Caramel & Pear Upside-down Cake

First off, I would like to apologise profusely for my extended hiatus! No, I didn’t hibernate through winter (quite), instead I was on holidays in the Greek Islands and then my time was filled with Birthdays, work & uni assessment.

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However, today I have an absolutely delicious recipe for you; one so good that only moments ago I finished gobbling up a piece and felt I had to share it right away!

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Ingredients (serves 8)
180g  butter
⅝ cup brown sugar (really annoying I know but just do one ½ cup & then half of a ¼ cup)
2 large pears, peeled & quartered (I actually used 4 small pears)
¾ cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
¾ cup almond meal
1 cup self-raising flour
⅜ cups milk (again, super weird but it works!!)

Method
Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced) and grease and line a round 23cm springform cake tin.

Melt 60g of the butter in a small saucepan and then stir in brown sugar over a low heat until combined.

Pour the caramel mixture into the base of your prepared tin.

Arrange your pears on the caramel any way you like with the curved side down. I didn’t really make mine look pretty but if I wanted to impress, I would cut my pears more thinly and arrange them in a fan-like pattern.

Using electric beaters, cream the butter and sugar. Once combined, add eggs, almond meal and spices and beat until combined. Finally, add flour and milk and beat until just combined.

Pour the batter over your pears and bake in the oven for between 50-60 minutes (until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean).

Allow the cake to sit in the tin for around 15 minutes before turning out.

Serve with cream or ice-cream and a dusting of icing sugar if desired.IMG_9086

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Recipe adapted from ‘Caramel pear cake’ on BestRecipes.com.au

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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Watermelon Cupcakes

These cupcakes are very kitschy (but cute!) and are a real favourite with young children. They’re also very simple to make and are perfect for a child to take to school and share with their classmates on their birthday.

*Note: the shade of green of the frosting was actually much deeper than it appears in these photos*

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Ingredients (makes approx. 24 cupcakes)
Cupcakes
2 ¾ cups plain flour
2 tspns baking powder
200g unsalted butter, softened
1 ¾ cups caster sugar
4 eggs
1 tblspn vanilla extract
1 cup milk
1 cup mini dark chocolate chips
Pink food colouring

Frosting
100g butter, softened
¼ cup milk
½ tblspn vanilla extract
4 cups icing sugar
Green food colouring
**Optional – extract from melted watermelon flavoured Jelly Belly jelly beans (or equivalent)

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

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). Add in the food colouring and gently stir through the chocolate chips.

Spoon mixture into the patty pans (filling each about 3/4 full).

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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. 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. Add a few drops of green food colouring (& watermelon flavouring if desired) and beat until combined.

Spread each cupcake with a generous layer of frosting. Enjoy!

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Adapted from the Crabapple Cupcake Baker’s Vanilla Cupcakes & Vanilla Buttercream recipes. Watermelon cake inspiration from Pinterest!

Chocolate Praline Cake

This has been my favourite cake for as long as I can remember. A rich, fudgy brownie-like base topped with a crunchy, sweet praline topping – what more could you want? I love serving this with fresh raspberries and double cream.

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Ingredients
Cake
180g butter, chopped
200g dark chocolate melts
3 eggs
250g caster sugar
200g ground almonds
50g plain flour

Praline Topping
100g butter
100g caster sugar
1 ½  tblspns golden syrup
60g flaked almonds

Method
Melt butter & chocolate in a microwave or double boiler, stir until smooth.

Beat eggs and sugar until creamy and changed in colour.

Add chocolate mixture to egg mixture and stir to combine.

Fold sifted almond meal and flour into mixture and mix well.

Pour mixture into a greased and based-lined 19x29cm rectangular slice pan & spread evenly. Bake at 175°C for 30mins then cool in tin.

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For the topping, combine all ingredients in a small saucepan, boil for 2 mins. Spread topping over cake.

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Bake at 175°C for a further 10-15 mins or until topping golden brown. Cool in tin (topping will harden on cooling).

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Cut into desired shape and size and serve with berries and whipped cream.

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Keeps for 5 days in an airtight container.

Adapted from the Australian Gourmet Traveller, November 1996.

Flourless Chocolate Cupcakes

I LOVE this recipe (another adapted from the Crabapple Cupcake Bakery Cookbook). The cupcakes  are dense, dark, rich and suitable for the gluten intolerant. These cupcakes are incredibly versatile and can be decorated however you please (flavoured buttercreams, glace icing, dusted with icing sugar and served with berries, or with fondant icing).

Here I have included a couple of ideas, but don’t feel you have to stick to them!

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Photo courtesy of the Australian Women’s Weekly Cupcakes By Colour Cookbook.

Ingredients (makes approx. 30 cupcakes)
350g butter
450g dark cooking chocolate, chopped
2 ½ cups caster sugar
1 ½ cups almond meal
2 cups cocoa
10 eggs
2 tspns vanilla extract

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Method
Preheat oven to 140°C. Line 3 12-hole muffin trays with patty pans (about 30).

Combine butter, chocolate and sugar in a heavy-based saucepan over a low heat. Mix continuously until melted and smooth.

Sift the almond meal and cocoa into a large bowl. Add the chocolate mixture and beat for 1min on a low speed.

Add eggs two at a time, beating after each addition until combined. Add vanilla and beat until combined.

Divide mixture evenly between patty pans (filling each about 3/4 full) and then bake for  30mins or until a fine skewer inserted comes out clean. Remove from the tray and let cupcakes cool on a wire rack completely before icing and decorating. Enjoy!

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Adapted from Jennifer Graham’s ‘John’s Baci birthday cupcakes’ in The Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook.