#birthdaycakegoals & My Baking Inspiration

I intended to do this as a Mother’s Day tribute… then to post it around my Birthday… but this year has got away from me, and it has only been this weekend while sorting through old photos that this post has been able to become a reality.

A lot of people ask me where I get my motivation to bake from and how I can be bothered to take the time necessary to make my creations look good. Well, the answer is simple: my Mum is my biggest baking inspiration, and I attribute much of my motivation to her exquisite birthday cake creations over the years which are a feast for the eyes as much as for the tastebuds.

While I agree that it’s the taste of the food that counts the most, I think we “eat with our eyes” (to borrow an old MasterChef cliché) and how food is presented really does matter, as it can enhance or detract from the whole experience. I also really enjoy the challenge and creativity involved in making my food look as good as I can and find it as, if not more, fulfilling than eating the end product!

Without further ado, I present to you a small selection of Mum’s finest cakes from my childhood, the very creations that inspired my love of baking (please excuse the 90s-00s photo quality):

Hand made figurines for my Peter Rabbit themed 4th Birthday party.

thumb_img_4064_1024Bananas in Pyjamas cakes for my sister Laura’s 2nd Birthday

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My gorgeous 1st Birthday cake 

thumb_img_4073_1024A beautiful fairytale castle cake for Laura’s 4th Birthday 

thumb_img_4062_1024An Ariel cake for my mermaid-themed 5th Birthday party

thumb_img_4068_1024A sleeping dragon cake for my magical 7th Birthday party 

thumb_img_4038_1024A Johnson cake (from Johnson and Friends) for my 3rd birthday 

thumb_img_4075_1024A ‘Forever Friends’ cake for Laura’s 5th Birthday

thumb_img_4106_1024The cake for my 10th Birthday ten-pin bowling party

thumb_img_4104_1024A Shirley Barber inspired fairy cake for my 6th Birthday party

thumb_img_4096_1024A ‘Spot the Dog’ cake for Laura’s 1st Birthday 

thumb_img_4101_1024My 2nd Birthday cake 

thumb_img_4082_1024Laura’s 7th Birthday ballerina cake 

Mum, you’re a superstar! Thank you for the all the incredible memories from my childhood and for putting so much effort in to make each and every birthday feel so special. You’re the very definition of #Mumgoals – I love you so so much xx

Peanut Butter, Caramel & Chocolate Drip Cake

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This cake is highly over-the-top, but highly delicious. 3 layers of rich dark chocolate cake slathered in salted caramel sauce and peanut butter frosting, draped in chocolate ganache and topped with all things good: honeycomb, caramel macarons, peanut brittle, maltesers, snickers pods, jersey caramels and caramel popcorn.

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Ingredients (serves 16)
Chocolate Layer Cake
2 boxes dark chocolate cake ( I used Betty Crocker moist devil’s food cake)

Salted Caramel Filling 

Peanut Butter Frosting
1 ½ cups smooth peanut butter
375g butter, softened
6 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 cups icing sugar
3 tablespoons milk

Dark Chocolate Ganache
170g dark chocolate melts
¾ cup cream
1 ½ teaspoons corn syrup

Toppings
1 x packet Snickers pods
1 x packet caramel popcorn
1 x packet jersey caramels (halved diagonally)
1 x packet peanut brittle
1 x packet Maltesers
Salted caramel macarons (optional)
Honeycomb

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Method
Make 4 cakes, according to packet instructions, by halving the batter from each cake mix. Carefully trim cooked cakes where necessary to ensure they are perfectly flat, and use the best 3 (freeze the 4th for another time, or add a 4th layer if you really want to impress).

To make the frosting, beat peanut butter and butter until smooth. Add vanilla and slowly add the icing sugar. Add the milk and beat until just combined.

Spread a generous layer of frosting onto the bottom cake layer, and then top with caramel filling. Repeat with the remaining layer/s.

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Spread frosting onto the top and sides of the cake – don’t worry if you get crumbs in it, this is called the crumb coat. Using a spatula or protractor (as I did!), scrape off excess frosting so you have a thin smooth layer.

Refrigerate cake for 30 minutes or until frosting is firm. Add a second layer of frosting onto the top and sides of cake, using the protractor again to scrape off the excess and create a smooth finish. Refrigerate for a further 30 minutes.

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Place chocolate melts into medium bowl and set aside. Heat cream in a saucepan over medium-high heat just until it almost starts to simmer. Remove from heat and pour over chocolate. Let sit for about 5 minutes and then stir with a wooden spoon until chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Stir in corn syrup.

Use a spoon to add a few purposeful drips over the top edge of the cake. Then spoon more ganache on top of the cake, allowing it to drip at varying points around the cake.

Top cake with honeycomb, caramel popcorn, maltesers, jersey caramels, pods and macarons. Enjoy!

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Salted Caramel Cupcakes

I made these cupcakes for a colleague’s birthday using my favourite vanilla cupcake recipe for the cakes, topped with a generous helping of salted caramel buttercream frosting and then drizzled with some extra caramel. The frosting would be equally good on chocolate cupcakes (like my fudgy flourless chocolate cupcakes or these lighter chocolate cupcakes). To make these even more caramel-y, next time I might scoop out a teaspoon or so of cake from each cooked cupcake and fill it with extra caramel (I don’t like to do things by half, okay?!)

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Ingredients (makes ~30 large cupcakes)
Salted Caramel
250g caster sugar
75ml water
120ml pouring cream
200g salted butter

Vanilla Cupcakes
2 ¾ cups plain flour
2 tspns baking powder
200g butter, softened
1 ¾ cups caster sugar
4 eggs
1 tblspn vanilla extract
1 cup milk

Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting 
150g salted butter, softened
3 tablespoons salted caramel
6 cups icing sugar
1 tablespoon milk
Sea salt, to taste

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Method
To make the caramel, heat the sugar and water in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Without stirring much, watch over the sugar until it becomes a light-brown caramel colour (be patient, it does take a little while, but don’t be tempted to leave it as once it colours it colours quickly!)

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Add the pouring cream, little by little, while gently stirring (be careful while it foams up as it can spit).

Once the cream is fully incorporated, keep stirring on the heat for a further minute or two (if you want to be scientific, heat it until it reaches 108°C on a sugar thermometer).

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Remove from the heat and add the butter in small pieces. Stir until smooth and then set aside.

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Preheat the oven to 170°C (150°C-ish fan forced). Line two 12-hole muffin trays with patty pans.

To make the cupcakes, sift together the flour and baking powder. In a different bowl, cream the butter for 1-2 mins. Add the caster sugar about a third at a time, beating for 2mins after each addition. After the last of the sugar has been beaten, beat until the mixture is light and fluffy and the sugar dissolved. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 min after each addition or until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and beat until just combined.

Add approximately a third of the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and beat on a low speed until combined. Add half of the milk and beat until combined. Repeat this process until all of the flour and milk is thoroughly combined but be careful not to overbeat (this will toughen the mixture).

Spoon mixture into the patty pans (filling each about ¾ full) and bake for about 18-20mins or until the top springs back when touched. Remove the cupcakes from the trays immediately and cool on a wire rack for at least half an hour before icing.

To make the frosting, cream the butter for 1-2 mins in a large bowl using an electric mixer. Add 2 tablespoons of the salted caramel, a pinch of salt and half of the icing sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add a further 2 tablespoons of caramel and the remaining icing sugar and beat until combined and of a spreadable consistency – add a splash of milk if too dry, more icing sugar if too wet, and add more salted caramel and salt as required until you’re happy with the flavour.

Add frosting into a piping bag fitted with desired nozzle (I used my Wilton 2B tip) and pipe a generous amount of frosting onto each cupcake. Drizzle each cupcake with the remaining salted caramel (I heated mine again so it was easier to drizzle) and enjoy!

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Salted caramel recipe adapted from ‘Secrets of Macarons’ by José Marechal.

Vanilla cupcake and base buttercream recipes adapted from the Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook.

Peanut Butter ‘Pupcakes’

This may seem like an odd thing to post, but anyone who knows me knows that I’m a very devoted ‘dogmother’ to gorgeous toy cavoodle named Bailey:

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Bailey turned one on Thursday and we hosted a ‘pawty’ for her at a local dog park (check our her invitations below!!).

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To celebrate the occasion I made a batch of mini ‘pupcakes’ iced with Bailey’s beloved peanut butter. There are a huge number of dog-friendly cupcake recipes out there but this one appealed to me as it’s relatively healthy, refined sugar free & uses ingredients I had on hand.

1x the recipe made 4 large cupcakes & 24 mini cakes. The texture is very dense as the the binding agents are banana & apple sauce, but they certainly passed the puppy taste test! They also don’t brown much in the oven (even when they’re done) as there’s no refined sugar to ‘caramelise’, so insert a skewer to ensure they’re cooked.

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Ingredients
Coconut oil (to grease pans)
1 ½ cups wholemeal flour (or white flour if desired)
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 very ripe banana, mashed
¼ cup unsweetened apple sauce
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 cup water

To decorate
Organic, smooth peanut butter
Small dog biscuits

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One of the pawty guests, GB, enjoying a pupcake
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Bailey eating a pupcake

Method
Preheat oven to 180°C (or 160°C fan-forced). Grease a 24-hole mini muffin tin & 4 holes of a muffin tin, with coconut oil/canola oil.

In a medium bowl, combine flour and baking powder.

In a large bowl, cream the applesauce, banana and maple syrup with electric beaters. Add a quarter of the flour mixture, followed by ¼ cup water and beat until combined. Repeat until all is incorporated.

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Bailey was more than happy to taste test!

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tins, filling the mini muffin trays to very near the top and filling the muffin tins ¾ full.

Bake the mini cakes for 10-15 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Cook the large cupcakes for approximately 25 minutes.

Once cool, “ice” with a thin layer of smooth peanut butter and top with a dog biscuit.

Watch your furry friend enjoy!

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Happy Birthday Bailey!!

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Recipe adapted from a number online; largely from Morsels & Moonshine.

Vanilla Raspberry Layer Cake

Well.. I lied. I completely intended to blog more in the last few weeks (as evidenced by my last post!) but I’ve just been too busy. I had my 21st Birthday to plan, uni assessments galore, the Psychology ball to organise, and now Laura’s 18th is coming up in a couple of weeks. Yikes, I get exhausted just thinking about it all! However, while I haven’t been blogging, I have been baking.

Here is the cake I made for my 21st Birthday afternoon tea – triple layer vanilla cake with a tangy raspberry filling & super glossy meringue frosting, topped with vanilla bean macarons. The raspberry filling was perfect as, otherwise, this cake was going to be too sweet, so I would certainly recommend leaving it (or perhaps substituting it for a tangy lemon curd if you’re not a raspberry fan) to cut the sweetness from the frosting.

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Don’t worry, the empty plates in the background didn’t stay empty!

For my 21st birthday cake, I used 2 packets of Betty Crocker’s SuperMoist Vanilla cake mix, with some extra vanilla added so they tasted more ‘home-made’ divided into 3 20cm lined pans. I did this for 2 main reasons; it saved a lot of time (and time was precious as I had so much other cooking to do!), and because it reliably produces an even, stable, fine-crumbed cake that is easy to work with. If you don’t want to use cake mixes, just make a double batch of your favourite vanilla/butter cake and that will work as well 🙂

The raspberry filling needs to be made at least a day ahead but keeps well in the fridge so can be made up to a week ahead.

I also made the macaron shells a couple of days ahead to save me some stress on the actual party day.

The frosting should be made the day of serving as it does not keep particularly well.

Ingredients

For the raspberry filling (make at least a day ahead)
340g frozen raspberries
⅔ cups water
½ cup white, granulated sugar
1 tblspn lemon juice
2 ½ tblspns cornstarch dissolved in ¼ cup of water

For the cake
2 boxes Betty Crocker’s SuperMoist Vanilla cake mix (made following instructions, so add the eggs, milk, butter etc. as specified by the box)
½ tablespoon vanilla extract

For the meringue frosting
6 egg whites
1 ¾ cups caster sugar
2 tblspns liquid glucose (or light corn syrup)
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the macarons
https://bakerholicsanonymous.wordpress.com/recipes-2/cookies-biscuits-macarons/vanilla-bean-macarons/

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Method
To make the raspberry filling:
In a saucepan combine the raspberries, water, sugar, and lemon juice. Bring to boil and simmer for 15-20mins  or until the raspberries have broken down.
Remove the mixture from the heat and strain with a fine mesh sieve. Return the stained mixture to the heat. Dissolve the cornstarch in water. Whisk the cornstarch mix into the raspberry mixture.
Bring the mixture back to a boil and simmer for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and cool completely.
Refrigerate overnight to set.

To make the cakes: Line & grease 3 20cm cake pans. Set oven to temperature specified by the cake mix boxes. Make cakes according to box instructions, add ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract to each cake mix & divide mixture among the three pans. Bake for specified time, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

To assemble the cake: Carefully place a cake layer on your serving platter. Top with a generous amount of raspberry filling and spread gently using a spatula to make an even layer. Top with another cake layer and repeat. Finally, top with the final cake, ready to be frosted.

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To make the meringue frosting: Add egg whites, sugar, liquid glucose and cream of tartar, and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 54°C on a thermometer (be patient, it does get there eventually!).
Beat heated mixture with electric beaters on a low speed for 2 minutes, then increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 more minutes. Increase the speed to high and beat until it is very thick and glossy, about 5 minutes.
Add vanilla and beat to combine.
Frost cake immediately by piling the frosting on top of the cake and, using a metal spatula, gently spreading from the top down. Smoothe as much as possible with your spatula.

Top with 6 macarons, 3 of each colour and a candle (if desired).

Serve each piece with a macaron & enjoy!

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Elise August 2015 131

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Raspberry filling recipe adapted from: Pinterest (various sources with the same basic recipe)

Meringue frosting recipe adapted from Sweetapolita’s ‘Perfectly Pink Angel Food Cake’ http://sweetapolita.com/2015/05/perfectly-pink-angel-food-cake/

Vanilla Bean Macarons

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I made these particular macarons to sit on top of my 21st birthday cake (and because I think no afternoon tea is complete without them!) Feel free to adapt the colours or flavours as you wish.

Ingredients (makes around 40 macarons, 20 paired)
Macaron shells
225g pure icing sugar
130g almond meal
115g egg whites
60g caster sugar
1g bicarb soda
A few drops of rose pink & violet food colouring

Vanilla bean filling
100g butter, softened
¼ cup milk
½  tblspn organic vanilla bean paste
4 cups icing sugar
Rose pink & violet food colouring

Method
Preheat oven to 150°C fan forced. Grease and line two large baking trays with baking paper.

Separately sift icing sugar and almond meal into medium bowls or over sheets of baking paper. Repeat process 3 times and re-weigh ingredients (I know this seems excessive but trust me, it’s worth it). You will need to top up the ingredients as you may have lost some in the sifting process. Sift icing sugar and almond meal into a bowl and repeat, ensure there are no lumps.

Whisk egg whites until doubled in size using electric beaters or an electric stand mixer. While still whisking, gradually add caster sugar and bicarb, whisking until mixture forms very stiff peaks.

Gently fold almond meal mixture into meringue using a spatula until incorporated.

Divide mixture into 2 bowls. Add food colouring (pink to one, purple to the other) one drop at time, stirring very gently with a spatula, until desired colour reached.

Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a 9mm round nozzle (approximately). Hold nozzle close to the baking tray and pipe 3cm diameter circles onto prepared trays – don’t make a circular motion àla soft serve. Tap the underside of the tray to allow macarons to settle and air bubbles to escape. If there is still a little peak on top, dip a teaspoon in water and use the back to smooth the surface. Repeat with other colour. 217929_10151403883896183_1104201680_n

Leave to rest for at least 20-30 minutes or until the macarons form a skin and the top is no longer shiny or sticky to the touch (this is VERY important as it will give your macaron its lovely ‘foot’).

Bake for 12 minutes. Remove trays from the oven and allow macarons to cool on the tray. They will still be soft at this stage but will firm up on cooling.

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To make the buttercream, cream the butter for 1-2 mins. Add the milk, vanilla and half of the icing sugar and beat for at least 3 mins (until the mixture is light and fluffy).

Add the remaining icing sugar and beat for a further 3 mins or until of a spreadable consistency. Add extra milk if too dry or extra icing sugar if too wet.

Halve the mixture and add a drop of rose food colouring to one half and a drop of violet colouring to the other.

Pipe a generous amount of buttercream onto half the macarons and sandwich with a second macaron.

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Recipe adapted from Callum Hann’s ginger macarons

Giant Vanilla Cupcake

I haven’t made a giant cupcake for about 18 months but I’m so glad I found my giant cupcake cases again because they’re so much fun to make (and eat!) They’re also really easily adaptable as you can make them any flavour you like and decorate them in a million different ways. This time I’ve used buttercream roses but you could ice it as simply (or complexly) as you like – there’s a link to my fondant ‘soft serve’ icing instructions at the bottom of the page.image1-16

Ingredients (serves 10-12):
Cake
375g butter, softened
375g caster sugar
6 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
375g self-raising flour
3 tablespoons milk

Cupcake Case
375g white chocolate melts or Wilton candy melts

Buttercream icing
250g butter, softened
800g icing sugar
1 ½ tablespoons vanilla extract
4 tablespoons of milk
Food colouring

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Method
Spray silicone giant cupcake pan liberally with canola oil and preheat oven to 160°C fan-forced.

Cream together butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add in vanilla and then eggs, one at a time, ensuring that each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next. Add in half of the flour followed by two tablespoons of the milk, and then add remaining flour and milk. Mix until just combined.

Fill the giant cupcake pans, starting with the cupcake top. Fill until approximately 2cm shy of the top of the pan. Then fill the bottom pan with the remaining batter.

Bake in the oven for between 40-70 minutes, checking regularly. Note: the cupcake top will bake faster than the bottom so take it out before the bottom is done. The cake is ready when a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Leave cakes in their pans for at least 20 minutes before gently peeling the silicone off and allowing the cakes to cool completely on a cooling rack.

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Image credit: The Pink Whisk

While the cakes are cooling, wash and dry the bottom cupcake pan ready to make the cupcake case. Melt half the chocolate/candy melts and pour into the bottom cupcake pan. Spread evenly up the sides using a pastry brush. Refrigerate for 20 minutes and then repeat with the remaining melts. Refrigerate for 30 minutes and then gently peel off the silicone mould.

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Image credit: She Who Bakes
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Image credit: She Who Bakes
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Image credit: She Who Bakes

Using a serrated bread knife, trim around bottom cake so all crunchy edges are removed. Level top (of base) and then cut base in half. Cut off bottom layer off top piece. Level base (of top).

Make buttercream by beating all ingredients but the food colouring until light and fluffy. Set half aside for the crumb coat, and then add the food colouring to the remaining buttercream.

Put a 1cm thick coating of the uncoloured buttercream between 2 bottom layers of cake and then between the base and top (ensure level – cut if necessary). Then put a thin layer of buttercream on the inside of the chocolate case and gently ease cake into it. Cover top of cake liberally with buttercream to form a protective barrier against crumbs.

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Put the coloured buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a Wilton 2D nozzle (to make roses) or equivalent, and pipe icing in a rose swirl pattern, starting from the bottom of the cake and working your way up.

Decorate with icing flowers, sprinkles, silver cachous, glitter… basically whatever you like!

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Alternatively, if you’d prefer a soft-serve, fondant look. Halve the buttercream recipe to only make the crumb coat & then follow these directions: https://bakerholicsanonymous.wordpress.com/recipes-2/cakes/giant-cupcake/

Recipe adapted from ‘Vanilla Giant Cupcake Recipe’ by The Pink Whisk

Celebration Sponge Cake

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I made this sponge cake over the weekend for my Grandma’s 80th Birthday. I really wanted to make something special as it is widely accepted that my Grandma is one of the most amazing humans on the planet (really, she’s exceptional). This cake looked amazing, tasted delicious and is very adaptable – you can use any fruit that’s in season to put on top, and fill it with anything you like. If I was in a rush I would even be inclined to buy a sponge cake, cut in half and decorate it to get the effect with minimal time and effort.

Ingredients
For the sponge: 
3 eggs, separated
1 cup caster sugar
½ cup cold water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup plain flour
1 tbsp cornflour

For the sweetened, thickened cream:
500ml thickened cream
Icing sugar (to taste)
Vanilla extract (to taste)

For the jam: https://bakerholicsanonymous.wordpress.com/recipes-2/frostings-icing-condiments/raspberry-jam/, alternatively you can use store bought (but it is likely to be sweeter)

For decorating: 
2 punnets fresh strawberries
1 punnet fresh raspberries
1 punnet fresh blueberries
1 pomegranate
Fresh mint

For the macarons: https://bakerholicsanonymous.wordpress.com/recipes-2/cookies-biscuits-macarons/raspberry-macarons/ (with the raspberry jam to sandwich)

Method
Make the raspberry jam according to instructions.

If desired, make the macarons according to instructions. Sandwich with some of the jam.

For the sponge: 

Preheat oven to 160°C (fan-forced). Grease two 20cm round, shallow tins and line the bases with baking paper.

Use electric beaters to beat the egg yolks, sugar, water, and vanilla for approximately 10 minutes, until very pale and thick. Wash the beaters and then, in a separate bowl, beat the egg whites and baking powder until stiff peaks form.

Fold the sifted flours into the yolk mixture and then gently mix in the egg whites.

Divide evenly between the tins and bake for 20 minutes or until springy in the centre and the cake has come away from the sides of the tins.

Gently turn cakes, face up, onto wire cooling racks with clean tea towels on them (this stops the wire from denting your cakes). Leave to cool entirely.

For the Cream

Add cream, icing sugar (to taste) and vanilla extract (to taste) into a large stick blender/master container (or bowl) and blend until the cream is very thick.

To Assemble 

Lay one of your sponges top-down on your serving platter.

Spread with raspberry jam (or desired filling).

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Spread a generous layer of whipped cream on top.

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Top with strawberry slices, chopped evenly.

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Gently place the other sponge, top-side up onto the cake.

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Top liberally with cream and spread it evenly, right out to the edge (but not down the edge, you still want to see the cake).

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Top with fruit and mint leaves (the more the better often for aesthetics – and flavour!) And, if desired, place macarons with a blob of cream and a raspberry on top, evenly around the cake.

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Enjoy!

Recipe from Grandma

Giant Chocolate Cupcake

I love giant cupcakes. They’re so much fun to make, decorate and, more importantly, to eat. This recipe is for quite an intricate giant cupcake but it is easily adaptable – if you don’t want the bother of working with fondant you can just double the buttercream and ice the cake with that. The cupcake case is also optional (but I think makes the end product look so much more professional). Of course, you could also make the cake batter from scratch but do keep in mind that it is quite a time-consuming process already and the box mixes are relatively stable and so good for cutting and shaping.

The cupcake easily serves 10 adults and would be perfect for a kid’s party serving up to 20 children who have eaten other party food.

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Equipment
Silicone giant cupcake kit
Turntable
Serving plate
Pastry brush

Ingredients
Wilton candy melts
2 boxes chocolate mud cake mix

400g sifted icing sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk
2 tspns vanilla extract
125g unsalted butter

White fondant icing
Blue food colouring
Red food colouring
Yellow food colouring
Large sprinkles (pre-made using fondant)
1 red gumboil

Method
Make cupcake case by pouring a small amount of melted melts into the silicone bottom case and, using a pastry brush, spreading it until the entire inside of the case is thinly coated. Refrigerate for 20mins and repeat. To remove from silicone once completely set, loosen by pulling  & pinching edges away from the chocolate & then gently peel down the sides of the mould.

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Make cake according to packet instructions and fill greased (spray oil) cases 2/3 full. Bake in moderate oven (175°C) for 40-70 mins (bottom will need longer than top) or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave in silicone moulds for at least half an hour or until cool. Then carefully peel off silicone, ensuring the cake is supported at all times.

Using a serrated bread knife, trim around bottom cake so all crunchy edges are removed. Level top (of base) and then cut base in half. Cut off bottom layer off top piece. Level base (of top).

Make buttercream by beating ingredients until light and fluffy.

Put a 1cm thick coating of buttercream between 2 bottom layers of cake and then between the base and top (ensure level – cut if necessary). Then put a thin layer of buttercream on the inside of the chocolate case and gently ease cake into it.

Cover top of cake liberally with buttercream to form a protective barrier against crumbs.

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Transfer cake onto a cake board on a turntable. Make a thin sausage out of white fondant (or a thick one for a really cartoon-ish soft serve effect) and put on cake in a spiral manner to achieve a ‘soft serve effect’ in the end.

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Roll out fondant until thin & large enough to cover top of cake and gently place on the cake. Gently massage fondant onto cake, hugging the curves & taking particular care not to pleat the fondant. Cut off excess if necessary and tuck the bottom up so all buttercream is concealed. Decorate with giant “sprinkles” made from red, yellow & blue fondant icing and place the gumball as a cherry on top.

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Pigs in Mud Cake

I’ve admired this cake on Pinterest for a while now and so when I was asked to make a cake for my Aunt’s birthday a few weeks back, it seemed the perfect choice. It’s very easy to make (and could be made even easier by using a packet cake) but is memorable and super cute so is excellent if you’re short of time (or patience) like I am. It would also be very popular at a children’s birthday party or as a present for a friend with a sense of humour!

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Ingredients (serves 8-10)
Cake
1 cup water
1 ½ cups caster sugar
125g butter, chopped
20g cocoa powder
½ teaspoon bicarb soda
1 ½ cups self-raising flour
2 eggs

Frosting
90g butter, chopped
⅓ cup water
½ cup caster sugar
1 ½ cups icing sugar
⅓ cup cocoa powder

Chocolate Ganache
400g dark chocolate
200ml cream

Decorations
4 large blocks of Kit-Kats
Pink ribbon
White fondant icing
Flesh/coral food colouring
Green buttercream (if desired)
Sugar flowers (if desired)

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Method
To make the cake: preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan-forced. Grease and line a 20cm round cake pan.

Combine the water, sugar, butter & sifted cocoa and soda in a small saucepan; stir over heat, without boiling, until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil then reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes. Transfer mixture to medium bowl; cool to room temperature.

Add flour and eggs to bowl; beat with electric mixer until smooth and pale in colour. Pour into pan and bake about 25-30mins (check regularly from 15 mins as ovens vary considerably).

Stand cake in pan 10 mins before turning, top-side up, onto wire rack to cool.

To make frosting: combine butter, water and caster sugar in a small saucepan; stir over low heat, without boiling, until sugar dissolves. Sift icing sugar and cocoa in small bowls then gradually stir in hot butter mixture. Cover, refrigerate until frosting thickens. Beat with a wooden spoon until spreadable.

Break Kit-Kats into pairs (be careful as they can break easily) and get out serving dish/cake board.

Once cake is completely cool, cut carefully in half and level the top. “Glue” bottom of cake to serving dish/cake board with a little bit of frosting. Sandwich cakes with a generous amount of frosting and then coat the sides and top with the remaining frosting.

Working quickly, place the Kit Kats around the edge of the cake until the cake is completely surrounded. This will act as the “fence” of the pig pen. Tie the ribbon around it to fasten.

To make the ganache, gently heat chocolate and cream in a saucepan and stir until melted and combined. Put in fridge to cool.

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Meanwhile, colour modelling fondant (I use Orchard) with coral/flesh colour until desired pig colour reached. First I made the three little bottoms by making little balls, making the butt crack using a skewer and making a little hole to place a tail. To make the tails, make a thin worm shape, twist it so it looks like a corkscrew and attach using a tiny bit of water.  Then make two bellies with holes for belly buttons and two faces which are made by one ball with a smaller ball on top for a snout, holes for eyes and nostrils, and little triangles for ears. Faces which are one ball with a smaller ball for a snout and little triangles for ears. Finally, make four little trotters for the floating pig and arms ending in trotters for the sitting pig (it’s really a trial and error process, keep trying until you’re happy with the shapes and proportions).

Remove the ribbon from the Kit Kats once they are firmly attached to the sides of the cake (so it doesn’t get dirty in this process), and carefully pour ganache onto the top of the cake to make the mud. While still soft, position pigs as desired and make ‘ripples’ using the back of a teaspoon.

Refrigerate until ganache is firm. Then return ribbon to place, add buttercream “grass” and sugar flowers if desired, and serve. Enjoy!

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Cake recipe from Women’s Weekly Classic Cakes (as Family Chocolate Cake), inspiration from various pinterest posts.