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S'mores Cake

I do not have a clever anecdote, relevant life story or poignant statement in relation to this cake, instead I can offer a few simple home truths. It was my friend Felicia’s birthday yesterday, she’s a pastry chef and therefore deserved a spectacle more thoughtful and curious than the usual birthday fare; rich chocolate cake, malty and salty ganache, crunchy crumbs and chewy, charred marshmallow. Sound legit? Well. This cake ended up so intense it made the aperture blades in my brand new lens seize up (no joke, I’m now spending my day off tomorrow visiting the camera service centre). This s’mores cake literally forced my camera into a food coma just by looking at it.

The directions, dare I say gospel, according to Momofuku’s class act via Bonappetit were followed to a tee however their signature naked-cake style was abandoned in lieu of my penchant for a good chocolate drip cake. It was kept messy all ’round since successfully hiding behind the guise of rustic when in actual fact I lack kitchen finesse is my greatest aesthetic flaw trait. If you enjoy your sweet treats tall and gooey this might just be the cake for you, a Momofuku recipe with a heavy-handed twist.

S'mores Cake
S'mores Cake
S'mores Cake
S'mores Cake


S’mores Cake (by Momofuku / Christina Tosi via Bon Appetit)
Milk Crumbs
3/4 cup milk powder
1/2 cup flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons corn flour
3/4 teaspoon sea salt flakes
80g butter, melted
12 tablespoons Ovaltine mix
80g white chocolate, melted

Malt-fudge sauce
1 1/3 cups Ovaltine mix
120g dark chocolate (I used Lindt 70%)
1 teaspoon molasses
Pinch of sea salt flakes
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup glucose / corn syrup
1/4 cup sugar

Chocolate cake
60g dark chocolate
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup dutch-process cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
170g butter, room temperature
2 1/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons glucose / corn syrup
3 eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Malt soak
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons Ovaltine mix

2x packets mini marshmallows (sorry didn’t make note of the grams!)
Brûlée torch

Milk crumbs
1. Preheat oven to 130°C. Combine milk powder, flour, sugar, corn flour and salt in medium bowl; toss to mix evenly. Add melted butter and stir with fork until clusters form. Spread mixture evenly onto baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bake until crumbs are dry and crumbly but still pale, about 10-15 minutes. Once cool toss in a bowl with Ovaltine mix and white chocolate. Toss until completely coated and allow to dry.

Malt-fudge sauce
1. Place Ovaltine, chocolate, molasses and salt in a bowl and set aside. Combine cream, corn syrup, and sugar in bowl and microwave until everything has dissolved. Pour cream mixture over chocolate mixture and let stand for 1 minute, then stir until smooth. Whisk until sauce is glossy. Set aside.

Chocolate cake
1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Coat three 8-inch cake pans with nonstick spray. Line bottom of each pan with parchment round and coat parchment with nonstick spray. Place chocolate in small bowl and microwave in 15-second intervals just until melted, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
2. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt into medium bowl. Combine butter, sugar, and glucose in large bowl and beat on medium-high speed until fluffy and pale, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl and add eggs. Beat to incorporate then increase speed to medium-high and beat until mixture is fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add melted chocolate and beat briefly until blended. Add buttermilk, oil, and vanilla and beat until pale brown, about 2 minutes. Add dry ingredients and beat on low speed just until blended. Divide batter among pans.
3. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20-30 minutes. Cool completely in pans on racks.

Malt soak
1. Stir milk and Ovaltine in small bowl.

To assemble
1. Rewarm sauce until just pourable. Spoon a couple of tablespoons of it in the centre of your cake board and place the first chocolate cake round on top (this is to ensure it stays put). Brush over a few tablespoons of the malt soak, cover with some chocolate sauce, just under a third of it (allowing some to ooze over the edge if you feel so inclined), add a third of the malt crumbs and a quarter of the mini marshmallows. Torch the layer of marshmallows lightly for that charred, s’morsey feel. Add a little drizzle of chocolate sauce and add the second cake round. Repeat adding malt soak, chocolate sauce, crumbs marshmallows, torching and more sauce. Add the third cake round. This time top the cake with more sauce then the remainder of the marshmallows. Torch those bad boys then sprinkle with the remainder of the milk crumbs and drizzle the rest of the chocolate sauce on top (a word of advice: if it begins to do the leaning tower of Pisa thing, don’t sweat it; it’s rustic and beautiful). Add birthday candles and you’re all set.

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As bloggers we are content creators, we make neat stuff whether it be photos, drawings or pieces of insightful writing to entertain and/or educate the internet masses. If we have a corner of the internet we have a responsibility to represent ourselves in entirety; creatively, emotionally, whatever. We push the boundaries of what we know and enjoy and create new and exciting things to share. In turn we are inspired by what others do. An honest blog is a beautiful outlet of nice sentiments and hard work. Personally, my benchmark of a good post is one that disregards all the trends and basks in the sweet glow of straight up originality (if there even is such a thing).


This weekend something took hold of me. A terrible monster. Like the devil’s grip I was thrown into the shallow abyss of kawaii cake trends. On Friday night I was up at 2am gluing small triangles onto striped twine and you know what? I felt so alive… like I was patting a pack of pugs whilst simultaneously poaching an egg for brunch. I made ombré cakes, I stacked them high and got rustic with a Wilton #125 tip. Pink. Chocolate. Strawberries. Ruffles (kinda). Bunting. Is this how God feels (on one of his more leisurely days)? Can I put a bird on it? These are my dirty kicks. I was possessed by a beautiful twee monster all in the name of creating a nice birthday cake for my friend Julie. HAPPY BIRTHDAY JULIE!

Basically what I’m trying to say is sometimes I cannot resist the warm, comforting yet disgusting lure of a good dessert trend. Ombré + bunting. It’s Etsy crack, it’s twee porn. But it’s ok (sometimes), or at least that’s what I’m trying to convince myself. I did not choose the Etsy life, the Etsy life chose me.

I named this a “Neapolitan Cake” mostly for the wank, however, upon actually tasting the combination of vanilla cake, chocolate ganache/buttercream, strawberry swiss meringue buttercream and slices of fresh strawberries together the cake really did emulate flavours of a straight up ghetto tub of Neapolitan ice cream. So good. One of my favourite cakes to date. In fact, pastry chef Felicia said it best when she confided “I know exactly what’s in this icing yet I can’t stop eating it”.

Because I so often keep it real I don’t have any staged “slicing of the cake” photos, instead I have some unglamorous shots as it was divided between the 12 of us at a restaurant in Glebe. In true (new?) alanabread style I’ve illustrated how to construct this tower of twee (no recipe this time but send me an email if you’d like some assistance on that front). Otherwise just stack it, dirty ice it then slater it (maybe stab it with bunting if you’re ready to embrace twee).

Also (not even an attempt at a suave segue here), I was recently informed alanabread was not only nominated but is a finalist in the Voices of 2013 blog awards! So thank you so, so very much to everyone who nominated me and of course to the judges, I really appreciate the recognition. Congratulations to all my blogging peers also, you can find the list of finalists here. But, I digress (sneaky tear), here are some cake related pixels. Good luck and enjoy!

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Happy 26th Birthday to me. YIKES.

I’m constantly saying birthdays are the most important time of the year; it’s a time that reminds us of the importance for being grateful for the wonderful friends we keep, it brings everybody together. This year I’ve felt too unemployed, too useless and therefore too undeserving to even begin contemplating the fine art of celebration for myself (the only happiness I see is the bottom of ice cream tubs) and it’s unfortunate that such a happy occasion should fall on such an awkward time in my life. But, thanks to some encouraging family and friends we partied nice this weekend and it was good.

Such a terrifying number (twenty six, say it with me now) amplified by my post graduate and job seeking status warranted the creation of a delightful cake screaming of age denial. Welcome to my life, banana split cake; banana cake with a dulce de leche filling covered in yellow buttercream, chocolate glaze, honeyed cashews, 100s and 1000s, faux ice cream buttercream scoops in neapolitan colours and even more nuts, sprinkles, cherries and wafers. If your cake doesn’t scream “DIABETES” then you’re doing something wrong. This is an ode, no, a blaring symphony to my cake philosophy; FONDANT NEVER, BUTTERCREAM FOREVER. It’s my legacy instilled in sugar.

For a cake that began as a humble sketch pictured above it seemed apt to illustrate the procedure for creating this buttery wonder instead of documenting via photos and I assure you the lack of fancy cross-section photos has nothing to do with the eternal struggle between gin brain and camera/knife wielding after blowing out the candles. Guys, did I make an idiot out of myself when I made that speech… ? RIP me. Death by embarrassment.

The banana cake recipe was taken from a classic Women’s Weekly book (my mum used to make it all the time (~FAMILY HISTORY~)) and the dulce de leche filling was made by slow-cooking condensed milk in a bain-marie with a pinch of salt (too scared to boil dat can).

Beautiful, flourishing emotions aside, here’s how to decorate it; you’ll need two 9 inch rounds of cake, a filling of your choice (optional), lots of buttercream, food colouring (I find gel is best), crushed nuts, sprinkles / 100s and 1000s, chocolate, cream and glucose / corn syrup. It will make any 26 year old cry with happy tears or at the very least gently ease them into the final year of their “mid 20s”. There is no such thing as age appropriate when it comes to cake.

… twenty… six.


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One year ago I mustered up the strength, vague coding skills and whatever cutsey thread of illustrator I had left in me to start this blog.

DID YOU KNOW? I only learnt to cook a few years ago. Living with my family I found little reason to as the food that pours from my mum’s kitchen, and extended family’s too, is close to perfection. I began fending for myself out of necessity when I moved out of home and soon learnt that preparing an honest meal for my friends and neighbours was one of the most humbling and enjoyable things to do. I began cooking more and more, documenting everything I did along the way so I wouldn’t forget. Eventually the scraps of paper and my poor memory weren’t cutting it and I’m certain the flood of ~food pics~ in my friends’ Facebook feed was becoming more of an irritation than some quirky fun; it was around this time I decided to create a delicious outlet of my own. The Sydney food blog scene at the time seemed a curious thing, however; super cliquey and with more emphasis on outings than to meals itself, or so I thought. I wanted to contribute to the pool with some dishes and stories of typical things I prepare at home for myself and treats I create for the special people in my life. Couple this with a drastic yearning for a career change, bringing my yuppie, inner-west lifestyle to a screeching halt in order to return to university to study something that actually resonated with me and hopefully assist in finding myself a job that didn’t have me questioning my life anytime the morning alarm tore me from my bed, so relentlessly, each and every day. Throw in a new found appreciation for digital photography and bam. Hello alanabread.

Since a year ago my photography has improved immensely. I no longer identify myself as a cupcake/macaron girl as my savoury repertoire is ever expanding. I’m working on a little book and have even submitted food photography as fine art prints for my final year of university. I occasionally intern as a café photographer for a Sydney magazine and here and there I receive little jobs to bake a box of treats for a special somebody’s event. Hey, I’ve even written a little book review. A couple of posts have won some prizes. It’s snowballing, and that’s awesome. Combined with my studies this is a great foundation of skills I’ve managed to piece together from this little blog. The above image is a chronological excerpt of every post thus far, it’s like a crazy gradient of memories and self-improvement.

The point I’m trying to make here is that putting yourself out there, especially on the internet, is hard. Weird and hard. And although I am passionate about so many things I barely possesses the ability to act on them these days, unfortunately ambition doesn’t rank too highly in my skillset (I can say the same for drive and confidence) due to a number of stupid reasons I am trying so desperately to change, so this is kind of a big deal to me (it’s been a difficult year). I’m clearly getting a little sentimental over here however I cannot end this longwinded sentiment without thanking all of my super friends, new and old, for their immense encouragement. So, thank you!! I appreciate you guys so much it makes my heart explode.

Anyway. This is getting a little too real, all I wanted to do was post some pretty pictures! Hahahahaha… ahh. Anyway, I’m going to shove my emotions aside for a moment with this small list of a things I’ve discovered and learnt as a “food blogger” over the year. They may or may not be relevant to you but I felt compelled to share nonetheless:

  • The term “foodie” isn’t a swear. It’s ok. Embrace it! Don’t shudder.
  • Did Foodgawker or Tastespotting just decline your photo? Who cares. This has no bearing on your amazing skills; they are but a couple of people with opinions. These kind of foodporn sites may attract pageviews but statistically these guys only stick around for a few seconds; true fans will visit your site over and over.
  • There’s no shame in mentioning and crediting your inspiration; don’t be that guy who rips off others! Bad reps spread like wildfire. If somebody does rip off your stuff however then try to take it as a compliment. Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, etc etc.
  • Ignore the haters. For every good thing you do there’ll be somebody to try and drag you down. Whatevz! Jealousy is a horrible thing and it’s a big, big shame what it can do to people.
  • Shaking your head at Tumblr idiots who never credit your images, no matter how hard you shake, won’t make them go away.
  • Take a break if you’re too flustered to take photos after cooking! Have a rest, make some coffee, come back to it a little later. You’ll end up with a an uneditable, subpar image (and probably a sticky camera).
  • Lightroom, guys. PHOTOSHOP. Adjustment layers and all that. Post-processing is just as important as hitting the shutter on your camera. Don’t just throw a filter over all your images, zoom in and have fun emphasising all the best aspects of your images.
  • It’s better to over-cook than under-cook (I’m talking quantities here).
  • Second hand stores have the best styling props.
  • If you’re into sugar then kitchen thermometers are a must have (sugar is a harsh mistress with no time for those of us who attempt to wing it).
  • Cream cheese filling in a macaron is a no-no.
  • Salt works in everything, especially chocolate.
  • If an experimental recipe doesn’t work out then try it again some other time. Never dismiss anything even if it takes a few months to get back to that recipe.
  • If you feel as though favourite cuisine or baked good has been over-saturated or played out try and re-invent it! Make it bigger, better, tastier, cuter.

And, most importantly…

  • Don’t cook for your blog. Cook for yourself, your family and your friends, then blog about it.

Thank you for reading and thank you so much for visiting my humble blog. I mean that with my entire essence and every thread of all that is me. :’)

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