My con­fes­sions

Food - - Birthday Baking -

My food phi­los­o­phy:

Pas­sion is my main in­gre­di­ent so make sure you add an ex­tra dose of it to your recipes, then com­bine it with a lit­tle fun.

My most cher­ished food mem­ory:

Bak­ing scones with my nana. She was such a bis­cuit tin and cake tin home baker.

The can’t-live-with­out in­gre­di­ents in my fridge:

Milk, but­ter, cheese, eggs and apri­cot jam – and of course flour, but it won’t be in the fridge un­less bak­ing crois­sants.

My last sup­per would be:

My sour­dough bread and but­ter, spaghetti bolog­nese, a bot­tle of Dom Pérignon cham­pagne and a tarte au cit­ron.

My big­gest food in­dul­gence:

Crêpe Suzette made ‘old school’, in front of you at the ta­ble.

The one food I re­ally don’t like eat­ing:

Brus­sels sprouts; I have child­hood mem­o­ries of them boiled to death.

My big­gest cook­ing/bak­ing dis­as­ter:

Many disas­ters can be turned into some­thing good, but once I used salt in­stead of sugar in a large batch of sweet bread dough and it taught me a valu­able les­son. It killed the yeast and it all had to be thrown out.

1 BAKE THREE REC­TAN­GLE CAKES at least a day be­fore you plan to dec­o­rate. PLEASE NOTE The quan­ti­ties shown and in­struc­tions are for bak­ing ONE cake.

• Pre­heat the oven to 180°C on stan­dard bake (160°C on fan bake, but avoid us­ing fan bake as it causes ex­ces­sive peak­ing dur­ing bak­ing). Pre­pare cake tin by spray­ing lib­er­ally with oil spray.

• Place milk and cream of tar­tar in a small glass, stir and set aside for 5 min­utes. In a small bowl, place oil, eggs and vanilla ex­tract, and stir to com­bine.

• Into a large mix­ing bowl, sift flour, co­coa, caster sugar, bak­ing soda and bak­ing pow­der.

• Scrape all of the milk mix­ture into the egg mix­ture and stir, then add the wet in­gre­di­ents to the dry in­gre­di­ents. Us­ing a hand mixer, mix to com­bine, then slowly add hot wa­ter and mix well un­til you have a smooth bat­ter.

• Pour the mix­ture into the pre­pared tin and bake for ap­prox­i­mately 1 hour 10 min­utes,

check­ing reg­u­larly dur­ing the last quar­ter of cook­ing time, or un­til a cake skewer comes out clean when in­serted into cake.

• Cool for 15 min­utes in the tin, then re­move and cool com­pletely on a wire rack. Once fully cool, wrap the cake in plas­tic wrap or place it in an air­tight con­tainer if you plan to dec­o­rate it the fol­low­ing day, or wrap it in tin­foil, fol­lowed by plas­tic wrap and then freeze it.

NOTE If you know your bak­ing isn’t cooked through but it’s look­ing crusty on top, care­fully place a sheet of tin­foil on top of the cake. This will stop it from get­ting any darker on top but will al­low the cake to con­tinue cook­ing un­til it’s fully done.

2 MAKE THE ROYAL IC­ING

Beat egg white in an elec­tric mixer, us­ing the whisk at­tach­ment, on a slow speed un­til bub­bles start to ap­pear.

• Add sifted ic­ing sugar a lit­tle at a time, beat­ing on a higher speed un­til it forms firm peaks.

• Add le­mon juice and mix in gen­tly. Tightly cover the ic­ing with plas­tic wrap as soon as it is made so it doesn’t dry out.

NOTE Royal ic­ing will keep in an air­tight con­tainer in the fridge for up to 10 days. Re­move from the fridge, bring to room tem­per­a­ture and stir well be­fore us­ing.

3 Colour royal ic­ing orange by adding a few drops of yel­low and a tooth­pick tip of red colour­ing. Mix well and con­tinue adding colour pro­por­tion­ately un­til de­sired shade is reached.

4 TO MAKE THE ANTENNAE Use the tip of a sharp knife to care­fully ‘drill’ a small hole in each gi­ant Jaffa, then push the sharp end of a skewer into each hole. Hold­ing the skew­ers, dip each Jaffa into the orange royal ic­ing un­til com­pletely coated, then set the antennae aside in a glass to dry.

5 TO MAKE THE CON­TROL PANEL Cut the liquorice sheet into a rec­tan­gle about 7cm x 11cm. Sep­a­rate the lay­ers of 2 gi­ant liquorice all­sorts, gen­tly and briefly wash­ing the lay­ers in wa­ter if nec­es­sary, then set­ting them aside on a pa­per towel to dry. You will have 6 black squares, 4 orange squares and 4 white squares. Cut a cir­cle out of 1 orange square and then a tri­an­gle out of the mid­dle of that cir­cle. Place 2 white squares side by side and cut out 1 semi­cir­cle. Cut 2 white strips from the left­over white squares. Cut 3 nar­row slices from the sher­bet liquorice log. Cut 3 jelly beans in half. From a black liquorice all­sort square, cut a small ar­row that is 2cm long. Us­ing the pic­ture as a guide, ar­range all th­ese lol­lies on the liquorice rec­tan­gle and at­tach them with royal ic­ing. Set the con­trol panel aside to dry.

6 TO MAKE THE ARMS Stack 2 gi­ant liquorice all­sorts on top of each other and hold them to­gether by push­ing a tooth­pick through the cen­tre of them, leav­ing 5mm of tooth­pick stick­ing out be­low. From the left­over orange squares, cut out 2 rings (make cir­cles and cut out their cen­tres). At­tach the ring shapes to the end of each arm by push­ing the tip of the tooth­pick into the edge of the orange ring. Make a cut through the bot­tom half of each ring to cre­ate pin­cers.

7 MAKE THE BUT­TER­CREAM Beat but­ter in an elec­tric mixer, us­ing a pad­dle at­tach­ment, un­til the but­ter light­ens in colour. Slowly add ic­ing sugar in small batches (so it doesn’t fly out of the bowl), beat­ing in be­tween un­til com­bined. Add milk 1 ta­ble­spoon at a time. NOTE Start with room-tem­per­a­ture but­ter (not melted) and beat with an elec­tric mixer un­til the but­ter turns from a yel­low to a white tone be­fore adding ic­ing sugar. If nec­es­sary, make but­ter­cream in two batches, mix­ing to­gether at colour­ing stage to en­sure con­sis­tent colour. • But­ter­cream can be stored in an air­tight con­tainer for up to 2 weeks in the fridge, but bring it back to room tem­per­a­ture and beat again be­fore us­ing so it is as light, fluffy and soft as pos­si­ble.

8 Colour but­ter­cream dusty blue by adding a drop of blue colour­ing and a tooth­pick tip of black colour­ing, mix­ing well then con­tin­u­ing to add colour pro­por­tion­ately un­til de­sired tone is reached.

9 TO MAKE THE BODY AND HEAD Level the cakes with a cake lev­eler if pos­si­ble. Turn cakes over.

10 Cut the cakes into 4 squares mea­sur­ing 15cm x 15cm each.

11 Take the first cake for the stack and fill by evenly spread­ing but­ter­cream over the top sur­face, then place the next layer on top. Re­peat to make a four-cake stack.

• From the left­over cake, cut 3 squares mea­sur­ing 10cm x 10cm. Fill and stack the cakes with but­ter­cream to make a three-cake stack. Stick this 10cm stack onto a 10cm x 10cm cake board with a lit­tle but­ter­cream.

12 Crumb-coat both cake stacks by ap­ply­ing a thin layer of but­ter­cream with a pal­ette knife or off­set spat­ula to achieve a very thin, smooth fin­ish (you should be able to see the cake through the ic­ing). Never wipe ex­cess crumb-coat ic­ing back into the main bowl of ic­ing as it will be full of crumbs and spoil the rest of the ic­ing.

13 Re­frig­er­ate cake un­til dry to the touch. 14 Place the large cake on a serv­ing plate and cover it with but­ter­cream to a smooth fin­ish.

15 TO MAKE THE NECK In the cen­tre of the top of the large cake ar­range 9 small orange liquorice all­sorts into a square 3 x 3 lol­lies wide. Push a skewer through the mid­dle of each cor­ner orange liquorice all­sort, right down into the large stacked cake. Cut the top of the 4 skew­ers flush with the top of the liquorice all­sorts. Spread but­ter­cream on top of the liquorice all­sort square and place the small square cake on top. Cover this cake with but­ter­cream to a smooth fin­ish.

16 TO MAKE THE LEGS Stack 3 gi­ant liquorice all­sorts to­gether and push them onto the end of a skewer. Re­peat this process for the sec­ond leg. In­sert the leg skew­ers into the front of the large cake, as shown.

17 TO AT­TACH CON­TROL PANEL Use royal ic­ing to stick the con­trol panel to the front of the ro­bot, hold­ing it in place for a mo­ment un­til it sticks. 18 TO AT­TACH THE ARMS Push a tooth­pick side­ways into the top liquorice all­sort, then push the other end of the tooth­pick into the side of the large cake, ring pin­cer fac­ing down­wards. Re­peat this process with the other arm on the other side of the cake.

19 TO MAKE THE EYES Twist apart 2 Oreos, dis­card­ing the side of each bis­cuit that has no ic­ing on it. Cut 2 thin slices off the black liquorice log and stick 1 to the ic­ing side of each Oreo, us­ing royal ic­ing. The spe­cific place­ment of the liquorice slices gives the eyes per­son­al­ity, so prac­tise on pa­per first if you like. At­tach the eyes to the head with royal ic­ing.

20 TO MAKE THE TEETH AND LIPS Cut a thin slice off each of the green, pink and yel­low liquorice all­sorts. At­tach them to the head in a line, us­ing royal ic­ing. Cut slices from the left­over black liquorice sheet for lips and press them into the but­ter­cream around the teeth, as shown.

21 TO AS­SEM­BLE THE ANTENNAE Bend the flo­ral wire into ran­dom zigzags un­til the wire is ap­prox­i­mately 9cm in length. Wrap the ends of the wire around the top of the skew­ers di­rectly un­der the orange-coloured gi­ant Jaf­fas. Cut the straws down to 6cm and slip them over the Jaffa skew­ers. Push the ends of the skew­ers into the ro­bot’s head.

Recipe from: The Great New Zealand Birth­day Cake Book, $39.95, PQ Black­well Lim­ited.

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