Friday, 20 April 2012

Who says Easter is over??

Ever since I was little I've always managed to squirrel away my Easter eggs to keep me in a steady supply of chocolate long after the Easter bunny had disappeared.  Maybe I had taken a cue from my dad who always to prolong the Easter celebrations by eating hot cross buns for breakfast from January to May.  He starts eating mince pies in early November too, I like to think that he's keeping the holiday spirit alive, and that I get to do that too by making celebration cakes every week of the year with the Brighton Bakery.

So with that in mind, I thought I would share with you my slightly-after-the-event recipe for hot cross bun pudding.  It's my take on a bread and butter pudding - I made one for Melissa and me the other night with some leftover buns we had stashed away in the freezer and it was such a treat, a real old school comforting pud.  Yum.

Hot Cross Bun Pudding

3 hot cross buns*
About 2 tablespoons butter
30g dried apricots, roughly chopped (optional)
2 eggs, beaten
2 level tablespoons caster sugar
125ml milk
100 ml single cream
zest of about 1/4 orange
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

*This really works best with stale buns (as they absorb the custard much better) so if they are fresh, split them and leave them out for a couple of hours first. 

1. Preheat your oven to 180C.
2. Split your hot cross buns down the middle and spread each side with butter.  Cut each in half along the diagonal and arrange the triangles pointy-end up in a small-medium pudding dish.  Sprinkle over the apricots.
3. Whisk together the eggs and sugar, then add the milk, cream orange zest and vanilla extract and whisk again until combined.  Pour over the hot cross buns ensuring they are all doused in the custard and leave to absorb for about 10 minutes.  If you like you can add a light dusting of freshly grated nutmeg on the top.
4. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes until puffed up and golden brown on top.
Serve warm with extra cream.  Mmmm.

This is such an easy pudding you won't regret making it.  If you fancy a chocolate version you could substitute the apricots for chocolate drops or even chopped up leftover Easter eggs.

So from a spot of home baking back to my home baking business, here's a picture of a lovely Springtime and Easter inspired wedding cake I made.

Well, it was definitely Spring-like on the outside, but the inside was a rather Christmassy Chocolate Orange Cake with Chocolate Orange Buttercream.  The bride said that at first she was laughed at for picking that flavour but all her guests agreed that it was a great choice and they all loved eating it.  Well I think she must also have taken a leaf out of my dad's book, and I always salute anyone that takes the unconventional option. 

Congratulations Radka, I hope you and your new husband have a very happy life together.

Until next time, happy baking x

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Karaoke Cake - Happy 30th Birthday Jon!

I seem to be riding a wave of 30th birthdays at the moment -  they started to creep up slowly over the last year or so, my own 30th was just six weeks ago, and they still keep coming.  Last weekend was Jon's turn, who is the lovely and supertalented boyfriend of my very good friend Karrie (you can see the cake I made for her 30th here).

Jon chose to celebrate his birthday with a karaoke party so the obvious choice was for me to make him a karaoke themed cake.  I found out from Karrie that they have a very distinctive pink karaoke machine so I  looked up some pictures online and immediately saw it would make a great eyecatching cake.

This was actually quite a straightforward cake to make, but I think its simplicity and boldness makes it a really effective design.  I started off with a square cake in my new favourite flavour - courgette and cinnamon with lemon curd buttercream (and I know I'm tooting my own trumpet here but it's really good!).  I then cut it into a rectangle and covered it with white sugarpaste to make the box.  I made the basic shape for the microphone from marzipan and left it to firm up overnight.  In hindsight I probably should have given the marzipan a couple of days as it was still a little soft but it worked ok.

The next morning I made the dials for the top of the box, by cutting a fat sausage of white sugarpaste into equal slices and then re-shaping a little by hand to make them neat and even like fat extra strong mints:

Easy peasy.  To fix them to the cake I used a short length of dry spaghetti and some edible glue.  The spaghetti probably wasn't 100% neccessary here but as the cake had to make the long trip up to North London on public transport I wanted to make sure that nothing was going to fall off.  A few details with my knife and edible pen and the cake was already starting to take shape:

Next up was the microphone, which was a very fetching tone of pink which needed plenty of colouring paste adding to beef up the colour.  I got to a point where it wouldn't go any more pink so I couldn't quite get it the fluorescent colour of the actual microphone (and to be honest too much colouring might start making you feel fluorescent if you ate too much).  I started by covering the top of the mic, which I did in two halves.  First I painted the top half with edible glue and shaped the pink over the top:

Then I cut round the middle, turned it over and did the same again for the bottom:

Then I added a strip around the middle to cover the join.  I created the textured effect by pressing dimples into the paste with a round ended tool while it was still soft.

I covered the main part of the microphone with the pink sugarpaste and attached it to the top with a piece of dry spaghetti and some more edible glue.  I then rolled a long sausage of black sugarpaste to create the cable and fixed it all together with the same method (who would have thought dry spaghetti would be so useful in cake decorating??)  The cable needed a bit of support while it dried so I propped it up with a small pot to stop it from coming out of the cake.  And with that the cake was finished:

The cake went down really well at the party and it all disappeared within about 10 minutes which is about as big a compliment as I can get.  Happy Birthday Jon, thanks for inviting us to your party - your version of One Week was worth the trip up to London alone :o)