Thursday, 29 November 2012

Lemon Coconut Sour Cream Cake

 Aloha everybody! Summer is approaching as it's constantly sunny in Melbourne. What's not better than having a lemon coconut sour cream cake to celebrate this new-coming season? The cake is moist due to the sour cream, refreshing with the lemony zing and the coconut punch combination all leads to one word in mind: summer! You can tell how much I'm excited for summer.
This cake was in fact baked especially to the man of my life. Happy birthday papa! I really wanted to emulate the look of this cake for ages now and now I've finally filled in another tick-box. For the frosting, I just slightly whipped some thickened cream with some icing sugar where the cream has somewhat thickened in texture than what you started with but still runny enough for it to drip. I don't know how much I've used altogether but I certainly do like the final result!

Lemon Coconut Sour Cream Cake

(adapted from my baking addiction)

1 cup (225g) unsalted butter, softened
1½ cups caster sugar
zest of 3 medium lemons
2 teaspoons vanilla (I used vanillin)
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarb soda
1 cup sour cream
½ cup sweetened flaked coconut (I used dessicated coconut)

1. Preheat oven to 180° C/160°C fan-forced. Grease and flour two 10 inch cake pans, set aside.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, cream the butter until smooth.

3. In a medium bowl, combine the sugar and lime zest mixing together with your fingertips until the sugar is moistened and fragrant. Add the sugar mixture gradually to the butter and beat on medium speed until light fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in vanilla.

4. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

5. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and bicarb soda. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with sour cream, beating until well blended after each addition. Fold in coconut.

6. Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans and smooth the top with a spoon or offset spatula.

7. Bake 50 minutes to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

8. Cool for 20 minutes on a wire rack. Invert cake onto wire rack; gently remove pan. Cool completely.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Chocolate Marquise with blueberry compote

Sorry for my lack of blogging lately. A friend/colleague of mine had passed away over the last weekend and most of us who were associated with him were sad, shocked and traumatised by the sudden news. He, who is at the prime of his age where he's dedicated and starting to build up his own career had all of a sudden just left us. For many of us, it took quite a while to process this reality through our heads. It comes back to tell us that life is unpredictable and you don't know what is going to happen in the next minute of your life. This brings me back to what I have said to a group of people once about my perspective on life and the future when I had first experienced torment and grief as a life-changing matter. I said "Do the most as you can whilst you're still alive. Do it now and don't wait because it could be too late for regrets".
With regards to what I've said, it doesn't necessarily mean travelling around the world, spending all your money on luxuries or doing crazy things that doesn't seem reasonable to many people in this world. What I refer to more importantly is spending time with the people that you love. You never know that your last random chat with someone will actually be your ever last conversation. You never know the goodbye you said to someone before you leave each time would actually be the last farewell. Everyone will be occupied with many things in life which makes them busy but I never see that it's impossible to bring out some spare time to see or contact your beloved family and friends, even if it was just for a few minutes. It will happen if you make it happen.

Despite all this, I've got a wedding of a friend coming in a week. There's a big swing in events but it's something I'm happy about and do look forward to in a positive manner. We've grown up with each other and there is so much in common between our families. There are three daughters per family and we're both the eldest. So lately, I've also been trying to put my sugar fixes on hold to have a reasonably okay figure to fit into my dresses. But it seems like this plan has failed miserably as I'm anticipating to get my hands on some chocolate marquise.
Classy, rich, luxurious, sumptuous, duluxe, indulgent are all the words that come to my mind with regards to the name of this dessert. Without a doubt, this chocolate marquise lives up to these words that I've used to describe. It's so rich and dense in texture that one slice served like a chocolate pate is enough to devour your tastebuds in.

This dessert doesn't seem much of a difference to my last post since a chocolate marquise is somewhat similar to a chocolate mousse, but I just couldn't resist. I wouldn't go without a berry compote in combination with this dessert or even at least the addition of fresh of frozen berries will be very welcoming.

Chocolate Marquise with blueberry compote

(Marquise adapted from Drop Dead Gorgeous Daily and compote from raspberri cupcakes)

Chocolate Marquise
250g good quality dark chocolate, finely chopped
175g unsalted butter, softened
75g caster sugar
30g high quality cocoa powder
4 large egg yolks
55 ml water
225 g crème fraiche or whipped cream (I used thickened cream)

Blueberry compote
300g blueberries, fresh or frozen (I used fresh)
¼ cup (55g) sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract (I used vanillin)
Note: You may want to decrease the amount you make for the compote to half or less because the original recipe provides too much for this dessert.

1. In a heatproof bowl, gently melt the chocolate over a saucepan of simmering water. Set aside to cool slightly.

2. Using an electric mixer, beat 130g of butter till slightly fluffy, then mix in half the sugar and cocoa powder until light and fluffy (The mixture should appear to be more pale).

3. In a separate bowl, lightly whip the crème fraiche (or beat the thickened cream till soft peaks form) and set aside.

4. In a clean bowl, combine the remaining butter, sugar, water and egg yolks and place over a saucepan of simmering water. Warm to 70°C and whisk the mixture.

5. Using the electric mixer (with a whisk attachment), whip the egg mixture until light and cool.

6. To combine the marquise, gently fold the chocolate into the butter and cocoa mixture.

7. With a whisk, mix in the egg mixture and lastly fold in the whipped crème fraiche.

8. Place mixture into a prepared dish, smooth top with a palate knife. Cover with clingfilm and set in the fridge for two hours and serve at room temperature. Use a hot knife to cut into slices.

9. Prepare the compote (you may use any berries you want). Place berries, sugar and vanilla in a medium saucepan (if using fresh berries, mash it up first prior to adding the sugar and vanilla). Stir regularly on low-medium heat. Simmer until the sugar completely dissolves and the mixture thickens slightly, about 5-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain the skins away if you prefer. Set aside to cool.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Chocolate Mousse with Raspberry Compote

TGIF! I finally was able to take a deep breathe out of my busy week to meet up, sit down and relax with my high school friends. We haven't had a full house in ages due to everyone's busy schedule from work/studies and it was really sweet to see everyone again...and to have our dosage of gossip of our lives. We went to Tsindos, a Greek family restaurant. The interior design provided a warm family atmosphere catching glimpses of the mediterranean Greece (with my impression of Kalokairi, filmed in Mamma Mia). It was smooth and relaxing to dine in this place as there were guitarists playing Greek songs the whole night to entertain us. Although we couldn't understand a word, the music was soothing to listen to.
To top off the weekend and before I go on a skinny diet, my mind was set to make these chocolate mousse cups accompanied with raspberry compote and fresh blueberries on top. These were amazing. I knew I had to make these when I saw this on Steph's blog. Chocolate mousse or any mousse I should say has always been non-existent in my menu because 9.999999/10 times, I couldn't eat the ones served outdoors. So here's my first official chocolate mousse, and hurrah! I'm not a mousse virgin anymore. It's such an easy thing to make that I can't believe that I didn't make this any earlier! It's rich in chocolate flavour and fluffy in texture. It felt like I was swinging amongst the clouds as I was eating this. This mousse isn't sweet at all because of the dark chocolate with no added sugar. The raspberry compote was a perfect combination with this mousse as I personally find that the mousse might be a bit sickening by itself. I wished I had added more of the compote to each cup because I had leftovers and in my biased opinion, I really liked the compote. This dessert can definitely do with some more sweet fillings, hence I added some fresh blueberries on top.
Hope everyone had a happy weekend. Adios amigos!

Chocolate Mousse with Raspberry Compote

(adapted from raspberri cupcakes)

Raspberry Compote
300g raspberries, fresh or frozen (I used frozen)
¼ cup (55g) sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract (I used vanillin)

Chocolate Mousse
180g good quality dark chocolate, finely chopped
3 large eggs, at room temperature and separated
pinch of salt
225ml thickened cream

1. Prepare the compote first (you may use any berries you want). Place berries, sugar and vanilla in a medium saucepan. Stir regularly on low-medium heat. Simmer until the sugar completely dissolves and the mixture thickens slightly, about 5-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain seeds if you prefer. Set aside to cool.

2. For the chocolate mousse, carefully beat thickened cream in a medium-large mixing bowl with an electric mixer till soft peaks form. Place in fridge until ready to use.

3. Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water and stir until chocolate is completely melted. Remove from the heat and add yolks and salt and stir to combine.

4. Fold whipped cream into mixture. In a separate, medium-large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Carefully fold egg whites into chocolate mixture until combined. The mousse should be smooth and even in colour.

5. Spoon about 1 tbsp of cooled berry compote into the bottom of each serving glass. Finish off with a layer of chocolate mousse over the top of the compote. Chill in the refrigerator for 3 hours or until set. Top with more berries or popping candy or fairy floss right before serving.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Celebrations with a Vanilla Butter Birthday Cake

Monday was the celebration of Kris' birthday and I volunteered to bring cake. The week before I asked her what flavour would she like and she happily said vanilla or anything else nice but NOT mango because her family's already getting her a mango cake. Vanilla cake is such a simple and classic dessert that can undergo so many frosting makeovers (or eaten raw) and taste just as great. I've nearly forgotten how fond my memories of vanilla cakes were. One year, I opened the door to welcome my papa home from work and the first thing he said to me was 'Happy Birthday' with a vanilla cake covered entirely with colourful sprinkles. I was completely surprised and delightfully happy.

I've made vanilla cakes a couple of times before but I was still stressed about baking it. Instead of staying in my comfort zone, using the recipes I used to use, I decided to venture out and try a new recipe myself. There was no better person to go to than the vanilla cake guru, Sweetapolita. Gosh she's made so many stunning vanilla cakes that I was blinded by the choices that she's offering. I decided to go with her classic vanilla butter birthday cake as it fits the aim of my baking mission.
One thing that wasn't within my calculations was how much cake I was going to get out of this batter. This recipe could give you 3 individual cakes, and the main point was that I didn't need so many in the first place. I should've read the recipe carefully in the first place. The first time I have to admit that a cake monster like me was feeling so overwhelmed by the amount of cake I get from a recipe.

From reading my previous posts you probably would know that I'm scared of sugary, deadly sweet buttercreams. Normally by looking at a colour-tinged buttercream frosting outside a cake, I would shun away from it as far as I can. Luckily, Sweetapolita has also given me a fruity buttercream recipe that doesn't require any artificial colouring. I love this raspberry buttercream where it gives off the natural pinkish colour and the raspberries mask the deadly sweet flavour of th buttercream. Therefore, I was able to add more icing sugar than usual at ease.
This cake completely suits Kris as she's such a cute and bubbly person with a teenage girl still living inside her. This celebration was rather funny as nobody brought candles along so she had to blow them out with imaginary candles. How dreamy...

Classic Vanilla Butter Birthday Cake with Raspberry Buttercream

(adapted from Sweetapolita)

4 large eggs (separated), at room temperature
3 ½ cups (420g) sifted cake flour*
4 tsp (20g) baking powder
½ (3g) tsp salt
1 cup (227g/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups (400g) granulated sugar, divided
2 tsp (10mL) pure vanilla extract (I used vanillin)
1 cup (250mL) milk, at room temperature
¼ tsp cream of tartar
*1 cup of cake flour = (1 cup plain flour - 2tsp) + 2tsp cornflour. Sift mixture 4-5 times till it's fully incorporated with each other.
1. Preheat oven to 180° C/160°C fan-forced. Butter and flour three - 8 inch round cake pans. Line bottoms of pans with parchment/baking paper and grease and flour parchment paper.

2. While eggs are still cold, separate them, placing the yolks in one bowl and the whites in another bowl. Cover the two bowls with plastic warp and allow the eggs to come to room temperature before using, about 30 mins.

3. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until soft (about 1-2 minutes). Add 1½ cups of the sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes).

5. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla and beat until combined.
6. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.
7. In the clean bowl of your electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining ½ cup sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
8. With a rubber spatula gently fold a little of the whites into the batter to lighten it, and then fold in the remaining whites until combined. Do not over-mix the batter or it will deflate.
9. Divide the batter evenly between the three prepared pans and smooth the tops with an offset spatula.
10. Bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Place a wire rack on top of the cake pan and invert, lifting off the pan gently. Once the cakes are completely cooled, wrap in plastic and place the cake layers in the freezer for at least an hour (to make filling and frosting the cakes easier).
Raspberry Buttercream
200g unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup icing sugar
2 tsp milk
½ tsp vanilla extract (I used vanillin)
pinch of salt
15ml raspberry puree (push through fine mesh to remove seeds)
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter till pale and creamy. Add the remaining ingredients except the puree. Mix on low speed for 1 minute to incorporate everything then beat on medium speed for approximately 6 minutes. Add the puree and beat until incorporated.
Note: This amount is a bit more than enough to frost one standard 8 inch cake. I sliced the cake in half and frosted the inner layers as well. You might want to double up the amount if you want to frost the whole three layered cake. You may add more icing sugar to get your desired sweetness.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

A warm welcome with...Coffee Cream Cake

This weekend has brought me into a big dilemma. The familiarity of my indecisiveness has come back to haunt me as I’m lost upon choosing the right dessert amongst so many choices. My aunt from Singapore has decided to come over to travel around Australia for a month and her first stop is good ol' Melbourne, and she's staying with us of course. I’ve been wracking my brains for ideas of what cake I should bake. What I originally had wanted to bake for the weekend has suddenly been taken over by the stress of my mother telling me what cake to bake clashing with me wanting to bake something extraordinary to impress my aunt. I was a very unhappy. Finally, I decided to take a back a few steps, have some deep breathes and calmed down. I decided to be myself and not focus too much on impressing someone as you can sometimes lose the point by doing so. There's a chinese saying that goes by: "Don't give what you don't like". True. At least I know the bottom line for me is that if I’m not going to be happy, everyone else is most likely going to feel the same as well.
I kept on brainstorming what my aunt would like despite I could've just easily asked my papa that question. Suddenly, Kopi-O came to mind. Kopi-O is the trademark coffee in Singapore and Malaysia which is just the traditional strong black coffee served with sugar. You will always come across a 'Kopitiam' (coffee shop) in every single corner of Singapore because it's just a part of their lifestyle...having a kopi to kickstart the day. Ugh, I dislike coffee. I'm one of those people who don't know how to appreciate coffee because they all taste the same to me (just as bitter). However, I do like the smell of coffee though. Wierd huh?
Despite my ramblings of my distaste for coffee, I do quite like this coffee cream cake of mine. The first time I tried this cake was from a bubbly aunty that I know of and she is an expert on this. I love how soft and delicate the cake is and the coffee cream flavour was acceptable to my degree. There's some elegance about this coffee cream cake that I can't describe properly. Of course, my aunt gave me a thumbs up to this as well.

I decorated this cake on the go and it ended up looking like this...which turned out pretty okay I guess. It took me a while to decided what to put on the top of the cake and here I go into auto-pilot mode again: chocolate. Instead of grating chocolate this time, I used a vegetable peeler to peel off small layers of a milk chocolate block. I like the mini curls that I get out of it. I would suggest that you use a spoon to sprinkle the chocolate shavings on top of the cake instead of using your bare fingers. Your fingers would potentially crush the delicate chocolate curls.
I would totally have no reference as to where this cake originally came from since it was passed down to me in a chinese-whispers-manner. So in this post, I would like to reserve the coffee cream cake recipe. I guess I'll post up the recipe when I do find the recipe or something really similar? In this world where people are frowned upon copying and not acknowledging one's work, I would not want to be one of those. There are so many people out there who don't give a damn about these things. Reminds me of my primary school days where the boy who sat next to me wrote his name on my work once and handed it in as his. Of course, I did not back down and took it on with the teacher. I won.