What's new?

works, ideas and so much more.

Home PageBlogPage 2

Blog

Vintage cakes are usually beautifully crafted and refined – and what looks more sophisticated than mini Battenbergs for high tea? Don’t be put off, this recipe may seem complex, but it is all about the construction.

The ‘Battenberg’ is a checkered sponge cake made by cutting and combining sponge cake pieces in a chequered pattern; the pieces are traditionally “cemented” together using jam; and the cake is then enrobed in rolled marzipan.

The origin of the cake seems to be unknown; early recipes use alternative names such as “Domino Cake” (recipe by Agnes Berthe Marshall, 1898), “Neapolitan Roll” (recipe by Robert Wells, 1898), or “Church Window Cake.” The Battenberg name is linked to the town of Battenberg in central Germany; and it is alleged that the cake was created for the marriage of Prince Louis of Battenberg and Princess Victoria, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria in 1884.

Our stylish mini Battenberg cake pieces were constructed with Almond Marzipan filling, and enrobed in rolled White Fondant.

This sponge cake recipe is based on our 1-2-3 cake recipe with some minor modifications.

Cake –

250g Butter 2 cups Brown Sugar, blitzed to a finer crystal 4 Eggs 1 cup Milk 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract 1½ cups Flour 1½ cups Ground Almonds 1½ tsp. Baking Powder Pink Food Colouring

Preheat the oven to 1800C. With an electric beater, beat together the sugar and the butter until the mixture is light in colour and fluffy in texture. Add the eggs one at a time to the mixture, beating the mixture until the eggs are incorporated after each addition.  Add the milk and the vanilla extract to the mixture, beat until well mixed. Add the cake flour, ground almonds and the baking powder and mix well.

Split the mixture in two. Add pink food colouring to one of the batches and mix well. Pour each of the batters into separate cake tins and bake in a warm oven for approx. 40 minutes.

 To Assemble –

Apricot jam, warmed until runny 250g block Almond Marzipan 250g block White Ready to Roll Fondant Icing sugar, for dusting

Our finished Battenbergs were approx. 70mm x 40mm:

Cut each sponge cake into long fingers, the height and width should equal 15mm (like a long square). It doesn’t matter how long the length is as this will be trimmed later. Roll out the marzipan on a lightly dusted surface and cut into lengths of 15mm wide. Brush with apricot jam. Position the marzipan between the sponge fingers and assemble with a pink and white finger at the base and then a white and pink finger on top. Alternate the colours to give a checkerboard effect. Trim the cakes and marzipan to 70mm long. Roll out the white fondant until it is 2mm thick. Trim the fondant so that it is approx. 120mm x 70mm. Brush one side of the fondant with apricot jam and wrap the fondant tightly around the sponge.

You can make the cakes as big or small as you like, just adjust the size of the sponge, marzipan and fondant accordingly. We decorated our mini cakes with Soft Cream Pearls studded on the fondant with a traditional crisscrossed pillow pattern.

Cheesecakes have been made since the time of ancient Greece! And we know why this dessert has thrived over the years (even though it’s made differently all over the world). Cheesecake made with cream cheese is our favourite, and we have a wonderfully quick no-bake cheesecake recipe that we have altered to fit a more Banting-lifestyle.

Ingredients

Base –

20g Cashews 20g Almonds 10g Coconut, desiccated 1 tsp. Butter 5 Dates, dried

Filling –

225g Cream cheese (approx. 1 x Philadelphia Cream Cheese block) – do not use low fat, as the cheesecake may not set ½ cup Cream 60g Xylitol ¼ cup Lemon juice, freshly squeezed 1 tsp. Lemon zest, freshly grated

Soak the dates in boiling water for a minute. Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend till crumb consistency is reached. Pour the crumb base into a tray or small springform pan lined with baking paper and press down.

Whip cream until softly whipped; add the xylitol and whip until the crystals are incorporated in the cream. Add the cream cheese (at room temp.) and whip until combined. Add the lemon zest and juice and whip for 1 minute.

Spoon the filling over the prepared base, cover and refrigerate for approx. 6 hours to set. Serves 4.

We aimed for a vintage-inspired look to our cheesecake, by adding a topping of piped smooth cottage cheese and adorning our cheesecake with lemon zest and Metallic “Bling” Balls.

Bundt cakes are so beautiful, and yield a very evenly baked cake! This style of mould was popularized in the 1950s +60s in North America; when a cookware manufacturer trademarked the name “Bundt” and began producing Bundt pans from cast aluminium, which was highly popularised Pillsbury. The origins of the Bundt cake moulds’ distinctive ring shape was apparently inspired by a traditional European fruit cake known as the ‘Bundkuchen’.

For our Bundt cake – we used a traditional apple cake recipe, based on Martha Stewart’s Apple Cinnamon Bundt Cake.

Ingredients

2 ½ cups Flour 1 Tbs. Cinnamon, ground 2 tsp. Baking Powder 1 tsp. Salt ½ tsp. Bicarbonate of Soda 250g Butter 1 ½ cups Brown Sugar 4 Eggs 1 x 385g tin Pie Apples – cut into small pieces

Whisk the butter, brown sugar and eggs until smooth. Mix the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and baking soda together and gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Fold in the apple pieces. Spoon the batter into the mini bunt pans and smooth on top.

Bake at 180°C for approx. 50mins, or until a tester inserted in the cake comes out clean.

We drizzled a warm simple syrup glaze (boiled sugar + water) onto our delightful apple bundts to keep them moist; and decorated the cakes with Pearl Nonpareils and Yellow Blossom Icing Shapes or Gold Twinkle Stars.

Traditional pink and white coconut ice has been replaced by our instant sprinkle-rich version. This satisfying sweet treat is quick and easy to make and promises to use up that desiccated coconut (which we all have) lying about the pantry. The recipe is so simple and ideal for the “little ones” getting hands in the kitchen as the ingredients are mixed together at room temperature and require no heating or baking!

Ingredients

 1 can Condensed Milk 600g Icing Sugar 390g Coconut, desiccated Sprinkles

Mix the condensed milk, icing sugar and coconut well. Divide the mixture in  half; press one half into a tray/dish, and mix the other half with colourful sprinkles (we used Nicoletta Cake Confetti Stars), press the next layer down, place in the fridge and leave to set. Cut into blocks.

 

While adopting the Noakes/Banting lifestyle, we came up with this very velvety chocolate fudge recipe to satisfy the after dinner chocolate cravings. This recipe makes approx. 10 sizable fudge bars, and can be kept in the fridge for a sweet snack when the need arises.

Ingredients:

2 Tbs. Coconut Oil 2 Tbs. Butter 2 Tbs. Macadamia Nut Butter (or any nut butter) 100g Dates, pitted and finely chopped 1/4 cup Cocoa Powder (good quality) 2 tsp. Honey (optional for extra sweetness) 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract Pinch of Salt 1 Egg, lightly beaten 2 Tbs. Flaked Almonds

Heat the dates with a small amount of the butter (approximately a teaspoon) in a saucepan until the dates are gooey and melted – this will take some time, don’t be hasty. Mix in the oil, butter and nut butter. Take the mixture off the heat and mix in the cocoa powder, vanilla, honey and salt. Combine the lightly beaten egg into the warm mixture (make sure the mixture is not too hot or the egg will scramble). Stir the mixture on a low heat until it is smooth and velvety, and the oil has become incorporated. Stir in any inclusions – we added flaked almonds for crunch.

Spoon the mixture into a small baking tray (or similar) and place in the fridge for 3-6 hours to set (it will not set hard).

We opted to sprinkle our brownie flavoured fudge with Nicoletta Nonpareils (and although made from sugar, added a good crunch to the smooth fudgy bars). These sprinkles are obviously not ‘Banting’ and are optional extras for decoration, but we think they are totally worth it as they offer that finishing touch. For a non-dairy version – the dairy component of the recipe (butter) can be replaced with cocoa butter or nut butter.

We love our sprinkles! We added colourful Nicoletta Cake Confetti Stars to a vanilla cake batter before baking. Each confetti star became a delightful splash of polka-dot colour inside our mini cakes. These cakes practically sing ‘happy birthday’.

Ingredients:

2 cups Castor Sugar 4 Eggs 1 cup Butter, melted 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract 3 cups Flour, sifted 1 Tbs. Baking Powder 2/3 cup Milk 1/3 cup Cream

Whisk the castor sugar and eggs in a mixer until light and fluffy. Add the butter and vanilla essence, and mix well. Add the sifted flour and baking powder to the mixture alternating it with the milk and cream. Pour the creamed mixture into mini cake tray and bake in a preheated oven at 170°C for approx. 10 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

We iced our cakes with white buttercream frosting.

Birthday parties can be stressful enough, without having to worry about baking cakes, cupcakes and organising creative birthday treats. We took a few store-bought classics and updated them to ‘birthday status’ – just add a few sprinkles and they are birthday-ready!

We used an assortment of Nicoletta Sprinkles – Cake Confetti, Cake Crystals, Nonpareils and Sprinkle Crunch to embellish and add texture to our birthday bites.

Mini Sandwich Cookies: You will need a few packets of mini cookies (we used Cinnamon + Ginger cookies), buttercream icing and sprinkles. Pipe or spread the buttercream on one cookie and sandwich it with another; roll in sprinkles to coat the visible icing layer between.

Doughnut Holes: You will need mini doughnuts, icing sugar, boiling water and sprinkles. Make glace icing by mixing icing sugar with few teaspoons of boiling water; pour over the doughnuts and sprinkle with decorations.

Party Marshmallows: You will need 1 x packet marshmallows, 1 x chocolate slab and sprinkles. Melt the chocolate; wait until it is not too runny, and then dip the marshmallows into the melted chocolate. Before the chocolate hardens dip the coated end of the marshmallow in to assorted bowls of sprinkles. Insert mini candles into the marshmallows before the chocolate coating dries completely. Even on “non-birthdays” these are great to keep kids busy. Colour your white chocolate with a splash of food colour for extra fun!

“Et Voila” instant party bites.

 

What in the world is Banting?

Banting is a lifestyle dieting technique developed by William Banting and suggested by his doctor, Dr. William Harvey in the mid-1800’s. The lifestyle consisted of avoiding refined sugar, starch, beer, milk and butter. The diet soon became popular, as did the question: do you bant?

The popular Paleo diet (developed by Dr. Loren Cordain) also makes use of the principles of Banting and avoids the consumption of cereal grains, legumes (including peanuts), dairy, refined sugar, potatoes, processed foods and refined vegetable oils.

This lifestyle diet has been popularised in South Africa by Professor Tim Noakes, which has taken the nutritional world by storm, and turned it on its head. The “Noakes” diet does however allow the consumption of dairy. The “Noakes” diet is based on a high fat, moderate protein and low carbohydrate diet.

So what does that mean for us lovers of baking; who use flour and sugar as our main ingredients? A whole plethora of ‘Paleo’/ Banting-baking recipes have been developed to satisfy our collective “sweet tooth”, and allow those of us following this diet a respite from the world of savoury! The internet is a great source of already-developed ‘Paleo’ recipes, however the ingredients used are quite different from what we’re used to, but can fulfil the role of wheat flour or sugar in most recipes. Note: Many ‘Paleo’/ Banting-baking recipes are not free from or even low in carbohydrates – it seems the main incentive is to enjoy a sweet treat without the guilt of eating grains or refined sugar.

Grain Flour Substitutes

‘Root’ flours or nut flours can be used in the place of grain based flours. These alternative flours do not contain the stretchy ‘gluten’ protein, and will not yield the same texture as when using a flour containing gluten (such as wheat, rye, barley and possibly oats). Coconut and almond flour are fibre and protein based flours and will not yield a crisp bake; while tapioca and arrowroot flour are starch based flours (high in carbohydrates), and can be used sparingly to thicken or add a gummier or fluffier texture to bakes.

Banting-baking makes use of raising agents and eggs to give structure and texture to baked goods. Vegetables, fruit, nut butters and healthful oils are also used to create recipes that are tasty and satisfying. These recipes can sometimes produce a denser bake than wheat based recipes, so recipe development is a little trickier.

Grain-Free flours Coconut flour Tapioca/ cassava flour Almond/ Hazelnut flour Arrowroot flour Flaxseed meal Psyllium husk

Coconut flour

Coconut flour is made by grinding dehydrated coconut flakes into a fine flour. Coconut flour is dehydrated and therefore will absorb much of the liquid in a batter. Coconut flour can typically replace wheat flour as 1 cup wheat flour : ¼ cup of coconut flour. In addition, 1 egg is used for every 30g of coconut flour.

Nut Flour

Blanched almond flour is produced by milling almonds into a fine texture. Almond flour may be used to replace wheat flour at almost a 1:1 ratio. Some adjustments of the liquids/fat may be necessary.

Arrowroot Flour

Arrowroot is made from the dehydrated arrowroot tuber and can easily replace corn starch at a 1:1 ratio.

Tapioca Flour

Tapioca flour comes from the cassava tuber, which is a sticky root vegetable. It can be used in baking to add a gummy texture.

Flax Seed Meal

Flax seed meal has a nutty “whole wheat” flavour and exhibits binding properties when mixed with water. Approximately 3 tablespoons of water mixed with 1 tablespoon of flax seed meal can (almost) replace an egg in most recipes.

Psyllium husk

Although not a flour, psyllium husks are seed husks and can be used to bind ingredients together and provide structure in a bake. Psyllium husks are an indigestible soluble fibre, and can be used as an egg substitute, by replacing 1 egg with 1 tablespoon psyllium husk mixed with 2 tablespoons of water.

Sugar Substitutes

The following sugar-substitutes syrups are usually found in ‘Paleo’ baking recipes; as they are less refined than sugar and contain remnants of vitamins and minerals that highly refined sugar does not; they also have a lower GI than sugar, meaning they exhibit a lower glycaemic response. Xylitol and Erythritol are polyols and do not contain glucose/ fructose as the syrups listed do; they do however contain calories, although less than that of sugar, and have a low GI rating. We like to use Sweet Nothings xylitol 1:1 in place of sugar. Other common polyols not listed include maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol, isomalt (used in candy making).

Refined Sugar Substitutes Honey Xylitol (preferred choice) Maple Syrup Erythritol (preferred choice) Agave Syrup Molasses/ Treacle (cane sugar syrup) Coconut sugar Stevia (preferred choice)

Unsweetened Cocoa powders

Make use of cocoa powders that do not include sugar in the ingredients. We love the Organic Dutch Process Cocoa from CocoáFair (who can be found at the Old Biscuit Mill in Cape Town).

Healthful Oils

A variety of good oils can be used in baking to replace the use of canola/ sunflower oil; such as coconut oil, macadamia nut oil, walnut oil, avocado oil and olive oil. We love to use Mount Cedar’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil. We also make use of butter in our baking, as we don’t avoid dairy.

Raising Agents

Often ‘Paleo’ recipes will call for gluten-free baking powder. This is because baking powders typically contain a starch as an ‘anticaking agent’. However the active ingredients in baking powder are usually baking soda and cream of tartar. To make your own baking powder: 1 tsp. = ¼ tsp. baking soda + ½ tsp. cream of tartar.

Sweet Treats

When it comes to sweetness, we have a weakness (and that rhymed). Consider a word of caution when consuming the bakes from these recipes that contain grain/ sugar free alternatives – these recipes will not be calorie-free / carb-free (since fruit and nuts contain proportions of sugars/starches). Also consider that an excessive consumption of polyols may elicit a laxative effect.

Remember that following this diet is a lifestyle choice as opposed to the strict D-Word (“diet”). So give yourself a little wiggle-room, while you alter your favourite desserts and recipes to become a more healthful indulgence.

Our much loved date balls had to be a recipe that we used to make a great Banting-friendly snack (without the usual Marie/Tennis Biscuits). Although dates are approx. 50% sugar, eating dates does not cause a glycaemic response like sugar; they are actually considered low GI (with a GI rating of approx. 40-50 for dates vs 65 for sugar, and 100 for glucose).  Dates are also rich in minerals such as potassium and iron. Dates can therefore be used to satisfy that sweet craving as part of a balanced Banting lifestyle (without the use of refined sugar).

We used raw almonds and pecan nuts in our date balls, however you could use any nuts you prefer (it adds to the texture when using a mixture of a softer nut with a harder nut).

350g Dates, dried and pitted 130g nuts, roughly chopped – we used half pecan, half almonds. 1 Tbs. good quality Cocoa Powder – we used Organic Dutch Process Cocoa from CocoáFair 50g Butter 1 Egg, lightly beaten pinch of Salt

Melt the dates and butter in a saucepan until the dates have become soft and gooey, set aside to cool slightly. Add the egg slowly to the mixture and stir (the mixture should be warm, but cool enough to touch without burning your finger, be careful the mixture is not too hot, or the egg will scramble). Mix in the cocoa powder and salt. Mix in the Nuts.

Roll into balls, and coat with coconut/ good quality cocoa powder/ toasted sesame seeds/ gold and silver Nicoletta Shimmer (calorie free). If the balls are approx. 3cm in diameter, the mixture will yield 25 date balls.

 

Everyone attempting the Banting-type lifestyle, needs something sweet and satisfying during their health kick at some point.  This recipe was a revelation, arising during a time of need, while living according to the “Noakes Diet”. The recipe has been altered from one of the greats: Nigella’s Chocolate Olive Oil Cake. Don’t be put off by adding the olive oil, it gives the cake a wonderfully moist texture, and does not dominate the flavour in the cake.

The xylitol used to sweeten this cake in place of sugar is a polyol, which contains 40% of the calories of sugar; although it exhibits a much lower glycaemic response than sugar and is considered low GI. It is the only sugar substitute recommended by Patrick Holford, and is on the list of acceptable sugar substitutes in Tim Noakes recipe book “The Real Meal Revolution”.

6 Tbs. Cocoa Powder (good-quality, unsweetened) – we used Organic Dutch Process Cocoa from CocoáFair ½ cup boiling Water 1 ½ cups Almond Flour 150ml Olive Oil (plus more for greasing) – we used Mount Cedar Extra Virgin Olive Oil 2 tsp. Vanilla Extract/ Paste ½ tsp. Bicarbonate of Soda 1 pinch of Salt 1 cup Xylitol, powdered – we ‘blitzed’ the xylitol so that it became fine like castor sugar – we used Sweet Nothings Xylitol 3 Eggs

Add the boiling water to your cocoa powder and mix to form a paste. Beat the sugar, olive oil and eggs in an electrical beater for 3 minutes until your mixture is creamy and thick. Mix in the cocoa mixture and vanilla. Combine the dry ingredients and mix gently into the batter.

Pour the batter into greased 23cm tin (line the base with baking paper)/ silicone cake mould. Bake at 170°C for 45 minutes, the cake tester should come out with sticky crumbs attached, but no wet batter.  Allow the cake to cool in its mould. Leave to cool completely before slicing.

We served ours with fresh cream drizzled with our tart berry compote, and fresh raspberries dipped in metallic silver and gold Nicoletta Shimmer / sprayed with silver and gold Nicoletta Graffiti for Cakes

Unsweetened berry compote – We made a sugarless berry coulis using mixed frozen berries, which we heated and boiled in a saucepan for 30 minutes, till the right sauce consistency was reached.