Monday, 21 April 2014

Easter Bunny Lemon Cake ✿

Happy Easter long weekend everybody! 
I hope you all had a wonderful time celebrating with family and friends :-)
We had a great time at my in-laws with 19 of us celebrating together, enjoying a delicious dinner, WAY too much food and lots of dessert.
I made a cake to share on the dessert table, and with Spring in the air I chose a lemon cake, with raspberry jam and lemon buttercream filling and decoration.  I had a plan for the decorations in mind after I picked up a new cookie cutter that came with a flower shaped cutter for the tail!!  Actually we were shopping and my husband actually thought it would be a great addition to my already overflowing cookie cutter collection, so now he can't complain I have too many :-P
I chose to add some sugar sprinkles to the fondant rabbit cut outs to give it a different texture so it would stand out from the bunny shape itself.  I made the fondant rabbits the day before baking day so that they would dry out a little to make it harder and able to stand up against the cake, and not let the buttercream add moisture and go soft and floppy.  I didn't want these Easter bunnies to be floppy bunnies around the cake!!

So that was my first vision... I knew I wanted the Easter bunnies to stand facing in around the cake, but what to go on the top?  And what colour should the buttercream be?!
Initially I thought I would go with a bright colour for Spring, and perhaps add some coloured mini eggs over the top... but well, on making the buttercream, I went with a little blue, but didn't like it... and then thought, maybe some red added would make a good purple.
And after realising that this wasn't the original plan and that I was okay with that, I actually really liked the muted purple contrasting with the white fondant rabbits.  So I thought I would add some more white to the cake and cut out some mini flowers for the top! 
And that's everything you can see on the outside...Now for the actual cake part!  The recipe I used for the Easter cake is the same recipe my Mum used for one layer of our wedding cake nearly 3 years ago, yey! ♥  I then just made a basic lemon buttercream to fill the middle and frost the outside of the cake.  Keep reading for the recipe! 


14oz unsalted butter
15 3/4oz sugar
14oz self-raising flour
14oz eggs (one egg can be between 1-2oz) so I ended up using 8 large eggs for this recipe
3 1/2 tbsp milk
Zest of 2 lemons

For the syrup:
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp. hot water
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1.  Pre-heat oven to 180°C/ 355°F and grease and line two 9" sandwich tins.
2.  Place all sponge cake ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Mix on a slow speed until there are no lumps of fat.  Scrape down at all stages.
3.  Mix on a medium speed for 2 minutes and then full speed for a further 1 minute.
4.  Spoon the mixture into the line cake tins.
5.  Bake until cooked - 35 - 45 minutes - until the top is golden brown, and a cake tester comes out clean.
6.  Leave to cool on a cooling rack.  Once the cake is taken out of the tin brush the surfaces with lemon stock syrup.
*** Make the syrup while the cake is in the oven ***
1.  Dissolve the caster sugar in hot water
2.  Then add the fresh lemon juice
3.  Mix together and spread generously over the cake with a pastry brush and let it soak in.
For the buttercream - beat together 16oz unsalted butter with 24oz icing sugar.  Add 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice and 1 1/2 tbsp milk and mix until combined.  Add food colouring as desired. 
This made enough buttercream to fill the middle of the cake, to frost the outside, and with enough leftover that it wasn't tight to be able to cover the cake comfortably.  Phew!
Have a great long weekend day today if you didn't have to go back to work/school!  Thanks for reading :-)

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Loaf Cake Part 2 ~ Cherry Bakewell Loaf

So here it is... Part 2!
Today I am sharing with you the second fro my two-part loaf cake blog posts from the two loaf cakes I made for my choir's silent auction at the end of March.  I have had SUCH a hard time deciding which my favourite of the two are.  I mean, the lemon loaf that I wrote up last week is LEMON...  My absolute favourite!  But this Cherry Bakewell inspired almond loaf cake is way up there on my favourites list as well.  Hmm...
Well, I guess the lucky thing is I have this blog, and I usually post once per week, and seeing as it has been a crazy busy week at work, at home, at everywhere that it is actually nice to be able to finish up this short 2-part loaf cake series and I am able to share both with you all... maybe you can help me decide which you think the best one is!!  Keep reading for today's post, but click here to see last week's lemon loaf :-)
In addition to the lemon cake, I also wanted to make a loaf cake that was just a little bit different.  I toyed with the idea of a golden syrup cake, and then that inspired me to go with something British... but a little different.  The idea that sprung to mind then was one of my favourites, a Cherry Bakewell.  I mean you have seen me make these a good few times before, in traybake form.  But this time I switched it up a bit and went with an almond loaf cake, with the same white icing, cherry and sliced almond topping to decorate.  Without the shortcrust pastry you would find in the cherry bakewell tart or the jam layer between, it is a simple take on the classic English treat - in loaf form!  Nice and easy to make, with a delicious looking thick white icing spread on top with, quite literally a cherry (or a few!) on top!!
This recipe will make a standard loaf pan full, as well as 4 cupcakes.  I made extra cupcakes as I was giving the loaf acke away and wanted to be able to try it myself, and actually ended up doing some Easter decorating and created my Eggs in a Nest Cupcakes :-)  Check them out here!
So here goes...
9oz unsalted butter, softened
9oz sugar
9oz self raising flour ~ minus 4 1/2 tbsp ~ you will replace this with the ground almonds
4 eggs
4 1/2 tbsp ground almonds
2 1/4 tsp almond extract
1.  Pre-heat your oven to 375°F and grease and line your loaf pan, and cupcake liners 
2.  Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
3.  Add the eggs, one at a time - beating well between each addition.
4.  Add the almond extract and mix well.
5.  Sift in the flour and ground almonds and mix until combined.
6.  Pour most of the batter into the loaf pan, and then just a small amount (filling just to half-way) in each cupcake case.
7.  Bake the cupcakes for 15-20 minutes, but the loaf cake for 35-45 minutes, until browned on top, and cooked through ~ you can test with a cake tester/ potato skewer.
8.  Leave to cool and then you can decorate!
 For the "icing on top"... I use powdered icing sugar, poured into a cup and then just a few drops of water as I didn't want it to be too runny.  I love the idea of a thick spread of the icing, and thing this is a pretty crucial part to the classic cherry bakewells, a crucial part I wanted to keep!  So keep it thick and spread it on generously! 

For added decoration and staying true to bakewell tarts, and cherry bakewells I added sliced almonds (toasted in the oven for just a couple of minutes to brown them slightly) and added them while they were still not completely cooled as this way they would set into the icing...

And then the cherries!  What would a cherry bakewell be without cherries!?  I lined them down the centre so that every slice, you would get a cherry!  ... Or maybe two if you cut yourself a BIG piece :-D

Funnily enough, it was my husband's Aunt who placed the winning bid on this silent auction loaf cake... and she told me the next morning that after the concert she was already digging into the cake on the way home!  She did share it for breakfast the next morning as well! 

SO many of Jonathan's family are almond fans, so I'm sure this cake will be making an appearance again!
Which would you have picked?  My lemon loaf from last week, or the almond cake this week?!  It is so hard to pick my favourite!

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Loaf Cake Part 1 ~ Lemon Loaf

So as promised last week, today I will be sharing more details on the loaf cakes I made for my choir's Silent Auction.  For the occasion, I made 2 loaf cakes to donate and try and raise funds, and that they did - they both sold - yey!

Last week I shared my Eggs in a Nest Cupcakes which I made from the extra half batch of each loaf batter that I made for the choir so that of course I was able to taste the cake, and also have my own few extras to eat ... and to share I guess too!  I also wanted to use new cupcake cases I had been given, and of course jump on the April/Easter boat and get excited for Spring!!  Check them out here :-)

So this week I'll start of the Loaf Cake 2-part series with a Lemon Loaf, adapted from a recipe given to me by my university housemate of 4 year's Mum... I loved it when she would come back from a visit home and would bring her Mum's "Luscious Lemon Loaf", so much so I even got a special recipe notecard from her and have made it many many many times since.

But then the worst happened.  Saturday morning I went to get the notecard and it was GONE.  Not where I left it, or where it should have been so I had to improvise a little... Now don't worry, my amazing best housemate has already re-sent me the recipe so I will never be without again but on the day, there was no time to spare, I had to do lots of baking and sewing too all before our choir concert.

So here's a few pictures and the recipe (not the original "Luscious Lemon Loaf" but my own adaptation from last weekend!)...

I made a loaf cake and also 4 cupcakes from this recipe, but if you are just looking to make a loaf then just do 3/4 of the recipe instead.  But really, who could say no to a little taste-test!? ... Especially if you're giving the loaf away or sharing with family/friends!


9oz margarine
9oz sugar
3 tbsp milk
9oz self-raising flour
3 eggs
Zest of 1 lemon

and for the glaze:
6 rounded tablespoons icing sugar
Juice of 1 lemon


1.  Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease and line a loaf tin, and prepare 4 cupcake cases. 
2.  Beat together the margarine and sugar.
3.  Add the milk and mix together.
4.  Sift flour and mix until combined.
5.  Add eggs and beat after each addition.
5.  Add lemon zest and mix together one last time!
6.  Fill the prepared loaf tin, and use the remaining batter for a few bonus cupcakes.
7.  Bake the cupcake for 15-20 minutes (until golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean) and bake the loaf cake for 40-50 minutes.

While the cake is baking, make the glaze so it can be spread over the warm cake as soon as it comes out of the oven...

8.  Mix together the icing sugar and lemon juice.
9.  When the cake is baked and out of the oven.  Leave in the tin to cool and immediately spread the glaze over the cake until it soaks in.

... And the final step is to just ENJOY!  This is lemon at it's best!  Lemon glaze on a lemon cake, in my eyes there is nothing better!

I packaged the loaves up in brown parchment paper, and tied up with string... ♫ These are a few of my favourite things ♫ ... of course!

And a little tag to go along with the silent auction bidding sheet... I wanted to make sure whoever won the cake knew what it was!
So there were indeed two loaf cakes I promised... today you'll have read about the Lemon Loaf Cake, and check back next weekend to hear how I turned a British favourite of mine ~ the Cherry Bakewell and turned it into a loaf cake :-)  Scroll down to the bottom of the page and fill out your email to always be the first to read a post and never miss a recipe!
This time last year I asked 'Spring are you Here'?!  Little did I know this past Winter would be even longer... even colder... even snowier than 2013!  So really, the same question still lies although I think, think Spring may have actually arrived now!
To get in the mood check out last year's Spring Cake

Monday, 31 March 2014

Eggs in a Nest Cupcakes

Good morning everyone and hello from a SUNNY Toronto!  That's right, today we are set to hit double digits of 10°!!!!!  An end to the longest Winter I've ever experienced living here, Spring is going to be very welcome around here that's for sure :-) 
This past weekend I had the chance to do a lot of baking... the best kind of weekend! 
We had our final choir concert of the 2013-2014 season (Check out our Cantabile Chamber Singers website) on Saturday evening and I made two loaf cakes to donate to the silent auction we ran at the interval.  I was really happy with how they turned out, and I hope whoever won them enjoys eating them!  You might have seen the sneak peek on Facebook or Instagram of the baking I did this weekend... I had to choose which to blog about this week, and the Eggs in a Nest Cupcakes won! 
With Spring in the air, and April arriving tomorrow I thought it was about time I got ready for Easter!  We already picked up an enormous pack of mini eggs from Target, and I was treated to new cupcake wrappers from a fellow choir member who was so sweet to think of me when she saw lots of new designs on her recent vacation so I was all set, Easter cupcakes were just begging to be made :-)
As I was making two loaf cakes for the choir on Saturday, and we had plans with friends on Sunday evening, I thought it would be perfect to make a 1 1/2 batch of each loaf recipe I made so that I would have extra batter for a few cupcakes in each flavour!
I'm so glad I did that, it was an easy way to make a batch of 8 cupcakes and the bonus this time was that it was in two flavours so we could pick our favourites to eat!!
Saturday baking done, and a 7am wake up on Sunday morning to get the buttercream piped!  A bit different to my usually dark nighttime baking, this time the light was super bright in the morning!
4 lemon cupcakes and 4 almond cupcakes ready to be decorated.  I was excited to see how it would turn out :-)
Usually I'll have made a dozen cupcakes, but this time it was only 8, and as I was colouring it brown I didn't really need any leftover of this.  So I scaled down the recipe, and beat together 6oz unsalted butter with 9oz icing sugar and a tablespoon of milk.  I actually didn't add any vanilla flavouring (or any flavour in fact) as I wanted the plain flavour to work with both the lemon and the almond cupcakes.
Armed with a piping bag, and the #233 Wilton decorating tip, which I usually use for creating a grass or hair effect in decorating.  This time I thought it would work perfectly for the nest.  I just kept the piping bag moving so that it created long strands rather than short blades of grass!
Then to finish off, it was an easy decoration with 3 mini eggs sitting in each nest.  I made sure to use a yellow egg on each of the lemon cupcakes, and a blue egg on each of the almond cupcakes so each flavour could be identified!  I knew I definitely wanted a lemon one, and wanted to not have to have a lucky guess :-D
By the time I finished piping the butter was quite warm and soft... So I left them outside for a while to harden up!
So now you've seen, the eggs in a nest cupcake title really is clear!  There are eggs in a nest!!  Check out my Chicks in a Nest Easter Cake from 2012 (technically before I started this blog!)... it's still one of my favourites and I'd love for you to see :-)
I'm so happy with how these look.  And really they were nice and simple to make!!  The grass tip works wonders for the piping here, and makes it super fun and easy to create the nest on top of the cupcake ... Or perhaps I shouldn't admit to how easy they are!  But do make them!
So with the temperature on the up, and Spring perhaps finally showing it's face I am getting excited for April and Easter!  Are you!?
For the full Lemon and Almond cake recipes please check back next week.  I'll be posting the loaf cakes in full detail then!  Lots of pictures and both of the recipes then :-)

This time last year it was Easter already!  Check out my Hand Stitched Easter Cards I made last year!  I loved making them, and my family all loved them too ♥