Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hi Chef!

A friend of ours run a successful catering business - Manna Catering. He and my hubby also share a passion for fishing. For his birthday last year, I made him a 'fisherman' cake. This year, I took his profession as the theme and made him a Chef cake.

Happy Birthday, Chef Daniel!

I asked my maid what those brown 'beads' are. She said don't know.. chocolate? I told her those are potatoes. She said potatoes are yellow. Gosh.. here's a closer look... doesn't quite look like potatoes, eh?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Carousel Cake

So, this is the design my daughter picked, about a month ago.

I tried to talk her out of it by showing her other designs. Usually she is easily distracted, but somehow this time, she remembered really well that its a carousel or merry-go-round cake she wanted.

I read the instructions many times and keep wondering if I can ever succeed. Anyway, don't think friends and family will mind, so I took up the challenge.

I started my preparations one week early, making the horses and flowers. They need time to dry. I made four of these modelling paste (edible) horses. On hind sight, I should have made an extra one to allow for breakage.

Then I made about 120 of the small flowers (40 in each colour) and 16 of the bigger flowers.

On Friday, I fell sick... down with flu and cough, but still have to continue. I baked and decorated the top tier first. I chose my favourite mango cream cake as top tier. As it uses fresh cream, I am not able to use gum paste to make the top. Instead, I baked two eight inch cakes, stacked them, shaped them, then decorate.

Unfortunately I could not divide the top into eight equal pieces, so it was a little lop-sided.

The next day, Saturday, I got more sick.. started to have a fever. Took my panadol and slept until I felt well enough to bake and decorate.

I chose carrot cake for the bottom tier. Have not tried this type of tiered cake before, so thought I'd be better off with a more sturdy bottom tier, rather than a light sponge cake. Here's the decorated bottom tier, the decoration is easy for this one, just add all the flowers and pipe some leaves.

Here's the final cake, finally!

My very kind family and friends gave me lots of oohs and aahs for the cake (thanks!). Some say my decoration skills have reached a higher level (because its a higher 2 tier?). Taste wise, the carrot cake was a hit with my friends. My family felt it was too sweet, prefering the mango cake. The kids came queuing up for the fondant flowers.

What I will do better the next time (if there's a next time...when someone engage me to make this cake..) :

1) use a smaller size flower - more dainty
2) make the horses bigger
3) make the top tier 9 inch instead
4) get a tool that can help equally divide the cake, so won't be lopsided
5) take better pictures, don't think the pictures taken really do justice to the cake...

Another mermaid cake

Just celebrated by dear daughter's birthday. There were two celebrations - one in the pre-school that she attends and another with family and friends.

Last week had been a really busy week. Its aspire planning time for next financial year, so was having a hard time trying to come up with ideas for the cake. My daughter already has her mind fixed on one cake design from the Wilton decoration book - the carousel design!! Gasp! Kind of regret showing the design to her. She even asked me 'Is it too difficult, mummy?'. Anyway, I tried and will post my version in the next blog update.

So for the school, I made a mermaid cake.. again... Think the previous version is much better. Then, I had a whole Saturday to mold the mermaid. This time round, I only have that few hours after work, because its a weekday.

The teachers were all praises. :-) Raving about how different this cake is from store bought and they love the taste of the cake too. The English teacher even said I made her day! So Sweet!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Korova Cookies... so yummy

Came across the Korova, or World Peace cookies as they are commonly called, while surfing the internet. These cookies receive raving reviews from all who tried it and it seems so easy I simply have to try it.

I used the following recipe from Dorie Greenspan.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick plus3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel, or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small bits


1 . Sift the flour, cocoa, and baking soda together and keep close at hand. Put the butter in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until the butter is soft and creamy. (Alternatively, you can do this and all subsequent steps by hand, working with a sturdy rubber spatula.) Add both sugars, the salt, and vanilla extract and beat for another minute or two. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the sifted dry ingredients. Mix only until the dry ingredients are incorporated — the dough will look crumbly, and that's just right. For the best texture, you want to work the dough as little as possible once the flour is added. Toss in the chocolate pieces and mix only to incorporate.

2. Turn the dough out onto a smooth work surface and squeeze it so that it sticks together in large clumps. Gather the dough into a ball, divide it in half, and working with one half at a time, shape the dough into logs that are 1 1/2 inches (4 cm) in diameter. (Cookie-dough logs have a way of ending up with hollow centers, so as you're shaping each log, flatten it once or twice and roll it up from one long side to the other, just to make certain you haven't got an air channel.) Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and chill them for at least 1 hour. (Wrapped airtight, the logs can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for I month.)

3. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and keep them close at hand.

4. Working with a sharp thin-bladed knife, slice the logs into rounds that are 1/2 inch (1.5 cm) thick. (Don't be upset if the rounds break; just squeeze the broken-off bit back onto the cookie.) Place the cookies on the parchment-lined sheets, leaving about 1 inch (2.5 cm) spread space between them.

5. Bake only one sheet of cookies at a time, and bake each sheet for 12 minutes. The cookies will not look done, nor will they be firm, but that's just the way they should be. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies stand until they are only just warm or until they reach room temperature — it's your call. Repeat with the second sheet of cookies.

NOTE: The dough can be made ahead and chilled or frozen. If you've frozen the dough, you needn't defrost it before baking — just slice the logs and bake the cookies 1 minute longer. Packed airtight, baked cookies will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days; they can be frozen for up to 1 month

Here's my chilled Korova 'log'.

Cut and ready to go into the oven.

Baked Korova Cookies!!

I really like the convenience of having a log of chilled cookie dough and cutting and baking it only when I feel like having some nice, warm freshly baked cookies.
Absolutely delicious, do try it!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Cinammon Sticky Buns

The other day, a friend brought us some sticky cinammon buns. It was very sweet, but the sticky syrup makes it moist and nice. I've made cinammon buns before, the non-sticky type, using my breadmaker cinammon roll recipe, but the resultant buns are tough after one day.

So I scoured the internet for recipes. I am so thankful for the internet, you can virtually find anything there. Hmm.. before google.. where did all the questions go?

Anyway, found that the Daring Bakers had a challenge on 'Cinammon Rolls and Sticky Buns' before and all the bakers agree that the recipe was easy enough and the results fantastic. I decided this is the perfect recipe for me to try.

So here's my version of the sticky buns.

I've added toasted almond nibs and dried cranberries. The result is absolutely yummy, especially when slightly warmed.

These are the non-sticky version, but without the sugar glaze. Strangely, my kids prefer this version.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Chocolate chip crumble muffins

Not quite a fan of muffins.. but when you are dying to bake something but have too little time on your hands, muffins are a great choice.

Used the recipe from Happy Home Baker, but substituted with mini chocolate and butterscotch chips that I have in the refrigerator.

The result is rather delightful, thanks to abundance of chocolate and butterscotch chips. The muffin itself was a little dry. As for the 'crumble', I must have put in too much butter because its not crisp as I thought it should be. But it does make the muffin look more asthetically pleasing.

Here's the recipe :

Chocolate/Butterscotch Chips Crumble Muffins

Ingredients(makes 12)

250g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt
50g butter
100g soft light brown sugar
150g chocolate chips
2 eggs, lightly beaten
225ml milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

for the Chocolate Crumble Topping:
50g plain flour
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
40g butter
2 tablespoons caster sugar

For the chocolate crumble topping, sift flour and cocoa powder into a bowl. Mix in the sugar and rub in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Set aside.

Mix flour, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar and the peanut butter chips.

In another bowl, mix eggs, milk and vanilla extract. Pour the liquid mixture all at once into the dry ingredients. With a wooden spoon or spatula, mix until just combined. Do Not Over Mix. The batter should remain lumpy.

Fill paper muffin cups with batter sprinkle with the crumble toppings. Bake in a preheated oven at 200degC for 18-20mins, or until well risen and firm to the touch. A skewer inserted into the centre should come out clean. Let cool completely.

Recipe source: adapted from Muffins Galore, Catherine Atkinson

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Garden Themed Cake

It was a friend's birthday, a very nice lady. But alas, in the middle of a work week... so really need to plan to squeeze out time to bake her a nice cake.

Was told she love my mango cake, but unfortunately, mango's not in season now.. have to make do with a blueberry cake.

Did a simple garden themed cake with lots of flowers and crawling with snails and ladybugs.

Complete with a birthday blessing taken from the bible.