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Thursday, 26 June 2014

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes (Student Demonstration)

As some of you may be aware in my spare time (real life) I am a secondary school ICT teacher.  A few weeks ago was 'Focus on Food' week and one of the cookery teachers, who knew about this blog, asked me if I would like to demonstrate to her Year 10 class.  At the time I thought about it for a few minutes and said yes.  As the weeks went by and the cookery deadline approached I started to stress slightly about the whole process.  As a teacher I am totally used to having 30 students in front of me and having to demonstrate, question and discuss a range of ICT related topics, but this time I would not be discussing my comfort zone of ICT, instead I would be discussing baking!  Scary stuff!

Now I will admit that sometimes, at home as I bake, I will play out as if I was on TV.  Almost talking to myself to reassure as I try out new recipes and ideas.  Thinking about that one day when I may have my own TV show and be as super popular as Nigella, Nigel, Delia or Ina.  But this is only ever in front of the pretend audience in my head, not a real group of young cooks, and this was in a different kitchen, with a different oven and unfamiliar equipment.  None of this helped with my nerves.

I thought really hard about what I wanted to bake.  It was always my intention to show the students something different.  I didn't want to make a simple cake as I am know they would have done it before.  I didn't want to make basic frosting, because I know they would have done it before.  So I thought carefully and decided to show them the 'reverse creaming method' of cake making and an 'Italian Meringue   Buttercream'.  Two techniques that I had a good feeling would be new to them.

Italian Meringue is something I have made many times before and I was not worried about demonstrating that.  The reverse method however was totally new to me.  I played around with a number of recipes I found online and none seemed to work as I hoped.  It got to the point where the day before the demonstration I still hadn't cracked the perfect recipe and the stress was starting to kick in.  I will admit now that first time I made the recipe (the one that worked) was the day I demonstrated it to the students.  I just went for it and hoped for the best!   It worked (or no one complained anyway)

For those that do not know the reverse creaming method is a very different way of making a sponge mix.  You start by combining the flours and butter to make breadcrumbs.  The purpose of this is to protect the gluten in the flour from the liquid you add later.  Doing this means you can mix without worrying about over doing it.  The cake mixture result is slightly denser than a normal sponge and the crumb is a lot more crumblier -  see image.  

My inspiration came from a simple 'Mr Whippy' ice cream.  I would bake a vanilla sponge inside a ice cream cone and top with smooth vanilla butter cream, top with a flake and sprinkles, syrup if you must.  The students liked them so I consider it a success.  I was able to bake the cakes and discuss various baking techniques and ingredients, while taking the odd question from the students - see men can multitask!  

Each cone would be filled with a little chocolate spread, topped with a scope of vanilla mixture and after baking, frosted tall with a smooth 'Mr Whippy' style buttercream.  

Sorry to say but I do not have my normal array of images as I show off this recipe.  I have made the frosting before in other posts so please check them out if you need to see the technique.  

The cones come in packs of 21, but they are cheap and sealed in foil, so you can make 25 isn with the batter mix and don't have to worry about waste.

So, this was the most scariest thing I have ever done in a long time.  Baking LIVE in front of a group of young cooks, in a strange kitchen, with a recipe I hadn't tested before.  Afterwards it felt great and I was so pleased that I managed to see it through.  

Give the recipe a go and let me know what you think...

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Lemon and Raspberry with Coconut Birthday Cake

It was my Grandma's 83rd birthday this weekend and normally its a family get together and BBQ.  This would always be a good excuse for me to bake a couple of desserts.  This year we decided to forgo the normal BBQ and instead go to a local country pub for a simple meal.  I was given the task of baking a birthday cake. 

Since its summer I wanted to bake a cake that was fresh tasting and light.  In the past I would have been tempted to bake a chocolate cake or some sort of heavier style cake.  Lemon and raspberry has always been a favourite of mine and since I hadn't had chance to bake my lemon and raspberry cupcakes yet I thought I would adapt the idea and create a large bday cake.

While researching I came across a recipe for lemon, raspberry and coconut cake.  At first I was unsure if putting coconut on the cake would be wise because it tends to be one of those ingredients that some people don't like.  However, knowing my family well, I just went for it and they all liked it.

The sponge is a simple lemon scented white cake.  I used 00 plain flour as this is supposed to result in a lighter, whiter, crumbed cake.  Without a cake baked using basic plain flour I am unable to comment on whether this one is better or not, but it was light.

The frosting is a simple '7 minute' american style lemon buttercream.  I used seedless  good quality jam. 

If I was to make this cake again, and there is no reason why I wouldn't, I would make sure I added more jam as some layers were not visible when cutting.  Leaving the cake to set before attempting to coat the outsides is a very good idea, you may find that the cake starts to slide apart.  I used a kebab spike to hold the layers together while it set in the fridge.

Make sure you bring this cake to room temp before serving.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Ice Cream Cake Pops

My friend Kate and I were inspired by a post on 'Heavenly Cake Pops' to try and recreate their amazing ice cream cone cake pops.  We didn't have a fancy and expensive cake pop rolling machine so instead we had to roll ours by hand and we feel that next time we make them we can focus on perfecting them, but we were very happy with the outcome.   This is my first time making cake pops (Kate has made plenty before) and we really had fun making them.

It is important to note that the covering is not chocolate, or not chocolate as such, but instead 'Candy Melts'.  These are specialist melting candy that is designed to fully coat and quickly set on all types of cakes.  You treat them the same as chocolate but sometimes its necessary to add a little corn oil to loosen the mixture.  Candy Melts can be brought online or from specialist cake stores.  You may find them in some larger supermarkets but I am unsure of which ones. 

Cake pops are very quick and easy to make.  You could bake a cake or simply buy one.  We choose to buy cheap and cheerful jam rolls from the supermarket.  You are only going to mix them up anyway so there is no real need to spend too much time baking.  This is a great way of using up a cake that may have gone wrong.