Friday, December 5, 2014

Bow ties are cool!


My Big and Baby pig are big fans of Dr Who. And they both think bow ties are cool! ^^

Hence my first attempt at fondant.. and a Dr Who bow tie cake for Baby pig's 13th birthday party. Ok, I can hear you. Don't laugh too hard, and cut me some slack. ^^

I just want to say that the shiny, glossy, sticky, wet look in the picture above, is really all due to the fondant sweating.. because of temperature change from cold to hot, humid (even with the air-con switched on! maybe not cold enough???). And remember, covering a COLD cake with room-temp fondant is also a NO-NO! Fondants are really temperamental! No sudden temperature change, please.. or you'll have sweating, sticky fondants! I learned this the hard way. Youtube didn't quite have this information, and the post on handling fondants in humid weather doesn't sink in till you experience it for yourself! ^^||

this is the fondant cake I was trying to copy.. and if mine didn't sweat, it would have been.. close, haha ^^

You know, I was feeling pretty upbeat when I had the white shirt collar, bow tie, jacket lapels fondant cut out. I had assembled them on a piece of parchment paper and they looked so perfect ^^.. exactly how I wanted them to be.. nice, dry and neat (!!!). However, the minute I covered the cold cake (red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting) with fondant (white shirt and dark grey jacket), it started to sweat and turned wet and sticky! Holy moly, yikes! ^^|| ^^|| ^^||

Of course, I've read that the fondant sweating will dry out eventually if you leave it at room temperature. But I could't do that! My cream cheese frosting could melt! What a Catch 22 situation, right? ^^||

Well, I'm trying not to be too harsh on myself. It's a pretty decent 1st attempt for someone who has never touched/used fondants.. and depended on youtube videos, some how-to fondant posts and one write up on handling fondants in humid weather by faitmaisonblog (too bad she didn't mention about fondant on cold cakes ^^||). Maybe I shouldn't be such a cheapo and maybe attend some classes.. nawwwwwhhh, I'm not doing this again for a long, long, long time!

Despite how it looks, the kids loved the fondant (eeeks!) and the red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting. No pics of the cake I'm afraid, but I'm definitely going to make this red velvet recipe again.. it uses butter ~ my kind of cake ^^


Anyways, take away the shine and gloss, it's pretty ok. ^^ More importantly, Baby pig was very happy with his surprise cake! And I got 2 big hugs from him! And that's all that really matters! ^^ ^^ ^^


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Steamed fruit cake.. a revisit ^^


The last time I made this, I swore never again will I use the steaming method!

Over time (2 years!), my burn scar is a few shades paler, and my memory faint. But you know what, deep down, there's always that niggling thought of wanting to slay this dragon! ^^

So when I saw a post in azlitamasammanis on steamed fruit cake baked in small aluminium foil tins for a much shorter time, I knew my time has come! I immediately macerated my mixed fruits, and set about thinking where to place my tiny electric steamer in my tiny apartment/kitchen without setting the house on fire.. and more importantly, where I won't get burnt!

And over the weekend, I made the cakes using azlitamasammanis' recipe, and a recipe shared by mel@melskitchenpantry (from faeez@bittersweetspicy). I now have 12 loaves in the fridge now ^^ waiting to be shared with all my favorite people. ^^ ^^ ^^

Steamed fruit cake (recipe shared by azlita@azlitamasammanis)
340g sugar
50g hot water
250g salted butter
500g mixed fruit
350g flour, sifted
2 tsp baking soda, sifted
1 tsp cream of tartar, sifted
1 tsp nutmeg or cinnamon (optional)
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp treacle (I didn't use)

1. Make caramel by placing sugar into a heavy saucepan over medium heat. As sugar melts from the sides, fold it to the center. DO NOT STIR. When sugar is completely melted and turned dark golden brown (not burnt!), add in hot water slowly. Be careful as it mixture may sputter.

2. Add in butter and let it melt completely. Fold in mixed fruit, and bring mixture to a boil. Remove from heat and leave to cool.

3. Sift flour, baking soda and cream of tartar, and nutmeg or cinnamon (if using) together in a clean bowl. Fold into cooled caramel mixture till well combined.

4. Beat eggs with a whisk or electric beater till foamy, and add into cake mixture.

5. Mix in vanilla extract and treacle till well blended.

6. Pour into 3 aluminium tins (7.5x3.5 inch loaf tin), cover with a layer of aluminium foil and steam for about 1 hour and 45 minutes. Turn off the heat, and leave the cakes in the steamer for another 15 minutes before removing.

7. Cake is best eaten after 1 day's rest. Bon apetit!

This is a pretty straightforward recipe. However, this recipe makes a lot. I split the batter over 3 tins, and it was almost full.. ok, so I added a bit more mixed fruits (600g) than suggested (oops! ^^||). So that might have made a difference. The top didn't turn out as pretty as I wished, as the cake touched the cover and absorbed moisture. Looks aside, I'm sure it's delish. I can't wait to taste it! ^^

Anyways, I'm happy to make the recipe shared by mel. I upped the mixed fruits to 500++g and called it a day. This recipe also uses less sugar and flour, just the way I like it. And if you do not have a steamer, and/or prefer to use the oven, do not despair! I've shared how one can also perfectly bake a "steamed fruit cake" in this post. Works just as well! ^^


I, dragon slayer. ^^


Updated: I've cut and tasted the cakes from the 2 different recipes and made comparisons.


Azlita's recipe: Looks and cuts beautifully. It's lusciously dark and moist. The crumbs looks tight and the texture gorgeous.. however, the chew has a wee bit of boing-boing, and feels more coarse than faeez's cake. Taste is good. Fragrance nice and unusual. Cake is nicely moist.. though it "looks" more moist (than it is) compared to the other cake.

Faeez's recipe: Doesn't cut as neatly as the cake tends to crumble. Cake is lighter in color, like golden amber. The texture is also less tight and looks crumbly when compared to azlita's. Taste is good. Fragrance is nice. I feel this cake is a whisker more moist than azlita's, despite it's crumbly look. 

Conclusion: Looking back, I think faeez's recipe did better when it was baked "bain-marie" in the oven. The texture turned out just like azlita's steamed one. Both cakes are winners in my opinion. I can't decide which I like better. Visually I like azlita's. But faeez's cake is very good too. Now you know. Your call now ^^

Comments: My SIL thinks azlita's cake looks a little kuih-like, and prefers faeez's crumbly cake, which she says is more cake-like. She also likes the color of faeez's cake better. SIL's choice: Faeez's.

My nephew, Baby pig, mentioned that azlita's cake has a unique fragrance, but he finds the rum flavor (mixed fruits used are all macerated in rum in the same bowl) not as evident compared to faeez's cake. I could tell he enjoyed both the cakes ^^. His choice: Faeez's cake.. by a few whiskers! ^^  

Fatty hubby's choice: Faeez's cake. His one comment.. "it's rich".


Monday, November 24, 2014

A snowy treat ^^


It's snowing already where my Big pig is. I miss him.

This cake is inspired by him, and his little brother, Baby pig. Baby has just been crowned the overall winner for this year's poetry slam, woot-woot! This is my interpretation of the snow-capped mountains in Missoula, Montana, in one of his winning poems. ^^

Snowy pillowy cheese cake (inspired by vivianpangkitchendapurcomelkusecubitgaramnor67)
1 pillowy soft cake
Cream cheese frosting (use your favorite recipe)
125g cheddar cheese, grated or shredded (white chocolate is a good idea too ^^)

1. If using a whole cake, halve the cake into 2 layers. Spread cream cheese frosting over one layer of cake. Top with the other slice of cake. Again spread cream cheese frosting all over to cover the cake.

2. Sprinkle/cover the cake all over with grated/shredded cheddar cheese.


As you can see, the cake looks nowhere like it was covered in snow, haha! This is the result of taking too many short-cuts.. and using ready-grated cheese. Don't be like me. :p

Now, had you not cheated, and had your cheese or white chocolate grated, you would have a beautiful "snow" covered cake like below ^^ Makes a wonderful festive gift for family and friends!


Well, this is as snowy as it is going to get in the tropics. ^^


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Lime cotton cheesecake


I really don't know if I should call this ogura cake or cotton cheesecake.

If you look at the ingredients, it's the ratios of eggs, fat, liquid and flour of the ogura cakes I've been using lately. Now compare against a cotton cheesecake recipe, you'll probably see similar ratios too, maybe with a mix-in of corn starch, and a wee bit more fat!

It tastes the same. Not kidding. Same texture too.

Lime cotton cheesecake (recipe adapted from bisouatoi and kimmycookingpleasures)
250g cream cheese
120ml milk
45g butter
6 egg yolks
zest of 1 small lime
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp rum
65g cake flour, sifted
6 egg whites
120g caster sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

1. Place a baking tray filled with water in the lowest rack and set the oven  to 180C,

2. Put cream cheese, milk and butter in a oven-proof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Whisk mixture till melted and smooth, and remove from heat. Leave to cool for about 5 minutes.

3. Add egg yolks, lime zest and juice, and rum. Mix till combined.

4. Fold in the sifted cake flour.

5. In a clean bowl, beat egg whites till foamy. Add in cream of tartar. Then mix in the sugar bit by bit. Continue beating the egg whites till thick and glossy, and stiff peaks form, around 4 minutes.

5. Fold 1/3 of the meringue into the cake mixture till well mixed. Then gently fold the rest in till combined.

6. Line the bottom of an 8-inch round or 9-inch square baking tin with grease paper. No need to grease the sides. Pour cake mixture into baking tin and give it a good tap against the counter to remove air bubbles.

7. Turn down oven to 150C, place baking tin on the 2nd lowest rack and bake for about 1 hour 15 mins (75mins), till the top is nicely browned and the skewer comes out clean.

8. Remove cake tin from oven and give it a tap against the counter. Invert cake and leave to cool. Once cooled, release cake by gently pulling the cake from the sides with your hands, or with the help of a knife. It should be removed quite easily.


As you can see, I finally decided on cotton cheesecake. The use of butter skewed it in its favor. I just hope nobody comes after me for messing up their recipes. I have put link-backs if that helps. ^^

Anyway, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. ^^


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Carrot fruit cake with lime cream cheese frosting


Next to the built-in oven that came with the apartment, my Kenwood electric mixer is the other item that gave me the most joy during my early baking days. ^^

It paved the way for an "upgraded" baking adventure and contributed greatly to my much needed post-Mum therapy in the following years. Well, time flies, and it's been 9 years since big brother and SIL (Chubby pig's papa and mama) bought it for me when they saw me working on a cheesecake mixture for 45 minutes, with a hand held electric mixer/beater. Hey, amateur mah.. 45 minutes is about right, since there's no mention how long one is supposed to beat the cream cheese! Don't laugh. ^^|||||

I first made this carrot fruit cake way back in 2006, and I remember clearly how much big brother enjoyed it and how he said "it's good enough to sell!"! ^^ Yes. That made me very happy. I think it's the first time, and probably one of those rare times ^^|| (haha!) I ever get to hear that! ^^

This cake is for him.

Carrot fruit cake (recipe from Umah Thevi, printed in the Women's Weekly, April 2006
250g butter
250g caster sugar (I reduced a little to 200g)
6 medium-sized eggs
1 tsp vanilla 
250g self-raising flour
150g mixed fruits
3 medium-sized carrots, grated (squeeze the juice out a little if possible)
50g hazelnuts, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 180C. 

2. Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy about 3-4 minutes.

3. Add eggs one at a time and mix well. Stir in the vanilla.

4. Fold in the flour in 2-3 batches. And mix in the mixed fruits and grated carrot till well combined.

5. Pour batter into a greased 8-inch baking tin, and bake for about 40-45 minutes, or till the skewer comes out clean.

Lime cream cheese frosting (use your own favorite recipe)
250g cream cheese, softened
120-160ml whipping cream
60-80g icing sugar, sifted
some grated lime zest

1. Beat softened cream cheese for about 10 minutes till light and fluffy. Fold in icing sugar and lime zest.

2. In another bowl, beat whipping cream till light and fluffy, or stiff peaks form. Be careful not to overbeat.

3. Mix cream cheese with whipped cream gently. Chill in the fridge before frosting.
  
This isn't the usual carrot cake recipe. So don't expect a carrot cake. The carrots are barely there, just a hint here and there, amongst the fruit mix. But I like it just the way it is. ^^ 

Well, I've made it exactly as per the recipe before and it's great! So you should try this too. It really is the perfect cake to share with family and friends, no need for any frosting if you ask me. Of course, you can always give it your own twist.. like I did, but I'm just too lazy to note it down. Just think rum.. lots of rum.. ^^ ^^ ^^

I like how this cake turned out as a birthday cake with the frosting and all.. a little old fashioned, but it's oh-so delish. Just the way I like it. ^^ 


Saturday, November 8, 2014

S'mores pie


I blew RM85 on a blowtorch. Crazy? Definitely.

Why would I possibly need a blowtorch? Why, to make s'mores pie, you see. Not just any s'mores pie, but one that is toasted just right with a blowtorch. Crazy? Definitely.

A week back, we had dinner at A Pie Thing, and well, Baby pig fell for their s'mores pie. Of course, I had to open my mouth and say I could do it too, oops! So you know why. By the way, the savory pies, smore's and the apple crumble pie at A Pie Thing, are really good. Their "very popular" Elvis, sadly, didn't work for me. Well, 1 "so-so" out of 6 pies we had, ain't bad at all. You might want to check the place out if you're around Damansara Utama in the evenings. ^^  

S'mores pie (inspired by what we had at A Pie Thing)
1 baked shortcrust pastry, use your favorite recipe
Chocolate ganache, use your favorite recipe
Mini marshmallows

1. Fill baked shortcrust shell with chocolate ganache till almost full.

2. Leave to set in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

3. Place mini marshmallows over chilled chocolate filling. Toast marshmallows with blowtorch or broil in the oven till it's well charred, or caramelizes. Serve immediately.

3 lines of instructions? That's it? Yup. It's really that simple a pie. More so if you have leftovers ie. chocolate ganache, and shortcrust pastry in the freezer! Half the work all done.

1st attempt, too shy with the blowtorch ~ not charred enough ^^||

Just so you know, kids love this stuff! Ok, adults too ^^. I made this today upon Baby's request for his sleepover party. I need to say this, don't be put off by the charred bits.. they are the best part! In fact, my 1st attempt using the blowtorch, I was too light handed in charring the marshmallows, which didn't feel as toasty melty enough. I made sure they were charred properly in my next attempt, and the caramelized crunchy bits are incredible! This pie is simply aawesome because of the charred caramelized bits, melty soft marshmallow, ooey goey luscious to-die-for chocolate, and of course, the flaky buttery crust!

And to make the blowtorch investment count, Baby says I just need to make more s'mores pie. Duh. ^^


Friday, November 7, 2014

Happiness is...


An unexpected gift from a dear friend. Thanks, friend ^^ I love it!

A bit of this, and a bit of that bread and butter pudding - made to satisfy a late night sweet craving ^^!
~ serves 2-3 
bread, preferably stale bread
some softened butter
1 egg
milk, enough to cover bread
sugar, to taste 
a handful of raisins
a pinch of cinnamon powder, or two

1. Butter bread slices.

2. In a bowl, beat egg, milk and sugar together,

3. Place bread into a greased baking mould, and slice/tear bread into smaller pieces to fit. Scatter raisins all over.

4. Pour egg/milk mixture and make sure the liquid covers the bread. Spread cinnamon powder evenly over the bread mixture, and leave bread to soak for 15 minutes. Don't bother soaking if you don't have the time.

5. Bake in a preheated oven of 180C for 25 minutes, or till the crust is nicely golden brown. Serve warm ^^



A tea towel personally chosen and paid for by my dearest 12-year old Chubby pig ~ you had me at "aunts are special".. aaawwwwww ^^ and a little something from chubby momma and papa ~ a vintage kettle in grey-tones olive green and mocha, my kinda colors


A long awaited (2 years!) recognition from the almost-thirteen Baby pig ^^ dated wrongly, to keep up with tradition 


And sweet, sweet roses and gerberas from Baby pig and his momma ^^ that brightened my day! 

HAPPINESS IS.. KNOWING I'M LOVED