When it doesn’t go that well…

Tomorrow I have an event at work, so I thought I’d make a cake. I made a chocolate cake yesterday, and I was going to decorate it with buttercream roses and for the first time ever I was going to use two colours at the same time for a lovely two-tone effect. It looked amazing in my head.

Then the cake turned out dry, but I thought I’d slap on enough buttercream to save it. Then when I levelled the cake, the top layer fell apart, as it was so dry. I thought I’d rescue it with buttercream. Then I made 1,5 kilograms of buttercream, which only just about was enough to fill the 10″ cake and crumb-cover it. There wasn’t even enough left for two roses, let alone a whole cake covered with them. I didn’t have enough butter or icing sugar to make what probably needed to be at least another 2 kgs of buttercream. Also, it’s so warm at the moment the buttercream just softened as I spread it on.

The cake is now in the bin. I will have to go and buy a cake tomorrow as I am set on having cake at this event, I even bought a candle to go on top.

I thrashed around stuff in the kitchen, stomped upstairs and had a cry, because that’s what I do. My lovely fiancé talked me down, but I kept coming up with all kinds of reasons I suck at making cake and I shouldn’t make my own wedding cake and I could never do this properly and I suck some more. I have calmed down now and I have promised never to use this recipe book again for cakes, as the lemon and madeira cakes from the same book came out dry too. Great for decorating tips, but I’ll use different recipes next time.

So, this weekend, I am going to trial the middle tier of my wedding cake. I have been given the advice to write down everything I do, quantities of icing and ganache used, and if that turns out ok, I have a document on how to do it for real in a few months’ time.

I am my own worst enemy and put so much pressure on myself. Although I will never resort to saying ‘it’s only cake’, but it’s way too important for that…


Week word: Treat


Marble cake treat

So, I’ve joined in a Week word. This week it’s hosted by the lovely Jen over on Timballoo. I’m new to it, but here goes.

For me, a treat is usually food-related. I have treats too often, as evidenced by my waistline, or lack thereof. But hey, it’s tasty right?

Last week I hosted a network meeting at work and as I like playing host, I made cake and biscuits. The cake was amazing and went down a treat (boom tish). It was Peyton and Byrne’s Marble Cake with white chocolate icing. It was bloomin’ delicious and has kept really well. The white chocolate icing melts quite quickly, so it’s best kept in the fridge.

The recipe I found online and do try it. I’ve always used the recipe my mum always used, but I often found it too dry. The Peyton and Byrne recipe has yogurt in it, which keeps it from going dry (I refuse to use the word ‘moist’),

The recipe:

For the cake:
170g self-raising flour (I used GF self-raising flour and that worked well)
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
125g unsalted butter
1/2 tsp salt
200g caster sugar
3 large free-range eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
150g plain yoghurt
40g cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt

For the white chocolate icing:
75g good white chocolate
150g icing sugar
2tbsp milk

1. Butter and line a 900g loaf tin. Or do what I do: butter the tin and coat it with flour, work a treat! Pre-heat oven to 180oC.
2. Sift together the flour and bicarb. In a separate bowl, mix the sugar, butter and salt. Add in the vanilla and the eggs one at a time, beating into the mix.
3. Add half of the flour mix, then half of the yogurt, then the rest of the flour, and finally the last of the yoghurt. Give it a final mix.
4. Separate a third of the batter. Whisk 40g cocoa with 60ml boiling water to form a thick paste, then add into the separated third, folding it through.
5. Spoon dollops of the batter into the tin, alternating the two batters (see picture). I ended up with three layers of this. Drag a knife through the batter in a swirling motion, but not too much or you’ll ruin the marble effect.

6. Bake for 45-55 mins until springy to the touch. Cool.
7. To make the icing, melt the chocolate and add into a mix of the icing sugar and 2tbsp milk (already combined). Whisk until smooth and pour over the cake immediately. Although I personally prefer the ganache to be a bit thicker so it covers better, but that’s just me…
For more Week words, head over to Timballoo and The Gift Shed.

The Crossing-Border Cake: Part I

Tonight I was asked by friends of mine to make a cake for their wedding for about 50 people. The wedding is in 6 weeks’ time, so plenty of time to prepare myself. There’s a, albeit lovely, snag: the wedding is in Spain. This brings a whole new level to cake-making logistics.

It was hinted a few days ago they wanted to speak to me about cakey things, so me being me, I already thought about A Plan. I rang the airline today asking if I was even allowed to bring home baked goods with me and the orange airline said yes. Win! So, after a Skype chat with my friends, we have decided that I shall be making the cakes here, in my house, in my own, slightly  unreliable oven (although it always comes up trumps since I’ve had an oven thermometer!) and I will finish them in the kitchen of our holiday villa in the undoubtedly beautiful Spanish countryside.

We’re yet to finalise flavours, but my suggestion was a lemon cake with lemon curd and white chocolate buttercream and a chocolate cake with a salted caramel buttercream. I’m guessing Spain will be home to some amazing tasting lemons, so I shall make the lemon curd there. I’m hoping that the buttercream will be ok in the Spanish heat, as long as the cakes can be in a fridge for most of their pre-eaten life. My friend will make sure the ingredients for buttercreams and lemon curd will be waiting for me upon arrival at the house, which is amazing!

So, I shall check in a suitcase (I wrote suitcake initially, now wouldn’t that be cool?) with two cakes, an electric hand whisk, a lemon grater and with all my digits crossed it will all be fine!

I shall keep you all posted on the journey of the border-crossing cake.

In search of the perfect macaron – Part I

Elderflower and dark chocolate macarons

After posting about visiting Pierre Hermé and having the most divine macarons there, I thought the time had come to try my hand yet again at these devilishly difficult biscuits. So, I used yet another recipe, this time BraveTart’s macaron recipe. Last time I used Marian Keyes’ recipe and they turned out ok…

I think BraveTart’s step-by-step recipe is really good and I think my meringue was as stiff as she suggested. I added some bitter lemon/lime Sugarflair colour paste and a bit of elderflower extract. The consistency looked great! I put it all in the piping bag (note to self, buy bigger piping bags, these 30cms ones are just too small for *anything*) and away I went. Still not sure about the best way to pipe them as again my ended out like piped buttercream on a cupcake… I rapped them on the worktop, 4 times for each tray. Popped them in the oven, but when they came out, the foot hadn’t developed enough and they had cracked. Meh. They’re also huge, must get a smaller cookie cutter to make the circles with (I use a cookie cutter and pen to make circles on the baking sheet, so they’re roughly the same size). They’re a bit underdone, and I am not happy with them.

Last time I let them stand for half an hour before popping them in the oven and that seemed to have a better effect. I will try this again next time and I must make them smaller, maybe that makes them easier to pipe as well.

Never mind, they taste great! I filled them with a dark chocolate buttercream and the elderflower in the meringue really comes through and the dark chocolate balances it out very nicely indeed. I’m sure we will scoff eat them all over the coming days, but the search is far from done.

Pierre Hermé

Pistachio, ceylon cinnamon and Morello cherries macaron

A few weeks ago I visited the Pierre Hermé boutique in London. It was during my hen do, and I will do a proper blog about this later as we did a chocolate tour and it was amazing.

I literally bounced up and down with excitement when we were about to enter the boutique. The amazing, vibrant colours of the macarons and the deep, brown hues of the chocolates; it was heaven.

I bought some macarons and oh my word, they were amazing, just divine. The flavours, the texture, there are no words how lovely they are. Expensive, but worth every single penny!

So, if you’re ever in the extremely posh bit of London near Knightsbridge, do go and visit this amazing shop and treat yourself!

Making your own wedding cake: Part I

So, yes, call me crazy: I am making my own wedding cake. I am getting hitched in September and after many weeks of looking around on the internet finding cakes and bakers that I like, I fell off my chair at the sheer cost of the damn things. I know, I know, I know, you pay for skill. It’s not easy to make a wedding cake, trust me, I know. I made one for a friends’ wedding last year, but it got me buzzing about it and I wanted to make one again. Hence I’m making my own. I am also very picky with flavours and as I have many coeliac friends and I’m a nice person, the cake has to be gluten free.

Making the wedding cake, for me, is part of the general wedding excitement. I have spent more time looking at potential cakes than at dresses. I have spent months agonising over flavours, up to the point where mt fiancé said that he doesn’t care about the flavours, anything I make will be tasty. Not.Good.Enough.

So, I have been reading recipe after recipe, trying to work out what I want. Cake is mentioned on the invitation, so I figure it’s one of the main events, after the whole I Do thing… I have decided though and I haven’t changed my mind in almost a month, so I think these flavours are the winners:

Bottom layer: vanilla madeira cake (no Victorian sponge, not firm enough to carry the weight of the other two layers), with white chocolate butter icing and raspberry jam, sealed with a white chocolate ganache and then iced with ivory icing

Middle layer: lemon madeira cake, with white chocolate ganache and homemade lemon curd, sealed with white chocolate ganache and iced with ivory icing.

Top layer: chocolate and banana sponge with dark chocolate ganache and salted caramel butter icing, sealed with dark chocolate ganache and then iced with ivory icing.

I made a trial cake for the top layer already…

Banana cake with salted caramel butter cream

And iced:

Decorated cake
The icing will be different, I was just having fun with texture mats!

I am hoping to get some nice lacey ribbon for the cake as well, I have seen something nice in John Lewis.

And now the important question: what chocolate to use for the ganache???

Welcome to Foxy Bakes

Hello, I am Femke and I bake. Lots. For a while now I have been toying with the idea of sharing my tasty treats, and now is the time. It’s a dreary Bank Holiday here in the UK this weekend, and it’s the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. I’m not British, although I do live here, and I don’t really care. Although some extra days off is a bonus!

I am planning on doing some baking, and am going to attempt to make macarons. I have made them a few times, and so far no dice. They have tasted lovely, but oh my word they’re a bugger to make. I recently paid a visit to the Pierre Hermé boutique in London and bought some simply out-of-this world macarons. I mean, seriously orgasmic. Rose and jasmine anyone? Or three different types of vanilla? Just… just… just… I was nice though and shared them with my fiancé, but the temptation to just eat them all myself was high!

I am planning on making elderflower macaroons with a chocolate ganache. I was given some elderflower essence a few months ago and haven’t used it, so it will be interesting to see if it works.

I will also blog about some previous bakes in the coming days.