Friday, 24 October 2014

Dr Seuss Themed Dummy Cake

I mage this cake as a prop for our Ward's Roadshow this year. It is a dummy cake made with 12", 10" and 8" polystyrene drums, covered in left over fondant from previous cakes. The candles I made by wrapping fondant around cardboard tubes, leaving a space in the top for battery powered led tea lights to fit. 

I wanted the cake to have a Dr. Seuss or Cat in the Hat feel, without being too specific, but I couldn't resist putting a few fish on to it :) They are hand cut and detailed with a Sharpie (well, it's not going to be eaten!) 

I really wanted this post to be all about our Roadshow, but sadly the evening has been postponed (possibly until February). So I thought I would just share my cake for now, without giving anything away about our play - it is a competition after all!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Chocolate Ice Cream Cake {Recipe}

A friend asked me to bake a surprise cake for her husband's birthday - a chocolate ice cream cake (a combination of two of his favourite sweets). Harry's birthday was on the day of our Roadshow dress rehearsal, and as they are new in our area, and no one knew it was his birthday, she though it would be fun to have a little surprise party for him before we began our rehearsal. Well, you know what they say about best laid plans...

The cake has 8 layers - from the bottom: moist chocolate sponge cake, vanilla ice cream, oreo crumbles, milk chocolate ice-cream, chocolate fudge ganache, vanilla ice cream, moist chocolate sponge, chocolate fudge ganache, and is topped with stabilised whipped cream decoration. Recipe below.

Unfortunately, Harry never got his surprise. My friend was involved in a car accident on the way home to fetch Harry and bring him to the rehearsal (she was thankfully uninjured, though her car wasn't as lucky!) Because the cake was ice cream and the freezer at the church far too small to accommodate it, we ended up having to eat it without them!! But not before making a video of us all singing to him beside it. We did manage to get a couple of pieces into the freezer though, so when they finally made it to us, after a very long and traumatic evening, they did get to enjoy it. I'm not sure what my friend was more upset about: spoiling her husbands surprise or the fact she was in an accident Lol. All well that ends well, just so glad that she came to no harm.

Chocolate Ice Cream Cake Recipe

Makes 10" square cake.

1. Bake the Moist Chocolate Cake


3 cups Flour
3 cups Sugar
1 1/2 cup Cocoa
3 tsp Baking Soda
3 Large Eggs
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups Buttermilk
1 cup Sunflower Oil
2 tsp Vanilla
1 1/2 cup2 Boiling Water


Preheat oven to 145°C

Line and grease a 10" square cake tin.

Combine all ingredients except for Boiling Water in a bowl. Mix just until smooth.
Add boiling water and mix immediately.

Bake for about 1 hour 15 mins until a skewer inserted comes out clean, and the cake has pulled away slightly from the sides of the tin. The cake will be quite domed when it comes out the oven, but will sink back until it is almost flat as it cools.

When completely cool, divide cake in half horizontally to make 2 layers.

Clean the cake tin and line with parchment or cling film. Place a layer of the cake in the bottom of the tin and place in the freezer. Wrap the other half of the cake in cling film and freeze.

2. First Vanilla Ice Cream Layer and Oreo Crumble


300g Milk
300g Cream
220g Sugar
2 Tbsp Vanilla

2 Packages Oreos


Combine milk, cream, sugar and vanilla and pour into prepared ice cream maker, churn until it reaches soft serve consistency.

Meanwhile, crush the Oreos in a food processor, or by bashing with a rolling pin while in a sturdy plastic bag. Mix about half of the churned ice cream into the crushed Oreos.

Spread the rest of the ice-cream onto the cake layer in the cake tin. Carefully spread the Oreo mixture on top of the ice cream layer.

Place in the freezer for at least an hour.

3. Make the Chocolate Fudge Ganache


1 cup Double Cream
2/3 cup Corn Syrup
300g Milk Chocolate
200g Plain Chocolate


Break up chocolate. Place cream, corn syrup and chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and melt together in the microwave at 30 second intervals (800 W) stirring in between bursts. Be careful not to leave in the microwave for more than 30 seconds at a time, or the syrup may overheat and burn the chocolate. When almost all the chocolate has melted, stop heating in the microwave (there should still be some little lumps of chocolate. Keep stirring the mixture until all the chocolate has melted in and it becomes smooth and glossy. Set aside to cool.

4. Chocolate Ice Cream Layer


300g Milk
300g Cream
220g Sugar
2 Tbsp Vanilla
3 Tbsp Cocoa Powder


Heat 100g of the milk to below boiling and dissolve the cocoa powder into it.

Add the rest of the milk, cream, sugar and vanilla and mix well. Pour into prepared ice cream maker and churn until it reaches soft serve consistency.

Spread the chocolate ice-cream on top of the Oreo layer in the cake tin. Return to the freezer for another hour.

Spread two thirds of the cooled chocolate fudge ganache on top of the chocolate ice cream in the cake tin. Return to the freezer while you do the next step.

5. Second Vanilla Ice Cream Layer

Make the vanilla ice cream as before (omitting the Oreo crumble). Spread all of the vanilla ice cream on top of the chocolate fudge layer in the tin.

Unwrap the left over chocolate cake layer (which is now frozen) and push it down on top of the vanilla ice cream layer in the cake tin. 

Spread the rest of the chocolate fudge over the chocolate cake, smooth it out so that it looks good.

Place in the freezer for at least an hour.

6. Stabilised Whipped Cream Decoration

1 cup double cream
50g icing sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons meringue powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Sift icing sugar and meringue powder together.
Add vanilla to cream and beat on medium speed until it begins to thicken. Add sugar mixture to the cream and beat on medium until combined. Beat at high speed until stiff peaks form (be careful not to over beat and turn it into butter).
Using a piping bag, pipe the cream onto the top of the frozen cake however you desire. You can remove the cake from the tin and remove the parchment before piping the cream, or pipe it on while in the tin, and leave it in the tin until just before serving.
Return the cake to the freezer until ready to serve. The finished cake should stay in the freezer for 3-4 hours once complete to ensure it is well set before serving. I recommend to make the cake a day in advance. Left over cake should be returned to the freezer as quickly as possible.
If you would like to make the cake further in advance, complete the cake up to the end of stage 5 and leave the cake in the freezer until firmly set. Remove the cake from the cake tin, leaving parchment in place, and wrap in cling film. Store in freezer until needed (though recommend consuming within 30 days). Add the whipped cream decorations when required.

Happy Baking, and Happy Birthday Harry!!

Monday, 6 October 2014

Buttermilk Rusks {Recipe & Tutorial}

Rusks are another favourite treat of anyone who grew up in South Africa. Every South African ExPat I have met over the years has agreed that Buttermilk Rusks (or Ouma Rusks, as they are known in SA) are one of the SA 'delicacies'  they really miss. After reminiscing with my South African friend as we prepared for an International Food Ward Activity, I decided that it was time I once again made some home made Buttermilk Rusks. And I thought I could share the recipe and tutorial with you lovely people while I'm at it :)

Buttermilk Rusks Recipe


1250g flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp bicarb
2 tsp cream of tartar
2 tsp salt
250g butter
2 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 cups Demerara sugar 
2 eggs
1 cup oil


Preheat the oven to 190°C
Grease a 10" square cake tin or 3 loaf tins (I recommend using loaf tins if you have them, as the dough bakes more evenly).

Have all ingredients at room temperature.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarb, cream of tartar and salt into a large bowl.

Cut the butter into cubes

Rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles fine crumbs (see video below for technique).


In another bowl beat together the buttermilk, sugar, eggs and oil.

Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients,

mix until it all comes together into a rough dough,

then knead to a smooth dough.

Measure out balls of dough to a weight appropriate to divide the dough evenly into the pan/s you are using. I only have 1 loaf tin, so I used my 10" square cake tin instead. To make 7 rows of 7 balls of dough, I measured out 55g balls. For the loaf tins you would place the balls of dough 3x6 (50g balls) or 3x5 (60g balls), depending on the dimensions of your pans.

Roll the measured out dough into smooth balls and place in tight rows in the tin/s  - see video below for the technique.


Place in the pre-heated oven and bake for 45 minutes,

until they are browned on the top and the dough looks cooked all the way through (pull a couple of the 'balls' apart gently towards the centre of the pan).

Leave to cool in the pan for 20 minutes,

then turn out on to a cooling rack.

Once they are cool (after a further 20-30 minutes), gently pull the rows apart with your fingers.

Then pull those apart into individual rusks.

Lay them out on baking trays

and bake again at 100°C for 5-6 hours (or overnight - a little longer will do no harm).

When they are ready they will be hard and crunchy all the way through. They are delicious to eat on their own or dunked in a favourite hot drink. They can be stored for a long time in a sealed container, though ours have never lasted more than a few days!

Happy Baking!

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Doughnut or Donut?

Well, however you like to spell it, they should always taste delicious!

I haven't made real doughnuts since making them as a teenager with my Mom, though I have been threatening to do so for years. I used to love baking with my Mom, and it was the memory her homemade birthday cakes for me and my brother that launched me into cake decorating when my son was about to turn 1 (if only she could see me now!!)

My first, ever, decorated cake for my son's 1st birthday (he is 16 now).

Watching The Great British Bake Off last week inspired me, and I decided that the time for doughnut making had finally come. I was delighted that South African koeksisters made their way onto the show though, as I do make those regularly and had shared my recipe on here just before the show aired (how's that for coincidence?)

Over the last week I have tried making a yeasted dough glazed ring and a glazed chocolate cake doughnut. I used both recipes exactly as they were written for my first attempts (well, mostly), as I've not made them before and don't know how the doughs or glazes should look or feel.

First up are the yeasted dough Glazed Ring Doughnuts.

These came out looking pretty good. They were nice and puffy, but they were too chewy to me and I didn't like them. My husband actually liked the chewiness, but still agreed they didn't taste quite right - they tasted more like vetkoek (another, usually savoury, South African treat) than actual doughnuts. The glaze also wasn't quite right as it stayed sticky and didn't crust over as I would expect. My seminary students, however, enjoyed eating them as an early Friday morning treat to go with their hot chocolate.

The dough was completely runny after bringing it together, so I used my best judgement and added some more flour (the amount of yeast called for was quite a lot, so I felt it could deal with the extra flour.) Even after rising the dough was still very loose and I struggled to maintain the shape of the rings when cutting them and moving them onto trays. I probably should have floured the trays, as they stuck quite badly where the cut edges came in contact with the baking paper, but the recipe just stated to put them onto baking paper, so thats what I did. 

After proving, the dough was still looser than I anticipated and it was really hard to keep the doughnuts round getting them into the oil, and some of the holes tried to stick closed.

But they puffed up beautifully when cooking and most of them came out pretty round (some of them were decidedly misshapen though, I wish I had taken pics of them).

The round ones looked great with the classic light band around their middle. I'm not happy with this recipe though, so I'm not going to share it.

Next up are the Glazed Chocolate Cake Doughnuts.

These too came out looking great! The flavour was perfect, but the cake was a little bit dry and heavy. This glaze tasted good too and crusted over perfectly, but was just a bit too thick and didn't go clear as promised in the recipe (but this is would probably be fixed by thinning the glaze down a bit more). I did enjoy eating these very much, but they will need a bit more work to make them really delicious. You can find the recipe by Lauren Weisenthal here.

This dough is made with baking powder rather than yeast, so only calls for a couple of 10 minute standing periods and doesn't begin rising until it hits the hot oil. The dough was very, very sticky, and though the recipe encouraged the use of plenty of flour when rolling and cutting the rings, I didn't use enough and they stuck irretrievebly to my counter top. I therefore had to reform the dough and roll it out again. This could possibly account for the slight dry heaviness of the cake (the recipe warns against overworking the dough).

Frying them was quite hard because of their dark colour. I found I had to actually set a timer to cook them consistently and had to watch my oil temperature like a hawk, because if the oil was just a little to hot, or I cooked them just a little too long, they got a slight burned taste to them and the tops didn't break open.  A bit more attention and experimentation with the cooking process may also improve the texture of the cake.

These were devoured by our roadshow participants at our rehearsal last night.

If you can recommend a recipe for me to try, I'd love to see it, and if I like it I will share it on my blog. Please leave a comment below!