In mythology, religion and folklore stories, trees are often considered sacred and possess an almost magical-like nature. In many parts of the world, travelers consider certain types of trees to be wishing trees, others revere and respect them like Gods and associate them with oracles. Some are even convinced that trees and their surroundings (woods, forests and the animals that inhabit them) are haunted by spirits and that sacrifices should be made to maintain the equilibrium and peace. Over the centuries, writers have many a time used trees, woods, and forests in children’s literature and fairy tales. Such stories often feature entities such as elves, goblins, dwarfs, talking animals and use magic and enchantments. Enid Blyton, for instance, wrote the first of many children’s novels called “The Enchanted Wood” at the beginning of the XXth century. The other famous author who set his novels at the edge of a magical forest with mythical beasts and talking animals was C. S. Lewis with his famous “Chronicles of Narnia”…
As autumn comes slowly to a close I thought it a good idea to bake a cake in the shape of a tree stump to mark the end of the fall season and all that goes with it… Wow your friends and guests with this easy to make and absolutely gorgeous cake, and let your mind wander to magical places such as enchanted forests filled with pixies and fairies dancing around large red toadstools, tree frogs happily croaking in the rain, and if you look really carefully you might even catch a glimpse of the folk, running busily up and down the ladder and through the cloud that leads to the top of the enchanted faraway tree…
Basic yogurt cake recipe
- 125g plain yogurt
- 375g flour
- 250g caster sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 125ml vegetable oil
- 4 teaspoons of baking powder
- A few drops of natural vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 200°C (thermostat 6-7, 400°F). Grease a deep 5cm thick baking tin.
In a large bowl, mix the yogurt, sugar, vanilla extract and eggs together with a whisk until frothy and smooth. Add the baking powder and flour, bit by bit. Mix well and then pour the oil. Bake for about 35-45minutes or until the tip of the knife comes out clean. Be careful not to burn the cake. Leave to cool on a turntable before icing the cake.
For the icing
- 150g of mascarpone
- 30g icing sugar
- 200g dark chocolate
- Dark green food colouring
- 100g white sugar paste (For the toadstools)
- 50g ruby red sugar paste (For the toadstools)
- A fork
- A piping bag and flower nozzle
In another bowl, beat the mascarpone and icing sugar together. Reserve for later. Melt the dark chocolate on the stove on a low heat. Be careful not to cook the chocolate else it will become a thick and hard paste and be impossible to pipe later on. Once the chocolate is melted, pour into a small mixing bowl with 2/4 of the mascarpone. Beat until creamy.
In a second bowl, add some green food colouring to the white mascarpone and beat until the mascarpone is completely homogenous. Your last bowl will have the rest of the white mascarpone icing.
Chose your nozzles and put each colour into a different piping bag (there will be three different piping bags with 3 different piping nozzles). Ice the sides of the cake with some white icing and level it out with a long spatula so that when you make the brown designs they will stick nicely. Then, ice the top of the cake with some white icing and add some chocolate icing to make it light brown. With a fork make large, round concentric circles.
Then take the dark brown chocolate icing and start piping along the sides making different designs. Make the roots of the tree stump with the same icing. Add some moss to the sides and top of the cake with the green icing and place the toadstools decoratively around the stump. Scatter some leaves and twigs around the cake for a more realistic effect and sprinkle some gold dust for an even more magical effect!
Make the experience even more magical by enjoying a slice of cake while sipping hot blackberry tea in the dim light of a candlelit room!
I hope to see you here next week for my last autumnal post before starting off the winter period…