I figured it was finally time to talk about my new cookbook since it’s busy rolling into stores around South Africa as I type. It’s very exciting. Less frightening than the first time I will admit, and I’m feeling proud and happy that I have put this body of work out there. Its called Sweet and is loaded with delectable vanilla, caramel, chocolate and fruit treats. It’s also very close to my heart. I’m sharing this orange cake with orange buttercream as a way to celebrate.
Sweet is a collection of recipes that swings the pendulum from desserts and puddings, across confectionary, to baked treats at the other end. I’ve tried to include a little bit of everything I love; to cover them all I would need a second (and probably a third) book! I have a chronic sweet tooth that has steered me towards my passion for baking and dessert making, both of which are a source of comfort and great pleasure in my life.
In fact, while working on Sweet I realised I could probably write an entire book around fruit-based or boozy desserts because I am drawn to both. Mother Nature provides such a magnificent bounty of fruit and there is so much you can do with it, whether you keep it simple and close to its natural form, or change it considerably yet maintain its essence.
I’m also passionate about vanilla, my favourite spice. I find it intoxicating and it, too, has magical powers. As Heston Blumenthal pointed out, our brain registers its aroma as sweet, but the flavour on its own is not. It is almost inedible and only when infused into ingredients such as milk, eggs and cream does it become exotic and delicious, while also enhancing and adding depth to other flavours such as chocolate and coffee.
When sugar is heated to 170 °C, the molecules break down and a new compound forms, with a dark golden colour and deep flavour. Caramel. It’s the binding agent for many sugary treats and to make it, sugar is transformed to either softball or hard crack stage. I love everything about it and have included a collection of some of my favourite caramel recipes.
And chocolate – well everybody loves it. From white to milk to dark, it has become so sophisticated over the years. From single bean bars to understanding its origin as you would a fine wine, it must be one of the most wondrous foods in the world. I have included a selection of recipes using white, dark and milk chocolate
Sweet is divided into chapters according to my favourite sweet flavours: vanilla, caramel, chocolate and fruit. It’s impossible to isolate them entirely so there is also some overlap, and then there’s a chapter for other flavours that don’t quite fit into these. Of course, sugar is something to be enjoyed in moderation, but what would a party or any special gathering be without a little something sweet?
I made Sweet with much love, so I hope you find an abundance of delicious pleasure in it.
And in other VERY exciting news, I have a new look blog. What do you think?
It’s long overdue but I needed to make sure I had the right person doing it and I’m beyond thrilled that Diana Moss from the utterly exquisite website miss moss designed my new look and feel. They may be a tweak here and there but I will be popping the bubbly tonight.
Orange cake with orange buttercream
Orange cake has to be one of my all-time favourite cakes and is one of the first cakes I started making as a child. I love the simplicity of the flavours. This sponge is deliciously moist and fluffy and the icing is sweet and creamy; perfect as a tea-time treat. Conveniently, the cake can be made in advance and, as with most flavoured cakes, improves a little over a day or two.
Recipe ~ makes 1 cake
Orange cake with orange buttercream
- 250 g butter
- 250 g castor sugar
- 4 large free-range eggs
- zest of 2 oranges
- 5 ml vanilla extract
- 280 g self-raising flour
- a pinch of salt
- 150 ml milk
- 390 g icing sugar
- 100 g butter room temperature
- 5 ml orange zest
- 45 ml fresh orange juice
- freshly peeled orange zest for decorating (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 190 °C. Grease and line 2 x 22–23-cm cake tins with baking paper.
- Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and castor sugar for 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, ensuring that each is fully incorporated before the next addition. Add the orange zest and vanilla extract. Continue to whip until the mixture is light and fluffy.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and salt.
- Add the flour and milk to the creamed butter and sugar in 3 parts. Be careful not to overmix. Divide the cake mixture evenly between the 2 tins, then bake for 30–35 minutes. The cakes should be springy to the touch, and a knife inserted into the centre should come out clean. Leave to cool in the tins.
- Put all the buttercream icing ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until pale and fluffy. Use a third of the icing to sandwich the two cake layers together, and the remainder to ice the top and sides. Decorate with zested orange peel if desired.
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