Tag Archives: cakes

TWD- Chocolate Walnut and Drunken Prune Cake

This weeks exciting installment of TWD is hosted by Lyb of And then I do the dishesChocolate Armagnac Cake – The Cake That Got Me Fired on pages 279-281 of Baking From My Home To Yours By Dorie Greenspan.


This cake is similar in nature to the flourless chocolate cake made by the Daring Bakers last month.  I am so pleased that a couple of extra ingredients made this cake SO much more to my liking.

Dorie tells a great story about losing a job for baking insubordination- really if you don’t have the book go get it.


My combination was toasted walnuts ground to flour and prunes flambe-d in brandy.  Armagnac isn’t available and I had walnuts tucked away in the back of the fridge.  I made 2 x 4 inch cakes.  Like others I struggled with the timings.  Even with my wee little cakes they took well over 40 minutes.  I had to pop the little darlings back in the oven.

This was lovely and simple.  The prunes added to the fudgy nature and were a winner.  Now go and check out the TWD blogroll and see what other yummy cakes there are out there.

TWD- Devils Food White Out Cake

Stephanie of Confessions of a City Eater chose Devils Food White Out Cake, on page 247-249 of Baking From My Home To Yours By Dorie Greenspan.

img_0139I was so lucky that this cake and a family birthday party co-incided (Happy Birthday to Gemma).   This cake combines seriously rich devils food cake spiked with shards of chocolate topped with marshmallow frosting.  The combination is a good balance but very sweet.  Perfect party food really.  But I do get a rather serious look on my face when cutting cake!

img_0135I think I liked the look of the cake only half covered in crumbs best but once I started throwing around the crumbs I was committed.

I had a slight change of method for the frosting from Dorie.  I used the cream of tartar in the eggs to protect them from overwhipping.  I wasn’t sure the reason it was used in the sugar solution.

img_0142The good news is my computer is back on deck and I lashed out and got a Canon Ixus 980.  I haven’t had a chance for a really good play yet but I am really happy thus far.

Now go  and check out the TWD blogroll and see the yummy cakes out there.

TWD- Fresh Ginger and Chocolate Gingerbread

In case anyone was having Christmas withdrawals, Heather of Sherry Trifle chose Fresh Ginger and Chocolate Gingerbread for this weeks Tuesdays with Dorie Bake.  You can find it on page 212 of Baking From My Home To Yours By Dorie Greenspan.


This gingerbread layers the ginger by using fresh finely chopped ginger, dried ginger and Dorie calls for stem ginger.  I had some ginger marmalade left over from one of the tarts ages ago so I fished out some the ginger bits and chopped them up.  That way, everything called for came from my pantry.  Nigella Lawson has a similar themed recipe in Nigella Bites but Dorie ups the ante with melted chocolate through the batter, chocolate chips and in case you are missing the good things comes in threes theme- chocolate coffee icing.

This was a nice recipe but, heaven help me I may be a bit of a purist here.  I think the added fat from the chocolate helped carry the layered ginger flavours but, I think I like it chocolate free better.  Patrick on the other hand will always vote for more chocolate…

p12603181Now go and check the TWD blogroll and see what other spicy treats there are to be had.

TWD- Berry Surprise Cake


Mary Ann of  Meet Me in the Kitchen chose Berry Surprise Cake on pages 273-275 of Baking from My Home From Yours by Dorie Greenspan.

This desert is made up of a genoise sponge cake filled with cream cheese lightened with whipped cream and berries.  Dorie also suggested covering the confection with sweetened whipped cream but I took just one step back from that and topped out with ‘just’ the filling.

I decided to make 4x 4inch cakes.  Sadly my genoise fell.  I have made a few (with RLB recipe) and this is the first time it has happened to me.  I even used some of my precious bleached flour in this and weighed everything.   My eggs and sugar needed closer to 7 minutes to get properly ribbony


The only brightside is out of the 4 cakes 2 fell down to 1/3 of the time and the other 2 were at 2/3’s they also had slightly raised edges which meant I could in fact just sandwich them together with no tricksy carving.  I had a bit of batter left over and I made cupcakes in silicone cups.  The interesting thing is they didn’t fall. So I guess it wasn’t the leavening or temperature.  I can see that others had problems with the cake falling and Dorie suggests a bit of centre sinkage is normal.

I will consider problem solving another day.


This was a nice tasting cake.   I still have the grumbles about the genoise falling so it does impact on my general love in for this project.  I used frozen mixed berries and some cherry liquer to moisten the cake.  Genoise really does sparkle with syrup and doesn’t live up to it’s potential without it.


I may try some whipped cream on top for tomorrows cake (the advantage of making some smaller cakes he, he!)

Now go and check out the TWD blogroll for the other berry surprises!

Daring Bakers- Caramel Cake


This cake is a homage to a simple mixture of sugar and water carefully cooked into a deep dark syrup to maximize flavour.  I really wish temperatures had been given, but I was pleased with the results.


I took my time whipping the sugar and butter and had no problems with the cake batter.  Here is a photo of it just before it got portioned out.

pb040271I could tell from the recipe that these cakes would be uber sweet so I decided to make smaller portions.

pb040276And to see how they grew in the oven…

pb040279The aroma was just too tempting so one had to be cut in half for the crumb shot.


I also made the caramels from Alice Murdoch’s The Sweet Spot.

I never cease to be amazed at how much the mixture bubbles up when the cream is added.


These caramels are lovely I cooked them to the harder stage as I have to fight the humidity.  As it stands we are storing our extras in the freezer just to get a bit of firmness to it.


I lovingly renamed the icing for this cake as ‘optional caramel coma’.


I had a bit of fun with the pyramid shaped cakes.

pb040284This was great fun.  The caramel cake is stunning.  I made the caramel icing as directed but I still like cooked sugar icings so much more.  I recently made RLB Caramel Silk Merengue buttercream of which I liked the texture more but I need to figure out if the browned butter can be substituted in.  That’s one of the many joys of cooking.  There is no shortage of things to experiment on.

So to wrap up, to show proper respect for the hard work put in by the author of the recipe and the organisers of the Daring Bakers challenges there is now a format all the DB need to follow so should you be so very, very tempted by the lucisious photos and stories you can find the source and have a red hot go yourself!

– Name of the Cookbook – Shuna Fish Lyndon’s recipe – (http://blogs.kqed.org/bayareabites/2006 … he-recipe/)
– Name of the Author – Shuna Fish Lyndon
– Hosts for the month – Dolores the host (http://culinarycuriosity.blogspot.com/) with Co-hosts Alex (Brownie of the Blondie and Brownie duo: http://blondieandbrownie.blogspot.com/), Jenny of Foray into Food (http://forayintofood.blogspot.com/). And since none of us know jack about alternative baking, we’ve once again turned to Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go (http://glutenagogo.blogspot.com/) to assist us.

Now go check out the Daring Bakers Blogroll and see what other caramel delights await you.

TWD- Black and White Cake

I am going to post the official recipe for this week “Twofer Pie” after our family Thanksgiving.  However, I made the Black and White for my brothers birthday back in October and this is the perfect way to catch up on some of the recipes from before I started with the TWD crew.  Not quite a rewind but defintely a catch up!

img_0007Apologies about the quality of photos.  Camera got left behind by mistake and the iphone isn’t as good at food porn!

pa140271White chocolate being added into the lightly whipped cream.

pa140275Whipped cream is a challenging medium to work with when it is a constant 32C+.  Wait, a chance to use one of my recent cooking aquisition…  To the fridge stat!

pa140277The cake ring was the saving grace of this cake.  The white chocolate cream never set very firmly but the cake rings gave it the support to not slide around like a drunken sailor.

Although the photo is not clear I put flake chocolate on top.  The chocolate custard was lovely and the cake was a great match between rich and light.  The cake torted with no troubles at all.  Everyone really liked it but the cream layers were really tricky to work with in the Darwin heat.


If I made this again I would try a bit of gelatin in the cream.  I need to really work on RLB super stabilised cream from the Cake Bible I think.

This week may be a bit drips and drabs with posting for the TWD blogroll, but my twofer pie will be up by Sunday.

TWD- Chocolate-Chocolate Cupcakes

I must make a confession.  I got disorientated, I remembered we were making a double chocolate cupcake this week and tackled the chocolate- chocolate chunk muffins (on page 19).  The boys wanted cake and my computer was in the other room.  Anyway, I will save that story for another post.  I realised on Monday that Dorie had two double choc recipes and so tackled this today.

It was really interesting reading the comments in the forum of the TWD about some dry cake experiences with this recipe.  I went ahead and made the recipe as directed.  What it did draw my attention to is all of Dories recipes use All Purpose BLEACHED flours.  

Bleached flour is not available in Australia.  I have followed with great interest discussions on Rose Levy Beranbaums site about the importance of using bleached flour when it is called for and a rather intrepid English reader of Rose’s- Kate who followed up and did all sorts of experiments involving micro-waved flour. So I used plain flour (130g) and micro-waved it for a 90 sec burst followed by a stir and a 60 sec burst.  This is what I do when I try to replicate cake flour.

This is a lovely thick batter (so much neater to portion out than the devils food cake cupcakes I made over the weekend).  I set the timer at 15 minutes and then checked at three minute intervals.  They needed 21 minutes in my oven.

I got a fair rise out of these given the scant amount of chemical leavening.  All about the creaming of the butter/sugar/egg.

The glaze came together easily.  I used my immersion blender.  I could feel it trying to seize up but the stick mixer is just so good with chocolate mixtures.

My cupcakes were not dry but they do crumble easily, you can see a fudgey layer just under the crust.  If I had left them in the oven even a couple minutes more I think they would have really dried out.

There was such interesting discussion about this particular weeks bake.  Go check out the TWD blogroll to see not only the pretty cupcakes but the baking science being considered.

Happy Birthday Liam

I have mentioned before that my son Liam studies the Women’s Weekly Cake book.  Fot the last few months he has been dead certain that he needed a dinosaur cake to celebrate his 5th birthday.  The T Rex one to be quite clear.

This is a big cake.  You need two  20 x 30 cm cakes.  I chose Nigella Lawsons buttermilk birthday cake (2 recipes) for the vanilla cake.  And since I like a little variety I made Rose Levy Beranbaums All American Perfect Chocolate cake (1 1/2 recipe) for the second cake.  Both of these cakes are butter cakes and fresh from the fridge a dream to carve.

I made RLB’s mouselline buttercream.  It is hot and humid here in Darwin and it really does hold up better than any other icing.  I flavoured it with creme de menthe which gave it a pale hue of green and a lovely mint flavour and then added a touch of green paste for a bit more of visual punch.

I crumb coated the cake and then let it sit in the fridge until just before I was ready to decorate and serve.  Mental note… make sure the assembled cake fits in your fridge.  We made a cake board of ply wood covered with adhesive paper as I had no flat platters even close enough in size.

Another small challenge was getting the baking paper out from underneath.  I had cut it down the middle but as I tried to pull out the left hand side it all started moving around a bit too much for comfort.  I wanted a photos before I trashed it!

So Liam got the cake of his dreams.  Heaven knows what he will choose next year.  (I am deeply concerned he has fallen for the cameleon in Collette Peters “Cakes to Dream On”-at least I have a year to practice).

And what did my darling boy do as soon as he got a knife close to his cake…

Ritual beheading of his dinosaur.  Eat him before he eats you, I suppose.

Adventures in Fondant- Part 2

So with my cakes baked and ganached, I toddled off to a quiet place to work with my big box of kit.  I really wasn’t certain what I would need so I brought every thing from home I could think of.  I ended up using almost all of it.

I did find some vinyl in a local cooking store which certainly came in handy to roll out on.

I was pleased my fondant did get a couple of shades darker overnight.  I didn’t achieve the Enchanted Night Sky of my imagination but it was a handsome purple.

The fondant began to tear and stick to itself- even with the smaller cake when I tried the fold over the rolling pin trick.  I got a bit cross and then I realised I could use the method of rolling to the correct size and then flipping it on top of the cake, no breath taking rolling pin moments for me!

On reflection, I think I added too much colouring paste for that amount of fondant.  Buying ready to roll fondant in bold colours will be my next experiment.  After I figured out how to get the fondant on the cake smoothing it was fairly straight forward.   I couldn’t find fondant padles in Darwin.  Another thing on my list of things to buy the next time I go down South.

Cake dowels are another thing I couldn’t find in Darwin.  However, we have no shortage of Asian food sellers, with lots of paper wrapped disposable wooden chopsticks given away.  They worked a treat cut to size.

I transported the cake in pieces to assemble on site.  I thought I would have a back room to mess about in but no,  centre stage (the present table in the centre of the hall actually) for me as I tiered my first cake.

Now I know why ribbon or icing goes along the seam lines of fondant cakes.  I didn’t have any and I have learned from my mistake.  I made some fondant stars as decoration and painted them silver with edible paint.

I was happy with the cake as a first effort.  I can see the places I need to improve.  (I start a cake decorating course at uni in a couple of weeks).  It was a lot of fun and I have been asked to do some wedding and birthday cakes from this event.

And I got to give Lisa a one of a kind present.

To wrap up, here is a photo (sadly taken at the end of the night when the kids were ratty and not in the mood to smile for photos) of my wonderful family in our costumes.

TWD- Caramel-Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake

For this weeks Tuesday With Dorie Sugar Extravaganza, Tammy of Wee Treats by Tammy has made a most excellent choice, Caramel-Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake on pages 264 and 265 of Baking From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan.

Dorie suggests a show stopping (and perhaps heart challenging) centre of the table 8 inch affair.  Once the brownie is lovingly covered with caramel and peanuts it need to be eaten fairly promptly.  We are not entertaining this week so it would be just the 4 of us.  I thought baking 4 inch mini cakes, to be adorned just before serving was the perfect middle path.

This decision was probably reinforced by the recent purchase of a Wii Fit board that suggested more exercise less cake!

I was cross to find the spring form mechanism was broken on one of my tins so I just used 3 tins.  Had I read the recipe closely before hand I would have not been so bold with batter filling.  What I did end up with was 6 mini cakes once I torted them

I had some caramel coated peanuts floating in the fridge so I used those in the caramel.  I added some Maldon for the salt kick.

I liked this with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a huge glass of milk.  My dear husband prefered the brownie unadorned.  Less is almost always more for him unless custard is involved.  My boys ate the brownie but left the caramel and nuts.  No accounting for taste!

Now go and check out the Tuesdays With Dorie Blogroll and see the other Brownie Cakes for the week.