My Brother’s Wedding Cake

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Last Saturday was a very special day for my family. My only brother married his beautiful and lovely wife. It was such a wonderful day, with great memories made with dear family and friends.

To celebrate, there was a wedding cake to make. I was delighted to offer my cake making services. They wanted a simple, yet elegant cake and really liked the idea of a naked cake. The term ‘naked cake’ comes from the fact that it isn’t covered with buttercream or sugarpaste, and you can see each of the layers. I was thrilled when they asked for this style of cake because I love this fuss-free, rustic and really pretty trend. They chose lemon flavour, and I decided to make the tried and tested lemon cake that I have made many times before with homemade lemon curd buttercream.

https://aodhnait.wordpress.com/2015/05/12/layered-lemon-cake-with-lemon-curd-buttercream/

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I baked the three cakes on Thursday evening after work. I chose to make a 6″, 8″ and a 10″ round. With wedding cake portions this serves approximately 70-80 people.

On Friday morning I made my lemon curd and a lemon sugar stock syrup to syrup each cake before assembling.  A few hours later myself, my fiance and all of my cakes and accessories was packed in the car ready to travel from Galway to Dublin.

On Friday evening I learned that the hotel where the wedding was to be held did not have a cake stand, as we had originally thought. So, we had barely landed in Dublin before we were straight off to the shops in search of something that would work…. not that I need any excuse to shop for cake accessories!! We went to ‘Dunnes Stores’ and picked up a simple, yet chic and elegant plain white cake stand (on sale) for 10 euro. It is by ‘Helen James’ and I was delighted with it!

On the morning of the wedding it was all very relaxed at home, which was so lovely. Doing my brother’s wedding cake in the home that we both grew up in felt really special and it meant that everyone got to be involved. In the middle of the cake assembly my Dad handed me a delicious fried egg sandwich.. what more could a girl ask for!?

To assemble the cakes, I divided each cake in half (as evenly as I could). I placed a thin cake board under each bottom layer of cake (one size smaller, so that they would not be visible). I syrup-ed each layer of cake with the lemon stock syrup to ensure it stayed moist and to give an extra zing of lemon. I then spread a generous layer of lemon curd buttercream to each bottom layer, and placed the tops on. I dowelled the bottom tier, with wooden dowels, as I would a normal tiered cake. I put a small amount of buttercream on top, to hold the the next cake tier in place. I repeated this step with the next tier also. When all the tiers where in place, I piped a thin layer of buttercream at the seam between each cake tier, to hold the berries in place. I used fresh blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and currants.

Although a simple idea, I think the fruit gives such a beautiful look. So many people commented on how fresh and appetising it looked.

The final touch was the flower piece on top. This was a spare button hole and I think it tied the wedding colours and theme in beautifully. I scattered berries all around the bottom of the cake stand to finish it off. I placed dried lavender and gypsophila (baby’s breath) on the table on all around the cake and the finished look was really pretty.

I love the way it came together and so did the bride and groom. It tasted really delicious too!!

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Thank you to my wonderful cousin Sam for taking these gorgeous photos for me.

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Oat and Yoghurt Bread

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I absolutely love this oat and yoghurt bread. It has a light texture and is super quick and easy to make. It’s a great alternative to other flour based breads.

As you may have noticed my last few recipes have involved oats. I was sharing my love of oats when out for lunch with my friend Paul and his mum Margaret. She told me about this great recipe. As soon as I made it, I knew it would become a regular addition to my bread making. I added a few little extras and I think you’ll really like it.

Ingredients:

  • 350g organic jumbo oats
  • 2 tsp bread soda- sieved
  • Pinch of salt
  • 500g natural yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp sunflower/ vegetable oil or whatever you would prefer
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • Handful of seeds- pumpkin, sunflower, linseed, sesame, chia seeds
  • 2 lb loaf tin

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius.

Grease and line your loaf tin. I would recommend doing this, as the bread may stick to your tin if you don’t.

Mix the oats, salt, and bread soda together in a large bowl.

Add the oil, honey and yoghurt and combine everything together. The mixture should be moist enough to come together, but not crumbly in any way. If it looks slightly too dry, add a small splash of milk, until you have the right consistency.

Place into your prepared 2lb loaf tin and sprinkle the seeds over the top. Press the seeds down gently and bake for 45-50 minutes until golden brown on top and baked through.

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This bread is great to rustle up in a hurry and you probably already have most of the ingredients in your kitchen. It’s fuss free and so delicious.

Enjoy!

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Multiseed Granola Squares

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I have been baking these really delicious and easy to make multiseed granola squares. They are perfect for an afternoon pick me up and will keep fresh for the week, so great to make ahead of time. Being packed full of oats, seeds and bananas they are filling and make a fantastic re-fueling snack.

Ingredients:

*I used a shallow rectangular baking tin 10.5″ by 7″ lined with baking paper

  • 300g jumbo oats
  • 100ml oil. I used sunflower oil. (You could use rapeseed, grapeseed, vegetable, coconut)
  • 2 tbsp raw nut butter. I used my homemade peanut butter.
  • 100ml liquid sweetener. I used date syrup. (You could use honey, maple or agave syrup)
  • 2-3 ripe bananas (the riper the better, as this will add a natural sweetness)
  • 30g each of:

– pumpkin seeds

– desiccated coconut

– sesame seeds

– sunflower seeds

– linseeds (flax seeds)

– walnuts (choppped)

  • 50g dried fruit (I used dried cranberries. You could use sultanas, dates, apricots, goji berries)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (fan oven)

In a large bowl mix all of the dry ingredients together.

In a smaller bowl mash the bananas and stir in the date syrup, nut butter and the oil until you have a combined mixture.

Stir this into the dry mixture until all of the oats and seeds are coated in the wet mixture.

Spread your mix evenly into your lined tin and flatten down.

Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until you have a golden brown top.

When you are making these, add in whatever nuts and seeds you fancy and have fun adapting your own delicious granola squares.

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My First Wedding Cake

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I had the pleasure of making my dear friend Siobhan’s wedding cake last week. It was the first wedding cake I have made at home. It was really special for me knowing that it was for one of my best friends. The wedding was such a beautiful day and I was honoured to be part of it.

I made a 6 inch round chocolate biscuit cake, an 8 inch round vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream and a 10 inch round lemon cake with lemon curd buttercream. Myself and Siobhan came up with an off white three tiered cake with matching coloured hydrangea flowers cascading down the cake.

The vanilla cake that I used was really tasty and simple to make. It held it’s shape perfectly and I would definitely recommend it for covering with sugarpaste or just as a celebration cake dusted with icing sugar. http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/10860/easy-vanilla-cake

Here is a link to the delicious lemon cake I made. It is a Mich Turner recipe from her book ‘Cake Masterclass’. It holds it’s shape beautifully and covers really well.

https://aodhnait.wordpress.com/2015/05/12/layered-lemon-cake-with-lemon-curd-buttercream/

I had a cake plan stuck to my fridge with a timeline for the week of the wedding. The wedding was on the Saturday. The Monday and Tuesday I made my flowers. Wednesday I baked all of my cakes. Thursday I buttercreamed/ crumb coated my sponge cakes. Friday I covered my cakes and cake board with sugarpaste, dowelled my two bottom tiers and stacked the cake.

I used royal icing in between the tiers to ensure it stayed put. I also used royal icing to pipe along the seam of each tier to give a seamless finish. I finished each tier with a satin ribbon and stuck my flowers on with royal icing. Royal icing was my best friend!

The cake needed to be transported from Galway to Dublin…. that was one of my more nerve wracking drives!!! I put a grippy mat (1 euro in the euro shop!) inside a really sturdy fruit box and put plastic cellophane around the entire box tied with ribbon at the top, to protect the cake. I put a another grip mat into my boot and that’s where the cake went. I also put a few objects at the side of the box in the boot to ensure it went nowhere. The cake made it to the venue safe and sound. I brought a repair kit with me… royal icing, spare tools, sticky tape for the ribbon and anything else I might have needed.

My advice when making a wedding cake is to go with what the bride and groom want… it is their day! Be realistic with how much time you have and what you know you are able to make. Whilst I think that challenging yourself is great, you don’t want it to be too overwhelming or stressful. Practice what cakes you’ll be making in advance to ensure that they bake well and that they also work well covered with sugarpaste, if using. Go into your local cake decorating supplier where you’ll be buying your materials and ask for advice and tips. Make a plan and try to stick to it, this will help keep you on track.

Lastly if you’re making it for a friend or family member, remember that they are probably delighted you’ve offered to make their cake. So enjoy it and have fun being involved in such a special, wonderful celebration with two people that you love.

Layered Lemon Cake with Lemon Curd Buttercream

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This incredibly delicious lemon cake is a Mich Turner recipe from her book ‘Cake Masterclass’. I have made many times and it always turns out beautifully. It holds it’s shape, so it works very well covered with sugarpaste.

If you like lemon cakes this is the recipe for you!!

Ingredients: for an 8 inch round/ 6 inch square cake

  • 350g unsalted butter
  • 350g golden caster sugar
  • 350g self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 6 medium eggs- lightly beaten
  • Finely grated zest of 4 lemons
  • 150 ml milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees fan (325F)/ 180 degrees conventional (350F) 

Grease and line your cake tin.

Beat the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy (using an electric hand whisker or cake mixer)

Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until you have a smooth, runny batter.

Transfer to your prepared cake tin and bake for 1 hr and 10 mins, or until golden brown on top and a skewer comes out clean.

Whilst the cake is baking prepare your lemon syrup glaze. This will make your cake moist, lemony, sweet and sticky on top.

Ingredients:

  • Juice of 4 lemons
  • 150g granulated sugar

Mix the lemon juice and sugar in a bowl and set aside to allow the sugar to dissolve. As soon as your cake comes out of the oven use a skewer to spike holes in a few places in the cake, right down to the base. Pour the syrup all over the top and leave the cake to absorb the syrup and cool fully.

Lemon curd buttercream:

  • 175g unsalted butter
  • 300g icing sugar -sieved
  • Seeds from one vanilla pod/ tsp vanilla paste/ tsp extract
  • 175g lemon curd

Check out my blog post on how to make lemon curd

https://aodhnait.wordpress.com/2015/04/04/homemade-lemon-curd/

Beat the butter with an electric mixer until smooth

Add your sieved icing sugar slowly on a low speed. When it is all added and and combined turn to a medium- high speed until light and fluffy.

Lastly beat in the vanilla and lemon curd by hand with a large wooden spoon. After tasting it I felt it needed a bit more a lemon kick, so I also added the juice of half a lemon. Always taste your buttercream to check you’re happy with the flavour, before filling your cake.

Divide the cake into three even layers and fill with lemon curd buttercream. Dust with icing sugar to serve.

If covering with sugarpaste, wrap in parchment paper followed by tin foil to keep fresh and moist.

You won’t regret serving this cake up to family or friends!!

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Delicious homemade muesli

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In the morning before work, I like something that is super quick, tasty and will keep me going throughout the morning. I start work quite early so on working days porridge just seems like too much effort. That’s why I love my homemade, nutritious muesli that takes minutes to make!

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In case you’re wondering what the difference between granola and muesli is… granola like muesli generally contains oats, however it is usually is baked with a fat, such as an oil, and a liquid sweetener such as honey, agave or maple syrup. Whilst it is pretty delicious it wouldn’t be my everyday breakfast choice, because I see it as more of an every now and then cereal.

Muesli contains raw oats, nuts, seeds and some dried fruit. It’s really versatile and perfect to prepare in batches so you have a week or two worth of homemade breakfast sorted, and who doesn’t like the idea of that!?

Ingredients: Makes approx 1kg

  • 6 cups rolled oats (can use jumbo ones if you like)- could also use spelt, rye or barley flakes with the oats
  • 1/2 cup walnuts- chopped
  • 1/2 cup almonds- chopped
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup unsweetened raw coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup linseed (brown or golden)
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1-2 cups dried fruit- such as cranberries, sultanas, dates, apricots. Chop the larger dried  fruit (dates/apricots)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon- optional
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg- optional

This is the easy part! Pop all of the ingredients into a large bowl, and mix them together.

Then place your muesli into a glass jar/container with a good tight seal. I like to get up first thing and soak my bowl of muesli in the milk whilst I get ready for work. I do this because it gives the oats a chance to soften and I prefer them this way. I love having fresh fruit with mine.

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Why not try making your own muesli with your favourite variety of nuts and seeds. It is so satisfying to make, yet really simple. Enjoy it sprinkled over yoghurt, or added into a smoothie.

I make a smoothie with milk, a banana, a sprinkle of raw cacao powder and a spoonful of my muesli.. a delicious afternoon pick-me-up.

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Hazelnut Chocolate Spread- Homemade Nutella

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My fiance introduced me to nutella a couple of years ago and I admit I found the concept somewhat strange. Although I am a lover of chocolate, the thought of chocolate on bread confused me. Needless to say, after trying some on toast I soon understood the pedestal nutella has been placed on.

I love making my own version of the things that I enjoy eating. (Since making my own nut butters, I haven’t gone back to the shop bought jar!) Although the likes of nutella is relatively cheap and easily accessible, I like to know what I’m eating and what the ingredients are, so I’ve been planning to make this for a while now.

It is super quick and easy to make!

Ingredients: (Makes 2-3 small jars or one large jar)

  • 2 cups of raw hazelnuts
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract- optional
  • 5 tbsp of good quality organic maple syrup
  • 3.5 tbsp of raw cacao powder
  • Almost 1/2 a cup of water or a nut milk such almond milk

Start by roasting the hazelnuts. This will help to release their natural oils and bring out a deep, rich, nutty flavour. Preheat the oven to 180 degress C and bake on a baking tray for approximately 10 mins. No need for oil on the tray when baking.

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Allow the hazelnuts to cool and then if they have skins on them, rub them between your fingers to loosen and remove the skins.

Place the nuts into a high powdered blender/ food processor and blend the nuts to a smooth paste. Add the maple syrup, vanilla extract and cacao powder. I would recommend you add slightly less of each of these than the recipe indicates, taste it and see if you’d like to add more. That is what I did, because we all like different intensities of flavours.

When all the above ingredients are thoroughly combined, gradually add almost 1/2 a cup of water and blend to a smooth paste. Start with a 1/4 cup and see how you like the consistency. It thickens slightly so don’t be too shy with the water. You want it to be spreadable!

Pour into washed and sterilised jars. Check out my lemon curd blog post for how to sterilise your jars if you haven’t done that before.

Store in the fridge, to prolong it’s shelf life. This makes a yummy treat, spread on toast, drizzled over porridge, or dunked by sliced apples.

That’s all it takes and you have your own hazelnut chocolate spread with just the essential ingredients. It is so delicious and you can really taste the roasted hazelnuts, mixed with the subtle sweetness of the maple syrup and the wonderful chocolately cacoa powder.

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