Baking up a storm in the kitchen!

I’ve planned for a while now what I was going to bake for the OH’s birthday and it’s finally all set in motion and done! It’s definitely not easy trying to keep it a secret when he’s around a lot of the time! I tried baking his cake, the raspberry cheesecake brownie, and pumpkin pie cake truffles as treats and posted relevant recipes for them.

Not only is it a hardship trying to keep the baking activities secret from the OH, but when you try baking with two cats in the house, it’s like you’re Big Brother keeping watch over them when your back’s turned!

Source: The Hummingbird Bakery

Source: Momofuku Milk Bar

I thought it might help those of you who want to use the recipes I posted before if there were accompanying photos. You can find the ingredients and quantities needed in my previous post. This will be more of a post with step by step photos on how I made my raspberry cheesecake brownie cake and pumpkin pie cake truffles. For some, following recipes is easy as pie, but for those of you who are visual or practical learners like me, you need to see it happening or be shown how to do something to get the gist of an instruction.

Raspberry cheesecake brownie cake

1. Pre-heat the oven to 170°C (325°F) Gas 3. Depending on the settings on your oven, you might choose a different one, but I normally choose the top and bottom one (the one with a bar on the top and bottom sides of a rectangle representing your oven).

2. Put some water in a pan on low heat. Place a bowl on top (make sure this is slightly bigger so it sits on top and not inside the pan, not touching the water) with the dark chocolate until it’s melted and smooth.

3. You’ll need to make sure your butter is soft enough (leave it outside of the fridge for 10-15 minutes for it to go soft) to blend in with the icing sugar. Cut up the butter in small chunks and using a spatula or wooden spoon, blend the butter in with the icing sugar in sweeping motions. My favourite way is to squash the butter with the back of the spoon into the butter until it’s well blended. I know the recipe says to use a mixer, but I’m only comfortable using the mixer when it’s needed (like making meringue when mixing by hand is not an option) so everything in this recipe will be done by hand unless the mixer is needed (which you will do later for the raspberry topping).

See Nala supervising?

4. Add the eggs and make sure it’s mixed well. It says to add the eggs one at a time, but unless you’ve got really large eggs, it’s not really necessary. The thing you need to watch for is in case it gets to liquid, but with medium eggs you’re usually fine.

5. Mix in the flour and again, make sure everything’s well incorporated.

Tigger watching intently

6. Pour in the melted chocolate and mix it well.

Tigger hoping to sneak a lick of chocolate

Once it’s ready, butter before lining a baking tray (or in this instance, a cake tin) so the lining stays close to the tray/tin before pouring in the batter.

7. Next, for the cheesecake layer! Mix the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla extract until everything’s well blended.

8. Add in the eggs. The cream cheese mixture should feel lighter and more liquid than the brownie mixture so it sits on top of the brownie mixture when baking without mixing. Now pour the mixture on top of the brownie layer and bake for 30-40 minutes.

9. The cheesecake should be slightly golden on the edges and firm in the centre. If it’s quite jiggly (like jelly) when you pull the tray out to inspect it, then it’s not ready yet and should stay in the oven for a bit longer. You can also check the consistency by sticking a cake tester (like this one from Lakeland). If it’s still wet like the mixture, it’s not ready. If it starts to burn a bit on top like mine, turn down the temperature slightly – I adjusted mine to 150°C.

If it’s slightly burned like it, it’s still okay, because that’s what the raspberry topping is for: cover up!

10. Easy peasy step for the raspberry cream topping! Put all the ingredients (the raspberry, icing sugar and whipping or double cream) in the mixer bowl.

11. On a low speed, mix the ingredients until the raspberry is broken into smaller bits. Slowly increase the speed until the cream is firm, but not stiff. You should see when the mixer is on high speed that the cream is moving in clumps, but doesn’t stand up like aerosol whipped cream.

12. You’ll need to make sure the cake is completely cool before you put the raspberry cream topping on. It’s best to do this on the day you’re serving the cake, if you put it on days in advance, it can cause a split in the cake itself. Ta da!

It turned out looking more like a Christmas pudding with a raspberry topping, but hey ho!

It’s really meant to be a tray bake sort of baked good, but this is one of the OH’s favourite recipes to make, so for a change, I thought he’d like it made for him for a change. The OH normally skips the raspberry cream topping and adds whole raspberries to the cream cheese layer instead, but the cream topping isn’t that thick and it doesn’t take too creamy with the amount of raspberries incorporated in it, so it’s actually turned out quite well as a cake. It’s quite photogenic too, with the different coloured layers, don’t you think?

Now for the surprise special treat! I’ve included the recipe for this next one because I’ve made some changes to the original recipe from Momofuku Milk Bar.

Pumpkin pie cake truffles

115g butter
125g sugar
150g light brown sugar
1 egg
25g oil
100 g buttermilk
1g vanilla extract
175g pumpkin or butternut squash puree
230g flour
4g baking powder
4g baking soda
12g salt
4g cinnamon
2g nutmeg
200g cream cheese
190g Digestive biscuits

1. To make the pumpkin pie cake, first pre-heat the oven to 180° C (approx. 350° F).

2. Combine the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar like above for the raspberry cream cheese brownie, well-mixed.

Can’t go without my trusty bubble tea when I’m taking on an arduous baking task!

3. Add the oil, buttermilk and vanilla extract. You should see a difference in the volume of the mixture. Take your time to make sure everything’s well mixed. It might not look as smooth a cake batter and seem more oily, but that’s okay.

4. Next add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger until everything’s well incorporated. Make sure to scrape any dry ingredients to mix everything well, you will at this point end up with cake-like batter.

5. Here you’re meant to add in the pumpkin purée, but unless you’re in the US, it’s not that easy to source tinned pumpkin purée. It’s also a seasonal veg and difficult to get in the summer. In this instance, you can use butternut squash which is in the family and has a similar flavour. I got organic ones from Tesco for about £1.90 for a decent sized one.

6. To make it easier, you can find recipes that teach you to either boil or oven-roast the pumpkin or butternut squash (like here) before you try to purée the flesh, but I feel cooking it before you it’s used in the cake removes most of its nutrients. So to help with raw squash flesh, I cut the squash into large sections.

If your pumpkin is ripe, you can easily spoon out the flesh. You’ll need to make sure the seeds are scooped out first, but with the butternut squash, you’ll see that it’s easier because there aren’t any seed to discard. The only thing is with butternut squash, the flesh is quite dense and not at all possible to scoop when it’s ripe though. I learned that the hard way.

This was my progress after 5 minutes of trying to scoop out 3 spoonfuls

To make butternut squash purée, cut off the skin on the segments and cut the flesh into chunks.

7. Weigh out the chunks you’ve cut until you’ve got the right weight of pumpkin/squash you need for the purée, then stick this into a food processor so it’s reduced to small bits for easier blending later.

8. Once the squash/pumpkin is well blended, use a handheld blender or juicer for this next step.

9. Slowly press down on the processed squash/pumpkin, moving the blender up and down until it is now like a paste.

10. Add the purée to the cake mix and mix well.

11. If you’ve got a big cake tin, pour in the batter, otherwise divvy up the batter into the tins. The batter will rise, so don’t fill up the tins by more than approximately 3/4 of the way up. It doesn’t matter how many cake tins you use, you’ll be processing the cakes in the end.

12. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the top is firm to the touch and is golden brown. The centre shouldn’t be jiggly (like jelly) either, so if it is, leave it in the oven for slightly longer. Leave the cake(s) to cool.

I actually re-read the recipe after I baked the cake and realised it wasn’t really necessary to make the liquid cream cheese and graham crust so I decided to wing it and changed it slightly so it was like my red velvet cake truffles.

13. Once the cakes have cooled down, tear the cakes into large chunks and either by hand or using a food processor, turn the cake chunks into crumbs.

You might find the cake(s) may be too big to reduce to crumbs all at once, so I had to repeat the process for the second cake.

14. In a large bowl with the cake crumbs, add the cream cheese until it’s like cake dough.

15. Using a teaspoon, scoop out a heaped spoon of the dough and roll it into ball.

Before you start rolling your cake balls, it’s best to remove any rings you’re wearing – It can be quite tricky trying to wash out dough from any grooves, nooks and crannies! The best way to get a good round shape is to stretch your hand so your palms are flat and using the flat of your palms, roll the cake dough until you’ve got the desired shape.

You’ll end up with approximately 77 cake truffles with this quantity, or you can make slightly bigger truffles and you’ll end up with less.

16. Put some water in a pan on low heat. Place a bowl on top (make sure this is slightly bigger so it sits on top and not inside the pan, not touching the water) with the white chocolate until it’s melted and smooth.

While this is melting, it’s easier at this stage if you roll all your cake truffles first before you move onto the next step.

17. When the chocolate is melted, remove from heat and add approximately 200ml of double cream or keep adding small quantities until smooth. It should be runny melted chocolate (not thick like custard) for coating, the double cream should help keep it runny for longer when it’s cooled.

18. This next step is important for the chocolate to be slightly cooled so you don’t burn yourself. Using a small spoonful of melted white chocolate, roll the cake ball in this.

19. When you’ve got some white chocolate coating, roll the cake ball again in your hand. This will help to evenly spread the white chocolate without making the coating thick.

20. In a bowl, crush the biscuits until you get crumbs, you can also use a food processor for this. Keep the bowl of biscuit crumbs close to your melted chocolate for easy access. It’s not important to use graham crackers if you can’t get it. It’s an American recipe where graham crackers are used, but you can also use McVitie’s digestive or tea biscuits in its place.

19. Once your cake ball is evenly coated with chocolate, quickly transfer the cake ball to the biscuit crumbs and make sure it’s well coated. The best way to coat it evenly is to roll this again in your hand.

You’ll notice a difference if you’ve got a thick coat of white chocolate on the cake ball before coating it with the biscuit crumbs. The thicker ones started to droop, so I had to remove the excess and re-shape some of them.

Cake truffles at the top had an even, thin layer of white chocolate before they were coated with biscuit crumbs, you can see the difference compared to the ones on the bottom of the picture which had thick layers of chocolate from being rolled in the bowl of melted chocolate

20. Once your cake truffles have all been coated, you’ll need to make sure they’re kept in the fridge to avoid the cream cheese going bad.

When you’re ready, serve your pumpkin pie cake truffles!

The day went swimmingly and the OH’s mum made a lovely, fancy-looking fruit cake with a photo of him as a child on it that also went down well.

Tigger gives his seal of approval to the fruit cake

I didn’t end up taking too many photos, I was too caught up in mingling with the guests and making sure everyone was well looked after, so will post what photos I did manage to get soon!


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