Cream Tart Number Cake

I love the look of these number cakes (also known as cream tarts or alphabet cakes) that are all over Instagram and was thrilled when my sister asked me to make her one for her 21st Birthday.

While they’re a bit fiddly to make and decorate, I was surprised by how quick they are to make; largely as they take so little time to bake in the oven. I also love how customisable they are – you can use any letters or numbers you choose, pick your decoration colour scheme, and change the flavour of the filling to taste. I went with a traditional almond biscuit with a vanilla custard filling and decorated with strawberries and pink and white flowers, meringues and macarons.

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Ingredients (makes two A3-sized number cakes, serves approx. 20)
Pâte Sablée (biscuit layers)
– 225g butter, room temperature
– ½ cup icing sugar
– 1 egg
– 2¼ cups flour
– 1 cup almond meal
– 1 teaspoon almond essence
– 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Vanilla Custard Filling
– 6 cups thickened cream
– 3 100g packets Cottee’s Instant Vanilla Pudding mixes
– 1 cup icing sugar
– 3 teaspoons vanilla essence

Other
– Cut out A3 sized numbers (I used a 1 and a 2 stretched to fill an A3 page each in bolded Arial Black font)
– Extra large square silver cake board
– Fresh, pesticide-free flowers
Macarons
– Meringues
– Sugar flowers
– Strawberries (halved)

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  1. To make the biscuit layers, place all pâte sablée ingredients into a food processor and blitz until combined.
  2. Remove the dough from the processor and knead gently for 30 seconds until smooth. Halve the dough, press each into a disc shape, cover in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Pre-heat oven to 180ºC.
  4. Roll one of the pieces of dough between two pieces of baking paper until it’s big enough for your number template (approx. 5-6 mm thick). Carefully cut out the first number from the dough, keeping the excess pieces. Place onto a baking tray lined with baking paper.
  5. Repeat with the same number and the excess dough (remember that you need two of each number).
  6. Bake the two biscuits for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool completely before VERY gently transferring one of the biscuits onto to the silver cake board and setting the other aside.
  7. Take out the second half of the dough from the refrigerator and repeat steps 4-6 for the second number.
  8. To make the vanilla filling, whip the cream in a large bowl with an electric mixer until peaks form. Alternately add the pudding mix and the icing sugar while beating, until the filling is combined and very thick.
  9. Spoon the filling into a piping bag with a medium-sized round nozzle and pipe even dollops in rows on each number (as below) IMG_9951
  10. Gently sandwich the biscuit pairs on top of the filling and repeat step 9.
  11. Decorate with flowers, macarons and meringues.
  12. Enjoy!

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Notes:

  • The biscuits can be made the day ahead and kept in an airtight container, but don’t pipe the filling or assemble the cake until the day of serving.
  • If any of your biscuits break, don’t panic, simply ‘glue’ the biscuit back together with some of the vanilla filling prior to piping the filling on top and decorating – no-one will ever know!
  • Can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days but the biscuit layers will go soft.

Biscuit recipe adapted from ‘Cream Tart’ recipe on Home Cooking Adventure.com

Vanilla filling recipe adapted from ‘The Best Whipped Cream Frosting’ on Two Sisters Crafting.com

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Grandma’s Scones

Does anything beat scones with jam and cream and tea in the sunshine? (Answer: no).

Scones are very simple to make but tend to be saved for ‘fancy’ occasions like high-tea in my house. Well, no more. I vow to make more of these versatile beauties because, regardless of occasion, there’s something supremely satisfying about a eating a fluffy scone smothered in jam (ideally homemade) and a dollop of whipped cream.

Oh and obviously it’s pronounced scone, rhyming with “John” not “Joan”.

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Ingredients (makes 18)
2 cups self-raising flour (+ extra for dusting)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1½ tablespoons caster sugar
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 eggs

Method
Preheat oven to 230-240°C (210-220°C fan-forced).

Beat eggs together in a small bowl.  Add lemon juice to milk in order to sour it (don’t worry if it gets a bit lumpy).

Sift flour into a large bowl, add sugar and then gently mix in eggs, soured milk and butter until just combined.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently until it just comes together. Gently form into a disc 3-4cm thick. Use a 5cm-diameter round cutter dipped in flour to cut out scones (re-flouring between each scone). Arrange scones on a large oven tray lighted dusted with flour.

Bake scones for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Turn scones out onto a clean tea towel and cover with another tea towel.

Serve scones warm or at room temperature with jam and sweetened whipped cream.

NB: best eaten fresh on the day they’re made as they dry out quickly.

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Recipe adapted from Grandma, Margaret Payne, via Mum ♥

Pavlova Wreath

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I made this pavlova wreath for a friend’s Christmas in July themed Birthday lunch. It’s a great, light way to finish a meal (perfect after a rich Christmas feast!) and looks festive without being kitsch. It’s great for Christmas Day as you can make and decorate it well ahead of time, giving you more time to focus on the main course and mingle with guests.

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Ingredients (serves 10-12)
6 large free-range egg whites
350g caster sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon cornflour

For the topping
600ml cream
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
½ – 1 tablespoon icing sugar (to taste)
2 punnets of strawberries
⅔ punnet of raspberries
½ punnet of blueberries
½ punnet blackberries
Mint leaves (optional)

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Method
Preheat oven to 160°C (140°C fan-forced). Line a large baking tray (or round pizza tray as I used) with baking paper and draw a 30cm circle in the centre.

Whisk egg whites with an electric mixer in a large, clean bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar a little at a time, whisking on maximum speed until stiff and glossy. Once all of the sugar has been added, continue mixing for 10 minutes or until all of the sugar has been dissolved (test this by rubbing the meringue mixture between your fingertips and ensuring it is smooth). Mix the vinegar and cornflour in a cup and stir it into the egg whites.

Spoon dollops of meringue mixture onto the prepared circle on the baking paper as below:5xNnVspLSUuZc9DoPgiObg_thumb_d68

Transfer to the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 140°C (120°C fan-forced). Bake the pavlova for 1 hour–1 ¼ hours, until the outside is hard but still white. Turn the oven off, prop the oven door open with a matchbox and leave the pavlova inside for an hour to cool and dry.

To assemble, whip the cream, vanilla and icing sugar until thickened. Gently spread over the top of the wreath and top with fruit and mint leaves. Enjoy!

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Recipe adapted from Mary Berry’s Christmas Pavlova recipe on BBC Food.

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Butterfly Cakes with Strawberries & Cream

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Considering it’s winter, we have been incredibly lucky to have an abundance of delicious, flavoursome strawberries and these cakes take full advantage of them.

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These cupcakes are probably the quickest and easiest to make in the history of the world;  you simply blitz the ingredients in a food processor, divide into patty pans and bake!

The cakes are very light with a soft, sponge-like texture, which makes them perfect for butterfly cakes. If butterfly cakes aren’t for you, they’re also delicious with a frosting of your choice (try my vanilla buttercream or marshmallow frosting).

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Ingredients (makes 12)
1 cup (125g) self-raising flour
⅔ cup (125g) caster sugar
125g butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk
Sweetened thickened cream (or whipped cream)
Good quality strawberry jam
Fresh strawberries, halved (optional)
Icing sugar

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Method
Preheat oven to 200ºC and line a 12-hole muffin tin with patty pans.

Put all of the ingredients except for the milk into a food processor and blitz until smooth. Pulse while adding the milk until just combined.

Divide batter evenly among the patty pans (I know it doesn’t look like much batter, but they will rise a lot).

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Transfer immediately onto a wire rack to cool completely.

If you will be serving the cakes immediately, make your thickened cream and cut up your strawberries while the cakes cool.

Using a sharp knife at a 45 degree angle, cut out a circle from the top of each cake and cut it in half to make the butterfly wings. Fill the holes with a teaspoon or so of strawberry jam and then top with cream, butterfly wings and another line of jam. If you like, you can serve them like this in the traditional butterfly cake style (below).

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For me though, I love fresh strawberries so I top each cake with a strawberry half and then sprinkle with icing sugar. Enjoy!

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NB: filled cakes are best eaten with 6 hours
Recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson’s ‘Cupcakes’ in How to Be a Domestic Goddess. 

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