Number 2/5

Following the previous post, I present you with cake number 2 of 5 baked for the birthday festivities. A true must for both chocolate and amaretti lovers. Amaretti are possibly my favourite biscuits, they should be yours too. And don’t get me started on Amaretto, the tastiest liquor ever created. Those sours are dangerous. Remind me again why I decided to give up alcohol for Lent? At least there are only 22 days left and Fortnum’s Easter sponge pudding (honey, amaretto & almond sponge pudding with a soft chocolate centre….nom) waiting at the end of it. Not to forget the amaretto butter topping, Easter dessert wouldn’t be half as good without it.

Enough about Amaretto. This cake, like the Linzer, is best after having rested in a cool place (e.g. cellar) for a day or two. Perfect if you have a lot of baking or cooking planned!

Chocolate Amaretti Loaf Cake

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adapted from Wildeisen

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Martha’s Linzer Torte

Birthdays are funny things. The hype around celebrating them seems to come in two phases. The first one starts with birth and lasts probably until 25. At 25, after having (hopefully) graduated and joined the real working world, every reminder of age is given the evil eye and subconsciously creates internal stress: career-wise, relationships, friendships, financially, where to go in life, aaaahhhh….! Recently I saw a 15 page CV….. how am I ever going to fill so many pages in the next few years? Too much to do and so little time. Also, if you’re female, mid twenties-thirties and single, I’m sure you can relate to this dialogue from When Harry Met Sally:

Sally: AND, I’m gonna be forty.
Harry: When?
Sally: Someday
Harry: In eight years.
Sally: But it’s there. It’s just sitting there, like some big dead end. And it’s not the same for men.

The second phase of celebratory hypes starts round about retirement age, 60 years, and lasts for the rest of your life (YAY some celebrations at the end of the 40 year working tunnel). Last week we celebrated a very special birthday within the family. Planning for the 3 day weekend (apparently the older one gets, the longer one wants to celebrate, one day isn’t enough) had begun months before. The closer we came, the only thing on the birthday boy’s mind was the party. The excitement was comparable to that of a 4 year old eating chocolate cake for the first time. Being 23, I didn’t quite understand how one could be sooooo excited about getting older, but I guess the older one gets the more appreciative one becomes of age and life (oooooo words of wisdom…. :-P). Let me get back to you about that when I turn 60.

With a guest list close to 50 and a Sunday morning plan of coffee, tea and cakes, no more needed to be said. I successfully took on my first cake marathon and baked 5. Luckily some cakes, like the one below, are best baked 2 days in advance. This made life a little easier, however with the additional skiing, small-talking and remaining birthday madness, sleep deprivation was to be expected.

Finally, about this first cake: my mother grew up with a nanny/maid called “Martha”. She joined the family when my mother was born and stayed for 50 years. Martha was like a grandmother to me. She could also bake like a goddess; her cakes were divine. The Linzer Torte (swiss style, not Austrian and overly spiced) is one of her recipes. Deciphering her jumbled handwriting and trying to follow her thoughts wasn’t the easiest, but definitely worth it. Sadly she passed away a few years ago, but she is always remembered when one of us decides to whip up a cake for a special occasion. The Linzer has become somewhat of a family tradition. With its special almond paste filling and generous layer of jam, it’s always a winner.

Martha’s Linzer Torte

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Nutella Cupcakes

In my last post I mentioned baking 72 cupcakes in an extremely hungover state, which is admittedly the second best cure to recover from intoxication. These cupcakes are truly a MUST for Nutella lovers. A Nutella filled center and Nutella based icing…. what more can a Nutella monster ask for?

A small bonus for all Nutella fans amongst you: check this out. It is even shaped like the jar!

Nutella Cupcakes

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Peanut Butter Surprise

After having lived in London for a couple of months, I decided to finally invite a few friends over for a cupcake and prosecco themed housewarming afternoon on a Saturday. My day turned out to be everything but how I’d planned it. Friday nights are unpredictable. Let me give you a quick summary of what not to do the night before you hold a party:

It started with dinner at the cosmopolitan time of 10.45 pm in Mayfair, including pre-dinner drinks and plenty of alcohol to accompany our meal. After having built up a base with chinese food, the night continued with bottles of prosecco in a place called Novikov for birthday nr.1. By this time it was already about 2am and we hadn’t even properly gotten started (truth is , my initial aim was to head home latest at 1.30, wake up at 9am and start baking my 72 cupcakes. Clearly I had missed the moment). One birthday doesn’t seem enough to celebrate on a night, so we crashed another one in some members club on Jermyn Street. As swanky and nice as this party was, the vibe wasn’t working for our group and no one seemed to be ready to head home. What is left at 3.30am on a Friday night? Raffles in Chelsea with lots and lots and lots of vodka. No more details needed.

By 5 or 5.30am, 4 hours after planned, I managed to stumble up my staircase (5 floors, no biggie when in heels and completely drunk), change into my pj’s and pass out on my bed. Sadly, I forgot to charge my dead iPhone before passing out. My alarm, which had been set for 9am, didn’t go off. When I opened my eyes for the first time the next day they were greeted with sunshine and the clearest blue sky. It was already 11:30am. Damnit. My drunken swiss discipline kicked in and within just over 3 hours I had baked and iced 72 cupcakes (3 different flavors). I have never drunken so much water in such a short period of time without having to pee once. Luckily my housewarming offered the perfect evidence-based cure for my hangover: alcohol 🙂

As for these cupcakes: I wanted to try something new and stumbled across Ferrero Rochers opposite the baking section in my supermarket. In my mind the combination with peanut butter seemed amazing, worth a try. I wasn’t sure if they’d survive the heat of the oven in one piece, but they did!

Peanut Butter Surprise Cupcakes

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Hummingbird Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

One of the most beautiful combinations known to the baking world strikes again: take two on the chocolate and orange. Recently having moved to London, as a food lover, one explores all grocery stores, little cafes, restaurants and bakeries in the area. Surprised yet excited, I was happy to note that this combination has been commercialized over here. Who knew chocolate orange kit kats exist? Chocolate orange flavored smarties? Chocolate orange macarons in Fortnum & Mason? Who would think they’d stumble across chocolate orange cupcakes in every cupcake shop? Well done to the English for that, maybe you could spread your wisdom to the mainland europeans by the end of the year!

These cupcakes were inspired by a bag of mini jaffa cakes which had been sitting in the cupboard for quite a while. Initially I wanted to make vanilla cupcakes with an orange marmalade center “jaffa cake style”… but then I gave in. Luckily I changed my minds…the cupcakes were great!

Hummingbird Chocolate Orange Cupcakes 

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For a Beautiful Bride

This post is dedicated to my puuuffff (honestly, I have NO idea when and how we came up with this name but it somehow stuck:-) ) and to her better half.

Our friendship goes way back, originally having started on the golf course and possibly even the ski slopes. All those summers bbq’ing on random hills, gazing at stars, drunken winter teenage nights clubbing, free room service in random boys’ hotel rooms, dancing on tables in the tiniest skirts, my first (and last!) absinth buddy:-), AUSTRALIA, annoying one specific waitress on a daily basis for a summer, hungover golf success with sir albert mulligan, dog walks, the list could go on and on … a true friendship keeps on growing and lasts for a lifetime.

I cannot believe you are getting married!! CRAZY! But kind of great! You have no idea how happy I am for you to have found your soulmate. You have officially restored my hope that one day I might find mine too. If that never happens by the time I’m 50, I shall be moving in with you guys, so make sure you have a spare room pour moi! HA! Single-for-life problem solved :-P. I wish you both the best of luck for your future, lots of adventures, happiness and success. Please take good care of my twin, Mister ;-).

Oh and be sure to keep your future children far away from me, as they will probably end up with high cholesterol and diabetes 😉

I made this cake (and the cupcakes) for the hens’ night, as I thought a room full of estrogen would appreciate some sweet goodness, especially after some rounds of quite competitive karaoke.
But, there is a little bit more to this cake: Last year, while spending some time in Cape Town, Wednesday evenings were our official braai times (Braai meaning bbq in Afrikaans ). I don’t think I have ever braaied so much in such a short period of time, but I must admit, nothing beats a juicy ostrich steak straight from the braai. Anyways, one Wednesday it was someone’s birthday. What is a birthday without cake?? NON EXISTENT! So Laura made this carrot cake (I think she got the recipe from another roommate, but it has been etched into my memory as Laura’s carrot cake) It was AMAZING! Perfect for my puuufs hens’ do.

Laura’s Carrot Cake – Carrot Cake Cupcakes
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Quarkcake with Red Currants

There is a river running right through the middle of my city which essentially turns into a public swimming pool as soon as summer hits the town. If you cross the bridge around 6pm, there will be little heads bobbing about in the water as far as you can see, with the famous “schwimm-fisch” (waterproof swimming bags shaped like fish) in tow, enjoying their after-work cool down. To complete the Rhine experience, one must then lay out and tan, have a beer and a legendary burger sold at one of the little bars set up along the river. Pure bliss. And now for today’s recipe: this is a simple delicious summer dessert which I  had once roughly 2 years ago at a friend’s place. I managed to sneak the recipe out of the kitchen, but since then I have always missed the red currant season … until now! I got sooo excited when I went shopping and saw red currants and this is what happened.

Quarkcake with Red Currants

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How to Train Your Orange-Chocolate Skeptic

I have taken this opportunity to make something in the spirit of one of the most divine combination: chocolate and orange. A combination that divides audiences and friendships alike.  Without voices in the background going “but its so wrooooong” I have settled for a cake that I believe embodies this match made in heaven in all its’ glory. Well… kind of. I just liked the look of the recipe and knew that I could try it out without anyone moaning about it. 

I guess I got a little over-excited with the decoration, and even attempted some chocolate work. While I found out this is not my calling, I am generally pleased with the result and am hoping to convert some non-believers with this beastly yet subtle creation.

The recipe involves four layers of cake with orange syrup, almond cream, chocolate ganache and pâtisserie-quality decorations: challenge accepted!

Chocolate Orange Almond Gateau

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Cake or Death? Cake AND Death!

Today we celebrated the birthday of the instigator of 1234cook. We came across this recipe and thought it perfectly embodied the birthday girl: dark, sexy, fabulous and… not for the faint of heart.

We’re not kidding when we say beware of this cake. This is not an easy cake. But if you’re looking to showcase your baking skills – or you’re looking for a way to kill three hours and gain three stone – then this is the cake for you.

Happy Birthday, Cindy. We love you!

Hummingbird’s Brooklyn Blackout Cake

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