Thursday, 31 January 2013

New Year's cake!

A couple of days before New Year's Day here in Greece it is a tradition to bake the Vassilopita, a round cake.
We write the year with sugar or nuts and in it we put a coin and whoever gets it in their piece, then will have a lucky year!

Usually this cake is an orange or citrus cake, but you can do anything you like, any decorations you want. You can even make it like tsoureki, sort of brioche / challah bread.

This year I made a chocolate cake and decided to cover it with coffee flavoured meringue. For the numbers I baked individual meringues.

I wanted a fluffy look!
Then placed the numbers on top.

I simply piped the numbers with a star tip and made a few more meringues. I dusted them with cocoa before using them.
I had some left over meringue, so I baked sugar cookies and decorated them with little meringue kisses!
I preheated the grill and placed them under it for a couple of minutes, because I wanted to brown the meringue, but my hand torch was not working.....

Nice, right?

P.S.: My little girl got the lucky coin !!!

Monday, 28 January 2013

Daring Bakers - January 2013!

The year started with amazing smells and interesting tastes!
I and my fellow Daring Bakers had to bake a traditional Dutch dessert for this month's challenge.

Our host was Francijn from Koken in de Brouwerij, who chose Gevulde Speculaas.

We had to mix our own speculaas spice mix and use it in the recipe. I personally chose cinnamon, cloves, ginger, pepper, nutmeg, anise. It is so fragrant!

I made this dessert just in time for my little girl's Name day celebration. Of course it was not the only dessert, but I cut it in bites and placed it in a nice serving platter on the coffee table and people started nibbling on it. I was skeptical at first, due to the intense flavors, but most of my guests like it! Well, you can't satisfy everyone...
I loved it as well! It is not a dessert you can eat a lot in one serving, but I found myself visiting the kitchen counter where the platter was and grabbing a bite every couple of hours!!!!!

I pressed the dough with my fingers, brushed it with some eggwash and then pressed the almond paste.
I finished with the top layer of dough and decorated with almonds.

Can you see the layers?
Little bites!

Thank you Francijn for a very interesting challenge!

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Jason's birthday!

Jason is my nephew and he turned 1 in November.
I know that is has been over a month and this post should have been up a lot earlier, but I got round to it now.

My sister asked me to make a birthday cake and I also made a few sugar cookies, as I always do! Anything I can use as an excuse to make sugar cookies is fine by me!

The colour scheme I had in mind was baby blue and orange. Orange came out OK for the Royal Icing, but baby blue not so much. The butter in the buttercream has a slight yellowish colour, it is not white, so the addition of blue gave teal! The end result is fine though.

The cake layers are lemon cake and the filling is white chocolate ganache. On the cake layers I applied lemon curd to give a more intense lemon flavour, which I think pairs up nicely with white chocolate. I also added some chocolate chips in the filling.

I baked the cake layers in four shallow pans, in order to get the same size. I had to level them and also I trimmed the sides, so that they were softer.

I cut them in half and got 2 disks (not equal in thickness) from each layer.
The reason why is a little trick of mine, which I use to fill my layer cakes.....

I used the thinner disks as barriers for the ganache by cutting a circle in the middle of them and keeping the border. This inner circle of cake that I cut, I ate of course, but some other times I made cake pops.

Unfortunately I have no pics for that process....

On each cake layer I put a "barrier" on and I glued it with lemon curd. As this "barrier" was thin, there was plenty of room for the ganache. Plus I was certain there would be no runny sides!

This is a sketch of the inside of the cake. I always do it, because it helps me visualize the final outcome.

These are the sugar cookies. They are classic vanilla with royal icing, which I outlined and filled immediately with the same consistency RI.
The round sugar cookies were first outlined and then flooded, so you can see the difference.

The cake all set, ready to be transported to my sister's house! The outside is a satiny white chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream.
The orange details are made with the leftover RI. I wasn't too sure how it would turn out on a cake, but it was nice, it dried a bit so there was some crunchiness in every bite.

The thing is I have to remember to take pictures! Can you believe I don't have a picture of the inside of the cake? Ohhh, the layers were pretty!

My sister and everyone at the party loved it!!!!!!

Monday, 14 January 2013

Cinnamon Rolls (no yeast)!

Happy New Year!
Filled with hopes and resolutions, we must be optimistic and try to make 2013 a happy and healthy time!

Chistmas was gooood!
I had some time off work during Christmas week, so I got to spend it with G and my little girl.
As usual, we ate a lot, I baked a lot and now I am on a diet......

Any way...

I made cinnamon rolls, which I always wanted to make. You see I am a huge Cinnabon fan.
I found the recipe in a very informative post over at RecipeGirl!

Cinnamon Rolls
(slightly adapted)
for the fiiling:
8 tbsp butter
2 cups brown sugar (dark)
4 tsp ground cinnamon

for the dough:
240gr all purpose flour
2 tbsp white sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp butter
150gr milk
1 egg beaten

I didn't make any cream cheese frosting.

Preheat the oven to 200oC and spray a muffin tin with nonstick spray.
for the filling I doubled the quantities given in the recipe: combine the filling ingredients with a fork until a crumbly mixture is formed.

for the dough: whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Use the paddle attachment on your mixer to work the butter into the dry ingredients. Add the milk and the egg and stir to combine.
Roll the dough out on a floured surface into a rectangle. Sprinkle the filling evenly over the surface of the dough, leaving a 1/2 cm border all the way around.
Carefully roll up the rectangle (the dough will be soft!!!).
I used dental floss to cut the rolls, but a sharp knife will do the job. Carefully place the rolls in the prepared muffin tin.This way they will not spread and the filling will remain where it is supposed to, inside the dough!
Bake 20 to 25 min.
Serve the rolls warm with a little something on top.

You can make cream cheese frosting and drizzle it over or, as I did, drizzle with some home made cherries in syrup (a very classic Greek spoon sweet)!


These rolls are really tasty and oh so fragrant! When served warm, they are soft. They will harden a bit as the cool, but they are still nice, even on the next day... If you manage to keep any for the next day!
I doubled the amount of filling, because I like cinnamon, but you can make the regular amount.

I got really great comments on these! You simply have to try them!

P.S. Next stop: Cinnamon rolls with yeast.