Tag Archives: Home Baking

Maple and Pecan Layer Cake

Pecan and Maple Layer Cake Photo: Russell Bowes

Pecan and Maple Layer Cake Photo: Russell Bowes

Layer cake time, the food not the film

And I was doing so well, no really I was. My last post was all about protein bars, running a bit more and getting in shape for the summer. Then the weekend hit and, well, everything went to pot really. There was a lovely cake baked by Hana and a stag do with lots of food and drink (oh my head was their too much drink!) but never mind, here we are with a new week and a new start. No more weekend days of indulgence for me, “what? There’s a wedding this Saturday? Okay. After that it’s all eating right and being good till the summer then”. Well that’s my plan anyway!

I’ll get to the stag do in a future post (hopefully later this week). After an afternoon of karting, which is great fun even if you’re as bad as I am, we went to a really cool restaurant in Camden. It was a teppanyaki restaurant called Sen Nin and aside from eating some really great food the theatre and spectacle of it makes for a really fun evening out. Being a stag do I have to sort out some usable photos and possibly even a video clip, if I can get it working on here. But for now, back to the cake.

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Hedgehog birthday cake recipe

Children’s birthday cake recipe: the hedgehog cake

Hedgehog cake Photo: Russell Bowes

Hedgehog cake Photo: Russell Bowes

You know me, any excuse to bake and I’m in the kitchen baking up a wonderful treat. If there is one thing I love more than baking and eating cake, its baking with Hana. Well this weekend we had an excuse to get ourselves into the kitchen and do a nice bit of baking for one of Hana’s cousins kids birthdays. Being as it was a birthday cake for a 6 year old we were even more excited than usual as we had the perfect excuse to try out a recipe we had wanted to make for a while, the hedgehog cake.

I can’t remember how Hana came across the idea of a hedgehog cake, I think she found pictures of these on the internet somehow. If she is anything like me (which I think she might be) then Hana could have been just looking at pictures of different cakes! When I saw the picture of the cute chocolate covered hedgehog Hana showed me, I thought it would be a great cake for us to bake sometime, but a little over the top for the two of us, thank goodness for birthdays!

As I said we made this for Hana’s second cousin’s 5th or 6th birthday, I do forget, how ever old she is it”s old enough to enjoy fun cakes. We took it to the party on Saturday evening, a little late for a kids birthday party?  And I think it went down well, as it was a birthday party there was a lot of cake and treats and with a main birthday cake too it didn’t get eaten before we had to head home to London. I must be getting old as I couldn’t keep up with a group of kids!

Chocolate hedgehog cake

Chocolate hedgehog cake  Photo: Russell Bowes

Chocolate hedgehog cake Photo: Russell Bowes

We looked around at a few hedgehog cake recipes before deciding on using a simple chocolate sponge to build it out of. As the rest of the recipe is a bit complicated namely with the decoration, we thought it best to keep the baking part of it simple. You can bake the sponge the night before assembling your chocolate ‘hedgehog’ and just keep it in a tin. We did this and it worked out well enough, a good thing if you are pushed for time when organising a birthday party.

Hedgehog cake recipe

This is a little complicated but it works really well.

Ingredients for chocolate sponge:
250g flour
250g butter
250g golden caster sugar
4 large eggs
50g cocoa powder

For the icing:
50g cocoa powder
5-6tbsp hot water
350g butter
350g icing sugar

For decoration:
2 packs of giant chocolate buttons for spines
1 glace cherry for a nose
2 smarties for eyes
Chocolate sponge method

Preheat your oven to 190c and grease and line two shallow sponge tins.  In a mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar till smooth and creamy.

Sift the flour and cocoa together in a separate bowl.  Crack the eggs into the butter and sugar creamy mix and continue to beat with an electric whisk on medium. Once combined resift in the flour and cocoa into the cake batter and whisk again till combined.

Pop in the oven for 30 minutes, or till a knife comes out of the middle of the cake clean and the sponge is springy. Remove to a wire rack and cool.

Build a chocolate hedgehog

Meanwhile make up the icing by first mixing the cocoa with the warm water to form a paste. Beat the butter till soft and whisk with the icing sugar till pale and fluffy. Add the cocoa paste and you have your icing.

Time to make the hedgehog. Place one sponge on top of the other and cut as my image below: 

cutting the sponge Photo: Russell Bowes

cutting the sponge Photo: Russell Bowes

You should end up with two identically cut sponges. Sandwich the large middle sections on top of each other with some of the icing, like this: 

sandwich the sponges Photo: Russell Bowes

sandwich the sponges Photo: Russell Bowes

 Take two of the side pieces and sandwich them together then place on top to form the body. 

making the body

making the body Photo: Russell Bowes

Next add the other two side cuts to the top side, finishing off the body, like this:

chocolate hedgehog cake: taking shape Photo: Russell Bowes

chocolate hedgehog cake: taking shape Photo: Russell Bowes

Now you have the general body, it is time to shape the hedgehog with the icing. Before icing you may want to trim the cake a little to make it more “hedgehog” shaped. 

Hedgehog cake collage Photo: Russell Bowes

Hedgehog cake collage Photo: Russell Bowes

Once you are happy with the icing and feel it is the right shape score the body of the hedgehog with a fork, this helps to look like fur under the prickles and also separates the head from the body a little. I also used these grooves to places the spines in. I made these by snapping a chocolate button in half and popping it just into the icing.

Add the smarties for eyes and cherry for nose and your hedgehog is ready to be eaten!

Recipe, text and photos By Russell Bowes

Find me on Google Plus, catch up and message me on Twitter and see more great pictures on Flickr and Pintrest

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Halloween Gingerbread Skeleton

Spooky Gingerbread men recipe

Meet the Gingerbread family Photo: Russell Bowes

Meet the Gingerbread family Photo: Russell Bowes

The spooktacular night is almost upon us and across the country I’m sure many families are getting ready for Halloween parties and a bit or trick or treating. As we live in a flat we haven’t had any trick or treaters in the past few years. I’m not sure if that’s because the kids here don’t go trick or treating or if they just stick to their immediate neighbours. I think going trick or treating at Halloween is a relatively new thing in the UK. When I was a kid no one really did it, though I can see the younger version of me loving an evening of visiting the neighbours, getting lots of sweets and chocolates and then scoffing the lot! Even when my brother was young enough it still haden’t taken off that much. I remember taking him around the neighbours we knew, my grandparents would have checked it was okay to do so first, and carrying his bag of treats home.

Spooky Gingerbread man  Photo: Russell Bowes

Spooky Gingerbread man Photo: Russell Bowes

Last year we baked some lovely Halloween cupcakes which I think Hana took into work. I can’t imagine I just ate them all, Okay I can imagine it but I wouldn’t have done it. This year I was trying to think of another fun Halloween recipe and as it is also half-term I thought I should post a recipe where you can get the kids involved. It needs to be fun and simple to make so they can feel they have made it themselves. I thought the idea of a gingerbread man skeleton sounded pretty fun and it is a really fun and simple recipe to make. They are also quite quick to make and child friendly.

I remember baking things like biscuits and gingerbread men with my grandmother when I was young and it was always lots of fun, it’s one of the recipes which spurred me into a love of food and cooking; when I was baking these in batches today that wonderful smell wafted through the flat and took me back to being 9 and 10 years old holding on to my gran’s apron strings and getting impatient for the biscuits to be done.

Find an adult helper

So if your a little monster, here is a great recipe for Halloween treats. You’ll need a grown up helper with some of this, so keep one handy.

Halloween Gingerbread men recipe

Ingredients

350g/12oz plain flour, plus extra for rolling out
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
125g/4½oz butter
175g/6oz light soft brown sugar
1 free-range egg
4 tbsp golden syrup

Recipe

Baking - sifting flour Photo: Russell Bowes

Baking – sifting flour Photo: Russell Bowes

Ask your adult helper to preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and line two baking trays with baking paper.

Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon in a mixing bowl. Add the butter and work the butter in by hand till the mixture looks like a bowl of breadcrumbs. Add in the soft sugar and work this in by hand too.

Your hands might get a bit sticky so ask your helper for a cloth.

Gingerbread man dough Photo: Russell Bowes

Gingerbread man dough Photo: Russell Bowes

Beat the egg and golden syrup together, add to the mixing bowl and ask your adult helper to use a whisk or food processor to mix it all together. Wrap it in clingfilm and pop in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Gingerbread men dough Photo: Russell Bowes

Gingerbread men dough Photo: Russell Bowes

Roll the dough mixture out to a 0.5cm thick on a lightly floured surface. Use a gingerbread man cutter to cut out gingerbread man shapes and place on the baking tray, leaving a gap between them as they will get bigger.

Gingerbread men, cut out Photo: Russell Bowes

Gingerbread men, cut out Photo: Russell Bowes

Ask the adult helper to pop the gingerbread men in the over to bake for 12-15 minutes, or until lightly golden-brown. Remove from the over and places on a wire rack to finish cooling.

When cooled decorate with the writing icing, you can ask your adult helper to buy a can of this in the shop, it makes it easier to pipe a shape on.

I decorated mine like this, so they looked like funny skeletons.

Recipe, text and photos By Russell Bowes

Find me on Google Plus, catch up and message me on Twitter and see more great pictures on Flickr and Pintrest

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