Then the storm hit. Amidst the biggest hail storm anyone in the area can remember, me and my boyfriend drove to my house to rescue my puppy who was outside in it. He was thankfully not seriously hurt. But when we attempted the drive back to my dad's in time for dinner we found the roads flooded. People were swimming on the road, cars were abandoned after people had tried to drive through them and shorted their cars, trees snapped clear in half and most people were standing out on the street in awe of the swampland that had been clear in the light of a beautiful summer's day only hours before. Apparently there was even a small tornado right near my house, though we never saw it through the hail. Thankfully we found one road in that hadn't been flooded and made it back in time. Phew!
Melbourne. She is a crazy place to live.
So it was a bit odd the following day when I had mine and my boyfriend's family over for lunch and everything was normal again. As always I made far too much food and filled up every corner of stomach present in the house. It was lots of fun to make everything and lovely that everyone was so appreciative.
I have so much to show you guys. Today I'm going to start with this.
Some months ago I had an idea for a Christmas cake I really wanted to try. I had no idea how to do it or if it could work as I'd never seen it tried before. Oh well, only one way to find out!
Outside the cake is a white Christmas scene.
The cake is covered in marshmallow fondant and royal icing trees, with royal icing snow piped onto the cake and then finally dusted in pure icing sugar. I left the snowman without adornments as I wanted everything pure white outside.
But cutting the cake was the real moment of truth:
The cake is a chocolate mud cake with a white cake tree inside. The idea initially was to have the tree inside pure white. However, I baked the white cake as cupcakes to save time and the golden crust destroyed any dreams I had of a pure white tree. What I should have done was bake it as a whole cake then cut off the crust. Next time. I processed the white cake into crumbs then folded in enough cream to give it a truffle-like consistency. I loved the flavour of the white cake so much more than the chocolate, it was really yummy.
The idea is to have the silhouette of the tree no matter where the cake is cut. The symmetry of the top layer differed slightly based on where it was cut, and the silhouette could have been nicer, but it was at least recognisable as a Christmas tree so that was a huge relief. I had no idea if the centre would crumble apart, if the mixture had filled up the centre entirely, or if the shape would even be remotely there. When I saw this I breathed a huge sigh of relief!
Here are the two cake recipes I used.
2 cups (500ml) water
3 cups (660g) caster sugar
250g butter (chopped)
1/3 cup (35g) cocoa
1 tsp bicarb soda
3 cups (450g) self-raising flour
4 eggs, beaten lightly
1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F), grease and line your baking pan.
2. Combine water, sugar, butter, cocoa and baking powder in the largest saucepan you have (I mean, seriously large – bicarb soda expands, and you do not want to lose this all over your stovetop).
3. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil; reduce heat; simmer for 5 minutes. Transfer to a mixing bowl and allow to cool.
4. Add flour and egg; beat until smooth.
5. Pour into pan; bake for 50 minutes
1 cup (200g) caster sugar
1/2 cup (120g) butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (180) plain flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup (125ml) milk