommend using a healthy amount of ganache (2:1 chocolate to cream ratio by weight).

Here are some snaps of the sheet cake version I made, again topped with ganache - kind of like brownies but more cakey and a little more, dare I say, sophisticated.  Props for the strawberry stacking arrangement go to my Mum!


October 21, 2014

Fluffy Nectarine Cake

My Mum made a cake using this recipe with its original key ingredient, strawberries.  It was a good cake but the strawberry taste wasn't amazing - so we tried it again with another fruit we had lying around.  Nectarines!  
The resulting cake was very fluffy and quite delicious, especially paired with salted caramel.

Recipe adapted from: Allrecipes

Ingredients - one 20 x 30cm cake
115g butter
245g raw sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp sour cream
1 tsp bicarb soda
190g flour
1 cup mashed nectarines


1. Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F).

2. Cream the butter and sugar.

3. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until combined.  Stir in the vanilla and salt.

4. Mix the sour cream and bicarb soda in a small bowl until the bicarb has dissolved, then stir it into the egg mixture along with the flour.

5. Once that is combined, beat in the mashed nectarines until combined.  It was difficult to fully mash the nectarines, but just squoosh them up as well as you can.

6. Line your 20 x 30cm baking pan with baking paper, then pour the batter in and spread it out so it's flat.

7. Bake the cake for about 30 minutes, or until the top is golden and springy when touched.

8. Let the cake cool a little and serve dusted with icing sugar or drizzled with caramel.

October 17, 2014

Shortbread + Cake Bake & Sweets Show

This shortbread recipe is so simple, so versatile and so delicious.  There's something very satisfying about making the fork-tine pattern on the tops of the biscuits, and snacking on them with some hot tea.

The recipe can be jazzed up easily in a number of ways - you could add some essences/extracts, and even a bit of lemon zest would give these a great twist!  I added some Mayan Chilli Chocolate Powder from Gewurzhaus (cocoa powder, chilli, cinnamon and cayenne pepper) to some of the dough for chocolate shortbread with a bit of a bite.  I also love to add matcha powder for green tea shortbread!

Recipe adapted from: my great aunt Gladys
5.5 oz (155g) butter
2 oz (55g) icing sugar
7 oz (200g) flour + some extra if needed

1. Preheat the oven to 150 - 160 C (65 - 70 F).

2. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

3. Fold in the flour until combined.  The dough will be very soft, but if it's too sticky, add some more flour (just a little bit at a time!) until it can be rolled into a ball in your hands without sticking to everything.

4. You can roll the dough out into a sheet and cut shapes out (make sure you chill the dough in the freezer after it's cut to make it easier to handle and transfer to your baking trays), but another simple way to make the cookies is to roll the dough into logs, cover them in cling wrap, chill them for a while and then slice them into pieces.

These cookies don't spread too much so you can put them quite close together on your baking tray.  Create some texture and interest on your cookies by pressing into the cookies with the flat of a fork, or by poking holes in the top.

You can also add chocolate chips, or even cachous.  Just make sure that whatever you add won't melt everywhere!

5. Bake the cookies in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, until the cookies are lightly golden.

I got some adorable cookie cutters from Cutter Craft recently, at the Melbourne Cake Bake and Sweets Show, and I was eager to try them out.

I absolutely love the stegosaurus.  It makes one of the cutest cookies I've ever seen!

Na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na BATMAN!

A little more on the Cake Bake and Sweets Show - it was fantastic, with so many different stalls and presentations.  There was a lot of sampling of delicious and moist mud cake from the Wedding Chapel Made Of Cake.  I particularly enjoyed Tim Clark's (of Cacao) presentation on eclairs, and Janet O'Sullivan's (of The Cupcake Lady) fantastic and informative presentation on ganache.  I've come away with some great tips to try out!

Tim Clark's Cocoa Pop eclairs
The Savour Chocolate School chocolate rainforest was also very impressive.

My mission post-show: to find a dependable dense, moist chocolate mud cake...

September 26, 2014

Citrus Macarons

Mum made masses of macarons for a fair.  They were yellow and orange and filled with citrus buttercream.

Macaron recipe here.  Happy baking!

September 11, 2014

Pecan Slice (again)

Ahh, pecan slice, how you fill me with delicious joy!  I have posted about this before, but I made it again recently and I've edited the recipe a bit to make it easier to follow.  Enjoy!

Ingredients - crust
230g flour
60g brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
80g cold butter

Ingredients - pecan filling
185g brown sugar
230g corn syrup (2/3 cups)
100g butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp table salt
2 eggs
4 cups pecans

1. Preheat the oven to 175C (350F).  Line a baking tin with baking paper (I use a 27 x 17.5cm tin).

2. Make the crust - add all the crust ingredients to a food processor and whizz until combined.  It should look like a powder.

3. Press the crust mixture into the baking tin.  Bake for about 20 minutes, until the crust is lightly golden.

4. While the crust is baking, begin making the filling - start by melting the butter.

5. Whisk the sugar, corn syrup, melted butter, vanilla extract and salt together.  I do this by hand.

6. Add the eggs and mix them in.

7. Chop the pecans roughly and mix into the batter.  If you like, you can skip the chopping and leave them as halves.

8. Once the crust is done baking, pour the filling straight on top (make sure that the pecans are distributed evenly) and bake for another 30 minutes.  Cracks should have appeared on the surface and it should be golden brown.

9. Let the slice cool in the tin.  The filling will solidify more as it cools so it will be easier to cut and serve.

9. Cut the slice into squares or rectangles and enjoy!

September 6, 2014

Mocha Almond Cake

Hello all!  This moist cake topped with mocha icing looks great with some toasted almond slices on top, and tastes great too.  It was my first time using a ring pan for a cake and it's a good way to change things up a bit!

Recipe adapted from: The Australian Women's Weekly Cakes & Slices Cookbook
Ingredients - cake
1 tbsp instant coffee powder
1/2 cup boiling water
20g cocoa powder
90g butter
250g caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla essence
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup almond meal
155g self raising flour (or 155g plain flour with 2 tsp baking powder)
Flaked almonds for garnish

Ingredients - icing
60g butter
275g icing sugar
1 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp instant coffee powder
1 1/2 tbsp boiling water

Method - cake
1. Preheat oven to 190C (375F).  Mix the instant coffee powder with the boiling water and cocoa powder.

2. Cream butter, caster sugar and vanilla essence until light and fluffy.

3. Separate the eggs.

4. Beat the egg yolks into the butter mixture, along with the sour cream.

5. Stir in the almond meal, then the flour as well as the cocoa mixture.

6. Line a 20cm ring cake tin with butter and baking paper, then spread the batter into the pan.

7. Bake the cake for 40 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

8. Let the cake cool in the tin for a bit and then turn it out onto a wire rack.

Method - icing
1. Sift the icing sugar and cocoa and beat it with the butter until combined.

2. Combine the instant coffee with the boiling water and add it to the butter mixture.

3. Spread the icing onto the cooled cake.

4. Garnish the cake with the flaked almonds - toast them first for added aroma and crunch!

This cake is also great in cupcake form.