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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Guilt Free Banana Bread

Guilt Free Banana Bread

I had my first request this week for something to bake, which was really exciting! We had a lot of overripe bananas left in our fruit bowl at work, and so some of the girls were wondering what to do with them rather than throwing them out. Then, they thought of me! I was happy to oblige by taking the bananas home and re purposing them into something delicious!Guilt Free Banana Bread

Whenever I have overripe bananas, I always seem to go to banana bread. I just love it so much! So I couldn’t go past an opportunity to bake delicious banana bread for the office. But I realised that lately I’ve been baking a lot of sweet things, and thought it might be time to cook something a little healthier. I mean, I can’t always bake sugar filled treats, as much as I want to. So I decided to try out a recipe for healthy banana bread, and see how it turned out.

Guilt Free Banana Bread

This recipe was really simple, quick and delicious. It ended up being gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free, which means that it is practically guilt free. I couldn’t believe how delicious it tasted given it didn’t have any sugar in the recipe, apart from the sugar from the bananas and a little bit of honey! It really surprised me that I can make something healthy that still satisfies my sweet tooth. And despite my concern that something so healthy wouldn’t go down well with my office crowd, everyone loved it! A lot of them loved it even more because they didn’t have to feel bad about eating it one bit.

Guilt Free Banana Bread

There are a lot of ‘healthy’ banana bread recipes out there, but this one was quite simple, and didn’t involve too many ingredients you wouldn’t have on hand. It is based on coconut flour, which is becoming far easier to get, and the only other thing you needed was Almond Butter. But you could easily substitute this for peanut butter or any other nut butter. I also sprinkled cacao nibs over the top, but you could easily put anything over the top, like blueberries, raspberries, banana slices or sliced almonds. It’s completely up to you! You could even put chocolate chips on the top if you wanted to make it a little more naughty!

Guilt Free Banana Bread

Guilt Free Banana Bread

Adapted From Ambitious Kitchen
Serves 12 slices
Preparation Time 15 minutes
Cooking Time 25 minutes

Ingredients

·         4 medium ripe bananas, mashed up

·         1 tablespoon of honey

·         1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

·         ¼ cup of almond butter

·         2 tablespoons of coconut oil, melted

·         2 eggs

·         ½ cup of coconut flour

·         ½ teaspoon of baking powder

·         ½ teaspoon of baking soda

·         ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon

·         ¼ cup of cacao nibs

Method

1.      Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius, and line a loaf pan with baking paper, setting aside.

2.      In a medium bowl combine the bananas, honey, vanilla, almond butter and coconut oil. Using an electric mixer, mix the ingredients until combined and smooth.

3.      Add the eggs in, one at a time, on a medium speed until combined.

4.      Using a medium speed, mix in coconut flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt until completely combined.

5.      Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Scatter the cacao nibs over the top of the batter evenly.

6.      Bake for 25-30 minutes or until when a skewer is inserted it comes out clean.

7.      Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely. Slice into 12 even pieces.

Guilt Free Banana Bread

And there you have it! It’s such a quick recipe and simple to make. And the result was really delicious, but very good for you. You won’t feel guilty going back for a couple of slices of this one, and I am sure you will want to! It is quite sweet surprisingly, but has a really nice coconut flavour, which I really liked. And using ripe bananas really brings sweetness so you don’t even need sugar!

Guilt Free Banana Bread

You can enjoy this banana bread as it, it is quite soft and moist, but does hold its shape. Otherwise you can toast it in a sandwich press for a truly decadent experience. If it’s not sweet enough for you, you could always add some yoghurt and honey on the top.

Guilt Free Banana Bread

Let me know if you would like to try this recipe yourself, and especially let me know if you give it a go!

Until next time, happy baking!

Ella xx

Five Minutes to Chocolate Heaven

Chocolate Lava Mug Cake

First of all, I’m sorry I haven’t posted this week. I’ve let time get away from me as I’ve been away from home for work! It was quite difficult to get enough time to write a blog post surprisingly, even though I was certain I would have enough time undisturbed in my hotel room. But I’m afraid socialising won out, and given because I’ve been to Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney this week, I think the lack of time at home has meant my blog has suffered!

I guess time is a big thing, especially with cooking. I find a lot of my friends always complain that they never have any time to cook, or bake, or blog. I fall into the habit too – I find myself scrambling at the end of the week sometimes to figure out what to cook, and I think if I didn’t have this blog as a project I would just keep doing my usual thing of stir fries and grilled chicken. I think this is why I am enjoying this blog so much, because it is pushing me to try new things and make time for cooking and baking, which is something I really enjoy!Chocolate Lava Mug Cake

I found myself on Saturday night at home packing for a week away, and contemplating what I should cook for this week’s blog post. I knew because I would be in a hotel room for most of the week, I would seriously lack the tools needed to bake for the blog. And this was married with my slight depression at being home on a Saturday night doing something boring like packing. I had to leave the Gold Coast just to pack, and to me that is reason enough for a delicious dessert!Chocolate Lava Mug Cake

So I decided to fill the void with something delicious, because I am not an emotional eater or anything. But I knew it had to be something quick because I really did need to pack, and something that I could make as one serve, because I would be the only one eating it. I’ve always wanted to try a microwave cake, because the concept to me seems so strange. I’ve always enjoyed the process of baking so I never normally want to speed it up. But this I do have to say was quite fun. There is something really satisfying about making a cake batter in a mug, putting it in the microwave for 2 minutes, and getting instant gratification. It does scare me a little though because now I know cake it so easily accessible to me in single serving form, I think dieting is going to be a lot harder!Chocolate Lava Mug Cake

This mug cake was gooey in the centre and the perfect size. The original recipe I used was for 2 serves so I halved it, because no one wants to share mug cake. That’s the kind of stuff you make for eating while watching a chick flick in your pajamas, and I promise you that if you are home alone watching a chick flick, the addition of this mug cake will make your night a million times better!

Chocolate Lava Mug Cake

Chocolate Lava Mug Cake

Adapted From Cleo Buttera
Servings 1
Preparation Time 3 minutes
Cooking Time 2 minutes

Ingredients

·      1/8 cup of plain flour

·      1/8 cup of caster sugar

·      1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder

·      ¼ teaspoon of baking powder

·      Pinch of Salt

·      1 and ½ tablespoons of melted butter

·      1 and ½ tablespoons of milk at room temperature

·      1 small egg

·      ¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract

·      14 grams (or a few squares) of dark chocolate, broken up

·      ½ a tablespoon of water

Method

1.     In a microwave safe mug, using a fork, whisk together to flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt until combined.

2.     Pour the melted butter, milk, egg and vanilla into the mug. Whisk well with the fork until combined, ensuring that there is no flour mixture stuck to the bottom.

3.     Place chocolate pieces in the centre of the mug, ensuring you don’t push down on them. They will sink as it bakes.

4.     Drizzle the water over the top of the cake mixture.

5.     Cook into the microwave for between 1 minute 20 seconds and 2 minutes, or until the edges of the cake look set. It took mine about 2 minutes, but it will depend on the temperature of the microwave. After 1 minute 20 seconds keep checking the cake and putting in for 5-second intervals, as you don’t want to overcook the cake. It should slightly stick to the finger when touched, and look slightly wet but not raw.

6.     Allow the cake to cool for a couple of minutes if you can, to avoid burning your tongue. It will also allow the sauce to thicken.

7.     Eat straight out of the mug with some ice cream on top to really get the full mug cake experience.

See what I mean about it being easy? A little too easy and quick I think. I mean, now that I know I can make a delicious chocolate dessert in 5 minutes, I’m a little worried I’ve opened up my world to a lot more dessert. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, given how delicious this little pudding was. I never thought that I would enjoy a cake made in the microwave, but once again a recipe I’ve found on Pinterest has pleasantly surprised me.Chocolate Lava Mug Cake

The result of this recipe is absolutely delicious, and a great addition to a cold winter night, where you are snuggled up in front of the TV. The cake is gooey and full of chocolate, and tastes great with a bit of ice cream on the top. You can see below that I followed my own advice: Chocolate Lava Mug Cake

Would you give this recipe a go? I think out of all the ones I’ve tried, this one is the easiest and quickest. So give it a go and see what you think!

Until next time, happy baking!

Ella xx

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