I honestly cannot believe it. I have to post this a day early, because during my blog’s actual birthday tomorrow, I will be flying somewhere over Europe.
June 17th, 2011 this blog was born, with my first post about a Devil’s Food Cake I baked for my brother’s birthday. That is a post I will certainly not be linking you back to, because it is
somewhat very embarrassing. Particularly the photos, ones which I took with my iPhone, and with a flash. I’m actually cringing just thinking about them.
So now I’m going to tell you the story, about how I started my blog.
A year ago, before all of this started, I was studying a Bachelor of Arts at university and majoring in Public Relations. I had always loved to bake, and ever since I was 12 I kept a little notebook of recipes and photos of things I had made. But I never even considered turning my love of baking into a career.
Until I started a PR internship, that is. As all the girls around the office were on their phones all day, schmoozing the media while I was sitting at my computer churning out press releases, and it struck me suddenly, like a slap across the face. What on earth am I doing? I don’t want to do this. I hate this. I just want to bake cakes.
Literally. I don’t even like cakes, but I remember whining down the phone to my friend, “What am I doing??? I just want to bake cakes!”.
So I started Butter. I still wanted to finish the 6 months I had left of my degree because I enjoyed studying, but I needed a baking outlet, and this blog is what I created. This past year, I have spent most of the days I have off baking. Baking and baking and taking photos and then baking some more. And although the photo styling can get annoying, I love the baking part!
When I started Butter, I was in a relationship which has now ended, but I will be forever grateful for the encouragement and support I received. He pushed me to start blogging, was my number one promoter and builder of prop boards, and my photos would probably still be of iPhone + flash quality if it were not for him! Thank you.
And thank you to you! All of you. To my subscribers, to my readers, to anyone who pops by occasionally to take a look or leave a comment or try a recipe. I thank you, because it is you who makes this blog special, it is you who makes me smile when I read your lovely comments, and it is all of you who have helped Butter grow and develop and morph into what it is today. Because I honestly thought no one would ever read Butter, and everyday it just surprises me as it grows. I still can’t believe that people are actually interested in the ramblings I come up with, you know?
I have learned so much and gained so much from blogging! I have learned a little about photography and styling my photos, bought myself a DSLR, tried out hundreds (literally) of recipes, had many successes and a few errors, and made blogging friends! I am even lucky enough to say that I am going to have a baking day in Berlin with a blogging friend I made through Butter in July!
Since starting my blog, I got a job at a cupcake shop and now I wake up at 5 or 6am a few mornings a week to bake the beautiful cupcakes they sell. I have never been a morning person, but look what loving something does to you!
I also started studying patisserie, and am now halfway through my course. I enjoy it so much, going to culinary school and baking, that I know deep inside I’m on the right path for me.
So today I have baked a cake, for Butter’s birthday (or is it an anniversary?), for myself to celebrate a year of following my baking dreams, and most importantly for you, to thank you for visiting and making Butter what it is today. I hope you enjoy it
PS. Like I mentioned at the top of this post, I am leaving for Europe tonight! I will be gone for a month, but I will still be posting as often as I can. And Butter has now expanded over onto Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram, so come over and follow me there too!
For the pastry cream
Adapted from Flour.
2 1/2 cups milk (600ml)
1 cup sugar (200g)
4 tbsp plain flour
3 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
8 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
To make the pastry cream, pour the milk into a medium saucepan and scald the milk – heat it until bubbles appear around the edges, but it is not boiling.
While the milk is heating, mix together the sugar, flour and salt in a small bowl.
In a large heatproof bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and vanilla. Whisk the flour mixture to the egg yolks slowly, a couple of tablespoons at a time. It will be thick and pasty.
Once the milk is heated, slowly pour it into the egg mixture, whisking continuously. Once it is all incorporated, pour it back into the saucepan and heat over a medium heat. Whisk continuously and vigorously until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil.
Once the mixture is thickened and just beginning to bubble, whisk vigorously for 10 seconds and then turn off the heat, This cooks out the taste of flour.
Pour the pastry cream into a heatproof bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, putting the plastic right onto the surface of the pastry cream. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or until cold.
For the brownie base
Adapted from Alice Medrich’s Pure Dessert.
150g unsalted butter (5.4 oz)
1 1/4 cups caster sugar
3/4 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup plain flour
Preheat the oven to 170 C (325 F) and grease and line an 11 inch springform tin with baking paper.
Melt the butter in a large bowl in the microwave.
Add the sugar, stir to well combine and microwave for a further 30 seconds. Add the cocoa, salt and vanilla, stir well and microwave for a further 30 seconds. Stir very well until all the ingredients are combined.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well with a wooden spoon or spatula between each addition.
Add the flour and mix it in until it clears. Then beat the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon for 40 strokes.
Pour the batter into the prepared tin and smooth out the top.
Bake for 20 minutes, until the center is set and a toothpick inserted has moist crumbs. Set aside to cool.
For the layer biscuits
500g plain flour
150g caster sugar
3 tbsp honey
1 tsp soda
Turn up the oven to 180 C (350 F) and line as many large trays as you have with baking paper (you’ll need 8 in total but can always rotate them).
To make the biscuit dough, knead all the ingredients together by hand or in a food processor.
Divide the dough into 8 equal parts. On a floured surface, roll out each ball of dough into a very thin round, until it is the size of a dinner plate. Place a 11 inch springform tin (the same one you used for your brownie base) upside down on top of the rolled out dough and trim around it to remove the excess.
Place the rolled rounds of dough onto the baking trays and bake for 6 – 8 minutes until golden. Set aside to cool.
For the espresso Nutella buttercream
Chilled pastry cream (from above)
250g unsalted butter, softened (1 1/4 cups)
1/4 cup Nutella
1/2 cup strong coffee or espresso
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until it is very light and fluffy.
Add the pastry cream, a tablespoon at a time, beating well between each addition.
Add the Nutella and beat until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add the coffee, a couple of tablespoons at a time, beating well between each addition. Scrape down the bowl and give everything a good stir with a spatula.
For the Nutella ganache frosting
50g milk chocolate (1/4 cup)
140g Nutella (1/2 cup)
Melt the chocolate in a small microwave bowl in 30 second bursts, stirring between each burst.
Mix in the Nutella and set aside.
To assemble the cake
Espresso Nutella buttercream
Nutella ganache frosting
Set the brownie base on a cake stand. Top with about half a cup of buttercream and spread it evenly around using an offset spatula.
Top with a layer biscuit, pushing down gently. Then spread another half cup of buttercream over the biscuit. Repeat the process until all the biscuits and buttercream are used, finishing with a layer of buttercream.
Microwave the Nutella ganache for 30 seconds and give it a good stir.
Pour it onto the cake and spread it out to the edges using an offset spatula.
I’ve topped mine with a few garnishes I made by simply melting some chocolate and piping it into shapes.
Keep refrigerated. The cake is best eaten after at least one day in the fridge. Serves 10.