Saturday, 29 April 2017

Floating malteser cake for 10 year blog anniversary

Another birthday has come around for E and with it comes my 10th blog anniversary.  That is a lot of blog posts; 1921 posts, to be precise!  A lot of good food, good company and continuous learning.  It calls for some indulgent reflections before telling you about the floating Malteser birthday cake that E shares with my blog.

Let's start at the beginning (a very good place to start).  When I started, blogging was often about navel gazing.  I initially intended my blog to be a recipe notebook. I didn't really expect anyone to read it.  Though my blog has expanded far beyond that, I still love having this place to make recipe notes and often refer back to my blog (thank goodness for the index).   It is busy work.  To get a post up, I am a planner, a recipe developer, a cook, a taster, a photographer, a writer, an editor, a publisher and even occasionally a web developer.    No wonder sometimes I am amazed I have lasted this long.  Life is contantly busy and I have seen many bloggers come and go.  Yet I still love blogging and am glad I can continue to do it. 

[Above photo of a few favourite recipes that I make again and again:- Potato scones, Tofu besan omelette, Tofu bacon, Sausage rolls, Fast track pizza, Overnight sourdough bread, Mock tuna (chickpea) salad, Lemonade, Grubs.]

I was lucky in my early days of blogging to find a friendly and supportive community online.  I've hosted blog events, joined in memes, discussed copyright, reviewed cookbooks, and learnt a lot about web content management.  And I have met up with bloggers for lots of delicious food.  Unfortunately this seems less of a part of blogging these days.  And after 10 years I am sad that I am finding less time to respond to comments on my blog, though I still comment on other blogs.  However I remain indebted to the online community for so many opportunities to learn and share.

Nowadays blogging is a different and more professional world.  I started my blog before the social media sink hole opened up, before vlogging was an option, and when substance was more important than style.  Now a blogger is expected to have style, write for a larger audience, and use multiple social media platforms.  Sponsorship has replaced a lot of the advertising money.  Companies fly bloggers around the world and give all sorts of freebies in return for a good word online.  Mainstream media is now warily embracing blogging as a source of content.  Even I have had some exposure - my blog has made its way onto Disney, Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, The Guardian and Readers Digest websites.

[Above photo of some amazing fancy food that blogging has inspired: Vegetarian haggis wreath, Welsh nutroast with laverbread, leeks and cheese, Stargazy pie, Vegan mozzarella spiderweb pizzaOmbre potato and cheese torte, Vegemite fudge, Doughnuts topped with chocolate and coconut bacon, Kale cake, Malted sourdough loaf with chocolate, figs and brazil nuts

The blog has seem some of the joys and challenges that reflect my life, Aussie foods, visiting farmers markets, getting to know my sourdough starter, exploring food history, feeding a young child, learning to love nutritional yeast flakes, discovering aquafaba, celebrating local street art, using my high speed blender and recording what we are listening to on the stereo.

Personally I have had huge changes to my life since starting my blog.  I have given birth, acquired a hand model (aka a daughter), attended funerals, changed jobs, travelled, started wearing glasses,  made changes to my kitchen, had my car stolen, made new friends, bought my first smart phone, joined a book club, opened social media accounts, bought two DSLR cameras, and so much more that it is too hard to remember and list everything.

My blog began with a vampire birthday cake for my husband, E.  Above you can see previous birthday cakes I have made for E since I have started blogging.  Every year he now shares his birthday cake with my blog.  You might notice that the cakes have become a little more grown up.  This year for my blog's 10th anniversary, I decided to make a Floating Malteser Cake.  It was a lot of work.  Once it was done I kept admiring it and feeling amazed that I made it myself.

The cake presented quite a few challenges.  Firstly I decided I needed a tall cake.  This meant a layer cake.  And these have not always worked for me in the past.  I made a big bowl of Fudge Buttercream Icing.  A brilliant marriage of  buttercream icing and melted chocolate.  I was impressed with how fudgy it tasted.  Once on the cake it was really sweet, albeit the right colour for the Maltesers.

While I iced the cake, Sylvia and her friend cocnetrated on making a little house outside for an injured baby mouse they found.  I had told Sylvia she could help make the cake so I suggested they help me to put Kit Kats around the side of the cake.  Unfortunately after they had enthusiastically ripped the packaging off all 12 Kat Kat snack packs that I bought in a bag, we found that not all Kit Kats are the same length.  We set off to the supermarket for more Kit Kats I had bought and to return Sylvia's friend to her dad who was also shopping.

It really made a difference having Kit Kats that came up over the edge of the cake.  I then had to arrange the Maltesers and the packet to look like it was gravity defying as it poured Maltesers onto the cake.  This was not as easy as it looked.  First I poured in Maltesers around the straw (strengthened by a skewer inside).  Then I used melted chocolate to stick the Maltesers with a straw.  I found that this was much easier if the chocolate was almost cooled so it didn't take long to set.  I also used melted chocolate to glue some of the Maltesers in place that weren't sitting in the frosting but piled above it.

Once done, I was really pleased with my work.  It is the sort of cake I never thought I would make and wonder if I would have if not for blogging.  It is a totally impractical cake.  It is so tall and fragile that is hard to transport, hard to cut and hard to store.  I was glad we ate it at home. 

On E's birthday we just had a quiet night in.  We had vegan fish and chips from Kristy Turner's But I Could Never Go Vegan for dinner.  Then I had to work out how to cut the cake.  We were pretty full so I cut some small pieces.  Actually Sylvia helped.  Then I left it overnight so I could take photos in the morning.  On the evening of E's birthday it rained so hard that even during the late afternoon, it was hard to find any decent natural light.

When reflecting on my blog history, one of the changes is photography.  My photos have improved.  I have had quite a few cameras since starting the blog and now use a Canon DLSR with a macro lens for most photos and use my Mac Photos software to edit.  I have a light box but it is a faff to set it up so I usually hope I can find natural light.  At this time of year, that is easier said than done for evening meals.  You can compare the difference between our kitchen fluorescent light (above photo) and the light through the window (below photo).  Sometimes I think I should have started my blog in the middle of summer with longer hours of sunlight.

You might also notice that the Malteser packet is lower in the above photo.  This is quite a fragile cake.  It doesn't take much to knock the packet off the straw and I found it hardest to stick the Maltesers up in the mouth of the packet.  When photographing in the morning, the packet started to flap about of its own accord.  I had used a little sticky tape to secure this.  I carefully took off the tape and just propped it on the Maltesers.  I think it looks slightly less magic but is still impressive.

The Saturday after E's birthday, we took some cake and met up with my dad, my brother and many of Sylvia's cousins after gymnastics.  The 11 of us took the train to Bendigo to see the House of Mirrors installation at the art gallery.  Mirrors were set up as a maze in such a clever way it was hard to tell the difference between reality and reflection.  On the train home, when we were entertaining the kids, I asked everyone to draw a picture of me.  Above is a selection of their artwork.

I am sending this cake to Cook Blog Share at Everyday Healthy Recipes (coordinated by Kirsty)

More posts about Green Gourmet Giraffe and blogging
About Me
The ABC of GGG
Gang of Four meme
How has blogging changed: reflections on my blog and fellow bloggers  
In search of . . . (fun search terms)
My ten rules for food blogging    
Shoots, eats and blogs (top 10 list about blogging) 

If you want to know more about my blog, check out the menu at the top of the page for indexes, lists and kitchen notes. 

Floating Malteser Cake

1 vegan chocolate cake (recipe below)
1 batch fudge buttercream icing (recipe below)
36-38 Kit Kats. (the larger ones in the 4 pack)*
500-550g Maltesers*
50g chocolate
1 plastic bendy straw
1 wooden skewer
1 empty Maltesers bag
Sticky tape

Put one chocolate cake on a cake stand.  Cover top with the icing.  Top with the second chocolate cake.  Cover top and sides with icing.

Break Kit Kats into fingers.  Place fingers upright and side by side around the outside (Kit Kat writing on top facing inwards).

Stick skewer into the cake.  It does not have to be in the middle.   (I did the middle but I think if you placed it on the side as I have seen done, it might make it easier to slice into it initially.)  Place a straw over the skewer.  (The skewer will help keep the straw upright.)

Pour Maltesers onto the top of the cake.  Then use melted but slightly cooled chocolate to stick Maltesers to the straw.  (If the chocolate is too molten, you need to hold the Maltesers on the straw until the chocolate hardens and by then your fingers will probably have melted the Malteser chocolate.)

When you get to the bendy bit of the straw, you can sticky tape a Malteser bag to the straw, positioning it so that the open mouth of the bag is facing downwards.  Carefully use tape to stick the Malteser balls inside the packet so that it looks like they are being poured out of it.  (Alternatively you can stick the balls on the bent section of the straw at the top and then use chocolate to stick the packet to the Maltesers).

Once you have finished, add more Malteserts to the top of the cake or the ones around the straw to shape it nicely.  If you add them to the top of the cake and they are not touching the icing, I suggest some melted chocolate to stop them moving about if you move the cake.

Vegan chocolate cake
 Adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe

1 and 2/3 cups plain white flour
1 cup wholemeal plain flour
1 and 1/2 cups sugar (I used raw sugar)
2/3 cup cocoa
2 tsp bicarb soda (baking soda)
1 tsp salt
2 cup soy milk
2/3 cup oil
2 tsp vinegar
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 180 C.  Grease and line 2 x 20cm round cake tins.  Mix dry ingredients and then add wet ingredients.   Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.

Fudge buttercream icing
Adapted from BBC Good Food

100g milk chocolate chips
200g butter or margarine
400g icing sugar
4 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp milk*

Melt chocolate and set aside.  Cream butter and icing sugar.  (I used margarine so I was able to do the creaming with a spoon.)  Mix in melted chocolate, cocoa and milk until smooth.

*NOTES: I found the icing really soft.  Next time if I use Nuttalex margarine I might not add the milk. (I used soy milk.)  I made a vegan chocolate cake which I know holds its shape well.  Any sturdy sponge cake or mud cake would work here.  You can use different lollies than Maltesers - such as Smarties, M+Ms, Revels, Jaffas, Junior Mints, mini marshmallows, etc.  Likewise you can use different sticks around the edge - chocolate fingers, chocolate mint sticks, chocolate wafer sticks etc.  

If you wanted the cake the be vegan, it would be easy to make the chocolate cake and fudge icing  vegan (I think dark chocolate would work in the icing or a vegan milk chocolate).  For the lollies/sweeties/candy you could use skittles, mini oreos, vegan marshmallows or health food store vegan chocolates.

On the Stereo: 
Don't Try This At Home: Billy Bragg


  1. Happy 10 Year Blog Anniversary, and to many more Johanna.
    Yes, blogging has indeed changed. Yet you still continue to inspire me. I think your blog is Amazing, I think you are Amazing and so is the Malteser Cake. Please note I do not often use the world amazing and when I do, I truly mean it x

    1. Belated Birthday wishes to your E too.

    2. Thanks Shaheen - so pleased to inspire you as your blog is always inspiring too.

  2. Happy birthday to E and 10th blog anniversary to you! 10 years is very impressive in a blogging world that is ever changing and often sees bloggers come/go quite quickly. I am certainly glad you are still posting and continue to enjoy your inspiring recipe ideas and thoughtful wording of posts.

    This cake is incredible - what an achievement.

    1. Thanks Kari - Glad you are still reading - always enjoy reading your posts too for lots of inspiration and thoughtful words

  3. Congratulations on your blogging anniversary. Love to read these "behind the scenes" posts. And the cake looks fab too.

    1. Thanks Jo - I really love behind the scenes posts and think an anniversary is the perfect time for one

  4. Congratulations on your Blogoversary - it is really great that you exist, persist and make all the effort, so thank you. Some of my self-made yummies come directly from you and I am really grateful. Happy birthday to your husband, too :-)

    1. Thanks Alcessa for your lovely comment - nice to hear from you - glad you have enjoyed some of the recipes I have shared here - always makes me a little amazed but very happy that readers like yourself try my recipes - so pleased the dishes work for you as well as they work for me.

  5. What a fab cake!! It looks amazing. Happy blogiversary. My blog turns 10 at the end of May, and it is astonishing the life changes that have happened since then. Enjoy your blogiversary and congratulations!!

    1. Thanks Cakelaw - I love that I still know a few bloggers who started the same time as me and we are still going - who would have guessed how blogging would be when we were baby bloggers :-)

  6. I've got this cake on the to do list and you've inspired me to put it on the top. Congratulations on your many wonderful blogging milestones. I just realised that it I have been reading your blog for been such a long time!

    1. Thanks Lorraine - it is such a fun cake to me - hope you enjoy it too - and it is a long time we have been reading each others blogs - lots of recipes read over that time!

  7. Sending the best birthday wishes to E and to your blog! With this cake, I think you've hit on the ideal combination of great flavours *and* spectacular presentation. Thanks for your warm, thoughtful contributions to the blogging community over all these years.

    1. Thanks Cindy - you were my first comment and I will always appreciate the blogging community it opened up to me - I think this is probably my most successful adult cake for a celebration.

  8. Happy 10th anniversary! I'm a longtime reader and found many inspirations in your recipes. I love that you have stayed simple in this age of insanity!

    1. Thanks Vegetarian Dreams - so pleased to hear from you - blogging does seem insane so often these days but trying to hang on to my simplicity

  9. Happy blog-birthday! What an impressive looking cake and wow, ten years is such a long time in blogging land. Oh! My email to you keeps bouncing back still :(

    1. Thanks Faye - I think blog years are like dog years so 10 years makes me in old age as a blogger (and a bit doddery and forgetful) - hope we can sort this email malarky or we will just have to meet in the real world soon!!!!

  10. That looks fantastic! The icing... drool!

    congratulations on a superb ten years :)

    1. Thanks Shauna - so lovely to have met you both virtually and in Edinburgh - and yes that icing is the type that tastes so good it seems quite a good idea to eat the whole bowl but luckily that little voice in your head says you would be very ill.

  11. Wow, congrats on 10 years of blogging! You must had some great exposure with those sites. :)
    That cake is probably the coolest thing I've seen in a while! So creative Johanna!
    And happy bday to E too!

    1. Thanks Mary Ellen - I have had great exposure from time to time - my stats have some big spikes but it is a lot of work to maintain them and this has always been a hobby.

  12. Ten years? Wow! That's amazing. Well done and congratulations..... not sure I'll make it that far.
    It was really interesting reading your thoughts on the changing world of blogging. It is so hard now and I constantly feel like I am not making the grade because I am not a 'career blogger'. I loved the idea that it was a platform just to share, yet so many people see it as a profession these days that I always feel that I am playing catch up. If there is one thing that puts me off blogging, it is that!
    I love your blog though and your consistency and interesting content. So here's to another 10 years of GGG! xxx

    1. Thanks Kate - I hope there remains space in the blogosphere for those who are not career bloggers - for me it has been a great way of developing my cooking, eating good food and meeting some like minded people. Some days I worry social media is making this obsolete but I feel I have so much more freedom on my blog than I have on social media.

  13. Oh my goodness! Does E realize how very lucky he is to have you make him such stellarly awesome cakes each year??? They all look pretty amazing, but this one is definitely my favourite. It brings me back to my childhood and love of maltesers. And the floating bit is quite clever! Wow - you are so creative.
    Happy 10-year blogiversary Johanna!!!
    "Yet I still love blogging and am glad I can continue to do it."
    I am so glad you do too! Blogging really has changed hasn't it? I sometimes feel as though I can't keep up with the times. I can't be bothered to go on social media most of the time, I don't care to make money from my blog and I'd prefer to have a small, loyal group of blogging friends than reach the masses. I think these are the things that make me want to stick with it despite the rather large time commitment though =) And I'm happy to have met you of course. I do dream that we'll meet in person one day. It might be tough, but maybe some day =)


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