Give me cake or give me death cookies.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Happy Birthday Tashcakes! (And Wacky World!)

Exactly a year ago I created two weekly blogs: one for funny anecdotes, The Wacky World of a Weird Girl, and this one- Tashcakes!- for all the things that I bake. Every week for the a year I have been updating both religiously, and every week I've baked something different.

Those of you who've followed me from the start know what my first recipe after the intro post was: rainbow sundae cupcakes. So in honour of my first proper post, and in honour of my obsession with colourful sweet things, let's cut this baby open, shall we?

Happy birthday, Tashcakes! Long may the diabetesfest continue.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Pearly Rose Cupcakes

I made these white rose cupcakes for my colleague Nifa, who left on maternity leave today.

I loved making these- I'm really getting better with the uniformity of my rose swirls. I also frigging love using edible lustre spray, even if I always get it all over myself (or maybe partially because of it).

Hope you have a restful time at home and a speedy delivery, Nifa!

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

UPDATE: The Whittard of Chelsea Afternoon Tea Competition

Recently I entered Whittard's afternoon tea blogging competition, and I was chosen as one of ten finalists! Alas I didn't win, but I as a finalist I was given a runner-up prize of three boxes of tea- making me one very happy caffeinated bunny.

My goodies arrived in the post today:

Ooh exciting, I love opening stuff. <3
Thanks, Hannah!
Decisions, decisions...
Tea + Cake = Zen

The cake is a slice of the cake I made for Father's Day, incidentally.

Take a look at the other competition entries here. There were some lovely recipes and pictures, and it was nice to see people as obsessed with caffeine and cake as I am!

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Strawberry 'Shortcake' Victoria Sponge for Father's Day

As per my dad's request, I made him a Victoria sponge for today. Only I got a bit fancy and added whole strawberries, making it more like a strawberry shortcake- style Victoria sponge.

Spot the mistake!

I guess this is just a Victoria sponge with sliced strawberries. Die-hards wouldn't even call it a Victoria sponge with the addition of whole fruit- heck, you're not even supposed to call it a Victoria sponge if it has cream in, either: it's just supposed to be a sponge cake sandwiched with jam.

What is a strawberry shortcake, anyway? In America it seems to be a large, dry-ish, scone-like cake split in the middle and filled and topped with cream and strawberries, no jam. In Japan, it's a cloud-like chiffon sponge instead of the scone. Looks like I've created another Frankencake?

Did you spot the mistake? I can usually count to eight, honest! My concentration just happened to be split between cake decorating, gardening and choosing from the takeaway curry menu (the latter as per Father's Day custom). Alas, since my mind was also on repotting pumpkins and chicken passanda, I chopped off one too many stalks.

Use my recipe for Victoria sponge, stick some sliced strawberries in it and *boom*, strawberry shortcake.

Happy Father's Day, all!

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Healthy Flapjacks Recipe and Burgers

Recently I made some low fat 'flapjacks' for Mothercare's blog- well, chewy fruity oaty bars (not like the ones that send River mad in Serenity), using only bananas and dates to sweeten the treats, and no butter. I think they turned out rather well.

Follow the link up there for my recipe, it's perfect for (relatively) guilt-free snacking.

Also, I made some burgers for Father's Day tomorrow. See? I do make savoury food. ;)

Of course I'll be making a cake for the actual day: check back tomorrow evening for pictures!

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Pandan Red Bean Deco Roll Cake- Recipe

Japan seems to have an obsession with decorating things. Deco candy, decoben (bento), deco tape, deco everything. Kawaii desu ne! *Gets shot*

Seriously though, it's pretty darn adorable, and just Googling this stuff is great for inspiration. I recently discovered the existence of 'deco roll cake', which is basically creating beautifully patterned Swiss rolls by piping coloured cake mixture onto the baking paper before pouring the main cake mixture over it: when you peel back the paper, ta-dah! The image is magically transferred onto the cake, which is then filled and rolled up.

As a nod to the whole deco culture, I was going to use red (adzuki) bean and matcha green tea as the flavour combination: two very popular flavours in Japan. Alas, I'd already squandered my stash of matcha powder on many matcha lattes. So, unwilling to give up on making a green cake, I used my old favourite Malaysian flavour instead: pandan.

I've used this before in my recipes for bubur cha cha, kueh dadar and kueh ubi bingka: take a look at the bottom of the kueh ubi bingka post for a bit of info on pandan extract, what it is, and where to find it.

As for the red bean part, you can find it in large tin cans of smooth sweetened red bean paste at most Asian food stores. In my case, I found a small can of anko that I used half of (anko is Japanese sweet red bean paste- it usually has actual chunks of beans in it).

Ingredients for Deco Part:

-1 small egg
-30g caster sugar
-50g self-raising flour*
-red and yellow food colouring

Ingredients for Swiss Roll:

 -4 eggs, separated
-40g caster sugar
-40g self-raising flour
-20g cornflour
-1tsp pandan paste (or vanilla and a bit of green food colouring if you can't find it)

Ingredients for Filling:

-150ml whipping cream
- 100g anko (sweetened red bean paste)


1) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/ Gas Mark 4.

2) Line a 26x36cm baking tray with non-stick greaseproof paper, and very lightly grease it.

3) Start by making the flower patterns: beat the egg in a small bowl, and stir in the sugar and flour. Divide into two bowls, and stir red food colouring in one and yellow in the other.

4) Using a small round piping nozzle or a piping bag with a tiny hole cut into the corner, pipe on alternating rows of small and large yellow dots onto the paper: the small dots will be the centre of the flowers. Pop in the freezer for about two minutes, then pipe on your petals over the top of the small dots. You'll only have to do this for just over half of the length of the pan as the rest will be hidden when you roll the cake up, anyway.

5) Put the whole baking sheet into the freezer to set the flowers: this stops them from running and smudging when you pour the main cake mixture over later.

6) To make the Swiss roll, start by sifting both flours onto a plate.

 7) Make a meringue mixture: beat the egg whites with an electric whisk in a large bowl until they form stiff white peaks (when you can hold the bowl upside down over your head without getting messy). Add in half of the sugar and keep beating until glossy.

8) Beat the egg yolks in a separate bowl with the whisk (make sure you do this AFTER the whites**) with the rest of the sugar until pale and fluffy, and whisk in the pandan/ vanilla with green colouring. Get rid of the electric whisk, and lightly stir in the sifted flours, trying not to beat too much air out of the mixture.

9) Take a few tablespoons of the meringue and incorporate gently into the egg yolk mixture, then very gently fold in the rest of the egg whites with a spatula or metal spoon, keeping in as much air as possible until well combined.

10) Take your baking tray with the flowers out of the freezer, and pour on the Swiss roll mixture. Spread evenly, drop it a few times on the counter to bang large air bubbles out of it, and bake for 20-25 minutes.

11) Take out of the oven and invert into a cooling rack lined with more baking paper, leaving the tin on top so the cake doesn't dry out. Leave to go completely cold.


12) To make the filling, whisk the cream until stiff (not too much or it'll turn into butter!) and mix in the red bean paste.

13) Once cool, get rid of the baking sheet and gently peel the paper off. Now flip the cake over so that the pattern is on the bottom and furthest away from you.

14) Cut a sloping angle into the end furthest away from you (the patterned end), so the cake can roll up more snugly.

15) Spread on the red bean cream, leaving an inch or so of space at the end so the cream doesn't squish out when you roll it.

16) Roll the cake up starting from the end closest to you, using the baking paper under the cake to help tuck over the first bit and then roll it away from you.

17) Roll the whole cake tightly in the baking paper and twist up the corners. Cover it with clingfilm and put in the fridge for a couple of hours to set the filling.

18) Unwrap the cake, slice a bit off the ends to neaten it up, and cut into slices to serve, using the flowers and dots as a serving guide.


*I used 40g but the mixture was a little runny, making it difficult to pipe (you can see my flowers are a bit on the blobby side). Adding a bit more flour will make the mixture easier to control so you can pipe more delicately, but it might also make the deco patterns tougher in texture.

**If you get any yolks in the egg whites, they won't whip up as well: grease affects the proteins in the egg whites and stops strong air bubbles from forming.

Have fun deco-ing!

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Strawberry Mousse Cake- Recipe

I have sourced 100% kosher beef gelatine. I can now make practically any dessert I want. I am now officially unstoppable! *Cue maniacal laughter, a lightening bolt and a clap of thunder*

Being a foodie at heart, also being Jewish has always been a bit of a culinary thorn in my side, especially also being half Chinese. Even though I'm quite secular in my ways, I keep kosher (more or less- the main parts, like not eating pork or shellfish) out of respect for my family. The most irritating thing has always been not being able to use gelatine, which rules out things like mousses, no-bake cheesecake, home made jellies, panna cotta and more. Agar-agar (seaweed jelly) and fish gelatine are all well and good, but the former gives quite a different texture, and both can't be used as direct substitutes in recipes when it comes to quantities. At last, my search for a viable alternative as at an end.

This was a quadruple challenge for me: firstly, I've never made a genoise sponge. Secondly, I've never used real gelatine. Thirdly, I've never tried making a jelly layer on top of a cake. Finally, I've never built a tall, moulded cake before. I had to do lots and lots of research to make sure I was getting my quantities right- especially for the mousse layer. I think I did alright.

Eating this cake is like eating a strawberry cloud. The genoise is light and fluffy, the mousse is fruity and, well, moussy, and the jewel-like strawberry jelly topping makes the whole thing feel rather special. I'm not going to lie: this cake requires your time and love, and is not a cake to make if you're in a hurry. I'd recommend you make this the day before you want to eat it, as the mousse and jelly layer take quite a few hours to set. What I did was make the sponge the day before and wrapped it up in clingfilm to keep it moist, and then made the mousse filling and assembled it the following morning to be eaten in the evening.

Also, this recipe uses a lot of strawberries. You'll need all 300g of the puréed strawberries, but you might have some of the halved and sliced ones left over, depending on how big your strawberries are and how much area they cover during decorating. In any case, it's better to have a little more just in case.

Ingredients for Genoise Sponge:

-5 eggs (no need to separate!)
-180g caster sugar
-120g self-raising flour
-50g cornflour (gives the cake an extra fine texture)
-20g salted butter, melted and cooled
-1tbsp milk (mix this in with the melted butter)

Ingredients for Simple Syrup:

-2tbsp caster sugar
-5tbsp hot water
-1tsp vanilla (or sherry if you have any)

Ingredients for Strawberry Mousse:

-4tsp powdered gelatine* (in my case, Kolatin, but the regular stuff will work too)
-70ml cold water
-300g puréed strawberries
-100g caster sugar
-300ml whipping cream
-1 egg white**
-300g more strawberries, halved

Ingredients for Jelly Layer:

-400g strawberries, sliced
-1 pack strawberry jelly (again I used the kosher kind, but you can use any)


1) Make the genoise first. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and line the bottom and sides of a 9" springform baking tin with baking parchment.

2) Sift the two flours together onto a plate to aerate it.

3) Place the eggs and sugar in a large heatproof bowl, and place that bowl over a pan of barely simmering water- not too hot or you'll scramble the eggs. Stir until all the sugar has dissolved and the egg mixture is warm, and take off the heat.

4) Whisk the egg mixture for five to ten minutes until thick and foamy- it's ready when a ribbon of foam can sit on top of the rest of the mixture when you lift the beaters up.

5) VERY GENTLY fold in the sifted flours until well-combined, followed by the butter and milk mixture, taking care not to bash too much air out of your foamy eggs.

6) Pour into your baking tin, drop the tin onto the counter a few times to knock out any giant air bubbles, and bake for about 25mins or until a skewer comes out clean. The top of the cake will be a light golden colour.

7) Immediately turn the tin upside-down onto a cooking rack lined with a bit of baking parchment, and leave the cake to go completely cold inside the tin.

(( At this point you can wrap the cake up in clingfilm if you're continuing the next day. If not, continue on...))

8) Make the simple syrup (also known as soaking syrup in the baking world) by dissolving the sugar in the hot water and adding the vanilla.

9) Unveil your genoise sponge cake, peeling the baking parchment off of it. Slice it into two even layers (I used a long bread knife), and dab the cut sides with the syrup to keep them moist- save a little syrup to brush on top later.

10) Clean out your springform pan and line it with foil this time, making the lining of the sides taller than the tin itself (doubling a long strip of foil makes the structure sturdier). Place one cake layer at the bottom of the pan cut side up.

11) Now you can make the mousse. Place the gelatine in the water in a small bowl and let it soak for a couple of minutes to let the gelatine plump up.

12) Gently warm the strawberry purée in a saucepan and dissolve the sugar and gelatine into it. Take it off the heat to let it cool slightly, almost to room temperature.

13) In two separate bowls, whip up the egg white until it forms stiff peaks (like you would for a meringue), and whip the cream also until stiff. (Do the egg whites first so you don't get any grease in them, which will stop them from getting as foamy as possible.)

14) Fold the strawberry purée mixture into the cream, followed by the egg whites, until thoroughly combined. It'll look a bit thin, but don't panic.

15) Assemble your cake! Arrange as many strawberry halves as you need around the edge of the cake slice in the tin, cut side facing outwards and upside-down. Slice any remaining halves and arrange them on the bottom. It should look something like this:

16) Pour about two thirds of your mousse mixture into the tin, or until it covers the tops of your ring of strawberries.

17) Place the second layer of cake on top cut side down, and brush a little more syrup on top. Pour the rest of the mousse on top of the cake, and put the whole thing in the fridge for four hours.

18) Make the final jelly layer! Follow your package's instructions to make up the jelly liquid, and let it cool for a couple of minutes- not too long or it'll start to set.

19) Take your cake out of the fridge and arrange your sliced strawberries on top. Carefully spoon over your jelly mixture, and put your cake back in the fridge for another two hours.

20) It's time for the grand unveiling! Take the cake out, dip a knife into hot water, dry it and run it around the cake to help loosen it from the foil. Take it out of the springform tin, peel away the foil and- tah dah! You have yourself a fancy strawberry mousse cake.


*I say 4tsp, and I mean it. You need four slightly heaped teaspoons. I went against my own carefully calculated recipe and used three and a half teaspoons. Why? Because that's the quantity in one packet of Kolatin, and I didn't want to open another one for just another half teaspoon. Curse my slight OCD completionist nature! The mousse still came out great, but could have been just a tiny bit firmer. Also, the longer you leave the mousse in the fridge to set, the better.

** This recipe uses a raw egg white. If you're pregnant or otherwise advised against this sort of tomfoolery, use pasteurised: you can buy cartons of pasteurised egg whites at the supermarket, usually where the butter is. You could also leave it out altogether, but you'd lose some of the airiness of the mousse.

Next time I make a mousse cake, I'm going to try it with mango. I can't wait to keep refining the presentation of the cake- it was a little more slapdash that I'm used to by my own standards, but that was more because of the fact that I didn't partition out the middle and top layer of mousse very well: I intended the top to look as it if were a solid layer of mousse, but as you can see there are a few small gaps from not reserving enough mousse for the top layer. Next time it will be PERFECT.