Nana Glen Mum

More Cakes December 29, 2009

Sorry for the lack of posts lately, but between the end of the school year, Christmas and birthdays, I have been busy, busy, busy!

Here are some more cake photos::

These are actually from about July, forgot I had made them!  They were for a school dance with an underwater theme.  I got the idea from the Wilton site.

An Ipod Cake for a friend:

Sorry for the graininess and general bad quality of this next photo, but I had to take it on my phone and it was getting dark, plus I was holding back around 15 kids who were trying to get past me to dig in!!

This one is a Chiffon Cheesecake I made for my bff Ange’s birthday earlier this month.  It is wrapped in dark chocolate with the horses stencilled on in white chocolate, then topped with whipped cream and loads of fresh berries.  It was YUM!!!

This next one was for a really good friend’s daughter who will be off to Kindy next year with Miss M.  She wanted a cat cake.

And finally, this cake was for a gymnast.  The inside was a checkerboard design, but I’ll have to post pics later as they are on a friend’s camera.  The spots on the cake are rain drops:

And last but not least, a yule log made for my neighbour.  It was plain genoise cake, filled with chocolate buttercream and covered with a dark chocolate and jaffa (choc-orange) ganache.


Dessert in a flash! October 5, 2009

Here in NSW, Australia, yesterday was Rugby League Grandfinal Day.  Sorry, but that’s about as excited as I get about it.  Sub intelligence blokes with chunky thighs running forwards down a paddock, but throwing the ball backwards???? Go figure!

Anyway, my friend over the road is a mad keen fan and decided to put on a barbie late lunch/early dinner to celebrate and suggested I join her and her kids with my kids as her hubby was away and mine was at work.  Sounded like a good idea to me, so I asked what I could bring along in the way of food.  It was pretty much all organised, but I always like to take something along (plus any chance to have a play in the kitchen of course!), so I decided to try out something that had caught my eye a while ago made by Helene of Tartelette fame.  I highly suggest you check out her blog.  To call it awesome is a MASSIVE understatement!  She is my culinary idol!  My gastronomic hero!  Now I do have one small favour to ask.  Please don’t look at her magnificent masterpiece and my pitiful, meagre attempt on the same day.  Please???

Chopped Berries

Chopped Berries

Anyway, back to lunch at Liz’s.  I had a few mulberries left over that my friend Tomoko gave me the other day when we went to scab some wood from their fire pile to use as garden borders for my new herb patch, along with some strawberries I had bought for the girls.  My stash of sweet tartlette cases are still surviving in the freezer, so all I needed was some fresh cream.  A quick trip to the general store (didn’t have time to go into town for more complex ingredients) sorted that out and I was well on my way.

As the mulberries were a little tart, I decided on Chantilly cream rather than just plain cream, especially as vanilla goes so well with fresh fruit, so I whipped that up, pulled some tart cases out of the freezer, chopped the berries roughly and put it all in a box to take over the road.  Now for the fun part!!  The stained glass toffee – or rainbow toffee as my girls dubbed it.

It is actually a really easy process.  Line a baking tray with baking paper (I

Tray with drops of food colouring

Tray with drops of food colouring

also sprayed it lightly with oil first to make the paper stick to the tray and in case any toffee spread off the paper on to the tray).  Put a few drops of food colouring around the place.  I used gel colours as they are much more intense than the liquid ones from the supermarket.  Then you make the toffee.  It is really easy.  Just 1 part water to 4 parts sugar,



heat it gently till all the sugar is dissolved, then let it boil away WITHOUT STIRRING ONCE IT IS ON THE BOIL.  Brush the sides down with a pastry brush dipped in water every now and then to prevent crystals forming on the sides of the pan as they will ruin the toffee.  After a while, (the actual time will depend on how much you are making and how fast you are boiling it down), the syrup will have thickened and look a bit plasticy.  If you have a sugar thermometer, use it.  You want the syrup to reach soft crack stage which is around 140 celcius.  If you don’t have a thermometer, just drop a teaspoonful of syrup into a glass of cold water and it should immediately form a hard solid ball.  I try to take my time bringing the temperature up because I have found in the past that boiling it too rapidly makes bigger boiling bubbles which then pop and splatter syrup up the sides of the pan which then crystallise, fall in to the syrup and make the whole lot crystallise before it’s ready.  Ruined.  Here is a video of how fast I like to boil it and the consistency when it is ready:

Once it has reached temperature and before it begins to colour, take it off the heat and let the bubbles subside.  Then, VERY carefully, pour the syrup onto the prepared pan.  Tilt the pan around to spread the toffee across all the dollops of colouring and voila!

Stained Glass Toffee

Stained Glass Toffee

Aint it purty!!  When it is completely cold, you can snap it into shards of whatever size you like.

After dinner, all I had to do was fold the berries into the cream, dollop it into the cases and top with a shard of toffee.  Quick.  Easy.  Delicious.  Oh yeah, and I added a couple of borage flowers because they are running rampant in my veggie garden at the moment!

Strawberry and Mulberry Tartlettes with Rainbow Toffee and Borage Blossoms

Strawberry and Mulberry Tartlettes with Rainbow Toffee and Borage Blossoms

Just quickly while I’m here, I want to share 2 more photos of things I’ve made in the past week or two.  One is Ange’s new favourite dessert….Chiffon Cheesecake (Printable Recipe here).  It is heavenly.  It is a baked cheesecake, but with a texture half way between cheesecake and sponge cake.  It is lovely and light and luscious and just wonderful with chocolate, cream and fresh strawberries.

Chiffon Cheesecake

Chiffon Cheesecake

and finally, here is what we had for brekkie the other day:

Bacon and Eggs Nana Glen Style.

The eggs had only been laid by our chooks that morning (in fact they were still warm from the chook’s bum!), the salad greens had been out of the ground for minutes only, the beetroot was from our garden and home pickled, and the tomatoes had been collected from the farm gate down the road only half an hour before.  Seriously people, can you think of a better way to start the day?

Bacon and Eggs Nana Glen Style

Bacon and Eggs Nana Glen Style


Daring Bakers August Challenge – Dobos Torta August 26, 2009

After last month’s delicious duo of Milan Cookies and Mallows, I was anxiously anticipating what delectable goodies we would be challenge with this month over at the Daring Bakers.  Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella and Angela of A Spoonful of Sugar did not let me down.  They chose the amazing and even famous Hungarian Dobos Torta.  Their rendition of the spectacular Dobos Torta is based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers’ cookbook Kaffeehaus:  Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caffes of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

Having never heard of the Dobos Torta (which rock have I been hiding under?), I went straight to the good ol’ Wikipedia and punched it in.  It is a 5 layer cake sandwiched together with buttercream, first devised by Hungarian confectioner József C. Dobos in 1884 in an effort to create a cake with better keeping qualities.  The fine buttercream layers kept the cake moist and the caramel/toffee on top helped seal it also.  For many years the recipe remained a strictly guarded secret until his retirement in 1906 when he presented it to the Budapest Confectioners’ and Gingerbread Makers’ Chamber of Industry on the condition that all members be able to use it freely.

So, without further ado, here is the recipe as presented to us:

Dobos Torta

Prep times

  • Sponge layers 20 mins prep, 40 mins cooking total if baking each layer individually.
  • Buttercream: 20 mins cooking. Cooling time for buttercream: about 1 hour plus 10 minutes after this to beat and divide.
  • Caramel layer: 10-15 minutes.
  • Assembly of whole cake: 20 minutes

Sponge cake layers

  • 6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups (162g) confectioner’s (icing) sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (112g) sifted cake flour (SUBSTITUTE 95g plain flour + 17g cornflour (cornstarch) sifted together)
  • pinch of salt

Chocolate Buttercream

  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) caster (ultrafine or superfine white) sugar
  • 4oz (110g) bakers chocolate or your favourite dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (250g) unsalted butter, at room temperature.

Caramel topping

  • 1 cup (200g) caster (superfine or ultrafine white) sugar
  • 12 tablespoons (180 ml) water
  • 8 teaspoons (40 ml) lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil (e.g. grapeseed, rice bran, sunflower)

Finishing touches

  • a 7” cardboard round
  • 12 whole hazelnuts, peeled and toasted
  • ½ cup (50g) peeled and finely chopped hazelnuts

Directions for the sponge layers:

NB. The sponge layers can be prepared in advance and stored interleaved with parchment and well-wrapped in the fridge overnight.

1.Position the racks in the top and centre thirds of the oven and heat to 400F (200C).

2.Cut six pieces of parchment paper to fit the baking sheets. Using the
bottom of a 9″ (23cm) springform tin as a template and a dark pencil or
a pen, trace a circle on each of the papers, and turn them over (the
circle should be visible from the other side, so that the graphite or
ink doesn’t touch the cake batter.)

3.Beat the egg yolks, 2/3 cup (81g) of the confectioner’s (icing)
sugar, and the vanilla in a medium bowl with a mixer on high speed
until the mixture is thick, pale yellow and forms a thick ribbon when
the beaters are lifted a few inches above the batter, about 3 minutes.
(You can do this step with a balloon whisk if you don’t have a mixer.)

4.In another bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites until
soft peaks form.

Gradually beat in the remaining 2/3 cup (81g) of
confectioner’s (icing)sugar until the whites form stiff, shiny peaks.

Using a large rubber spatula, stir about 1/4 of the beaten whites into
the egg yolk mixture, then fold in the remainder, leaving a few wisps
of white visible. Combine the flour and salt. Sift half the flour over
the eggs, and fold in; repeat with the remaining flour.

5.Line one of the baking sheets with a circle-marked paper. Using a
small offset spatula, spread about 3/4cup of the batter in an even
layer, filling in the traced circle on one baking sheet.

Bake on the
top rack for 5 minutes, until the cake springs back when pressed gently
in the centre and the edges are lightly browned. While this cake bakes,
repeat the process on the other baking sheet, placing it on the centre
rack. When the first cake is done, move the second cake to the top
rack. Invert the first cake onto a flat surface and carefully peel off
the paper. Slide the cake layer back onto the paper and let stand until
cool. Rinse the baking sheet under cold running water to cool, and dry
it before lining with another parchment. Continue with the remaining
papers and batter to make a total of six layers. Completely cool the
layers. Using an 8″ springform pan bottom or plate as a template, trim
each cake layer into a neat round. (A small serrated knife is best for
this task.)

Directions for the chocolate buttercream:

NB. This can be prepared in advance and kept chilled until required.

1.Prepare a double-boiler: quarter-fill a large saucepan with water and bring it to a boil.

2.Meanwhile, whisk the eggs with the sugar until pale and thickened,
about five minutes. You can use a balloon whisk or electric hand mixer
for this.

3.Fit bowl over the boiling water in the saucepan (water should not
touch bowl) and lower the heat to a brisk simmer. Cook the egg mixture,
whisking constantly, for 2-3 minutes until you see it starting to
thicken a bit. Whisk in the finely chopped chocolate and cook,
stirring, for a further 2-3 minutes.

4.Scrape the chocolate mixture into a medium bowl and leave to cool to
room temperature. It should be quite thick and sticky in consistency.

5.When cool, beat in the soft butter, a small piece (about 2
tablespoons/30g) at a time. An electric hand mixer is great here, but
it is possible to beat the butter in with a spatula if it is soft
enough. You should end up with a thick, velvety chocolate buttercream.
Chill while you make the caramel topping.

Lorraine’s note: If you’re in Winter just now your butter might
not soften enough at room temperature, which leads to lumps forming in
the buttercream. Male sure the butter is of a very soft texture I.e.
running a knife through it will provide little resistance, before you
try to beat it into the chocolate mixture. Also, if you beat the butter
in while the chocolate mixture is hot you’ll end up with more of a
ganache than a buttercream!

Directions for the caramel topping:

1.Choose the best-looking cake layer for the caramel top. To make
the caramel topping: Line a jellyroll pan with parchment paper and
butter the paper. Place the reserved cake layer on the paper. Score the
cake into 12 equal wedges. Lightly oil a thin, sharp knife and an
offset metal spatula.

2.Stir the sugar, water and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a
boil over a medium heat, stirring often to dissolve the sugar. Once
dissolved into a smooth syrup, turn the heat up to high and boil
without stirring, swirling the pan by the handle occasionally and
washing down any sugar crystals on the sides of the pan with a wet
brush until the syrup has turned into an amber-coloured caramel.

3.The top layer is perhaps the hardest part of the whole cake so make
sure you have a oiled, hot offset spatula ready. I also find it helps
if the cake layer hasn’t just been taken out of the refrigerator. I
made mine ahead of time and the cake layer was cold and the toffee set
very, very quickly—too quickly for me to spread it. Immediately pour
all of the hot caramel over the cake layer. You will have some leftover
most probably but more is better than less and you can always make nice
toffee pattern using the extra to decorate. Using the offset spatula,
quickly spread the caramel evenly to the edge of the cake layer. Let
cool until beginning to set, about 30 seconds. Using the tip of the hot
oiled knife (keep re-oiling this with a pastry brush between cutting),
cut through the scored marks to divide the caramel layer into 12 equal
wedges. Cool another minute or so, then use the edge of the knife to
completely cut and separate the wedges using one firm slice movement
(rather than rocking back and forth which may produce toffee strands).
Cool completely.

Angela’s note: I recommend cutting, rather than scoring, the
cake layer into wedges before covering in caramel (reform them into a
round). If you have an 8” silicon round form, then I highly recommend
placing the wedges in that for easy removal later and it also ensures
that the caramel stays on the cake layer. Once set, use a very sharp
knife to separate the wedges.

Assembling the Dobos

1.Divide the buttercream into six equal parts.

2.Place a dab of chocolate buttercream on the middle of a 7 1/2”
cardboard round and top with one cake layer. Spread the layer with one
part of the chocolate icing. Repeat with 4 more cake layers. Spread the
remaining icing on the sides of the cake.

3.Optional: press the finely chopped hazelnuts onto the sides of the cake.

4.Propping a hazelnut under each wedge so that it sits at an angle,
arrange the wedges on top of the cake in a spoke pattern. If you have
any leftover buttercream, you can pipe rosettes under each hazelnut or
a large rosette in the centre of the cake. Refrigerate the cake under a
cake dome until the icing is set, about 2 hours. Let slices come to
room temperature for the best possible flavour.

So, what did I do different??

Me being me, I had to make a few changes along the way – I can’t help it.  We were having friends over for dinner the night I made it and B. is allergic to full fat dairy which ruled him out of the dessert due to the buttercream.  Luckily I had some left over lime custard in the fridge from some tarts I had made a few days earlier with some gorgeous Tahitian lime Dad had given me.  So I figured I would make a second torta using the lime instead of the chocolate. 

I made the sponge layers as per the recipe with the only difference being I used duck eggs (because we have ducks and I think they are immeasurably superior to chicken eggs for baking), and I made the layers square instead of round so I could cut them in half and make 2 rectangular cakes out of the one batch.  Matthew complimented me on “up there for thinking”, I just thought I was being lazy!! lol!

Anyway, once the layers were all made I put aside one full layer (we will come back to this one) and then trimmed off one edge from each layer and measured out 11cm and cut to make 2 long rectangles.  When I stacked them, I put all the cakes with 2 trimmed edges in one cake, and the cakes with one trimmed edge and one rough edge in the other – aligning the cut edges on one side and the untrimmed edges on the other to keep it neat.

On the lime cake, I brushed each layer with some lime syrup that I whipped up (just equal parts water, sugar and lime juice boiled for 5 minutes – note to self – WATCH IT ON THE BOIL NEXT TIME – DRIED SUGAR SYRUP IS A PAIN TO HAVE TO CLEAN OFF THE STOVE TOP!!!).  I then spread on a layer of the lime custard, then the next layer of cake and so on, finishing with a cake layer.

For the chocolate cake, I brushed the cake layers with some raspberry liquer from the local winery before spreading the chocolate buttercream, continuing with the layering and finishing with a cake layer.

Now, back to that layer we put aside earlier, I pulled out a heart cutter (you already know about my penchant for cookie cutters right?  It’s not a problem…really…is it???) and cut out heaps of hearts – turned out I only needed six and lay them in a silicone cake tin.  I then poured the caramel (toffee to us Aussies) over them as per the proper recipe, let it set, and cut it out again with the cutter.  Most of them smashed/shattered/broke.  Next time, I will dunk the cake hearts into the pot of caramel/toffee and then lay them on a silicon mat/baking paper.

I then took a lime and sliced it as thin as I could and poured some of the caramel/toffee over them and let them set.

Finally, I covered the chocolate cake with the remaining chocolate buttercream and pressed chopped hazelnuts onto the sides of the cake.  I then used whole hazelnuts to prop up the hearts along the length of the cake.

For the lime cake, I made a lime flavoured cream cheese frosting (yep, completely forgot about B. and his probs with dairy at this stage – some friend I am!!)  and covered the cake with it.  I pressed poppy seeds into the side of this one and placed the toffee coated lime slices on top.  YUM YUM!  Needless to say, B. loves his sweets, so his wife ate the frosting off his piece of lime cake and the toffee coated lime slices on top turned out to be the highlight of his evening.  Think I’ll make him a big box of them for Christmas!

All in all, everyone loved both cakes.  The chocolate lovers and sweet-tooths loved the original chocolate version, and those of us who prefer our sweets not-too-sweet loved the lime version.  Both will DEFINATELY be made again!  Thanks Daring Bakers, and extra special thanks to Lorraine and Angela.

So, I wonder….what is on the cards for next month’s challenge???


Theobromine – That Part of Chocolate that Makes You Feel Good!! July 24, 2009

Well, I’m stuck at my parents’ house on “holidays” (and I use the term very loosely) with the dreaded swine flu. I am literally under house arrest with 2 small children to amuse who just want to go home and see their chickens.  How to entertain them and myself? Make a completely edible molecular model of theobromine of course! My brother, aka Scon, told me about this site a while ago and said I should really check it out, especially the foodie bit. Like him, I am a bit far down on the geek scale…probably a bit more nerd than geek though, I dig the chemistry/biology more and get a bit lost with some of the IT, but hey, what a cool site!  Anyway, enough rambling, here we go. This took place over 2 days as energy levels and compulsory rest (and vomit) breaks required!! Oh yeah, and in case you didn’t know, theobromine is the active chemical in chocolate (higher in dark chocolate) that makes you feel good! If you are wondering where the “bromine” molecule is, you won’t find it, it is named from the cacao plant Theobroma sp.

Nana Glen Mum’s Edible Molecular Model of Theobromine


This recipe is from “cakepro”  at Cake Central


2.5 Cups Flour

1.5 Cups Sugar

3 Tablespoons cocoa

0.5 teaspoon salt

1.25 teaspoon bicarb soda

1 Cup Butter

2 Eggs

1 ounce red food colouring (I omit this)

1 Cup Buttermilk (I just use normal full fat milk)

1 teaspoon Vanilla


Preheat oven to 180C.

Sift dry ingredients and set aside.

Beat butter and sugar in electric mixer until light and fluffy. Bet in eggs on at a time and add colouring (if you are using it). Add vanilla. Add half the flour, all the milk, then the rest of the flour, mixing as little as possible to combine.

Pour the batter into 2 round pans (I just put it in one big rectangular one as it is going to get broken up anyway) and bake for 35-45 minutes (depending on the size of the pan). Cool in pan for 10 minutes then turn out onto a cooling rack.

Let it cool

Now for the fun part, get those hands in there and gently break it up into lots and lots of little crumbs!! Put it aside and make the frosting.


This recipe is from “Carol” at Cake Central


225g Cream Cheese, softened

56g Butter, softened

1 Tablespoons lemon juice (I used lime)

1 Teaspoon vanilla

5 Cups Icing Sugar Mixture (not pure icing sugar – it will set too hard)


Beat cream cheese, butter, lemon juice and vanilla together until smooth and fluffy. Add sugar in 2 batches.


Gently fold the frosting into the cake crumbs. YUMMY! Be sure to taste it at this stage (no reason – just cause it tastes good!!) Shape the mixture into balls and place onto a tray lined with baking paper. I made my balls in 4 different sizes to represent the 4 atoms that make up the molecule.

PART 4 – COATING Ordinarily when I make cake pops (and all credit here goes to Bakerella for the COOLEST cake pops ever!!) I just coat them in melted chocolate, which I did for the smallest balls (Hydrogen). They were nice and easy. I just melted some white chocolate over simmering water, dropped them in and scooped them out and left them on a tray to cool and set. For the rest, I wanted colour, and as I am housebound at the moment, I had to make-do with what I could find in Mum’s pantry, so sugar and food colouring to the rescue! I made up some toffee and coloured it with your regular supermarket food colourings. Here’s how:


0.25 Cups Sugar

1 Cup Water

1 teaspoon Glucose

Food Colouring or cocoa


Place water, sugar and glucose in a small, heavy based saucepan and stir until ALL the sugar has dissolved. Bring it to the boil and STOP STIRRING immediately! With a pastry brush dipped in water, brush any crystals off the inside of the pan. Boil for 20 minutes until a spoonful of toffee dropped in a glass of cold water makes a “crack” sound and forms a hard ball. Take it off the heat and add a few drops of colouring or 2 teaspoons of cocoa. Carefully drop one ball in at a time, turning it over with a fork to evenly coat, then drain the excess toffee from it and place the coated ball on a lined tray to cool and set.


Now for the fun part! Grab a heap of toothpicks, a metal skewer, a candle, a box of matches, tray and either baking paper or a silicon mat. Because the toffee dries hard, there is no way you can push a toothpick in without shattering it…ask me how I know!! So, you light the candle with the matches and hold the metal skewer in the flame for a few seconds then push it through the toffee shell into the cake centre, wiggle it around a bit, take it out and you have a hole just the right size to poke your toothpick in! Yippee it works! Assemble molecule as desired. So folks, after much ado, here it is, my edible molecular model of theobromine. A cooking and chemistry lesson all in one for the kids (pity they are only 4 and 6 – I think the science was a bit lost on them – but they loved the taste!!) In case you are wondering, the small white chocolate balls are the Hydrogen, the blue ones are Nitrogen, the red are Oxygen and the black (cocoa) ones are Carbon.