Monday, 30 January 2012

YOUR BAKES: Divine Chocolate Birthday Cake

Here are your fantastic Divine Chocolate Birthday Cakes, all fourteen of them! This heavenly cake was chosen in honour of our newest Weekly Bake-Offling Claire Patterson, who has celebrated her birthday this week with her very first Weekly Bake-Off.

Our judge is the lovely Luke @stickyeyeblog who undoubtedly had a tough job selecting a winner for the grand prize of Star Baker this week. He's done a fantastic job (if not a little racy in parts!), once again it's  been a pleasure and thanks to everyone who took part.

Rachel Leah
Luke says: "I like the flakey sprinkle effect which is reminiscent of a lovely local tea shop. Good icing to sponge ratio!"

Caroline Cowan
Luke says: "Lovely slab of no frills chocolate cake which looks lovely and firm, a satisfying cake."

Luke says: "This one grabbed me instantly. Luscious milky coating with the half dipped cherries to give that extra sense of decadence. It is asking for a good eating!"

Kibibi Designs
Luke says: "Yeah get that chocolate poured on there! Why wait? Rustic to say the least and no need to stand on graces. Get stuck in."

Laura Grazia
Luke says: "Something very Easter like about this. A nice touch with the Brazil nuts which are up there with the best of the nut family. Excellent shape, good and tall."

Lynda Williams
Luke says: "This cake is very simple yet extremely pleasing. Sponge looks moist and firm creating a good sexy slice of cake and candles added in line with the Birthday Cake theme of the recipe. Good effort."

Claire Patterson
Luke says: "This one is fantastic! It is tall, moist, firm and fun. Superb presentation on with the icing and looks like it could be moussey as well as spongey. Happy Birthday to whoever is eating it!"

Sue Ryan
Luke says: "You just know as soon as you put this in your mouth it will melt on your taste buds like a cocoa blanket. Would have liked to see more of the chocolate work on top in the photo as there is some hard work going on there."

Paul J White
Luke says: "It looks like a chocolate slice moulded around a cake which is 100% a brilliant concept in my book. It looks like a lovely brown lake of sweetness."

Luke says: "The icing wet enough to look like it may drip over the edge but solid to hold its position just teasing us to come and get it."

Zoe Revell
Luke says: "Some lovely vintage style icing work going on here which is lovely on the eye and in keeping with the un-clinical, homely warmness of the cake. I'm gasping for a cuppa tea now!"

Betty Butcher
Luke says: "The icing looks lovely and thick and more milky than bitter dark. Shame we can't see more of main body of the cake."

Pennie Roberts
Luke says: "An absolute wedge of cake! "I'm a cake, so what you gonna do about it?" I'm going to chuck a glob of ice cream on you and demolish every piece!"

Nadine Beaton
Luke says: "A dark, mysterious temptress wrapped in a smooth bitter gown of icing. Was this an actual Birthday Cake too?"

by Luke
"The winner, taking into account the presentation, most tempting and incorporating all details of this weeks bake off, is...

Claire Patterson

Excellent decoration and very much in the spirit of a birthday party while still managing to look sophisticated. Well done. Do I get to eat the cakes next time?"

Divine Chocolate Birthday Cake

Bake Twenty-One, page 204

Here is my slightly wonky but definitely delicious Devine Chocolate Birthday Cake, in honour of one of our newest members Claire Patterson, who celebrated her birthday this week with her very first entry into the Weekly Bake-Off. It's no secret that I have been much more disorganised since my return to the Twitterverse after Christmas, and I wholeheartedly blame this on cutting out my son's daytime sleep. I never anticipated the extent to which I'd miss those two hours every day! And as I have recently become an Independent Phoenix Trader, sadly my baking is being pushed to the bottom of the list! I just about scraped in this week though and made this chocolate treat last night. I took onboard Rachel's tip of baking on a slightly lower heat, and omitted the coffee and apricot jam as I wasn't such a big fan of these things in the Mississippi Mud Pie or Very Best Chocolate Fudge Cake.

On the whole this was a pretty straight forward cake to make, however mine did end up quite...shall we say...rugged?! I have no idea why! It still tasted great, although did anyone else find the butter in the chocolate covering tasted a bit sour in comparison? Hmm... I think this one will make it onto my 'bake again' list in some shape or form, possibly with a ganache covering instead, also suggested by Rachel.

Monday, 23 January 2012

YOUR BAKES: Maple Syrup Cake

It's been a bumper week here at the Weekly Bake-Off residence - you have treated me to ELEVEN delicious Maple Syrup Cakes. And what's more - I have judged them myself this week! We're a fifth of the way through our 100 Cakes and Bakes now, and I thought it was about time I faced my fear of judging and got stuck in. Deep goes!

Baking Addict
"A lovely looking example with a lovely even cream covering and perfectly proportioned layers."

Caroline Cowan
"I love the generous cream filling in this evenly baked cake."

Kibibi Designs
"Ahh a woman after my own heart - just a cream topping rather than all round the sides. Love the rustic style of this cake and for me the exposed sides give extra "mmm" factor."

"A very neat cake, perhaps could do with a bit more filling but then again I am a 'more is more' kind of person! A good, precise bake."

Lynda Willims
"This cake is like a work of art - how long did it take you to place that orange peel so perfectly on top?! Lovely tall cake with beautifully even filling and covering."

Jen - Malcolm Murphy Hair
"Always love a bit of creativity when it comes to baking, and this pecan decoration sets the cake off for me. The sponge looks delicious - I could definitely eat this cake!"

Paul J White
"These cakes just get better as I go along. Paul this cake just shouts "EAT ME!", I love how the cream in the middle is trying to escape and you've slathered the top with plenty more." 

"A beautiful version of Mary's cake, this could be served up in a posh coffee shop or bakery. Perfectly even layers, exposed sides and neat, pecanned topping all make for an irresistable looking cake."

Sue Ryan
"A good, even bake on the sponge along with a geneous helping of cream filliing and topping make for a handsome attempt. Although you called it a disaster, I rather like the 'reservoir' of cream in the middle - it gives the cake character!!"
Alison McKenzie
"Alison you never fail to impress me, your attention to detail when decorating a cake is second to none and this is no exception. I love the piping on top and - I know I keep going on about it - but I really love the fact you can see the sides. A healthy filling compliments the evenly baked sponge, a lovely cake."
Nadine Beaton
"This is the cutest cake of the bunch, it looks like it's wearing a snuggly chenile jumper! Love the generous covering of orange peel, I can imagine the citrus hit balanced the sweet maple flavour beautifully."


Oh my goodness, I really bit off more than I could chew with this lot - what a fabulous collection of cakes! I would like to apologise to all my wonderful judges of bake-offs gone by for putting them through such a difficult task - I have really struggled to decide on a winner. That's not to say my winner does not completely deserve the title. The cake I have chosen stood out to me as the most perfect - equal layers, great cake to cream ratio and what wonderful orange peel to finish. It also is a spot on interpretation of the recipe, and for all of those reasons - congratulations
Lynda Williams

Maple Syrup Cake

Bake Twenty, page 19

I am becoming quite fond of baking cakes which have a little bit extra to do, like this Maple Syrup Cake which is sliced in to three layers and filled with maple-flavoured whipped double cream. I know it's not exactly complicated, but slicing a sponge in half was a challenge for me this time last year!

The baking of the sponge was straight forward, basically stick all the ingredients in a bowl and mix until well combined. I stupidly thought I had plenty of light muscovado sugar in my cupboard (in fact it was dark muscovado) so I used golden granulated instead (I thought dark muscovado might make it taste a bit liquorice-y?) I also forgot to buy pecans and substituted them for walnuts which is a shame because pecans would've really set this cake off.

After allowing the cake to cool I sliced it into three layers. My middle layer (far left) cracked as I sliced it unevenly, but I managed to squidge it back together and luckily it held reasonably well!
I whipped the cream a little too much, something I often do, and added slightly more than 100 mls of maple syrup as I love the stuff. I liberally filled and layered the cake, and finished off with a healthy topping, rather than thinly spreading the whole cake with what I had left.

On the whole this was a lovely tasting cake, however I expected a little more of a maple syrup hit as this cake was quite delicately flavoured. But you are dealing with a die-hard Golden Syrup cake fan here - my expectations were high! If I were to make this cake again I would definitely use the correct sugar and nuts and I'd be a bit more vigilant when whipping the cream.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

YOUR BAKES: Devil's Food Cake

I can't say I'm not a timy bit jealous of these lovely cakes - you have succeeded where I have failed on two counts: getting the American frosting right and taking decent photographs! Our lovely judge this week is Nelly, you can follow her on Twitter @nellyscupcakes. Thanks to everyone for taking part and see you at the next Weekly Bake Off!

Nelly says: "The cake looks super decadent with its 4 layers, not sure the white chocolate bits on the tops do it justice though, with this indulgent cake I want to see lashings of frosting
and no holding back!"

Laura Henderson

Nelly says: "That frosting looks so smooth and marshmallowy, I just want to sleep on it! Its a shame I cant see more of the cake here though."

Baking Addict

Nelly says: "This looks lovely, rich and chocolatey. Well done."


Nelly says: "Mmmmmmmm *drool* what a fabulous photo this is, that frosting looks so pillowy and inviting although the frosting to cake ratio is almost 50-50 here! (not that I am complaining)"

Charlotte Cole

Nelly says: "Yum! The frosting looks almost meringue like here, not as fluffy as some of the others, but I bet it was delicious all the same."


Nelly says: "Lovely bake, the frosting looks a bit on the wet side though."

Kirsty Johnston

Nelly says: "Great photo! The frosting looks light and fluffy and the ratio of cake the frosting looks perfect! Yum."

by Nelly

"The winner for me has to be Kirsty Johnston, the frosting looks just right and there isn't too much of it in comparison to the cake. Well done Kirsty!"

Devil's Food Cake

Bake Nineteen, page 163

The Weekly Bake-Off's new year has been kick-started with a devillish treat - Mary Berry's Devil's Food Cake. I attempted the traditional method for making the American frosting which fills and covers this gorgeous chocolate sponge, but unfortunately I ended up with a gooey, marshmallowy affair which gradually turned into crispy meringue. I can only assume this was down to allowing the sugar syrup to cool a little but too much before adding it to my whipped egg whites, and I'd be interested in trying again to find out. The sponge itself was delicious and I will bookmark it on the desktop of my mind to use next time I need a chocolate cake, however the overall outcome of this bake wasn't entirely to my taste. Please excuse my really terrible photograph - I can't find my digital camera battery charger and my iPhone isn't the best! I also forgot to do a slice shot, you can tell I am a bit rusty after 6 weeks off! At least the degree to which I got the American frosting wrong is clearly displayed...