Sunday, April 5, 2015

Mango Bliss

When I see mangoes, I think of summer. And comes summer when mangoes are in season, I will buy a box (usually 16 in a box) almost every week. I can never get sick of them.

I prefer mangoes on its own. It feels like a shame somehow to hide them in salads, cakes, smoothies, etc. But sometimes we couldn’t consume the mangoes fast enough and they have gone too ripe and mushy. I would then store them away in the freezer for smoothies later. Do you know that sweet overripe mangoes make the best sugar-free smoothies?

This entremet is a celebration of the season’s mangoes. I want only the mangoes to shine through. So I decided not to include other flavours. I used Kensington Pride mangoes. They are the best type of mangoes to use for cakes and smoothies, in my humble opinion.

If you can’t get Kensington Pride, I recommend using a variety that does not have a firm flesh. And use only the sweetest mangoes. I afraid there is no other alternative.

Now I know some of you are going to ask- can we use canned mangoes. The answer is NO. I hate canned mangoes. They are like some weird mango flavoured things with the grossest texture that taste nothing at all like the real stuff.

I didn’t include the macaron recipe here but will instead refer you to my go-to macarons recipe which I used. I made a mango white chocolate ganache for the filling, which is 200grams melted white chocolates with 100grams warmed mango puree.

You will need about 8 medium size mangoes. Slightly overripe mangoes are the best for this recipe. And please please please use only the sweetest mangoes.

Mango Bliss

Makes 6 numbers of 7.5cm diameter cakes

Mango Puree
8 medium size mangoes (I recommend Kensington Pride)

To make mango puree:
Remove skin and cut out the pit. Cut mango flesh into pieces. With a small food proccesor, puree mango until smooth. Set aside.

Mango Jelly
200ml mango puree
2 sheets (6 grams) gelatin (I used titanium grade leaf gelatin)

To make mango jelly:
Soften the gelatin in a bowl of cold water.

Warm mango puree in small saucepan. The puree should be warm and not boiling. Remove from heat.

Squeeze the excess water from the gelatin. Stir it into the warm mango puree. Pour mixture into holes of mini muffin tin to about 2cm high.

Freeze mango jelly until completely frozen. To unmold, dip bottom of muffin tin in a tray of hot water for 5 secs. Flip muffin tin upside down on a baking paper and give a gentle shake to get the mango jelly out. Return the unmolded mango jelly rounds back into the freezer immediately until ready to assemble.

Sugar Syrup
150ml water
100 grams caster sugar
2 tablespoons of orange liqueur (cointreau)

To make sugar syrup:
Combine water and sugar in saucepan, stir, over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Allow to boil for 5 seconds. Cool completely before adding orange liqueur.

90 grams egg whites
80 grams caster sugar
80 grams egg yolks
40 grams cake flour
20 grams corn flour
35 grams unsalted butter, melted

To make sponge:
Preheat the oven to 200C (or 180C fan-forced). Line 30x20cm cake pan with baking paper.

Whisk egg white until foamy. Add one quarter of the sugar and whisk for a while. Then add remaining sugar and beat until stiff peaks form and egg whites are glossy. Add egg yolks and whisk until combine.

Combine and sift both flours. Gently fold flours into the batter with a spatula until combine. Fold in melted butter until combine.

Pour batter into the prepared pan, spread evenly, and bake for 15 minutes or until when a toothpick is inserted in the center comes out clean.

When sponge is done and cooled, peel away (by gently rubbing) the layer of brown skin on the top.

Mango Bavarian Cream
2 sheets (6 grams) titanium grade gelatin
2 egg yolks
50 grams caster sugar
125ml mango puree, room temperature
200ml whipping cream

To make mango bavarian cream:
Soften the gelatin in a bowl of cold water.

Whisk egg yolks and sugar in a heatproof bowl until pale and creamy. Add mango puree, and whisk to incorporate. Place bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water, whisk constantly, until the mixture reaches 85C. Remove from heat.

Squeeze the excess water from the gelatin. Stir gelatin into the mango mixture until gelatin completely dissolves. Strain the mixture through a sieve into a bowl. Place the mixture over a bowl of water with ice. Stir mixture until it cools to room temperature. (Alternatively, place cling wrap over surface of mixture, and place in freezer for about 5-10 minutes until it cools.)

Meanwhile, whisk cream to firm peaks (be careful not to overwhip). When the mango mixture cools completely, carefully fold whipped cream into the mango mixture with a spatula until combine.

At this stage, start assembling the entremet. The bavarian cream needs to be use immediately before the gelatin start to take effect.

To assemble (1):
Line a cookie tray (or any rectangular baking tray) with baking paper. Place 7.5cm diameter X 4.5cm height cake rings on top. You will need 6 cake rings.

Cut out 7.5cm diameter round cake sponge using the cake ring. Brush sponge generously with sugar syrup. Place sponge in the cake ring.

Place the frozen mango jelly on top of the sponge. Pour mango bavarian cream over, and level with a spatula. Place in freezer until completely frozen.

Mango Glaze
100 grams white chocolate, finely chopped
3 sheets (9 grams) titanium grade gelatin
100ml mango puree (after strain through a sieve)
50 grams caster sugar
100 grams liquid glucose
70ml whipping cream
Optional: 1 or 2 drops of yellow food colouring

To make mango glaze:
Melt the chocolate in a bowl over, not touching, simmering water. Stir occasionally to assist the melting. When the chocolate has melted, remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Soften the gelatin in a bowl of cold water.

Combine mango puree, sugar and glucose in a saucepan over medium heat, stir until sugar and glucose disolves, and mixture starts to boil. Remove from heat.

Stir cream into the syrup mixture. Squeeze the excess water from the gelatin, and stir gelatin into the syrup mixture. Pour over the melted chocolate, then stir gently to combine. Add yellow food colouring if required.

Allow glaze to cool to room temperature. The glaze will thicken as it cools to the right temperature. To check if the glaze is ready to use, dip spoon into the glaze. The glaze should coat the back of the spoon. Use glaze immediately.

To assemble (2):
Unmould entremets from cake rings. (Tip: To unmould, I place the entremet, still in the cake ring, in a ziplock bag. Slowly lower the ziplock bag into a bowl of hot water, careful not to get water in the bag. Leave ziplock bag in the hot water for 5 secs, then quickly lift the bag out of the water, take the entremet out, and gently push the entremet out of the cake ring.)

Place entremets on a cooling rack set on a baking tray line with baking paper. Working very quickly, and in a confident and smooth motion, pour glaze over frozen entremet.

Allow entremets to thaw in fridge for 4-6 hours before serving.

Totally optional, decorate with mango macarons (macaron recipe here) and edible gold leaf.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Baileys Coffee Mini Cheesecakes

It's been way too long. I know. It's like, what, 3-4 months since my last post? Terrible. I have a million reasons. Too busy, too lazy, not feeling inspired, ate too much during the festive season, my baking is making me fat, trying to go on a sugar free diet (with little success I should add), and blah blah blah.

Anyway, I thought I will share an easy bake before I go MIA (missing in action) for a few months again. Haha. Just kidding. Maybe.

What can I say about these Baileys Coffee Cheesecakes except that they are pretty amazing. They are like Irish coffee, but with Baileys and in mini cheesecakes form. They are so amazing in fact that I actually crawl out of my "blogger's block" so that I can share it with anyone who are still following my blog. That, my friend, is how awesome it is!

Baileys Coffee Mini Cheesecakes
(Adapted from Taste magazine March 2015)

Makes 6 muffin size cheesecakes

120 grams plain chocolate biscuits (I used oreos without the filling)
50 grams unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons instant coffee powder
1 tablespoon boiling water
250 grams cream cheese, at room temperature
60 grams brown sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons baileys
125 grams thickened cream, whipped
Cocoa powder, to dust

To make baileys coffee mini cheesecakes:
Preheat oven to 150C or (130C fan-forced). Line standard muffin/cupcake pan with paper cases. (Tip: Use two paper cases to prevent the cheesecakes from stucking onto the pan.)

Process chocolate biscuits in a food processor until finely crushed. Add butter and process until well combined. (Tip: If you don't have a food processor, just pop the biscuits in a ziplock bag, crush the biscuits with a rolling pin, transfer the crushed biscuits into a bowl and stir in butter until well combined.)

Scoop about 1 heap tablespoon of the biscuit mixture into the paper cases, and press the mixture firmly down to form a base. Bake until set, about 10 minutes. Allow to cool.

Meanwhile, combine the coffee and boiling water in a small bowl until dissolve. Set aside.

Whisk cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, then add coffee mixture and baileys, and whisk until well combined. (Tip: Press mixture through a sieve into a large bowl to remove any stubborn lumps to get a smooth mixture without overmixing.)

Pour mixture into pan. Set pan in a large roasting pan filled halfway with hot water, bake for 25 minutes or until just set. (Tip: To check, give the pan a little shake, it's done when the mixture is firm around the edges and wobbles a little in the middle.) Remove muffin pan from roasting pan, cool cheesecakes (still in the muffin pan) in the oven with the door slightly ajar. Once cheesecakes are cooled completely, transfer cheesecakes in an airtight container and into the fridge to chill overnight.

Before serving, pipe or spoon a tablespoon of whipped cream over cheesecakes and dust with cocoa powder.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Very Good Carrot Cake

I have not abandoned this blog… if anyone was wondering.

It’s quiet here because I’m suffering from blogger’s block; zero inspiration, and unsuccessful and equally un-photogenic bakes. In another words, I was baking uninspiring crap that looked shit which I blame it on a poor excuse that I made up.

The other reason is I got myself a full-time job. Yay for me. Not so yay for this blog. I do hope, however, I will be able to start baking more often once I get into a routine. For now though, I’m feeling too tired after work to do anything, let alone bake.

Anyway, when I do get around posting something here on this blog, I promise it will be good. You know, like they say, quality not quantity. Like this very good carrot cake.

There are many recipes and variations out there for the ever popular carrot cake. I tested many many recipes (yes, a double “many”, grammar check), including most of the popular ones online and some of the promising ones in cookbooks and food blogs.

I decided that I like my carrot cake old-fashion. No coconut please, and definitely no pineapple. I’m almost tempted to say I prefer it without walnuts and sultanas. But on second thought, the crunch from the walnuts (if roughly chopped to the right size) and the occasional burst of sweetness from the sultanas add interest to the cake which I quite enjoy. I like my carrot cake moist (of course) but not soggy, with just a hint of cinnamon, and a gentle note of orange.

I can’t say that this is the ultimate carrot cake because I’m sure many will disagree. This is, however, my favourite one of all the carrot cakes that I made. It’s a very good carrot cake which I’m sure won’t disappoint. It’s an easy cake to make too. Mix the ingredients for this cake like you would with muffins- the trick is not to over mix.

Very Good Carrot Cake
(Adapted from Best Recipes)

Makes 8 mini loafs (or a 20cm diameter cake)

Carrot Cake
1 cup self-raising flour
1/2 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup golden syrup
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 tablespoon orange liqueur, e.g. cointreau (optional, but highly recommend for a hint of orange)
2 medium carrots, grated
3/4 cup sultanas
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Cream Cheese Frosting
120 grams light cream cheese, softened and at room temperature
60 grams butter, softened and at room temperature
1 1/2 cup icing sugar
zest of an orange

To make carrot cake:
Preheat oven to 170C (or 150C fan-forced).

Line and grease mini loaf pan (I used Baker's Secret 8 cup petite loaf pan) or 20cm round cake pan.

Combine flours, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon into a large bowl. Set aside.

In a seperate bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, golden syrup, eggs, vanilla and liqueur until well combined. Add to flour mixture. Using a spatula, gently fold mixture together until just combined. (Tip: This should take only about 10 folds, making sure to scrap the bottom of the bowl with each fold. There should still be big pockets of flour in the mixture. That is okay because we will get to that when we fold in the rest of the ingredient.)

In a seperate bowl, combine grated carrots, sultanas, and roughly chopped walnuts. Add to mixture above. Using the spatula, gently fold all the ingredient together until just combined. (Tip: The trick is to mix as little as you can get away with, without leaving pockets of flour in the batter. The batter should still be slightly lumpy.)

Spoon our pour mixture into prepared pan. If you are using the petite loaf pan, bake for 20-30minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted into centre of cake comes out clean. For 20cm round cake pan, bake for 1 hour.

Stand in pan for 10 minutes. Turn, top-side up onto a wire rack. Cool completely.

To make cream cheese frosting:
Using an electric mixer, whisk together cream cheese, butter, icing sugar, and orange zest until pale, light and fluffy. Allow frosting to firm up in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Pipe or spread frosting over top of cake. Decorate with grated carrot.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Flourless Orange and Almond Cake

I have this recipe for many years, way before gluten-free is “trendy” and few knew what coeliac disease is.

This flourless orange and almond cake remains one of my favourites all these years. It’s wonderfully light and refreshing, and simply melts-in-your-mouth. It doesn’t require many ingredients which is always a bonus. And it’s so easy to make that I’m almost tempted to say that it’s fail-proof. The only downside to this recipe is that it’s time-consuming because you need to simmer the oranges for at least an hour.

Sometimes, I would add a tablespoon of orange liqueur (e.g. Cointreau) to make this cake just that little bit special. For those who like frosting on their cakes, cream cheese frosting with finely grated orange zest will go well with this cake. Today though, I opt for a light brush of warmed orange marmalade over the top of the cake and decorate it with candied orange slices. Of course, this cake will just be as good on its own. Oh, this can be made into cupcakes too, just so you know.

This cake is best serve chilled and a day after it’s made. The flavour and texture of this cake will be so much better after a day or two of rest.

Flourless Orange and Almond Cake

Makes 22cm diameter cake

Flourless Orange and Almond Cake
2 medium size oranges (about 240g each), unpeeled
6 eggs
180 grams (1 cup) caster sugar
250 grams (2 1/2 cups) almond meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons orange marmalade (optional)

To make cake:
Place whole unpeeled oranges in saucepan, cover with cold water, and bring to the boil. Once the water starts to boil, drain water, cover oranges with fresh water, bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour or until the oranges are soft. Remove oranges and allow to cool. Discard cooking liquid.

Once the oranges are completely cooled, preheat oven to 180C conventional (or 160C fan-forced). Line base and side of a 22cm diameter round cake tin with baking paper.

Trim and discard ends from oranges, quarter the oranges, then remove any seeds. Process oranges in a food processor until smooth.

Whisk eggs and sugar in bowl of electric mixer, on high speed, until thick and pale in colour. Reduce speed of mixer, gradually add orange puree, pouring it down the side of the bowl so not to deflate the eggs mixture, until just combined. Add mixture of almond meal and baking powder in 3 batches, along the side of the bowl, whisk until well combined. Pour mixture into prepared tin.

Bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into centre comes out clean. Allow cake to cool completely in cake tin, then refrigerate, preferably overnight. Before serving, warm orange marmalade in the microwave for one minute, brush marmalade over cake. Top with candied orange slices.

Candied Orange Slices
1 medium size orange, thinly sliced
250 grams caster sugar
300ml water

To make candied orange slices:
Place orange slices in a small saucepan, cover with cold water, and bring to the boil. Once the water starts to boil, drain and discard liquid.

Combine sugar and 300ml water in a saucepan, bring to boil. Once the sugar is completely dissolve and the syrup starts to boil, reduce heat to the lowest possible heat with just barely a bubble breaking the surface. Return the drained orange slices to the barely simmering sugar syrup, cook for about 1 hour or until the zest is transparent and glossy. Cool in the syrup before using, or refrigerate (with the orange slices still in the syrup) until ready to use.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Flourless Black Forest Entremet

The first thing J said when he saw the cake was, "It's not Christmas yet."

Well, Mr Smarty Pants, have you not heard of Christmas in July?

Okay, so it's August now (What?!? It's August already?). And the cake does look surprising festive. But who's to say we can't have a festive cake whenever we want.

This entremet comprises of 5 components; flourless chocolate sponge, kirsch morello cherry syrup, chantilly cream dotted with morello cherries, chocolate mousse and cherry glaze. It’s not as difficult as it looks or sound. And it’s not as time consuming as most of the entremets that I have made so far. It’s probably as easy as making a traditional black forest cake. Maybe.

I might add some gelatin to the chantilly cream next time I make this. The cream is a tad too soft to neatly hold up the weight of the sponge, mousse, glaze and decoration on top.

Note that the chocolate sponge is very delicate and will fall apart if you are not careful handling it. And although you don’t have to freeze the cake overnight, I do highly recommend doing so, as the glaze will set a lot faster, you will get a neater cut and also the cream will hold up a lot better.

Flourless Black Forest Entremet

Makes 7"x7" cake

Flourless Chocolate Sponge Cake
250 grams 70% dark chocolate, finely chopped
60 grams unsalted butter, cube
250 grams eggwhite (about 6)
80 grams caster sugar
60 grams egg yolk (about 3)

To make flourless chocolate sponge cake:
Preheat oven to 180C conventional (or 160C fan-forced). Line 2 numbers of 30x20cm cake pans with baking paper.

Melt chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Once the chocolate has melted, set aside to cool slightly while you work on the rest of the ingredient.

In a clean bowl, using an electric mixer, whisk eggwhite until foamy. Sprinkle in 60 grams sugar and whisk until soft peaks. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer, whisk egg yolks and remaining 20 grams sugar until pale and creamy.

Add one-third of whipped eggwhite and all of the egg yolk mixture to the slightly cooled melted chocolate. Using a spatula, fold the ingredients together thoroughly. Gently fold in the remaining whipped eggwhite.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans. Using a palette knife, spread the batter to an even thickness. Baked for 8-10 minutes or until springy to the touch. Turn sponge straight from oven onto a sheet of baking paper. Peel off baking paper from the bottom of the sponge. Cover with baking paper, then a tea towel. Set aside to cool completely.

Kirsch and Morello Cherries Syrup
150ml juice or syrup reserved from jar of morello cherries
50 grams caster sugar
2 tablespoon kirsch

To make kirsch and morello cherries syrup:
Combine juice/syrup and sugar in a saucepan, stir, over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Allow to boil for 5 seconds. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. Add kirsch and stir to combine.

Chantilly Cream
400ml heavy cream, cold
40 grams caster sugar

To make chantilly cream:
Whip cream and sugar using an electric mixer until cream holds firm peaks.

To assemble (1):
You will also need about 400 grams morello cherries.

Trim flourless chocolate sponge cakes to fit a 7"x7" square cake ring.

Line cookie tray (or any rectangular baking tray) with baking paper. Place a 7"x7" square cake ring on top. Place a trimmed cake layer in the cake ring. Brush cake generously with syrup. Pipe or spoon half of the chantilly cream over. Place morello cherries over cream, roughly 2.5cm apart, stagger the lines. Pipe or spoon remaining chantilly cream. Brush second cake layer generously with syrup, place cake syrup side down on top of cream, press down lightly, brush cake layer with syrup. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate while you work on the chocolate mousse.

Chocolate Mousse
225ml heavy cream, cold
125 grams 70% dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 egg yolk
25 grams caster sugar

To make chocolate mousse:
Whisk cream using electric mixer until it holds firm peaks. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Once the chocolate has melted, set aside to cool slightly.

Whisk egg yolk and sugar (I use hand whisk for this) in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water until the mixture reaches the ribbon stage, and is pale and creamy.

Using a spatula, fold whipped cream into the egg yolk mixture until combine. Fold one-third of the mixture into the cooled melted chocolate until well combine. Gently fold in remaining of the cream and yolk mixture into the melted chocolate until well combine.

Spread chocolate mousse evenly over assembled cake. Cover with cling wrap and freeze cake overnight.

Cherry Glaze
200 grams cherries (if use frozen cherries, allow to thaw.)
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1 tablespoon glucose syrup
2 sheets (6 grams) titanium grade gelatin

To make cherry glaze:
Puree the cherries in a blender or food processor. Strain the puree through a sieve into a bowl, pressing down with the back of a spoon and discarding the solids.

Soften the gelatin in a bowl of cold water.

Place 100 grams of the cherry puree juice, caster sugar and glucose syrup in a saucepan, stirring constantly, over medium heat until the sugar and glucose dissolves. Remove from heat. (Do not let the mixture boil. It should be warm but not hot.)

Squeeze excess water from the gelatin. Stir gelatin into the warm cherry mixture.

Allow glaze to cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Pour glaze over frozen cake. Return cake to fridge for 10 minutes or until glaze set completely. Remove cake from cake ring. Trim and cut the cake while it’s still frozen to get a neat finish. Remember to allow the cake to thaw completely before serving. This will take about 20 minutes at room temperature or 2 hours in the fridge.

To decorate, you will need:
150 grams heavy cream, cold
100 grams 70% dark chocolate, finely chopped

You can cut the cake to whatever size you like. I prefer a generous 3x12cm slices, which I get about 5 slices of that size out of the cake, which also means that there will be some wastage (or aka chef’s treat).

Whisk cream until it holds firm peak. Fill piping bag fitted with a medium size petal decorating tip, and pipe cream over cake in a zigzag motion.

To make trees, melt chocolate either over a saucepan of barely simmering water or in the microwave, and pour melted chocolate into a piping bag. I didn’t bother to tamper the chocolate for this job. Snip off a small hole from the piping bag, and pipe onto a baking paper. Allow the chocolate trees to set completely before you peel it off from the baking paper.

Dust with icing sugar before serving.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Swedish Cinnamon Buns

I might have mentioned here once before that I like to go to Sweden someday. I want to spend a day in Ikea just to marvel at how everything is (probably) exactly the same as back home. I want to spend hours browsing in local homewares and handcraft stores, and fill my suitcases with little treasures. And I look forward to have a fika everyday, and have a pastry, or a piece of cake, or a sweet bun with my coffee. For now though, I guess these cinnamon buns will just have to do.

Swedish Cinnamon Buns
(Adapted from The Guardian)

Makes 12

300ml whole milk
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
50g butter, roughly chopped
425g plain flour
7g fast action yeast
60g caster sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1 egg, beaten lightly

75g butter
50g dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg, beaten lightly
Pearl sugar to sprinkle (Or use silvered almonds like I did if you can't find pearl sugar)

To make buns:
Put the milk and ground cardamon in a small saucepan and bring to just below the boil. Take off the heat, stir in the butter and leave to infuse until the milk mixture is just warm (about 38C).

Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with hook attachment. Add warm milk mixture and egg to flour mixture. Knead on low speed until you get a smooth pliable tacky dough, about 10 minutes. The dough is ready when it starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Resist adding more flour to the mixture.

Lightly grease your hands, and shape the dough into a ball. Place the dough in a lightly greased mixing bowl, and cover with cling wrap. Let the dough rise at room temperature (somewhere draught-free and not too cold) until doubled in size. Depending on the temperature of your room, it can take anything between 30 mins to 1 hour. Press the dough gently with a fingertip. If the indentation remains, the dough is ready for the next step.

Meanwhile, make filling:
Melt butter and set aside. In a separate bowl, combine dark brown sugar, cinnamon and salt.

When the dough is ready, deflate the dough, cover with cling wrap and let rest for 5 minutes.

Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to a rectangle roughly 60 x 25cm. Generously brush melted butter over the dough. Sprinkle over the cinnamon sugar mixture. Roll the dough, from the longer side, tightly like a swiss roll. Position it on its seam. Cut and discard the ends. Cut roll into 12 equal slices.

Line standard cupcake/muffin pan with paper cases. Place rolls in paper cases. Cover loosely with cling wrap. Let the dough proof for the second time until double in size, about 30 mins to 1 hour. Press the dough gently with a fingertip. If the indentation remains, the dough is ready for baking.

Heat the oven to 180C fan-forced. While waiting for the oven to heat up, brush top of each roll lightly with the beaten egg and sprinkle over silvered almonds. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Note: This is best serve while the buns are still warm.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Birthday Cake (Japanese-style Strawberry Ombre Shortcake)

It’s my birthday today. If you know me, you probably know how I feel about birthdays. If not, the candles will give you a clue.

I baked myself a birthday cake. Like I did the last couple of years. And just like every year, I made a strawberry cake because it's my favourite. This year, it's a Japanese-style strawberry shortcake (the best one yet).

It’s a simple cake of chiffon-like sponge layers that are so light and soft and melts away in your mouth like candy floss, and mascarpone cream that is light-as-cloud with specks of vanilla seeds. Of course, it can’t be strawberry cake without fresh strawberries. And homemade strawberry jam added too for good measure. To make this extra special, because it’s my birthday cake afterall, I made the sponge layers in different shade of pink.

I have done several variation of strawberry cakes on this blog; the Japanese-style strawberry shortcake (version 1), the strawberry and cream genoise cake, and the strawberry cloud cake. All delicious and different in their own way. However this one, I dare say, is the best one yet. (Did I say that already?)

Japanese-style Strawberry Ombre Shortcake

Makes one 12cm diameter cake

Sponge cake
Note: Recipe for the sponge cake makes only 1 number of 28cm x 28cm square sponge layer. Repeat 2 more times to achieve a 3 layer cake. I find that it’s easier to bake each layer separately. To get a neater finish, I bake the cake in a 28cm x 28cm square cake tin, and then cut rounds with a cookie cutter. The biggest cookie cutter that I have around the house is a 12cm diameter round cutter, hence a 12cm cake. You can obviously make a bigger cake if you have a bigger cookie cutter.

3 egg whites
30 grams caster sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
3 egg yolks
30 grams caster sugar
60ml milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
40ml vegetable oil
80 grams cake flour
pink food colouring

To make sponge layer:
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees celsius (or 150 degrees celsius fan-forced). Grease and line a 28cm x 28cm flat square cake pan with baking paper.

Using an electric mixer, whisk egg whites, 30 grams caster sugar and cornstarch until egg whites are glossy and stiff peaks form.

In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks and 30 grams sugar until pale and thick. Combine milk, vanilla extract and oil in a small bowl, add to beaten egg yolk mixture, whisk at low speed until combined. Sift flour over egg mixture, and whisk at low speed until smooth and well-combined. Stir in pink food colouring until you get the desired shade.

Add one-third of meringue into egg yolk mixture and fold in lightly using a spatula. Add remaining meringue and gently fold to incorporate completely.

Pour batter into the prepared tin, bake for 20-25minutes, or until the cake has risen and feels springy to the touch. Remove from oven. Turn sponge straight from oven onto a sheet of baking paper. Peel off baking paper from the bottom of the sponge. Cover with baking paper, then a tea towel. Set aside to cool completely.

Cut round from the cake sponge using a 12cm diameter cookie cutter, or the biggest cutter that you got around the house.

Repeat all of above 2 more times to get a 3 layer cake.

Strawberry Jam
200 grams strawberries
100 grams caster sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

To make strawberry jam:
Puree strawberries in a food processor. Add strawberry puree, sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan, bring to boil and reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes. Strain the jam through a sieve into a bowl, pressing down with the back of a spoon and discarding the solids. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Sugar Syrup
150ml water
100 grams caster sugar
2 tablespoons of orange liqueur (cointreau)

To make sugar syrup:
Combine water and sugar in saucepan, stir, over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Allow to boil for 5 seconds. Cool completely before adding orange liqueur.

Vanilla Mascarpone Cream
300 grams mascarpone, cold
300 grams thickened cream, cold
30 grams icing sugar
seeds scraped from 1 vanilla pod

To make vanilla mascarpone cream:
Using an electric mixer, whisk mascarpone, cream, icing sugar and vanilla seeds until stiff peaks form but cream is still smooth. Take care not to overwhip the cream.

To assemble:
You will also need about fresh strawberries, sliced.

Brush first cake round with sugar syrup, then generously with strawberry jam, top with sliced strawberries, and spread or pipe mascarpone cream over cake. Brush second cake round with sugar syrup and strawberry jam on both sides, lightly press second cake round over, top with sliced strawberries, then spread or pipe mascarpone cream over cake. Brush last cake round with sugar syrup and strawberry jam on one side, lightly press cake with sugar syrup and jam side down. Cover cake with mascarpone cream. Refridgerate for at least 2 hours before serving.