Monday, 21 September 2015

Coconut and lime cake with passionfruit cheesecake filling and passionfruit Swiss Meringue Buttercream icing

There is so much inspiration and information available on the internet these days that it can be hard to make a decision when there is so much choice available. There are also so many awesome bakers on Insta to take inspiration from. This was inspired by Cakes by Cliff, Katherine Sabbath and Unbirthday Bakery.

This cake is a mash up of all tried and true recipes that combine magically in flavours that I love and I thought the birthday girl would love also. This was made quite a few months ago and I have been a slacker in posting . . . 

I am a bit of a list maker and tend to have about 30 Evernote notes going at a time. I generally collect a few recipes in a note and cull them when I make a final decision.

Here's a glimpse into my listmaking mania.

I usually have a calendar of when I am going to make everything as well, as I only like to build the cake on the day it's due.

If a cake was needed for a Saturday, I would organise the decorations during the week (i.e. the toppers and the chocolate sail and the meringues), bake the cake on Thursday night, make the cheesecake filling and Swiss Meringue Buttercream friday and fill and ice the cake, make the ganache for the drip on Saturday and decorate.

So, here goes, the list of recipes that contributed to the cake! Of course, you could choose to make less components and it would still be delicious or replace a certain part with one of your own favourite recipes. 

Coconut and Lime Syrup Cake via Donna Hay here

I baked this in 2 x 16cm round pans. I also replaced any lemon with lime. I don't remember the cooking time, use the skewer test (poke in a skewer when you think done and when only crumbs are on stick, not batter, take out.

Passionfruit Curd via Taste here

You will have leftover, but no-one will be complaining!

Passionfruit Cheesecake Filling via Katherine Sabbath 

This recipe was modified from a little booklet Katherine gave out at at cake decorating demo I went to.

250gm cream cheese icing, at room temp
75gm butter
200ml freshly whipped cream
1/2 C icing sugar

1. Beat together room temp cream cheese and butter until well combined. Gently fold through whipped cream and icing sugar alternately.
2. Place in a container and cover with plastic wrap until needed.

Passionfruit Swiss Meringue Buttercream via the neverfail Sweetapolita recipe  here

I made half this recipe (it makes plenty enough to cover the cake) and flavoured it with passionfruit juice. It wasn't passionfruit season, so I strained a can of passionfruit and added about 1-2 tablespoons of juice to taste once the buttercream was finished and beat well. I also added colour and beat well to make sure it was mixed in.

Meringues via Taste here (don't add the lemon rind)

Colour the meringues as needed (gel paste preferred as doesn't add as much liquid) and place into piping bags with star tips and cook as directed. 

Ganache drip

125gm dark chocolate, in pieces
60ml thickened cream

1. Place cream in a saucepan and heat over medium heat until bubbles at edges of pot appear. Take off heat, add chocolate, let sit for 1 minute and then stir until smooth.
2. Place in plastic container and let cool down until it is room temp and similiar to pancake batter.

Chocolate Sail

100gm dark chocolate buttons

So, I know how to temper chocolate, but sometimes you just cant be bothered! So, if like me, you don't want to temper, make sure you use chocolate buttons that have vegetable oil rather than cocoa solids. This means that you don't have to temper it.

To make the sails, melt the chocolate, spread it thinly on a piece of baking paper, and rest it on something in your kitchen to make the sail shape. I draped mine between two glasses, You can also make a support out of foil etc.

If the chocolate hardens before you have reached the shape you want, put the baking paper in the microwave for 5 second bursts and then reshape. That's the benefit of using cooking chocolate rather than tempered chocolate.


1. Layer cakes into two layers each, you will have 4 in total. If the cakes have domed too much, level them out a little. Make sure you reserve a flat bottom to use as the top layer.

2. Place first layer on a cake board, drizzle a tiny bit of syrup from cake recipe , use a palette knife to spread 1/3 of passionfruit cream cheese icing on base, Then layer a small amount of passionfruit curd. Continue on with second and third layers the same way. Depending on how firm your passionfruit cream cheese is, you may need to stick a kebab stick vertically through all layers to keep them where you want them, whilst it firms in the fridge, Place in the fridge for around 1 hr to firm up.

3. Take cake from fridge and apply crumb coat. Place back in fridge for 15 mins. Apply final coat, scrape back with palette knife until smooth. See Cakestyle on Youtube for a tutorial if needed.

4. For the chocolate drip, I use a teaspoon to drip the chocolate around the edges, once I am happy with the drips, I spread the leftover ganache over the top of the cake. Here is a drip tutorial if needed . I have also seen some tutorials where the chocolate has been put in a piping bag and dripped own the sides that way, I might try that next time.

5. Decorate the top with whatever treats you wish. For this cake I went with roasted coconut chips, white coconut ball chocolates (forget the name), Flakes, a Summer Roll and a chocolate sail. 

Unfortunately, as this was eaten at work, there are no innards images, but it was good!

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Snickers cake on crack . . . inspired by ALLLLLLLL the instagramers (Katherine Sabbath, Unbirthday Bakery, Don't Tell Charles, Sweetapolita . . )

I love cake challenges.

I love it when someone is specific in the kind of cake they wish for and I have to research recipes and decide what to use and plan and make lists. Any reason to make a list really . . . .

My awesome cousin, Kate, requested a Snickers cake and so a Snickers cake was what she was going to get.

I get a heap of inspiration these days from Instagram marvels such as Katherine Sabbath, Unbirthday Bakery and Don't Tell Charles (as well as Sweetapolita) so there is a little bit of a reference to all of the above in the final product.

In February I was lucky enough to attend a Katherine Sabbath demo at Peters of Kensington in Sydney. She is an absolute marvel. A teacher by day, a baking wonder by night who has taken the chocolate ganache drip to a whole new, sometimes neon, level.

She was generous enough to provide a recipe booklet and demo of her upside down icecream cake with all the components (brownie mud cake, caramel mud cake, bubblegum Swiss meringue buttercream, raspberry cream cheese filling, raspberry ganache and the upside down cone).

For this recipe I used the cake components, the idea of the cream cheese filling (as it is a lot more stable a filling than the Swiss Meringue would be), my never fail Sweetapolita Swiss meringue buttercream and Martha Stewart brittle.

As always, you can decide which components you do and don't want to make. You could easily fill and ice it with the SMBC and miss the cream cheese filling, buy the meringues and brittle. So this cake can be as easy or as detailed as you wish for it to be. 

All the recipes are linked below and the construction method follows.

Although there are a few components, if you get it started a few days before you need it, it isn't stressful at all.

I made it on the following timetable for when it was needed for a Thursday night.

Monday: meringue and peanut brittle
Tuesday: caramel mud cake and brownie cake
Wednesday: chocolate cream cheese filling and Swiss meringue buttercream (fill and ice cake)
Thursday: make ganache, decorate.

Chocolate Brownie Cake
Recipe via Katherine Sabbath


Melted butter or cooking spray for greasing
200 gm butter, chopped
200gm dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup hot water
1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted
2 tablespoons instant coffee powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup caster sugar
3 free range eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup self raising flour, sifted


1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius, fan forced. Grease or line a 17cm round cake plan. Line base with non-stick baking paper.

2.Combine butter, 100gm chocolate, water, cocoa, coffee and vanilla in a saucepan. Cook, whisking continuously over a low heat until smooth and well combined. Remove from heat and stand until mixture is lukewarm.

3. Use electric beaters to whisk sugar and eggs in a large mixing bowl until pale and creamy. Whisk in the chocolate mixture until well combined. Add the flour and whisk until combined. Stir in remaining 100 gm of chocolate.

4. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan and bake in a preheated oven for 55 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.

5. Remove from over and cool in pan. Cover the pan with cling wrap and place in the fridge for 30  minutes. Once chilled, remove cake from pan and wish a long, serrated knife, cut horizontally into 3 even layers. Set aside until assembly. 

Caramel Mud Cake
Recipe via Katherine Sabbath


Melted butter or cooking spray to grease pan
200gm butter, chopped
200grams white chocolate, chopped
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon gold syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 free range eggs, room temperature
2 cups self raising flour, sifted


1. Preheat over to 160 degrees Celsius fan forced. Grease and line the base of a 17 cm cake pan.

2. Combine butter, chocolate, water, golden syrup and vanilla in a medium saucepan. Cook, whisking continuously over a low heat until smooth and well combined. Remove from heat and stand until mixture is lukewarm.

3. Use electric beaters to whisk sugar and eggs in a large mixing bowl until pale and creamy. Whisk in chocolate mixture until well combined. Add the flour and whisk until combined.

4. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan and bake in a preheated over 55 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

5. Remove from over and cool in pan. Cover the pan with cling wrap and place in the fridge for 30  minutes. Once chilled, remove cake from pan and wish a long, serrated knife, cut horizontally into 3 even layers. Set aside until assembly. 

Chocolate cream cheese frosting

Salted Caramel Swiss Meringue Butter cream (halve the recipe in the link)

The recipe above is for plain buttercream. Add the caramel below to taste to make it salted caramel. The reason I didn't use the full recipe for the Salted Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream is that it says to heat the egg whites to 160 degrees when most other recipes say 130, 160 is on the way to scrambling. Scrambled eggs in SMBC is baaaaddddd.

Salted Caramel
Recipe via Sweetapolita

1 cup (200 g/7 oz) sugar
1/4 cup (60 mL) water
1/4 cup (60 mL) heavy cream
Pinch of sea salt
The first step is making the salted caramel (you can also do a non-salted caramel by omitting the sea salt), to set aside to cool while you make the Swiss Buttercream. You then add the cooled caramel sauce it to the buttercream as the very last step. I haven’t tried buying ready-made gourmet caramel sauce and adding it, but I suspect it would taste nothing short of awesome.
1. Place 130 grams (5 ounces or 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons) of the sugar and the water in a medium saucepan to a boil over medium heat. Brush down the sides of the pot with a dampened pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming. Stop stirring and cook until caramel is dark amber, gently swirling from time to time. Remove from heat, and slowly add cream, whisking by hand until smooth. It will be splatter, so be careful. Whisk in sea salt and vanilla. Let cool.


Peanut Brittle (basic brittle, add 1/3 cup finely chopped peanuts)

Dark Chocolate Ganache
Recipe via Katherine Sabbath

250 grams good quality dark chocolate, chopped
125ml thickened cream

1. Please cream in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for around 1 minute until little bubbles begin to form.

2. Add in chocolate and stir until melted. If the hot cream and stirring does not melt all the chocolate, heat for 15 second intervals and then stir until all smooth. Leave on bench until a dripping consistency. For a visual reference of dripping consistency, see  My Cupcake Addiction.

To decorate

Snickers cut into slivers


1. Have a cake board the same size as your cake. Place a small amount of icing on cake board to adhere cake to it.

2. Place chocolate layer on base, layer with cream cheese filling, leaving a 1cm rim free of icing so that it doesn't mix with the buttercream. Sprinkle on a few small pieces of brittle.

3. Layer caramel mud cake on top, layer with cream cheese filling like before. Continue adding layers, alternating between caramel and chocolate until complete. Make sure final cake layer is the base of one of the cakes so that it is flat and even.

4. Place in fridge and allow to set. If you find that the cake is not staying even and upright, place two wooden kebab sticks in cake to secure all the layers.

5. Once set, apply a crumb coat of Swiss meringue buttercream. Place in fridge to set for 15 minutes. Apply final later of Swiss meringue buttercream (generously) and then scrape back so it is even all around (I use a plastering tool). If you like the 'naked' look where some cake shows through, scrape back until that happens. Place in fridge to set.

6. When ganache is at room temperature and a dripping consistency (kind of runny custard, see video link I had under ganache recipe above) use a teaspoon to drip ganache down sides of cake. Once all your drips are to your liking, place an even layer of ganache on top of cake.

7. Place decorations on cake as you like! 

Sunday, 22 March 2015

| D I Y | Industrial Oil Burner . . . in under an hour.


Cheap or thrifty, One has negative connotations and the other positive . They are kind of one and the same in my mind though.

If I go to a shop or stumble across something that I admire, it has to pass the DIY test. If I think that I can make it or recreate something like it at home,  I cannot part with cash for it. Especially if I can calculate that what I am looking at would cost under $20 in materials and yet was retailing for over $100. I understand manufacturing and retail costs, but still, I cannot do it. I try not to appropriate or steal someones intellectual property or idea but I do not see anything wrong with using it as inspiration to make something of my own.

So, mid last year I saw an industrial style oil burner that really caught my eye. I had been thinking about getting an old retort stand and making it from that, but then the thought of cutting hardened steel turned me off.

I am comfortable with timber so decided to make something from scraps I had at home.

I hunted down a round bottom flask, boss head and retort clamp from I felt a bit Walter White and started imagining all the other things that could be cooked up!

I had some scrap laminated plywood from a previous project and bought some 10mm Tasmanian Oak dowel.

So the process is pretty easy.

What you will need-

Drill / drill bits
Hand sander

Scrap timber big enough for your base
Round bottom flask
Boss head
Retort clamp

*paint / woodburning tool for however you wish to finish your piece.

1. Cut out the base shapes with a jigsaw to the size / shape that you want. For the round one I used a plate to draw an accurate circle with a diameter of 22cm. The rectangle measures 16cm by 24cm.

2. Measure where you wish the dowel to go. Drill a pilot hole, then use a drill bit slightly smaller than your dowel and drill right the way through. Try and make sure that you are drilling straight down at 90 degrees, if not, your dowel might be slightly lopsided when complete. Not a huge deal, but will look better the more straight it is.

3. Cut your dowel to the height you wish (mine was around 25cm).

4. Check that the dowel fits securely in the drilled hole. Place some wood glue in hole and place dowel in, making sure that it is straight.

5. Decorate how you wish!

*I taped off the black one and painted half with black spraypaint, the rectangle I used a wood burning tool to burn a kind of geo pattern.

I really didn't like this one. 

6. Paint with clear varnish.

7. Attach boss head and retort clamp to dowel and then attach flask. Fill with water and a few drops of your favourite fragrant oil and place a tea light underneath and doneskies.

This is a super quick DIY. Without the painting, it only takes about 1/2 hour to complete.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

I bought a pasta maker and made some crackers!

So, I am trying to wean myself off buying any more kitchen gadgets. I have a few. I use them all (maybe only twice a year) but kitchen real estate is scarce. So adding something to the kitchen family is generally considered.

I always thought that pasta makers were a bit of a waste of time as it takes so much time to make the pasta in comparison to the payoff. I mean, it's pasta.  I have an ice cream maker that I only use a few times a year, but when I do, it's magical. Let's not talk about the fairy floss maker from Aldi. It will get used one day . . . maybe.

So when a work friend mentioned that she bought a cheap pasta maker from Big W for $20, the idea stuck in my mind. I wanted to make it. I wanted to have one. I am but a sheep and very susceptible to suggestion!

So, machine was purchased and spinach pasta was made for a spinach lasagna. It was super tasty and successful (although I will roll it a bit thinner next time).

What I have made multiple times though is crackers!

I made these a few months ago and rolled them out  between baking paper and they were successful (so if you don't have a pasta maker you can use that method) but I really enjoy using the pasta maker to roll them out.

Cheapo pasta maker from Big W

I used a recipe from The Kitchen as my starting off point and take it from there. I generally only make half a batch at a time (which is about 2 full oven trays of crackers).

I have tried it with both rye flour and spelt wholemeal flour. I really liked the rye, but the wholemeal was also delicious.

You can add whatever additional flavours that tickle your pickle. My favourites have been:

-sesame seeds
-rosemary and sea salt

So, go ahead and give these guys a go, you will not be disappointed, they are worth the 10 minutes it takes to make the mix and roll them.

Here is the recipe that I modified via The Kitchen


1.5 cups rye flour (can also use wholemeal, spelt etc)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked pepper
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup water


1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius approx. Add all dry ingredients to bowl, mix to combine.
2. Make a well in centre of dry ingredients and add wet ingredients.
3. Mix at first with a wooden spoon until flour is all combined, then tip onto bench and knead lightly until smooth. Add a small amount of extra flour if sticks to bench.
4. Let rest for 15 minutes
5. Pasta maker method - take 1/4 - 1/3 cup of mixture and flatten out lightly until around .5 to 1cm thick. Use pasta maker to roll out, dialling down thickness of pasta maker as you go until it is around the thickness of a lasagna sheet. 
5. Rolling pin method - get two pieces of baking paper and roll out dough in between so it is as thin as you can get.
6. Place on a baking tray, cut out with a knife or pizza cutter to whatever shape you like. I liked the kind of trapezoid shapes. Prick all over with a fork.This stops them from rising and makes them crisp up.
7. Place in over for around 10 - 12 minutes or until browned to your liking. Keep an eye on these suckers as they burn quickly. 

Note: you can use whatever flavourings you want in these. I have used rosemary and sea salt, Ras Al Hanout seasoning, Tex Mex seasoning, oregano, parmesan. Whatever you have on hand.

Ombre Swiss Buttercream Mud Cake with DIY Mini Bunting

Girls cakes. I don't get much of a chance to make them and sure do enjoy it when I do. I wouldn't say that I am a frou frou girl (although my collection of makeup, shoes and bags may contradict this) but I do enjoy embracing the feminine occasionally.

So two hints I got for the interests for the birthday girl was a piano style cake board, music and purple.

I mashed together a few influences and came up with this. 

The cake board was made about 3 days prior to allow the fondant to harden. I also mixed some tylose powder in it to help it along a little. The lines of the keys were indented with a pizza cutter and the black keys also cut out with a pizza cutter. No measuring, just freestyle.

The mud cake was a tried and tested Exclusively Food recipe that I always use for chocolate or white chocolate mud cakes and it's awesome as there is a PDF that shows different quantities for different pan sizes.

I pinned a few buttercream technique images that I was interested in (see my Pinterest board for a look of all things cake that inspire me on the interwebs!), but ended up going with the bottom layer of this Cakestyle TV video on Youtube (this specific method starts from 20 mins 20 sec). If you are interested in cake making, their tutorials are great.

Everyone loves a surprise in the middle of their cake (unless it was a baked in bug . . . . ), so the bottom layer is 4 layers and the two in the middle were hollowed out with a round cutter and Maltesers hidden inside.

The frosting recipe I used was a Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe from Sweetapolita and I coloured it with Royal Purple from Americolour.
P.S. Is anyone a control freak that writes instructions on how the cake is cut or is this just me . . . . . 
The mini bunting was a free printable that I came across from Pinterest from here. I printed it on photo paper as I had no cardstock and I attached it to two bamboo skewers with some silver christmas string. I wanted to attach it to two swirly straws but I couldn't find the colour I wanted. 

And done.

I find that my cakes are always a huge mash of inspiration from many places these days and it was a lot less stress making this from buttercream in 70% humidity and 34 degrees celcius!

Got to love humidity encouraging 'cake sweat' to form!

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Kids birthday cakes . . . . . .a progressive look at an amateur bakers improvements over 5 years!

Dinosaurs, pirates and action figures. These are the cakes that I get to go most crazy with.

I have two crazy, wonderful, nutty nephews who I make birthday cakes for each year and they are pretty decisive with what they do and don't want their birthday cakes to be. I tried to convince one nephew this year that he wanted a monkey brain cake for his birthday in the middle of the year, failed, so convinced my other nephew that he wanted it for his birthday in a few weeks time (he had specific requirements of stitches in the face and a nail in the brain . . . .weird, but doable). 

I haven't done any courses and have learnt a bit along the way with various mediums. It used to be blogs, moved onto Pinterest and now Youtube has taught me a bit as well.

Below are a few cakes that I have made, oldest to newest so you can see (hopefully!) that there has been a bit of trial and error improvement.

Here are some awesome places for inspiration as well.

1. My Pinterest board for kids cakes.Generally grouped around whatever I am researching at that time!

2. My general Pinterest board for cakes. Great base recipes for the actual cakes and butter creams.

3. A few baking websites that  I continually go back to - Bakerella, NotQuiteNigella, Raspberri Cupcakes (amazing!!!!!!!!).

4. Youtube is great to look at various techniques, I am really liking Anne Reardon from How to Cook That, Cakestyle TV and Rosanna Pansino.

Anyway, here's a bit of my history of kids cakes (I think some are missing, especially a spider cake I made with a Dolly Varden pan . . . . )

I think my nephew Elijah was 3 or 4 for this one. I remember it was a mission keeping the figurine on top of the cake. Elijah is also born in December, the month of excessive heat and humidity so working with fondant is often tricky!

I loved this pirate cake (also for Elijah). The mix of cool blue, red, white and black made it pop. Loved the top.

Izayah picked this one specifically from the Womans Day Kids Cake Cookbook *the new version, not the original*. 

This one was amusing.

Again, Elijah, I think it was stinking hot this day, hence the sweating fondant.

I loved this cake with all the stars. Didn't really match the whole Spiderman theme, but no-one cared.

This was a challenging cake. I formed the Hulk hand from a rice bubble / marshmallow mixture. Oh, the humanity. I then dusted it with cocoa for a dirty look. Loved it.

More pirates. This was harder. The cake shape wasn't too bad but the figurines were! All the tutorials on youtube made it look so easy. Isn't that always the way.

A One Direction cake for a friends daughter. Again, it was stinking hot and humid in January, so a bit melty!

Another dinosaur. Izayah wants to be a Paleontologist (last I heard) so it's very appropriate for him. This one turned out well and was lots of fun to make. I need to remember to make an effort with the cake boards. The biscuit crumbs / dirt and buttercream / grass really made it.

This was my most recent cake for a colleagues grandson. Loved it. Loved the colours. The fondant was a bit dodgy in parts but the cutout dinosaurs and leaves helped camouflage that!