Saturday 9 November 2013

Golden Christmas Cake

   Christmas. Ah, Christmas. I admit to thinking about it in August. When I was a kid I'd have my Christmas list ready by July. I've always loved it and I always will, though I admit to getting Christmas Blues on the week before Christmas when I remember I'm not a kid anymore and Father Christmas is none other than my parents, but then I pick myself up and remind myself that if I want Christmas magic, I have to bring it. And I do my best.

   Red Velvet is a popular cake choice at Christmas, I notice, most likely for the chocolatey taste and the red and white colouring. So, for this post, I bought a Red Velvet cake mix from Betty Crocker. My big cakes never work out properly so when I need to make a big one, I go for the box mix, and I've never had Mrs Crocker fail me.
   I admit that the cake was less than I had expected. People big it up so much so I'm a little disappointed, and as for the mix itself I added a lot of red colouring myself.

   Either way, it's not the cake itself I'm showing you today, but rather what's on top of it. As you may have recently seen, I made some of the sweets that are obtainable in World of Warcraft during the Hallow's End world event, and while I made one of the four sweets, I had a thought. I made hard candy for the Pyroblast Balls, and had a lot of mixture left over which I poured into a small tin to smash. It shattered nicely, like coloured glass, which gave me this idea.

   I decided for this that I wasn't going to colour it, but unfortunately the sugar did brown slightly, but I've found it looks very nice and golden. I sprinkled golden stars over the top, too, but they're not too noticable until you look for them. But they still work nicely on the cake.

   I used 250ml of water and 500g of sugar. I added the two together in a medium saucepan and stirred over a medium heat for about 5 minutes until the sugar had dissolved. I then stopped stirring and let it boil, then I turned the heat to high and stuck the candy thermometer in and let it rise to 150C, 'Crack'. It took some time, so I made sure I had some foil layed out to one side for me to carelessly drop the candy thermometer onto when I was done, and make sure the tray or mould I'm pouring the mixture into is right next to it.
   The temperature rose really quickly first, but slowed down as it got to 100. It went slowly until it hit about 135C, and it started to speed up a little. You have to keep an eye on it because it cannot exceed 150C. If you want to add any flavouring or colouring, do it when it reaches about 140/145C. Adding it sooner will allow the flavour to evaporate and it can burn the colour. You don't need to stir it at this point either because the hot, bubbling mixture will stir itself. I was sceptical about it but when I made my Pyroblast Balls, which were red, I added a tiny bit of red powder and it was mixed throughout very quickly without me touching it. I flavoured mine with Lor Ann Champagne flavouring oil. Very potent, you only need a smidge.
   Once it reaches 150, which it will do quickly, take it off the heat immediately. If you're pouring it into moulds, transfer it to a pyrex/heat-proof measuring jug and pour it with that because it will stop it cooking. If you're just pouring it into a tray like I did, you don't need the jug, just pour it from the pan as no precision is needed at that point.
   It will set quick, so move fast. Take the candy thermometer out and drop in on the foil - no need to worry about mess from the sugar mix dripping off of the thermometer - and then pour the mix into the tray (I used about 10x7 tray, 1.5 inches deep, though it only filled 1cm deep) which should be right next to the foil to save time. If you're adding anything like sprinkles or edible stars or whatnot to it then sprinkle them on top as soon as you've poured it all out. The surface will still be sticky in 5 minutes but nothing will properly stick to it at that point. You need to sprinkle things onto it immediately, so make sure everything is ready and immediately on hand.

   Let it set. You can leave it a few hours, or over night to be sure. I noticed that when I came back to it the next day the top was still slightly soft - meaning that when I hit it, it left a dent, first. But it had properly set, and it did shatter properly.
   Take something hard and heavy. I admittedly used the handle of a screwdriver, which I thoroughly cleaned and boiled a few times the day before. I used the handle to smash the sugar. Don't be gentle with it, it really isn't a gentle thing. It'll be loud, so prepare yourself. It's a good way to let out tension! Remember that if you're hesitant. The sugar will crack and smash in the tray, but the tray will be fine, shatter the sugar and then empty it onto a plate for use that day, or into an airtight container for use later. If it's left with exposure to the air, it'll start to melt away in the same way candyfloss does, so it's best to make it the day before you need it.
   I only actually ended up using about a quarter of the sugar for this project, but the more mixture you have, the better. But if you're concerned you're making too much, use a smaller tin, and remember that it's 1 water to 2 sugar. Sprinkle, drop, or position the candy on top of an iced cake. It adds a nice difference in texture, believe it or not, but you can always just use it as a decoration and remove it when it's ready to eat if you're worried. It is hard, so elderly people and small children may not want it. At the end of the day, I did it for presentation, and I was so pleased with how it worked out. The sugar did turn a bit golden, but that doesn't happen if you add colouring. You could make it green and have a grinch cake, with green sponge and white icing and fondant baubles or something.

   It's easy to clean up, too. Just soak the tray, the thermometer, the saucepan and, if you used one, the measuring jug in water. The sugar mix will dissolve, though the hotter the better and a little washing up liquid doesn't hurt either. It'll be as good as new. But, beware: if you used a measuring jug to pour the mixture, chances are there will be a little bit of mixture on the spout, and it gets surprisingly sharp. So be careful. I'd never cut myself on sugar before until I went to soak the sugar off!

NaBloPoMo November 2013

1 comment:

  1. That looks gorgeous and yummy! I'll have to make this. :)

    Btw, found this link via NaBloPoMo.


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