It’s been quite a long time since I’ve played around with a joconde. I have a terrible habit of getting stuck on one idea: I’ll bake almost nothing but that for weeks, and then forget it ever existed for a year. So when my birthday rolled around and I had the opportunity to make whatever I wanted with no restrictions, I decided it was time to return to this awesome cakey medium.
So far I’ve mostly used decorating combs for making patterns in the joconde paste. I’ve been wanting to use the sponge as more of a canvas for unusual designs. You always see them with uniform designs on the sides, but I wanted something a bit more picturesque. I had a number of food stencils, but all were a bit bland for what I was thinking. I hit up my favourite cake decorating store and started rummaging through the stencils until I finally found something that was more ‘me’.
It was Cameron’s uncle’s birthday just recently, so I got another excuse to make cake. If trying to get my partner to decided on a cake is a task, getting the same from his uncle is umpteen times that. We’re an indecisive bunch. My only brief was to make something ‘plain Jane’. In a way, that’s more difficult for me. I find it too easy to over-complicate something. Doing something plain? It’s not really my style. I’m not sure I even know what plain is.
For these instances, I tend to default to simple flavours and classic recipes. It doesn’t get much more classic than a sponge in my book. A sponge is also usually a pretty safe option in Cam’s household, and a relatively regular appearance at birthdays. I’m fairly sure the first time I ate a sponge was at one of his family celebrations. So all that was left was the fill it with flavours I find reminiscent of previous occasions spent with his family.
It's been a while since I've been able to participate in the Daring Bakers' Challenged for one reason or another. In fact, I think this might be my first challenge of the year. And what a challenge to jump back in on! This month, Korena of Korena in the Kitchen was our May Daring Bakers’ host and she delighted us with this beautiful Swedish Prinsesstårta!
One of my favourite things about the Daring Bakers' challenges is getting to try things you've never head of before. The Prinsesstårta was one of those things. Brand new, but my oh my it sounded heavenly. Sponge cake, custard, jam and whipped cream — let me at it!
When I described the challenge to my boyfriend, he said he thought the cake might be an appropriate treat for his dad's birthday cake.
The occasion warranted a couple of minor changes…
Last Sunday was my 25th Birthday. Shh, yes, I’m getting old. As the only baker in my house, of course the cake duties fell to me. Something I love because I get to experiment with new things.
I had an idea. An idea involving chocolate bubbles. But then I decided to hang out with my friends instead and left myself only 6 hours to complete the cake. What ended up happening was one disaster quite literally flowing into the next.
It's no secret I love me any excuse to make a cake, so a gathering with Cameron's family at Easter was the perfect excuse. I always make something nest-themed at Easter so I knew it just had to have some nest component. I'd already done the fondant and the spun sugar thing, so it had to be different. I sat down and did a little brain-storming and eventually came up with this beast.
But this cake has a little hidden secret: it's completely vegan.
Not that you’d ever know…
Of all the people I make food for, my number one priority in life is my boyfriend, Cameron. He's what motivates me to learn and try new things and attempt to impress him with some crazy dessert. He gets to eat almost everything I make, the only exception being commissions, really. I'll upload snaps of my cakes to Facebook and people will be quick to tell him how lucky they believe him to be. They think he must get the most amazing, whimsical cakes for his birthday. They think him blessed to be able to request from me to bring anything to life via this edible medium. But the reality is that he wants none of that. At heart, he's a simple man.
So when his 30th birthday rolled around I wanted to make him something impressive to mark the occasion.
He just wanted a cheesecake.
What the birthday boy says, goes…
Last Saturday, my boyfriend and I celebrated out 6th anniversary. Where there's a celebration, there's gonna be a cake.
Being so close to Valentine's Day, it's often difficult to think of different and unique present, card and cake ideas. Both of us consider our anniversary as the real celebration, with Valentine's being more of a warm up of sorts. Valentine's is another excuse to do something a little special for each other, but we both feel it's more of a Hallmark holiday. The 16th of Feb is that day that really means something to us, and in turn I try to save the special stuff for that day. We also don't really want to have to deal with two cakes to finish, either.
This year, having just got back from our holiday I didn't have a lot of time to brainstorm, nor had I had the chance to replenish my cupboard with groceries. I had to make do with what was on hand, so I raided the pantry and fridge for odds and ends to throw something together. I didn't have enough cream cheese for a cheesecake (his favourite), but enough for some cream cheese icing (his favourite icing). Red velvet cake was the next logical conclusion.
Red is the colour of love, after all…
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.
There's little around the house that remind me that Christmas is coming as well as the sign of my poinsettias beginning to bloom. Around mid-Spring their leaves begin to turn red, reminding us that December is not far away. Despite their traditional use in Christmas floral displays, the brightness of the red remind me of everything I love visually about the festive season. Red is my favourite colour. I love it's vibrancy, it's warmth and its festivity. While my Christmas tree decorations are always blue and silver, but my place settings are always red and gold. Red reminds me of time with family and loved ones, sharing joyful conversation over good food.
It wouldn't be Christmas without poinsettias. It wouldn't be Christmas dessert without edible poinsettias.
Just what every Christmas needs…
Last week I went out to dinner with mine and my boyfriend's immediate family to celebrate the completion of my Masters degree. We went to one of my favourite local restaurants, Azurea's and had a lovely time together. While Azurea's have a gorgeous selection of cakes and desserts themselves, I wasn't about to let go of an excuse to bake! Between mine and his family, everyone's preference for cake is many and varied, so choosing one is always a difficult task — someone is always not going to be happy! I eventually settled on this cake I had been wanting to try for quite a while now.