Sunday, May 30, 2010

Birthday Cake For Mum

Made this pandan fudge cake at the request of my mum for her birthday. Come to think of it, this is my 4th time baking it. As I have too many recipes on hand to try out, I hardly bake the same cake more than twice especially cakes that would require more attention.

Among all my attempts, I am most satisfied with this. I cut down on the amount of pandan paste and included pandan juice for the 1st time. The results were good. Compared to the previous attempts, I managed to obtain even layers for the cake and pandan fudge. The topping was done simply by melting semisweet dark chocolate and piping them out into words. After tasting the cake, I realised that chocolate and pandan do compliment each other well.

Pandan Kaya Cake (Recipe from Aunty Yochana's blog)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Strawberry Yoghurt Mousse Cake

My mum got me a cake book when she was in Taiwan - 超人气香港蛋糕56款. After browsing some of the cakebooks around, she decided that the cakes in this book look interesting and delicious. When I got hold of the book, I was fascinated at first sight~ However, it did not take more than mere minutes for disappointment to be written over my face. The book look promising with its recipes, but there were some major drawbacks that could potentially undermine the confidence of the reader.

One major letdown was the missing pan sizes. Pan sizes are important. They are the very basic information that the baker should have, along with the ingredient list and baking temperature. Does that mean that the reader has to trial and error or base on his own judgement what the requirement pan sizes are? Apart from that, there were missing instructions and the steps were too briefly written, kind of slipshod in a way. Good thing I could figure out what the required steps are base on my shallow experience.

As I have bought a pound of strawberries which were on sale recently, I decided that a strawberry mousse cake would put them to good use. That would use up whatever remaining cream I had left in the fridge too.

This is the second time attempting a recipe from this book. The first recipe I attempted was a mango mousse cake. It did not turn out to match my expectations. The genoise sponge for the mango mousse cake was dry and the mango mousse did not have much mango flavour. Learning the lessons from the previous attempt, I decided I would never use a genoise sponge cake as a base again. It is far too dry to be suitable for use in layer cakes. Some books recommend that genoise sponge layers be brushed with a layer of syrup but I have yet to try that out. 

After some careful considerations and planning, I used a sponge cake recipe which required the separation of eggs. The choice was a good one and the sponge layers turn out soft and moist.

Making the strawberry mousse was an enjoyable process. I was doing taste-testing while mixing the ingredients. When the mousse was done and the cake layering was carried out in the cake ring, I crossed my fingers and hoped that the strawberry mousse cake would hold its shape well after chilling. To my pleasant surprise, everything went very smoothly. The cake firmed up well and all I did was to top it with chopped strawberries to decorate. 

The success of this baking session boosted my confidence for the recipes in the book. I would surely refer back for ideas on tantalizing cakes.

Tastewise, this cake promises a very light mousse layer with natural strawberry yoghurt flavour and soft moist sponge layers.

Strawberry Yogurt Mousse Cake ( Recipe adapted from 超人气香港蛋糕56款)
Taste and Texture: Fruity strawberry mousse layers with moist and light sponge
Serving Size: 10 slices
1) 8 inch round pan
2) 8 inch round cake ring
3) 9 inch round cake board
4) Cake leveller or palette/serrated knife longer than 8 inches
5) Balloon whisk
6) Rubber spatula
7) Handheld beater/Stand beater
8) Baking paper
9) Wire rack
10) Toothpick/wooden skewer
11) Flour sieve
12) Mixing bowls

Sponge cake:
4 egg yolks, room temperature ( from eggs weighing 60g each with shells on)
40g caster sugar
4tbs vegetable oil
3 tbs water
95g cake flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
4 egg whites, room temperature (from eggs weighing 60g each with shells on)
40g caster sugar

Prepare Oven: Preheat oven to 160 degrees C.

Prepare flour mixture: Whisk flour and baking powder in a large bowl to combine

Making the egg yolk batter Place egg yolks, 40g caster sugar, oil and water in a large bowl. Beat with electric mixer until thickened and fluffy (ribbon stage), about 10 minutes. The batter should increase in volume about 4 times and when the beater is lifted, the falling batter will leave a visible trail on the rest of the batter. The falling batter will not level with the rest of the batter immediately.

Folding flour into egg yolk batter: Sift the flour mixture into beaten egg yolks in 3 batches and fold gently using a ballon whisk. The volume will decrease due to inflating. Be sure to fold gently to prevent excessive deflating. Use a spatula to scoop sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure flour mixture is evenly incorporated.

Beating egg whites: Next, whisk egg whites on low speed. Increase speed slowly to medium and beat untill egg whites are foamy. Gradually increase speed to high and add the rest of the sugar gradually. Beat untill egg whites are stiff. This is when the beaters are lifted, the egg whites will form peaks that are upright and not drooping slightly. Egg whites will resemble whipped cream.The entire bowl of whites will not drop out when the bowl is overturned.

Folding in egg whites: Using a ballon 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. Fold egg whites gently using balloon whisk will prevent egg whites from deflating too much.

Baking the sponge cake: Pour batter into a greased and lined 8 inch round pan and bake at 160 degrees C for 25 -30minutes. Test doneness using a skewer or toothpick. Cake will shrink from edges on cooling. Unmould sponge cake and leave to cool on a wire rack.

Stawberry Yoghurt Mousse:
140g strawberry yoghurt ( I used Meiji strawberry yoghurt, 1 small tub)
45g - 75g caster sugar
210g fresh stawberry puree
300g cream, whipped until stiff
10g gelatine powder soaked in 40g water
strawberries for decorating 

Preparing strawberry yoghurt mixture: Blend strawberry puree, sugar and yoghurt together. Use 45g sugar for a slightly tart taste. For a sweeter taste use 75g sugar.

Making gelatine solution: Soak gelatine and water and allow it to bloom for 5 minutes. Heat the gelatine mixture over a double boiler untill gelatine dissolves completely. Leave to cool.

Making strawberry yoghurt mousse: Combine gelatine mixture and strawberry yoghurt mixture. Lastly, fold in whipped cream to obtain a smooth pale pink mousse.

Slicing sponge cake: Slice sponge cake into 2 even layers using cake leveller or long serrated/palette knife. Slice off the part that has domed.

Preparing the sponge and mousse layers: Place one sponge layer into the cake ring supported by a cake board below. There should some allowance surrounding the sponge layer. Pour half of the mousse over the sponge layer. I measured the mousse by weight and divided it evenly into 2 portions. Level the mousse as evenly as possible.

Place the second sponge layer over the mousse layer. Pour the remaining mousse mixture over the second sponge layer and level the top as evenly as possible. Place cake ring in the refrigerator and allow a chilling time of 4 hours or more until mousse is firm.

Unmoulding finished cake: To unmould, wrap a warm kitchen towel around the 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 and steadily. Bring cake back to the refrigerator to firm up before decorating and cutting.

Decorations: Decorate with whipped cream and sliced strawberries as desired.

1) The strawberry yoghurt is very soft and creamy, almost ungelatinous in texture. Do not leave the cake unchilled for long period of time. The cake may not hold its shape well.

Instagram link:

Friday, May 21, 2010

Art of The Chocolate Tart

These days, tarts are fast becoming part of my baking routine. With some leftover cream from a previous bake, I decided to churn out some chocolate tarts.

Flipping through my collection of bake books, I decided to marry two recipes from two different books. Instead of making a whole 10 inch tart, I thought it would be nice to tweak things a little. Why not make smaller tarts instead? Well, it seemed pretty straight forward, but there is slightly more work involved in making smaller tarts. I have to measure out the exact weight of dough for each small tart tin and press the dough in to fit. The recipe made enough for 13 tarts, meaning that I had to repeat the pressing dough into tart tin process 13 times. I would not say it is difficult to do so, but the repetitive nature is enough to bore me. What a chore!

Next up was deciding the amount of chocolate filling for the tarts. I made a small portion and it was sufficient to fill 6 of the tart crusts. After filling the 6 tart crusts, I soon realized that the filling was too bitter for my liking. What I did next was prepared enough filling for the rest of the tart crusts. I then scooped out the fillings from the tarts I have already prepared and mixed them in with the rest of the newly prepared filling, added some honey and it was good to go.

Silky Chocolate Tarts (Crust recipe adapted from Tarts: Sweet and Savoury)
Equipment: 3 inch (measured from top) individual tart tins. Mine comes in a pack of 12.

Pate Sucree:
200g flour
60g icing sugar
85g diced unsalted butter, softened and at room temperature
2 egg yolks
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbs iced water

1) Sift flour and sugar into a bowl. Use a whisk to distribute the ingredients evenly.
2) Pour the flour and sugar mixture onto a clean surface. Make a well in the middle.
3) Place the butter, egg yolks and vanilla in the well. Use one hand to peck the butter and yolks together until it becomes like scrambled eggs
4) Using a long palette knife, spoon flour over the well and chop throughout to mix the butter mixture and the flour mixture. The end result should be lumpy.
5) Add the iced water and continue chopping with the knife.
6) Using both hands, bring the mixture to a ball of dough.
7) Wrap it in clingfilm and allow dough to chill for 45 minutes.
8) Preheat oven to 180 degrees C
9) When dough is chilled, weight 30g dough for each tart tin. Press dough evenly to fit the tins.
10) Chill dough for 20 minutes before baking.
11) Place a piece of baking paper over the top of the tart tins. Fill with baking beans or dry beans/ raw rice. Place in oven and bake for 10 minutes.
12) Remove baking paper and baking beans and return tart crusts to oven and bake a further 10 - 15minutes till crusts are dry.
13) Allow crusts to cool and remove from tart tins when done.

Silky Chocolate Filling:
225ml cream
180g dark chocolate (50 - 60% cocoa)
1 tbs liquer of choice: Bailey's, Rum, Cointreau, Kahlua will do fine.
2 - 4 tbs corn syrup/ honey (start with 2 tbs, add more if desired)

1) Heat cream in a heatproof bowl over a double boiler. When cream is hot, add the chocolate. Allow chocolate to soften then stir to allow chocolate and cream to combine.
2) Remove bowl from heat. Stir in corn syrup and liquer. Allow chocolate filling to cool
3) Spoon chocolate filling into individual tart crusts. Chill tarts in fridge until filling is set.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Birthday Cake For My Cousin

Baked a pandan kaya cake at the request of my godma (my aunt) last sat. It was meant for her daughter (my cousin) whose birthday is around the corner. When she mentioned that my cousin love pandan cakes, the pandan kaya cake from aunty yochana's blog immediately came to my mind. I have made it twice previously and it was well received by my friends.

Things did not proceed smoothly at first. My handy electric handheld mixer was down a few days back and I thought it would be alright to use a balloon whisk. To my dismay, I was proved outright wrong. I had to use tremendous strength to beat the sponge mix and eggs and the end result was far from satisfactory. It seemed that the volume obtained using manual effort was much lesser compared to using the electric mixer. Nevertheless, I finished up the cake batter and popped the pan into the oven. The baked sponge was only two-thirds of what it should have been. I was rather disappointed because I knew I could do it better if my electric beater was working.

Casting my disappointment aside, I worked the remaining of the cake. As the height of the cake is less than desired, I adjusted the amount of pandan kaya fudge to balance up.

Everything worked out fine in the end. The fudge turned out slightly soft though, perhaps due to insufficient setting time. For the wording, I planned to use white chocolate initially. However, the white chocolate would not melt. After 3 attempts, I changed to using dark chocolate instead. It has been such a long time since I have written any chinese characters manually. I have almost returned all of it to my chinese teachers. My mum was beside to guide me when I was questioning whether the strokes were correct, especially for the word "快".

When I sampled a slice of the cake, it was not as dense as I thought it would be even though the sponge cake did not rise as much due to insufficient beating. On the contrary, I received raving reviews for it from my family members.
I learnt a lesson from this - never attempt to bake without the use of my trusty electric mixer again.

Pandan Kaya Cake (Recipe from Aunty Yochana's blog)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

When the Tastes Combine

Sometimes, it would be nice to combine two of your favourite flavours. What I did was to dig out this Chocolate Rum and Raisin Cupcakes recipe from Tempt: Cupcakes to Excite by Betty Saw. This is the 2nd time I have done this recipe. The 1st time I tried it out after borrowing the book from the library, I knew I had to re-cake this recipe once again.

Thankfully, I got hold of a copy of the book on offer at more than 60% off from the original price. What a great bargain man! And to think that I would actually find it to be in a place like NTUC Fairprice Extra..

This time round, I increased the proportion and added more raisins which is to my liking. I also upped the amount of rum to give it a stronger kick. The alterations did not fail me and there it was - moist chocolatey cupcakes with a the right blend of rum - not too subtle not too overpowering. When the tastes of rum and chocolate combines, it is just amazing!

The cupcakes are so moist that the top layer remains slightly fudgy, as can be seen in the pictures above.

Chocolate Rum and Raisins Cupcakes ( Recipe adapted from Tempt: Cupcakes to Excite by Betty Saw)
Equipment: Muffin tin with holes 5cm in diamter measured from the base, cupcake liners/paper

105g raisins, chopped
60ml dark rum
130g unsalted butter, softened
110g caster sugar
3 eggs (60g each) , separated and at room temperature
150g dark chocolate ( I used 60%), melted
110g self raising flour, sifted
1 tbs dark rum

1) Preheat oven to 160 degrees C and line muffin tin with cupcake liners/paper.
2) Combine rum and raisins and allow to soak for 3 hours.
3) Cream butter and 55g sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks one by one until combined
4) Add one tbs rum to the rum soaked raisins. The rum should have evapoarated after 3 hours. Stir in rum raisins mixture and melted chocolate to combine. Next fold in the flour until well combined.
5) In a separate clean bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Add remaining 55g sugar gradually and beat until egg whites are almost stiff. The egg whites should be moist and creamy and not chunky.
6) Fold one third of beaten egg white to the mixture in 3) to lighten. Fold in remaining egg whites until combined using a whisk.
7) Scoop batter into cupcake liners and bake for 20minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

1) Recipe makes about 14 cupcakes
2) Taste of cupcake matures as day passes
3) Use a clean metal (preferably) bowl and beater to beat egg whites.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Sugarless Loaf of Honey Goodness

My baking repertoire has always consists of round shaped cakes or square shaped bars. Seldom have I bake my goods in a loaf tin. After browsing through my newly bought Rachel Allen - Bake, I decided upon a recipe that caught my attention - honey loaf cake.

The recipe is pretty straightforward without fancy ingredients. Just the usual flour, butter and eggs. Wait a minute... Where has the sugar gone to? Here is the catch. This honey loaf cake uses purely honey as a sweetener. Sounds like a good deal~

After 10 minutes into baking, I could sniff the smell of honey slowing making its way out of the oven.  When the cake was done, it has light golden hue. The loaf domed but splitted widely at the top. That did not affect the appearance too much though. Afterall, the cake is to be sliced and the split would not have been noticeable.

I could not resist the urge and took one slice of it. The cake is dense yet soft and it exudes a very light sweetness of honey. It would be perfect by adding a thin layer of jam or butter it. I tried topping with raspberry jam and peach jam on 2 separate slices and very much prefferred the later.

Honey Loaf Cake ( recipe adapted from Rachel Allen - Bake )
Equipment: 9 x 5 inch loaf tin

275g flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
120g butter, softened
175g runny honey
75ml milk
2 eggs (60g each), beaten
1 tbs warm honey ( for brushing)

1) Preheat oven to 170 degrees C
2) In a big bowl, sift the dry ingredients together. Whisk them well to distribute the ingredients uniformly.
3) Beat butter till soft. Add the honey and cream it with the butter till light and fluffy on medium speed.
4) Add in eggs gradually and beat till combined.
5) Fold in the flour mixture until smooth. It will be dough-like.
6) Finally, add in the milk and fold untill a soft dough-like batter is obtained
7) Pour batter into lined loaf tin and bake for 45 -55 minutes. Check for doneness using a wooden skewer. Insert skewer in the middle and it should come out clean with no wet dough.
8) Remove cake from tin and brush with warm honey
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