Thursday, October 3, 2013

Ben and Holly's Little Kingdom

Another year, another birthday cake project...for the boys' 6th and 4th birthday party we went closer to having a theme than ever before: Ben and Holly's Little Kingdom (a funny, cute animated show by the makers and voices of Peppa Pig). We placed bunting around the trampoline, set up various tents and crawl tunnels to represent Gaston's cave, made elf hats simply by stapling cardboard leaves to party hats and crowns out of yellow cardboard. Our frangipani, once embellished with cardboard windows, doubled as the Great Elf Tree. Lolly bags (yes, we went there!) were filled with bug stickers, mint leaves, freckles, a jelly cup, fairy floss and a ladybird chocolate.

For the cake, I stuck with my tried and tested frozen butter cream transfer method. I spent a good couple of nights working on the different shades of icing for the picture of Ben, Holly and Gaston. Over the course of a week (an epic undertaking!) I gradually outlined and filled each character before covering the back of the transfers with the blue and green icing that would form the top of the cake.

I used the same Nigella sour cream chocolate cake recipe as in previous years. I was pleased with the results but once again cursed myself for not getting hold of a narrower tip for the finer details like the eyes and eyelashes. Learning from my last attempt at this method, I managed to get the transfers a bit thinner than the superhero transfers I made last year.

For a little variety, I made lemon butter cake mini cupcakes. Some of these were iced red and covered with upside down dark chocolate chips to suggest ladybirds, the others were iced pink and covered with upside down white chocolate chips to represent toadstools. Overall, the spread would have met with Nanny Plum's approval.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Raspberry and coconut pancakes

On Saturday I decided to play around  with an old favourite - pancakes. Normally I'd either make plain or blueberry pancakes. In this recipe, the usual plain milk is replaced with light coconut milk and the blueberries are substituted with frozen raspberries. If you are short on time, you can skip separating the eggs and beating the whites (makes them less fluffy, but just as delicious). With a little lime zest and a trickle of maple syrup, these made a party in our mouths and tummies.

Raspberry and coconut pancakes

Serves 4

2 cups plain flour + 4 teaspoons baking powder (or 2 cups self-raising flour)
4 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs
1 x 50g sachet of coconut milk power
500ml water (100ml hot/400ml not)
1 cup frozen raspberries
1 teaspoon lime zest
Small amounts of butter for frying
Maple syrup, for serving

Set oven to a low temperature (100 degrees Celsius), for keeping cooked pancakes warm.

Combine flour, baking powder and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Make a well for the wet ingredients.

Place coconut milk powder in a small jug and add hot water, stirring to make a smooth paste. Add remaining water and stir to make coconut milk. Add zest.

Separate eggs, placing the yolks in the jug with the milk and the whites in a clean bowl. Beat yolks and milk with a fork until combined. Whisk whites to soft peaks (I use the whisk attachment on my stick blender).

Add milk/yolk mixture to dry ingredients and gently mix until just combined. Gently fold in raspberries and egg whites.

Heat a heavy-based frying pan with a small amount of butter over a medium heat. Dollop approx 2 tablespoons of mixture and per pancake and swirl to flatten to a round shape. Flip them over when they bubble in the middle. Transfer cooked pancakes to an ovenproof dish (I use a corningware dish with a lid), cover and store in oven as you cook each batch.