Category Archives: Cakes

Tiger Cake

Tiger cake

No, this cake does not have tiger blood in it and is not related to Charlie Sheen (or any of his cooking methods).

I can’t get enough of Alice Medrich lately and I’ve had this cake in my head for years. It’s from her book Bittersweet, a cook book that I’m fond of as it was the catalyst for my love of baking.

I’ve wanted to try this recipe since I bought the book, but I think I was too intimidated by the ingredients white pepper and olive oil (at the time I was used to things that you heat in a microwave and called it a meal).

You make your batter and then you take a portion of it and add the cocoa mixture so you can do your layers. This is supposed to be self-marbleizing, but mine came out more as a gentle wave, but I didn’t split my layers as evenly as I would have liked to.

The cake comes out moist and the chocolate is deep and rich. Because this cake is olive oil based, you need to use a flavourful one (and probably a somewhat expensive one). It doesn’t help that the recipe calls for a cup of this liquid gold. I ran out of my good stuff and substituted half with some EVOO from Whole Foods. You can taste the olive oil flavour, so try to use something decent. There’s only a hint of white pepper in this and I was wasn’t too sure if I’d add 1/4 teaspoon more next time, but I think that the 1/2 teaspoon gives just the right amount of heat and doesn’t overpower. It’s like a little tickle instead of a slap in the face.

If you do make this cake, please please please try it toasted the next day. It was Medrich’s recommendation and I’m glad I followed it. It gives the cake a much different character. I will pretty much be eating this cake for breakfast until it runs out.

Recipe here. (Note: Medrich specifically states natural cocoa powder, not dutch-processed. I’m guessing this was omitted as it’s hard to come by in Canada. I bought mine from King Arthur Flour.)

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A Zombie Ate My Cupcake!: Review

Shattered Glass

Looking for something spooky to make this Halloween? These cupcakes will fit the bill.

I was excited to receiver my copy courtesy of Thomas Allen & Son. These recipes are from Lily Vanilli who sells her wares in London. The book is full of awesome ideas that range from not-so-spooky to creepy (bleeding hearts anyone?).

I got a chance to try the Undead Gingerbread (which you will see in an upcoming post of Test Kitchen on SweetHome) and Shattered Glass.

Making the cupcakes was pretty straight forward with one exception: some of the ingredients were hard to come by. This is most likely due to being a UK book. I also had to go to a couple of different grocery stores to find canned cherries. I bought cherry pie filling as a stand by, but I didn’t end up using it although I’m sure it would work. I used canned bing cherries and it gave a nice dark colour. Being a UK book, the recipes come with weights for precise measurements and more accurate baking.

I thought making the “shattered glass” would be a challenge because I can never make candy right on the first attempt, but it went smoothly despite me finding a broken candy thermometer and having to judge the temperature manually. Here is the site I used on how to tell the different sugar stages. It worked and the candy was edible. Whew!

Pointers on making the “shattered glass”
– Be very careful making the candy. Sugar burns are incredibly painful with scorching temperatures of 300F. Long sleeves and your full attention is a must.
– I used the end of a rolling pin to shatter the sugar. There were a few pieces that went flying. I’m the accident prone type so I kept my distance and turned my head to avoid getting flying candy in the eye. If I were to make this again I would probably wear safety goggles just in case (yes I’m that accident prone).
– I couldn’t be bothered getting clear corn syrup so I used the golden syrup that was in my pantry. This gives the glass more of an amber colour. Maybe the shattered glass was from a bar fight gone wrong?

My kitchen was a sticky mess afterwards, but so worth it! The chocolate cupcake recipe is killer (no pun intended) and dense with a hint of coffee flavour. I felt the vanilla frosting was too sweet for my tastes, but my co-workers who love their sweets didn’t mind it one bit.

This is a fun book to have and you don’t have to wait until Halloween to try out the recipes.

I have an extra copy of this book, so here is my first giveaway!

What is your favourite Halloween treat? Mine are those yummy chewy caramels. Comment below by October 22 midnight EST. Contest is open to residents of Canada.

Chocolate Cupcakes
Makes 12

1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (140g) superfine (caster) sugar
1 extra-large (US) or large (UK) egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup (115g) all-purpose (plain) flour, sifted twice
1/4 cup (30g) unsweetened cocoa
1/4 teaspoon baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 (80ml) sour cream
4 tablespoons strong espresso, cooled

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. Line a 12-hole muffin pan with paper cases.
2. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until very light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add the egg vanilla extract, and beat until thoroughly incorporated.
3. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a mixing bowl.
4. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with sour cream. Then slowly add the cooled coffee.
5. Using an ice-cream scoop, spoon the batter into the paper cases, filling them three-quarters full. Bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
6. Cool in the muffin pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.

Vanilla Frosting

1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 tablespoons full-fat milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups (360g) confectioner’s (icing) sugar
2 tablespoons heavy (double) cream Note: I used whipping cream

1. Using an electric mixer, beat the softened butter in a bowl until smooth.
2. Add the milk, vanilla extract, two-thirds of the sugar, and the double cream, and blend until smooth.
3. Slowly add the remaining sugar, beating constantly until smooth.

Cherry Sauce
1 cup (125g) black cherries, very ripe and de-stoned or canned
1/4 cup (50g) superfine (caster) sugar
1/2 cup (120ml) water or juice from the canned cherries, if using
1/2 teaspoon lime juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch (cornflour) or arrowroot

1. To make the cherry sauce, blend the cherries in a bowl using an electric hand blender, then place in a medium-sized heavy-based pan with the sugar, water, lime juice, and cornstarch or arrowroot. Heat on medium until the cherries begin to release their liquid, and then slowly bring, stirring constantly. Reduce to a simmer and heat until the cherry mixture has thickened to the desired consistency (runny enough to pipe but thick enough to prevent bleeding into the frosting). Allow to cool.

Shattered Glass

oil spray
2 cups (500ml) water
3 1/2 cups (785g) granulated sugar
1 cup (250ml) light corn syrup (liquid glucose)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar.

1. Line a shallow tray with aluminum foil, ensuring there are no gaps (any gaps between sheets can be sealed using spray oil). Spray the mold all over with oil spray at least 30 minutes before using.
2. Mix together the water, sugar, corn syrup, and cream of tartar in an old saucepan and bring to the boil with a candy thermometer inserted. Let the mixture boil, stirring continuously, until it reaches 300F/150C. Pour the mixture very quickly and carefully into the oiled mold and let it cool.
3. Pop the mixture carefully out of the mold when it has cooled completely. I used a meat tenderizer to tap it in the center and it cracked into perfect shards.
4. Cover the top of your cakes with frosting, then insert a shard of “glass” into the center of each cake. Using a pipette or spoon, drop some cherry sauce onto the glass as fake blood.

A Zombie Ate My Cupcake! by Lily Vanilli. CICO Books, $19.95. Buy now. Recipe reprinted with permission.

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Simple Celebration Cake

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake

I’d like to thank Donna Hay for creating a simple, easy cake that tastes fantastic.

Last weekend there were a couple of birthday celebrations (including a belated one for me). I love making cakes (although to be honest, I may be getting tired of cakes…I’ve made 3 in a week) and I was drawn to the cake that’s on the cover of Donna Hay’s 50th issue.

No mixer is required to make the cake (just the frosting) and it was put together in no time. I did add extra icing sugar to the frosting as the kiddies would be having a piece and I felt it would be too tangy (a.k.a. sour) for them.

Recipe here (printable).

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Whipped Cream Cake

Whipped cream cake

I love making recipes that involve lengthy processes. It helps me learn patience I guess. My family, however, always requests simple easy to make cakes whenever I offer to bake them up something. My mom’s birthday just passed and wanted something simple and not fussy. As usual, I went to my go to cake book, Heavenly Cakes.

This cake is not fussy or complicated at all. I was able to make the cake without going to the grocery store. You may need to go out and buy some whipping cream if unlike me you don’t have a litre of it in your fridge along with 3 pounds of butter. This is a nice and light cake. It does have a huge helping of whipping cream in it, so don’t go thinking this is diet food.

It’s a very short ingredient list and by the time the oven is done preheating this cake could be in the oven. The hardest part about this recipe is buttering and flouring the pan. I also recommend that you grease the cooling rack like the book suggests. I ignored the instructions and the cake ended up sticking like crazy.

This recipe will be in my arsenal of cakes I can quickly throw together. Definitely give it a try.

Recipe here

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Golden Almond Cake

Golden Almond Cake

For my sister’s birthday, when I asked what cake she wanted, she mentioned a cake I had made a year ago for my grandmother’s birthday. It was a simple cake thrown together that the adults liked, but didn’t win the hearts of the kids. I’m guessing it’s because of the lack of sweet frosting. Instead, in its place was fluffy whipped cream.

This recipe comes from The Cake Bible. The cake is dead simple to make. More efficient bakers could probably mix up everything and have the batter in the pan before the oven is done preheating. For the simplest presentation, a dusting of icing sugar is all that’s needed. I decided to cut the cake in half and fill it with whipped cream and raspberries. It’s a great Spring/Summer cake that you can definitely play around with.

Recipe here. For the filling, just beat whipping cream with some sugar and then put it on one layer of cake, add berries, and then place the other cake layer on top.

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