Sea Ice Cake

My hugely talented colleague Nat Melia passed his viva this week (whoop whoop), so as has become the tradition in Reading Met now he got a thesis themed cake. As he looks at the opening of shipping routes through Artic sea ice* I of course couldn’t pass up the opportunity to bake this one:

*Note the accurately diamond shaped sea ice floe rheology ( or ‘the shape the ice goes when there’s lots of it in bits’). My supervisor was the internal examiner so this was super important.

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Tea cupcakes- Earl Grey

I almost feel that this post should be categorised under ‘ice’ as well as ‘icing’ as if there’s one thing that gets me through research it’s definitely tea. So what better way to enjoy tea than in cake form?P1070781

These use a standard sponge cake recipe and buttercream frosting. However, the difficulty is getting the Earl Grey flavouring to come through. I find it’s better to use tea leaves rather than bags and also to add the Earl Grey to the icing too.

Makes 12 cupcakes

Ingredients:

(for the cake)
3 tea spoons Earl Grey tea leaves
3 table spoons boiling water
150g butter
150g sugar
200g self raising flour
1 tea spoon baking powder
3 eggs

(for the icing)
500g icing sugar
200g butter
1 tea spoon Earl Grey tea leaves
1/2 table spoon boiling water
1/2 table spoon whole milk

1. Brew the tea leaves in the boiling water for a good 10 minutes. Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees C, gas mark 4.
2. Cream together the butter and sugar, and mix in the eggs.
3. Strain the tea leaves from the water and add the water to the mixture.
4. Fold in the flour and baking powder.
5. Two thirds fill cupcake cases with mixture and cook for around 20 minutes, until the cakes begin to come away from the cakes and are springy.
6. Brew the tea leaves for the icing as before.
7. Mix together the butter and icing sugar for the icing. Strain the tea leaves from the water and add the water to the milk.
8. Add the milk mixture to the icing slowly until you have the desired consistency for decorating the cakes.
9. Enjoy with a cup of tea, naturally.

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‘The Easiest Rose Ever’ Cutter Review

8/10- Nice and simple but a little overpriced for what it is.
£5.60 Cake Craft World

I got this little gadget at the Cake and Bake show 2015, mostly because they let you try it out first. You can get it from Cake Craft World who had the stand online for just over a fiver, as well as from other online retailers.

I was sold on the ease of use and just how pretty the roses looked but I wasn’t convinced I’d be able to reproduce it at home with my own rolling pin/ no fancy foam mat like the had at the show. However I was pleasantly surprised.

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Instead of buying the whole expensive kit they were flogging at the show I made my own glue by mixing a little of the fondant with water, made a soft mat out of a tea towel and cling film and used a sieve and cornflour to keep things dry.

Once I’d put together my own replica of the kit needed (see caption above) I was ready to go. The cutting was straight forward but the shaping with a rolling pin was less easy. You do need something a bit more foam like than a tea towel and a wooden rolling pin is no good as it leaves a pattern, you do need a plastic one or something else round and smooth.

The rolling however was just as easy as advertised and soon I had plenty of roses of various sizes ready to go:

Overall I’d say the £20 kit they sell (with foam mat, rolling pin etc.) is very overpriced but the cutter on its own isn’t too steep and it certainly works. the roses are pretty effective and looking at the design on the website I’d certainly have them on my wedding cake…

Happy New Year!

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Happy New Year and thank you to everyone who has followed or read this blog in 2015! Here’s the Toblerone cheesecake* we celebrated with.

I hope to keep posting plenty next year, but I suspect the thesis may get in the way a little. However, once that is done there are some exciting adventures including hopefully some fieldwork in the Bay  of Bengal to tell you about so watch this space…

 

*It’s really easy, just add 1/2 a melted toblerone per 200g of cream cheese in your standard cheesecake recipe. Let it cool until it’s just starting to get solid before adding!

Cake and Bake Show 2015 review

Disclaimer: I had a free ticket for this and the masterclass that I attended but I’ve tried to judge it as if I’d paid for it

.2015’s London edition of the Cake and Bake show had relocated to a new venue this year, the Excel Centre. A smaller venue meant the event felt much more crowded and I found it quite disorienting and struggled to work out where things were. Although it was a nice easy trip up the DLR to get there.

Rosemary Shrager can always be relied upton to provide entertainment.

Rosemary Shrager can always be relied upon to provide entertainment.

The slightly chaotic Bake Off performances of last year were replaced by previous contestants doing individual demonstrations which seemed to be much better on the learning techniques front. The entertainment front was definitely still covered in the form of Rosemary Shrager, who started her demonstration singing several versus and choruses of a self composed baking song.

Less entertaining were the paid for masterclasses. At £6 each I would have expected a bit more than a not great view (it was filmed but the screens were pretty small), sound that wasn’t working for most of the class . Emily Leary who was presenting the class did very well to overcome this. She’s now working for Dr. Oetker and there was a little too much advertising of their products, but Emily was great for people that came and asked her questions afterwards and let us have a go and a taste- it would have been nice if the whole class could have had this.

The view from the 2nd row of about 8 during the masterclass.

The view from the 2nd row of about 8 during the masterclass.

One real improvement front last year was the amount of interaction and free samples available. A really clever idea was the Cake Craft World stand who had a ‘try before you buy’ table for their ‘easier ever rose cutter’. At a fiver for a single cutter it’s something I wouldn’t have looked twice at but sitting down one on one with a member of staff and seeing that it did actually work meant that they were selling like, well, hot cakes…

My rose! Nice to test that something works before you pay out for it and definitely got people over to the stand.

My rose! Nice opportunity to test that something works before you pay out for it and definitely got people over to the stand.

Pokemon Cake- the final result!

P1090053 So here it is, we’ve been through how to make Pikachu, Weedle, Snorlax, Jigglypuff and Dewgong, and now it’s time to put it all together.

The cake is nice and easy to cover as you can cover half in white, half in red and use the black to cover the messy bits.

This was the first cake made for Reading’s branch of Free Cake for Kids- a charity that provides home made birthday cakes for kids that otherwise wouldn’t get them. You can find out about their work or get involved here. There are local branches over the country and you can volunteer as a baker or recommend children you think may be in need of a birthday cake.

As this was the first cake that the Reading branch made we made it into the paper, and Jo (who set up the Reading branch) and I went on BBC Radio Berkshire to talk about the charity. We’ve since made over 50 cakes between all the volunteer bakers, have a look here!

Jo who set and up the Reading branch of Free Cakes for Kids and me getting photographed for the paper with our first cake.

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Fondant Icing Dewgong

We’ve had Pikachu, Weedle, Snorlax and Jigglypuff, now it’s time for my own choice, Dewgong. No harm in trying to educate the kids through cake.

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Dewgong is mostly one piece, he’s a sausage from which you can stretch out the tail and then bend it over to lean over the cake.  As I made these the day before the cake I used a food colouring pot to hold him in shape. The front flippers are separate and the mouth is a hole with some peach icing stuck into the back to give it colour.

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Initial sketches of Dewgong

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