Lemon strawberry cake – and a new kitchen

Summer finally seems to have arrived in Scotland! And with it the chance to relax a bit. The past six month have been very busy – we moved house in the beginning of the year, and I now appreciate why they say moving house is one of the most stressful events that can occur throughout your life. Although having moved several times in the past {including between countries}, I found moving with kids and gutting and redecorating the whole house immediately on entry meant the experience was taken to a whole new level!

Living without a kitchen for three weeks was also an experience. Getting a brand new kitchen at the end of the process was definitely worth it though! Just in case you are a tiny bit curious, this is how our kitchen looked for about two months before it got ripped out…
Kitchen_before
We weren’t using any of the drawers or cupboards, which is why everything was piled on top of the counter.

We then had to use this for three weeks..
Kitchen_during_renovation
…while the kitchen looked like this…
Kitchen_gutted

…before finally getting our new kitchen!
New_kitchen

It’s now a pleasure to cook and bake again. One cake I make every summer, usually as a birthday cake as there are a lot of summer birthdays in our family, is this one.
Lemon_strawberry_cake
I usually make it in a round tin, and without lemon curd in the filling, but I thought I’d mix it up a bit when some friends came round recently. The sponge is flavoured with lemon zest and the addition of lemon curd in the filling makes it very fresh. If you don’t want to fill it, the sponge cake is very good on it’s own too.

Lemon Strawberry Cake

Ingredients
2 eggs
250 ml  sugar
300 ml  plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 lemon, zest finely grated or 1 tsp vanilla extract
80 butter
225 ml milk

Filling
3-4 tbsp lemon curd
300 ml whipping or double cream
1 punnet of strawberries
possibly a little bit of icing sugar

Method
1) Preheat the oven to 175 degrees and prepare the cake tin.
2) Whisk eggs and sugar until pale and fluffy.
3) Gently mix in flour, baking powder and grated lemon zest (or vanilla extract if using)
4) Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the milk and once hot pour over the batter. Gently stir until smooth.
5) Pour into the prepared tin and bake for about 30 mins, until golden and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool.
6) Once cool, slice the cake into two or three layers and whip the cream.
7) Spread each of the layers (apart from the top one) with lemon curd, then add whipped cream and top with sliced strawberries. For the top of the cake, either spread it with the remaining cream or lightly dust with icing sugar and decorate with whole or halved strawberries.

Lemon_strawberry_cake2

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Arrr, pirate cake!

My youngest is all into pirates at the moment and keeps running about shouting “ahoy, pirate ship” {he hasn’t quite figured out there is a difference between ‘pirates’ and ‘pirate ships’!}. For his recent birthday, a pirate theme was a given!

I wanted to make him a pirate cake and when doing some research I found some truly amazing pirate cakes in the shape of three dimensional pirate ships and treasure chests. I’ve never been good with 3D cakes though, instead I decided on a simple pirate head cake. But, never one for making it easy for myself, I wanted to jazz up the flavours a bit. Rather than using the traditional jam and buttercream filling, I settled on a raspberry mousse and a ‘toffee mousse’, which is usually called ‘fluff’ in Sweden – not to be confused with marshmallow fluff though. This is basically sweets {toffees, chocolates, foam sweets or jelly sweets – pretty much anything will do} melted in cream and later whipped like normal cream. It’s very popular as a cake filling but works equally well to frost cupcakes. Not the least be healthy, but hey, birthday cakes aren’t supposed to be!

I started off by making a sketch of the cake, to use as a guide when decorating it. I had initially thought about cutting out parts of it to use as a stencil, but ended up free-handing when decorating it. Pirate cake sketchI bought red and black icing, to make it a bit easier on myself, and then coloured some white icing to make it skin toned {as my local supermarket doesn’t stock that}. Some more research recommended mixing red, yellow and a bit of green food colouring to get a skin tone. I ended up having mix the colours a couple of times before adding it to the icing, as the red became too predominant initially – so go easy on the red! Another thing worth noting is, put some of the white icing away before adding the colour, to be able to make the white dots for the head scarf, unless you want to send your husband out late at night to get more white icing!Pirate cake

Pirate cake

Ingredients
Cake
4 eggs
200 ml sugar
100 ml potato flour
100 ml plain flour
2 tsp baking powder

Raspberry mousse
200 g raspberries
1 tbsp sugar
50 ml water
2-3 gelatine leaves
200 ml whipping cream

Toffee mousse
300 ml whipping cream
180 g toffees

Buttercream
120 g  butter, softened
300 g icing sugar
3 tsp boiling water
1 tsp vanilla extract

Icing or sugarpaste in various colours

Method
1) The day before making the cake, gently heat the cream for the toffee mousse in a saucepan along with the toffees until they have melted completely. Make sure the cream doesn’t boil, as it won’t be possible to whip the cream later if it does.
2) Once the toffee cream is cool, pour it into a bowl, cover and chill in the fridge over night.
3) To make the sponge for the cake, preheat the oven to 175C and prepare a 23cm cake tin
4) Whisk the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy.
5) Add the potato and plain flour along with the baking powder and gently mix in until fully incorporated.
6) Bake for 45-50 mins or until golden and a skewer inserted comes out clean.
7) Leave to cool.
8) To make the raspberry mousse, put the gelatine leaves in a bowl and cover with cold water. Leave for a few minutes until they have softened.
9) Meanwhile, heat the raspberries with the sugar and water in a saucepan over a low heat. Keep stirring until the raspberries start to break down into a puré. Once they are warmed through, add the softened gelatine leaves and stir until dissolved. Leave to cool.
10) Whip the cream for the raspberry mousse until soft peaks form. Add the cool raspberry puré and mix together. Keep chilled until ready to use.
11) To make the toffee mousse, whip the chilled toffee cream until stiff peaks form.
12) To make the buttercream, beat the butter until soft. Add about half of the icing sugar and beat until smooth. Add the remaining icing sugar, the vanilla extract and one tablespoon of the water and beat the mixture until creamy and smooth. Beat in the rest of the water a little at the time, if necessary, to loosen the mixture until smooth.
13) Cut the cake sponge into three layers. Add the raspberry mousse to the first layer and the toffee mousse to the second layer before adding the final sponge layer on top.
14) Cover the whole cake with the buttercream before adding the icing and decorating it.

Pirate cake with candels

Strawberry cake

There’s a lot of summer birthdays in my family, and this cake is a firm favourite for birthday celebrations. The other weekend we had a BBQ with our parents and took the opportunity to celebrate three of our summer birthdays. Unfortunately our fridge/freezer had broken down a couple of days before the BBQ so we couldn’t prepare anything beforehand, but on the other hand this cake is best eaten straight away – it’s light and fresh and doesn’t need to sit to let the flavours to mingle or the sponge to soak up any juices.

Strawberry cream cakeThe cake is layered with strawberries….Strawberry cake - layer 1 and a custard cream.Strawberry cake - layer 2 The sponge is flavoured with lemon zest, giving it fresh and light taste, even though it’s covered with whipped cream.  Strawberry cake assembledTopped with lots of strawberries! Strawberry cake I usually don’t like to make a big deal about my birthday, but I just have to mention one of the birthday presents I got from a lovely friend of mine. It’s a plate (bowl?) with “fika & more” printed across it. I was chuffed to bits to get it!!fika & more plate

Strawberry cake

Ingredients
2 eggs
250ml (1 cup) sugar
300ml (1 1/4 cup) plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
zest of 1 lemon
80g butter
225g milk (or water)
100ml (about 1/2 cup) ready made custard (I used tinned as it is usually a bit thicker)
300 ml (1 1/4 cup) whipping cream
50 ml (1/4 cup) strawberry jam
1 punnet of strawberries

Method
1) Preheat the oven to 175C / 350F and prepare a 20 cm / 8 inch cake tin.
2) Beat the eggs and sugar until white and fluffy.
3) Mix the flour and baking powder and fold them into the egg mixture.
4) Add the finally grated lemon zest.
5) Melt the butter, add the milk (or water if using) and pour over the mixture, gently mixing until the batter is smooth.
6) Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 30 mins, or until golden brown. Leave to cool.
7) Slice the cake into three layers.
8) Spread the bottom layer with strawberry jam, then cover with sliced strawberries.
9) Whip the cream to a stiff peak and mix about a quarter of it with the custard in a separate bowl.
10) Add the second sponge layer and spread with the custard cream mixture.
11) Add the top layer and cover with the remaining whipped cream.
12) Decorate with strawberries.

Keep chilled until ready to serve, or if lacking a fridge – serve straight away!

Pink rainbow and Tatty Teddy cake

My daughter is currently into Tatty Teddy, and for her birthday she had asked for a Tatty Teddy cake. A {at the time} secret Tatty Teddy cake board was created on Pintrest and off I went trawling through numerous {lots and lots and lots!} of websites looking for inspiration for said cakes. Friends even joined in the search and sent me links to places who sold such cakes for additional inspiration! Eventually, I had gathered a good selection of images and had a rough idea of how to make a Tatty Teddy {is it obsessive to confess I made a dummy teddy out of play dough too see if what I had in mind was doable?!}

I had originally planned to make a little Tatty Teddy figurine to sit on top of the cake, but due to time constraints and not having the right material to work with {my local supermarket doesn’t stock sugarpaste so ended up using royal icing}, I eventually had to abandon the idea and decided to make a flat decoration instead. Tatty teddy rainbow cake

However, before I hastily ended up having to make the flat Tatty Teddy topper, I had to decide on what type of cake to make. A friend of mine had made a very impressive rainbow cake for her wee boy last year, and it is something that is on my baking bucket list {still to be posted}. This being a cake for a 6-year-old girl though, I thought I’d make a pink rainbow cake, or ombre cake as I soon learned it’s also called. Again, I set off scouring the web for suitable recipes. I’m not very keen on plain cakes with plain frosting {they are usually too sweet for my liking}, so I had to alter my search phrase to find something with a bit more flavour. Both me and and munchkin really like raspberries and I was delighted when I stumbled across a Lemon Raspberry Ombre Cake with White Chocolate Buttercream over at The Sweet Spot.Pink rainbow cake layers

Cake and decoration decided upon, the only thing remaining was to bake it! Swee San at The Sweet Spot includes a few handy tips in her post, which are great if you {like me} are a rainbow/ombre cake novice. I’ve added the ones I found most useful below, adapting them slightly.Pink rainbow cake sponges

Tips on making a tall rainbow/ombre cake:
1. Weigh all the batter before starting to divide it into each layer, to ensure all the cake layers will end up the same height.
2. Start with the lightest colour and gradually add the colouring to each layer in order to reuse the same mixing bowl and save on washing up a lot of bowls.
3. For colouring, use a gel or paste if possible, as it gives a better colour than liquid food colouring. I used the same gel for all layers but other recipes often seem to use two similar shades to create the different coloured layers.
Pink rainbow cake being assembled5. Usually when the cake is low, it doesn’t rise that high. But if it does, trim off the top so it’s flat when assembling the cake.
6. When frosting, spread a thin layer of frosting on each cake layer before adding the next one. If the diameter of the cake is 6″ / 15cm or smaller, it’s advisable to use a bamboo stick / skewer to secure all the layers while frosting so the cake doesn’t ‘run off’. Once you’re done frosting, you can remove the stick.Pink rainbow cake with crumb coating

It might seem a bit cumbersome having to make separate sponge cakes for each layer {I usually just make one sponge and slice it into layers} and also having colour each one individually, but it doesn’t take very long to do these extra steps and it’s totally worth it in the end when cutting the cake and seeing the different coloured layers!

Slice of pink rainbow cake

I was in a bit of a rush to get the cake complete before heading off to munchkin’s birthday party and unfortunately the Tatty Teddy topper cracked in a few places when adding it to the top of the cake, but munchkin was still happy with it 🙂

Tatty teddy cake

Pink rainbow / ombre cake

Ingredients
Cake
250g unsalted butter
200g caster sugar
1 lemon, zested
4 eggs
300g cake flour (or all purpose flour)
1½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate soda
180ml milk
120g raspberry puree* (see below)
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Buttercream
250g unsalted butter, room temperatured
250g icing sugar
100g white chocolate, melted
0.5 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 tbsp of milk if needed, depending on the consistency of the buttercream

Method
Cake
1) Preheat the oven to 175C and prepare the cake tins.
2) Cream butter, sugar and lemon zest until creamy and fluffy. Add in eggs one at a time, incorporating each fully before adding next.
3) Sift the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and bicarbonate soda) into a bowl.
4) Squeeze the lemon juice into the milk. Add the vanilla extract.
5) Fold in ⅓ of the dry ingredients. Add in ½ of milk and mix well. Repeat by alternating flour and milk, ending with flour.
6) Weigh the batter, then pour one fifth into a bowl, add the raspberry puree and food gel and mix until evenly coloured. Repeat for the remaining three coloured layers. Leave one layer, the final one, as is to keep it cream coloured.
Suggestion for amount of raspberry puree for each layer:
2nd layer – add 15g raspberry puree
3rd layer – add 25g raspberry puree
4th layer – add 35g raspberry puree
5th layer – add 45g raspberry puree
Add the colouring to enhance the ombre/gradient tones. After adding raspberry, the batter tends to become a bit grey.
7) Bake each layer for 20 minutes or till skewer comes out clean. Remove tray from oven, let it cool and invert it out to a wire rack.
Buttercream
1) Cream the butter until creamy.
2) Add in the icing sugar, salt and vanilla and continue to beat until fully incorporated.
3) Melt the white chocolate and add into the mixture. Stir well until combined and fluffy.

Assembling the cake
Lay the darkest coloured cake on a cake board. Spread a thin layer of buttercream. Then lay the 2nd layer and spread with a thin layer of buttercream. Continue until you have assembled all the layers. If the cake layers moves during the assembly, insert a skewer into the middle to keep it stable (see tips above)
Spread and cover the cake with the remaining buttercream.

* I had a 150g punnet of raspberries which I made into a raspberry puree by heating it in a pot over a low heat with a bit of icing sugar and lemon juice while stirring and mashing the raspberries until smooth. Then strain the puree through a sieve to remove the seeds. I ended up with 90g of finished puree, which was a bit less than the recipe asked for. Next time I’d use 200g of raspberries instead when making the puree.

IMG_2493_small

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

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