White Christmas Tree Cake

Christmas baking is definitely my favourite kind of baking. And I don’t think it’s just because I’m a Christmas-a-holic (though it undoubtedly fuels the fire). There’s just something about the whimsical nature of treats, and the sheer quantity of excuses to create them that’s so exciting. The recipients always seem that little bit extra excited to eat the treats when they’re Christmas-themed, too.

Cakecrumbs' White Christmas Tree Cakes 00

I’m kicking it off early this year by bringing you a how to for one of the first cakes I did.  Over the last year I’ve received a number of requests for a tutorial on it, so I decided to make a little version of this old thing to show you how it’s done (also wow, how horrible were my fondant skills back then?)  Here’s the mini version for the tute:

Cakecrumbs' White Christmas Tree Cakes 26

It’s all achieved by carving, so you can use any cake recipe and make it as big or small as you like. I’ve used two of my favourite mud cake recipes to achieve this, but do feel free to use your own if you prefer. Here’s how to do it:

Continue reading

Advertisements

Christmas Macarons

It was about a year ago that I tried making macarons for the first time. Intimidated by the horror stories, I kept putting it off. I learned then that they’re not as crazy difficult as they seem, and since then I virtually haven’t stopped. I’ve made macarons probably more than anything else this past year, and everyone here sure isn’t complaining. We absolutely love them. I love trying new flavour combinations, and everyone else loves devouring the spoils.

Cakecrumbs' Christmas Macarons 00

Christmas baking is getting into gear and I’ve made hundreds of the bite-sized treats already. but while I was making standard macarons, I wanted to make some a little extra festive.

Continue reading

Pavlova Wreath

In my last blog, I mentioned the profound effect the deviantART community has had on my culinary art. One of the most significant impacts has been on the photography of it. Photos were always just snapshots of my food meant to illustrate my blog and my recipes therein. The amazing food photographers over on dA, especially those submitting their work to the same groups as myself, inspired me to want to make the photography art in of itself.

Some time ago, I bought a book on food photography. It soon became obvious to me how little of what I learned I could put into practise with my point and shoot camera. So, right after Christmas, I decided to invest in a DSLR. I'm absolutely loving it and it is definitely one of my greatest investments. Every time I take it with me on a bushwalk, or on a bike ride with my dog, or take photographs of food with it, I am learning something new.

This pavlova wreath was essentially the first photographs I took with my new camera, aside from a few random ones prior when trying to work out how to make the shutter work. These photographs are mostly me not understanding how to work my camera ("how do you photo?"). It's such a steep learning curve, but one I am excited about experiencing.

As a baker, I get asked a lot what my favourite dessert is. Because I enjoy making the complex, most people seem to expect an interesting answer. Some intricate dessert, something complex feat of skill and beauty that is the epitome of perfection on a plate.

It's much more simple than that.

Pavlova

A crisp meringue with a soft, marshmallowy interior. Topped with fresh cream and fruit, I would eat it every day without ever getting sick of it. Most of my favourite desserts, in fact, include fresh fruit. You just can't beat the perfection created by nature in the form of fruit.

Pavlova is a staple at many celebrations in Australia and New Zealand. Such a staple, in fact, that most of us near faint from shock when those from other countries declare they've never heard of it!

If you’re one of these people, it’s time to amend that…

Festive Peppermint Chocolate Ripple Joconde

I'm not sure who gets more excited about these chocolate ripple cakes more: me about making them, or my family about consuming them. Either way, this mutual excitement makes the process even better.

Chocolate ripple cake has such a welcome place on the Australian Christmas dessert table. It's also something that's quick and easy to make and a process I'm familiar with. It's ideal when made a day in advance and needs no finishing touches before serving. That made it a perfect candidate for our Christmas feast. This cake was one of the two main desserts I made for Christmas, alongside the macarons and pudding truffles for nibbles.

This version featured the familiar chocolate poinsettia on top, but I gave the joconde sponge a little twist.

Continue reading

Vegan Gingerbread Gift Tags

Each year for our festive feast, I like to do something different with the place markers. Some years they're edible, some years they're not. Gingerbread makes for a great option as it allows so many creative possibilities. A couple of years ago I made chocolate gingerbread boxes and filled them with treats, the lids of which had everyone's names on it. This year, I opted for gingerbread gift tags.

Since the last time I made edible place settings, my partner's brother has opted for a vegan diet and his wife is vegetarian. My sister eats less types of fruit and vegetables than I have fingers on my hands, and my dad won't try anything he imagines he won't like (which encompasses anything that isn't roast meat or a casserole-type dish). Creating a menu that could suit everyone was definitely a challenge, but a welcome one.

The challenge for the gingerbread tags was finding a recipe that could suit a vegan dietary requirement, whilst still tasting appealing enough for the non-vegans.

Continue reading

12 Days of Christmas :: 12 Pudding Truffles

This final instalment of the 12 Days blog series is another creation I make most years. I usually make many different kinds of truffles for Christmas and put a few aside to dress up as mini puddings. This year I'm not making a truffle tree, so rather than grabbing a few choice spares, I chose a cake recipe especially for the occasion. 

We don't really like the traditional steamed puddings in our household. One we do like, however, is the untraditional chocolate and raspberry version. These truffles are made from chocolate and strawberry cupcakes to represent our ideal steamed pudding. 

Lots more under the cut…

12 Days of Christmas :: 11 Rudolph Cookies

It wouldn't be Christmas without a certain reindeer. Rudolph and his famous red nose feature here on a batch of peanut butter cookies.

Peanut butter cookies are one of my boyfriend's favourite ever things. When I'm picking his brain for ideas to bake, he usually requests them and I usually ignore him and look for something new. When I finally give in, it rekindles his love for them and he laments my lack of baking them more often. So when I finally decided on baking some rudolph cookies, peanut butter was the obvious choice.

Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer had a very shiny nose…