Friday, June 17, 2011

Yam (Taro) Fudge Cake for Mum's Birthday



Lately, I seem to be losing my inspiration for writing. I do have things that I want to pen down but somehow there is a barrier when it comes to translating these thoughts into words. Maybe I am suffering from a writer's block, even though I am hardly a writer myself. Nevertheless, I am still determined to blog my baking adventures down for my own reference.


Originally, I wanted to make fondant cupakes for my mum's birthday, thinking that it would be a good opportunity to practice on fondant making. Due to time constraint, I switched to making a yam fudge cake instead. 


Instead of piping the usual rosettes around the borders, I tried doing shells this time round. Prior to this, I had a few opportunities to practice piping shells on baking paper. This could be done with you have leftover cream and have no idea how to use them. Individually, the shells did not turn out neat but the overall effect looked not too shabby.

Normally, I do not have much ideas on how I want to decorate my cakes. The idea of using fruits for decoration struck my mind and I used strawberries and sliced canned peaches to fill the centre of the cake. Even though it meant spending a bit more just for the sake of decorating, the outcome is much better than I had anticipated and I do think the additional expenditure is well justified for the occasion.
 
Yam Fudge Cake (Recipe adapted from Delicious Cakes by Amy Heng)
Serving size: Makes one 9 inch round cake.
Taste and texture: Yam and coconut fudge with soft chiffon sponge layers. 
Equipment and Materials:
  • 9 x 3 inch round tin
  • 10 inch round cake board
  • Cake leveller or long serrated knife
  • 9 inch round cake ring
  • Balloon whisk/ wire whisk
  • Rubber spatula
  • Handheld beater/ stand beater
  • Baking paper
  • Wire rack
  • Wooden skewer
  • Flour sieve
  • Star piping tip (Wilton # 22)
  • Piping bag
  • Coupler for piping
  • Mixing bowls

Chiffon Sponge: 
  • 70g egg yolks
  • 60g castor sugar
  • 80ml water
  • 100ml corn oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 120g cake flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 160g egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 65g castor sugar

Making the chiffon sponge:

Prepare Oven - Preheat oven to 160 degrees C.

Prepare flour mixture - Sift cake flour, salt and baking powder in a large bowl. Whisk to combine and allow the dry ingredients to be evenly distributed.

Making the egg yolk batter - Place egg yolks and 60g caster sugar in a large mixing bowl. Whisk egg yolks and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Add in oil, water and vanilla. Mix well with a wire whisk. Add in the flour mixture and mix to obtain a smooth batter.

Beating egg whites - In a clean metal mixing bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar on low speed. Increase speed slowly to medium-high and beat untill egg whites are at soft peaks. Add 65g of sugar gradually and beat untill egg whites are stiff and still moist. This is when the beaters are lifted, the egg whites will form peaks that are upright and not drooping. Egg whites will resemble whipped cream. The entire bowl of whites will not drop out when the bowl is overturned. Do not over-beat or the egg whites will become dry and clumpy.

Folding in egg whites - Using a balloon whisk, fold one third of beaten egg whites into egg yolk batter gently to lighten and combine. Fold in the rest of the beaten whites to combine. Final batter should be foamy and uniform in colour with no streaks of egg white present. Folding egg whites gently using a balloon whisk will prevent egg whites from deflating too much.

Baking the sponge cake - Pour batter into a greased and lined 9 x 3 inch round pan and bake at 160 degrees C for 30 -40 minutes. Test doneness using a skewer or toothpick. When the cake is done, the inserted skewer will come out clean. Cake will shrink from edges and in height on cooling. Unmould sponge cake and leave to cool upright on a wire rack.

Yam Fudge:
  • 410g yam (taro), steamed/boiled and mashed
  • A little purple colouring
  • 1 tbs + 1 tsp agar agar powder (1 pack of cap swallow globe agar agar powder)
  • 80g green bean flour
  • 850ml coconut milk (from 1 litre pack) mixed with 150ml water
  • 75g sugar

Making the yam fudge:

Place yam, purple colouring, agar agar powder, green bean flour, coconut milk mixture and sugar in a blender. Whizz the ingredients until it becomes a smooth mixture. Pour the mixture in a saucepan and heat it over medium low flame until the mixture thickens, stirring the mixture constantly. Remove saucepan from heat. Set aside for use. Mixture will thicken further on cooling.

Assembly:

Slicing sponge cake - Slice sponge cake into 3 even layers using a cake leveller or long serrated/palette knife. Slice off the part that has domed.

Preparing the layers - Using the removable base of a round tart tin or a round cake board, slide the tart tin base or cake board under a sponge layer and carefully transport it onto a 10 inch round cake board. This method of transferring is to prevent the sponge layer from breaking. Place a 9 inch round cake ring over the sponge layer. There should a gap between the perimeter of the cake and the tin.

Pour 1/3 of the prepared yam fudge (still hot) over the first sponge layer. Allow the yam fudge to fill the gap and level the fudge as evenly as possible.

Place the second sponge layer over the first yam fudge layer, similarly using a cake board or tart tin base to help with the transfer. Pour another 1/3 of the yam fudge over the second sponge layer and level the fudge. 

Lastly, place the final sponge layer over the second yam fudge layer. Pour the remaining 1/3 of the yam fudge over the third sponge layer and level the fudge as evenly as possible. Transfer cake ring supported by cake board to a cake box and bring it to the refrigerator to chill. Allow a chilling time of 4 hours or longer until yam fudge sets.

Unmoulding finished cake: To unmould the cake, wrap a warm kitchen towel around the cake ring or use a hairdryer to briefly heat up the exterior of the cake ring. Take care not to apply too much heat using the hairdryer. Remove cake ring slowly (upwards) and steadily. Bring un-moulded cake back to the refrigerator to firm up before decorating and cutting.

Decorations: Decorate with whipped cream and sliced fruits as desired. If you are using canned peaches, ensure the peaches are well drained. 


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Irish Cream Chocolate Cake


To date, I have tried out numerous chocolate cake recipes. Most of them are similar in one aspect - they usually turn out to be crumbly. This was something I had not expected when I made an Irish Cream Chocolate Cake just a few weeks back. 

Whenever I decide on any recipes to try out, I will take some time to read the brief write-up to learn more about the cake (if there is any), followed by scrutinizing the list of ingredients. What brought my attention to this particular pound cake is the use of Irish Cream, a generous amount of it compared to just a mere few tablespoons.

The author had described this particular cake to be dense yet velvety in texture. It does sounds contradicting that the cake can be dense yet velvety at the same time. However, I can attest to the fact that these two qualities are not mutually exclusive.  I could understand perfectly what she meant after having tasted the cake. There is hardly any crumbs falling when I took a bite into a slice of it, as opposed to the conventional chocolate cake which is ever-so-crumbly. Flavour-wise, there is a decent caramel hint of Irish Cream minus the alcoholic aftertaste that which some might not welcome.

Irish Cream Chocolate Cake (recipe adapted from 300 Best Chocolate Recipes by Julie Hasson
Taste and texture: Dense yet velvety, has a decent hint of Irish Cream. 
Serving size: 8-10 slices, makes one 9 x 5 inch cake
Equipment and materials:
  • 9 x 5 inch loaf
  • Mixing bowls
  • Measuring spoon set
  • Measuring jar
  • Handheld mixer/ Stand beater
  • Baking paper
  • Flour sieve
  • Rubber spatula

Ingredients:
  • 185g cake flour
  • 45g cocoa powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 225g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 200g castor sugar
  • 200g whole eggs, at room temperature
  • 150ml Baileys Irish Cream

Making the cake:

Preparing loaf tin and oven - Line and grease a 9 x 5 loaf tin with baking paper. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. 

Preparing dry ingredients - In a large mixing bowl, sift in cake flour, cocoa powder and salt. Use a wire whisk to disperse the dry ingredients evenly. 

Creaming the butter - Place softened butter and castor sugar in a mixing bowl. Cream the butter as mentioned in how to cream butter

Adding eggs to creamed butter - Add eggs to creamed butter in 4 additions, beating the mixture for 2 minutes on medium low speed after each addition is added. As eggs are added, the mixture tends to curdle. With continuous beating, the mixture becomes smooth and firms up. 

Alternating dry ingredients and Irish Cream - Add 1/3  of the dry ingredients to the egg-butter mixture. Beat on low speed until dry ingredients disappears and batter is smooth. Next, add in half of the Irish cream and continue to beat on low speed until Irish Cream is incorporated and batter is smooth. Repeat the alternating of dry ingredients and Irish Cream until all ingredients are used up and batter is smooth. Scrape down sides and bottom of mixing bowl with a spatula to blend in stray ingredients. The process should be as follows
  1. Add first 1/3 addition of dry ingredients.
  2. First 1/2 addition of Irish Cream.
  3. Second 1/3 addition of dry ingredients.
  4. Remaining 1/2 of Irish Cream.
  5. Remaining 1/3 dry ingredients.

Baking the cake - Pour batter in lined loaf tin and bake at 180 degrees C for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10mins. Allow cake to cool for 10 minutes in the tin before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.   


Monday, June 6, 2011

Carrot Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting



The American Carrot Cake is one cake that I hardly have any encounters with. One reason could be that it is not a staple cake in conventional bakeries and it is more commonly found in western style coffee chains like Starbucks or Coffee Bean. Once, I had a serving of it at a hotel buffet and I was immediately drawn to its spicy taste accompanied with cream cream frosting that is signature of carrot cakes. 

Flipping through and comparing my recipes, I decided that the carrot cake by Rachel Allen is the more authentic one, using a combination of mixed spice, nutmeg and cinnamon. My other recipes had cinnamon as the sole spice ingredient. 


While I was reading and following the instructions, one particular matter caught my attention. The method of mixing is in fact the conventional mix-dry-wet ingredients muffin method. Being cautious, I made sure not to over-mix the ingredients, ensuring that the mixing stops once the dry ingredients were moistened. Apart from the tedious process of grating the carrots, this is one very simple cake to make. To my amazement, the outcome was a fluffy, moist and pleasantly spiced cake with moist plump raisins and chunky walnuts, topped with a refreshing citrusy orange cream cheese frosting. The cream cheese frosting is one delightful icing on the cake, with vanilla added to accentuate the orange flavour. 

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe adapted from Bake from Rachel Allen)
Taste and Texture: Mild-spicy, moist, fluffy and chunky with moist plump raisins and crunchy walnuts.
Serving size: 8-10 slices, Makes a 9 x 5 inch loaf
Equipment and Materials:
  • 9 x 5 inch loaf tin
  • Baking paper
  • Grater
  • Mixing bowls
  • Wire whisk
  • Handheld beater/ stand beater

Ingredients:
  • 110g whole eggs, lightly beaten and at room temperature
  • 150ml vegetable oil
  • 185g brown sugar
  • 280g carrot, finely grated
  • 90g raisins
  • 90g walnuts, chopped
  • 190g self-raising flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon, ground
  • 1 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated (I omitted this)
  • 1 tsp mixed spice

Making the carrot cake:

Prepare loaf tin and oven - Line a loaf tin with baking paper and preheat oven to 180 degrees C. 

Mixing dry ingredients - Sift flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and mixed spice into a large mixing bowl. Use a wire whisk to whisk the mixture until it is evenly distributed. 

Preparing wet mixture - In a mixing bowl, add  in the eggs, oil, sugar, grated carrot, raisins and chopped walnuts and mix well with a large spoon. 

Adding dry ingredients to wet mixture - Add dry ingredients to wet mixture and very gently stir the mixture with a spoon until dry ingredients are moistened (the last bit of dry ingredients disappear). Batter will be very watery. 

Baking the cake - Pour prepared batter into prepared loaf tin and bake for 1 hour at 180degrees C, or until a cake tester/ wooden skewer comes out clean when inserted in the middle. Allow cake to cool in the loaf tin for 15 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack. 

Orange cream cheese frosting:
  • 250g cream cheese, softened
  • 50g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g icing sugar ( add more if desired)
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange

Making cream cheese frosting:

In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter to combine. Beat in icing sugar until it is incorporated and mixture is smooth. Lastly, add in the vanilla extract and orange zest beat well to obtain a smooth frosting. Spread cream cheese frosting over the top of the carrot cake. 

Notes:
  1. Add more icing sugar to stiffen the frosting or add some milk/orange juice to thin out the frosting according to desired consistency. 
  2. You can omit the raisins and use chopped pecans instead for a nutty carrot cake.


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