Monday, June 14
cranberry filled lemon cakes
I've previously raved about Fiona Cairns' beautiful book 'Bake & decorate: tea time luxury'. It contains a wonderful list of cake and cupcake recipes, with beautiful yet simple decorating ideas to compliment them.
In celebration of what has been a very cold long weekend, I've created some of Fiona's adorable, wintery penguins to sit atop some snowy frosted cakes. They are really simple and fun to make, and any imperfection just adds character. Feel free to dust the final product with some icing sugar - I just didn't have the heart to snow on my penguins. I'm gosh darn smitten. I don't know how I will possibly bite into one...
90 gms butter, softened
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup self raising flour
2 tbsps milk
finely grated rind of 1 lemon
For meringue icing:
3 egg whites
1 cup caster sugar
80 mls water
For cranberry filling:
170 gms craisins
125 mls water
1/4 cup caster sugar
250 gms black fondant/sugar paste/ready to roll icing
50 gms white fondant
1 egg white
250 gms icing sugar, sifted
yellow and black food colourings
For cranberry filling, add all ingredients to a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Continue to simmer for 5 - 10 mins until mixture has thickened and craisins are plump. Set aside to cool.
For cakes, preheat oven to 180C/160C fan-forced. Place 12 paper cases into a 12 capacity cupcake tins.
Place all ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixture, and beat until just combined. Increase speed, and beat until mixture is creamy and paler in colour. Spoon mixture among cases. Bake for 20 minutes, until golden. Remove cakes from tin immediately, and allow to cool completely on wire rack.
For penguins, roll small quantities of black fondant into rounded cone shapes (various sizes work well. I made sizes ranging from about 1.5cm high to about 4cm high). With a pair of small scissors (or a small, sharp knife), snip out two wings on each penguin and ease them away from their bodies - using a toothpick makes this a little easier.
Make royal icing by mixing egg white and icing sugar together in a small bowl. Place some icing in a small zip lock back, and make a piping bag by snipping a very small tip off one of the bottom corners. Pipe two small eyes on each penguin.
Roll out a little ball of white fondant and squash to form the penguin's belly. Stick on using a little smear of royal icing. Tint remaining icing yellow. Pipe beaks onto each penguin using another home-made piping bag. Create eyeballs for your penguin by dipping a toothpick into some black food colouring, and dotting in the centre of each royal icing eye. Set penguins aside in a dry place.
Once both cakes and cranberry filling have cooled completely, take a small sharp knife and - holding your knife at a 45 degree angle - slice a circle into the top of a cake. The circle should be about 5mm from the edge of the cake to make it easy to cover when decorating. By holding your knife at this angle, you are creating a cone-shaped hold in your cake, and the lid you've created should come easily. Set lid aside for later. Repeat with remaining cakes.
Fill each cake with cranberries, pushing down to make them quite compact, and then replace lids. If necessary, trim the pointed end of the lids off to it sits flush when placed back onto the cake.
For snowy meringue icing, combine the sugar and the water in a small saucepan. Stir over a medium heat until sugar has completely dissolved. Increase heat and boil - without stirring - for approximately five minutes until syrup reaches 116C on a candy thermometer. Your syrup should have slightly thickened, but don't let it get any colour! Remove from heat and let bubbles subside.
Beat egg whites in an electric mixer until soft peaks form. While the motor is still running, pour sugar syrup into egg whites in a slow, steady stream. Continue to beat until mixture has cooled and is thick and glossy.
Spread cakes with snowy meringue and top with a penguin or two!
Recommended baking soundtrack: Beach House - Devotion.