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!



Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Toasted Coconut White and Dark Chocolate Cookies



My current obsession is coconut. Toasted coconut to be specific.

Coconut seems to one of those love it or hate it ingredients. I know people who absolutely love it while other absolutely detest it. I fall in the former category. I decided to put together a dark chocolate cookie with bursts of white chocolate. After a bit of testing, I got it right – a chewy cookie with crispy edges and the warm nuttiness of toasted coconut.

Btw, I have a still have a bottle of coconut syrup from my trip to Hawaii last year. I should really do something with it…

Toasted Coconut White and Dark Chocolate Cookies
Makes…a lot.

Ingredients
3 cups fancy coconut (or shredded)
2 oz dark chocolate
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
3 Tablespoon glucose
1 egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cups bread flour
¼ cup cake flour
¼ cup + 2 Tablespoon cocoa
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup white chocolate chips

Directions
1.  Lay coconut on a baking sheet and bake in a 300 degree F oven for 10 minutes. Watch carefully and toss as the edges of pan get brown to ensure even toasting. Set aside to cool. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2.  Melt chocolate over a double boiler. Set aside.
3.  With a beater attachment of a standmixer, beat butter for a minute until fluffy. Add both sugars and glucose and beat for 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl.
4.  Add egg, vanilla, and melted chocolate and beat for 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl.
5.  In the meantime, sift both flours, cocoa, salt, baking powder, and baking soda into a bowl.
6.  Add flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on low until the mixture just comes together.
7.  Add 1 cup of toasted coconut and white chocolate chips and mix until just combined.
8.  Scoop dough with a 2-inch scoop and roll in the remaining coconut. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 14 minutes or until the edges are firm.
9.  Let cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes before cooling on a rack.
 
Toasted coconut.

Dough portioned out with the BIG scooper.





Verdict: These are one of my favorites now. A perfect balance of textures and flavours. This makes a large batch so feel free to cut the recipe in half, or portion out the dough and freeze it for a craving. You know what you’ll find in my freezer!
For all you Canadian readers, these cookies remind me of Tim Horton’s toasted coconut chocolate timbits, especially before baking!