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!

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.

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!