Sunday, June 23, 2013

Boston cheesecake for Big ^^

After a dry baking spell, it feels really good to be in full swing again this weekend. And it's so therapeutic (^^) after a long week. ^^

For that I'm really grateful for the new silicone bundt moulds (zebra cake), chubby's birthday (vanilla sponge cake with blueberry filling) and big's excellent SAT results ~ all good REASONs to bake! Yay!!! ^^

But that's all done by last night. ^^

Well, you know how much I've been whining and complaining about the scorching hot weather.. guess what, the bad weather has been overtaken by a cloud of haze all over the country (and a neighbouring country ~ which have it so much worse!). Now it's not only hot and stuffy, it's also smoky and hazy ~ even indoors! And I had plans for retail therapy today ~ sigh! ^^||

So sadly, I'm stuck at home.. writing this post.

Boston cheesecake (recipe from Alex Goh, Creative Making of Cakes)
150ml fresh milk
20g sugar
3 egg yolks
20g cornflour
250g cream cheese
zest of 1/2 lemon (make it a whole lemon if you like a zesty lemon scent ^^)
130ml whipping cream
2 tbsps flour (I used only 1 tbsp, hence the crack on the surface ~ oops ^^||)
60g sultanas (add more if you like raisins ^^)
3 egg whites
60g sugar
1 tsp lemon juice

* 1- 20mm/thin slice of 8" round vanilla sponge cake

1. Bring 100ml of fresh milk and sugar from A to a boil. Add remaining milk, egg yolks and cornflour. Whisk and continue to cook till it thickens. Leave to cool and set aside. It may look lumpy, but it's ok.

2. Beat cream cheese till light and smooth, around 8-10 minutes on medium speed. Add cooled A till well blended.

3. Add C and mix well.

4. Fold in D till well combined.

5. Whip egg whites till foamy. Add sugar and lemon juice, and whip till firm and soft peaks form. Do not overbeat.

6. Gently fold in egg whites mixture into cheese batter.

7. Place sponge cake slice on greased/lined (bottom and sides) 8-inch cake tin. Pour cake mixture over. Even out cake surface and give cake tin a good tap against the table to remove air bubbles.

8. Bake in water bath (prep beforehand) at 150C for 2 hours till centre is set and top turns golden. Remove and brush with apricot gel if preferred. Can be served immediately.. but I prefer to refrigerate and let the flavors develop overnight  ^^

I've not made big's favorite cheesecake in years because I've been too lazy to prepare sponge cake (^^||)! But since I was making a sponge cake for chubby's birthday cake, I conveniently cut off a thin slice  to make this cheesecake ^^.

And the end result ~ a soft, dreamy creamy cheesecake ^^ not as rich and dense as american cheesecakes, also not as light and fluffy as a cotton/souffle japanese cheesecake.. It's a perfect in-between ~ you can easily eat more than a slice, or two.. or three.. or all, in one sitting ^^

Anyway, this cheesecake is one of my very first bakes that turned out perfect every time I made it, which was a real booster during my early baking days! And created my all-time favorite cake fan/critic.. and a cheese monster/connoisseur in big pig! ^^

Well, time flies ~ SAT was aeons from anyone's thoughts then! Look at you now, big.. all grown up and ready to fly the nest (almost! ^^).. Not too sure if I can bear/reconcile the thought of you leaving in a year.. or two ^^||

But meantime, congrats, big! I'm always proud of you! ^^

Chubby's 11 today ^^

Time flies ~ And chubby pig's another year older and heftier ^^||! Doesn't seem that long ago when I baked him cupcakes for his last birthday ^^.

This year I decided I wanted to bake him a proper cake ~ with all the trimmings aka cream frosting! ^^ And I came up with a vanilla sponge cake with blueberry filling ~ and lots of whipped cream! Fingers crossed that this cake works and chubby likes ^^..

Vanilla sponge cake with blueberry filling (recipe adapted from mamawandiha)
1 vanilla sponge cake, cut horizontal into 3 slices (cheat with ready mix ^^)
250g blueberry pie filling
Lemon syrup (juice of 1 lemon + 30g sugar + 150ml water)
500ml whipping cream, whipped till soft peaks form

1. Place 1 slice of cake on a cake board/stand. Generously brush and wet cake surface with lemon syrup. Top with a thin layer of whipped cream.

2. Place another cake slice on top. Repeat the same steps.

3. For the last/top slice, brush with lemon syrup and spread whipped cream all over cake. Spread till even and smooth. Decorate as you like ^^.

Well, I certainly know I can do with lots of practise on frosting.. ^^|| I can't quite spread out the cream totally smooth still, lots of jagged edges everywhere.. but I'd like to think of it as character lines, haha ^^. Cake looks quite nice when I think of it that way. ^^

Now we pray.. that the cake is edible! ^^ Happy Birthday, chubby! Love you buckets! ^^

p.s  the cake does look a little adult-ish and girly, right? Oops-sie, sorry chubby ^^ this is what happens when lots of cream (and an amateur baker! ^^||) is involved! definitely no rosettes (eeks!) and maybe some coloring in the frosting next time.. ^^

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Zebra bundt cake

It feels great to wake up to cake.. and coffee! And it's finally the weekend too! ^^ ^^ ^^

This is a cake I've always wanted to make ever since I caught sight of it on bakersroyale. The reason I never got round to it was not having a bundt tin. For some strange reason, I only wanted to bake this cake in a bundt tin.. a nordicware to be exact (^^).. no other mould would do! ^^||

But I've come to my senses and finally settled for a silicone bundt mould. And made my first bundt cake last night ^^

Zebra bundt butter cake (inspired by bakersroyale, recipe adapted from my best butter cake recipe)
340g salted butter
140g sugar
6 egg yolks
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
320g self-raising flour, sifted
125-150ml milk
6 egg whites
140g sugar
25g cocoa powder, sifted

1. Preheat oven to 180C. Make sure bundt tin is well greased.

2. Beat butter and 140g sugar till light and fluffy. Don't over beat. Just till it turns a shade lighter/paler and the sugar is still slightly grainy. I beat mine around 3-4 minutes on high with my electric mixer.

3. Add egg YOLKs one at time and mix in well. On slow speedBatter should turn creamy and kinda stiff.

4. Mix in vanilla extract.

5. Quickly fold in self-raising flour in 2 batches.

6. Add in milk and combine gently. Batter should be soft now. 

7. In a clean bowl, beat egg WHITES till frothy and then add in the 140g sugar in batches/bit by bit. Beat till firm and soft peaks form. When you flip bowl over, the meringue doesn't fall over. ^^ 

8. Add egg whites mixture to butter batter in 2 batches. Fold in quickly but GENTLY. 

9. Remove between 1/3 to 1/2 cake mixture into another bowl and fold in sifted cocoa powder.

10. Using an ice cream scoop, place 2 scoops of plain batter in the bundt cake mould, flatten batter a little with the back of the scoop. Then place 1 scoop of chocolate batter on top of the plain batter. See bakersroyale step by step here. Continue doing this till batter finishes. Tap mould occasionally to even out batter. If there's extra plain batter, make mini bundt cakes ^^ 

11. Bake for 50 minutes. Leave to cool before removing from mould. ^^

I really like how easy it is to make a zebra cake. And it turned out quite pretty too ~ though not as pretty as bakersroyale's.. but good enough for amateur me ^^! Bliss ^^ 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Creamy leek, bacon and avocado mini pie

I really did not mean to go AWOL for so long.. but the weather really sucked the life out of me ^^|| Save for a pineapple cobbler, I haven't baked nor cooked(!!) nor checked on my favorite blogs (sorry ^^||) since end May!

Today, I finally felt an urge to bake. ^^ And I wanted to make good on my promise to big pig ~ a leek pie.. with avocado, one of his favorite fruit/food. I reckon they could work well together :p!

Creamy leek, bacon and avocado mini pie (inspired by Dean Brettschneider's 5-star pie)
~ makes 6 mini pies
Best shortcrust pastry ever!!! 
280g all purpose flour
170g cold butter, diced
2-3 tbsp cold fresh milk

100g bacon, sliced thinly
1 tbsp butter
200g leek, sliced thin (use white parts only)
150-180ml low fat fresh milk (if you're not dieting, use cream ^^)
100g cooked chicken meat, diced
1 avocado, mashed
1 egg, beaten
125g cheddar cheese, grated (and some extra for topping)
salt and pepper or chili powder/paprika, to taste

Egg wash
1 egg, beaten + 1 tbsp milk

1. Shortcrust pastry. Blitz or rub the flour with the cold butter till it resembles breadcrumbs. Add milk and mix till the pastry comes together. Press dough into a flat, round shape and chill for 1 hour.

2. Heat up some oil in a non-stick pan and saute bacon till browned and fragrant. Remove and set aside. Do not wash pan.

3. Using the same pan, heat up butter and cook leek for 25 minutes on low heat, stir fry often till softened. Add milk and leave to simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and leave to cool.

4. In a bowl, mix creamy leek, bacon, chicken, mashed avocado, egg and grated cheddar cheese together. Season with salt, pepper or chili powder/paprika.

5. Roll out 2/3 dough to 3mm thick and cut out 6 big rounds to fit mini pie moulds. Fill up with filling. Roll the rest of the dough into 6 smaller rounds and place over filling. Pinch the edges together to seal. Make a few slits on the top pastry for steam to escape while baking. Brush pie generously with egg wash and top/sprinkle with grated cheddar.

6. Bake in a preheated oven of 220C for 30 minutes, or till golden. Leave to cool slightly before removing from moulds. Delicious served warm or cold.

Well, big pig loves it ~ no prizes for getting that right ^^! But I'm pleasantly surprised baby pig loves it too ~ leek and all! Guess the bacon did its job well ^^!

Me, I'm ecstatic the combination of leek, bacon and avocado worked! And of course, the perfectly buttery, flaky crust makes the perfect foil. ^^

Since I'm on a roll, I made vanilla chiffon cake too, which is baking in the oven right now.. smells real good from here ^^ I'm really looking forward to cake for breakfast tomorrow! ^^