Hello Kitty

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“Her real name is Kitty White, a bright and kind-hearted cat. She is good at baking cookies and loves Mama’s homemade apple pie. She likes to collect cute things and her favorite subjects in school are English, music and art.”

I love this little feline, she’s so sweet and kind and when reading about her personality, I could relate to her love for baking cookies and art. My niece, Arielle (above), went through her hello kitty phase and asked for this cake for her second birthday. Now you have to know that my niece has this sweet gruff voice and sounds like she is purring when she says “helloooo kittyyy”. It’s just so adorable. So for Arielle’s 2nd birthday, which she shares with her sister who is two years older, Arielle had this cake. It was marbled pink and purple inside and everyone loved it.

Since this cake I received more Hello Kitty orders, some cookies too. Hello Kitty has inspired the themes of restaurants and even hospitals, she has her own music album and tv show. This famous cat, lover of apple pies, is now also one of my favourites to replicate in the kitchen…I’ll have to watch some of her shows with my sweet niece.

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A Smurf Collection – the blue cake

ImageOk you might be wondering what smurfs have to do with baking and why on earth I am talking about this on my blog. It may be arbitrary, but so is life and the things we draw inspiration from.

My husband collects smurfs, not the new badly made models that have recently made a come-back, but the old worn collectable “made in germany” ones scavenged in Hospice shops and Markets. Smurfs that you or I would have played with …..you know…back in the day. His collection has reached about 20 and the smurfs live on top of our old piano, also scavenged in an old dusty garage.

And so, when I baked a blue gradient cake for my hubby’s 31st birthday then it was not long before it was named the “Smurf Cake”. This blue gradient cake was loved by adults and kids alike for its colour and arbitrariness. I covered it in a dark chocolate butter icing, often found on my husband’s fingers when I turn my back to ice a cupcake.

I think the next smurf I find for the collection will be one called “celebratory Smurf” and it’s hugging a giant cake! sounds familiar…

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Chocolate Cheesecake

To start off the new year I shall introduce you to one of my favourite recipe books on my kitchen shelf – Neil Roake’s “Shiny Happy People.” This recipe book contains a collection of Neil’s “odd and varied” friends, their stories and their best home meals. Their stories are accompanied by some beautiful photography of their homes and kitchens. From classic Tarte Tartin to some adventurous and beautiful liquorice ice-cream, some food from an Iranian couple and even simple tasty meals the kids will love such as Ruote pasta with boerewors. This South African book uses some good local Afrikaans words such as “bakkie” instead of “tub” and makes you feel part of the family. The book is full of great quotes about food, my best being “Steak is my favourite animal.”

Neil’s friend, Catherine, from Kleinfontein in the Western Cape shared some lovely farmhouse treats – hot cross buns, buttermilk banana pancakes, a great roast chicken and my subject for today – chocolate cheesecake! I baked this cake for my mom’s birthday! And WOW! Creamy, smooth and incredible like any cheesecake…but with the richness of dark chocolate and topped with pistachio nuts.

A well written, beautifully designed, and well conceived book. Thank you Neil Roake! I have read every story from cover to cover and cant wait to try something new, perhaps the tequila lime chicken wings followed by orange chiffon cupcake. To get the recipe of the below Chocolate cheese cake, see the website here and order this amazing book for your collection!

Hot Milk Layer Cake

I get these days (usually at the end of the month), where I’m desperate to bake something new. This might sound like a lovely thing, but as we all know, at the end of the month the fridge is starting to look a little bare just like our bank accounts and I cannot go buy any exciting ingredients to make the things i dream of making. Well one fine day I decided I would see what ingredients I had available and bake in my new cake tin. I have some really scary old fashioned recipe books. Ones where the pages are mostly brown and they have cucumber jellied salad and other famous dishes from the disgusting 90s. In this recipe book you come across “banana salad with peanut cream” and “lightning cream cheese pudding”. So after dodging the weird and wild combinations I found a very ordinary cake called a hot milk cake. This cake is a very simple sponge cake, but at least it satisfied my craving to bake and provided something for afternoon tea.

So here is the recipe for when u have limited ingredients, but need some baking fun!

Hot Milk Layer Cake

250ml milk (1 cup)

30ml sunflower oil (2T)

300g castor sugar (1 1/2 cup)

4 extra large eggs

275g cake flour (2cups)

15ml baking powder (1T)

Preheat oven to 180C. Grease two layer cake tins. I used 18cm tins, and line the base of the tins with waxed paper.

Heat the milk to boil and add oil.Beat the caster sugar and eggs thoroughly until light and thick. Sift the cake flour and baking powder together, fold lightly into sugar mix. Add the hot milk mixture, folding in lightly too.

Pour the batter into the 2 tins. bake the cake layers for about 30min until golden brown and done. Remove to Cool. Fill and ice the cake as you like 🙂

Espresso Streusel Cake

Yum, this cake is slowly becoming a new favorite. i’ve had so much spiced apple cake, but then i found this beauty. Apples, espresso, chocolate ganache, giant peanuts…this cake is a circus of fun ingredients all put together. The giant peanuts on top add a ice little crunch to the soft apple chocolate centre, all with a hint of fresh espresso. Perfect with some whipped coffee flavored cream, and of course…some wine.

Market day

2 weeks ago I was asked to partake in a small market that a friend was organising. She had seen my blog and envisioned a small tea garden with a few sweet treats that would draw people to the market and create an environment that all ladies would love…cake, coffee, tea and more cake 🙂 So after much planning, late nights of baking (which I loved) and a few too many dirty dishes the market day arrived. With my mom beside me for help and moral support, we carefully packed the car with all our treats.

The drive to Kenilworth was filled with my mom’s lovely voice, sharing memories of her ouma and how she was a master baker. She shared stories of a house smelling of cakes, boxes and boxes of flowers made with icing. This great-Ouma of mine was the best baker in town and any wedding demanded her baking attention if they wanted the best cake. So after the inspirational family history we eventually arrived at the venue, unpacked the cakes and began to sell them, piece by piece.

The vibe was lovely, people sat drinking wine and eating strawberry cake. The espresso streusel cake sold out first and many bags of fennel and lemon cookies were taken home for the hubbies. I loved every minute, serving my cakes, receiving compliments and encouragement. It feels good to do something you love.

Thank you to everyone who showed their faces and bought my cake. You have fed the dream and I look forward to seeing you all again with new cakes and inspiration.

Strawberry Cake

I recently found this recipe and immediately loved the way it looked. This cake is pink inside, tastes of strawberries, and is decorated with cream cheese frosting and  sweet strawberry pieces…what more could one ask for? While reading through the recipe I was a little perturbed by the fact that the main ingredient was a box cake mix. Now I have nothing against box cakes or biscuits and I realize it is convenient and easy for the average person who does not have time to bake. But for me, I find my joy in the baking process,  measuring the dry ingredients with my cute measuring cups, getting my hands covered in the raw mixture, buying the ingredients and knowing that i didn’t just add water and “tadaa”,  a cake appeared!
I tried it anyway, because along with the box cake mix there was pink jelly, chopped strawberries and a few other things. To tell the truth I was quite intrigued by the jelly in the cake.  This cake is really moist and tasty with its strawberry flavour and colour. It was easy to put together and the cream cheese frosting complimented the sweet strawberry taste.
This cake mixture will also make for great strawberry cupcakes and the fact that it is pink inside makes it perfect for any little girls tea party. I have two nieces and I would love to bake this for them on a summers day. We will enjoy it in the garden with some tea for all the stuffed toys and some strawberry cake for ourselves. I want to pick flowers for our table and tell them I think all cakes should be colourful, and maybe after our cake we can paint…with pink of course.

Cherry Cakes

When I was about 8 my mom had a friend who I loved to visit, just as much as my mother did. This friend loved bears, she took us on adventures and blew lots of bubbles. She told the best stories and had all these amazing little treasures in her house. I used to love looking at all her bears…wooden ones, fluffy ones, teeny tiny ones, massive ones, pictures of bears, books and lots of little things to keep any child’s imagination fed.
One thing I always looked forward to were sleepovers at Meg’s house. My brother, sister and I would  watch old or animated movies with Meg and explore her collection. I remember  Meg’s love for tea, her giant mugs and her ability to make yummy potato soup. But what I remember most and have taken with me into adulthood is Meg’s incredible Cherry Cakes.  Every cherry in these cakes is  a little surprise, a sweet treat in the vanilla cake. These Cakes have no need for frills such as icing sugar, but prove to be perfect accompanied with a giant mug of tea and great company.

photos by my talented husband Sean Kelland

Amazing, Rich Chocolate & Coffee Cake

I’m not one for rich chocolate cakes. I find they are often over-rated, dry and boring and would much rather enjoy something fruity or a creamy, bitter cheesecake. But this, this rich chocolate and coffee delight, wow….hmmm….I wanted to drink the chocolate glaze, I wanted to smooth it onto my breakfast toast and put a tub of it in my handbag. Or as Joy the Baker says…use it as an “edible face-mask”.

Everything great goes into this cake: real dark chocolate, sour cream, buttermilk, real yummy coffee….This is a chocolate cake I savour and dream about. I also love it because I got to use my new ring cake tin and it came out of it so perfectly. This is not a crumbly dry cake, but it is smooth and heavy at the same time, it is rich, but not too sweet.

This “Amazing, Rich Chocolate and Coffee Cake” has revolutionized the way I see chocolate cake. I am hesitant to fall for the chocolate cake that the average coffee shop offers. The one that leaves you feeling disappointed, conned into ordering something chocolate and not getting more than dry powdery cocoa. I want real chocolate,not only cocoa, real coffee, not granuals. I want this “Amazing, Rich Chocolate and Coffee Cake”..and you should too. It’s totally worth it!

a beginning . . .

I love to dream of running a small baking business from home, baking scrumptious cakes for tea parties and coffee shops. Well today I delivered a cake to Ria Cronje of “Mad About Junk” . She runs a fabulous antique/2nd hand junk store on the sir Lowrys pass road, Somerset West, and has started offering her clients tea and coffee and homebaked cookies. The garden is so beautiful and filled with yesterdays treasures, a magical place to sit and enjoy some Koek en Tee. So this is a beginning of that dream, looking forward to seeing how it unfolds and my husband is looking forward to being official tester!!

Below is one of my favourites, a spiced apple cake. One just like it was delivered this morning to Mad About Junk.