Tag Archives: Cake

Let ’em eat cake: My very first Victoria Sponge

Today I was in urgent need of some baking therapy and so I decided to bake a Victoria Sponge – my very first Victoria Sponge, that is (I blame the Great British Bake Off…). In the past few weeks I researched the topic thoroughly, looked at countless photos online and watched several videos on YouTube. Then I did some more research on sandwich pans. And then I orderd Alan Silverwood’s Victoria Surprise set, which arrived yesterday. This is a very nifty loose-bottom pan set indeed: apart from the normal, flat bottoms, it also contains bottoms with insets (allowing for more filling to be stuffed into your cake) (this is, of course, a Very Good Thing indeed – think strawberries and cream. Yum!). Unfortunately, my pans arrived with a couple of scratches on the outside, and I seriously thought about sending them back, when the aforementioned need for baking therapy overcame my need to have spotless pans.

So I carefully lined the bottoms of the pans with baking paper, greased the pans, and dusted them with flour (dusting pans with loose bottoms is … eh … interesting). For the dough I used a 2+2+2+4 recipe (200g butter, 200g sugar, 200g flour, 4 eggs + baking powder for those who don’t have self-raising flour + a bit of vanilla extract to taste), which made me feel very competent and empowered because I didn’t need to check a recipe. (I LOVE recipes like that!) Thanks to the very thorough research I’d done I knew that I needed to cream the butter and sugar very thoroughly to create a very fluffy mixture (many thanks to Poires au Chocolat for her excellent post on creaming butter & sugar!). Furthermore, I knew that the mixture isn’t supposed to curdle when you add the eggs (oops), so this time I was very careful with the eggs and kept beating and beating and beating and the dough got fluffier and fluffier and fluffier. Whee! 🙂 I also knew that I wanted to fold in the flour with a spoon rather than using the mixer (At this point, I kept hearing Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry’s faintly disappointed voices, “You’ve overworked the dough.” Oh dear. No, no, we wouldn’t want to disappoint Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood.) So I folded, took a taste sample (yummy), then filled my lovely sandwich tins and put them into the oven.

Now if you thought this was the end of my worries, you couldn’t be more wrong. What if the pans would leak and drip? What if the dough wouldn’t rise properly? Luckily, the pans didn’t leak and the dough eventually decided to rise. But then the next problem presented itself: when to take the pans out of the oven. (I kept hearing Mary Berry & Paul Hollywood again, “It’s overcooked.” Or, worse, “It’s underdone.” Aaaargh!) I checked Nigella’s recipe in How to Be a Domestic Goddess, and then decided to use a good, old cake-tester. (Oh dear, what if the cake collapses when I open the oven door???) (Geez, when have I become such a baking wuss? Note to self: Start baking more often again.)

I poked and prodded my poor cakes several times before I was satisfied that they were most likely done (I could just about keep from digging a hole in one of the cakes in order to try the sponge …). They came out of the pans like a dream, had a lovely light colour and looked very fluffy indeed. Yay!

For the filling I went with the traditional raspberry jam – and I have to say, I LOVED it. The cake tasted just lovely – it wasn’t too dry – and the raspberry jam added a nice tartness to the sweetness of the sponge. My conclusion: this is a very nice cake for a Saturday afternoon tea, and I can’t wait for strawberries to come into season. Filled with fresh strawberries and whipped cream, this will be the perfect summer cake!

(And if I could, I would totally invite you all for tea!) 🙂

My love is like a red, red rose …

… or rather a green, green fir tree that’s newly sprung from a Bundt pan. A circle of fir trees, even! Clasping hands … eh … branches.

In other words, today I have once again succumbed to the lure of a Nordic Ware Bundt pan, in this case the holiday tree pan. But isn’t it adorable? And please note the choo-choo train at the bottom rim. How could I possibly resist???

Okay, so I joined Weight Watchers two weeks ago, and cake definitely does not belong into the category of zero-point food, but I’m altruistic here: I’m thinking of others and the pleasure a cake baked in such a lovely pan will bring to them. Indeed, the purchase of the pan might turn out the perfect excuse for hosting a pre-Christmas tea party! 🙂

Lemon Curd Tartlets

One word: YUM! 🙂

I made the tartlets in a muffin tin, which is way cheaper than buying extra tartlet forms. They look a bit … eh … rustic.

I made the lemon curd last week – it was very easy and not at all difficult. As with custard, you have to make sure to put the heat on low and to keep stirring, stirring, stirring until the butter-sugar-egg-lemon juice mixture begins to thicken.

Since the curd itself is rather tart, I decided to mellow the sharpness of the lemon by bedding the curd on sweetened cream cheese when I filled the tartlets.

This was definitely one of my better ideas. 🙂

Baking-Fest Impressions

Let’s start with … orange chocolate tea cakes:

red currant muffins

red wine tea cakes

coconut banana muffins

egg liqueur tea cakes

Now my freezer is stuffed to the brim with yummilicious things and I’m well prepared for tea parties / unexpected guests / sudden cake cravings. 🙂

Cake Experiments

I love cake experiments! They’re so wonderfully soothing and relaxing. And you end up with lots of cake. What’s not to like?

So today I decided I’d give the wonder dough from “1 Dough – 50 Cakes” a try. So off I went to buy eggs, egg liqueur, juice, and milk (I always in danger of running out of milk – I love the stuff!). Forgot the coconut milk. Never mind, I still had desiccated (oh, look! I’ve just learnt a new word!) coconut hiding in the depths of my kitchen cabinets.

I used muffin pans (easier to clean) and the stir-dough-by-hand method (less stuff to clean) and baked four batches of muffins: 1x egg liqueur cake, 1x exotic (orange-mango-pineapple juice + desiccated coconut) cake, 2x chocolate-almond-orange cake. I’m very happy indeed with the results, especially with the first two. The egg liqueur cake muffins are unbelievably fluffy, and the exotic cake tastes fresh and lovely.

I iz happy. 🙂

Reading, Cake Experiments, & 16th-century Romance

Dratted diss update: Happily (or not so happily) scribbling away on 16th-century romance. Definitely racy reading. Sometimes also giggle-inducing reading. There’s love, monsters, ghosts, evil nechromancers, even eviller enchantresses, mystery, murder, and mayhem.

In the third chapter our worthy hero, St George, kills a pair of lions in a most unusual fashion: he first

rent the curled tresses from hys head, that was the colour of Amber [the hair, one supposes, not the head itself], the which hee wrapped about hys armes against the Assault of the Lyons, for he greatly suspected them to be the ministers of hys Tragedie, which indeede so fell out, for at that same instant they descended the dungeon, being brought thither by the Guards of Ianasaries, onely to make a ful period of the Champions life: But such was the inuincible fortitude of Saint George, and so polliticke hys defence, that when the starued Lyons came running on him with open Iawes, he valiantly thrust hys sinnewed Armes into their throats (being wrapped about with the haire of hys head) whereby they presently choaked, and so he pulled out their bloody harts.

Take that, you bad, bad Lyons, you!

Isn’t it charming? Of course, after you’ve read the whole book, your English will probably be ruined forever. So naturally, I had to take preventive steps. I wouldn’t want my English to be ruined forever, would I? No, of course not. So, ladies and gentlemen (and Lyons), here’s preventive measure No. 1:

Kerry Greenwood’s The Castlemaine Murders is my current fun read and my first Phryne Fisher mystery (bought it because the title and the cover are so intriguing). And so far, I’m loving it! It’s got an unusual setting (1930s Australia), an unusual heroine (upper class, likes sex, has taken a Chinese lover), and an unusual murder (mummified murder victim). Nice!

As far as the romance reading goes, I’m very partial to Wild Rose Press at the moment, which has quite a lot to do with how their website is set up. I like how they have divided their books into different categories according to theme, setting and time. This makes it very easy for the eager reader to find a whole bunch of, say, contemporary westerns. Very nice if you like cowboys. Very, very nice indeed. ’cause cowboys certainly count as preventive measure #2. 🙂

Last week I bought a couple of books by Cindy Spencer Pape, like this one:

The hero of Always a Cowboy isn’t just a cowboy of sorts (well, you probably wouldn’t call him a real cowboy as he doesn’t do much cow-related stuff in the course of the novel) (actually, I don’t think he does any cow-related stuff), but he’s also a really nice guy. And he’s got a bad leg. Poor thing. And the book is a from-friends-to-lovers story. What’s not to like?

And then, I also bought this book:

Crazy for the Cowboy. Who could’ve resisted this sweet cover? Not me. *g*

And now on to preventive measure #3: cake. By now you all know how much I love baking. And how much I love my new Nordic Ware pans. So yesterday I bought this little book:

It’s title translates “1 Dough – 50 Cakes.” It’s a rather neat concept: they give you one basic recipe and then present variants of the same recipe – which basically screams for experimentation. I love baking experiements! So this is what I’ve got planned for the next few weeks:

  1. Cake with egg liqueur (okay, that’s not much of an experiment, but it’s been a long time since I last made egg liqueur cake)
  2. Cake with coconut milk and white chocolate
  3. Cake with orange juice, cocoa powder and molten dark chocolate (the combination of cocoa powder and molten chocolate gives you fantastic results when you’re making ice cream; I hope the results for cake will be just as fantastic)

Baking with the Easter Bunny

And look! The Easter Bunny is also an Easter egg! All at the same time!!

Easter Bunny is an Easter egg is an Easter bunny is an Easter egg …

It’s almost …

… almost …

… almost philosophical!

But more importantly: there’s not the tiniest trace of a dragon tail in sight! Whew, lucky me! 🙂

So let the baking begin!

I decided to do it all “by hand” today. There’s something so satisfying about stirring the butter and the sugar and the eggs with your own hands. Something almost primeval. It’s how Cook would have made cake in your Regency hero’s country estate. And he in turn would have fed those dainty morsels to the heroine while whispering sweet nothings into her ear. During those blissful moments they would have lain in his big, big four-poster bed, of course. And if she would have made a mess, he would have picked up all the crumbs afterwards.
With his lips.
Oh my!
Eh …

Where was I?
Ah, here: the flour, the cocoa, and the cinnamon.

Now take a look at the next picture and tell me what’s wrong with it:


Exactly. The itty-bitty container look almost the same. But only in in one of them is cinnamon… And let me tell you, the itty-bitty container which contains the chicken seasoning looks very, very similar, too. So it’s generally a good idea to check whether you’ve got the right spice pot.

I call this “drowning the dough in red wine.” 🙂

From dough to cake in 15 minutes:

The other half of the dough went into regular muffin moulds:

And that was it. Baking with the Easter Bunny 2009. And now let the tea parties begin! 🙂

Invitation to Tea, Part I (Or, Making Tea Cakes – U R Doing It Right)

After the chocolate disaster (or is it “desaster”??? I guess I could look it up, but it’s almost midnight here and I can’t be bothered with thingaboos like dictionaries), I decided I’d try tea cakes next, since I already got such good results with a different Nordic Ware baking mould. So I whipped together some red-wine cake dough, filled it into the tea cake mould, put the mould into the oven and watched the mini cakes rise while the heavenly smell of red-wine cake filled my kitchen. (Okay, I admit it, I didn’t watch the mini cakes rise *all* the time; I was busy licking the whisk clean. *g*)

And here’s the result:

Don’t those mini cakes look cuuuuuuuute? 🙂
And last, but not least, here’s proof that it pays to buy quality: tea cake mould with itty-bitty details: cakes came out clean and easy. VS *very* cheap mini-Gugelhupf mould: It took me five minutes to get the cake out of the mould, and when it finally said goodbye to the stupid mould, it left a “skin” behind.

Coming up next: Tablescape in Red (with my new Burleigh china and Lindor eggs)