Strawberry and Gin Birthday Cake

My dad and I have lots of things in common; I think. We live in the same house, we have the same taste in comedy and a penchant for documentaries; although definitely opposing tastes in the type documentaries…seriously how many doco’s on warships can you watch dad? Documentaries like this are way better.

I know for sure though that overly sweet things are not appropriate for either of us. They make my teeth hurt. When I was little I actively avoided birthday cake in search of the jelly and ice cream, I couldn’t stand that nothing sweetness of white buttercream; even worse is shock horror it was encased with fondant. Gosh I hate fondant. My dad is nicer about the situation; mentions it was little sweet for his tastes and moves on. I have not mastered that level of decorum; seriously fondant WHAT are you bringing to the table?

So when it comes around to his birthday it’s a bit of struggle to make a not overly sweet cake; it’s definitely not a struggle to give him fondant.

This is where Swiss meringue buttercream or SMB comes in. I mastered the art of SMB a while back and now it has to be my favourite frosting! It hasn’t got that gritty texture that icing sugar based buttercreams do. And it isn’t excessively sweet, it’s is light and fluffy. SMB is a meringue-based buttercream, you create the meringue then chuck butter in, it’s a slower process but you don’t end up covered in icing sugar.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream may look really hard but this tutorial from Sweetapolita makes it so damn easy. It’s all about temperatures and timing but once you’ve got it it’s hard to mess up. And it freezes and chills well. I made a massive amount and now I’m ready to frost.

Plus its much, much easier to add alcohol to this frosting; and that is what everyone wants in a frosting yeah? I added gin to this; Bombay Sapphire to be specific and four shots for the frosting one shot for me. That combined with the light vanilla sponge and fresh strawberries is like a cocktail in a cake!

I would suggest if this cake isn’t for a birthday that you eat it with the girls, drinking darned nice cocktails and watching ‘Snog, Marry, Avoid’ your life will seem brighter, happier and more worthwhile after doing so.

 Joy the Baker Vanilla Sponge

226g unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

393g granulated sugar

4 large eggs

240ml whole milk

1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out

343g all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2-teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter and flour two 8-inch round baking pans and set aside.

In a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for 3 to 5 minutes or until light and fluffy.  Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula to ensure that everything is well mixed.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition.

In a small bowl whisk together flour baking powder and salt.

In a separate small bowl combine the milk, vanilla extract and vanilla seeds.

With the mixer on low speed, alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk mixture in three batches.  Start and end with the flour mixture.  When the batter is just combined, shut off the mixture and thoroughly incorporate the dough with a rubber spatula.

Divide the batter between the two pans.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a pale golden colour, and a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.  For cupcakes bake 25 to 30 minutes.

Let the cakes cool in the pan for 15 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool.  Frost and berry only when cakes are completely cool.

Are you guys sugar tolerant in cakes or do you need much more of  balance? Let me know!

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Strawberry and Balsamic Cupcakes

I’d first like to point out that I got 99 problems, and they are all related to university.
Maybe that won’t rap so well. I’ll work on it, sorry Jay Z.

I made this for mother’s day; but let us be serious for a second, it’s an any time cake! I hope you made your mum something awesome; you should totally share your creations, sharing is caring.

The balsamic really tones down the frosting sweetness; which I love! I added a bit of pepper to the cake batter as well, which gives it a kick. Plus I don’t know whether I mentioned this – but I have a major pepper addiction, pepper and lemon. Pepper and lemon and strawberries! If I were making this again I would roast the strawberries for a while and drizzle them with lemon before straining them. But that’s just me.

I also seem to love strawberry and balsamic, remember the strawberry balsamic flatbread  made; I need to make that again!

Join me on a wonderful journey of strawberries; oh man strawberry journeys sound like the best.

Basic Vanilla Cake+ Pepper

I used a vanilla cake recipe from Bake by Alison Thompson
This produces a very cakey flavour, if that’s not what you’re into my next post will have a super light vanilla cake.

250 gr Unsalted Butter – I like to use B.D. Paris Creek Farms unsalted butter
250 gr Caster Sugar
2 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
5 Eggs – always use free range!
250 gr Self-raising flour (make sure your flour is in date, self-raising has rising agents that can go off – your cake won’t rise!)

Pre-heat the Oven to 160C and set out 24 cupcake papers.

Cream the butter sugar and vanilla together until creamy and pale; about 5 minutes.
Add the eggs one at a time; beating well after each addition. Sift in the flour and mix on low-speed until just combined; now is the time to add any flavourings.

Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve and divide equally between cupcake patty pans. Bake for 20 minutes.

Strawberry and Balsamic Frosting from Raspberri Cupcakes

150 gr (a little over half a punnet) ripe strawberries, hulled
280 gr (2.5 sticks) unsalted butter
500 gr icing sugar (about 4 cups), sifted
Approx. 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, adjust to taste (I used a fantastic caramelised balsamic – a sweeter, thicker balsamic is preferable but any balsamic will do, just adjust to taste)

remove the butter from the fridge 30 mins before starting. Puree strawberries in a food processor or blender (if unavailable you can chop it up and try to mash it through a sieve). Place butter in a large mixing bowl and beat until smooth, fluffy and pale. While beating on medium, gradually add sifted icing sugar and then add the strawberry puree and balsamic vinegar (to taste) and beat on high until smooth and fluffy. You may need to add more puree or more icing sugar to get the right texture, you want it to be spreadable but not runny.