Fresh flowers & bees; a 1st birthday cake

 

First birthday cake - fresh flowers, modelling chocolate bees

 
A few weeks ago we celebrated Munchkin’s first birthday with two splendid parties. For the first I made a Miffy themed birthday cake and for the second, we went with a fresh flowers and bees theme. For each cake, I made up a gluten-free vanilla butter-cake with a swiss meringue buttercream. Once you taste Swiss meringue buttercream, no frosting will ever taste as good! It’s silky smooth and, due to the addition of the egg white, is not as heavy or sweet as a traditional buttercream frosting.

I figured, if Munchkin was going to have her first cake, it should be a good one!
 

First birthday cake - fresh flowers, modelling chocolate bees

 
For the bee themed party, I made a naked cake decorated with a wild array of flowers. All designed to be perfectly imperfect! This went against the grain a little, as I love a perfect, smooth finish. At one point, just as the urge to ‘fix’ the cake became overwhelming, my husband took it away from me and demanded I not touch it again! At the time, I found this extremely frustrating. But looking back at the photos, I love it. It was just what I wanted.
 

First birthday cake - fresh flowers, modelling chocolate bees

 
I made up a whole heap of little bees with modelling chocolate and put them on floristry wire, then nestled them in amongst the cake and the flower arrangements.

To arrange the flowers, I wrapped each stem in multiple layers of floristry tape and pushed them into a 1cm thick disk of modelling chocolate that was set on top of the frosted cake.

Then, I added on simple little white candle. And it was finished! I adore the result. What do you think?
 

First birthday cake - fresh flowers, modelling chocolate bees

 

BASIC BUTTER CAKE

For Munchkin’s birthday cake, I made three batches of the butter cake (and the swiss meringue buttercream). One for each tier, and baked it in a 28cm diameter tin.

 

Ingredients

 

  • 125 grams of unsalted butter
  • 150 grams of caster sugar
  • 1/2 a teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • 2 eggs
  • 210 grams of Schar Patisserie mix C or your preferred gluten-free flour mix
  • 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 130 ml of milk

 

Method
  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Lightly butter and flour baking tin.
  2. Cream butter, sugar and until light and fluffy.
  3. Add eggs one at at time, beating well after each.
  4. Add sifted flour alternatively with milk until just combined.
  5. Spread into a prepared pan. This quantity fills: 2x 18cm shallow cake pans or one deep.
  6. When skewer comes out of cake clean, it’s cooked (approximately 40 minutes). If you’re cooking your cake in a thin layer like I did, it will only take about 12 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool in tin for 10 minutes before turning out on wire rack to cool completely.

 

First birthday cake - fresh flowers, modelling chocolate bees

 

SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM

 

Ingredients
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 150 grams of caster sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 260 grams of unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into cubes

 

Method
      1. Place egg whites, sugar and a pinch of salt into a heat proof bowl and place it over a saucepan of simmering water. Ensure that the water doesn’t touch the  bottom of the bowl. Whisk the mixture over the simmering water until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is hot to the touch.
      2. Remove the bowl from heat and using an electric mixer, beat until the mixture is cool, fluffy and glossy. At this point your mixture should be able to form stiff peaks. This takes about 10 minutes.
      3. Add the butter a few tablespoons at a time. Mixing well after each addition until all of the butter has been added and your buttercream is smooth.

 

First birthday cake - fresh flowers, modelling chocolate bees

 

Gluten-free Vanilla Sugar Cookies

Gluten-free Vanilla Sugar Cookies

 

One of the most talked about parts of Munchkin’s birthday party were the cookies we gave away as gifts. My wonderfully talented friend Nikki from Toute Sweet took some time out with her friend Summer from The Sweet Life, who is also a very talented cookie decorator, to make these stunning cookies.

I adapted Nikki’s sugar cookie recipe (gifted to me at Christmas with a bottle of her delicious homemade vanilla essence) and baked a batch of cookies. She then took my gift box template design (more info on those in the next few weeks) and garnered inspiration from this amazing cookie design to come up with these!  They fit the theme, invitations and gift boxes perfectly.

 

Munchkin's first birthday

 

Unfortunately I couldn’t get them wrapped and into the boxes without damaging some of the wings as they sit up from the cookie; and so decided to wrap them loosely in cellophane bags and to gift them separately. But this worked splendidly as it gave everyone ample opportunity to have a good look at them. They’re just beautiful!

Here’s the adapted recipe, for those of you who like me, love sugar cookies but can’t eat them due to health reasons. The cookies are slightly more crumbly than a normal glutenous sugar cookie, but when they were fresh out of the oven had a lovely snap! Just keep them in an air tight container and they should maintain their crispness.

 

Gluten-free Vanilla Sugar Cookies

 

Gluten-free Vanilla Sugar Cookies

 

Ingredients
  • 500 grams of unsalted butter
  • 40 grams of caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 15ml of vanilla essence
  • 700 grams of Schaer patisserie mix C or your preferred gluten-free flour mix
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons of xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

 

Method
  • Cream the butter and sugar together.
  • Add eggs and vanilla, beating well after each addition.
  • Sift all of the dry ingredients together.
  • Add the flour mixture slowly, until well combined. But try to avoid over-mixing.
  • Wrap the dough in cling film and place in the fridge for half an hour.
  • Roll cooled dough between pieces of baking paper. I used 3mm rolling guides to ensure an even thickness.
  • Place in the freezer for half an hour, ensuring it’s flat.
  • Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees celsius.
  • Taking the rolled from the freezer, quickly cut out into the shapes you want, lying out on new pieces of baking paper. And place cookies back into the freezer for ten minutes.
  • Take cookies directly from the freezer and place in the oven. The baking of frozen cookies ensures that they keep their shape and don’t spread. The batch I didn’t freeze spread more than I was happy with.
  • Bake for 8 to 12 minutes or until edges are a light golden brown.
  • Take the cookies from the oven and allow to cool on the baking tray, don’t try to remove them from the baking paper until cooled or they’ll crumble. The cookies become much firmer as they cool.
  • Decorate to your hearts desire!

 

 

Gift box photo by Hayley Hay

Munchkin’s first, first birthday party

Munchkin's first first birthday

Munchkin’s birthday isn’t for nine days, but her grandparents are here in Switzerland at the moment. So we decided to have a little party before the big one with friends next weekend. It just so happened to coincide with Australian Father’s Day, so we’ve had double the reason to celebrate!

Munchkin's first first birthday

I made a little gluten-free, organic, vanilla butter cake made with rapadura sugar and swiss meringue buttercream. Then I topped it with a Miffy plaque and candle I’d made out of modelling chocolate. Munchkin adores books and Miffy is currently one of her favourites.

Munchkin's first first birthday

For decoration I bought a couple of helium filled balloons and a cute little number one that were all anchored with some streamers.

So Munchkin, after her nap, was greeted with this… (along with four very excited family members)

Munchkin's first first birthday

She loved it!

Munchkin's first first birthday

After the prerequisite off-key singing, Munchkin was presented with her first ever piece of cake.

Munchkin's first first birthday

Devoured with almost no mess, I’m assuming this means it was liked!

Munchkin's first first birthday

Our little party was perfect and we’ve had a gorgeous day!
I’ve now got to get back to work for next weeks party!

 

Gluten-free in and around Lausanne

gluten-free-celiac-disease

 

Hello all! Just a quick heads up. If you don’t live in (or have an intention to visit) Lausanne in Switzerland and have an intolerance to gluten this post is probably not going to be of any interest to you. So maybe go grab a coffee and I’ll see you soon! I’ve a cook cake box tutorial I’ll post just as soon as I can.

However if you do live in Canton Vaud and are intolerant to gluten, or have a loved one who is… this may be of interest.

One of the most common email requests I’ve been getting is from lovely ladies and gents in Lausanne asking where to find gluten-free products. I’ve sent out an email list of my favourite places more times than I can count! So I’ve decided to post it here on the blog.

 

Cully

Cafe Sonja

Quite possibly the best gluten-free cakes, tarts, biscuits, chocolate eclairs and quiches I have ever had. The tea room is fabulous and their biscuits are now being stocked in Globus in Lausanne. In Winter, their hot chocolate is by far and away the most delicious and decadent experience I’ve had in Switzerland. And that’s saying something coming from a country where the main dish is steaming bowls of rich, hot cheese followed by double cream smothered meringues for dessert!

 

Morges

Laurent et Magalie

This recently opened health food store has a great selection of GF foods and cake/ biscuit mixes. Whilst not cheap, their Marlette cake mixes are the only ones I’ll use. They’re organic and delicious. They also stock Sonja-Sante breads and cookies. So definitely worth visiting if you’re in the neighbourhood.

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Gluten-free Raspberry Friands

Gluten-free raspberry friands

 

I had an itch. I needed to bake. It had been so long that my Kitchen Aid had a light coating of dust!

The cover of What Katie Ate has been giving me cravings for friands for quite some time. They don’t exist here and certainly not in gluten-free form. The delicious raspberries in season provided me with the perfect excuse.

As I don’t have a friand tin I decided to use a cupcake pan and they worked fine. I adapted two recipes to be gluten-free. One from What Katie Ate and another from online aptly named “The Perfect Friand”. And then decided I liked a mix of both! They’re light and delicious. Not to mention really easy and quick to make!

My husband has requested I make them again, and as I’ve just collected the piece to make my ice-cream maker work, I have plenty of use for spare egg yolks. I think next time I’ll use plums on the top…

 

Gluten-free raspberry friands
GLUTEN-FREE RASPBERRY FRIANDS

Makes about a dozen

Ingredients
  • 4 egg whites
  • 60 grams of almond meal
  • 60 grams of gluten-free flour of your choice
  • 1/4 teaspoon of guar gum
  • 120 grams of icing sugar (not icing mixture)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 100 grams of melted unsalted butter
  • Butter to grease pan
  • 125 grams of fresh raspberries

 

Gluten-free raspberry friands

 

Method
  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius (160 degrees celsius fan forced)
  • Grease tin with butter (I used a cupcake tin as I don’t own a friand tin)
  • Whisk egg whites until frothy.
  • In a separate bowl, combine almond meal, sieved icing sugar and the pinch of salt together.
  • Add egg whites and fold in until well combined.
  • Gradually stir in butter.
  • Pour into tin, Filling each mould three-quarters full.
  • Place a raspberry in the top of each.
  • Bake for 15 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool slightly before removing from the mould. I needed to run a knife around the edge of mine to loosen them.