Sunday, 27 February 2011

Eastern Fig and Rose Dome Cake

Cardamom and rose scent the house as this week's cake takes form. Travelling east for inspiration using semolina instead of flour, I have added sweetness and texture with Turkey Figs and almonds. Baked into a dome, dusted with gold and topped with crystallised rose petals and gilded almonds, we move the cake again out of the ordinary further east to a Kubla Khan 'Pleasure Dome'.
Sparkling in artificial light
OK, maybe the last bit is OTT but that's my source of inspiration this week. Who doesn't love the look of dome cakes; steamed treacle puddings, jam sponges and chocolate castles with rivulets of sauce running down the side? To put this into an English afternoon or American coffee cake style that would keep, I used a subtle rose syrup poured over the cooling cake. However, lovely as it looked undecorated, I wanted to take it to the level of a special occasion cake ; two shades of gold powder are simply dusted over the edges and  sparkling roses and almonds crown the centre .

Further Inspiration - images courtesy of
Dr.Chris Mullen

Click to enlarge and see the texture in detail
East meets West:
Soft semolina and ground almond cake; holding figs and flaked almonds, gently scented with cardamom and encased in a sparkling rose glaze. It is possible to increase the amount of cardamom and rose to serve with coffee. The amounts here go pleasantly with Traditional English Afternoon Tea or Earl Grey.
One of the pleasures of this cake was the simplicity and effectiveness of the gold powder as a decoration. It made a refreshing change to have a light sweetness added with a  glaze, without dressing the cake in layers of marzipan and royal icing, yet still producing a 'centrepiece' cake.


Text Only Printable Recipe



5oz (140g) Butter
5oz (140g)  Caster sugar
3 Large eggs
6oz (170g) Semolina
1 tsp Baking powder
5 tbsp Warm milk
1 tbsp Cardamom Pods

3oz (90g) Ground almonds
2oz (60g) Flaked almonds
5oz (140g) Dried figs - preferred

Rose syrup:

5oz (140g) Caster sugar
5fl oz (150 ml) Water
2 tbsp Rose water or as much as 100ml, I use lesser amounts for UK palates


Golden almonds: made from 2 tbsp almonds toasted in a pan with 1 tsp butter and gold sugarcraft powder
Crystallised rose petals
Gold sugarcraft dusting powder


Preheat oven 120c/110c Fan/250F/Gas Mark 1 to 1/2

Grease 1L Pyrex bowl or similar

Grind the seeds of the cardamom pods and infuse in 5 tbsp of warm milk for 10 mins.

Partially rehydrated dried figs - superior dried figs - worth sourcing from Waitrose
Cream the sugar and butter together. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well. Add 90% of the semolina, all the baking powder and the ground almonds, mix well. Strain the milk and stir the milk into the mix. Chop up the figs into small pieces and coat in remaining semolina; fold into mixture with the flaked almonds. Spoon into prepared bowl and place in oven.

Make the syrup while the cake is cooking. Add the sugar, water and rose water together and warm until sugar is dissolved. Heat and boil for three minutes.

Check after 20 minutes adjust temperature as required. Check the oven is not too hot, the cake cooks for at least an hour until a skewer comes cleanly out. Allow to cool for at least 5 mins and ease from bowl.

Place on a wire rack over a shallow bowl. Prick cake over and pour warm syrup over. Brush over sides as necessary. This is more of a glaze than the traditional eastern syrup steeping method but the recipe could be adapted for that purpose on a thinner depth of cake.
Toast flaked almonds in butter and add gold powder. Dry on kitchen paper. Add central decoration of crystallised roses and the gold almonds in crown shape. Dust sides with golden sugarcraft powder. Enjoy being inspired!

Waiting on a Sunny Windowsill for Afternoon Tea

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Cake Works of Art - Miniature to Grand Designs

Midweek distraction No. 14 - Miniature and Grand Designs in Cake Art.  The two artists I have featured this week have produced works of art, in cake form, where the attention to detail grabs the eye.

Attention to Detail ?

The first artist from the UK, produces tiny, tiny cakes and other delicacies which although they are not edible, produce a longing in me that they should be so.
I have enlarged the picture so you can see the detail on this Kiwi Gateau. (NB The gateau is filled with 'kiwi buttercream, smothered in coconut dusted kiwi icing & decorated with kiwi slices & fresh cherries'.) I love the detail of the icing on the knife. Catalogue @ Linsminis

Linda Cumming's work first attracted my attention while I was searching cake images and, I was amazed to find that they were not real but clay miniatures. In fact, Linda produces a whole cornucopia of delights on her web site; from game birds, to fruit, to your commissions. Based in Durham in the North East of England, Linda is a fellow member of IGMA (International Guild Of Miniature Artisans), the highest honour that can be achieved in the field of handmade miniatures.

Cake baking on a tiny table. Lots of different products available on Ebay and Etsy too.

Linda aims to supply the discerning collector with highly detailed, unique, handmade 12th scale miniature foods all individually handcrafted to the highest standard. I thought of one of my fellow bloggers and casually asked Linda about macaroons. Well, here they are for you Jill aka Mad About Macaroons;

You can also follow Linda on her blog:

The second artist is from the USA; Margaret Braun produces elegant tiers of celebration cakes adorned with icing sculpture and painted artwork. In contrast, I have the desire to see the cake uncut so I could enjoy gazing at the outside for longer. Of course, there would be a strong possibility that it would only be a passing whim, so get out the camera and pass the knife!

Detail of Cakewalk Through Barcelona - picture courtesy of Margaret Braun

Picture courtesy
of Margaret Braun
From the title of the photograph, you may guess correctly that I found Margaret via research on the Cakewalk, for an earlier blog. Margaret's book is called Cakewalk:  Adventures In Sugar With Margaret Braun which gives lots of detail into her creations and the inspiration behind them.

Large tiered cakes are not new but I still love the 'Wow Factor' that sugarcraft can provide. Icings become more like sugar sculpture and with paint effects, take on new dimensions. I love the detail on Akbar's Cake; the colour and the pearls make for an exotic fabric of icing. 

Elaborate detail on Akbar Cake - Picture courtesy of Margaret Braun

The other reassuring thing I noted about Margaret's cakes was the fact that the inside sounded just as good;  this article for an autumn wedding cake called 'Whimsical Art by Margaret Braun': 'This cake is a chocolate buttermilk blackout cake filled with vanilla/toffee crunch buttercream and an October velvet (cinnamon cake) layered with vanilla butter creamcheese icing and preserved cherry.' I could definitely go there, sounds wonderful. For more inspiration I found this YouTube clip from PlumTV, titled a Master Class ; Art and the Cake with Margaret Braun. Lots of tantalising shots of her cakes and some ideas on her techniques make this interesting viewing;

PS. I once titled one of my cakes 'elaborate' but after viewing Margaret's masterpieces decided that 'fairly standard' would be nearer the mark... Lots of enjoyable inspiration here again from both artists , thank you to Linda and Margaret for allowing me to publish your material here too and showcasing what you love to do. Please click on the links for their details or for further information.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

How I found Romance on a Cake Walk

Midweek distraction No. 13 - Romancing the Cake Walk - or how my husband has an incredible sense of humour when he sees me dancing. Nope, only kidding but after finding out about the dance for a previous mid-week post No. 8, the idea stuck. I've been rooting around and have found more Cakewalk references, spelled both ways; from church fetes to steam fairs and romance..

So...I'm on ebay; in goes the word 'Cake Walk' and up pops a vintage postcard with a joke picture on the Cake Walk. Still with Cake Walk on the brain, I make a successful bid:

And on the back is a romantic tryst, written nearly a hundred years ago; will she be in his power? Did Edith live happily very after? I hope so. If you can decipher some of the surprising love notes:
I thought you might like this  for reference as Valentine's Day approaches but what chance do we have of receiving such poetic words? I'm not sure that a quick text message will do. Can you get romantic e-mails ( apart from the obvious ones that say will you marry me or we have won the lottery) ...?

Thank you to fellow bloggers who explained to me how the Cake Walk was still going on; some at their children's schools and, occasionally in the UK, at Church fetes. What caught my eye was the fair ground ride, also called the Cakewalk. Here you can see it at the Nottingham (UK) Goose Fair:

Finally, a special mention to a blogger with the right name and lovely cakes; Mr Brooks Walker aka Cakewalker, the link goes to Brook's page with his Gran's Chocolate Cake-

Cakewalker's Foodbuzz Blog 

I hope you enjoyed a bit more of Cake 'Walking' and are thinking romantic foodie thoughts. By next weekend, I hope to have baked a Orange Kiss Me Cake and, had a successful outcome with a Wilton's Tasty Fill Heart Tin ; Previous Round: Cake Tin Disaster 1: My Lovely Cake 0. Cheer me on.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Strawberry Bon Bon Pink Cake

Too 'girly' for the guys ?
A strawberry flavoured, tangy meringue shell, hiding soft pink cake with a pink marshmallow centre. This is probably on the trend towards Barbie Pink not Strawberry Red and dare I say it, would make a good cup cake, there I've said it ! However, as far as taste and texture go; it's a keeper.

Strawberry Bon Bon Pink Cake which is pink and not red ? Well, in my current sweet/candy experimental recipe phase, this is a flavour known to many people as 'pink'. It may say strawberry on the packet but if you shut your eyes, it's never strawberry but it's sort of like it and you've had it on ice cream and other candy.......

Strawberry Bon Bons courtesy of Tudor Sweets of Ross (Online)

But where is the  Sherbert Lemon Candy Cake ? It's still in design mode due to complications with the icing so I've stepped ahead to this sweetie. In the UK, we have a sweet called Strawberry Bon Bons; slightly tangy on the outside with a chewy middle. Inspiration but  a cake with a chewy middle? Too many of those have been made in the past, so I've settled for a soft marshmallow centre. My favourite ingredient for this cake is the outside tangy flavour. This is produced by Kali, the name of a coloured candy sherbert or sherbet (not the pudding or any other variation on water ice).  It's similar to sour candies but often has a flavouring too. In our old fashioned sweet shops it's sold in jars of many colours or you can buy online. It's great on ice-cream too and cookies and biscuits, I digress, on with the recipe;

A large, very delicious, strawberry Bon Bon Cake



8oz (225g) Butter
8oz (225g) Caster sugar
4 Large eggs
2 Egg yolks

8oz (225g) Self raising four
Few drops of red food colouring

Marshmallow Centre:

 1tbsp Icing sugar
 2 tsp  Butter
6oz (170g) Marshmallows or recipe ( James Martin UK )
Few drops of red and strawberry flavouring if desired

Strawberry Meringue Frosting:

2 Egg whites
15oz (425g) caster or granulated sugar
3 ½ fl oz (100ml) water
2 tbsp Strawberry Syrup mixed with a few drops of red food colouring


Preheat oven 140c/120c Fan/300F/Gas Mark 2

Grease 2 sandwich cake and/or muffin tins; add greaseproof paper at the bottom as well. This mixture makes 1 cake plus three 'tasting' muffins.

Cream the sugar and butter together. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well. Sift and then fold in half the flour. Add the eggs yolks  and the food colouring. Fold in the rest of the sifted flour . Put equal quantities into cake tins and/or muffin tins place in oven.

Check after 20 minutes. I didn’t want the top to brown too much to detract from the pink colour so I baked this at a lower temperature. Remember; cook until risen and a skewer comes cleanly out. Allow to cool.

Remove very top edge if you want a really pink effect.

Melt marshmallows gently in the microwave or double boiler. Mix butter and icing sugar together and add a few drops of strawberry flavouring. Mix thoroughly into the melted marshmallows and add more colour if desired. Spread on one cake half, just in the centre, it will spread slightly out and then place the other cake half on top. Put into fridge until mallow has reset.

For the meringue frosting, sort the colouring and flavouring out first. This mixture sets pretty quickly and you won’t have time to suddenly look for things. Place sugar and water in a heavy based saucepan and allow water to start to dissolve the sugar. In another bowl whisk both egg whites until stiff. Heat the sugar and water syrup until 240°, or to the soft-ball stage. Pour the syrup slowly into the egg whites whisking all the time. The mixture will start to thicken. Whisk a few drops of the coloured strawberry mix at a time until the desired shade is acquired. Spread the icing, covering the whole of the cake. Sprinkle liberally with Kali or your coloured sugar.

The Kali Sparkle and Tang!

Thursday, 3 February 2011

I Heart You Online and Monty Python

Midweek distraction No. 12 - Rocky and Balls - and some vintage Monty Python. Two You Tube clips for you this week; the first on the possibilities of social networking and the second, on serving cake. 

One soppy, girlie one because it's nearly Valentine's Day, from two of my favourite songstresses ; aka Hannah-Rei and Sophie Madeleine of Rocky and Balls fame. What if you did fall for someone on Facebook, or Twitter or dare I say it,  Foodbuzz ? This is for you:

One for the guys, on the importance of serving cake correctly, even in war, Monty Python style. You find out 'how' towards the end of the clip and you may need a doily...........

I'm off to cook Chinese food now but the cake will be back at the weekend. Happy Chinese New Year!