Clementine Cake with Star Anise and Cinnamon, Cranberry Curd Meringue Buttercream and Pistachio

IMG_0752_edited-1

With Christmas around the corner we are inundated with images and recipes for all sorts of delicious  baking so I thought I would add to the mix with this seasonal spiced Clementine Cake with Cranberry.  I think it looks so beautiful with the subtle orange and pink tones from the clementines and cranberries further contrasted with some green pistachio macarons! It has a lovely moist texture and paired with the silky meringue buttercream, would make a lovely light alternative to some traditionally heavier seasonal cakes.

The recipe has quite a few components and in its entirety is aimed at the experienced baker, but for the novice baker please don’t let this put you off! The cake itself is so easy to make and would look fabulous simply sandwiched together with the icing and decorated with a smattering of cranberries and pistachios, obviating the need to attempt to make notoriously difficult macarons! Furthermore, should you wish for a simpler buttercream recipe, simply add some of the cranberry curd to this buttercream.

Clementine Cake with Star Anise and Cinnamon, Cranberry Curd Meringue Buttercream and Pistachio Macarons

Ingredients for the cake:

  • 3 clementines
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 275g self-raising flour
  • 3tsp baking powder
  • 275g caster sugar
  • 225g butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon

Ingredients for the cranberry curd:

  • 225g cranberries
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 140g caster sugar
  • Zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon
  • 3 egg yolks (keep the whites for your macarons)
  • 1 egg
  • 60g unsalted butter

Ingredients for the cranberry swiss meringue buttercream:

  • 150g egg white (can be from a carton)
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 340g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 3-4 tbsp cranberry curd to taste
  • pinch salt

Ingredients for the Pistachio Macarons

  • 65g icing sugar
  • 45g ground almonds
  • 20g shelled pistachios
  • 45g caster sugar
  • 50g aged egg white (approx two egg whites)
  • Green paste food colour

Step 1: To make the cake, preheat the oven to 160°C/320F/gas mark 3. Grease and line two 6″ round cake tins.

Step 2: Place the whole clementines (including skin) in a saucepan with the star anise and cinnamon stick, cover with boiling water and simmer for approx 20 mins until skins are soft. Leave to cool slightly and infuse. Remove clementines from the water, cut in half, remove any pips and then process in a food processor until pulpy.

Step 3: Add the remaining cake ingredients to the clementines in the food processor and process until smooth and well mixed. Avoid overmixing.

Step 4: Pour the mixture into the prepared tins and bake for 30-40 mins until cake is springy to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tins before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Step 5: To make the pistachio macarons, process the icing sugar, ground almonds and pistachios in a processor until fine. Sieve into a clean bowl and discard any larger particles.

Step 6: Wipe the inside of a metal bowl and an electric handheld whisk with some lemon juice and paper towel to remove any traces of grease. Weigh the egg white into the bowl and whisk on low speed until foamy. Increase speed and whisk until you see trails in the egg white. Add the caster sugar in thirds, whisking well after each addition. Continue whisking until just before stiff peaks form. Add desired amount of green food colouring before continuing to whisk to stiff peaks.

Step 7: Add half the almond mixture to the egg white and fold in before adding the remaining half. Gently fold the mixture (it’s called macronage) to remove some of the air until it has a flow and consistency of lava.

Step 8: Pour into a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle. Fix some baking paper onto a tray with a dot of the mixture (or use a silicone baking mat) and pipe rounds. You should get approx 30 macaron shells. Bang tray firmly on the counter to remove any excess air bubbles. Leave to form a ‘skin’, this takes approx 30mins depending on humidity. To test for this simply lightly touch the top of one of the macarons and check that your finger comes away clean. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 160°C .

Step 9: Bake macarons for 14-16mins turning the tray around half-way through. The macarons are cooked when you can lightly a shell and the top doesn’t move from the feet. Leave to cool on the tray before removing.

Step 10: To make the cranberry curd, place cranberries and water in a saucepan, cover and heat until cranberries have burst and liquid bubbles. Pour through a sieve into a clean bowl and press through cranberry pulp. Return the pulp to the saucepan and stir in sugar to dissolve. Add the lemon and orange zest if  and allow to cool slightly.

Step 11: Whisk the egg yolks and whole egg together and pour into the cranberry mixture, whisking until combined. Stir over a medium heat using a wooden spoon until the mixture has thickened and easily coats the back of a spoon (approx. 8-10mins). Pour into sterilised jars and place in the fridge once cool to set. This will keep for up to 2 weeks in the fridge to use any leftovers as you see fit!

Step 12: To make the cranberry swiss meringue buttercream, wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with paper towel and lemon juice. Add egg whites and sugar and place over a pan of simmering water whisking constantly until it reaches 160°F. If you do not have a sugar thermometer heat until sugar has completely dissolved and mixture is hot.

Step 13: Place the bowl on an electric stand mixer and whisk until the meringue is thick and glossy and the bottom of the bowl feels neutral to the touch, approx 10mins. Change to a paddle attachment. Slowly add the butter in cubes one at a time until incorporated. Continue to beat until it has reached a smooth silky texture. Add cranberry curd and mix to combine. If buttercream is too runny place in the fridge to firm up slightly before remixing.

Step14: To assemble the cake, level each cake using a cake leveller or sharp knife. Cut each cake in two so you have four cake layers. Place the base of the first cake on a cake card (or a cake stand or plate) and using a piping bag cover with the buttercream icing. Smooth the icing with a palette knife. Add the second layer and repeat, finishing with the inverted base of the second cake.  Before coating the outside of the cake, place in fridge to firm up slightly first. Crumb coat the cake by spreading a small amount of buttercream over the cake and scraping off any excess before refrigerating again until firm. Now feel free to ice in your favourite texture, rough, smooth, patterned! I have finished with a smooth buttercream. For this I placed the worked on the sides of the cake first, adding buttercream so that it was up over the top of the cake, scraping with a metal scraper, refrigerating until firm before repeating the process until perfectly smooth. For the top, use a palette knife to level the buttercream at the edge before filling in the centre.

Step 15: Fill the pistachio macarons with some of the buttercream (or your preferred buttercream) and fix on the cake with a dot of buttercream. I decorated with some pistachios and sugared cranberries but feel free to get creative!

Antonio Riva-Inspired Blush Copper Design

 

9e301289c679c5ba4970d7d3237bb38f

A new cake design for a recent wedding showcase was inspired by the stunning gowns of Italian designer Antonio Riva. Having stumbled upon his work I couldn’t but be captivated by the sharp silhouettes and bold modern detailing.

antonio-riva-2014-2-129

Using silks and organza, and details such as bows and modern draping, the dresses are a work of art. Unfortunately they are apparently not available worldwide, with the best kept secret kept by the Italians!

index2

My design wasn’t inspired by a particular dress but rather the overall design aesthetic. I wanted to capture the clean silhouette of the dresses in a tall blush lustred cake and the volume emphasised by blush draped ruffles.

IMG_0558_edited-1

I love metallics and added some copper foliage alongside the sugar roses, inspired by the metallic elements in some of the images of the bridal gowns.

IMG_0540_edited-1

A very simple cake but I hope, elegant, modern and sophisticated going some way towards reflecting the amazing inspiration!

 

Chai Spiced Apple Brown Sugar Cake, Brown Butter Icing and Blackberry Jam

IMG_0394_edited-1

I have been experimenting for some time with apple cake recipes in a quest for one that has a clear autumnal flavour, is traditionally moist, but also cuts cleanly, a stringent requirement when making wedding and party cakes.  Whether this Chai Spiced Apple Cake makes it to my menu or not I adored the flavour combination, and after much interest when I posted this picture on social media I thought I would share the recipe!

My persistence in finding the right apple flavour for my menu stems from the fact that we are lucky enough to buy what I think are the best apples around at our local Sunday market in the People’s Park in Dun Laoghaire. A far cry from the waxy, and often imported supermarket varieties, these are tart, crisp, and only available in season.  They are now the only apples I will eat.

IMG_7736

This apple cake recipe sort of evolved having found some beautifully aromatic Wall and Keogh loose leaf chai tea  in Robertson’s Deli in Dalkey. Wall and Keogh have established themselves as one of Dublin’s leading loose leaf tea wholesalers, supplying prominent cafes and delis. Their loose leaf chai is amazing, with the traditional spicy aroma of cardamon and cloves, a perfect pairing for apple.

IMG_4886 (2)

I filled and iced this cake with brown butter icing, something which I had never made before..how did I miss it! Brown butter takes on a subtle nutty, toffee flavour, making a delicious buttercream which is a perfect pairing for apple. I also filled the cake with some blackberry jam, because blackberries are a natural partner for apple and I had some homemade Wexford Blackberry Jam lurking in my cupboard from my apple and blackberry cupcake recipe.

The quantities in this recipe can be made in two 7″ round tins to create two cakes which can each be divided in two to make four layers. Alternatively, the recipe can be baked in one 8″ tin for a two-layer cake or three 6″ tins for a super tall cake 6 layer cake.  I iced it ‘semi-naked’ style. The icing quantities are enough to fill the cake but you may need a second batch if you choose to coat it. I also decorated with blackberry macarons..a blog post on macarons is to follow soon!

IMG_0380

Happy baking!

Chai Spiced Apple Brown Sugar Cake with Brown Butter Icing and Blackberry Jam

Ingredients for the cake:

  • 225g unsalted butter (plus extra for greasing)
  • 225g light soft brown sugar
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 125g plain flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 medium apples, peeled and coarsely grated
  • 60ml whole milk
  • 2 tbsp loose leaf chai tea (I used Wall and Keogh, beautifully aromatic but a chai tea bag will also do)

Ingredients for the brown butter icing (this is enough to fill the 4-layer cake but you will need to increase quantities if you are making more layers of cake and/or coating the cake):

  • 300g icing sugar
  • 200g unsalted butter
  • pinch cinnamon

Ingredients for the blackberry jam:

  • See our blackberry jam recipe here!

Method:

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 160°C/320F/gas mark 3. Grease and line two 7″ round cake tins.

Step 2: Place milk and chai tea in a small saucepan (if the quantity of milk is too small for your saucepan use a little more and measure out 60ml of chai-infused milk later for your cake). Heat gently to infuse the milk. Set aside.

Step 3: Sift together flours and cinnamon. Grate apple and gently squeeze out excess juice.

Step 4: Cream butter and brown sugar together in mixer until light and fluffy.

Step 5: Beat in eggs one at a time, adding one tablespoon of flour with each egg.

Step 6: Fold in remaining flour followed by the grated apple and strained chai-infused milk.

Step 7: Pour into greased tins and bake for approx 40-50mins Cake is cooked when well risen, springy to touch and skewer comes out clean.

Step 8: Meanwhile make the brown butter for the icing. Melt butter in saucepan over a low heat, bring to a simmer and continue to stir until it has turned a golden colour and smells toffee-like. Pour into a bowl, leave to cool and place in fridge to firm up a little.

Step 8: When cooked, remove cake from oven and leave to cool for a few minutes before turning out onto wire rack to cool completely.

Step 9: Make the icing by beating together the brown butter, icing sugar and cinnamon until fluffy.

Step 10:  Trim the top off each cake to level and divide each cake in two to create four layers in total. Fill each layer with the brown butter icing and blackberry jam. I decorated it in ‘semi-naked’ style with blackberry macarons, gilded berries and bay leaves but feel free to get creative at this point!

 

 

 

Inspirational Shoot at Horetown House

We were thrilled to be asked to design cakes for a recent inspirational shoot at Horetown House coordinated by the talented Ciara O’Halloran. Horetown House is a beautiful private country house venue located in Foulksmills, Co. Wexford in South East Ireland.

Horetown Styled shoot-131

The overall brief was warm, elegant and timeless with a colour scheme of soft creams, deep berry tones, gold accents and lush greenery. We took the colour scheme as well as the olive leaf motif on the stationary, designed by Appleberry press, as inspiration and designed a main cake in soft cream with a gold leaf wafer paper olive branch.

Horetown Styled shoot-39Horetown Styled shoot-126

This was accompanied by single tier semi-naked and iced cakes adorned with fresh flowers by Gill Stewart.

Horetown Styled shoot-121 Horetown Styled shoot-123

The images were captured by the talented Paula McManus photography and the result was beautiful!

Horetown Styled shoot-83Horetown Styled shoot-107Horetown Styled shoot-112

It was wonderful to be in the company of some amazingly talented wedding vendors in creating something so beautiful to promote Horetown House. For all brides and grooms to be it is well worth considering as a venue for your big day!

Full images of this gorgeous shoot are featured over on One Fab Day wedding blog!

Vendor credits:

Styling: Style Serendipity

Photography: Paula McManus

Makeup: The Powder Room

Flowers: Gill Stewart

Hair: Takumi Hair

Dresses: Myrtle Ivory

Stationary: Appleberry Press

 

 

 

 

The Art of Cake

I have recently been organising and decorating my little home cake studio and had been in search of some art to adorn the walls. Fortuitously, I came across the beautiful work of watercolour artist Enya of Enya’s Art of Patisserie through Instagram and fell in love with her pretty paintings of cakes, cupcakes and french patisserie.  Turning cake art into actual art..how exciting!

After approaching Enya I commissioned paintings of two of my cakes which we agreed would translate well into this style: my naked chocolate cake with fresh berries and one of my favourites, chocolate drizzle and pink peony.

Naked berries IMG_9492

Enya updated her instagram feed with exciting progress shots of her work…(!)

10390067_1465729857057656_3125129834937932192_n image1 (2)

I was thrilled to receive the final prints which will imminently be framed and proudly hung in my little studio!WATERCOLOUR_42 (2)WATERCOLOUR_43 (2)

Take a look at Enya’s page for more pretty paintings of yummy cakes!

Jenny Packham Inspired Wedding Cake-Design Inspiration and Process

My style is naturally minimalist but I have always adored the exquisite beading of Jenny Packham bridal gowns which are simultaneously decorative and yet elegantly understated.

12.Esme_-413x620 19f9af09f4cc04c590fb75d020459bfd e89c56124a9b7ddfec712e525b4560da

(Images courtesy of lwdbridal, elizabethannedesigns, thefashionmedley)

 

For some time I have wanted to translate this into a cake design and with one of my cake resolutions of 2015 being to embrace more decorative elements a recent week off gave me the perfect opportunity.  My design inspiration was the ‘Eden’ gown, a delicately beaded ‘flapper’ style dress in art deco style.

 12.EDEN69aa1e2312bcdb6645e193fdac3b12fa

(Images courtesy of and Style Me Pretty and Jenny Packham)

 

I decided on a tall tier structure reflecting the elegant streamlined nature of the gown.  Using the pattern of the dress as my inspiration I drew my own on baking parchment and then transferred it to my cake tiers using a scribing tool to mark the design onto the cake by needling through the baking parchment. It was then a case of a few quiet hours piping delicate dots and finishing off with some choicely positioned silver dragees.

Jenny post 1Jenny post 2

 

The end result…

IMG_9637 IMG_959769aa1e2312bcdb6645e193fdac3b12fa

My minimalism stopped me from making it as decorative as the gorgeous gown but I do love this one and look forward to perhaps more intricate cake designs in the future!

Our Favourite Natural Wedding Cake Styles

The trend for rustic wedding cakes is continuing with ‘naked’ cakes still making a regular appearance at 2015 weddings. Here at Cove Cake Design we have been putting our own twist on natural styles…take a look at our favourites!

Chocolate ganache and buttercream

One of our most popular cakes this year has been our chocolate ganache and buttercream hybrid. A sharp ganached base tier is the perfect contrast for rustic buttercream upper tiers. Decoration with fresh or sugar flowers, or gilded fruit creates distinct styles.

Chocolate-and-Gilded-Cherries_edited-1IMG_9402IMG_9366

 

Semi-naked

Semi-naked cakes are one of our favourite natural styles. We do love a sharp edge and this style gives a sophisticated feel whilst allowing the beauty of the cake layers to show through. Not confined to white sponge cakes, our semi-naked chocolate mud cake with raspberry icing is one we would love to make again! (Image on left courtesy of White Tea Photography)

http://www.whitetea.ieIMG_9154v2IMG_9152

 

Rustic White

We have recently been using rustic royal icing to create a natural style that is crisp white rather than yellow in tone like buttercream. We have used olive leaves and gilded fruits as well as sugar flowers to decorate this style which would also be perfectly complemented by fresh flowers and greenery.

Rustic figsIMG_8559IMG_8556

 

Pretty Individual Cakes

We love to find new things to decorate our cakes with and have recently used coconut flakes, freeze-dried raspberries, crushed meringue, macarons and flowers from our garden to create pretty individual cakes that would make a beautiful addition to a cake table or could be adapted to tiered cake styles.

IMG_8953IMG_9444v2

The Gloriette Cake Stand

IMG_8556

Since becoming a cake decorator I have developed a slight obsession with cake stands which has in recent times surpassed that of my love of a good handbag. Rather than hiding handbags, I now retort ‘Oh, that old cake stand!’ if my husband remarks on a new one. The majority of my stands have been purchased on the online treasure trove that is Borrowed Blue Boutique. Stocking a range of gorgeous items for food, drink and party styling as well as gift ideas, it is hard to visit the site without purchasing a new prop or decoration.

Through my purchases I have had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with the site’s owner, Katharine, who has always ensured that my orders arrive safely and punctually while keeping me up to date with any exciting new additions to the catalogue.  Unsurprisingly, I responded with great delight when Katharine recently approached me to collaborate with her in designing a cake to complement a new stand in her range, the ‘Gloriette’.

IMG_8582

This large elegant ceramic stand has a pretty fluted skirt and is finished in a creamy French grey hue. While it looked fabulous in the catalogue photo it was only when I unwrapped it that could I really appreciate its weighty beauty. I wanted to design something that would complement its earthy and natural feel and decided on a rough white iced cake and sugar flowers inspired by a rustic peach, white and green bouquet (Image courtesy of Style Me Pretty).

Inspiration

I selected an old English Tea Rose in peach, a white oversized Rose and my first sugar Succulent. I have a new love for the latter…expect to see more of these varied and unusual beauties!

IMG_8559

 IMG_8638

The Gloriette, like all of my stands, is of course available for hire and I am looking forward to creating more cakes suited to its pretty yet earthy style.  Don’t forget to pay a visit to Borrowed Blue Boutique for cake stands and more!

IMG_8602

Celebrating The First Anniversary of The Dining Room

Floral lemon bundt cake

This week celebrates the first anniversary of the opening of The Dining Room in Dun Laoghaire, an inter-faith outreach project which sees volunteers from all walks of life preparing hot cooked lunches for the homeless, elderly and those experiencing food poverty and loneliness. I have had the pleasure of contributing in my own small way to this project by regularly donating the results of my love of baking, recipe tests and photo shoots.

IMG_8370

The Dining Room is currently located in the quaint Parish Hall of Christ Church in Dun Laoghaire beside the People’s Park. Every time I drop in there is an amazing aroma of freshly cooking meals and the hum and chat of the volunteers working away. Along with check tablecloths and fresh flowers I can see how such a warm and welcoming environment must be appreciated by those who visit. Serving meals three days a week, often to 50 or more people it has become an integral part of the community. Such is the demand that plans are afoot for a new premises that would be open daily and for longer hours.

IMG_8368

To mark the success of the scheme first anniversary celebrations took place this week with local dignitaries visiting on Tuesday for the official celebration. The organisers  ordered a number of cakes to mark the occasion so I was delighted to make a lemon bundt, apple caramel cake and 100 vanilla and chocolate cupcakes. Pictured are volunteers Michela, Rosie, Marian and Louise taking charge of cupcakes!

IMG_8372

A big round of applause to all those involved from the organisers and volunteers to local businesses and individual donators! Best wishes to The Dining Room in 2015! For more information see The Dining Room.

IMG_8366

Celebrating the launch of Cove Cake Design’s New Website: Lemon and Rosemary Bundt Cake

Welcome to Cove Cake Design’s new blog! Here I hope to give you a little insight into what drives me and my business by regularly sharing with you behind the scenes peeks at what’s happening at Cove Cake Design, as well as recipes, tips and guest blogs from industry friends.

For my first post I am going back to what started me on this journey, a love of baking, by sharing with you an easy yet striking cake recipe, Lemon and Rosemary Bundt. The beauty of this cake defies its simplicity, making it perfect for even a novice baker who wants to make something a little special. It is dense, moist and cuts well, easily feeding a little crowd. Lemon is one of my favourite flavours and I paired it here with rosemary, mainly because my herb garden is a little wild at present and needed a little pruning, but also because savoury herbs such as rosemary and thyme work remarkably well together with the tang of lemon. A bundt tin is a great investment for any cake-maker: they are actually quite beautiful in their own right and when you pop your cake out of the tin even without any decoration it looks magnificent. This recipe is adapted from a vanilla sponge recipe by Nigella Lawson and I have chosen to decorate the cake with a simple lemon icing, and in an attempt at some garden maintenance, a few sprigs of rosemary. Enjoy!

Lemon & Rosemary Bundt Cake

Ingredients for the cake:

  • 225g unsalted butter (plus extra for greasing)
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 350g plain flour
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate soda
  • 6 eggs
  • 250ml natural yogurt
  • Zest 2 medium lemons
  • 3tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary

Ingredients for the lemon rosemary syrup:

  • 100g caster sugar
  • Juice one and a half lemons
  • Sprig rosemary

Ingredients for the lemon icing:

  • Juice half a lemon
  • 100g icing sugar

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 160°C/320F/gas mark 3. Grease a 9” bundt tin very well with melted butter.

Step 2: Sift flour and bicarbonate of soda together

Step 3: Cream butter, caster sugar, lemon zest and rosemary together in mixer until light and fluffy.

Step 4: Beat in eggs one at a time, adding one tablespoon of flour with each egg.

Step 5: Fold in remaining flour, followed by yogurt.

Step 6: Pour into greased bundt tin and bake for 45mins-1hour. Check after 45 mins. Cake is cooked when well risen, springy to touch and skewer comes out clean.

Step 8: Meanwhile make the syrup by placing all the ingredients in a saucepan and heating gently until sugar has dissolved and syrup has reduced a little. Remove rosemary sprig.

Step 7: When cooked, remove cake from oven and leave to cool for a few minutes before turning out onto wire rack. While still warm, pour syrup over cake and leave to cool.

Step 9: Make the icing by adding lemon juice to icing sugar until consistency is such that it can drop off spoon. Drizzle over cake nonchalantly!

Storage: This cake keeps well in an airtight container for 2-3 days.