Microwave Fudge

Microwave Fudge

My grandfather, in his latest years, after a stroke or two, made THE BEST microwave fudge – quick and satisfies a very sweet tooth!

It is so easy – anyone can make it! Even those supported only by a walking stick.

So here it is …

Place 1 tin of condensed milk, 3 cups of brown sugar, and 125g butter (or a decent baking margarine) into a microwavable bowl.

Microwave on high power for 2 minutes. Stir all the ingredients together, and then microwave for a further 12 minutes, stopping to stir every 2 minutes.  Be careful, sugar gets extremely hot.  After the 12 minutes add some vanilla, or any other flavour you like, and pour into a greased pan / dish.  Cool for 20 minutes before putting into the fridge.  After about an hour, you will be able to cut your fudge into squares, and it is ready.

Some good additions:

  • Nuts
  • Colourful sprinkles
  • Chocolate Chips
  • Cocoa
  • Rice Krispies
  • Peanut butter

Enjoy!!

~Cake Sensation~

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Natural Disasters: Cake

This title seems a little extreme. After all, it is just cake, right?

Clients are less than forgiving (some of the time) should anything go wrong – in this article I have some tried, failed, and successful tips!

Does humidity affect the baking and decorating of cakes. Absolutely, yes. Flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and bicarb all absorb moisture, this can most definitely change the texture of the cake.  I live in a fairly dry climate, so this does not affect me often.  In very high humid areas there are a few things you can do to counteract this effect:

  1. Lessen the amount of liquid in your recipe
  2. Store dry ingredients in the fridge
  3. Use a fan or aircon (I cannot be without a fan in summer at all, anyway)
  4. Store baked caked in airtight containers or the fridge
  5. If the cake is too “liquid”, you may need to increase the baking time a bit

Humidity and heat with most décor is problematic.  Heat obviously causes melting and warping.  Buttercream decorated cakes, absolutely have to be stored in the fridge until shortly before serving, otherwise the icing will simply melt and slide down the sides.  Fondant doesn’t melt quite so easily, but there is a plethora of new problems that come along with that.  For example – the fondant will “Sweat” in heat, and more so in humidity – it can cause colours to run, figurines to droop, or change shape.  I have had little fondant people grow rather fat overnight. The tricky part, is that fondant doesn’t like the fridge, as soon as you take it out, condensation will cause the exact problems as humidity.  Again, a fan is your friend – I leave all my fondant work to airdry with a fan running 24 hours.

Johannesburg has pretty cold and dry winters (although some from real cold places in the world might beg to differ).  The cold is great, it has quite a few benefits with cake decorating.  The oven keeps the kitchen warm and toasty, so that is always helpful.

The down side to cold and dry, is fondant can crack and dry out very quickly. Of course it will also harden much quicker than it would in other seasons.  To avoid cracking fondant in the winter, I use a little “Tri-glide” which is basically a colourless fat that you can use in conjuction to your icing sugar or corn flour to roll out your fondant.

A lot of “natural cake disasters” can be avoided by careful planning, but sometimes things are just beyond our control.  Personally, my worst cake disaster, out of the few I have had, would be a lovely 3 tier wedding cake … when I reached the wedding venue, and looked, all the tiers had done a big slide to the left.  I had held my breath most of the drive there, as it was out of view, and because I generally cannot relax until I know the cake is in it’s final destination, in the number of pieces it was meant to be.  It was a very hot day. Google Maps apparently doesn’t have the option to “Calculate the best route for the least amount of speed humps”.  Although it was fairly early, it was just too hot, for the slippery, melt-able lemon meringue flavour filling.  So the “Slide to the left” dance move, didn’t not wait for the dancing portion of the wedding.  Thankfully, with some help, the cake was re-baked, and re-delivered very last minute, and the bride loved the cake, and I never told her … Stressful cake deliveries #101, don’t use slipperly, melty fillings on very hot days, and Google Maps is not ALWAYS right.  The blog about HOW TO RE-MAKE A WEDDING CAKE IN SIX HOURS, is a story, for another day.

This is the re-made cake, terrible picture, there was no time for fussing …

re-made-cake

Another cake that I really liked, travelled to a destination wedding. A cute, personalised cake. Sadly the cake decor just didn’t survive the heat. It was taken by the couple themselves. But at least they saw it before. Tip – don’t take 3 tier wedding cake into 44 degree Celsius heat, the end.

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Trends: The Naked Cake

Trends come and go. The Naked cake trend seems to have lingered for a few years now, and I still get requests often.

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As a cake maker, I do love this trend, but even more so as a viewer-of-cakes.  It is so simple, yet so effective.  There are definitely downsides to this choice. The cake is put together with minimal buttercream, so it can dry out if it stands out for too long.  Summer, and buttercream cakes are also not a match made in heaven, but with some experience and careful planning, it is do-able.

I love fresh flowers on cakes, they are so naturally beautiful, making the job of the cake maker that much easier.

I love to play around with flavours and fillings. Any “colour” cake can work depending on the décor of the event – I have done them in chocolate, red velvet, Turkish delight and many other light coloured cakes.  It is great to use a filling that helps keep the moisture in, like a nice rich white or dark chocolate ganache, a lemon cheesecake filling, or some buttercream with passionfruit.

Long live the Naked Cake .. here are a few I have done

~ Cake Sensation

 

Sponge Cake – Recipe Reveal

I always remember my moms fresh sponge cake – best eaten as it comes out the oven.  Or with a simple lemon glaze. Over the years, I have adapted the recipe to suit my equipment, ingredients and time allowance.  I do up to 50 of these small batches of cake a week (And have adapted it further for bigger batches) – this recipe is pretty much fool-proof.

  1. Cream 125g butter with 1 cup (250ml) sugar – in other words, in a mixer or with a electric hand mixer, or last resort a wooden spoon by hand.  Mix until the mixture is creamy, and starts becoming lighter.  This step begins the process of incorporating air into your mixture, ensuring the “sponge” part of the title becomes a reality.
  2. With the mixer still running, add one whole large egg, and incorporate completely before adding another whole large egg. Keep mixing until this mixture too, is light in colour and “airy”.
  3. Sieve 2 cups (500ml) of cake flour into this mixture, as well as 2 level teaspoons of baking powder.  Add 1 cup (250ml) full cream milk, and return to mixing with the mixer until just combined. Don’t keep mixing for hours, as this will lessen the “sponge” effect by mixing out all the air.
  4. Finally – this can be baked as cupcakes, or a cake. Bake in a pre-heated oven of 180 degrees. The smaller the cake, the less time it needs in the oven. You are looking for a lovely golden brown top, and if you put a knife through the middle, it should come out clean.  If it comes out with raw mixture – obviously, it needs more time.  A 20cm round cake of about 3cm cake batter takes around 25 minutes.

TIP:-  while the eggs are being mixed in well is the stage where you should add some flavour if you wish – the possibilities are endless – from vanilla extract / essence, to lemon zest, to spices to rose water – be creative.

vanilla.jpgA perfect canvas for a beautiful cake.

Happy Baking ~ Cake Sensation

 

 

 

 

10 Years in …

In 2009 I was asked, by a family friend, to make a cake for a 21st.  I loved baking, and looking for new ideas for special occasion cakes, so I jumped at the chance.  The rest, as they say, is history.  I put a little website together, and advertised on a local classifieds website – I got my first real wedding cake order.  For a real client, that was not a friend or family member!

I stood in front of my baked tiers for the wedding cake, and pondered for hours before getting the courage to cover the first cake in fondant.  The drive to Pretoria was nerve-wracking. A lot of stress, and adrenaline went into that first wedding cake. That was May 2009.  When I look back now, what a simple cake – but boy, was I scared to mess it up!

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Considering how much I have learnt since May 2009, I still really like this wedding cake – it is simple, elegant and modern.