Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Dr Oetker and My First Bundt

Dr Oetker recently sent me some baking products to try out and I received alphabet sprinkles, orange and lemon slices, cake release spray and easy swirl cupcake icing.

As soon as I got the cake release spray I knew it was the perfect opportunity to try out my bundt tin. The poor tin had been festering away in the cupboard for over a year and I've lost count of how many bundt blog posts I've commented on claiming I was going to try the recipe! I think I was a bit scared of it really, but now I had officially ran out of excuses! The orange and lemon slices meant I was going to go for a citrussy cake and where else to find a recipe but the Bundt Queen herself, Rachel of Dolly Bakes?!

I used Rachel's lemon drizzle bundt recipe which also meant facing another fear: whipping egg whites! With all the cakes I've made by now you'd think I'd be over it, but eggs really do freak me out. I used my nifty new egg separator from Lakeland which helped me avoid jiggling the egg about in the shell, but even that was mildly traumatic as I didn't like how the yolk sat in the bottom of the separator like some sinister yellow eye looking at me!

Erm, anyway.... apart from the addition of oranges, I followed Rachel's instructions to the letter. Basically any part of the recipe that called for lemony stuff I did 50/50 with oranges and lemons. I noticed that Rachel recommended Dr Oetker cake release spray also, and I gave the tin a good spritz and a dusting of flour as instructed. One 'pressure point' (I've been watching too much Australian Masterchef) was I was worried it wasn't going to rise, it didn't look like much mixture in the tin so I nearly wore a dint in the floor going back and to while it was in the oven checking it was rising! Rise it did though, first big sigh of relief!
Risen, drizzled and cooling!
This is how the waiting feels!
After pricking the cake and spooning over the yummy citrussy syrup, the second 'pressure point' was - am I going to get it out of the tin in one piece?! I've seen a lot of people say that the hardest part of a bundt is waiting, as you let it cool completely in the tin before turning out, and this is very true as I couldn't relax until it was time to turn it out. Luckily I had the Olympics closing ceremony to distract me. The time finally arrived and again I followed Rachel's instructions - run a knife around, plonk a plate on top, turn it upside down and wait for the drop. As soon as I heard it I could finally relax!

Aaaaaaaand relax
I decorated with the citrussy icing and Dr Oetker's orange and lemon slices. We barely waited for the icing to set before tucking in, and it didn't disappoint! It was deliciously light and moist with zingy freshness from the oranges and lemons. The entire rest of the cake was guzzled down in work the next day. I'm definitely been bitten by the bundt bug and I urge anyone who has been considering having a go to give it a try, and this recipe is a great place to start!

On to the other products I tried... I wasn't sure how I felt about the cupcake swirl icing, since I turn my nose up at any kind of short cut cake mix or ready made frosting, and it's not something I would usually use in my baking. Unfortunately after trying it out my opinion does remain the same - it was very artificial in smell and taste. The nozzle was quite small so it was difficult to do much of a swirl on regular sized cupcakes, however, I'm sure it would be fine for small swirls on mini cupcakes or brownie squares. I don't think it is something that any serious baker would or should use though. I decorated the cakes with the alphabet letters which I really liked, there was a good selection of letters and colours in the jar so no stressing over not being able to spell things! I also thought they looked cute just sprinkled on the frosting.

Thanks to Dr Oetker for letting me try these products - the cake release spray is a definite winner, especially for bundt cakes and other novelty type tins. Check out the full range of baking products here.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Recent cupcakes

In the interests of time and sanity I'm going to bung together a few sets of cupcakes into one post!

After the Grasshopper cake left me agog at the distinct lack of mint-choc cakes in the world I decided to make a simple cupcake version. These were just my usual basic chocolate cupcakes topped with the peppermint buttercream from the Grasshopper cake (150g butter, 300g icing sugar beaten together, with a generous teaspoon of peppermint extract and a smidgen of green food colouring). This is so simple that I will accept no excuses for not trying the heavenly combo that is mint, chocolate and cake (other than that perhaps because you don't like mint...!). I stuck some halved After Eight's in some and ended up leaving the others plain because I was actually quite pleased with the piping (and somebody was pouting at all the After Eight's being used up!)


The next batch were for a leaving buffet at work - a conference room had been booked at lunchtime and catering ordered from the staff canteen, so we thought we would try to jazz things up a bit by bringing cupcakes and Schloer. The canteen's jam tarts gave me a run for my money but they just couldn't compete with Haribo, which I even attempted to colour co-cordinate with the cupcake cases - although I was scuppered on the cola bottles! Clearly I need to get out more!

Finally, some lemon cupcakes. I was forced into making these by Asda - I had ordered 1 lemon with the weekly shop for something, but since they didn't have any loose lemons, I ended up with a whole bag of the beasts! The recipe was from Lola's cupcakes and again didn't disappoint - if you like your cupcakes then I really recommend getting this book, it is so lovely and the three recipes I have tried so far have all turned out well.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Grasshopper Cake

It was Mike's birthday in June and his birthday cake is one of the most important events in my cake calender! I was a little disappointed with myself about his cake from last year, having messed up one of the layers, so I wanted to make sure I had something decent this year.

Can you tell what it is yet?
This Grasshopper Cake from The Pink Whisk had been firmly ensconsed in my bookmarks since March - as soon as I saw it I knew it was The One, since Mike is a big After Eights fiend. I knew it would be a labour of love, with a couple of different steps for the decorating (not my strong suit). The crumb coating of buttercream was a particular worry, with me not having much* patience I wasn't sure how that would go - especially as I couldn't really ask Mike to take over on this one (normally he steps in when I get to the 'I'm going to stab myself in the eye with the pallette knife' stage).

Anyway. The whole thing was a breeze! Really, it was. The recipe was great - clear and straightforward and friendly sounding, with handy pictures for the steps so you knew what everything was supposed to look like. The hardest part about it was having to dismantle the fridge to get the cake in to chill after the buttercream coating! (as I live in a hobbity house with a teeny fridge!)

Something I really struggle with is levelling cakes though, I can just about manage to cut off the domes but I never manage to get them properly level - this accounts for why this cake is hourglass shaped and leaning!

Structural complaints aside, the cake was absolutely delicious if I do say so myself. The chocolate sponge might well become my 'go to' chocolate cake recipe and it tasted great with the coolness of the peppermint buttercream and after eights. The other great thing was it rose so well - the cake was really high and the slices were HUGE. It didn't stick around very long at all. I don't see many mint chocolate cakes around, I think they are very underrated! Recipe is online here - I urge you all to try it!

*Any. Any at all.
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