Michelle Darmody bakes espresso and pecan cake and chocolate lime mousse

THE temperature of your baking ingredients can affect the outcome.

You may have your butter out of the fridge and at room temperature but if the room temperature is in the teens the butter will act differently than if room temperature were in the 20s.

This also goes for ingredients whose temperature we never really think about, a bag of flour can be sitting at the back of a cold cupboard and be cool to touch.

If this is the case it is not the end of the world, but you may have to adjust your baking techniques to accommodate.

Michelle Darmody
Michelle Darmody

Pastry dough may seem a little dryer than usual on a cold winter’s day but do not add more water, trust your recipe, particularly if it has worked for you on a previous occasion.

Also, when creaming butter and sugar, it may take longer if the sugar is under 20C.

If there is a chill in the air just use your senses a little more and keep an eye on the texture, you may need a little extra patience to get the mixture to the desired light and fluffy stage.

Cold buttercream will have a greasy-mouth feel, and stiff consistency, which will make it difficult to spread over a cake. If you find the icing is too cold and stiff, beat in a little warm milk and it should soften and become more spreadable.

As a general rule, when baking you use room-temperature eggs.

This is because they expand better when beaten, but if you forget to take them out of the fridge you can submerge your chilled eggs in warm water for several minutes before adding them to your cake mixture.

Espresso and pecan cake with soft chocolate buttercream

225g of warm butter

215g of golden caster sugar

225g of self-raising flour

2 tsp of baking powder, sieved

100g of pecan nuts, chopped

3 eggs, lightly beaten

40 mls of espresso

Michelle Darmody bakes espresso and pecan cake and chocolate lime mousse

For the icing

150g of soft butter

250g of icing sugar

25g of cocoa powder

1 tsp of vanilla extract

Line a 9in round tin with baking parchment and heat the oven to 180C.

Place the soft butter and the caster sugar into your mixing bowl and whisk until the mixture is light and fluffy.

In another bowl combine the rest of the cake ingredients. Add these to the butter and sugar mixture and mix slowly until everything is combined.

Scoop the mixture into the prepared tin and flatten it out. Bake for 35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool completely.

To make the icing, whisk all of the ingredients until light and fluffy and turning pale in colour. Add to the cake with a pallet knife and decorate it with fresh fruit and edible flowers.

I find it looks better to ice the cake after you turn it upside down, it gives a flatter surface.

Marmalade cake with chocolate ganache

250g of soft butter

The zest of 4 oranges and 100ml of orange juice

320g of golden caster sugar

4 eggs

225g of self-raising flour

75g of plain flour

80g of marmalade

For the icing

150ml of cream

150g of dark chocolate, broken into even-sized pieces

Heat the oven to 170C and line an 8in round tin with parchment. Beat butter, orange zest and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs slowly, one at a time.

Slowly mix in the flour, juice and marmalade.

Scoop the mixture into your tin and bake for an hour. Check with a skewer to see if it needs more time.

To make the ganache, heat the cream until it shivers, which is just before it boils.

Remove it from the heat and stir in the small pieces of chocolate. They should melt with a few stirs, if not, place back over a gentle heat until they do.

Allow to cool so it is the consistency of warm butter.

Spread over the cake.

Chocolate lime mousse

150g of dark chocolate

The zest of 3 limes

6 egg whites

2 tbsp of golden caster sugar

Michelle Darmody bakes espresso and pecan cake and chocolate lime mousse

To decorate

2 tbsp of whipped cream

Edible flowers

Place the chocolate into a heat-proof bowl and set it over some boiling water until the chocolate has melted. Stir in the lime zest.

While your chocolate is melting whisk the egg whites and sugar until stiff peaks form.

Add about a tablespoon of the egg and sugar mixture to the melted chocolate and mix vigorously before carefully folding in the remaining egg whites into the chocolate.

Scoop into chilled glasses and allow to set in the fridge for two to three hours.

Serve each with a dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle on some edible flowers or lime zest.

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