Sunday, 8 June 2014

Rainbow Cake

Remember this baby and this cake that I made for her?  Well, she's now 4 years old (!) and wanted a rainbow cake for her birthday. I decided to try out the petal technique, which looks pretty and seemed simple to do. And I envisioned an explosion of sprinkles on top - because what 4 year old girl (or grown woman) doesn't like rainbow sprinkles everywhere??
                                                 
Plus, check out this painting she made for me for my birthday this year!


Check out the verdict at the end of the post!

Vanilla Funfetti Cake
Adapted from here.

Ingredients
1 cup + 2 Tablespoon butter, room temperature
1 ½ cups sugar
4 + ½ large eggs, room temperature
3 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups pastry flour
1 ¾ cup all purpose flour
2 ¾ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1.5 cups buttermilk, room temperature
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 Tablespoons sprinkles

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Grease and flour 3, 8 inch rounds. Place parchment on the bottom.
3. In a bowl, sift flour, baking powder, and baking soda.  Set aside.
4. In the bowl of standmixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy with the paddle attachment. 
5. Add eggs and vanilla and beat to incorporate.
6. Alternately mix in flour and milk, starting and ending with flour.
7. In a small bowl, whip whipping cream to a soft peak. Fold whipping cream into batter.
8. Add sprinkles and fold into the batter. 
9. Distribute between pans and bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
10. Cool in pans for 15 minutes before cooling completely on rack.


Rainbow Swiss Meringue Buttercream
1. Make full recipe from here for 10 cups.
2. Divide buttercream into 5, with one portion a little bit bigger for the crumb coat.
3. Colour each portion with a different colour of gel food colouring.


Assembly
1. Put a small dollop of buttercream on the cake plate. Place the first cake layer on the plate.
2. Add a layer of buttercream (any colour). Place a layer on top and add more buttercream. Top with the final layer.
3. Crumb coat the entire cake with the extra portion of buttercream. Place cake in freezer for 15 minutes.
4. Place each colour of buttercream in a piping bag with the same round tip or with the tip cut to the same size.
5. Follow these directions for the petal technique or check out this video.



I had leftover frosting so I made this 5-inch rainbow cake. Thought I'd give you an alternative way to decorate a rainbow cake.





Verdict: I didn't try this cake, but the guests at the party, and the birthday girl loved it! Apparently the moms at the party initially wanted smaller portions, but ended up going for seconds! And the birthday girl's brother, who normally doesn't like cake, asked to bring it to school the next day! I'd say that's a success!

Monday, 2 June 2014

Ritz Cookies

The other day, I saw that Momofuku Milk Bar put out a Ritz Cookie. It sounded amazing! Buttery Ritz in cookie form with an explosion of salty, sweet, and chewy. Too bad I couldn't get my hands on them, and the recipe is not in the cookbook. So I decided to try to create them on my own - even though I don't really know what the real thing tastes like. Oh well, it'll be fun.

Just did a quick search and apparently the Ritz cookie came out 2 year ago. I am a bit slow.

Check out the verdict at the end of the post!

Ritz Cookies
Makes 18 large cookies
Inspired from Milk Bar.

Ingredients
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup bread flour
1 1/2 cup Ritz crumbs - from 40 crackers (see directions below)
1/4 cup milk powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 baking soda

Directions
1. Make Ritz crumb by pulsing the crackers in a blender or food processor until fine and crumbly. Set aside.
2.  Beat butter and both sugars in a bowl until fluffy, 3 minutes.
3. Add egg and beat for 4 minutes.
4. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add vanilla, and beat to combine.
5. In a separate bowl, mix flour, Ritz crumb, milk powder, baking powder and baking soda. Add to the butter mixture and mix slowly just until combined.
5. Portion dough with an ice cream scoop onto a baking sheet. Cover with foil and let marinate in the fridge for 2-3 days.
To bake
6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
7. Place 4 on a baking sheet and press down to slightly flatten. Bake for 14 minutes until the edges are golden.
8. Let cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
 
Before baking.
After baking.





Verdict: These cookies turned out buttery, rich, and chewy! They were delicious and I'll definitely be making them again - maybe with some larger chunks of Ritz for a variation in texture.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Pavlova + Cake = at least it sounds good!

It was the fiance's mom's birthday and I wanted to make a not-your-average cake for the dinner we were having at a restaurant. At first, I wanted to make a pavlova, but as I started making it, things were not working out and I had to figure out a way to salvage it. I didn't have time or ingredients to start over! I decided to make a single layer cake on the bottom, top it with the pavlova (or whatever came out of the oven) and add whipped cream to hold it together. I'll tell you right now that it didn't turn out as I'd hoped, but at least I learned a few things along the way:

Lessons learned while making this cake:
Do not wrap cake with a slice of bread. I read that to keep a cake moist overnight, a trick is to leave it out with a slice of bread on top. Well, I thought, Wouldn't it be better to wrap the cake in plastic wrap with a slice of bread on top? The answer is NO. The cake layer was waay too moist - like a pudding cake as someone described it. Ick. I should've just wrapped it in plastic wrap with out the bread as usual.

Making meringue in humidity is dangerous. OK, maybe not dangerous but inconsistent. The pavlova was supposed to be big and fluffy. It didn't get big, and it didn't get fluffy. The egg white and sugar mixture never formed stiff peaks on this humid Vancouver day.

Two tablespoons of egg whites out of the carton does not equal a large egg white from a shell. This is an eyeball comparison, but although the carton said they are equivalent, next time I'd use 3 tablespoons of egg whites to replace one large egg white.

If you want to have a go at this cake, take your favourite pavlova recipe (here's the one I used), half of a vanilla cake recipe (I used this one), and make some stabilized whipped cream, like this

Second time around, I would use a sponge cake for the bottom, like from here

Good luck! 


Here's a peek at the inside.

Friday, 18 April 2014

A Springalicious Cake





Spring is finally here! I’ve been waiting in my cold dark apartment for you for the last billion months. (I might be exaggerating). I can tolerate rain here and there when I know it won’t be weeks of straight up misery and that sunny days are around the corner. You know the saying “April showers bring May flowers”. (I actually say this to myself every time it rains in April).




Here’s a fun cake that seems to explode springtime! I bought these cute pastel egg sprinkles that I had to try on a cake. Add a vanilla cake, white chocolate, and strawberries and you’ve got gold. If it’s raining where you are, look at this cake and it might make you happier. Better yet, go bake it and then you can look at it in real life! REAL LIFE!




Springalicious Cake

Adapted slightly from Baked (Whiteout Cake).



Ingredients

2 ½ cups cake flour

¾ cups all purpose flour

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

¾ teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/3 cup sugar

1 Tablespoon vanilla (I added ¼ teaspoon ground vanilla bean)

1 egg, room temperature

1 ½ cups ice water

3 egg whites, room temperature (be sure to separate them while cold)

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar



Directions

1.  Line 3 8-inch round cake pans with parchment and grease and flour the sides. I used 6-inch pans. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2.  Into a large bowl, sift both flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

3.  In a stand mixer with the beater attachment, beat butter on high until softened, about 2 min. Add sugar and vanilla until fluffy, about 3 min.

4.  Scrape down bowl, add egg, and beat until combined. Scrape down sides and bottom.

5.  Add 1/3 of flour mixture and mix on low. Add ½ of ice water and mix on low until just combined. And another 1/3 of flour and mix on low. Add the remaining ice water and mix. Add the rest of the flour and mix until just combined.

6.  In a clean bowl and with a clean whisk, beat egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tartar and beat on high until soft peaks form.

7.  Fold the egg whites into the batter, making sure you scrape the bottom of the bowl.

8.  Divide into the three pans and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pans for 20 minutes before turning out and cooling completely.

 
Before and after folding in egg whites.

Before and after baking.


Fluffy White Chocolate and Strawberry Frosting (see notes below)

Ingredients

6 oz white chocolate roughly chopped

1 ½ cups sugar

1/3 cups flour

1 ½ cups milk

1/3 cup heavy cream

1 ½ cups butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup strawberries, blended into a puree



Directions

1.  Melt white chocolate in a double boiler, then set aside to cool (but not harden).

2.  In a medium pot, combine sugar, flour, milk, and cream and mix and whisk over medium heat until thick and bubbly. If the bottom gets burned, strain the mixture so you don’t get any of the burned bits.

3.  Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until cool (alternatively, cool in the fridge over night).

4.  Gradually add bits of butter and beat on high until combined. This may take up to 20 minutes (hopefully not, but it happened to me once. True story.)

5.  Add melted chocolate and vanilla and beat until fluffy.

6.  Divide half of frosting to a bowl. With the remaining frosting, add strawberry puree gradually. You may not need to use all of the puree, observe the consistency as you go along – you don’t want it too soft.

Too tall on the left; more appropriate on the right.

Assembly

1.  If you baked the cakes in smaller than 8-inch tins like I did, you may want to slice the cakes and only use 2 layers (4 layers after slicing) otherwise it might be too tall (check out photo). I made a mini-cake out of the third layer.

2.  Smear a small amount of frosting on the cake plate. Place first cake layer on the plate. Top with strawberry frosting and place another layer on top. Repeat with remaining layers.

3.  Crumb coat entire cake with white frosting and place in freezer for 15 minutes to set.

4.  Coat bottom half of cake with strawberry frosting and upper half and top with white frosting. Use a hard spatula to smooth it out. Pipe designs as desired with remaining frosting.



Notes: The frosting super failed on me. I’ve made cooked flour frostings before, but for some reason it didn’t work this time around and I have no idea why. Turned into a soupy mess. But I managed so salvage it by making a basic buttercream (1 cup butter, 4 cups icing sugar) and slowly beating in the majority of the soupy mess and white chocolate. I hope you have better luck, but be warned!




Verdict: This cake was awesome! Despite the failed frosting (which I managed to salvage, thank you very much) I really liked it, and so did my colleagues it seems. It was fluffy and moist and had good texture – everything I want in a cake. The salvaged frosting turned out really fluffy and melt-y in the mouth. A perfect match.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Whipped Frosting with Raspberry



Remember all those fails I was encountering? Getting closer, but still not there. This cake was better than this one, but still a bit dense and chewy. But I found a new great frosting!

I’ve been hesitant about using whipped cream in cakes because it droops with time. But I got my hands on some whipped cream stabilizer to keep it nice and stiff! There are a bunch of tricks floating around out there for stabilizing whipped cream – cornstarch, gelatin, marshmallow, mascarpone, draining, just to name a few. I’m not sure what’s in this stabilizer, but I suspect it’s cornstarch…

Anyways, this is my new favorite frosting because it’s so easy to make and use. No butter bring to room temperature and cream, no egg whites to heat. Just whip up with some icing sugar and you’re done.  PLUS, it’s not too sweet or heavy or rich!

Whipped Frosting with Raspberry
Ingredients
1 ½ cups whip/heavy cream
1 ½ Tablespoon stabilizer
¼ cup icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of salt
Jar of raspberry jam
*tip: place metal bowl in freezer before making frosting

Directions
1.    In a chilled metal bowl, whip the cream with a whisk attachment to soft peaks.
2.    Add stabilizer and whisk to blend.  Add sprinkle icing sugar, vanilla, and salt and beat to stiff peaks. Do not over beat.
3.    Line a piping bag with jam and add whipped cream. Don’t fill all the way – you’ll need to refill in batches because the jam runs out pretty quickly.
4.    Cover entire cake with a thin layer of whipped cream. I skipped this step because I was lazy, but you’ll definitely want to do this.
5.    Pipe roses (I used a 1M tip) ideally equally spaced apart and not overlapping. Fill in gaps with a smaller star tip.


Rose piping is the easiest decorating technique ever and even when your roses aren’t identical, the overall effect of the cake is pretty. I think has the highest prettiness to difficulty ratio, or to put it another way, the most bang for the (little) effort.


Anyways, back to recipe testing!