Friday, July 30, 2010

Chocolate fudge cake

Yesterday was T birthday and I can't remember when was the last he took leave on his birthday. T works in a "chi-na" company where the bosses hardly take leave, do not really recognise mc, and at times the bosses go to work even they are sick, etc. They are really sick!

On this special day, although we did not venture anywhere except for a korean dinner fare with some of our family members, it was pure joy to be relaxing at home together as a family. It's considered a luxury for us, and the happiest person is Zak, of course - no school, and play & play all day!

Though i tried to make a super-yummy chocolate birthday cake, it didn't turn out that way! The cake was (rock) hard, dry, sponge cake was not evenly sliced, fudge is bland and gluey, .... you name it. Luckily no one else other the three of us ate it, and daddy-son were very supportive to finish almost a slice of cake each ;-p I will try to compensate with a real super-yummy chocolate cake, I promise!

Daddy enjoying the super warm birthday kiss from his little darling! Better than any gift anytime!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Moist Banana Walnut Cake

Near my workplace is a market where there is row of fruit stalls, and they are always stocked up with the freshest fruits, ever so colourful with the varieties that are available. If I go in the evening to get my oranges for my vit C boost, most of the time I would end up buying more than just oranges. Not that I'm going the healthy trend, it's just an impulse-buying behaviour, if you know what I mean. Just last week, I got a bunch of ripe bananas and they are real cheap at 80 cents! I thought I would have the time and energy to do some baking during the weekday, but days past and the bananas were all going very 'blacked-spotty'. Left with 2 choices - into the bin or bake something - and here I go:-

Ingredients/ Method:
300g self-raising flour, sifted
270g butter (would reduce amount by about 20% the next time)
3tbsp sour cream (replaced with plain yogurt)
1tsp vanilla essence
180g brown sugar
5 eggs, lightly beaten
8 small bananas, mashed
90g walnuts, toasted and chopped

  1. Pre-heat oven at 180 deg C.
  2. Cream butter, sugar and yogurt until light and fluffy.
  3. Add in vanilla essence and beat well.
  4. Dribble in eggs, about 1 tablespoon at a time, until all used up.
  5. Fold in the flour gently, then add the mashed bananas.
  6. Add in walnuts and stir gently to mix well. Leave some walnuts for the toppings.
  7. Pour batter into lined cake tin and bake for 40 to 50 mins or until golden brown. Sprinkle some chopped walnuts on top of the batter.
(I used a 6 x 6 inch square tin and a 8 x 4.5 inch cake tin. The 6 x 6 inch square tin needs an extra 10-15 mins of baking time and i tent the cake during this extended time to prevent the cake from getting over-brown. The 8 x 4.5 inch cake tin is ready within 50 mins.)

The above recipe is 1.5x the original and some modifications made. If using original recipe, bake in 20cm cake tin for 40 to 50 mins.

I brought the cakes to the office for my colleagues and they like that the cake is moist & fragrant, not so sweet, and the crunchiness from walnuts.

Lastly, I would also like to thank some of colleagues who have always help me to cut and distribute the cakes (into 30++ small pieces), and this time around, helped me in taking some of the pictures for my blog, and of course 'guinea pigs' for my baking adventure! Aren't they helpful and lovely? Or am I fortunate to have them as my colleagues?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Fruit Pastry Cake

Joining the recent craze in the blogosphere, I've finally made this Fruit Pastry Cake. There must be at least more than a dozen bloggers posting this recipe, which first caught my eye when Happy Home Baking posted it here. I guess there are more bakers who have tried this, but either did not have a blog or did not post it, one good example is my colleague, P. When I brought this cake to the office today, we started chatting about the recipes and then realised that we got the same source and she had baked it earlier! Why I had baked this cake to bring to the office was because of 1 request from my colleague E through FB, though I know it's just of the casual remarks. It must have been a surprise for her on a Monday-blue-morning, when I stepped into the office and walked over to her work-station...kekeke. Actually I really need to finish up all the fresh fruits that I've bought and if I don't use it, they are likely to go to the bin. Fresh apricots, fresh strawberries and fresh blueberries.

Apricots, I've tried them dried but not the fresh ones. I suppose now is the season, and these fresh apricots are easily available at the market fruit stalls or supermarket, and selling at $5 a punnet. Usually, the uncles or aunties at the market fruit stalls readily dishes out tips and information on the fruit they are selling, which we will not know if we just buy from the supermarket. Do we call it value-added service? These uncles and aunties do not need to have high education level to know what attracts customers, marketing, promotion, customer service. Call me silly but I always feel for these stall-holders sweating their hearts out to make a decent living, of course, there are a few of them who are actually very well-off and stay at big landed property. I know a few living examples! Sorry that I've digressed too much, I want to share with you about what I learnt about the special 'gem' of apricot - it's inside the seed! Keep the seed and pound them open, but not too hard as you might squash whatever gem that is inside, you will find an ALMOND! I've ate a few and kept the balance, thinking of adding these little gems in my next bake. Very nice and fresh!!

I like the texture and taste of the cake, and importantly, it's very easy to bake. Also have to keep in mind about not reducing the sugar (too much), as just learnt from HHB that the sugar not only acts as a sweetener in a cake, but also helps to attract moisture in the batter, which ultimately affects the texture of the cake. So much science for baking, which I've all along ignored! Being lazy here, I've copied HHB's recipe and pasted it below for my future reference. I tried both 180g and 170g sugar, and I think both turned out similar in texture. Both cakes are baked at 180 deg C and for 60 mins. Did I say both - yes - baked 1 on Fri nite and another on Sun nite ;-)

Ingredients/ Method

100g butter, soften at room temperature
200g caster sugar (I cut down to180g)
50g sour cream (I replaced with same amount of low fat yogurt)
3 eggs, lightly beaten, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon or orange zest
210g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
500g fruits* tossed with 2 tablespoon sugar*
(You can use strawberries, blueberries, peaches, bananas, oranges, pears, apples, pineapple, or any other fruits that are not too juicy. I omitted the sugar and used as much fruits, either fresh or canned, as needed to fill the top of the cake)

  1. Wash, cut (chunks or slices, as desired) and drain fruits, toss with sugar (if desired) and set aside. (if using canned fruits, wash the fruits to remove the syrup, omit the sugar).
  2. Grease (with butter) and flour the side of a 9" round pan or a 8" square pan and line the base with parchment paper.
  3. With an electric mixer, cream butter, sugar and sour cream (or yogurt) till light and fluffy.
  4. Dribble in the eggs gradually and beat till incorporated in the batter. (The mixture may appear slightly curdled.)
  5. Add vanilla extract and zest. Mix to combine.
  6. Sieve over flour and baking powder and mix till smooth. (To avoid getting flour all over my work surface, I mixed the flour into the batter using a spatula, just a few strokes will do, then I used the electric mixer to mix the batter till smooth.)
  7. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth out the top with a spatula.
  8. Arrange fruits on top, don’t press the fruits down into the batter. Decorate the fruits as desired.
  9. Bake in pre-heat oven at 180degC for 60-70 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the cake. Cover the top with foil in the last 15 mins of baking to prevent the top from getting over browned.
  10. Leave the cake to cool in the pan for about 5~10 mins. Unmold and transfer to wire rack to let cool completely. Dust the cake with some icing sugar if desired.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Orange baked cheesecake

Hello to all who is still reading my blog, and sorry for the exceptional long period of absence here. My usual excuses are - busy (lazy?) and the breakdown of my laptop. Now I'm using a new laptop which my brother's friend has so kindly bought on my behalf during last month's IT fair. Why did it take another 3 weeks to update my blog is because we all fell sick one after another, it first started with Zak having a viral fever which took almost a week to recover, followed by myself and then T. It's good that we are now alright, except that both T and me are still recuperating from our lack of sleep!! It's real tough at times, and is wondering how to find the time to really really have a thorough rest eg deep sleep for 24 hours?? I was previously quite addicted in baking, blogging and blog-surfing, but after being away from these "vices" for so long, I can now curb my addictions and without any major withdrawal sypmtoms ;-) Of course, not forgetting I still have a 3 year old toddler who needs alot of attention these days, alot of things have to take second, third, etc priority. Nevertheless, I'll try to update and bake as often as I can as there are still many interesting recipes which I wanted to try it out.

If you have been following my blog, I've a big family and therefore many birthdays. So far, I think I have missed out 3 birthdays and 2 special occasions, where I didn't bake anything at all . Will see whether I can make it up next year? The most recent bake is this Orange baked cheesecake which I would like to share with you all. This is a birthday cake for my aunty Ivy. Other than the slightly dry chocolate base, perhaps due to the over-mixing which deflated most bubbles, I think this cake is worth a try. Maybe adding chocolate chips into the chocolate sponge would be a good idea too!

Chocolate Sponge Cake (23cm or 9" round tin)
Ingredients/ Method:
(A) 5 egg yolks, 20g sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
(B) 5 egg white
(C) 110g sugar
(D) 90g plain flour, 20g cocoa powder. Sift and set aside.
(E) 60g corn oil or 60g butter melted

  1. Pre-heat oven at 180 deg C.
  2. Whip (A) until light and fluffy. The mixture should look pale in colour.
  3. Whip (B) in a clean and dry bowl, until soft peak. Keep a very close watch as it only take a few seconds for it to turn from soft to stiff.
  4. Add in (C) and continue to whip till stiff.
  5. Mix egg white mixture with (A) until well-blended.
  6. Next, fold in (D) in 3 - 4 batches and mix until well-combined.
  7. Scoop some batter into (E) and mix well. Add this back to the batter and mix until well incorporated. Be careful and do not overmix as the air bubbles will be burst.
  8. Pour into greased and lined round cake tin.
  9. Bake at 180 deg C for 25 mins or until skewer comes out clean. Remove the cake immediately when baked.
Orange cheesecake layer
(A) 250g cream cheese, 20g sugar, 1 orange zest
(B) 3 egg yolks
(C) 30g orange juice, 80g sour cream
(D) 25g plain flour, sifted
(E) 3 egg whites, 45g sugar

  1. Pre-heat oven at 160 deg C.
  2. Grease and lined the sides and bottom of a 23cm or 9" round cake tin. Wrap the outside of the cake tin with aluminium foil.
  3. Cream (A) until light. Add in (B), cream until smooth.
  4. Add in (C), cream until well-blended. Add in (D) , mix until well-combined.
  5. Whip (E) until soft peak.
  6. Mix the whipped egg white with cheese mixture until well incorporated. Do it gently and try not to deflat too much air bubbles.
  7. Place a 2cm layer of chocolate sponge cake at the bottom of the cake tin. Pour the cheese mixture over the cake. (My chocolate sponge cake was badly deflated and hence I use the entire sponge cake for this.)
  8. Bake in water bath at 160 deg C for 1 hour.
  9. Remove the cake from oven and let it cool before removing from the cake tin.

I added shaved chocolate, and thinly sliced orange peel on the cake. Sift some snow powder on the cake as desired.

There is another cake - Coffee cream cheese cake which I had made in May, but I got to find where I scribbled the recipe before I post it here. Stay tuned if you are interested @>