Gypsy and the Botanist

Month: November, 2014

Birthday cake for Talunia: Vanilla, white chocolate and raspberry torte.

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Yesterday, one of my favourite little people – my niece Talunia – turned two. She is a glorious little thing. She has the cheekiest of smiles, the most infectious laugh, and the best serious ponderous faces. To mark another year of her adventures, I made this birthday torte, inspired by some of her favourite things: raspberries and PINK! I also need to mention that one of the biggest triumphs was getting this torte to the Royal Botanic Gardens in one piece on a hot day!

 

Ingredients

200g white chocolate

200g raspberries

200g unsalted butter, softened

200g caster sugar

Pinch of salt

4 eggs

100ml natural yoghurt

200g plain flour

2tsp bicarbonate soda

1 vanilla bean, beans scraped

Good quality raspberry jam

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Pink vanilla buttercream

100g unsalted butter, softened

300g icing sugar, sifted

1 vanilla bean, beans scraped

75ml fresh cream

Juice from crushed up raspberries, for colour

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Preheat the oven to 180C.

Melt the chocolate, and once melted, stir through raspberries. Set aside to cool.

Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla beans until light and creamy, for approximately 5 minutes. Beat in one egg at a time, and then the salt, until incorporated. Beat in half the flour and bicarbonate soda. Then beat in the yoghurt and chocolate and raspberry mix, and then the remaining flour, until incorporated.

Pour the mixture into a greased and lined cake tin. Bake for approximately 40-50 minutes, or until a cake skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then move onto a wire wrack to cool completely.

To make the icing, beat the butter and vanilla bean on a high speed for approximately 5 minutes.  Then on a low speed, add the icing sugar and cream. Once they have been combined, add some raspberry juice (until the desired colour), and beat on a high speed for another 3-4 minutes, until light and fluffy.

Once the cake has cooled completely, cut the cake in half, and spread a thick layer of good quality raspberry jam. Then sandwich the cake together, and ice the cake.  Refrigerate to set.

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Basil and lemon cake with vanilla bean cream cheese frosting.

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So with a couple of 38+ degree days here in Sydney, I think it’s fair to say that summer is finally here in all its glory. Today was one of those days, and admittedly, I almost didn’t bake. But in my morning watering of my balcony garden, I saw that my little basil was flowering. With the basil in its prime, and some beautiful local lemons I picked up the other day, today was the day.

Basil is a favourite herb of mine, it’s sweet and earthy. But it’s mostly used in savoury dishes. After a cocktail I had last summer, I had been thinking about this cake idea for a while.  The sweetness of basil sings of summer. And I thought the zesty lemon would give this sweet herb a refreshing backdrop.

 

Ingredients

200g caster sugar

200g unsalted butter, softened

200g plain flour, sifted

2tsp baking soda

4 eggs

200ml full cream milk

handful of torn basil leaves

2 lemons, zest and juice

1 vanilla bean

A couple of tablespoons of plain yoghurt

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Cream cheese frosting

150g unsalted butter, softened

200g full fat cream cheese

250g icing sugar

1 vanilla bean

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Preheat the oven to 180C. Roughly tear up the basil leaves, and place it with the milk over heat, and bring to the boil and simmer for about 5 minutes. Stand aside to cool.

Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy for approximately 4-5 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until combined, and then the vanilla bean. Beat in half of the flour and baking soda, then half the yoghurt, and half the milk and basil mixture. Beat in the lemon zest and juice. Beat in the remaining flour, yoghurt, and milk and basil mixture.

Pour the cake batter into greased and lined round cake tin, and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a cocktail stick comes out clean.

For the icing, beat the butter until creamy, for about 4-5 minutes. Add the cream cheese and vanilla bean, and beat for approximately another 2-3 minutes. Add the icing sugar gradually, and continue to beat for another 2 minutes, or until smooth.

When the cake has cooled completely, spread the frosting evenly over the top. Decorate with lemon zest.

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