Saturday, March 13, 2010

Still Not Black! Black Sesame Chiffon

Earlier this year, I also picked up the baking book 'Okashi' by Keiko Ishida. I've always been fascinated by japanese sweet treats and the recipes in this bakebook looked wonderfully delicious and more importantly, 'doable'.

I had since tried a couple of recipes from the book with success and so far, the cakes were well liked by cell members and family.

The first recipe I tried was the black sesame chiffon featured on the cover. I loved how the black contrasts with the white frosting, looks so regal! But I tried this cake twice and each time, its a boring grey. How did Keiko get it to be so 'black'?! Colouring?

The recipe calls for black sesame paste. In my first attempt, I did not have sesame paste, so I toasted black sesame seeds and ground them. The result passed taste test but did not look black... boy, was I disappointed.

I went to ISETAN and bought black sesame paste and attempted the cake with renewed confidence, resolved not to resort to artificial colouring but alas, the cake is still not black! I followed the recipe to the 'T', I have since concluded that it must be colouring or photography technique.

The batter, looking too 'white' to be black.

Remaining hopeful that there is black underneath the brown.

Actually... I was not too hopeful.. even the brown is too light.. no mood to frost it.

Every trace of hope dashed.

Did I buy the wrong paste?

Any kind souls who have managed to obtain the same colour as Keiko's, pleeeease share the secret.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Pastor's birthday cake

Poor Samantha. Not sure where she caught the stomach flu virus from, but she's been vomiting since 4pm today and its like once every half to one hour. I counted total of 12 times already. Seen the doc, but doc say monitor and that's its not serious if she is not running a temperature. Pray that the virus will leave her soon.

Our church paster's birthday happen to fall on P3 night this month, so my cell leader tasked me to bake a special cake for him. I was hesitant as I was not sure about my work schedule. I had wanted to prepare the decorations much earlier but could not squeeze out anytime. The night before, I just had to throw work aside and rushed home to bake the cake. Started at 7pm and ended at almost 2am. With some time squeezed in between for dinner, shower and putting children to bed.

I chose a more familiar theme. The result was rather pleasing. I was especially pleased with the pair of glasses I made out of wire. A first attempt and no special purchase.

Pastor Richard keeps a marine fish tank at home, so that's added to the theme. And in the tank are a couple of black sea cucumbers. If you are wondering what that pickly worm like thing is, one of them made it to the cake.

And this is Pastor Richard.

His hobby is also reading, I have him holding the Bible and dressed in his usual sunday attire of shirt and tie.

Cake assembled. Poorly taken picture. Sigh...

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Apple Cinnamon Crumb Coffee Cake

I had been absent from the blog for a long, long time! Work schedule had been bad and killed my mood for baking or decoration. It has been quite a long draught for me until recently when I tried a couple of recipes from new books that I bought.

This cake was done just after Christmas last year. I bought a Christmas present for myself - 'Rose's Heavenly Cakes, by Rose Levy Beranbaum'.

This lady is exceptional! I had never seen such 'wordy' recipes! Every recipe is like an essay, with so much detail. Measurement for ingredients are provided both in volume and weight, and for weight, its available in both ounces and grams. So matter what your preference is, she's got that information for you. And if you should visit her blog, you'd read about the amount of experiment that each cake went through, you'd be amazed.

My first cake from this book (and till date, I'm ashamed to say.. the only cake) is the Apple Cinnamon Crumb Coffee cake. I was longing for a coffee flavoured cake but it was only after completing the batter did I realise that there was no coffee in there. It was meant to be eaten with coffee.. what a muddle head I have, haha.

According to Rose, to make the crumb/streusel stay crispier longer, is to make it with melted butter rather than softened butter. Also, it was put on top of the cake after the cake has set (half baked). The resultant crumb is indeed crispier. And the cake is so moist and soft. A total delight on the tastebuds, even if without coffee.

Apple-Cinnamon Crumb Coffee Cake
(adapted from Rose's Heavenly Cakes)

Ingredients for Cinnamon Crumb Topping

walnut halves 100g
light brown sugar 72g
granulated sugar 25g
cinnamon 1 1/2 tsp
all purpose flour 65g
unsalted butter, melted 57g
vanilla extract 1/2 tsp

Use a food processor to pulse all dry ingredients except flour until walnuts are coarsely chopped. Remove and set aside half for the filling. To the remainder, add flour, butter and vanilla and pulse to form a coarse, crumbly mixture. Refrigerate the mixture for about 20 minutes to firm up the butter and make it easier to crumble.

Ingredients for cake batter
1 small tart aple such as granny smith 155g
lemon juice 2tsp
2 large eggs
sour cream 160gms
vanilla extract 1 1/2 tsps
all purpose flour 200gms
caster sugar 200gms
baking powder 1/2 tsp
baking soda 1/2 tsp
salt 1/4 tsp
unsalted butter 170gms

Method (Minus many useful tips from the book)

1. Preheat oven to 175 degree celcius
2. peel, core and slice apple 1/4 inch thick, sprinkle with lemon juice and set aside
3. In medium bowl, whisk eggs, 3 tbsp of sour cream adn vanilla until just lightly combined
4. In a mixer with flat beater, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add butter and remainly sour cream and mix on low spead until dry ingredients are moist. Raise the speed to medium.
5. Gradually add the egg mixture in 2 parts, beating for 30s after each addition.
6. Put 2/3 of the batter into a 9 inch springform pan, smoothen surface, sprinkle the suface evenly with the reserved 1/2 cup crumb topping and top with 2 rows of overlapping apple slices.
7. Put in remainly batter over the apples and spread evenly.
8. Bake cake for 35 minutes
9. Meanwhile, take crumb topping from fridge. Break up the crumbs. They should be no larger than 1/2 inch balls.
10. Take cake out of oven and strew crumb topping evenly on top.
11. Continue to bake for 20-30 minutes
12. Let cake cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes before unmoulding and cool completely.

This is the cake batter, looking so creamy-licious.

The crumb filling and apple slices.

Crumb toppings, prepared while cake is in the oven.

Finished product.

Finished product enjoyed, throughly!