Monday, 11 August 2014

Vanilla Strawberry Ice Cream Cake


As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, I recently bought a townhouse. To celebrate, I threw a housewarming party and decided to make an ice cream cake for dessert.

Dairy Queen ice cream cakes – yay or nay? I pretty much only like the cookie fudge middle. My plate is always left with sad looking vanilla and chocolate soft serve because I just eat the middle. But I think my problem with that cake is that it’s soft serve. If it was real ice cream, I think I’d love it.

So, my ice cream cake was going to be made with real ice cream. And not that stuff from the store that has a bunch of ingredients that I can’t pronounce, meaning they really shouldn’t be in my ice cream. I’m talking about the home make stuff – with egg yolks, and real vanilla, and only ingredients you’re familiar with! And you know what? It’s going to have cake too – because ice cream cake without the cake part, is just ice cream shaped like a cake if you ask me.

The great thing about this type of cake is that the options are endless! I went simple, but you can mix and match ice cream and cake flavours and add extras like cookies, crumbles, nuts, fruit, and sundae syrup between the layers. And multiple ice cream flavours!

Vanilla Strawberry Ice Cream Cake
Parts:
Vanilla cake
Vanilla ice cream
Strawberry jam
Whipped cream frosting
*Note, this cake takes 3 days to make

Vanilla Cake (Make on day 1)
Use your favorite vanilla cake recipe. I halved this one and baked it in a 6-inch pan. Feel free to use whatever size you like!

After baking and cooling the cake, cut into two layers. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze overnight.

Alternatively, you can buy a pre-made pound cake.

Vanilla Ice Cream (Make on day 1 or 2)
You can use your favorite store bought ice cream. Or make it from scratch! I used this recipe by David Lebovitz. 
If making from scratch and refrigerating the base overnight, make on day 1. If not refrigerating base overnight, make on day 2 (same day as assembly).

Whipped Cream Frosting (Make on day 3)
Ingredients
2 cups whipping cream
1/3 cup icing sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
Gel food colouring

Directions
1.  Chill metal bowl before whipping. Beat whipping cream until soft peaks.
2.  Sift icing sugar and add vanilla. Beat to stiff peaks.
3.  Add food colouring to your desired shade and beat to blend.
*I added a stabilizer (like Whip It http://www.amazon.com/Dr-Oetker-Stabilizer-Whipping-Packets/dp/B000NY8OLU), but since it’s going to be frozen, I don’t think it’s necessary in retrospect.


Assembly
Day 2:
1.  If using store bought ice cream, take out and soften for about 10-15 minutes before proceeding. If using scratch ice cream, it should be in soft-serve consistency (feel free to stick in the freezer until ready).
2.  Smear a little jam on the cake plate. Place frozen cake layer on top. Spread jam on top.
3.  Wrap stiff acetate tightly around the cake and tape to secure.
4.  Spread ice cream over the cake – up to you on how much and how tall you want the cake!
5.  Spread jam on the other cake layer. Carefully place it on top of the ice cream, jam side down.
6.  Freeze overnight.
Day 3:
7.  Make whipped cream frosting.
8.  Take acetate off cake. Frost cake with whipped cream and decorate to your preference. Freeze until ready to serve.
 
Acetate around the cake.

 



Verdict: This ice cream recipe was A-MAAAzing! So creamy, rich, and flavourful! I only used ¾ of it in the cake, so I had a bit left over. And good thing too because my friends requested it and devoured it! I’m dreaming up new flavour combos!

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Strawberry Rice Crispy Pops


What is it about food on sticks that make them so fun? Is it that food doesn’t readily come on sticks on a regular basis (unless you’re from South East Asia – think satay)? Is it that we associate fun/not-so-good-for-us foods-but tasty foods with the stick delivery (e.g., lollipops, ice cream bars, popsicles, corn dogs)? I’m pretty sure I’d like certain things a lot more if it came in stick form.

Desserts on sticks are blowing up lately! Cake + stick = cake pops; Pie + stick = pie pops; get the pattern? I wanted to try the Rice Crispy Pop because compared to the cake/pie pops, they are sooo easy. And just by inserting a stick, makes them so cute and appetizing!

I found a bag of HUGE strawberry marshmallows (meant for campfires and s’mores). Invented: Strawberry Rice Crispy Pops. I made these for a one year old’s Hello Kitty themed party.

Check out the verdict at the end of the post!


Strawberry Rice Crispy Pops 
Ingredients
¼ cup salted butter
5 cups strawberry marshmallows (If using the large ones, cut them into quarters)
½ teaspoon vanilla
6 cups Rice Krispies Cereal
¾ cup white candy melts
Sprinkles
Lollipop sticks

Directions
1.  In a big pot, melt butter on medium low. Add marshmallows and melt (stirring occasionally).
2.  Take off heat and add vanilla and stir.
3.  Add Rice Krispies and working quickly, stir to combine. Pour and press into a pan (I used an 8 x 8 inch pan). When it cools slightly, use an offset spatula to press down so you get a flat surface. Cool completely.
4.  Place candy melts in a double boiler on low and melt, stirring occasionally. Set out parchment to place your dipped Rice Crispy Pops on to harden.
5.  Cut Rice Krispies into desired size. Use a ruler and take the entire thing out of the pan before cutting for uniform squares (I learned that through trial and error!).
6.  Spoon the candy melts over the squares, decorate with sprinkles, and set to dry before inserting sticks. Voila!



Verdict: I think these looked so cute! They were chewy and delicious as Rice Crispy Squares are. And not super artificially strawberry-y! Everyone kept asking how I got them pink! No need to added food colouring here!

Monday, 28 July 2014

Hello Kitty Cake


Sorry for the lack of posts lately. It’s because of something really exciting – we bought a townhouse! I’ve been busy moving and redecorating. We’re into a rustic industrial theme for the main part of the house and have been completely engrossed with finding the right pieces. It’s been fun (Right J???)!

Along with the townhouse came a gas convection oven. I’ve only used an electrical oven in the past and heard great things about convection, so I was really excited about trying it out. Um…frustrating!! I can’t get the hang it! Nothing is working! Previous recipes are completely failing! This can’t be happening! As though I don’t have enough confidence-shattering fails as it is!

Enter: My friend’s daughter’s first birthday – Hello Kitty themed. I decided/was asked to make a Hello Kitty cake and cupcakes. I started baking the night before, and of course I had to make each twice because the first ones failed miserably, and the second batch wasn’t quite like when I had baked them before, but were acceptable. 

Anyways, if you’re on good terms with your oven because you know how it works, or if you’ve just moved and want to test your oven-relationship, and want to make a Hello Kitty cake, here are some pieces that I used.

Check out this video for decorating the cake: http://youtu.be/_hvSWuLWkJ0
I used this recipe for the cake: http://bit.ly/1rxVGUS
*I used 2, 9-inch cake pans and made sure the stencil was large enough
I used this recipe for the Italian meringue frosting: http://bit.ly/1pygqJD
I used chocolate covered almonds for eyes, a stencil and pink sanding sugar for the bow, and strawberry Pocky for the whiskers.

I also made cupcakes and strawberry Rice Crispy Treats for the Hello Kitty birthday party. I halved the cake recipe to make 12 cupcakes and made the following frosting:

Strawberry Lemon Frosting
Ingredients
1 cup butter, softened
4 cups icing sugar
3 Tablespoons seedless strawberry jam
½ teaspoon lemon extract (I used LorAnne)
2-4 Tablespoon cream (depending on how soft you want it)

Directions 
Combine all ingredients and beat until fluffy. 
Pipe using a 2D or 1M tip, starting from the center of the cupcake. 



Verdict: Luckily, everyone enjoyed the cake and cupcakes! I personally really liked the flavour of the frosting – it reminded me of a Japanese candy that I had when I was a kid. We topped the cupcakes with Hello Kitty figurines. The Hello Kitty cake actually turned out! Loved the Pocky whiskers – an idea I got from friend who made a similar cake!

The birthday girl just went for it, but in a polite sort of way – she just grabbed at the edge of the ear. What a cutie!


Strawberry Rice Crispy Treats recipe to come soon.

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.