Red fruits and white chocolate charlotte for Circulo Whole Kitchen

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Good morning dear friends! I hope you had a lovely weekend.

Summer arrived in Nicosia all of a sudden and, in a way took me by surprise. We had had a relatively mild Spring until a couple of weeks ago and, as the end of June started to approach, temperatures began to rise and rise and we are now averaging 35 C every day, with peaks of 41C. These are the usual Summer temperatures around here, so we have developed a few strategies for coping with the heat. These involve light clothing, frequent showers, lots of lemonade and -you guessed it- avoiding to turn the oven on as much as possible.

This is why, when Circulo Whole Kitchen proposed to its members to prepare a charlotte for the June challenge, I was thrilled: here was a dessert I had never attempted to make, relatively easy, and that required no baking! Perfect!

Charlotte is a very simple dessert, which knows different variations: the cake mold lining can be made with ladyfingers, swiss roll or sponge cake, and the fillings may include fruit purée, mousses or custard. The recipe I chose to prepare in this occasion (inspired by this one) uses ladyfingers, and is filled with a combination of red fruits mousse ( made with fruit purée, whipped cream and gelatin) and  white chocolate mousse (made with melted white chocolate, whipped cream and gelatin). Its preparation takes approximately 15 minutes and needs to be chilled for about 5 hours before serving.

Since this was my first time making it, my charlotte doesn’t look as perfect as I would have liked it to.  This is because of two reasons:  1)I over-dipped the cookies  in syrup, which made them too soft, and it was therefore difficult for them to keep their shape. 2) I lined the bottom before the sides, so the bottom of the side cookies was too wet and the cookies tended to open when removed from the mold. So now I know better! The next time I will barely dip the cookies and I will make sure that the sides are line first. I hope that with these tips your own charlottes will come out perfect!

Despite these setbacks, I am quite happy with these charlottes because they passed the taste test (which, I believe, is the most important one when it comes to food!). They are a simple, delicious dessert, that looks pretty and is ideal for summer entertaining.

Here is the recipe;

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 Red fruits and white chocolate charlotte

Ingredients:

– 1 pack of ladyfingers (or enough to completely cover sides and bottom of a 6 inch cake pan or 6 ramequins)

– sugar syrup, made with 100 grs of sugar, covered with water and put to boil for a few minutes. You may flavour the syrup with dessert wine, like oporto or marsala, or even with coffee or orange juice and zest (depending of the flavour of the charlotte itself).

– 150 grs white chocolate, melted and cooled to room temperature

-150 grs red fruits (I used a frozen berry mix, that I defrosted in the refrigerator)

– 1 envelope of unflavoured gelatin

– 100 ml of heavy cream

– 4 tablespoons of icing sugar

 Preparation:

 1) Prepare the sugar syrup. Slightly dip enough ladyfingers and line a mold of the desired size with them.

2) Dissolve the gelatin in half a cup of warm water. Add 1/4 cup of cold water to cool it down. Divide in half. Set aside.

3) Melt the white chocolate and let it cool.

4) Wash the red fruits (I used a mixture of cranberries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries) and process them (you may use a blender for this purpose). Pass the resulting purée through a sieve and set aside the pieces that were too big.

5) Whip  the heavy cream together with the icing sugar, until firm (“en chantilly”). Divide in two and set aside.

6) Mix the red fruits pulp with half the whipped cream, with circular movements. Add half the gelatin and mix it in, slowly. Set aside.

7) Mix the melted and cooled white chocolate with the remaining half whippedcream. Add the gelatin and mix it in, slowly. Set aside

8) At this point you will have two mousses, and you can do two things: 1) Fill  the lined pan with the red fruits mousse, let it cool for a few minutes in the refrigerator,  add a layer of ladyfingers and then add the white chocolate mousse, or 2) Fill the lined pan with the red fruits mousse and, then, add the white chocolate mousse in the middle and draw designs with a skewer to marble it.

9) Leave in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 hours, unmold and serve with red fruits on top ( don’t worry, it comes out of the pan easily!)


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Con sabor latino

Buenos días queridos amigos! Espero que hayan pasado un hermoso fin de semana!

El verano llegó a Nicosia de repente y me tomó por sorpresa. Hasta ahora veníamos teniendo una primavera con temperaturas moderadas pero,a medida que junio comenzó a llegar a su fin, éstas comenzaron a ir en aumento y ahora estamos con un promedio de 35C diarios, con picos de 41C. Estas son temperaturas comunes durante el verano chipriota, asi que a estas alturas ya hemos desarrollado algunas estrategias para hacer frente a tremendo calor, que incluyen ropa liviana, ducharnos varias veces por día y-como se imaginarán- evitar a toda costa encender el horno.

Por este motivo, me alegré cuando ví que Circulo Whole Kitchen proponía como receta dulce para el mes de junio una charlotte, postre que nunca había preparado antes, relativamente sencillo y que no requería cocción! Perfecto!

La Charlotte es un postre sencillo, del cual existen muchas variantes, que van desde el tipo de galletas con el que se cubre el molde en el que se lo realiza (vainillas, pionono, o torta esponjosa), hasta el relleno (que puede consistir en puré de frutas,  mousses diversas o crema. La receta que yo elegí en esta ocasión (inspirada en esta) utiliza vainillas y un relleno compuesto de dos mousses: una de frutos rojos (yo utilicé arandanos, frambuesas, grosellas y frutillas, procesados, y mezclados con crema chantilly y gelatina sin sabor) y otra de chocolate blanco (hecha a base de chocolate derretido, crema chantilly y gelatina sin sabor, para darle consistencia). La preparación lleva tan sólo 15 minutos, pero requiere reposo en la heladera/refrigerador por aproximadamente 5 horas.

Como ésta era mi primera vez haciendo este postre, mis charlottes no lucen todo lo perfectas que me hubiera gustado. Esto se debe a dos motivos: 1) Exageré al remojar las vainillas en almibar y quedaron demasiado blandas, lo que complicó que mantuvieran la forma  y 2) Recubrí con vainillas el fondo del molde, antes que los lados, entonces las vainillas que se encontraban a los lados se humedecieron demasiado con las mousses en la parte de abajo y tendieron a abrirse al desmoldarlas. Lo bueno es que ya aprendí que para la próxima tengo que mojar apenas las galletas y poner primero las galletitas de los costados. Espero que estos datos les sirvan a ustedes para poder alcanzar la perfección de entrada!

Igualmente, a pesar de estos errores, estoy muy conforme con el resultado de este postre porque de gusto estaban riquísimas (y, en definitiva, eso es lo que importa cuando se trata de comida, verdad?) Ademas son sencillas, deliciosas y lucen bonitas y son ideales para eventos de verano.

Así que sin más, esta es la receta. Espero que les guste!10

Charlotte de chocolate blanco y frutos rojos

Ingredientes:

-1 paquete de vainillas (o las que sean suficientes para recubrir el o los moldes que vayan a usar. El relleno es suficiente para un molde   de 15. 4 cms, o 6 ramequins)

–  almibar, hecho con 100 grs de azucar, recubierta con agua y llevada a fuego por unos minutos (que no se pase, que no quieres hacer caramelo!)

– 150 grs de chocolate blanco derretido y enfriado (tiene que estar a temperatura ambiente)

– 150 grs de frutos rojos

– 1 sobre de gelatina sin sabor

– 100 cm3 de crema de leche

– 4 cucharadas de azucar impalpable

Preparación:

1) Prepare el almibar. Coloque el azucar en un jarro, recubra con agua y lleve a fuego por unos minutos, hasta que la mezcla espese ligeramente. Remoje las vainillas en el almibar y recubra con las mismas el molde a utilizar.

2) Derrita el chocolate a baño maría (o en el microondas, si tiene uno). Deje enfriar hasta que quede a temperatura ambiente.

3) Procese los frutos rojos en la procesadora o licuadora. Pase el puré por un tamiz hasta obtener la pulpa.

4) Bata la crema de leche a punto chantilly con el azucar impalplable. Divida en dos partes iguales y reserve.

5) Disuelva la gelatina sin sabor en media taza de agua caliente. Agregue 1/4 taza de agua fria para bajar la temperatura. Divida en dos y reserve.

6) Mezcle la pulpa de frutos rojos con la mitad de la crema chantilly y, una vez bien incorporado, agregue la mitad de la gelatina sin sabor. Reserve

7) Mezcle el chocolate blanco con la mitad de chantilly restante, e incorpore luego la gelatina sin sabor que había reservado.

8) Rellene el/los moldes con mousse de frutos rojos. A continuación, tiene dos opciones; 1) Colocar el molde en la heladera unos minutos (hasta que tome un poco de consistencia) y a continuacion, agregar una capa de vainillas y luego la mousse de chocolate blanco o 2) Una vez rellenado el molde con la mousse de frutos rojos, agregar la mousse de chocolate blanco inmediatamente en el centro y luego hacer dibujos con un palito de brochette, para marmolarla.

9) Coloque el/los moldes en la heladera/refrigerador por 4 a 5 horas. Desmolde y sirva con frutos rojos  (no se preocupe, se desmolda super facilmente!)

I hope you’ll like it!

See you later this week!

The best cheesecake ever.

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Good evening dear friends!

Today it was a holiday in Cyprus, Kataklismos, the flood festival, which is why I am posting this recipe late. My children were at home, so we took them to a nearby park early in the morning and then we stayed home, playing and just enjoying the day together. The weather is beginning to get hot and at 8:00 am the sun is already up in the sky, shinning strong, which is why we go to the park so early that we are generally the only ones there!

We are lucky to live very close to a very beautiful park, with a nice playground, a basketball court, and a beautiful lawn with palm trees, pine trees and tile trees, as well as a pond and a water fountain where birds and butterflies fly around, and stray cats  look for someone to pet them for a while. Luka and Zoe love and look forward to our mornings there, playing ball, walking around, chasing birds and sitting by the pond, and we are happy to take them out of the apartment, to enjoy nature.

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Now let’s get to the recipe you have been waiting for!

I have been doing this cheesecake for about 15 years and, every time, it is a huge success. I don’t remember exactly how I came up with it because I have it scribbled in my old recipe notebook, but I believe it was written on the foil cover of a pack of ricotta cheese from a famous Argentinian brand (Mendicrim). I do remember that I had been looking for a good cheesecake recipe for a while, and for some strange reason I tried this one first, instead of one the 101 that my mother had in a specific recipe book! I also remember that most recipes I had seen before called for  a cookie-based crust, and that many specifically mentioned digestive cookies (which do not exist in Argentina), which had put me off trying them. I have tried many cheesecakes since then and I always go back to this one. It is, in my opinion, just perfect. I hope you will find it perfect too.

The beauty of this recipe is that it is very simple to make (no special appliances needed), and that you can find all ingredients in almost any country, in the Western world at least. It is a cooked cheesecake, with a barely sweet crust made from scratch, and a filling that is soft, not overly sweet and extremely delicious. I particularly like how the crust’s flavour doesn’t overpower the filling, which is the recipe’s true hero. I normally top it by brushing a little strawberry jam and decorate it with sliced strawberries, but this time I decided to change and use fruits of the forest instead. I had a pack of frozen fruits of the forest, which I slowly defrosted overnight in the refrigerator before adding them to the cake, right before serving. It was delicious.

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The quantities are enough for a 9 inch/20 cms cake pan, but you can also make individual mini cheesecakes, or a taller, narrower cake. Beware, though, that the cake does rise a little in the oven and if you fill the pan to the very top, the filling may overflow. So, whichever pan you choose, remember to leave some space between filling and top of the pan!

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Now, without further ado, here is the recipe for my favourite cheesecake ever:

Ingredients:

For the crust: 200 grs of flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 2 tablespoons sugar, 75 grs soft butter or margarine, 100 cc milk. (Note: If the butter is too soft, you may need to reduce the quantity of milk or the dough will be too sticky)

For the filling:  250 grs cream cheese (I use philadelphia in Cyprus, and queso blanco in Argentina. The original recipe called for ricotta but I don’t like it that way), 2 egg yolks, 3 tablespoons cornstarch, 1 small can of sweetened condensed milk (397ml/14 oz), 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, 2 egg whites, beaten until stiff.

Preparation:

Prepare the crust: Put flour, baking powder and sugar in a bowl and mix with a whisk. Cut butter in small pieces and add to the flour mixture, mixing it in using your hands. Start adding milk slowly, until you can form a ball with the dough. Cover with foil and bring to the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Prepare the filling: Put cream cheese, egg yolks and cornstarch in a bowl and mix well. Add sweetened condensed milk slowly and mix thoroughly, until no lumps are visible (using a hand or stand mixer can be handy if you have one, but it is in no way a requisite. It will just take a little bit longer to get rid of the lumps without it, that’s all). Add vanilla extract and mix in well. Add the beaten egg whites, and incorporate using a spatula, in circular motion.

Assemble the cheesecake:  Pre- heat the oven at 175 C. Oil and flour a cake pan. Take the dough out of the refrigerator and roll it about 1/2 cm thick. Wrap the dough in the rolling pin and lift it to cover the pan, attaching it well to the sides (it has a tendency to fall over the filling if you don’t press it well). Pinch sides and bottom with a fork. Pour the filling inside the pan and pat it on the counter to make sure it is even. Cook for about 50 minutes, or until the filling stops feeling wobbly when slowly shaking the pan back and forth (in order to check for readyness, take the pan with both hands while still in the oven and move it back and forth. If the filling moves, it is not ready). Note: using cooking times as a guideline onky, because they vary greatly from oven to oven. The most accurate method for guaranteeing that the filling will be firm when you cut it is the simple one of giving it a little shake. Once the cake is ready, turn the oven off and let it rest inside for 15 minutes (or the filling will swamp, as it happened to me because I forgot!). After this time, remove from the oven and let cool.

Decorate: Once the cake is completely cool, brush it with jam and add the fruits of your choice on top right before serving.  Note: As you can see in the pictures above, I added generous amounts of jam. I don’t normally do that, but I had forgotten to leave it in the oven after finishing the baking process and it swamped in the middle, so I covered the hole with jam and added extra fruits.

 

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Con sabor latino:

¡Buenas noches queridos amigos!

Hoy fue feriado en Nicosia, Kataklismos o el Festival de la Inundación, motivo por el cual publico esta receta tan tarde. Mis hijos estuvieron en casa todo el día, y aprovechamos para llevarlos al parque cercano temprano por la mañana y, luego, nos quedamos en casa jugando y disfrutando del día juntos. El clima ya comienza a tornarse muy caluroso y a las 8:00 am ya el sol está alto en el cielo, brillando fuerte, motivo por el cual vamos al parque tan temprano que frecuentemente somos los únicos allí!

Afortunadamente, vivimos cerca de un parque hermoso, con un area de juegos, una cancha de basket, y una bellísima explanada con palmeras, pinos y tilos que dan sombra, y una fuente de agua alrededor de la cual vuelan pájaros y mariposas, y donde gatos callejeros buscan alguien que les haga un mimo. Luka y Zoe adoran ir y esperan con ansias nuestras mañanas allí, jugando a la pelota, caminando, persiguiendo pajaritos y sentandonos a la orilla de la fuente, y a nosotros nos hace felices sacarlos por un rato fuera del departamento, para que disfruten de la naturaleza.

Pero basta de prolegómanos, y pasemos directo a la receta que estaban esperando!

Esta es una receta que hago desde hace alrededor de 15 años y, cada vez, es un exito tremendo. No recuerdo exactamente de donde la saqué, pero creería que la encontré en la tapa de aluminio de un pote de ricotta Mendicrim. Recuerdo, sí, que para ese entonces ya hacía bastante que yo venía buscando una buena receta de cheesecake y, por alguna extraña razón, me decidí a probar esta primero, antes que las 101 que tenía mi mamá en un libro especialmente dedicado a este tipo de tortas. Recuerdo también que la mayor parte de las recetas que había encontrado hasta ese momento tenían una base de galletitas, y que muchas de ellas requerían un tipo específico que no se encuentra en Argentina (las galletitas digestivas), lo que me había hechado atrás para probarlas. He probado muchas cheesecakes desde entonces, y siempre he preferido la de esta receta. Es, en mi opinión, simplemente perfecta. Espero que a ustedes les parezca igual!

La belleza de esta receta es que es muy sencilla de hacer (no se requieren instrumentos especiales), y que pueden encontrarse los ingredientes en la mayor parte de los paises del mundo occidental, al menos. Es una cheesecake cocida, con una base casera levemente dulce, y un relleno suave, no demasiado dulce e increiblemente delicioso. Una de las cosas que más me gusta es que el sabor de la base no opaca el relleno, sino que lo deja brillar, ser el heroe de la receta. Generalmente la termino pincelándola con mermelada de frutilla y  decorandola con frutillas fileteadas ubicadas en circulos concentricos, pero esta vez decidí utilizar frutos del bosque en lugar de mi decoración tradicional. Había comprado hace ya un tiempo una caja de frutas congeladas, que dejé en la heladera toda la noche, en un bowl, y agregué a la torta justo antes de servir. Quedó exquisita.

 Las cantidades son suficientes para un molde de 9 pulgadas/20 cms de diametro, pero tambien pueden prepararlas en versión mini, o bien en un molde ligeramente más pequeño y alto, pero tengan cuidado en este caso porque si el relleno llega al borde, es muy posible que el mismo rebalse durante la cocción ya que la torta crece un poco en el horno. Cualquier sea el molde que elijan, entonces, cuiden de no llenarlo hasta el tope. Y les recomiendo, asimismo, que sea de aquellos que se retira el costado, porque será más facil de desmoldar.

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Ahora sí, sin más introducciones, he aquí la receta:

Ingredientes:

Para la masa: 200 grs de harina, 1 cucharada de té de polvo de hornear, 3 cucharadas soperas de azucar, 75 grs de manteca, 100 cc de leche. Nota: Si la manteca está demasiado blanda, será necesario agregar menor cantidad de leche or la masa estará demasiado pegajosa y no se podrá armar un bollo con ella.

Para el relleno: 250 grs de queso blanco o queso philadelphia (en Argentina usaba mendicrim o casancrem, pero usen el que más les guste!. La receta original pedía ricotta pero no la hago así porque no me gusta). 2 yemas, 2 cucharadas de fecula de maiz (maizena), 1 lata chica de leche condensada azucarada (397 grs), 2 cucharaditas de té de esencia de vainilla, 2 claras batidas a nieve.

Preparación:

Prepare la masa: Coloque harina, polvo de hornear y azucar en un bowl y mezcle todo con un batidor de alambre. Agregue la manteca cortada en trozos, desmenuzandola con los dedos e integrándola con los ingredientes secos. Agregue la leche de a poco, hasta que se pueda formar un bollo de masa. Cubra con papel film y lleve a la heladera por 15 minutos.

Prepare el relleno: Coloque yemas, fécula y queso crema en un bowl y mezcle hasta que esté todo bien incorporado. Agregue la leche condensada poco a poco, integrando bien y batiendo para que no queden grumos ( Si tiene batidor electrico, aproveche y usela porque será mas facil librarse de los grumos, pero sepa que si no cuenta con una, no hay problema). Agregue la vainilla e incorpore. Agregue las claras batidas a nieve al batido de queso, incorporandolas con movimientos envolventes.

Arme la cheesecake: Precaliente el horno a 175 grados. Retire la masa de la heladera, y estirela sobre la mesa o mesada hasta que tenga aproximadamente 1/2 cm. Envuelvala en el palote para levantarla y cubra el molde deseado, previamente enmantecado y enharinado. Presione la masa con los dedos para que se adhiera bien al molde y pinchela con un tenedor (para que no se levante mucho en el horno). Vierta el relleno sobre la masa, y empareje dando golpes contra la mesada. Lleve a horno durante aproximadamente 50 minutos, o hasta que el relleno deje de moverse al sacudir ligeramente el molde. Nota: Le aconsejo que se guíen ligeramente por los tiempos de cocción porque pueden variar mucho de un horno a otro, el mejor método para saber si está lista y si no se desarmará al cortar es, simplemente, tomar el molde con ambas manos cuando aún está en el horno, y moverlo apenas. Si la torta “se mueve”, no está lista. Una vez lista, apague el horno y deje la cheesecake dentro durante 15 minutos ( si no lo hacen y la retiran inmediatamente se hundirá como me ocurrió a mí por olvidadiza!0. Transcurrido este tiempo, retirela del horno y deje enfriar.

Decore: Una vez que la torta esté totalmente fría, pincele con mermelada y cubra con frutas de su preferencia justo antes de servir. Nota: Como pueden ver en las fotos anteriores, yo no pincelé sino que cubrí con cantidades generosas de mermelada. La razón es que mi cheesecake se habia hundido al medio, así que rellené el hueco con mermelada y frutas!

 

 

I hope you like this recipe! It is one of my favourites!

Have a wonderful week, and see you on Thursday!

 

Zebra mini cakes for Circulo Whole Kitchen

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Good morning dear friends!

Today I bring you another recipe from Circulo Whole Kitchen. As I mentioned in my post from last week, this month I started participating in the  culinary challenges proposed by Whole Kitchen Magazine, and their sweet suggestion for May 2012 was the ultra popular zebra cake.

The zebra cake is, basically, a vanilla and chocolate cake, marbled  to resemble the stripes of a zebra. This is achieved by putting the batter in the pan one or two  spoons at a time, alternating colours. When looked from the top, the cake looks like a succession of circles, but when cut in slices, the zebra stripes appear, making it an instant hit with children- and with adults!

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In this occasion, I used the recipe provided to us by Whole Kitchen and followed the directions exactly, because I am always happy to try ones, but know that since the effect is mainly visual, you can simply use your favourite vanilla cake recipe, divide the batter in two, add two tablespoons of cocoa (I prefer dark cocoa) to one half, and go ahead with the method for placing the batter in the pan, as you would with this one.  And you could even use a boxed cake or change flavours and colours!

This recipe is a very nice one, though, and I encourage you to try it. It is a simple cake, with a spongy texture (because the eggs are beaten with the sugar until white, which makes them fluffy) and not overly sweet. It makes a nice everyday coffee cake, but if you are making it for a child’s party, you could also cover it in chocolate ganache, or cover the sides with peanuts (as Kim did here, for example, and then the zebra stripes could come out as a surprise! The cake’s pattern would be perfect for birthday themes such as Safari, Young Explorers, Animals, Madagascar (the movie) or Africa.

The only variation I introduced to the original one, was the size of the pan: instead of baking my zebra cake in a normal sized pan, i did it in small ramequins. I like to bake cakes in small containers so that I can freeze those that will not be eaten immediately without losing  freshness.  This batter is enough for a 9 inch pan, or for 6 ramequins (mine are from Ikea). I do have to point out, though, that the effect of the zebra stripes is less noticeable when baked in small pans, as you can see from my pictures. So, if you want the full wow effect of the zebra stripes, it is probably better to stick to the traditional size.

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Here is the recipe I used:

Ingredients

4 large eggs

250 grs sugar

250 ml milk

250 ml sunflower oil

300 grs all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

Preparation

Oil and flour a cake pan and pre-heat the oven to 180C.

Beat sugar and eggs until white and fluffy. Add oil and beat until well-integrated, and then add milk slowly, beating all the time.

In a different container, mix flour and baking powder. Whisk to integrate.

Add dry to wet ingredients in three times, integrating well before each new addition.

Separate the batter in two and add cocoa powder to one half.

Assemble the cake by pouring the batter in the center of the pan, using an ice cream scoop, alternating colours ( two scoops  of vanilla batter, one scoop of cocoa batter, two scoops of vanilla batter, and so on).

Bake for 40 minutes at 180 C.

Note: If you change the size of the pan, remember that the oven times change as well! My mini cakes only took 18 minutes to be ready!

I hope that you like it! Have you ever made a zebra cake before?

Have a nice weekend!

How to make easy fondant flowers

 

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Good morning friends! I hope you had a great weekend and that you are ready to start a new week.

As I promised in my last post, here is the tutorial for making fondant flowers like the ones with which I decorated my daughter’s 3rd birthday cake.  You will see that they are very easy to make, and that you can do so  with tools that you most probably already have at home.  I have included step-by-step pictures to make it easier to follow the instructions, but if you have any doubts, please do not hesitate to contact me!

So, let’s begin! Here is what you will need:

Fondant flowers

1- Fondant in whatever colour/colours you want your flower to be.  I used only white, but you may combine different ones, according to the colours of your cake/what you have available.

2- Flower cut-outs of 3 different sizes. I used cutters from 2 different sets: the bigger one is from this Wilton cookie cutter set, and the two smaller ones from this set, also by Wilton.

3- Rolling pin (the one in the picture was given to me by my grandmother, as a present, when I was 8 years old)

4- A paper straw. You can also use a lollipop stick. Or the back of a brush. Whatever you have on hand!

5- Icing sugar, so that the fondant doesn’t stick to the table. When the weather is too hot, I use a combination of icing sugar and cornstarch.

6- Non-pareils (I used multi-coloured ones)

7- A small bowl, for putting the non-pareils in it.

8- A glass/ an egg tray (from your fridge), depending on the size of your flowers, to shape them (I will show you how to do this)

9- Aluminium foil

10- Sugar syrup/sugar glue, and a small brush (not in the picture). To make sugar syrup, put sugar in a small pan, cover with water and bring to the boil until it thickens (about 5 minutes). This will help glue the different parts of the flower together, but I must warn you that it works only when fondant is not dry yet. Once the flowers are dry, use royal icing to attach them to the cake.

Instructions:

1- The first thing you will need to do, is to prepare the flower drying trays (which are the place where your  flowers will dry, so that they will look like real flowers and not be flat). In order to do so, cut a rectangle of aluminium foil and, using your hands, place it on top of a cup. Once it is attached to the sides of the cup, lift it a little bit, very carefully, and curve the top by pressing in the middle with your fingers. It should look as in the picture on the right:

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2- If you need to make several small flowers or blossoms, you may use an egg tray from your fridge.  Cut aluminium foil to cover the tray (or as many holes as flowers you are planning to make) and, using the same method above, work it until you have the drying tray ready, as in the pictures below:

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3- Now that your former/drying  cup and tray are ready, it is time to make the flowers! Begin by kneading a little bit of fondant. Put some icing sugar on the table, and extend the fondant using a rolling pin. Roll it as thin as possible, so that the flower petals look more realistic.

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4- Cut the flowers in three different sizes. You will need one of each per flower.

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5- Start by working on the biggest size. Leave the other two aside, and put the remaining fondant in a plastic bag so that it will not dry out.

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6- Take the flower with  your hands and, slowly and gently, press the petals with your thumbs, so as to make them thinner (If you have one,  you may use a ball tool to do this instead)

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This is how the flower will look when you are done. It is very important that you do it slowly or the petals may break!

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7- Gently (VERY gently) roll a paper straw, a lollipop stick or the back of your brush, on each petal. This will give the petals some shape.

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8- Place the petal in the drying cup, on top of the foil. Don’t worry, it won’t stick to it and, once it is dry (about 24 hours), you will be able to remove it easily.

9- Using the same method, shape the middle- sized flower.

10- Put a drop of sugar syrup in the center of the big flower and add the middle- sized flower to it. Make sure the petals of the smaller flower are placed between the petals of the bigger one. Press softly  in the center for the petals to pop up.

11- Using the same method, shape the smallest flower.

12- Put a drop of sugar syrup in the centre of the middle-sized flower and add the smallest flower to it, as you did before. Press softly in the centre for the petals to pop up.

 

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13- Now it is time to make the stigma (the centre of the flower).  You will need a small ball of fondant, sugar syrup and non-pareils.

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14- Make a small ball of fondant.

15- Brush it with sugar syrup

16- Put a few non-pareils in a small bowl. Place the fondant ball inside and roll it all over, until it getscompletely covered in non-pareils.

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17- Put a drop of sugar syrup in the centre of the drying flower and place the stigma on top of it. Press softly so that it adheres to the flower.

 

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18- Repeat the process to make as many flowers as you need in your decoration.

19 – Let dry for 24 hours, remove slowly from the drying cup and attach with royal icing to your cake.

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Very easy, isn’t it? I know how hard it can be to find gum-paste/fondant modelling tools  in some countries, and how expensive these can be too, so I wanted to show you how you can get around buying them and still get some pretty flowers. I hope I achieved my goal!

May you have a wonderful week!

 

 

 

Zoe’s 3rd birthday cake

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Hello dear friends! How are you today? How was your weekend? Are you ready to start this week? I hope you are and that it will be one full of wonderful surprises.

In this post I am showing the cake I made for my daughter, Zoe, for her birthday.

I changed the design in my mind many times, until I finally decided to improvise. One thing I knew: It had to have flowers and butterflies in it, because Zoe had loved the ones in the cake I made at the cake decorating course, last June. But until I started making the decorations, I didn’t really know what type of flowers I was going to make, or how many butterflies I wanted in it.

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I do not own special tools for shaping neither butterflies nor flowers, and I did not have any gum paste or modelling paste on hand either. I could not buy any because neither of the cake shops I know in Nicosia were open (It is August, when most shops close), so I had to get creative. I did have fondant, food colouring, a few sugar pearls, non-pareils and sprinkles, as well as an internet connection to google ways of replacing what I didn’t have.

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I started working on the flowers and butterflies the night before decorating the cake, to allow the fondant 24 hours drying time. I wanted to be able to place the decorations on the cake without fearing that they would lose shape.  If I had used modelling paste, which dries faster, a few hours would have been enough. In my next post, I will show you step by step pictures of how I did it, and you will see how easy it is.

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I dyed fondant using Wilton’s gel food colouring in Teal (my favourite colour) and covered the cake with it. I then rolled some more fondant and, using a small ruler, I cut a strip, like a ribbon, to cover the lower side of the cake, to give it a more finished look.

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I then started playing around with the flowers and the butterflies until I was happy with the way the cake looked. I used 3 flowers and 3 small butterflies (as many as Zoe’s years), eventhough I had originally made 6 butterflies of different sizes.

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Finally, I added 3 white candles and the cake was ready!

Zoe saw her cake for the first time when I brought it to the living-room to sing the happy birthday, and for her to blow the candles. She was fascinated with the fire in the candles and with the decorations. As soon as the candles were blown, she grabbed the yellow and white flower and the butterfly that was attached to it, and started eating them. Luka followed her soon after with the rest of the butterflies. Then we cut the cake and ate it!

 

Have a lovely week and see you in a few days!

Luka’s 3rd birthday cake

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Good morning dear friends! I hope you are having a lovely week.

As I promised, here is the first post with the birthday cakes I prepared and decorated for my babies’3rd birthday (can I still call them babies? until they are 21?).

This year we decided to postpone their birthday party until November. We are travelling to Argentina for the first time since theywere born, so we thought that it would be a good opportunity to share this special moment with friends and family.  We did have, anyway, a small family celebration : we filled the living room floor with balloons the night before, so that they would find them when waking up, and left their presents in their small table. And of course, there were cakes! Since it was just the four of us, the cakes were small , but I still thought it was important for each of them to have their own, and for the cakes to be decorated according to their personalities.

Both cakes had the same flavours:  2 layers of lemon cake, and 1 layer of chocolate cake, filled with 1 layer of blueberry jam and 1 layer of  chocolate buttercream, and covered in fondant.

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Luka’s cake was covered in green fondant and decorated with racing cars made with fondant. I made the racing cars the night before decorating the rest of the cake, to let them dry properly, following this tutorial from Cake Journal. I do not have all the instruments required so I had to be creative, for eg: in order to shape the car, I used a big knife and a fondant smoother (instead of two fondant smoothers), I used a lollipop stick to curve the car to make space for the head of the driver to sit in (instead of a ball tool), and instead of sugar glue, I used sugar syrup (=almibar).

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In order to make the asphalt, I rolled black fondant, I  placed the cake pan in which I had baked the cake on top of it, and I cut around it its perimeter with a pizza cutter. That gave me a circle of the exact same size as the top of the cake, but I didn’t want that much grass so, using the same pan to guide me, I cut a portion of the circle, creating a crease. I then placed the crescent moon on top of the cake, draw white lines in it with royal icing and glued the cars on top. I made grass with royal icing, using a #133 piping tip and added a few grains of green sugar sprinkles.

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I covered the perimeter of the cake with tyres, made with the back of a #2D piping tip, and embossed in the center with a #10 tip. I also made two racing flags (I didn’t take a picture of them, sorry!) to put in front of the cake). One was yellow and white and the other one was black and white. To make them, I used a small square cookie cutter, and cut 1 white square, 1 black square and 1 yellow square. I then divided each square in four parts and mixed them to create the flags.

I finally added the candles, and that was all, the cake was ready!

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As you can see  it was a very easy cake, but Luka loved it. He was so excited about the cars, the candles and the wheels around it! He loves cars, trucks, trains,  anything that has wheels in it. I was happy to see him happy.

In my next post I’ll show you Zoe’s cake, which was girly, like her.

Have a nice week!

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