Dad’s Birthday Cake

On Sunday it was my dad’s birthday. Now I know what you’re thinking, this guy is pretty lucky to have had a Father’s Day celebration and a birthday all in the space of a week (I know I would be pretty happy). So just when he was finishing off the leftover tiramisu, he was able to look forward to his birthday, and with that, some delicious food! After a day relaxation, we took him out for a delicious dinner in the evening, and then there was only one thing left to do: eat birthday cake. This is by far one of the most exciting things about birthdays if you ask me.

Dads birthday Cake

When it comes to picking a cake to make for my dad, it was pretty easy. I am so indecisive when it comes to baked goods, as there are so many to choose from! How can you pick just one? However, with my dad, there is only one cake that has his heart. He is absolutely obsessed with carrot cake. Well, let me rephrase. He does enjoy carrot cake, but he is absolutely obsessed with the combination of carrot cake and cream cheese icing. After all, it’s not really a good carrot cake without a thick coating of cream cheese icing about the same size as the cake itself.

Dads birthday Cake

Dad takes his icing-to-cake ratio very seriously, as I have learnt through previous experience. Last year, I made two carrot cakes and took one of them into work to ensure it didn’t go to waste. However, little did I know that I had accidently taken in the cake that had the better icing-to-cake ratio, and as a result I was in the bad books with dad for a couple of days. So I needed to make sure this year that I got it right.Dads birthday Cake

My first step was to halve the carrot cake recipe that I used, as it is for quite a large cake. This would avoid comparison of icing-to-cake ratio between cakes, ensuring that no one got disappointed (ahem, dad). Secondly, I ensured that I made about enough icing to ice a 3 tier wedding cake, just to make sure that there was enough to go around. I felt like doing these two steps would ensure that we didn’t have an issue like last year, because I think you are beginning to realise where I get my obsession with baked goods from.

Dads birthday Cake

It was hard to find a recipe initially that dad would like, because he hates pineapple in carrot cake. He once told me ‘Ella, it’s not a pineapple cake, it’s a carrot cake. Pineapple shouldn’t belong in a carrot cake.’ I think it was a valid point, however I didn’t realise how hard it was to find a recipe for carrot cake that doesn’t have pineapple in it. They are few and far between! The entire internet must disagree with my dad about pineapple, because it seemed that every recipe I looked at had pineapple in it. However, I finally found a recipe without pineapple that seemed really nice, and decided that as it was so good last year when I made it, I would make it again.

Dads birthday Cake

It is a little interesting going back and writing this blog, and trying to remember what I did, as I baked the cake on a Friday night and decided it was a good idea to have some wine before, during and after baking. I do have to say it made the whole experience really fun, and even though I was a little less careful than I usually am with my measurements, the cake was perfect in the end! I think in future I will always accompany my Friday night baking with wine, it made for a really enjoyable Friday night activity!

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

Dads birthday Cake

Adapted From Gimme Some Oven
Preparation Time 20 minutes
Cooking Time 30 minutes
Serves 8-12

Ingredients

Carrot Cake Ingredients:

·         ¾ cup and 1 tablespoon of olive, vegetable or canola oil (I used olive but if you want a more subtle taste use vegetable or canola)

·         ½ cup of caster sugar

·         ½ cup of brown sugar

·         3 eggs

·         ½ tablespoon of vanilla extract

·         1 ½ and 1/8 cups of plain flour

·         ½ tablespoon of ground cinnamon

·         1 teaspoon of baking soda

·         1 teaspoon of salt

·         ½ teaspoon of baking powder

·         ¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg

·         Pinch of ground cloves

·         226 grams or ½ pound of grated carrots

·         Optional: ½ cup of chopped walnuts

Cream Cheese Icing Ingredients:

·         250 grams of cream cheese at room temperature (I used one Philadelphia block)

·         115 grams or ½ cup of unsalted butter at room temperature

·         ½ tablespoon of vanilla extract

·         ¼ teaspoon of salt

·         3 cups of icing sugar

·         Optional: 1 cup of walnuts for decorating

Method

Making the Carrot Cake

1.       Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

2.       Grease a cake pan and put a circular piece of baking paper in the bottom in order to make it easier to get the cake out. You could use two smaller pans and make a two tier cake if you wanted!

3.       In a large bowl, using an electronic beater, mix together the oil, caster sugar and brown sugar until combined and smooth.

4.       One at a time, add in the eggs, whilst still beating in between. Then add in the vanilla, and mix until smooth. The mixture should thicken upon addition of the eggs.

5.       In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, baking powder, nutmeg and cloves until combined.

6.       Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet mixture, beating on a medium speed in between to ensure each batch is fully incorporated before adding more. Once completely added, scrape down the bowl with a spatula to ensure everything is mixed, and beat until just combined completely.

7.       Fold in the grated carrots and hand stir to combine completely with the mixture. At this stage, if doing so, add in the walnuts and stir to combine.

8.       Pour the batter evenly into the cake pan. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Take the cake out of the oven and remove from the pan, turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Making the Cream Cheese Icing:

1.       Using an electric mixer, cream together the cream cheese and butter on a medium speed until smooth with no lumps. This should take about a minute.

2.       Add in the vanilla extract and salt, and mix until combined.

3.       Lower the speed to medium-low and add in the icing sugar gradually. I did this step in cups, ensuring that each cup was fully incorporated before adding the next one. Beat until completely combined on a medium-high speed.

4.       Place the cake on a plate for serving. With a cake spatula, layer the cake with icing and slowly spread around the entire cake, ensuring the top and sides are covered completely in a thick layer of icing. Get the walnuts and decorate the cake as desired (I put a couple in the middle and then made a line around the outside)

5.       Place in the fridge to ensure the icing is nice and firm, and take out about 10-15 minutes before serving.

Dads birthday Cake

Dad was so excited to have his birthday cake; I’m surprised he managed to wait all day. It was hardly a surprise that I was making the cake for him, he could smell the cream cheese icing from a mile away. He even got a few taste tests in before I iced the cake, and I gave him one spatula of icing willingly, and the other, which I was reserving for my partner, he ate as well! He claimed he didn’t realise of course, and didn’t want the icing to go to waste. You can hardly blame him though; the icing on this cake is so delicious! It went so well with the flavours in the carrot cake and I loved the addition of walnuts on the top for just a little bit of crunch!

Dads birthday Cake

The cake itself was beautifully moist and full of flavour from the spices. It proves you really don’t need pineapple in the cake to make it good; the flavours of the batter went so well with the carrot you didn’t need the extra flavour! My dad might be on to something here, and hopefully this recipe will add to the small collection of carrot cake recipes on the internet that don’t have pineapple in them. But I think the real hero, as much as the carrot cake was delicious, was the icing. It was so thick and creamy, and just sweet enough to marry perfectly with the cake. I would use the cream cheese icing recipe on its own for other cakes such as red velvet cupcakes, as it really was so simple to make but really delicious.

Dads birthday Cake

Dad has been slowly working his way through the cake, taking a piece to work each day. Its like his birthday keeps going for him, and he was so appreciative of the effort I went to for him, even if I loved every second of making him the cake! It has kept really well in the fridge and would easily last a week if you keep it wrapped up tightly. So you can keep enjoying the cake long after the celebration is over! It certainly makes for a delicious morning treat that makes any bad day a little bit brighter.

Dads birthday Cake

So if you have someone in your life that is as crazy about carrot cake as my dad is, I would strongly suggest you make this cake for them. It was pretty simple in terms of cake baking, and it was so delicious in the end! You also could just make it for yourself, because I mean it has carrots in it, so it is totally healthy, right? Surely it counts as one of your serves of vegetables for the day!

Dads birthday Cake

Until next time, happy baking!

Ella xx

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Lemon and Honey Almond Cake

This weekend, I spent most of my time eating or baking. It was most certainly a weekend well spent! I do love eating out and trying new restaurants on my weekends, but it’s also a lot of fun cooking and baking as well. And this weekend it was my mum’s birthday on Sunday, which gave me a great excuse to spend time in the kitchen (like I really needed any).Lemon and Honey Almond Cake

My mum is gluten intolerant, and also not a huge fan of chocolate, which for me is something I will never understand. So I really needed to think hard about what cake to make her. I knew she liked more natural flavours of spices and nuts in cakes over a traditional sweet cake, so I started here. I myself have found that I’ve moved more towards these flavours when looking for cakes to cook anyway, as cakes based on nuts and spices are just so delicious!Lemon and Honey Almond Cake

I found that a lot of the recipes for almond meal cakes tend to end up requiring flour anyway, which is quite frustrating when trying to make gluten free cake. You can make these cakes without flour; it’s just that there seems to be a real lack of flourless recipes on Pinterest. But I did manage to find one that I liked in the end. I was being a bit picky, as I didn’t want to make a plain cake for mum’s birthday; it needed to have something a bit special to set it apart.Lemon and Honey Almond Cake

In the end, I found a recipe, with the help of my sister, for this lemon and honey almond cake. It appealed to me because you made syrup to go with the cake, which ensured that it had a lot of flavour and was really moist, which sometimes you lose with almond meal based cakes. The cake was deliciously sweet and zesty at the same time, and the addition of berries on the top really added to it. I also found that it rose a lot more than I was expecting, given it didn’t have any baking powder in it. All it uses is the egg whites to give it volume, which meant that the cake was nice and light. It ended up being a delicious cake that even my partner enjoyed, and he normally likes his cake full of chocolate and sugar. It actually ended up being dairy free too, if you don’t add ice cream (which I highly recommend).Lemon and Honey Almond Cake

The main thing that mattered was that my mum loved it (there she is posing above next to her bday cake). But I actually enjoyed it so much that I thought I should share it with you all. I adjusted it a little from the original recipe and the cake wound up being amazing, so I’ll share this with you and hopefully you will enjoy it as much as I did!

Lemon and Honey Almond Cake

Lemon and Honey Almond Cake

Adapted From Your Home Based Mom
Preparation Time 30 minutes
Cooking Time 55 minutes
Serves 12 slices (depending on the size of them)

Ingredients

Cake

·      ¼ cup of olive oil, plus extra for greasing your cake tin

·      1 ¾ cup of Almond Meal, plus additional for dusting the pan

·      1/3 cup of Tapioca starch (or potato starch if you have this)

·      ½ teaspoon of Salt

·      1 cup of Caster Sugar, divided into ½ cups

·      1/3 cup of Honey

·      4 large eggs, separated, plus 1 egg white

·      ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract

·      Zest of two Lemons

·      ¼ teaspoon of almond extract

·      Berries for topping

Honey and Lemon Syrup

·      ½ cup of Caster Sugar

·      1/3 cup of Honey

·      Juice of two lemons

·      1 cup of water

Method

Cake

1.     Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Place the oven rack in the bottom half of the oven.

2.     Get your cake tin and brush the sides and bottom with olive oil. Cut baking paper into a circle to fit the bottom of the pan, and place in the bottom. Brush this with more olive oil and dust with almond meal.

3.     In a medium bowl, mix together almond meal, tapioca starch, and salt.

4.     In a large bowl, combine ½ cup of sugar, 1/3 cup of honey, lemon zest, 4 egg yolks, vanilla, almond extract and olive oil.

5.     Using an electronic handheld mixer, or a stand mixer, beat until smooth and creamy. This should take about 3 minutes.

6.     Beat in the almond meal mixture gradually, until just incorporated.

7.     In another bowl, get your 5 egg whites and whisk until foamy.

8.     Gradually whisk in ½ cup of sugar, until glossy peaks form. This should take another 3 minutes.

9.     Gently fold the egg white mixture into the cake batter until combined.

10. Pour the batter into the pan.

11. Bake the cake for 50-55 minutes, or until golden brown. The cake should spring back when lightly touched.

12. Allow the cake to cool completely, and remove it from the pan by running a knife around the edge first.

Honey Syrup

1.     Mix together the sugar, honey, lemon juice and water in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer on a high heat and reduce to a medium heat. Allow to simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes. The mixture should have reduced and become syrupy.

2.     Brush part of the syrup mixture over the top of the cake. I poked holes in the top with a cake tester to allow the syrup to seep through the cake more easily.

3.     Cut up berries that you have on hand and place on top of the cake. Drizzle more of the honey syrup over the top of this.

4.     To serve: serve up the cake with ice cream and drizzle a tablespoon or two of the remaining honey syrup over the top of each slice, and the ice cream.

And that’s it! My recipe for a delicious, syrupy, gluten and dairy free cake! Who said that having food intolerances has to be boring! There are so many great recipes out there nowadays, and I think this one might taste just as good if not better than a cake with flour in it! I certainly didn’t feel all heavy after eating this, which was really nice. And the cake itself will last for a few days in the fridge, if it doesn’t get eaten first!

Lemon and Honey Almond Cake

Until next time, happy baking!

Ella xx

The OTT Birthday Cake

The OTT Birthday Cake 18

It was my birthday last week and I tried to turn it into a weeklong celebration with large success. I managed to space my actual birthday, a trip away and my birthday party out enough that it felt like it just kept going. Normally I prefer to celebrate other people’s birthdays more, as I find I always put too much pressure on my own birthday to be a super special day. But this year I had a lovely day and was determined to throw myself a really nice party. And with birthday parties must always come a kick ass birthday cake. Multiple people said its not right to make yourself a birthday cake, that it’s a little sad. Many offered to make one for me, or to buy one instead. But I felt this was a perfect opportunity to try out one of the many crazy cakes that can be found on Pinterest.

I don’t know about everyone else, but I find that Pinterest is full of recipes for cakes, which look like something that I will never be able to humanly achieve, or eat and not die from a cardiac arrest. These are the sorts of recipes that wind up on those lists that Buzzfeed do of the expectation vs reality of Pinterest recipes. You go into it thinking “oh yeah, its just a cake, how hard can it be?” and wind up rocking back and forth in the corner. And I’ve tried to make cakes from Pinterest before and had epic failures, so I was a little hesitant to try again. But I felt that this would be the perfect opportunity to give it another go, and make myself the cake of my dreams.

The cake in question combines two of my favourite things: Chocolate and peanut butter. I just think this is a match made in heaven, as peanut butter is just about the best thing ever invented. If I could eat it all day, and not become the size of a house, I totally would. So when I asked myself what cake I should make, this one was the obvious choice.

Now, upon first glance this cake might appear to be very terrifying and the thought of trying to make it could make you shudder with fear. But it was surprisingly easy. I would actually use the cake recipe again, as it was super easy and made a delicious, light, chocolate cake. Put that together with the glorious peanut butter icing, and you have an impressive looking, but relatively simple cake. You just need to take the time to do it right; it is not a rush job. Love the cake recipe and it will love you back, in the form of an amazing cake.

I could have made it even prettier, as unlike the recipe I used, I did not do a ganache topping over the top, as I just felt it was already a pretty full on cake. But you could do this if you wanted to. Completely up to you and your obsession for chocolate.

My mum and dad tried some of this cake and called it the over the top (OTT) birthday cake. I told them that they had come up with the perfect name for the cake. It was a little over the top, but when you are making your dream birthday cake, you need to go all out.

The OTT Birthday Cake (Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer Cake)

Adapted from Lemon Sugar

Preperation Time: 45-60 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Assembly Time: 60 minutes

Serves: 20-25 pieces

Ingredients

Chocolate Cake

  • 3 cups of Caster Sugar
  • 2 2/3 cups of plain flour
  • 1 1/3 cups cocoa powder
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons of baking powder
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons of baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons of salt
  • 3 medium sized eggs
  • 1 ½ cups of milk
  • ¾ cup of rice bran or vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups of boiling water

Glorious Peanut Butter Icing

  • 250 grams of unsalted butter at room temperature,
  • 250 grams (or 1 box) of cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 ¼ cup of smooth peanut butter
  • 4 cups of icing sugar
  • ¼ cup of heavy cream

Garnish

  • Peanut flavoured candy of your choice (Reece’s pieces would be the obvious choice, but these are hard to come by in Australia. So I used some little peanut butter caramel chocolates instead)

Directions

For the Cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (350 degrees F)
  2. Prepare three pans of roughly the same size (mine were slightly off each other, but relatively similar – you can always make it even with icing later) – here’s a tip my mum taught me with preparing cake pans. If you are using one where the bottom doesn’t come out, butter the whole pan. Then fold two pieces of foil into two long strips. Place these in the bottom of the pan so that they cross and have bits of the strip hanging out of the pan. Fold these down and place a circle of baking paper over the top of these in the bottom of the tin. When it comes time to remove the cake, you will be able to use the foil to lift the cake out of the tin with ease.OTT Birthday Cake 2OTT Birthday Cake 3
  3. In a very large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt, eggs, milk, oil and vanilla.
  4. Using a hand mixer, beat the ingredients until just combine (don’t overdo it in this step, just make sure that the batter comes together and the lumps have started to dissolve).
  5. Add the boiling water and beat the mixture again until combine and smooth. Then, use a spatula to push the mixture on the side of the bowl into the batter, and mix again. It should look similar to the below:OTT Birthday Cake 4
  6. Evenly distribute the mixture into the 3 cake tins. I used a soup ladle to do this as I could evenly measure how many scoops went into each pan. Here’s my finished product:OTT Birthday Cake 5
  7. Bake for 30-40 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. I put them in for 30 minutes and then tested each 2 minutes after that until I got this result. It ended up taking me about 40 minutes.
  8. Cool the cakes on a wire wrack for 15 minutes, then remove the cakes from their pans to cool completely.

Glorious Peanut Butter Icing

  1. In a large bowl, beat the butter until it is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.OTT Birthday Cake 6
  2. Add the cream cheese, and beat this with the butter until smooth and creamy.
  3. I had to take a shot of the before and after of my peanut butter jar, because there is nothing more perfect than an unopened peanut butter jar, wouldn’t you agree?OTT Birthday Cake 7 OTT Birthday Cake 8
  4. After marvelling at the glorious peanut butter add this and the vanilla to the mixture, and beat until incorporated with the cream cheese and butter. Use a spatula to push any excess from the sides of the bowl into the mixture, and mix again until completely incorporated.OTT Birthday Cake 9
  5. Add icing sugar and the heavy cream, and beat until this is fully incorporated and the icing is smooth and creamy. Here is how mine looked at the end, in all its glory (this is some of the best icing I’ve ever eaten. It took all my power not to eat the whole bowl):OTT Birthday Cake 10

Assembly

  1. Once the cakes are cool, place the first cake on a nice big plate.
  2. Using an offset spatula, or a cake-decorating tool of your choice, smooth about a cup of icing onto the top of the cake.OTT Birthday Cake 11
  3. Add the second layer of cake on top of this icing, and put another cup of icing on the top of this layer.OTT Birthday Cake 12 OTT Birthday Cake 13
  4. Add the final layer to the cake, and smooth icing over the top. At this stage I put the cake in the fridge to set, as it was feeling a little precarious, so I didn’t want to leave it out any longer. I left the cake in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Here is how mine looked while icing the last tier:OTT Birthday Cake 14
  5. Once set, get the cake out of the fridge. With the remaining icing, ice the sides of the cake, ensuring that you fill in any differences in size between the cakes to make the whole surface even. Smooth over with a spatula once done, and place back in the fridge until you are ready to serve. Here is how mine looked at the end:OTT Birthday Cake 15
  6. When ready, get the cake out of the fridge. Cover with a peanut butter candy of your choice for garnish.OTT Birthday Cake 16

And there you have it! Its not as difficult as it initially looks. I am proud of myself for finally trying a delicious Pinterest cake, and I honestly couldn’t have asked for a more delicious cake for my birthday! I had people texting me after the party asking if I had leftovers, they loved it so much! Although it’s not the healthiest cake you could ever make, it was so delicious you just don’t care. It was totally worth every calorie of every bite, I swear this cake was happiness in a dessert.OTT Birthday Cake 19

Let me know if you make this cake, or what your dream birthday cake would be!

Happy Cooking!

Ella xx