Friday, 30 November 2012

Reindeer Cake Balls

A Christmas post!? Well, yes. You see for me, the Christmas season always starts on 30th November. This is largely in part because my Mum is absolutely crazy, and would have Christmas all year round if she could, so as a kid Christmas began with our advent calendars. It's also partly because the 30th November is the anniversary of the date that Alex and I first because a couple, and it's become a tradition of ours to celebrate by putting up our Christmas tree together on the 30th November. (6 years today! ♥ ) It makes sense if you think about it, because advent calendars start on the 1st December, so you HAVE to put those up on the 30th November, and if you're doing that, you might as well go the whole shebang, right? So, December will be well and truly Christmas month here at The Princess and the Cake. And I can't wait!

Anyways - onto the cake! I made these reindeer cake balls with my little sister last Christmas, and we had a lot of fun doing so. This recipe is great for getting into the Christmas spirit, and the decoration part is perfect for getting the kids involved (and that includes the big kids like my sister and I!)


For the cake balls:
100g margarine
100g caster sugar
1 medium egg
1tsp vanilla extract
100g self raising flour
100g butter
200g icing sugar
a few drops of vanilla extract
Milk, if required.

To decorate:
250g milk chocolate (you may end up with a little left over)
1tsp vegetable oil
1 red smartie
8 chocolate covered raisins
White, red and black writing icing
Sprinkles (for the puddings)

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Makes 9 reindeer and 7 puds (see photo below)

  1. Start by making your chocolate antlers for your reindeer. Melt 50g of the chocolate and pour into a piping bag. Pipe 18 antler shapes onto a tray lined with grease proof paper, then pop this in the fridge to set.
  2. Preheat the oven to gas mark 5 and line a bun tray with cupcakes cases.
  3. Cream together the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy, then beat in the egg and vanilla extract. Fold in the flour until the ingredients combined to create a smooth batter.
  4. Spoon the batter into the prepared cupcake cases and bake for 15-20 minutes,  until golden brown on top and springy to the touch. Allow the cakes to cool completely on a wire rack.
  5. Whilst the cakes are cooling, prepare your butter cream. Beat the butter, icing sugar and vanilla extract together until smooth and creamy, adding a little milk if necessary to achieve the desired consistency.
  6. Take the cooled cupcakes out of their wrappers and break them into a blender. Pulse the cakes on a high speed to break them into fine crumbs. Once the cake is sufficiently crumbed, pour the crumbs into a bowl, then mix in the butter cream a tablespoon at a time until you get a mixture that holds together well without crumbling, but isn't too sloppy - you will not need to use all of the buttercream! Save the leftover buttercream for decorating.
  7. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper, and make some space for that tray in your fridge or freezer. Measure out 30g portions of the cake mixture, then shape it into a ball with you hands and place this on the baking tray. Pop the tray into the freezer for 20 minutes to set.
  8. Melt the remaining chocolate, either in the microwave or in a bowl over a pan of hot water. Once the chocolate has completely melted, stir in a teaspoon of vegetable oil to "thin down" the chocolate. Don't worry - you won't be able to taste the oil!
  9. Take your tray of cake balls out of the freezer and place on your work surface next to the melted chocolate. Dip each cake ball into the melted chocolate and tap off any excess chocolate. Put the cake balls back onto the lined tray and allow the chocolate to set. (this won't take long if your cake balls are cold enough!)
  10. Use a little left-over butter-cream to stick two of your chocolate antlers onto the bottom of each cake ball, then stick a nose onto the top of each cake ball (the red smartie is for Rudolph, and the chocolate raisins are for Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen!) Use the writing icing to draw eyes, and facial expressions onto each cake ball, and display on a plate with Rudolph in the middle.
  11. Turn any leftover cake balls into Christmas puds by spreading a little of the leftover buttercream over the top half, and decorating with sprinkles (as below!)

Happy Thoughts

Friday, 23 November 2012

Quick Fix Chocolate Pudding

Have you ever found yourself in need of a quick and easy pudding? This recipe is perfect for when you're craving something sweet and naughty, but don't have a lot of time to make it. The recipe is basic and uses basic baking ingredients, (hopefully stuff you have in the cupboard anyway!)

As this one is cooked in the microwave, cooking times may vary and I'm afraid the only way you'll find out is trial and error! In my microwave, this take 3 minutes on a medium-high heat setting, but you'll know the sponge is done as it will be set but still sticky on the top. Finally – you will need a microwaveable bowl for this one.

50g margarine
50g caster sugar
1 medium egg
50g self-raising flour
3tbsp cocoa powder
2tbsp milk
50g milk chocolate (optional)

Prep time: less than 5 minutes
Cook time: 3 minutes
Serves 2-4 (depending how hungry/greedy you're feeling!)

  1. Place all of the ingredients except for the chocolate into a medium mixing bowl, and beat until combined into a smooth, slightly runny batter.
  2. Lightly grease a microwavable bowl (I used a frylight spray to give a light coating of oil) then pour the pudding batter into it. Cover with another bowl or plate and microwave on a medium-high heat for three minutes, until the pudding is set and spongy, but still a little sticky on top. Carefully remove the bowl from the microwave (careful, it will be hot!) and place on the side to rest for 2-3 minutes, uncovered.
  3. Meanwhile, melt the milk chocolate in the microwave in bursts. Spoon the pudding into serving bowls and then drizzle the melted chocolate over the top of each. Make sure to eat it while it's still warm!
Happy Thoughts

Friday, 16 November 2012

Chocolate Fudge Cake

Who doesn't love chocolate cake? I do, but for I while I had a hard time finding a chocolate cake recipe that I really, really liked. I've tried recipes that have had good chocolate cake before, but the icing isn't quite there. And I've tried some pretty amazing chocolate icing recipes, but the cake left something to be desired. This time, though, this time I think I've done it!

The recipe for the sponge cake is based on the sponge used in this recipe for Creme Egg Cupcakes on Peabody's blog, which I tried for Chicken Little. The chocolate fudge icing I sort of made up as I went along, drawing on my icing, ganache and fudge-making experiences. I also had a bit of Nigella's salted caramel sauce left-over in the fridge, so decided to chuck that in as well. It was a good day.

For the cake:
130g Cocoa powder
200g plain flour
pinch of salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
120 ml water
120ml milk
150g butter
300g light brown sugar
2 medium eggs

For the fudge icing:
200ml double cream
400g dark chocolate
50g butter (cubed)
100g icing sugar

3-4tbsps Nigella's Salted Caramel Sauce (Optional)

Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Makes 10-12 slices

  1.  Preheat the oven to gas mark 5 and grease and line two 8" cake tins.
  2. Sift the cocoa powder, flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder together into a bowl and put to one side. In a second bowl or jug, mix together the water and milk.
  3. Beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy, then add the eggs and beat until combined.
  4. Stir half of the dry ingredients mixture into the butter and sugar, then add the milk and water, followed by the remaining dry ingredients, beating until combined between each addition.
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tins and smooth down the top with the back of a spoon. Bake for 25-30 minutes until springy to touch. Turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool.
  6. Meanwhile, make the fudge icing by heating the cream, chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pan of boiling water. Stir until the chocolate and butter have melted, then remove from the heat. Allow the mixture to cool slightly before adding the icing sugar, then whisk for around 5 minutes using a hand held electric whisk. By the time you're done, the mixture should be thick, glossy, smooth and delicious.
  7. If you're skipping the salted caramel sauce, then skip this step. If using the salted caramel,  place the bottom layer of sponge onto a serving plate and pipe a ring of fudge icing around the outside to create a barrier which will stop the caramel from oozing out too much. (it will probably still ooze out a little, that caramel is deliciously oozy!) Spoon the caramel onto the cake, trying to keep it inside the barrier you created.
  8. Spread just under half of the fudge icing over the bottom layer (on top of the caramel, if using) then place in the fridge for 5 minutes to set slightly. This will help create a nice thick layer of fudge between you cakes! After 5 minutes, removed the cake from the fridge and gently place the second chocolate sponge on top. Spread the remaining icing over the top of the cake, and try to resist all temptation to gobble the whole lot!

Now, this cake is amazingly delicious and chocolatey as is, but, if you feel the urge to die and go to a warm chocolate fudgey heaven, I'd suggest sticking your slice of fudge cake into the microwave for 10 seconds before eating it. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Happy Thoughts

Friday, 9 November 2012

Individual Malty Malteser Cheesecakes

I'd like to start by thanking Gu Puds for the inspiration (and ramekins) to make some individually portioned desserts. I love cheesecake, but the trouble is there are only two of us living in my house, so most of the time making a whole cheesecake is just too much. So, I decided to make use of some old Gu ramekins and make Alex and I each an individual cheesecake... yum!

On the day I made these, I couldn't decide whether I wanted cheesecake, or maltesers. So I decided to have both! This cheesecake is light, malty with a subtle chocolate flavour - in short, it taste just like a malteser cheesecake should! The recipe below is for two individual portions of malty malteser cheesecake.

25g margarine
5 malted milk biscuits
37g packet maltesers
100ml double cream
50g cream cheese
drop of vanilla extract
10g icing sugar
1tbsp horlicks
1tbsp cocoa powder

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 0
Makes two individual cheesecakes

  1. Melt the margarine in the microwave, then pop to one side to cool slightly.
  2. Put the malted milk biscuits into the blender, and whizz until they resemble fine crumbs. Tip the crushed biscuits into the melted margarine and stir until evenly coated. Split the biscuit mixture evenly between the two ramekins, and press down with the back of a spoon. Pop in the fridge to set whilst you prepare the filling.
  3. Tip the maltesers into a bowl and crush into rough chunks with the back of a spoon. Place to one side for the time being. 
  4. Pour 50ml of the cream into a small bowl and whisk until thick and pillowy. Add the cream cheese, vanilla extract and icing sugar, and whisk until all combined to a thick and creamy mixture. Stir in the crushed maltesers, then spread half of the mixture over each biscuit base. Pop them back in the fridge to set whilst you prepare the topping.
  5. Pour the remaining 50ml cream into a bowl with the horlicks and cocoa powder. Whisk until the cream is thick and pillowy, and the horlicks has dissolved. Spread half of the cream on top of each cheesecake and pop back in the fridge until ready to serve!

Happy Thoughts

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Cake'n'Bake Wednesday: Rainbow Cake

Hello folks, and welcome to the latest feature of The Princess and the Cake: Cake'n'Bake Wednesdays! Back in October of last year, I decided to reach out to like-minded bake-a-holics in my local area, and to cut a long story short, the Cambridge Cake'n'Bake Club was born. We're a group of bakers, mostly amateur, some early-stage professionals, who get together once a month to share recipes, hints and baking tips whilst scoffing our faces full of the baked treats we've made. Simple really!

Anyway, we have a shared blog where we post our recipes ( if you're interested) but since I decided to move the focus of this blog away from the movie challenges and make it more about my baking in general, I thought I'd start sharing my Cake'n'Bake Club recipes here also. Cake'n'Bake Club meetings take place on the first Wednesday of every month (in fact, it's our first birthday party tonight!) so I decided to turn the same day into my Cake'n'Bake Club feature on this blog - thus Cake'n'Bake Wednesdays! Some months there will only be one post, some months there will be more - it depends how many things I baked for any given month! I think that's enough jibber jabber for now, so if you want to find out more about Cambridge Cake'n'Bake Club, please click on the tab above, and if you'd like to see my recipe, please read on!

For our first ever club meeting in November 2011, we went with the "Signature Bake" as a theme - that is, bakers were asked to bake and bring something they thought represented them - either the first recipe they ever bakes, or one they'd come to be renowned for, and for me it could only ever be one thing:

Rainbow cake!

Firstly, I apologise from the poopy photos - I had no idea we'd be publishing a blog (never mind two blogs!!) so I didn't really give the cake photography the time and effort it deserves. Secondly, I wanted to point out that my cake got a bit squished in transit - please ignore the bottom half of the frosting in the first photo!

OK, before I type the recipe, time for a little cake-science. The reason the colours of the cake curl around each other is purely down to the fact it was baked in a bowl! when baking in a Pyrex bowl it's the bottom and sides that cook first, and as they cook they also rise, forcing the top colours down into the middle of the bowl - pretty cool, right? If you were to bake this recipe in a flat tin, your lines would all be even and you wouldn't get the swirls (the cake would still look and taste great though!)


For the cake:
300g margarine
300g caster sugar
3 medium eggs
300g self raising flour
2 tbsp lemon juice
red, yellow, and blue food colourings (I used gel food colourings as I find you get a vibrant colour without watering down your mixture!)

For the frosting:
150g shortening
300g icing sugar
3 tbsp lemon juice
black food colouring
edible glitter (I used "white hologram")

Prep time: 30 mins
Bake time: 50-60mins
Serves 8-10

  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 and line a round Pyrex (or other oven-proof) bowl with foil.
  2. Beat the margarine and sugar together until creamy. Beat in one of the eggs until well combined, then fold in a third of the flour. Repeat until all of the eggs and flour have been used up and you have a thick, smooth batter. Gently fold in the lemon juice.
  3. Separate the mixture into 6 even portions, and colour each red, orange, yellow, blue, green and purple. (In cake-land, indigo and violet merge to become "purple".) As a reminder, you mix a red and yellow to make orange, blue and yellow to make green and blue and red to make purple!
  4. Carefully place the red mixture into the bottom of the bowl and level with the back of a spoon. Layer each mixture on top of the other, spreading gently to the edges after each layer.
  5. Bake for 50 - 60 mins, or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool in the bowl for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Once the cake has cooled prepare the frosting. Mix the icing sugar into the shortening a little at a time until a smooth paste has formed. Mix in the lemon juice to taste, then spread evenly onto the cake. Place a little black food dye into the remaining frosting, then pipe a line across the cake. Add another drop of black colouring into the remaining frosting, and pipe a second line next to the third. Repeat for another two lines so you end up with a grey-scale rainbow. Sprinkle with the edible glitter to finish then serve!

Happy Thoughts

Friday, 2 November 2012

Bonfire Cake

I absolutely LOVE this time of year. Don't get me wrong - I love the summer, sunshine and heat, but there's just something special about those wintry nights. It starts off with Halloween, closely followed by Bonfire Night, and then it's pretty much Christmas! (Did I mention I will usually celebrate Christmas at least twice in December... I'll tell you about it sometime!)

I know it's not Guy Fawkes Night until Monday, but I wanted to post this spiced-orange bonfire cake today to give you chance to make it over the weekend - trust me, after spending a chilly night out watching the fireworks and bonfire displays, this makes an extra special treat to come back to!


For the cake:
1 large orange
300g margarine
300g light brown sugar
3 medium eggs
250g self-raising flour
50g ground almond
1/2 tsp baking powder
1tsp mixed spice

To decorate:
200g icing sugar
Orange food colouring
2 tsp orange juice (reserved from cake)
A few tsp water (as needed)
Orange flavoured chocolate sticks (I used just over one box of Matchsticks)

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 45-50 minutes
Makes 8-10 slices

  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 and grease a round oven proof pyrex bowl.
  2. Zest the orange and squeeze the juice. Put around 2 tsp of the juice to one side for the icing - the rest will be added to the cake.
  3. Beat together the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Sift the flour, ground almonds, baking powder and mixed spice into the bowl and fold into the mixture. Add the zest and juice of the orange to the mixture and beat well.
  4. Tip the batter into the prepared bowl, then bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool in the bowl.
  5. Once the cake has completely cooled, turn in out onto a serving plate and carve the edges to achieve a more cone-like shape (see the photo above - you want it to look like a bonfire!). With the carved off bits, you could either eat these now, just to make sure they're OK, or you could freeze them and use the for cake pops later on!
  6. To prepare the icing, tip the icing sugar into a bowl with the orange food colouring and reserved orange juice, and mix well. You want the icing to be thick but spreadable and ever so slightly runny to make sure you can coat your cake evenly. If you need to, add one teaspoon of water at a time to the icing and stir in until you have the right consistency.
  7. Spoon the icing onto the top of you bonfire cake, then use a palette knife to spread this around the edges. Place the chocolate sticks around the cake, overlapping ever so often, to look like the branches of your bonfire. Break a few of the chocolate sticks onto the top of the cake.
  8. Note - the chocolate sticks make it a little tricky to carve this cake, so you may find it helpful to take one or two off to help you with slicing.
Happy Thoughts