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Dougie has his birthday in very close vicinity to the baby Cheezus, but despite everyone suffering a big bucketload of rich food ennui from multiple Christmas dinners and parties I couldn’t resist working up a couple of special treats for the boy.

His request for a ‘record’ cake resulted in a Bruce Bogtrotter Heroic Chocolate Cake from Jane Brocket’s Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer (awesome book) layered with raspberry cheesecake and covered in dark chocolate ganache. Super rich and like the Birthday Boy getting better with age!

I doctored the label from an image of the label for Blue Suede Shoes

I also made a batch of Linzer cookies from eCurry

I found the flavour to be a little bland after all the hype, but how fonking pretty are these??

I am now taking at least a week’s hiatus from baking, and frankly eating. It’s been a big holiday season and I’ve got New Year’s Eve binge drinking and chip snarfing to get through yet.

Happy New Year!

Trial 2 was aiming for more flavor, a more exciting texture, and basically just more.

Improvements I was looking for included introducing lime to zing up the tartness of the raspberries, shredded coconut to add more texture, and trying out some almond meal in the cake to give it a heavier  and moister crumb, to make it a more solid ‘wedding’ cake that can be iced and moved around with less distress

I adapted a recipe for Raspberry and almond cake from Best Recipes and added coconut that I had infused according to Lisa Marietta Gianotti’s Italian coconut cake recipe.

First I took a cup of sweetened shredded coconut, which I had never used before but I thought I’d give it a crack. I simmered that with 2 cups of water and the zest of 1 lemon, drained and left to cool. On reflection this would have simmered out a good deal of the sugar and given plain dried shred the moistness I was looking for, so next time I’ll just use the regular shredded coconut.

Then it was the cake, a fairly simple but rich recipe. I beat the full stick of butter (and that’s an Aussie stick peeps, 250g of saturated goodness) then added the 2 cups of sugar. Once that was fluffy bunnies I added the zest of 1 lime.  I like to beat the flavours like zest or vanilla into the butter, as it infuses into the fat which means is permeates the whole cake better.

I then beat in the 6 eggs. I read somewhere, I think in one of my ‘wife’s companion’ cookbooks from the 1930’s, that beating the eggs and pouring in slowly, rather than one egg at a time, means it beats in better and reduces the chances of curdling. And it certainly does, I do this even if it’s just one or two eggs, but for 6 goggies this was an absolute necessity.

I sifted together half a cup each of SR flour, plain flour and bread flour. I’m not looking for light fluffiness in this cake, I needed gluten! I then whisked in the cup of almond meal, and then folded this in alternately with ¾ cup of sour cream (full fat, not fiddling around with low cal on a wedding cake!). Once incorporated I folded in the infused coconut and frozen raspberries. This was the point where I realized I forgot to check my raspberry levels, which were dismally low, so I also threw in a punnet of blueberries I had in the freezer.

There was an abundance of batter, too much for my deep adjustable cake ring at 16cm diameter, so I threw a few tablespoons into teacupcake molds as well

After baking for 1 1/2 hours at 160° the cake was done. It sank in a bit at the sides, which is a little funny, but that may be from cooling in the tin, I’ll have to investigate that one.
Preliminary scoffing of the cupcakes (which of course were only baked for 20 minutes) indicated that we could be on to a winner. I stuck the cake in the freezer for a few days to see how it would take it, as that’s what I’ll be doing with the real thing.

After 3 days I partially defrosted the sucker and iced him in a coating of white chocolate ganache. I discovered on the Planet Cake forums that sour cream is better that regular cream as it cuts the sweetness so I used some of the leftover sour cream from the cake. I do love an economy of ingredients.

 

The Verdict: Absolute Perfection! This is THE ONE

 

The crumb was deliciously heavy and moist, the shredded coconut had the right amount texture, and the citrus really lifted it up. Oh, and the ganache- my word! I’m not a huge chocolate eater, but this stuff was nastily good. Creamy and sweet but not sickly. I used one block of white cooking chocolate which as you see made not quite enough to cover the cake properly.

For the real thing I will use more lime and of course all raspberries. I forgot to toss the fruit in flour before adding to batter and they sank.

All the tasters at work declared this a total winner, it doesn’t taste too rich, but you only need a small slice. But on second thoughts they felt I should probably try it again, with more lime, just to make sure. Maybe a couple of times… you get the drift 🙂

Hurrah! I still need to figure out what I’ll have for the third layer of the wedding cake. I’m thinking I’ll check if there are any Aunties in the family who’d like to make a fruit cake layer. That way most cake bases are covered.

I am now joining the ranks of the no-knead bread fan club, membership no. 2,384,373

After recent forays by bloggers Jane Brocket and Momofukufor2 how could I resist giving it a bash? I have this year been slowly improving my yeasty skills, spurred by a breadmaking lesson from my brother, who in turn took his lessons from the great book Dough by Richard Bertinet. I’ve been on a breadmaking hiatus while on a yeast free diet, but to celebrate the return of bread there’s nothing like a new recipe.

And it turned out great. I didn’t get as much rise as I’d wanted, so I was feeling pretty pessimistic when I put it in the oven, but it still came out crusty, chewy, light and delicious. I have another batch already fermenting in the kitchen 🙂

I halved the recipe successfully, and definitely think the secret is in the steaming in the Dutch Oven, which I will have to also try with regular kneaded bread. Much easier than pantsing around with spray bottles and bowls of water in the oven

So, wedding cake decisions for a baking fan like me are not taken lightly. D-man of course immediately vouched for chocolate mud. Not at all surprising, and so zzzzzz. I’ve never gone crazy over chocolate cake.

So, even though I know the feasibility of making my own wedding cake is extremely low and a high risk venture into crazy town on the crucial lead up days to the wedding, I can’t stomach the idea of paying someone $400-800 for a cake I can do myself. The design (not being discussed here, a lady must have some secrets) is quite simple, so if I’m not paying for amazing tasting cake I ain’t paying.

So, after much deliberation, “my” layer of the cake will be a coconut raspberry cake. It needs to have:

  • a dense, moist crumb
  • nice coconutty texture, that doesn’t stick in your teeth
  • to improve with maturation- if I’m making it myself I can’t do it on the day
  • and it needs to be UTTERLY DELICIOUS!

So, I started with this recipe for ‘Southern Style’ Coconut Cake

Adaptions: I halved the ingredients, seeing as I don’t need a full cake for these tasters. I added some coconut essence and a cup of frozen raspberries tossed in flour stirred through last thing before being placed in the pan.

Verdict: Meh.

It was an ok cake, a bit bland with not much texture or coconut flavour. The coconut milk I think weighed it down, and absorbed the sweetness of the sugar and the zing of the raspberries.

On the up side, tossing the squishy defrosted raspberries in flour worked well in containing juice bleed in the mix. And this was the first time I’d used my Wiltshire adjustable cake ring and it worked a treat. With this little gem you can make a deep cake from 16cm to 28cm diameter. I need never buy another round cake tin again.

Next step: Next recipe I will add some lime zest and/or juice to spark the flavours, I’ll use shredded coconut instead of dessicated for more texture. I’ve come across some recipes using almond meal, which is an intriguing combination that will have to be tried.