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Posts Tagged ‘Daring Kitchen’

Oh my! Has it really been 8 months since I last blogged?  My apologies.  The holiday season is coming up, I’ll try to keep you better updated.

Decided it was about time to get back into the Daring Baker’s Challenges at the Daring Kitchen.  And this month, it was Sachertorte.

I have to say from the start… not my favorite.  But I’m not a big fan of chocolate and fruit.  This chocolate cake was drenched in apricot jam and topped with a chocolate/water mixture.  I was disappointed I didn’t like it better.

The cake was quite simple to make, and I had all the ingredients on hand.  The chocolate sauce on top stumped me though.  It looked shiny like a ganache, but used a sugar/water mixture rather than heavy cream.  Water and chocolate?  I thought for sure the chocolate would seize up, and it did!  It looked like dry brown sugar initially.  Had to keep adding water to get it to thin back out.  But nothing I did could completely save it.  So I spread it on as best as I could and attempted to cover it up with a white chocolate spider web.

Overall, it didn’t look terrible with the decorations.  But I had one small piece and took the rest to work because it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

The October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Korena of Korena in the Kitchen. She took us to Austria and introduced us to the wonders of the Sachertorte.

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I’ve come to realize I make empty promises.  Not intentionally!  I would like to blog more, but time doesn’t seem to slow down enough for it.  With the holiday season approaching, my time will be stretched even thinner, but I’ll certainly try to update along the way.

So it’s been 3 months since I did a Daring Kitchen baking challenge.  I must admit, I wasn’t thrilled about this month’s which was Pot Pie.  And we could NOT make a sweet version, which in my opinion, doesn’t count as a baking challenge.  But alas, I was craving a Cornish pasty so I decided to give that a go.  Not exactly a pot pie, but it has all the same components:  savory filling in a closed pastry crust.

I looked up a couple of recipes and found Jamie Oliver’s version on a blog.  Not really wanting to make six pasty’s, I cut the recipe in half.  And the meat was marinated in Guinness over night.  I also left out the carrot in one pasty, as I’m not a huge fan of carrots in anything other than carrot cake.

Some baked potato slices and brown gravy accompanied the pasties.  My boyfriend highly approved the meal.  I’m just hoping we bring back the sweet for November’s challenge.

Hannah of Rise and Shine was our October 2013 Daring Bakers’ hostess and she challenged us to bake our own double crusted savory pot pies. Using any from-scratch crust and filling we choose, we were allowed to get completely creative with our recipe, showing off the savory flavors and fillings from our own home or region.

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Hey guys.  I am back from my grand adventure.  Spent two amazing weeks in Barcelona, Amsterdam, and Cape Town.  Logged lots of hours on planes, but it was worth it.  Was finally able to do the one and only thing on my bucket list:  see a great white shark in person.  And boy, did they put on a show for me!  Flying out of the water, chasing seals, and showing off around the shark cage.  Beautiful animals!  The trip only deepened my love for them and filled me with a desire to see more.

Settled back in at home, but didn’t quite complete this months baking challenge, which was pie.  I decided I’d still make a pie, but was missing one or more ingredients from the three different recipes that was to be made.  Therefore I thawed out some leftover pie dough I made a month ago and whipped up a delicious butterscotch and meringue pie, which I had all the ingredients for.

Even recipes I’ve made before can turn out differently each time.  Butterscotch seems to be a hit or miss for me.  I added an extra tablespoon of cornstarch and an extra egg yolk to try and get a more solid pudding since I had 1% milk, not whole milk.  But it turned out a bit runny still.  The meringue didn’t help when it weeped all over the pudding.  Damn meringue!  Just goes to show that sometimes you should take the extra step and make a tried and true recipe than the quick and simple one.  Meringue is so easy yet so finicky!

The pie dough gave me more trouble.  I didn’t have pie weights or dry beans so I just put a mixing bowl on top of the crust when blind baking.  It didn’t work.  I had to take it off and then the crust bubbled up and the edges shrunk.  It was unusable.  Thankfully I had a graham cracker crust in my pantry and used that instead.  But I didn’t completely scrap my homemade crust.  I cut out a couple small circles, put them in the bottom of espresso cups, then filled those with pudding and meringue for mini desserts.  Worked well.

In conclusion, pie is not my friend.  I’ve known it for some time now.  But we get along as best as we can.

In other news, I’m sad to report that Paddy (my sour dough starter) has left this world.  I was a bad mom and let him become overrun by mold.  I tried to resuscitate him, but it was too late.  He was a year and a half.

Rachael from pizzarossa was our lovely June 2013 Daring Bakers’ host and she had us whipping up delicious pies in our kitchens! Cream pies, fruit pies, chocolate pies, even crack pies! There’s nothing like pie!

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Another baking challenge completely just under the wire!  Phew!  Really wanted to do this one but it’s been a busy month.  And I put off vacation planning (leave for Germany, Amsterdam, and South Africa in one week with nothing but flights set up) to get it done.  Swedish Prinsesstårta: Challenge accepted.

The cake to make is elegant and light.  Just a simple sponge (with a rather odd ingredient: potato starch), pastry cream, whipped cream, and raspberry jam which I substituted with chocolate ganache, covered with marzipan though I forgot to buy some so I made white modeling chocolate instead.

The only problem I ran into while making the cake was the pastry cream.  Different recipe than I’m used to and it separated twice while over the heat.  My guess is that I cooked it too long, but it said to bring it to a boil and it never seemed to quite get there.  I had to stick with the results from the 2nd attempt because I ran out of eggs, so I put it in my kitchen aid mixer and beat the liquid back into the custard as well as I could.

When assembling the cake, I also chose to brush the sponge with a simple syrup because the recipe just didn’t sound sweet enough.  And I added mini chocolate chips in the top layer for a bit of crunch (and duh!  Because chocolate makes everything better). It all came together well and made for quite a pretty cake.  Didn’t have time to go all out on the decorations so I piped a couple of chocolate butterflies and made a single flower out of modeling chocolate.

Hate to rush, but I must get back to planning my trip.  So much to do!!!

Korena of Korena in the Kitchen was our May Daring Bakers’ host and she delighted us with this beautiful Swedish Prinsesstårta!

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Hello hello!  It’s been some crazy busy few months, but I’m back, baby!  No more half-assed, thrown together, just to say I made it, baking challenges.  If you don’t know already, I love the Daring Baker’s Challenges at the Daring Kitchen.  I’ve learned so many great recipes (and some that I have no desire to make again, honestly) of desserts I had never even heard of.  This month’s challenge was no different.

Savarin.  Say what?  Yeah, well it’s a rich yeast cake that’s soaked in a liquid and served with lightened pastry cream and fruit.

So I’ve been traveling a lot lately.  I had to carefully plan out the day I would make this cake.  However, days off where I am home and not jet-setting are becoming few and far between so by the time I finished all my needed errands, it was 4 pm.  FYI . . . it is impossible to start making a yeasted cake at 4 pm unless you intend to stay up until 4 am.

The cake really isn’t hard to make, thanks to the good ol’ Kitchen Aid.  But with all the rising time involved, I only had time to bake the cake itself.  Then it went into the freezer while I went off to New York for the weekend.

Picked it back up the next week, making the pastry cream and the syrup to soak it in.  Now the syrup . . . I probably should have looked up a different recipe.  But I went with the one provided in the challenge.  It tastes a lot like tea.  I think a spiced rum would have been better.  But nonetheless, that cake was thirsty.  Crazy how much liquid it soaked up.  And I don’t think I had enough time to let the excess drip off because the piece I tried tasted more like a sweet tea sponge.  But maybe a day in the fridge will help.

I think all this cake really needed was a cup of simple syrup.  It kind of reminded me of a spongy angel food cake with the cream and berries, but the peach syrup was just too much liquid.  If I make it again (which is a big “if” since the cake takes so long to make), I will make a different syrup and use much less of it.

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This will be a quick post because I left this month’s challenge at the Daring Kitchen up until the very last minute.  I haven’t been able to make the last 2 or 3 challenges so I really wanted to jump back in.  I’ve been extremely busy as of late, especially this month.  I spent 5 days in Ireland, 7 days on a cruise, and turned 30 years old (ugh!).

My head has been on vacation as well.  We found out that my parent’s dog Luke (who I pretty much consider my dog too) has cancer and it’s been a rough week.  My dad noticed a red spot inside his nose which despite various medications was not getting better.  After several tests, they found it was cancerous.  We took him to a surgeon today for a nosectomy.  It’s like it sounds, they had to remove his nose for his best chance of beating the cancer.  Still haven’t seen him yet because he’s staying overnight, but it’s really all I can think about today so I’m sorry my post is more about him than my challenge.  But the staff at the clinic inform us that he’s doing well, awake and alert but on morphine to manage the pain.  He’s the best dog in the world, I really could go on and on about him, but I’ll refrain.  Please keep him in your thoughts.

So this month’s challenge was to incorporate vegetables into baked goodies.  The obvious dish would be to make carrot cake.  But I’ve been wanting some zucchini bread for awhile so picked up zucchini on my way home from work tonight.

While looking up recipes on AllRecipes.com, I decided to make zucchini brownies instead.  Got out my mini food processor to basically puree the zucchini and whipped up some brownies, quick and easy.  Only modifications I made to the recipe were to use 6 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil instead of the vegetable oil, reduce the sugar to 1 cup, add an egg, and add 3/4 a cup of chocolate chips to the batter.  I also only made just over half the amount of frosting.

Final result?  Cake.  I tend to think of brownies as fudgey dense deliciousness.  This recipe yielded a light and fluffy chocolate cake.  Really couldn’t tell that zucchini was in it.  It was actually pretty good . . . just not brownies.

I hope to get back to business next month and dive into a good baking challenge.  I think things are calming down a bit so I should be able to find the time.  Until then, I will try to blog again with all the other creations that have come out of my kitchen since January.

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Pardon my french.  Phew!  It’s 1:45am on October 27, the day all Daring Bakers posts go up.  I was really looking forward to this month’s challenge, but I was doing a bit of traveling this month and with a focus on exercise, I couldn’t bring myself to make my favorite pastry in the world and not indulge.  That being said, it’s almost Halloween, so screw the diet!  Mmm . . . millefeuilles.

That’s right, the challenge this month was to make puff pastry dough (which I’ve done before), pastry cream (which I’ve done before), and layer the two in perfect harmony with each other (which I’ve never done).  I’ve wanted to make millefeuilles for quite some time so I’m glad I was able to pull it together so last minute.

For the puff pastry, I used the recipe from two years ago when us Daring Bakers were challenged to make vols-au-vent.  Just a quick YouTube refresher on turning the dough, that part of the process was done.

I also used an old standard for pastry cream that I highly enjoy, doubling the recipe because you can never really have too much pastry cream.  Check.

Two days later and back from a short trip to Austin to see Bob Schneider, it was time to put it all together. There wasn’t too much instruction on rolling out the pastry dough except that it should be about the thickness of cardboard.  Not wanting to waste all my dough, I baked one of the three layers on the first cookie sheet, rather than baking all the layers at the same time.  As noted, I put another cookie sheet on top of the dough to weigh it down and stuck it in the oven to bake at 200F.

Uh oh.  The dough was not doing anything after 15 minutes.  Looking at the instructions again, it said to bake at 200C /400F.  Whoops!  I upped the temp and thought I’d try to keep baking the first layer anyways.  It worked fine, but I found that I needed to use two cookie sheets to weigh the dough down.  Puff pastry just wants to rise and rise and rise.

After baking the next two layers, I started getting all the other components ready to go.  The recipe provided by our host used a royal icing to top off the millefeuilles.  First of all, I’ve been to France about ten times.  And each time, going to a Boulangerie/Patisserie to get a millefeuille tops my list of things to do.  Never have I had one with royal icing on top.  It always has a smooth, shiny glaze that sets up just enough but never hardens completely.  That’s what I wanted to top mine off with.

After some internet searching, I found what I was looking for is poured white fondant.  Only fondant I’m familiar with is that gross dough like mass that you roll out to cover cakes.  Yes, I know fondant is so mainstream now, but it’s really not tasty.  However, there exists a pourable fondant that is made by boiling sugar and water, then adding a little cream of tarter and corn syrup.

Running out of time, I really hoped I would get this white fondant down on the first try.  The boiling process went well, paying close attention to getting it to the right temperature and then back down to about 120F before working with it again.  From my research, I found that you can finish it in a stand mixer rather than hand pull/knead it.  It will change from clear and runny to white and thick.  I think I may have read the instructions wrong because after 7 minutes of mixing, it hadn’t changed color or texture much.  After a reread, I changed my beater to the dough hook and voila!  White and thick.

Now wait a minute!  This fondant is not pourable!

After yet some more research and stumbling upon this very helpful blog, I whipped up a simple syrup and incorporated it into the fondant and all was right in the world.

Assembly went well except that my pastry cream of choice is maybe a little too thin for millefeuilles.  And even though I doubled the recipe, they didn’t bulk up to the height I wanted.  Don’t get me started on cutting them!  I cut them in a few chunks but need to finish cutting them in single servings when I wake up, which hopefully will give the pastry cream a little bit more time to set up.  Plus, I don’t have any super sharp knives which makes cutting them even harder.

Now, today is my grandma’s 80th birthday and we’re going to the Arboretum to celebrate.  Normally, I would make a cake for the occasion.  And for an 80th birthday, I wanted to go big.  But walking around an Arboretum really doesn’t fit as a place to bring a large cake to.  So birthday millefeuilles it is!  And hopefully my grandma will enjoy these pastries as much as I do.

Our October 2012 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Suz of Serenely Full. Suz challenged us to not only tackle buttery and flaky puff pastry, but then take it step further and create a sinfully delicious Mille Feuille dessert with it!

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Oh August, what fun you brought; vacation time, a trip to France, and Shark Week on the Discovery Channel.  Doesn’t get much better than that.  And this months Daring Bakers Challenge was pate a choux (cream puff) swans.

We’ve made pate a choux before, if you recall the croquembouche.  But apparently it was so long ago, I forgot the technique.  Fortunately for YouTube, I only had to throw away the first attempt, which was completely runny.  That’s not unexpected when the liquid in the dough is about the same amount as the dry.  But attempt number two yielded a stiff dough like a pro.  I attribute that success due to adding the flour to the water/butter mixture after bringing it to a boil and still over heat.

I halved the recipe so I didn’t have a lot of dough to play with, but I tried to make sharks in addition to swans.  Try is the key word.  They seemed to look more like airplanes with a fin.  Therefore I just used the fin to create an impending shark attack scene with leftover pastry cream.

Pate a choux is pretty versatile, so I’m sure I will use the recipe yet again.  But I’m not so sure that I’ll repeat using it for swans.

Kat of The Bobwhites was our August 2012 Daring Baker hostess who inspired us to have fun in creating pate a choux shapes, filled with crème patisserie or Chantilly cream. We were encouraged to create swans or any shape we wanted and to go crazy with filling flavors allowing our creativity to go wild!

Pate a choux

(cannot be doubled)

Ingredients
½ cup (120 ml) (115 gm) (4 oz) butter
1 cup (240 ml) water
¼ teaspoon (1½ gm) salt
1 cup (240 ml) (140 gm) (5 oz) all-purpose flour
4 large eggs

Directions:

  1. Line at least two baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper, or grease pans well.
  2. Preheat oven to 415°F.
  3. In a small saucepot, combine butter, water, and salt. Bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat and add flour all at once.  Mixture should come together in a stiff ball.  Remove from heat and continue mixing until room temperature.
  5. Add one egg, and beat until well combined. Add remaining eggs individually, beating vigorously after each addition. Resulting mixture should be somewhat glossy, very smooth, and somewhat thick.
  6. Spoon or pipe out classic rounds or other desired shapes.
  7. Bake in oven about 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 375°F and bake until lightly browned, about another 10 minutes.
  8. Allow to completely cool before filling with pastry cream.

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It’s the 27th!  Daring Baker’s reveal date, almost forgot!  This month, we were challenged to make crackers.

Personally, I’d rather buy a box of crackers than make them from scratch.  It was like one of our challenges way back when . . . we had to make graham crackers, only to smash them up for a graham cracker crust.  Well, there was a little bit of smashing going on this month, but not too much.

I decided to make Ritz crackers and Cheese Nips.  I chose Ritz crackers (from this lovely blog) because they were the easiest to convert into a dessert.  If you read my blog, I’m definitely more of a dessert baker.  And the Cheese Nips (found here) were selected because I had a block of amazing habanero cheddar cheese in my fridge and thought it would produce really good crackers.

The Ritz cracker dough was quite sticky.  I halved the recipe and made it in my mini food processor, then rolled out the dough between sheets of wax paper.  I don’t have many small cookie cutters, so I went with hearts over simple squares or rounds.

Crackers are kind of tricky because you need to bake them enough so they’re not soft inside, but you don’t want to burn them either.  They definitely require a careful watch.  But once they were out of the oven, I moved on to part 2 and sandwiched them with peanut butter, then dipped the whole thing in melted white chocolate.  Okay, those were pretty great.

The Cheese Nip dough was a bit easier to work with.  I mixed it using my Kitchen Aid mixer then rolled out the dough with my pasta maker (which I have yet to use on actual pasta).  It was kind of fun watching the flat little squares puff up during baking.  Basically made of cheese, water, and flour, I didn’t know they’d rise so well.  But the finished product didn’t have the kick that I was looking for by using the habanero cheddar.  The crackers worked well on cheese cracker chicken though.

So crackers really aren’t that much trouble to make.  But again, I think I’ll stick with buying them.

Our July 2012 Daring Bakers’ Host was Dana McFarland and she challenged us to make homemade crackers! Dana showed us some techniques for making crackers and encouraged to use our creativity to make each cracker our own by using ingredients we love.

Ritz Crackers:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp + another 1/2 tsp salt for topping
  • 6 tbsp cold unsalted butter + 3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup water
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Put the flour, baking powder, sugar, and 1/2 tsp of salt in the food processor.
  3. Pulse to combine.
  4. Add cold butter a few small pats at a time, and pulse to combine.
  5. Add vegetable oil.  Pulse to combine.
  6. Add water a little bit at a time.  Pulse to combine after each addition.  The dough should start to form a ball.
  7. Roll dough out as thin as you can.  Mine ended up being all different thicknesses.  Don’t sweat it.  They are homemade!  If you are really concerned, Jeffrey had luck using a pasta maker to make the dough all one thickness – great idea!
  8. Use cookie cutters to cut the dough out.  You can make them Ritz-shaped or any shape that you like.
  9. Poke holes in the dough in the Ritz pattern or any pattern you like (smiley faces would be fun!).  Keep in mind that the holes are not just decorative; they help the crackers to bake correctly – so be sure to poke some.
  10. Bake the crackers on a parchment- or Silpat-lined baking sheet for ten minutes or until the crackers just begin to brown.
  11. While the crackers are baking, melt the remaining butter and mix in the remaining salt (Some people said that my crackers weren’t salty enough.  Add more or less salt to your taste.)
  12. As soon as you remove the crackers from the oven, brush them with the salty butter.

Homemade Cheese Nips:

Makes approximately 15 dozen crackers

Ingredients:

  • 1 8-oz. block extra sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely shredded
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons ice water

Method:

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the cheddar, butter, and salt until soft and homogenous. Add the flour and mix on low speed; the dough will be dry and pebbly. Slowly add the water and continue to mix as the dough coalesces into a mass.

Pat the dough into a disk, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 375˚. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats.

Divide the dough into two pieces and roll each into a very thin (1/8 inch or less) 10×12-inch rectangle. Using a fluted pastry cutter, cut the rectangles into 1-inch squares, then transfer to the baking sheets. Use the tip of a chopstick to punch a hole into the center of each square.

Bake for 17 minutes or until puffed and browning at the edges. Watch carefully, as the high fat content of the crackers makes it a fine line between golden delicious and burnt. Immediately move the crackers to racks to cool.

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No procrastinating on this month’s challenge at the Daring Kitchen.  Battenberg was the name of the game and seeing as how it is a British cake, I wanted to make it in time for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

A battenberg cake is just a light sponge, colored and “glued” together in a checkered pattern with apricot jam, and wrapped in marzipan.  I opted to swap out the jam for lemon curd which gave it a really nice, summery flavor.

I couldn’t find a battenberg pan that would ship from the US, so I did as our challenge host suggested and divided a pan with parchment.  I wanted to achieve a long, narrow cake, so I used a 9×13 inch pan and doubled the recipe so it would also be tall.

Really not a difficult challenge and I wish I had had more time this month to make another with different flavors.  The recipe will be archived along with many others I would not have known about if it weren’t for the Daring Kitchen.  You have not seen the last of battenberg cakes from me.

              


Mandy of What The Fruitcake?! came to our rescue last minute to present us with the Battenberg Cake challenge! She highlighted Mary Berry’s techniques and recipes to allow us to create this unique little cake with ease.

Traditional Battenberg:

Servings: +- 8

Ingredients
¾ cup (1½ sticks) 175gm / 6 oz Unsalted Butter, softened & cut in cubes
¾ cup / 175gm / 6 oz Caster Sugar
1¼ cups / 175gm / 6 oz Self-Raising Flour
3 Large Eggs, room temp
½ cup / 65gm/ 2 1/3 oz Ground Almonds (Can be substituted with ground rice)
3/4 tsp / 3½ gm Baking Powder
½ tsp / 2½ ml Vanilla Extract
1/4 tsp (1¼ ml) Almond Extract
Red Food Colouring, paste, liquid or gel

To Finish
1/3 cup (80 ml) 100gm /3 ½ oz Apricot Jam
1 cup / 225gm / 8 oz Marzipan, natural or yellow

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/160°C Fan Assisted/Gas Mark 4
2. Grease an 8”/20cm square baking tin with butter
3. Line the tin with parchment paper, creating a divide in the middle with the parchment (or foil)
– Tip: See photos or watch video above for detailed instructions
4. OR Prepare Battenberg tin by brushing the tin with melted butter and flouring
5. Whisk together the dry ingredients then combine with the wet ingredients in a large bowl and beat together just until the ingredients are combined and the batter is smooth
6. Spoon half the mixture into the one side of the prepared baking tin
7. Add a few drops of red food liquid/gel/paste to the remaining batter, stir until the colour is thoroughly distributed, add more colour if needed
8. Spoon the pink batter into the other half of the prepared baking tin
9. Smooth the surface of the batter with a spatula, making sure batter is in each corner
10. Bake for 25-30mins until the cake is well risen, springs back when lightly touched and a toothpick comes out clean (it should shrink away from the sides of the pan)
11. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out to cool thoroughly on a wire rack
12. Once completely cool, trim the edges of the cake with a long serrated knife
13. Cut each coloured sponge in half lengthways so that you are left with four long strips of sponge

14. Neaten the strips and trim as necessary so that your checkered pattern is as neat and even as possible 15. Gently heat the apricot jam and pass through a small sieve

16. Brush warmed jam onto the strips of cake to stick the cake together in a checkered pattern (one yellow next to one pink. On top of that, one pink next to one yellow)
– Tip: See photos for detailed instructions
17. Dust a large flat surface with icing sugar then roll the marzipan in an oblong shape that is wide enough to cover the length of the cake and long enough to completely wrap the cake
18. Brush the top of the cake with apricot jam
19. Place the cake on the marzipan, jam side down
– Tip: Either in the middle or to the one side of the marzipan
20. Brush the remaining three sides with jam
21. Press the marzipan around the cake, making sure the join is either neatly in the one corner, or will be underneath the cake once turned over
– Tip: If you put the sponge to the one side of the marzipan, I found it easiest to “roll” the sponge over and over onto the marzipan instead of lifting the marzipan up onto the sponge
22. Carefully flip the cake over so that the seam is under the cake and score the top of the cake with a knife, you can also crimp the top corners with your fingers to decorate
23. Neaten the ends of the cake and remove excess marzipan by trimming off a small bit of cake on both ends to reveal the pattern

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