Summary

Give me cake or give me death cookies.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Tashcrafts: Felted Husky Dog

It was my colleague's birthday this week, and she had been hinting that she'd love a felted dog. I knew she has two huskies, so... felted husky!


This is actually the second non- neko ball project I've felted- the first being my needle felted Amaterasu wolf- which will be my next post!

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Chocolate Vanilla Bean Cream Cake- Recipe

Sandwiched with strawberry jam and just a dash of kirsch sprinkled over the sponge.


Yes the cream looks a bit intimidating, but it's not actually that thick: I smoothed the sides down after some of the cream squidged out while pressing each layer on top of the other, and I didn't bother to level the cake rounds before stacking them so the cream is a little thinner in the middle than at the edges where the cake layers slope slighly.


See? Looks a lot less scary now.


It was Dad's birthday today, and originally I was going to make him his usual favourite Victoria sponge. However this week I was also asked last minute to create a recipe for a chocolate cream cake for a company's social media campaign. I showed Dad the picture I was given as a brief, and he decided that he wanted to try it- lucky for me, since it's always best to test out new recipes!

This recipe isn't really new though, although it is, indeed mine- the sponge is the same recipe that I made for the father's day Black Forest gateau, and I've made the ganache before. As for the vanilla cream, it's not culinary rocket science. It was a good chance to make sure my method  and timing worked though, as well as test out some of my 'make it your own way' suggestions at the end of the recipe. In this case, I turned it into a sort of fancy chocolate Victoria sponge with the jam, and made it a little more grown-up with the liqueur.



Ingredients for cake:

-300g self raising flour
-90g cocoa powder
-400g caster sugar
-1/2tsp salt
-150ml sour cream
-150ml vegetable oil
-150ml hot black coffee (instant is fine)
-2 eggs
-1tsp vanilla extract

Ingredients for cream filling:

-600ml double cream
-1 vanilla pod
-4 rounded tbsp icing sugar

Ingredients for ganache topping:

-200ml double cream
-200ml semi-sweet chocolate (50-70% cocoa solids)
-2tbsp light muscavado or caster sugar

Method:

1) Preheat the oven to 170°C and three 8” round baking tins and line the bottoms with baking parchment.

2) Sift the flour and cocoa together in a large bowl, and add the rest of the dry ingredients. With an electric mixer, whizz all of the wet ingredients straight into the dry.

3) Evenly divide the cake batter between the three pans, and bake for 30-40 minutes or until a skewer poked into the middle comes out clean, and leave to cool completely (check from around 20 minutes- oven temperatures can vary).

4) While the cake cools, make the ganache topping. Heat the 200ml double cream in a pan with the sugar until almost boiling. Take the pan off the heat, add in the chocolate and stir until combined: the heat of the cream will melt the chocolate. Leave to cool a little and pop it in the fridge: it should become a good consistency for spreading by about 45 minutes, but keep checking on it and stirring every so often until you get the consistency you like.

5) Once you’re cake and ganache are ready, make your vanilla bean cream filling: add the cream and sugar to a bowl, split the vanilla pod down the middle with a sharp knife and scrape out the seeds and paste from the inside with the tip of the knife. Add the vanilla seeds to your cream and whisk until soft peaks form (the cream should be stiff enough to handle the cake layers on top, but not so stiff that it starts to curdle).

6) Assemble your cake: sandwich the three layers together with the vanilla cream in between, and spread your thickened ganache topping.

As I mentioned, I added strawberry jam and a sprinkling of booze to moisten the sponge with: this is an easy cake to customise to your tastes, so have fun with it!

Here's a close-up of the glossy ganache topping, just for fun:


Phwoar.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Butter Mochi with Macapuno- Recipe

It looks like cake. It smells like cake. It tastes like cake. It's fluffy and moist and buttery like cake. But instead of being cakey, it's slightly and satisfyingly... chewy.


How? Why? It's because butter mochi is basically a butter cake made with glutinous rice flour instead of regular wheat flour. So even though when you cut into it it looks almost like a regular sponge cake:


The texture of the cake actually has a pleasing resistance on the bite (or, as you can see in the first picture, on digging in with a fork).

This is actually quite an interesting dessert, concept-wise. Butter mochi itself is a Hawaiian treat, but the word 'mochi' is Japanese (mochi being glutinous rice cake), and the concept of creating sweet delicacies with rice flours and coconut milk is also very popular in South East Asia (in the form of steamed kuehs, of which I have already made a few for this blog).

So now we have established what butter mochi is, our next question is this: what the heck is macapuno? Well I have two words for you.

Mutant. Coconut.


It sounds rather dramatic and weird, but it is what it is: the mutation in the genes of a 'normal' coconut causes the resulting mutant plant to produce fruits with more coconut flesh, which also happens to be softer in texture. A popular Filipino produce, macapuno is often steaped in syrup and paired with cakes, ice-creams and other desserts.

Oh, and if you're a little freaked out at the prospect of eating mutant coconuts, consider this: nectarines are mutant peaches (that particular peach mutation causes the fruits to be fuzz-less).

Botanical intrigues aside, I decided to top this cake with macapuno because I made the cake itself with coconut milk, so it made a nice juxtaposition of flavour. As for the cake itself, I modelled it on several recipes I've found and tried in the past, adding more egg, salt to taste, using coconut milk as the only liquid aside from the eggs and reducing the sugar. Trust me, the sugar called for in my recipe looks like a lot, but if you take a look at some other recipes out there and you'll realise it could be much worse. I believe this is the best I've made it, yet.

There are also two ways of making butter mochi (that I've come across and tried, anyway): the way I've made it, and also a more custardy, dense version, which is pretty much this recipe but with about 500ml milk added (cow's- or a non-dairy alternative- rather than more coconut milk). Both are equally delicious.

Ingredients:

-450g glutinous rice flour
-450g caster sugar
-3 heaped tsp baking powder
-6 eggs
-1 can coconut milk
-125g melted unsalted butter
-2tsp vanilla
-pinch of salt
-extra butter for greasing your baking dish

Method:

1) Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C and generously butter an 8 x 12" dish (I used a rectangular Pyrex casserole dish)

2) Add the dry ingredients together into a big bowl, shape a dip in the centre with the back of a spoon and crack the eggs into the 'well'.

3) With a wooden spoon or balloon whisk, start mixing from the centre outwards to avoid getting lumps, every so often adding your coconut milk until it's all used up.

4) Last of all, mix in the melted butter and vanilla.

5) Pour into your prepared dish and bake for about 1hr 15mins, or until the cake is puffy and the top has formed a golden brown crust.


6) Leave to cool a little before dividing up as you like (the cake is equally delicious warm or cold- and everyone will be fighting over the delicious buttery crusty bits).

Look at how the air bubbles rose got baked onto the surface!
7) Eat as it is, or add your favourite fruits and toppings- in my case, delicious mutant coconut.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

South African Milk Tart Cake- Recipe


In full costume and waiting to meet up with some friends to go to Comicon, I discovered a little café called Brownie Box on Old Brompton Road. The counter was stuffed full of a ridiculously tempting array of beautiful, delicious-looking cakes. There were dense, chocolatey brownies, sponge cakes in various flavours, cheesecakes, pretty cupcakes... the lot.

What caught my eye, however, was a brown, brick-like slab of something, plain by comparison. It was labelled 'South African Milk Tart'. I asked what it was, and it was described as a dense, cinnamon-scented custardy thing. I love custardy things! So I chose it over all of the gorgeous cakes, this ugly duckling. It was dense, creamy, wonderfully spiced- a beautiful swan in disguise.

This was a year ago. I've since done some research on traditional South African milk tart. It seems it's most often made with a shortcrust pastry pie crust, although the one I had at Brownie Box seemed to have a thin, sponge-like layer. I couldn't work out if it was a self-crusting recipe that made its own sponge layer, or if it was meant to be crustless. Either way, I got to like the idea of the dense custard with a sponge cake base: so I created this recipe.

Ingredients for Sponge Layer:

-2oz unsalted butter, softened
-2oz caster sugar
-2oz self raising flour
-1 egg
-1tsp vanilla
-A pinch of salt

Ingredients for Milk Tart Filling:

-600ml milk
-1 cinnamon stick
-1tbsp unsalted butter
-3tbsp plain flour
-6tbsp caster sugar
-2 eggs
-1tsp vanilla
-Powdered cinnamon for sprinkling

Method:

1) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and line and grease an 8" round cake tin

2) Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy, whisk in the eggs, and add the flour, salt and vanilla

3) Spread evenly into your 8" cake pan, tap lightly on the counter a few times to knock out large air bubbles and bake for about 15 minutes (or until a skewer comes out clean and the cake is springy when you poke it)

4) Leave your cake to cool on a wire rack

5)While the cake cools, prepare a 7" round springform cake tin by cutting out a cardboard round and lining with tin foil before placing it in the bottom, as well as lining and greasing the sides (this will make it a lot easier to get the cake out later).



6)When the cake is cool, turn it out, place the 7" tin over it and cut around it so you have a 7" round of cake (if you'd have baked the cake in a 7" round pan to begin with, the sides would have shrunken a little).


7) Place your cut out cake round at the bottom of your prepared springform tin (and eat the scraps!)


8) Now make the filling: in a heatproof bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, flour and vanilla together until smooth

9) Bring the milk to a gentle simmer with the cinnamon stick in a saucepan, melting the butter in the hot milk at the last minute


10) Pour the hot milk into the bowl of egg mixture, stirring constantly

11) Put the whole thing back in the saucepan, and cook on a low heat until thickened, stirring all the time (until lifting your wooden spoon makes a thick 'ribbon trail')


12) Pour the custard straight into your prepared tin and over the sponge, tap lightly to get rid of bubbles again, and sprinkle the top with cinnamon


13) Leave to cool completely, then chill in the fridge for a few hours (preferably overnight).

14) Carefully remove from the tin, slice, and enjoy!








Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Chinese Cupcakes

I've been taking evening Mandarin classes for a year now, and I made these for my final class this Wednesday. I really hope some of my current class continue onto the second year with me!


They read 'qǐng chī wǒ' ('please eat me'), as a sort of Chinese version of the 'eat me' treats in Alice and Wonderland. I wrote the characters with an edible ink pen because the icing rounds I stamped out were too teeny-tiny too pipe on.

I had a bit of a logistical nightmare with these. First of all, the individual boxes I had bought to present them as gifts turned out to all have the wrong sized inserts (the things that stop the cupcakes from sliding around inside the box), so I had to cut every one of them down, and even then they didn't fit properly. This also made getting the cakes themselves into the boxes without smushing the icing quite tricky (but I managed it, with only one casualty: thank goodness I made spares).

The second problem was my decision to use a brand of ready-to-roll, pre-coloured icing I've never used before. I saw it in the store and picked it up because it was meant to be a natural alternative to all that fake stuff you get in food colouring (and a lot of food colouring is needed for that bright a red). However, in trying to be a smartarse and not poison people with e-numbers, I ended up using an icing that tasted really weirdly tangy. I only realised my error when I'd boxed everything up and took a huge bite out of the smushed cake I mentioned above. Bleurgh.

Thankfully the icing rounds are solid, so they're easy to just lift off. I'll just have to tell everyone I give these to not to eat the red icing. A shame since I spent so much time on them, but what can you do. Anyway, in the future I'll be sticking to unhealthy, delicious e-numbers.