Monday, 6 February 2017

Lactation Cookies

I've recently given birth to our first baby and whilst breastfeeding is going reasonably well I've been keen to increase my supply to give us the flexibility of his dad feeding him expressed breastmilk from a bottle. This allows dad and baby to bond and gives and me a little independence.

Anecdotally one of the ways to increase breastmilk supply is to eat 'lactation cookies'. Their ingredients of brewers yeast, flax seed (aka linseed) and oats are apparently lactogenic and increase the production of breastmilk.  I'm not sure if their effect is just placebo but if they taste ok then there's no harm in trying!

The original recipe that I tried didn't taste great; it was quite a scone-like texture and I could taste the yeast. I decided to tweak the recipe to make it tastier whilst maintaining the 'active' ingredients.

Here's my version of the recipe;

  • 1 tbsp flaxseed/linseed
  • 110g softened unsalted butter
  • 150g soft light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1tsp ground ginger
  • 1.5 tbsp brewers yeast powder. 
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 140g plain flour
  • 65g oats
  • 80g Crystallised stem ginger finely chopped 

Preheat oven to 180c
Blitz linseed to a powder in the blender. If your blender's not powerful enough to do this you can buy milled flaxseed but it's much more expensive. I tried a pestle and mortar and a cheaper food processor and neither were powerful enough.
Combine linseed powder with 2 tbsp water in a mug and leave for 5 mins. It should turn into to a jelly like goop.
If your brewers yeast is in a tablet form then grind to a powder in a pestle and mortar.
Meanwhile cream butter and sugars together in a food processor.
Add to that the egg and linseed goop and mix.
Add brewers yeast, flour, salt and ground ginger and mix well.
Add oats and stem ginger and mix till evenly distributed.
Line two baking trays with baking parchment
Take heaped desert spoonfuls of mixture and place on baking sheet, flattening as much as you can. Space the cookies we'll as they spread. You should get about 12 large cookies.
Bake for 10-12 mins till golden then allow to cool on the baking tray till firm.

Monday, 1 August 2016

King of the Mountain Cycling Jersey Cake

King of the mountains cycling jersey cake

My dad's favourite hobby is cycling, and when it came time to make a cake for his birthday we knew that it needed to have a cycling theme. I've unsuccessfully tried to make bicycles from sugar before so quickly ruled out designs that needed any kind of bicycle. In the end I settled on this more achievable jersey\t-shirt shape.

This cake was very much a family affair - made in collaboration with my mum with even some decorating assistance from my husband. We settled on the template style from this blog which seemed to both minimise the amount of off-cut wastage and also involved joining few pieces so the cake would still have some structure.

The left image below shows the template and how the jersey can be cut from a 12" x 10" cake - the largest we could make in a 12" adjustable cake tin. The right image shows the proportions on a 14" cake board.

King of the mountains cycling jersey cakeKing of the mountains cycling jersey cake

Mum baked the two massive sponges and soaked them with syrup before allowing them to firm up in the fridge overnight. This step was really important given the cakes were to be carved. They needed to be cooled properly or would have been be too crumbly. The next day she sliced the cakes into layers and filled them with jam and buttercream. Mum then cut around the template and rounded and softened the edges to make a less angular shape and finally coated with a generous layer of buttercream.

I decorated the cake whilst Mum got on with preparing the rest of the food for the family barbecue.

As usual I covered with a layer of marzipan then a layer of sugarpaste. As the shape was weird this didn't go around the arms smoothly but with a bit of trimming, coaxing and polishing then it eventually looked good.

I've struggled in the past to make really deep black or red icing so to keep things simple I bought Squires Kitchen ready coloured icing from the supermarket. I added some Tylo powder to the coloured icing so that it could be rolled really thinly. For the black decoration I simply wrote out 'DAD 50' in a word processor and printed that out. I used scissors to cut out the letters as templates that I placed on the icing to cut around with a knife. The circles were cut using a round cutter. After cutting I left the shapes to dry for 10 minutes to firm up before transferring to the cake and sticking down with edible glue made from more Tylo.

King of the mountains cycling jersey cake

King of the mountains cycling jersey cake

Monday, 13 June 2016

Japanese Cherry Blossom cake

Japanese cherry blossom cake

I'm a big fan of so many things about Japanese culture and one of my favourites is the idea of a 'hanami' party to welcome spring and celebrate the blossoming of the trees. Cherry blossom (sakura) and plum blossom (ume) are just so pretty! I really hope to visit Japan in the spring and enjoy a hanami party and drink sake under the blossoms some day. Until then you may find me in the garden in spring having a wee sake by my very own cherry tree...

I wanted to bake a Japanese themed cake for my friend Steph who spent six months working in Japan and was lucky enough to partake in the hanami festivities. I've previously made the below blossom cake for my cake decorating certificate. This time I wanted to make something with more impressive flowers using sugar florist paste.

Japanese blossom tree icingCake with model of Japanese lady in kimono made of sugarpaste

The design is very much based on the fondant fancies in from Peggy Porschen's Cake Chic. Given how much I love blossoms I'm not sure why I've not made this before!

It's a normal 6" cake decorated with pink fondant. You can see my other blog posts here with instructions on how to bake and decorate the basic cake.

It's been quite warm and humid this week which complicated things. The buttercream was very runny and struggled to be whipped so I had to refrigerate it to firm it up. The heat also made the marzipan and icing extra pliable and easy to stretch and tear so I may resort to lightly chilling them the next time I bake in summer. I'll certainly be allowing extra time when baking when it's warm in future.

How to make japanese cherry blossoms from sugar florists paste using a sponge and ball or boning tool

The petals are made from sugar florist paste. This is an icing with added gums that mean it can be worked very, very thinly. I first rolled the paste and used a blossom cutter to cut out the simple flower shape. I then placed the blossom on a cake decorating sponge and gently thinned further using a ball tool. The tool should be rubbed over the flower evenly until it is consistently very thin and almost see-through. Finally to really flute the edges I rubbed the tool with a fairly firm pressure just over the edge. I left the flowers to shape and dry in an an artists palette that had been dusted with corn flour to prevent it sticking.

Blossoms made from sugar florists pastes drying in an artists palletDusting sugar florist paste flowers

Once dry the next stage was to give the flowers a light dusting in the centre with some dusting powder. I used a tiny brush and a small drop of claret dust which I'd lightened with some white dust for a more subtle finish.

I then made and coloured pink some royal icing which I added to a small piping bag with a tiny 'no 1' piping nozzle. I piped tiny dots of royal icing in the centre for the stamen.

Handmade sugar cherry blossom

I then piped a larger dot to the back of each flower and used that to attach the flowers to the cake.