Category Archives: cake

the great malt ball debate: a clash of cultures

“What do you mean malt balls? What are malt balls?”
“Malt balls.. you know, powdered malted milk balls covered with chocolate…”
“Nope, doesn’t ring a bell…”
“What? Of course you know malt balls.. like maltesers, you love maltesers!”
“Yeah, I know maltesers. But not malt balls. No one calls them malt balls.”
“What??! But that’s what they are! Maltesers ARE malt balls. Like kleenex are tissues!”
“That’s crazy talk.” (or something like that).
“What?! You’re crazy! That’s exactly what they are, what else would you call them?!”
“Maltesers. But anyway, she’ll like the cake, whatever it is.”
“That’s not the point now! And some people DON’T like them! Just ask her, she’ll know.”

This was the conversation that ensued when I asked my British other half to find out if his sister liked malt balls.  It was her birthday and a cake was called for, but as usual, I was paralyzed with indecision as to which underused cookbook/impulse buy to draw on.  I’ve managed to make one recipe out of Baked before – and although that cake put me through hell, it was damn good.. So I figured their Malt-ball Cake deserved a go too.  Having read a few reviews by parties claiming to be less than keen on the malt flavour after all, I just wanted to be sure the birthday girl would appreciate my pick…

[phone call made]
“She doesn’t know what malt balls are. But she said she’ll like whatever you make.”
Argh.

i need a spirit level

The cake turned out beautifully – pure white with a meltingly soft texture and what I’d describe as a tight (but certainly not dense) crumb.  While the Baked boys opt for a simple chocolate ganache frosting, I decided to double up on the malty magic by using a malted milk chocolate frosting from the Sweet Melissa Baking Book.  Be warned, it’s very rich.  But very good. The texture threw me a bit actually, as it seemed slightly.. tacky (if that makes sense to anyone?).. in the bowl, but that might have been the milk chocolate I used and it tasted delicious nonetheless.

And the combination was killer.

You can find the recipe for the Baked cake here, but in respect for the SMS enterprise, I’m going to hold out on posting the Sweet Melissa frosting recipe.. (I’m happy to email it though if anyone is in desperate need!) xx

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Filed under cake, chocolate, frosting, Uncategorized

sms: the cake from hell

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This week’s SMS bake, Devils Food Cake, turned out to be a *%$£ing nightmare.  Yes folks, a big, fat, sticky, gooey, creamy, acrid, prolonged torturous nightmare.  Don’t get me wrong – Melissa’s cake itself was heavenly.  It’s a simple enough recipe yielding moist, dark chocolate layers..which, in my case, baked up a bit unevenly because I failed to scrape the bottom of the bowl as religiously as I should have.. the centres shot skyward, only to sink the minute they came out of the oven.  Thankfully, this just seemed to result in slightly denser, more level cakes though, so I wasn’t particularly worried.  Now, sticking with the suggested peanut butter frosting at this point would have saved much blood, sweat and tearful cursing.  But, having done peanut butter frosting to death before (I fell in love with a cream cheese version and refuse to stray), I decided to take this opportunity to conquer my caramel demons by making the Sweet & Salty Cake from Baked.

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Known as their signature creation, it consists of chocolate cake slathered with salted caramel sauce and whipped caramel ganache frosting.  After reading a few negative reviews of the Baked cake itself, in contrast rave rants about the phenomenal frosting, I figured Melissa’s devils food cake would be the ultimate base.  Now, I’m not even a huge fan of caramel taste-wise, but making caramel is something I swore to conquer after my first two attempts went up in smoke a few months back.  literally.  Unfortunately, things got smokey this time round too.  In fact, I ended up having to make 4 – yes, 4 – batches of caramel this time..!!  As I said, the first went up in smoke. The second survived to become a luscious whipped ganache which turned into an impenetrable mass after an overnight stint in the fridge.  So clever me decided to try softening it in the microwave, and – you guessed it – pulled out a liquid mess after getting distracted for a few crucial minutes.  Devil cake 2, June 0.  Back to the Coop for more butter. and chocolate.

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I finally scored a win in round 3 (which I did NOT put in the fridge), but still had to play out round 4 to make the salted caramel sauce.  The whole process took about 4 days and  I’m out a hefty load of sugar, butter and chocolate, but I finally know how to make caramel.  Unfortunately, I had planned to share this devil child with friends, but the dinner date came and went before batch 3… So at the moment, I’ve got a big fat chocolatey waste sitting in my fridge. It’s cursed, I swear.

Despite all my whinging dramatics though, I have to admit that the whipped caramel ganache is phenomenal. Paired with the salted caramel sauce and Melissa’s gorgeous chocolate layers, this is one deliciously evil cake.  I recommend you roll up your sleeves and get sugar-cooking.  You can find the cake recipe on Holly’s lovely site and check out how the other SMSers got on this week

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Filed under cake, caramel, chocolate, frosting, sweet melissa sundays

SMS: making whoopie… (hahaha)

Righto, we’re on a pumpkin roll here – what with Halloween around the corner and Thanksgiving not far behind (yay! yay!) – so this week’s SMS pick was a perfect follow on to the pumpkin patch cupcakes in my last post.  Melissa might refer to these as ‘cookie cakes’, but to me they’re whoopie pies and worth the namesake shout.  Funnily enough, I only had my first pumpkin version (you get chocolate too) last month after a pilgrimmage to Baked (of ‘Sweet & Salty Cake’ fame).  This involved a mahoooossive trek to Red Hawk that left me in a slightly sour mood.. which turned very sour when I realized they only had one cake on offer…that’s just mean. But luckily, they also had pumpkin whoopies, which sweetened the deal no end.  Since then, I’ve had me a cravin’!

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"What's in a name? That which we call a review.."

This recipe was super easy – notwithstanding the turmoil encountered when trying to find pumpkin puree.. in England. during the ‘Great Pumpkin Crisis of 2009’.  (See my pumpkin patch post for details.. if you really want…but it’s actually irrelevant – all is well, Waitrose saved the day).  I swapped the molasses for maple syrup, cranked up the cinnamon (always) and used my favourite cream-cheese frosting recipe in place of Melissa’s filling.   (It’s not too different, but I’ve added it below anyway).  All in all, I give these babies a 5/5 on ease and 5/5 on taste/texture combo. YUM. I’m only offering 2/5 stars on accessibility of ingredients though… I might try getting proactive about this (instead of whinging endlessly for the next month) by starting a petition for equal rights to fair-priced pumpkin puree for expats.

Bite me

Bite me

Having bought Baked and failing so far to use it (shame on me), I was hoping to manage an SM vs B-Boys bakeoff.  The recipes seem similar, although the Baked version calls for vegetable oil in place of butter, relatively more puree and sugar in relation to flour, plus ground ginger and cloves…and the cream cheese fillings are *slightly* different too. Obviously I failed to get said bakeoff on in time for this post… but my whoopie-pie love just grows and grows, so I’ll get around to it soon! very soon!  But for now I’d just like to offer Debbie a big, fat, (cream) cheesey thanks for her perfect seasonal pick! Please check out the SMS blogroll to see what the others put together! with filling… x

Pipeworthy cream-cheese frosting
4 oz. butter (relatively room temp)
8 oz. cream cheese  (take your pick – room temp or straight from the fridge.. it’s freeing, no?)
5 cups icing sugar (yes, 5. prepare for the high)

Directions: Whiz the butter and cream cheese in the food processor until combined (no big, separate lumps.. but don’t overprocess).  Add half the sugar and whizz again.  Scrape down the sides and add the rest of the sugar cup by cup (stopping to scrape down the sides) until you’re happy with the consistency.  Use at this point or pop the whole lot in the fridge for a firm-up.  (I hate it soft ‘n soupy, can you tell?)

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Filed under cake, cookies, whoopie pie

SMS: Fallen Chocolate Souffle Cake

Retomber comme une souffle

This edible idiom , which I found on Clotilde’s beautiful blog Chocolate & Zucchini, literally translates as “falling back like a souffle”.  It describes an abrupt loss of interest after an enthusiastic start, which sort of sums up my experience with this cake.  It’s not a bad recipe by any means, just not for me…plus umm I think I made some bad baking calls, which probably added to the disappointment.  Firstly, I think I overwhipped the egg-whites and, having opted for a 9-inch springform pan instead of the recommended 10-incher, I added about 5 minutes to the baking time because I was worried the middle would be undercooked.  I was wrong.  The end result was a very good looking cake with a perfect fallen centre.  The texture was light and fluffy, but not really my cup of tea.  I like my chocolate cakes to be rich and fudgy – just over the brownie/cake border – so this didn’t really deliver in my opinion.  My tasters, on the other hand, swore it was delicious – so don’t let me put you off..

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I took the cake to my friend’s fabulous housewarming party, where it made a perfect centre piece, all dressed up with fresh blueberries & strawberries soaked in syrup… We had it with ice cream and..er.. some of us also spooned on hefty globs of leftover cream cheese frosting. Because everything tastes better with cream cheese frosting.  (Don’t judge me).

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It was a fancy dress do (meaning everyone threw on their tackiest bling) and that cocktail was the first of MANY.. so by the end of the night, the cake was just as tarted up as the rest of us..

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Even though I didn’t love this one, I’d consider giving it another shot and reducing the baking time to see if that adds more moisture.  In any case, I’m really happy to have finally tried making a souffle – so big big thanks to Sarah, the Blue Ridge Baker, for choosing this one!! Head over to her lovely blog for the recipe, and check out the SMS blogroll to see how others have fared!

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blinged-up tasting posse (and me in the leopard print)

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Filed under cake, chocolate, souffle, sweet melissa sundays