Friday, April 8, 2011

Abrupt, and really no reason, whatsoever.. YEAH CAKE!!

Just because there is nothing crazy going on in my life, doesn't mean a girl can bake a cake and take it to her sister's for no reason...

I was dying to try out the technique presented at G's Closet Master Baker's blog (

This cake is a lemon yellow cake filled with berries, lemon curd and mascarpone cream. Unfortunately, we ate it before I was able to take picture of the cross section.

Come on, someone ask me to make a birthday cake already! and invite me to the party..

Happy weekend, everyone.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Reluctantly, Spring.

Oh, the cool weather, moist ocean breeze, the nice allergy free days is gone. So are the nice wintry coat of snow that was on the slopes and warm, tub concealing feather coats. Ironically, spring makes people wake up and start cooking fresh veggies and such. Mind you, this is still cooking, so the frailty of the human condition and the need to refrain from the seemingly healthy “tarts” and green pesto blobs still exist.

For me, it is the never ending battle between me and the scary pile of “stock” that is my freezer. This week, we defrosted a couple of pig trotters that was leftover from my butchering class. I cleaned it off by blanching it some salty water and ginger slices for a few minutes, and took it in front of the TV for hair plucking. After that is done, I braised it in a simple broth for several hours, until the gelatin in the tissue starts fell apart and the stock turned translucent white.

We had noodles one night and a small pot of lentil soup with wilted greens and herbs with the stock. For the actual trotter, I’ve separated the meat, cartilage, fat and skin. Chopped up the meat, cartilage and a small piece of the skin, seasoned with mustard and chopped wild leeks. I packed it in a casserole dish and left in the fridge to “gel”. I toasted the dish with some breadcrumbs under the broiler and served it with some fried capers, a quick pickle of radishes with verjus and my mom’s fresh pea shoots.

I liked it. I was counting on it being toasted but the gelling is still in tact, but everything pretty much warmed up by the time it made it to the plate, so the texture difference I was looking for was lost. The fried capers and radish pickle brought a nice contrast and the pea shoot salad gave a nice break to the palate. Nonetheless, it is a good way to eat a extra trotter or two.

The dish is rather rich- next time, I will make it in a smaller ramekin and serve it as an appetizer. Jon thought is “interesting” – code for “um, why are we eating this in the first place? I want muscle fibers”

So, as a back-up- otherwise we’ll end up having cereal later- I baked a bit of salmon… and the prerequisite spring veggie, asparagus, sauteed in garlic and a little hit of butter..

Happy spring guys, we’re going on our last spring snowboarding trip. This weekend is a bikini event, not bad, I guess.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Dry Run, Mom's unofficial birthday cake

Hello. Yes, I'm back for more.

(I even made a little rose)

This weekend I made a wedding cake in its entirety and figured I should transport it an hour away to my sister's. We left the cakes out next to a big sunny window for an whole day to test the frosting and construction. The moussline butter cream held up quite well; no crusting, no gummies etc. though it has gotten a bit soft in the process. The wedding will not take more than 4-5 hours, so we are safe.

It has been a while since I baked the test cakes and I've partially forgot the texture of the cake I
was going for- so there is more tweaking needed. The cakes were great, but I wish they are not as delicate and crumbly (personal preference, really), I might run the machine a little longer or introduce a bit of regular flour for protein/gluten in the mix to build more structure. Also forgot the brush the cake each cake layer with syrup (too sleepy).

Of course, I've procrastinated until the last few days to get the components together, so I was filling and frosting till 3AM on Friday night. Yep, we know how to have a good time, we party hard..

Nic's wedding will coincide with my mom's birthday, so we pretend, for the moment, that this is mom's birthday cake.

My tubby self eating a cake-filled boba straw that was used for support.

The cakes were nonetheless delicious. the moist issue will be solved with brushing syrup and the creme anglaise and chocolate sauce that will be pooled @ the bottom of the plate.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Wedding cake - Gluttony of cakes

It's been awhile, I know. But in case you haven't heard, I'm making a wedding cake for a good friend of mine. Over the past few weeks, I've been scouting the world for answers:

Meanwhile, there is recipe testing, cake tasting, and decisions to be made. I was elbows deep in cake baking and filling making last week. With my overly ambitious agenda, I baked a freezer full of test cakes and a variety of fillings. With a slight headache from missing lunch, tired, and unsettling sugar-high... The plan was to find a base white, yellow and chocolate cake that we like and match them up with a combination of fillings and embellishments.

The lovely couple shows up at my apartment around noon last Sunday, skipping breakfast and lunch in anticipation of the calories ahead... they dug in... and even took notes with numbers and little hearts.

They wanted to have two flavors, one chocolate oriented another, fruit/nuts. After eating almost all the little cake cubes and scoops of filling and brushes of syrups, the verdict is (don't read this if you are invited to the wedding).

Chocolate tiers: A dark toothy German chocolate cake layer, thin layer of ganache + thick slather of dark chocolate vanilla bean mousse. Served with creme anglaise, chocolate sauce and berries.
Fruit and nut tier: Yellow buttermilk cake, fresh mango curd folded in whipped mascarpone cream and an added bonus of almond dacquoise for crunch.
All of the tiers will be covered in swiss meringue buttercream decked out with flowers with a help of a friend

The guest list is close to 115- people. I plan to make enough for 150 + some rolled and molded truffle candies. I got less than 2 months to get my stuff together, including making a full sized replica of the cake, fully decorated as a "dry run". who wants cake? I'll have 100+ pieces of "sample cake" in a few weeks!! yikes!

I got a lot of work ahead of me... at the mean time, I'm glad I got my CSA box yesterday. Yums, celery and carrot season... and lot of cake "test cakes" for visitors..

Jon and I polished off all the crumbs...

Monday, January 19, 2009

Chinese New Year Candies - the madness

I've decided that it is a good idea to make some more chocolates- after the holidays for relatives back home (and even more to share with friends) . Mom is going back this week, and last week I've been busy making truffles again. It took me awhile to get ingredients together, mainly because i couldn't make up my mind on what to make. And so a "few" chocolates escalated to too much chocolate.

after 3 days and 2 long nights of goofing off in the kitchen, i've made 8! kinds! of! truffles/candies! plus! granola! for! mom! and! toffee! for my soon (enough)-to-be-father-in-law. (yep, if you end up reading this dad, i think this is one of your favorite candies)

so eat up my friends~ and have a happy Chinese new Year!

Note: whoever gets my candies please: DO NOT put in fridge and eat within 10 days, i'd say within the month, OK?

You are getting/eating:

Jasmine Tea
Kona Coffee
Earl Grey Tea
Coconut, honey and Rum
Chamomile and almond praline
Force Noire
Fleur de sal Caramel
Hazelnut Gianduja

...And here is a bastardized image so you know what you are sending to your mouth...

****Please thank Jon too. He is truly awesome! ****

Until Next Time: Turnip cake (tonight) and Babka....

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

As healthy as it gets... super "healthy" muffins

I was trying to redeem myself. You see, I've been on a very long weight watcher's journey and never really was the good student. i cannot eat low fat sour cream and i bake with real butter and sugar. Recently, I ate like there is no tomorrow with back to back baking and parties- i am used to having baked things at my disposal; I got the munchies.

So here it is. I made some very wholesome muffins. And i hope you don't dismiss this as another piece of pressed particle board-baked-thing. This is really not bad. I have to say though, the muffins are filling and die hard healthy. If you are willing to take it to another level, you could substitute apple sauce/puree in place of oil/butter.

I've omitted the walnuts. I personally don't like soggy nuts, but may sprinkle some on top next time.

Blueberry-Walnut, Wheat germ Muffins.

Adapted from Delicious Living

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts (Jeni skipped)
1 egg, well beaten
1/4 cup canola oil (or butter, or apple sauce)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup molasses
1 cup nonfat milk (lowfat in my house)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup fresh blueberries or frozen wild blueberries

1. Preheat oven to 400°. In a large bowl, combine flours, wheat germ, baking powder, and salt. Stir in walnuts. In a medium bowl, beat together egg, oil, honey, and molasses. Beat in milk and vanilla extract. Add liquid ingredients to dry, stirring just until mixed. Gently fold in blueberries with a sturdy spatula.
2. Line muffin cups with paper liners, and divide batter among cups. Bake for 18–20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean and tops are lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before turning out of muffin tin onto a cooking rack.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

ReCap of last week - I hope i got it...

So here is the latest. My little running buddies (aka. social marathoners) just had a X-mas Soup Party- in which most of us are involved in some on-the-spot soup making and cheese nibbling. It has sort of been a tradition that i make some some kind of candy goodies for them to take home.

I have been pretty stressed out and super tired from back-to-back cooking marathons between thanksgiving, x-mas party, various gatherings where there are reasons to bring baked goodies... Last year, when i made my dearest running buddies candy, people thought it was fantastic and later blamed me for their holiday flabs. I made a few jasmine and earl grey infused ganaches in truffles, honeycomb brittle enrobed in chocolates and Madagascar dark chocolate with coconib topping- half ofwhich i used tempered chocolates to enrobe the ganaches. Cut to the chase, a few days after the big event, i noticed that some of the chocolates streaked and went out of temper.

"oh nooo!!" I said to myself- then follows several days and probably weeks of relenting on how i might have messed up such an happy event. nonetheless, people ate everything so fast they didn't get to see my "failure."

I didn't have a chance to revisit chocolate tempering and candy making until last month, exactly one year later. The horror and nightmares i've endured for the past 12 months ramped up to sheer madness (only in my head though, i try not to show it *_* ) A month and weeks before the event, i annouced that i will do it again! And this time, i'm going to be neat, try to use some poly-molds and even contact sheets. I even ran out and got myself some gold flakes.

I think it came out fairly well. I enlisted as much help as possible. What can i say, internet rules!! I like to thank everyone the helped me: people in Chowhound, staff and production managers in Recchiuti, the staff of Valrhona Chocolates, the staff at Chocosphere, the nice ladies in Surlatable who picked out a new thermometer with me, Jon who read instructions and fed me water, and my friends and co-workers who don't really know what the heck i'm so stressed out about and ate everything in sight.

I used Recchiuti's book. He is one of my favorite chocolatiers. I recommend getting this book, it is important to be informed before you dive in.

Above is Kona coffee ganache enrobed dark chocolate in teardrop mold and Cardamom ganache with cardamom and coco nib pralines on green print contact sheets. The other is hazelnut and hazelnut butter in milk chocolate in diamond mold.

I am not sure if anyone who read this post are interested in replicating this. if so, i can post details, suggestions etc. Please feel free to drop me a line and tell me what you think.