Saturday, 30 August 2014

RIch Fruit Cake / Christmas Cake Recipes - Mulled Wine and Deluxe Chocolate Orange !

Yup - it's AUGUST and I'm making Christmas cakes !

Seems crazy doesn't it - but the effort is worthwhile. I took an old, vintage cake recipe and gave it a bit of a vamp. I'm happy to say, these have turned out absolutely divine and will only get better on maturing....

I've run out of homemade apple brandy liqueur this year and am about to make more. However, I did have a couple of bottles of Mulled Wine left from last Christmas and a bottle of Triple Sec Curaco (bought from MandS) - orange brandy and cognac... so these recipes were based on what I had lying around.

Now, I can't wait until Christmas !

Actually - I've just made a load of single portion ones in 2" dia, 6 cell cylinder silicone mould . These are awesome as they are perfect for single portions .... or cut into two to turn each into teeny tiny mini cakes..... Nope - not sharing .... those are ALL mine :-)

For 3" diameter (two to three person serving - or just a nice gift size) - use our 6 cell Paw Print mould. It's got super straight sides and you won't see the paw prints on the base when you follow the easy tips at the bottom.

The method for both cake recipes is practically the same. For the deluxe chocolate version, mix the extra ingredients (melted butter and chocolate) into the batter before adding fruit.

Ingredients : Traditional Style Fruit Cake (but with Mulled Wine)

255g of butter
255g of brown sugar (or 220g white sugar and 35g of black molasses)
50g of golden syrup
5 eggs
255g of self raising flour
2 tsp of mixed spice
675g of currants
175g of sultanas
100g of candied peel (or swap out for dried cranberries)
125g of chopped glace cherries
100g of chopped walnuts (also great when swapped out for glace ginger
125g of chopped apricots
1.1/2 cups of mulled wine or 1 cup of brandy, plus 1/2 a cup of water
2 clementines (whole) with thin peel - pulsed in food processor until smooth

Makes 1 x 10" or 2 x rather deep 6" cakes. If making the Extra Deluxe Chocolate Orange Christmas cake, the 6" tins will make very deep cakes. You might even get away with using 3 tins.

Bake at 150deg C for approx 160mins (10") and 130mins (6" - as it's really deep)

Line cake tins with a double layer of parchment, which should rise at least 3" / 75mm above your tins. For the little silicone moulds, see preparation instructions and pictures at the bottom of this blog entry.

Alternatively, try using 2" diameter and 3" diameter silicone bakeware moulds (pattern at the bottom is irrelevant when lined with paper !) . See further down for links, photos and tips !

30mins baking time for 2" and 45mins for 3".

Put dried fruits in a saucepan with lid on with the alcohol and bring to a simmer 5 mins. Allow to sit and cool with the lid on for at least 20mins and absorb all the liquid.

Cream butter and sugar, syrup and treacle (if using in place of brown sugar)

Add eggs one by one, followed by a table spoon of the flour after adding each egg.

Add rest of flour / mixed spice, followed by two whole (thin skinned clementines) - blitzed to a puree  - can be omitted.

Finally, mix in the plum fruits / nuts and any remaining liquid. I tend to dump the batter on top of the fruits in the pot, and then mix it in.... Quick, and dead easy !


 **** For an Extra Deluxe Chocolate Orange Fruitcake ****

add 75g extra melted butter plus 200g melted dark chocolate and 50g of cocoa powder to the batter.

When warm from the oven, put 1tsp of brandy / Curaco over 2" cakes, 2tsp over 3" cakes and about 2 tablespoons over 6" cakes, 3 over 8" and 4 over 10"

If you wish, you can further improve your cake by maturing and "Feeding" your cake with a little alcohol every week brushed over the surface , wrapping up the cake between feeds.

Brandy is the alcohol of choice for most Christmas cakes - but I'm using Dry Curaco from MandS at the moment for a lovely orange kick. Works so well with the fruit and also with the chocolate !

 Here's how I cheat with lining the 6 cylinder 2" and 3" diameter silicone bakeware moulds

First of all, grease your moulds using a little butter on a piece of kitchen paper

Then, take some standard size cupcake cases and cut off the sides - which will leave you with the 48 > 50mm centre at the bottom.

This is now REALLY easy to pop into the base of your mould.

I like to line the cells of moulds for Christmas cakes. If you are leaving the cakes in the mould to feed them, they end up quite damp and lining makes it super easy to remove them with just a little tug.

For the bigger 3" dia moulds, use the same method - but cut a little higher round the base part of the paper ... leaving about 1cm extra right round.

You can actually see the paw print on the bottom of the cell of this mould - but that doesn't matter as you wont notice it in a minute.

Ta da ! Quickest ever mini parchment circles :-)

Now, cut some strips of baking paper / parchment to about 4 " / 100mm high.

Simply roll into a loose tube and pop into the cell.

Easy as it possibly can be !

Fill the cells of your 2" and 3" moulds to level with the top of the cell. The cakes will rise a tiny bit - but by the time they are trimmed, the height will be a full 2" before icing.

For mine, I decorated the small ones very simply. I brushed some warm apricot jam on the tops used a cookie cutter to cut out small circles of fondant and marzipan.

The larger cake shown further up is actually the Extra Deluxe Chocolate and Orange version. Not overly happy with the decoration - but it was first attempt at upside down sharp edges in fondant and I'm fairly happy with the results. 

This one has a full covering of modelling chocolate (Modelling Chocolate pdf Tutorial), then a layer of fondant on top.  The chain border round the bottom was made from this cake decorating sugarpaste push mould 

Happy Baking !

Do let me know how you all get on with this recipe :-)

Sarah-Jane Nash - - website - facebook page

Ferrero Rocher Angels - Easy To Make and SO Darn Cute !

One day in the supermarket, I spied a box of Ferrero Rocher.... and something inside screamed at me to turn them into angels!

It's not something I've seen done before, and I couldn't be happier with how they turned out. So darn adorable and perfect as little Christmas decorations and gifts. With all that chocolate, nutella, piedmont hazelnuts and salt caramel, what's not to love ?

You'll see I even utilized part of the wrapper for the little ruffle collar round the neck. However, if you prefer different colours - we've got a load of mini muffin / cupcake cases that are an ideal size to choose from.

You will also need a 12 cell silicone Dariole mould to make these.

I guess you have been looking at them long enough - so I have best show you what to do !

I'm afraid I didn't work out quantities of ingredients for these. It depends if you want to leave the body part empty or fill it 1/2 with nutella and half with salt caramel (just a suggestion)

Ingredients :

a few roasted hazelnuts
a medium sized jar of nutella
one batch quantity of salt caramel

You will need :

plastic bowl
a pastry brush
offset spatula (or a wide flat knife will probably do)
a heart shaped cookie cutter
a rolling pin
a clean tea towel
a granite of marble chopping board (frozen overnight) - or a glazed tile

Put the couverture chocolate in the plastic bowl and microwave in 30 second bursts at 75%. After every 30 seconds, remove from the microwave and stir with a silicone spatula - even if it looks like it hasn't started melting at first.

The good thing about couverture chocolate is that as long as you melt in short burst and the temperature stays really low, your chocolate will stay in temper. Chocolate needs to be in temper - or it will go gritty if you get it too hold or lose it's shine and get a mouldy look due to either sugar or fat bloom.

When the chocolate is about 70% melted, don't put it back in the microwave. Just stir, stir, stir until almost all of the chocolate melts. Don't worry if it won't all melt. The remaining chunks can be removed with a fork. The chocolate should be around body temperature when ready to use. Touch a little bit to your upper lip. If you cannot feel it at all, it should be ready to use.

Use your pastry brush to apply a coat of chocolate inside the cells of your mould - making sure to cover all the silicone. Allow to start to set and have a matt finish before adding a second coat. Use a 3rd coat if required - we only used two coats.

This dariole mould has only had one coat at this point. You can still see the silicone shining through the chocolate on the furthest away cell.

Pop two or three roasted hazelnuts into each cell if desired.

Using a disposable piping bag (or a sandwich bag with a corner snipped off), pipe some nutella into each cell - followed by salt caramel. Be sure to leave at least 5mm gap above the filling to the top of the mould.

Of course, you can leave these hollow if you choose to.

Fill the gap at the top with more chocolate and give the mould a tap so the chocolate levels.

Once this is done, pop into the fridge for about 30 mins to set nice and hard before attempting to release from your silicone mold.

Whilst these are setting, we're going to make the wings !

Unfortunately, I forgot to take some photos here.....

Take your frozen granite / marble chopping board out the freezer. Leave for about 2 mins, then scrape the ice off the surface.

Next, spread on a small amount of chocolate using a flat knife or angled spatula. Use the heart shaped cookie cutter to cut the chocolate.

Free the chocolate right away from the slab with a knife / angled spatula. Place a clean tea towel over a rolling pin and place the heart on to that. The chocolate will be firm but "bendy" at this stage and curve a little round the pin.

Next, cut the bottom third of the heart off with a pair of scissors before making the next heart.

You need to cut that bottom bit off, or the wings just don't fit properly on the angel. Do make twice the amount of wings that you actually need. They are very thin and fragile - some will get broken during assembly.

If you wish to box these and give as gifts, I'd suggest putting some chocolate on a 3" dia cake card and then placing the chocolate filled dariole on top. Of course - this isn't required - I actually think they look better off cards.

Next, put a little blob of chocolate on the top of the body, then place on the mini cupcake case / frilled wrapper on top.

Another little blob of chocolate on top of that, and you can stick on your Ferrero Rocher / angels head.

A small amount of chocolate on the centre area of the trimmed chocolate heart and the wings can now stick on !

Voila ! That's it - your angel is complete :-)

If you like this tutorial, please do feel free to share it. I'd also love to see your chocolate Ferrero Rocher angels :-)

Happy Baking and Creating

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

A Traditional Sultana Cake - Sweet Teabread Type Recipe

Lemon glazed sultana cake recipe. Dense crumb and not too sweet.

"Tea ?" My grandmother lifted the old metal teapot; clad in it's warm knitted cosy; and gave the tea a swirl before pouring a steady stream into the china cup.

In my mind, I can see her now. No matter who or when visitors arrived at the door - she was always prepared and loved nothing more than having family arrive and feed them her home baked treats.

There was Sultana Cake or Belgian Loaf in the pantry in a tin. Home made coffee buns or ginger snaps in the cupboard. Caramel cake (you may know it as Millionaire's Shortbread) or tiffin bar (normally both) hidden at the back of the fridge. I've shared a few of these recipes and short really log some more.

When my Gran passed a few years ago, I was given her recipe book. It was and is in a sorry state and the pages are almost all detached. The spine is broken, the covers stained and torn. Despite this and the fact it rarely sees the light of day - it is very much loved. Handling it every now and again reminds me that through me, her recipes can live on...

As you can see - she seems to have "obtained" this recipe from somewhere back in 1962 and must have used it for around 40 years.

Personally, I've never been one for baking with margerine / Stork - but my gran seemed to and if it's good enough for Mary Berry....

Well - I gave this a go and used some Utterly Butterly which is a vegetable oil based spread instead of the butter. It turned out pretty much as I remember it. This is a fairly dense type teabread and I'm sure we used to have it slathered in salted butter. However, I figured a nice lemon glaze would work well

225g of white sugar
225g of butter or vegetable oil based spread
225g of sultanas (I soaked these in hot tea for 30mins prior to use)
285g of plain (cake) flour
55g self raising flour
6 eggs

I creamed the fat and sugar together, then one at a time, beat in 5 eggs.

Sift in flours, and mix until no lumps can be seen. Stir in drained sultanas, and follow by folding in the last egg as instructed by Gran !

Put into a lined 2lb silicone loaf mould or tin . Be sure to line way up the sides - this makes a BIG cake and the entire tin was full to the top before baking .....

I baked at 150deg C (Fan oven) for 95mins and it was perfectly done.

Remove from oven and make a glaze if desired. Remove cake from pan and stand on a wire rack. Trim paper to pan level, but leave on for now.

I used 100g of icing sugar, 50mls of fresh lemon juice and a little boiling water to make a very thick paste. Spoon (and spread) on to the top of the cake. Dont worry if it makes a mess and runs down the side a bit.

Once it starts to set, you can remove the baking paper from the lower part of the cake for a nice, tidy finish.

Allow to cool thoroughly before cutting.

This type of cake typically is best one or two days after baking - once it's stood in an airtight tin for a little while to mature. If you can wait that long....

Sarah-Jane Nash - - June 2014 

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Tiffany Lamp CAKE - Yes .... This REALLY is a Novelty Cake that looks like a table lamp !

structural and brightly coloured novelty tiffany lamp / table lamp cake

I'm so in love with this cake. The idea of making a cake looking like a Tiffany lamp has been in my head for almost a year.... it's taken me forever to get round to making it as inevitably something always seemed to get in the way that needed my time more. 

Certainly it's lighting me up on an otherwise dull day !

Isn't it pretty ? When finished - it really looked like a proper Tiffany table lamp !

Well - last week I tried out a new madeira cake recipe I found on the net from that allows you to size up a madeira cake from 6" to 12" diameter.

I've copied and pasted their chart onto this page below so I can save it in my own personal ebook, for my own use. Should you wish to use their recipe, you may like to trot along and visit their page and print out the full recipe and instructions.
I baked two x 10" dia madeira cakes. Here you can see I wrapped some strips of damp kitchen tea towel around the outside of the tins and secured with bulldog clips. This helps stop the sides browning too much / getting crusty.

My cakes had a little bit of a dome and a small amount of cracking. I baked at 170deg C - next time, I'll bake lower and for longer...

Cake was very easy to split and had a good even crumb. I usually bake only with butter, but this recipe suggested using 50% stork / 50% butter. I must say, I was skeptical - but the results were very good as was the flavour. 

After trimming, these cakes measured 75mm / 3" high. I cut each cake into 3 layers and filled with buttercream and jam between each one. I them carved the stack into a dome shape before covering in fondant. It's a pretty big cake and on a 16"square board.

Yes - it really IS a cake as you can see in these staged shots. The board is covered in fondant and made to look like wood. The body of the lamp is modelling chocolate around moulded Rice Krispy treats.

I marked on my patterns with a modelling tool before hand painting the "glass" in. Easier said than done ! The leading is modelling chocolate, hand painted with lustre dusts.


1 bag of Wilton WHITE candy melts (melted)
118g corn syrup - warmed
gel paste colouring (if required)

For black modelling chocolate, add a tablespoon or two of cocoa powder - plus black colouring to the corn syrup. For other colours - omit cocoa

Mix the two together until combined. Transfer into a plastic food bag and allow to sit for a couple of hours to harden up a bit. Knead thoroughly and re-bag. This will be ready for use tomorrow :-)


If anyone is interested in learning how to make this cake, it can be taught as a two day class. A maximum of 6 places would be available. Cost of £225 for the two days, to include cakes and all materials.

Sarah-Jane Nash - - June 2014

Monday, 19 May 2014

Land Rover Defender Novelty Cake - Caking With Amy.....

Amy is a keen 15 yo baker, who until recently, has only been playing around with cupcakes. Last month - she came and spent an afternoon with me and made a large fondant covered cake for the first time.

Amy's cherry blossom cake is below. Pretty and a really nice job, especially for a beginner !

Couple of weeks later, Amy asked me if she could come for a day so I could help her make a  Land Rover Defender car cake. Well - to be honest, I'd never attempted a car cake..... so this really was a bit of a challenge...

The cake itself is a dense, chocolate brownie cake (8 x 12" lined tin), cut into layers and filled with chocolate ganache. Very, very rich - but a nice cake to work with and only small servings needed.

330g salted butter
330g dark chocolate
9 tsp instant coffee
250ml water
80g cocoa powder
380g self raising flour
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
720g caster sugar
6 large eggs
50ml vegetable oil
180g buttermilk / greek yogurt

Put the butter, chocolate, coffee and water in a pan and melt together to create a sauce. Set aside to cool.

Put eggs, oil and buttermilk in another bowl and combine. Add these to the cooled sauce.

Sieve all dry ingredients and mix together, then add wet mix and combine until no lumps are visible.

Bake in a preheated oven for 150deg C for 2 hours. 

Once cool, wrap and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight before splitting / carving.

I took a few photos along the way that may be helpful to Amy if she wants to make this cake again (or anyone else who fancies attempting a car cake)

First of all - google BLUE PRINTS and print / make a rough scale drawing of the car required.....

Here, there is a piece of foam core board, cut to shape and scale for the base. The foam core is wrapped in Baco Wrap and this board is on top of the cake drum to make it easier to move and work with.

My 8 x 12" cake was cut into 3 equal rectangles (8 x 4") and stacked. I'd already started shaping it before I thought of taking a photo. Sorry !

The bits cut of the front were kept and used later on as you'll see shortly. The cake was a little smaller than the finished size, as it still had to be coated / sealed in ganache on the outside.

Here is my rough drawing against the cake which is what I used when carving. From the picture below, I then took a slice off to get the angle for the windscreen. I did forget to angle to the roof though, and had to do that once the car was on the board.... before icing the roof. Pay to stand BACK and look !

Here you can see the front has been angled for the windscreen.

All ganched and wheel spacings cut out. Looks a bit like Postman Pat's van at this point....

Cake sat on board to get an idea of positioning. The cake scraps were roughly put in place to sit the front end of the car up - as if it is driving out of a muddy bog.

Cake off cuts ganached and on board - with a wedge to mount / raise up car.

Cake board front covered in fondant. I painted piping gel over this and covered with desiccated coconut which I'd coloured green and dried in the oven. 

The back part of the board got covered a little later in brown coloured fondant.

Side panel made out of modelling chocolate applied. There is a little strip of modelling chocolate under this along the centre line of the car to be able to dress the outer panel over and add shape.

The excess fondant for the windows was removed a little later.

A few more panels added, it's taking shape !

At this point, I then put the cake on the board and secured using a little piping gel to the fondant on the base. The front of the car roof underwent a little carving work to reshape as I noticed the error mentioned earlier.... then lights etc were added.

Hope this proves useful ! 

I certainly learnt a lot from it and know areas / ways to improve on for next time.

Sarah-Jane Nash, - May 2014