Kit Kat and M&M cake

Recently we had a special birthday in the family (I’m not allowed to reveal who’s it was or the age though!!) and a special birthday deserves a special cake. I had seen a cake on Pintrest earlier in the year and immediately thought it would be perfect for the occasion.

M&M and Kit Kat cake

When searching for a recipe it seemed most of these types of cakes where filled with buttercream frosting, which I thought would be far too sweet so I decided to go with a raspberry mousse instead to add a fresh note to it.

Chocolate cake with raspberry mousse

As I was under strict instruction not to arrange any kind of party, big or small, but just have a small family celebration, I reduced the cake ingredients by a third to make it slightly smaller – after all it was mainly me and hubby who was going it eat it and although we both love cake, there is a limit to how much cake we can eat!!

Chocolate sponges

I have added measurements for the normal sized cake below though. I baked the sponge in three small cake tins (which are actually a pie dishes, but they fit the purpose). If I had made the normal sized cake I would have just used a large (26 cm) cake tin instead and cut it into three layers.

Frosted chocolate and raspberry cake

I couldn’t get away from the buttercream completely though as I needed something to stick the Kit Kat bars to the side of the cake. I used a recipe I had for a Swiss roll filling, which turned out to be very rich. The next time I make the cake (I foresee this getting requested for children’s birthday parties in years to come!) I would probably use a different recipe, possibly a cream cheese frosting as that would hopefully be less rich.

Kit Kat cake, before topping is added

Because I made the cake a bit smaller the Kit Kats were sticking up quite a bit above the cake, which meant it took a lot of M&M’s to fill the hollow at the top.

M&M and Kit Kat cake

Although it may seem like a long list of ingredients below, and lengthy instructions, it is a very easy cake to make and it looks very impressive. It is also very tasty which is always a plus!

Kit Kat and M&M cake

Ingredients – Cake
3 eggs
200 ml sugar
300 ml plain flour
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1.5 tsp baking powder
300 ml boiling water

Buttercream frosting
200g soft butter
300 ml icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg yoke
8 tbsp cocoa powder

Raspberry mousse
300 g raspberries
4 leaves gelatine
3 eggs
125 ml sugar
250 ml whipping cream

Decoration
8-12 Kit Kat bars
1-1.5 185g bag of M&M
Ribbon

Method
1) Preheat the oven to 175C and prepare a cake tin
2) Beat eggs and sugar until pale and fluffy.
3) Mix the flour with the cocoa and baking powder. Add to the egg and sugar mixture.
4) Pour in the boiling water and mix until smooth
5) Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake for about 35 minutes. Once cool cut into three layers.
6) If wanting a smooth raspberry mousse, mix the raspberries in a food processor and pass though a sieve to remove the seeds. If not wanting a smooth mousse, don’t pass through the sieve.
7) Soak gelatine leaves in cold water for a few minutes until soft. Squeeze the water out of them and melt over low heat in a saucepan, or for a few seconds in a microwave. Allow to cool slightly.
8) Beat eggs and sugar for the mousse until pale and fluffy.
9) Add the raspberry sauce to the egg mixture. Make sure the raspberries are at room temperature when adding, if using frozen raspberries the gelatine will set too quickly if the mixture is too cold when added.
10) Mix in the whipped cream and finally the gelatine. Chill in the fridge for about 4 hours, or longer.
11) To make the buttercream, mix butter, icing sugar and cocoa powder until smooth.
12) Add the vanilla extract and finally the egg yolk and mix until fully incorporated.
13) To assemble the cake, spread the bottom layer of the cake with raspberry mousse, add the middle layer and spread with raspberry mousse before adding the top layer.
14) Cover the cake with the buttercream frosting.
15) Split the Kit Kat bars into two (leghtwise) and stick to the sides of the cake.
16) Tie a ribbon around the cake and fill the top with M&Ms.
17) Keep cool until serving

Expect an avalanche of M&Ms when cutting the cake!

M&M cake avalanche

Herman friendship cake

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a blog about Herman the German friendship cake over at the Learner Londoner. Little did I know that a week later I would receive a text from a friend (who lives in the opposite part of the country to the Learner Londoner) asking me if I know what a friendship cake is!!

I first heard of this cake a few years ago from my sister who had received it from a friend. At the time I thought it sounded a bit strange, getting a bit of cake batter from someone and having it sitting in your kitchen for a number of days, while feeding a concision of flour, sugar and milk it ever so often. This was before I developed an interest in sourdough baking, so when I got the text from my friend I was thrilled to have a go at it.

Herman starter

Looking into the history of the cake, it is believed to have it’s roots in the Amish tradition where a sourdough bread or cake was passed around. In the UK it seems to be known as Herman the German friendship cake. In Sweden, where my sister lives, it’s just known as a Herman cake, but it seems to be pretty widespread cake that appears all over the world – it even have websites dedicated to it!

There are a number of different variations of the cake, but I stuck to the ‘original’ recipe which is basically an apple cake. I omitted the raisins though as I’m not that keen on raisins in cakes. I also omitted the sugar and melted butter that can be added on top before baking it, as I didn’t feel it was needed.

Herman friendship cake

The cake is flavoured with cinnamon and a bit of vanilla and it tastes wonderfully! It has a slight tangy after-taste from the sourdough but it is very subtle. I used Bramley apples which added a nice tart contrast to the lovely cinnamon sponge, but sweeter eating apples would be nice too. I did consider adding some cardamom to it as well but didn’t quite have time to peel and grind the cardamom pods I had at home this time (oh, to be able to buy it ready-ground cardamom in the UK – have yet to find it somewhere). If I make it again however, I’ll make sure to add it.

I’m not sure if it was the oil or the Herman starter but the cake kept lovely and moist for several days after being baked. It makes a very large cake, according to the website it freezes well, not that we had the opportunity to try! Although it was mainly me and hubby who ate it, it did disappear remarkably quickly…!

Herman friendship cake_without tin

Here is the recipe for the cake itself. For full instructions of how to care for it when you receive a portion, variations of the cake or how to make your own starter, have a look at http://www.hermanthegermanfriendshipcake.com/
It also has conversion details from cups to imperial and metric.

Herman friendship cake
Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 2 heaped tsp baking powder
  • half tsp (teaspoon) salt
  • 2 heaped tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 (two thirds) cup of cooking oil
  • 1 portion of Herman starter
  • 2 cooking apples cut into chunks
  • 1 cup raisins (optional)
  • 1/4 (quarter) cup brown sugar (optional)
  • 1/4 (quarter) cup melted butter (optional)
     

Method
1) Preheat the oven to 175C and prepare a cake tin
2) Beat sugar and eggs until pale and fluffy
3) Add the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and mix
4) Add the vanilla extract, oil, starter and apples (and raisins if using) and mix together.
5) Put into a large cake tin. Sprinkle with the brown sugar and melted butter if using
6) Bake for at least 45 minutes. If using a normal round cake tin it will most likely not be ready then as it’s a BIG cake. I put a baking parchment over the cake after about 50 minutes and cooked it for almost 1.5 hours in total. If using a large rectangular cake tin instead 45 mins might be enough.

Slice of Herman cake

Princess cake for a prince

There is a cake in Sweden called Princess Cake which is very common for birthdays and other celebrations (we had it as our wedding cake!). It is covered in green marzipan (it used to be called just ‘green cake’ before being renamed Princess cake) but it can sometimes also be pink, which I suppose is a bit more princessy than green. However, when I was making it as a birthday cake for my son recently I decided to go for ready-rolled golden marzipan in order to save time and, more importantly, as I didn’t want colour the marzipan and end up with bright green hands for the birthday party, having finally learnt – the hard way! – that you should wear gloves when colouring marzipan or icing but never seem to have any around when I need them!!

The cake itself is a light sponge cake layered with raspberry jam, custard cream and whipped cream.

Cut princess cake

Although I have made it a couple of times before I couldn’t remember the sponge recipe, so I decided to go with the one from the classic baking book “Swedish Cakes and Cookies“. It was originally published in 1945 and has been updated several times since. In Swedish it’s called “Sju Sorters Kakor” (Seven Types of Cakes) which is what was expected to be on offer if you were served coffee by any self-respecting housewife back in the day – as you can tell fika has a long standing tradition in Sweden!

Sponge for Princess cake

I must admit I was a little bit worried about how the sponge would turn out as it doesn’t contain much flour, and I had a version of the recipe from a friend that contained twice the amount of potato flour. I needn’t have worried though, it turned out incredibly light and porous, just as it should be! I guess there’s a reason why the book has been around for almost 70 years!

Filling a Princess cake

The cake is usually filled with raspberry jam but it can really be any type of jam. I used Ambrosia Devon custard for the custard cream as it’s quite a thick custard. If using a thinner custard, gelatine is usually added to the custard and the whipped cream mixture to thicken it. Assembling a Princess cake

The cake is covered in a layer of whipped cream before the marzipan is draped over it. Even though there’s quite a lot of cream in the cake it doesn’t feel heavy due to the lightness of the sponge. A Victoria sponge would give a completely different result, and not in a good way…

Golden Princess cake

Hubby wasn’t all that impressed with the colour of the cake. I had expected it to be a bit more golden than what it was, but it still tasted delicious!

Princess cake
Ingredients
Sponge:
4 eggs
200 ml sugar
100 ml plain flour
100 ml potato flour (or corn flour)
2 tsp baking powder

Filling:
300 ml whipping cream
200 ml ready made thick custard
100 ml raspberry jam

Method
1) Preheat the oven to 175C and prepare a 21 cm cake tin
2) Beat cream and sugar until pale and fluffy
3) Mix the dry ingredients and add to the egg and sugar, mix to combine
4) Pour into the cake tin and bake for 40 mins or golden and an inserted skewer comes out clean
5) Let cool completely before slicing the cake into three layers
6) Spread the bottom sponge layer with the jam. Mix the custard with about a third of the whipped cream and spread half of it over the jam
7) Add the middle sponge and spread with the remaining custard cream mixture
8) Add the top sponge layer and cover the top and sides of the cake with the whipped cream
9) Roll out the marzipan (if not using ready rolled) and cover the cake
10) Decorate and keep chilled until ready to be served

The sponge freezes very well. I made it in advance and froze it as we were on holiday until the day before the party, but it’s recommended to stick it in the freezer for a while anyway as it’s easier to cut it when it’s defrosting. Just take it out about half an hour before cutting it.

Princess cake

To show what the cake looks like with pink marzipan, here’s one I made for my eldest a couple of years ago. Picture’s not great, it was taken with a mobile phone in bad lighting, but it gives an idea. It also features the traditional marzipan rose and (somewhat heavy) dusting of icing sugar.

Pink princess cake

And finally, for a bit of nostalgia… here’s a picture of our wedding cake. Yum!  🙂

Princess wedding cake

Cheese tart

It’s been a very busy few weeks lately with three birthdays, visiting parents, holidays and a kids birthday party. A lot of baking and not so much time to update the blog, but it’s time to rectify that now!

Starting with something savoury in the shape of a cheese tart, which we had for a starter when our parents came round for dinner. The recipe is based on a Swedish recipe for a tart made with Västerbotten cheese – a hard cheese that is somewhat similar to Parmesan. As I wasn’t able to get hold of Västerbotten cheese, I substituted it with Parmesan instead. I have also used 1 part Cheddar cheese and 2 parts Parmesan cheese in the past when making it for a buffet.

Cheese tart uncooked

In order to save time I decided to go with ready-made pastry, but I have included the ingredients for the pastry below if you want to make it from scratch. The tart ended up a bit on the dark side – it still tasted great, but I should probably have covered it with some tin foil or baking parchment towards the end of the cooking to keep it golden rather than brown.

Allow the tart to cool to room temperature before serving. Serve with a green salad and possibly a dollop of creme fraiche.

Cheese tart - cooked

Ingredients
Pastry:
300 ml plain flour
125 g cold butter, cubed
2 tbsp cold water

Cheese filling:
3 eggs
200 ml single cream
200 g Västerbottens or Parmesan cheese, coarsely grated
freshly ground black pepper

Pastry
1) Combine flour and the cold butter in your food processor and process until you’ve got coarse crumbs.
2) Add the cold water and process again, until the dough comes together.
3) Flatten the dough into a disc and wrap in clingfilm. Rest in the fridge for 30 – 60 minutes.
4) Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface, large enough to fill a 26 cm tart tin.Transfer the pastry dough into the tin, prick the bottom with a fork.
5) Blind bake in a 200 C oven for about 15 minutes.

Filling
1) Whisk the eggs and cream until combined, then season with pepper (no salt is needed as the cheese is salt enough).
2) Add the grated cheese.
3) Pour into the pastry case and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the filling is set and the tart is golden.

Cheese tart