Thursday, January 27, 2011

Daring baker is back!

I was determined to continue with the Daring Bakers, they offer me a wonderful opportunity to try recipes I wouldnt normally, and to vary my techniques. When I saw this months challenge, I was determined to fit it into my insane schedule!

I kept things simple, using a chocolate batter as my decoration for the sponge, and using a stencil helped me to keep things easy but to get a polished looking cake. The chocolate batter was spread through a stencil onto a silpat on a half sheet pan.

As you can see, I ended up with two layers of sponge. I shouldnt have scrimped on the sponge, I should have baked a thicker layer, that way I would have filled the mould(or in my case, springform pan!). This also created problems later when I unmoulded, the outside layer of cake kept trying to peel off.
I had a base layer of cake, then I made a layer of whipped chocolate ganache (this was actually left over truffle mixture, which I added 1 part to 1 part of boiling cream, chilled then whipped. I added a further layer of sponge, then topped with more of the truffle mixture diluted with 1/4 part cream to 1 part truffle. It made a delicious cake, everyone was bowled over by the stylish pattern and the flavors. I'll definitely be playing with this idea in the future!!

If you do try this recipe, bear in mind that I used the same amount of jaconde batter, but divided the decoration batter by 5, and still had extra!!

I also get to show off my new super modern cake stand that my dear husband bought for me this christmas, bless him.

Please visit to see everyone's wonderful cakes, and for the recipe!

The January 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Astheroshe of the blog accro. She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Joconde Imprime to wrap around an Entremets dessert.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Luck? Do I need luck?

Got my jersey ready, I'm trying to have an easy day and this time tomorrow I'll be celebrating having run a half marathon! Everyone says that the Carlsbad Half Marathon is the best ever, so hopefully that is true! The weather is certainly going to be wonderful.

Wish me luck! I'm guessing it will be fine, I've done the training and the 12 mile went well, I wont be winning any medals, apart from the great one that the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society give us!

I'm running for lots of people this time, I'll be thinking about a dear friend, Skip Gleavey, I'll be thinking about a 3 year old little boy that one of my team mates is running for, and I'll be thinking of a friend of ours who has Hodgins Lymphoma and appears to be responding well to chemotherapy.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Foray into gardening!

One big project in our new house is getting the garden sorted. We've inherited a pretty normal San Diego garden, with lawns both front and back.

We allowed those to die back in the summer, so they are mostly weeds, and we're looking for ideas for a replacement. I'd like a succulent garden at the front, and at the back, we'll probably have a deck, and then some terracing with fruits and veggies.

One fantastic resource we have is the Cuyumaca Low Water Garden. Its a beautiful place to visit, with lots of fun activities for kiddies, and a wealth of information on how to create a low water garden.

There are sections explaining how to create rain and waste water collection systems, and on how to irrigate most efficiently, and even advice on lawns, if you insist on having one.

I liked the ideas about vegetable gardens. I know there are tons of bunnies here, so we'll need to have enclosed veggies to stop them nibbling my lettuces! They had a really nice raised bed with a little chicken wire enclosure.

The shop was closed when we visited, but the nursery was open, I saw lots of very reasonably priced plants for sale, we'll be returning in the future to check out the shop and to get more ideas as we embark on our landscaping projects!

I'd highly recommend a visit if you're thinking of changing your garden for some more water-wise choices for your garden.
There are also lots of lessons to help you with your green fingers!

Friday, January 14, 2011

German Chocolate Cake

When I found out that my coworkers favorite cake is german chocolate cake, I thought it would be fun to make my own spin on it!
I've made this cake before, but I found the cake to be a little dry, and the filling very sweet and gloopy. So I decided to use the basic flavor ideas but change things a bit. In the process, I think I made the recipe a little easier!
Instead of making a custard with egg yolks, I just stirred cream, nuts and coconut into dulce de leche. I think this was still sweet, but it was tempered a little with the toastiness of the nuts and the caramel of the dulce de leche.
I used the luscious chocolate cake from Elise Strauss' Confetti Cakes
German Chocolate Cake
9 inch chocolate cake, divided between two cake tins, and torted (to get 4 layers).
I tin of dulce de leche (I just boil 3 tins of condensed milk for 3 hours in a saucepan)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup coconut
1 cup pecans
Chocolate buttercream
Chop the pecans, toast for around 5 mins, then add the coconut and toast for a further 5 mins. Watch like a hawk!
Heat the dulce de leche and heavy cream in a saucepan and stir until combined. Add in the chopped pecans and coconut. While this mixture is still warm, pipe a 'dam' of chocolate icing, then spread a layer of the mixture inside the dam.
Add a layer of cake, and build up until you have all 4 layers, topping with the remainder of the nut mixture.
Spread the sides with chocolate buttercream then pipe around the outside to clean up the look of the cake.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Happy New Year!

I'm not doing a new years slew of resolutions, but I am trying hard just to cut myself some slack. I'm hoping to make this the year of not feeling guilty all the time, and of trying to make my life more joyful.

Looking back on the year that has passed, I've learned so much, and done so much and although things didnt quite go as planned, it was a great year.

We hoped we'd sell our house and downsize into a house in a quieter community. The downsizing happened, my husband did a fantastic job, and is still working on making our home exactly as we want it. We like the new neighbourhood, the flatter streets have got me to try something new, running. I'm hoping to finish a half marathon in January, which should be interesting!

I was lucky enough to make two trips to Australia to spend time with my family and my dear niece, Poppy. She's growing up so quickly and is just such a pleasure to spend time with.

As you can tell from the photos, there were lots of cakes. My friends pushed me to new limits, making cars, hats, garbage trucks and all kinds of crazy constructions out of cake! I've learned so much, and I think I've got something that I can produce consistently enough to sell, I just need to finish getting all the structure for a business in place so that I can make sure that I am able to sell my cakes on a part time basis. If you want to keep up with the cakes and my news then be sure to 'like' my page on facebook, although I'm sure I'll have more news here!

Meanwhile, I've been lucky enough to take classes with a friend and wonderful sugar artist, Jacqueline, from petalsweet cakes, who has taught me to make gardenias and peonies, and given me a lot more confidence to construct interesting things from sugar.

It was an enormous pleasure to be involved in making cakes for a dear family who I have known for a while, they had a hawaiian themed wedding and I was really happy with how their display came out.

I also dipped my toes into some catering work, with a large 'farm to table' dinner where I was responsible for the desserts. I had a lot of fun, but it was extremely exhausting. I learned a lot though, and a future event like this might not be so daunting.

I also flew home for a dear friend's wedding, it was a wonderful occasion and I was so happy to be able to make their cake for them.

We finally moved into our new house and I got to enjoy this wonderful new kitchen. The house isnt really finished yet, but its great, and we're really happy here. We still have to put the tiles up for the backsplash but so far its been a pleasure to work in.

I had a lot of fun constructing this 'mountain' cake in November, another daunting task, but it was a fun one, and I thought the bride and groom's matching backpacks made a really cute topper!

I was also lucky enough to make this simple cake for some dear friends. This is very simple but I love the design.

The year ended with a last trip to australia and a really fun birthday cake, expertly baked by my mum, with a little help from Poppy!

Here's to lots of fun in 2011!