This past Christmas we decided to make up gifts for some of Munchkin’s teachers at garderie and for a few friends. I wanted to steer clear of mason jars as, honestly, I’m a little over them. I love them as vases etc, but they’re everywhere now. I decided to come up with something a little different.
I selected a recipe (Liberty London Girls fabulous gingerbread cookies – you can find my adapted GF version here) and I got to working out how to package it. Only problem was, this recipe required wet ingredients and a number of steps of different dry ingredients. Logically I probably should have found a different recipe. But I was determined.
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!
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.
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?
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.
Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Lightly butter and flour baking tin.
Cream butter, sugar and until light and fluffy.
Add eggs one at at time, beating well after each.
Add sifted flour alternatively with milk until just combined.
Spread into a prepared pan. This quantity fills: 2x 18cm shallow cake pans or one deep.
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.
Allow to cool in tin for 10 minutes before turning out on wire rack to cool completely.
SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM
3 large egg whites
150 grams of caster sugar
pinch of salt
260 grams of unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into cubes
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.
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.
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.
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 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!
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.
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.
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!
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.