Monday, August 30, 2010

My Baking Nemesis - Chocolate Swiss Roll


Swiss rolls - probably my greatest nemesis among all cakes. It took me quite a while to get the hang of making the Genoise sponge; a whole egg foam cake commonly called for as the cake base for swiss rolls. To make a genoise sponge, it is a requirement to beat the whole eggs until they are well aerated and expanded in volume, about 4 times the original volume. When the beaters are lifted up, a trail of fallen batter is visibly left behind at the surface, which stays for some time before levelling back with the rest of the beaten eggs. Most books or recipes describe this process as beating the whole eggs until 'thick and fluffy' or the 'ribbon stage'.

What daunted me initially was the folding of the flour into the beaten whole eggs. The beaten eggs often end up deflating into a sticky mixture. Over time, I overcame this by using a wire whisk, which helps to prevent the beaten eggs from over-deflating. I picked up another neat trick from a book; Baking and Pastry: Mastering the Art and Craft. When the eggs are beaten at high speed to the 'ribbon stage', the air bubbles held by the eggs are big. By beating the whole eggs further at low speed for say, 2 minutes; the bubbles are divided into smaller sized bubbles, thus stabilizing the beaten eggs and help prevent the eggs from deflating excessively.  


I realised that the genoise sponge behaves very different when baked in sheet pans and in round pans. Sheet pans have much larger surface area. Hence, the genoise sponge is done in a shorter time (8-12 minutes), resulting in a moist cake. The shorter baking time minimizes the amount of moisture lost due to evaporation. On the other hand, some genoise sponge when baked in round pans for use in layer cakes, turn out to be coarse and dry (based on my experience). The baking time is often much longer compared to using sheet pans (about 25-30 minutes). Then again, the recipe might be the culprit here. A possible remedy would be to increase the amount of melted butter or to use a simple/flavoured syrup to brush the genoise sponge if it is for use in layer cakes. Some sources (websites, books etc) seem to suggest that the genoise sponge tends to be dry in nature.

The other commonly called for cake base is the Separated Egg Foam/Sponge Cake. As the name suggests, the yolks and whites are separated. There are several variations on this. I shall list them as follows:
  1. Egg yolks are beaten to the ribbon stage. Egg whites are beaten to 'stiff peaks', glossy but not dry. Next, beaten whites are folded into foamed yolks. Lastly, the dry ingredients (flour etc) are folded into the egg mixture.
  2. Egg yolks are beaten to the ribbon stage. Next, the dry ingredients (flour etc) are folded into the beaten egg yolks. Lastly, egg whites are beaten to 'stiff peaks' and are folded into the egg yolk-flour mixture.
  3. Egg whites are beaten to 'stiff peaks'. Next, egg yolks are stirred into the beaten whites. Lastly, the dry ingredients (flour etc) are folded into the egg mixture.
  4. Egg yolks are mixed with the dry ingredients until smooth. Next, egg whites are beaten to 'stiff peaks'. Lastly, the beaten egg whites are folded into the egg yolk batter.
Out of the four mentioned variations, I have only tried 2 and 4. Perhaps, I might have missed out on some variations. In time to come, I would like to try out the rest of them.


When it comes to making swiss rolls, I am definitely not a pro. However, this attempt is very much better than my previous few, in terms of both taste and texture. I do need to improve on the rolling though. Next time, I will need to roll it more tightly.

Overall, I am very satisfied with my swiss rolls. Despite the cracks and less than perfect shape, the cake layer turned out softmoist and *slightly chewy (due to the cocoa powder) while the chocolate meringue buttercream; a favourite frosting of mine, turned out to be velvety without being overloaded with sugar (compare it to fudge frostings using loads of icing sugar). Yummy~

*For a less chewy cake, refer to notes below.

Chocolate Swiss Rolls ( Cake base recipe adapted from Elegant Swiss Rolls by Kevin Chai, chocolate buttercream recipe adapted from Chocolate Ephiphany by Francois Payard)
Serving size: 8 to 10 slices
Taste and texture: Cake base is soft, moist and *slightly chewy. Chocolate buttercream is smooth and chocolatey.
Equipment and materials:
1) 12 x 12 inch pan or 10 x 14 inch pan
2) Stand electric beater/ handheld electric beater
3) Spatula
4) wire whisk/balloon whisk
5) Mixing bowls
6) Heatproof bowl
7) Wire rack
8) Flour sieve
9) Parchment/baking paper
10) Brush for oiling pan
11) Weighing scale

Cake Base:
250g whole eggs, room temperature (about 5 eggs)
90g caster sugar
95g flour
20g cocoa powder
70g butter, melted

Chocolate Buttercream:
60g egg whites, room temperature
70g granulated sugar
125g unsalted butter, softened but still cold
30g cocoa powder (add more if desired to up the chocolate factor)

Making Cake Base:
Pre-preparation: Line the swiss roll tin with baking/parchment paper. Preheat oven to 200 degrees C.

Combine dry ingredients: Mix the flour and cocoa powder together in a large bowl to ensure they are evenly distributed.

Beating whole eggs: In a mixing bowl, beat whole eggs with 90g caster sugar on medium speed untill eggs are well aerated and have expanded about 4-6 times in volume. The beaten eggs should be thick and fluffy. When the beater is lifted, the falling batter leaves a ribbon like trail that does not level with the rest of the batter immediately (ribbon like trail will remain for about 20 seconds before levelling with main bulk of mixture). This is know as the 'ribbon stage'. Continnue to beat the foamed eggs on low speed for abother 2-3 minutes. This is to stabilize the egg mixture.

Folding dry ingredients into beaten eggs: Sift half the dry ingredients into beaten eggs. Fold using a balloon whisk, gently and gradually, untill the dry ingredients are incorporated. Repeat the same for the remaining half of the dry ingredients. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl with a flexible spatula every now and then to incorporate flour that is stuck to the sides and that which have sunk to the bottom. We want the beaten eggs to deflate as little as possible in the folding process.

Adding the butter: Scoop a small portion of the flour-egg batter and mix it with the melted butter in a medium bowl until smooth. This makes it easier to fold the butter into the main flour-egg batter. Add this butter mixture to the main bulk of the flour-egg batter. Fold gently to obtain a evenly mixed foamy batter.

Baking the cake: Pour cake batter into lined tin and bake at 200 degrees C for 8 to 12 minutes. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted at the middle comes out clean. The top skin of the cake should be springy when pressed and moist and sticky to the feel. Once done, remove cake tin from oven and place on a wire rack. Cover the surface with a sheet of aluminuim foil or baking paper to maintain the moistness.

Preparing the Chocolate Buttercream:
Dissolve sugar in egg whites: Place 60 egg whites and 70g granulated sugar in a heatproof bowl. Sit the heatproof bowl on a saucepan filled with water. The base of the bowl should not be in contact with the water. Bring the water in the saucepan to a slight simmer. Use a balloon whisk and stir the egg whites and sugar constantly until the sugar has fully dissolved (no gritty feel when rubbed with your fingers) and the mixture is warm to the touch (test by inserting a finger).

Beating egg whites: Remove the heatproof bowl and beat the warm egg white mixture on medium high speed to obtain stiff peaks using an electric beater. At stiff peaks, the beaten egg whites will not budge when bowl is overturned. When the beaters are lifted from the beaten egg whites, the surface of the egg whites should form stiff upright peaks (not drooping peaks). The beaten egg whites should be cool to the touch (room temperature), not warm like when it was removed from the saucepan.

Adding butter and cocoa: Beat in 125g butter into the beaten egg whites in 3 batches, ensuring each batch is incoporated before adding the next. The mixture will become watery at one point in time. Continue beating and the mixture will turn into a sturdy, creamy and fluffy buttercream. Lastly, sift in 30g cocoa powder and continue beating to obtain a smooth chocolate buttercream.

Assembly:
Turning the cake out: Turn the baked sheet cake onto a piece of baking/parchment paper. Slowly peel off the attached baking/parchment paper from the cake.  

Rolling the cake: Apply buttercream over the surface of the sheet cake. With the shorter side/breadth facing you (if using 10 x 14 inch pan), roll the cake up tightly to form a swiss roll.

Notes:
1) When the cake is done, I placed it in the refrigerator immediately to firm it up as the entire cake is very soft (plus the amount of filling is alot). To serve, slice the entire roll into small servings and allow it to soften at room temperature for 5-10 minutes before serving.
2) Due to the moistness of the chocolate cake base, the top skin will peel off when come into contact with any surface, eg your hands, baking paper etc.
3) The amount of buttercream filling is quite thick. If you prefer less filling, use half or two-thirds of it and save the rest in the refrigerator. The remainder can be used to decorate cakes, frost cupcakes etc.
4) To frost a 9 inch triple layer cake, triple the quanity of chocolate buttercream.
5) *To get a less chewy cake, stir the cocoa powder into the melted butter instead and blend well. Fold it into the beaten whole eggs untill well mixed.
6) The finished swiss roll may experience cracks. This does not affect the taste and texture at all.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Baking with Bakertan - French Apple Tart ( Tarte Aux Pommes)

Yo folks! Bakertan will be doing a French Apple Tart (Tarte Aux Pommes) today. First of all, we need to prepare the tart base. The tart base we will be using is known as Pâte Brisée ( paht bree-ZAY ), the french version of an unsweetened shortcrust pastry, according to Maxine Clark. Pâte Brisée is a rather versatile tart base and it yields a rich, crumbly flaky texture.


Now, we need to sift the flour onto a clean work surface. Sprinkle a generous pinch of salt evenly over the flour. Make sure both your hands are clean, folks. Use the knuckles of one hand and make a well in the centre of the flour.


Dice some butter and soften it at room temperature. Add the diced butter to the well together with an egg yolk.


Use all 5 fingers of one hand and 'peck' the butter and egg yolk. You will want them to end up looking like scrambled eggs.


Ok, now that one of your hand is greasy, you have the other hand free to use. Grab a palette knife with the other hand and start turning the surrounding flour over the butter yolk mixture. Chop through the mixture like you are chopping nuts. Sprinkle iced water over the mixure. Repeat the chopping action and turning of flour until all the flour is combined with the butter mixture. You can see that the end result is some coarse and fine flour-coated butter crumbs.

 

Folks, we need to bring all the crumbs together to form a dough. So, gently gather the crumbs. Knead them gently so that they come together into a ball.  Make sure that you do not overknead the dough. We do not want the dough to be well kneaded and everything is evenly distributed. This is not cake making ~ Once done, flatten the ball slightly and wrap it up with clingfilm. Place the dough in the refrigerator for at at least 30 minutes.


So, once the dough is chilled, we can work on it again. Remove the clingfilm and let the chilled dough soften a while at room temperature. Meanwhile, we need to dust a clean work surface and a rolling pin with a little flour. This will prevent the dough from sticking to the rolling pin and the work surface. Roll out the dough evenly using the rolling pin. Dust the rolling pin every now and then to prevent dough from sticking.


How do we know when to stop rolling? Place the tart tin onto the rolled out dough. The rolled dough should be larger than the size of the tart tin. We want to have excess dough so that we can cover up the sides of the tin.


Next, remove the tart tin and place the rolling pin onto the rolled out dough. Slowly lift up the dough from one end and wrap it around the rolling pin lightly. You have to do this slowly so as to prevent tearing the dough. Remember not to roll the dough tightly onto the pin or else it will stick together. That will spell trouble, oops!...  


Once done, place the wrapped dough onto the tart tin. Starting from one end of the tart tin, slowly unwrapped the tart dough until the tart tin is covered. Press the dough down to fit the tart tin, ensuring that the dough adheres to the base and the sides well.


There will be excess dough over-hanging from the sides. How do we deal with that? We need a sharp knife. A small one will do. I am using a paring knife here. Simply run the knife through the sides to cut off the excess dough. Nevermind if the tart tin is not fully lined. We can do some patching up.


Use the excess dough a little at a time and patch up the bald areas. Tada! We have a nicely lined up tart base now. Thats all for preparing a tart base and lining a tart tin. Return the tart base to the refrigerator for another 15 minutes. We still have to prepare the apple fillings.... Wrap up the remaining dough with clingfilm and use it to make a small tart.


To prepare the apple filling, core and peel 4 or 5 baking apples. Golden Delicious or Granny Smith will be good choices. Slice the apples thinly and arrange them nicely on the chilled tart base in nice concentric circles, starting with the outer circle and followed by the inner circle. Arrange smaller pieces of sliced apples in the middle. Sprinkle sugar evenly and place cubed butter all over the apples. Place tart tin on top of a baking pan and bake the apple tart at 200 degrees C for an hour until the apples are nicely browned. We are not done yet... Warm some apricot jam in a saucer over low heat and spread it over the apple tart to give it a glossy look and added flavour. Voila! We now have a nice French Apple Tart.

Thats all for today, folks. Stay tuned to Baking with Bakertan. Cheers and have a nice day~  


Ok back to how I usually blog. I thought I would deviate from my norm since I do not have anything interesting to write. So I was thinking: "Hey, why not 'host' a baking demonstation here"? That should break the monotony.

After using up some of my Golden Delicious Apples for my previous apple-upside down cake, I had some leftovers and was planning to use them soon. Youfei's post on her apple tart movtivated me to do a French Apple Tart. There should be no more Golden Delicious apples by now. No, not really. I just caught hold of a new bag of Golden Delicious, without any hesitation! That means.. More baking with apples! It  takes a bit of luck to find it these days, so I am not going to take any chances by passing up the opportunity...

Two weeks ago, a visitor to my blog emailed me. I was delighted to know that we live really near each other, just five minutes walk away. She managed to find me here, all thanks to Edith's blog. I met up with her this evening and passed her some of my freshly baked French Apple Tarts. Really look forward to more baking exchanges and sessions with my newly found friend...

French Apple Tart ( Tarte Aux Pommes) (Recipe adapted from Tarts: Sweet and Savoury by Maxine Clark)
Serving size: 8 to 10 slices
Texture: Buttery flaky and crumbly tart crust. Apple filling is sweet and moderately firm, not mushy with lended flavour and sweetness from apricot jam.
Equipment and Materials:
1) 24 or 25 cm tart tin with removable base
2) Rolling pin
3) Flour sieve
4) Measuring spoon set
5) Clingfilm
6) Baking tray
7) Palette knife
8) Wire rack

Pâte Brisée:
220g plain flour
a generous pinch of salt
110g unsalted butter, diced and softened at room temperature
15g egg yolk (I used a 55g egg)
3 tbs water

Making the Pâte Brisée:
Follow instructions as mentioned above.

Apple Filling:
4 or 5 baking apples, peeled and cored, about 400g of sliced apples (I used Golden Delicious)
2 tbs caster sugar (I used raw sugar)
40g unsalted butter, diced
2-3 tbs apricot jam, warmed  (I used IXL apricot jam. St Dalfour's Peach Jam would be a good choice too)

Making apple filling:
Follow instructions as mentioned above.

Notes:
1) Do not be tempted to add more apricot jam. The sweetness will steal the focus from the apples.

Apples on FoodistaApples

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Family Lunch - Inspired to Cook

Home. Sense of belonging. Ties. Love. Understanding. Support. These are what comes to mind when I think about my family. They are absolutely my best source of motivation when it comes to baking and moving on in life.

Last Sunday, we gathered at my elder brother's place for lunch. Ever since my brother moved out to his new place, we have made it a point to keep in touch by gathering for meals on sundays fortnightly. Going over to his place meant one thing - getting to see my beloved little furry family member, Ashley.




Say hi to Ashley, a 2 year-old male Maltese. Yep, you must be thinking Ashley is a female. That is what most people would preceive upon hearing the name. I thought 'Tigger' would make a better name as Ashley can be quite active sometimes. While most Malteses spot long straight hair, we try to keep Ashley's fur short to facilitate ease for grooming.  

Photo of Ashley taken by my sis-in-law some time back. She uses a Canon D90.

In the morning, I accompanied my mum to Sheng Siong near the Woodlands Causeway. We managed to grab hold of bamboo clams, crabs and a red sea bream, all alive and kicking. There is no way that they can be any fresher!







The sumptous lunch includes; Simple Stir-fried Bamboo ClamsChili Crab, Stir-fried Cauliflower and Bell Peppers with Crunchy Water Chestnut BitsTeochew Style Steamed Red Sea Bream and lastly White Radish Duck Soup with Enoki Mushrooms. All the goodness of a complete homemade meal! Yummy is the best word to use here.

We could not find the chili crab paste that we bought and my mum had to do the sauce from scratch using condiments like tomato sauce and stuff. The chili crab sauce was slightly on the sweet side, but we definitely welcomed it as most of us take spicy food moderately and not to a point where it is fiery hot. I hardly have the chance to eat steamed sea bream and find that the meat is too soft and fine textured for my liking. There is no firmness to the bite and the flesh simply melts into the mouth. Everybody enjoyed the white radish duck soup and every bit of it was slurped up.

With inspiration from my mother's cooking, I will probably feature dishes that I cook in time to come. Bakertan would then be Cheftan for a day when the moment comes, haha. In case you wonder if bakertan knows how to cook. The answer is yes, but bakertan only knows how to prepare limited dishes like Baked Honey ChickenBeer Battered Fish and Chips, Fried Calamari Rings, Vongole Pasta, Fried Chicken Wings with Chinese Style Marinate, Sweet and Sour Chicken etc...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Bear Project 1.2 - Teddy Bear (Touchup of Eyes and Nose)



After yesterday's Bear project, I decided I would touch up the eyes and nose this morning. It turned out slightly better, but could do with some improvement. The best part about using meringue buttercream is that it is very sturdy and stable at room temperature, unlike whipping cream based frostings and mousse fillings which will soften easily in the warm humid weather over here. Ok, now that my Teddy Bear is done, I shall move on to making a panda bear next for my bear project.

For those who are interested to get the mini bear mould, it can be obtained from Phoon Huat. Some of the outlets have it. I got mine at the city outlet. There is this giant size bear which I was glad I did not purchase. Storage could prove to be a problem since the Giant bear is quite tall.

Bear Project 1.1 - Teddy Bear

This week has been a tiring week for me. I had to brave the glaring sun and the occasional drizzle, thanks to the fickle weather. After six days of YOG labour at the Tampines Bike Park, I am now overly tanned and my skin colour is charcoal black. Nevertheless, I was glad to be there to contribute and witness this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity where Singapore is the host for the Inaugural Youth Olympics Games.

After reaching home each day, I feel that all my energy have been zapped. It was hard to even think about baking. Yesterday was a good opportunity to put my hands to work in the kitchen. I had the sudden impulse to bring out a special baking toy that I have bought a few weeks back - a 3D mini teddy bear mould. The mould did not come cheap. It costs nearly 30 bucks, not to mention that I had to get a coupler set, four Wilton piping tips and a Wilton black icing colour in order to use this new toy of mine.



The teddy bear mould set comes with four clips, two mould halves and a stand. The two mould halves are secured with the four clips and the mould halves are inserted onto the stand upside-down. The batter is then poured into the mould through the opening on top.


The instructions call for one cup of batter, which I referred to my madeira cake recipe, halved the portion and omitted the lemon flavouring.



For the frosting, I did not use the one that is provided - a icing sugar buttercream which I did not fancy. The result is a high sugar content frosting with a gritty mouthfeel. Instead, I referred to the buttercream frosting from Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake.

I tried doing the Perfect Party Cake a total of 3 times but it none of it was near perfect. The white cake simply did not rise and the end result was a dense sponge. Eager to find out what went wrong, I googled and realized that many others had problems with the cake rising as well. After some analysis ( typcial of me ), I suspect that the baking powder was the culprit. That was the only time when I used a single acting baking powder. Ever since then, I dare not use any single acting baking powder again. Despite the poorly turned out sponge, the frosting was a keeper. It was one of the best frosting I had tasted to date - Swiss Meringue Lemon Buttercream. That was my first encounter with a meringue buttercream.

There are many kinds of buttercream. Some buttercream simply ask for softened butter to be beaten with icing sugar. Others call for the use of egg yolks. As the name suggests, meringue buttercream involves using a meringue as a base. A meringue is a mixture of whipped egg whites and sugar. The end result is firm, glossy and pillowy.

In all,  there are four types of meringue buttercream: Swiss, Italian, French and German. Swiss buttercream involves beating the egg whites and sugar over a double boiler until the egg whites are warm. The egg whites are then whipped untill stiff and cool to the touch. Butter is then added to the Swiss meringue and beaten untill fluffy. German buttecream combines pastry cream (creme patisserie) which is a custard in nature, and butter. For the French buttercream, hot sugar syrup is poured onto the whole eggs (sometimes with extra yolks) while they are whipped. Lastly, the Italian buttercream is similar to the French buttercream, with the exception that egg whites are used in place of whole eggs. Buttercream is commonly flavoured with citrus fruits, chocolate, vanilla or liqeuers.


 



To pipe the details on the bear, I separated my buttercream into 3 main portions. I kept one small portion plain, added cocoa powder to brown the second portion and tinted a small portion black with the Wilton icing colour. Since the recipe yielded quite an amount of buttercream, the remaining were kept for further use.

Piping the stars on the bear's body certainly took me some practice. Some stars ended up tiny while others ended up larger. The overall effect was a spikey brown teddy bear. The front part was packed with stars while the back had some sparse spots, which I noticed only after taking pictures of the finished bear. I am not quite satisfied with the facial features. It made the bear look more like a monkey. The eyes and nose were of a greyish hue rather than black as I did not add enough colouring.

Overall, it was'nt as time consuming was very time consuming considering that the bear is only 11cm tall and 10cm at its widest part, taking me about 3 hours to do the piping alone, not to mention having to spend more time clearing the mess. It sure was fun practicing the piping which is considered a first for me. Give me some time and I should be able to do a more decent decorated bear to present to my friends for their birthdays. I definitely look forward to making good use of my new toy and coming up with bears with different look. No regrets getting this new toy at all ~


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Heavenly Golden Apple-licious Upside-down Cake

Since my last fateful encounter with Golden Delicious Apples, I have not had any chance to see these precious gems in the supermarket. Do not confuse these apples with the Red Delicious variety. While the name may be similar, the taste and texture are vastly different. Golden Delicious Apples have a semi-crisp bite and are juicy sweet with a very slight hint of tartness. On the other hand, Red Delicious Apples are my least favourite variety, and its been so long since I ate one that I have forgotten the taste of it.

While I was keeping a lookout for Golden Delicious Apples at Jurong Point Ntuc Extra, I was pleasantly surprised to see two batches of green apples lying in the same area. Immediately, I recognized the familiar yellow-green colour of the Golden Delicious Apples. Elated with my find, I grabbed close to a dozen apples and made my way to the counter for payment. 


With my newly bought apples, a few baked goods came to mind - an apple upside-down cake and an french apple tart. Few weeks earlier, I baked an apple upside-down cake using one of my favourite cakebook: Rose's Heavenly Cakes. Sadly, I did not have my camera on hand then and hence missed the opportunity to blog about it. After that incident, I swear that I will bake this cake again soon, simply because this cake is too heavenly for me to get it off my mind.


When I first prepared the caramel, the sugar burnt due to the high heat. On the second attempt, I made sure the flame was kept to a minimum. Thankfully, the caramel turned out smoothly. I did not wait for the caramel to turn deep amber and poured it into the lined cake tin.

After the caramel cooled, arranging the apples was much less worrying. I arranged the apples in a circular fashion in the middle of the tin and left a small uncovered circular patch. The arrangement continued to the outer perimeter until the whole tin was filled. Finally, the left over few pieces were used to cover the circular bald patch in the center.


The last time I baked this cake, I substituted a whole egg for an egg yolk and used the conventional butter creaming method. The resultant cake ended up with giant holes. This time round, I followed the recipe exactly, except omitting the walnuts. While the cake was rising, I noticed big bubbles in the batter just like the last time. Notice the bumps on the surface of the cake? These were caused by the big bubbles. When the cake was done, it deflated slightly. Most butter cakes I baked do not experience this.

My analytical mind tells me that the cause of the big bubbles is probably due to the baking soda. There might be too much leavening, causing big bubbles to form when the batter is rising in the oven. When there is too much big bubbles, the bubbles collide into one another and may cause the cake to collapse.

The recipe asked for 1/4 tsp of baking soda which is almost equivalent to 1 tsp baking powder ( This is according to Shirley O Corriher in Bakewise. From what I recall, she mentioned that baking soda has aboout 4 times the leavening power of baking powder). Another 3/4 tsp baking powder is required and that would make an equivalent of  1 & 3/4 tsp baking powder, which is quite alot for the amount of batter in my humble opinion. Based on observations, a smaller amount of leavening agent would be sufficient.  




Luckily, there are no big holes present this time. The cake is so tender and moist that it gives the impression that the cake crumbs are melting in the mouth. The combination of butter, sourcream and vanilla hits off harmiously to give a rich dairy buttery flavour, something that would not be achieved without the addition of sourcream. As the cake is overly tender, it is rather challenging to slice it neatly without causing the cake to fall apart.
   

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Nutella Cream Layer Cake

After reading Jess's post on her red pitaya yoghurt mousse cake from My Birthday Cake by Kevin Chai, I decided that I will be using the same book soon to make a layered cake. Since I have bought the book, I would have to make an effort to use it. The recipe that came to mind was the hazelnut cream cake.

Since there were leftover cream from my recent truffles making, I thought I would put it to good use. Afterall, heavy cream does not store very well and has to be consumed quickly once the pack is opened. All that is left is the hazelnut chocolate spread. Naturally, Nutella was the wise pick here. When it comes to cream frosting, I do not like plain whipped cream. At the very least, I would prefer cream chantilly - vanilla flavoured whipped cream with icing sugar added. In this case, Nutella would lend a rich chocolatey taste to the otherwise plain dairy whipped cream.  


I took out my Wilton cake leveller and my plastic turntable, both obtained from Phoon Huat. These are the baking toys that will come into good use for any layered cakes.

Instead of using the sponge cake recipe as stated, I used a chocolate sponge recipe from another book, similar to the sponge used in my strawberry yoghurt mousse cake, since I did not have any chocolate sponge mix on hand.



Cutting the sponge cake is quite straightforward when using the cake leveller. Simple hold the handle, adjust the height of the cutting wire and cut through the cake in a smooth sawing motion.

 


Notice the grooves on the sides of the cake leveller. The height of the cutting wire can be adjusted by moving the ring attaching the wire up and down and resting on the grooves. The cutting wire may look thin but it is actually taut and strong.


Using the cake leveller to cut sponge layers will result in uniformly sliced layers with smooth flat tops.


Due to the warm humid weather (as always), I had to firm up the cake (with the cream frosting) in the refrigerator so that it will be easier to smoothen the hazelnut cream icing. If the cream is too soft, It will slide down the sides easily.With the help of the plastic turntable, it was so much easier to smoothen the hazelnut chocolate cream. I recall watching a pastry chef working with a turntable at Jurong Point. Back then, I stood aside and watched carefully how the cream frosting was spreaded around the cake, learning some nifty tips and techniques which I applied to my own cream cake.



Overall, I feel that I could have done better with the layering and coating with cream. I should have sliced off the slightly domed top of the sponge and ensured the layers are of equal height. The cream layer is abit too thin to be noticeable towards the edges. Perhaps I will increase the amount of cream next time. I also forgot to do the crumb coat first, resulting in some stray crumbs making their way to the frosting. Nevertheless, it served as a good practice for preparing a layered cake. Since I regarded this as a practice, I did not decorate the top and sides. I will probable use chocolate love letters (wafer sticks) to surround the sides and top the cake with some unskinned hazelnuts next time as suggested.

Tastewise, I like the richness of the hazelnut chocolate cream. It reminds me of melted chocolate ice cream! The sponge is soft and moist but much more springy compared to the one used in the strawberry yoghurt mousse cake even though the recipes are very similar. Maybe this is due to the addition of cocoa powder.  

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