The Oven has baked its last loaf. This blog is no longer being updated.

My cooking videos appear at

I write on food at

Essential toppings

Sunday, January 1, 2012

I tell myself after Christmas that I am going to give myself some time before I mix up a combination of butter, sugar, eggs and flour again.
And then I go and do it all over again for New Year's Day.
I can't help myself.
It is only a simple chocolate cake with a simple frosting, but that is how I like it. I'm not big on cakes with lots of icing and fancy looking decorations like all those cupcakes that entice with the way they look but taste quite ordinary.
I like toppings that are baked on or into the cake, like streusel and fruit. The topping needs to add value to the cake and not simply be pretty.
There are a few toppings and cake fillings that I use over and over because they taste good and aren't very difficult to make.
I still don't have the perfect cream cheese icing, with just the right amount of sugar, and I never know when exactly to take caramelising sugar off the heat before it burns! Those are two of my quests for 2012.
* * *
Sour Cream Chocolate Frosting
Enough to fill and frost a two-layer 20cm cake
Perfect pairing: Any cake would be so lucky to have this frosting as a partner!

225g plain chocolate
¼ tsp salt
175g sour cream

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Cool slightly, then stir in the salt and sour cream. Use frosting immediately while it is still soft; it will get firmer when refrigerated.

* * *
Streusel Topping
Streusel-topped coffee cake
For a 22cm round cake
Perfect pairing: Coffee cake, fruit crumbles

100g walnuts, finely chopped
50g soft brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
50g unsalted butter, diced

Mix walnuts, sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl. Add butter and cut into the mixture with a pastry cutter or two butter knives until it forms clumps. Sprinkle on top of cake batter/fruit fillings or between layers before baking.

* * *
Chocolate Coconut Frosting
From Luscious Coconut Desserts by Lori Longbotham 
For a 22cm round cake. 
Perfect pairing: German chocolate cake

¾ cup evaporated milk
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
2 large egg yolks
Large pinch of salt
2 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tbsp cocoa powder, sifted
1½ cups dessicated or flaked coconut
1 cup chopped pecans
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk together the evaporated milk, brown sugar, egg yolks, and salt just until smooth in a medium heavy saucepan. Put the saucepan over medium heat, add the butter and cocoa powder, and cook, whisking constantly, for about 5 minutes until the butter has melted and the mixture is slightly thickened; do not let the mixture boil. Remove the saucepan from the heat. With a rubber spatula, stir in the coconut, pecans and vanilla. Let cool to room temperature before spreading on the cake.
* * *
Speckled: Mille crepe cake with vanilla (seed) pastry cream between the layers
Vanilla Pastry Cream
Makes about 2½ cups. Use as a filling; not suitable as frosting
Perfect pairing: Use to top a pavlova, or in a trifle, and between the pancakes in a mille crêpe cake.

250ml cream
250ml milk
120g caster sugar, divided
Seeds from 1 vanilla bean (preferable), or ½ tsp vanilla extract
30g cornstarch
Pinch of salt
70g room temperature egg yolks (about 4)

Combine cream, milk, 60g caster sugar and vanilla seeds or extract in a medium saucepan. Place on the stove and bring to the boil.
Meanwhile, combine cornstarch, the remaining 60g caster sugar and salt in a large bowl and whisk in the egg yolks until smooth, thick and pale yellow.
When the milk/cream mixture starts to boil, pour ¾ of the mixture into the yolk mixture. Whisk lightly until smooth. Then pour it all back into the pot with the remaining cream. Whisk briskly over medium-high heat until thick. Pour into a shallow pan to cool.


  1. Yummy recipes, I love the look of the mille crepe cake and the chocolate cake:)I too am not big on icing cakes as they only add extra calories! Happy new year to you Jane:D

  2. Wow, all your desserts look fantastic, but my favorite is the crepe cake, so impressive. I have a sweet treat linky party going on at my blog till Monday night and I'd love it if you'd stop by and link your treats up.

  3. That frosting does sound easy, and more tasty than an ordinary buttercream.
    Love the mille crepe cake...its GORGEOUS!

  4. The mille crepe cake looks divine!


Your views are welcome and appreciated. Have a nice day!