Espresso cake with raspberry & rhubarb compote & Italian meringue – Redux

Espresso cake with raspberry & rhubarb compote & Italian meringue

Espresso cake with raspberry & rhubarb compote & Italian meringue

I rarely make the same cake twice (which is not a good habit at all), but this time one of my colleague has requested this as the leaving-do cake, so here it is, again.

This time I was armed with many more tools like my 5L mixing bowl, more mixing bowls in general, and my experience from last time. I have also discovered a local nut store that sells toasted and blanched hazelnut(i.e. skins off). Bingo. A simple thing like that reduced my prep time by an hour.

All in all it was alot easier than last time. I would half the Italian Meringue portion, and also half the rhubarb compote (which I did this time). Should yield just enough for the cake.

For the candied hazelnut, definitely wait for that 3 minutes after taking the caramel off the heat. Not sure the ice water is needed – During my first batch I had the iced water and at the end the caramel hardened too much. Second batch without iced water gave me more time to muck around with taping the skewers to the kitchen bench.

Note to self – next time, take that pot of boiling sugar syrup off the stove when there’s an earthquake (can’t believe I ran around the house while I left it boiling)!

And to get rid of hardened caramel / sugar syrup? Add quite a bit of water, and bring it to boil with high heat. No mess no fuss cleanup.

Refer to my previous post for recipe (off Cuisine Magazine) and other comments.

Baby Shower Chocolate Cake

After my new year resolution of not baking any cakes (and instead make desserts from different countries) had gone out of the window (see previous post), I decided to go all out and make a cake for a friend’s baby shower.

She’s currently addicted to chocolate, and so, it must must must be a chocolate cake inside.

Now – who likes dry chocolate cakes? And who likes cake that comes out horribly sweet? What kind of cake can I use underneath that heavy fondant, knowing that many people actually do prefer sponge cake (lighter cakes mean people are more likely to go for seconds).

Bearing those 3 things in mind, it took me quite a while to find a good chocolate cake that I want to use underneath the fondant. It can’t be a sponge cake, so it’ll definitely need to be a moist cake that people would want to eat but not too heavy that it’s all become too sweet, etc etc. You get the point I’m sure.

Oh and to add to the dilemma, it’s gotta be cute.

 

Baby shower birthday cake

Baby shower birthday cake

 

Cake under better lighting

Cake under better lighting

And so here it is – everyone seems to love it so hopefully anyone who reads this post will too:

Inside the cake

Inside the cake

The chocolate cake that I’ve chosen is from here:

http://www.mariasmenu.com/desserts/moist-chocolate-cake-with-chocolate-buttercream-ganache

 

And the so very cute baby shoes instructions / templates are here:

http://cakejournal.com/tutorials/how-to-make-baby-shoes/

 

Some notes:

(1) When I made the cake, I used a bigger sized cake pan x 2 (still divided the batter into 2). The cakes ended up quite thin so I had to make another batch of batter and then baked 2 more cakes – totalling 4 with buttercream in between.

On retrospect I think it might be better to make double the batter on the get go, and then divide the batter into the 2 cake pans. The buttercream and ganache for 1 portion (as stated in recipe) were enough for my entire cake.

(2) The batter is quite thin. One of my springform cake pan started leaking but the other one didn’t. So perhaps some of you might want to use normal cake pans instead for this cake.

(3) The cake isn’t overly sweet with buttercream and ganache if your cocoa powder isn’t too sweet by nature. Actually with the fondant it all tasted good with right amount of sweetness.

(4) The baby shoes I made with 60% gumpaste 40% fondant. Probably 50-50 would do as well. Also for piece B of shoes template, I would make the curve part probably more squarish or bigger. This is so that when you stick it onto piece A (bottom of shoes), it will be easier to stick. I am sure there are other baby shoes templates on the internet so might be worth while checking those out as well.

(5) I made the baby shoes template picture to fit onto an A4 page size. My cake pans was 8 3/4 inches. I would say the shoes are probably slightly too big for the cake.

(6) I rolled out a big piece of fondant (after coloring it) and cut all the templates in 1 go. You will need 2 x A and 2 x B and 1 x C and 1 x D from the cakejournal website. This ensures thickness uniformity in the absence of a ruler. The downside of this is that you will have to work fairly quickly so that the fondant pieces won’t dry out as you bend and curve your shoes parts.

(7) I used tylo powder + water to make edible glue to glue the shoes together. Held everything in place fairly well with only 48 hours to dry. Re the shoes lace, I would either be careful with them, particularly the ones hanging ‘free-style’, or make the that into horizontal ‘bar’ like the other 2. Don’t make them too thin – they’re prone to breakage after drying. It could also be me being a newbie at this and not doing it very well though!

(8) For the twisted ropes – measure the circumference of your cake but either double the length or add another 2/3 to the length. When you braid / twist them together it will require more fondant than the cake circumference. Also make sure your fondant is fairly pliable and soft so you don’t get cracks when doing the braiding / twisting.

(9) After levelling the cakes I have quite a bit of left over cake pieces.. so may be I’ll do something with those!

Lemony Butter Sponge Cake

Well after last week’s massive effort with the Tri-Colored cake (my post here) – I have a lot of left over egg yolks from both the cake itself and also from the Swiss Meringue Buttercream (aka SMBC, used 9 eggwhites!).

What to do??

 

You can make many many things – aioli, pudding, creme brulee.

But I’ve chosen to make a sponge cake, only because I have most of the ingredients on hand only and can help me get rid of some jam too! Plus, I have a massive amount of 14 egg yolks to get rid of.
Here is the recipe: Lemony Butter Sponge Cake
The cake, I have to say, is VERY delicious despite it being so simple.

 

Lemony Butter Sponge Cake

Lemony Butter Sponge Cake

 

Some notes:

  • Next time I’ll sift my flour twice.
  • Sift the flour in batches into the egg yolk mixture.
  • When I beat the egg yolks, I have been using ‘medium’ speed. That seems to work really well and I didn’t over beaten nor under beat the eggs.
  • Cake(s) rose really well.
  • I put Rasberry jam and freshly whipped cream in between all the layers.
  • Cake dusted with icing sugar.
  • I used extra virgin olive oil to oil my pan. Have read on other blogs that says should use shortening.
  • Mommiecooks.com has done a post on the science of sponge cake!

Tri-colored Southern Coconut Cake

A friend’s birthday is coming up and not being able to deliver a cake to him, I made it anyway and sent photos (yes, what a tease!)

I saw Whiz Kid’s amazing Rainbow Cake and thought about making it. In the end:

  • I took the original source of her cake (Southern Coconut Cake), which is in 3 layers (instead of her 6).
  • Then I colored it my way
  • Add the Lemony Swiss Meringue Buttercream from Whiz Kid (recipe available as part of the Rainbow Cake)
  • Add fondant on top and add some decorations which I made as well

For a first attempt it isn’t too bad – definitely room for improvement but good practice of using fondant / gumpaste. Would have added more decoration / pip some buttercream on the side, but I ran out of time.

Here’s the cake!

Cynnyw - Cake v2

Cake – external

Inside the cake is colored

Inside the cake is colored

 

Closeup view of the inside of the cake

Closeup view of the inside of the cake!

Some notes regarding making the animals / fondant:

  • I used a 50/50 fondant gumpaste mix to make the animal
  • Stored animal figurines in cardboard box away from Sunlight but not in cupboard.
  • I used corn syrup to stick the pieces together, but forgot to thin it out with water (duh!)
  • Used vegetable shortening while working with the figurines – you need quite a lot of it on the outside of the animal to make it look all smooth and not cracked
  • The sheep design I got it from a friend who looked up the internet for me.. so I’m unclear of the source of the original design.
  • Mostly the look / design of the animals I got it from looking around on the internet / google images!
  • I rolled out my fondant on the pastry mat (silicone) – so I didn’t use cornstarch or icing sugar as I heard it can dry up your fondant and cause cracking / tear later on.

Chocolate, Hazelnut and Mandarin Cake

Chocolate Mandarin Cake

Chocolate Hazelnut and Mandarin Cake

 

Last of the 3 2012 Cuisine Magazine Birthday Cake.

Recipe here:
http://cuisine.co.nz/cuisine.nsf/recipes/chocolate-hazelnut-mandarin-layer-cake

Lemon Curd Mousse Cake

 

IMG_20121011_101651

Lemon Curd Mousse Cake.

Recipe from Bon Appetit: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2005/04/lemon_curd_mousse_cake

or Epicurious: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Lemon-Curd-Mousse-Cake-231898

I read through all the reviews, and if I were to do it again these are the variations from the recipe I would do:

Curd:

  • Make the lemon curd in a bowl above a saucepan of very hot water (like melting chocolate). This will stop the eggwhites from cooking. This time I didn’t do it, so I strained the curd. Probably best to strain the curd regardless.
  • Reduce the sugar in the curd. I reduced it to 2 cups but may be just 1 3/4 cup is enough
  • I also increase the lemon juice to 1 1/3 – you can add more by testing the taste

Crust:

  • For the crust people had said to use Walker Shortbread but I don’t think it matters

Mousse:

  • I whipped the egg white and sugar (like making meringue) for a full 10 minutes (after whipping egg white alone till soft peak formed), and also whipped the cream (medium to stiff peak) in another mixing bowl. These 2 steps were done before I started dealing with the curd and the gelatin.
  • Folding the meringue and the cream in really did take quite a bit of time, but be patient and get them really smooth and incorporated 🙂
  • Not entirely sure, but may be putting in 1 more teaspoon of gelatin to get a firmer texture..

Presentation

  • I didn’t pipe rosettes onto the cake, just put some strawberries on. Recommend to do very last minute just before serving. Otherwise they tend to fall down to the side.

 Overall:

  • I did this in a couple of days (3 steps):  (1) The curd first (because it can be chilled and kept for 1 week max, just let it sit and return to room temperature before you use it for the mousse part).  (2) The crust (doesn’t take long to do at all, I use a spoon so didn’t even need to get my hand dirty) the morning of making the mousse, so it will have a good chance to cool.  (3) Then finally the mousse the evening before serving the cake. The cake definitely need to chill overnight.

Wolfgang Puck’s Marjolaine

This is one of his legendary dessert, and man, it is legendary alright. It tasted fantastic!

 No pictures, but you can get the recipe from:

(1) Printed Book: Wolfgang Puck Makes It Easy, Rutledge Hill Press, 2004

(2) Or from Google Books here: