Nana Glen Mum

Daring Bakers November Challenge – Cannoli November 28, 2009

The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.

Cannoli are known as Italian-American pastries, although the origin of cannoli dates back to Sicily, specifically Palermo, where it was prepared during Carnevale season, and according to lore, as a symbol of fertility. The cannoli is a fried, tube-shaped pastry shell (usually containing wine) filled with a creamy amalgamation of sweetened ricotta cheese, chocolate, candied fruit or zest, and sometimes nuts. Although not traditional, mascarpone cheese is also widely used, and in fact, makes for an even creamier filling when substituted for part of the ricotta, or by itself. However, cannoli can also be filled with pastry creams, mousses, whipped cream, ice cream etc. You could also add your choice of herbs, zests or spices to the dough, if desired. Marsala is the traditional wine used in cannoli dough, but any red or white wine will work fine, as it’s not only added for flavor or color, but to relax the gluten in the dough since it can be a stiff dough to work with.

Despite not technically a “baking” challenge, I was SO excited to see this month’s challenge recipe at the Daring Kitchen.  I have only had cannoli a few times, but have always loved their delicate crispy shell and creamy fillings.  We had a choice of fillings, so I made half with vanilla and half with chocolate, and dipped the ends of both in melted dark chocolate.  For the cannoli with chocolate filling, I then dipped the ends into candied orange peel also for a bit of a jaffa flavour.  YUM YUM!!

Anyway, if you would like a printable copy of the recipe, you can find it here.

My first batch, I tried the forming them around the premade cannelloni tubes.  Unfortunately, they blistered and cooked along with the cannoli and I was unable to separate the two without smashing the entire thing into smithereens.  Luckily, I had some stainless cream horn shapes in my cooking stash, and they worked a treat.  Had they not worked, I would have opted for the flat, layered version aka millefeuille/napoleon style.  All in all, a great hit with the family and definately will be made again.  Am hoping Santa will bring me an ice cream maker for Christmas, as I can really imagine these with a yummy home made ice cream filling!!  Delish!

 

Lightning McQueen Cake Tutorial – Part 2 – Decorating November 21, 2009

Okay, so if you’ve read Part 1 of the Tutorial here, you have the cake all carved up and ready to cover with fondant.  First of all, you need to cover it in either a layer of buttercream (it doesn’t matter if it is a crusting one or not) or a layer of melted jam to make the fondant stick.  I prefer buttercream because I think you get a smoother finish at the end.  It’s up to your own personal preference though, it’s just to stop the fondant slipping around on the cake or lifting off in places.

Next you want to roll out some red fondant and place it next to the cake so you don’t have to carry it very far (it is most likely to tear while you are lifting it from the bench top to the cake).

Now carefully slide both arms under the fondant and gently lift it up and place it on top of the cake

I usually take off all rings and bracelets before I start rolling out the fondant, but if you haven’t, it’s a good idea to do that now so your jewellery doesn’t dig in to the fondant.  Now with cupped hands, gently press the fondant down following the contours of the cake and then cut off any excess.

If you get any cracks, just rub them gently with warmed fingers, and put a bit of copha/crisco on your hands and rub it in.

Now it’s time for the windscreen.  Roll out some white fondant and cut it like this:

Then gently place it on the cake.  You can make it stick a bit better by lightly brushing a TINY bit of water on the back of the white fondant.

Next up are the facial features – 2 eyes and a mouth from black.  I cut them all out with circle cutters, including the mouth to get a nice rounded smile.

I use a piping tube to cut out the eyes.

Now for the side windows:

and stick ’em on

Now to finish the eyes, out of some blue fondant, cut circles slightly larger than the 2 small black ones.  I just use a larger piping nozzle turned upside down.  Then stick the black circles on top of the blue ones.

and stick them on too

The side markings can pretty much be broken down into a rectancle, a triangle and a curved bit.  I used circle cutters to get smooth edges on the curves, and just do the triangle and rectangle by eye.

The numbers are cut with number cutters and the wheels are cut as a larger black circle with a smaller circle inside cut out and replaced with a red inner circle.  For the logo on the front, I just print out on paper, cut out and put in place with a tiny smidge of water.

All done!  Now it’s your turn.  It’s really not that hard, so have a go.  At the end, if your kitchen is any less of a mess than this:

then I am REALLY impressed!!

Thanks for reading.

 

Lightning McQueen Cake Tutorial – Part 1 – Carving November 20, 2009

Here is how I made the Lightning McQueen cake for a friend’s son.  I have heaps and heaps of photos for this, so instead of writing notes with each, I’ll just post the photos, but if you have any questions, please let me know and I will answer them and include the information you need in the post.  You need to start with 2 rectangular cakes sandwiched together to give enough height, or if you don’t need to feed as many people, you could start with a loaf cake.

Enjoy!!

So there you have it.  Now you are ready to cover it in fondant.  Here is how I did it.

 

Thomas the Tank Engine Cake – Part 2 – How I Iced It.

Okay, here we go, the long promised part 2 of the Thomas the Tank Engine Cake Tutorial.  Sorry it took so long, but I hadn’t made another since until 2 weeks ago.  So, without further ado, here it is:

You can check out the previous post for how I carved the cake here.

First up, cover the entire cake with buttercream so that the fondant will stick.  It doesn’t matter if it is a crusting buttercream or not, infact just butter and icing sugar beat together will work just fine.  If you don’t want to go to the trouble, just brush the entire cake thoroughly with melted jam.  It’s basically up to you.  Personally, I find it easier to get a smooth finish on the fondant with buttercream underneath, but at the end of the day, it is just personal preference.

It doesn't have to be neat.

First up are the wheels.  Colour some fondant blue (remember it will darken somewhat overnight), roll it out to about half a centimetre thick and roll out at least 6 circles.  I say at least 6 because you are going to need 6, but I like to do a couple extra just in case I break one, or the kids eat one (also, this way you can pick the best ones).

Next, using small cutters or a knife, cut some bits out to make it look like wheels.  The shape doesn’t matter so much, nor how many you put, it’s just to give the impression.  You could even leave them solid if you like.

You really want to do this part a few days (at least overnight) before hand so they can dry and harden.  Once they are cut out, put them aside on a flat surface to dry.

Next up, cut the scrappy bits off the blue and roll it a bit thinner – I like about 3mm.  Put the cake right next to it so you don’t have to carry the fondant too far.

Now carefully slide both hands and arms under the fondant, lift it up gently and drape it over the cake.  It doesn’t have to come right to the front because that is going to be a different colour anyway.

Now carefully using your hands (take off all rings and bracelets first), press the fondant down over the cake, easing it into the crevices and over the bumpy bits.

You’ll have to manipulate it a bit around the corners.

Now y0u need to trim the front edge.  Using a sharp, smooth blade knife (NOT SERRATED!!!), cut across the front pretty much in line with the edge of the round bit, but just a bit back from it (about half a cm).

Now you need to peel off the extra bit at the front that you don’t want.  I don’t usually keep this bit as it has buttercream on it and can’t be rerolled.

And from the side:

Next you need to colour and roll your red fondant, and cut one edge straight with a ruler.

Place this across the front, slightly overlapping the blue and smooth down.

Now with your sharp, smooth bladed knife, trim across the front to the edge of the blue and peel away the excess.

Now trim across the bottom to give an even bottom edge, and cut a wide strip long enough to wrap around the other 3 sides of the cake.

Now wrap it around the base of the cake and trim the ends and bottom edge.

Now cut 3 thin strips and place them across the rounded bit at the front (sorry about the lack of technical train terminology!!)

Next cut out 2 number 1s.  I used a proper cutter for this, but you could easily do it with a knife.  Then wrap another thin red strip around each.

Now stick them one on each side.

All you need to do now is put a face on.  I made a mould from a toy and cut out eyes and a mouth.

Hope this helps.

 

Busy month for birthday cakes! November 16, 2009

Indeed it has been!  Here are a few photos of what I’ve been up to.  Keep an eye out as I will be posting a part 2 of the Thomas the Tank Engine tutorial on how I did the icing (remembered to take photos this time!!) and also a tutorial on the Lightning McQueen cake.

 

The Daring Cooks November 2009 Challenge: Sushi!

The November 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was brought to you by Audax of Audax
Artifex and Rose of The Bite Me Kitchen. They chose sushi as the challenge.
Sushi (寿司 or 鮨 or 鮓) is much appreciated for its delicate taste and exquisite appearance. Sushi
actually means vinegared rice, which is the essential ingredient in every sushi recipe. Sushi is
simple and cheap to make at home, needs no special equipment and is an excellent way to use left
overs.
Although sushi in various forms has been around for fourteen centuries, the modern version was
invented in Japan in the 1800’s where a ‘hand-formed’ sliced fresh fish and vinegared rice ball was
eaten as a snack food. Nowadays, sushi is made with various seafood, meats and vegetables, raw
and cooked.

Although I have made sushi numerous times before, this was my first attempt at a decorative style.  It was great fun and much easier than I expected.  The first one was the Dragon Roll:

Dragon Roll

Dragon Roll

It is supposed to be covered in avocado, but I was unable to buy any, so I just sprinkled Nigella seeds on top instead.  the filling was cucumber and smoked salmon.

The second style we made was spiral sushi.  It has 6 different fillings.  I used inari, blanched carrot, cucumber, smoked salmon, red capsicum and fresh asparagus.  Finally, we had to have a go at the hand shaped nigiri.  These I had made before, not that you would guess by the dodgy shaping!!  You can get a printable copy of the recipe here.  Don’t be intimidated by how long it is, they are just detailed instructions, the actual process is surprisingly quick and easy.

Nigiri on the top, and spiral sushi below.

All in all, a delicious challenge as always.  Both daughters loved it and it made a lovely dinner for a mild spring evening, eaten out on the front verandah watching the sun set over the hills surrounding our little valley.  Aaaaaahhhh!